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The Biden Administration Reached Out to China on Iran Nuclear Issue

According to China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Robert Malley, the U.S. Special Envoy for Iran, recently had a conversation with Chinese Communist Party officials about the Biden Administration’s rejoining the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement. “On February 10, 2021, Vice Foreign Minister Ma Zhaoxu had a telephone conversation that the U.S. President’s Special Envoy for Iranian affairs, Robert Malley, who initiated the call, and the two sides had an in-depth exchange of views on the Iranian nuclear issue.”

The U.S. State Department declined to confirm the matter and stated, “Special Envoy Rob Malley is in the early stages of engaging Members of Congress, allies, partners, and others.”

Sources:
China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, February 10, 2021
https://www.fmprc.gov.cn/web/wjbxw_673019/t1853296.shtml
The Washington Free Beacon, February 15, 2021
https://freebeacon.com/biden-administration/state-dept-refuses-to-explain-iran-envoys-talks-with-china/

 

A Chinese City Ordered All CCP Members to Watch Anti-American TV Series

On Sunday February 14, the Municipal Committee of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) of Tianjin, a city in northeastern China, issued a “Notice on Attentively Watching the TV Series ‘Crossing the Yalu River,’” asking all CCP organizations in government agencies and civil groups to watch the TV program streamed by China Central Television (CCTV), the official mouthpiece broadcaster. The notice also requested feedback from CCP branches regarding how the notice was implemented.

The TV program is based on the Korean War, the very first and only direct military conflict between Communist China and America in the 1950’s. Over the past few years, Beijing’s propaganda machine has produced a few Korean War movies and TV series to stir up anti-American sentiment among the Chinese people.

The notice stated that the TV program “shows the entire process from the initial decision-making to the final signing of the armistice agreement of China’s resistance to American aggression and assistance to North Korea. … It is a reference textbook for studying CCP history, the new China history, and the history of socialist development.” The notice asked that all subordinate government organs make good use of the Chinese New Year holidays and organize everyone to attentively watch the series.

The move may be also related to the fact that the year 2021 is the 100th anniversary of the founding of Chinese Communist Party. The authorities have planned to launch a series of publicity activities across the country to glorify the CCP.

Source: Radio Free Asia, February 17, 2021
https://www.rfa.org/mandarin/yataibaodao/ql1-02172021031054.html

China Expressed Strong Dissatisfaction and Firm Opposition to Canadian Drafted Declaration against Arbitrary Detention

On February 15, Canada initiated the “Declaration against Arbitrary Detention in State-to-State Relations.” It stated, “The arbitrary arrest or detention of foreign nationals to compel action or to exercise leverage over a foreign government is contrary to international law, undermines international relations, and has a negative impact on foreign nationals traveling, working and living abroad.” The Declaration received international support from 58 countries including U.S., Japan, U.K., Australia and almost all of the EU members.

Although the declaration did not indicate which country it was aimed at, it immediately resulted in a strong reaction from China. The spokesperson for the Chinese Embassy in Canada said on Tuesday February 16 that China expresses strong dissatisfaction and firm opposition to the declaration and has lodged solemn representations with Canada. China also mentioned the arrest of Meng Wanzhou and criticized Canada saying, “This kind of act is no different from a thief shouting to catch a thief. How hypocritical and despicable!” China once again urged Canada to “reflect on its wrongdoing, release Meng immediately, make sure she can return to China safely, and stop creating new obstacles to bilateral relations in any form.” The spokesperson also emphasized that “China is a country under the rule of law.” Two Canadian citizens, Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, were “arrested and prosecuted by competent authorities of China in accordance with the law for the suspected crimes of undermining China’s national security.”

The U.S. State Department last week called on China to release the two arrested Canadian citizens and rejected China for “using coercion as a political tool.” In a telephone call earlier this month with Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau, U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris “expressed strong solidarity” with Canada for the detention of Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig, the two Canadian citizens arbitrarily detained in China in 2018. She spoke with Trudeau, and made it clear that the U.S. will continue to do everything in its power to secure their release.

Source: Radio Free Asia, February 17, 2021,
https://www.rfa.org/mandarin/yataibaodao/junshiwaijiao/ac-02162021071153.html

India Considers Buying the F-15EX Fighter Jet

Well-known Chinese news site Sina (NASDQ: SINA) recently reported that the U.S. government has approved the sale of the F-15EX fighter jet to the Indian Air Force. India has not finalized the decision to purchase it yet. The F-15 was originally developed by Macdonald Douglas (now part of Boeing) in the 1960s and was enhanced after 2018 as the F-15EX. The F-15 series did have glorious combat records, mostly set by the Israeli Air Force. However, it’s completely meaningless for India, since India has already owned many Russian Su-30MKI fighter jets, which are in the same class. The Indian Air Force has never owned any U.S. fighter jets before. Thus, it could become a nightmare for the Indians on logistics. It may be a better idea for India to buy a different Boeing fighter jet F/A18E/F Block III (also known as the Super Hornet). It uses the F414 engine, which is the same engine loaded in India’s domestic fighter jet MK2 and a few other models. This choice could lower the cost of maintenance and repair. The Super Hornet may also support India’s need for aircraft carrier fighter jets. The United States Air Force did plan to acquire 144 F-15EX fighter jets.

Source: Sina, February 13, 2021
https://mil.news.sina.com.cn/china/2021-02-13/doc-ikftpnny6644921.shtml

Why Are Chinese People Reluctant to Have Children?

According to the latest data from China’s Ministry of Public Security, there were 10.35 million newborns in 2020 with household registration, a sharp drop of 15 percent from the 11.79 million in 2019. The number compares with the 11.87 million newborns in 1961, one of the years of the great famine in China’s history.

However, the number of newborns with household registration is not exactly the same as the number of births in that year. The main reason is that the household registration was not declared for some newborns. Taking 2019 as an example, the Ministry of Public Security shows 11.79 million, but the National Statistics Bureau shows 14.65 million.

Sanlian Life Week, an influential Beijing-based weekly magazine, recently published an article quoting the recent population data that some Chinese cities released. The birth rate in many places fell sharply last year, showing a decline exceeding 10 percent. It was even more than 30 percent in some areas.

The report said that China’s fertility rate, which measures the average number of children per woman, was once higher than 6, but it is now below 1.5. Why don’t Chinese people want to have children? The most important reason is that they cannot afford to have children. Buying or renting houses has emptied many young people’s pockets of their income. Even for a middle-class family, raising children is a very large expense.

The report continued that compared with those born in the 1970s and 1980s, the relative income of those born in 1990’s and 2000’s dropped significantly. The term “relative income” is the ratio of expected future income level to living expenses. The higher the ratio, the stronger the financial ability to raise children.

In addition, the support that society provides for raising children is also insufficient. The report pointed out that in China, “the number of childcare institutions for the age of 0-3 is almost zero.” Without the help of the grandparents, it is almost impossible for double-income families to raise their children independently.

To alleviate the pressure on pensions, the authorities began to study the policy of delaying retirement. However, the report noted that this may in turn further reduce the fertility rate, because most families need the elderly to help take care of their children. If the elderly delay retirement, the families will lose their support. As a result, many young families choose to give up having children.

Source: Central News Agency, February 14, 2021
https://www.cna.com.tw/news/acn/202102140135.aspx

Chinese Communists to “Revive Traditional Culture”

On February 14, the General Office of the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and the General Office of China’s State Council issued the “Opinions on the Implementation of the Inheritance and Development Project of China’s Excellent Traditional Culture,” highlighting the need to “rejuvenate China’s traditional culture comprehensively by 2025.” The key tasks include “increasing publicity and education,” displaying the charm of Chinese culture through the Internet and media, promoting “red” tourism, developing education activities surrounding the theme of “loving China,” and fostering patriotism.

The “Opinions” requires the use of overseas Chinese cultural centers and Confucius Institutes to promote the global spread of Chinese traditional culture and strengthen cultural exchanges and cooperation with countries along the “Belt and Road Initiative.” It also encourages developing international trade of cultural products.

Song Yongyi, a historian at the University of California, Los Angeles, said in an interview with Radio Free Asia that the Chinese Communist Party itself is against traditional culture. Song said that Xi Jinping’s idea of the “Belt and Road Initiative (BRI),” came from the Tang Dynasty over 1,000 years ago. According to historical records, the government of the Tang Dynasty reaching out to the countries west of China was not done mainly for military purposes, but for economic and cultural exchanges. Song said, “When he (Xi Jinping) went to those (Belt and Road) countries, he occupied their ports and turned them into his military ports to develop his military. This is probably not the case throughout the history of traditional China. He was there to promote his ideology, and promote the so-called ‘China model.'”

The Opinions openly stated that the policy highlights and basic principles for the revival of traditional culture are “to grasp firmly the direction of advanced socialist culture and adhere to guidance that centered on people.”

Hu Ping, editor-in-chief of the U.S. based Chinese language magazine Beijing Spring, said, “He (Xi Jinping) is facing a big problem, because the CCP cut its teeth on opposing traditional culture. The CCP is a political group that has been perhaps the most hostile and most negative toward traditional Chinese culture throughout China’s history. Temples of Confucius are an example. For dynasties and generations, even foreign invaders did not damage the Temples of Confucius, but they were smashed during the Cultural Revolution. Now having the CCP play the role of inheriting and promoting traditional culture is itself a huge irony.”

Hu Ping believes that the CCP will only use it as banner, an “icon” of traditional Chinese culture as a decoration, but it actually castrates the soul and essence of traditional Chinese culture. It has been reported that China has recently been aggressively repairing and renovating Buddhist and Taoist temples. At the same time, its control and suppression of traditional religious activities has been unprecedented. The CCP does not respect religious freedom.

Source: Radio Free Asia, February 16, 2021
https://www.rfa.org/mandarin/yataibaodao/zhengzhi/hx-02162021102517.html

Myanmar Military Coup May Disrupt China’s Rare Earth Strategy

The Myanmar military’s coup may disrupt China’s rare earth strategy because Myanmar is an important source for China’s imports of heavy rare earths. Hong Kong’s Ming Pao reported that the economic cooperation between China and Myanmar involves many elements, including industrial transfer, deep water ports, hydroelectric power plants, oil and gas pipelines, oil and gas exploration and development, minerals, gems, and timber, to name just a few examples.

In terms of minerals, the reserves of heavy rare earths only account for less than one percent of the total rare earth reserves and about 90 percent of the heavy rare earth reserves that are in China. Although heavy rare earths account for a very small proportion of the total rare earth reserves in the world, The world has a high consumption rate and could run out quickly. From 2017 to 2018, China significantly reduced its mining volume of heavy rare earth mines and used Myanmar as an alternate source. Myanmar is not a big rare earth country, but among its total rare earth reserves, the proportion of heavy rare earth reserves is relatively high, making it a major supplier of heavy rare earths.

In 2018, China imported 25,800 tons of heavy rare earth ore from Myanmar, which was equal to China’s annual production. According to data from the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Geological Survey (USGS) and other institutions, in 2019, China’s rare earth mine production accounted for 62.9 percent of the world’s total. The U.S. accounted for 12.4 percent; Australia accounted for 10 percent; and Myanmar accounted for 10.5 percent.

The United Nations will certainly continue to discuss Myanmar issues related to the coup and may even consider imposing economic sanctions. If China were to oppose the U.N.’s decision, it would go against China’s claim that the problem should be resolved within the framework of the United Nations. If the situation calls for sanctions against Myanmar, it will put China in an awkward position considering all the economic ties it has with Myanmar.

Source: Central News China, February 15, 2021
https://www.cna.com.tw/news/acn/202102150068.aspx

RFI Chinese: 17+1 Summit Showed Less Enthusiasm for China

Radio France Internationale (RFI) Chinese Edition recently reported that the just-finished 17+1 Summit between China and the Central and Eastern European countries is showing a changing relationship. There are now 15 European countries that are connected to China via railway for cargo transportation. It takes only 15 to 20 days to travel by rail from Xi’an or Chongqing to Europe, which is half of the time required by sea. This made the railway topic a major item on the 17+1 Summit agenda. Even with the rapid growth of the railway business, the Europeans didn’t show much warmth toward Xi Jinping. One week ago, Romania launched a regulatory procedure that excluded Chinese companies from its national construction projects. Estonia, Lithuania, Slovenia, Bulgaria and Romania only sent ministers to this summit. Hungary is the only country that clearly expressed its friendship toward Beijing. Last April, it reached an agreement with China on the funding of the Budapest-Belgrade railway. However, the content of the agreement will be kept confidential for ten years. Russia is still a real threat in the region, so the United States remains a natural ally. It appears that the Baltic states care more about their transatlantic relationship. The Central and Eastern European countries have begun to feel tired of China’s “promises” and its potential. China’s investments have been on the decline since 2016.

Source: RFI Chinese, February 10, 2021
https://bit.ly/3dbXgwW