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Geo-Strategic Trend

Exiled Writer Yuan Hongbing Reveals Chinese United Front Strategy Targeting Taiwan’s Legislature

In February, exiled Chinese writer Yuan Hongbing revealed that China aims to use the Kuomintang’s (KMT’s) influence in Taiwan’s legislature to advance its united front strategy, sparking a political storm. Yuan stated in an interview that the information came from a “princeling” (child of a Chinese revolutionary leader) whom Xi Jinping does not dare to challenge. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) wants to turn the KMT into the vanguard force of the People’s Liberation Army to achieve unification of Taiwan with mainland China from within.

According to Yuan’s analysis, the CCP is not just using military intimidation to destabilize Taiwan; it is also using propaganda, deployment of agents, and expansion of the KMT’s legislative power to override the Taiwanese administration. Yuan said that the CCP wants the KMT to pave the way for Xi Jinping to fully occupy Taiwan, and that the recent military drills are aimed at supporting the CCP’s agents in Taiwan.

While some members of Taiwan’s Democratic Progressive Party may have been co-opted by Beijing, Yuan said that the party as a whole rejects CCP influence. This stands in contrast to the political attitude of the pro-China KMT party.

Yuan stated that the CCP’s Taiwan policy has shifted from coercion and enticement to psychological warfare, aiming to demoralize Taiwanese. He praised the peaceful protests outside the of Taiwan’s Legislature as social forces advocating for self-defense that could resist Beijing’s intimidation.

Yuan, a former Beijing University law professor, was exiled from China for supporting the 1989 pro-democracy movement.

Source: Central News Agency (Taiwan), May 24, 2024

Lianhe Zaobao: China Considers Raising Tariffs on U.S. and European Cars

Singapore’s primary Chinese language newspaper Lianhe Zaobao recently reported that, according to the European Chamber of Commerce in China, China may be considering raising temporary tariffs on imported cars from the United States and the European Union to up to 25 percent. This potential move would have implications for European and U.S. automakers. This news comes after the Biden administration increased tariffs on Chinese electric vehicles to 100 percent, and the EU is investigating the unfair advantages that Chinese automakers receive due to government subsidies.

Liu Bin, chief expert at the China Automotive Technology and Research Center, said in an interview that, according to World Trade Organization rules, China’s temporary tariff rate on imported cars can be raised to a maximum of 25 percent. The Chinese government tariff adjustments may cover imported gasoline cars and sports utility vehicles with engine displacements greater than 2.5 liters.

Amid price wars and a slowdown in China’s domestic economy, Chinese EV makers are expanding overseas, prompting accusations from the U.S. and EU countries that China is exporting excess EV production capacity. China’s auto exports have also raised Western concerns regarding the cybersecurity of China’s high-tech cars. In 2023, China imported 250,000 cars with engine displacements greater than 2.5 liters, accounting for approximately 32 percent of all imported cars. By comparison, China exported 1.55 million electric vehicles last year, according to Chinese customs data.

Source: Lianhe Zaobao, May 22, 2024

Guangming Daily: The Importance of Training Legal Talents in Foreign Security Law

Chinese newspaper Guangming Daily recently published an article on the importance of training Chinese talent in foreign security law. The below is a partial translation of the article.

Foreign security (the security in other countries of the assets of a nation or of that nation’s companies) plays a vital role in [China’s] overall national security framework. With the increasing frequency of Chinese enterprises investing overseas, China possesses more and more assets abroad. Facing the turbulent international situation, we need to use legal tools to protect our country’s overseas interests. At the same time, certain Western countries have frequently imposed sanctions and caused interference, strengthened “export controls,” and promoted “decoupling” through a series of bills related to Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Xinjiang. This has challenged the bottom line of our national security and sovereignty.

Thus, the training of legal talents in foreign security law is critical.

Regarding the content of training, we need to enhance the ability to apply international rules. Through globalized curriculum teaching, academic exchanges abroad, etc., students should develop an international perspective and global strategic thinking. They should enhance their ability to propose valuable countermeasure suggestions regarding global security issues and foreign security affairs. We need to get our foreign security legal talents to actively participate in global governance as well as in the formulation of international rules via international organizations.

Regarding the training path, on the one hand, we need to cooperate on joint practical education platforms with international organizations, overseas institutions and companies, multinational corporations, foreign law firms, arbitration institutions, etc. We need to jointly develop core courses, and compile high-quality teaching materials. On the other hand, we need to accelerate the “bringing-in” of top-notch faculty from overseas and at the same time create opportunities to send more of our outstanding students abroad.

Source: Guangming Daily, May 11, 2024

China to Boost Zimbabwe’s Railway, Targeting Commodities Export Capacity

Sputnik News reported that Zimbabwe plans to modernize its state-owned railways with China’s experience and financial support. Before the end of June, both sides will assess the railway transportation needs and reach a consensus on the engineering workload required for reconstruction. China Railway recently signed an MOU with Zimbabwe to conduct a feasibility study on the project within this timeframe.

China’s assistance will bring Zimbabwe increased opportunities to enter the global commodity market, and infrastructure cooperation between China and Zimbabwe will undoubtedly have an impact on the economies of other African countries as well.

Zimbabwe estimates that the total railway reconstruction cost will be around $533 million, and it hopes to receive funding support from China. Zimbabwe has been unable to borrow from multilateral lending institutions due to its over 20 years of debt; the country’s external debt had reached $12.7 billion by September 2023. China recently wrote off Zimbabwe’s interest-free loans but did not disclose the amount, while still promising to help Zimbabwe find a way out of its long-standing debt crisis.

According to experts cited by Sputnik News, modernizing Zimbabwe’s railways will create favorable conditions for exporting Zimbabwe’s abundant lithium, coal, chrome, granite and other resources to world markets by enhancing the carrying capacity and speed of the nearest ports on the Atlantic and Indian Oceans. The planned joint project “is an extremely reasonable and forward-looking move within the framework of China’s ‘railway diplomacy.'”

The project is expected to facilitate China-Zimbabwe mineral resource cooperation and bilateral trade. With improved infrastructure and logistics efficiency, it will attract more Chinese investment in Zimbabwe across various sectors and promote higher-quality Belt and Road cooperation between the two countries.

Source: Sputnik News, May 21, 2024

China’s Sovereign Wealth Fund Targets Japanese Small and Medium Enterprises and Services

China’s sovereign wealth fund, China Investment Corporation (CIC), with assets totaling $1.2399 trillion, is targeting Japan’s small- and medium-sized enterprises. The plan is to allow Japanese companies with high-quality services and undervalued corporate value to thrive in China’s massive consumer market. While information disclosed is limited, this move by Beijing could trigger discussions in Japan and abroad around economic security.

In Shenzhen, the Japanese massage parlor “KA·RA·DAfactory” has attracted many Chinese customers seeking out high-quality Japanese services. Priced at 688 yuan for 60 minutes, about 1.7 times higher than in Japan, the parlor requires around 100 hours of training for its therapists to provide consistent, high-quality services. Japanese quality services, honed in years of deflation, are now praised even in the birthplace of massage – China. In the first year since the parlor’s March 2023 opening, around 60% of customers have become regulars, including many customers from Hong Kong who were attracted by the Japanese brand. The company operating the massage parlor is Factory Japan Group, which was 100% acquired by CIC’s Japan-China investment fund in 2022 in partnership with the Nomura and Daiwa Securities groups. Factory Japan Group plans to expand through franchising in China, targeting 53 outlets by 2026 leveraging CIC’s huge influence.

CIC’s Japan fund primarily targets unlisted medium and small enterprises, or businesses that can increase value through joint Chinese-Japanese operations. In April, CIC invested in a Japanese language education institute catering to students aspiring to study in Japan.

Since 2017, CIC has launched overseas funds in collaboration with top financial institutions from the US, UK, Japan, Italy, France and Germany. By 2022-end, they had invested in over 20 companies in advanced manufacturing, healthcare, financial services and consumer sectors.

CIC views Japan’s unlisted medium and small enterprises as highly valuable acquisitions. However, Chinese investments could pose economic security risks for Japan. M&A deals with China as the buyer peaked around 2016 at around 20 annually.

As China enhances sanctions against advanced manufacturing like semiconductors, and as its market matures demanding quality goods and services, Japanese service and manufacturing sectors may become prime acquisition targets.

While CIC has an international advisory board displaying transparency, information on specific investments is limited. Improved transparency and accountability are crucial for CIC’s global acceptance as a trusted investor.

Source: Nikkei, May 15, 2024

CNA: Large Japanese Parliamentary Delegation to Attend Taiwanese Presidential Inauguration

Primary Taiwanese news agency Central News Agency (CNA) recently reported that 35 cross-party members of the Japanese-Taiwanese Parliamentarian Symposium will visit Taiwan to attend the inauguration ceremony for Taiwanese President-elect Lai Ching-te on May 20th. This will be the largest Japanese delegation in history.

Japanese Representative Kishi Nobu Chiyo, the nephew of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, will be among the visiting Japanese delegates. Akie Abe, the widow of Shinzo Abe, will also make a special trip to Taiwan to attend the inauguration ceremony.

CNA reported that president-elect Lai Ching-te has a profound friendship with the Abe family. Immediately after Shinzo Abe’s assassination, then Vice President Lai Ching-te went to Japan to express his condolences to Abe’s family members and friends. At the time, Lai Ching-te was at the highest-level Taiwanese government official to visit Japan since 1972.

When China banned imports of Taiwanese pineapples, Shinzo Abe made a video of himself eating pineapples, calling on the Japanese people to purchase more of the fruit from Taiwan. The fact Japan is now sending its largest delegation in history to attend the Taiwanese inauguration symbolizes the continued warming of Taiwan-Japan relations. After Lai Ching-te takes office, he is expected to continue supporting Taiwan-Japan friendship, with the hope that the two countries can work together to maintain peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region.

Source: CNA, May 14, 2024

Guangming Daily: the Importance of Chinese-Built International Communications Platforms

Guangming Daily published an article saying that it is important for China to build its own international communications platforms.

“With the advancement of technology, international communication now presents a new characteristic: “platformization.” It is transitioning from “individual content going overseas” to “communication platforms going overseas.” International communication is entering an era of platformization. The core of the success or failure of international communication in this era of platformization lies in the ability to control the communication platforms. However, current international communication platforms are in a state of monopoly [by Western powers] and opposition [to China]. Western countries (led by the U.S.) are monopolizing communication platforms through technological advantages and are thus able to wield so-called “hostile” communication platforms to gain advantages in political discourse. This puts other countries in a situation where they have no platforms to use. Thus, the creation of such communications platforms is an important facet of [China’s plan to] build international communications capabilities. [Such Chinese-built platforms] would provide an important means to break through Western platform monopolies and through opposition from Western platforms. It is evident that the enhancement of cultural soft power relies on the support of international communication platforms.”

Source: Guangming Daily, May 13, 2024

The New Great Game: China’s Growing Clout in Central Asia

A Radio France International article discussed the great geopolitical game unfolding in Central Asia, not between Britain and Russia as in the 19th century, but among the emerging nations of Central Asia and their powerful neighbors – Russia and China.

The French TV channel interviewed historian Emmanuel Lincot to understand this political and economic struggle. Lincot explains that while China had less influence than Russia and Britain in the 19th century, it sought strategic depth by conquering Xinjiang/East Turkestan.

Lincot argues that Beijing has been more successful than Moscow and the West in opening up Central Asia. Chinese companies have built roads and pipelines across the region under China’s Belt and Road Initiative since 2013. There are local divisions in the region, however, with some groups opposing China’s growing clout.

China has bolstered its influence through the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, using it to extradite Uyghurs to China. It is also considering construction of small military bases in Tajikistan aiming to combat drug traffickers and Uyghur militants. For Beijing, economic development in Central Asia goes hand in hand with national security.

Lincot notes that China has failed to win trust among the Muslim populations who increasingly resent the new Chinese order. Protests have been occurring in anti-regime states and support is growing for Turkic Muslim groups like Uyghurs.

Russia will need to contend with China’s new assertiveness in Central Asia. Beijing held a China-Central Asia summit in May 2023, signaling China’s intention to draw former Soviet states away from Moscow and into Beijing’s orbit. The US, EU and Turkey are also aiming to boost their influence in this resource-rich region.

Source: Radio France International, May 14, 2024