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NEW – FEBRUARY 11TH 2022 – THE CHINA DEBRIEF – ORIGINAL BRIEFING REVEALED
China fell more than $213 billion short of its commitment to increase purchases of US goods and services that it made to then-President Donald Trump in 2020, according to a report released Tuesday. The commitment was made in what’s known as the Phase One deal, in which Beijing promised to purchase $200 billion more in American exports than it had in 2017, before a U.S.-China trade war began. Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping both stopped escalating tariffs after the deal was signed. The deal required China to meet its purchase commitments by the end of 2021. While China was never on track to meet the target number, a new report from the Peterson Institute for International Economics gives the first complete picture of how much was purchased over the two-year period.The U.S. House of Representatives on Friday narrowly passed a multibillion-dollar bill aimed at increasing American competitiveness with China and boosting U.S. semiconductor manufacturing, despite Republican opposition. The Democratic-majority House backed the “America COMPETES Act of 2022” by 222-210, almost entirely along party lines. One Republican joined Democrats in voting for the measure and one Democrat voted no. Passage set up negotiations with the Senate on a compromise version of the legislation, which must pass both chambers before it can be sent to the White House for President Joe Biden’s signature. The talks could take weeks or months. The vote took place the same day as the opening ceremony for the Beijing Winter Olympics, amid criticism in Congress of the International Olympic Committee for awarding the Games to China. Human rights groups have long criticized China’s rights record, allegations China denies.The U.S. government on Monday announced restrictions on transactions with 33 Chinese organizations whose ownership is deemed to be “unverified,” and unsealed an indictment against a Shenzhen-based tech company already banned from supplying U.S. federal agencies. The Commerce Department’s new “unverified list” entries are primarily hi-tech manufacturers, including those that produce laser components and pharmaceuticals, government research labs, and two universities. U.S. companies seeking to export to entities on the list must obtain a license to do so. One of the listed schools, Southern University of Science and Technology in Shenzhen, figured into the indictment of a Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor accused of misrepresenting his relationship to China on funding documents. Charges in that case were dropped last month, when prosecutors said they did not have enough evidence.U.S. President Joe Biden extended Trump-era tariffs on imported solar energy equipment by four years on Friday, but in a major concession to installers, he also eased the terms to exclude a panel technology dominant among big U.S. projects. The decision represented a balancing act by the Biden administration to meet the demands of two important political constituencies: union labor, which supports import restrictions to protect domestic jobs, and clean energy developers keen to access cheap overseas supplies. The four-year extension of the tariff exempts so-called bifacial panels, which can generate electricity on both sides and are favored by large-scale developers, according to a White House announcement. That technology was nascent when the tariffs were first imposed by Trump, but it is now used in most large U.S. solar facilities.
The Korean Sport and Olympic Committee announced on Tuesday that it plans to issue a protest with the Court of Arbitration for Sport and the International Olympic Committee over the disqualification of two of its speed skaters in the men’s 1,000-metre semi-final at the 2022 Games. Korean skater Hwang Dae-heon was assessed an “illegal late pass” penalty, while teammate Lee June-seo was penalized for a lane-change infraction, with both actions causing contact with other skaters. “We will explore all available ways and means to ensure that such an unfair judgement will not be made again,” said Yoon Hong-geun, president of the Korea Skating Union, via Reuters. “We’ve been receiving requests from sport officials and ordinary citizens to pull out of the Olympics altogether and bring the athletes home, but we are not at that stage yet.”Athletes have been hitting out at Olympic organizers, with complaints about freezing conditions and quarantine rules pouring in. Beijing kicked off the Winter Games four days ago, promising it would be “streamlined, safe and splendid.” Some have lauded China’s efforts to ensure a relatively virus-free Games. But some participants say they are living and training in dismal conditions, prompting them to lobby organizers for improvements. A handful of COVIC-19 cases—including athletes and team officials—have been reported at the Games, with frustration bubbling over the confusion surrounding COVID isolation rules. China’s rules stipulate those who have symptoms will be taken to a designated hospital and those who are asymptomatic will stay in an isolation facility. Earlier last week, Belgian skeleton racer Kim Meylemans posted a tearful account on Instagram, alleging that she had been bounced from one isolation facility to another.A recent interview in which Peng Shuai denied accusing anyone of sexual assault has done little to address concerns about the Chinese player’s safety, the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) reaffirmed on Monday. Peng, a former doubles world number one, told French newspaper L’Equipe that a social media post where she appeared to allege that a former Chinese vice premier, Zhang Gaoli, had sexually assaulted her, was a “huge misunderstanding.” “Sexual assault? I never said anyone had sexually assaulted me in any way,” said Peng of the Weibo post, which was later deleted. The post led the WTA to suspend tournaments in China and caused an international outcry about her well-being. In a statement, WTA chairman and CEO Steve Simon said: “It’s always good to see Peng Shuai, whether in an interview or attending the Olympic Games.”
CCP Foreign Influence
Britain on Monday firmly rejected a statement from China that affirmed Beijing’s support for Argentina’s claim to the Falkland Islands, as relations between London and Asia’s leading power remain strained. Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said in a tweet that the United Kingdom “completely” rejected “any questions over sovereignty of the Falklands.” “The Falklands are part of the British family and we will defend their right to self determination. China must respect the Falklands’ sovereignty,” she wrote. Chinese President Xi Jinping and his Argentine counterpart Alberto Fernandez issued a joint statement on Sunday that said China “reaffirms its support for Argentina’s demand for the full exercise of sovereignty over the Malvinas Islands,” using the Argentine name for the territory. The two leaders met as Fernandez was in Beijing for the Winter Olympics.Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping have called on the West to “abandon the ideologized approaches of the Cold War” as the two leaders showed their deepening “no limits” relationship amid a standoff between Moscow and the West over Ukraine. Xi and Putin, who was in Beijing on February 4 for the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics, met before the start of the festivities. The joint statement, which noted the “friendship between the two states has no limits, there are no ‘forbidden’ areas of cooperation,” came as Russia has amassed an estimated 100,000-plus troops near its border with Ukraine and is demanding European security guarantees, including a pledge that Kyiv will never be admitted into NATO.The president of George Washington University in D.C. has reversed his earlier decision to remove campus posters protesting the Beijing Olympics, which Chinese student groups had said “incited racial hatred and ethnic tensions.” In early February, posters protesting the Beijing Olympics were posted in several locations on the George Washington University campus, according to a student group statement and photos posted to Twitter. In a February 6 statement posted to WeChat, the GWU Chinese Cultural Association said students had reported the posters to the police and the “unauthorized” posters had been removed. But in a February 7 message posted to the university website, GWU President Mark Wrighton said this was a mistaken measure taken in haste. Background: In recent years, Chinese student associations in the U.S., Canada, and the U.K. have intimidated students and visiting speakers who support Uyghurs, Tibetans, and the Hong Kong pro-democracy movement.
China’s “zero-COVID” restrictions could weigh on world growth by prolonging supply chain disruptions and global inflationary pressures, a Bank of Japan policymaker said on Wednesday. The remark follows a warning last month by International Monetary Fund head Kristalina Georgieva that China should reassess its zero-COVID approach to the pandemic given the emergence of the highly contagious Omicron variant. “China’s economy is the world’s market and factory,” BOJ board member Toyoaki Nakamura said in a speech. “There’s a risk its ‘zero-COVID’ policy amid widening Omicron infections could weigh on the global economy, as well as prolong global supply chain disruptions and inflationary pressures,” he said. Uncertainty over how quickly Japanese companies pass on rising raw material costs to households is also among risks to the country’s economy, said Nakamura, a former executive at Japanese electronics giant Hitachi Ltd.The head of the World Health Organization said on Saturday he had discussed with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang the need for stronger collaboration on the origins of COVID-19, a subject of controversy that has strained Beijing’s relations with the West. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has previously pressed China to be more forthcoming with data and information related to the origin of the virus. “Pleased to meet with Premier Li Keqiang,” Tedros tweeted. “We discussed COVID-19 and the need for an aggressive effort on VaccinEquity this year to vaccinate 70% of all populations,” he said, referring to the WHO campaign for fair access to vaccines around the world. “We also discussed the need for stronger collaboration on COVID-19 virus origins, rooted in science and evidence,” he added.
The Hong Kong High Court on Tuesday dismissed an appeal by a former Bank of America lawyer against a conviction and jail sentence for assaulting a police officer. Samuel Bickett was sent back to prison to serve the remainder of a 4 1/2-month sentence. “Today’s ruling is just the latest indication that the judiciary’s reputation for applying the law rationally, fairly and equally is in danger,” he said in a statement. “In a society with rule of law, police officers do not have free rein to do whatever they want.” Bickett was arrested for trying to take a baton from a plain-clothes police officer. He believed at the time that he was protecting someone and has said that he does not “regret stepping in that day, doing the right thing.”Hong Kong’s Official Receiver has yet to decide whether it will represent the now-defunct organizer of the city’s annual Tiananmen vigils in a national security law case, a situation the judge described as “unprecedented.” The Official Receiver, represented by senior counsel William Wong, said that it needed more time to decide whether to represent the Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China in the group’s national security case. Acting Chief Magistrate Peter Law adjourned the case to February 24, when the Official Receiver’s representative would tell the court its decision. To date, the Alliance has not had any representatives in court since it was struck off the Companies’ Registry last year. “I know that at this point the problem we face is a very complicated one… it’s unprecedented,” said the magistrate.Hong Kong civil servants will need to take specific courses on China’s constitution and the city’s national security law during their three-year probation or before gaining promotion, to boost their sense of national identity. Secretary for the Civil Service Patrick Nip Tak-kuen also told a Legislative Council meeting on Wednesday that with the government having established a college in December last year, staff would be required to learn more about innovation and technology. By mid-2020, the government employed about 177,000 civil servants. The 33,000-strong police force was the largest department. Some pro-Beijing legislators said the measures did not go far enough and urged Nip to consider checking whether senior civil servants had foreign nationality or assets or held a British National (Overseas) passport.
A May 2021 survey of 1,000 Taiwan people by Brookings yielded evidence that Taiwanese identity may not be primarily ethnocultural or ethnonational. Instead, Taiwanese have a complex relationship with Chinese culture. The idea that Taiwan people reject unification out of a sense of ethnocultural difference from China finds little support in our survey. A majority of our respondents—56%—said Taiwanese culture was similar to Chinese culture. While that perception varied across age groups, it was the strong plurality view in all age groups, and a majority view in all but one (age 30-39). The percentage that viewed the two cultures as dissimilar was roughly the same as the percentage that declined to answer. People who identified as Taiwanese only were less likely to see a close cultural link with China than those who identified as both Chinese and Taiwanese, but even among those who identified as Taiwanese only, the proportion that saw Chinese culture as close to Taiwanese culture was larger than the proportion that rejected that view.The nominee for U.S. ambassador to Honduras has pledged that if confirmed she would work closely with the Central American country on the issue of its relationship with Taiwan. Laura Farnsworth Dogu made the pledge on Tuesday during her confirmation hearing at the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. In her opening statement, Dogu, a career U.S. Foreign Service officer who served as ambassador to Nicaragua from 2015 to 2018, said that the U.S. promotes Taiwan as a “valuable partner.” “If confirmed, I will make clear the importance of the Honduras-Taiwan relationship and do all I can to enhance Honduras’ partnerships with other democracies,” she said. Asked by U.S. Senator Marco Rubio if making sure Honduras does not switch allegiance to China would be a priority for her, Dogu said that Washington has sent many high-level delegations to Honduras since Xiomara Castro was elected president in November last year.Lithuania’s foreign minister on Thursday used his visit to Australia to double down on Vilnius’ move to stand up against Beijing, and to call for like-minded rules-based countries to counter growing “economic coercion” from nations like China and Russia. Gabrielius Landsbergis, who was in Canberra to open a new diplomatic mission, said during a speech that the Lithuanian government had not breached its support of the “One China” policy by allowing the Taiwanese representative office in the capital Vilnius to carry the name Taiwan. The self-ruled Taiwan, which Beijing views as a renegade province, is not formally recognized as an independent state by most countries, and usually uses the names Taipei or the Republic of China on the world stage.Somaliland’s Foreign Minister Essa Kayd landed in Taiwan on Wednesday for his government’s first cabinet-level visit. Taiwan and Somaliland find themselves in a similar position with both being self-governing democracies that remain unrecognized by most of the world. Kayd applauded the “special and historical relationship” between “our two countries,” which he referred to as the “two champions of democracies in Africa and Asia.” “This historic visit marks an important milestone,” he said during his meeting Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen. “All coercive or threatening measures to deny such collaboration between international partners…do little to promote the peace and security that the region and the world require.” Tsai hailed the relationship as one of her administration’s chief diplomatic breakthroughs. During the meeting, Kayd said Somaliland welcomed “giant” Taiwanese companies to invest and trade with them.
Antonio Guterres, the secretary-general of the United Nations, has told leaders in Beijing that he expects them to allow the UN’s human rights chief to make a “credible visit” to China, including to Xinjiang. Guterres met with Chinese President Xi Jinping and Foreign Minister Wang Yi on the sidelines of the Winter Olympic Games on Saturday, according to a UN readout of their talks. The UN chief “expressed his expectation that the contacts between the office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Chinese authorities will allow for a credible visit of the High Commissioner to China, including Xinjiang,” the statement said. The Chinese state news agency Xinhua made no mention of the rights issue in its readout of the meeting.The lighting of the Olympic cauldron is traditionally an honor given to people who symbolize the host nation, or its sporting history, or its vision of itself. China’s selection of the Uyghur athlete, Dinigeer Yilamujiang, 20, for that role, along with a teammate of the Han Chinese ethnic majority, was immediately divisive. To many Chinese, it was a feel-good message of ethnic unity. But to human rights activists and Western critics, it looked like Beijing was using an athlete in a calculated, provocative fashion to whitewash its suppression of Uyghurs in the far western region of Xinjiang, where Yilamujiang is from. Chinese state media declared after the ceremony that Yilamujiang had “showed the world a beautiful and progressive Xinjiang” with her “smiling face and youthful figure.” The propaganda effort was offensive to many overseas Uyghurs, who have long sought to raise awareness about China’s mass detention and re-education campaign targeting Uyghur Muslims that the United States has declared as genocidal.China’s Communist leadership has declared hopes of transforming its nascent winter sports industry into a US$157 billion powerhouse, and the troubled region of Xinjiang has been given a starring role. The ballooning sports industry contrasts heavily with claims by rights groups that more than one million people in Xinjiang have been detained in internment camps and forced labor. A deluge of state media reports has declared “a ski fever” is taking hold in Xinjiang, while wealthy young urbanites snap selfies with expensive ski gear in front of the region’s snow-capped mountains. State media has produced waves of reports showcasing remote villagers on the ice, as well as tear-jerking profiles of young athletes from the region’s ethnic minorities. In one video, a vlogger from the Uyghur ethnic minority toured a “happy and exciting” novelty snow park in a desert region of southern Xinjiang.
The China Debrief is a resource of the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation.