Hong Kong Economic Times (HKET), the leading financial daily in Hong Kong, recently reported that, the British government just introduced the Communications Security Bill, which is designed to monitor the nation’s 5G mobile network and its fiber network. The new rules will impose a 100,000-pound daily fine or a fine totaling ten percent of sales on the violators if Huawei equipment is used. The UK government required all communications companies to eliminate all Huawei equipment before the year 2027. The government also set aside 250 million pounds to help communications vendors to replace Huawei’s 5G equipment. The new bill covers all electronic hardware and software that process internet traffic. The bill is expected to take effect starting next year at the earliest. According to British Telecom (BT), the government’s Huawei ban will cause BT to suffer a 500 million pounds loss. Oliver Dowden, British Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, just established a working group to help telecommunications providers. He’ll release more details on this before the end of the year.
Source: HKET, November 26, 2020
Although the outside world generally believes that China has adopted a policy of repression against religion, recent studies have shown that the Chinese government is quietly using Buddhism as a tool to expand its “sharp power” internationally and increase its political influence.
On the one hand, during the 2020 epidemic, the Chinese government massively destroyed unapproved or foreign-published Buddhist books and demolished a great number of outdoor Buddhist statues. On the other hand, Chinese Buddhist institutions have used Buddhist teachings to appease the society that the epidemic has affected and to maintain national security.
At a recent seminar that Georgetown University held, David L. Wank and Yoshiko Ashiwa, who have been studying Chinese Buddhism, pointed out that these religious activities that the Chinese Buddhist organizations overseas have carried out are part of the Chinese government’s operations to expand its political influence.
“In 2015, the BAC (Buddhist Association of China) Ninth National Congress formally recognized the global promotion of Chinese Buddhism as a key activity. It called for Chinese Buddhism to ‘go out’ (zou chuqü) of China to other countries in order to ‘tell the Chinese story well’ to their peoples so they could realize China’s accomplishments and peaceful intentions.”
Wank said that, although the BAC’s global plan began in 2015, it has been launching actions since Xi Jinping took office in 2013. The Chinese government has diverted a large amount of resources to Buddhism.
Since the early 1980s, the Chinese government has used Buddhism as a tool of its foreign policy to achieve its political goals.
“The revival of Buddhism has helped persuade overseas Chinese business people that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is no longer following ‘leftist’ ideology and that they are welcome to come worship and invest in the PRC (People’s Republic of China).”
Wank also pointed out that, after the 1989 student movement, the Chinese government used Buddhism to improve its international image that the Tiananmen Square Massacre had damaged, and it used religious exchange activities to promote its “One China” policy.
“Chinese leader Hu Jintao, assumed office in 2002; he used the Confucian term ‘harmony’ to refer to his new approach to reduce economic inequalities in China and to manage international relations.”
“In 2006, the BAC reintroduced itself to global Buddhist society by convening the World Buddhist Forum, the first major international religious conference in the PRC.”
Wank and Ashiwa identified different strategies that the Chinese government adopted to use Buddhism in different countries.
First are Asian countries where the Buddhist majorities are economically dependent on China, including Cambodia, Myanmar, Laos, Mongolia, and Sri Lanka. The Chinese government’s strategies include “establishing bilateral Buddhist friendship associations; setting up Buddhist broadcasting networks; organizing joint religious and cultural rituals, such as praying for peoples’ health during the coronavirus pandemic and commemorating historical Buddhist ties between the countries; and providing funds to restore temples.”
Second are Western countries with recent histories of Buddhism and a growing popular appreciation of Buddhist culture as Asian culture in daily life. In these countries, efforts have been made to build Chinese Buddhist temples in order to further Buddhist cultural activities. For Buddhists and Chinese tourists, these projects are sites for worship and pilgrimage, while for the general populations of these countries, they are presented as Chinese cultural theme parks.
Third are strategies for Asian countries—India, Japan, Taiwan—that Beijing sees as geopolitical rivals and that the BAC views as competing for global status in Buddhism.
“In 2017, the Nanhai Buddhist Academy opened in the PRC, with strong state backing, to compete with India’s recently revived Nalanda University as the world center of Buddhist teaching. The academy is a center for creating Buddhist culture and Sinicized Buddhism as well as Buddhist friendships using such methods as inviting clerics from other Asian countries for study.”
The two researchers believe that the promotion of Chinese Buddhism around the world is exerting an influence that is beneficial to the Chinese government.
First, many activities—such as conferences, rituals, and inviting people (clerics, politicians, ministers of culture) to the PRC—further the aim of the UFWD to develop ties with individuals who may become favorably disposed to the PRC.
“These overseas Buddhist activities develop a network of individuals who may become favorably toward Chinese government. This is one of the main strategies of the United Front Work. This network includes Chinese Buddhists, famous overseas Buddhists, foreign leaders in cultural affairs.”
Wank also pointed out that temple-building projects in other countries may bolster the status of the Chinese clerics associated with them in the eyes of societies and governments of the host country. This can offset the status of those Buddhists that the Chinese government considers competitors, such as the Dalai Lama.
Giving resources to major Buddhist temples and schools can create dependencies and pro-China factions in Buddhist-majority countries.
Ashiwa’s analysis is that the teachings of Chinese Buddhism may also have a more far-reaching impact. “In Buddhist teachings, secular leaders have the potential to become Buddhists in the future. What we are concerned about is how this image of leaders will be shaped to such an extent that people’s political obedience is fostered, and how this will affect the perception and behavior of Chinese and overseas Buddhists.”
Both researchers believe that the current Chinese state promotion of Buddhism is operating on an unprecedented scale. An issue that the CCP will have to face is how Sinicized Buddhism representing Chinese great civilization will cooperate with other locally embedded Buddhist traditions in Asian countries, as well as Westernized Buddhism. Without well-considered strategies, the global promotion of Buddhism may trigger results that are contrary to CCP expectations.
Source: Berkley Center for Religion, Peace & World Affairs, Georgetown University. November 17, 2020.
Major Taiwanese news group Eastern Media International recently reported that HK Chief Executive Carrie Lam commented in a TV interview that she currently has no bank account. With the passage of the Hong Kong National Security Law, the United States sanctioned 11 Mainland and Hong Kong officials immediately. To comply with U.S. sanctions, no foreign bank, no local Hong Kong bank, or even a bank that China fully owns would agree to provide services to Carrie Lam. Since she has no bank account, the Hong Kong government pays her salary in cash. According to Lam, she has “piles of cash” at home, and she only spends cash on her day-to-day living expenses. Lam commented in August, when the U.S. just announced the sanction, that it was “meaningless” since she has no assets in the United States and has no plans to visit the U.S. She said in the interview that, as the Chief Executive of Hong Kong, no one in the city is willing to serve her banking needs. When asked whether since the sanctions began, she has ever been refused service. Lam said that has not been the case. However, she did say she took the U.S. sanctions as an honor.
Source: Eastern Media International, November 28, 2020
In June of this year, the US Department of Justice received a financial statement from China Daily, which showed that over the past three and a half years, China Daily paid a total of nearly US$19 million in advertising and printing costs to different US media. In the past six months alone, China Daily has invested nearly US$2 million in advertising in the US media. From May to October this year, China Daily spent more than US$4.4 million in printing, distribution, advertising and administration. Of the money paid, more than US$85,000 was spent on advertising with The Wall Street Journal, US$34,000 was spent on the Los Angeles Times; and US$100,000 was paid for advertising in the Foreign Policy Magazine. In addition to advertising fees, China Daily also pays a high printing cost to many newspapers.
The financial statement disclosed that China Daily paid to open a “China Watch” column on the inside pages of two newspapers to publish commentaries on China’s economy, culture and geopolitics. The Wall Street Journal has a website that China Daily funds. It is simply a reprinted version of “China Daily,” carrying articles such as Beijing’s handling of COVID 19 as well as articles that criticize US officials because they blame the Chinese government for misleading the West and causing the virus to spread throughout the world. In August this year, some newspapers cut off their ties with China Daily. For example, the Washington Free Beacon disclosed that the New York Times quietly ended its partnership with China Daily.
In February of this year, the U.S. State Department listed China Daily, the Xinhua News Agency, the China Global Television Network, China Radio International, and the overseas edition of People’s Daily as “foreign agents” because China has direct control over them and they are part of the CCP’s propaganda machinery.
Source: Radio Free Asia, November 23, 2020
In internal documents that the Epoch Times obtained, the CCP reveals that it has been using winter or summer camps or writing contests in the name of what it calls “culture exchanges” as its propaganda outlet to strengthen its united front work. United front work has, as its purpose, influencing people and organizations inside and outside of China to support the CCP. Below is a list of examples.
1. Hebei Overseas Chinese Federation used the “2020 online summer camp” as a propaganda tool. In the internal document from Hebei Overseas Chinese Federation, it stated that facing the sudden outbreak of COVID 19, some countries started to attack China. Therefore “we have integrated topics such as China’s experience, plan and role in combating COVID 19 into the activities at the summer camp.” According to the consolidated list of camper information, the Hebei Friendship Association in Australia and England and the North American Youth Federation sent 202 students to the 6th session while Madrid Overseas Chinese and Wenlin Chinese Culture School sent 194 students to the 7th session.
2. On November 3, 2020, the Zhangjiakou Federation of Returned Overseas Chinese organized the 21st World Chinese Student Composition Contest in Zhangjiakou City which attracted over 3,800 High school students to the contest. The Zhangjiakou Overseas Chinese Federation requires that the schools and teachers mobilize the children of the returned overseas Chinese and high school students to participate in the competition in order to “inspire students’ patriotic sentiments.” The theme was to “promote Chinese culture” but the contents mostly involved praising the CCP and its efforts to combat COVID 19.
3. On November 29, 2019, the Hebei Overseas Chinese Federation issued an invitation letter to the “Panama Overseas Chinese and the Chinese Association for the Promotion of the Peaceful Reunification of China” and invited 19 youths from the association to participate in the 10-day “Seeking Roots Journey” winter camp. The Hebei Overseas Chinese Federation and Handan Overseas Chinese Federation paid for the activities, training, accommodations, transportation, and visits. One of the activities in this camp was to visit several of the CCP’s former revolution bases.
4. From June to September 2019, the Hebei Overseas Chinese Federation organized three sessions of the summer camp with a total of 134 participants. The Federation of Canadian Chinese Associations, the National Chinese School Association in U.S., and the Spanish Chinese and Western Culture and Art School sent students to participate in the 10-day “Seeking Roots Journey” summer camp.
5. Documents from the Handan Overseas Chinese Federation revealed that the organization has strengthened ties with overseas Chinese organizations, businessmen and leaders. It has established contacts with more than 100 overseas organizations including the British Hebei Association, the Chilean Chinese Chamber of Commerce, the Tanzania Chinese Chamber of Commerce, the Australian Hebei Chamber of Commerce, the Russian Hebei Chamber of Commerce, and the South American Confucius Institute. The Handan Overseas Chinese Federation also set up an official wechat account to “allow the overseas Chinese to hear the “voice of the party” and enable them to increase their political identification with the “Party’s ideology” and spread “China’s voice.”
6. Since 2019, the CCP has conducted in-depth investigations to compile a database of overseas Chinese who were originally from Ningxia, Shandong, Hebei, Inner Mongolia, Jiangsu, Guizhou and other provinces. It is believed that CCP will use the database to recruit spies or monitor overseas Chinese activities.
Source: Epoch Times, November 27, 2020
The Epoch Times recently obtained a number of internal documents, exposing many “stability maintenance measures” that are used in the Gaochang District of Turpan, Xinjiang. These documents show that the Xinjiang government hires a large number of people to be on an online surveillance team and to be “internet watchers” to monitor online speech and control public opinion.
In July 2017, the Cyberspace Administration of the Gaochang District, Turpan, Xinjiang conducted inquiries with the Tuoling Wine Industry Company, the Huozhou Fruit Industry Company and the Xiqi Information Service Center and wrote three summary reports. The reports gave details about the party building work that the party branch office in each company performs. It disclosed how the security team of each company manages the security and stability work. Examples include giving safety and security training and drills and having a 24-hour security team on-site. In addition, following the weekly flag-raising ceremony, companies often give the employees periodic updates on the new government policies and security measures.
A separate internal document contains a list of 45 people, their contact information and their registration form. These people are on the Internet commentator team working for the local police stations in the Gaochang District of Turpan. The registration form lists the names of the online forums and websites to which each of them is assigned. Another document has a list of people who perform the function of Internet watchers who submit inside information about their assigned district. For example, in the Xincheng district, there are 10 Internet watchers. One of them, from the united front office, has submitted 84 tips under her account.
Source: Epoch Times, November 26, 2020
On November 16, the Halifax International Security Forum (HFX), a think tank based in Halifax, Canada, published a Handbook for Democracies to support a shared understanding of the challenge that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) poses to freedom around the world. The title of the Handbook is China vs. Democracy: The Greatest Game.
“The year 2020 witnessed a paradigm shift in the democratic world’s understanding of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP),” said Peter Van Praagh, HFX President. “The 2020 paradigm shift in people’s attitudes toward China was a concrete change from the old conventional wisdom that an economically vibrant China would progress toward more freedom for its people, to the new conventional wisdom that the Chinese Communist Party is, in fact, the virus that endangers the world.”
The report said, “HFX spent the past decade calling attention to the challenge China poses through panel discussions at our annual Forum in Halifax. It was not until 2020, however, with the emergence of the global coronavirus pandemic that began in Wuhan, China, and all the uncertainty that accompanied it, that people around the world began to understand the real threat—to our supply chains, to international organizations, to the open exchange of information, to the protection of confidential information, and to freedom of the seas and skies.”
To compile the report, HFX, between February and October 2020, conducted in-depth interviews with more than 250 global experts and policy-and decision-makers.
The report states, “Accordingly, the PRC is intent on undermining democracy abroad. While the CCP continues to target democracies such as the United States, Canada, Great Britain, Germany, India, Japan, and Australia, it is Hong Kong and Taiwan that stand on the front-line of the PRC’s global assault on democracy; their very existence as democracies now hangs precariously in the balance.”
The report also states, “The PRC has committed to modernizing its military while growing bolder and more assertive geostrategically—and not just in Asia. What may sometimes look like innocent and incremental steps risk developing into a pattern that, in a decade or two, could transform the balance of military power as well as the relevance of alliances and partnerships among democracies.”
The report calls on the world’s democracies saying that they “must pursue a carefully considered yet robust push back—a push back that Xi’s China has brought upon itself. The CCP must recalibrate its global ambitions and step back from its ongoing assault on the world’s democracies.”
The handbook also features a set of principles that HFX will champion around the world to defend the values that underpin democratic societies. At the end of the handbook, it placed a list of practices that undermine its values and way of life and that the democratic world should defend itself from doing:
Ignoring China’s attempts to interfere with democratic societies;
Submitting to, collaborating with, or participating in any censorship or self-censorship of ideas, writings, artistic endeavors, or statements related to the People’s Republic of China;
Participating in any business or technology-related practices or exchanges that aid and abet Chinese Communist Party oppression of its own people;
Neglecting to oppose attempts by the People’s Republic of China to bring global governance of the internet and technological standards into alignment with its own authoritarian values and ambitions;
Supporting or engaging in any kind of punishment or sanction of anyone for engaging in criticism of china;
Failing to support democratically-minded people and governments around the world who the People’s Republic of China pressures or intimidates;
Knowingly buying or trading in Chinese products or services made with forced labor, or that are the result of criminal activities like counterfeiting or intellectual property theft.
Source: Halifax International Security Forum, November 16, 2020
Primary Taiwanese news agency Central News Agency (CNA) recently reported that, according to a report that the IAC (The Insurance Association of China), issued, China’s pension fund’s financial gap has widened. In the next five to ten years, the IAC expects that the financial gap for the Chinese pension fund will reach RMB eight to ten trillion yuan (around US$1.2 trillion to $1.5 trillion), and it won’t stop there. In the past few years, the Chinese pension gap has been a major concern among China’s elderly and even among middle-aged people. After 40 years of the birth control policy, the Chinese society is now aging very quickly. Those who pay into Social security are decreasing while the number of those receiving pensions is on the rise. The current Chinese pension system depends on social security, employers and personal funds. However, the system is not mature and lacks a managed investment market that is deep enough.
Source: CNA, November 20, 2020