Chinese President Xi Jinping stands by national flags.
Johannes Eisele | AFP | Getty Images
Date: January 13, 2020
Beijing has been forthcoming about its long-term goals and is the “most serious threat” to the U.S., according to a former U.S. national security advisor.
“China has been very clear about what its long-term goals are strategically,” James Jones, who served as NSA under former President Barack Obama, told CNBC’s Hadley Gamble. “We need to take that very seriously.”
One Chinese goal is “total control of their own people using technology,” he said at the Atlantic Council Global Energy Forum in Abu Dhabi on Sunday. “They’re making astonishing progress to control every single citizen, whatever he or she does.”
“They’re giving grades for citizenship, which will affect their jobs you’re going to hold, the travel you can do and everything else,” he added, seeming to refer to China’s social credit system. “Where they’re moving is scary,” he said. “They obviously want to export that to other countries.”
‘Trojan horse effect’
He said Beijing is using a “Trojan horse” strategy to gain influence in “many parts of the world.” [FULL STORY]
Date: January 2, 2020
By: Lindsey O'Donnell
The U.S. Army this week has banned TikTok from government-owned devices as scrutiny over the platform’s relationship with China grows.
With backlash swelling around TikTok’s relationship with China, the United States Army this week announced that U.S. soldiers can no longer have the social media app on government-owned phones.
TikTok, a social media app used to create and share short form videos, is owned by Beijing-based parent company ByteDance. Despite its popularity with users and celebrities – the app touts over 1.3 billion installs worldwide – several incidents over the past year have caused privacy experts to question how data from TikTok is being collected, used and whether it is being censored by China’s government.
On Monday, the U.S. Army, which previously used TikTok as a recruiting tool for reaching younger users, announced it is issuing a ban on the app, according to Military.com, a website that provides news regarding military members and veterans.
The U.S. Army’s ban of TikTok comes after a similar ban was issued by the U.S. Navy earlier this year. The ban follows guidance issued Dec. 16 by the U.S. Department of Defense, which identifies TikTok as having potential security risks associated with its use, a U.S. Army spokesperson told Threatpost.
“The message directs appropriate action for employees to take in order to safeguard their personal information,” the U.S. Army spokesperson said in an email. “The guidance is to be wary of applications you download, monitor your phones for unusual and unsolicited texts etc., and delete them immediately and uninstall TikTok to circumvent any exposure of personal information.” [FULL STORY]
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe shakes hand with Chinese President Xi Jinping. Xi’s planned spring visit to Japan provides an opportunity to contain mutual hostility and expand relations. Photo: DPA
Following our earlier look ahead to 2020, four more commentators offer their predictions for the trends likely to impact the region in the year ahead
South China Morning Post
Date: 29 Dec, 2019
By: EZRA VOGEL, Professor emeritus at Harvard University
Unrest in Hong Kong, tensions between the United States and China over technology and trade, resurgent Hindu nationalism in India, and frictions in the South China Sea are just some of the issues that shaped Asia in 2019.Following our earlier look ahead to 2020, four more commentators, including the editor of This Week in Asia, offer their predictions for the trends likely to impact the region in the year ahead.
Chinese President Xi Jinping announced he plans to visit Japan in 2020 when the “cherry blossoms bloom”. This will be the first visit by a Chinese leader to Japan since the 2008 to 2014 period, when relations between the two reached their lowest point since being normalised in 1972.Chinese attitudes towards Japan had grown worse in the 1990s. After the Tiananmen Square crackdown
in 1989, the Chinese government launched a patriotic education campaign to gain the loyalty of Chinese youth. China produced many World War II movies featuring heroic Chinese fighting against vicious Japanese. In turn, Japanese became angry after they saw film clips of Chinese attacking Japanese-owned stores in China, and the Chinese military threatening the disputed islands known as Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China. Nearly 90 per cent of the public in both countries viewed each other negatively.China and Japan should not see each other as a threat, says Xi24 Dec 2019
From 1895, when Japan won the First Sino-Japanese War, until 2008, Japan enjoyed the upper hand in relations with China. But in 2008, China began to pull ahead after the Lehman shock and the Beijing Olympics. In 2010, the World Bank announced that the size of the Chinese economy had surpassed Japan’s. [FULL STORY]
Among the bogus items were ballistic vests for the US Navy.
Feds say the US military was duped into buying “American-made” equipment from China
By Justin RohrlichDecember 19, 2019
Date: December 19, 2019
By: Justin Rohrlich
A military contractor sold hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of Chinese ballistic vests, helmets, and riot gear to the US government while falsely claiming they were made in America. That’s according to a newly-unsealed criminal complaint obtained by Quartz.
On Tuesday, federal agents arrested Arthur Morgan, the founder and CEO of Virginia-based Surveillance Equipment Group (SEG Inc.), on charges of wire fraud. Investigators say the company’s president, Samuel Jian Chen, also appeared to be involved in the alleged fraud.
SEG has been supplying the federal government with law enforcement and security equipment since 2003. On at least 10 occasions, prosecutors say, Morgan submitted sworn declarations that the products he sold the US government were made in the United States or another authorized country, which would specifically exclude China.
The case comes just six weeks after the federal government accused a New York tech firm of fraudulently providing Chinese-made night vision devices and body cameras to the US military that it similarly claimed were manufactured in the United States. And in September, an 82-year-old arms dealer was arrested for selling “blatantly defective replacement parts for US military weapon systems” to the Pentagon over the course of two decades. A number of those components were reportedly sourced from China as well.
The danger in sourcing equipment from China and elsewhere is that unauthorized, cut-rate items sold to the US government may not meet established quality standards, thus putting US and allied personnel at unnecessary risk. This sort of case is “a far more common phenomenon than we generally acknowledge,” Cedric Leighton, a former US Air Force colonel who now works as a private sector risk consultant, told Quartz. [FULL STORY]
Salmon farms belonging to Hidden Fjord seen from the island of Streymoy with the island of Hestur behind.Credit...Ben Quinton for The New York Times
The Faroe Islands have become perhaps the most unexpected place for the United States and China to tussle over the Chinese tech giant Huawei.
The Ne5w York Times
Date: Dec. 20, 2019
By: Adam Satariano
TORSHAVN, Faroe Islands — The mere existence of the Faroe Islands is a wonder. Tall peaks of snow-patched volcanic rock jut out from the North Atlantic Ocean. Steep cliffs plunge into the deep waters of narrow fjords.
The remote collection of 18 small islands, which sit between Iceland and Norway, is known for a robust puffin population and periodic whale hunts. The semiautonomous Danish territory also has a thriving salmon industry.
Technology is not a common conversation topic among its 50,000 residents. Yet in recent weeks, the Faroe Islands have turned into a new and unlikely battleground in the technological Cold War between the United States and China.
The dispute started because of a contract. The Faroe Islands wanted to build a new ultrafast wireless network with fifth-generation technology, known as 5G. To create that new network, the territory planned to award the job to a technology supplier.
That was when the United States began urging the archipelago nation not to give the contract to a particular company: the Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei. American officials have long said Huawei is beholden to Beijing and poses national security concerns.
Then Chinese officials got involved. A senior Faroe Islands government official was recently caught on tape saying that the Chinese had offered to boost trade between the territory and China — as long as Huawei got the 5G network assignment.
“Commercially, the Faroe Islands cannot be very important to Huawei or anybody else,” Sjurdur Skaale, who represents the territory in the Danish parliament, said over breakfast in the capital of Torshavn this week. “The fact that the Chinese and American embassies are fighting over this as hard they are, there is something else on the table. It is about something else than purely business.”
Sjurdur Skaale, a member of the Danish parliament who represents the Faroe Islands, with the Faroese government buildings behind him.Credit…Ben Quinton for The New York Times
No location is now too small for the United States and China to focus on as they tussle over the future of technology. The Faroe Islands, whose proximity to the arctic gives it added military importance, joins countries across Europe caught in the middle of the two superpowers over Huawei, the crown jewel of the Chinese tech sector.
For more than a year, American officials have applied pressure on Britain, Germany, Poland and others to follow its lead in banning Huawei from new 5G networks. They argue the company can be used by China’s Communist Party to spy or sabotage critical networks. Huawei has denied that it helps Beijing.
But if the European nations side with Washington, they risk harming their economic ties to China, which has a growing appetite for German cars, French airplanes and British pharmaceuticals. [FULL STORY]
China has responded with swift condemnation after the U.S. Congress overwhelmingly approved a bill targeting its mass crackdown on ethnic Muslim minorities. The bill decries what China describes as educational centers and the U.S. says are detention facilities.
Ng Han Guan/AP
NPR (National Public Radio)
Date: December 4, 2019
By: Merrit Kennedy
Chinese officials have expressed outrage after the House passed a bill late Tuesday condemning Beijing's crackdown on China's Muslim Uighur minority.
The bipartisan bill, which passed the House in a 407-1 vote, condemns "gross human rights violations" against the Uighurs and calls for "an end to arbitrary detention, torture, and harassment of these communities inside and outside China."
Beijing has long vociferously objected to any perceived interference in its internal affairs, particularly in sensitive regions such as Tibet and Xinjiang, a restive region in China's west where the vast majority of the Uighurs live.
"The U.S. attempts to sow discord among various ethnic groups in China … and contain China's growth," Hua Chunying, a spokesperson for China's Foreign Ministry, said in a statement. "But its attempt will never succeed."
The bill, which now goes to the Senate where passage seems certain, could further complicate movement toward a deal with China to end the ongoing trade war with Washington.
It comes close on the heels of yet another bipartisan measure, signed by President Trump last week, that supports Hong Kong's five-month-old pro-democracy movement and requires the State Department to conduct an annual review to ensure that the territory's autonomous political structure is maintained as a condition for continuing favorable U.S.-China trade relations.
That law, which also allows the U.S. to impose sanctions on people responsible for human rights violations in Hong Kong, was likewise sharply rebuked by Chinese authorities.
The measure passed Tuesday states that since 2014, Chinese authorities have detained some 800,000 Uighurs and other ethnic minorities and subjected them to brutal conditions.
It also calls on President Trump to take action to sanction senior Chinese officials involved in the abuses in Xinjiang. The measure also calls for imposing export restrictions on technologies used to surveil the minority populations. [FULL STORY]
Soldiers of the People’s Liberation Army march during a parade to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the People’s Republic of China at Tiananmen Square on October 1, 2019 in Beijing, China.
Fu Tian | China News Service | Visual China Group | Getty Images
Date: Mon, Dec 2 2019
By: Holly Ellyatt
NATO’s secretary general insisted that the military alliance did not want to “create new adversaries.”
Jens Stoltenberg said that “as long as NATO allies stand together, we are strong and we are safe.”
The South China Sea is an area that is subject to various territorial disputes between China and other nations who claim sovereignty to some or all of the islands in the region.
LONDON — NATO’s secretary general said the alliance needs to address the challenges and opportunities posed by an increasingly powerful China, but added that his 29-member defense organization does not want to make an enemy out of Beijing.
“What we see is that the rising power of China is shifting the global balance of power and the rises of China — the economic rise, the military rise — provides some opportunities but also some serious challenges,” Jens Stoltenberg told CNBC’s Hadley Gamble in London on Monday.
He said that while NATO would not get involved in an area like the South China Sea, China was engaging in economic and military projects closer to Europe.
The South China Sea is an area that is subject to various territorial disputes between China and other nations who claim sovereignty to some or all of the islands in the region.
“There’s no way that NATO will move into the South China Sea but we have to address the fact that China is coming closer to us, investing heavily in infrastructure,” Stoltenberg said.
“We see them in Africa, we see them in the Arctic, we see them in cyber space and China now has the second-largest defense budget in the world.” [FULL STORY]
The biggest country in the world is tired of being “badmouthed.”
Date: December 2, 2019
By: Ben Smith, BuzzFeed News Editor-in-Chief
BEIJING — The most interesting diplomat in the world these days may well be Zhao Lijian, the combative, bombastic, frankly Trumpy voice of the People’s Republic of China on Twitter.
Zhao was in fine form this Thanksgiving weekend, offering an eight-part tweetstorm on American racism, tweeting at one point that the US was merely suffering from “replacement anxiety” at China’s unstoppable rise (he deleted that one), then mocking the US president:
Out of respect for President Trump, US & its people, on the occasion of thanksgiving day, I pay special thanks to US for squandering trillions of dollars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria…
China has long claimed that America is a thief crying “stop thief” when it comes to human rights (China releases an annual human rights report on the US). Now that whattaboutist argument is meeting the American political conversation where it lives — on Twitter.
American leaders and opinion-makers have long preferred to devote attention to smaller and easier problems (the Middle East, NATO, really anything!) than the rise of a massive strategic rival with a population of 1.4 billion. Zhao’s 55,000-and-counting tweets make that a little harder — as will what he’s been retweeting this morning: The Chinese Foreign Ministry just joined Twitter, over @mfa_china.
I’ve been following Zhao since he achieved a measure of global fame in July, when he responded to global condemnation of China’s internment of its Muslim citizens with a blunt attack on American racism.
The tweet provoked heated condemnation from the US political elite, including former national security adviser Susan Rice, and he deleted it — but then followed up with an article noting Washington’s racial segregation. It was a familiar kind of rhetoric, a standard Chinese strategy with echoes from another era: Like China, the Soviet Union regularly criticized — and covertly sought to exacerbate — American racism and racial conflict. And at a moment of profound internal division in the US, it’s an effective one, hitting directly at a raw nerve rather than engaging criticism of China. [FULL STORY]
Hong Kong (CNN)China will ban US warships and military aircraft from making stops in Hong Kong in the wake of Washington passing legislation supporting the territory's pro-democracy protesters, the country's Foreign Ministry said Monday.
"In response to the unreasonable behaviors of the US side, the Chinese government decides to suspend the review of requests by US military ships and aircraft to visit Hong Kong as of today," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said at a news conference in Beijing.
Hua also announced that Beijing would impose sanctions on several US non-governmental human rights organizations that have been monitoring and reporting on the protests in Hong Kong.
US President Donald Trump last week signed the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act into law after it sailed through both Houses of the US Congress with almost unanimous bipartisan approval.
The new law would permit Washington to impose sanctions or even suspend Hong Kong's special trading status over rights violations.
The USS Blue Ridge, the flagship of the US Navy's 7th Fleet, makes a port call in Hong Kong in April 2019.
Shortly after the bill was signed into law, China's Foreign Ministry accused the US of "bullying behavior," "disregarding the facts" and "publicly supporting violent criminals."
On Monday it took more concrete action, banning consideration of visits by US warships to one of their longtime ports of call in Asia and a favorite spot for those aboard to get rest and relaxation after long periods at sea.
Just over a year ago, the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan and ships in its strike group carried some 7,000 personnel into Hong Kong in what at the time was seen as an easing of tensions between Washington and Beijing over China's military buildup in the South China Sea. That visit came after China had denied a similar port call earlier in 2018.
Since the Reagan visit, the amphibious command ship USS Blue Ridge, the flagship of the US Seventh Fleet, and the US Coast Guard Cutter Bertholf have made notable stops in Hong Kong, both in April.
But in August, while protests were heating up in the city, China rejected scheduled visits by the amphibious transport dock USS Green Bay and the guided-missile cruiser USS Lake Erie. [FULL STORY]
A guard watchtower at an internment centre in Dabancheng in Xinjiang Photograph: Thomas Peter/Reuters
State-run Global Times suggests visa restrictions are coming and that Hong Kong-related sanctions are just the beginning
Date: 3 Dec 2019
By: Lily Kuo in Beijing
US diplomats may soon be barred from entering Xinjiang, the far north-western Chinese region where more than a million Uighurs and other Muslim minorities are believed to be detained in internment camps.
Hu Xijin, editor of the state-run Global Times, said Beijing was considering banning all US diplomatic passport holders from entering Xinjiang in retaliation for US legislation that would punish Chinese officials for human rights abuses.
Hu, who did not cite where his information came from, said China was also considering imposing visa restrictions on US officials and lawmakers for their “odious performance on Xinjiang issue”.
'Allow no escapes': leak exposes reality of China's vast prison camp network
The leak of a cache of classified government documents seen by the Guardian, which details the use of detention camps in Xinjiang, has put more pressure on Beijing. US lawmakers are preparing a bill, passed by the Senate in September, that would put sanctions on Chinese officials and bar the export of US goods and services to government entities in Xinjiang.
Recent US criticisms of Chinese policies in Xinjiang as well as Hong Kong, where the local government has repeatedly tried to put down anti-government protests, have exacerbated already worsening ties. The two sides are attempting to negotiate an end to a trade war that has lasted more than a year. [FULL STORY]