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THE CHINA DEBRIEF AUGUST-12-2022-ORIGINAL BRIEFING REVEALED
A pro-Beijing online propaganda campaign has used phony websites and social-media posts to try to discredit a prominent German anthropologist who has investigated China’s crackdown on Muslims, according to cybersecurity researchers. The activity, which dates to last year and continues, is part of a complex effort to push pro-China narratives using more than 70 suspected inauthentic news websites in 11 languages, all tied to a Chinese public-relations firm, according to a new report made public Thursday by the U.S.-based cybersecurity firm Mandiant Inc.Kelley Currie has spent much of her government career working on human rights issues, with a special focus on Asia. Ms. Currie, who most recently served as U.S. ambassador-at-large for global women’s issues during the Trump administration, was unhappy to learn that her retirement dollars could go toward companies that are linked to the Chinese military—the very entities she had been challenging for years. Ms. Currie’s retirement savings and those of millions of others are part of the Thrift Savings Plan, a retirement fund for federal workers that has more than $700 billion in assets under management. Postal workers, customs and border patrol agents, retired and active members of the armed forces, diplomats, the national intelligence community—and even some living presidents—are invested in the plan.Two Senate Republicans have introduced a proposal to stop the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) from purchasing farmland in the United States, arguing that the communist regime’s acquisitions on American soil pose a threat to national security. In introducing the bill dubbed the Securing America’s Land From Foreign Interference Act, Sens. Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.) and Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) cited a 2020 report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) saying that foreign individuals and entities held an interest in nearly 37.6 million acres of U.S. agricultural land. While some 14 states have restrictions against foreign ownership of land, there are no federal restraints regarding private U.S. agricultural land that can be foreign-owned, they said.
The Biden administration’s new policy for sub-Saharan Africa accuses China of seeing the region as an “arena” in which to wage a battle against the US-led “rules-based international order” and Russia of causing instability and then cashing in on the chaos. But while the strategy, published today [PDF], acknowledges the US has to respond to “growing foreign activity and influence” in the region, the document focuses less on its geopolitical rivals and more on how Washington can do a better job engaging African governments to work closely on everything from the climate crisis to food insecurity to terrorism.The war in Ukraine has cut Russia off from much of the Western world. Barraged by sanctions, denounced in international media, and ostracized from global cultural events, Russians are feeling increasingly alone. But the Kremlin can rely on at least one major pillar of support: China. Russian President Vladimir Putin’s decision to invade Ukraine has forced Russia to turn to its fellow Eurasian giant, hat in hand. In the twentieth century, the Soviet Union viewed China—at least until the Sino-Soviet split of the 1960s—as a poorer cousin, a country to be steered and helped along in its fitful progress toward respectability. Decades later, the tables have turned decisively. China has for some time boasted a more robust and dynamic economy, greater technological prowess, and more global political and economic clout than Russia.Russia is importing Chinese goods at nearly the same rate as before Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine, according to according to data from China’s customs authority compiled by Bloomberg. In July, Russia imported $6.7 billion of goods from China, a roughly 20% increase from the same time last year, filling the market gap from Western countries that have stopped trading with the warring nation.
CCP Foreign Influence
First announced in a speech by Chinese President Xi Jinping in 2013 as the “Silk Road,” the BRI was fleshed out in April 2015 with the announcement of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), stretching from Gwadar to the Chinese city of Kashgar, in Xinjiang. The CPEC showcased the China-Pakistan “all-weather friendship” with $46 billion in pledged funds that has since grown to $50 billion. It was to be the backbone of the now renamed Belt and Road Initiative. When the CPEC agreements were signed, Pakistan’s government called Gwadar “the economic future of Pakistan,” an alternative to Dubai that would turn around the country’s economic fortunes. But today, with just a couple of months until the 20th Chinese Communist Party Congress in Beijing, the CPEC is on the verge of crisis, as is the BRI itself. Many headline projects have either failed to get off the ground or produced mixed to poor results. As China rapidly extends its reach in the Pacific, its growing influence is unmistakable in the Solomon Islands, a country with which it established diplomatic ties only in 2019. The relationship between the world’s most populous country and this Pacific archipelago of 700,000 people was thrust into the spotlight this year when word leaked that they had struck a secret security agreement. The United States and its allies fear the pact could pave the way for the establishment of a Chinese military base in the strategically valuable island chain where several thousand American soldiers died during World War II’s Guadalcanal campaign. China is changing this country in other ways. Some are flashy, such as the sports stadium that will serve as the centerpiece of next year’s Pacific Games. Others are subtler yet potentially more profound, including growing Chinese influence over local policing and politics and a plan for Huawei to build more than 150 telecommunications towers that critics fear could enable Chinese surveillance.New transparency demands from global financial institutions aimed at preventing sovereign debt distress are starting to have an impact on China-backed infrastructure projects under the Belt and Road Initiative, experts say. As global interest rates rise and concern about developing world debt risk swirls, “sustainability” and “transparency” have become buzzwords at organisations like the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank. The international bodies, which have traditionally been controlled by the United States and other wealthy Group of 7 nations, are pushing for greater disclosure from borrowers, including on debt contracts with China, former senior staff and analysts say.Bangladesh’s finance minister AHM Mustafa Kamal has warned that developing countries must think twice about taking more loans through China’s Belt and Road Initiative as global (BRI) inflation and slowing growth add to the strains on indebted emerging markets.
Researchers in China have identified a novel virus likely spread to humans from animals—though completely unrelated to the coronavirus—in 35 people. The discovery comes as the country battles its worst Covid outbreak in weeks, with dozens of regions locked down. The so-called LayV is a newly identified member of the henipaviruses, a group that can infect humans and have high fatality rates. In the subjects tested, some whose samples date back 1-2 years, all had fever, alongside other serious symptoms such as anorexia, vomiting, and impaired liver function. The findings were reported in the New England Journal of Medicine by Chinese and international researchers.Seeing Chinese authorities exercise extraordinary powers during a stringent COVID-19 lockdown in Shanghai earlier this year altered Claire Jiang’s life plans: she no longer wants to have babies in China. During the April-May lockdown, the hashtag “we are the last generation” briefly went viral on Chinese social media before being censored. The phrase echoed the response of a man who was visited by authorities in hazmat suits threatening to punish his family for three generations for non-compliance with COVID rules.
Hong Kong’s population dropped by a record as people fled strict Covid-19 restrictions that have hobbled the city as most other regions move on from the pandemic. The city saw a decline of 121,500 residents in the year ended June 30, leaving the population at about 7.29 million, according to government data released Thursday. That means the population fell 1.6%, marking the third straight year of declines and the biggest drop in at least six decades. A wide-reaching national security law may have also been a contributing factor.At a pre-trial hearing in Hong Kong, a judge set a five-day trial for Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun and four other defendants who face charges of failing to properly register a now-defunct fund to help anti-government protesters. According to an Aug. 9 report by the Hong Kong Free Press news agency, Magistrate Ada Yim announced that the trial will take place Sept. 19-23 after asking prosecutors and the defendants’ lawyers if five days would be sufficient for the court to hear the case. Both sides agreed. The 90-year-old cardinal was detained May 11 under China’s national security law. However, he and the four others were charged with failing to properly register the 612 Humanitarian Relief Fund, set up to offer financial assistance to those involved in anti-government protests in 2019. It was disbanded last year after coming under scrutiny by authorities.
China’s military exercises show Beijing doesn’t need to invade Taiwan to control it – rather it can strangle the self-ruled island, cutting it off from the outside world, Chinese and American analysts say. The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) drills, which officially began last Thursday, focused on six zones that essentially encircled Taiwan, restricting access to civilian ships and aircraft in the area, as forces conducted live-fire drills and missile launches. Meng Xiangqing, a professor at the PLA National Defense University, said the six areas were chosen to show how China could cut off Taiwan’s ports, attack its most important military installations, and sever access for foreign forces that may come to Taiwan’s aid.China has published its first white paper on Taiwan in more than two decades, offering as a blueprint for unification the “one country, two systems” model that it used to recover Hong Kong a quarter of a century ago. The proposal should make chilling reading for those on the self-ruled democratic island. The Hong Kong formula has never held much appeal for the Taiwanese, who even in the early years after the 1997 handover were skeptical of the city’s autonomy and saw little incentive to exchange their de facto independence for domination by an authoritarian China. By now, though, “one country, two systems” is a much-diminished brand. After Hong Kong’s pro-democracy protests in 2019, Beijing undertook a comprehensive political rectification project that has erased or severely curtailed many of the freedoms it promised to preserve. Were Taiwan to join the Chinese fold on the same terms, few can doubt that it would be subjected to a similar program. In his decade of ruling China, Xi Jinping has tried to imbue its people with confidence, telling them that the country is doing very well compared with the chaotic West. He has told the younger generation that China can finally look at the world as an equal. “It’s no longer as backward,” he said last year. “The East is rising, and the West is declining,” he declared, at a time when the United States and other Western countries seemed mired in high Covid infection rates, racial tensions and other problems. Mr. Xi has told China’s 1.4 billion people to be proud of its culture, its governance system and its future as a great power, all of which add up to his signature political philosophy, sometimes called the “confidence doctrine.”China appeared to be rehearsing an invasion just miles away. World leaders issued forceful condemnations. But as Beijing’s military sent missiles and jets over their heads in a display of fury, many residents of Taiwan remained unmoved by what outside observers fear is a rising threat of war. “We grew up with this,” said Rui Hao, a 40-year-old resident of Taipei, the capital, shrugging off the potential for conflict. When he was a boy, his parents considered emigrating from their home in Taiwan to escape the threat of war with China. Three decades later, they still live here.
The repression against Uyghurs in Xinjiang, which its non-Han inhabitants call East Turkestan, is becoming increasingly barbaric. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP)’s police is seriously responsible for that, under directions of the local and central Chinese administrations. Now, the brutality of the police in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous region (XUAR) has been fully documented through new specific research guided by German scholar Dr. Adrian Zenz, Senior Fellow and Director in China Studies at the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation (VCMF) in Washington, D.C. Dr. Zenz is the leading authority on the XUAR detention and re-education camps, and for this endures the reprimand, scorn, and calumny of the CCP.Concerned over Uyghur rights violations and the presence of Chinese-owned surveillance systems at the Department of Defense and police forces that has undermined national security, the British government has replaced security equipment provided by Chinese-owned tech companies at key government offices, media reports said. Other rights groups are campaigning for Hikvision and Dahua to be banned in the UK due to the companies’ involvement in the Chinese state’s repression of Uyghurs in Xinjiang, China. Hikvision and Dahua cameras are used in concentration camps throughout the Uyghur region, Asian Lite reported. This comes as the British MPs alleged that the Chinese government is persecuting minorities and intruding on governmental departments and research centers worldwide. They also accused China of violating the territorial integrity of neighboring countries.This summer, the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act took effect, restricting U.S. imports of products from the Xinjiang region of China, where a great deal of evidence reveals that the Chinese government has been imprisoning and otherwise persecuting the resident Uyghur ethnic minority. This law goes beyond previous attempts to address forced labor and what advocates call “modern slavery,” since it presumes that items linked to Xinjiang have been made with forced labor, unless importing companies can demonstrate otherwise. Evidence shows that Uyghur Muslims are enduring wide-ranging repression from Chinese authorities, including forced migration and internment in what are called reeducation camps. Through both routes, Uyghur individuals have been coerced into producing cotton, tomatoes, electronic components and a variety of other materials destined for global markets, including polysilicon for solar panels.
The China Debrief is a resource of the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation.