Asia Communique — Week 25

US-China talks in Alaska — How China views Quadrilateral Security Dialogue

US-China talks off to rocky start

The much anticipated US-China summit was off to a rocky start on Thursday as both sides exchanged rebuke.

“The United States should stop its interference in China's internal affairs, and avoid confrontation between the two major countries, said a senior Chinese official here on Thursday”, reported People’s Daily.

From the Chinese side, State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Director of the CCP Central Foreign Affairs Commission Yang Jiechi were present for the summit in Anchorage, Alaska. Secretary of State Antony Blinken represented the US, and National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan was present.

You can watch the one-hour-long recording of the Thursday meeting between the US and Chinese delegation.

Communist Party’s official mouthpiece, People’s Daily, is only used for topics that are close to the party’s heart. People’s Daily reported extensively about the summit in Alaska, posting news and commentary on Weibo and Twitter.

People’s Daily drew a comparison between the 1901 signing of the Boxer Protocol and Alaska's meeting. The Communist Party mouthpiece attempted to harken back to the century of humiliation at Western countries' hands.

The Chinese side wasn’t happy about the US’s decision to impose sanctions on 24 Chinese and Hong Kong officials right before the Alaska meeting.

“Washington has sanctioned 24 Chinese and Hong Kong officials over Beijing's ongoing crackdown on the city, ahead of US Secretary of State Antony Blinken's meeting with top Chinese diplomats in Alaska later this week.s over Beijing's ongoing crackdown on the city, ahead of US Secretary of State Antony Blinken's meeting with top Chinese diplomats in Alaska later this week” reported CNN.

The hashtag “Yang Jiechi had instant noodles for lunch” was the third trend on Baidu.

“Yang Jiechi: The United States is not qualified to speak to China from a condescending position,” said a headline in People’s Daily.

“Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Xinjiang are all inalienable parts of China’s territory, and China firmly opposes US interference in China’s internal affairs. And will continue to make a firm response. The United States does not have the right to speak condescendingly with China, and the Chinese do not like this,” reported People’s Daily summarising Yang Jiechi’s remarks.

Chinese state media and internet censors were busy trying to spin a different narrative. “High-level Sino-US Dialogue: The US's opening remarks were seriously overtime” was the number one trend Baidu.

I did count the time taken by the Chinese side and the US side. Yang Jiechi spoke for 16:14, and Wang Yi spoke for approximately 8 minutes during the opening session. Antony Blinken spoke for 2:27 minutes, and Jake Sullivan spoke for 2:17 minutes.

Chinese Foreign Ministry and state media are misrepresenting what went down. The false claim of “overtime” by the US side was repeated multiple times on Chinese social media channels — and was probably meant for the domestic audience.

In reality, the remarks by Yang Jiechi and Wang Yi were over the assigned time. Yang Jiechi’s remarks went on for over eight minutes.

“Sino-US High-Level Strategic Dialogue” is the number one trend on Twitter-like Weibo.

Communist Youth League of China produced and shared a video that shows cartoon-like characters which represents the Chinese and the US side exchanging heated arguments during the meeting.

“The Chinese delegation went to Anchorage for the strategic dialogue with sincerity, fully prepared to engage in dialogue with the US according to the protocols and arrangements agreed on beforehand. However, as the US side first delivered opening remarks, they exceeded the set time limit severely and wantonly attacked and criticized China's domestic and foreign policies, provoking disagreements. These are hardly good host manners or proper diplomatic etiquette. The Chinese side has made a solemn response.

As to your other questions, the Chinese side has also made clear its position in the readout. It is because the US side failed to keep to the set time limit and provoked disagreements first that the opening statements were fiery and theatrical, which is not what China wishes to see,” said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian about the Alaska Summit.

How China views Quadrilateral Dialogue

The leaders of countries participating in the Quadrilateral Dialogue agreed to issue a joint statement.

‘It is worth noting that the tone of this conference, which is widely considered to be aimed at China, dropped when it was put into writing after the conference. No matter the joint statement after the meeting or the briefing issued by the White House, the word "China" should be avoided directly. According to foreign media analysis, it is obvious that "the four countries avoid directly listing China as the focus”, but “no one will doubt what the purpose of this meeting is,”’ reported a Chinese state media outlet.

In 2018 Wang Yi had said that talk of the Quad and an “Indo-Pacific” region might be attention-grabbing, but the grouping would dissipate “like sea foam.”

“In the future, it will be worth observing whether the Quad will evolve into an "Asian version of NATO" and establish a military alliance against China. In Europe, NATO mainly deals with Russia. The Asia Pacific region does not have conditions similar to Europe, and the relationship between China and its neighbouring countries is also different. It is difficult for the United States to establish a military alliance against China, but we should not take it lightly” said Wang Yong, Director of Peking University Center for American Studies, in an article about Quad.

“We hope relevant countries will follow the principles of openness, inclusiveness and win-win results, refrain from forming closed and exclusive "cliques" and act in a way that is conducive to regional peace, stability and prosperity,” said Zhao Lijian about the Quad.

China investigates another “hero slandering” case

“According to a report issued by Haidian District Public Security Bureau in Beijing on March 15, Pan, a 30-year-old Sina Weibo user, was reported to have published rumours on the platform on June 23 last year to defame heroes and martyrs safeguarding China's border areas, who have been widely reported in China, giving rise to negative social impact,” said PLA’s media department.

There is some speculation on Weibo and Chinese blogs that this individual names Pan is the son of Chinese entrepreneur Pan Shiyi.

Don’t Miss Out

“Ukraine will halt the takeover of an aircraft-engine maker by a Chinese company, responding to U.S. objections over the prospect of important military technology falling into Beijing’s hands.

Kyiv plans to return Motor Sich to Ukrainian control, ending efforts by Beijing Skyrizon Aviation to take management of the company, following a yearslong battle over the manufacturer’s fate” reported Caixin Global.

“Xiaomi is expected to consolidate its position as the third-largest smartphone seller globally this year, largely benefiting from the decline of Huawei, which started suffering a sharp contraction in sales from the second half of last year as a result of component shortages caused by the US sanctions, according to Strategy Analytics” reported Caixin.

“China’s government is restricting the use of Tesla Inc’s TSLA vehicles by personnel at military, state-owned enterprises in sensitive industries and key agencies, citing concerns that the American electric-vehicle maker’s cars could be a source of national security leaks, according to people familiar with the effort” reported Wall Street Journal.

“China’s government has asked Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. to dispose of its media assets, as officials grow more concerned about the technology giant’s sway over public opinion in the country, according to people familiar with the matter” reported Wall Street Journal.

Jack Ma has a roughly $3.5 billion stake in Weibo and a $2.6 billion stake in Bilibili. Those two platforms alone are the most powerful tools of propaganda in China -- especially for the young audience. It will be interesting to watch what will Jack Ma get to keep.

Hearing on "U.S. Investment in China's Capital Markets and Military-Industrial Complex" — US-China Commission

Movers and Shakers

U.S.-Chinese Rivalry Is a Battle Over Values — Foreign Affairs

America’s Indo-Pacific Folly — Foreign Affairs

Will Biden’s Approach to China and Russia Work? — Foreign Policy

The Decay of Indian Democracy — Foreign Affairs

PodWorld

What does the Quad summit signal for U.S. engagement in the Indo-Pacific? — Carnegie Endowment

Business Street

China's Didi Chuxing is eyeing a mega-IPO next quarter that values the ride-hailing service above $62 billion; report says — Business Insider

Upcoming Watch

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov will be in Beijing from March 22-23.

US Secretary of Defence Llyod Austin will be in New Delhi for a three-day visit.