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Miles Yu: Xi Jinping Misjudges U.S. Politics in Making Abstract Demands of Biden

In July’s episode of the “China Insider” podcast hosted by Miles Yu, who served as principal China policy and planning adviser under former U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Yu talked about how Xi Jinping misjudged U.S.-China relations this year. According to Yu, Xi’s main concern has not been specific U.S. policies but rather how U.S. political ideology might influence the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP’s) regime. Xi wished to secure a series of commitments from U.S. leadership, but what Xi asked for was not easy for the U.S. to carry out concretely. Thus Xi’s perceived stumbling blocks in U.S.-China relations have not been addressed.

In a March 2023 phone call, Biden agreed to several abstract requests made by Xi, including commitments regarding U.S. geopolitical influence over China and Taiwan. Biden’s administration has not followed up with concrete actions, however. Yu points out that Xi operates within communist China’s authoritarian and dictatorial model, so he has been unable to understand why his demands are unrealistic from the perspective of the U.S. model of government.

Yu said that Xi made several strong demands of Biden during their phone call in March.

  • First, Xi hoped that the U.S. government would clearly state that it does not seek “regime change” in China. Biden thought for a moment and gave a commitment on that.
  • Second, Xi demanded that the Biden government assure China that it won’t organize “anti-China alliances.” Biden thought about this request and said that the U.S. has a strong alliance system worldwide, but there is no alliance system specifically targeting a particular country. So Biden agreed to this request by Xi.
  • Third, Xi Jinping asked Biden to promise not to support Taiwan independence. Biden agreed.

Following the phone call, Xi believed that he had secured some fundamental ideological commitments from the U.S. government. The Biden administration, on the other hand, felt that Xi’s demands were abstract and unrealistic (hard or impossible to implement) — this is why Biden was willing to agree to them.

After the phone call, the U.S. government didn’t take any concrete measures based on Xi’s demands — they couldn’t be implemented. China has been complaining that President Biden has not kept his promises and hasn’t taken concrete actions. Under pressure from the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), the Biden administration sent cabinet-level members to China to visit, hoping to implement some measures from the March phone call. However, these officials (including Antony Blinken, Janet Yellen, and John Kerry) focused on specific, practical matters and did not address the larger strategic issues that were irking Xi. Indeed, in Yu’s assessment, Xi and the CCP have a misguided understanding about how the U.S. political system works — despite a series of cabinet-level visits to China, Xi’s demands couldn’t be addressed.

Source: Hudson Institute Website, July 28, 2023

CCP Begins Brainwashing Hong Kong Students

The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has a history of effectively indoctrinating people, starting from kindergarten. This practice is now extending to Hong Kong’s students.

In June of this year, all freshman-year students of Hong Kong’s Pui Kiu Middle School wrote a letter to Xi Jinping. In his response, Xi encouraged these students “to gain a deeper understanding of global developments and to explore the history, culture, and realities of our country.” The Hong Kong education sector took this letter as a “sacred message” and reacted by implementing various “learning sessions.”

Reports have emerged suggesting that the Hong Kong government is considering a mandate that would require all Hong Kong primary and secondary school students to visit “holy” sites of the communist revolution in China so as to instill “the communist spirit” in the youth.

Hong Kong’s students were at the forefront of resistance against the CCP during the 2019-2020 anti-extradition protests. The CCP is now actively working to mold Hongkongese youth into conforming supporters of the regime.

Source: Newtalk, September 18, 2023

Xi Jinping Urges Secretaries to Increase Their Political Alignment

High-level CCP official Cai Qi delivered a message from Xi Jinping in a speech to China’s National Conference of Secretaries for Party Committees and Government Offices, urging the secretaries present to increase their political alignment with the CCP’s Central Committee. Cai Qi is a member of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) Politburo Standing Committee and the Director of the General Office of the CCP Central Committee. The National Conference convened in Beijing on September 13th and 14th.

The speech emphasized the need for a “new atmosphere” and working approach within the general offices of Party committees and government bodies. Such committees and bodies are typically run by secretaries supporting top officials. Xi’s message urged these secretaries to “enhance their political alignment, uphold the guidance of Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era, broaden their perspective to encompass the nation’s broader objectives, deepen the development of political institutions, steadfastly uphold the centralized and unified leadership of the Party Central Committee, and consistently align their ideology, politics, and actions with the Party Central Committee.”

{Editor’s Note: There have been rumors that the arrest of Li Yuchao, the former Commander of the Chinese Military’s Rocketry Division, was triggered by a report from his secretary, and that Li Yuchao privately disagreed with Xi Jinping’s plan to take Taiwan by military force. If the rumors are true, the incident with Li Yuchao’s secretary may have motivated Xi’s message to the secretary conference, encouraging secretaries to be loyal to Xi and the CCP’s Central Committee rather than to the officials they serve.}

Source: People’s Daily, September 15, 2023

PLA Officer Advocates Preemptive Strikes Against U.S. in Event of War

Li Li (李莉), a prominent military commentator and esteemed professor at China’s National Defense University, recently made a bold assertion during a televised discussion. In contemplating the prospect of armed conflict, Li recommended that the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) consider a proactive “preemptive” approach, targeting U.S. military installations in Japan as a primary strategic objective.

Li’s perspective can be summarized as follows: “In the event of war, our foremost imperative is to preemptively neutralize U.S. military bases situated in Japan.” In her discourse, Li used the term “American imperialism” to refer to the United States and emphasized that “we will not hesitate like Russia did”. She firmly asserted that “only decisive and swift counteraction can guarantee our nation’s survival and sustained progress. We shall not delay in neutralizing U.S. ‘black’ aircraft carriers and ‘black’ bombers. We shall seize the earliest opportunity to take actions and leave the enemy no chance to breathe.”

Source: Aboluo, September 8, 2023

Huanqiu: Ministry of State Security Commented on the U.S.’ Policies Towards China

Huanqiu published an unexpected commentary by the Ministry of State Security concerning the United States’ policies towards China. Typically, such remarks emanate from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The commentary asserts that while the U.S. has shifted its strategy from the “old two approaches” to the “new two approaches” and claims that it is doomed for failure.

The core excerpt from the commentary reads as follows:

In previous decades, the U.S. adhered to the “old two approaches” regarding China, characterized as “Contact + Containment.” This approach entailed on one hand, engaging China within the international system and fostering cooperation, while concurrently executing covert infiltration and containment strategies against China. This dual-handed approach intricately shaped the complexity that has historically marked Sino-U.S. relations.

In the contemporary geopolitical landscape, the rivalry between the two global powers, the United States and China, has unequivocally become the prevailing theme in international politics. Consequently, Sino-U.S. relations have entered a novel phase, with the U.S. unveiling its “Competition + Control Competition” strategy.

The crux of this strategy lies in “Competition,” constituting the primary thrust of the U.S. approach. It encompasses economic decoupling, political coalition-building, security deterrence, information warfare, and norm/rule setting endeavors. Both the Trump and Biden administrations have been steadfast and increasingly assertive in their pursuit of this approach. Looking ahead, the U.S. may well implement even more formidable “competition” measures, with many yet unseen.

Simultaneously, the U.S. has adopted a discernible “Control Competition” tactic. While “Competition” seeks to stymie China, “Control Competition” seeks to manage this suppression without permitting it to spiral out of control. The Biden administration has repeatedly referenced concepts like “guardrails,” “thresholds,” and “parameters,” transitioning from the notion of “decoupling” to “de-risking,” and vocally committing to the “Four No’s and One Unintentional.” All these actions are aimed at maintaining control over the competitive dynamics. “Competition” constitutes a strategic move, whereas “Controlling Competition” is more tactical and serves as a complementary aspect of the overall competitive strategy.

This shift in strategy reflects three underlying objectives of the U.S. government:

  • Dissemination of Ambiguous Signals: By releasing “mixed signals,” the U.S. aims to obfuscate its intentions and make it challenging for its opponent (China) to decipher and evaluate its actions—a fundamental tactic reminiscent of the Cold War era.
  • Mitigating Overreactions: The U.S. endeavors to forestall any excessive reactions from its opponent by exhibiting “self-restraint,” a strategy that has a historical precedent in the annals of great power politics over the past few centuries.
  • Expanding Channels of Influence: The U.S. seeks to create a “dialog window” to augment avenues for influence, thereby fostering limited cooperation with its opponent.

Source: Huanqiu, September 3, 2023

Li Qiang Announced China’s Leadership Training Programs for ASEAN Countries

Chinese Premier Li Qiang, speaking at the annual summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and China, unveiled China’s initiatives to train future leaders for ASEAN nations.

Li stated, “Fourthly, we will work together to expand humanistic exchanges. China is willing to work with ASEAN to continue to build a solid foundation of public opinion in our relations, implement the Global Civilization Initiative, and take next year’s co-hosting of the China-ASEAN Year of Humanistic Exchanges as an opportunity to further strengthen exchanges in the areas of culture, tourism, training, and youth, so as to continue to deepen the blending of civilizations and people-to-people exchanges. In the next three years, China will build 10 “China-ASEAN Modern Craftsman Institute” in ASEAN countries, continue to carry out the “Bridge of the Future” China-ASEAN Youth Leaders Training Program, and launch the “Ten Thousand People Training and Seminar Program,” to train 10,000 talents for ASEAN countries in the fields of governance, anti-corruption, and green development.”

Source: China’s Foreign Ministry website, September 7, 2023

Chinese Singer Accusing Ukraine for Killing Its Own People

Chinese singer Wang Fang blamed Ukraine for killing its own people, creating episode number two after her visit to the Mariupol Opera House in Ukraine, where she sang the Russian patriotic song “Katyusha.” The actions of Wang and the group she was with, known as the “Chinese self-media delegation,” drew strong criticism from the Ukrainian government and the international community, since Russia bombed the Opera House, resulting in the deaths of hundreds, including many children.

Upon returning to Moscow, the four people from the group held a press conference. Wang said, “When I saw that the Ukrainian Nazis were killing the children in the Donbass, a wave of anger went through me, so I decided to come to the Donbass to help the children.” Her husband, Zhou Xiaoping, an internet writer known for promoting communist and leftist ideologies, placed blame on Ukraine rather than Russia for the destruction of the theater. He also echoed Russian propaganda by asserting that Russia was protecting the local population from NATO attacks.

Source: China News Center, September 11, 2023


Chinese Think Tanker: Traditional Economic Stimulus Ineffective in China’s New Normal

Cai Fang (蔡昉), Chief Expert of Chinese Academy of Social Sciences’ National High-end Think Tank, delivered a speech on September 3, highlighting that China’s economy has transitioned into a new normal, rendering traditional stimulus approaches obsolete.

Cai identified three key characteristics of China’s new economic landscape from both macro and micro perspectives:

  1. A rapidly declining population and a significant decrease in its labor force.
  2. Weak consumer demand, exacerbated by demographic aging.
  3. Mounting pressures in labor market, including labor shortages and the need to align the workforce’s skills with evolving industry demands.

Cai proposed three strategic policy directions:

  1. Promote a Competitive Environment: Encourage the removal of less competitive companies to stimulate innovation and enhance productivity.
  2. Rethink Traditional Macroeconomic Stimulus: Recognize that traditional stimulus measures no longer align with today’s economic landscape. For example, previous approaches emphasized infrastructure spending, which does not address the job-seeking preferences of today’s youth, who seek opportunities in the service sector rather than construction.
  3. Advance structural Reforms: Prioritize reforms such as the overhaul of the Hukou (household registration) system to incentivize urban-bound rural residents to increase their spending in urban areas.

Source: 21st Century Business Herald,  September 3, 2023