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Geo-Strategic Trend - 3. page

China and Russia to Build a Joint Lunar Research Station

China and Russia have announced the signing of a memorandum of understanding on cooperation in the construction of an international lunar research station. This is the latest agreement between China and Russia on a number of cooperative decisions on space projects. The signing of the memorandum coincides with Russia’s celebration of the 60th anniversary of the first manned spacecraft flight and the 50th anniversary of the launch of the first space station.

The China National Space Administration is building the lunar research station in conjunction with Roscosmos, Russia’s state corporation responsible for space flights, cosmonautics programs, and aerospace research. It will be an integrated scientific test base, built on the lunar surface or in lunar orbit, for the purpose of scientific research activities such as exploration and utilization of the moon itself, lunar-based observation, basic scientific experiments and technology verification. Both parties claim that this research station will be open to all interested national and international partners.

There is no detailed plan or timetable for the construction of the station. A reference may be the construction process of the International Space Station (ISS), which is now in operation while orbiting about 400 kilometers from the Earth. This space station, with the participation of 15 countries, took a total of 10 years to accomplish.

This cooperation between China and Russia is of considerable importance to each side. Russia’s space program is clearly lagging behind in comparison with the many projects such as the United States and China’s exploration of the Moon and Mars in recent years. By joining forces with China, Russia has a chance to return to the ranks of the leading nations in space technology. If this cooperation with Russia is successful, it could be one of the largest international collaborations in China’s space history. In short, Russia wants to rebuild its former glory in space technology, and China wants to catch up with the United States’ dominance.

Source: BBC Chinese, March 10, 2021

China to Push a New Policy to Attract Overseas High-end Talent: The “Thousand Talents Plan” 2.0?

China’s 13th National People’s Congress (NPC), which concluded on Thursday March 11, adopted the resolution on the 14th Five-Year Plan and the long-range objectives through the year 2035. The second part of the resolution indicates that China will bring in more high-end talent from overseas to help the development of cutting-edge fields such as artificial intelligence, quantum computing, life sciences, aviation and aerospace. The purpose is to achieve the goal of making China a science and tech super power.

The resolution also mentions that, in the next five years, China will “implement a more open talent policy and build a research and innovation highland that gathers outstanding talent from home and abroad.” At the same time, China will “improve the policies for foreign high-end talent and professionals to reside in China while doing work, research and exchanges and it will improve the policies on permanent residency for foreigners and explore its technical immigration policy.” The policies include a sound system of remuneration and benefits, children’s education, social security, and tax concessions that will attract foreign talent. In addition, the document also considers establishing an international technical organization and allowing foreigners to work in China’s state-run technology institutions.

Cheng Xiaonong, a Chinese economist living in exile in the U.S. told Radio Free Asia that the new policy of introducing talent in the new five-year plan is an extension of the “Thousand Talents Program” that China has done. The essence is to steal foreign intellectual property and advanced technology by poaching talent from other countries.

China’s Thousand Talents Program (TTP) was launched in China in 2008. Afterwards, some TTP scholars have come under the scrutiny of the Federal Bureau of Investigation for alleged espionage in the U.S. Since 2018, the FBI has been increasing the number of arrests and prosecutions of TTP scholars. At the same time, the U.S. Department of State began applying tougher restrictions on Chinese students by shortening from 5 years to 1 year the duration of visas for those planning to study aviation, robotics, and advanced manufacturing.

In September 2018, a working group for the Thousand Talents Program asked related Chinese organizations not to mention the wording “Thousand Talents Program” to the public in order to protect the safety of overseas talent. The word “Thousand Talents Program” and other related words have long been blocked on the Internet in mainland China.

Source: Radio Free Asia, March 11, 2021

China Quietly Expands its Military Influence in Africa

On March 9, 2021, Duowei, a pro-Beijing news media based in North America, published an article stating that China has quietly been expanding its military influence in Africa.

In the past several decades, Chinese military academies represented by Shijiazhuang Army Command College, the National Defense University PLA China and Nanjing Army Command College have trained a large number of military officers for many African countries. Since the Cold War, there have been long-standing military exchanges between China and Africa, including arms trade, military personnel training and military aid.

During the Uganda-Tanzania War in 1979, China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) sent military advisors to support the Tanzanian Army, which subsequently overcame the Ugandan army and took over the Ugandan capital, Kampala.

In the Second Sudanese Civil War (1983 – 2005), the National Defense University PLA China trained the North Sudanese army, while almost all the middle-level and senior generals in South Sudan were graduates of the Shijiazhuang Military Academy, including the commander-in-Chief.

The Nanjing Army Command Academy alone provided military training to 5 African presidents: former Namibian President Samuel Nujoma (1990-2005), former Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete (2005-2015), former Congolese (DRC) President Laurent Kabila (1997-2001), Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki (since 1993), and former Guinea-Bissau President Joao Bernardo Vieira (1980-1999, 2005-2009).

Among them, in 1964, Samuel Nujoma went to the Nanjing Army Command Academy for advanced studies. After returning home, he led the local people to become independent from South Africa by applying PLA tactics such as guerrilla warfare and encircling the city from the countryside.

The National Defense University PLA China, Shijiazhuang Army Command Academy, Shijiazhuang Mechanized Infantry Academy and Nanjing Army Command Academy, serve as a training base for military or government leaders across Africa.

In February 2019, the State media, Global Times, had a similar report on the PLA training of African military officers .

1. Duowei, March 9, 2021
2. Global Times, February 1, 201

Lianhe Zaobao: Hong Kong Removed from Economic Freedom Ratings Index

Singapore’s primary Chinese language newspaper Lianhe Zaobao recently reported that the U.S. Heritage Foundation just released its 2021 Economic Freedom Index Report. For the first time in history, Hong Kong was kicked out of the ranking system. Singapore replaced Hong Kong last year to hold the top of the world position. This year, Singapore remains at the top. Before last year, Hong Kong had been sitting at the top of the list continuously for a quarter century. However, this year, the city didn’t even make it to the list. Macau, which ranked number 35 last year, was removed from the list this year as well. The Heritage Foundation used to praise Hong Kong for its independent legal system, freedom of the press and deep financial market. However, with the Hong Kong National Security Law, Beijing’s influence on Hong Kong’s policies has vastly deepened. The Wall Street Journal, which participated in the forming of this Index, explained that Hong Kong is now essentially the same as other Mainland cities like Beijing and Shanghai due to the level of policy control Beijing has, although Hong Kong residents have more economic freedom than average Mainland citizens.

(1) Lianhe Zaobao, March 4, 2021

(2) Heritage Foundation Official Site

Global Times: The Germans are Coming to the South China Sea Too, Why?

Global Times recently reported that multiple officials from the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Defense revealed that a German frigate will set off for the Indo-Pacific region in early August this year. On its way returning to Germany six months after that, the warship will take the route of the South China Sea. This will be the first time for a German warship to pass through the South China Sea since 2002. The intent of this move is to increase the influence of Germany in the Indian-Pacific region, and to demonstrate its determination to participate in the construction of the new world order. German local news media thought this showed that Germany is against China’s position on sovereignty claims in the South China Sea region. The spokesperson of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs commented that all countries have their freedom of navigation under international laws. However, no one can use this as an excuse to endanger the sovereignty and security of the countries along the coast. In recent years, European countries have tended to cooperate with the United States on this front, especially for Great Britain, Germany and France. They want to obtain the “sense of existence” by doing something “tangible.”

Source: Global Times, March 4, 2021

Global Times: India Quietly Established a New Agency Aimed at China

Global Times recently reported that, according to Indian media, India just established a new government organization called the Defense Space Agency (DSA), based on the fact that China is pushing hard on space technology explorations. Two years after demonstrating India’s anti-satellite technologies, the Indian military created the DSA to start the programs officially in order to strengthen its capacity to respond to space-oriented threats. In mid-2019, the Indian Ministry of Defense approved the proposal to establish the DSA. The new agency is an organization involving the Army, the Navy and the Air Force. Air Force General SP Dharkar is its leader. The DSA has been working with the related industrial companies on Space Situation Awareness (SSA) technologies, which are set to detect, recognize and trace enemy assets in space. SAA is also designed to provide early alerts on attacks from space. The DSA also focuses on obtaining the capability to integrate monitoring data from various space-based sensors with land, sea and air based combat systems. Though all these had nothing to do with China, the Indian media continues to associate military activities with China.

Source: Global Times, February 23, 2021

India to Introduce a Stimulus Plan to Reward Domestic Products

Although it does not seem that the tension on the border between China and India will ease up anytime soon, the trade relationship between the two countries is improving. After falling to second place for two consecutive years, in 2020, China once again become India’s largest trading partner and the U.S. became the second largest. However, the Indian government is concerned about China’s huge trade surplus with India.

On Wednesday, February 24, India approved an incentive plan to reward the use of domestic high-tech products. It is expected to spend US$1 billion to encourage domestic companies to increase the production of laptops, tablets and other products. India hopes that this move will diversify its products and reduce its dependence on China. At the same time, it will enable India to be self-sufficient in the electronic field and grow to be a top global supplier in the future.

The Indian Mobile Phone and Electronics Association and Ernst & Young released a research report in November 2020. According to the report, 80 percent of laptops and two-thirds of tablet computers sold in India are imported from China. However, in the mobile phone market, India has achieved a more successful transition. Before 2014, the market share of imported smart phones was 78 percent, but this number has now dropped to 8 percent.

The incentive plan includes the distribution of cash subsidies of up to 4 percent of the company’s revenue for four years starting in April this year.

The Indian government has started discussions with Apple and Hewlett-Packard on stimulus measures. According to media reports, Apple is interested in participating in the incentive program. Apple has not established a production line in India as of yet, but its supplier, Taiwan’s Hon Hai Group, has invested US$100 million to build a factory in southern India. Hewlett-Packard also has a branch in India.

At a press conference on Wednesday, India’s Minister of Electronics and Information, Ravi Shankar Prasad, stated that the focus of this incentive program is to “to bring the world’s top five global champions to India and produce for the world.”

Due to the impact of COVID 19, the Indian economy is in urgent need of recovery. India’s GDP shrank by 15 percent in 2020. For its size, India has the worst economy  in the world.

Source: Deutsche Welle, February 25, 2021

Supporting Taiwan’s “Freedom Pineapple” to Stop China’s Economic Intimidation

China’s General Administration of Customs announced on February 26 that it will halt the importation of Taiwan’s pineapples starting on March 1, citing “harmful organisms” detected in the fruit.

Taiwan’s Foreign Minister Joseph Wu responded by starting a “Freedom Pineapple” campaign on Twitter to condemn Beijing’s politically-driven ban on the fruit. “China now bans our pineapples to punish farmers in the south. Remember Australia’s Freedom Wine? I urge like-minded friends around the globe to stand with Taiwan & rally behind the Freedom Pineapple.”

Last year, Australia advocated investigating the source of the COVID-19 disease and angered China. China imposed trade barriers on Australian wine, beef, barley and other products. Democratic countries took action to support Australia and called for drinking Australian wine.

Some Twitter posts used the hashtag that included: “India should show solidarity with Taiwan,” “We would love to buy them in the U.S.,” “Help Taiwan’s farmers counter China’s weaponization of trade,” “Delicious pineapple cakes from Taiwan,” “Taiwan has probably the best pineapple in the world,” and “Democracy pineapples.”

Taiwan’s president also tweeted, “After Australian wine, unfair Chinese trade practices are now targeting Taiwanese pineapple, but that won’t stop us. Whether in a smoothie, a cake, or freshly cut on a plate, our pineapples always hits the spot. Support our farmers & enjoy delicious Taiwanese fruit!”

J. Michael Cole, a researcher at the Canada based Macdonald-Laurier Institute, echoed the campaign on Twitter, “In the latest round of attempts by China to punish Taiwan, Beijing has announced it will cancel all imports of Taiwanese pineapple staring on March 1. I don’t know about you, but I am suddenly craving Taiwanese pineapple.”

Source: Central News Agency, February 27, 2021