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Germany to Pass Legislation to Conduct “Political Review” of Telecom Equipment Suppliers, Including Huawei

The cabinet of German Chancellor Merkel plans to pass a bill in the coming weeks, which will implement a two-stage approval process for telecommunications equipment suppliers. In addition to technical inspections of various telecommunications equipment components, the manufacturers’ “credibility” will also be under scrutiny.

According to the German newspaper Handelsblatt, the draft bill stated that the German Federal Office for Information Security (BSI) is responsible for the first stage, where the Chinese telecom giant Huawei will not have too many obstacles to overcome, but the threshold for the second stage of “political review” will be insurmountable. Suppliers must provide a detailed “credibility statement” and go through layers of review and approval processes from multiple government entities including the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of the Interior, and the Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy. Although the new bill does not directly ban Huawei, it will create obstacles to approval. The bill may also include the German intelligence community in the approval process for telecommunications equipment suppliers. Deutsche Welle stated that, in recent years, the Federal Intelligence Agency has repeatedly expressed its worries about Huawei’s participation in German communication networks.

Germany has always been one of Huawei’s main overseas markets. Huawei has entered into deals with Vodafone, Deutsche Telekom, and Telefónica Deutschland to provide radio access network (RAN) equipment, the so-called peripheral 5G equipment. However, the scope of approval under the draft bill is not limited to 5G core networks. In other words, if the bill takes effect, German telecom operators may be forced to remove Huawei’s peripheral equipment from the network.

The draft is expected to be discussed at the German federal cabinet meeting in November, and will then be submitted to Parliament for formal legislative procedures.

In an opinion piece, the Wall Street Journal said, “Huawei has longstanding ties to the People’s Liberation Army, and no Chinese company is independent under Communist Party rule.  … China is Germany’s largest trading partner, and Chinese state subsidies make Huawei equipment notably cheaper, but Merkel is finally moving as she faces opposition from across the German political spectrum and within her own party. The Chinese government may retaliate against German companies doing business in China, but that would only validate Berlin’s decision not to trust Beijing.”

Source: Voice of America, October 7, 2020

More Than 80 Latin American Politicians and Scholars Sign Letter Supporting Taiwan

On September 28, More than 80 political and opinion leaders from countries including the Dominican Republic, Costa Rica, Colombia, Chile, Uruguay, Mexico, Venezuela and Cuba jointly issued a statement of support for Taiwan. On Monday, October 5, Directorio Democrático Cubano Secretary-General Orlando Gutierrez presented this joint declaration to Taiwan’s office in Miami.

In an interview with Radio Free Asia, Gutierrez said that Latin America regards Taiwan as an economically developed and democratic island country that has a positive impact on the world. Therefore, the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) recent frequent provocative measures have drawn great sympathy in the region. “When they saw the CCP’s military provocations and threats to Taiwan, especially during the memorial period of the late former President Lee Teng-hui, Congressional members and intellectuals from various countries responded. They wrote this letter, expressing their support for Taiwan and opposition to any aggression or military actions that the CCP might take against the Republic of China (Taiwan).”

The declaration, in Spanish, issued an “urgent call to the world and especially to the leaders of democratic nations to deplore the climate of terror that the Xi Jinping regime has promoted against [the ROC] and its president Tsai Ing-wen.”

Among those who have signed the letter are Costa Rican Congressman Dragos Dolanescu, former Dominican Minister of Energy and Mining Pelegrín Castillo, former Mexican prosecutor René Bolio, and Colombia Senator María Fernanda Cabal.

Dominican media reported that former Dominican Minister Castillo stated that many Dominican leaders are increasingly aware that, despite their remote location, they are closely connected to Taiwan when safeguarding freedom and democracy. Costa Rican Congressman Dolanescu also expressed dissatisfaction with the government’s choice to abandon diplomatic relations with Taiwan and instead recognize China. He emphasized that it is more meaningful to support Taiwan because the two countries share common characteristics including democracy, freedom of speech and respect for human rights.

Source: Radio Free Asia, October 6, 2020

Japan to Step up Screening Student Visas in 2021

According to Yomiuri Shimbun, a major Japanese newspaper published in Tokyo, starting in 2021, the Japanese government will be more strict in reviewing the visa applications of international university students and foreign researchers in order to prevent advanced technology and information from flowing to China.

Japan’s National Security Agency will work with the Ministry of Foreign Affair, the Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of the Economy, Trade and Industry, and the Ministry of Defense to build a system to share information about suspicious personnel so that overseas diplomats can use the platform for visa approval and issuance. Suspicious visa applicants may be subject to denial. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has set aside a budget of 220 million yen (US$ 2.1 million) for this purpose.

The report refers to the U.S. and Australia’s heightened alert to China’s organized use of students to obtain foreign technology. As Japan is not conducting rigorous visa screening, experts worry that Chinese students who the U.S. turns away may choose to study in Japan.

Source: Central News Agency, October 5, 2020

HKEJ: All Three Top Apple Suppliers Invested in India

The Hong Kong Economic Journal (HKEJ) recently reported that the three largest Apple suppliers – Taiwanese manufactures Foxconn, Pegatron and Wistron – are all betting high on India’s Production Linked Incentive Scheme (PLI). Anonymous sources revealed that the total additional investments that these three vendors have planned is now at the level of US$900 million. The US$6.65 billion PLI program is India’s new investment encouragement initiative to expand the total output of India’s smartphone manufacturing industry. Sources have said that Foxconn received 40 billion Rupees (around US$543 million), Pegatron received 13 billion Rupees (around US$177 million) and Wistron received 12 billion Rupees (around US$164 million). Today Foxconn’s Indian manufacturing volume can meet the full demand of Chinese buyer Xiaomi and it is planning to increase its iPhone volume. Wistron now produces 200,000 second generation iPhone SE per month in India and its plan is to double that figure by the end of this year. Pegatron does not operate in India at this time, but new factories are in the planning stage.

Source: HKEJ, September 29, 2020

DW Chinese: The Pope’s Refusal to See Mike Pompeo May be Related to China

Deutsche Welle Chinese Edition recently reported that the Pope refused to see U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, citing the need to remain neutral in the middle of the U.S. presidential election. However, another possibility is the background at this time. It is that the Vatican-China agreement is due for renewal. Since it was signed, the details of the agreement have never been released. The Vatican has remained quiet on Chinese human rights matters since then, like on the issues of Uighurs concentration camps in Xinjiang and even the Hong Kong situation. Secretary Mike Pompeo has recently urged the Vatican to maintain its moral authority when facing the Chinese communists. The Pope also refused to see the 88-year old retired Hong Kong Cardinal Joseph Zen, who arrived in Rome a couple weeks back and waited for four days without any success. This refusal has nothing to do with the U.S. presidential election. In the past two years, China gave the Vatican a say in the appointment of two Catholic Chinese bishops and the Pope also blessed eight bishops that Beijing had previously appointed without any input from the Vatican.

Source: DW Chinese, September 29, 2020

Chinese Fishing Fleet Leaves Galapagos and Heads for Peru

In June of this year, about 300 Chinese fishing boats arrived near the Galapagos Islands, one of the most biologically diverse regions in the world, to fish for giant squid in international waters.

Ecuador’s naval operations commander, Daniel Ginez, said this week that the size of the Chinese fleet is larger than in previous years. He said these fishing boats can be classified as vessels that are preying on fishing resources. “With such a large number of fishing boats we have the risk that certain species will be diminished,” Ginez explained.

At present, the Chinese fishing fleet is heading south to the waters near Peru.

With large fishing fleets, both Peru and Ecuador are highly dependent on seafood for their livelihoods and foreign exchange. World Bank data shows that in 2018, the two countries caught 4.5 million tons of fish, but that was only 25 percent of China’s ocean catches.

According to the statistics of Oceana, an organization that tracks fishing activities, the fishing time of Chinese fishing vessels between July 13 and August 13 totaled more than 73,000 hours, accounting for 99 percent of the fishing activities around the reserve.

The excessive fishing that Chinese ocean vessels conduct in international waters has spurred accusations from coastal countries and opposition from the international community. U.S. President Trump specifically mentioned in his speech at the United Nations on Tuesday September 22 that “China dumps millions and millions of tons of plastic and trash into the oceans, and fishes excessively in other countries’ waters.”

Soon afterwards, the US Embassy in Peru sent a tweet accusing the Chinese fleet of changing the name of the vessel and turning off GPS tracking, so as to restrict surveillance of its activities. The tweet said, “Overfishing can cause huge ecological and economic damage. Peru cannot afford such a loss.”

Last month, the U.S. Coast Guard coordinated with the Ecuadorian Navy to send ships to the area to patrol more than 3,000 miles in international and Ecuadorian waters to monitor this huge Chinese fishing fleet. Ecuador is also reportedly cooperating with neighboring countries such as Costa Rica, Panama and Colombia to establish a corridor of marine reserves to restrict commercial fishing.

China’s global fishing fleet is enormous. Estimates suggest it has 17,000 vessels, far exceeding other countries in the world. It is almost impossible to be thorough in monitoring these vessels. Now that it has nearly depleted the waters near China, China’s ocean fleet has been sailing further and further around the globe. Many underdeveloped countries that rely on fishery resources lack the ability to protect their maritime sovereignty.

Source: Voice of America, September 24, 2020

RFA Chinese: Swedish Company MSAB Withdrew from Hong Kong

Radio Free Asia (RFA) Chinese Edition recently reported that Swedish technology company Micro Systemation AB (MSAB) announced its plan to leave the Hong Kong market and will no longer provide technical solutions to the Hong Kong Police and other Hong Kong government agencies. MSAB made its name in Hong Kong by assisting the police department in unlocking phones. MSAB also intends to leave the entire Chinese market. The company explained that the decision was made based on the fact that the U.S. dropped Hong Kong’s special status. It would rather not risk the possibility of suffering a U.S. sanction. MSAB’s technology resulted in some recent arrests of Hong Kong pro-democracy activists, so the company is facing heavy criticism. At the same time, Canadian financial asset management company BMO and the Denmark retirement fund management company Akademiker Pension also announced plans to leave the Chinese investment market, including Hong Kong.

Source: RFA Chinese, September 24, 2020

President of the Philippines: South China Sea Arbitration Ruling Cannot Be Challenged

Singapore’s primary Chinese language newspaper Lianhe Zaobao recently reported that President of the Philippines Rodrigo Duterte said in his UN speech that The Hague International Arbitration Tribunal’s 2016 South China Sea award cannot be challenged or downplayed. The Philippines is strongly against any attempt to destroy the Tribunal’s Ruling. Duterte did not name China in his speech. China did not honor the Tribunal’s award. However, the Duterte government took a pro-China approach when it came to power in 2016 with the hope of building a better relationship with China. The Philippines largely put The Hague’s South China Sea award on hold since then. In the past several months with the Covid pandemic, the Duterte government has started to lean towards the United States. Experts expressed the belief that the foreign policies of the Philippines are apparently changing.

Source: Lianhe Zaobao, September 23, 2020