Asia Communique

Xi’s Tibet visit and Blinken in Delhi — India and China hold 12th round of border talks — China's education sector crackdown — CCTV Military Reports

Apologies for dropping the last two editions of Asia Communique. Due to unavoidable conflicts on my schedule, I wasn’t able to get to finishing up the last two editions.

I have been busy writing columns and reporting for The Print — among other things.

Read the columns and reporting here:

National security or China Inc? Xi is cracking down on global dreams of homegrown companies — The Print

Foreign journalists in China targeted again, this time over Henan floods — The Print

Xi makes first official visit to Lhasa, reminds Tibetans about following Communist Party — The Print

Xi’s Tibet visit and Blinken in Delhi

All major news outlets widely covered Xi Jinping’s visit to Tibet. I have reported about the visit for The Print.

On July 21, Xi Jinping landed in Nyingchi and stayed overnight before departing for Lhasa sometime on July 22. I will spare you from summarizing all the major aspects of Xi’s visit to Lhasa as you have probably read all about it in the news.

Xi Jinping’s visit to Lhasa and Nyingchi was described as an “inspection” trip. The tone of Xi Jinping’s visit was focused on poverty alleviation and development projects such as the Sichuan-Tibet railway project. Xi Jinping didn’t mention Dalai Lama or “separatist clique” as he had during his 2011. The omission wasn’t a mistake, and there is an intention behind building a narrative that Tibet and its “development” is moving over under the Chinese Communist Party. But there remains a large portion of the Tibetans inside Tibet who haven’t accepted the China-appointed Panchen Lama or any other China-created religious institutions. Xi Jinping was greeted by dancing “locals” Nyingchi, which appears to have been orchestrated. Similarly, Xi’s visit to Lhasa was closely orchestrated and planned, with only a few officials aware of the visit.

“Some Tibetan sources, who wish to remain anonymous, hope he is the reincarnation of his father Xi Zhongxun, who is said to be fond of the DalaiLama,” said Bhuchung Tsering of International Campaign for Tibet. There are signs that China has plans to intervene in the religious life in Tibet because the pure development led work over 70 years has not led to the expected outcomes.

Recently, China-appointed Panchen Lama was in Sichuan and Gansu for the tour, but sources tell me his trip didn’t go well. China has appointed some monks inside monasteries who are CCP party members to promote 学习 (study/learning) of “socialism with Chinese characteristics”. It’s not exactly working out.

“The Deputy Secretary raised concerns in private – as we have in public – about a range of PRC actions that run counter to our values and interests and those of our allies and partners, and that undermine the international rules-based order. In particular, she raised our concerns about human rights, including Beijing’s anti-democratic crackdown in Hong Kong, the ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang, abuses in Tibet, and the curtailing of media access and freedom of the press. She also spoke about our concerns about Beijing’s conduct in cyberspace, across the Taiwan Strait, and in the East and South China Seas,” said a readout by the US State Department.

“Xi Jinping, general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, has called for resolute will and determination to work hard in a down-to-earth way to achieve the goals set for the centenary of the People's Liberation Army (PLA)” reported Xinhua.

“We must persist in leading the construction by war, strengthen the overall planning of war and construction, prepare for military struggle, and form a good situation in which war, construction, and preparation are integrated”, reported Xinhua.

PLA marked its 94th anniversary on Sunday.

“Xi, also Chinese president and chairman of the Central Military Commission, made the remarks on Friday when addressing a group study session of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee”

“U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken met a representative of the Dalai Lama in New Delhi on Wednesday, a move likely to anger Beijing which considers the Tibetan spiritual leader a ‘dangerous separatist’” reported Reuters.

“Blinken met briefly with Ngodup Dongcheng, who presented him with a scarf from the Dalai Lama, a senior State Department official said”, Reuters added. Currently, Ngodup Dongcheng is the representative of His Holiness Dalai Lama in New Delhi.

Blinken also met Geshe Dorji Damdul, Director, Tibet House, during a civil society dialogue on 28 July.

“Any form of contact between the U.S. side and the Dalai clique is a violation of the U.S. commitment to acknowledging Tibet being part of China, to not supporting 'Tibetan Independence', and to not supporting attempts to separate China,” Zhao Lijian said in a statement.

India and China hold 12th round of border talks

India and China held the 12th round of talks to resolve their border dispute in Moldo on the Chinese side of the LAC. The meeting started at 10:30 am and ended at 7:30 pm. The meeting didn’t last as long as the previous meetings. We can safely say that there was no breakthrough during the meeting. A statement was awaited on Monday.

“Top Indian and Chinese commanders on Saturday met in the Ladakh sector in the latest attempt to reduce border tensions between the two countries amid growing hopes in some quarters of reaching an understanding on the disengagement of rival soldiers from Hot Springs and Gogra on the contested Line of Actual Control (LAC)” reported The Hindustan Times.

On Sunday, the Indian Army issued a statement which said, “hotline was established between Indian Army in Kongra La, North Sikkim, and the PLA at Khamba Dzong in Tibetan Autonomous Region to further the spirit of trust and cordial relations along the borders”. The statement highlighted the hotline was established on the occasion of the PLA anniversary on 1 August.

“The ‘shrimp’ has acquired a bitter political taste in the troubled waters of the India-China relationship. Both sides are headed for a major diplomatic showdown over China turning down Indian shrimps, alleging that the packaging carried the Covid-19 virus. India has protested, saying the allegations have no “scientific basis”, nor has China shared test reports,” reported Economic Times.

Education sector crackdown in China

China’s crackdown on the education sector is the latest regulatory action that has sent ripples across the financial markets. Investors have lost as much as 1 trillion dollars in the sell-off so far, which continues to grow. China has a large private tutoring market with companies providing edutech solutions for all age groups. The party seems to be unhappy about the privatization of the education sector.

“In Huangshan city of eastern Anhui province, police raided an underground tutoring centre where a local middle school teacher provided services to students”, reported SCMP.

New Oriental Education is the company that has suffered the most because of the latest crackdown.

“Education billionaire Yu appeared to have fallen out of the billionaire ranks, according to a Bloomberg tally on Monday, after his stake in New Oriental shed $870 million in value following a 61% plunge in the company’s shares” reported Quartz.

“New Oriental Education & Technology Group Inc. has fallen roughly 66% since July 22 and was at $2.24 Friday morning,” reported WSJ.

COVID-19 cases and Henan floods

The province of Henan suffered from extreme weather conditions resulting from the floods.

“The worst rainfall to hit China in 1,000 years also brought a storm of conspiracy theories and targeted attacks on foreign journalists. The flooding in Henan province in central China, which has killed at least 69 people so far, ignited a social media backlash against some foreign journalists based in the country. At the same time, a few academics used the tragedy to level allegations against the United States” I wrote for The Print recently.

“Spikes in coronavirus cases have prompted a flood-hit Chinese city to start mass testing and a popular tourist destination to cut traffic to try to contain the spread of the deadly disease. Less than a fortnight after it was hit by floods, Zhengzhou, the capital of the central province of Henan, is battling a crop of Covid-19 cases at one of its hospitals. Zhengzhou reported 12 local confirmed cases and 20 asymptomatic cases on Saturday,  after its first asymptomatic case report on Friday”

Nanjing is the heart of the new COVID-19 outbreak.

“A Covid outbreak first discovered in the Chinese city of Nanjing has spread to five provinces and Beijing, with state media calling it the most extensive contagion after Wuhan. Almost 200 people have been infected since the virus was first detected at the city's busy airport on 20 July. According to local media, all flights from Nanjing airport will be suspended until 11 August,” reported BBC News.

“Nanjing, capital of east China's Jiangsu Province, reported six new locally transmitted confirmed cases of COVID-19 on Friday after it launched the third round of citywide nucleic acid testing on Wednesday, local authorities said Saturday”, reported Xinhua.

CCTV Military Reports

The flow of reports related to LAC has slowed down in the past few weeks. There were some reports on the 1st August PLA anniversary.

[military report] all units of the whole army celebrate the "August 1" army building day in various forms — CCTV

The “August 1st Medal” marking the 94th anniversary of PLA was awarded to Wang Zhongxin, a retired major of the PLA Rocket Force. Wang Zhongxin retired on May 15, 2020. “He is proficient in the operation skills of various types of missile weapons. He is proficient in 19 missile positions and completed more than 30 major tasks,” reported People’s Daily about the award. Washington Post and NYT recently reported about two sets of missile silos. There may be some connection between the two stories.

Don’t Miss Out

“China’s new ambassador to the United States arrived in Washington on Wednesday — Qin Gang, a diplomat whose record of vigorously contesting Western criticism suggests that Beijing is steeling for extended tensions with Washington”, reported NYT.

A new investigation by Robert Barnett and others highlights that China uses concepts such as Beyul to convince Tibetan herders to protect disputed Himalayan territories as Chinese territory.

‘On the one hand, he told them the Beyul was Chinese territory, and it was their duty to guard it; on the other hand, he told them his career (and, by implication, the family’s prospects) would be at stake if they disagreed: “You are my closest relatives. How can I lead other folks if you don’t support my job?” After two weeks, Kunsang Tenzin’s four relatives finally agreed to move to the Beyul. Their purpose, as described by Chinese journalists years later, was “to protect the pastures of our ancestors and the territory of the motherland”,’ says an investigation published by Foreign Policy Magazine.

China Is Using Tibetans as Agents of Empire in the Himalayas — Foreign Policy

“A plan by the world's largest contract chipmaker, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC), to expand production in its plant in China's Nanjing City has been approved by the Investment Commission under Taiwan's Ministry of Economic Affairs”, reported Focus Taiwan

“In the barren desert 1,200 miles west of Beijing, the Chinese government is digging a new field of what appears to be 110 silos for launching nuclear missiles. It is the second such field discovered by analysts studying commercial satellite images in recent weeks,” reported NYT. This is the second cluster of silos discovered with the help of commercial satellite imagery. The previous cluster was discovered in Yemen.

Chinese Communist Youth League posted on Weibo, saying that the silos are wind turbines under construction. The claim was made in the past by several other prominent Chinese netizens.

“A preponderance of evidence proves the virus that caused the COVID-19 pandemic leaked from a Chinese research facility said a report by U.S. Republicans released on Monday, a conclusion that U.S. intelligence agencies have not reached”, reported Reuters.

Movers and Shakers

China Discovers the Limits of Its Power — Michael Schuman

Why China Is Cracking Down on Private Tutoring — James Palmer

China’s Sputnik Moment? — Foreign Affairs

Off Track Reads

How Yunnan Became China’s Immigration Frontline — Sixth Tone