Chinese President Xi Jinping’s remarks at the opening session of the 20th Communist Party of China’s National Congress demonstrated that Xi is confidently preparing his country for conflict with the United States and Taiwan. His speech included threats to the West and Taiwan, and assertions that Hong Kong and Macao were firmly under China’s control.
Veiled Threats to the West
Xi’s speech had several veiled references that are preparing the Chinese people for a conflict with the West. Xi ominously warned CCP cadres to “be more mindful of potential dangers, be prepared to deal with worst-case scenarios, and be ready to withstand high winds, choppy waters, and even dangerous storms.” Xi also mentioned that China “cannot be swayed by fallacies, deterred by intimidation, or cowed by pressure.” In not-so-veiled propaganda against the United States, Xi stated that “China stands firmly against all forms of hegemonism and power politics, the Cold War mentality, interference in other countries’ internal affairs, and double standards.”
China Owns Taiwan’s Fate, By Force if Necessary
Xi’s words on Taiwan were more specific. First, Xi signaled that one of his main objectives is for the Chinese takeover of the island. Xi stated that “[t]he wheels of history are rolling on toward China’s reunification [with Taiwan] and the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation. Complete reunification of our country must be realized, and it can, without a doubt, be realized.” Xi also remarked that “resolving the Taiwan question is a matter for the Chinese people, a matter that must be resolved by the Chinese people.” According to Global Times, this reference to Taiwan indicates that Xi views Taiwan as an issue of domestic, not foreign affairs.
And on the details of this “reunification” with Taiwan, Xi stated that China is prepared to use force. Specifically, Xi stated that “[China] will continue to strive for peaceful reunification with the greatest sincerity and utmost effort, but we will never promise to renounce the use of force, and we reserve the option of taking all measures necessary.”
Zhang Wensheng, a deputy dean of the Taiwan Research Institute at Xiamen University, noted that Xi’s comments on Taiwan serve “as a fresh warning to outside forces and the few separatists seeking ‘Taiwan independence,’” as well as to “outside forces.” This echoed similar comments by Sun Yeli, spokesperson for the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, who commented that while peaceful reunification with Taiwan is China’s first choice, China will resort to non-peaceful means to combat against “external influence” and “separatist activities.” Sun added that such forces “will plunge Taiwan into the abyss of disaster, and bring profound and heavy tragedies for Taiwan compatriots,” and that, as cited by Global Times, “no party, and no force should underestimate our strong determination, firm will and powerful strength to safeguard national sovereignty and territorial integrity.” Wang Jianmin, a senior cross-Straits expert at Minnan Normal University, also stated that if external forces continued to interfere in the Taiwan issue, this would “force the Chinese government to take non-peaceful means.”
Hong Kong and Macao Remain Firmly Under China’s Control
As usual, any autonomy that Xi promised to Hong Kong and Macao is a mirage. While Xi stated that Hong Kong and Macao will be “administer[ed]” by their own people, with a “high degree of autonomy,” Xi alsowarned that “[w]e will remain committed to law-based governance in Hong Kong and Macao,” that the “central government exercises overall jurisdiction over the two regions, and that Hong Kong and Macao are administered by patriots.” The fact that the Chinese government has the final say, and that these two cities are “administered by patriots” means that China has total control, and that there is no autonomy.
Xi also continued to whitewash China’s brutal suppression of Hong Kong. Xi dismissed the Hong Kong democratic protests as “turbulent changes,” and praised China’s suppression of those protests as China “effectively exercis[ing] full control […] and implement[ing] the principal of patriots ruling Hong Kong, resulting in a major turnaround in the situation in Hong Kong from chaos to governance.”
Xi used the 20th Communist Party of China’s National Congress to telegraph his game plan for Chinese relations with Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macao, and the West. The speech shows that Xi is readily embracing increased conflict with the West and Taiwan, and the continued suppression of Hong Kong and Macao.
You can follow Steve Postal on Twitter @HebraicMosaic
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China Expands Charm Offensive in Southeast Asia to Squeeze out U.S.
Similar to what is happening in the Pacific, the US is facing a significant uphill battle to balance China’s rise in Southeast Asia. During the recent G20 and ASEAN summits in Indonesia and Cambodia, the Chinese Community Party (CCP) media upped its propaganda war against the United States over Southeast Asia. Outlets like Global Times and Xinhua claim that China’s interests in Southeast Asia are focused on mutual benefits, while the US is a malicious force in the region. The CCP press also claims that China is generously giving robust and purposeful aid to the Southeast Asian countries, while the US is neglecting them.
Claim #1: China’s Interest in Southeast Asia is Peaceful and Mutually Beneficial
China’s approach to Southeast Asia is benevolent and focused on mutual benefits, according to the CCP-run press. “China’s goal is to achieve a truly prosperous and peaceful ASEAN,” and “doesn’t interfere in ASEAN members’ internal affairs,” according to Global Times. “China focuses on pragmatic issues, such as promoting infrastructure construction, living standards, which are needed in those countries,” and “China is seeking a cooperative path toward common development,” according to another Global Times article. That same article quoted Chinese Premier Li Keqiang as stating that China and the ASEAN countries “are good neighbors who will always be there for each other…”
One country that is particularly thankful for growing Chinese influence, according to the CCP press, is Indonesia. Indonesians want China to “lead…the world to a more peaceful and prosperous future,” and view Chinese President Xi Jinping “with an apparent sense of affability and affection,” according to Global Times. Marzuki Alie, former speaker of the People’s Representative Council of Indonesia, praised China as “becom[ing] essential in improving global governance,” and that “the visionary concept of building a human community with a shared future proposed by Chinese President Xi Jinping shows China is willing to work with other countries to create a peaceful and secure world with openness and inclusiveness,” according to Xinhua. And perhaps the most perplexing aspect of China’s “benevolence” in Indonesia is the “Peace Ark” – a hospital ship that has recently docked in Indonesia, but that is also a navy ship run by China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA), according to Global Times.
Malaysia has a favorable view of China as well, according to the CCP press. Koh King Kee, president of Center for New Inclusive Asia, a Malaysian think tank, stated that “China is the backbone of the global supply chain and acts as a ballast stone of the global economy in times of uncertainty,” according to Xinhua.
And in response to US concerns over rising Chinese influence in Cambodia’s Ream Naval Base, Chinese Ambassador to Cambodia Wang Wentian dismisses the base as not targeting any third party, according to Global Times. Cambodia’s Minister of National Defense Tea Banh further claimed that the Chinese involvement in that base is benevolent, stating that the base helps Cambodia “in cooperating with friendly countries and help[ing to] maintain regional peace, stability and prosperity,” according to that same article.
Claim #2: The US’ Interest in Southeast Asia is Manipulative, Malevolent
In contrast to China’s benevolence, the United States “only wants [ASEAN] to serve as its pawn to counter China, and to fulfill its own hegemony goal, according to Global Times. At the G20 conference in Bali, the US takes a “hegemonic, unilateral and protectionist approach,” and “is preaching war and confrontation,” according to that same article.
The US and the West are merely using the G20 summit in Bali “to advance their own geopolitical agenda against Russia, therefore preventing the crucial meeting from tackling serious economic issues,” according to another Global Times article. “Such a geopolitical focus “will worsen this uncertain and unstable world,” according to Veronika S. Saraswati, China Study Unit Convener at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies Indonesia.
According to another Global Times article, the US is using ASEAN “to drive a wedge between China and Southeast Asian nations in the future,” is attempting to “rope in the region via political, security, and value-oriented agendas,” and is trying “to buy off” Southeast Asian countries “by pledging to spend certain amount[s] of money.”
Claim #3: China gives Robust, Targeted Aid to Southeast Asia
CCP media taunts the extensive aid that China is giving to Southeast Asian countries. China has pledged $1.5 billion in “development assistance” to ASEAN countries in November 2021, and Chinese-ASEAN trade was about $878 billion in 2021, according to Global Times. Chinese Premier Li Keqiang claims that of the 160 “cooperation initiatives” that China has suggested with the ASEAN countries in the previous 10 years, over 99.5 percent of them have been implemented, as reported by another Global Times article.
Li also stated that China is planning to build emergency storage for medical supplies and rise within the ASEAN Plus Three (China, Japan and South Korea) framework, according to Global Times.
Chinese state-run media is particularly touting China’s Belt and Road investments in Southeast Asia, particularly in Indonesia and Laos. According to Global Times, the Jakarta-Bandung high speed railway will be operational in June 2023, and as a “flagship project of China-Indonesia cooperation under the Belt and Road Initiative,” will be the first high speed train in Southeast Asia, according to Xinhua. China’s ambassador to Indonesia praised the project, claiming that the railway “will greatly reduce traffic jams, make travel more convenient for local people, improve local investment environment, boost businesses and tourism along the route, and accelerate the building of a high speed railway economic corridor.” The ambassador also mentioned that existing Belt and Road initiatives with Indonesia like the Indonesia Morowali Industrial Park and the PT Virtue Dragon Nickel Industry Park, “have generated tax incomes, job opportunities and foreign exchange earnings, and provided Indonesia with opportunities for greater participation in global industrial chains of stainless steel and new energy.”
Claim #4: US Investment Lags Behind China
On the other hand, the CCP media claims that the US is lagging far behind Chinese investments in Southeast Asia. President Biden’s newly announced “Comprehensive Strategic Partnership” with the ASEAN countries “…looks more like a symbolic act. The US is playing the catch-up game with China,” according to Koh King Kee, president of a Malaysian think tank, according to Global Times.
US and ASEAN trade, at $441 million in 2021, was almost half that of Chinese investment for that same time, according to Global Times. President Biden pledged to ask Congress for $850 million in aid for electric vehicles and clean energy to ASEAN countries, but this amount is “symbolic” and a “mere ‘drop in the bucket’,” according to Global Times. In May, Biden “announced a $150 million development and security package” for the ASEAN countries according to that same article, which pales in comparison to the amounts in aid that China claims it is giving those same countries.
According to Global Times, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang mentioned that US investment in ASEAN is “a drop in the bucket if compared to US support for Ukraine” during the Biden administration, which Global Times claims is “over $18.9 billion in security assistance.”
CCP media is waging a charm offensive targeting Southeast Asia. While China is investing heavily in these countries, the US has yet to devise a credible counter to such influence.
You can follow Steve Postal on @HebraicMosaic
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