Asia Communique – 1st edition; Exclusive: Don’t raise the Tibetan flag at the cultural center, accused NYPD officer suggested

A weekly round-up of news monitored from China, India and the world

US-China rivalry at the UNGA

“China has no intention of fighting a cold war with any country”, President Xi Jinping said in his address to the United National General Assembly (UNGA), state-owned China News reported. This year’s annual meeting of the United Nations General Assembly was shadowed by the tensions between the US and China.

President Donald Trump said in his address to UNGA that China should be held accountable for its handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The world shouldn’t be dominated by US-China rivalry, French President Emmanuel Macron told the assembly via a video message.

President Xi delivered two speeches instead of the one address by the head of the state. China Media Project reported that President Xi was identified as “His Highness” instead of “His Excellency” during the General Debate session

On Wednesday, President Xi and UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres held a video conference.

China and India reach another border agreement

China and India held sixth-round of military talks at Moldo in Eastern Ladakh on September 21, Chinese Ministry of National Defense spokesperson Wu Qian said.

“The two militaries agreed to earnestly implement the important consensus reached by leaders of the two countries, strengthen in-place communication and contact, avoid misunderstanding and miscalculation, stop adding troops to the frontline, and refrain from changing the in-place situation unilaterally and taking any actions that may complicate the situation” the joint press statement cited by Wu Qian said. The joint statement by India’s Ministry of External Affairs can be read here.

Both sides agreed to implement the earlier five-point consensus reached by foreign ministers S. Jaishankar and Wang Yi in Moscow. At the sixth-round of talks, a representative from China’s foreign ministry and a representative of India’s external affairs ministry represented. The previous five rounds of talks had only involved military commanders from both sides.

I have been tracking the everyday developments at the China-India border in Eastern Ladakh in a twitter thread.

Ren Zhiqiang and Chen Xuying sentenced to prison

Ren Zhiqiang, a real estate tycoon who had criticized President Xi Jinping’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic was sentenced to 18 years in prison on corruption charges. Ren is commonly referred to as ‘Big Cannon Ren’ after his outspoken social media posts and criticism of the communist party. Beijing No 2 Intermediate People’s Court charged Ren for using his position in state-owned firms to embezzle 49.74 million yuan (US$7.3 million). Ren was the former chairman at state-owned real estate group, Beijing Huayuan Group Co Ltd.

Earlier in March, Ren had written an article that criticized the government’s mishandling of the COVID-19 pandemic. Ren had called Xi Jinping “emperor” and a “clown”. The criminal prosecution against Ren began after he was ousted from the Communist Party on 23 July 2020.

In 2016, Ren’s Weibo and other social media accounts were suspended for spreading “illegal information”.

Chen Xuying, the former vice president of the state-owned China Citi Bank Corp. Ltd., was sentenced to 15 years in prison, according to a Caixin media report. Chen was detained by authorities in September 2018.

Social Talk

This week the most followed social trend on Twitter-like Sina Weibo was the case of a university student who was stabbed by a Didi taxi driver in Changde, Hunan Province. The hashtag #University student stabbed to death Didi driver case murderer sentenced to reprieve# was viewed by over 410 million Weibo users and discussed over 11,000 times as of 24 September at 11:36 EST.

Another widely discussed social trend on Sina Weibo was the news based on the Ministry of Commerce’s statement on China surpassing the US as the largest trading partner of the EU. The hashtag #China surpasses the United States for the first time to become the EU's largest trading partner# was viewed by over 170 million times and discussed over 7000 times.

Exclusive: Don’t raise the Tibetan flag at the cultural center, accused NYPD officer suggested

Baimadajie Angwang had suggested to one of the board members of the Tibet Community Center in Woodside that it’s not a good idea to raise the Tibetan flag at the center. The suggestion came as a surprise to the board members.

On September 21, a New York Police Department community affairs officer assigned to the 111th precinct in Queens was charged for acting as an agent of the People’s Republic of China. Born in China, Baimadajie Angwang became a naturalized US citizen through political asylum because of the alleged fear of persecution back home. Angwang served in the US Marine Corps and has spent time in Afghanistan. Besides his position in the NYPD, he is also a staff sergeant in the US Army Reserve at Fort Dix.

Angwang is an ethnic Tibetan but he doesn’t speak Tibetan. The charges unsealed in the New York court alleged that Angwang was in contact with two PRC consulate officials in New York. He was tasked by the PRC officials to identify potential intelligence assets within the Tibetan and overseas Chinese in the New York area.

“In the fall of 2018, Angwang reached out to the Tibetan Community Center. He contacted the Tibetan Community Center of New York & New Jersey which is an NGO. He claimed himself to be a Tibetan, he said he works with the NYPD and he can provide any assistance that the community needs” Dorjee Tseten told Tea Horse Monitor. Dorjee Tseten is a Member of Parliament at the Tibetan Government-in-Exile and the Executive Director at the Students for a Free Tibet.

“On February 9th, 2019, there was a big public event to mark the Tibetan new year also called Losar. Tibetan community invited a lot of public figures and political leaders, Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was the chief guest. Along with that, there was a group of NYPD members from the local precinct who were also invited”

A picture of Angwang with Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez at the Losar event was shared on social media.

Tseten added for the record that Angwang wasn’t the chief guest at the Losar celebration as many have speculated on social media. Angwang was invited as a guest along with other NYPD members.

“After the Losar event, the Chinese Consulate hosted an event on March 3rd, 2019, to mark the Chinese New Year. Angwang’s wife attended that event hosted by the Chinese Consulate in New York. One of the board members of the Tibetan Community Center came across a picture of Angwang’s wife at the Chinese Consulate. This followed a discussion within the board members that we need to be careful about this person and that grew the suspicion” Tseten said.

Angwang made repeated attempts to contact the former president of the Tibetan Community Center, who later confronted him over the phone and asked him about his association with the Chinese Consulate in New York. He acknowledged his contact with the Chinese Consulate. After this, the Tibetan Community Center decided to stop all contact with Angwang.

The full indictment by the US Department of Justice can be read here. Tsering Shakya, a leading scholar of Tibet analyzed the charges in a Twitter thread.