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Geo-Strategic Trend

UDN: China Quietly Bans Chinese in India from Returning

United Daily News (UDN), one of the primary Taiwanese news groups, recently reported from New Delhi that Chinese workers in India have complained about not being able to return home. Without making a public announcement, the Chinese government quietly asked the Indian government not to issue travel permits to Chinese workers. This indirectly resulted in Chinese workers in India being banned from returning by air. Mr. Zhang, a Chinese citizen working in the Indian technology industry, confirmed this. He said he was not able to obtain an e-pass from the Indian government, even if he provided all the required documents. Another manager working for a Taiwanese firm suffered the same experience. Sun Weidong, the Chinese Ambassador to India, said in a media interview that the Chinese Embassy had frequent communications with Chinese citizens in India. Reporters in New Delhi from the Central News Agency (CNA, the largest news agency in Taiwan) contacted the Chinese Embassy. No one took the phone call, including the Media Relations section and the Consular Section. Taiwan and South Korea are arranging evacuation planes to bring their citizens home. Japan already did so. However, due to the border military conflicts between India and China, the number of Chinese citizens in India had significantly declined.

Source: UDN, May 6, 2021

Online Protesters Welcome Drawing Competition “China in the Eyes of Turks”

Online protesters welcomed the drawing competition “China in the Eyes of Turks.” The Turkish Ministry of Education and the Chinese Embassy in Turkey are organizing a drawing contest for Turkish high school students with the theme “China in my eyes,” to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries. The drawing contest has triggered a backlash among Turks, with Twitter users creating hashtags based on the contest’s name and posting pictures that are parodies of Uyghurs being persecuted.

In one drawing, a girl is leaping upwards towards the star and moon flag with a blue background, the symbol of the East Turkestan independence movement, with her right hand raised as if she is striving for a firm goal.

Ahmet Davutoglu, a longtime ally of current Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and a former foreign minister and prime minister, uploaded this drawing and posted “Our dream is East Turkistan. Dear children, draw your dream of saving your brothers and sisters in our ancestral home and send them to this contest. Say it out loud so that those who don’t want to see it can hear it!”

“#hayalimdekicin (China in my dream)” became a popular hashtag after netizens posted the Turkish Ministry of Education’s official letter on the Internet, while many Twitter users posted a number of comical images that were parodies of Uyghurs being persecuted.

The paintings included a group of men in blue shirts sitting on the ground under an iron curtain in a Xinjiang concentration camp with an adult in a red robe with a Chinese national five-star flag holding the mouth and nose of a Uighur girl in pigtails, a stained star and moon flag stained with five stars painted in blood, and a boy whose family was imprisoned in a concentration camp, sitting alone in his home and crying on Eid al-Fitr, a religious holiday that Muslims celebrate.

Twitter user @MardinTes said in Turkish and translates, “Our students should participate in this contest, with thousands of pictures depicting the torture, assimilation and genocide that the murderer China has inflicted on our kinsmen.”

Another user @seyittumturk7 posted in Turkish and translates, “State of Pain China, State of the Blood China, State of persecution China, State of Terror China, State of Tears China, Genocide State China.”

The Uyghurs living in Xinjiang province of China are a Turkic ethnic group sharing the same cultural and ancestral roots with the Turkish people. Beijing’s genocidal persecution of Uyghurs is viewed by most people in Turkey as the persecution of their brothers and sisters.

Source: Central News Agency, May 7, 2021

Australia Reconsiders China’s Lease of Darwin Port

The Australian government is reconsidering its decision to lease the Darwin port to a Chinese-owned company and may suspend the lease in response to national security concerns.

In 2015, the government of the Northern Territory of Australia reached a lease agreement with the Chinese company, Landbridge Group. Landbridge paid a one-time rent of over AU$500 million for the right to operate the Port of Darwin for up to 99 years, claiming at the time that the deal would promote Australia-China trade and tourism.

Huangfu Jing, an Australian commentator, observed that, with the deterioration of Australia-China relations, local opposition has been growing louder and louder. “In the early years, the international environment had not come to the point it is at today. The mainstream (Australian) society, especially the business community, believed that we could make money and trade with China. It (the Northern Territory government) made use of such opinions and facilitated the sale for its own benefit.”

The Port of Darwin is a dual-use civilian and military port, where U.S. Marines are stationed on a rotational basis. Huangfu added, “Beijing actually monitors every move the US Marines make in the Northern Territory and (the deal) does far more damage to Australia’s national interests than what the rental income covers. Landbridge is ostensibly a private company, but few Chinese private enterprises that can invest overseas are not under Beijing’s control.”

Australian media reports that the National Security Committee in Canberra has asked the Department of Defence to review and advise on the lease. Prime Minister Morrison also said last week that if national security becomes an issue at the port, action should be taken.

Joseph Cheng, retired professor at the City University of Hong Kong, said the Darwin Port is sensitive not only because of the presence of U.S. troops, but also because China sees it as a breakthrough in promoting its “Belt and Road” strategy. “There is an immense ocean stretching from China to the South Pacific. If China could obtain some bases on some of the islands, it would be very helpful to China for it to maintain a global communication system and a global satellite monitoring system. It would be very convenient to have Darwin Port as a connection point in the middle. The port stretches north to Papua New Guinea and then to Indonesia. The waters between the north coast of Australia and Indonesia are also believed to have rich oil and other energy resources.”

Source: Radio Free Asia, May 3, 2021

China’s Newly Amended Maritime Traffic Safety Law Raises Concerns

On Thursday April 29, China passed a newly amended Maritime Traffic Safety Law, over which a Taiwanese scholar expressed the concerns that Beijing is using the law to expand the gray zone of potential conflicts.

The National People’s Congress (NPC), China’s rubberstamp parliament, announced that the law will come into force on September 1.

Under Article 53 and Article 54, foreign vessels are required to report to the maritime authorities if they are submersible, nuclear powered, carry radioactive or poisonous materials or may in any other way endanger safety in navigation.

Article 92 stipulates that if a foreign ship may threaten the safety of China’s internal waters and territorial waters, the maritime authorities have the right to order it to leave. If a foreign ship violates Chinese laws and regulations on maritime traffic safety or prevention of pollution, the maritime authority may exercise the “right of hot pursuit.” The “right of hot pursuit” refers to the right of the authority of the coastal state to chase a foreign ship to the high seas, arrest those on board and bring the ship back to its port so they can face a trial. It can do this if it has sufficient reason to believe that the foreign ship has violated the laws and regulations of the state.

In addition, in the amended maritime law, China has changed the wording from the phrase “coastal waters” to “jurisdictional waters.

Su Tzu-yun, senior security analyst with Taiwan’s Institute for National Defense and Security Research, considers that both the Maritime Traffic Safety Law and the Maritime Police Law, a new law passed in January, are tools of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to claim and protect its national sovereignty and interests. The CCP is using the law to expand the gray area of conflict, and has raised concerns that this could become a loose cannon for maritime conflicts.

Su said that the Chinese government’s “jurisdictional waters” refers to “the internal waters, the territorial sea, the contiguous zone, the exclusive economic zone, the continental shelf, and other waters under the jurisdiction of the People’s Republic of China,” which it defines more broadly than “coastal waters.” However, the CCP has built many artificial islands in the South China Sea and claims that the 12 nautical miles surrounding each of them are all territorial waters, which gives the CCP an excuse to enforce the law when other countries simply carry out free navigation missions.

Source: Central News Agency, April 30, 2021

Africa’s Stadiums and China’s Sports Diplomacy

The French newspaper Le Monde recently published two articles that describe how Beijing is actively engaging in sports diplomacy in Switzerland, the headquarters of many international sports organizations. It also describes how the Chinese government is building sports facilities in Africa, especially sports stadiums, to gain control over African heads of government, win local sports markets, and secure access to important sports events in the continent.

The Chinese government is making arrangements in the sports industry to serve its goal of becoming a geopolitical power. One article in Le Monde quotes Carole Gomez, a researcher at the French Institute for International and Strategic Affairs, who commented that, until the 1950s, sports were marginally important for the Chinese government, except for fitness or training soldiers. Learning from the Cold War, the Chinese began to realize that the Olympic Games were not just a sporting event, and that it should not only participate in international sports competitions; China should also produce outstanding results to promote national pride.

Jean-Loup Chappelet, a professor at the University of Lausanne, Switzerland, outlined the strategic pattern of China’s participation in international sports bodies. It started with the participation of athletes. China followed by actively winning competitions. Then the Chinese government started organizing events. Finally, China gained a seat on the international organizing committee of the sport. Beijing began with table tennis and gymnastics and gradually advanced to a few new sports such as climbing and rugby sevens. Beijing used its huge domestic market and the construction of sports facilities as bait to gain a seat in international sports organizations. . . .  Sources familiar with the International Olympic Committee told Le Monde that international sports are in fact a mirror of today’s international community. What’s going on in the IOC is similar to what goes on at the United Nations and at the World Trade Organization. Beijing is actively pursuing control of these international sports organizations just as it is in other international arenas. While Europe and the United States are leaders in most of the international sports organizations, China is closely following in their footsteps.

Another Le Monde article mentioned that in mid-March, Alassane Ouattara, President of the African country Ivory Coast, personally inaugurated a 60,000-seat stadium, a gift from China, in the northern part of the capital Abidjan. The finale of the 2023 African Cup of Nations, the main international men’s soccer competition in the continent, will be held in Ivory Coast, where China will build two more stadiums elsewhere in the country, in addition to the one in Abidjan. The total cost is expected to be more than 200 million euros. Le Monde commented that China has built and renovated nearly 100 stadiums on the continent in recent decades, apparently to strengthen diplomatic relations with African countries, to open access to local markets, and to secure support from African countries in international organizations such as the United Nations.

In recent years, with the number of countries participating in the tournament increasing from 16 to 24, the Africa Cup of Nations could not have been held without China-built stadiums. The organizers lamented that the countries hosting the tournament could not afford to build their own stadiums and had to rely on China. In January, the rights to broadcast the games were sold to a Chinese company, Star Times. According to internal U.S. diplomatic documents, over the last two decades, Star Times, which gathers intelligence for Beijing in Africa, has become a major player in digital media on the continent. In other words, the African Cup of Nations are often played in China-built stadiums and Chinese media broadcast them.

Source: Radio France International, April 29, 2021

TikTok Accused in London of Collecting Children’s Private Information Illegally

Well-known Chinese news site NetEase (NASDAQ: NTES) recently reported that a class action lawsuit was filed in London against TikTok because it was illegally collecting private information from millions of children. TikTok may face a damages of billions of U.S dollars. According to Anne Longfield, leader of this current suit and the former Children’s Commissioner for England, every child can receive thousands of dollars in compensation if they win the case. According to Longfield, since May 25, 2018, every child who used TikTok suffered TikTok’s illegal information collection. The information was provided to unknown third parties for consumption regardless of what privacy settings the children had on the app. The information includes phone numbers, physical location and videos. TikTok claimed these accusations are baseless. In 2019, TikTok was fined by the U.S. FTC for a total of US$5.7 million for illegal information collection from underaged users. The company is still seeking settlement of a privacy related suit in the United States. The class lawsuite indicated that TikTok collected information without transparency and without the guardian’s consent, violating British and European Union data protection laws. There are 3.5 million children impacted in Britain alone.

Source: NetEase, April 21, 2021

Global Times: Russia Plans to Quit the International Space Station

Global Times recently reported that multiple high ranking Russian government officials said Russia will leave the alliances that constructed the International Space Station and start to build its own space station. This may put an end to the 20-year international relationship, which was recognized as a “rare example” of cooperation between Russia and the West. Dmitry Rogozin, Director General of Roscosmos, said Russia is gradually leaving the International Space Station and is ready to build Russia’s own, pending President Putin’s approval. The new Russian Station is expected to be launched in 2030. The International Space Station was founded in 1998. It centered on the United States and Russia, with the help from Japan, Canada, the European Space Agency member countries and Brazil. The 16-country international project received a total investment of over US$100 billion. Russia provided significant support to the International Space Station over the years. Currently the Station is rapidly aging. The United States did not show any interest in working with Russia in the future and both sides expressed the intent to have their own stations.

Source: Global Times, April 25, 2021

TSMC Chairman: China’s Semiconductor Industry Is Still Far Behind

Major Taiwanese news network China Times recently reported that Morris Chang, Chairman of TSMC (Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company), gave a speech at a think tank conference. He expressed the view that China’s semiconductor industry is still far behind Taiwan while South Korea’s Samsung is a strong competitor. TSMC is currently the world’s most valuable semiconductor manufacturer. Chang thinks Mainland China is still over five years behind, even with tens of billions of dollars in government subsidies. Chang said that Taiwan has three competitive advantages. One is a large talent pool in the semiconductor area. Even the United State cannot compare. The second is that all levels of managers are from Taiwan. The third advantage is Taiwan’s advanced high-speed railway system and freeway system, which are suitable for large-scale manufacturing personnel movements. TSMC has three major manufacturing centers across Taiwan and thousands of engineers can be mobilized without moving their homes. TSMC has started investments in the United States. However, Chang has some reservation about the popularity of the manufacturing industry in the U.S. as well as the loyalty of U.S. engineers.

Source: China Times, April 22, 2021