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Geo-Strategic Trend

RTHK: Japan Strengthens Approval Process on Foreign Investments

Radio Television Hong Kong (RTHK, the top government-owned broadcasting organization of Hong Kong) recently reported that Japan plans to strengthen its review and approval process of foreign investments significantly. It will do this in 12 key categories, including national defense, nuclear, air and space, public services, natural gas, network security, and telecommunications. Foreign investments that will take a one percent or more stake in Japanese companies in these categories will require a review and approval first. The criteria used to be ten percent. There are around 400 to 500 publicly listed Japanese companies fitting the criteria. The Japanese government plans to announce the official list of companies in April. In the meantime, the Japanese congress is planning to pass a new law tightening up reporting requirements on foreign investments in national security related companies. Analysts expressed the belief that Japan is concerned that China is trying to obtain critical technologies. The Japanese Deputy Prime Minister pointed out that the new law is to address certain concerns on national security, but it is also designed to welcome more investments. The new approval process is expected to take effect in May.

Source: RTHK, February 21, 2020
https://news.rthk.hk/rthk/ch/component/k2/1509965-20200221.htm?spTabChangeable=0

UDN: Historic Chinese-Vatican Foreign Minister Meeting Signals Warning to Taiwan

United Daily News (UDN), one of the primary Taiwanese news groups, recently reported that, according to the Mainland Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Chinese Minister of Foreign Affairs Wang Yi met with the Vatican Secretary for Relations with States, Paul Gallagher (also known as the foreign minister of the Holy See), in Munich. This is the first time in 70 years. The Vatican described the talk that took place in a cordial atmosphere. On behalf of the Pope, Gallagher expressed his respect and support for China’s fight against the coronavirus and expressed the Vatican’s belief in China’s wisdom and courage. The Vatican issued a statement later affirming China’s effort in the virus battle and the Vatican sided with the people in pain. Given this is the first time the two Foreign Ministers met, it should be considered an important alarm to Taiwan’s foreign affairs work.

Source: UDN, February 15, 2020
https://udn.com/news/story/6809/4347675

Chinese Military Aircraft Circle Taiwan Region

Major Taiwanese news network Liberty Times Network (LTN) recently reported that the Mainland military has been sending multiple aircraft to circle the areas around Taiwan. The rising new Taiwanese party, the New Power Party (NPP), published an official post on Facebook, accusing the Mainland authorities of wasting time threatening Taiwan, when the whole world is expecting the Communists to report honestly about the status of the coronavirus and to control the virus to keep it from spreading. The NPP also pointed out that the military activities may be one way to “release the Mainland’s internal pressure.”

The Primary Taiwanese news agency Central News Agency (CNA) later reported that, after Mainland aircraft circled the Taiwan region on February 9 and 10, the U.S. military sent MC-130J multi-mission combat aircraft and B-52 bombers on February 12 to patrol east and west Taiwan. On February 15, the U.S. also sent a combat warship to pass through the Taiwan Strait. This is the second time this year that the U.S. Navy dispatched a warship to the Taiwan Strait. The last time was on January 17. Strategists pointed out that the U.S. activities should be considered as a response to the Chinese operations.

Sources:

(1) LTN, February 10, 2020
https://news.ltn.com.tw/news/politics/breakingnews/3063118
(2) CNA, February 15, 2020
https://www.cna.com.tw/news/firstnews/202002150253.aspx

Taiwan: Commentary – Why Beijing Does Not Allow Taiwan to Evacuate Its Citizens

As many countries have withdrawn their citizens from Wuhan, Taiwan also wanted to evacuate its 300 citizens who are currently trapped in Wuhan. However, Beijing wouldn’t give the evacuation a green light but instead claimed that it will provide “special care” for them in Wuhan.

An Epoch Times article commented that there could be three possible reasons for the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to do this:

  1. To keep the Taiwan people as political hostages in revenge for its defeat in the Taiwan Presidential election. The CCP supported the Kuomintang candidate, Han Kuo-yu, whose relationship with the CCP was much closer than that of President Tsai Ing-wen.
  2. To keep them long enough to make some of them catch the virus or even die. That could create a big backlash against Tsai’s government in Taiwan.
  3. To give their “red agents” an opportunity to gain political capital. These agents could come out as the heroic mediators who broker a deal between the two sides and bring the Taiwan people back.

Related postings on Chinascope:

Source: Epoch Times, February 1, 2020
https://www.epochtimes.com/gb/20/2/1/n11836485.htm

Xinhua: U.S. Middle East Proposal Received Mixed Reactions

Xinhua reported, one day after U.S. President Trump announced the new Middle East peace agreement, that the key players had mixed responses. Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu stood behind the U.S. and supported the proposal. The Palestinians clearly refused the proposal in full, since they were not at all involved in drafting the deal. The UN Secretary General supported the “Two Nations” strategy since it had been determined in a number of UN resolutions. The Arab League said the U.S. plan will result in the loss of many rights on the Palestinian side and called for compliance to international laws and standards. Egypt urged a dialogue between Palestinians and the Israelis to offer their thoughts on the Trump proposal. Turkey, however, described the U.S. proposal as already dead. Iran asked all Islamic countries to stand up against the U.S. “shameful agreement.” Jordan in the meantime supported all peaceful efforts and suggested a swift start of proper negotiations. The European Union needed more time to look carefully at the new proposal but was willing to help in the negotiation. The French government will also carefully study the agreement and stick to a “Two Nations” solution. The Germans said only an agreement accepted by both sides can lead to long-lasting peace. The British government welcomed the U.S. proposal, but emphasized the importance of having the buy-in of both the Palestinians and the Israelis.

Source: Xinhua, January 29, 2020
http://www.xinhuanet.com/2020-01/29/c_1125511294.htm

Lianhe Zaobao: High Profile International Companies Suspended Chinese Operations

Singapore’s primary Chinese language newspaper Lianhe Zaobao recently reported that, with the spread of the coronavirus across China, several high profile international companies have suspended their Chinese operations. Google closed all of its outlets in Mainland China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan. IKEA closed all its 30 stores in Mainland China. IKEA earlier only planned to close half of its stores. McDonald’s closed all its 300 branches in Hubei Province. Multiple airlines decided to reduce or close their flights to and from China. Air Canada cancelled a full month of all flights to Beijing and Shanghai; Lufthansa, Swissair, and Austrian Airlines cancelled two weeks; Air France reduced flights for a week; British Airlines cancelled all flights to all Chinese cities. American Airlines and Delta both reduced flights. Lion Air Indonesia cancelled all of its flights to China. Indian’s IndiGo Air stopped flights to Chengdu, China, and Hong Kong. China has so far closed more than ten cities. Local spending saw a significant reduction in China. This might also be a reason to suspend retail activities.

Source: Lianhe Zaobao, January 31, 2020
https://beltandroad.zaobao.com/beltandroad/news/story20200131-1025165

China’s Ambassadors Failed to Raise Money from German Businesses for a Pro-China Portal

German national television recently reported that two of China’s Ambassadors to Germany asked German businesses for money to finance a portal supporting Beijing.

The idea of the portal, named “China reporter,” was from Wolfgang Hirn, editor of Manager magazine and Georg Blume, a free-lance writer for Times and Der Spiegel. Both are viewed as “experts on China” in the German media circle.

Shi Mingde, the previous Chinese Ambassador to Germany, had been trying to raise money for this project. On February 28, 2019, his last day as Ambassador, he even wrote fund-raising letters to large foundations and companies listed on Dax.

His successor Wu Ken sent his letter on December 4, 2019, a few days after the media exposed the Communist regime’s systematic arrests of Uyghurs in Xinjiang. “Since the German media did one-sided reporting (criticizing the CCP), it has become a more urgent need to spread a full and better image of China.”

According to the German media’s investigation, none of the foundations or companies that received the Ambassador’s letters provided funds. However, it is quite shocking that the CCP even asked German businesses for money for it to influence public opinion in Germany.

Source: Epoch Times, January 21, 2020
https://www.epochtimes.com/gb/20/1/20/n11808274.htm

Why WHO Praised Beijing’s Response to the Coronavirus

On January 28, when the situation of the Wuhan coronavirus continued to worsen, the World Health Organization director general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, traveled to Beijing to meet with Chinese president Xi Jinping and other Chinese Communist Party leaders. Tedros gave high praise to the commitment of the Chinese government to combat the transmission of the virus very highly.

As multiple governments, including the U.S., France, Japan, South Korea, and Russia, have implemented or planned to evacuate their citizens from Wuhan, WHO advised against it, expressing full confidence in the Chinese government’s capabilities.

Earlier on January 23, WHO decided not to declare the outbreak a public health emergency of international concern, or PHEIC. On January 28, WHO admitted an error in its risk assessment. The Geneva-based UN agency said in a situation report that the risk was “very high in China, high at the regional level and high at the global level,” and that it had stated things “incorrectly” in its previous reports on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday that the global risk was “moderate.”

Records of donations of WHO member states (to Who) show China’s payments rose from sixth place in 2016-2017 with a share of 5.14 percent, to the third place in 2018-2019 with a share of 7.92 percent, second only to the 22 percent from the U.S. and 9.68 percent from Japan.

Lin Shih-chia, Chief Executive Officer of the non-government organization Foundation of Medical Professionals Alliance in Taiwan (FMPAT), told Radio Free Asia that it was not surprising that the WHO gave priority to politics over professional judgment. Lin, who has been advocating Taiwan’s participation in WHO for 25 years, recalls that, although the mission of the WHO should prioritize the health of all human beings, Taiwan’s experience over the past few years has shown that WHO placed politics high on its agenda. From 2009 to 2016, Taiwanese delegates were able to attend the World Health Assembly as an observer. However, after Tsai Ing-wen, a leader unfavorable to Beijing, was elected, Taiwan was no longer qualified as an observer.

According to Chen Chien-jen, Taiwan’s vice president and epidemiologist, during the SARS epidemic in 2003, Taiwan was blocked from immediate notification of the situation because Taiwan was not a WHO member state. 37 Taiwanese died from SARS.

Jessica Drun, a researcher at the Project 2049 Institute, told RFA that, “China’s influence in the United Nations and international organizations is ubiquitous. … When political considerations are given priority (over public health considerations), health care across the region and the world is at risk.”

Source: Radio Free Asia, January 28, 2020
https://www.rfa.org/mandarin/yataibaodao/huanjing/jt-01282020122829.html

Reuters Chinese: Global Commercial Aviation Industry on High Alert

Reuters Chinese Edition recently reported that the global airlines are all on high alert regarding the developing Wuhan Pneumonia situation. They are assessing the potential impact on the aviation business. According to the statistics that the International Air Transport Association (IATA) published, at the SARS peak time in April of 2003, Asian business declined by 45 percent. At that time, Cathay Pacific reduced their flights by 40 percent, and so did Singapore Airlines, JAL and ANA. The airline industry depends more on Chinese passengers now than it did in 2003. According to Moody’s, today in Australia, 15 percent of the country’s total international visitors are from China. The same number was 3 percent in 2003. Based on the data that the Civil Aviation Administration of China provided, there were 6.8 million Chinese who took international flights in 2003. The same number was 63.7 million in 2018. Since the local authorities closed down the city, multiple airlines have cancelled their flights out of Wuhan.

Source: Reuters Chinese, January 23, 2020
https://cn.reuters.com/article/global-airliners-wuhan-coronavirus-impac-idCNKBS1ZM13R

Controversies about Wuhan Virus Lab and the Former French Prime Minister Behind the Scenes

After the outbreak of the new coronavirus pneumonia in Wuhan, the National Biosafety Laboratory (NBL), Wuhan, which specializes in coronavirus, and is the only laboratory with the highest level of biosafety in China, inevitably received the public’s attention. The media recently revealed the political controversy surrounding the lab.

The Lab, the BSL-4 (Biosafety Level 4) facility, was built in 2015 and officially put into operation in 2018. The Biosafety Level 4 lab is also called the P4 (Pathogen Level 4) lab, which is the laboratory with the highest biosafety level in the world today. It aims to provide a platform for scientists to study the prevention and cure technologies that apply to the world’s most dangerous pathogens.

As France is a global leader in virus research and as former French Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin was a pro-China activist, he became the behind-the-scenes driver for the establishment of the Wuhan P4 Laboratory.

A recent article in the French Challenges magazine quoted from journalist Antoine Izambard in his book France-Chine: Les Liaisons Dangereuses (France-China: Dangerous Liaisons) that the Chinese Academy of Sciences requested France to assist in the establishment of a P4 laboratory in 2003 and that it caused great controversy. Some French virus experts worried that China would use the technology that France provided to develop chemical weapons. French intelligence agencies also issued a serious warning to the government.

At the same time, another French magazine, Valeurs Actuelles, published an article in 2018, mentioning that the close relationship between former French Prime Minister Raffarin and China invited the attention from the French General Directorate for Internal Security (DGSI). The article mentioned that, through his influence, Raffarin had been developing cooperation between Europe and China. He also held important positions in Chinese companies, foundations, and universities, including the director of Plastic Omnium in China and he was a member of the France China Foundation.

In an earlier report in the British Daily Mail newspaper, Tim Trevan, an American biosafety consultant made a comment in the Nature Journal in 2017. Regarding the establishment of a P4 laboratory in China, he expressed his concern about a potential virus leakage. He believed that the Chinese system would make laboratories unsafe because free speech and open information are particularly important for scientific development.

Source: Radio Free Asia, January 28, 2020
https://www.rfa.org/mandarin/yataibaodao/huanjing/hj-01282020115801.html