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January 19, 2023U.S.-China RelationsUS-China Trade is Close to a Record, Defying Talk of Decoupling
Trade between the US and China is on track to break records, a signal of resilient links between the world’s top economies amid the heated national security rhetoric in Washington and fears of “decoupling.” US government data through November suggest that imports and exports in 2022 will add up to an all-time high, or at least come very close, when the final report comes out Feb. 7. Beijing just published its own full-year figures that show record trade of around $760 billion. Trade between the US and China is on track to break records, a signal of resilient links between the world’s top economies amid the heated national security rhetoric in Washington and fears of “decoupling.” US government data through November suggest that imports and exports in 2022 will add up to an all-time high, or at least come very close, when the final report comes out Feb. 7. Beijing just published its own full-year figures that show record trade of around $760 billion. BloombergUS-China Relations Pursue an Ominous Path
In late 2022, Germany’s domestic intelligence chief, Thomas Haldenwang, put it well: “Russia is the storm,” he told German parliamentarians. “China is climate change.” Last year was also the first time the US administration acted as if it truly believed that distinction. Though most of president Joe Biden’s attention was directed at Russia following its invasion of Ukraine in February, his most consequential steps in 2022 targeted China. The uncertainty is no longer about whether US-China decoupling will happen but how far it will go. Much of the answer will become clear in 2023. Financial TimesBlinken to Test Limits of China’s Diplomatic Engagement on Feb 5-6 Beijing Trip
Secretary of State Antony Blinken will meet in Beijing with his counterpart, Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang, on Feb. 5-6, Washington-based diplomats familiar with Blinken’s travel plans told POLITICO. Blinken’s much-anticipated China trip is a follow-up to President Joe Biden’s meeting with China’s paramount leader, Xi Jinping, in Indonesia in November at which Biden pledged to “maintain open lines of communication” with Beijing at a time of worsening bilateral tensions. The visit is a test of whether the Biden-Xi meeting has paved the way for more productive U.S.-China ties at a time when the relationship has become increasingly rancorous over issues ranging from Taiwan and trade policy to U.S. concerns about Beijing’s human rights record. PoliticoIndustrial Espionage: How China Sneaks out America’s Technology Secrets
According to a Department of Justice (DOJ) indictment, the US citizen hid confidential files stolen from his employers in the binary code of a digital photograph of a sunset, which Mr Zheng then mailed to himself. It was a technique called steganography, a means of hiding a data file within the code of another data file. Mr Zheng utilised it on multiple occasions to take sensitive files from GE. GE is a multinational conglomerate known for its work in the healthcare, energy and aerospace sectors, making everything from refrigerators to aircraft engines. The information Zheng stole was related to the design and manufacture of gas and steam turbines, including turbine blades and turbine seals. Considered to be worth millions, it was sent to his accomplice in China. BBCRussia-China RelationsSouth Africa Confirms Naval Drills with Russia and China     
South Africa on Thursday confirmed plans to conduct joint military exercises with the Russian and Chinese navies off its east coast next month. The South African National Defense Force said the war games were meant to “strengthen the already flourishing relations between South Africa, Russia and China.” It said the exercises would take place in the port cities of Durban and Richards Bay and involve 350 South African soldiers. The drills are being called “Operation Mosi,” which means smoke in Tswana — one of 11 official languages in South Africa. The exercises are set to run from February 17 to 26, a year after Russia invaded Ukraine. DWCCP Foreign InfluenceNavy Intel Chief: China Building for War ‘in Every Area’
China’s military is engaged in an alarming buildup of forces in “every warfare area,” the chief of Navy intelligence said in recent remarks. “The military modernization in China in general, not just in the maritime area, is one of the fastest we’ve seen in human history, [and] it goes well beyond what China needs for its defense,” Rear Adm. Michael Studeman told the Intelligence and National Security Alliance, a private group on Jan. 11. “So, what you’ve seen is a buildup in every warfare area.” Chinese military capabilities now include advanced missiles and other long-range weapons, electronic warfare arms, innovative weapons technology and a blue-water navy armed with large warships and smaller vessels capable of “coercion around Taiwan,” he said. The Washington TimesBeijing’s BRI Influence over the UN Human Rights Council
As a United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC) member state, China has a responsibility to promote and protect human rights globally. Yet through its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), Beijing has used economic coercion, inducement, harassment and manipulation to undermine the international human rights framework. This poses a serious threat to the effectiveness of the HRC. Beijing prioritises ‘people-centred development’ over universally recognised human rights. But China’s high-modernist development at home involves human rights violations that have disempowering impacts on marginalised peoples. This is evident in the Tibet Autonomous Region and in the unfolding genocide in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR). East Asia ForumAfter Zero-COVID ends, Chinese activists Abroad dig in for Long Haul
The newfound political fervor that sent protesters to the streets in China over Beijing’s zero-COVID policy is helping Chinese activists worldwide grow their bases and forge stronger ties with other pro-democracy protesters, organizers based abroad told Axios. AxiosChinese Students made to sign ‘Loyalty Pledges’ to CCP before going to Sweden
Several Swedish universities reportedly discovered that over two dozen doctoral students from China were made to sign an agreement pledging their loyalty to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) before arriving in Sweden. Swedish newspaper Dagens Nyheter published a report last week detailing the documents it obtained. The news outlet stated that over 30 students had signed letters before traveling to Sweden through the Chinese Scholarship Council (CSC) run by China’s Ministry of Education, which supports international academic exchange with other universities globally. Yahoo NewsCOVID-19Why China Dumped its ‘Zero Covid’ Policy so suddenly – and disastrously
Up until the last minute before China relaxed three years of severe covid restrictions, officials and state media were hailing the country’s “unswerving” commitment to a strict containment strategy and the “significant advantages of our socialist system.” That same system then witnessed a chaotic reopening, with the abrupt abandonment of lockdowns, mass testing, quarantines and contact tracing. Sick patients have since overwhelmed hospitals, and funeral homes and crematoriums have been mobbed, while relatives outside China scrambled to send basic medications that were suddenly nowhere to be found. The Washington PostChina Announces Lunar New Year Censors Crackdown to Silence Covid ‘rumours’
Chinese cyber authorities have announced an internet censorship crackdown to ensure there are no “gloomy sentiments” caused by pandemic “rumours” during the lunar new year festival. It comes as health forecasting firm Airfinity estimated more than 600,000 people have likely died since zero-Covid restrictions were lifted in December – 10 times more than Chinese authorities have officially declared. The month-long “Spring Festival online improvement” program will target those spreading what authorities deem to be “rumours” about the spread of Covid and patient experiences. The national cyber administration specified “in-depth rectification of false information and other issues to prevent gloomy sentiments”. The GuardianDavos 2023: Moderna CEO in talks with China to Supply COVID Vaccines
Moderna chief executive Stephane Bancel said on Wednesday the U.S. company was in active discussions to supply COVID-19 vaccines to China. Speaking to Reuters on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum annual meeting in Davos, he said the talks with Beijing also covered the topic of factories, and other products including cancer treatments. “What I really want to understand is how do we help the Chinese government as to what are the needs they have from a healthcare standpoint,” he said. ReutersHong KongThe British Government is Abandoning Jimmy Lai, a British Citizen, to Beijing’s Prisons
The tragic execution of Alireza Akbari in Iran raises serious questions about what more our government should do to help British nationals in trouble with repressive regimes. Right now in Hong Kong, another British national, Jimmy Lai, faces the possibility of spending the remaining years of his life behind bars. The 75 year-old entrepreneur, publisher and pro-democracy campaigner has already been in jail for over three years, on multiple fabricated charges. On Human Rights Day, 10 December, last year, Mr Lai was sentenced to almost six years on trumped-up fraud charges. The TelegraphHong Kong Police Arrest Six for Selling ‘Seditious’ Book at Lunar New Year Fair
Police in Hong Kong have raided a lunar new year shopping fair and arrested six people for selling a “seditious” book related to the 2019 anti-government protests in a move critics say has spread “terror” just days before the celebrations. National security officers accused three men and three women, aged between 18 and 62, of producing and publishing “a seditious book about a series of riots that occurred in Hong Kong from June 2019 to February 2020”, and selling it in a lunar new year stall in a shopping centre in Mong Kok, a bustling shopping district. Police said they were “members of an anti-government organisation” and held them in custody on suspicion of engaging in “acts with seditious intention”. Alan Keung, the founder of the independent news outlet Free HK Media, was among those arrested, local media reported. The GuardianTaiwanTaiwan Foreign Ministry to Continue Keeping Tabs on US-China Exchanges
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) is keeping tabs on high-level exchanges between the U.S. and China, MOFA deputy spokesperson Hsiao Kuang-wei (蕭光偉) said on Wednesday (Jan. 18). Hsiao made the remark following news that U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken is set to visit Beijing in early February to hold talks with Chinese officials. He will be the second U.S. Secretary of State to visit China after then-Secretary of State Mike Pompeo went in October 2018.Hsiao said currently, mutual trust between Taiwan and the U.S. is good and communication channels are open, per CNA. MOFA will continue to maintain close contact with Washington, he added. Taiwan NewsTaiwan to Allow Women into Military Reserve Force Training as China Fears Grow
Taiwan’s military on Tuesday rolled out plans to allow women to volunteer for reserve force training for the first time, as China continues to ramp up military pressure on the democratic self-ruled island. The Taiwanese Defense Ministry said it will allow 220 discharged female soldiers to enroll in the training starting from the second quarter of this year. Maj. Gen. Yu Wen-cheng, from the ministry’s All-Out Defense Mobilization Agency, said the move would be on a trial basis for this year. CNNXinjiangCCP Monitored Tours to Xinjiang won’t help China. Turkey Talking, More Muslim Nations can Join
As the reports of concentration camps and atrocities of the CCP on Uyghur Muslims appeared in western media, democracies became anxious about the fate of Uyghurs under Xi’s rule. They disapproved of CCP’s policy of cultural aggression. Some western democracies even imposed sanctions on some CCP officials and banned cotton imports from Xinjiang—made by forced labour. A United Nations Human Rights Commission report termed China’s actions as a genocide. On the other hand, China used its economic and political clout over the Islamic world to help Beijing consolidate its voice on the Uyghur issue on global fora, such as the United Nations (UN). A recent example was on 6 October 2022, when most Muslim countries voted against the UN resolution to discuss human rights in Xinjiang in 2023. The PrintThe China Debrief is a resource of the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation.

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