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Briefings

China-Vatican Deal a Blow to Taiwan’s Diplomacy

China and the Vatican recently made a historical breakthrough in their relations. They reached an interim agreement wherein the Holy See acknowledged the seven bishops that the Communist China appointed. Analysts said that this is a victory for Beijing and will inevitably have an impact on the relationship between the Vatican and Taiwan.

Previously, the Pope did not recognize the bishops that the Chinese government appointed. Although this interim agreement does not mention diplomatic relations, it is generally believed that this will improve the relationship between Beijing and the Holy See. Since 1951, the two countries diplomatic relations have been severed. In recent years, Taiwan has been maneuvering on an increasingly difficult diplomatic stage. The impact is obvious. At present, the Vatican is one of Taiwan’s 17 remaining countries with diplomatic ties. It is the only one in Europe.

Some believers worry that the new agreement will cause Taiwan to lose the Vatican as its most important diplomatic ally. Many experts also agree with this view.

Jonathan Sullivan, director of the China Policy Institute at the University of Nottingham, described the accord as “a strategic move on China’s part; and a naive one on the Vatican’s.”

YING Fuk Tsang, a theology professor at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, said that Beijing will inevitably use all means to seek recognition from the Holy See. He said that if China succeeds, it will be a major blow to Taiwan’s diplomacy.

Cardinal Joseph Zen, the outspoken former bishop of Hong Kong, accused Vatican officials of “selling out” ahead of Saturday’s agreement. In a blog posted shortly after the announcement he raised concern over its impact.

The cardinal wrote, “What will the (Chinese) government say to Catholics in China? ‘Obey us. The Holy See is already in agreement with us?’”

Recently underground churches in China have been raided, bulldozers have torn them down, or they were asked to hang China’s national flag. Religious materials have been confiscated and the clergy has been pressured to reveal personal information about believers to the authorities.

An underground clergyman said that they were afraid because the Sino-Vatican provisional agreement did not mention any measures of protection that would be available for them and their followers. One priest said that believers “have doubts about the government’s sincerity.”

Source: Deutsche Welle Chinese, September 23, 2018
https://p.dw.com/p/35MA3

China Orders Boost in Household Consumption

The Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) recently issued the Blue Book on the Chinese economy, which highlighted the low consumption rate as an issue of concern. On the heels of the publication, the official media reported that Beijing has given orders to “improve the consumption system and mechanisms, and further stimulate the residents’ consumption potential.”

The Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party and the State Council jointly handed out the “Opinion on improving the consumption mechanisms and further stimulating the consumption potential of residents.” It states that there are prominent institutional obstacles that restrict the expansion and upgrading of household consumption.

The opinion points out that key areas of the Chinese consumer market cannot meet the diversified demand from urban and rural residents effectively. The regulation authority has not adapted to the rapid development of the new modes of consumption. The quality standard system lags behind the need for escalated consumption quality and quantity. If the credit system and the consumer rights protection mechanisms do not play effective roles, the set of consumption policies cannot effectively support the rise in the residents’ consumption power.

As the CASS Blue Book reveals, China’s domestic consumption remains weak. The real growth rate of the per capita disposable income of the national residents in the first quarter of 2018 was 6.6 percent, far below the gross domestic product (GDP) growth rate. The urban and rural consumption expenditures as a percentage of disposable income hover at a low level of 63 percent.

Source: Central News Agency, September 20, 2018
http://www.cna.com.tw/news/acn/201809200345-1.aspx

Beidou and the “Space Silk Road”

On Wednesday September 19, China launched two Beidou navigation satellites so as to join the network with the previously launched Beidou-3 navigation satellite. By 2020, Beidou is expected to boast of having 35 satellites covering the earth. This year alone, China has launched more than 10 Beidou satellites.

The Beidou navigation system has seen an increasing application in China. In Ningxia, farmers use it to provide navigation for unmanned agricultural machinery; in Inner Mongolia, herders in remote areas can send text messages through Beidou, and remotely control the water supply for livestock. In Beijing, 33,500 taxis and 21,000 buses have already installed Beidou chips. The Chinese government has set a goal to install Beidou chips in all new cars by 2020.

China is keen to upgrade its technological capabilities. After completing the global network by 2020, the Beidou system is expected to be a world-class navigation system and comparable to the U.S. GPS system.

Beidou was originally designed for the Chinese military to reduce its dependence on the U.S. GPS system. With the expansion of its coverage, business opportunities have also emerged.

Beidou’s ambitious expansion is coupled with China’s foreign policy. By the end of 2018, Beidou will cover the countries along the “Belt and Road,” and create a “Space Silk Road.” At present, Beidou covers 30 countries along the route, including Pakistan, Laos, and Indonesia. If these countries join the “Space Silk Road,” they could become dependent on the space services that Beijing provides, which will have more influence on their policies.

Three other satellite navigation systems are currently in place – Glonass in Russia, Galileo in Europe, and GPS in the United States. Blaine Curcio, founder of Hong Kong-based space and satellite consulting firm Orbital Gateway, said that we may see the world gradually split into “pro-China” and “pro-U.S.” camps. Those who are “pro-China” may be less likely to trust the satellite navigation services of the U.S. or the EU, and would therefore choose Beidou.

The Beidou chips have been widely deployed in Chinese made mobile phones, such as Xiaomi, Huawei and OnePlus, although Apple hasn’t incorporated Beidou in its latest iPhone which was released on September 12. Chinese official media said that this choice “does not rule out political reasons.”

Source: BBC Chinese, September 21, 2018
https://www.bbc.com/zhongwen/simp/chinese-news-45606188

Chinese Ministry of Justice: CCP to Cover the Lawyer’s Profession

China’s Ministry of Justice recently held a working meeting to promote the party’s development work among all lawyers across the nation, signaling a trend in which the Chinese Communist Party will play a more dominant role in the legal profession.

The national party development conference took place in Kunming on September 17. It emphasized the need to “adhere sincerely to the party’s all-around leadership in the lawyers’ profession” and demanded “the implementation of the tasks of party building work among lawyers.” The mandate was that, by the end of this year, the CCP organizations should achieve 100 percent coverage in the field of lawyers businesses.

In addition, on Tuesday, China’s Supreme People’s Court issued the “Work Plan for the Full Implementation of the Socialist Core Values in Judicial Interpretation (2018-2023),” which, for the next five years, is to serve as a guiding opinion for the judicial interpretation of the court. It seems that the Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era, also known as Xi Jinping Thought, is no longer propaganda, but is a major basis for the future of legal and judicial development.

Source: Radio Free Asia, September 18, 2018
https://www.rfa.org/mandarin/yataibaodao/renquanfazhi/hj-09182018103501.html

People’s Daily on CCP’s Comprehensive Leadership in Education

A recent official People’s Daily editorial re-emphasized the Chinese Communist Party’s leadership role in the education sector.

Chinese President Xi Jinping delivered an “important speech at the National Education Conference.” “Starting from the overall development of the party and the state, he emphasized the importance of strengthening the party’s leadership in doing a good job in education and gave clear mandates on strengthening the party’s overall leadership in education.”

“To achieve the Party’s comprehensive leadership over education, ideological and political leadership is the number one issue. Marxism is the fundamental guiding ideology for the party and the country. We must always adhere to the guiding position of Marxism and carry out ideological and political work throughout the entire process of school education and administration, so that education becomes a strong battleground for upholding the party’s leadership.”

“To uphold the party’s leadership over the cause of education, the key is the details. Whether the party’s leadership can be effectively achieved depends on whether the party’s organizations in the education sector are sound and perfect and whether the Party’s development work is well done. Party organizations at all levels and schools must take the school’s party development work as a basic skill. The party’s education policy ought to be fully implemented in every aspect of school work.”

Source: People’s Daily, September 18, 2018
http://paper.people.com.cn/rmrb/html/2018-09/18/nw.D110000renmrb_20180918_2-02.htm

One Third of U.S. Companies in China Postponing or Cancelling Investment Plans

Well-known online Chinese news site Sina recently reported on a study report that the American Chamber of Commerce in China just published. The report shows that the tariff war between China and the United States has impacted two thirds of the U.S. companies in China. The next wave affecting US$200 billion in tariffs on Chinese imports will bring the impact scope to above 70 percent. Most of the impacted areas involve cost increases (47.1 percent) and reduced demand (41.8 percent). Around one third of those surveyed U.S. companies plan to postpone or cancel investment plans. Also, around one third of the companies will adjust supply chains. The most popular countries for the new suppliers are Southeast Asian counties and Indian subcontinent countries. The survey was conducted around the beginning of September. Over 430 Chamber member companies responded. Around 61 percent of these companies are in the manufacturing industry.

Source: Sina, September 13, 2018
http://finance.sina.com.cn/roll/2018-09-13/doc-ihkahyhw6731235.shtml

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