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TikTok Faced Bans in Britain, Belgium, Demark and New Zealand

Well-known Chinese news site Sina (NASDAQ: SINA) recently reported that British cabinet minister Oliver Dowden announced in the House of Commons that the British government will ban government staff from using the Chinese app TikTok on official mobile phones. The ban then took effect immediately. The UK’s move is in line with the U.S. and the European Commission, marking a “180-degree shift” in the UK’s previous position.

Earlier, United Daily News (UDN), one of the primary Taiwanese news groups, also reported that the Belgian Prime Minister said on March 10, because of concerns about online security, privacy and disinformation, that, for at least six months, Belgium will temporarily ban the use of TikTok on devices owned or paid for by the Belgian federal government. In the meantime, the Danish public broadcaster and TV station Danish Broadcasting Corporation (DR) advised employees not to use TikTok on business mobile phones due to security concerns. This is the first news organization to issue such an advice.

In addition, the New Zealand Chinese online news site Solace Media also reported that Rafael Gonzalez-Montero, chief executive of Parliamentary Services, said that, following the advice from cybersecurity experts, Parliamentary Services have informed Members of Parliament and staff that TikTok should be removed from all devices that have access to Parliament’s network.

(1) Sina, March 16, 2023
(2) UDN, March 10, 2023
(3) Solace Media, March 17, 2023

Vietnam to Welcome the “Largest Ever” U.S. Business Delegation

Well-known Chinese news site Sina (NASDAQ: SINA) recently reported that more than 50 defense, pharmaceutical and technology companies, including SpaceX, Netflix and Boeing, will join a delegation organized by the U.S.-ASEAN Business Council to visit Vietnam soon to explore investment and sales opportunities in the country. The U.S.-ASEAN Business Council Vietnam Chief Representative Ngo Thu Thanh said that similar activities organized by the organization have a history of 30 years. However, this time, Vietnam will usher in the largest delegation in history. Ng Thu Thanh pointed out that most of the companies in the delegation already have operations or production bases in Vietnam, such as Apple, Coca-Cola and Pepsi, and some companies are planning on expansion. Ng Thu Thanh revealed that Boeing, Lockheed Martin and Bell will hold meetings with several Vietnamese state-owned defense procurement companies. Boeing said in a statement that its discussions with Vietnam will focus on their growing partnership and ways to strengthen the country’s aerospace and defense capabilities. SpaceX, which is looking to sell satellite internet services to Vietnam and other countries in the region, was also in the delegation. The delegation also includes a number of semiconductor companies, pharmaceutical giants Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson, Abbott, Visa, Citibank, Meta and Amazon Web Services, along with other large companies. The trade friction between China and the U.S is in the ascendant, and the trend of staying away from China has allowed Vietnam to benefit. This visit shows that the international community is paying more attention to this rising international manufacturing center. With the expansion of the middle class, Vietnam, with a population of 100 million, has also become a rapidly growing consumer market. After Vietnamese President Nguyen Xuan Phuc’s resignation in January, some companies also came to learn more about the local political situation.

Source: Sina, March 17, 2023

India Does Not Support the Use of RMB for Foreign Trade Settlement

Well-known Chinese news site Sohu (NASDAQ: SOHU) recently reported that, according to three Indian government officials involved in policymaking and two banking sources, India has asked banks and traders to avoid using the Chinese Yuan (RMB) to pay for Russian imports. India is “dissatisfied” with foreign trade settled in Yuan, said a government official directly involved in the matter. Another Indian official said that, until relations between China and India improve, India cannot allow the use of the Yuan for settlement. Analysts believe that India’s motivation comes mainly from political factors. Tens of thousands of Indian troops have been deployed along the disputed Himalayas since 2021, clouding geopolitical ties. Indian officials did not say whether there were economic reasons behind India’s reluctance to accept Yuan settlement. In 2022, UltraTech Cement, India’s largest cement producer, used RMB to purchase a batch of Russian coal. The deal sparked concern among Indian authorities. The Reserve Bank of India (RBI), not keen on using Yuan for foreign trade settlements, confirmed that the government has blocked it. The Indian Rupee is partially exchangeable, meaning it must be converted into U.S. Dollars before it can be converted into any other currency, making the rupee an unattractive as a reserve currency for global central banks and settlement of trade.

Source: Sohu, March 15, 2023

Travel Data and Other Sources May Indicate Beijing’s Claim of1.4 Billion Population Is a Fake Number

The Chinese New Year period is the peak travel time for Chinese people. During this period, people working in different cities (including migrant workers) return to their hometown and then afterwards come back to the cities where they work. Also many people travel for tourism.

According to China’s Ministry of Transportation, in the 40-day Chinese New Year period (15 days before the New Year and 25 days after), there were 4.7 billion person-times (if a person rode the train 3 times, it would be counted as 3 person-times) travelling in China in 2023. That number was .57 billion in 2019 (the last year before COVID spread). Travel went down by 924 million person-times.

This could indicate a huge population loss (t could be in the hundreds of millions) in China due to COVID, but the Chinese Communist Party just hid the information.

There are other sources indirectly supporting the suspicion. In June 2022, hacker “ChinaDan” obtained data from the Shanghai Public Security Bureau’s database of individual information. The database had information (name, birth date, address, picture, phone number, etc.) of only 970 million people.

In 2021, overseas media reported that internal data from the Ministry of Public Security showed that China had only 780 million ID cards at that time (an ID card is mandatory for every Chinese citizen who is over 16 years of age). According to China’s Seventh Census in 2020, 81 percent of the people in China were 16 or above. Assuming all the 780 million ID cards are for these people, then the total population would be 960 million.

Source: Epoch Times, March 11, 2023

The CCP’s New Control over the State Council and the People’s Congress

The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) published a “(Communist) Party and State Organization Reform Plan (党和国家机构改革方案)” on March 16. The Epoch Times commented that the essence of the Reform Plan is to “strengthen the party central committee’s centralized and unified leadership,’” to further consolidate power under the CCP and to use the CCP’s organs to oversee and manage the state functions.

Item one of the plan is to establish the CCP’s Central Finance Committee (中央金融委员会) to “study and review major policies and issues in the financial field.” The CCP will dissolve the State Council’s Financial Stability and Development Committee (国务院金融稳定发展委员会) and move its responsibilities and place them under the office of the new party committee. Item two of the plan is to create the CCP’s Central Finance Working Committee (中央金融工作委员会) so as to “unify the party’s work in the financial field.” These two items set the structure for the CCP to define financial policies and manage work directly. The State Council will establish the Bureau of Financial Supervision and Administration (国家金融监督管理总局) as an execution vehicle.

Item three is to establish the CCP’s Central Technology Committee (中央科技委员会), to let the party “provide centralized, unified leadership” over the technology field, including resolving major strategic, directional, and overall issues, defining national strategic technological tasks and significant research projects, managing national labs, and coordinating military-civilian technology fusions.

Item four is to establish the CCP’s Central Social Work Department (中央社会工作部), to oversee the party’s development work throughout the whole country and in every economic structure (in the public and private sectors) and every industry. It also “provides guidance on working on people’s complaints (信访工作).”

Item five is to establish the Office of the (CCP’s) Central Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Work (中央港澳工作办公室), which also uses the name of the State Council’s Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office, but that state council office is no longer a separate office by itself.

Item six is to establish the National People’s Congress Representatives Work Committee (全国人大常委会代表工作委员会), which is responsible for allocating representative quotas and reviewing qualifications, directing and coordinating representative’s research work, managing representative’s proposals, and other related functions. Thus, the party is directly managing the congress representatives.

Source: Epoch Times, March 17, 2023

SARS Whistleblower Died; the Authorities Banned Public Mourning

Jiang Yanyong, a retired Chinese military doctor known as the “whistleblower” of the 2003 SARS epidemic, died Saturday at the age of 91 at the People’s Liberation Army General Hospital in Beijing (also known as the 301 Hospital)  after he had contracted pneumonia and other illnesses that led to heart and lung failure.

A friend of Jiang Yangyong in Beijing told Radio Free Asia that the authorities had told Jiang’s family to keep his funeral low-key. “No public funeral, no public mourning or flower baskets, and no media interviews.” Wreaths or elegiac couplets must be given to Jiang’s wife, who will then submit them to the authorities for approval. The bureau has even written a eulogy for him.

Because of his exposure of the SARS epidemic in China in 2003, as well as his call for the authorities to correct the name of the 1989 student movement, from 2003 until the end of his life, Jiang’s personal freedom was constantly restricted . He also publicized his experience of saving the lives of students who were shot during the 1989 Tiananmen massacre.

During the 2019 sessions of the National People’s Congress and the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), Jiang wrote letters to Chinese President Xi Jinping and the NPC, asking them to redress the 1989 student movement.

The friend said that after writing the letters in 2019, Jiang was again placed under house arrest. “He was checked and not allowed to see outsiders. We couldn’t even see him, and his home phone was cut off. Even his son couldn’t contact him. Dr. Jiang was mentally hurt and his mood was negative. He suffered from Alzheimers in his later years. He wanted to go out to see a doctor, but the guards would not let him. Recently he contracted pneumonia and was admitted to the 301 Hospital.”

Source: Radio Free Asia, March 14, 2023

China’s Official Media: Live a Frugal Life

On March 5, China’s Ministry of Finance (MOF) released the budget report for 2022 and the budget proposal for 2023, emphasizing that next year’s fiscal reform includes the strict implementation of the policy of “living a frugal life.”

The state-run Economic Daily followed up with an article stating that, in the face of various risk challenges and spending needs for people’s livelihood, the “money bag” is not loose and “fiscal revenue and expenditure will remain in a tight balance for a long time.”

The article said that Party and government organs must “live a frugal life” as a regular disciplinary requirement, strictly controlling non-essential and flexible expenditures, while cutting administrative expenses.

It called for “no spending without a budget” and advised against arbitrary extra spending. It also demanded that financial supervision be strengthened and that violations be seriously investigated and punished so that financial discipline becomes an untouchable “high voltage line.”

Source: Central News Agency (Taiwan), March 12, 2023

More than Ten Chinese Radio Stations Have Infiltrated Taiwan with Waves of Chinese Propaganda

Taiwan’s Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lawmakers questioned in the Legislative Yuan, the island nation’s legislature, that China’s United Front radio waves have invaded all of Taiwan with more than ten different stations. Taiwan officials promised to meet within a month to review the situation.

Lai Pin-yu, a member of the ruling DDP, said, “Some people drive through the Miaoli and Hsinchu areas and want to listen to Taiwan’s local radio stations, but they can’t receive them. To their dismay, they receive several Chinese radio stations instead, all of which have united-front content and promote China’s policy toward Taiwan.

She added that all counties and cities in Taiwan can receive Chinese broadcasts, both AM and FM. She can even listen to China’s Voice of the Taiwan Strait station in her office in Taipei.

According to Lai, more than ten radio channels from China can be received in Taiwan. Taiwan’s radio channels are usually set in odd numbers, and these stations from across the strait are often set in even numbers.

In response, Chiu Tai-san, minister of the Mainland Affairs Council, said that there are two ways in which China is infiltrating Taiwan through broadcasting. One is that it transmits high-power signals directly to Taiwan. The second is to have Taiwan’s radio stations produce or broadcast Chinese-made content, which violates the Act Governing Relations between the People of the Taiwan Area and the Mainland.

Radio Free Asia interviewed Gong Yujian, a Chinese dissident now living in Taipei. Gong said he has been listening to Chinese broadcasts for the past two and a half years. He has also listened to Taiwan’s military radio, which broadcasts to mainland China.

Gong pointed out that the “Voice of the Taiwan Strait” station, which is affiliated with China National Radio under the Central Propaganda Department of the Chinese Communist Party, imitates a Taiwanese accent or uses young Taiwanese as anchors. It produces many soft programs on travel, food, and lifestyle to package the content of China’s united front.

Gong believed that Taiwan’s Kinsmen and China’s Xiamen are too close to each other. The radio frequency can easily be occupied by Chinese broadcasts, which is a geographical and technological problem. Recently, Matsu Island’s undersea cable was cut. As a result, people cannot connect to Taiwan’s network. Some local people have even used Chinese mobile phone numbers to access the Internet.

Gong added that Taiwan is a democratic and free society and cannot control information. The only way is for Taiwan to build radio stations in the same frequency and transmit radio waves that are stronger than the Chinese counterparts. Of course, that could cost a lot of money.

Source: Radio Free Asia, March 14, 2023