THE CHINA DEBRIEF JUNE-17-2022-ORIGINAL BRIEFING REVEALED

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U.S.-China Relations
The U.S. Department of Defense has signed a $120mn deal with Australia’s Lynas Rare Earths to build one of the first U.S. domestic heavy rare earths separation facilities, part of Washington’s push to counter China’s dominance of critical mineral supply chains. Rare earth elements are vital to making magnets used in military equipment such as lasers and guidance systems, as well as components in electric vehicles, wind turbines, fiber optic cables, and consumer electronics. China is responsible for almost 90% of global refining of rare earths and more than 50% of rare earths mining, according to the International Energy Agency.President Joe Biden’s administration is looking to foster renewed diplomacy with China with a close eye on the nuclear threat looming over the Korean Peninsula, a subject of the latest talks between top officials from Washington and Beijing. White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan and Chinese Central Foreign Affairs Commission Director Yang Jiechi met Monday in Luxembourg for a four-and-half-hour session of discussion that a senior Biden administration official described as “candid, in-depth, substantive and productive” during a press call later that same day. A readout issued by the White House offered few details of the meeting, simply saying that the two men discussed “a number of regional and global security issues, as well as key issues in US-China relations,” and Sullivan “underscored the importance of maintaining open lines of communication to manage competition between our two countries.”National security adviser Jake Sullivan met with China’s top diplomat, Yang Jiechi, on Monday to discuss a range of security challenges facing the countries’ bilateral relationship, including Russia’s war in Ukraine and North Korea’s string of ballistic missile tests. A senior administration official described the talks, which were held in Luxembourg, as “candid, in-depth, substantive and productive.” The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the meeting lasted nearly five hours and follows a May phone call between Sullivan and Yang. The two last met in person in Rome on March 14 in what was later described as “intense” talks that spanned at least seven hours.Amid mounting US-China tensions and spikes in anti-Asian hate, U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai told Axios in an interview she is keenly aware of the heightened scrutiny she faces as a Chinese American leading the US’s trade policy. Besides Vice President Harris, Tai is the only Asian American to serve in a Cabinet-level position in the Biden administration. Her job requires her to navigate the US’s complicated relationship with China even as Americans grow increasingly distrustful of people of Asian descent. Tai, who co-chairs the White House Initiative on Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders, said she is used to the extra attention on her work.
Russia-China Relations
China and other Asian nations are becoming an increasingly vital source of oil revenues for Moscow despite strong pressure from the US not to increase their purchases, as the European Union and other allies cut off energy imports from Russia in line with sanctions over its war on Ukraine. Such sales are boosting Russian export revenues at a time when Washington and allies are trying to limit financial flows supporting Moscow’s war effort. A report by the Helsinki, Finland-based Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air, an independent think tank released Monday said Russia earned 93 billion euros ($97.4 billion) in revenue from fossil fuel exports in the first 100 days of the country’s invasion of Ukraine, despite a fall in export volumes in May.While appealing to Asian nations for support to fend off Russia’s invasion on Saturday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said the international community should help Taiwan resist China’s aggression now, before Beijing attacks the island democracy it claims as its own province. The comments risk upsetting Ukraine’s delicate balancing act with China; nevertheless, Zelensky insisted that aggressors must be confronted wherever they emerge. Asian countries must not wait for the crisis to act on Taiwan’s behalf, which would be repeating the mistake Europe made before Russian President Vladimir Putin’s attack on Ukraine. Zelensky’s remarks followed a video address he made to the Shangri-La Dialogue, an annual conference of Asian and Pacific defense and diplomatic officials organized by the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies.
CCP Foreign Influence
China and Poland have pledged to develop their economic relationship despite their clear differences over the war in Ukraine. In a video call on Friday, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi told his Polish counterpart Zbigniew Rau that China hoped to make the country a gateway to Central and Eastern Europe and promised to explore the establishment of a two-way warehousing, logistics and distribution system. Wang also said Beijing wanted to maintain sound and stable development of relations despite the “turbulent and volatile international situation,” according to a statement from the foreign ministry. He also promised that China would “continue to play a constructive role, in our own way” in Ukraine and accused the United States of using the conflict to “smear and suppress” China.China has overtaken the US as the foreign power seen as having the biggest positive influence in Africa by young people, according to a survey released on Monday. A survey conducted by the Ichikowitz Family Foundation found that 76% of 4,507 young Africans across 15 countries named China as a foreign power with a positive influence on their lives, compared with 72% for the US. In 2020, when the inaugural study of 18-to-24-year-olds was conducted, 83% of respondents saw the US’s influence as positive while the figure for China was 79%. The results are further evidence that China is winning the battle against geopolitical rivals such as the US and the European Union for the hearts and minds of Africans. Beijing has plowed money into African infrastructure over the past two decades and supplies the continent with affordable consumer goods ranging from mobile phones and solar panels to shovels and plastics.China has widened the gap on the United States in trade terms in large swathes of Latin America since US President Joe Biden came into office early last year, data show, underscoring how Washington is being pushed onto the back foot in the region. An exclusive Reuters analysis of UN trade data from 2015-2021 shows that outside of Mexico, the top US trade partner, China has overtaken the United States in Latin America and widened the gap last year. The trend, driven by countries in resource-rich South America, hammers home how the United States has lost ground in a region long seen as its backyard, even as Biden aimed to reset ties at the Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles last week.
COVID-19
China is the last country in the world that is trying to eliminate COVID, and the spread of the highly contagious Omicron variant is challenging its strategy of mass lockdowns and quarantines. The country already uses health code apps to surveil its citizens and track infections, and it imposes stringent lockdowns and centralized quarantines for confirmed cases and close contacts. Officials hope the regular mass testing will help isolate cases in the community before they spiral into bigger outbreaks. But the policy can be expensive and time-consuming, undercutting the central government’s efforts to fire up the economy. In Shanghai, barely two weeks after the city lifted its two-month lockdown, the authorities have placed millions under new lockdowns to conduct mass testing, setting off protests in some areas.China’s capital has put school online in one of its major districts amid a new COVID-19 outbreak linked to a nightclub, while life has yet to return to normal in Shanghai despite the lifting of a more than two-month-long lockdown. China has stuck to its “zero-COVID” policy requiring mass testing, quarantines, and the sequestering of anyone who has come into contact with an infected person in concentrated locations where hygiene is generally poor. A total of 166 cases have been linked to the Heaven Supermarket club in the downtown Gongti nightlife area after an infected person visited there Thursday. Of those, 145 were customers, while the rest were staff or people with whom customers had later contact.A protest planned by hundreds of bank depositors in central China seeking access to their frozen funds has been thwarted because the authorities have turned their health code apps red, several depositors told Reuters. The depositors were planning to travel to the central province of Henan this week from across China to protest against an almost two-month block on accessing at least $178 million of deposits, which has left companies unable to pay workers and individuals unable to access savings.
Hong Kong
Thousands of exiled Hongkongers and allies marked the 3rd anniversary of the 2019 Hong Kong protest movement in cities around the world at the weekend, with a large crowd gathering on Parliament Square in London to mark the first anniversary of mass public protests on June 12, 2019. Some 4,000 protesters gathered in London gathered at Marble Arch, marching to Parliament Square to chant slogans including “Free Hong Kong! Revolution now!”, which has been banned under a draconian national security law in Hong Kong. Exiled former pro-democracy lawmaker Nathan Law said people’s goals weren’t all the same, but that Hongkongers in exile would still work together.Chief Executive Carrie Lam has said she feels pride, and no regrets over the 2019 extradition bill row, as her tenure comes to a close. “Everything comes to an end. I feel greatly relieved… Whatever happens in Hong Kong after July 1 is none of my business, you can’t imagine how relaxed I feel,” she told Commercial Radio on Sunday, according to RTHK. Lam added she felt proud of her efforts to develop Hong Kong but felt that a “great burden” was being lifted from her shoulders after a “roller-coaster” term. She said her ambitions were stalled by COVID-19 and the 2019 protests and unrest.New schoolbooks will teach students in Hong Kong that the city was never a British colony, the South China Morning Post reports, as Beijing seeks to tighten its control of the territory. The four sets of textbooks for a class on citizenship say the Chinese government never recognized the 19th-century treaties that handed Britain control of Hong Kong, the report says. They also stick to the government’s stance on the large and sometimes violent protests in the city in 2019, blaming them on “external forces.” The educational materials have been provided to schools so they can pick which to teach from September, the newspaper said. Textbook publishers are responsible for choosing the appropriate materials for schoolbooks in accordance with official guidelines, the Education Bureau said in a statement to Bloomberg News.
Taiwan
Russia’s brutal war in Ukraine has jolted Taiwan into confronting the specter of a sudden attack from the island’s own larger and more powerful neighbor: China. The invasion has given new weight to the authoritarian vision of China’s leader, Xi Jinping, who has long laid claim to self-governed Taiwan for the “rejuvenation” of China — much as President Vladimir Putin of Russia did with Ukraine. To many in Taiwan, Ukraine has been a lesson in the tactics and weaponry that could slow a more powerful invading force. It has also been a stark warning that the island may be inadequately prepared for a full-scale attack. Taiwan’s defenses are, by many accounts, ill-equipped and understaffed. Its president, Tsai Ing-wen, has vowed to defend the island, but she has struggled to impose a new strategic vision on the uniformed leadership.While the KMT has long been criticized as a party stuck in the past, the chairman’s 12-day trip to the US has leaned heavily — but selectively — into the party’s history to highlight the themes of consistency and American-friendliness. The main purpose of Chu’s US trip was to attend the plaque-unveiling ceremony at the KMT’s reopened liaison office in Washington, but critics across the aisle have called the trip one of “amending” the party’s soured relations with the US after years of pushing an anti-American line. The KMT’s role in backing a 2021 referendum against ractopamine pork imports, largely from the US, has often been cited as clear evidence of the party’s distrust of the country. Coupled with the KMT’s many instances of close association with the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), the pro-China and anti-America label has stuck.China should think twice about invading Taiwan, as its Yun Feng missile could reach Beijing, Legislative Speaker You Si-kun said yesterday. He said that when he was the premier, he already knew that the Cloud Peak, a medium-range supersonic land-attack cruise missile developed in Taiwan, could reach Beijing. At the time he could not talk publicly about it, but now he could, as the missile is in mass production. Taiwan is not invading China, but China should take Taiwan’s ability to attack Beijing into consideration before launching an invasion, You said yesterday. The Taiwan Strait is a natural barrier that provides a defensive advantage to Taiwan, so a Chinese invasion would be different from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, he said.
Xinjiang
Dozens of countries voiced concern Tuesday at alleged abuses in China’s Xinjiang region, and demanded that the UN rights chief publish a long-delayed report on the rights situation there. “We continue to be gravely concerned about the human rights situation in Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region,” The Netherlands ambassador to the UN in Geneva Paul Bekkers told the UN Human Rights Council. Delivering a joint statement on behalf of 47 countries, he pointed to a number of “credible reports” — vehemently denied by Beijing — indicating that more than one million Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities have been arbitrarily detained in the region. “There are reports of ongoing widespread surveillance, discrimination against Uyghurs and other persons belonging to minorities,” he said.A new report, by researchers at Sheffield Hallam University’s Helena Kennedy Centre for International Justice in England and at the Maine-based toxic chemical investigative outfit Material Research, details the toll taken by the flooring industry, painting a devastating picture of oppression and pollution in the Uyghur region, all to help consumers in the United States and other wealthy countries cheaply renovate their homes. The report calls on the industry “to identify its risk and extract themselves from complicity in Uyghur forced labor.” It also asks all companies that source from China — including Home Depot — to scrutinize their supply chains.A mystery has finally been solved for Anwar, a Uyghur American, who asked that only his first name be used for fear of “too much political attention.” Anwar said he had been “unable to speak or even just communicate” with his family in Xinjiang for five years. Then, he saw his cousin’s mugshot in what is known as the Xinjiang Police Files, documents and images leaked from within China and released to the public last month by the Washington-based Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation and news media. “I could only hope and pray for the best as I sat combing through each picture of the leaked Xinjiang Police Files,” Anwar said.

The China Debrief is a resource of the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation.

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