Galwan Anniversary - Blinken-Yang Chat - G7 Meeting - Xuanyan Commentaries - Rectification Campaign - Trade Data - Anti-Sanctions & Data Security Laws - Af-Pak Trilateral - Vaccine Diplomacy

As we approach the anniversary of the 2020 Galwan Valley clash, I did a longish piece for The Quint on the five big trends that have shaped the India-China dynamic over the past year. Do check it out. As always, feedback, thoughts and suggestions are welcome.

I. India-China Ties

Let’s begin with trade data; this week we learned from China’s General Administration of Customs that trade between China and India soared 70.1 percent in US dollar terms in the first five months of this year to $48.16 billion. Chinese exports to India grew 64.1 percent year-on-year from January to May, while imports surged 90.2 percent. Global Times says that “if anything, these extraordinary growth rates show that China-India trade has largely shrugged off the impact of the political tensions caused by the border friction last year, bouncing back quickly.” Fair, but this misses the larger point about the trend of segmented globalisation particularly with regard to critical sectors. Anyway GT also takes shots at India’s “self-reliance strategy,” arguing that “trade barriers aimed at blocking Chinese goods have not only increased the living cost for Indian households, but also affected the local manufacturing activities due to lack of production supplies.” HT’s report on this points out that Chinese exports to India rose sharply between April and May, and this is likely a result of the import of increased pandemic-related supplies.

Anyway, just to underscore that the economic relationship is not anywhere near normal, the Indian Olympic Association has canceled a sponsorship deal with Chinese sportswear brand Li Ning, following a public backlash. Caixin reports that IOA President Narinder Batra and Secretary General Rajeev Mehta did not name Li Ning in their statement. But they said that the organization was “aware of the emotions of our fans” and had decided to “withdraw from our existing contract with an apparel sponsor.” The statement added that the association “would like our athletes to be able to train and compete without having to answer questions about the apparel brand.”

Moving on, China’s Ambassador to India, Sun Weidong, spoke at a Young Leaders and Students and Faculty from Indian Universities forum this week. Sun’s speech is largely about the CCP’s rule and its centenary, but he did talk about the relationship with India too. He basically outlined the supplies that came from China during the second wave of the pandemic in India; said that there was yet no certainty on when Indian students could return to China; and on the broader bilateral relationship, he said:

  • “As two ancient civilizations, we can and should view our relations from a higher, broader and longer-term perspective.”

  • “Each of us has a population of over one billion. And both countries are facing arduous development tasks and broad development prospects. Our common interests far outweigh the differences.”

  • “We need to help each other succeed instead of undercutting each other. At the moment, we should focus on tackling the pandemic, reviving the economy, improving people’s livelihood, and managing our own affairs well.”

  • “The boundary question is left over from history and should be put at a proper place in the overall bilateral relations...The two sides should respect each other, treat each other as equals, conduct dialogue and consultation and properly address differences to find a mutually acceptable solution.”

The Times of India’s edit page was quick to respond to these suggestions, reiterating that the “border dispute should be front and centre in bilateral ties.” Anyway, there’s little new that Sun’s said; but it does seem like increasingly such rhetoric does not reflect the reality of what’s happening at different levels in the India-China dynamic. For instance, this week we had CDS Bipin Rawat talking about India’s threat perceptions to WION. He said that “when you have a larger neighbour, which has got a better force, better technology, you obviously prepare for a larger neighbour.” On disengagement in Eastern Ladakh, Rawat said that “some very good progress” had been made at Pangong Tso. But he added: “I think we are making good headway. While we should not expect very good progress because as I mentioned there will be suspicions, at the same time we have to ensure and not allow our guard to be lowered. We cannot take things for granted. We have to move in a very cautious manner.”

Meanwhile, Shishir Gupta reports for HT that the PLA “appears to be in no hurry to disengage and de-escalate from Gogra-Hot Springs” and it “wants the matter to be resolved at a local commanders’ level and not through Working Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination on India-China border Affairs (WMCC), or dialogue between Indian XIV Corps Commander and PLA Commander of South Xinjiang military district.” Of course, all of this comes courtesy of one unidentified official. I find such reports really challenging. They say so very little. Last I recall reading in mid-April that the China Study Group was to meet to review the proposals after the 11th Corps Commander-level talks. Since then, there’s been little reportage about the nature of discussions on the Indian side. So, who knows. 

Anyway, the other reports regarding the boundary issue that we have are ANI telling us that the PLA has rotated 90 percent of its manpower deployed in the area and brought in fresh soldiers from the hinterland. Another HT report tells us that the Indian military has tracked the recently conducted air drills that involved a squadron-plus Chinese fighter jets (over 18 aircraft), and is also keeping a watch on Chinese training areas that are at a depth of 1,000 km to 1,500 km from the LAC. And then we have this on about the Indian army buying 17 flat bottomed boats, the majority of them to be deployed at the Pangong Tso in eastern Ladakh for rapid deployment of troops in case of contingencies.

On the Chinese side, it’s useful to note this. Qi Fabao, a regimental commander from the PLA’s Xinjiang military command, who suffered a serious head injury during the Galwan Valley “border skirmish” spoke at a recent high-level military meeting “in honor of heroic border troops.” GT’s report about Qi’s appearance quotes Qian Feng, director of the research department at the National Strategy Institute at Tsinghua University, as saying that “India should not have any illusion that China will make any concession on the issue of territorial integrity…” This is all part of the ongoing centenary propaganda and education campaign that’s currently underway in China. Speaking to SCMP, Liu Zongyi from the Shanghai Institutes for International Studies dismissed Qi’s appearance on air as the anniversary of the Galwan Valley clash nears as a coincidence. “These are two separate events,” Liu said. “Qi was badly wounded so it took him a long time to recover before being able to attend some public events.” Anyway, it’s also useful to note that Battalion Commander Chen Hongjun, who died during the Galwan clash, has been awarded the title of “border-defending hero,” while the three other Chinese soldiers killed in the clash have received first-class merits.

Anyway, Ananth Krishnan has a really good piece on the specific centenary propaganda campaign that features soldiers who were deployed along the LAC. He writes that:

“the campaign appears aimed at delivering a two-fold message targeted more at a domestic audience than abroad: to declare the military’s unequivocal support to Mr. Xi, and to also send a message of patriotism ahead of the July 1 anniversary...The PLA’s actions during the LAC tensions of 2020 appear to be figuring prominently in the campaign. Four service members of ‘the border defence troops in the Karakoram went to visit several military or civilian units to share their stories of guarding the border and defending the motherland,’ PLA spokesperson and Senior Colonel Tan Kefei said at his monthly briefing late last month, announcing the campaign…’The Karakoram border defence troops presented the Chinese national flag once raised on the Pangong Lake to the National Flag Guards, a way of conveying their enthusiasm for defending the motherland’.”

Next, Russia’s Vladimir Putin was asked about the India-China dynamic this week. Here’s what he said

“Yes, I do know that there are some issues related to India China relations but there are always a lot of issues between neighbouring countries but I know the attitude of both the Prime Minister of India and also the President of China. These are very responsible people and they earnestly treat one another with utmost respect and I believe that they will always arrive at a solution to any issue that they might face. But it is important that no other extra-regional power is interfering with that.” 

Finally, I thought this piece by Lan Jianxue was interesting in that it represents the paranoia, jingoism and chauvinism that is increasingly evident in Chinese foreign policy. Lan rightly notes that many countries with Indo-Pacific policies “are interested in participating in regional affairs” and are also “less interested in the idea of forming an alliance to contain China.” This I agree with. Alas, then he argues that the Quad “is a military-political alliance dominated by a Cold War mentality that specifically aims to contain China.” Unfortunately, this is Beijing’s paranoia rather than fact. He then talks about the Quad using vaccines as a “means to achieve expansion.” This is simply mirror imaging hawkish views on China’s vaccine diplomacy. He then says that many US allies in the region will not partner with the Quad because “cooperating with the US means helping it to achieve its geo-strategic self-interests at the cost of their own ties with China. This is not what these countries want to see.” He then argues that “the Quad is following the path of Cold War, with dim prospects.” Therefore, for Lan, any multilateral engagement with the US by others is not really multilateralism because “those politicians or countries have failed to learn the value and content of true multilateral successes. US officials like to brag about how many allies Washington has, but they forget one thing: The relationship between the master and his servants is not an alliance.” He then tells us that the RIC, China-Japan-South Korea, six-country cooperation mechanism among China, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, and ASEAN+3 are the kind of “minilateral” mechanisms that the region needs.

Also Read:

II. Qinghai Visit, 宣言 Xuanyan, Peaceful Development & Self-revolution

Xi Jinping visited Qinghai through the first half of the week. On Thursday, the front page of PD was basically dedicated to the visit. So first, Xi visited a carpet manufacturer in Xining city. The PD report talked about Xi carefully examining the entire manufacturing process before talking about the importance of private enterprises and high-quality development.

Later he went to the Wenting Alley Community, Wenhui Road, Chengxi District in the city. There the focus was on grassroots party building. He said: “The key to community governance lies in grassroots party organizations and the majority of party members. It is necessary to build the grassroots party organizations into a stronger fighting bastion, give full play to the vanguard and exemplary role of community party members and cadres, improve the grassroots mass autonomy mechanism led by grassroots party organizations, make community work a home, and enhance the people’s sense of gain, happiness and security in doing a good job of worrying and worrying things for ordinary people.” 社区治理得好不好,关键在基层党组织、在广大党员,要把基层党组织这个战斗堡垒建得更强,发挥社区党员、干部先锋模范作用,健全基层党组织领导的基层群众自治机制,把社区工作做到位做到家,在办好一件件老百姓操心事、烦心事中提升群众获得感、幸福感、安全感.

The next day, Xi went to Gangcha County in Haibei Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture. Here he talked about environmental protection, while visiting Qinghai Lake. He talked about ecology being China’s wealth and treasure, emphasising the need to protect it. He then went to Shaliuhe Township in Gangcha County. This is where he visited a local herder’s house and ate with the family. PD says that the herder:

“sincerely thanked the Communist Party and the General Secretary. Xi Jinping pointed out that this year marks the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party of China. It is not easy for our party to develop and grow, to seize power, and to build a new China. The people wholeheartedly support the Communist Party of China because the Communist Party of China has always served the people wholeheartedly and strived for the happiness of all nations.”

Finally, on the 9th, Xi listened to the work report of the Qinghai Provincial Party Committee and the Provincial Government. PD says:

“Xi Jinping pointed out that when entering a new stage of development, implementing new development concepts, and building a new development pattern, Qinghai’s status in ecological security, homeland security, and resource and energy security becomes even more important...Based on the unique resource endowment of plateau, we should actively cultivate new industries, speed up the construction of world-class salt lake industrial base, and build a national clean energy industry highland, an international ecotourism destination, and a green and organic agricultural and livestock product export destination.”

Xinhua English had this well summarised: “On Qinghai’s environmental protection, Xi said that the conservation of the source of three major rivers should be the utmost priority. The province should improve the management of national parks, restore the ecology of its various landscapes, protect biological diversity on the plateau, and promote ecological conservation and high-quality development along the Yellow River.”

He then talked about addressing livelihood issues along with security concerns. Qinghai, he said, is a strategically important place for stabilizing Xinjiang and Tibet. Therefore, he urged the full implementation of the Party's general plan for governing Tibet in the new era, and called “for more efforts to build the province into a paragon in ethnic unity and progress.” One key aspect of this is sinicization of religion, which Xi stressed upon. 

Finally, there’s a message to Party cadres from the region. He said that all Party members and cadres must:

  • remind themselves of the oath of loyalty to the Party

  • work for the benefit of the people

  • uphold the character of strict self-discipline

Next, on Monday and Tuesday, PD carried two front-page commentaries under the byline 宣言 Xuanyan. The first of these outlined the Party’s narrative on history. I’ve done a detailed breakdown here, but here’s a bit about how the current times are framed.

“the Chinese people’s faith in Marxism and communism has become stronger, their belief in socialism with Chinese characteristics has become more solid, and their confidence in achieving the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation has never been higher.” 中国人民对马克思主义、共产主义的信仰更加坚定,对中国特色社会主义的信念更加牢固,对实现中华民族伟大复兴的信心空前高涨.

This then ties with other key current talking points for the Party, i.e., the new development stage, the “original intention” of putting people first, technological achievements, and unity.

Interesting line amid all this: 

“In the face of bullying and suppression, we never gave in. The whole party and the whole country has dared to fight and win, and they gathered together and twisted together to form a single rope.” 面对霸凌和打压,我们从未屈服,全党全国敢于斗争、勇于胜利,攒成一股劲、拧成一股绳.

The second piece on Tuesday, breakdown available here, talks about about how the Party has proven the adaptability of Marxism; and how the Party has been able to use Marxism to address China’s needs. It says:

“...The Party has led the people not only to complete the industrialization process that developed countries have taken for hundreds of years in a few decades, but also to explore and establish a Chinese modernization that harmonizes material and spiritual civilization, common prosperity for all people, harmonious coexistence between human beings and nature, and the path of peaceful development, providing a new choice of modernization for human social development.” 从“四个现代化”目标到“三步走”战略,从建设小康社会到建设现代化强国……党领导人民不但用几十年时间走完了发达国家几百年走过的工业化历程,而且探索开辟了物质文明和精神文明相协调、全体人民共同富裕、人与自然和谐共生、走和平发展道路的中国式现代化,为人类社会发展提供了现代化的全新选择.

And this: 

“China declares with hard facts that history has not ended and will not end, and that socialism is vibrant and has an unlimited future! The road to socialism with Chinese characteristics is not only the right one, but will also lead to a brighter future!” 中国用铁一般的事实宣告:历史没有终结也不会终结,社会主义生机蓬勃、前途无限! 中国特色社会主义道路不但走得对、走得通,而且必将通往更加光明的未来!

The second part of the piece talks about the Marxist nature of the Party:

“We adhere to the leadership of the Party; adhere to the state system of people’s democratic dictatorship and the system of people’s congresses; adhere to the socialist distribution principle of honorable labor and distribution according to labor; adhere to the value of people in the first place, and constantly promote the all-round development of people and the all-round progress of society...These all embody the basic principles of scientific socialism under the new historical conditions, and continue the genetic bloodline of socialism.” 我们坚持党的领导;坚持人民民主专政的国体和人民代表大会制度的政体;坚持劳动光荣、按劳分配的社会主义分配原则;坚持把人的价值放在第一位,不断促进人的全面发展和社会全面进步……这些都在新的历史条件下体现了科学社会主义基本原则,赓续了社会主义的基因血脉.

After this, the authors tell us that Marx’s principles are not dogma but a method and the Party has used them effectively through Sinicization. In doing so, the CCP has endowed Marxism or scientific socialism with new “persuasiveness and appeal.”

The final section discusses cultural self-confidence. This tells us something about Chinese exceptionalism that the Party has promoted. It’s fascinating how the same article can pitch the Chinese system as a “new choice of modernization for human social development” but also emphasise the particularistic nature of the system and Chinese exceptionalism. 

“The 5,000-year-old civilization has been passed down from generation to generation, giving our party indomitable tenacity and tenacity; the unique temperament and endowment of Chinese culture has given our party a precious character of simplicity, strength and hard work; Chinese ancestors’ pursuit of harmony in the world has given our party a broad mind of caring for the people and serving the public.” 五千年文明的薪火相传、生生不息,赋予了我们党百折不挠的顽强与坚韧;中华文化特有的气质和禀赋,赋予了我们党质朴刚健、艰苦奋斗的宝贵品格;华夏先人对天下大同的追求向往,赋予了我们党心系苍生、天下为公的博大胸襟.

“Marxism, which condenses the essence of human thought, has activated the ancient Chinese civilization; the only great civilization in history that has never been interrupted has injected rich nutrients and profound impetus for the development of Marxism in China.” 凝结着人类思想精华的马克思主义,激活了古老的华夏文明;历史上唯一一个从未中断的伟大文明,又为马克思主义在中国的发展注入丰富的养分和深厚的动力. 

Two more pieces that I would like to highlight from PD this week. First, have a piece by Amb. Xu Bu 徐步. He is currently the director of the Xi Jinping Center for Diplomatic Thought. This was the one established within the Foreign Minister last year, if I am correct. The tone and approach of the piece is very different from what I’ve encountered for a while. It’s calmer and emphasises “peaceful development.” Anyway, Xu writes that:

“Especially since the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, China’s comprehensive national strength and international influence have been continuously enhanced, its ability to participate in international competition and resist external risks has been further enhanced, its ability to shape the external environment has been significantly improved, and its resources and means for managing foreign relations have become more abundant, and all parties have increased their reliance and cooperation with China.” 特别是党的十八大以来,我国综合国力和国际影响力不断增强,参与国际竞争、抵御外部风险的能力进一步增强,塑造外部环境的能力显著提高,运筹对外关系的资源和手段更加丰富,各方对我国的借重与合作不断增多.

His then lists some priorities:

  • Work hard to manage the relationship between major powers

  • Consolidate good-neighbourly and friendly relations with neighbouring countries and strengthen solidarity and cooperation with developing countries

  • Actively participate in leading the reform and construction of the global governance system, and play the role of a responsible major country

He ends the piece talking about being tough on core interests. But this is worth noting.

“We should combine China's path of peaceful development with that of other countries and unify adhering to peaceful development with safeguarding China’s legitimate rights and core interests, so as to promote China's pioneering progress in terms of its positive interaction and mutual benefit with other countries in the world and make greater contributions to the lofty cause of peaceful development of mankind.” 我们要把中国走和平发展道路与推动各国共同走和平发展道路结合起来,把坚持和平发展与维护我国正当权益和核心利益统一起来,推动我国在与世界各国良性互动、互利共赢中开拓前行,为人类和平发展的崇高事业作出更大贡献.

Finally, there were a couple of pieces this week talking about self-revolution. For example, Tian Peiyan, deputy director of the Central Policy Research Office, wrote that:

with the changing situation domestically and externally, along with changes in the size and structure of Party membership, “the party’s body will inevitably be contaminated with various political dust and political microbes, and to a certain extent, it needs centralized and thorough cleaning.” 随着一定时期形势任务、外部环境特别是党员队伍规模和结构的发展变化,党的肌体不可避免地会沾染各种政治灰尘和政治微生物, 积累到一定程度,就需要进行集中的彻底的清理.

“This kind of clean-up takes pure thought, pure organization and pure style as the main contents, and improves ideological understanding and consciousness through theoretical study…” He recommends the use of a “coaching and ‘consultation’ approach to find the crux of the problem,” and calls to “use the weapons of criticism and self-criticism” to reveal shortcomings and “touch the soul,” “so that each person undergoes a baptism.” He adds: “Follow the policy of treating diseases and saving lives and the formula of ‘unity-criticism-unity. to achieve the purpose of distinguishing right from wrong and uniting comrades...” 这种清理,以纯洁思想、纯洁组织、纯洁作风为主要内容,通过理论学习,提高思想认识和觉悟;采取开门纳谏、多方“会诊”的办法,找准问题的症结;运用批评和自我批评的武器,揭短亮丑、触及灵魂,让每个人经受洗礼;遵循惩前毖后、治病救人方针和“团结—批评—团结”的公式,达到既分清是非又团结同志的目的;着力整改,对发现的问题动真碰硬、立行立改,在整改中升华境界、改进工作.

Another piece was by Jiang Hui, member of the Party Leadership Group of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. Jiang quotes Xi frequently through the piece to make the argument that one must “dare to turn the knife’s blade inward, dare to scrape the bones, dare to break the wrist of a strongman, to prevent the disaster from rising.” While on this, on Friday, we also had fresh details with regard to the ongoing rectification campaign targeting the security and legal apparatus.

The report says that the campaign at the city and county levels was officially launched on February 27, with nearly 2.7 million political and legal police officers being covered. “After more than three months of joint efforts by all parties, the education and rectification of the first batch of political and legal teams has progressed smoothly, with obvious results and social approval.” 

Some data points from the campaign:

  • 12,576 police officers across the country took the initiative to surrender to the CCDI.

  • Review and investigation launched targeting 27,364 police officers, who are suspected of violating discipline and law. 1,760 have been detained.

  • 72,312 police officers who violated discipline and law were dealt with. Among these, around 83.5% of the cases involved dishing out criticism, education and admonishment; 13% were given warnings, serious warnings and either suspended or dismissed; 2.1% were either temporarily removed from the party, demoted or expelled from the Party; 1.4% were cases that were transferred to judicial organs for sentencing and penalties.


In terms of the kinds of violations that were identified, there’s a list of things like 7,012 cases of illegal business-run enterprises by police officers; 3,278 cases of illegal participation in stocks and loans; and 2,998 cases of illegal participation in business activities by cadres’ spouses, children and their spouses. There are cases of “787 outgoing judges and prosecutors who illegally engaged in the legal profession and acted as ‘judicial brokers’.” 据介绍,截至6月8日,排查认定违反干预司法“三个规定”问题39441件.全国法院系统整改涉及审判执行问题40046件,检察系统整改有罪不究等问题4900件,公安系统整改有案不立等问题75872件. 整改干警违规经商办企业问题7012件、违规参股借贷问题3278件,整改干警配偶、子女及其配偶违规参与经营活动2998件. 依法纠正上世纪90年代以来违规违法“减假暂”案件10279件. 整改处理离任法官检察官违规从事律师职业、充当“司法掮客”787人.

The story also tells us that the 12337 hotline for reporting violations of discipline and law by political and legal officers received 232,000 tip-offs from the masses.

III. Anti-Sanctions Law & Data Security Law

The NPCSC cleared the new Anti-Foreign Sanctions Law this week. The full text of the law was published in PD. This is not the official translation, but here are some noteworthy points:

  • Article 3 says: The People’s Republic of China opposes hegemonism and power politics, and opposes any country’s interference in China’s internal affairs under any pretext and in any way. If a foreign country violates international law and basic norms of international relations, uses various excuses or in accordance with its own laws to contain or suppress China, adopt discriminatory restrictive measures against Chinese citizens and organizations, and interfere in China’s internal affairs, China has the right to take corresponding countermeasures.

  • Article 4 says that the State Council has the authority “to include individuals and organizations that directly or indirectly participate in the formulation, decision, and implementation of the discriminatory restrictive measures” in a counter-control list. The next article says that the State Council can also include these individuals’ relatives and related organizations in the list.

  • Article 7 lists out measures that can be taken. These include denial of visa, entry and deportation; sealing, seizing and freezing property in China; prohibiting transactions and cooperations with organisations in China; any other measure deemed necessary. The next two articles make it clear that there is no appealing this decision. But the State Council can modify or cancel the decision “if circumstances change.”

  • Article 12 is also useful to note: No organization or individual may implement or assist in the implementation of discriminatory restrictive measures taken by foreign countries against Chinese citizens and organizations. Where organizations and individuals violate the provisions of the preceding paragraph and infringe upon the lawful rights and interests of Chinese citizens and organizations, Chinese citizens and organizations may file a lawsuit with the people’s court in accordance with the law, requesting them to stop the infringement and compensate for the losses.

Also in PD, we had an interview with the head of the Legislative Affairs Commission of the NPCSC about the law. He said that:

“In recent years, certain Western countries and organizations, unwilling to see, recognize and accept the reality of China's tremendous development and progress, have, out of political manipulation and ideological bias, used various issues and pretexts, such as those related to Xinjiang, Tibet, Hong Kong, Taiwan, the pandemic, to make accusations, smear and attack China’s domestic and foreign policies and relevant legislative and legal amendment agendas. They seek to distort, smear, contain and suppress China’s development, and in doing so, they have violated international law and basic norms of international relations by imposing so-called ‘sanctions’ on relevant Chinese state organs, organizations and state employees in accordance with their own laws, and have grossly interfered in China's internal affairs. It must be pointed out that the so-called ‘sanctions’ imposed on China by some western countries and organizations under the guise of safeguarding democracy and human rights are illegal and unreasonable...China has always opposed any country and foreign forces from interfering in China's internal affairs in any way, and against imposing its will on others. China is no longer what it was more than a hundred years ago, and it is no longer easy to bully the Chinese people!” 近年来,某些西方国家和组织不愿看到、不愿承认、不愿接受中国巨大发展进步的现实,出于政治操弄需要和意识形态偏见,利用涉疆涉藏涉港涉台涉海涉疫等各种议题和借口,对中国内外政策和有关立法修法议程横加指责、抹黑、攻击,对中国发展进行歪曲、诋毁、遏制和打压,特别是违反国际法和国际关系基本准则,依据其本国法律对中国有关国家机关、组织和国家工作人员实施所谓“制裁”,粗暴干涉中国内政. 必须指出,某些西方国家和组织打着维护民主、人权等幌子对中国搞的所谓“制裁”,都是非法的、无理的...中国历来反对任何国家和境外势力以任何方式干涉中国内部事务,反对把自己的意志强加于人. 中国早已不是一百多年前的中国,中国人民不是好欺负的!

Here’s more:

“The promulgation and implementation of the law will help counter the containment and suppression of China by some foreign countries and organizations according to law, effectively crack down on the arrogance of overseas anti-China forces and hostile forces, effectively enhance China's ability to deal with external risks and challenges, and accelerate the formation of a systematic and complete system of foreign-related laws and regulations.” 法律的出台和实施,将有利于依法反制一些外国国家和组织对我国的遏制打压,有力打击境外反华势力和敌对势力的嚣张行径,有效提升我国应对外部风险挑战的法治能力,加快形成系统完备的涉外法律法规体系.

He added:

“The main purpose of enacting the anti-foreign sanctions law is to counter, counter and oppose the so-called ‘unilateral sanctions’ imposed by foreign countries on China, safeguard China's sovereignty, security and development interests, and protect the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese citizens and organizations.” 制定反外国制裁法,主要目的是为了反制、反击、反对外国对中国搞的所谓“单边制裁”,维护我国的主权、安全、发展利益,保护我国公民、组织的合法权益.

What’s also fascinating about this exchange is that the last question that PD asked was about the impact of the new law on China’s opening up to the outside world. Interestingly, what we got in response was how this remains a commitment in regard to long-term planning and how the passage of the Foreign Investment Law in 2019, the law related to the Hainan Free Trade area and the Pudong area are indicators that opening will continue. But this is a non-answer and deflection. Banks and foreign firms should buckle-up; this will not be an easy environment to navigate.

NPR’s Emily Feng’s report quotes Wei Jianguo, a former commerce vice minister, as saying that “this law is like the ringing of a gong. It is a warning to the U.S.: You should be worried. China will not endure this treatment as easily as it once did.” SCMP reports that “China will establish a leading group to coordinate and enforce anti-sanctions measures…According to the legislation, a mechanism will be established for ‘overall planning and coordination’ of anti-sanctions work. Relevant departments of the State Council will strengthen coordination and information sharing, determine and implement relevant countermeasures in accordance with their respective responsibilities and tasks. Chinese experts involved in legislation consultation said the section referred to the setting up a leading group, with representatives from the foreign and commerce ministries, as well as the National Development and Reform Commission.” Nikkei Asian Review reports that the new law will be applicable in Hong Kong - a move the American Chamber of Commerce in China warns will further erode the city’s autonomy.

The other key bill that was passed by the NPCSC is the new Data Security Law. China Law Translate’s website offers an excellent, unofficial translation, for the law. I am sharing a few excerpts from their translation. Article 3 of the law defines data as any record of information stored in electronic or other formats. Article 4 says that “the preservation of data security shall adhere to the overall national security perspective…”

Article 7: “The State is to protect the rights and interests of individuals and organizations with regards to data; encourage the lawful, reasonable, and effective use of data; ensure the lawful and orderly free flow of data; and promote the development of a digital economy with data as a key factor.”

Article 8: “The carrying out of data handling activities shall obey laws and regulations, respect social mores and ethics, comply with commercial and professional ethics, be honest and trustworthy, perform obligations to protect data security and take on social responsibility; it must not endanger national security, the public interest, or individuals' and organizations' lawful rights and interests.”

Article 21: “The state is to establish a categorical and hierarchical system for data protection and carry out categorized and graded data protections based on the importance of the data in economic and social development as well as the extent of harm to national security, the public interest, or the lawful rights and interests of individuals or organizations that would be caused once the data is altered, destroyed, leaked, or illegally obtained or used. The national mechanism for coordinating data security work is to plan and coordinate relevant departments’ drafting of catalogs of important data and strengthen protections of important data. Data related to national security, the lifeline of the national economy, important aspects of people's livelihoods, and major public interests are core state data, and are to implement a stricter management system.” The devil here will lie in the detail, i.e., what data gets classified under these categories.

Article 24: The state is to establish systems for data security reviews and conduct national security reviews of data handling activities that impact or might impact national security. Security review decisions made in accordance with law are final decisions.

Article 25: “The state is to implement export controls in accordance with law for data that are controlled items related to preserving national security and performing international obligations.”

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IV. Investment, Trade, Credit & Debt

The weekly State Council meeting (English report) saw Li Keqiang committing that the government will be pressing ahead with the implementation of major programs set out in the Outline of the 14th Five-Year Plan. The major programs span a series of key areas, including scientific and technological advances, infrastructural facilities, environmental protection, people's livelihoods and cultural heritage, among others.

This is important: “the meeting stressed the need to steer clear of massive stimulus, maintain the continuity and stability of macro policies, and make them more targeted”

Li Keqiang said: “Last year, economic growth was mainly driven by tax and fee cuts, and support for market entities. This year, while effectively tapping the fundamental role of consumption, the key role of effective investment will be better brought out. Efforts will be made to coordinate medium- and long-term development and this year's economic operation, and advance the major programs in an orderly way, to keep the major economic indicators within the proper range.”

The report adds that the “catalytic role of government investment, such as central budgetary investment and local government special-purpose bonds, will be further leveraged. Market entities and private players will be fully mobilized to play their part in the implementation of the major programs...Local authorities that take solid measures and achieve notable results will receive greater incentives and support, while those who fail to deliver in advancing the projects will be subject to closer supervision.”

Next, data on China’s foreign trade for January to May show that in the first five months of this year, China’s total import and export value was 14.76 trillion yuan, up 28.2% year-on-year and 21.6% over the same period of 2019. Exports were 8.04 trillion yuan; imports were 6.72 trillion yuan. SCMP reports that in dollar terms for the month of May, China’s exports grew by 27.9 percent to $263.9 billion compared with a year earlier, while imports grew by 51.1 percent to $218.4 billion last month. While there was growth, both missed expectations.

Among the biggest trading partners for China are:

  • ASEAN: 2.19 trillion yuan

  • EU: 2.06 trillion yuan

  • US: 1.82 trillion yuan

  • Japan: 969.79 billion yuan

  • Trade with BRI countries: 4.36 trillion yuan, with exports at 2.46 trillion.

Third, Reuters reports that “Chinese banks extended 1.5 trillion yuan ($235 billion) in new yuan loans in May, up from 1.47 trillion yuan in April and beating analysts’ expectations of 1.41 trillion yuan, according to data released by the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) on Thursday. The tally also was higher than the 1.48 trillion yuan issued the same month a year earlier, when policymakers rolled out unprecedented measures to deal with the shock from the coronavirus crisis. Loans to households surged to 623.2 billion yuan in May from 528.3 billion yuan in April, while corporate loans rose to 805.7 billion yuan last month from April’s 755.2 billion yuan. As expected, growth in outstanding yuan loans eased to 12.2 per cent year on year, the slowest pace since February 2020, and compared with 12.3 per cent in April. Excluding that early 2020 period, it marked the slowest growth since 2002, according to Capital Economics.”

Meanwhile, Caixin reports that China’s top banking regulator Guo Shuqing sounded the alarm bell over growing risks in the domestic financial system stemming from speculation in commodities, rising nonperforming loans (NPLs), local real estate price bubbles and Ponzi schemes disguised as financial technology or internet finance. Speaking at the at the 13th Lujiazui Forum in Shanghai on Thursday, Guo said that there would be no letup in financial regulators’ campaign to prevent risks and set out five priorities for their work — responding to a rebound in NPLs, preventing a resurgence of shadow banking, rectifying the illegal public issuance of securities disguised as private placements, preventing risks from derivatives trading, and being vigilant against Ponzi schemes. He said that while the scale of shadow banking has fallen 20 trillion yuan ($3.2 trillion) from its historical peak, the stock of shadow banking assets is still large and could easily rebound. Guo also had a specific warning about speculative investment in the property sector:

“Those individual investors who participate in trading [of high-risk products] are indeed taking a gamble. They are set to suffer losses, just like those who believe property prices will never fall. At the end, they will pay a big price.”

SCMP’s reporting tells us that in November last year, Guo described banks’ excessive exposure to the property sector as the “biggest grey rhino risk” the financial system faces.

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V. Region Watch

Stories of poor health and medical facilities, especially in the last two months, have highlighted South Asia’s healthcare crisis. This as healthcare has become diplomacy’s crucial lever. When India, the region’s typical first responder, had to pull back from the neighbourhood to manage its COVID-19 emergency in April, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, like Pakistan, purchased vaccines from China. 

China even donated 1 million vaccines as a gift to Nepal. The donation, however, had conditions attached. Nepal has had to sign a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) with China’s Sinopharm Covid-19 vaccine to receive the doses. Sinopharm’s NDA created a dilemma among officials of Nepal’s health ministry over the legality of such procurement. According to the deal, Sinopharm will quote the price only after Kathmandu states the number of vaccines it wishes to procure. Another complication for the Nepalese government to navigate is obtaining foreign aid to obtain vaccines if details of procurement deals cannot be shared with aid givers. In the absence of legal ways to procure vaccines under an NDA, there have been discussions on procuring them through policy decisions of the Cabinet, according to the Health Ministry. 

A similar story emerged from Bangladesh. Health Minister Zahid Maleque said: 

We have to maintain non-disclosure clauses strictly according to the deal

Earlier this month, it was revealed that Sinopharm was following a different pricing policy for different countries - Bangladesh is paying US $10 per dose while Sri Lanka is paying US $15 per dose. Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen said that Dhaka had upset Beijing by making the procurement price of the Sinopharm vaccine public. Following the row, Foreign Secretary Masud Bin Momen had a meeting with the Chinese Ambassador to Bangladesh, Li Jiming, to discuss the issue. Bangladesh also wrote to relevant parties in China to clarify its "unintentional" mistake. Nonetheless, Bangladesh is expecting a second consignment of Covid-19 vaccines from China as a gift [on Sunday]. 

Staying with healthcare, the China-Sri Lanka Friendship Hospital was inaugurated in Polonnaruwa last week. Said to be one of the largest in South Asia for nephrology care, Sri Lanka received the hospital complex as a full grant from the Chinese Government at the request of former President Maithripala Sirisena during his visit to China in 2015.

A recent Washington Post piece reported how the shift to virtual learning during the pandemicmade college more accessible to millions in the US who juggle school with full-time jobs, caregiving responsibilities or health issues. While many have benefited, students across the world are also coping with the feeling of being stranded.  

“I got stuck in Pakistan, am unable to find a job and am worried about how long it will take to finish my degree, which was scheduled to be completed in 2023,”

Hina Fatima, a Lahore resident pursuing a Ph.D. at the Beijing Technology and Business University told DW. Thousands of Pakistani nationals studying in China have not been able to return to the country to resume their studies. As stipends have stopped and scholarships lie underutilised, students continue to seek a firm plan of action from Pakistani and Chinese authorities. Muhammad Iqbal Khan Afridi, member of the National Assembly of Pakistan, promised to contact the Foreign Ministry and other relevant agencies,

“But I want to ask the students to be patient. China is our close friend and has always stood with us. Educational institutions have been closed down in Pakistan for over a year as well. So we must understand China's situation, as it was the first country to be hit by the pandemic,” he added.

VI. Blinken-Yang Talk, Innovation and Competition Act, Defense Review & G7

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke to China’s Yang Jiechi this week. The State Department’s readout talks about “the need for the United States and the PRC to work together for the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. Secretary Blinken and Director Yang continued discussions on shared global challenges, including Iran, Burma, and the climate crisis.” On the origins of COVID-19, Blinken “stressed the importance of cooperation and transparency regarding the origin of the virus, including the need for WHO Phase 2 expert-led studies in China.” The readout also mentions Hong Kong, “the ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity against predominantly Muslim Uyghurs and members of other ethnic and religious minority groups in Xinjiang,” Taiwan and “several cases of U.S. and Canadian citizens (being) subject to arbitrary detention and exit bans in China.” Blinken “called for the immediate release of those wrongfully detained.”

The Chinese readout says that Yang pointed out that “recent signs indicate that some anti-China forces are trying to stir up one after another sinister waves to smear China…” He added that “issues related to Xinjiang and Hong Kong concern China's sovereignty and territorial integrity, and involve China's core interests,” and that the US must not “interfere in China's internal affairs under any pretext.” Xinhua’s report also says that (English version) Yang told Blinken that “the United States should fix the serious human rights violations on its own territory, instead of wilfully interfering in the internal affairs of other countries under the pretext of so-called human rights.” It adds that Yang hit out on “pseudo-multilateralism” which is “based on the interests of ‘small circles’ and ‘group politics’.” He also pushed back against the lab-leak theory, saying that the US should “respect facts and science, refrain from politicising the issue of traceability, and focus on international cooperation in fighting the epidemic.”

That wasn’t the only high-level engagement between Chinese and US officials this week. We also had China’s Minister of Commerce Wang Wentao speaking to US Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo on Thursday. The Chinese report says that they “exchanged views frankly and pragmatically on relevant issues and mutual concerns in the field of commerce between China and the United States. The two sides stated that dialogue and exchanges in the field of business between China and the United States are very important, and they agreed to promote the healthy development of trade and investment pragmatic cooperation and properly handle differences.”

The US readout said that “Secretary Raimondo discussed the Biden-Harris Administration’s focus on economic policies benefiting American workers and expressed U.S. concerns, including China’s unfair and market-distorting industrial policies, the need to level the playing field for U.S. companies in China, and the importance of protecting U.S. technology from unauthorized users.”

Also note that China’s Ministry of Commerce termed the Biden administration’s move of revoking previous executive orders targeting Chinese software applications, including TikTok and WeChat, as a “positive step in the right direction.” Do note this from WSJ’s reporting on the issue:

“The new order doesn’t target any companies specifically, but creates the potential for an even broader crackdown on Chinese-owned apps than the Trump administration orders it replaces by mandating a review of all software applications with potential ties to countries such as China. The Commerce Department was authorized to begin that review immediately, the White House said. The executive order is designed to replace the Trump administration’s approach targeting individual companies with a broader process for reviewing risks posed by foreign-owned apps, according to senior Biden administration officials. The officials say the executive orders signed by former President Donald Trump were effectively unenforceable.”

It is worth pointing out that the Chinese embassy in the US had a very different reaction to MoC: “China’s U.S. embassy spokesman, Liu Pengyu, said in a statement that China ‘opposes the U.S. abusing its national power under the pretext of national security to suppress and coerce non-American companies.’ ‘We urge the U.S. government to provide an open, fair, just and nondiscriminatory business environment for foreign companies,’ the statement said.”

Prior to this, earlier in the week, Beijing was up in arms about the US Senate clearing a new American Innovation and Competition Act of 2021. Reuters reports that “the measure authorizes about $190 billion for provisions to strengthen U.S. technology and research - and would separately approve spending $54 billion to increase U.S. production and research into semiconductors and telecommunications equipment, including $2 billion dedicated to chips used by automakers that have seen massive shortages and made significant production cuts.”

“The bill has a number of other China-related provisions including prohibiting the social media app TikTok from being downloaded on government devices, and would block the purchase of drones manufactured and sold by companies backed by the Chinese government. It would also allow diplomats and Taiwanese military to display their flag and wear their uniforms while in the United States on official businesses...It would also create broad new mandatory sanctions on Chinese entities engaged in U.S. cyberattacks or theft of U.S. intellectual property from U.S. firms, and provides for a review of export controls on items that could be used to support human rights abuses.”

In response, the Foreign Affairs Committee of the National People’s Congress in China said that “the bill is full of Cold War mentality and ideological prejudice, slanders and discredits China's development path and domestic and foreign policies, and interferes in China's internal affairs under the banner of ‘innovation and competition’ in an attempt to contain China's development.” It added that the bill is part of a policy that seeks to “deprive China of its right to development through technology and economic decoupling. The bill shows that the paranoid delusion of egoism distorts the original intention of innovation and competition.”

MoFA’s Wang Wenbin, meanwhile, said that the bill “hypes up ‘China threat’, advocating strategic competition with China, and gravely interferes in China's domestic affairs...” He added: “How the US intends to develop and strengthen its competitiveness is its own business, but we are firmly against the US making an issue out of China and perceiving it as an imaginary enemy. The US is the greatest threat to itself. Getting its own house in order trumps all else.”

Moving on, the US DoD’s China Task Force gave its final recommendations this week. There’s really little tangible information that was shared. What we know is that it calls China the US’ “number one pacing challenge.” Secretary Austin said that the initiatives planned “will improve the Department’s ability to revitalize our network of allies and partners, bolster deterrence, and accelerate the development of new operational concepts, emerging capabilities, future force posture, and a modernized civilian and military workforce.” On Thursday, responding to questions at a defense budget hearing held by the Senate Armed Services Committee, Austin underscored a couple of important points. First, Austin was categorical in saying that “the most significant military threat that we’re focused on -- and you've heard me say this probably 100 times senator -- is China.” He said that the lack of a hotline with Beijing was a “critical” concern. His assessment of China’s Indo-Pacific objective was interesting to note:

“I do believe that their goal is to control the Indo-Pacific. And I also believe that they desire to be the dominant or preeminent country in the world. And so I think they're working towards that end.”

Asked about the a potential PLA attack on Taiwan, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley, added:

“If you're talking about a [Chinese] military invasion of Taiwan, crossing the straits, the Taiwan Straits, with a sizable military force to seize an island the size of Taiwan against the military that they have and with the population that they have, that's an extraordinarily complex and difficult operation. Even if against an unopposed force, that's a very hard thing to do…But I can assure you that we have the capabilities if there were political decisions made in accordance with the Taiwan Relations Act and so on. But we do have military capabilities.”

CNN’s reporting on this says that around $5 billion dollars is being earmarked for the Pacific Deterrence Initiative in 2022. It says that overall, the five-year PDI aims to provide billions to upgrade US forces around the region, including the Aegis Ashore missile defense system for Guam, new radar defenses for Hawaii; more intelligence and reconnaissance assets; more munitions; more Navy, Air Force and Marine troops in the region; and more training and exercises with allies and partners.

Finally, the leaders of the G7 countries, along with leaders of invitee nations — India, Australia, South Africa and South Korea — have been meeting in Carbis Bay, England. Of course, the Indian prime minister’s attendance has been virtual owing to the second wave of COVID-19 in the country. The final communique is expected later today, but a background call by US officials tells us a little bit about what we can potentially expect, or at least what Washington’s pushing for.

  • The officials said that the G7 is “working together to respond to China’s non-market economic practices that are harmful and distorted to the global economy.”

  • the official pointed to speaking out on human rights and “responding to forced labor in supply chains.”

  • having an “infrastructure initiative that is high standards, values-driven, transparent, and multilateral.” This was launched in terms of the B3W Partnership. The B3W says that “the G7 and other like-minded partners with coordinate in mobilizing private-sector capital in four areas of focus—climate, health and health security, digital technology, and gender equity and equality—with catalytic investments from our respective development finance institutions.” So far, this is a statement of intent. Let’s await the money to flow before one gets too excited. The folks at The Economist seem to share in this caution, too.

Meanwhile, reports inform about Canada’s Justin Trudeau leading a discussion on framing a unified approach to China on Saturday. Emmanuel Macron, on the other hand, is quoted as saying that “We (NATO) need to know who our enemies are and where…NATO needs to work out a strategy regarding Russia, while China should not be the alliance’s priority, he added. Amid all this, the Chinese embassy in London’s chimed in saying:

“The days when global decisions were dictated by a small group of countries are long gone…We always believe that countries, big or small, strong or weak, poor or rich, are equals, and that world affairs should be handled through consultation by all countries.”

Finally, do note that after wrapping up his visit to Britain, Biden will travel to Brussels on Monday for a NATO summit. He will then meet leaders of the European Union before meeting with President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday. And I guess Beijing will be watching this closely, as is evident from this interview by Global Times’ Xie Wenting and Bai Yunyi of Russian Ambassador to China Andrey Denisov. Here’s an excerpt:

“GT: Some analysts suggest the Biden administration may take measures to ease tensions with Russia in order to concentrate on dealing with China. Will this strategy alienate Russia from China and draw it closer to the US?
Denisov: This view is too short-sighted. It can't happen. I think we're smarter than what the Americans think.”

He was then asked if China and Russia discuss their ties with US in their bilateral meetings. Denisov said:

“the US topic certainly occupies a place on the agenda of the meeting between senior Chinese and Russian diplomats. Although the last two visits were short and had limited agendas, the two sides discussed in great detail a range of topics, including some of the most pressing and acute issues in the current international situation. As a matter of fact, there is no content or topic that should be avoided in the political dialogue between Russia and China.”

He was then asked if Russia would side would China in case of conflict between the US and China, and he said:

“There will be no answer to this question because I am convinced that there will be no armed conflict between China and the US, just as there will be no armed conflict between Russia and the US, because such a conflict would exterminate all mankind, and then there would be no point in taking sides. However, if you are asking about the judgment of the international situation and major issues, then Russia’s position is clearly much closer to China’s.”

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VII. The Long & Short of It…

a. Asian Values & Indo-Pacific Threat:  First, Foreign Minister Wang Yi met with ASEAN counterparts marking the 30th anniversary of the China-ASEAN relationship. Xinhua English tells us that “Wang stressed that over the past 30 years, the two sides have become the largest trading partner, the most connotative cooperation partner and the most dynamic strategic partner through joint efforts. Noting that China and ASEAN should focus on the next 30 years, Wang put forward suggestions for the two sides to jointly realize, maintain, and develop a road of regional cooperation with East Asian characteristics, build a higher level of China-ASEAN strategic partnership, and build a closer community with a shared future.”

The six suggestions that he put forward are to focus on

  • deepen anti-epidemic cooperation; 

  • promote economic recovery; 

  • improve the level of relations; 

  • reach the South China Sea Code of Conduct as soon as possible; 

  • insist on upholding multilateralism; and 

  • jointly promote Asian values

Later in the week, Wang also met (English version) with South Korean Foreign Minister Chung Eui-yong. Wang said that:

“the ‘Indo-Pacific Strategy’ promoted by the United States is full of Cold War mentality and provoking group confrontation, which is not conducive to the overall situation of regional peace, stability and development. China firmly opposes it. As friendly neighbors and strategic partners, China and South Korea should grasp the right and wrong, stick to the correct position, abide by the political consensus, and not be biased into the rhythm.”

He also talked about:

  • China-ROK free trade agreement,

  • cooperation in high-tech and emerging industries, 

  • continuously promote the high-quality integrated development of the two countries

On Korean Peninsula issues, Wang called on the United Nations Security Council to invoke the reversible provisions in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea-related resolutions and ease sanctions against people's livelihoods in the DPRK.

b. Song Tao on Foreign Work: The International Liaison Department of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, People’s Daily and Peking University together held a seminar celebrating 100 years of the Party’s “foreign work.” 

ILD chief Song Tao said that “the party’s external work must accurately understand General Secretary Xi Jinping’s strategic assessment that ‘time and momentum are on our side,’ and must grasp the laws of historical development and the general trend.”  He wants officials to understand the historical position, the external environment China faces, and the mission and tasks it shoulders.

“We should firmly grasp that the Party's foreign work is an important front of the Party, an important part of the country's overall diplomacy, and an important embodiment of the 'triple positioning' of great power diplomacy with Chinese characteristics, and be mindful of the 国之大者 (matters of great significance to the state).” 

A key objective of foreign work for him is that cadres must “strive to maintain an important strategic opportunity period for China's development.”

He added: “Based on the new starting point of the Party’s 100-year history, it is very necessary to systematically summarize the theory and practice of the Party’s foreign work, better grasp the deep laws of interaction, exchange and fellowship among the world’s political parties, better demonstrate the image of the Party and the country through the Party’s foreign work, enhance strategic mutual trust and friendship among countries, optimize the external environment, promote the building of a community of human destiny and join hands to build a better world.” 立足党的百年历史新起点,系统总结党的对外工作理论与实践,更好把握世界政党交往、交流、交心的深层规律,通过党的对外工作更好展示党和国家形象、增进国家间战略互信与友谊、优化外部环境,推动构建人类命运共同体,携手建设更加美好的世界,非常必要,也极为重要.

c. HK Film Censorship: The HKSAR government on Friday said that it would begin blocking the distribution of films that are deemed to undermine national security. The new guidelines apply to both domestically produced and foreign films. SupChina reports that “censors are now directed to: Be ‘vigilant’ to the ‘portrayal, depiction or treatment of any act or activity which may amount to an offence endangering national security,’ including ‘any content of the film which is objectively and reasonably capable of being perceived as endorsing, supporting, promoting, glorifying, encouraging or inciting such act or activity.’ They are also empowered to “block the screening of any film, even irrespective of its content or where it was filmed and produced, if ‘the likely effect of the film as a whole and the likely effect on the persons likely to view the film may endanger national security or the safeguarding of national security’.”

Meanwhile on Saturday, Reuters reported that pro-democracy activist Agnes Chow was released from prison on Saturday after serving nearly seven months for her role in an unauthorised assembly during anti-government protests in the city in 2019. The 24-year-old activist had been convicted together with her long-time activist colleague, Joshua Wong, for their involvement in an illegal rally near police headquarters in the Chinese-ruled city.

Also on the day, Luo Huining, director of the central government’s liaison office in Hong Kong, told a forum with high-level officials, businessmen and lawmakers in attendance that “to advance the cause of one country, two systems, it is imperative to uphold the leadership of the Communist Party of China…The party is the true pioneer, leader, practitioner and defender of the cause of one country, two systems…” He further added: 

those who clamour for ‘an end to one-party rule’, reject the leadership of the party over the cause of one country, two systems, those who attempt to use Hong Kong as a geopolitical pawn to contain China as well as a bridgehead for infiltrating the mainland.” Such forces posed “existential threats to the foundation of one country, two systems…They are the real enemies of Hong Kong’s prosperity and stability.”

d. Af-Pak & ‘Constructive Engagement’: Two interesting developments in regard to China’s Afghan policy and the frictions between China and Japan. First, on June 3, we had the Afghanistan-Pakistan-China foreign ministers’ meeting in Guiyang. The joint statement issued after the meeting said that:

  • The three sides commended the progress made by Afghanistan in the area of connectivity and in carrying out trades through Gwadar Port, and other seaports in the region, and expressed readiness to further tap cooperation potential to raise the level of connectivity among the three countries and in the region.

  • They spoke about “practical cooperation in a flexible way alongside routine COVID control” and implementing “the refrigeration storage and other livelihood facility projects in Afghanistan and Pakistan at an early date.” This informs that these initiatives remain stalled. Also they noted that as a long-term objective, and as the next logical progression in the trilateral cooperation, larger-scale projects in infrastructure and development including railway will also be considered at an opportune time.” Beijing doesn’t sound too optimistic.

  • They agreed to “fight terrorism in all its forms and underscored that it is important to reject ‘double standards’ in counter-terrorism, not let any terrorist organization or individual use their respective territories for activities against other countries, and redouble joint efforts against the ETIM, TTP and Daesh and any other terrorist group.”

Also note that Xinhua’s coverage of the meeting has Wang Yi saying that “the security and stability of Afghanistan and the region are facing new challenges, with foreign troops' withdrawal from Afghanistan accelerated, the peace and reconciliation process in Afghanistan impacted, and armed conflicts and terrorist activities becoming more frequent.” It also talks about the three sides “support(ing) Afghanistan in becoming an independent, sovereign and neutral country” and desiring that it “pursue a moderate Muslim policy” once foreign forces depart.

In this backdrop, we have an interesting piece by Qian Feng, which says that there is “a new trend in China's innovative diplomacy based on the principle is emerging - constructive engagement on hot spot issues in China's neighboring countries.” The piece basically tries to argue that China is using its regional clout with Pakistan, Central Asian states and potentially via the SCO to manage the challenge of Afghanistan. This is, of course, within the context of the self-perception of China as a “major responsible country.”

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