VOA carried an article about the election on Sunday, March 26, for Hong Kong’s Chief Executive. The article noted that, based on its analysis, Carrie Lam, the newly elected Chief Executive will face challenges in carrying out her policies because Beijing wanted her to be in that position even though she was far behind in the polls compared to her opponent John Tsang. The article stated that the Hong Kong election is also called a “limited election” because a committee made the decision; it consists of 70 members of Hong Kong’s legislative chamber and a mix of professionals, and business and trade elites. The article said that Sunday’s end result was “just as expected” and “with no surprises.” Carrie Lam, former Chief Secretary for the Administration of the Hong Kong SAR Government, won the election after gaining 777 votes (out of a total of 1,163 votes cast). The other two candidates were John Tsang, the former Finance secretary, who also led in the public opinion polls and and Woo Kwok-hing, a retired judge. Tsang had 365 votes and Woo Kwok-hing had 21 votes. According to the article, at the last minute, Beijing worked hard to put pressure on the business committee members to convince them to switch their position. This made Carrie Lam’s votes a lot higher than expected. Leung Kwok-hung, a member of the Legislative Council, told VOA that Beijing controlled the election. He explained that, according to a number of major Hong Kong media, even though Carrie Lam was 20 to 30 percent behind John Tsang in the polls one week before the election, Carrie Lam still won. Leung told VOA, “She had Beijing’s support, which might work against her in Hong Kong if she plans to execute her plans.” Another independent legislator told VOA that Lam winning the election will force Hong Kong to split even further and she will have a hard time managing Hong Kong. The article said that Carrie Lam is also called “Leung Chun-ying 2.0” because she claimed that one of her reasons to enter the election was that she wishes to continue the policies of Leung Chun-ying the incumbent Chief Executive. The author also interviewed Joshua Wong Chi-fung, the student activist who serves as secretary general of Demosistō, who told VOA that Beijing has been manipulating the election and that therefore, in the future, it will have to face more resistance from Hong Kong’s youth.
Source: Voice of America, March 26, 2017
On March 11, Xiao Jie, the Party Secretary of Sansha City in Hainan Province revealed that, in 2017, Sansha City will start an early operation to set up an Environmental Monitoring Station at Scarborough Shoal. However, at her regular press conference on March 22, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying denied the news, saying that the report regarding the monitoring station at the Scarborough Shoal was false and there is no such a plan.
What caused China’s sudden change of plans for Scarborough Shoal?
First of all, a breakthrough is expected soon on the negotiations on the South China Sea code of conduct. China’s aggressive actions at Scarborough Shoal at this time would surely raise concerns among ASEAN countries.
Second is the Philippines factor. After Duterte took office, Sino-Philippine diplomatic relations began to warm up. If China were to take action at Scarborough Shoal at this time, it would inevitably affect the development of bilateral relations.
Third is the U.S. factor. Scholars of Sino-U.S. strategic relations have a saying, “The day when China works on Scarborough Shoal is the day that China and the United States have a showdown in the South China Sea.” The current tension in the South China Sea dispute has led both China and the United States to strengthen military deployment in the South China Sea. So far, China’s island expansion and the United States’ military patrols to maintain freedom of navigation are controlled below the limit of any direct conflict. Scarborough Shoal seems to have become a red line in the South China Sea.
In addition, Chinese President Xi Jinping will visit the United States next month. Any move at Scarborough Shoal at this time would destroy the friendly atmosphere of the Sino-U.S. meeting.
Source: Duowei News, March 24, 2017
Taiwan’s government urged the U.S. not to sign a new joint communiqué with China that would require Washington to acknowledge Beijing’s “one China” principle. Central News Agency (CNA), Taiwan’s state-owned news agency, reported on this issue on March 22. Rumors have been circulating that the U.S. and China could sign a fourth communiqué at the upcoming meeting between the two countries’ leaders next month.
“Signing of a fourth communiqué at the upcoming meeting would be unwise,” said Taiwan’s Foreign Minister David Lee during a Legislative Yuan inquiry on Wednesday, “We hope the U.S. does not regress on its ‘one China’ policy.” According to Lee, the U.S. government replied to Taiwan’s concerns but the contents of the official response were unsuitable for publication.
Singapore’s leading Chinese newspaper Zaobao reported that Chao Chun-shan, president of the Taiwan-based Foundation of Asia-Pacific Peace Studies, downplayed the chances of a fourth communiqué being signed at the U.S.-China summit in April. Chao noted that the two countries’ top priorities will be U.S.-China trade issues and tensions on the Korean peninsula.
Sources: Central News Agency, March 22, 2017
Zaobao, March 22, 2017
Yang Xiaodu, Deputy Party Secretary of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) and Minister of Supervision gave a keynote speech at China’s Top Leaders Development Forum. Yang seemed to indicate that the CCDI wants to target some business tycoons and their connections with those having political power.
Yang pointed out that some entrepreneurs are extremely willing to deal with government officials. There are two abnormal situations. “One is when capitalists want to receive special treatment. However, that violates the market economy’s fair competition principle.” “Another one is when capitalists seek political power after grabbing economic power. This is very dangerous.”
“China’s enterprises have huge wealth, but the purpose is to benefit the public and society … It cannot become a tool and a means to corrupt government officials for the sake of their own enterprise’s interests.”
Source: The Paper, March 18, 2017
The Communist Party’s Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) started its “Skynet 2017” operations on March 7. “Skynet” is a campaign to bring corrupt officials who hide overseas back to China. CCDI carries out this operation every year.
The CCDI website explained that this year’s operation focuses on three things: money, ID, and people.
“The majority of criminal suspects tried to transfer money overseas before they left China. The campaign targets off-shore companies and underground banks to block the channels used for getting stolen money out of China.
“’Skynet 2017’ closely watches people’s IDs. As part of its routine work, it includes oversight of illegally obtained passports and IDs and the government officials’ private passports.
“It closely monitors people. It will strengthen the monitoring of key corruption suspects and people who can provide valuable tips so that a slight leak of information will prevent the suspect from escaping.”
1. CCDI Website, March 8, 2017
2. CCDI Website, March 8, 2017
Structural construction has almost been completed on China’s first domestic aircraft carrier and it is expected to be launched this year. In the future, China’s aircraft carrier manufacturing plan will not stop here. In an interview with CCTV, military experts said that China will need at least six aircraft carriers to meet operational requirements and that the aircraft carrier should develop in the direction of being large-scale.
Military expert Cao Weidong said that China’s maritime boundary is very long and China faces serious threats from the sea. China desperately needs a large-scale combat platform such as the aircraft carriers. Therefore, China should not stop at one or two aircraft carriers. Nuclear-powered aircraft carriers represent the future direction of development, with bigger tonnage and stronger combat capability. (China) should build ejection take-off aircraft carriers and have fixed-wing early warning planes on the aircraft carriers.
Military expert Yin Zhuo said that Chinese army must have aircraft carrier battle formations in the direction of both the East China Sea and the South China Sea. Each aircraft carrier battle team should be at least a double aircraft carrier battle group. In general, three aircraft carriers are needed in order to maintain a double aircraft carrier battle group. Thus, the Chinese Navy will need at least six aircraft carriers to meet operational requirements.
Source: People’s Daily, March 22, 2017