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The United States has warned it will defend the Philippines against any attack on its ships or aircraft in the South China Sea. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken made the statement on the sixth anniversary of a 2016 decision by an international arbitration tribunal that largely ruled in favor of the Philippines over the disputed maritime border. China did not participate in the arbitration.
China should brace for a scenario where the US leverages both tariffs and the new Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF) to contain the country, according to a Chinese expert, despite talk of an imminent tariff rollback. US President Joe Biden has been mulling the possible removal of some tariffs on Chinese imports in a bid to help curb soaring inflation in America, and there are reports that a decision could come as soon as this week.
A U.S. destroyer sailed near the disputed Paracel Islands in the South China Sea on Wednesday, drawing an angry reaction from Beijing, which said its military had “driven away” the ship after it illegally entered territorial waters. The United States regularly carries out what it calls Freedom of Navigation Operations in the South China Sea challenging what it says are restrictions on innocent passage imposed by China and other claimants.
China’s support for Russia’s war in Ukraine is complicating U.S.-Chinese relations at a time when they are already beset by rifts and enmity over numerous other issues, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken told his Chinese counterpart on Saturday. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi blamed the U.S. for the downturn in relations and said that American policy has been derailed by what he called a misperception of China as a threat. “Many people believe that the United States is suffering from a China-phobia,” he said, according to a Chinese statement. “If such threat-expansion is allowed to grow, U.S. policy toward China will be a dead end with no way out.”
Five factors explain NATO’s landmark decision. Some have been familiar parts of the security debate for years; others gained salience only recently. First—and most obviously—NATO’s strategy is responding to China’s rise and the emergence of a new bipolar international system, replacing the so-called U.S. unipolar moment of the 1990s and early 2000s. Second, technological developments have finally forced Europe’s hand. What accelerated Europe’s shift on China is a third factor: increased uncertainty in Europe about U.S. long-term commitments to trans-Atlantic security. Fourth, China’s ideological shifts also accelerated Europe’s categorization of China as a threat. The fifth factor accelerating NATO’s shift on China is the evolving Sino-Russian axis, most recently enhanced by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. This is molding a distinct geopolitical divide. Nonetheless, even though the new Strategic Concept sends a strong signal of trans-Atlantic unity, it is too early to conclude that it enables a joint and well-coordinated U.S.-European approach on China.
China and Russia have maintained normal exchanges and promoted cooperation in various fields and cast aside any “interference”, showing the “strong resilience” and “strategic resolve” of their relations, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said on Thursday. China will also support all efforts conducive to the peaceful resolution of the Ukraine crisis, Wang told Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in a meeting on the sidelines of a G20 summit in Bali, Indonesia, according to a statement from the Chinese foreign ministry on Friday.
“For Chinese strategists, if the war ends with Russia being severely defeated, China would face a far worse geostrategic environment than today,” said Zhao Tong, a research scholar at Princeton University’s Science and Global Security Program. Despite being rich and powerful, China fears being isolated without a viable Russia at its side, left to fend for itself against what Beijing sees as the “strategic aggression of the U.S.-led West,” he said.
CCP Foreign Influence
President Taneti Maamau not only opted out of the Pacific Island Forum meeting in Suva, Fiji, but withdrew the country from the 18-member group as a matter of principle over a dispute involving its leadership. Some saw Beijing’s hand in Maamau’s decision to leave the alliance, a claim China’s Foreign Ministry rejected as “completely groundless” during a regular news briefing Monday. But on Tuesday, it was the United States’ turn to step forward with incentives for Pacific Island leaders to counter Beijing’s efforts to dominate an increasingly competitive geopolitical tussle in a region of great strategic importance. The incentives included more funding for fisheries, extra aid, and offers of new US embassies in the Pacific — including one in Kiribati, which along with the Solomon Islands appears to be moving closer to China. The measures will be personally presented to Pacific leaders Wednesday in a virtual address by US Vice President Kamala Harris — underscoring Washington’s efforts to stress the Pacific’s importance to US strategy.
Argentina’s government said on Thursday it had received China’s formal support for the country’s bid to join the BRICS group comprising Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, a bloc seen as a powerful emerging-market alternative to the West. Argentina’s foreign minister Santiago Cafiero met with his Chinese counter Wang Yi at a G20 event in Indonesia, where that support was formalized, the ministry said in a statement.
With the BRICS grouping upping the ante and the West keeping the pressure on India about its oil purchases from Russia, India, in trying to play cat on the wall, might find itself on a barbed-wire fence. With every move inflicting pain, it may have to jump off. But onto which side will it leap? Recently, China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi called on India’s ambassador to China and spoke of the need to put the border issue in an “appropriate place” in bilateral relations.
Beijing has for years been chipping away at the pillars of the U.S.-led global order—subverting its foundational institutions, international norms, and liberal ideals—but Chinese President Xi Jinping had not offered a comprehensive vision of how a China-led replacement might work. That is changing.
Australia’s Defense Minister Richard Marles warned of a “military build-up occurring at a rate unseen since World War II” and vowed to strengthen Australian defense during a speech on Monday in Washington, DC. The remarks laid out a vision for Australia’s leading role in Indo-Pacific security, and signaled that Australia’s new Labor government will maintain a close security partnership with the U.S. as well as the tough China policies of the two previous governments.
China’s economic engine has shuddered in recent months, hurt by lockdowns imposed to curb the spread of Covid. Housing sales sagged. Many shops and restaurants in some cities shuttered, some maybe for good. Youth unemployment climbed.The slowdown has kindled doubts about the viability of China’s stringent strategy of eliminating virtually all Covid-19 infections — whether the cure is becoming worse than the social and economic costs of restrictions. But on a recent visit to Wuhan, the city where the pandemic first took hold, China’s leader, Xi Jinping, said extinguishing Covid remained paramount.
Hong Kong will mandate electronic tracking bracelets for people in home isolation and bring in a China-style electronic health code system as part of fresh measures to curb the spread of the coronavirus. The quarantine bracelets, to be introduced on Friday, will be mandatory for people who have tested positive and are quarantining at home to ensure they do not leave the building during their isolation period. “We have to make sure that home isolation is more precise while being humane,” Lo Chung-mau, the city’s new health secretary said, announcing the new requirement on Monday. Breaching a mandatory quarantine order in Hong Kong carries a fine of up to HK$25,000 ($3,200) and up to six months in jail.
Hong Kong authorities have sentenced an activist with stage four cancer to nine months in jail for his attempt to protest against the Beijing Olympics. Koo Sze-Yiu, 75, was arrested by police in February before he could carry out a solo demonstration criticising China. The veteran campaigner had planned to display a coffin with slogans outside Beijing’s liaison office on the first day of the Winter Games. He was charged with sedition, which he has denied. The charge carries a maximum two-year prison sentence. The court sentenced him to nine months but Koo said he would appeal the sentence. Police said Koo had planned to hold up a coffin and signs bearing messages including: “Democracy and human rights are above the Winter Olympics”. Judge Peter Law said those actions constituted a threat to national security, independent news outlet Hong Kong Free Press reported.
A quarter century ago, China promised Hong Kong a high degree of autonomy under the “one country, two systems” model when the territory reverted to Chinese rule. Now President Xi Jinping is using the city as a “wallet” by applying two separate standards — “one country” for politics and “two systems” for economic affairs — risking Hong Kong’s position as Asia’s premier financial center.
The top U.S. diplomat in Hong Kong on Monday urged China to ease political pressure on the city, warning that the “crude and chilling” use of a sweeping national security law threatened its role as an international business hub. In at times strongly worded farewell remarks to the American Chamber of Commerce, outgoing U.S. Consul General Hanscom Smith said electoral changes to ensure only officially screened “patriots” ran the city had further undermined its future. “The application of this (security) law has been broad, crude and chilling,” Smith said, noting its vague definitions had fostered “fear and coercion” and dented the city’s strong rule of law traditions.
China’s cognitive warfare tactics against Taiwan include spreading anti-US and anti-Japan messages to wear down Taiwanese’s psychological defenses, an information warfare expert said yesterday. Shen Pao-yang (沈伯洋), an assistant professor at National Taipei University’s Graduate School of Criminology, made the remark at a forum on online information warfare and national security at the university’s GIS Convention Center. Most young Taiwanese do not take a pro-China stance, so rather than sending pro-China messages, Beijing has turned its focus on directing Taiwanese’s mistrust at the US, he said.
At the end of April, the Taiwan Coast Guard Administration received a new frigate, the Hsinchu. At 4,000 tons, it’s a massive beast and was immediately assigned for duty in Taiwan’s Northern Pacific Flotilla to protect one of Taiwan’s most precious maritime resources: sand. China is increasing its dredging of sand in the islands’ waters. It’s a devious activity that gets Beijing much-needed sand—and presents Taiwan with large expenses and maritime degradation. “The Hsinchu is the second of four planned CGA [Coast Guard Administration] frigates and is equipped with three high-pressure water cannons that are able to shoot at targets up to 120 meters away,” Taiwan News reported when the new frigate was received. Around the time of the Hsinchu’s arrival, the CGA also received the fourth and fifth of 12 planned offshore patrol vessels. The frigates alone will cost Taiwan almost $400 million.
The People’s Liberation Army’s third aircraft carrier is likely to become combat-ready within the next six to eight years, giving its forces more options in case of armed conflict with Taiwan, a Chinese analyst said. Wang Hongliang, associate researcher at the Shanghai Jiao Tong University’s National Strategic Research Centre, said it would take the Fujian three to four years to enter active service. The launch of the PLA Navy’s third and most advanced aircraft carrier on June 17 was seen as bringing Beijing a step closer to its goal of building a “blue water navy”, capable of operating far from the shores of mainland China.
Company executives are increasingly concerned about the possibility of war over Taiwan, according to consultants who have seen a sharp rise in demand for briefings following the invasion of Ukraine. Eric Sayers, head of the Indo-Pacific practice at Beacon Global Strategies, said China’s crackdown on democracy in Hong Kong coupled with the Ukraine invasion had “rapidly accelerated” the fears. “A year ago Beacon would occasionally be asked a question or two about Taiwan from our clients,” said Sayers. “We are now being asked to brief CEOs directly on Taiwan politics and the military situation [and to] organize meetings with senior US officials or retired military leaders to understand how they view the situation.”
Amnesty International today published heartbreaking new testimony from relatives of 48 ethnic Uyghur and Kazakh people detained in China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, as it reiterated its call for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to take action. The outgoing High Commissioner, Michelle Bachelet, has yet to release a long-awaited report on serious human rights violations in Xinjiang, and has repeatedly failed to recognize the gravity of violations by Chinese authorities in the region. It is deeply disappointing that due to this delay, yet another UN Human Rights Council session will close this week without having been able to discuss the UN’s findings on Xinjiang. The new testimony gathered by Amnesty International is part of its Free Xinjiang Detainees campaign, which now tells the stories of 120 individuals who have been swept up in China’s vast system of prisons and internment camps in Xinjiang.
To help stabilize China’s cotton market just weeks after a crippling US ban on Xinjiang products went into effect, Beijing intends buy up to half a million tonnes of Xinjiang cotton for its state reserves – ending a 15-month drought of such purchases. The first of what looks to be multiple rounds of purchases is set to begin on Wednesday, and it comes as Beijing seeks to support China’s cotton industry, which has been increasingly shunned by downstream manufacturers who are wary of running afoul of a sweeping United States ban on products from the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region. The total purchase will entail between 300,000 and 500,000 tonnes of Xinjiang cotton, which will come from mills in the region, according to a statement by the China National Cotton Reserves Corporation (CNCRC) on Friday.
The China Debrief is a resource of the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation.
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