Asia Communique - Week 2

'Golden Week' -- 1959 claim line -- TikTok-WeChat saga

‘Golden Week’ in China

China marked the 71 years of the founding of the People’s Republic of China (also called National Day), which has coincided with the mid-autumn festival this year. The eight-day holiday is also referred to as the ‘Golden Week’. Millions of people will travel across China this year as the concerns around the second-wave of the COVID-19 pandemic dissipate. Over 15.09 million passenger trips were made by 1 October, according to state media.

During the National Day military parade in 2019, China displayed the much-discussed DF-17 hypersonic missile which can allegedly carry a nuclear warhead. China's DF-17 hasn't demonstrated its hypersonic capabilities, Michael White, Pentagon's assistant director for hypersonics, said this week during a webinar organized by Defense One.

On October 1, a series of protests outside China’s consulates were organized as part of the Global Day of Action. Groups protesting China’s human rights violations in Tibet, Xinjiang, and Hong Kong participated in demonstrations around the world. A large protest event was also held in India’s Dharamshala.

In Hong Kong’s Causeway Bay area, protesters held up copies of local independent newspaper Apple Daily which carried ads with slogans “Protect the children, hold on to your conscience.” Police arrested over 60 protesters in Causeway Bay for ‘unauthorized assembly’, according to Hong Kong government-owned RTHK. Associated Press reported that a total of 86 were arrested on the same day.

Former US President Jimmy Carter sent a congratulatory letter to Chinese ambassador Cui Tiankai on the occasion of National Day, state-owned CGTN reported.

China reiterates the 1959 claim line, India rejects the offer again

In a statement in response to a query by the Indian newspaper Hindustan Times, the Chinese foreign ministry said that the line proposed and claimed in1959 is where the Line of Actual Control lies.

“Firstly, China-India border LAC is very clear, that is the LAC on November 7, 1959. China announced it in the 1950s, and the international community including India is also clear about it,” Chines Foreign Ministry said told Hindustan Times on September 25.

India’s Ministry of External Affairs was quick to reject the foreign ministry’s statement “India has never accepted the so-called unilaterally defined 1959 LAC. This position has been consistent and well known, including to the Chinese side.”

Chinese foreign ministry also ‘blamed’ the Indian Army for ongoing tensions since May and said the June 15 clash in Galwan valley was an ‘unfortunate’ event in the statement to Hindustan Times.

On September 29, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin said during the daily briefing:

中方不承认印度非法设立的所谓“拉达克中央直辖区”,反对在边境争议地区开展以军事争控为目的的基础设施建设

“China doesn’t recognize “Ladakh Union Territory” which was illegally established by India. We also oppose the development of infrastructure in the disputed area for the military’s use”

The original letter in which the 1959 claim first emerged was written by Chinese Premier Zhou Enlai to Prime Minister Nehru on 7 November 1959.

Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru responded to this letter and rejected Zhou Enlai’s offer to settle the LAC on 16 November 1959.

Why is China’s reference to the 1959 claim line significant for India?  Indian Army’s Retd. Lt. Gen DS Hooda explained the significance in an op-ed.  

On Friday, state-run Xinhua reported that PLA troops moved into ‘new barracks’ in Ngari Prefecture. The construction was completed by the Engineering Agent Construction Management Office of the Xinjiang Military Region, Xinhua added.

US Navy’s P-8 surveillance aircraft landed at India’s Port Blair on Andaman and Nicobar Islands to refuel amid tensions with China. Media have reported citing sources that the refueling was done under the Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA), signed between the US and India in 2016.

Reuters published a report on the construction of highways, roads, and tunnels to improve connectivity between Ladakh and mainland India.

On Friday, India initiated an anti-dumping probe on two products imported from China. India’s Directorate General of Trade Remedies (DGTR) is investigating the dumping of Hydrofluorocarbon (HFC) Blends - used in air-conditioning - and Decor Paper from China.

For this week, I will also recommend reading Sowmiya Ashok’s story on Chinese-language tour guides in India suffering because of tensions at the border and the COVID-19 pandemic.

Not your “garden variety” case, says Meng Wanzhou’s lawyer

This week, Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou’s extradition trial returned to the Vancouver court for ‘Vukelich hearings’. Meng’s lawyers argue that there was an abuse of process by the US and Canada during her detention in December 2018.  

Robert Frater, a lawyer for Canada's attorney general accused Meng’s legal team of wasting the court’s time by trying to turn the extradition case into a trial. Frater urged the judge to keep the hearing ‘expeditious’.

Frank Addario, Meng Wanzhou’s lawyer, said that her extradition case shouldn’t be treated as a “garden-variety” case because of President Donald Trump’s involvement.

State-run newspaper China Daily published an editorial without a byline with the title ‘Releasing Meng is the only right choice’.  

At the heart of the trial is a PowerPoint presentation that Meng gave to HSBC. BBC’s Gordon Corera wrote an explainer on the PowerPoint.

In recent times, Chinese media have cited two letters written by prominent Canadians to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada endorsing the release of Meng Wanzhou.

The trial began on Monday and lasted for three days. The hearing will reinitiate on October 26 and may involve witnesses.

Taiwan fears attrition

Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen visited a low-key but critical military maintenance Gangshang airbase in Kaohsiung on September 26. The visit came at a time when Taiwan’s Defense Ministry has express concerns about the rising costs of tensions with China.

“Each time the communist aircraft harass Taiwan, our air force takes to the skies, and it is extremely costly. This isn’t only a burden for Taiwan, but quite a big one for China, too,” Premier Su Tseng-chang said.

A Taiwan-based diplomat told Reuters that there is a fear in Taiwan about attrition among fighter pilots as China continues to scramble its jets at the mid-line.

“Currently no signs showing it is ready to launch a full-scale war” Defense Minister Yen De-fa said on September 29, as reported by Focus Taiwan.

Twists of TikTok-WeChat saga

On September 25, the US Department of Justice opposed TikTok’s injunction to block President Trump’s executive order banning China-based TikTok and WeChat from US app stores. US Department of Justice said that blocking the ban will “infringe on the President’s authority” and alleged that TikTok’s CEO Zhang Yiming is a “mouthpiece” for the Communist Party of China.

But in another twist, Judge Carl Nichols of the US District Court in Washington permitted TikTok’s injunction which blocked the Trump administration’s ban on TikTok.

Wall Street Journal reported that ultimately Judge Nichols could side with the government’s decision to ban TikTok. The US Commerce Department will impose a full ban on TikTok on November 12 if TikTok can’t reach a deal with an American entity.

On Friday, the Department of Justice filed an appeal to block the injunction approved to stop the ban on WeChat by Magistrate Judge Laurel Beeler of the US District Court for the North District of California.

Social Talk

Alibaba Group recently announced that Jack Ma will cease to be the director on its company board. On the Twitter-like platform, Sina Weibo, The hashtag ‘Ma is no longer the director of Alibaba Group’ was viewed by over 250 million users and received 11,000 comments as of October 2 at 17:20 EST.

Over 80,000 Weibo users watched an old video of a TV panel discussion in mandarin about the 1962 war.

Business Street

China’s heavily indebted Evergrande Group received life from investors and avoided spending $12 billion to repurchase their stake.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/china-evergrande-quells-cash-crunch-worries-with-investor-show-of-support-11601464453 - Wall Street Journal

Amundi, Europe’s biggest wealth management firm, received final regulatory approval to start the joint-venture operation with Bank of China.

https://www.dealstreetasia.com/stories/amundi-china-209616/ - Deal Street Asia

Sougou Inc, a Chinese technology company, will go private with a $3.5 billion investment from Tencent Holdings Ltd.

https://asia.nikkei.com/Business/Markets/Tencent-to-take-China-s-Sogou-private-in-3.5bn-deal - Nikkei Asian Review

Upcoming Watch  

Foreign Ministers of the Quadrilateral Dialogue countries — Australia, India, Japan, and the US — will meet in Tokyo on October 6. The agenda of the meeting is the health and economic recovery after the COVID-19 pandemic, the resiliency of supply chains, and push back against state-backed disinformation.

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