Asia Communique - Week 8

India-China reach another agreement - SCO leaders' summit - RCEP deal - Beijing ousts Hong Kong lawmakers

I wrote a detailed article for The Diplomat surveying Chinese state media’s coverage of the US election.

What Do Chinese People Think of the US Election? – The Diplomat

The interview with Mr. GBS Sidhu will be published separately.

China congratulates Biden

“We have been following reactions to the U.S. presidential election within the US and from the international community. We respect the American people's choice. We send congratulations to Mr. Biden and Ms. Harris,” said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin.

India-China reach yet another border agreement

China has proposed an agreement of de-escalation this week, according to the Times of India. China had forwarded the proposal to the Indian side at the eight-round talks in Chushul on November 6.

“As per the disengagement plan which is to be carried out in three steps in one week from the talks in the Pangong lake area, the armoured vehicles including tanks and armoured personnel carriers were to be moved back from their frontline deployment to a significant distance from the Line of Actual Control (LAC) by both sides” reported ANI citing sources.

“The two sides had also agreed for a joint mechanism to verify the progress in the disengagement process through delegation meetings as well as using Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs),” ANI added.

Read the full report by ANI here.

“While there is no agreement on this proposal, official sources said India is considering the Chinese offer, and modalities for other friction areas are still under discussion,” reported The Indian Express.

Indian Express added, “Sources said the Chinese proposed disengagement when Lt General PG K Menon, Commander of Leh-based XIV Corps, and Major General Liu Lin, Commander of South Xinjiang Military Region, held one-on-one discussions during the eighth Corps Commander-level talks in Chushul on November 6.”

“We have a firm plan for disengagement on the table, it is being internally discussed on both sides,” reported Reuters citing sources.

“The three officials said that military commanders from both sides could meet within a week for further discussions on disengagement,” Reuters added.

China’s Global Times has confirmed the disengagement agreement.

An analysis by Chinese media of the reorganization of military theater commands, published by iFeng.

Lt Gen. Panag and Lt Gen. Hooda examine the India-China border disengagement on The Print.

According to the Times of India, India and Nepal are likely to discuss their border dispute later this month. Earlier this month, Indian Army Chief General M M Naravane visited Nepal, where he was conferred with an honorary rank in the Nepal Army.

Working Hard to Ensure Early Supply of S-400 Missile Systems to India: Russia – PTI.

Shanghai Cooperation Organization leaders’ summit

The leaders’ summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization was the front and center in Chinese state media’s reporting this week.

“History has proven and will continue to prove that good neighborliness and friendship will prevail over a beggar-thy-neighbor approach, mutually beneficial cooperation is certain to replace zero-sum game, and multilateralism will win over unilateralism,” said President Xi Jinping at the summit in a speech.

“We should forge greater synergy of the Belt and Road Initiative with national development strategies as well as regional cooperation initiatives such as the Eurasian Economic Union,” said Xi.

“We should firmly support countries concerned in their law-based efforts to steadily advance major domestic political agenda, firmly support countries in safeguarding political security and social stability, and firmly oppose interference by external forces in the domestic affairs of SCO members under whatever pretexts,” added Xi.

Xi Jinping mentioned COVID-19 eight times in his speech.

Full text of Xi Jinping’s speech (English).

On the contrary, Prime Minister Modi made remarks directly targeted at China and Pakistan.

“To further deepen connectivity network (among the SCO members), it is necessary to respect each other's sovereignty and territorial integrity,” said PM Modi.

“In our civilisation, it is said that parivartanmeva sthiramasti (change is the only constant). From 2021 India will take part in the UN Security Council as a non-permanent member. As a member of UNSC our attention will be on changing the global rules of governance,” said Modi

Victor Shih of UC Davis has published a visual database of CCP elites.

“This data contain information on all full and alternate Central Committee members, provincial standing committee members, and vice governors specializing in law and politics issues through July of 2020.”

Check out the database here.

United States-China Economic and Security Review Commission released a report, “The Shanghai Cooperation Organization: A Testbed for Chinese Power Projection.”

Ministers sign RCEP deal

At the sidelines of the ASEAN summit hosted by Vietnam, the 15 ministers from countries that are part of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership will sign the agreement on Sunday.

The RCEP countries will leave the door open for India to join the trade deal at a later date.

But India is exploring other ways to expand trade with ASEAN.

“As far as India is concerned, we did not join RCEP as it does not address the outstanding issues and concerns of India. However, we remain committed to deepening our trade relations with ASEAN,” said Ministry of External Affairs’ Riva Ganguly Das,

India Unveils More Stimulus as Coronavirus Hobbles Economy – WSJ

Four members ousted from Hong Kong’s Legislative Council

“The SAR government announced on Wednesday that pro-democracy lawmakers Alvin Yeung, Dennis Kwok, Kwok Ka-ki and Kenneth Leung had been stripped of their seats in Legco with immediate effect,” according to RTHK.

“The four lawmakers in question – Civic Party’s Alvin Yeung Ngok-kiu, Dennis Kwok and Kwok Ka-ki, as well as Kenneth Leung of the Professionals Guild – had already been barred in July from contesting this year’s Legco elections, but had previously been allowed to see out the body’s extended term when polls were postponed until September next year,” said South China Morning Post

“The 15 remaining pan-democratic members of Legco have announced they are resigning, making good on their pledge to quit the legislature if Beijing ousted any members of their camp,” reported RTHK.

"Beijing’s imposition of new rules to disqualify elected legislators in Hong Kong constitutes a clear breach of the legally binding Sino-British Joint Declaration," said United Kingdom’s Dominic Raab.

The UK summoned the Chinese ambassador to protest the disqualification of Hong Kong lawmakers.

PLA this week

According to Xinhua, this week, President Xi Jinping issued "Chinese People's Liberation Army Joint Operations Outline” on a trial basis.

The “outline” is focused on “establishing a legal system for joint operations, establishing basic concepts, establishing basic systems, clarifying basic rights and responsibilities, answering the major questions of "what wars and how to fight" at the systems level, strengthening the clear guidance for preparing for war, and consolidating and deepening leadership.”

MIT’s Taylor Fravel believes that CMC is getting ready to release a new operational doctrine. This will be the fifth time China has changed its military doctrine.

Read Fravel’s thread on Twitter here.

The 13th National People’s Congress passed the “Law of the People’s Republic of China on the Protection of Veterans” on November 11. The law will be effective from January 1, 2021. The law seeks to attract talent to PLA by improving the compensation model.

“A retired officer who asked not to be named said veterans had been lobbying for the new legislation for many years and hoped it would be implemented despite China’s slowing economic growth and rising competition for jobs,” according to South China Morning Post.

Full text of the law (Chinese)

PLAAF J-16 fighter pilots seen using new helmet – Janes

Don’t miss out

“Chinese President Xi Jinping personally made the decision to halt the initial public offering of Ant Group, which would have been the world’s biggest, after controlling shareholder Jack Ma infuriated government leaders, according to Chinese officials with knowledge of the matter” according to Wall Street Journal.

“US authorities have given the Chinese owner of TikTok two additional weeks to divest the social media sensation in order to resolve national security concerns voiced by President Donald Trump's administration, according to a court filing Friday. A notice filed by TikTok owner ByteDance in federal court showed that authorities had extended the deadline originally set for November 12 to November 27,” according to AFP.

Off-Track Reads

Masayoshi Son Again Pulled SoftBank From the Brink. This Time He Had Help – WSJ

How western travel influencers got tangled up in Pakistan's politics – The Guardian

A brief experiment in a more open Chinese web – Brookings

Business Street

China’s tech giants have lost more than $280 billion in market value as regulatory concerns mount – CNBC

Ant IPO failure leaves billions on table for other Chinese listings – Nikkei Asian Review

Upcoming Watch

Russia will host the next meeting of BRICS on November 17. Xi Jinping will attend the meeting via a video link, according to the Chinese Foreign Ministry.