china

China might drop a Nuclear Bomb on Taiwan, predicts war game experts

Taipei [Taiwan]: Taiwan has actually become a hot spot amid the Russia-Ukraine war. China could end up by dropping a nuclear weapon if it attacks Taiwan. Experts are worried. The war game experts are researching and investigating the Russia’s failed intrusion of Ukraine and are of opinion that China might use nuclear bomb against Taiwan.

The original insigts are  that China would certainly try to attain a speedy decapitation of Taiwan’s leadership. In doing so, it would pre-emptively assault US bases in Japan and also Guam.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, and China’s President Xi Jinping shake hands. China will get full support from Russia if it attacks Taiwan.

The US would likely react by hitting Chinese ports and activating its allies, in the war-game scenario. This would cause further acceleration as well as China taking extreme procedures, reported Taiwan News.
” Neither Beijing nor Washington is likely to have the upper hand after the initial week of the dispute, suggesting that it would at some point end up being a lengthy conflict,” NBC Information mentioned CNAS experts as stating. “The war game demonstrated exactly how quickly the conflict might escalate, with China as well as the United States going across red lines.” (ANI).

25 injured after plane catches fire on runway in China’s Chongqing

Beijing [China]:  As many as 25 people were injured after a passenger plane veered off the runway during take-off and caught fire at an airport in southwest China’s Chongqing on Thursday, lcoal media reported.

The passenger plane operated by Tibet Airlines was carrying 113 passengers and nine crew members were on board, Xinhua reported citing airport sources as saying.
All passengers aboard the plane were evacuated and the injured were rushed to the hospital for treatment.

The cause of the incident remains unknown.

Further details are awaited. (ANI)

It is not possible for participating teams to go: Anurag Thakur on Asian Games 2022 postponement

New Delhi [India]: Amid the reports of postponement of Asian Games 2022 in China due to the COVID-19 outbreak, Union Sports Minister Anurag Thakur said that the security and health of players are priority of the government and added that if the organizer is not ready then it is not possible for participating teams to go.

“The organizing country has to decide the current situation of their country. The safety of our players is our priority and if organizer is not ready then it is not possible for participating teams to go. Our players are in their camps playing tournaments and are doing everything to win medals for the country,” said Thakur.
The Asian Games 2022, which were supposed to be held in China’s Hangzhou City, have been postponed. No reason was given for the delay, but according to reports from Chinese state media, it has happened due to the latest COVID-19 outbreak.

 

Anurag Thakur speaks to reporters on Asian Games

The 19th edition of the Asian Games was scheduled to be held in Hangzhou from September 10 to September 25. The host city Hangzhou is close to Shanghai which has been under several weeks of lockdown. The restrictions remain in force across large parts of the city with its 25 million residents being ordered to stay home.

When asked about doping awareness, the minister said, “Our aim is to make NADA work in accordance with the WADA rules. DG NADA is appointed to manage all the things. He spread awareness among the players during KIUG and guided them on what supplements needed to be taken and what kind of medicines need to be consumed. In this way, they can stay away from drug abuse. The second issue is testing so that India as a country should be an example for other countries. Adjudication is also important so that hearing takes place quickly and decisions are also taken fast.”

Notably, Star Indian discus thrower Kamalpreet Kaur, who represented the country at the Tokyo Olympics 2020 last year, has been provisionally suspended by the Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU) after she tested positive for a banned drug.

The Sports Minister was also awestruck watching the divyang cricketers showing their cricketing skills during the final match of the Sardar Patel National Divyang T20 Cricket Cup which was won by Chandigarh team.

“The thinking of Prime Minister Narendra Modi is to promote sports be it Olympic Games or cricket and with the vision, he moved forward to use the word ‘Divyang ‘ for these players. They are not called Viklang anymore. The talent they have was identified by him much earlier and that’s why during the Paralympics he spoke to all the players and gave them all the facilities and we won 19 medals at the Paralympics. Differently-abled cricket is full of talent. The one who can’t walk are playing cricket on such a walk. The one who does not have one hand are batting so well. They had the talent but never had the opportunity.”

“These talents have got opportunities. When I was BCCI President then I tried to make all blind and differently-abled players playing under different associations to be combined together be it deaf and dumb or blind or differently able to join together and give them full support and opportunity to play and I am happy that after Covid such tournaments are organized and India won the WC in 2019. Our blind team always wins if they get the opportunity they always win and we will try to give them full support,” said Thakur. (ANI)

Social media exposes China’s blatant human rights violations in Shanghai amid Zero-COVID policy

Beijing [China]: Shanghai residents, at the hands of China’s Zero-Covid policy, are being subjected to unprecedented neglect, mistreatment, and abuse, with leaked videos on social media confirming blatant human rights violations.

Disguised as “pandemic prevention”, these violations have exposed the cruel and inhumane side of Communist China’s system. It also brings to light China’s rigid and ineffective governance of the country, reported National Review, a US-based magazine.
Many leaked videos on social media show President Xi Jinping’s enforcers in white medical-isolation gowns beating people up, taking them away, or welding doors and shutting entryways with metal bars. Tens of thousands of people are being detained in makeshift quarantine camps.

These so-called pandemic rules have inflicted great misery on Shanghai residents. Men and women, adults and children, are crowded together under one roof, with insufficient food and a lack of other basic necessities.

The cruel treatment by the Chinese government has raised awareness in people in regard to their political and civil rights. Not only in Shanghai, but across the country people are now speaking out for themselves and their communities.

Beijing’s brutality caused many people to protest for their rights and stand up against the government. In the video ‘Voice of April’, Shanghai residents depict the endless suffering of people under the zero-Covid policy.

The video went viral and unveiled China’s censorship of its own citizens. Moreover, a Shanghai-based rapper Astro released a song, “New Slave,” to condemn China’s abuse of power and its neglect of human life.

These inhumane actions taken by China had more and more people come out to sing the national anthem, in particular, the line “Arise! Ye who refuse to be bond slaves!”

China with a view to suppressing the voice of its citizens, ironically, had to censor its own national anthem. Expressing concern and condemnation of the government’s stern Zero-COVID policies, Shanghai residents have formed a self-assistance and self-governance commission, unequivocally demanding democracy and freedom, and urging mass civil disobedience.

Xi Jinping has paid no regard to the sufferings of the people and has only acted upon his own will and interests. According to the media outlet, the Biden administration should condemn the CCP’s violence and not remain silent about Beijing’s gross human rights violations during the pandemic.

It urged the United States and the international community to stand up and speak out in support of the people of Shanghai and China and aim to stop the Communist Party’s atrocities. (ANI)

 

Ukraine crisis, a lesson for US to prepare for Chinese invasion of Taiwan

Washington [US]: The Ukraine-Russia conflict has become a guide for the United States to prepare a strategy to defend Taiwan against a possible attack by China, according to an analysis.

The US military has in a report on the strategic assessment of the Ukraine crisis detailed the need to prepare a strategy on how to defend Taiwan in case of a possible attack by China, air superiority is the deciding factor in defence against the Chinese forces.
Notably, the US did not agree to the Ukrainian request for enforcing a no-fly zone over its air space as that would have brought it into direct combat with Russia. However, Taiwan is not Ukraine as it is in a far more vulnerable position, The Hong Kong Post reported citing a military analysis website DefenseOne.

“No matter what other idea guides the defense of the island republic, air superiority will be critical. Washington and Taipei must prepare now to ensure this air superiority….planning for Taiwan’s air defense must be grounded in hard truth, the media outlet quoted the website as saying.

However, according to American military experts, Taiwanese airspace is “much more difficult to defend” than that of Ukraine as Taiwan is separated from US bases by thousands of miles of open Pacific waters and the closest supply routes are through “the Philippine Sea, south along the Ryukyus, or north from Luzon” and all these regions are beyond Taiwanese territory and its Exclusive Economic Zone.

Thus, approving a no-fly war zone over Taiwan means a large territory beyond the island of Taiwan will need to be defended. However, Seth Cropsey, a naval officer and former US Deputy Undersecretary of the Navy, has come up with a four-point strategy that is being discussed within the military circles.

According to this strategy, the US must ensure its naval and aerial superiority in the Ryukyu archipelago which can be turned into an anti-air nest, packed with forward-deployed US Marines and Air Defense Artillery. Further, the US should have an “integrated air defense network” to protect Taiwan from Chinese “missile bombardment”.

The US should also obtain more tanker aircraft as a “no-fly zone would require air combat over Taiwan and near the Taiwan Strait which is extremely close to Chinese territory. Lastly, the US must begin the fight with a significant numerical advantage as according to the naval officer, the fight will boil down to numerical superiority of either force.

In a comparison of the Russia-Ukraine situation to that of China-Taiwan, Cropsey laments US’ casual attitude toward Russian President Vladimir Putin’s attacks on the other Black Sea targets.

“Had we (Americans) taken more seriously (Vladimir) Putin’s attacks on such other Black Sea targets as Georgia and Crimea and acted with greater resolve years ago to help Ukraine defend itself, war might have been averted. Xi Jinping and his predecessors’ declared intent to subdue Taiwan–if needed, by force–is clear as blue skies. Those skies must be defended over Taiwan if the US is to remain the Pacific’s pre-eminent power and our friends and allies in the region are to continue casting their lot with us,” the media outlet quoted him as saying. (ANI)

 

Xi Jinping set to secure historic third-term as China’s President

Beijing [China]: The Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) 20th National Congress is likely to re-elect General Secretary Xi Jinping for a historic third term, setting a new precedent for the country.

President Xi Jinping, who has been occupying the top post since 2012, was unanimously chosen as a delegate to the ruling party’s 20th national congress at the CPC Guangxi regional meeting on April 22.
“The announcement of Xi’s unanimous election won a burst of sustained and warm applause at the regional congress on Friday morning,” Xinhua reported the same evening.

CPC leaders are effectively chosen in China, and Xi’s appointment as a delegate was more like a formality, Policy Research Group (POREG), a think tank said in a report.

“This may not mean that his election as the general secretary is 100 per cent certain, but it is a very firm step,” Alfred Wu, an associate professor at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy was quoted as saying.

Earlier, Hu Jintao was also chosen as a representative to the 18th National Congress in 2012 when he handed over the baton to Xi.

In April 2017, Xi was chosen as a delegate to the CPC’s 19th National Conference by a unanimous majority at the 12th CPC Guizhou provincial congress. Thereafter, Xi’s selection of Guangxi as a delegate is important, as Guangxi was one of China’s poorest regions until 2017, the report said.

During the upcoming National Congress, CPC’s Central Committee, the party’s top governing body delegates will go to vote, during the congress, which is held every five years for the party’s elite.

The committee’s 200 or more members will vote on who will be seated on the Politburo and its Standing Committee, the Communist Party’s highest decision-making body.

Xi’s proteges make up the majority of the 25 members of the CCP’s Standing Committee of the CCP Politburo. As a result, a political battle over personnel issues at the party’s core is quite improbable. While there has been speculation of pushback from former Premier Zhu Rongji and his allies, their impact will remain limited, the report said.

Xi administration has made several modifications to the party’s statutes, as well as significant personnel changes. The majority of the newly appointed province leaders are no longer members of the Political Bureau’s Standing Committee, the report added.

However, the majority of the Xi administration’s roster will stay unchanged in 2022, the report said, adding that Xi’s stock of subordinates from his time in the provinces is nearly depleted.

Given the increased difficulty of picking proteges in the future, a new framework for personnel selection, including the nomination of a successor, is required, the report further said, adding, only after that, Xi’s successor and the Chinese Communist Party’s new leadership structure will materialize. (ANI)

 

Xi asks Chinese officials to enter economic race with US

Washington [US]: Chinese President Xi Jinping has instructed officials to ensure that the country’s economic growth outpaces that of the US this year.

The issue of the China-US competition has been raised in recent weeks in Xi’s meetings with senior officials in the economic and financial bloc, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported on Tuesday, citing sources familiar with the discussions.
This comes as investors are ditching China due to growing business risks, and rising interest rates elsewhere. China witnessed USD 17.5 billion worth of portfolio outflows last month, an all-time high, CNN reported citing the data from the Institute of International Finance (IIF).

The US-based trade association said that this capital flight by overseas investors “unprecedented.”

Amid the growing economic insecurity, the Chinese leader said that ensuring stability and economic growth is extremely important, as the US is declining both politically and economically.

The relevant Chinese government agencies are discussing plans to accelerate the implementation of large construction projects, as well as to issue coupons for individuals, designed to stimulate consumer spending, WSJ’s sources said.

In the final quarter of 2021, the US economy outpaced China, growing 5.5 per cent year-on-year compared to China’s 4.0 per cent.

US President Joe Biden claimed that the American economy grew faster than the Chinese for the first time in 20 years. According to WSJ, this caused discontent among a number of senior Chinese officials.

Last week, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) slightly downgraded its forecast for economic growth in China to 4.4 per cent this year and to 5.1 per cent in 2023.

According to the IMF forecast, the zero-COVID strategy pursued in China entails an increase in restrictive measures that have a negative effect on China’s private consumption and overall economic growth.(ANI)

 

India suspends tourist visas issued to Chinese nationals

Montreal [Canada]: India has suspended tourist visas issued to Chinese nationals, International Air Transport Association (IATA) said in a circular for its members.

IATA issued a circular on Wednesday for its member carriers regarding entry into India and said, “Tourist visas issued to nationals of China (People’s Republic) are no longer valid.”
It further reads that the nationals of Bhutan, India, Maldives and Nepal, passengers with a residence permit issued by India, passengers with visas or e-visa issued by India are allowed to enter India.

According to the circular, passengers with an overseas citizen of India card or booklet like those who have a Persons of Indian Origin (PIO) card and those with a diplomatic passport are also allowed to enter India.

The IATA also said that tourist visas with a validity of 10 years are no longer valid.

The IATA is a global airlines body with around 290 members that comprise more than 80 per cent of global air traffic.

India has been raising with China the problems of Indian students studying in China who have not been allowed to return to that country citing COVID-19 restrictions.

After talks with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar hoped that China will take a non-discriminatory approach to the issue since it involves the future of many young people.

“I also took up strongly the predicament of Indian students studying in China who haven’t been allowed to return citing COVID restrictions. We hope China will take a non-discriminatory approach since it involves the future of many young people,” Jaishankar said.

These students had to leave their studies in China and come to India when the Covid-19 pandemic began at the beginning of 2020. (ANI)

 

US warns Solomon Islands PM over security pact with China

Washington [US]: The United States on Friday raised “significant concerns” about the security pact signed between Solomon Islands and China and warned that should Beijing maintain any military presence there, the US would “respond accordingly”.

China and Solomon Islands have signed a framework agreement on security cooperation that neighbours of the South Pacific archipelago fear could open the door to a Chinese naval base in the country.
On April 22, a high-level US delegation visited Honiara, Solomon Islands and met for 90 minutes with Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare, along with two dozen members of his cabinet and senior staff. This visit to Solomon Islands was the final leg of the delegation’s trip across the Pacific.

In the meeting with Solomon Islands’ Prime Minister Sogavare, the US delegation reiterated the key priorities animating the trip and also outlined steps Washington would take to advance the welfare of the people of Solomon Islands.

“The United States respects the right of nations to make sovereign decisions in the best interests of their people. The two sides engaged in substantial discussion around the recently signed security agreement between Solomon Islands and the People’s Republic of China (PRC). Solomon Islands representatives indicated that the agreement had solely domestic applications, but the U.S. delegation noted there are potential regional security implications of the accord, including for the United States and its allies and partners,” the White House statement read.

Outlining areas of concern with respect to the purpose, scope, and transparency of the agreement, the US delegation said, “If steps are taken to establish a de facto permanent military presence, power-projection capabilities, or a military installation, the delegation noted that the US would then have significant concerns and respond accordingly.”

Earlier, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin had said the security deal would involve cooperating with Honiara on maintaining social order, protecting people’s safety, aid, combating natural disasters and helping safeguard national security.

Speaking at a press briefing, Wenbin defended the signing of security cooperation with the Solomon Islands and said the agreement “does not target any third party.” (ANI)

 

Shanghai’s stringent COVID lockdown puts megacity out of food

Beijing [China]: As Shanghai’s COVID-19 lockdown leaves residents struggling to access essentials, residents of the mega Chinese city are almost out of food and they are reeling under an acute food crisis.

They say that they “only eat one meal a day” and “don’t know how to live until May”, The HK Post reported. According to the report, the epidemic situation in Shanghai is still deteriorating, and the number of infected people is still high under the “zero lockdown” policy.
On April 3, the Chinese government announced the deployment of thousands of military personnel to Shanghai to assist in the mandatory testing of all 25 million residents for the virus that causes COVID-19. Later, Shanghai authorities said the city would indefinitely remain under lockdown – meaning that residents are not allowed to leave their homes – as it reviews results of the mass Covid testing.

Analysts have said China would not risk relaxing its zero-Covid stance before then, over fears of a destabilizing outbreak. Meanwhile, health experts have warned the virus could overwhelm health care systems, and put the elderly, who lag in vaccinations, at risk, CNN reported.

But even as Beijing sticks to its zero-tolerance approach, it is facing the possibility of multiple major outbreaks as Omicron spreads, the report added.

According to the authorities, Shanghai has had more than 130,000 COVID cases since 1 March, yet nobody has died and there is only one seriously ill person. Such statistics fly in the face of the rest of the world’s experience with COVID.

Wu Zunyou of China’s Center for Disease Control said death rates were minimal because of efforts to curb outbreaks early and China’s high vaccination rate. “Compared with overseas, our country’s COVID-19 death rate is low because of the various measures to prevent or reduce deaths.”

When reporting deaths, there are strong incentives in China not to attribute them directly to COVID if alternative underlying conditions are available. Because of official obfuscation, it is simply impossible to know how many have died from COVID there. China also spends lots of time blaming imported frozen food and mail for spreading COVID.

Beijing claims a Zero-COVID policy must be followed because “Omicron can generate a higher mortality rate than Delta during the epidemic”. This assertion is verifiably false. Perhaps other reasons are more pertinent to the CCP’s choice of a Zero-COVID policy. (ANI)

 

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi arrives in Delhi, Talks on Border Issue, Trade

New Delhi [India]: Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi arrived in New Delhi on Thursday.

Wang Yi is likely to meet his Indian counterpart S Jaishankar and National Security Advisor (NSA) Ajit Doval tomorrow.
Wang Yi earlier today was in Afghanistan’s Kabul after his three-day visit to Pakistan.

This is the first visit of a senior Chinese leader in two years since the border stand-off between the two countries since May 2020.

There has been disengagement from areas along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Eastern Ladakh and India and China have been holding military and diplomatic talks for further disengagement from the remaining friction points.

The visit by the Chinese minister comes a day after India had rejected his remarks on Kashmir at the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) meeting in Islamabad. India had also said that other countries, including China, have no locus standi to comment on India’s internal affairs.

After the Galwan Valley clash, both countries have held several rounds of border talks to resolve the standoff. India has called for complete disengagement in eastern Ladakh at all friction points.

On March 11, the 15th round of Corps Commander level talks were held between the two countries on the Indian side of the Chushul-Moldo border point in which both sides agreed to maintain the security and stability along the Line of Actual Control in the Western Sector. (ANI)

Chinese fighter jets, helicopters enter Taiwan’s air defense zone

Taipei [Taiwan]: Hours after Chinese aircraft carrier Shandong sailed through the Taiwan Strait, two Shenyang J-11 fighter jets and a Harbin Z-9 anti-submarine helicopter entered Taiwan’s air defense identification zone (ADIZ) on Friday.

The Ministry of National Defense informed that Taiwan’s Air Force jets issued radio warnings telling the Chinese aircraft to turn back immediately, reported Taiwan News.
The military also said it deployed air defense missile systems to monitor the activities of the People’s Liberation Army Air Force jets and helicopter.

The aircraft was spotted during the day in the southwest sector of the ADIZ off the coast of Taiwan’s main island, the Liberty Times reported.

Because there was no land close to the area where the helicopter appeared, speculation was that it had taken off from a Chinese navy vessel, reported Taiwan News.

China’s Shandong carrier earlier sailed past the island of Kinmen before heading north through the Taiwan Strait.

The United States guided-missile destroyer USS Ralph Johnson was shadowing the Chinese ship, while vessels from Taiwan’s Navy were also present in the area, according to the report. (ANI)

 

Vietnamese continue to slam China’s aggression 43 years later!

 

Hanoi [Vietnam]: Due to the recent escalation of tensions between Vietnam and China in the South China Sea, the Sino-Vietnamese war has begun receiving renewed media attention after almost 43 years where Vietnamese people use social media for expressing anger and condemning Beijing for inflicting war on Vietnam.

Notably, February 17 marked the 43 years of the 1979 Sino-Vietnam war and the Vietnamese people with the help of social media platforms expressed anti-China sentiments as well as a veiled criticism of the Vietnamese government, reported Geo Politica.
The fight left many civilians and soldiers killed in Vietnam’s border provinces. This outburst shows that the Vietnamese people may forget the physical wounds but not the deception and emotional hurt inflicted by the Chinese.

Besides the contemporary maritime territorial disputes, security concerns and geopolitical competition, the unpleasant reality of the history between these two countries continues to linger on.

In Vietnam, low-profile anniversaries of the fierce fight against the Chinese invasion are organised each year in local cemeteries in the Northern border provinces while small-scale demonstrations take place in other parts of the country including Hanoi.

Vietnam has focused on modernization of Army

However, many Vietnamese veterans, military enthusiasts, historians and diplomats have urged the government to become vocal about the past atrocities of China on Vietnam.

In 2013, Major-General Le Van Cuong, former director of the Strategy Institute under the Ministry of Public Security, and other retired politicians told state media that it was time to review the official commemorations of the war and that government must include it in textbooks.

Young academicians were also concerned over the ignorance of most of the students about the 1979 war, even as information about Vietnam’s just and defensive stand against the Chinese 1979 aggression remains vague.

Vietnamese youth have also been shown movies projecting Chinese culture and history. The wounds left by the 1979 war still haunt the Vietnamese people, reported Geo Politica. (ANI)

 

Beijing hopes to raise its geopolitical stake in the Ukraine conflict

                

Beijing [China], (ANI): China will benefit if Russia invades Ukraine and precipitates a drawn-out conflict with the US and its Western allies (though a direct military confrontation is unlikely), China stands to benefit, as noted by Channel News Asia.

America will need to divert strategic resources to confront Russia, and its European allies will be even more reluctant to heed US entreaties to join America’s anti-China coalition.
But if US President Joe Biden defuses the crisis by acceding to some of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s demands, China will likely end up worse off strategically.

While Putin will reap the benefits of his coercive diplomacy, and Biden will avoid a potential quagmire in Eastern Europe, China will find itself the sole focus of America’s national security strategy, as analyzed by Channel News Asia.

Further, after Putin has skillfully exploited the US obsession with China to re-establish Russia’s sphere of influence, the strategic value of his China card may depreciate significantly.

For Putin, capitalising on Biden’s fear of being dragged into a conflict with a secondary adversary (Russia) in order to extract critical security concessions is a risky but smart move.

But ordering an invasion of Ukraine – and thus effectively volunteering to be America’s primary geopolitical adversary, at least in the short to medium term – is hardly in the Kremlin’s interest.

Crippling Western sanctions and the high costs of fighting an insurgency in Ukraine would almost certainly weaken Russia significantly and make Putin himself both domestically unpopular and more dependent on Chinese President Xi Jinping, as analyzed by Channel News Asia.

Strategic uncertainty aside, China’s rulers know that explicitly supporting Putin will almost certainly antagonise the European Union, which is now China’s second-largest trading partner.

In Chinese policymakers’ strategic calculation, it is vital to prevent the US from recruiting the EU into its anti-China coalition.

Ukraine’s independence and security are crucial to the EU, and Chinese efforts to aid and abet Putin would trigger a European backlash. At a minimum, the EU could make China pay by restricting technology transfers and expressing more diplomatic support for Taiwan.

China’s leaders are realists and know that they can do little to influence the outcome of the current crisis in Ukraine even if they choose to intervene publicly.

With Putin holding most of the cards in the ongoing standoff, China’s diplomatic support is unlikely to alter the strategic calculus of the principal protagonists in Washington, Brussels, or even Moscow.

Beijing’s influence will increase dramatically only if Putin rolls the dice and invades Ukraine because he will then need Chinese economic support to lessen the impact of Western sanctions.

But for now, all this is speculative as far as China’s President Xi Jinping is concerned. Although a superpower, China is temporarily reduced to being an onlooker, watching both anxiously and hopefully on the sidelines as the Ukraine crisis unfolds, as analyzed by Channel News Asia. Image (Instagram)

China’s plans for artificial snowfall at Beijing Winter Olympics venues pose threat to the environment

               

London [UK](ANI): China’s plans of artificial snowfall at venues of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics pose a threat to the environment and could result in environmental damage, according to a media report.

“When you put artificial snow in a place that does not have any natural snow at all, like Beijing, you are putting a whole lot of water into a place where that soil and those plants are not expecting it. And previous research has shown that that can be damaging to local wildlife,” Voice of America (VOA) quoted Madeleine Orr, a sports ecologist at Loughborough University, as saying. Orr co-authored a Loughborough University report which warns the future of the Winter Olympics is under threat because of climate change.

Artificial Snowfall


“But we also expect that when you are creating that much snow, the energy usage is extraordinary. The amount of water is extraordinary. In this Olympics, we’re expecting 49 million gallons [185 million liters] of water to be used – and that is if things go well,” Orr added.

The sports ecologist also said that if authorities have a few hot days and need to create a little bit of extra snow to make up and compensate for some melt during the games, “we could see that number rise above 50 million gallons [189 million liters]”.

The Loughborough University report warns that by 2050, fewer than half of the resorts that have hosted the Winter Olympics until now will have viable snowfall, according to VOA.

It came after China’s Ministry of Ecology and Environment in January announced that it will take measures to restrict the operations of some air polluters.

In northern China, meteorological conditions during this period can lead to a buildup in air pollution, reported China Daily quoting Liu Youbin, spokesperson for the Ministry of Ecology and Environment, as saying.

Liu also said that some measures will be taken to create a more favourable environment for holding the events despite the government’s claim of great improvement to air quality in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei province cluster in recent years. (image – instagram)

Hong Kong’s Chief Executive to skip Beijing Olympics opening ceremony

             

Hong Kong: Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam is set to skip the opening ceremony of the Beijing Winter Olympic and stay at home to manage the fight against a surge in untraceable COVID-19 cases.

Hong Kong Chief had planned to go to Beijing on Wednesday to attend the opening ceremony of the Olympics on Friday, Sputnik reported citing the South China Morning Post on Monday. However, she had to cancel her plans due to the virus.
The Hong Kong-based newspaper reported this news citing sources.

Hong Kong has seen 14,105 COVID-19 cases since the beginning of the pandemic, with 12,572 recoveries and 213 deaths.

The 2022 Winter Olympics will be held in Beijing from February 4-20. The Winter Paralympics will take place in the Chinese capital from March 4-13. (ANI)

China targets UK Minister for making anit-Beijing remarks, says Britain following Cold War playbook

London [UK] (ANI): China has said that the UK is following the Cold War playbook, which it will get nowhere following the British Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs Liz Truss’ remarks in Australia where she blamed Beijing for exerting the “economic coercion” against other countries and working more closely with Russia.
“The accusations against China in this speech confuse right and wrong and raise questions about their real intention. They are full of disinformation about China as well as the current international situation,” the Chinese Embassy in the UK said in a statement on Sunday. “Today’s world is a far cry from the one 40 or 50 years ago. The Cold War is long gone! In the face of global challenges including pandemics, what the international community needs is solidarity and cooperation, not division or confrontation. British diplomacy, if following the Cold War playbook, will get nowhere,” the statement added.
The embassy further stated that what the people are seeing is parroting of US rhetorics in the speech, drawing lines along with ideology and discrediting other sovereign countries regardless of facts. “This is an attempt to justify the move to create the small circles, which has inflicted negative impact on regional peace and stability,” it said.
China’s remarks came after UK Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs Liz Truss delivered a speech at the Lowy Institute of Australia recently, in which she mentioned China several times, blaming China groundlessly for exerting “economic coercion” against other countries and working more closely with Russia. She called on the UK and Australia to work with some other countries to “defend economic security and freedom”. (Image source: Instagram)

Xi shows skill in carving out a likely third term

Hong Kong (ANI): 2022 is very important for China. Next month it hosts the Beijing Winter Olympics, while later is the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) 20th Party Congress. The latter will shape the constitution of China’s communist leadership and the country’s policy priorities for the ensuing five years and beyond.
The congress is thus a seminal event for the CCP and for its leader Xi Jinping. Most speculation agrees that Xi will stay in power for a third five-year term, and he will certainly be seeking stability in the period leading up to that congress. In a webinar entitled “Towards Xi’s Third Term: China’s 20th Party Congress and Beyond”, the Washington DC-based Brookings Institute invited various academic luminaries to give their thoughts on Xi and his ambitions ahead of the congress.
Cheng Li, Director of the John L. Thornton China Center, noted, “Beijing has been playing hardball. Xi Jinping believes China now has more leverage in the current global economic landscape… For the CCP leadership, this reinforces its position on Xinjiang and Hong Kong- they’re not negotiable – and it will continue the pressure campaign against Taiwan independence.”
However, there are a couple of key tensions facing the CCP elite. One is that Beijing must reconcile the need for stability with its hardline policies. Cheng perceived three ways Xi is doing this. The first is that the government believes it has gained sufficient political capital from recent successes such as public health, poverty elimination, green development, technological advancement and military modernization.
The second is Xi’s recent call for common prosperity plus some popular moves to help vulnerable groups. Furthermore, his assertive foreign policy and nationalistic appeals resonate well with the public.
The third is that Xi’s proteges, especially those to be promoted for the next Politburo and Politburo Standing Committee (PSC), have substantial leadership experience from provinces like Guangdong known for their vibrant private sectors and international economic engagement. “This will revitalize, in the hopes of Beijing, the confidence of private entrepreneurs and the Chinese middle class.”
A second tension exists between Xi’s core and ambiguity in mandatory CCP retirement ages.
The retirement age policy had imparted consistency and a sense of fairness, but many question whether it will continue. Cheng expects only one member of the PSC to retire this time around, but for the others there is no objective criterion to decide who will stay and who will retire, “potentially causing serious resentment and resistance”.
Recently, Xi has emphasized the importance of unity within party leadership. Things have improved, for in Xi’s second term, only two of 376 Central Committee members were purged, compared to 42 arrested for corruption in his first term.
Cheng predicted that Xi will undertake three measures to reduce this tension about failures to retire according to age, as per established norm. First is that he will offer intensive justification as to why a small number of leaders will remain in the top echelon, such as continuity of economic policy.
Secondly, Xi will probably promote a significant number of “younger” leaders (born in the 1960s) into the Politburo and PSC to signal that a generational change is under way. Such a change is already evident at the provincial-government level where the mandatory retirement age is strictly enforced. Of 31 provincial governors, all but one were born in the 1960s, and 94% were appointed in just the past couple of years. Cheng estimated that 85% of seats in the new Central Committee will be held by people born in the 1960s or later (compared with 52% at present).
Thirdly, as part of his promotion policy, he will probably allow some leaders from other factions or those without allegiances to attain seats in the Politburo and PSC “to sustain leadership unity”.
Also referring to Xi’s anti-corruption campaign, Andrew Mertha, Director of the China Global Research Center at John Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies, highlighted that Xi has peeled away the immunity of communist leaders as high as the PSC level. This was obvious in the case of former national security chief Zhou Yongkang: “This means anyone at the top of the system is potentially a target for charges of serious disciplinary violation,” Mertha explained.
Right from the beginning, Xi has sought to disempower national leaders and to reverse their rise in influence. This is best seen in his anti-corruption campaign and his strengthening of state-owned enterprises.
In fact, Xi has shown incredible skill in navigating CCP politics and establishing himself at the apex. Mertha said many have underestimated Xi’s extraordinary intuition. “He’s an astute student of CCP history, of its structure and how it functions. And this appreciation and understanding of it forms the contours of much of what he does and how he does it.”
Metha added, “For Xi, politics is a deadly serious business. It isn’t something to be trifled with or to be disrespected. The implication is, insofar that anybody within the ruling class allows competing interests to dilute or otherwise compete with their political mandate, they forfeit their right to undertake the enormous importance of governance in China.”
Different to the ever-suspicious Mao Zedong who sidestepped or diminished established institutions, Xi has consolidated his power by “enhancing, creating, injecting new sets of institutions to amplify his policy preferences and beef up his power base, often enhancing the authority of the CCP at the expense of government agencies and their traditional mandates”.
Mertha said this approach was more durable than mere strongman rule. It is possible that the 20th Party Congress might throw up some surprises, though. In a novel piece of speculation, Alice Miller, Research Fellow at the Hoover Institution, raised the prospect that Xi might create a unique structure within the CCP to allow him to remain in control without necessarily doing a third term as general secretary.
This might be in the shape of restoring something akin to the 1956 system where the party chairmanship would be restored and go to Xi (the post of chairman had been eliminated in 1981), whereas the general secretary position could go to a younger man such as Chen Min’er or Hu Chunhua. Xi would then continue as chairman of the Central Military Commission, and still preside over the PSC and supply overall guidelines and vision for policy.
The general secretary, meanwhile, would report to the chairman and PSC, and also be a member of it. Leading groups would be led by members of the secretariat rather than the PSC. This was the split-level leadership system created at the 8th Party Congress in 1956.
Miller said reintroducing the 1956 system “addresses the problem of leadership rejuvenation. It allows senior leadership around Xi Jinping to continue to guide the general direction of the party’s work in the new era, of giving younger leaders a chance to gain executive experience at the top and to carry out policies consistent with the vision…”
Miller admitted that, while reintroduction of the 1956 system could be “plausible”, it also raised questions over workability. It does not answer the problem of succession, and another issue is that it creates two power centers. For example, what would happen if the chairman and general secretary disagreed with each other?
Xi has already undertaken major restructurings of CCP inner workings, but so far he has left the very top structure untouched. After a decade in power, perhaps that could change. However, Cheng Li thinks this will not happen. Instead, he believes the abolition of term limits was already preparing the way for Xi’s third term, and that no successor will be designated at this year’s congress. Nor has there been any discussion about resurrecting the chairmanship.
Anthony Saich, Director of the Ash Center for Democratic Government and Innovation at the Hardvard Kennedy School, said there were similarities and differences between Xi and Mao Zedong.
Like Mao, Xi sees the party as crucial to achieving policy objectives, thus requiring a unified, disciplined party that carries out the will of the supreme leader. “There is a need for unity of purpose and thought, and that entails the eradication of alternative narratives and the removal of any potential rivals,” Saich explained.
Xi pours scorn on the collapse of communism in the Soviet Union, where he felt nobody was man enough to stand up and defend it. Xi sees his authority coming through the party, and the party as the natural inheritor of Chinese imperial rule and style.
Very significantly, Xi issued a November 2021 resolution on the CCP’s achievements of the last 100 years. Saich elaborated: “It was designed to show that Xi Jinping’s leadership today, and therefore also into the future after the next congress, is the inevitable outcome of history consolidating his preeminence within the party and empowering him to stay the course for the party over the next 100 years”.
It was only the CCP’s third historical summation, raising Xi alongside Mao and Deng. However, Xi’s resolution was very different, since his was not criticizing the past in order to set sail on a new course.
Saich again: “Xi Jinping’s purpose is distinct. It’s not defining the way forward by a negation of the recent past, but rather highlighting how the past plays into his hands to guide the future. The spotlight is on Xi, his achievements, the wrongs he has righted and the future direction for China. Interestingly, Xi is described as the principal founder of the ideology for this new era and the core of the leadership.”
Thus, all CCP members must rally around Xi as the core and his policy preferences cannot be questioned. Leninist institutions are not always stagnant and inflexible and, as the CCP shows, Xi is willing to remold it.
One consequence of the historical resolution, Saich, explained, is that Xi will definitely be appointed for a third term. Secondly, the resolution sanctions policy continuity rather than change, as with the two older historic resolutions.
Saich added, “Crucially, it means that Xi Jinping will have to lead through the party rather than being able to float above it in the manner of Mao Zedong. And the party remains preeminent, and therefore structural changes to consolidate Xi’s position may be the ones worth watching.
But that, of course, presents a possible challenge to Xi Jinping if there is an elite struggle, as his legitimacy ultimately lies with the institution rather than the individual.” Cheng of the John L. Thornton China Center thought it noteworthy how Xi, after assuming the leadership mantle, profoundly changed the balance of power between the two main factions via his large-scale anti-graft campaign. That campaign netted many supporters of the Communist Youth League, including former president Hu Jintao’s chief of staff Ling Jihua.
Having succeeded in sidelining that faction, at the end of Xi’s first term he also began distancing himself from the opposing princeling faction too. Now it is Xi’s own proteges that dominate the leadership. For example, his powerbase is Zhejiang, where he was once party boss. Perhaps eight or nine members of the next Politburo will be such people from Xi’s past, representing about a third of the group, with each owing personal loyalty.
Two or three of these will even enter the PSC. With other factions essentially defeated, Cheng suggested that infighting and jostling for power within Xi’s own personal following is most deserving of attention.
Miller suggested that the strongman status of Xi, as well as his breaking of party norms, is overplayed by Western analysts. Significantly, Xi has not yet violated the age/retirement structure – but that could well play out at the next congress. If CCP norms are examined carefully, it can be seen that Xi has not actually broken many so far.
Saich concluded: “It creates a set of problems by [Xi] staying on, there’s no doubt, for a third term. What if things go wrong? Who gets the blame? You know, can that power accumulation keep occurring?”
The CCP has very limited experience of successful turnovers of leadership, so Xi staying on as leader after the 20th Party Congress does raise important questions. If Xi pushes succession back further, will that make the CCP system more unstable long term rather than stable in the short term? (Image source: Instagram)

In tit-for-tat response, US blocks Chinese airlines after Beijing’s action

Washington [US] (ANI): The US on Friday (local time) in a counterstroke to China’s virus policy blocked 44 passenger flights by Chinese airlines as Beijing had taken the same step against American carriers as part of its strict coronavirus control policies.
The move comes as China has been suspending flights by American carriers after alleging in-bound passengers had later tested positive for the coronavirus, said Ian Duncan, a reporter covering federal transportation agencies and the politics of transportation, writing in The Washington Post. The US Transportation Department issued an order Friday blocking 44 passenger flights by Chinese airlines. The restrictions begin on January 30 and run until March 29. The move will affect flights between Los Angeles and New York and five Chinese cities, reported The Washington Post.
Since the early days of the pandemic, the Chinese government has imposed a policy known as the “circuit breaker” that imposed limits on inbound flights by airlines if their passengers subsequently test positive for the coronavirus.
The US government argued that the policy is an unfair restriction on aviation that violates a long-standing agreement between the two countries.
The dispute over US-China aviation during the pandemic has been rumbling since late spring of 2020, when the Trump administration moved to block flights from China. The two countries eventually agreed to allow limited schedules.
In August, the Chinese government imposed capacity limits on United Airlines, an alternative sanction under the circuit breaker. The United States responded, targeting Chinese airlines, said Duncan.
The new US order goes further, banning passengers altogether. The four Chinese carriers targeted in the order will be permitted to continue operating flights from the United States to China if they only carry cargo. They still are allowed to carry passengers from China to the United States.
The suspended flights to China begin on January 30 and include flights from the carriers Xiamen Airlines, China Southern Airlines Company and Air China.
Airlines that operate a China-bound flight that contains between five and nine passengers who subsequently test positive for the coronavirus are supposed to have two options: suspend that flight for two weeks or limit that flight’s capacity to 40 percent for four weeks. The Chinese government says it applies the rules in the same way to domestic and international airlines, said Duncan.
But the Transportation Department says in the case of the most recent incidents, the US carriers were not given the choice and were told they must cancel the flights, while being denied advance warning.
“US carriers, who are following all relevant Chinese regulations with respect to pre-departure and in-flight protocols, should not be penalized if passengers, post-arrival, later test positive for COVID-19,” the department wrote in Friday’s order.
Meanwhile, Delta Air Lines, which has had 14 flights suspended by China in recent weeks, said, “We appreciate continued US government efforts to ensure fairness and access to China.”

Malaysian foreign minister sees shift in Beijing’s justification of South China Sea claims

Kuala Lumpur [Malaysia] (ANI): Malaysian Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah says Beijing now speaks less of the ‘nine-dash line’ and more often of the ‘Four Sha’ and expressed doubts on China’s changing claims in the strategic South-China Sea.
China appears to be shifting from the so-called “nine-dash line” toward a new legal theory to support its expansive claims in the South China Sea, although analysts say its alternative is also problematic under international law as outlined by Malaysian Foreign minister Saifuddin Abdullah, according to Radio Free Asia. Abdullah said the shift toward has been witnessed by member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and “is even more serious” than the old claim.
“Four Sha,” or Four Sands Archipelagos, are the four island groups in the South China Sea that Beijing claims to hold “historical rights” to.
Beijing calls them “Dongsha Qundao,” “Xisha Qundao,” “Zhongsha Qundao,” and “Nansha Qundao.” Internationally, they are known as Pratas Islands, Paracel Islands, the Macclesfield Bank area and Spratly Islands.
The concept they may be eclipsed, the nine-dash line, is a U-shaped line encircling most of the South China Sea that China has been using to demarcate its sovereignty over the sea, according to Radio Free Asia.
Earlier, an international tribunal in 2016 invalidated the Beijing claim’s in the nine-dash line saying China has no legal basis for it. Although Beijing rejected the ruling, other nations have endorsed it.
On the other hand, US State Department report on China’s South China Sea claims that was published this month, ‘Limits in the Seas’, does not mention Four Sha concept as proclaimed by Beijing.
Meanwhile, Malaysia is among the ASEAN nations’ whose territorial claims overlap with China’s in the South China Sea. The others are Brunei, the Philippines and Vietnam. While Indonesia does not regard itself as party to the South China Sea dispute, Beijing does claim historic rights to areas overlapping Indonesia’s exclusive economic zone.

China Enters 40-Day Spring Festival Travel Rush Amid Nationwide COVID-19 Flare-Ups

Beijing [China], January 18 (ANI): The world’s largest human migration, China’s 40-day Chunyun or Spring Festival travel rush, kicked off on Monday amid nationwide COVID-19 flare-ups.

As per Global Times, more than 1.18 billion trips are expected to be made countrywide during the 40-day travel rush. However, due to the ongoing risk of COVID-19 outbreaks, great uncertainties exist for this year’s Chunyun. A total of 280 million railway passenger trips are expected during the travel rush, of which the railway system in Beijing is expected to see 8.98 million trips, and about 9.1 million trips were expected to be made in Shanghai railway stations, according to the transportation departments.

The Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) said nearly 600,000 passenger flights during the Chunyun period were scheduled, and some 20,000 extra flights were approved to be arranged as well. The country will see about 35 million trips by air, on par with last year’s number.

If an outbreak occurs, railway services would be immediately suspended or reduced, and flights would also be adjusted dynamically in response, according to the latest anti-epidemic policy, reported Global Times.

Wang Guangfa, a respiratory expert at Peking University First Hospital, told the Global Times that this year’s Spring Festival travel rush comes amid sporadic outbreaks, similar to last year.

The huge flow of passengers would certainly increase the risk of COVID-19 spreading. Affected by the domestic COVID-19 flare-ups, many people couldn’t manage to get back home and decided to stay put.
Municipalities like Beijing and Tianjin, and provinces like Central China’s Henan, East China’s Jiangsu and North China’s Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, have called on local residents to stay put during the holidays. Many cities said they will offer some cash or coupons for migrant workers, reported Global Times.

China Railway Shanghai Group previously predicted that the week ahead of the Spring Festival and the week after the Lantern Festival could see more concentrated passenger flows, reported Global Times.
Affected by domestic outbreaks, trains to and from affected regions have been suspended or reduced.
Epidemic prevention is still the keyword of this Chunyun. Health codes and masks are essential for taking the public transportation system.

Currently, 10 provinces and regions in China are registering COVID-19 infections, and eight regions in six provinces have detected the highly contagious Omicron variant.

Taiwan seeks to join US’ Indo-Pacific economic framework

Taipei [Taiwan] (ANI): Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen’s administration is seeking to join an Indo-Pacific economic framework being planned by the United States, local news reported quoting a senior official on Monday.
“The government is paying close attention to the regional economic pact being touted by US President Joe Biden, although too few details have emerged from Washington for Taipei to make specific plans,” the official said, Taipei Times reported. America is expected to launch the Indo-Pacific economic framework next month after negotiations with Australia, India, and Japan, the official said.
Washington has shown deep concern over semiconductor supply-chain issues, while Taiwan is a leading chipmaker and has an interest in enhancing ties between the two countries, the official said, according to Taipei Times.
The US plans for a comprehensive economic framework for the Indo-Pacific is only one component in a larger regional strategy being considered in Washington, which Taiwan must observe closely, the official said.
Speaking at an event marking the 70th anniversary of the American Chamber of Commerce in Taiwan in December last year, Tsai said that Taiwan’s technological innovation and agile economy show that the country should play a role in the Indo-Pacific economic framework, Taipei Times reported further. (Image source: Instagram)

Pakistan government begins probe into misuse of petroleum imports from China

Islamabad [Pakistan] (ANI): Probe into misuse of petroleum imports from China began in Pakistan as the federal government on Friday ordered all oil marketing companies (OMCs) to provide evidence-based data on the import of petrol from China amid reports of the misuse of China-Pakistan Free Trade Agreement (CPFTA).
Under the CPFTA renegotiated in 2019, the Pakistan government had issued statutory regulatory orders on December 31, 2019, that abolished tariff on import of petrol. As such, there was no customs duty on the import of petrol from China with effect from Jan 1, 2020. Normal petroleum imports from all other sources, mostly the Middle East, attract 10 per cent customs duty while similar deemed duty is applicable on production from local refineries, according to Dawn. Further, results in a price saving of about 10 per cent on petrol imports from China. However, this price differential is retained by the OMCs as windfall profit instead of its benefit to the exchequer or the consumers. Depending on the international petrol price published in Platt’s Oilgram, the gap normally works out between Rs9-12 per litre.
Earlier, the key purpose of the free trade agreement signed on April 28, 2019, was the promotion of fair trade competition.
On the other hand, China itself is a net importer of petroleum products including petrol and transportation cost to Pakistan is relatively higher than that of the Middle East. Yet this provides a substantial cushion to the OMCs.
Earlier, last month, the local refineries had told the government that domestic production of petrol and high-speed diesel (HSD) could potentially go up by 60 per cent and 48 per cent , respectively, at a significant foreign exchange saving provided the local refineries were operated at optimum capacity.
Meanwhile, Pakistan’s oil import bill, particularly of refined petroleum products, has been the largest chunk of about 83pc increase in imports in the first five months of the current fiscal year, causing unrest among the government ranks as money and share markets plummeted last month, according to Dawn.
Further, the local refineries had been agitating their operational challenges because of lower furnace oil off-take by power producers despite their extremely low storages than contractually required and large import quantities of both petrol and diesel by OMCs. (Image source: Instagram)

Iran FM, Chinese counterpart announce implementation of comprehensive cooperation plan

Wuxi [China] (ANI): Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian held talks with Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi in Wuxi, east China’s Jiangsu Province on Friday and the two sides announced the launch of the implementation of a comprehensive cooperation plan, reported Xinhua.
The two sides conducted in-depth discussions and agreed to step up cooperation on energy, infrastructure, production capacity, science and technology, and medical and health care with the announcement of the launch of the implementation of the 25-year comprehensive cooperation plan, reported Xinhua. Wang and Abdollahian also agreed to expand cooperation in agriculture, fisheries and cyber security as well as promote tripartite cooperation, and deepen people-to-people and cultural exchanges in education, film and personnel training.
The Iranian nuclear situation was also discussed between the two sides.
Stressing that Iran highly appreciates and will actively participate in the joint building of the Belt and Road, Abdollahian said during the talks emphasising that developing relations with Beijing is Tehran’s top decision.
Tehran is committed to reaching a set of stable guarantee agreements through serious negotiations, said Abdollahian, adding that Iran is willing to maintain close communication with Beijing.
The Chinese Foreign Minister also said that Beijing is ready to work with Tehran to implement the important consensus reached by the two heads of state. Wang also vowed to strengthen communication and coordinate actions, constantly enriching the connotation of the China-Iran comprehensive strategic partnership. (Image source: Instagram)

10 Chinese military aircraft enter Taiwan’s air defence identification zone

Taipei [Taiwan] (ANI): China’s 10 military aircraft entered the southwest sector of Taiwan’s air defence identification zone (ADIZ) on Saturday just one day after 11 incursions were recorded, reported local media.
The Chinese aircraft included eight Shenyang J-16 fighter jets, one Shaanxi Y-8 anti-submarine aircraft, and one Shaanxi Y-8, reported Taiwan News citing the country’s Ministry of National Defence. Taiwan issued radio warnings, tasked aircraft and deployed air defence missile systems to monitor the Chinese planes, said the Taiwanese military.
It came after 11 Chinese aircraft entered Taiwan’s ADIZ on Friday.
China claims full sovereignty over Taiwan, a democracy of almost 24 million people located off the southeastern coast of mainland China, despite the fact that the two sides have been governed separately for more than seven decades.
Taiwan, on the other hand, has countered the Chinese aggression by increasing strategic ties with democracies including the US, which has been repeatedly opposed by Beijing. (Image source: Unsplash)

Syria joins BRI as West continues to criticize Beijing for its debt trap tactics

Damascus [Syria] (ANI): Amid rising accusations against China for trapping countries in massive debts with larger infrastructure plans, Syria has joined Beijing’s Belt and Road Initiative which Beijing says will open broad horizons of cooperation for the Middle-East country.
The ceremony of Syria’s admission into the initiative took place at the Planning and International Cooperation Commission in the capital Damascus and was attended by Fadi Khalil, the head of the commission, and Feng Biao, China’s ambassador to Syria, during which both sides signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Syria joining the BRI, reported Xinhua. The admission of Syria into the initiative revives the old role of Syria on the ancient Silk Road, said Khalil, adding it will help in boosting bilateral cooperation with China and multilateral cooperation with other countries, which are desirous of cooperating with Syria.
He also said that Syria had been one of the main countries on the ancient Silk Road particularly the cities of Aleppo and Palmyra.
With regard to the BRI, Chinese envoy Feng said that the cooperation between Beijing-Syria provides the greatest contribution to the economic reconstruction and social development in Syria and it also enhances the harmonization between the BRI and the eastward strategy proposed by Syria.
China proposed BRI in 2013, which comprises the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road. Beijing said that it aims to build a trade, investment, and infrastructure network connecting Asia with other parts of the world along the ancient Silk Road trade routes and beyond.
Meanwhile, several countries have criticised the BRI project as they said that the project has become synonymous with wasteful spending, ecological destruction and massive debt burdens and aims to make profits for the participating country’s leaders and Chinese companies at the cost of the nation’s natural resources or people, said the InsideOver in a report earlier.
In 2018, a study found that 270 out of 1,814 BRI-related projects had problems related to debt sustainability, labour and environmental standards, national security, transparency, and corruption. A McKinsey survey in 2017 revealed that 60 per cent to 80 per cent of the Chinese companies in Africa admitted to paying bribes for bagging contracts. Further, Chinese firms scored second to last in one of the latest Transparency International Bribe Payers Index in the Continent, added the InsideOver. (Image source: Unsplash)

Imran Khan to attend Beijing Olympics opening ceremony despite West’s Boycott

Pakistan PM Imran Khan

Islamabad [Pakistan] (ANI): Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan will attend the scheduled Beijing Winter Olympic ceremony next month despite the West’s Boycott.
Prime Minister Imran Khan will visit China next month to attend the opening ceremony of the 2022 Beijing Olympics and hold discussions on bilateral ties between the two countries, according to News International. The announcement that PM Imran Khan will attend the event follows a boycott announced by Western countries.
The US, Britain, Australia, and Canada have announced a diplomatic boycott of the event, while North Korea was the latest country to pull out, citing the pandemic.
Though athletes from around the world will travel to compete in the four-yearly event, no dignitaries from these western countries are expected to watch the games.
Western countries ranging from the US have boycotted the Beijing Olympics citing China’s poor human rights record in the recent past ranging from actions against Uyghurs and Tibetians.
The Prime Minister will arrive in Beijing for a three-day official visit — from February 3 to 5 — at the invitation of the Chinese leadership. During his visit, he will hold important meetings with China’s top leadership, said the spokesperson during his weekly news briefing in the federal capital, according to News International. (Image source: Instagram)

Taiwan finds remains of crashed F-16 jet’s pilot

Taipei [Taiwan], January 14 (ANI): Taiwan’s search and rescue teams have found what are believed to be the remains of the pilot who was flying the F-16V fighter jet of the country’s Air Force that crashed off the nation’s southwest coast on Tuesday, reported local media.
The 27-year-old Captain Chen Yi s suspected human remains were found at around 4 pm near Dongshi Township in Chiayi County, reported Focus Taiwan citing the Taiwanese military. The remains will be analysed on Friday and the findings will be released later in the day, according to Chiayi District prosecutors.
On Wednesday morning, rescuers had found debris belonging to the missing Air Force F-16V fighter but there were no signs of its pilot. Taiwan military’s UH-60M helicopter first spotted debris from the aircraft tires, at around 10:48 am Wednesday.
The F-16 aircraft vanished off the radar on Tuesday during a routine training mission in Taiwan. The Taiwanese air force had launched a search-and-rescue operation to find the jet which had taken off from the Chiayi Air Base at 2:55 pm [06:55GMT]. (Image source: Instagram)

Voices against China continue to rise in Nepal; anti-China protests a daily affair

Kathmandu [Nepal] (ANI/Khabarhub): As China continues to increase political, economic and cultural presence, including controversial approaches and pressure in Nepal, Nepalis have started hitting the streets holding anti-China demonstrations across the country.
China has intensified its activities – overt and covert — in Nepal of late. Lambasting China’s “conspiracy” to try to leave its footprint in Nepal through its role in all sectors and the strategic realm, several social organizations have organized protest rallies in the country.
To note, the Swantantra Nagarik Samaj (Independent Citizens Group) hit the streets of Kathmandu criticizing China for “interfering” in Nepal’s political as well as economic sectors and encroaching Nepal’s land in different northern districts, including Humla.
That is not all. The demonstrators also criticized China for imposing an undeclared blockade in Rasuwagadhi and Tatopani border points by not allowing Nepali goods to enter Nepal.
In a blatant violation of its own commitment, the northern neighbor has tightened its grip at the Rasuwagadhi-Kerung border point that was brought into operation declaring it as a major international border under its ambitious Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
It should be noted that the government led by the then Prime Minister KP Oli formed after the promulgation of the new Constitution in Nepal in 2015 has taken special initiatives to open the northern border, which, however, has not functioned smoothly.
A transit agreement, too, was signed between Nepal and China in 2016 to allow the import and export of goods from third countries through Chinese ports.
To recall, it was also announced during the visit of Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2019 that Nepal would be transformed from a landlocked to a “land-linked” country.
With this, Nepal was expected to be able to exercise its right of transit through Chinese territory and help increase Nepal’s exports.
However, this has been limited to papers since Nepali businessmen have not been able to import goods from the bordering Chinese markets.
Meanwhile, a transit protocol was also signed on April 29, 2019, during President Bidya Devi Bhandari’s state visit to China to implement the agreement.
According to Article 15 of the Protocol, the agreement had to be implemented exactly one month after each country informed the other of its enforcement.
Despite months of efforts to increase the daily import quota, China has not opened the border points under various pretexts because of which Nepali traders are compelled to pay a hefty amount of money for goods and transportation.
Consider what Arjun Poudel, a truck driver in Rasuwa has to say: “China has not allowed smooth operation of trucks carrying Nepali goods.”
It also should be recalled that China had allowed Nepal to use four open seaports — Shenzhen, Tianjin, Zhanjiang and Lianyungang — and three open dry ports — Shenzhen, Tianjin, Zhanjiang and Lianyungang.
Nepal has six border ports in China for transit. Although Nepal has access to Rasuwa-Jilong, Kodari-Jangmu, Kimathangka-Chhentang, Nechung-Liji, Yari-Pulan and Olangchungola-Riu ports, it has not been formally used.
However, though import and export are done only through Rasuwa and Tatopani checkpoints, both the points have been obstructed on the part of the Chinese government.
In the meantime, the checkpoints continue to be obstructed without enough concrete reason and consultation with the Nepali side.
Minister for Women, Children and Senior Citizens Uma Regmi at the sixth anniversary celebration of the China Foundation for Poverty Elevation Nepal said China should make arrangements for easy import and export of goods from the border.
Nepalis from different quarters of life have been taking China’s increased pressure as lessons to be learned on how China behaves with its neighbors.
Meanwhile, observers and analysts have to say that China is continuously exerting pressure on Nepalis, seeking benefits of good faith will have a negative impact on Nepal.
Speaking to Khabarhub recently, businessman Phurbu Tsering Tamang, who owns a shop in Kerung, said that they are compelled to pay a hefty amount of money (around 2 to 3 lakhs per month) as house rent there without operating his business.
Besides obstructing the border checkpoints, China has been playing foul to spoil Nepal’s relations with the United States of America by creating a fuss on the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC).
Of late, China has politicized the MCC by disseminating wrong facts.
Nepal Democrat Union (NDU), a Nepali social organization, in a statement issued recently said that China through its intelligence wing ‘Ministry of State Security’ has been disseminating propaganda and misinformation to attack Nepal’s sovereignty, obstruct the passage of United States grant MCC in Nepal at any cost and sever Nepal’s ties with democracies in the world, including the US.
The NDU in a demonstration organized in New Baneswor, Kathmandu recently also drew the attention of Nepali lawmakers against China’s negative influences and interventions in the internal affairs of the country.
It also condemned what it called “authoritarian Communist China’s all-out interference in Nepal aimed at undermining Nepal’s identity, communal harmony and the country’s ties with foreign nations.”
The demonstrators also raised the issue of land encroachment by China in various bordering districts, including Humla, Mustang, Gorkha, Rasuwa and Dolakha, among others alleging that “hoisting of Chinese flag in Bhairahawa-based airport last month was meant to signify that Nepal was its subordinate nation.”
It also said that discord was being promoted among Nepal’s political forces and cadres leading to social conflicts and a split of parties under the guise of MCC.
Meanwhile, Rastriya Ekata Abhiyan, a civil society organization, also staged a demonstration against China in Janakpur this week against what it said Chinese “expansionism”, land encroachment in various parts of the country and unofficial blockade at Rasuwa and Tatopani border points, among others.
The demonstrators carrying placards that read ‘Go Back China’, ‘Put brakes on Chinese Intervention’, ‘Stop border encroachment’, ‘Stop undeclared blockade against Nepal’ and ‘Arrange for a continuation of the study of Nepali students’, among others, also burnt the effigy of Chinese Ambassador to Nepal Hou Yanqi.
That’s not all. Leaders at a program in Saptari also alleged China for interfering in Nepal’s internal affairs.
They lambasted China for using Nepali soil to fulfill its vested interest, and trying to entice the people of Tarai Madhes in a bid to fulfill its “debt trap” strategy.
Nepali Congress (NC) leader and intellectual Sabur Lal Sahu alleged Chinese companies exploiting Nepali workers by bringing workers from China to Madhes.
Likewise, Umesh Mishra, the regional chairperson of Nepali Congress (NC) Province-2, accused China of trying to increase contacts with some leaders of the Madhesi parties to increase its influence.
Birendra Sah, a central member of the Loktantirk Socialist Party said, “BRI project has been a ploy to impose a debt burden on poor nations, including Nepal.”
“BRI project should not be allowed to be implemented in Nepal,” he added.
Khabarhub had recently published a story saying that an MSS official Ling alias Oscar Ning (who holds two passports PE 0350392, PE 17327 79) has been running covert operations by stationing in Kathmandu to further the Chinese agenda in Nepal.
“Any interference from China cannot be tolerable to freedom-loving Nepalis,” Ganesh Mandal, a political analyst told Khabarhub saying that the democratic world is with Nepal and the Nepali people.
It may be noted that the Chinese Ambassador to Nepal Hou Yanqi has lately intensified political meetings with Nepali political leaders, mainly Communists.
Last week, she held talks with Jhala Nath Khanal, coordinator of the task force formed by the ruling coalition and leader of the CPN (Unified-Socialist) to recommend the government about the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC).
During the meeting, the Chinese Ambassador sought updates regarding the task force’s study on MCC, among other issues, according to sources.
Observers have to note that the meeting between Khanal and Ambassador Yanqi was meaningful when the task force has been entrusted to “suggest” the government about the widely-discussed US grant agreement MCC.
What is to be recalled is that Chinese Ambassador Yanqi intensifies political meetings with Nepal’s leaders when the debates surrounding MCC escalates.
Analyst Saroj Mishra views that the time has come to decide and act – for or against MCC as general people, who have absolutely no idea about MCC, have been provoked and have been brought down to the streets.
Meanwhile, in what can be termed as another instance of political interference, Chinese Deputy Minister Chen Zhao in Shenzhen emphasized Left unity among Nepal’s communist forces during a meeting with Maoist leader Barsaman Pun in China recently.
During the meeting, he expressed the confidence that the Maoists would be further strengthened under Prachanda’s leadership, and that the Chinese Communist Party and the CPN-Maoist Center were the closest allies and would strengthen the ties in the days to come. (Image source: Instagram)

Taiwan’s F-16 goes missing, country’s air force launches search operation

Beijing [Taiwan] (ANI): An F-16 aircraft vanished off the radar during a routine training mission in Taiwan on Tuesday, reported Sputnik.
A search-and-rescue operation has been launched by the Taiwanese air force to find the jet. The jet took off from the Chiayi Air Base at 2:55 pm [06:55GMT] and disappeared from radars at 3:23 p.m, reported Focus Taiwan citing the country’s military.
A response centre has also been set up to monitor the search and rescue operation.
Taiwan received F-16s from the US, which is the island nation’s main arms supplier. Last year, Taiwan had commissioned the US government’s defence contractor Lockheed Martin last year to upgrade its ageing fleet of F-16s to more advanced F-16Vs, reported Sputnik. (Image source: Unsplash)

China reports first community spread of Omicron variant

Tianjin [China] (ANI): China has reported its first community spread Omicron cases, with two people confirmed with the coronavirus variant in Tianjin city, a Singapore-based newspaper The Strait Times stated citing local media reports.
Port city Tianjin has begun mass-testing its 14 million residents following its first community-spread Omicron cases on January 9. The confirmed Omicron cases belong to a cluster of 20 children and adults at an after-school care centre in Tianjin, which borders Beijing, the capital city, The Strait Times reported.
They include 15 students aged between eight and 13, a staff member at the centre and four parents.
The Omicron patients are a 10-year-old student and the staff member, who is a 29-year-old woman. Neither have travelled out of the city in the past 14 days, the reports added, as per The Strait Times.
The mass testing, which started on Sunday, is expected to end by Monday.
Beijing has also been on high alert by making it mandatory for anyone entering the city to undergo COVID-19 testing and allowing only fully vaccinated individuals in for certain events as it prepares to host the Winter Olympics on February 4.
Xi’an, the provincial capital of Shaanxi in northern China, has reported more than 1,900 cases in its latest flare-up. The city of 13 million people have also been under a strict lockdown for weeks, as per the publication.
On Sunday, mainland China reported 92 new COVID-19 cases, with 56 of them from Henan, 30 from Shaanxi, three in Tianjin, two in Zhejiang in south-eastern China and one in Guangdong province in the south, The Strait Times reported. (Image source: Instagram)

Beijing Winter Olympics opening ceremony downsized amid surge in COVID-19 cases

Beijing [China] (ANI): China has downsized the opening ceremony of the Beijing Winter Olympics because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Chinese Film Director Zhang Yimou has announced that the opening ceremony will be much smaller than that of the 2008 Summer Games held in the capital, reported NHK World. Zhang has been appointed chief director of the Games’ opening and closing ceremonies, reprising his role in the 2008 Olympics.
He said the opening ceremony on February 4 at the National Stadium, known as the Bird’s Nest, will feature about 3,000 performers and last less than 100 minutes, reported NHK World.
The number of performers is one-fifth that of the 2008 ceremony and the length is less than half.
With less than one month to go before the Olympics, community infections of the Omicron coronavirus variant have been confirmed in the city of Tianjin, adjacent to Beijing, and the inland province of Henan, reported NHK World.
Whereas the 2008 Summer Olympics was widely regarded as China’s “coming out party” on the world stage (replete with the official theme song, “Beijing Welcomes You”), the 2022 Winter Games will be held within a tightly sealed Covid-safe “bubble” isolating participants and attendees from the wider Chinese population. (Image source: Unsplash)

US hopes to thwart China-Iran alliance by deft diplomacy

Washington [US] (ANI): US hopes to thwart the China-Iran alliance by mixing carrots and sticks to draw Tehran into a long-term dialogue on issues of concern to the US and its allies.
More dexterous diplomacy towards Tehran should mix carrots and sticks to draw Iran into a long-term dialogue on issues of concern to the United States and its allies, according to National Interest. The policy implication of this view–if one accepts “strategic competition” as the guiding principle on China–is that the Biden administration should “test the opposite premise” of isolating Tehran, “by restoring nuclear diplomacy, lowering regional tensions, and forging new arrangements.” Crucially, to accomplish this vision, a “fast timeline” of re-joining the 2015 Iran deal is necessary–but far from sufficient, writes Lyes Mauni Jalali for the National Interest.
Earlier, Iran had completely pivoted towards its “Look to the East Policy” after the withdrawal of the US from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action in May 2018 and imposition of new sanctions on Iran by Trump’s Administration and after these developments Tehran lost hope to normalize relations with the West and marched eastward.
Jalali said that Iran’s “Look to the East policy” strategy aims to strengthen Iran’s strategic cooperation with Russia and China.
On the other hand, incentives imply a rebuke of the policy of isolation. As it relates to Iran, economic integration (primary sanction relief) and political integration, in exchange for verifiable political ends should be the guiding diplomatic principle, according to National Interest.
Iran is also a pivotal player in Iraq, Lebanon, and Yemen, and has a key cultural foothold in Afghanistan, notably amongst the Dari-speaking population (Afghan dialect of Persian) including the Hazaras (Persian-speaking and of Shiite faith), chipping away at Russia’s cultural dominance of Central Asia. (Image source: Instagram)

Chinese Foreign Minister held talks with Sri Lankan Prime Minister

Beijing [China]: Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi on Sunday held talks with Sri Lankan Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa and discussed several issues including tourism, investments, and fight against the COVID-19 to mark the celebration of the 65th anniversary of the diplomatic relations between the two nations.
Wang arrived in Colombo on Saturday from the Maldives where he reached on Friday to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations of China and the Maldives. Taking to Twitter, the Sri Lankan Prime Minister also announced that he had a “very pleasant meeting” with Wang Yi.
“Had a very pleasant meeting with the Foreign Minister of China. Discussions centred around the logistics of facilitating the return of the many lka med students to China. Also discussed were a host of issues including Tourism, investments, COVID-19, SL relief & post-Covid preparedness,” Mahinda Rajapaksa tweeted.
“I thanked #China and her people for the continued support to #lka. As both our nations celebrate 65 years of bilateral relations, I am hopeful that this relationship we share will only grow & be strengthened in the years to come,” he added.
As per Chinese media outlet, Global Times reported that Colombo will be the last stop of his first foreign visit in the new year.

North China’s Tianjin starts citywide nucleic acid testing amid spike in COVID-19 cases

Tianjin [China]: Authorities at North China’s Tianjin, a municipality that neighbours Beijing, have started a citywide nucleic acid testing after 20 people were tested positive for COVID-19 on Saturday, reported Xinhua.
The positive coronavirus cases were reported from 6 pm Friday to 9 pm Saturday in Jinnan District, said Xinhua. With the gene sequencing, the first two locally-confirmed cases were found to be infected with the Omicron variant, said the municipal centre for disease control and prevention.
The citywide nucleic acid testing began at 7 am on Sunday and is expected to be completed in 24 hours in four districts. In the 12 other districts the tests will begin from 7 am Monday, and residents will not be given a green health code until receiving the negative testing result, according to the centre.
It came as Xi’an, capital of northwest China’s Shaanxi Province, is facing strict lockdown from December 23 due to the rising COVID-19 cases.
Officials on Saturday said that Xi’an reported 46 locally transmitted COVID-19 cases on Friday. The city has registered 1,959 local cases since December 9, 2021, amid the latest resurgence.

Chinese officials arrest Tibetan monks for sharing information of Buddha statue destruction

Beijing [China]: Chinese authorities in Sichuan province are arresting Tibetan monks and beating them over suspicion that they informed outside people about the destruction of the 99-foot tall Buddha statue in the country’s Luhuo county (Drago), a media report said.
The Buddha statue in the Kardze (Ganzi) Tibetan Autonomous Region was demolished in December by officials who said the statue had been built too high, reported Radio Free Asia (RFA) citing Tibetan sources. Local monastery monks and other Tibetan residents were forced to witness the destruction, an action experts called part of an ongoing campaign to eradicate Tibet’s distinct national culture and religion, said RFA.
Chinese officials so far have arrested 11 monks from Drago’s Gaden Namgyal Ling monastery on suspicion of sending news and photos of the statue’s destruction to contacts outside the region, reported RFA citing a source.
“As of now, we have learned that Lhamo Yangkyi, Tsering Samdrup and four other Tibetans have been arrested for communicating outside Tibet,” RFA quoted the source as saying citing contacts in Drago.
The demolition of the statue began a few days before, said the source, adding that Abbot Pelga, his assistant Nyima, and the monks Tashi Dorje and Nyima from the monastery in Drago were taken into custody. Chinese officials said that they need to be taught a lesson, the source informed.
He also said that the officials brutally beat the monks and did not give them food in prison. One of the monks was brutally beaten by them as his one of eyes got badly injured.
Religious believers in China can not rely on legal or constitutional safeguards of their faith, said Sophie Richardson, China director for New York-based Human Rights Watch after the arrest of monks over-sharing news of statue demolition.
Richardson also said that Beijing in its current phase of “ultranationalist and statist ideology gives all power to the state, and regards civil society with suspicion and contempt, according to RFA.

America not pushing for countries in Africa to choose between US, China: Ned Price

Washington [US]: United States is not pushing for countries in Africa to choose between a relationship with the US or China, the State Department has said after reports emerged that Beijing was appointing its own special envoy for the Horn of Africa.
“We are committed to promoting peace, security and prosperity in the Horn and we’ll work with all partners who share our objectives in that,” State Department spokesperson Ned Price said in a briefing on Thursday (local time), The Hill reported. “We don’t ask our partners to choose between the United States and any other country, that includes the PRC (People’s Republic of China). What we seek is not to make them choose but to give them choices,” he added.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Thursday announced the appointment of a US special envoy for the Horn of Africa, David Satterfield, to take over for veteran diplomat Jeffrey Feltman, who held the inaugural position since April, according to the publication.
“I look forward to welcoming Ambassador David Satterfield in the coming days as the US Special Envoy for the Horn of Africa once Ambassador Jeffrey Feltman ends his appointment,” Blinken said in a statement via Twitter.

India welcomes Joint Statement by US, UK, Russia, France and China, aimed at preventing nuclear war and arms race

New Delhi [India]: India on Friday welcomed the Joint Statement on preventing nuclear war and avoiding arms race which was given by the leaders of China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States on Monday.
“We welcome the Joint Statement this week, which reaffirms the importance of addressing nuclear threats, and underscores the desire to work towards creating a security environment more conducive to progress on disarmament with the ultimate goal of a world without nuclear weapons with undiminished security for all.”, said Bagchi in a statement. Bagchi cleared India’s stance on the No First Use posture and the non-use of nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapon states.
“As a responsible nuclear weapon state, India has a doctrine of maintaining a credible minimum deterrence based on a No First Use posture and non-use of nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapon states. India remains committed to the goal of universal, non-discriminatory and verifiable nuclear disarmament”, he said in a statement.
He added that India’s resolution at United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) stands for steps to reduce the risk of unintentional or accidental use of nuclear weapons and India will continue to contribute to global nuclear disarmament.
“India will continue to contribute further to the global nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation agenda.”, said the statement.”, said the statement.
Earlier, the leaders of China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States on Monday (local time) reiterated their commitment to de-targeting and reaffirmed that none of their nuclear weapons was targeted at each other or at any other State.
In a joint statement, the leaders of the five countries said “we affirm that a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought.”
“We affirm that a nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought. As nuclear use would have far-reaching consequences, we also affirm that nuclear weapons–for as long as they continue to exist–should serve defensive purposes, deter aggression, and prevent war. We believe strongly that the further spread of such weapons must be prevented,” the statement read.
The five permanent member states of the UN Security Council also reaffirmed the importance of addressing nuclear threats and emphasised the importance of preserving and complying with their bilateral and multilateral non-proliferation, disarmament, and arms control agreements and commitments.
The five countries also underlined their desire to work with all states to create a security environment more conducive to progress on disarmament with the ultimate goal of a world without nuclear weapons with undiminished security for all.
They intend to continue seeking bilateral and multilateral diplomatic approaches to avoid military confrontations, strengthen stability and predictability, increase mutual understanding and confidence, and prevent an arms race that would benefit none and endanger all.
“We are resolved to pursue a constructive dialogue with mutual respect and acknowledgement of each other’s security interests and concerns,” the statement read.
It was the first time for leaders of the five Nuclear-Weapon States to issue such a joint statement, which has demonstrated the political will of the five states to prevent nuclear wars, and given their common voice of maintaining global strategic stability and reducing the risk of nuclear conflicts, Chinese vice Foreign Minister Ma Zhaoxu said.

6.9 magnitude quake hits China’s Qinghai

             

Beijing [China], 8 (ANI): A 6.9-magnitude earthquake jolted Menyuan county in northwest China’s Qinghai Province on Saturday (local time), local media reported citing China Earthquake Networks Center (CENC).

The epicenter was monitored at 37.77 degrees north latitude and 101.26 degrees east longitude. The quake struck at a depth of 10 km at 1:45 am (Beijing Time), as per Xinhua News Agency.

India, China to hold 14th round Corps Commander talks on Jan 12

                

New Delhi [India]: In a bid to resolve the ongoing stand-off on the Line of Actual Control (LAC), India and China are likely to hold the 14th round of corps commander talks on January 12.
This would be the first time that the Indian Army’s new 14 ‘Fire and Fury’ Corps Commander Lt Gen Anindya Sengupta would be representing the country in talks with the Chinese side. He took over formally on Tuesday.

The 14th round of India-China talks are likely to be held on January 12 to mainly resolve the Hot Springs area which is the only new friction point left to be resolved between the two countries, government sources told ANI.

India and China have been holding talks on the Line of Actual Control in the Eastern Ladakh area to resolve the standoff and 13 rounds have been held so far.

The two sides are looking at the resolution of the Hot Springs friction point which emerged after the Chinese aggression last year.

The friction points on the banks of the Pangong lake and Gogra heights have been resolved but Hot Springs remains to be addressed, the sources said.

India has also been demanding the resolution of the DBO area and CNN junction area which have been there before the April-May timeframe last year and are considered to be legacy issues.

India responded very aggressively to Chinese aggression and checked their actions at multiple locations.

The 2020 Galwan clash also took place in June there in which both sides suffered casualties.

India has been working towards establishing peace in the area but has also maintained a high level of preparedness to thwart any misadventure by the enemy troops.

India has also made rapid developments in terms of roads and habitats for troops and sources estimated that India can easily manage over 2 lakh soldiers in the area in extreme winters in case such a large number of troops are required to be there.

Bangladesh suffers huge loss due to China

            

Dhaka [Bangladesh]: Some Chinese companies are involved in printing and supplying counterfeit documents in Bangladesh, causing huge losses to the government exchequer.

Although the Bangladeshi port authorities suspect the involvement of other Chinese companies in such illegal activities, they were apparently reluctant to take action due to ‘pressure’ from senior officials, reported Bangladesh Live News.
Trade in counterfeit and pirated goods has risen in recent years and it is estimated at about 3.5% of global trade by OECD.

The World Customs Organization estimates that 65 % of all counterfeit shipments globally originate from mainland China.

According to OECD, trade-in fake goods which infringe on trademarks and copyrights, creates profits for organized gangs at the expense of companies and governments.

Chinese companies are notorious for faking branded products.

Global Alliance for Tax Justice says, Bangladesh loses USD 143.96 million in tax income each year, or BD Taka 1235 crore, due to global tax evasion by multinational firms and rich people, reported Bangladesh Live News.

Despite the fact that the Chinese business had reported the cargo to the Bangladeshi company to include Art/A4 size sheets, it was discovered that they were selling counterfeit band rolls/ stamps. This resulted in fraudulent tax avoidance of over BD Taka 250 crore.

Bandrolls are produced by the Bangladeshi government’s Security Printing Corporation, and cigarette/bidi firms are required to purchase them by paying tax/VAT, also known as cigarette tax.

The National Board of Money (NBR) generates revenue by selling these stamps / bandrolls, and no one else is permitted to purchase them other than from NBR. A bandroll is a narrow, thin ribbon that is wound around a packet of Bidi and Cigarettes. Certain corporate firms appear to have been obtaining the same from China.

According to reports, the Chittagong Customs House Port Control Unit (PCU) recently revealed that a Chinese business located in Shenzhen, ‘Digit Anti Fake Company Ltd’ (DAFC), had sold counterfeit band rolls/stamps to Chittagong-based Arafat Enterprise, said the news portal.

DAFC is also accused of printing various fake documents like passports, voting papers, national identity cards, birth registration certificates, and so on. Bangladeshi officials discovered a DAFC-run website that mentioned bandroll and said, “Bangladesh’s National Board of Revenue, Customs Paid.”

Significantly, following the consignment’s capture in Chittagong, the Chinese business has taken down its website, which featured a variety of fraudulent papers.

Counterfeit and pirated products commerce has increased in recent years, with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) estimating that it accounts for around 3.5 per cent of global trade.

Counterfeit goods, which infringe on trademarks and copyrights, generates revenues for organised gangs at the expense of businesses and governments, according to the OECD. Chinese firms are well-known for imitating trademark goods.

North Korea will not take part in Beijing Winter Olympics, says Report

Pyongyang [North Korea]: North Korea will not take part in the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics over the activities of “hostile forces” and the COVID-19 pandemic, Russian news agency reported citing North Korean media on Friday.
“We could not take part in the Olympics due to the hostile forces’ moves and the worldwide pandemic, but we would fully support the Chinese comrades in all their work to hold splendid and wonderful Olympic festival,” Sputnik reported citing KCNA news agency. The KCNA has cited a letter from the North Korean Olympic Committee and the Ministry of Physical Culture and Sports to the Chinese Olympic Committee.
The 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing will be held from February 4-20. The massive security deployment and checks are being carried out by China soon before the Beijing Winter Olympics.
Meanwhile, in an effort to conduct Winter Olympics next month hassle-free, China is adamant about implementing a Zero-COVID policy, further complicating problems for its citizens.
China had welcomed the year 2022 with the worst tally of COVID-19 cases for any seven-day period since subduing the country’s first epidemic nearly two years ago.
The worst situation is said to be found in Xi’an town and since December, it is in the grip of a COVID-19 wave, according to Hong Kong Post.
For over two weeks now, Xi’an’s 13 million residents are confined to their homes.
Only one person per household is allowed to leave home every two days to buy essential goods. Nobody can leave the city whatever the circumstances. The process of seeking permission is cumbersome, according to Hong Kong Post. (ANI)
The US, the UK, Australia, Canada and Lithuania have announced the diplomatic boycott of games.

China: Xi’an reports 90 locally transmitted COVID19 cases

Xi’an [China]: The Chinese city of Xi’an has reported 90 locally transmitted COVID-19 cases on Sunday.
Eighty of the cases were found in quarantine, Global Times reported. The city registered 1,663 local cases between December 9, 2021 and Sunday, amid the latest resurgence of the virus.
Of the total number of cases, 17 have been cured, five are critical and 16 severe. The other cases are moderate to mild.
Starting from Monday, the city has added two more high-risk and seven medium-risk areas for COVID-19. Currently, Xi’an has three high-risk and 64 medium-risk areas.

Nepal tight-lipped over Chinese encroachment of its territory in border areas

Kathmandu [Nepal]: Kathmandu remains silent over China’s expansionist designs in the Himalayan nation as several media reports indicate illegal encroachments by Beijing in bordering districts including Humla, Gorkha, Darchula, Dolakha and Sindhupalchowk.
In September last year, a seven-member committee headed by the home secretary was formed by the Nepal government to study the Nepal-China border in the northern part of Humla. The team studied border pillars, especially in the Limi valley, and initial findings confirmed that there were some serious border issues between Nepal and China. Sources reveal that the Committee has finalized its report, but the Home Ministry withheld the findings as there has been no response from China over the issue.
Jaya Narayan Acharya who was the member of the team deployed to assess the situation and prepare a report said, “We have included geographical and socio-cultural issues and physical infrastructure built in the area in the report, along with our findings. Also, the findings during our interactions with the local people have been included in the report.”
“During the visit, we also found that the boundary pillars were fenced with wire and repaired but it is not known who actually did it. We have suggested the formation of joint inspection teams from both the countries and pursue the issue diplomatically,” Acharya added.
One of the ANI sources inside the Ministry of Home Affairs confirmed that Nepal has approached the Chinese side over the issue but there has been no response to date over the issue.
The then government led by Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli directed the Chief District Officer (CDO) of Humla district to study and submit a report. The findings have not been made public, but Nepali newspapers quoted the CDO as saying that the construction seems to have taken place 1 kilometre inside Chinese territory.
It was opposed by the Nepali Congress who tabled a resolution in Parliament calling on Prime Minister Oli “to bring back these encroached territories by holding the dialogue,” with China.
The allegations also led to protests in front of the Chinese Embassy in Kathmandu, where protesters chanted slogans calling a “stop (to) Chinese Intervention” and to “Chinese Encroachment”. Nepali Congress leaders at that time even accused the Oli government of appeasing Beijing and remaining quiet when China had encroached on Nepali territory.
The relations between Nepal and China in the last few decades have improved significantly, especially after Tibet became a part of the autonomous region of China and, for the first time, the two neighbours share a boundary of 1,439 kilometres.
Nepal and China decided to delineate and demarcate the boundary line through the Nepal-China Boundary Agreement on March 21, 1960. This boundary agreement replaced the Treaty of Thapathali and recognized China’s sovereignty over Tibet and agreed to surrender all privileges and rights granted by the old treaty.
After a detailed survey and mapping on both sides, a formal settlement of the Boundary treaty was finalised on October 5, 1961.
The boundary line was demarcated on the basis of traditional use by the country, possessions and convenience. There were conflict areas where the policy of ‘give and take’ was used.
Nepal had given about 1,836 square kilometres of land to China, while China had given Nepal 2,139 square kilometres of land.
Furthermore, the watershed principle of the Himalayan range was used to demarcate the boundary on the Northern side. The area encompasses various passes, mountain peaks and pasture lands.
In the cases in which the pasture lands of a citizen of one country falls on the other side of the border, the choice of citizenship was given to the landowner.
However, there were some minor conflicts that emerged over the boundary over the last few decades.
For instance, in the north of Lapchigaun in the Lamabagar area of Dolakha district, the pillar marked 57 has been claimed to be placed inside Nepal instead of what was initially assumed.
The dispute concerns six hectares of land and because of this dispute, the fourth protocol is still on hold.
There was another conflict regarding the ownership of Mount Everest (Sagarmatha) but with Chou En-lai’s visit to Kathmandu in 1960, he made it clear that Mount Everest belongs to the people of Nepal.

Taiwanese President Tsai advises China against ‘military adventurism’

Taipei [Taiwan]: Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen during her New Year address at the presidential office in Taipei on Saturday called on China to resolve their differences peacefully, saying Beijing should curb the spread of “military adventurism.”
Tsai strongly protested against China’s “military incursions,” which she said “are of no benefit to the preservation of regional peace and stability,” reported NHK World. Reiterating Taiwan’s position she said that it was consistent and that it “will neither bow to pressure nor act rashly when we have support.”
Tsai said Chinese authorities “should not misjudge the situation, and that they should stop the spread of military adventurism within their ranks,” reported NHK World.
Tsai added that “the use of military means is absolutely not an option” for resolving the differences between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait. She warned that military clashes would deal a blow to economic stability.
Further, Tsai also brought up the recent arrests of people in Hong Kong in connection with an online media outlet known for its critical stance against the Hong Kong government.
Tsai said the pursuit of democracy and freedom is not a crime, and that Taiwan’s position in support of Hong Kong will not change, reported NHK World.
She said Taiwan will cherish its “own hard-earned freedom and democracy even more deeply.”
She expressed resolve to “show the world that democratic Taiwan has the courage to step out from the shadow of authoritarian China.”
China continues to consider Taiwan a breakaway province even after decades of separate governance. Taipei has countered the Chinese aggression by increasing strategic ties with democracies including the US, even as Beijing continues to threaten that “Taiwan’s independence” by means of war.
Amid the constantly increasing military and diplomatic pressure from China, Taiwan President noted the challenge to uphold its freedom, democracy, and consensus to connect with the world.
Taiwan witnessed 950 intrusions by the People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) military planes into its Air Defence Identification Zone in 2021 so far, a 60 per cent increase from the previous year.
Moreover, Taiwanese media reported that the island is anticipating a further rise in the number of intrusions as China has ramped up sorties over the past few years.

Freedom is not crime, will pursue democracy against authoritarian China: Taiwan President

Taipei [Taiwan]: Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen on Saturday underlined the challenge that the island is facing to uphold its freedom and democracy amid constantly increasing military and diplomatic pressure from China.
In her New Year’s Day address, President Tsai said, “The pursuit of democracy and freedom is not a crime, and Taiwan’s position in support of Hong Kong will not change. Aside from showing our concern, we will cherish our own hard-earned freedom and democracy even more deeply.” “We will make Taiwan even better and show the world that democratic Taiwan has the courage to step out from the shadow of authoritarian China, and that we will not bow to pressure,” Tsai said.
China continues to consider Taiwan a breakaway province even after decades of separate governance. Taipei has countered the Chinese aggression by increasing strategic ties with democracies including the US, even as Beijing continues to threaten that “Taiwan’s independence” by means of war.
Amid the constantly increasing military and diplomatic pressure from China, Taiwan President noted the challenge to uphold its freedom, democracy, and consensus to connect with the world.
“Continuing our global engagement, maintaining our economic momentum, strengthening our social security network, and safeguarding our nation’s sovereignty are the four pillars of our plan for stable governance in 2022,” she was quoted as saying by Taiwan Focus.
China on Thursday, in a belligerent tone, had said it sent more than 940 fighters planes for routine drills which are more than what Taiwanese authorities have said.
“The PLA dispatched more warplanes to routine drills near Taiwan than the DPP authorities revealed, Chinese Defense Ministry said in response to DPP’s recent claims that the mainland conducted 940 warplane sorties near the Taiwan island this year,” state media outlet Global Times reported.
Taiwan witnessed 950 intrusions by the People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) military planes into its Air Defence Identification Zone in 2021 so far, a 60 per cent increase from the previous year.
Moreover, Taiwanese media reported that the island is anticipating a further rise in the number of intrusions as China has ramped up sorties over the past few years.
The number of flights is expected to increase further as tensions rise over major political events on two sides of the Taiwan Strait in 2022, Taiwan News reported.

3 Chinese warplanes enter Taiwan air defence zone, 23rd intrusion of month

Taipei [Taiwan]: Three Chinese military planes entered Taiwan air defence identification zone (ADIZ) on Thursday, said the Taiwanese defence ministry, marking it the 23rd intrusion of the month.
One People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) Shaanxi Y-8 electronic warfare plane, one Shaanxi Y-8 reconnaissance airplane, and one Shaanxi Y-8 anti-submarine warfare aircraft flew into the southwest corner of Taiwan’s ADIZ, according to the Ministry of National Defense (MND). In response, Taiwan sent aircraft, issued radio warnings, and deployed air defence missile systems to track the PLAAF planes, Taiwan News reported.
A total of 83 Chinese aircraft have been spotted in Taiwan’s identification zone so far in December, including 46 fighter jets, 2 bombers, and 35 spotter planes.
Since September last year, China has increased its use of gray zone tactics by routinely sending aircraft into Taiwan’s ADIZ, with most occurrences taking place in the southwest corner of the zone.
Taiwan on Thursday said it witnessed 950 intrusions by the People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) military planes into its Air Defence Identification Zone in 2021 so far, a 60 per cent increase from the previous year.
Moreover, Taiwanese media reported that the island is anticipating a further rise in the number of intrusions as China has ramped up sorties over the past few years.
The number of flights is expected to increase further as tensions rise over major political events on two sides of the Taiwan Strait in 2022, Taiwan News reported.
Dismissing these claims, China boasted that it sent more than 940 fighters planes for routine drills which are more than what Taiwanese authorities have said.
Beijing claims full sovereignty over Taiwan, a democracy of almost 24 million people located off the southeastern coast of mainland China, despite the fact that the two sides have been governed separately for more than seven decades.
Taipei, on the other hand, has countered the Chinese aggression by increasing strategic ties with democracies including the US, which has been repeatedly opposed by Beijing. China has threatened that “Taiwan’s independence” means war.

China blames US for bringing serious humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan

Beijing [China]: Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said that the irresponsible withdrawal by the United States from Afghanistan has brought a serious humanitarian crisis to the Afghan people and enormous security challenges to regional stability.
“The entire world witnessed the Kabul Moment, when the US forces left Afghanistan in a rush. Such irresponsible withdrawal has brought a serious humanitarian crisis to the Afghan people and enormous security challenges to regional stability,” Wang Yi said. In his interview, China’s Foreign Minister said that China supports Afghanistan in building an inclusive government, ending turbulence, restoring stability and rebuilding the country so that the Afghan people will be able to enjoy the benefits of peace and tranquillity supplies.
On hotspot issues such as Afghanistan and Myanmar, China has stayed in close coordination with countries in the region to jointly safeguard stability in this part of the world, according to China’s state councillor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s interview to Xinhua News Agency.
In 2021, the entire world witnessed the Kabul Moment, when the US forces left Afghanistan in a rush. The scenes of chaos and even shocking brutality at Kabul airport will stay in the memory of humanity forever as a historic mark on the failure of the so-called “democratic transformation”, according to State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi interview to Xinhua News Agency and China Media Group.
Further, he mentioned that China has actively facilitated international coordination and played a constructive role in a stable transition of the Afghanistan situation.
Foreign Minister Wang Yi said that Afghanistan still faces serious challenges in the economy, people’s livelihoods, security and governance.
“The Afghan people have suffered from years of war and turmoil, and should not have to endure the ravages of the pandemic, hunger and cold and winterization. Facing the sudden changes in Afghanistan, China did not sit by, but extended a helping hand,” he said.
“We immediately reached out to the Afghan people with emergency humanitarian assistance, especially vaccines and food,” he added.

US, UK, Germany, France express solidarity with Lithuania amid Chinese coercion

Washington [US]: US Secretary of State Antony Blinken held a telephonic conversation with his counterparts from France, Germany and the UK, during which they highlighted their solidarity with Lithuania in the face of escalating political pressure and economic coercion by China.
In a statement, US State Department spokesperson Ned Price said: “Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken spoke today with French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, and UK Foreign Secretary Elizabeth Truss”. They discussed the importance of continued coordination Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken spoke today with French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, and UK Foreign Secretary Elizabeth Truss.
The Secretary and his counterparts also discussed their shared concerns about the pace of developments in Iran’s nuclear program as time runs short for Tehran to return to the JCPOA.
“They highlighted their solidarity with Lithuania in the face of escalating political pressure and economic coercion by the People’s Republic of China and rejected those practices,” the statement read.
They also discussed Libya’s ongoing efforts to organize national elections and agreed on the importance of the electoral process advancing without delay.
The dispute between Lithuania and China began earlier this year when Lithuania withdrew from the “17+1” bloc in Eastern Europe.
Lithuania then upgraded diplomatic relations with Taiwan, becoming the only European country to permit a Taiwanese representative office.
Back in August, China recalled its ambassador from Vilnius, to which Lithuania responded reciprocally in September.

Chinese envoy’s visit to Tamil-majority Sri Lankan province sparks concern

Colombo [Sri Lanka]: The recent visit by the Chinese envoy to Sri Lanka’s Tamil-majority Northern Province has sparked concern and political debate on what is being seen as a strategic move to expand the Chinese footprint, amid geopolitical contest with India.
From December 15-17, the Chinese ambassador of China to Sri Lanka Qi Zhenhong paid a visit for the first time to the Northern Province of the island nation. This visit took place one year after ambassador Qi presented his credentials. A Chinese embassy release said that a familiarization visit and a study tour to the north was planned for a long but couldn’t be realized due to the disadvantageous situation of COVID-19, and other busy schedules.
During his three-day visit, Ambassador Qi visited the landmark Jaffna Public Library and donated piles of food parcels “to extend strong solidarity” to local communities to fight current COVID-19 difficulties.
Experts familiar with the geopolitical of the region have pointed that this Chinese “solidarity” could be meant to win over Sri Lankan Tamil fishermen.
“China is now strategizing a dual approach to satisfy the majority and minority community at the same time. The Chinese ambassador’s visit and the substantial assistance from China to the Northern Province is a strategic move to expand the Chinese footprint, targeting the fisheries community as the initial step,” said Asanga Abeyagoonsekara, Geopolitics and International Security Advisor in Sri Lanka, as quoted by inmathi, an online community hub for Tamils across the world.
Security experts believe that Beijing sees Sri Lanka as a geostrategic hub for the Belt and Road Initiative in the Indian Ocean.
There has been a clear expansion of Chinese influence in multiple sectors supported by the Rajapaksa regime for their survival and economic security, according to inmathi. “China should understand India’s security sensitivity, especially in India’s immediate southern periphery,” Abeygoonsekara added.
India should approach this carefully, said R S Vasan, Former Regional Commander Coast Guard Region East, currently Director Chennai Centre for China Studies.
“China will play any card for its advantage and it wouldn’t be surprising if it plays India card amidst the Island nation’s fishers. China wants an edge in the Indian Ocean Region and uses all its techniques in Sri Lanka, turning it as a geopolitical point to corner India,” he said.
The article published in the inmathi, argued that China is now strategizing a dual approach to satisfy the majority and minority community at the same time in Sri Lanka. The Chinese envoy’s visit and subsequent aid to the Northern Province is a strategic move to expand China’s footprint, the report said and added that targeting the fisheries community is the initial step.
“We have to be careful against this asymmetric warfare being played in the Indian Ocean Region. India should address this with Sri Lanka,” Vasan added.

5 Chinese warships sail between Japanese islands

Tokyo [Japan]: Five Chinese warships, including the Liaoning aircraft carrier on Friday midnight, passed through waters between the main island of Okinawa Prefecture and the island of Miyakojima.
Japan’s Defense Ministry on Sunday said that five vessels sailed north, from the Pacific Ocean to the East China Sea, through the waters. They are believed to be returning to China after ending a series of exercises, reported the japan times. The Liaoning-led fleet sailed south in the waters between the Okinawa main island and Miyakojima on December 16.
This was the first time since April for the Liaoning to sail back and forth in the waters between the main island of Okinawa and Miyakojima, reported the japan times.
Over two days from December 19, fighter jets and a helicopter repeatedly practiced landing on and taking off from the Liaoning in the high seas near the Okinawa islands of Kitadaitojima and Okidaitojima.
Japanese ships including the Izumo destroyer of the Maritime Self-Defense Force were sent on a surveillance mission, reported the japan times.
The Japanese ministry is on high alert because China is believed to be trying to beef up its military’s operational capabilities.

EU envisages strategy to counter China’s Belt and Road Initiative

Washington [US]: European Union has envisaged better planning to counter China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and become a stronger geopolitical entity.
Eight years after the announcement of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI)–conceived first as One Belt, One Road, the European Union (EU) has a good plan to counter it and become a stronger geopolitical actor in an era of strategic competition as European policymakers seem to have awakened to Chinese economic and geopolitical designs, according to National Interest. Therefore, European policymakers seem to have understood the Chinese economic and geopolitical designs.
In line with this vision, Beijing is expanding Chinese outreach in the global economy, reducing its technological dependence on the West–in line with its “Made in China 2025”–and maintaining a favorable external influence while addressing domestic challenges writes Valbona Zeneli for the National Interest.
The BRI is an economic and geopolitical necessity for Beijing as it tries to unlock the potential for new sources of growth and export markets for China’s excess industrial capacities in its struggling industries (construction, steel, and cement) which could be done through advance innovation.
Despite Beijing’s significant investment to strengthen the BRI’s narrative power–focusing on the mantra of a “win-win” strategy, promising to advance global development, and presenting China as a benevolent rising power–BRI has become controversial and caused a backlash in several countries, according to National Interest.
Since its inception, 2013, most Chinese projects in Eurasia have been incorporated into the BRI, the brainchild of President Xi Jinping, a foreign policy narrative that exports the “China Dream” that was cemented into the Chinese Communist Party’s constitution during the Nineteenth Party Congress.
To put this into perspective, since the launch of the BRI in 2013, the EU and the United States together have contributed USD 800 billion to global development–more foreign aid to developing countries than China’s BRI loans, writes Valbona Zeneli for the National Interest.
Further, a grant represents a much bigger financial contribution than a loan, and the EU’s donations alone ($550 billion since 2013) are greater than the BRI’s infrastructure lending thus far.

Beijing tightens control amid rising COVID cases

Beijing [China]: Beijing on Friday tightened epidemic prevention and control amid concerns around raging Omicron variant overseas as well as rising cases in China.
Beijing’s moves came one day after Xi’an, the capital city of Northwest China’s Shaanxi Province, known for its Terracotta Warriors, imposed a citywide lockdown following a fresh flare-up that spilled over into six cities including Beijing, Chinese-state media Global Times reported. Chinese health analysts said the local outbreak in Xi’an, which occurred around 40 days ahead of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics, increases the epidemic prevention pressure for China, but with timely and precise measures, experience in quelling local outbreaks and high vaccination rate among the Chinese population and participants of the Games, China will ensure a safe international sports event.
Xu Hejian, a spokesperson from the Beijing government, said at Friday’s media briefing that Beijing had revised its COVID-19 prevention and control measures, calling on residents to spend the upcoming holidays – New Year’s Day and Spring Festival – in Beijing.
The new measures apply to cases of locally transmitted infections in Beijing, residents in the district where reported cases are not allowed to leave the capital other than for essential reasons, and residents in the city’s townships where reported cases are restricted from leaving Beijing, Xu said.

Exporters could lose upto USD 175 mln due to stranded trucks at Vietnam-China border

Hanoi [Vietnam]: Exporters could lose USD 131 to 175 million as thousands of container trucks remain stuck at the Vietnam and China border.
A truck typically carries goods worth Vietnamese dong (VND) 500-900 million, and the costs of renting the truck and hiring a driver could increase by VND100 million-plus other expenses, chairman of Vietnam Fruit Association Dang Phuc Nguyen told VnExpress. This means losses could hit VND3-4 trillion if fruit including dragon fruit, jackfruit, watermelons and mangoes grow rotten due to delays, he said.
As of December 21, there are 6,200 container trucks stuck at the border with China, among which 4,400 are in Lang Son Province, according to Vietnam Customs.
Exporters are stuck between a rock and a hard place: they cannot cross the border to sell in China, but returning to sell domestically would likely result in a major loss.
“Dragon fruit prices in Hanoi are around VND4,000 per kilogram or a quarter of export prices. This will make us suffer heavy losses, not to mention other expenses,” said Tran Ngoc Hiep, CEO of dragon fruit exporter Thanh Long Hoang Hau.
The delay in clearance is due to Chinese authorities having tightened COVID-19 safety measures.
They also reported technical difficulties in their network system, said Hoang Khanh Duy, deputy head of Dong Dang Economic Zone in Lang Son.
Delays in clearance in other localities, including Quang Ninh and Cao Bang, and stoppage in Lao Cai, force most trucks to pour into Lang Son, he said.
Driver Nguyen Van Toi, with ten years of experience driving long distances, said the clearance delay happens every year but that this year it is especially long.
Many stranded drivers have been forced to cook their own meals on the spot.
Taking advantage of the situation, the local food vendors have increased the price, some drivers had to order food from locals priced at VND 50,000 (USD 2.18) a portion, reported VNExpress.Moreover, the drivers have to go through many difficulties. Some of them had to rest on a hammock.
Lang Son authorities on December 14 had a phone discussion with Chinese authorities to propose solutions to clear the goods, especially for agricultural produce.
Meanwhile, the Chinese customs authorities earlier told officials of Vietnam’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development that COVID-19 checks on goods are necessary procedures.

China punishes more than two dozen officials over surge in COVID cases

Beijing [China]: More than two dozen officials in China’s Shaanxi provinces have been punished by the authorities over their ineffective preventive measures in tackling the COVID-19 spread in the city of Xi’an, reported Xinhua.
The Chinese Central Commission for Discipline Inspection on Friday has punished 26 officials and four local party organizations have been punished for “ineffective preventive measures”, according to Xinhua. China on Thursday announced restrictions in the Shaanxi province’s of Xi’an as the biggest COVID outbreak was detected in the city on Wednesday. The authorities put the 13 million inhabitants of the city under restrictions as they are not allowed to leave their homes unless in an emergency.
The disciplinary commission has dispatched eight inspection groups to Xi’an to supervise officials attempts and measures to curb the spread of the virus.
Xi’an city reported 49 new cases of the coronavirus on Thursday while it reported 52 infections on Tuesday. In the past two weeks, Xi’an has reported 255 cases of COVID-19.

China opposes Japanese decision to release nuclear-contaminated water into sea

Beijing [China]: China has expressed concerns over what it called Japan’s unilateral decision to discharge the nuclear-contaminated water into the sea, calling on Tokyo to “rescind the wrong decision”.
The remarks by Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian come in the wake of a media report that Tokyo Electric Power Company has submitted an application to Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority with a detailed plan of discharging nuclear-contaminated water from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant into the sea, Xinhua reported. Hitting out a Tokyo, the spokesperson said Japan has constantly tried to defend the decision to discharge the nuclear-contaminated water into the sea.
“In total disregard of the legitimate and reasonable concerns of the international community, the Japanese side only continues to proceed with the preparations for the discharge both policy-wise and technology-wise,” Zhao said.
The Japanese utility giant Tepco is planning to release more than 1 million cubic meters of treated radioactive water — enough to fill 500 Olympic-size swimming pools — from the wrecked Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear power plant into the Pacific Ocean,
The Fukushima Nuclear Plant is a disabled nuclear power plant located in Fukushima Prefecture.
The plant was dismantled due to a major earthquake in 2011.
The wastewater produced by the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant is stored in tanks that are set to fill up in 2022.
“In total disregard of the legitimate and reasonable concerns of the international community, the Japanese side only continues to proceed with the preparations for the discharge both policy-wise and technology-wise,” Zhao said.
“Obviously, it wants to impose its wrong decision on the entire international community, and it is all the littoral countries of the Pacific Ocean that will have to take the risk for such move. The Japanese side is extremely irresponsible in doing so,” Zhao added.

China calls for Afghanistan’s overseas assets to be promptly unfrozen

New York [US]: China on Wednesday called for unfreezing Afghanistan’s overseas assets as soon as possible.
China’s permanent representative to the United Nations Zhang Jun told UN Security Council, “We once again call for the unfreezing of Afghanistan’s overseas assets as soon as possible,” reported Sputnik. “These assets should be returned to their real owners and they cannot be used as a bargaining chip for threats or coercion,” added Zhang.
Meanwhile, the UN Security Council unanimously adopted a US resolution allowing humanitarian aid payments to Afghanistan despite the current sanctions, reported Sputnik.
“The result of the following is as follows: the draft resolution received 15 votes in favour, the draft resolution has been adopted unanimously as resolution 2615 of 2021,” the UNSC President said.

China slams US, allies over remarks on Hong Kong polls

London [UK]: China on Tuesday rejected remarks made by the US and its allies regarding the erosion of democratic elements of Hong Kong’s electoral system.
“China urges a handful of countries to take off their mask of hypocrisy, respect China’s sovereignty and unity, and stop any form of interference in HK affairs, which are China’s internal affairs,” said the Spokesperson of the Chinese Embassy in the UK. This year’s Legislative Council elections mark a sobering milestone in the Chinese government’s dismantling of Hong Kong’s democracy, freedoms and autonomy. The elections will be the first to take place since changes made under the ‘patriot’ electoral reform law; changes that have slashed the number of directly contested seats and require candidates to be screened by government officials.
The elections will also be the first since the passage of the National Security Law in June 2020, since which all of Hong Kong’s major opposition leaders are now in jail or exile.
The US, Canada, the UK, Australia, New Zealand on Tuesday expressed grave concerns over the erosion of democratic elements of the Special Administrative Region’s electoral system.
“Actions that undermine Hong Kong’s rights, freedoms and a high degree of autonomy are threatening our shared wish to see Hong Kong succeed,” said a joint statement released by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
“We urge the People’s Republic of China to act in accordance with its international obligations to respect protected rights and fundamental freedoms in Hong Kong, including those guaranteed under the Sino-British Joint Declaration,” the joint statement added.
“These changes eliminated any meaningful political opposition. Meanwhile, many of the city’s opposition politicians – most notably the majority of the NSL 47 – remain in prison pending trial, with others in exile overseas,” the statement added.
The criticism came as pro- Beijing candidates have swept to victory in Hong Kong’s Legislative Council election amid low voting turnout under amended electoral laws.
The election was the first in Hong Kong since Beijing amended electoral laws to reduce the number of directly elected legislators and vet candidates to ensure that only those loyal to China could run, Al Jazeera reported.
Some 30.2 per cent of eligible voters cast their ballots in Sunday’s election, a figure that is almost half that of the previous legislative poll in 2016.

Russia, India, China discussing possibility of in-person summit, says Russian envoy

New Delhi (India): Russian Ambassador to India Nikolay Kudashev said on Friday that Russia, India and China are discussing the possibility of in-person summit meeting between the leaders of three countries.
“Russia, India, China are discussing the possibility of a summit. This is to be expected in the near future. The natural preference is that the leaders of the three countries meet in person,” Kudashev said. Asked about the possible dates of the summit, Kudashev said Kremlin has mentioned “in near future, which could be the beginning of next year possibly”.
To a question if Russia has offered an S-500 missile system to India, the envoy said, “our latest military technologies are always open to you (India).”
The envoy said the annual summit between India and Russia held earlier this month was “very successful” and several issues were discussed.
There has been no bilateral summit meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese Preisdent Xi Jinping since the stand-off along Line of Actual Control in eastern Ladakh began in April last year.
The last meeting of leaders of the three countries in the RIC (Russia, India, China) format took place in June 2019 on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in Osaka.

China’s Sinovac booster shot is 94 pc efficient against Omicron, claims company

Beijing [China]: China’s biotech firm Sinovac claimed that a third dose of its COVID-19 vaccine is 94 per cent effective against the Omicron variant of the COVID-19.
This comes a day after a study found that the two doses of the vaccine failed to generate any detectable antibody response against the fast-spreading variant. The study was conducted by the company on 20 people who received two shots and another 48 who received three shots. Seven in the first group and 45 in the second tested positive in neutralizing antibodies against the Omicron variant, the company said in a statement to the Global Times.
Sinovac said that the data demonstrated that the administration of a booster shot of its vaccine can effectively enhance the vaccine’s neutralizing capacity to the Omicron variant, read the statement.
The company’s findings are in contrast with those released on Tuesday in a preprint paper by the HKU researchers.
The university study also examined neutralising antibodies, one arm of immune response that serves as a rough marker for protection against infection.
Of 25 people who received a full two-dose course of CoronaVac, none were found to have detectable levels of neutralising antibodies, according to study author and top infectious disease expert Yuen Kwok-yung and his team.
The Omicron variant, first discovered in early November, has been reported in 77 countries and regions, according to the World Health Organization.

US Congress passes bill banning imports from China’s Xinjiang

Washington [US]: US Congress on Thursday passed a bill banning imports from China’s Xinjiang region over forced labour of the Uyghur Muslims.
This is likely to worsen tensions between Washington and Beijing. The Uyghur Forced Labour Prevention Act was passed in the Senate on Thursday by unanimous consent after being approved by the House of Representatives earlier this week, Kyodo News reported. It needs to be signed into law by President Joe Biden, which the White House said he will.
It requires U.S. customs authorities to presume goods manufactured in Xinjiang are made with forced labour and that they should be banned from import, except for items from importers that can provide clear evidence to the contrary.
“This Senate will not stay silent in the face of genocide against the Uyghur people,” Democratic Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer tweeted. “America will not stand for it, and the global community shouldn’t either.”
China has been rebuked globally for the crackdown on Uyghur Muslims by sending them to mass detention camps, interfering in their religious activities and sending members of the community to undergo some form of forcible re-education or indoctrination.
Early this year, the United States become the first country in the world to declare the Chinese actions in Xinjiang as “genocide”.

No plans to attend Beijing Winter Olympics, says Japanese PM Kishida

Tokyo [Japan]: Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has said that he has no plans to attend the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics pointing out that he is considering multiple options over the US-led diplomatic boycott of the games, reported Kyodo News.
“At the moment, I have no plans to attend,” Kyodo News quoted Kishida as saying in the parliament on Thursday. Kishida was replying to a question asked by Japanese lawmaker Shinkun Haku referring to his participation in the Beijing Winter Olympics. Kishida further said that it is important to make a judgment in this matter emphasising that he will take the decision at an appropriate time. He also said the judgement will be taken after comprehensively taking into account various issues in consideration of the national interest.
Japan Prime Minister’s remarks on the Beijing Winter Olympics came after the US announced the diplomatic boycott of games over human rights abuses in China’s Xinjiang province.
Meanwhile, the US decision of diplomatic boycott of Beijing Olympics has also been joined by Australia, Britain and Canada.
The US move aims to send a “clear message” that the human rights abuses in China mean there cannot be “business as usual”.

Putin expresses willingness to attend Beijing Olympics’ opening ceremony

Moscow [Russia]: Russian President Vladimir Putin expressed willingness to attend the opening ceremony of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics during his virtual summit on Wednesday with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping.
Putin’s remarks come as the United States and some other democratic countries such as Britain and Australia intend to implement a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Games slated for February next year, Kyodo News reported. “I expect that we will finally be able to meet in person in Beijing next February. As we agreed earlier, we will hold talks before attending the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympic Games,” Putin was quoted by the news agency as telling Xi.
Japan, a close U.S. ally that has heavily relied on China in economic terms, is also considering not sending Cabinet ministers to the Beijing Olympics, in line with the U.S.-led diplomatic boycott amid mounting criticism over China’s alleged human rights abuses.
Earlier, US, UK, Australia and Lithuania too had announced a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Winter Olympics. Canada became the fifth country to boycott the games.
In a symbolic protest against China’s “ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang,” the Biden administration last week announced that it has decided not to send an official US delegation to the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.

China continues increasing investments in Liaoning Province bordering N Korea

Beijing [China]: China has increased its investment near its borders with North Korea by investing in the Liaoning Province.
China’s Liaoning Province will spend more than half a million dollars on a bridge into North Korea over the coming months to install “anti-terror monitoring points,” overhaul electrical systems and conduct daily maintenance, government documents show, despite the bridge going unused for years, according to NK news, ab independent, privately owned specialist information sources that focus on North Korea. Further, the new investments in the New Yalu River Bridge, which connects China’s Dandong to the North Korean city of Sinuij is aimed to improve border security, according to the Chinese announcement.
“I think the Chinese government has been very consistent about their willingness to invest in connectivity with North Korea,” Go Myong-hyun of the Asan Institute for Policy Studies.
“It could be part of China’s long-term policy to keep investing in connectivity with North Korea, essentially preparing for the day when North Korea finally decides to reopen the border or increase the level of trade with China,” he added.
Meanwhile, China passed border security legislation aimed at further securing the country’s far-flung borders.
Further, China plans to replace a majority of the bridge’s electrical systems, apply 334,000 square feet (31,000 square meters) of protective asphalt coatings and contract two years’ worth of inspection and maintenance work, according to North Korea News.
Earlier, the New Yalu River Bridge was completed in 2013 at a cost of some $350 million and is supposed to be a major highway between North Korea and China. But it has gone virtually unused since completion, and as late as 2019 it ended abruptly in an empty field outside Sinuiju.
If opened, the New Yalu River Bridge would likely boost overall trade between China and North Korea.

US sanctions on Chinese firms over rights abuses are groundless, says China

Beijing [China]: China on Monday slammed the United States for imposing sanctions on Chinese firms including artificial intelligence start-up SenseTime, over their involvement in the human rights violations in Xinjiang province.
“US sanctions on Chinese entities including AI firm SenseTime, on so-called Xinjiang human rights grounds, are based on lies and disinformation, and interfere in China’s internal affairs and undermine China-US relations. China resolutely opposes, condemns it,” said Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman Wang Wenbin, as quoted by Global Times. This statement comes after Chinese SenseTime Group postponed its USD 767 million Hong Kong initial public offering (IPO) on Monday after being placed on a US investment blacklist.
The company said that it remained committed to completing the offering and would publish a supplemental prospectus and an updated listing timetable, American news channel CNBC reported.
Last week, the US had sanctioned four Chinese companies for helping racially profile Uyghurs. The Chinese companies include SenseTime Group Ltd, Moxing Cartoon, Nings Cartoon Studio, and Shanghai Hongman Cartoon.
The artificial intelligence Chinese company SenseTime Group Ltd. was sanctioned for helping racially profile Uyghurs, said the US Treasury Department statement. SenseTime owns or controls, directly or indirectly, a person who operates or has operated in China’s surveillance technology sector, it added.
The company’s subsidiary, named Shenzhen SenseTime Technology Co. Ltd., has developed facial recognition programs that can determine a target’s ethnicity, with a particular focus on identifying ethnic Uyghurs, US authorities noted.
Early this year, the United States became the first country in the world to declare the Chinese actions in Xinjiang as “genocide”. In February, both the Canadian and Dutch parliaments adopted motions recognising the Uyghur crisis as genocide.
The latter became the first parliament in Europe to do so. In April, the United Kingdom also declared China’s ongoing crackdown in Xinjiang a “genocide”.

Taliban urge Chinese to invest in Afghanistan

Kabul [Afghanistan]: The Taliban have asked traders, especially Chinese investors, to put money into Afghanistan and vowed to ensure their security, reported local media.
“We hope all traders in particular Chinese investors to invest in Afghanistan and the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan will ensure their security,” said Deputy spokesperson of Afghanistan Bilal Karimi, reported Khaama Press. Referring to foreign interference in domestic issues, Karimi said the Taliban do not want to interfere in other’s affairs and that they will not allow others to do so either.
With regard to Beijing, Zabiullah Mujahid, deputy Minister of Information and Culture and spokesperson of the Taliban, addressing a news conference here on Sunday, said that China is one of the most important countries in the region, and emphasised that having good relations with the country will be the Taliban’s great achievement.
China on Sunday inaugurated a construction project in Kabul. Wang Yu who, Chinese ambassador to Kabul, attended the inauguration ceremony.

Xi Jinping, Putin to hold talks via video link on Dec 15

Beijing [China]: Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin will hold a virtual meeting on December 15, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said on Monday.
“President of the People’s Republic of China Xi Jinping on December 15 from Beijing will hold a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin via videoconference,” Sputnik quoted Hua as saying. The diplomat did not provide any further details.
Amid escalating tensions with the West, China and Russia are strengthening ties.
On foreign policy, Beijing and Moscow share similar approaches to Iran, Syria and Venezuela, and recently revived a push to lift United Nations sanctions on North Korea.

China appreciates Pakistan for being against ‘politicization’ of sports, opposing boycott of Olympics

Islamabad [Pakistan]: China’s Ambassador to Pakistan Nong Rong on Sunday said that his country appreciates Pakistan for being against the ‘politicization’ of sports after Islamabad said that the Beijing Winter Olympics would offer “a spectacular and colourful gala to sports enthusiasts around the world.”
Taking to Twitter, the envoy wrote: “Pakistan’s position to oppose any form of politicization of sports is highly appreciated. The Beijing Winter Olympic Games is not a stage for the posturing and grandstanding of politicians,” he wrote, reported Geo News. While countries like the US, UK, Australia, Lithuania and Canada has announced a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Winter Olympics, Pakistan supported its all-weather ally and said that the Beijing Olympics would offer “a spectacular and colourful gala to sports enthusiasts around the world.”
According to Xinhua News Agency, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Asim Iftikhar Ahmad, while addressing a weekly media briefing, had expressed Pakistan’s confidence in the neighbouring country’s plan to host the Beijing Winter Olympics.
Per the report, Ahmad had said that the event would offer “a spectacular and colourful gala to sports enthusiasts around the world, including in Pakistan,” despite the limitations imposed by COVID-19.
“The Olympic games symbolise sportsmanship, team spirit, unity, effort, struggle, and maintaining grace in competition whatever the results are,” the spokesperson had said.
Meanwhile, in a symbolic protest against China’s “ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang,” the Biden administration on Monday announced that it has decided not to send an official US delegation to the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.
France too has “well noted” the decision of the United States to diplomatically boycott the Winter Olympics in Beijing of 2022 and it will consult with European partners on the next step, a foreign ministry spokesperson on Tuesday.

China sentences Tibetan writer to 10-year prison for his loyalty to Dalai Lama

Beijing [ China]: A Chinese court in Tibet has given a 10-year prison term to Tibetan writer and educator Go Sherab Gyatso known for expressing loyalty to exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, with the sentence handed down in a secret trial, according to Radio Free Asia (RFA).
Earlier, Go Sherab Gyatso had written books and articles describing restrictions on Tibetans living under Chinese rule. Further, Go Sherab Gyatso, a 46-year-old monk at Kirti monastery in Sichuan’s Ngaba (in Chinese, Aba) Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, was taken into custody on unknown charges by State Security agents on Oct. 26, 2020 in Sichuan’s capital Chengdu.
Meanwhile, Gyatso will be moved soon to a prison near Tibet’s regional capital Lhasa, sources close to Gyatso said. No details are available regarding the charges on which he was convicted, according to RFA.
Speaking to RFA, a Tibetan scholar living in exile described Gyatso – who had written books and articles describing restrictions on freedom of expression under Chinese rule – as an “open-minded individual who advocates the preservation of Tibetan language, religion and culture.”
“It’s sad news to hear about his 10-year sentence on Human Rights Day, and I want to call on the United Nations, governments around the world, and the international community to look into this matter immediately,” he added.
Earlier, the Chinese government in October responded to a July 16 letter from U.N. human rights experts asking about Gyatso’s case, telling them that Gyatso had been placed in criminal detention “in accordance with the law on suspicion of inciting secession.”

German parliament passes resolution on deepening ties with Taiwan amid tensions with China

Berlin [Germany] The German parliament has passed a resolution on deepening ties with Taiwan amid rising tensions between Taipei and Beijing, local media reported on Sunday.
The Petitions Committee of Germany’s new parliament, which met for the first time in October following a federal election in September, passed a resolution on December 9, urging the government to deepen exchanges with Taiwan, reported Focus Taiwan. The committee also decided to refer an earlier motion on establishing formal diplomatic relations with Taiwan to the foreign ministry and each parliamentary caucus.
The resolution said that since Germany and China established diplomatic relations in 1972, the country has adhered to the so-called “one-China” policy which excludes the possibility of forging diplomatic ties with Taiwan, reported Focus Taiwan.
The resolution further said that Germany is supportive of conducting close political, economic and social engagement with Taiwan and expanded cooperation with Taipei is in the interest of Germany and Europe.
According to Focus Taiwan, the motion asking Germany to establish diplomatic relations with Taiwan was initiated by German national Michael Kreuzberg in May 2019 and received more than 50,000 signatures in October that year, which required that it be advanced to parliament for discussion.
The Petitions Committee of the Bundestag, the German federal parliament, held a public hearing in December 2019 on the motion.
During the public hearing, Petra Sigmund, the director-general for Asia and the Pacific at the German Federal Foreign Office, said Taiwan and Germany share values, such as democracy and freedom, and conduct frequent exchanges in the economic, cultural and academic spheres. Germany plans to expand ties with Taiwan.
Meanwhile, Taiwan’s representative office in Germany welcomed the passage of the December 9 resolution and thanked German lawmakers for supporting stronger relations with Taiwan, saying it looks forward to seeing the German government’s response to the motion, reported Focus Taiwan.
China claims sovereignty over Taiwan, a democracy of almost 24 million people located off the southeastern coast of mainland China. Despite being governed separately for more than seven decades, Beijing claims sovereignty over Taiwan. China has also threatened that “Taiwan’s independence” means war.

Japan, Australia pledge to promote security co-operation of Quad to counter China’s assertiveness

Liverpool [UK]: Japan and Australia have pledged to promote security cooperation of the Quad group, also including the United States and India in response to China’s rising assertiveness in the Indo-Pacific region, a media report said.
Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi and his Australian counterpart Marise Payne in a meeting on Saturday in Liverpool agreed to elevate the two countries’ “special strategic partnership” to a higher level as part of efforts to achieve a free and open Indo-Pacific, reported Kyodo News. Both leaders underlined the importance of a pact by Japan, Australia and the United States plus Micronesia, Nauru and Kiribati. The deal aims to build a new undersea cable to improve internet connectivity to the three Pacific island states.
The two leaders held talks on the sidelines of the Group of Seven foreign ministers meeting on Sunday.
Australian Minister Payne was invited to expanded sessions on Sunday along with her peers from South Korea, India and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, in an apparent move by the G-7 nations to tighten the noose around Beijing, whose military and economic clout in the Info-Pacific has been growing, according to Kyodo News.

China worried about COVID-19 marring Winter Olympics 2022

Beijing [China]: China is struggling with fulfilling its claim of making the country COVID free for the Beijing Winter Olympics in 2022, scheduled to be held in February next year.
The Chinese authorities are willing and doing, everything that is required to keep the caseload to remain at zero. Despite strict protocols, some regions in China are reporting fresh cases daily. China has implemented zero local transmissions, an official policy, at the cost of people’s freedom and violation of rights.
Citing a CNN report, Hong Kong Post reported that despite the strict monitoring, “cases have been detected over the past week in the country’s largest cities, from Beijing and Shanghai to Guangzhou”.
However, China claims that Beijing is isolated from the rest of the country during the period of the Winter Games to ensure that the virus does not enter the capital city.
At the beginning of the week, at least 61 new cases of COVID-19 were reported from the Chinese mainland, as per local media.
The Winter Games are already controversial because several countries led by the United States announced a diplomatic boycott.
Canada is the latest country to join the diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Winter Olympics, first initiated by the United States. The two other countries are Australia and the United Kingdom.
Human rights activists have raised their voices against China’s detention of Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang province and crackdown on pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong.
In March, the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada and the European Union imposed sanctions on four Chinese officials and one entity for alleged human rights violations in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, according to Sputnik.

Beijing Winter Olympics 2022 will see Cold War battle lines drawn

Beijing [China]: As Beijing is set to host the Winter Olympics next year, it could see Cold War battle lines being drawn with many of the democratic countries diplomatically boycotting it.
The US will stage a diplomatic boycott of the upcoming Winter Olympics in Beijing to protest the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) myriad human rights abuses, according to Taiwan News. Further, US close strategic ally, Australia confirmed that it too would send no diplomatic representation to the Beijing Olympics, followed by UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson confirming there were no plans for officials to attend. Later the same day, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau echoed the same.
On the other hand, the Taiwan government has not taken a position at the moment.
Further, the democratic countries around the world sending a clear message to China that its human rights abuses in Xinjiang, Tibet, Hong Kong, and elsewhere, will no longer be tolerated, according to Taiwan News.
Further, there has been much talk about whether the world is edging toward a new Cold War and the Winter Olympics could be one where battle lines are according to Taiwan News.

Tibetans, Uyghurs protest in Paris over China’s rights violations

Paris [France]: Demonstrators from Tibetans, Uyghurs, and the Vietnamese communities gathered at Paris’s Bastille Square for a candlelight vigil to protest against human rights violations and cultural genocide of ethnic groups by the Chinese government.
The protest took place on Friday on the occasion of World Human Rights Day.
The protestors were joined by French Senator Andre Gattolin, who is also Vice President of the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China (IPAC), an international organisation comprising of parliamentarians from around the world who strongly believe that there is a need for a proactive and strategic approach to protect the democratic world from China’s attempts to distort the international legal order.
During his speech, Andre Gattolin called for a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Winter Olympics 2022. A similar call was made by other speakers, who urged the French President to declare a diplomatic boycott by France too.
The Chinese government has been accused of violating human rights in the Xinjiang region and Tibet. It has been ruling the region with an iron fist, imposing harsh rules, silencing dissent using force, and destroying local culture and tradition.
People in the regions are repressed by local authorities who work in tandem with the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
The Chinese authorities in Tibet’s Lhasa have banned the teaching of the Tibetan language in the schools to implement President Xi Jinping’s idea of ‘Tibetan Buddhism with Socialist Character’.
Further, China has stopped the Tibetan medium at school levels and made Mandarin the only language of instruction. Now the latest diktat bans the teaching of basic Tibetan in private Tibetan schools, which are run with public efforts during non-school hours or during winter holidays according to PRG’s Strategic Insight.
Multiple human rights activists have raised voices against the rising case of detained Tibetans, closed trials, unknown charges and verdicts against the Tibetan religious minorities in China. But Beijing continues to bully its minorities not only within China but all over the world.
Scores of reports about torture, re-education camps, and forced labour in the Xinjiang region in China have increased in frequency since 2017.
The Chinese government systematically persecutes the Muslim Uyghur minority in Xinjiang, according to Amnesty International.

Rapid deployment of Chinese maritime vessels changed peacetime balance of forces in South China Sea, hints report

Beijing [China]: The numbers and rapid deployment of Chinese maritime vessels have “radically changed the peacetime balance of forces in the South China Sea”.
According to a new report by the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) hundreds of Chinese maritime militia vessels are operating in contested areas of the South China Sea poses a significant challenge to “maritime order rooted in international law.” Citing Radio Free Asia, India-Pacific Defense Forum reported that for years the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has been funding the expansion of the maritime vessels to assert its claims in the South China Sea.
In its report published in November 2021, “Pulling Back the Curtain on China’s Maritime Militia,” CSIS provided a comprehensive profile of a force that it said has been operating alongside Chinese law enforcement and military to achieve Chinese political objectives in disputed waters.
This is known as “grey-zone tactics” when unconventional forces and methods are used to pursue strategic interests while trying to avoid the possibility of a conflict.
The report said that the creation in recent years of Chinese outposts with large port facilities led to a sharp increase in the number of maritime militia vessels sailing to the disputed Spratly Islands.
“The big picture is that there have been about 300 maritime militia vessels deployed in large groups around the Spratly Islands since August 2018, relying on China’s artificial islands for logistics support but no longer cloistering themselves within those harbours,” the report alleged.
The report said that the vessels are funded by the Chinese government through subsidies “that incentivize local actors to construct vessels in accordance with military specifications and to operate them.”
The authors concluded that “the majority of Chinese fishing vessels in disputed areas of the South China Sea do not operate as independent commercial actors but instead as paid agents of the Chinese government obligated to help fulfil its political and national security objectives.”
Additionally, the report provided a list of 112 Chinese militia vessels allegedly active in the South China Sea, and 52 more ships “likely to be militia.”
Radio Free Asia has previously used Chinese corporate records, bidding documents and Chinese state media to determine that numerous “fishermen” are Chinese militiamen responsible for guarding CCP outposts.
The report also said since completing the construction of its artificial island outposts in the Spratly Islands in 2016, the CCP has shifted its focus toward asserting control over peacetime activities across the South China Sea, and the maritime militia is a key component of this shift.
Since then, militia boats have been deployed regularly and in great numbers to disputed waters in the Spratlys. A recent large-scale deployment was in March 2021, when about 200 suspected militia boats gathered near the Whitsun Reef in Union Banks, leading to a diplomatic rift between China and the Philippines.

Taiwan still to decide whether to boycott 2022 Beijing Olympics

Taipei, [Taiwan]: Taiwan has said that it respects the US’ decision to undertake a diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Winter Olympics to be held in China though no decision has been made on whether Taiwan will follow the US lead, reported local media.
“Taiwan understands and respects the US’ decision and will continue to monitor the latest developments on the issue,” Focus Taiwan quoted Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Joanne Ou as saying. The spokesperson also said that a cross-ministerial meeting will be convened to come up with an “appropriate response” on the matter.
“Appropriate response” will be made after making sure that Taiwanese athletes’ participation in the Beijing Winter Olympics will not be affected, said Xavier Chang, Presidential Office spokesperson.
On Monday, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki announced that the Biden administration has decided not to send an official US delegation to the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing in response to a symbolic protest against China’s “ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang province.

US athletes will still participate in the Olympics, but the administration will not be sending government officials to the games. The same policy applies to the Paralympic Games to be held in Beijing, CNN reported.

China’s threat to Taiwan grows

Hong Kong: In the past few years, the fate of Taiwan has become a hot topic as the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) threatens it with ongoing aircraft flybys and naval
circumnavigation. Voices are approaching a concerned crescendo, with Admiral Philip Davidson, head of the US Indo-Pacific Command, warning the US Congress that a Chinese attack could occur by 2027 or sooner.
He testified, “I worry that they’re accelerating their ambitions to supplant the United States and our leadership role in the rules-based international order…by 2050. Taiwan is clearly one of their ambitions before that, and I think the threat is manifest during this decade, in fact, in the next six years.”
Admiral Davidson added, “We are accumulating risk that may embolden China to unilaterally change the status quo before our forces may be able to deliver an effective response. I cannot for the life of me understand some of the capabilities that they’re putting in the field, unless…it is an aggressive posture.”
Further, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said on 4 December of Chinese military flights near Taiwan: “I don’t want to speculate, but certainly…it looks a lot like rehearsals.”
Fuller detail was found in the recent 2021 copy of the China Military Power Report issued by the Pentagon. It stated, “The PLA continues to prepare for contingencies in the Taiwan Strait to deter and, if necessary, compel Taiwan to abandon moves toward independence.
The PLA also is likely preparing for a contingency to unify Taiwan with the PRC [People’s Republic
of China] by force, while simultaneously deterring, delaying or denying any third-party intervention, such as the United States and/or other like-minded partners, on Taiwan’s behalf.”
It continued, “As part of a comprehensive campaign to pressure Taiwan and the Tsai administration, and signal its displeasure at warming Washington-Taipei ties, China has persistently conducted military operations near Taiwan and military training for a Taiwan contingency. Throughout 2020, China’s military increased provocative actions in and around the Taiwan Strait, to include repeated flights into Taiwan’s air defense identification zone and conducting combat drills such as island seizure operations. In 2020, Beijing also publicly refuted the existence of the Taiwan Strait ‘median line,’ a decades-long tacit agreement between the two sides intended to reduce miscalculation and avoid sparking accidental crises.”
NATO is currently concerned about Russian troops concentrating on the border with Ukraine. However, those concentrations fade away when compared to the military buildup that the PLA has achieved in close proximity to Taiwan, particularly its Eastern Theater Command.
Dennis Blasko, a prominent ex-US Army expert on the PLA, explained to ANI why Xi is prioritizing the PLA.
“It’s, number one, to defend China from attack. Number two, to deter Taiwan from further steps toward independence, and to deter the United States from supporting Taiwan in further steps toward independence.”
Deterrence is thus the linchpin of China’s strategy. “In order to deter, you have to have a credible force. And they are building that credible force. Again, by the theory of deterrence, you have to display the determination to use that force. And you do that through statements, you do that through exercises.”
Often, commentators envisage a D-Day-style amphibious landing of Taiwan presaged by missile barrages and aerial attack. However, such an attempt to reunify democratic Taiwan with the communist Mainland would be militarily and politically the riskiest move for Chairman Xi Jinping.
Is such a military invasion likely? Blasko told ANI: “I don’t think so. I don’t think they’ve got the confidence level that they could do that yet, and they certainly don’t have the sealift to do it … I think I’d be probably one of the few people to argue this, but I don’t think they want to go to war. No, at this point I think they’d consider having to go to war as a failure of their national strategy. They would much rather get everything they want through negotiations or other forms of pressure.”
Even though the PLA Navy (PLAN) has large vessels like Type 071 landing platform docks and Type 075 landing helicopter docks, quantities of shorter-range amphibious vessels like landing ships for an over-the-beach invasion has largely stayed static. Blasko estimated that the PLAN could land perhaps only 10,000 troops on the first day of an invasion.
Furthermore, PLA amphibious exercises are rarely larger than company-level training. An exception this year has been half a dozen battalion-level exercises using commercial roll- on/roll-off ferries. While Ro-Ros could greatly increase troop/equipment lift capacity, these would mostly require unloading at ports that would first need to be secured.
The PLAN’s limitations in amphibious capacity led Blasko to highlight the role that army aviation and special forces could play in any hypothetical invasion of Taiwan. The PLA has 15 army aviation brigades with perhaps 1,000-1,500 helicopters. By moving 4-5 aviation brigades into the area across from Taiwan, maybe 700-800 helicopters could be mustered for an assault.
In one or two days, these could land 10,000 troops behind the coast to attack airports and ports. Furthermore, the PLA Air Force’s (PLAAF) Airborne Corps of approximately 30,000 troops could participate in a Taiwan invasion. However, the PLAAF still needs more transport aircraft like the Y-20 for such a major airdrop. Notwithstanding, a significant amount of air assault, special operations and airborne troops could wreak havoc for Taiwanese defenders.
Blasko concluded that the above kind of scenario should be more prominent in people’s minds, despite his insistence that any military invasion on Taiwan is improbable any time soon. “I’m thinking that the whole across-the-beach invasion is what people are focused on, when China now has the capability to come in behind.” Taiwan’s terrain is unfavorable for heavy armor, so light, mobile units make better sense in any invasion scenario.
For any amphibious or air assault of Taiwan, there would be obvious movements and concentrations of troops, vessels and aircraft to give warning time. Blasko added, though: “On the other hand, if they wanted to do a bolt from the blue, they’ve got rocket forces that could fire from their garrisons or areas very close by. They could attack Taiwan with rocket fire, missile fire and air attack if they just wanted to punish … But the big invasion, whether it be by air or sea, that’s going to take the movement of a lot of folks over a lot of time.”
The Pentagon agrees that an amphibious invasion is China’s least likely approach. Its annual report said, “An attempt to invade Taiwan would likely strain the PRC’s armed forces and invite international intervention.” Nonetheless, it could launch a limited amphibious operation to capture Taiwan-owned islands in the South China Sea or Taiwan Strait.
It lists other possible strategies like an air and maritime blockade of Taiwan to force capitulation, an air and missile campaign, or limited force or coercive options (including information operations).
Perhaps the most likely is the “grey zone” tactics China has employed in the South China Sea and along the mountainous border with India. The country can use military, paramilitary, law enforcement or ostensibly civilians (for example, the People’s Armed Forces Maritime Militia is deliberately ambiguous, looking like fishermen but employed by the government for national strategic purposes) to achieve its aims.
Midyear, the US-based Center for Security Policy published a report entitled “Taiwan as Donbas? Subversion and Insurrection vs. Full-Scale Invasion”. Written by Grant Newsham, a retired US Marine Corps officer, Newsham contended that China could attempt a similar strategy in Taiwan to the one Russian President Vladimir Putin used in 2014 when seizing the eastern Donbas region of Ukraine. Putin denied any involvement in Donbas, claiming local militias and citizens were throwing off the yoke of Ukrainian oppression. However, these “little green men”, mysterious combatants that gave Putin (im)plausible deniability, were using Russian heavy weapons and armored vehicles.
Beijing has a decades-long history of subversion against Taiwan, employing academic, political, media, business, religious, community and “united front” organizations to curry pro-China sentiment, as well as old-fashioned espionage. It is presumed that China has a substantial “Fifth Column” presence in Taiwan, with groups able to spring into action to support a PLA assault. According to Newsham, they could conduct assassinations, attack key targets and seize ports and airfields.
For years, Beijing has been softening up Taiwan through public opinion warfare, psychological warfare and legal warfare. Many Taiwanese were already convinced their future lay with China. This was underscored by irrevocable economic ties, as many Taiwanese factories and businesses set up shop in China.
At the height of such sentiments, President Ma Ying-jeou’s administration from 2008-16 brought the two countries closer together than ever before. Indeed, the scene was being set for a “Chinese Donbas”. However, the election of Tsai Ing-wen and her Democratic Progressive Party in 2016
dramatically altered the balance.
Xi grew impatient with the slow game of courting Taiwan, and his heavy-handed treatment of Hong Kong, as well as his ham-fisted approach to Taiwan, awakened many to the dangers of forcible reunification with China. Xi’s continued aggression has caused alarm not only in Taiwan, but all around the world.
The Pentagon warned of rising tensions vis-a-vis Taiwan in this year’s report about China’s military. “Based on changing public sentiment in Taiwan, according to recent polling data, PRC leaders may perceive a closing window of opportunity to subjugate Taiwan under the pretenses of Beijing’s ‘one country, two systems’ framework. The PRC has increasingly resorted to an aggressive pressure campaign against Taiwan and the Tsai administration to curtail Washington-Taipei ties and deter ‘Taiwan independence.”
The normally cautious report also stated: “The PRC conducting persistent military operations near Taiwan – and training for a Taiwan contingency – likely signals a greater urgency for the PLA to continue to develop and perfect its strategy and capabilities should PRC leaders
look to a military option to achieve their objectives.”
China could creatively find an excuse to seize a Taiwanese offshore island or two near the Chinese coast, such as Kinmen or Matsu. Due to their isolation, these islands are extremely difficult to defend, and Beijing might foment a provocation, perhaps saying it was heeding local residents’ invitation to intervene, or blowing up a few Chinese fishing boats and pointing the finger at Taiwan.
As an alternative to amphibious invasion and all-out war, Newsham remarked: “Politics and public sentiment are fickle things. One expects ongoing and possibly intensifying PRC efforts to ‘soften up’ Taiwan by creating economic turmoil and psychological intimidation. The goal: to create a public sense of hopelessness and fear that Taiwan has no outside support and to weaken Taiwan’s military and the public’s will to resist. Already as part of this effort, Chinese military aircraft and naval forces are gradually expanding their presence around Taiwan.
One expects they will keep squeezing, and eventually maritime militia and regular fishing fleets will also ‘swarm’ Taiwan. In some respects this would be a ‘Donbas at sea’.”
A pro-China government, one that could acquiesce in the face of such Chinese actions, might be Taiwan’s greatest existential threat then.
Taiwan could very well have faced such a situation after the 2020 elections if Han Kuo-yu, a pro-China acolyte who benefitted greatly from Chinese information operations, had become president.
The USA particularly must wholeheartedly endorse military support for Taipei, otherwise Xi will see a green light to go after it. Taiwan needs such fortitude, for it cannot stand alone against the might of the PLA.
Newsham warned: “A thoroughly distracted, disinterested, frightened USA – and with a weakened military – would change the dynamic considerably. The PRC would be more willing to coerce Taiwan, ruin its economy, terrorize and demoralize the public, while beefing up its Fifth Column and sympathizers and using them to cause trouble … But if the Americans decide they can’t be bothered with Taiwan, or it’s just too hard, the Japanese and others will likely follow suit, and then a Formosa Donbas becomes possible.”

China assails US political system in new report ahead of Summit on Democracy

Beijing [China]: Ahead of the Summit for Democracy scheduled to take place later this month, China on Sunday released a report underlining the “dysfunction of US democracy”.
Launching an attack on the US political system, the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs in its report said democracy in the US has become alienated and degenerated, and it has increasingly deviated from the essence of democracy and its original design. “Problems like money politics, identity politics, wrangling between political parties, political polarization, social division, racial tension and wealth gap have become more acute. All this has weakened the functioning of democracy in the US,” the report said.
The report underlined that US democracy has three main ills which include the system being fraught with deep-seated problems, the practices of US democracy being messy and chaotic and the disastrous consequences of the US democratic model when applied in other countries.
According to the Chinese ministry, the biggest problem that the US faces with its own democratic model is that it often uses democracy as a justification to interfere other countries’ internal affairs which leads to even more problems.
“What is now imperative for the US is to get to work in real earnest to ensure its people’s democratic rights and improve its system of democracy instead of placing too much emphasis on procedural or formal democracy at the expense of substantive democracy and its outcome,” the report concluded.
US President Joe Biden has invited 110 countries to a virtual summit on democracy on December 9-10, excluding countries like China, and Russia, according to a list posted on the State Department website.
The list also includes Taiwan which has prompted criticism from China.

US, EU expresses concern about Beijing’s ‘problematic’ actions in South China Sea

Washington [US]: The United States and the European Union have expressed concerns over China’s growing military aggression in the South China Sea and the East China Sea, saying that they would work together to manage their rivalry with Beijing.
The two sides said China’s actions in the South China Sea, East China Seas and Taiwan Strait “undermine peace and security in the region and have a direct impact on the security and prosperity of both the United States and European Union,” according to AJ Jazeera. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy R. Sherman and European External Action Service Secretary-General Stefano Sannino led the first U.S.-EU high-level consultations on the Indo-Pacific on December 3 in Washington during which they reviewed their respective Indo-Pacific engagement and strategies.
Both reaffirmed their intention to work together and with partners in support of a free and open Indo-Pacific that is inclusive, based on the rule of law and democratic values, and contributes to the stability, security, and sustainable development of the region.
“The United States and the European Union share a strategic interest in strengthening cooperation with partners in the Indo-Pacific on the basis of shared values and interests, and in support of multilateral rules-based frameworks. Both sides reaffirmed the importance of ASEAN centrality and supporting a strong and independent ASEAN,” US State Department said in a statement.
The statement said that both sides share an interest in security, stability, and predictability in the region, including regarding freedom of navigation and overflight in accordance with international law as reflected in the 1982 Law of the Sea Convention.
They reconfirmed their interest in stability and the status quo in the Taiwan Strait, and both sides noted a shared interest in deepening cooperation with Taiwan consistent with their respective “one-China” policies.
This comes as Beijing has aggressively pushed its nine-dash line claims in the Spratly and Paracel islands in the South China Sea. The other claimants to the SCS islands are Taiwan, Vietnam, Brunei, Indonesia, and Malaysia.
Further, China has demonstrated an aggressive approach in pressing its territorial claims against its neighbours. China claims sovereignty over Taiwan despite the island’s self-governance for more than seven decades.
The US-EU Dialogue on China was set up in 2021, and the statement followed its second high-level meeting. The next high-level meeting is expected to take place next year.

Mainland China reports 75 locally transmitted COVID-19 cases

Beijing [China]: The Chinese mainland on Friday reported 75 new locally transmitted COVID-19 cases, the National Health Commission said in its report on Saturday.
Of the new local cases, 61 were reported in Inner Mongolia, five in Heilongjiang, four each in Hebei and Yunnan, and one in Guangdong, Xinhua reported. Also reported were 15 new imported cases in four provincial-level regions, according to the commission.
These cases come amid the global threat of the new coronavirus variant “Omicron”.
A new variant of SARS-CoV-2 (B.1.1.529; named Omicron) has been classified as a Variant of Concern by the World Health Organization.

Indian Navy closely watching Chinese activities, capable of defending national interests, says Admiral R Hari Kumar

New Delhi [India]: Asserting that the Indian Navy keeps a close watch on the Chinese Navy activities in the Indian Ocean Region, Navy chief Admiral R Hari Kumar on Friday said the maritime force was fully capable of defending national interests in the maritime domain.
Addressing the annual Navy Day press conference, the new Navy chief also revealed that during the peak of the India-China border tensions on the Northern borders last year, the Indian Navy had deployed its warships in the forward locations and were keeping an eye on the Chinese warships operating along the Indian maritime borders. “We are aware of the development of the Chinese Navy. They built around 110 warships in the last few years meaning 13-14 warships every year. Our plans factor all these activities and deployments in the Indian Ocean Region. PLA Navy has been present in the IOR since 2008 and we have been watching that. I want to assure you that the Indian navy is confident of defending India’s maritime interests,” said Hari Kumar in the one-hour-long press conference.
He said the Chinese have been deploying seven to eight warships on an average in the Indian Ocean Region which is kept under “constant surveillance by aircraft and ships and their activities are kept under close watch.”
Asked about the Indian response to the aggression by the Chinese navy in northern areas, he said the force had forward-deployed its warships at that time.
Praising the government for the creation of the Department of Military Affairs (DMA), Kumar said this was the biggest reform that has happened in the military since independence along with the creation of the post of Chief of Defence Staff.
“This enables faster decision making, integration and fewer layers of bureaucracy. I feel DMA made a significant change in the way armed forces operate at headquarters’ level,” the Navy chief stated.
Pointing out that the Chinese aggression on northern borders and the COVID-19 pandemic has created complex security challenges, he said that “despite the COVID-19, Indian Navy has maintained combat and mission readiness and resulted in preventing any misadventure in the maritime domain.”

China weaponised trade, difficult to see it as trusted partner, says Tony Abbott

New Delhi [India]: Highlighting that India has a unique opportunity to stay ahead in terms of trade, Australian Prime Minister’s Special Trade Envoy Tony Abbott on Friday said that China has weaponised trade and it is difficult to see Beijing as a trusted partner.
During a virtual press conference in New Delhi, the Australian special trade envoy said that India has democracy, the rule of law and a good understanding of business. “As an Australian, we have seen the weaponisation of trade. Something like 20 billion dollars worth of Australian trade has been disrupted or suspended by China. It is very difficult to see China as a trusted partner,” Abbott said.
“India is in a very very different situation, the democracy, the rule of law, a good understanding that business and governments are substantially independent of each other and that the sanctity of contract has to be respected. So this is why I think the difficulties with China, certainly mean that India has quite a unique opportunity to stay particularly with the supply chain that you know need to be absolutely reliable,” he added.
The Special Trade Envoy also said that he met Union Minister of Commerce and Industry Piyush Goyal and discussed Free Trade Agreement (FTA).
He added that the “time table will be met” for the early harvest FTA pact between India.
The Union Minister on Thursday met Tony Abbott and had an extensive discussion on the ways to expand bilateral ties.
Taking to Twitter, Goyal said there is a huge potential for India and Australia to further energise their trade relationship through Free Trade Agreement (FTA).
“Met with @HonTonyAbbott, Special Trade Envoy of the Prime Minister of Australia. Had an extensive discussion on the huge potential India & Australia have to further energise & expand our bilateral ties through Free Trade Agreement (FTA) for mutual economic prosperity,” Union Minister Goyal tweeted.
In September, India and Australia had announced that they will sign a comprehensive Free Trade agreement by the end of 2022 and an early harvest trade deal by Christmas later this year.
The announcement was made at a joint media briefing with Commerce and Industry Minister Goyal and the Australian Minister Abbott, during the latter’s visit to India.

EU launches new USD 340bn global connectivity strategy to counter China’s BRI

Brussels [Belgium]: The European Commission (EC) has announced a new USD 340-billion global strategy to boost sustainable links around the world called Global Gateway, a move being seen as a counter to China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
“We aim to mobilize investees up to 300 billion euros [$340 billion] in the years 2021 to 2027, such funds cannot be found by EU alone, the global gateway will build a team Europe approach,” Commissioner for International Partnerships Jutta Urpilainen said on Wednesday during EC press conference on Global Getaway. The new strategy aims at boosting the world’s interconnectivity through building and strengthening high standard sustainable digital, economic, transportation, research and health systems across the world, according to a statement.
The commission added that for implementing the strategy, the European Union would use the so-called “team Europe” approach, encouraging member states with their financial and development institutions, including the European Investment Bank to work together and seek to mobilize the private sector in order to leverage investments for a transformational impact.
Experts believe that the European Union’s Global Gateway has been launched to compete with Belt and Road Initiative (BRI)/ Writing for The Times of Israel, geopolitical analyst Sergio Restelli in September said that the European Union’s Global Gateway project has started becoming a major challenge to the BRI.
The BRI is a huge, geopolitically significant network of infrastructure and transport investments that Beijing uses to connect its exporters to western markets. The BRI was adopted by the Chinese government in 2013 and grew rapidly over the next few years. It intended to invest in nearly 70 countries and international organizations.
The US Government has announced a similar program, Build Back Better (at the world (B3W)) a few months ago also aimed at halting the BRI’s expansion. Now with Europe in the fray Chinese expansion is likely to be severely curtailed, said Restelli.
According to the writer, China would potentially face difficulties in maintaining current deals and bilateral agreements under the BRI as the US and EU-led schemes to endorse transparency in trading, partnership and value-driven infrastructure development are conspicuously absent in the BRI’s terms of reference.

Widespread demolition move in Karachi only a scheme to make it China’s town: Altaf Hussain

London [UK]: Muttahidda Qaumi Movement’s (MQM) founder Altaf Hussain has said that properties of Mohajirs in Karachi are being demolished to make room for China to convert Karachi into a remote Satellite colony of Punjab and to accommodate China in the region.

The government of Pakistan has entered into an agreement with China in this regard. As per the agreement, the Pakistan military would help China in demolishing buildings in Karachi for new construction and Karachi will become a satellite state of Punjab like Hong Kong.
Hussain made the revelation in his telephonic address to the Mohajir nation. He strongly condemned the Supreme Court’s orders for the demolition of the Nasla Tower, a residential project in Karachi. The demolition of properties of Mohajirs in Karachi on the order of the country’s apex court judge on Pakistan military’s orders is a sheer manifest of economic carnage of Mohajirs.

Hussain said that the demolition of settlements in Karachi was earlier ordered by the former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Saqib Nisar.

After demolishing thousands of houses, shops and markets in Gujar Nala, Railway Colony, Moosa Colony, Gharibabad, Orangi Town, Garden, Empress Market, Allah Din Park and other areas in Karachi, Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmad ordered to eliminate a multi-storey residential building in Karachi, the Nasla tower.

Residents who had legally bought the apartments with NOC for their children are being evicted and the Nasla Tower is being demolished while none of the people who built the tower was asked. He said, like the people of Nasla Tower and other areas of Karachi have been evicted from their legal houses, if Justice Saqib Nisar and Justice Gulzar Ahmed were evicted from their homes without giving any reason, what would they feel?

He said that both Chief Justice Saqib Nisar and Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmad were oppressors. “Their heinous crimes are enough to sentence them to death by hanging for many days,” he commented. Hussain said that the widespread demolition in Karachi on orders of sitting judges at the behest of the demonic military of Pakistan is a pre-planned scheme to accommodate China which would in return convert Karachi into a satellite colony of Punjab.

The government of Pakistan has agreed with China to keep Punjab in the image of Pakistan and with it to make Karachi, the capital of Sindh, a satellite state of Punjab like Hong Kong. The Chinese have agreed to this. The MQM Supremo said that as many legitimate and leased houses and shops of the citizens have been demolished in Karachi, the traitors of the Mohajir nation are equally complicit in the crime.

Hussain said that the standard of the Supreme Court is double, it is demolishing the Nasla Tower of Karachi but it regularised the illegal Grand Hyatt Tower of Islamabad because it had flats of military generals, judges of the Supreme Court and other influential elites. Similarly, former Chief Justice of the Supreme Court Saqib Nisar had regularised the illegal occupation of Bani Gala by the present Prime Minister Imran Khan with a small fine.

He said that houses of citizens were being demolished in Karachi but commercial plazas, wedding halls, cinemas and other business centres on the lands allotted for military purposes remained intact. The Supreme Court did not give orders to demolish them. He said that the Supreme Court’s Karachi registry which has been declaring the settlements of Karachi as illegal is constructed on the occupied sewage drain itself.

He said that the Supreme Court, which had ordered the demolition of legitimate settlements of Mihajirs in Karachi, did not see any illegal settlements of the non-local population in the periphery of Karachi. Hussain strongly condemned the arson attacks on Karachi’s Cooperative Market, Victoria Market and Mobile Market and said that hundreds of shops belonging to Mohajirs were set ablaze. He said that these incidents of arson were part of a conspiracy.

He said the irony is that the most corrupt former Chief Justice Saqib Nisar had shamelessly held another most corrupt, the sitting Prime Minister Imran Khan as the most pious man. Saqib Nisar himself is a very corrupt and deceitful person who collected billions from Pakistanis in the name of building a dam but to this day the nation does not know where that money was spent.

He strongly condemned the anti-Karachi local body law passed by the PPP’ provincial government in Sindh and said that we will save Karachi from the tyranny of the feudal elites. We the Mohajirs and Sindhis will eliminate the feudal lords and liberate the land of Sindh. (ANI)

Taiwan denounces China for taking retaliatory measures against countries forging ties with Taipei

Taipei [Taiwan]: Taiwan on Sunday denounced China for taking retaliatory measures against countries that seek to develop ties with Taipei.
The remarks came in a statement from the Mainland Affair Council following China’s interference in the internal matters of Taiwan and Lithuania, Focus Taiwan reported.

The MAC termed China’s response to countries for their exchanges with Taiwan as “barbaric”.

“The decision by Taiwan and Lithuania to open reciprocal representative offices and develop a friendly, cooperative relationship reflects a basic right for members of the international community, the MAC said in a statement.

“This is not an internal affair as described by China” but a matter between Taiwan and Lithuania, Beijing has no right to comment on, it said.
As reported by Focus Taiwan, the MAC also called on Beijing to respect international norms and the cross-strait reality, and deal rationally with relations between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait.
For weeks, Lithuania has been facing heat from Beijing after the Baltic nation allowed the opening of the Taiwanese Representative Office in Vilnius.
Taiwan typically uses “Taipei Economic and Cultural Office” or “Taipei Representative Office” as the name for its diplomatic offices in most countries, mainly due to the host countries’ preference to avoid any semblance of treating Taiwan as a separate country in light of their “one-China” policy, reported Focus Taiwan.
This came as Beijing claims full sovereignty over Taiwan despite the fact that the two sides have been governed separately for more than seven decades.
Taipei has countered the Chinese aggression by increasing strategic ties with democracies including the US, which has been repeatedly opposed by Beijing.
Chinese President Xi Jinping pledged to complete reunification with self-ruled Taiwan and vowed to smash any attempts at formal independence for the island.

Xi Jinping consolidates power after Sixth Plenum

Beijing [China]: Xi Jinping has further consolidated his power after the Chinese Communist Party’s recently concluded and highly debated Sixth Plenum.
The Chinese Communist Party’s recently concluded and highly debated Sixth Plenum, a gathering of all 376 full-time and substitute CCP Central Committee members, only further cemented Xi’s political control and his “authoritarian image” within the party and military echelon. The plenum also called upon the “entire Party, the military, and all Chinese people to rally more closely around the Central Committee with Xi Jinping at its core.”
“Such an outlook denotes a number of key takeaways: Xi’s return to a third term is all but somewhat appears only guaranteed; the CCP has become, for all intents and purposes, Xi’s party; Xi’s personal ideologies enshrined in the “Xi Jinping Thought” are set to mark the trajectory of China’s domestic and international politics; and Xi’s CCP has no plans of slowing down in China’s quest for “great power” identity, according to National Interest.
As the world intently scrutinized the CCP’s latest plenum outcome, the Sixth Plenum passed an important milestone resolution on “major achievements and historic experiences” since the CCP’s founding one hundred years ago in 1921.
“As widely reported, only the third of its kind, the CCP resolution enshrines Xi as a part of the Chinese constitution, placing him in a position equivalent to Mao Zedong who is credited as the founder of the country, and Deng Xiaoping, a reformist leader who brought about a period of immense growth and prosperity that transformed China into the world’s second-largest economy. In fact, the past two resolutions of this nature came under Mao in 1945 and Deng in 1981, and signified their stalwart status and power as top leaders of the country,” Jagannath Panda said.
In other words, Xi was formally recognized as the driving force behind China’s pursuit of the second centennial goal–to become a “great modern socialist country” by 2049–for a bright future.
The writer said that Xi himself is gearing up for a third term or what has been recognized as his bid to become “president for life.”
In this context, the Sixth Plenum acted as a precipitator to Xi’s personal, ideological, and organizational goals, reiterating Xi’s strong personal position in the run-up to the decisive Twentieth National Party Congress in 2022, according to National Interest.
The author mentioned the CCP’s language on Taiwan particularly stands out; the communique stated that the CCP “firmly opposes” any “separatist” attempts to promote Taiwanese independence. Though this strong wording is not coming for the first time, the CCP’s continued focus on Taiwan is meant to impress upon the West that it should prepare to meet a stronger China under Xi in the future,
In other words, this reiteration of a strong stance on Taiwan indicates that tensions will continue to rise in the Taiwan strait with unceasing, and perhaps increasing, air and maritime incursions into Taiwan’s air defense identification zone (ADIZ) and maritime boundaries. With Taiwan becoming a key flashpoint of contention for both the United States and Japan, increased friction here will likely cause further tensions in China’s ties with these powers.
Further, it’s expected that as Xi Jinping consolidates power, Tokyo will be prepared for China’s continued maritime adventurism in the East China Sea and further in the South China Sea (SCS) as well.

US lawmakers introduce bill to help Taiwan expand ties as China tensions spikes

Washington [US]: Amid the deteriorating relations between Washington and Beijing, two US lawmakers introduced a bipartisan bill earlier this week, which seeks to help Taiwan develop ties with other countries amid China’s coercive actions designed to isolate the country.
The Promoting Ties with Taiwan Act, which was introduced this week aims to make it the policy of the U.S. government to use its diplomatic influence and reputation to help Taiwan expand connections with nations and partners around the world. The draft “Promoting Ties with Taiwan Act,” was introduced by Republican Michelle Fischbach and Democrat Scott Peters, Taiwan Focus reported.
Taiwan has split from China after the end of the civil war in 1949 and has since been governing independently. Beijing says that the island is a breakaway province, and considers any contacts between Taipei and other countries to be meddling in Chinese internal affairs.
The news introduced bill would require the US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken to develop a strategy to help Taiwan foster new bonds of friendship and trade connections around the world to prevent its isolation.
In a matter of 180 days following the passage of the bill, Blinken would be required to submit a strategy to Congress, including an evaluation of staffing and other resources needed to implement the new policy on Taiwan.
Moreover, one year into the submission of the strategy, Blinken would be required to submit a report to Congress detailing actions taken to carry out the strategy. So far, the bill has won support from 13 House representatives across party lines.
“Taiwan is a valued friend and an important trading partner for the United States. I’m proud to propose concrete steps that our government can take towards encouraging similar relationships between Taiwan and other countries around the world,” said Fischbach.
Peters said peace in the Taiwan Strait is an enduring security interest for the US, Taiwan, allies, and partners committed to a rules-based international order that promotes the prosperity and interests of all.
The representatives noted that Taiwan, which has full diplomatic ties with 15 nations, is being isolated as Beijing is constantly trying to pressure several countries into switching diplomatic recognition, Taiwan Focus reported.
The new bill is currently being reviewed by the US House Foreign Affairs Committee and needs to be approved by the committee and Congress before it can be signed into law by the president.

China opposes CDS Rawat’s remark calling it India’s biggest security threat

Beijing [China]: China on Thursday accused India of instigating a “geopolitical confrontation” after the chief of defence staff (CDS) Bipin Rawat’s termed China as India’s biggest security threat.
China’s Defense Ministry voiced opposition to CDS Rawat’ remarks and called the Indian military chief’s comments “provocative.” “Hyping up China threat has severely breached the strategic guidance set by leaders of the two countries that China and India pose no threat to each other,” said Defense Ministry spokesperson Wu Qian. “Inciting geopolitical confrontation is both irresponsible and dangerous,” the spokesperson was quoted as saying by Xinhua news agency.
He expressed hope that India can jointly safeguard regional peace with China. “As neighbouring countries, we hope the India side can work with China to jointly safeguard regional peace and tranquility in the border regions, and together maintain the positive development of bilateral ties,” the spokesperson added.
This comes a day ahead of the 18th meeting of the Foreign Ministers of Russia, India, and China. The meeting, which will be chaired by External Affairs Minister (EAM) S Jaishankar, will be held in the digital video conference format.
Last week, India and China had agreed on the need to find an early resolution to the remaining issues along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Eastern Ladakh while fully abiding by bilateral agreements and protocols so as to restore peace and tranquillity.
The two sides had “a candid and in-depth discussion” on the situation along the LAC in the western sector of border areas at the 23rd meeting of the Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination on India-China Border Affairs (WMCC), according to a statement by the Ministry of External Affairs.
The two sides also reviewed the developments since the last meeting of the Senior Commanders of both sides which was held on October 10 this year.
There is a stalemate on complete disengagement from friction points along the LAC following the actions of the Chinese Army last year. While areas like Pangong Tso and Gogra have seen a pullback of troops by the two sides after several rounds of talks, Hot Springs is yet to see disengagement.

China asks US to stop elevating relations with Taiwan

Beijing [China]: China on Wednesday asked the United States to immediately “stop elevating relations with Taiwan in essence” following the second US-Taiwan Economic Prosperity Partnership Dialogue held this week.
“China deplores and strongly opposes this,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said. The spokesperson said that China firmly opposes all forms of official interactions in any name or form between Taiwan and countries with diplomatic ties with China. “The US should earnestly abide by the one-China principle and the stipulations of the three China-US joint communiques, immediately stop elevating relations with Taiwan in essence, stop any form of official interaction and contact with Taiwan,” Zhao said.
“We also have this stern warning to the Taiwan authorities that any attempt and act to solicit the United States and other foreign support and sabotage cross-Strait relations is doomed to fail,” Zhao added.
Earlier this week, Under Secretary for Economic Growth, Energy, and the Environment Jose W. Fernandez led the second annual US-Taiwan Economic Prosperity Partnership Dialogue (EPPD), conducted under the auspices of the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) and the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office (TECRO) in the United States.
The US State Department said in a statement that both sides welcomed the dialogue as an opportunity to deepen cooperation and strengthen the robust economic partnership between the two economies.
“The dialogue featured extensive discussions on supply chain resiliency, countering economic coercion, promoting the digital economy, strengthening 5G network security, and advancing collaboration in a variety of science and technology fields. Discussions focused on progress made over the past year and identified new areas for cooperation, information sharing, and mutual understanding,” the statement added.
Beijing claims full sovereignty over Taiwan despite the fact that the two sides have been governed separately for more than seven decades. Taipei has countered the Chinese aggression by increasing strategic ties with democracies including the US, which has been repeatedly opposed by Beijing.

Chinese firms arrive in Afghanistan to conduct on-site inspections of lithium projects

Afghanistan street

Beijing [China]: Looking to ‘explore’ nearly trillion-dollar worth of rare earth materials, a group of Chinese delegations have arrived in Afghanistan on special visas and are conducting on-site inspections of potential lithium projects.
Despite growing interest from Chinese companies, major uncertainties remain in Afghanistan in terms of policy, security, the economy and infrastructure, the state media tabloid Global Times reported. The report said that five Chinese companies obtained special visas and arrived in Afghanistan early in November to conduct on-site inspections. “[They] have arrived in the Chinatown and are conducting inspections in Afghanistan as planned,” said Yu Minghui, director of the committee, which has been helping Chinese companies explore business opportunities in Afghanistan. Yu told GT that he believes these company representatives received the first batch of special visas issued to Chinese investors.
Back in August, Japanese newspaper Nikkei Asia had reported that China is positioning itself to be a major international partner to the Taliban after the fall of Kabul. The report added that Bejing eyes Afghanistan’s USD 1-2 trillion worth of rare Earth materials — most notably lithium.
James Stavridis, 16th Supreme Allied Commander of NATO, said that China seeks to consolidate as much control as they can over strategic supply chains for everything from microchips to electric car batteries, they want primacy in Kabul.
Experts believe that Pakistan will seek to partner with the Chinese in exploiting the mineral wealth and blocking India from a role with the Taliban regime.
For most of the 19th century, the Russian and British empires contended over Afghanistan in what was known as the Great Game. The geopolitical competition recognised the strategic position of Afghanistan, and its potential to influence South Asia.

China-ASEAN relations expand into comprehensive strategic partnership

Beijing [China]: The special summit commemorating the 30th anniversary of ASEAN-China dialogue relations re-enforces Beijing’s expanding role in the ASEAN region.
Though the China-ASEAN summit focuses on higher-end technology research including focus production on the COVID-19 vaccine, the strategic significance of the summit can’t be undermined, reported Global Times. The summit re-enforces China’s engagement with the 10-member ASEAN countries including Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
The summit comes at a time when Beijing has expanded its economic role in the region as the ASEAN’s data shows its trade volume with China was USD 684.6 billion in 2020.
China-ASEAN dialogue relations were established in 1991 after the end of the Cold War when Beijing started to expand its economic reach further in the South East Asian region.
The above was followed by Beijing’s role as ASEAN’s dialogue partners which had morphed into a strategic partnership by 200. The strategic partnership has now developed into a comprehensive strategic partnership as a part of the 30th anniversary of the ASEAN-China dialogue.
Contours of the China-ASEAN Summit assumes more significance as United States Biden administration is viewing the South China Sea and the widen Indo-Pacific region with much strategic interest, the Global Times reported.
China’s effort to engage firmly the ASEAN countries will signal Beijing’s effort to engage with the regional multi-lateral organizations as a part of its expanding role in the international multi-lateral bodies, the Chinese publication said.
The above move will enhance Beijing’s image as a credible international player by adhering to the international multilateral organization’s agenda of developing peace and security through mutual and multi-lateral dialogues.
Further, it will negate Beijing’s inability to co-operate with the multi-lateral organizations which was manifested during the South China Sea arbitration in 2016.
It’s noted that China has competing claims in the South China Sea dispute despite its expanding economic role in the region.
The China-ASEAN summit comes after the virtual meeting held between United States President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping held on November 15.
Earlier, weeks before that US President announced plans to provide up to USD 102 million to expand the US strategic partnership in the Indo-Pacific region.
The US President announced the need for the US to expand its role in the ASEAN as an overall approach to its Indo-Pacific.
“Our partnership is essential in maintaining a free and open Indo-Pacific, which has been the foundation of our shared security and prosperity for many decades,” Biden said
“And the United States strongly supports the ASEAN outlook and the Indo-Pacific — on the Indo-Pacific and the rules-based regional order,” he added.
The US economic package includes USD 40 million that will supplant ASEAN countries effort to counter the COVID-19 pandemic and strengthen ASEAN’s ability to prevent, detect and respond to future outbreaks of infectious diseases.
Further, another USD 20.5 million will finance climate mitigation, and up to USD 20 million will support cooperation on trade and innovation. Another USD 17.5 million will supplant ASEAN countries’ education projects and USD 4 million to promote gender equality and equity.
Earlier, the last US president to attend an ASEAN-US meeting was in 2017 when Donald Trump attended in Manila, Philippines when the contours of the Quadrilateral Security Initiative 2.0 were announced to strengthen Washington’s interest in the wider Indo-Pacific region.
Though the Quad 2.0 was announced on the sidelines of the US-ASEAN summit the ASEAN countries have tried to maintain distance from the initiative and in that way has tried to balance the delicate relations between the US and China
The divergent approach of the US and China in the ASEAN has assumed the role of the strategic competition after the formation of the Australia United Kingdom and the United States (AUKUS) and block’s formation role has been expanded into the wider Indo-Pacific region much to Beijing’s discomfort in the ASEAN region.

Imran Khan ensures support to Chinese businesses in Pakistan

Pakistan PM Imran Khan

Islamabad [Pakistan]: Amid the rising mistrust among Chinese investors over the safety and security of their projects in Pakistan, Prime Minister Imran Khan ensured the country’s “all-weather ally” to support and protect its businesses on “priority basis.”
In a meeting between Khan and Chinese business delegation led by Chen Yan from Challenge Fashion (Pvt), he said, “We will support Chinese businesses in Pakistan on priority basis, and are grateful to them for their keen interest in accelerating their investment in Special Economic Zones (SEZs)”, reported Geo News. The prime minister directed the authorities concerned to facilitate all Chinese investors, who are setting up industries in Pakistan, on an emergency basis by resolving their issues related to road connectivity and provision of utilities.
Khan also said that Pakistan and China haven’t just been connected in past and present, but will remain united through future generations, reported Geo News.
“Pakistan and China have been connected not only in the past or present, but will remain united through our future generations also. We appreciate the valuable relationship of the peoples of the two countries,” the Prime Minister maintained.
Earlier, a Chinese company had stopped work on the Dasu power project, being carried out in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Kohistan district, after at least 12 people, including nine Chinese workers, were killed on July 14 when a bus carrying them fell into a ravine following an explosion due to a suicide attack, Geo News reported.
Earlier, the PM was informed that Chinese businessmen are almost ready to start operations in glass, ceramics and information technology sectors.
Meanwhile, Sergio Restelli in Times of Israel said that cracks seem to have surfaced in the ‘higher than mountains’, ‘deeper than oceans’, between Pakistan and China, despite both the countries tout their friendship as unprecedented but the situation on the ground depicts it otherwise.
“The 62-billion-dollar economic corridor (CPEC) from Kashgar in Xinjiang to Gwadar on the Arabian coast, has been hailed as people of Pakistan thought it would bring prosperity and riches for them. But now, it seems the CPEC is turning out to be an albatross around Pakistan’s neck. Since the day the deal was signed, questions have been raised about issues like lack of transparency, hidden terms and conditions of the loans offered, influx of Chinese labourers in Pakistan, mounting debt,” Sergio said in The Times of Israel.
The local populace in Pakistan also has been contesting such Chinese-led investment-oriented development strategies. Concerns about debt traps, lack of transparency, aggressive diplomacy, and friction due to excessive use of Chinese labour have often resulted in discord at the local level.

US manages to halt construction of secret Chinese port project in UAE

Washington [US]: The Biden administration has managed to halt the construction of a secret development inside of a Chinese shipping port in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), one of the US’s closest Mideast allies, after intense pressure from the US.
This project, near Abu Dhabi, was halted after several rounds of meetings and visits by US officials, The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported citing people familiar with the matter. After the intelligence agencies in Washington learned that Beijing was secretly building what they suspected was a military facility at a port, the Biden administration warned the Emirati government that a Chinese military presence in its country could threaten ties between the two countries.
“Last we checked, we had successfully convinced the Emiratis to shut down the project,” said one source familiar with the intelligence, as quoted by CNN. “But it’s still a live issue.”
Although the project was portrayed as purely commercial, US intelligence has observed ships disguised as commercial vessels that officials recognized as a type typically used by the Chinese military for signals intelligence collection entering the port, the report said.
In a statement, a spokesperson for the UAE Embassy in Washington said that the UAE “never had an agreement, plan, talks or intention to host a Chinese military base or outpost of any kind.”
This development comes as Beijing has sought to develop commercial ports in outposts around the world in what experts believe is a clear effort to enhance its military foothold. China has already developed commercial ports in Pakistan and Sri Lanka and its first overseas military base in Djibouti.
Earlier, the former Trump administration had sought to pressure the UAE to put a stop to the project at the port, which is run by a Chinese shipping conglomerate.

Tokyo conveys concerns to Beijing as Chinese ships enter Japanese waters

Tokyo [Japan]: Japan has conveyed its concerns to Beijing after a Chinese naval ship sailed in Japan’s waters of its southwestern prefecture of Kagoshima.
A Chinese naval ship had sailed in Japan’s waters earlier this week off its southwestern prefecture, the country’s Defence Ministry said on Friday. The Chinese survey ship was spotted sailing off the southwestern prefecture on Wednesday and Thursday in the so-called contiguous zone outside Japan’s territorial waters, reported Kyodo News citing the ministry.
A Maritime Self-Defense Force patrol plane spotted the ship heading toward Japanese waters from the contiguous zone south of Yakushima Island around 8:40 pm on Wednesday.
The Japanese government conveyed concerns about the vessel’s action to China through diplomatic channels, said officials familiar with the matter, Kyodo News reported.
In recent times, China has ramped up maritime activities in the South China Sea.
On Friday, four Chinese coast guard ships also entered Japanese waters around the Senkakus, marking the first intrusion in the area since Oct. 20.
The Japanese government termed the Chinese action “a violation of international law. It is truly regretful, and we cannot accept it.”
Top government spokesman Hirokazu Matsuno said Japan has lodged a protest with China because the islets are “no doubt an inherent territory of our country historically and based on international law.”
China claims sovereignty over almost the entire South China Sea and has overlapping territorial claims with Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Vietnam and Taiwan.
Meanwhile, China’s military has criticised the latest operation as the latest proof of the United States’ “militarization of the South China Sea,” adding that it had tracked the vessel and warned it off, Japan Times reported.
China on September 1 implemented a revised law that enables its maritime safety agency, which belongs to the transportation ministry, to order foreign vessels to leave what Beijing claims as its territorial waters if it judges their presence to be a security threat.

Olympics Politics: China chides Biden for considering diplomatic boycott of Beijing Olympics

Beijing [China], November 20 (ANI): China has hit out at US President Joe Biden for considering a diplomatic boycott of next year’s Beijing Games, saying politicising sports violates the Olympic spirit and undermines the interests of all athletes.

President Joe Biden confirmed on Thursday that he is mulling a US diplomatic boycott of the upcoming Winter Olympics in Beijing.
“It’s something we’re considering,” Biden told reporters in the Oval Office following a bilateral meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

A senior administration official told CNN on Wednesday that Biden is not expected to attend the upcoming Olympics in China this February and that his administration is on the verge of implementing a diplomatic boycott of the games.

Reacting to Biden’s remarks, Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said the US “falsely accuses” China of committing genocide and forced labour in Xinjiang.

“The 2022 Winter Olympic Games and the Paralympic Games in Beijing are the stages for athletes from all over the world, and they are the real protagonists of the upcoming Games,” Zhao Lijian said.”Any politicization of sport violates the Olympic spirit and harms the interests of athletes of all countries,” the spokesman added.

Human rights activists have raised their voices against China’s detention of Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang province and crackdown on pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong.

In March, the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada and the European Union imposed sanctions on four Chinese officials and one entity for alleged human rights violations in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, according to Sputnik. (ANI)

After US, UK considering diplomatic boycott of 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics

London [UK]: Days after US President Joe Biden’s announcement on the boycott of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that he is also considering the same over the alleged human rights violations in China, according to media reports.
Russian news agency Sputnik stated, citing media reports, that the UK government is actively discussing the possibility to refrain from sending officials to the Winter Olympics in Beijing, with Foreign Secretary Liz Truss believed to be a supporter of the idea. Citing Times newspaper, Sputnik reported that under one of the considered options, the UK may be represented by the ambassador but not any other official.
On Thursday, United States President Joe Biden had said that his administration was considering a diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, according to NBC News.
Asked about the possibility of the boycott during an Oval Office meeting with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada, Biden responded that it was “something we are considering”, according to NBC News.
The White House usually sends a delegation to the opening and closing ceremonies of the Olympics, but this time, under a diplomatic boycott, it would not send the delegation.
The diplomatic boycott call has been advocated by top US lawmakers. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi had called for such a boycott, a move to protest against China’s abuses of human rights, said CNN.
Responding to it, China said that the politicization of the Olympics will harm the global sports movement in the world.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian reacted following US President Joe Biden’s remarks on the diplomatic boycott of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, Sputnik reported.
“The 2022 Winter Olympic Games and the Paralympic Games in Beijing are the stages for athletes from all over the world, and they are the real protagonists of the upcoming Games,” Zhao Lijian said.
“Any politicization of sport violates the Olympic spirit and harms the interests of athletes of all countries,” the spokesman added.
Human rights activists have raised their voices against China’s detention of Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang province and crackdown on pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong.
In March, the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada and the European Union imposed sanctions on four Chinese officials and one entity for alleged human rights violations in the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, according to Sputnik.

Chinese naval ship sails in Japan waters amid rising security tensions

Beijing [China]: A Chinese naval ship sailed in Japan’s waters earlier this week off its southwestern prefecture of Kagoshima, the country’s Defence Ministry said on Friday.
The Chinese survey ship was spotted sailing off the southwestern prefecture on Wednesday and Thursday in the so-called contiguous zone outside Japan’s territorial waters, reported Kyodo News citing the ministry. A Maritime Self-Defense Force patrol plane spotted the ship heading toward Japanese waters from the contiguous zone south of Yakushima Island around 8:40 pm on Wednesday.
The ship was then seen sailing west of Kuchinoerabu Island in the zone westward around 1:20 am on Thursday, the ministry further said.
The Chinese vessel entered Japanese waters sometime between Wednesday night and early Thursday, the ministry determined based on the pattern of sightings, though it did not specify when the intrusion happened, according to Kyodo News.

Amid Chinese military threat, Taiwan unveils new F-16V fighter jets

Taipei [Taiwan]: Amid rising military threats from China, Taiwan on Thursday (local time) unveiled more than two dozen upgraded F-16 fighter jets – F-16V at the Chiayi base.
The F-16s screamed across the sky at Chiayi Air Base on the island’s southwestern coast as pilots performed aerial maneuvers to demonstrate the capabilities of Taiwan’s first squadron of US-made F-16V, reported CNN. During the commissioning ceremony, Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen said the formation of a new F-16V combat wing has demonstrated the deepening friendship between the island and the US.
“The Lockheed Martin team has provided us with a lot of assistance in completing the upgrade,” she said.
“This not only signals the further progress of Taiwan-US friendship but also represents a firm commitment to Taiwan-US relations.”
In the event of an air attack from China, F-16V fighter jets, or Viper will defend the island nation. The planes were upgraded from older F-16A/B fighter jets, originally acquired by Taiwan in the 1990s, and are equipped with advanced radar systems and new mission computers, according to the official Central News Agency (CNA). The island has plans to upgrade 141 fighters to the newer version by 2023.
That upgrade has already been done to more than 60 F-16s, Vice Defense Minister Wang Hsin-lung told Taiwan’s Parliament on Wednesday, reported CNN.
Taiwan has also purchased 66 new F-16Vs from manufacturer Lockheed Martin in the United States, and delivery is expected to start in 2023, CNA reported.
Beijing’s ruling Communist Party has been stepping up its military pressure on Taiwan, including sending 150 warplanes near the island in just five days in October, prompting Taipei to issue radio warnings and deploy air defense missile systems to monitor the activity.
Communist authorities in Beijing have refused to rule out the use of force to take Taiwan despite having never ruled it. The democratic island has had its own government and military since the end of the Chinese Civil War more than seven decades ago.
The subject of Taiwan was high on the agenda during a virtual summit between US President Joe Biden and Chinese leader Xi Jinping on Monday, reported CNN.
In the talks, Biden raised his concerns over Beijing’s behavior in the region. While he reaffirmed the US “One China” policy, which recognizes Beijing’s claim of sovereignty but allows for US defense ties with Taiwan, he voiced worry that China’s actions were destabilizing the region.
According to a readout of the meeting from China’s Foreign Ministry, Xi blamed rising tensions across the Taiwan Strait on what he called Taipei’s attempt to “rely on the US to seek independence,” and “the intention of some Americans to use Taiwan to contain China.”

China made dubious claims of victory in its ‘war on poverty’: USCC

Washington [US]: US-China Economic and Security Review Commission (USCC) in its newly released report has said that China made dubious claims of victory in its “war on poverty” and stressed that it has been one of the central themes of the centennial propaganda campaign of Beijing.
“One of the central themes of the centennial propaganda campaign has been Beijing’s assertion that it had eliminated “extreme poverty” by 2020, a goal first announced by General Secretary Xi in 2015,” USCC said in its report on Wednesday. The USCC is a bipartisan commission created by Congress to monitor and report on trade, economic, and defence issues in the US-China relationship.
In April 2021, China’s State Council Information Office released a white paper titled “Poverty Alleviation: China’s Experience and Contribution.”
The white paper referred to poverty alleviation as “a key task and index of realization of the First Centenary Goal” and claimed unambiguous success in the CCP’s efforts, stating, “China has secured a complete victory in the battle against extreme poverty, eliminating overall and extreme poverty for the first time in its history of thousands of years, and realizing a century-long aspiration of the Chinese people”, the report read.
Outside experts have identified serious shortcomings in the Chinese government’s methodology, however, and poverty and income inequality remain serious problems in China, the report read.
The USCC report has also said that in the wake of Beijing’s stimulus-led recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, China’s debt burden has further increased, stressing a financial system still struggling to manage an unprecedented debt expansion following the 2008 global financial crisis.
In 2016, China’s financial regulators launched a deleveraging campaign amid fears over growing instability in the financial system. China’s debt has continued to balloon, however, particularly over the past year as the Chinese Communist Party used fiscal stimulus measures to address the economic slowdown caused by COVID-19.

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