Asia Communique — Week 30

Xi's 'new type of international relations' — India's COVID crisis — Myanmar at ASEAN meeting

China will promote ‘new type of international relations’, says Xi Jinping

Boao Forum For Asia is an annual conference that is a forum modelled on the World Economic Forum, which focuses on global governance in the Asian context. The forum is named after the coastal town Bo’ao in Hainan Province.

“One or a few countries shouldn’t impose their rules on others, and the world shouldn’t be led on by the unilateralism of a few countries,” said Xi Jinping at Boao Forum without mentioning the name of the US.

“China will stay committed to peace, development, cooperation and mutual benefit, develop friendship and cooperation with other countries on the basis of the Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence, and promote a new type of international relations”, added Xi Jinping.

Xi’s rhetoric around a new type of international relations isn’t new itself. China has always wanted a more “China-friendly” and United Nations driven international relations environment.

Full text: Xi Jinping's speech via video link at Boao Forum for Asia (BFA) Annual Conference 2021 — CGTN.

“However strong it may grow, China will never seek hegemony, expansion, or a sphere of influence. Nor will China ever engage in an arms race. China will take an active part in multilateral cooperation on trade and investment, fully implement the Foreign Investment Law and its supporting rules and regulations, cut further the negative list on foreign investment, continue to develop the Hainan Free Trade Port, and develop new systems for a higher-standard open economy. All are welcome to share in the vast opportunities of the Chinese market,” said Xi Jinping.

“China’s central bank digital currency will not have a major impact on global financial markets as its use in cross-border payments is currently found mainly in small retail operations, Zhou Xiaochuan, former governor of the People’s Bank of China (PBOC), said on Wednesday at the annual Boao Forum for Asia” reported Caixin.

China has introduced a new anti-espionage regulation.

“The Ministry of National Security announced the "Regulations on security and prevention of anti-espionage" on the 26th, which will go into effect as of the date of promulgation. It is stipulated that the state security organs shall, in conjunction with relevant departments, formulate and regularly adjust the list of key anti-espionage security prevention units according to the nature of the unit, its industry, the level of secret involvement, the degree of foreign involvement, and whether there have been incidents endangering national security, and inform the key units in writing” reported Xinhua News Agency.

“The 100th anniversary of the party’s founding in July 1921 offers Mr Xi a timely opportunity to reaffirm those values, and historical red sites such as Jinggangshan and Zunyi, in southwestern China, are being harnessed for the cause,” wrote Jonathan Cheng in Wall Street Journal.

And, Xi Jinping wants to promote the “Chinese revolution”.

“Xi Jinping, general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, said the secret to the success of the Chinese revolution lies in ideals and convictions.

Xi made the remarks on Sunday when he visited a memorial park dedicated to the Battle of the Xiangjiang River during the Long March in the 1930s in the city of Guilin, south China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region,” reported Xinhua.

On April 23, three new naval assets Long March 18, Dalian and Hainan (Type 075 vessel), were handed over to Central Military Commission (CMC). Xi Jinping presided over the ceremony. Long March 18 is a nuclear submarine that can launch JL-1 and JL-2 gig wave ballistic missiles.

A military commentator told Global Times in Chinese that it is rare for the CMC Commander to launch the naval assets.

India’s COVID crisis

“We're Calling It A Wave, It Is A Tsunami”, said Delhi High Court on India’s COVID crisis.

“India's coronavirus cases and deaths hit a new record with 3.49 lakh fresh infections, taking the caseload to 1.69 crores; 2,767 people died in the last 24 hours. Hospitals in the country are overwhelmed; SOS messages have flooded social media,” reported NDTV on Sunday.

There is an acute shortage of oxygen cylinders across Indian states. Some Indian states have a better supply of oxygen because of local production, and others don’t.

“Faced with the continuing deterioration of the Indian epidemic, oxygen and other medical supplies are in a serious emergency. On the 22nd, China expressed its willingness to provide necessary support and assistance, but the Indian media claimed that “India does not import oxygen from China”,’ reported Beijing Daily.

There were several social media trends on Weibo related to the COVID-19 crisis in India.

“Coronavirus patients in India have new symptoms” was the 5th trend on Weibo.

“The US refuses to ease the export of vaccine raw materials to India” was the 10th trend on Weibo.

The hashtag “India Epidemic” was viewed 920 million times on Weibo.

India's Latest Covid Wave Spills on to Social Media Amidst Critical Shortages — Bellingcat.

Several countries have extended their support to India to fight against a new wave of COVID-19, including China, Canada, Pakistan, Germany, France, and others.

“In the next few days, we will provide transportation and logistics assistance to deliver needed supplies to India, including oxygen-related equipment, rapid testing kits, and personal protective equipment,” a statement by Pentagon Chief Llyod Austin said.

India and Asian Geopolitics — Brookings (A new book by former ambassador Shivshankar Menon)

Chinese Ambassador targetted in Pakistan

Meanwhile, the Chinese Ambassador in Pakistan, Nong Rong, was targeted at a hotel in Quetta, Pakistan.

“Pakistan has made great efforts to protect Chinese people there. It is not an easy task for terrorists to make a huge fuss by attacking Chinese civilians. If the latest terror attack in Balochistan province was targeted at the Chinese ambassador to Pakistan, it undoubtedly failed. But if the attack was meant to something else, then it's another story.

Generally, the CPEC cannot and shouldn't be viewed as a risk project. But we still need to evaluate it rationally. It indeed may face some terrorist threats, but it is firmly secured in the political sphere,” said a Global Times editorial.

“A car bomb ripped through a hotel in Quetta, the capital of the Pakistani province of Balochistan, on the evening of April 21 local time, killing and injuring many people. The Chinese side strongly condemns the terrorist attack, mourns for the victims, and expresses sympathy for the injured.

On the same day, the Chinese Ambassador to Pakistan Nong Rong was leading a Chinese delegation that had been visiting the area. The Chinese delegation was not in the hotel when the attack happened. So far, no Chinese casualties have been reported in the attack,” said Wang Wenbin, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson.

"Ministry of Foreign Affairs responds to Pakistan hotel explosion" is the 6th trend on Baidu.

CPEC will certainly carry on in Pakistan: Global Times editorial — Global Times.

ASEAN meeting over Myanmar

Leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations met in Jakarta this past week to discuss the situation in Myanmar.

“The meeting, which will start at 2.30 pm on Saturday (April 24) at the ASEAN Secretariat in Jakarta, will include Myanmar's Senior General Min Aung Hlaing, the commander-in-chief who led the military takeover which deposed the democratically-elected civilian government and plunged Myanmar into a political and economic crisis” reported Straits Times.

The pro-democracy activists in Myanmar weren’t happy with the decision to court Myanmar's General Min Aung Hlaing. The Myanmarese General is the key figure behind the military coup.

But in the final statement at the end of Saturday's (April 24) meeting, the language on freeing political prisoners had been unexpectedly watered down and did not contain a firm call for their release, two of the sources said.

Here is the five-point consensus reached by leaders of ASEAN:

  1. Immediate cessation of violence in Myanmar and all parties shall exercise utmost restraint.

  2. Constructive dialogue among all parties concerned shall commence to seek a peaceful solution in the interests of the people.

  3. A special envoy of the ASEAN Chair shall facilitate mediation of the dialogue process, with the assistance of the Secretary-General of ASEAN.

  4. ASEAN shall provide humanitarian assistance through the ASEAN Coordinating Centre for Humanitarian Assistance on disaster management.

  5. The special envoy and delegation shall visit Myanmar to meet with all parties concerned.

    Source: Straits Times

Chaos Sparked by Myanmar Coup Fuels Chinese Cross-border Crime — USIP

Don’t Miss Out

A Canadian judge has granted Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou a three-month delay in her extradition trial currently underway in British Columbia, Canada.

“The B.C. Supreme Court judge overseeing Meng Wanzhou's extradition proceedings has agreed to delay final arguments in the case for three months while the Huawei executive's lawyers review documents they hope will help them toss the case”, reported CBC News.

“In the poll, 74% of respondents supported Japan's engagement toward stability in the Taiwan Strait, while 13% were opposed,” a poll by Nikkei Asian Review highlighted.

“Naval officials on Saturday revealed debris that they said came from the KRI Nanggala 402. The materials would "not be lifted overboard if there is no outside pressure or a crack occurs in the torpedo launcher," Yudo Margono, the Indonesian navy's chief of staff, told reporters,” reported Nikkei Asian Review.

Earlier, an Indonesian Navy’s submarine had disappeared north of Bali.

“Tesla Inc. has released the data logs of a car that crashed in China to the woman who garnered global headlines after she staged a protest at this week’s Shanghai Auto Show claiming the vehicle’s brakes had failed”, reported Bloomberg.

Tesla complaints provide a lesson on Chinese consumer rights — Xinhua Commentary

The Tesla crash story was widely discussed on Weibo.

“Beijing plans to appoint Qin Gang, an adept diplomat who has acted as President Xi Jinping’s chief protocol officer, as the next ambassador to Washington, according to officials with knowledge of the matter.

Washington is widely expected to name R. Nicholas Burns, a veteran diplomat who has served in both Democratic and Republican administrations, as its ambassador to Beijing, say people familiar with the administration’s decision making,” reported Wall Street Journal in an exclusive.

“China’s president Xi Jinping took a swipe at that criticism on Monday by pointing to the historical responsibility of Western industrialized nations to do more to slow down warming. The United States accounts for the largest share of emissions in history; China accounts for the largest share of emissions today,” reported China Digital Times.

On Baidu, a search term “US and NATO begin to withdraw troops from bases in Afghanistan” 美国和北约开始从阿富汗基地撤军 was the second search trend on April 25. The Chinese state media have amplified a story published by Russian state media Sputnik News which claims that the US has started withdrawing troops from Afganistan.

Movers and Shakers

Competition With China Can Save the Planet — Andrew S. Erickson and Gabriel Collins



Tech Giant Eric Schmidt Warns China is Catching Up to the U.S. in A.I. — Intelligence Matters

The Lazarus Heist: Hacking Hollywood — BBC

Business Street

Superapp battle for Indonesia gets hotter as Grab & GoTo level up to take on Sea — Deal Street Asia

Chinese Firms Are Listing in the U.S. at a Record-Breaking Pace — Bloomberg

Off-Track Reads

The Incredible Rise of North Korea’s Hacking Army — The New Yorker

Weibo is 'treating the incels like the royal family' — The Protocol

The first McDonald’s in Beijing was a symbol of engagement — Sup China

Bhutan: Happy days for the jab in between a strategic pinch — The Interpreter

The future of advertising is here, and it’s a giant QR code formed by drones flying over Shanghai — Sup China

Upcoming Watch

Chinese Defence Minister Wei Fenghe will visit Bangladesh on Tuesday. He will then travel to Sri Lanka from there.

Note: Newsletter was updated with Upcoming Watch section.