Asia Communique - Week 11

Wei Fenghe in Nepal and Pakistan — Farmer’s protest in India — Hong Kong leaders jailed

This week’s edition has been delayed because of my personal projects.

I will be speaking at a webinar on December 9 organized by Usanas Foundation.

Webinar: Chinese Communist Party's Influence and Espionage Operations

Register here.

Wei Fenghe in Nepal and Pakistan

“Chinese State Councillor and Defence Minister Wei Fenghe on Sunday landed in Kathmandu for a daylong stopover during which he held a whirlwind of meetings with Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli, also the defence minister, President Bidya Devi Bhandari, and Nepal Army Chief Purna Chandra Thapa before flying straight to Pakistan in the evening.” reported Kathmandu Post.

“Noting that Pakistan and China are dear brothers and partners with a long friendship, Alvi said Pakistan will continue to support China on issues related to the South China Sea, Taiwan, Xinjiang, and Tibet, and his country hopes to work with China to strengthen bilateral cooperation in the construction of Pakistan-China Economic Corridor, and sectors including defense and security,” reported CGTN.

“These and other steps highlighted India’s hegemonic designs and expansionist agenda, which was imperiling peace and stability in the region,” reported Pakistan’s Express Tribune.

Prime Minister Imran Khan’s tweet about Wei Fenghe’s visit to Islamabad.

China’s defence chief pledges military support for Nepal amid border disputes with India — SCMP

Line of Actual Control: An update

There are no signs of the next round of talks between India and China to resolve the ongoing border stand-off.

“The border talks between India and China remain stalemated on the “core” issue that both sides need to strictly follow various bilateral agreements and protocols in their entirety” said the Ministry of External Affairs.

“Some evidence suggests the Chinese government had planned the incident, potentially including the possibility for fatalities” reported Press Trust of India.

The report being referred to is the annual report of the U.S.-CHINA ECONOMIC AND SECURITY REVIEW COMMISSION. Here is the section that speaks about military stand-off at the Line of Actual Control:

Read the report here.

Ministry of External Affairs was asked to respond to the story.

“India on Thursday stressed that the core issue in the ongoing military standoff with China in eastern Ladakh was the need to “strictly” follow various bilateral pacts and protocols in their entirety on the maintenance of peace along the Line of Actual Control(LAC),” reported Press Trust of India.

India and China compete over Indian Ocean debt-relief diplomacy - Nikkei Asian Review

In an exclusive interview with The Hindu’s Suhasini Haider, India’s External Affairs Minister shared his view of India-China relations.

“Complicated issues will take time and I will go for what is my interest and my bottom line. I mean, I will not be stampeded into accepting something which is less,” Minister Jaisankar told The Hindu.

“China has constructed at least 3 villages, approximately 5 kilometres from the Bum La pass which lies close to the tri-junction between India, China and Bhutan in western Arunachal Pradesh,” reported NDTV.

What's Next for China-India Relations: A Look Ahead - an upcoming event organized by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

“So much so that the report suggested Nato forge a partnership with India in the future. At the same time, all 27 EU leaders have confirmed a summit with Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in May in Porto, as Portugal assumes the rotating EU Council presidency,” reported South China Morning Post.

India's China Challenge in the Indian Ocean and beyond - a new report.

A new book on India-China relations: Powershift: India–China Relations in a Multipolar World

Hong Kong democracy leaders jailed

“Hong Kong pro-democracy activists Joshua Wong, Agnes Chow and Ivan Lam have been sentenced to prison for organizing and inciting an unauthorized assembly outside the police headquarters in Wan Chai last June,” reported Hong Kong Free Press.

“Hong Kong media mogul Jimmy Lai Chee-ying was denied bail on December 3, 2020, on a charge of fraud related to the lease of a building that houses the tabloid-style Apple Daily newspaper he founded,” reported South China Morning Post.

Read an excellent thread by Associated Press’ Dake Kang on the Wuhan provincial government's initial response to the COVID-19 outbreak.

People’s Liberation Army

“President Xi Jinping on Friday met with representatives from the armed forces attending a conference on ideological and political education work in the military, which was held from Thursday to Friday.US actions on China” reported Xinhua.

“Focusing on strengthening the Party's ideological and political leadership over the military and building a system for related education work in the new era, the conference will provide a strong ideological and political guarantee to strengthen the military.” added Xinhua.

MYTHS OR MOVING TARGETS? CONTINUITY AND CHANGE IN CHINA’S NUCLEAR FORCES - War On The Rocks

Not friends. Not enemies. Where to now for Nato on China? - SCMP

Farmer’s protest in India

“Prominent opposition leaders including Congress president Sonia Gandhi, NCP leader Sharad Pawar, CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury, DMK chief M K Stalin and PAGD chairman Farooq Abdullah issued a joint statement on Sunday supporting the call for Bharat Bandh on December 8 by farmer groups, and pressed the Centre to meet the legitimate demands of the protesters.”

Chinese state-media widely reported the farmer’s protests.

“According to Indian media, Indian police estimate that 300,000 farmers will enter New Delhi in the two surrounding states alone. The scenes showed that Indian farmers were holding high the banner of communism.” reported state-owned The Paper.

“Protesters believe that the reform of the agricultural law will put farmers at the mercy of big companies. The Indian government emphasized that the “minimum support price” system remains unchanged, and the new bill will bring higher profits to farmers.” reported China Youth Network.

The other focus of the Chinese state-media’s reporting was Prime Minister Trudeau’s remarks supporting the right to protest.

“Some analysts believe that Trudeau’s support for the protests was actually a political strategy aimed at winning the support of Canadian Sikhs and other Indian immigrants. When Trudeau visited India in 2018, he was neglected by the Indian government because of the connection with secessionists. His hope to strengthen trade and investment relations with India was also ignored by the Modi government.” reported Beijing News.

Meng’s lawyers look to strike deal with US DOJ

“The U.S. Justice Department is discussing a deal with Huawei Technologies Co. finance chief Meng Wanzhou that would allow her to return home to China from Canada, in exchange for admitting wrongdoing in a criminal case that has strained Beijing’s relations with the U.S. and Canada, people familiar with the matter said,” reported Wall Street Journal.

The proceedings of the case will resume on December 7.

I will bring you further updates on the case in next week’s newsletter.

Don’t Miss Out

“Index provider FTSE Russell will delete shares of video security firm Hikvision and seven other Chinese companies from certain products after a U.S. order restricting purchase of their shares, it said on Friday,” reported Reuters.

“The Department said on its website it had “terminated” the Policymakers Educational China Trip Program, the U.S.-China Friendship Program, the U.S.-China Leadership Exchange Program, the U.S.-China Transpacific Exchange Program and the Hong Kong Educational and Cultural Program,” reported Reuters.

“The House of Representatives passed legislation on Wednesday that would increase oversight of Chinese companies listed on American stock markets, the latest attempt by the United States to scrutinize financial ties with China,” reported the New York Times.

Movers and Shakers

The Party That Failed - Cai Xia

https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/china/2020-12-04/chinese-communist-party-failed

The China Challenge Can Help America Avert Decline - Kurt M. Campbell and Rush Doshi

https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/china/2020-12-03/china-challenge-can-help-america-avert-decline

The United States Can Negotiate With a China Driven More by Power Than Ideology - Robert Manning

https://foreignpolicy.com/2020/12/04/us-negotiate-china-power-ideology-coexist/

Off Track Reads

How China Is Buying Up the West’s High-Tech Sector - Foreign Policy

https://foreignpolicy.com/2020/12/03/how-china-is-buying-up-the-wests-high-tech-sector/

China’s Female Civil Service Applicants Ask: Where Are Our Seats at the Table? - Sixth Tone

http://www.sixthtone.com/news/1006477/chinas-female-civil-service-applicants-ask-where-are-our-seats-at-the-table%3F

Social Talk

On December 5, the search phrase “23 dead in Chongqing Yongchuan Diaoshuidong coal mine accident” was the number one trend on Baidu.

Upcoming Watch

On December 7, the US-based Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers will virtually hold the Global Communications Conference. Company representatives from Huawei, Foxconn, and MediaTek are supposed to speak at the conference.

Meng Wanzhou’s trial restarts at the Supreme Court of British Columbia on December 7.

On December 11, the US State Department will announce the names of financial institutions that conduct "significant transactions" with Hong Kong-based individuals that have been sanctioned.