The sudden resignation of a number of top executives of Chinese pharmaceutical companies suggested that the efficacy of the domestic developed COVID 19 vaccines could have been exaggerated.
On January 13, Zhong Shanshan, CEO of Chinese Wantai Biosciences and the richest man in China and Asia, abruptly resigned citing “personal reasons.” Before Zhong’s resignation, Wantai was collaborating with Xiamen University and the University of Hong Kong to develop a nasal spray COVID vaccine. On January 6, Wantai released a statement stating that the company is uncertain as to the trial results from phase one through phase three and is unable to project when the product will be available for sale.
On January 12, Li Zhiming, chairman of the board and Li Hui, board member of pharmaceutical company Sinopharm Holdings also resigned for “personal reasons.” Sinopharm Group is a state-owned pharmaceutical company in China. On December 31, 2020, it just received the official approval to have a limited launch of its COVID vaccine, but a recent news report suggested that among the SOE expatriates deployed to countries including Serbia and Angola, about three hundred of them still contracted COVID 19 even after they received Sinopharm vaccine.
Meanwhile, according to the data the Brazilian Research Institute released on January 12, the China developed Sinovac vaccine efficacy in clinical trial phase three was 50.4 percent, down from 78 percent that the Brazil’s Butantan Institute reported one week ago. Last December, China’s official media refused to disclose the COVID vaccine trial results in Brazil. It published the results from Turkey instead and claimed that it was 91.25 effective. However, the data from Indonesia showed the number was only 65.3 percent.
1. Epoch Times, January 14, 2021
2. Radio Free Asia, January 13, 2021
Less than a week before the end Trump’s first term, on January 13, the Trump administration just declassified a national security document—its 2018 strategic framework for the Indo-Pacific. It includes but is not limited to preventing China from establishing new, illiberal spheres of influence; enabling Taiwan to develop an effective asymmetric defense strategy and capabilities’; and strengthening the capabilities and will of Japan, the Republic of Korea, and Australia to contribute to the countering of China’s aggression.
According to ABC Australia, the document was previously classified “secret” and “not for foreign nationals.” It was officially declassified 30 years earlier than would normally be the case. This approach was unusual and it is believed that Trump was trying to put pressure on the next administration to avoid a major alteration of the China’s policy.
The document is 10 pages long with a number of redactions. It listed measures to enable the U.S. to maintain diplomatic preeminence in the Indo-Pacific region. It stressed that China and North Korea pose grave threats to the security of the region. U.S. strategy is to align with those of Australia, India and Japan to create a quadrilateral security framework to counter China’s growing economic aggression while enabling Taiwan to gain the defense capabilities to engage China on its own terms.
In the sections about China, it emphasized that the objective is to “prevent China’s industrial policies and unfair trading practices from distorting global markets and harming U.S. competitiveness; and to build an international consensus that China’s industrial policies and unfair trading practices are damaging the global trading system. It laid out actions including working closely with allies and like-minded countries to prevent Chinese acquisition of military and strategic capabilities; broaden the scope of the Committee on foreign Investment in the United States to cover venture capital and other forms of investment by China; and adopt domestic policies that promote growth in key technologies.”
Rory Medcalf, head of the National Security College at ANU, said, “This is a highly significant document. It is extraordinary that it has been released decades early. … This strategic framework is very forthright on China — not quite confrontational but very firm.”
1. Radio Free Asia, January 13, 2021
2. ABC Australia, January 12, 2021
3. The White House, January 12, 2021
Canberra has prohibited China State Construction Engineering Corporation (CSCEC), a PRC state construction company, from taking over an Australian company, as tensions between the two countries show no signs of abating.
On January 11, South Africa-based building and civil engineering contractors Wilson Bayly Holmes Ovcon (WBHO), the largest shareholder of Melbourne-headquartered Probuild, told the Johannesburg Stock Exchange that, upon learning that Canberra’s Foreign Investment Review Board would reject the deal “on the grounds of national security,” China State Construction Engineering Corporation, has abandoned its bid.
The Australian Financial Review reported Tuesday (January 12) that CSCEC planned to spend 300 million Australian dollars (US$ 231 million) to acquire WBHO’s 88 percent stake in Probuild.
Source: Voice of America, January 12, 2021
President-elect Joe Biden has appointed Thomas Zimmerman as a Special Assistant to the President for Presidential Personnel as part of the new appointments he announced on December 30, 2020. Zimmerman will serve as Deputy Lead for National Security Personnel on the Biden-Harris Transition team.
Mr. Zimmerman has prior experience working in China as a visiting scholar at the Department of International Relations of the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences (SASS).
For example, on February 10, 2015, Mr. Zimmerman, senior project officer of the International Cooperation Office of New York University, delivered a speech at the SASS International Relations Institute on the future of the U.S. policy in Afghanistan. In his speech, he discussed the changes in the future U.S. security mission in Afghanistan and the corresponding policy adjustments, how U.S. domestic political changes in the general election would affect U.S. Afghanistan policy, and how China and the United States can jointly cooperate to carry out projects to achieve common goals.
On March 12, 2015, Mr. Zimmerman also participated and spoke at a forum titled, “U.S. Anti-Terrorism Policy and the Asian-African Counter-Terrorism Posture.” The Shanghai Institute of American Studies and the Center for West Asian and North African Studies of the SASS jointly organized the event. During the discussions, Mr. “Zimmerman expressed the belief that, in resolving the Afghanistan issue, the United States is also pinning its hopes on China, hoping that China can play an active role in it. The United States and China share common interests and goals on the issue of Afghanistan. China is advocating the construction of the ‘One Belt, One Road’ strategy, but due to the continued civil war in Afghanistan, the potential for economic cooperation in Afghanistan is difficult to evaluate. Western countries led by the United States have been making strategic retreats from this region and China’s role in resolving the Afghanistan issue has become increasingly apparent.”
In June 2016, Mr. Zimmerman visited the Shanghai Institute of American Studies and conducted internal discussions with attendees from SASS and the Shanghai Institute of American about the “One Belt and One Road,” terrorism issues, and the Sino-US anti-terrorism cooperation in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
SASS, a leading think tank in China, was established in 1958 and is primarily funded by the Chinese government. According to a criminal complaint filed by the U.S. Department of Justice against Keven Mallory in June 2017, since 2014, the FBI has assessed that the Shanghai State Security Bureau (SSSB), a sub-component of China’s Ministry of State Security, has had a close relationship with SASS and uses SASS employees as spotters and assessors. The FBI has further assessed that SSSB intelligence officers have also used SASS affiliation as cover identities.
Shanghai Institute of American Studies
U.S. Department of Justice
On January 11, China’s State media Global Times issued the second editorial responding to the January 9, 2021, U.S. Secretary of State Pompeo’s lifting of all restrictions on the official interactions with Taiwan. Global Times issued its first editorial on January 10.
Global Times complained that, “The American establishment is watching from the sidelines and Pompeo and his cohorts are doing whatever they want with Sino-US relations, without any restraints.”
The editorial stated that Pompeo’s moves on Taiwan lack strong support and many want to see the moves fail. “We [China] must turn the final ten days of struggle into a closure that defines a clear bottom line and show to the U.S. and Taiwan the grave consequences when they hit the bottom line.”
The editorial stressed that China must hit back hard. Otherwise, “the Biden Administration will mistakenly believe that the room for pressure on China may be further expanded. The Sino-U.S. relations in the next four years will have a very unfavorable start for China.”
Source: Global Times, January 11, 2021
A Melbourne Chinese businessman who supports well-known members of the Liberal Party is facing deportation. He was previously assessed by the Australian Security Intelligence Organization (ASIO) as a risk to national security. The Counter Foreign Interference Taskforce under ASIO is conducting an investigation. Earlier, because of security concerns, the federal government rejected his application for permanent residency.
The businessman is Liu Huifeng, a political donor of the Liberal Party and former soldier of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army. He established a personal relationship with the Federal Liberal Party MP Gladys Liu and Assistant Minister to the Treasurer Michael Sukkar. Since June 2016, Liu has participated in a series of pre-election fundraising activities and has been a frequent guest at events involving Liu and Sukkar. For example, Liu posted on his social media account on April 27, 2017, “Tonight I was invited to attend the private dinner of Michael Sukkar, Assistant Minister to the Treasurer of the Commonwealth of Australia … He kept telling others that I was his old friend.”
He co-founded a community aid organization that agreed to accept funding from the Chinese Consulate in Melbourne and share information with them. The association, the Australian Emergency Assistance Association Incorporated (AEAAI), acts as an intermediary in policing incidents and legal cases that involve Chinese speakers. On the Chinese social media WeChat, the association promoted itself as a grassroots community platform to its 55,000 members, mainly ethnic Chinese living in Australia.
Liu Huifeng signed a letter of intent with the Chinese Consulate General in Melbourne in 2017. In the agreement announcement, Mr. Liu promised “close communication” with the Chinese Consulate General in Melbourne. According to a secret document that the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) obtained, AEAAI agreed to accept instructions from the consulate, report incidents involving Chinese citizens to the consulate, and provide “information involving security risks.” The letter of appointment signed by AEAAI and the consulate stipulates that, “The association will appoint volunteers in accordance with the authorization and specific requirements from the consulate on a case-by-case basis.” The document stated that volunteers should “assist the Consulate General to go to the scene of the incident to understand the situation of the case, provide assistance to Chinese citizens in need of assistance, and promptly report the situation to the Consulate General.”
Source: ABC, January 4, 2020
Recently, a number of provincial party committee secretaries participated in meetings of the Provincial Military Commands, Municipal Garrison Commands and Beijing Garrison Commands.
From January 6 to 7, the Beijing Garrison Command, the Chongqing Garrison Command, the Zhejiang Provincial Military Command, the Jiangxi Provincial Military Command, the Guizhou Provincial Military Command, and the Yunnan Provincial Military Command all held expanded meetings of party committees.
The Secretary of the provincial party committee attended the meetings. All 31 provincial administrative regions are equipped with corresponding provincial military commands.
Source: Sohu, January 9, 2021
On January 10, 2021, the United Front Work Department of the Xingtai Municipal Committee of the Communist Party of China, Hebei Province, issued a solicitation calling for emergency donations of pandemic materials for Nangong city which is under Xingtai’s jurisdiction.
According to the solicitation, the Xingtai epidemic is at a critical stage. “The situation is grave and the task is arduous.” Nangong City urgently needs the following 16 categories of items: single beds, mattresses, quilts; pillows, toiletry bags, thermos bottles, electric kettles, electric plug panels, water buckets with lids; water scoops, washbasins; hand sanitizers, (13) bed sheets, trash bins, medical disposal bags, and portable potties.
“5,000 sets of the above 16 items are urgently needed: 1,000 sets are needed today (January 10), 2,000 more are needed tomorrow (January 11), and the remaining 2,000 sets may be accepted in installments. It is preferred that all sets come in together at one time.”
The authorities indicated that these materials will be used for front-line medical workers and those personnel working with quarantined people.
Source: Dazhongwang, January 11, 2021