Asia in Review Archive 2018 (July – December)

China (People’s Republic)

Date of AiR edition

News summary

Web links

28 August 2018

Background on the situation in China’s Xinjiang province 

(jk) More details are emerging about the hundreds of thousands of people of Uyghur and Kazakh descent that are being held indefinitely in extra-judicial internment camps in Xinjiang mostly based on religious and ethnic persecution. The province that is home to a mere 1.5 percent of China’s population has been turned into a totalitarian police state, in which 20 percent of all criminal arrests in China take place today, usually in the name of counter-terrorism and social stability. China officially denies most of the allegations and instead of the term “re-education camp”, the Chinese government officially calls these facilities “transformation through education” or “counter-extremism education” centers. A good overview of the situation, including some links for further reading is provided here [Sup China].

With more evidence of the camps and the occasional witness statement and more investigative reporting emerging, some Chinese officials change the denial strategy slightly and double down on the official reasoning behind the camps: Not only China, but also most other countries in the world have counter-terrorism strategies and according to the Ambassador of China to the UK, “terrorism is the common enemy of all mankind and the infiltration of religious extremism is a common challenge to the whole world. Every country needs to tackle this challenge effectively. It is time to stop blaming China for taking lawful and effective preventive measures.” [FT] The global response to the realities Muslims are facing in China’s far west has thus far been fairly muted, including from other Muslim nations. The German government has recently suspended deportations of Uighurs to China until further notice [DW]. Some businesses however, often used to walking a tightrope between Chinese market access and what needs to be done to get it, are still involved there. An interesting example is the US National Basketball Association (NBA) running a training centre in Xinjiang’s capital Ürümqi [Slate].

28 August 2018

China: More propaganda, not less. Also, more rule by law!

(jk) At the two-day National Propaganda and Ideology Work Conference, which concluded on Wednesday, Chinese President Xi Jinping has called for more and better propaganda efforts. He stated that “the Party Central Committee’s decisions and deployments on propaganda and ideological work are absolutely correct” and needed to preserve political security. He also mentioned the internet as a key and biggest contributor to “our project”. This does not indicate that China will loosen internet restrictions and efforts to shape a certain narrative anytime soon. In fact, the opposite is the case. [Centre for Advanced China Research, CPC News, in Chinese]

In addition to this, Xi has named former top internet regulator and trusted CCP cadre Xu Lin as the new head of the Cabinet-level State Council Information Office which is responsible for international propaganda operations [AP].

Last week, Xi also chaired the first session of another commission that was created at the end March as part of the government restructure efforts. The Central Commission for Comprehensively Ruling the Country by Law has a broad mandate of making sure that the legislature makes laws “scientifically”, it is enforced strictly by the government, that the judicial system makes judgments impartially and that the people abide by the law [Trivium]. Xi called for more efforts to build a law-based government, deepen judicial system reform, promote a culture of rule of law in the society, and improve the training of professionals for legislation, law enforcement and judicial work. [CGTN] Thus far, there are few details on the commission’s work, but generally speaking, law reform in China is party-led and should not be confused with a Western interpretation of rule of law.

28 August 2018

China enticing Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan with the prospects of residency benefits

(jk) Beijing recently announced that China will issue the same type of personal identification card to Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan residents who live in China for six months or longer. The ID card will allow all holders access to benefits that the rest of the Chinese citizens have, including employment, education, insurance, and housing funding. In order to apply, applicants need to provide their personal information and finger prints to the Public Security Bureau. Allegedly, the ID card would also contain an embedded chip to track an individual’s whereabouts. The status can however be revoked through “harming national sovereignty, security, honor and interest.” [CNBC]

While Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam welcomed the development, Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen said that the ID card is only a piece of card and does not mean that we (the Taiwan Government) acknowledge the political system it represents. Another Taiwan official has reminded Taiwan residents that the Chinese government has been escalating surveillance of its residents. [VoA]

28 August 2018

Military and security developments involving the People’s Republic of China 2018

(jk) Last Thursday, the Pentagon released its legislatively-mandated annual report to Congress on military and security developments involving the People’s Republic of China (PRC) 2018. The report finds that China increasingly seeks to leverage its growing economic, diplomatic, and military clout to establish regional preeminence and expand the country’s international influence. Despite Chinese willingness to employ both military and non-military coercive measures to advance its interests and mitigate opposition from other countries, it does not want to jeopardize stability of the international order as it remains depended on it for its further development.

In addition to updating on the ongoing military modernization, the report for the first time releases details on the People’s Armed Forces Maritime Militia (PAFMM) as a component of the People’s Armed Forces. PAFMM consists of an armed reserve force of civilians that operates under a direct military chain of command, conducts state-sponsored activities and answers to the very top of China’s military bureaucracy. Together with the PLA Navy and the Chinese Coast Guard, it forms the largest maritime force in the Indo-Pacific.

The report and an accompanying fact sheet also state that China “uses the Belt and Road Initiative to develop strong ties with other countries to shape their interests to align with China’s and deter confrontation or criticism of China’s approach to sensitive issues.” [US Department of Defense: full report , fact-sheet]

US Department of Defense: full report

US Department of Defense: fact-sheet

28 August 2018

People’s Liberation Army troops will join the upcoming “East 2018” war games in Russia

(jk) For the first time, the Chinese military will send troops to take part in Russia’s biggest war games in more than 35 years, the Vostok 2018 exercises in Russia’s Far East Trans-Baikal region. Besides China, Mongolia will also take part in the exercises. The joint exercises underline a growing strategic alignment of Russia and China after both have been labelled strategic competitors by the US. [CBS]

28 August 2018

India-China relations: Increasing military cooperation

(nm) India and China agreed to work more closely together on securing their common border in the Himalayas, during Chinese Defense Minister Wei Fenghe’s trip to India last week to meet with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi as well as with Indian Defense Minister Nirmala Sitharaman. [Reuters 1] Both sides also agreed to strengthen military ties through joint exercises and other interactions.

The talks signal improved relations between India and China following the meeting between Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping in April where they agreed to ameliorate their ties. [Reuters 2]

28 August 2018

Malaysia’s cancellation of projects a setback for China’s One Belt One Road?

(ls) Malaysia’s newly elected government decided last week to cancel two China-financed mega projects, the US$20 billion East Coast Rail Link and two gas pipeline projects worth US$2.3 billion. Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said his country could not afford the projects and they were not needed at the moment. As Wang Xiangwei writes in the South China Morning Post, the cancellation is another setback for China’s One Belt One Road project, probably bringing about a comprehensive review of the strategy with the goal of recalibrating its ambitious investment plans. [South China Morning Post]

28 August 2018

Japan sails through South China Sea as China continues infrastructure build-up

(ls) The Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force will dispatch three ships to the South China Sea and the Indian Ocean. The fleet will first sail through the South China Sea and pass through the Strait of Malacca before proceeding to the Indian Ocean. Along with the United States, Japan has been consistent in its stand against China’s militarization activities in the disputed waters. [PhilStar 1]

Meanwhile, the US Department of Defense, in its annual report to US Congress, noted that Beijing has stopped its land reclamation activities in the South China Sea but has continued to build infrastructure at three outposts. The Pentagon also reported that Beijing invests resources to maintain and modernize a “limited, but survivable” nuclear force to ensure that the People’s Liberation Army will have a capacity to deliver a responsive nuclear strike. [PhilStar 2]

Fascinating aerial footage and special reporting on the Chinese build-up on Mischief Reef, Fiery Cross Reef and Subi Reef in the Spratly Islands is provided by [CNN].

28 August 2018

South and North Korea: Talks continue despite cancellation of US trip to Pyongyang

(nm) South Korean President Moon Jae-in is expected to travel to North Korea next month to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un for the third time this year and talk about further denuclearization, the inter-Korean relations and the possibility of a formal end of the Korean War. [CNN] Initially, the meeting was supposed to be held after Kim Jong-un’s meeting with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo this week. [Yonhap 1]

That meeting however was cancelled due to a lack of significant progress in matters of denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula [The Korea Herald 1] and suspicion that North Korea continues to develop its nuclear program as stated in an IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) report last Monday [The Korea Times]. The cancellation could also complicate the trip of Chinese President Xi Jinping to North Korea that is scheduled for September as it would increase suspicions that China is still holding back its alleged leverage to aid denuclearization [NYT].

Some good-will efforts currently discussed are withdrawing some border guards from the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) on a trial basis [Yonhap 2], changing the wording of its next defense white paper that commonly describes North Korea as South Koreas enemy [Yonhap 3] and the ongoing family reunions broadcasted widely last week [The Korea Herald 2, Reuters].

28 August 2018

Sri Lankan-Japanese cooperation in the spotlight

(jm) On the occasion of the Japanese Defense Minister’s visit to Sri Lanka last week, Sri Lankan officials invited Japan to support the country’s maritime strategy. They also assured that the China-financed Hambantota port will be open to every country and that Sri Lanka will not allow China to use the port for military purposes. [NHK World Japan] [Daily Mirror]

28 August 2018

How Western countries can balance Chinese Communist Party influence operations without giving up on constructive engagement – A conversation

(jk) This [China File conversation] by China experts evolves around the question of how CCP’s influence operations can be met and answered without giving up on the idea of liberal democracy but also not “simply” saying no to Beijing. The experts largely agree that there are strong political and economic incentives for countries in the west to engage with China, but also that there is a lack of awareness and sometimes capacity to engage with the Chinese bureaucracy. Screening Chinese investment for example is vital to ensuring, rather than ending long-term engagement.

21 August 2018

China: Xi Jinping urges strengthening party control over armed forces

(dql) Speaking to members of the Central Military Commission (CMC) and party bosses of the military’s various districts, departments and academies, President Xi Jinping – in his first public appearance after the traditional annual retreat of the Communist Party’s Standing Committee at northern seaside resort of Beidaihe – demanded absolute loyalty of the military to the party and its leadership and vowed to continue to combat corruption and guard against vices within the armed forces. [Xinhua, in Chinese]

The Beidaihe retreat is known as annual secretive meeting of top party leaders gathered to build consensus among them on personnel moves and policy ideas. In addressing the party’s leadership over the military in the first public speech after Beidaihe, Xi – who doubles as secretary-general of the party and chairman of the CMC – sends a clear message of his bid for a firm hold on power amid recent discontent over his domestic and foreign policies. [South China Morning Post] [Air 2/8/2018]

In a related move, Xi ordered the sacking of top officials involved in the country’s latest vaccine scandal in which Changsheng Bio-tech, one of the China’s biggest vaccine producers, was found to have systematically forged data in the production of about 113,000 rabies vaccines and also made about 252,600 ineffective vaccines for diphtheria given to hundreds of thousands of babies. The scandal has triggered outrage across the country and raised questions on Xi’s leadership. [New York Times]

21 August 2018

China’s military modernization: Last batch of Russian Su-35 fighter jets to be delivered soon

(dql) The Russian government confirmed that ten Sukhoi Su-35 multirole fighters along with missiles and other logistical support will be delivered to China by end of this year, further increasing the capabilities of the Chinese air force. The delivery is the last of three batches according to a 2.5 billion USD purchase agreement for 24 SU-35 fighter jets in 2015 with the first four delivered in 2016 and another ten last year. [South China Morning Post]

The selling of military technology and equipment of highest quality to China reflects the ongoing deepening of Sino-Russian relations, reinforced by both countries’ confrontation with the US which has recently announced to issue new sanctions against Russia over the poisoning of former Russian spy Scripal and increased tariffs against Chinese goods. [ABC]

Meanwhile, the US Department of Defense in its recently published Annual Report to Congress on military and security developments regarding China accuses China of applying “a variety of methods to acquire foreign military and dualuse technologies, including targeted foreign direct investment, cyber theft, and exploitation of private Chinese nationals’ access to these technologies” to support military modernization which “targets capabilities with the potential to degrade core U.S. operational and technological advantages.” The report further stated that with the People’s Liberation Army Air Force having been “re-assigned a nuclear mission”, China was pursuing nuclear capability for its long-range bombers. [DoD Annual Report to Congress] [The Diplomat]

21 August 2018

China-US trade dispute: Talks to be resumed

(dql) Amid an escalating trade dispute, China and the US are set to resume efforts to ease trade tensions as U.S. Treasury Under Secretary David Malpass will meet his Chinese counterpart Wang Shouwen in Washington this week. It is the first meeting between senior officials since the last one in June at which both sides failed to reach a settlement. Since then, both sides have been locked in tit-for-tat tariffs rounds, with tariffs on 50 billion USD in goods by each country expected to take effect by Thursday. [CBS] [Reuters]


21 August 2018

China-Malaysia relations in the spotlight as Mahatir visits Beijing

(ls) Malaysia wants to improve its business and economic relations with China, said Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, as he visited Beijing. Regarding the large debts Malaysia owes China, he largely put the responsibility for these claims on his predecessor Najib Razak. Part of Mahatir’s agenda for the trip was to renegotiate the terms of over US$20 billion of Beijing-backed projects. As observers have noted, Mahathir was more direct in his criticism of China before the election, but that “economic realities” may have come into play now he is in power. [Bernama] [South China Morning Post]

Apart from renegotiating infrastructure deals and trade issues, the two countries’ strategic ties and the South China Sea dispute have been discussed in meetings with Xi Jinping and Li Keqiang. Mahathir seeks to reposition Malaysia internationally, which may also have implications for ASEAN’s global role. He is engaging the Chinese, and there are indications of a revival of his Look East policy of the 1980s and 1990s in which Japan played a major role with investment and technology transfer. [The Diplomat]

14 August 2018

China’s Muslim minority policies under pressure

(dql) Local authorities suspended a planned demolition of a newly built mosque in the northern town of Weizhou in the province of Ningxia after hundreds of Chinese Hui Muslims protesters had gathered for days before the building. While officials claimed that the mosque ­- a Middle Eastern style mosque with several soaring minarets and domes – was lacking building permits and demanded eight out of the nine domes to be removed, protesters rejected the order and denounced it as a measure to further control and “sinicise” Islam in Ningxia, a province with 40% Muslim population which had so far enjoyed relative freedom of religious practice. Many of them, however, are now afraid of spillover effects of the tightened control over Islam in the Uighur Xinjiang province. [South China Morning Post 1][South China Morning Post 2]

Pertaining to the human rights situation in Xinjiang, a panel of United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination in Geneva last week announced that it had received reports of one million ethnic Uighurs being held in what resembles a “massive internment camp that is shrouded in secrecy.” [Reuters 1] China rejected the allegations as “completely untrue” and “defamatory rumours” based on “ulterior motives of anti-China forces”, stressing that the country since decades has been facing terrorism, separatism and extremism threats in Xinjiang against which the region “has adopted measures to strengthen social and security management, including collecting relevant information, curbing the spread of terrorist and extremist audios and videos, and cracking down on the illegal and criminal activities”. [Global Times] [Reuters 2]

14 August 2018

China: Nationalism campaign launched amid discontent over Xi Jinping’s policies

(dql) China is carrying out a large-scale, nation-wide patriotism campaign among intellectuals. A joint notice of the Communist Party’s Central Organization Department and Central Publicity Department announced measures to help intellectuals promote a “patriotic striving spirit” within society and contribute to forming a patriotic movement in the “new era”. Listed measures of the campaign include mass propaganda in various media, conducting academic events on Xi Jinping’s ideas, arranging trainings especially for young and middle-aged intellectuals, establishing role models for others to follow, and mobilizing intellectuals to engage in activities in poor and remote areas. [The Diplomat][Xinhua, for the notice in Chinese]

The notice comes amid a hitherto unknown tide of domestic discontent with Xi Jinping’s policies among Chinese scholars and intellectuals questioning in particular the trade war with the US and an overstretch of the Belt-and-Road initiative both viewed as too confrontational, risky and costly. [Bloomberg] [South China Morning Post] Among the most vocal critics is Xu Zhangrun, constitutional law professor at renowned Tsinghua University in Beijing who in a widely circulated essay criticizes – among others – the dropping of the term limits of the presidency and demands a immediate stop of a new personality cult in China. [Unirule, in Chinese; China Change for a partial English translation]

14 August 2018

China-USA-Taiwan relations: Beijing angered over signing of 2019 US National Defense Authorization Act and stopover of Taiwan’s president in the US

(dql) Amid the ongoing trade dispute, US President Trump signed the US National Defense Authorization Act 2019 which – with regards to China – suggests “a whole-of-government strategy to confront the People’s Republic of China” and the improvement of security cooperation with Japan, Australia, and India “to counter China’s rising influence in Asia, Southeast Asia, and other regions.” It further supports the improvement of Taiwan’s defense capabilities and strengthens the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) in reviewing proposals to determine if foreign investments threaten national security, a measure seen by Beijing as targeting Chinese investments. [Govtrack]

Beijing has condemned the Act accusing Washington of Cold War thinking, exaggerating the level of the China-US confrontation and interfering in China’s internal affairs. [Sputnik]

In a related development, likely to further strain Sino-US relations, Taiwan’s president Tsai Ing-wen – on her way to Central and South America – arrived for a two-day stopover in Los Angeles, defying pressure from Beijing.  The stopover, during which Tsai was given an unprecedentedly high level of courtesy, comes shortly after the US Taiwan Travel Act had come into force in March which for the first time allows high-level officials of the United States to visit Taiwan and vice versa and which was fiercely condemned by Beijing. [The Straits Times]

Meanwhile, state-run newspaper Global Times reports on a large-scale exercise of the PLA involving naval vessels from three theater commands conducting air defense and anti-missile live-fire exercises in the East China Sea. [Global Times] According to military observers the exercises are intended to ensure a safe environment for China’s aircraft carriers to go further out to sea and to deliver a signal to Taiwan’s independence forces. [South China Morning Post]

14 August 2018

China-Japan relations: Congratulatory messages to mark peace treaty anniversary

(dql) Illustrating improvement in bilateral relations between China and Japan, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe exchanged congratulatory messages on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Peace and Friendship between the two countries. The congratulatory messages were the first since 2008. [The Mainichi]

Sino-Japanese relations have been strained over a territorial dispute over islands in the East China Sea, but began to improve last year, in particular due to efforts to strengthen economic cooperation in the frame of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, the proposed free trade agreement (FTA) between the ASEAN member states and the six Asia-Pacific states having free trade agreements with ASEAN including Australia, China, India, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand. [South China Morning Post]

14 August 2018

“Mature” India-China Relations

(jk) Indian officials are preparing a report on Sino-Indian Relations including Doklam and this past week, top government officials told the parliamentary standing committee on external affairs about the details of last year’s Doklam standoff. The committee heard how the standoff started and unfolded and that for India, the main concern was to prevent road construction by the PRC in the disputed southern Doklam region at the trijunction of India-Bhutan-China. In order to resolve the crisis, it took six weeks of communication and 13 rounds of diplomatic discussions to defuse the tension and reach an agreement that led to both armies stepping back on 28 August 2017. [The Print]

In an interview with the Hindustan Times, PM Modi stated that not “firing a single bullet” throughout the standoff shows how mature Sino-Indian Relations have become. “I have met President Xi Jinping a number of times over the last four years. In recent months, we have added a new dimension to our engagement in the form of the Informal Summit in Wuhan in April 2018. It allowed us to interact in a very free and candid atmosphere to understand each other’s concerns without being forced into a diplomatic straightjacket,” he said. [Hindustan Times]

14 August 2018

India remaining firmly on the fence

(jk) India has long been hedging its bets in Asia’s great power competition. On the one hand, India is part of the now revived Quad, an alliance that started out as an initiative meant to facilitate cooperation between four maritime democracies in the context of the rise of China at the side-lines of the ASEAN Regional Forum just over ten years ago.

On the other hand, India has always been the outlier amongst the four, with the US, Australia and Japan enjoying firm and stable cooperation. Most of India’s ships and war planes are Russian made and the Armed Forces remain sceptical about sharing sensitive data.  Being seen as unequivocally taking a stance against China is not something that is always favoured by the government in New Delhi. Crucially, India has excluded Australia from the multilateral naval exercises, the “Malabar Exercises” in June earlier this year which dealt a blow to the Quad and was by many seen as a concession to China.

During his recent visit by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, he laid out some of the economic aspects of the Trump administration’s Indo-Pacific strategy including an announcement that the US would invest in sectors like technology, energy, and infrastructure in the Indo-Pacific, offering an alternative to China’s Belt and Road Initiative. [The Washington Post]

The US has led a trilateral initiative that is aimed at funding projects to “build infrastructure, address development challenges, increase connectivity and promote economic growth” in the countries in the Indo-Pacific region, again together with Japan and Australia. [The Telegraph] India has decided not join this initiative, stopping some of the rhetoric about the full revival of the Quad. [The Economic Times] India of course has not joined or endorsed the Belt and Road Initiative either.

7 August 2018

China: Surveillance on Muslim minority expanded?

(dql) State-run newspaper Global Times announced that Chinese Muslims travelling in official groups to Mecca and Medina for this year’s hajj (19-24 August) are provided GPS tracking devices containing photo, passport number and name of the pilgrim. While the China Islamic Association, organizer of the pilgrimage, stressed that the devices help increase safety of the pilgrims [Global Times], human rights advocates denounced them as surveillance tools and another measure of China’s comprehensive efforts to monitor its Muslim minority. [The Wall Street Journal]

7 August 2018

Indian Army takes part in Chinese Army’s 91st foundation day

 (am) A Special Border Personnel get-together was held in Sikkim’s Nathu La last Wednesday among the armies of India and China as part of celebrations to honour the 91st centenary of the foundation of China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA). The Indian Army attended the celebration following an invitation by the PLA. The countries participated in several cultural programs. [HT]


7 August 2018

China: Boosting military strength

(dql) China’s air force announced that the country’s J-16s fighter jets will soon be ready for military operations, following a successful combat training exercise of a squadron of J-16s. According to military observers the J-16 has been specifically developed for potential campaigns against Taiwan given the focus of its armament on anti-ship and ground attack missions. [South China Morning Post]

In a related development, the China Academy of Aerospace Aerodynamics confirmed that a new hypersonic aircraft has been successfully tested. The aircraft is said to be able to outmaneuver modern defense systems and one day be used to deliver missiles.[Inkstone]


7 August 2018

China-US trade dispute: New round of tariff threats

(dql) In the latest round of the Sino-US tit-for-tat tariffs spiral, Beijing announced that it would add more taxes to 60 billion USD in US goods [Quartz] as a retaliatory measure against plans of the Trump administration to propose slapping a 25-percent tariff on 200 billion USD of imported Chinese goods after initially setting them at 10 percent.[Reuters]

In the wake of the escalating trade dispute and concerns that China will fare much worse in a full-fledged trade war than the US, President Xi is facing hitherto unknown domestic criticism of his economic and foreign policy, including the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), the island-building in the South China Sea, and the strategic partnership with Russia viewed as too costly, ambitious, risky and confrontational, Minxin Pei writes in [Nikkei Asian Review].

7 August 2018

Belt and Woes Myanmar Edition: Chinese backed port project under scrutiny

(jk) The perception of the Chinese Belt and Road project is slowly changing, even in the countries most depended on Chinese money. The much discussed Hambantota Port in Sri Lanka, which was given to the Chinese on an extensive lease after the country was unable to honour their loan repayment commitments to the People’s Republic. Far from being the only example, Hambantota port has made the rounds as a negative example of what the Chinese infrastructure investments can lead to if not dealt with carefully. Chinese investment often comes in the form of concessional loans from Chinese policy banks. Nonetheless, concessionality varies and it is financing that needs to be paid back, with interest. And to the lenders it matters little whether the project delivers domestic economic benefits or not. This can be in contrast to development aid from other countries or organisations, which often comes in the form of grants. It is also different to private investments, which are usually based on sound and extensive economic calculations. Investments are vetted and, in most cases, they will happen only if there is strong reason to believe there will be return on the investment. But in particular port projects, for example in Malaysian under the previous government, have created some suspicion around the fact that the current Malaysian ports are already working below capacity, so suspicion as to Chinese (or Malaysian) motives is valid.

China has thus far invested in over 40 ports ranging from Africa, Europe, to the Indian-Ocean and to Southeast Asia and beyond [GB Times].

Myanmar, which up until this point had been an unlikely candidate to reconsider Chinese investment has done exactly that. A key port for the Chinese infrastructure project on the western tip of Myanmar’s conflict-torn Rakhine state is now under massive scrutiny for its development plans. The initial $7.3bn price tag on the Kyaukpyu deep-water port, was too much for the Myanmar government to accept, especially after witnessing what happened in Sri Lanka. The aim is to scale down the port project significantly to around $1bn, an amount the country is more likely to be able to repay [The Guardian]. The port is strategically important as it would help China to re-route energy imports that way and alleviate its “Malacca-dilemma”, referring to the chocking point of the Malacca strait through which most of Chinese energy imports flow.

7 August 2018

Inaugural ASEAN-China Maritime Exercise held

(jk) In this two-day exercise, the first between ASEAN and China, naval officers from all 11 countries discussed tackling scenarios, such as search and rescue operations, and medical evacuation. The exercises were hosted by the Republic of Singapore Navy and there are plans to hold field exercises in China later this year.

There are also plans to use the Code for Unplanned Encounters at Sea (CUES) in the field exercise which is meant to manage unexpected encounters in the sea, and was adopted by ASEAN Defence Ministers’ Meeting-Plus countries in 2017 [Strait Times]. Although the other “plus” countries Japan and South Korea have also signed the CUES, they are not taking part in the exercises.

China had also proposed regular military exercises with ASEAN countries that would reportedly not involve countries outside the region (read: the US). Interestingly, Filipino Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said that “we find nothing objectionable to the fact that China would want to exclude non-Asians from the military exercise. I think the contemplation of Chinese authorities is to have military cooperation amongst neighbors.” [Manila Bulletin]

7 August 2018

ASEAN-China Single Draft South China Sea Code of Conduct

(jk) The 10 foreign ministers of the member states of ASEAN and their Chinese counterpart announced agreement on a Single Draft South China Sea Code of Conduct Negotiating Text that will serve as the basis for the adoption of a Code of Conduct in the South China Sea at the ASEAN-China Ministerial Meeting, one of several related meetings held alongside the ASEAN Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in Singapore this week [The Strait Times].

The draft is another step in talks that have been going on for over a decade on a final code of conduct (CoC) that will lay the foundation for solving disputes in the South China Sea. Whilst some observers, especially from ASEAN and China, stress the progress that has been made and the fact the negotiations are delivering some results, many observers are much more critical. The progress is once again marginal at best and a final solution is as far away as ever. Furthermore, China-critical voices – mainly from Vietnam within and the US outside of ASEAN, allege that China will (1) use the Code of Conduct talks to delay, exploit, and divert focus from any ASEAN consensus on the South China Sea; (2) seek to include unhelpful and imprecise language in the CoC which it could then use to justify its actions; and (3) nonetheless claim the CoC as a diplomatic success and will use it as cover to avoid criticism while still pursuing its unilateral strategy to control the South China Sea [AMTI].

7 August 2018

Sri Lanka secures US$1 billion Chinese loan

(jm) The Island Nation that was warned in 2016 by the International Monetary Fund for its heavy debt has secured a US$1 billion Chinese loan according to its Central Bank. The first half of the loan will be released later this month and the balance will be received in October. Since Sri Lanka is a strategic partner for the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative, China repeatedly offered financial support to the island over the last years, but the International Community and the Sri Lankan population now fear that it could be debt trapped further [Channel News Asia]. 

31 July 2018

China-Mauritius relations: Xi urges faster progress in FTA talks

(jm) Chinese President Xi Jinping was visiting Mauritius last weekend with the aim to negotiate a free trade agreement (FTA) with the island. China is the second-largest trading partner and the largest source of imports of Mauritius and according to statements, improving this partnership could serve as a bridge connecting Chinese investors with the African continent. For China, the FTA is an important part of the Belt and Road Initiative. [Yicai Global]

31 July 2018

China’s military gifts to Sri Lanka and the Philippines

(dql) In a latest attempt to increase its influence in the Indo-Pacific region, China will donate a frigate to Sri Lanka and four new patrol boats to the Philippines. While China will add to the frigate trainings for the Sri Lankan military and also build a auditorium complex at the Sri Lanka Military Academy, Manila will receive – besides the patro boats – 200 rocket propelled grenade launchers and ammunition. [South China Morning Post]

31 July 2018

ASEAN countries’ relations with China in the spotlight

(ls) Growing Chinese economic and political influence in Southeast Asia has become the new reality for all governments of the ASEAN member states. However, instances such as the Malaysian general election in May or the expected appointment of a new Thai army chief demonstrate some potential for volatility, in particular regarding the United States’ involvement in the region.

Malaysia’s relations with China are to come into the spotlight as Prime Minister Mahatir Mohamad is scheduled to meet with Xi Jinping in Beijing this August. China has $34 billion worth of infrastructure projects underway in Malaysia negotiated by the previous government of ousted leader Najib Razak, deals that Mahathir said favored Chinese investors over the Malaysian economy. The new government already suspended the East Coast Rail Link, which was being built by Chinese state-owned companies. A Bloomberg report assesses Malaysian-Chinese relations in terms of trade, investment, tourism, immigration and property. [Bloomberg] [South China Morning Post]

In Thailand, the expected next army chief, Apirat Kongsompong, is poised to turn a fresh page in Thai-U.S. military relations. His impending term as army chief (see last week’s AiR) is expected to contain the pro-China lobby in the Thai military led by Deputy Prime Minister and Defense Minister Prawit Wongsuwan. The possible warming of relations with the U.S. is, however, not expected to shut China out. In particular, plans for a Thai-Chinese weapons factory located in Thailand are still underway. [Nikkei Asian Review]

ASEAN foreign ministers will discuss a Code of Conduct (COC) for the South China Sea in Singapore this week. The ASEAN member states and China completed a draft framework for the COC in May. An early declaratory prelude had already been signed in 2002. That Declaration on the Conduct of Parties (DOC) aimed to discourage signatories from aggressive actions and barred construction of new structures in the contested region that could spark armed conflicts. Against this background, China’s increasing militarization in the area has sparked concerns among ASEAN countries. [ The Straits Times]

31 July 2018

China: Growing engagement in Africa

(dql) Deepening its ties with and expanding its influence in Africa, China signed a number of investment deals with Senegal, Rwanda and South Africa during President Xi Jinping’s trip to Africa last week. Xi and Senegalese President Macky Sall witnessed the signing of agreements on belt and road projects under which China will invest hundreds of billions of USD in infrastructure. With Rwanda, China signed 15 deals, covering 126 million in loans for two road projects. In South Africa investments totaled 14.7 billion USD including a US$2.5 billion loan from the China Development Bank to the troubled state-owned power company Eskom and Xi’s pledge to expand China’s imports.   [South China Morning Post]

31 July 2018

Sino-US trade dispute: China the world’s most protectionist economy, US WTO Ambassador says 

(dql) Adding fuel to the fire in the ongoing trade dispute between China and the USA, Dennis Shea, US Ambassador to the WTO, in a statement presented at the WTO General Council last week called China “the most protectionist, mercantilist economy in the world” criticizing China for its “failure to fully embrace the open, market-oriented policies” as well as its “disruptive economic model” and “state-led, mercantilist approach to trade and investment” whose “harm is growing every day and can no longer be tolerated.” [US Mission Geneva] China’s Ambassador to the WTO denounced Shea’s remarks as “half-cooked” lacking evidence to support its assertion that the Chinese state “controls” enterprises and accused him of demonising China. [Reuters]

Meanwhile, in the face of US tariffs threats and protectionism, the heads of state and government of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa at the BRICS summit in Johannesburg last week agreed to strengthen economic cooperation recognizing that the “multilateral trading system is facing unprecedented challenges”. They stressed “the importance of an open world economy” and urged “all WTO members to abide by WTO rules and honour their commitments in the multilateral trading system.” [BRICS South Africa 2018]

31 July 2018

China/Japan: Advancing military capabilities

(dql) According to Russian news agency TASS citing a military diplomatic source, China has received the first batch of Russian-made S-400 Triumf missile systems, Russia’s latest long-range antiaircraft missile system in service since 2007 designed to destroy aircraft, cruise and ballistic missiles, including medium-range missiles, and surface targets. [TASS]

Meanwhile, Japan launched the first of a new class of guided-missile destroyers with ballistic missile defense capabilities. The first of two 8,200-ton, 170-meter–long  27DDG-class destroyers has the capability to detect and track low-flying, high-speed, low-observable anti-ship missile targets in heavy-clutter environments. [Defense News]

Furthermore, Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera announced that Japan over the next 30 years would spend estimated 4.2 billion USD on purchasing and maintaining Lockheed radars to upgrade its Aegis Ashore missile defense. [The Defense Post]

31 July 2018

China: Human Rights Watch accuses Beijing of crackdown on Tibetan social and political activities

(dql) Human Rights Watch, in a recently published lengthy report, accused the Chinese government of a crackdown on Tibetan social activities and suspected political dissidents under the pretext of fighting organized crime in the region. [Human Rights Watch]

The report’s release follows Premier Li Keqiang’s visit to Tibet last week where he vowed to boost infrastructure investments to improve economic development and called on Buddhist leaders to promote national university and ethnic harmony  stressing that Tibet is an “inseparable part of China’s ‘sacred’ territory” [Voice of Tibet, in Chinese]. Li’s visit was the first of a premier since decades and highlights the growing sensitivity of the Tibet issue in the wake of increasing concerns over Beijing’s heightened control of Tibetan Buddhism. [AiR] last week reported on Tibetan students banned from taking part in religious activities over the summer holidays.

Similar actions of repression have been taken by the government against the Muslim minority amid growing Islamophobia in China. [The Jamestown Foundation: China Brief].

31 July 2018

China’s anti-corruption crackdown: Verdicts in high profile corruption cases

(dql) In the latest development of the Chinese government’s crackdown on corruption verdicts in two high profile corruption cases were issued. In the first case Su Shulin, former governor of Fujian province (2011-2015) and chairman of state-owned oil company Sinopec Corp (2007-2011), was found guilty for accepting bribes of more than 5.3 million USD while holding those posts and sentenced to 16 years in prison. Su was considered a political rising star following his appointment as governor of Fujian, one of the country’s wealthiest provinces, at the age of 49. [Reuters] In the second case the former assistant chairman of the now defunct China Banking Regulatory Commission was found guilty for taking bribes worth about 3.4 million USD and sentenced to 16 years in jail. [South China Morning Post]

Meanwhile, the Supreme People’s Procuratorate announced that Lu Wei, former head of the country’s Central Cyberspace Affairs Commission, has been indicted for accepting a ‘huge amount’ of bribes. Dubbed ‘internet czar’, Lu was the country’s all powerful internet regulator known for his draconian internet censorship policy. [The Straits Times]

In a related development, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, the Communist Party’s top anti-corruption agency, announced that nearly 37.000 officials have been punished in the first half of 2018 for violations of frugality guidelines of the eight point regulations released by the party advising officials to “be frugal” and obey rules on spending. The punished officials were involved in more than 25,000 cases among which awarding an unauthorized allowance or bonus was the most common misdemeanor, followed by giving or accepting gifts and misuse of public vehicles. [Xinhua]

24 July 2018

China-Buthan relations: Border talks resumed

(dql/am) A year after the Doklam standoff between China and India, Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Kong Xuanyou made a three-days visit to Bhutan to resume discussions on border issues centred on the Doklam plateau claimed by both China and Bhutan. In 1996 China proposed a deal under which Bhutan would obtain approximately 764 square kilometers of land in the middle and western sector of the border in exchange of 100 square kilometers land in the strategically important Doklam plateau, which serves as a tri-junction of China, Bhutan and India. [Sputnik News]

Meanwhile, India’s Border Roads Organisation (BRO) has finished the construction of a strategically important road in Bhutan, connecting one of Bhutan’s border towns with its capital Thimphu. The 30-km long road is one of several India-funded infrastructure projects in Bhutan, which is strategically important for India due to its location and border with China. [The Times of India]

24 July 2018

China-Nepal relations: Second joint military drill to take place in September

(ot) Nepal and China armies will have a joint military exercise, Sagarmatha Friendship-2, for the second time in September in China. The military drill aims at sharing expertise and skills in disaster management and fighting terrorism. The Nepal Army, which has long been holding military exercises with India and the U.S., has been increasingly extending military diplomacy and engagement with the Chinese People’s Liberation Army. [The Hindu]

24 July 2018

China-Sri Lanka relations: Beijing’s 295 million USD grant 

(dql) In an attempt to expand its influence in Sri Lanka China offered island nation a 295 million USD grant. President Sirisena announced to have received the offer and to use the money to build houses in all electorates across the country.  Sirisena, in office since 2015, at the beginning of his presidency had halted most of the Chinese-backed infrastructure projects started under his predecessor Rajapaksa on grounds of suspected corruption, overpricing and flouting government procedures for more than a year but then allowed the projects to resume after a few changes in some of them. [Reuters]

24 July 2018

China-USA relations: US Defense Bill 2019 with tough stance against China

(dql) The US Congress approved the National Defense Authorization Act 2019 which suggests a tough stance against China as it “makes investments and advances in its military capabilities.” The 717 billion USD bill “directs a whole-of-government strategy to confront the People’s Republic of China and bolsters DOD’s efforts to plan for and provide the necessary forces and military infrastructure and logistics capabilities in the region” and “supports military exercises with Japan, Australia, and India and improves security cooperation to counter China’s rising influence in Asia, Southeast Asia, and other regions.” It further supports the improvement of Taiwan’s defense capabilities including joint training, military sales, and the use of security cooperation authorities. [Govtrack]

Meanwhile, Michael Collins, deputy assistant director of the CIA’s East Asia mission centre, warned against China’s “quiet kind of cold war” against the United States and the mobilisation of all of its resources to replace America as the leading power in the world. [], while President Trump in the latest round of the US-China trade dispute  expressed his readiness to impose tariffs on all 500 billion USD of imported goods from China [ABC News].

24 July 2018

China: Advancing naval power

(dql) China is reportedly developing robotic submarines. With deployment in strategic waters like the South China Sea and western Pacific Ocean expected in the early 2020s, the project is part of the government’s plan to beef up the China’s naval power with AI technology. The unmanned submarines will be able to handle their assignments and return to their base, completing missions without human intervention. Their cargo will be large enough to accommodate powerful surveillance equipment as well as missiles or torpedoes. Diesel-electric engines or other power sources will ensure continuous operation for months.

Involved scientists from the Shenyang Institute of Automation, Chinese Academy of Sciences confirmed that the development of a series of extra-large unmanned underwater vehicles is a countermeasure against similar weapons currently under intensive development in the United States. [South China Morning Post]

24 July 2018

China: Tibetan schoolchildren banned from religious activities

(dql) According state-run newspaper Global Times official regulations have been issued banning underage students in Tibet from participation in religious activities during the summer vacation. The ban reflects increasing efforts of the government to restrict religious practice and education in Tibet and other regions with large minority populations. [Global Times] [Channel News Asia]

[AiR] last week reported on a ban prohibiting children under 16 to engage in religious activity and studies in the city of Linxia in the Western Province of Gansu, home to one of the main religious, cultural, and commercial centers of China’s Muslim community.

24 July 2018

China: Concerns over sweeping power of anti-corruption body vindicated

(dql) Concerns of lawyers and legal scholars over negative impacts of the far-reaching powers of the National Supervisory Commission, the country’s highest anti-corruption body created in March at the National People’s Congress, on investigative procedure in China have proved true. Local police in Hunan province denied Chen Jieren, an outspoken political commentator from Hunan, and family members meetings with their lawyers, citing the local supervisory commission’s launch of an investigation into bribery the family is suspected of. The group has been put under “residential surveillance at a designated location”, – secret detention. [Radio Free Asia]

To observers and experts, the case shows that the supervisory commissions are not bound by the country’s criminal procedure law, which grants suspects access to legal counsel in cases involving the police, prosecutors and courts. Experts fear that “[n]ow they can lead the police; later they may lead the prosecutors by commanding which cases should proceed and what should be the penalty.” [South China Morning Post]

17 July 2018

China to provide Pakistan with submarines

(dql) In a move expected to anger India, China is reportedly building eight submarines for Pakistan, to be handed over soon. The move comes after the launching of two remote sensing satellites, developed by Pakistan, from Chinese soil last week using a Chinese Long March 2C rocket. [The News International]

17 July 2018

Cross-Strait relations: No easing of tensions in sight

(dql) In a move expected to worsening the already strained tensions between Beijing and Taipei, Taiwan has put into service its 29-strong fleet of US-made Apache attack helicopters purchased back in 2008. [Rappler]

In another development, Taiwan’s ruling Democratic Progressive Party’s (DPP) annual congress on Sunday reaffirmed its pledge for independence of the country by overwhelmingly vetoing down without discussion a delegate’s proposal calling for replacing previous pro-Taiwan independence resolutions of the party with a provision emphasizing the maintenance of the status quo across the Taiwan. [Taiwan News]

Meanwhile, in a meeting with a Taiwanese delegation led by the former chairman of Taiwan’s opposition Kuomintang China’s President Xi Jinping reassured “confidence and ability to … advance the process toward the peaceful reunification of China” while “Taiwan Independence should be opposed”. [Xinhua]

17 July 2018

ASEAN-China trade: Preparations for global trade conflicts

(ls) Repercussions of global trade conflicts, particularly between the United States and China, are increasingly visible in Southeast Asia. The ASEAN-led 16-nation Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) is getting closer to conclusion as China presses for finalization. The Chinese Ambassador to ASEAN said that Beijing notes the urgency of the deal to maintain a rules-based trading system amid a surge in protectionism in global trade. Negotiations for RCEP with the aim of creating an integrated market were launched in 2012 between the 10 ASEAN members Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea. China’s exports to Southeast Asia rose by 9 per cent in 2017, while its imports from ASEAN climbed by 20 per cent. [The Straits Times 1]

Meanwhile, the Indonesian government prepares counter-measures to mitigate anticipated uncertainties caused by global trade conflicts. The plan includes to strengthen local industries, curb raw material import demands by developing basic industries, and boost tourism by encouraging budget airlines to expand and renovating airports across the archipelago. Indonesia might be particularly affected by U.S.-Chinese trade conflicts as China and the U.S. figure as Indonesia’s first and second important export destinations, respectively. [The Straits Times 2]

17 July 2018

China-US trade dispute: Beijing and Washington challenging each other at the WTO

(dql) In the escalating trade dispute between China and the USA, both sides challenged each other at the World Trade Organization. Beijing lodged a WTO challenge to US President Donald Trump’s plans for a tariff increase on 200 billion USD of Chinese goods. [ABC News]

At the same time, the USA brought forward complaints against China, the European Union, Canada, Mexico and Turkey at the World Trade Organization for retaliatory tariffs on US goods as countermeasure on US tariffs on imported steel and aluminum. [Chicago Tribune/AP]

Meanwhile, the Beijing and Brussels at the China-EU Summit on Monday in Beijing vowed to cooperate in opposing protectionism and unilateralism in trade. Both sides, however, were also quick to stress not to strive for a coalition against Washington. [South China Morning Post]

In a latest move reflecting assertiveness of the European Union amid souring ties with the USA over protectionist trade policies, the European Union signed with Japan a landmark free trade agreement which will remove 99% of tariffs on goods both sides trade with each other. The agreement is one of the largest covering a third of the global economy and markets of more than 600 million people. [Bloomberg]

17 July 2018

China: Worsening ageing problem

(dql) The National Health Commission’s latest statistics, released last week, reveal a worsening of the country’s ageing problem. Despite the suspension of the decade-long one-child policy in 2016, the birth rate fell from a record high of 12.95 in 2016 to 12.43 births per thousand people last year. 17.58 million newborns in 2017 compare to 241 million people aged over 60. At the same time, according to figures of the Ministry of Civil Affairs the marriage rate dropped to 3 million in the first quarter of this year from nearly 4.3 million in the same period of 2013 equaling a decline of 30%. [Xinhua] [South China Morning Post]

17 July 2018

China: Increasing political suppression in Hong Kong

(dql) The Hong Kong government has announced that it is considering to ban the pro-independence Hong Kong National Party on grounds of national security, prompting concerns among democracy advocates over a shift from passive to active suppression of political freedom in Hong Kong. In an earlier move the government barred the party‘s head from standing for elections two years ago. [Hong Kong Free Press]

17 July 2018

China: Repressive move against Muslim youth

(dql) In move triggering fears of heightened repression against Islam among ethnic Hui Muslims, China‘s Communist Party has issued a ban prohibiting children under 16 to engage in religious activity and studies in the city of Linxia in the Western Province of Gansu, home to one of the main religious, cultural, and commercial centers of China’s Muslim community, widely known as “Little Mecca of China”. The number of youths over 16 with permission to study has also been limited in each mosque leading in some cases to a drop from 1000 to 20 young people reading Koranic basics. [South China Morning Post/Agence France-Presse]

10 July 2018

China: Protest marking anniversary of crack down on human rights lawyers

(dql) Marking the anniversary of Beijing’s crackdown on human rights lawyers on 9 July 2015 Hong Kong activists organized a protest march and called for the immediate release of imprisoned Chinese human rights lawyers and activists.

In the so called “709 crackdown” about 300 rights lawyers, legal assistants and activists were rounded up and interrogated across the nation. Legal experts view the “709 crackdown” as the end of an era of advancing rule of law and human rights and the begin of the government’s pervasive political repression against human rights advocates in China since then. [Hong Kong Free Press] [South China Moring Post]

10 July 2018

US-China relations strained over escalating trade dispute and US warships Taiwan Strait passage

(dql) Last Friday the USA and China traded 25 per cent tariffs on 34 billion USD worth of each other’s goods, further escalating the ongoing trade dispute. While Washington’s tariffs apply to 818 Chinese products, ranging from semiconductors to plastics, Beijing’s tariffs apply to soybeans, fruit, fish and cars. Both sides are considering imposing further tariffs worth of 16 billion USD. [South China Morning Post]

In related moves aimed at expanding China’s economic influence in Europe, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang met Central and Eastern European leaders at the “16+1” summit in Bulgaria to discuss investment opportunities [Deutsche Welle] while on Monday deals worth nearly 32 billion USD were signed with Germany, which is facing threats of US tariffs on imported cars, trucks and auto parts, a move which would hurt Germany’s strong auto industry. [CNBC] Ahead of the meeting in Berlin, German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung reported on attempts of Chinese spies to bribe members of Germany’s parliament in return for information in the form of “analyses”. [Reuters]

Meanwhile, a US Navy official confirmed that the warships USS Mustin and USS Benfold this weekend passed the Taiwan Strait. The passage was the first since July 2017 and comes amid strained relations between Washington and Beijing over trade, North Korea and the South China Sea. [CNN]

In a latest development, Taiwanese military sources have reportedly confirmed the plan to buy American M1A2 Abrams tanks to replace its aging fleet of main battle tanks and to serve as the frontline weapons for the armored units of the Taiwanese Army tanks in the case of an invasion by China’s land forces. [The Epoch Times]

10 July 2018

Southeast Asia’s presence at RIMPAC largest since the naval drills began in 1971

(jk) The US-led Rim of the Pacific exercises (RIMPAC) in 2018 involves 25 countries, 25,000 military personnel, as well as over 50 warships and 200 aircraft [RIMPAC]. It was designed to enhance interoperability among navies and consists of activities ranging from humanitarian assistance and disaster relief to counter-piracy training and more complex warfighting exercises including air defence or anti-submarine warfare.

While the biggest news about this year’s RIMPAC was undoubtedly the disinvitation of China over its behaviour in the South China Sea, it is also important to point out that 2018 sees a record of seven Southeast Asian countries participate. Vietnam participates for the first time in the exercises amid growing military to military relations with the US. The Philippines and Malaysia have both for the first time send warships to participate. The three missing ASEAN countries are under sanctions by the US and therefore limited in terms of military cooperation (Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar) [CNN]. All ten ASEAN members are also expected to participate in a maritime exercise with China later in 2018 as publicised by Singapore’s defence ministry last year [South China Morning Post].

10 July 2018

Pakistan launches two satellites using Chinese rocket

(am) Pakistan has launched two locally developed satellites into space, using a Chinese launch vehicle. The satellites were launched aboard a Chinese Long March (LM-2C) rocket. One of the satellites launched is a remote sensing satellite (PRSS1), and the second satellite is a PAK-TES-1A, developed by SUPARCO to improve satellite manufacture competences in the country. With this launch, Pakistan has joined the list of countries to have its own remote sensing satellite in space. [The Express Tribune]

3 July 2018

China: Advancing military capabilities

 (dql) Chinese state media report that China is developing a rocket that would be the most powerful worldwide. The Long March-9 rocket whose construction is expected to be complete by 2030, would be capable of delivering 140 tons payloads into low orbit and would surpass the 130 tons of NASA’s Space Launch System, which is due to become operational in 2020. [First Post]

3 July 2018

China-US relations: Tensions and worries remain un-defused after Mattis’ visit to Beijing

(dql) US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis’ talks with President Xi and Defense Minister Wei last week failed to soothe US-Sino tensions as China appeared uncompromising on the issues it sees as its core interests such as Taiwan and the South China Sea. Rebuking Mattis’ questioning of Beijing’s militarization of the South China Sea during the talks, Chinese state media quote Xi saying that “not a single inch of the territory left behind by our ancestors must be lost”. [South China Morning Post]