Posts Tagged ‘Xi Jinping’

Russia Urges India to Back China’s Belt and Road

December 11, 2017

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Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (L) Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj (C) and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi shake hands before the start of their meeting in New Delhi, India, December 11, 2017. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi Reuters

By Sanjeev Miglani

NEW DELHI (Reuters) – Russia threw its weight behind China’s massive Belt and Road plan to build trade and transport links across Asia and beyond, suggesting to India on Monday that it find a way to work with Beijing on the signature project.

India is strongly opposed to an economic corridor that China is building in Pakistan that runs through disputed Kashmir as part of the Belt and Road initiative.

India was the only country that stayed away from a May summit hosted by Chinese President Xi Jinping to promote the plan to build railways, ports and power grids in a modern-day recreation of the Silk Road.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said New Delhi should not let political problems deter it from joining the project, involving billions of dollars of investment, and benefiting from it.

Lavrov was speaking in the Indian capital after a three-way meeting with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj at which, he said, India’s reservations over the Chinese project were discussed.

“I know India has problems, we discussed it today, with the concept of One Belt and One Road, but the specific problem in this regard should not make everything else conditional to resolving political issues,” he said.

Russia, all the countries in central Asia, and European nations had signed up to the Chinese project to boost economic cooperation, he said.

“Those are the facts,” he said. “India, I am 100 percent convinced, has enough very smart diplomats and politicians to find a way which would allow you to benefit from this process.”

The comments by Russia, India’s former Cold War ally, reflected the differences within the trilateral grouping formed 15 years ago to challenge U.S.-led dominance of global affairs.

But substantial differences between India and China, mainly over long-standing border disputes, have snuffed out prospects of any real cooperation among the three.

India, in addition, has drawn closer to the United States in recent years, buying weapons worth billions of dollars to replace its largely Soviet-origin military.

Swaraj said the three countries had very productive talks on economic issues and the fight against terrorism.

(Editing by Clarence Fernandez)



South Korean President Moon Jae-In hopes to “normalise” ties with China on his first state visit

December 11, 2017


South Korean President Moon Jae-In hopes to “normalise” ties with giant neighbour China on his first state visit to the country this week, his office said Monday, after Beijing was infuriated by a US missile system deployment.

Seoul and Washington decided to install the powerful US THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defense) system in the South earlier this year to guard against threats from the nuclear-armed North.

Beijing saw it as a threat to its own security and reacted furiously, slapping a string of measures against South Korean businesses and banning group tours to the South, in moves seen as economic retaliation.

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South Korean President Moon Jae-In

China is the South’s top trading partner and the diplomatic row took a major toll on many South Korean firms, most notably retail giant Lotte Group, which provided the land to host the powerful US missile system.

Angry boycott campaigns and regulatory crackdowns by Chinese authorities decimated its business in the world’s second-largest economy, and it was forced to put its supermarket unit in China up for sale.

But last month the two countries issued identically-worded statements on their mutual desire to improve relations.

It did not state any specifics, but Beijing has demanded that Seoul formally promise not to deploy any more THAAD launchers and not to join any regional US missile defence system.

Nam Gwan-Pyo, a deputy director of the presidential national security office, did not give reporters details of any concrete steps that could be expected from Moon’s four-day trip — his first to China since taking power in May.

But he said it would be a turning point in relations towards a “more mature” relationship, he said, “by recovering bilateral trust and strengthening friendship between the leaders of the two nations”.

Ties recently showed some — albeit limited — signs of thaw as China’s state tourism board approved last month Seoul-bound group tours from some parts of China.

Moon heads to Beijing on Wednesday and will hold a summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping the following day to discuss issues including how to curb the North’s nuclear weapons drive, Nam added.

China — the North’s sole diplomatic ally and economic lifeline — has stepped up sanctions on the North amid pressure from the US and the international community to play a bigger role in taming its regime.

Beijing has backed recent UN sanctions imposed on the North over its nuclear and missile tests, including a ban on coal imports, although it repeatedly pushed for talks to defuse the tensions.

It has urged a “double freeze” on both North Korean weapons tests and joint military exercises by Seoul and Washington — an idea consistently rejected by the US and South Korea.

China Audit Finds Provinces Faked Data and Borrowed Illegally (Haven’t we heard this before?)

December 10, 2017
  • Fiscal revenues inflated, building sales faked to boost income
  • Xi had ordered data fraud ‘throttled’ after string of scandals

China found some local governments inflated revenue levels and raised debt illegally in a nationwide audit, a setback for Beijing in its bid to boost the credibility of economic data after a run of scandals.

Ten cities, counties or districts in the Yunnan, Hunan and Jilin provinces, as well as the southwestern city of Chongqing, inflated fiscal revenues by 1.55 billion yuan ($234 million), the National Audit Office said in a statement on its website dated Dec. 8.

Of that, 1.24 billion yuan was from the Wangcheng district in the provincial capital of Hunan, where officials faked the ownership transfer of local government buildings to boost income.

The inspection, which covered the third quarter, also found that five cities or counties in the Jiangxi, Shaanxi, Gansu, Hunan and Hainan provinces raised about 6.43 billion yuan in debts by violating rules, such as offering commitment letters.


The People’s Bank of China

The findings are a blow to China’s bid to rein in data fraud, which has been widespread in some of the poorer provinces where officials were incentivized to inflate the numbers as a way of advancing their careers.

Concern from investors wanting to be able to trust data out of the world’s second-largest economy led to the government trying to crack down on the practice, with President Xi Jinping saying in March that data fraud “must be throttled,” according to the state-run Xinhua News Agency.

Persistent Questions

Rigid stability in provincial data on growth and employment has long sparked questions from economists, with the rust-belt province of Liaoning, in China’s northeast, famously admitting back in January that it had fabricated fiscal data from 2011 to 2014. Some regions and cities in Jilin province and Inner Mongolia also falsified reports, the Communist Party’s Central Commission for Discipline Inspection said in June, without providing details.

The audit found a slew of transgressions by local governments.

Six counties or cities in Jilin listed 110 million yuan of project funds or hospital operating income as administrative income in a bid to bolster the figure, while the Banan district of Chongqing was able to inflate revenue by 20 million yuan by charging two private schools for the use of state-owned assets and promising to return the money at a later date.

A new supervisory body was set up within China’s statistics office in April to bolster and ensure data authenticity and quality. The country is also shifting to the latest United Nations-based statistical standard and using computers — rather than local reports — to calculate provincial gross domestic product, the chief economist said in September.

— With assistance by Feifei Shen


Trump fiddles with phone as US burns out in Asia, and China gives a lesson in leadership

December 9, 2017

By Richard Heydarian

President’s Twitter rants and lack of a coherent strategy have seen confidence in US leadership plummet, and Beijing has not been slow to fill the void

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 09 December, 2017, 8:32pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 09 December, 2017, 8:33pm

“Of all manifestations of power, restraint impresses men the most,” warned Thucydides, who painfully observed the Peloponnesian war and the devastation of the Athenian empire.

Centuries from now, the world is likely to look back at the Donald Trump presidency as the beginning of a precipitous decline in America’s global influence. His midnight rants on Twitter, open hostility to the international liberal order, and lack of a coherent grand strategy has alienated friends and allies like never before.

In contrast, Beijing has deftly forged ahead with constructing an “Asia for Asians”, while luring the world with ambitious infrastructure projects that will transform globalisation in China’s image.

Meanwhile, US allies such as Japan, Australia and the European Union have openly expressed their willingness to fill the leadership vacuum by pushing for alternative trade, security and climate-related agreements.

To be fair, what we are witnessing is partly driven by a relative decline in the foundations of American power, primarily due to the meteoric rise of China and other major developing countries.

In the coming years, Beijing is expected not only to oversee the world’s largest economy, but also emerge as a leading global source of investment and technology. Even in the realm of military power, where the US holds a decisive edge, China is rapidly closing the gap.

 Chinese President Xi Jinping (right) shakes hands with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at the Apec summit in Da Nang, Vietnam last month. The two leaders support free trade in the Asia region. Photo: Xinhua

According to a Rand Corporation study, Beijing is catching up in virtually every crucial area of military technology, while enjoying geographical advantage vis-à-vis crucial flashpoints such as the Taiwan Strait, South China Sea and Korean Peninsula.

Nonetheless, as Thucydides observed in ancient Greece, quality of leadership can define the fate of superpowers and the broader trajectory of history.

Throughout my conversations with senior officials and experts from American allied nations in Asia and Europe, I have seen nothing short of outright trepidation regarding the Trump presidency.

While the statements and actions of able officials such as US Defence Secretary James Mattis have been warmly received, there is still an excruciating clamour for a steady hand at the top.

Surveys show that global confidence in America’s leadership has collapsed in the past year alone. A Pew study reported an average 42 per cent decline among 37 surveyed nations.

An intensified “Russia-gate” investigation into members of Trump’s inner circle is expected to further distract an already wobbly administration.

Trump’s “America first” mantra has been interpreted as an unvarnished expression of unilateralism and isolationism by the global superpower. In response, many countries have found themselves either embracing China or veering away from America.

 Despite the best efforts of US Defence Secretary James Mattis, global confidence in America’s leadership has plummeted this year. Photo: Reuters

During his November trip to Asia, the US president struggled to secure a single major concession from either allies or rivals, namely China. Crucially, Trump was deeply isolated during the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) summit in Vietnam, where he openly called for bilateral trade agreements and lashed out at globalisation.

Aside from nixing the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which deeply alienated regional allies and new friends such as Vietnam, Trump failed to propose any new economic initiative in the region.

In a blatant rebuke, allies such as Japan and Australia subsequently discussed a revitalised TPP deal, which excludes America yet upholds the principles of free trade. Meanwhile, Chinese President Xi Jinping extolled the virtues of an open global order.

The Chinese leader described globalisation as an “irreversible historical trend”, reiterating his country’s commitment to a “multilateral trading regime and practice”, which enables “developing members to benefit more from international trade and investment”.

In particular, China supports the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, which covers 16 nations and aims to dramatically reduce tariff barriers across the Asia-Pacific. In fact, it’s here where Beijing’s greatest strength lies: commercial diplomacy.

 Chinese Premier Li Keqiang (left) extended his stay in Manila last month to discuss multibillion-dollar infrastructure projects with Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte (right). Photo: Reuters

Across Southeast Asia, China is increasingly seen as the next major driver of industrialisation and development, including among American treaty allies Thailand and the Philippines.

While Xi used the bully pulpit to promote globalisation during the Apec summit, China’s Premier Li Keqiang, in turn, offered concrete investment deals during his visit to Manila for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) summit just days after.

While Trump cut his visit to Manila short by 24 hours, Li extended his stay in the city by several days. He met and discussed multibillion-dollar infrastructure projects with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte.

Lured by China’s economic initiatives, the Filipino president leveraged his Asean chairmanship this year to deepen ties between Beijing and Southeast Asian nations. We may have finally found a glimpse of Pax Sinica in Asia.

Richard Javad Heydarian is an Asia-based scholar and the author of several books, including Asia’s New Battlefield: US, China and the Struggle for Western Pacific and The Rise of Duterte: A Populist Revolt Against Elite Democracy.

South China Sea Militarization: Fighters in the Paracels and Combat Logistics

December 7, 2017

The Diplomat

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Last week, Chinese state media confirmed the deployment of J-11 fighters to Woody Island, part of the disputed Paracel chain in the South China Sea. While the deployment was not unprecedented, China’s overt admission signals new confidence in its position in the region. However, in combination with recent testing of techniques for keeping the South China Sea bases supplied under combat conditions, it suggests a vulnerability to interrupted logistics.

Commercial satellite images also found J-11s on Woody Island earlier this year, but this is the first official acknowledgement of a rotational deployment there. Last year China deployed anti-ship cruise missiles and advanced air-defense missiles to the island as well.

Vietnam also claims sovereignty over the Paracel archipelago but (at the time, South Vietnam) lost control of them to China in a 1974 battle. Woody Island, which China calls Yongxing, also serves as the seat of Sansha city, which China established to politically administer all of the South China Sea islands it controls or claims.

Enjoying this article? Click here to subscribe for full access. Just $5 a month.The Paracels were not included in a 2015 claim by Chinese President Xi Jinping that China had no intention of militarizing the Spratly islands, in the southern end of the South China Sea. Nevertheless, Western analysts are sensitive to signs of increasing militarization there. The Paracels’ central location in the South China Sea provides them great potential strategic value as a base for long-range aircraft or missile batteries. Furthermore, analysts have often viewed upgrades and construction on the island as a prelude to similar expansion on the seven Spratly features that China occupies.

As a result, there are signs that U.S. strategic thinkers have given significant thought to the problems that Woody Island might pose in a potential military conflict with China, and how to neutralize it. A major fleet architecture study conducted earlier this year by the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Analysis for the U.S. Congress used an unlabeled graphic of Woody Island to illustrate new concepts for conducting amphibious raids against fortified archipelagos.

The relative isolation of China’s fortified islands in the South China Sea raises the question of how they would be supported in the event of a conflict and attempts to blockade or seize them.

Earlier in the fall, the South China Morning Post reported that a Chinese aeronautical institute tested a new unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) that could be used to resupply China’s far-flung bases in the South China Sea and consolidate its control over the region. Based on a small turboprop plane, the UAV could deliver one and a half tons of cargo over 2,000 kilometers, far enough to reach China’s artificial facilities in the Spratly Islands. The UAV can land on short runways or rough roads and fields, or deliver its cargo by airdrop.

While the UAV may prove useful for resupplying small, austere facilities, it is probably not a solution for China’s largest South China Sea bases, or for resupply in combat conditions. The seven islands in the Spratlys that China has artificially expanded and constructed facilities each now sprawl over hundreds of acres. Some could support hundreds of personnel, and are likely intended to be logistics hubs themselves for aircraft and ships. The UAV’s one and a half-ton cargo capacity is too small to provide much more than a niche delivery capability, such as for mail or critical repair parts.

In addition to its small cargo capacity, the UAV is also unsuited to play a combat logistics role. Un-stealthy, slow, and without sophisticated radars or defensive countermeasure systems, the UAV could not be counted on to survive in a contested air environment, making them a poor choice for critical resupply in a conflict.

A more serious combat logistics capability for the South China Sea was on display last week, when four Y-9 transport planes conducted an airdrop exercise over an unidentified island. Compared to the UAV’s one and a half tons, each Y-9 can carry 25 tons of cargo nearly 8,000 kilometers. The aircraft participating in this exercise took off from China’s Western Theater Command and crossed into the Southern Theater Command, demonstrating cross-theater coordination.

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Y-9 transport plane

Chinese state media said that the planes flew without outside weather data or headquarters guidance. This implies the aircraft flew under simulated combat conditions and with minimal, or possibly no communications to minimize the likelihood of being tracked or identified by their electronic emissions.

This sort of sustainment effort would be critical to maintaining combat-ready forces in the Paracels and in the Spratlys, though China has yet to deploy force-projection systems like ships or missiles there.

The report on this most recent J-11 deployment described special facilities and planning that made it possible, including new climate-controlled hangars to protect the jets from the heat and humidity, prolonging the time they could spend on the island. This means that Woody Island, and presumably China’s Spratly bases as well, cannot permanently support basing advanced fighters, even with the new climate-proofed facilities, highlighting both the military limitations of China’s extensive South China Sea bases, and their vulnerability to interrupted logistical support.


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China says it has sovereignty over all the South China Sea north of its “nine dash line.” On July 12, 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration  in The Hague said this claim by China was not valid. But China and the Philippine government then chose to ignore international law.

South Korea’s Moon to visit China next week

December 6, 2017


© YONHAP/AFP | This will be President Moon’s first trip to China since taking office in May
SEOUL (AFP) – South Korean President Moon Jae-In will visit China next week, his office said Wednesday, as tensions soar over Pyongyang’s growing nuclear and missile threats.Moon will make the trip just weeks after North Korea tested an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) in defiance of multiple sets of UN sanctions, prompting Washington to press Beijing to take a tougher stance against Pyongyang.

He will arrive in Beijing next Wednesday for a four-day state visit and hold a summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping to discuss ways “to peacefully resolve North Korea’s nuclear issue,” the South Korean presidential office said.

Pyongyang claimed it has reached nuclear statehood with the success of its missile test last week, and that it can now target the entire United States.

This will be Moon’s first trip to China since taking office in May, and comes as the two countries seek to improve ties strained by Seoul’s deployment of a US missile defence system.

The nations have been at loggerheads over the placement in South Korea of the US Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system, which Seoul and Washington say is intended to defend against missile threats from nuclear-armed North Korea.

Beijing sees it as a threat to its own military capabilities. It has imposed a series of sanctions on South Korean firms and banned Chinese tour groups from going to the country in moves seen as economic retaliation.

China is South Korea’s biggest trading partner and its measures have had a big impact on some of the South’s biggest companies, including retail conglomerate Lotte — which provided a golf course used for the THAAD deployment — and auto giant Hyundai.

The Underclass That Threatens Xi’s ‘China Dream’ — “Low End Workers” Being Swept Out of Beijing — The Marxist Contradictions That Kill Communism

December 5, 2017

Beijing’s mass evictions of migrants cast a chill over Xi’s lofty equality goals

SHANGHAI—As a Marxist thinker who sees the world in terms of titanic struggles between opposing social forces, Xi Jinping has put his finger on China’s main challenge.

It is, he told a Communist Party gathering in October, the conflict between people’s desire for a better life and “unbalanced and inadequate development.” In a commentary, Xinhua News Agency explained that if such a “principal contradiction” is left unresolved, “it can lead to chaos and eventually, as Marx predicted, to revolution.”

The first test of this new dialectic wasn’t long in coming. A fire that killed 19 migrant workers in a tenement on Beijing’s outskirts highlighted the inequalities Mr. Xi was alluding to. Rural migrants built modern Beijing and other megacities as welders and scaffolders, painters and plasterers. They now collect the trash, deliver lunchboxes to gleaming office towers, nanny the babies of affluent families and guard the mansions of the superrich.

The answer from Beijing authorities to the tragedy: flatten migrants’ dilapidated dwellings and expel the capital’s most vulnerable inhabitants.

If this is how Mr. Xi intends to resolve the contradictions that cloud China’s future, expect trouble ahead.

A popular revolt isn’t in the cards. The migrants themselves, dazed and fearful, have mostly submitted to their fate. They have few means to organize. Many simply melted back to their villages

Still, the plight of tens of thousands of refugees, dragging their wheeled suitcases through rubble in subzero temperatures, struck a chord among Beijing’s middle classes. Some donated food and blankets. Critics threw back at authorities the disdainful official appellation for the urban underclass: “low-end population.” Internet censors quickly blocked the term.

A group of lawyers, artists and public intellectuals were so scandalized they circulated a signed petition online that attacked what they called “a serious violation of human rights.”

It remains to be seen how long this sympathy will last. Beijingers in general resent migrants for swamping city services, bringing crime, clogging the streets with unlicensed motorbikes and depleting scarce water resources.

Yet wealthy urbanites have their own jumble of contradictions to resolve. After decades of frenetic economic growth they are demanding cleaner air and safer food. Many are angry at corruption that buys coveted school places and access to hospitals. The social compact in which citizens traded away political freedom for economic prosperity is fraying. Increasingly, a demanding public expects the government to listen and respond sensitively to its grievances.

Mr. Xi has recognized all these pressures, hence his drive to deliver improved living conditions even as the economy slows. So far, he’s scored highly with an anticorruption campaign, along with efforts to combat air pollution and restore blue skies.

The big question facing the Xi administration is whether these contradictions will eventually yield to his style of governance: ruthlessly authoritarian, focused on imposing top-down discipline rather than canvassing diverse views from society below. Beijing has set strict population-control targets and many residents believe authorities used the tenement fire merely as an excuse to squeeze out migrants.

Behind Mr. Xi’s confident narrative about his country’s emergence as a global superpower at the recent 19th Communist Party Congress is a more fragile reality.

China’s invincible rise is a myth. The contradictions have grown big enough to threaten the party’s rule. A deep cleavage between privileged urban dwellers and the rural poor who serve them could limit the country’s economic prospects for decades to come. Half the country pursues Mr. Xi’s “China Dream” of wealth and power; the other half—the ones still picking their way through Beijing’s blitzed slums—could derail it.

On the outskirts of Beijing, people have been packing up and leaving their homes after receiving eviction notices.Photo: Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

Scott Rozelle, a professor at Stanford University, has conducted large-scale surveys on education and health care in what he calls “the other China”—rural hinterlands that are home to 500 million people and produce the migrants. Among his findings: Most kids are sick or malnourished and up to two-thirds struggle with combinations of anemia, worms and uncorrected myopia that set them back at school. More than half the toddlers are so cognitively delayed their IQs will never exceed 90.

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Because of rural backwardness, only 24% of China’s labor force has a high-school education. China ranks dead last among middle-income countries in terms of human capital, says Mr. Rozelle.

The West tracks Mr. Xi’s progress by the billions of dollars he spends on ports and high-speed railways for his Eurasian “Belt and Road” megaproject, by the fortunes he lavishes on robotics and other high-tech industries at home and the even larger sums devoted to his naval buildup.

As Mr. Xi himself suggests, these are the wrong metrics. The Marxist contradictions that challenge his rule don’t necessarily require huge spending: $20 on a pair of glasses to correct a child’s blurred vision; $1 for worm medication. But they do demand responsive governance. The evictions in Beijing during the depths of winter have cast a chill over Mr. Xi’s lofty new message.

Write to Andrew Browne at


Apple, Facebook find something to praise China for amid Internet clampdown — “The Chinese government … doing a fabulous job on that.”

December 5, 2017

WUZHEN, CHINA (REUTERS) – Top executives at Apple Inc and Facebook Inc managed to find something to praise Beijing for at an Internet conference in China this week, even as its Communist Party rulers ban Western social media and stamp on online dissent.

China’s World Internet Conference attracted the heads of Google and Apple for the first time to hear China vow to open up its Internet – just as long as it can guard cyberspace in the same way it guards its borders.

The tacit endorsement of the event by top US tech executives comes as China introduces strict new rules on censorship and data storage, causing headaches for foreign tech firms permitted to do business in China and signalling that restrictions banning others are unlikely to be lifted any time soon.

“I’d compliment the Chinese government in terms of leadership on using data,” Facebook vice-president Vaughan Smith said on Tuesday (Dec 5), citing government bodies such as the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) and Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT).

“The Chinese government, the CAC and MIIT are doing a fabulous job on that.”

Facebook and Google are not accessible in China behind the country’s Great Firewall, along with major Western news outlets and social media sites, while Apple is subject to strict censorship. The US firm removed dozens of popular messaging and virtual private network (VPN) apps from its China App Store this year to comply with government requests.

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“The theme of this conference, developing a digital economy for openness and shared benefits, is a vision we at Apple share,” Apple chief executive Tim Cook said on Sunday. The audience cheered him twice – once when he reached the podium, and again when he bowed.

China cracks down on any sign of online criticism of the government which it sees as a threat to social stability and one-party rule.

Some embassies, business groups and foreign firms steer clear of the highly choreographed Internet event, analysts say, because of the perceived propaganda.

But diplomacy seemed to rule the day at the conference, held in the ancient scenic city of Wuzhen in the eastern province of Zhejiang, and neither Smith nor Cook addressed issues of censorship or cyber regulation.

Cook has made frequent trips to China over the past year, as the firm has looked to revive sales in the market and make a push into services that require working with local partners on data storage.

“Companies that have sent high-level delegations to this conference in Wuzhen in the past have often done so because there is some type of significant issue with their access to the market,” said an industry source familiar with the event who declined to be identified due to the sensitivity of the matter.

At the event itself, conference guests were treated to a bubble of uncensored Internet in hotels, including access to Google, Facebook and foreign news outlets with specialised codes handed out to guests.

In discussions on topics such as artificial intelligence and tech innovation, overseas executives generally skirted the topic of regulation, though it surfaced at times.

“More people come to Facebook than are in China,” said Facebook’s Smith at a talk on digital economy on Tuesday. “(But) I realise not everyone in the room is familiar with Facebook.”

Jack Ma, chairman of China’s Alibaba Group Holding Ltd which owns Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post, said that foreign tech firms wishing to enter the China market should abide by its laws.

“(Foreign companies) are determined to come. Follow the rules and laws and if you’re unhappy, leave,” said Ma. “This is not a market (where) you can come and go.”


How will Trump’s Asian diplomacy play out?

December 5, 2017

The Yomiuri Shimbun

Akihiko Tanaka, left, and Ryozo Kato

The Yomiuri Shimbun

U.S. President Donald Trump has completed his first Asian tour since being inaugurated. With the Asia-Pacific region facing problems, including the threat of North Korea’s continued nuclear and missile development and the conflict between China and its neighbors as China’s economic and military strength fuels increased maritime expansion, what was the outcome of Trump’s “America First” diplomacy? What are its future tasks? We asked experts for their thoughts.


Time to assess North Korea sanctions

Akihiko Tanaka

President of the National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies

Trump safely passed the diplomacy test. He was able to maintain the deterrence power against North Korea and to deliver the message of reinforcing sanctions. On this point, he received a degree of commitment even from slightly worried South Korean President Moon Jae In and Chinese President Xi Jinping. It was also significant that Southeast Asian countries have expressed the idea of implementing economic sanctions against North Korea.

Now is the time to assess the effect of sanctions. We can see North Korea’s attitude and decide whether to hold talks with them. If it continues its nuclear and missile development, there is no point in talking.

The United States has adopted an offensive military stance to ensure that deterrence is effective. The question is whether the United States will start a preemptive war to destroy nuclear and missile facilities even if there is no indication of a nuclear attack by North Korea. That would violate international law and is difficult to imagine, since it is unknown whether a North Korean counterattack could be 100 percent contained.

The United States would lose authority in the event of massive casualties among the South Korean people and American citizens in South Korea.

However, I think there is little possibility of North Korea abandoning its nuclear weapons and missiles due to strengthened sanctions. Solving the issue in one or two years is unrealistic. It may take five, 10 or 20 years. Even if North Korea threatens Japan or South Korea with nuclear weapons, we don’t have to submit to it.

Nevertheless, there are concerns of an outbreak caused by a miscalculation or mistake, so it is important for Japan to develop ballistic missile defenses.

Japan and the United States agreed on a common diplomatic strategy of a “free and open Indo-Pacific.” I myself have insisted on the concept of emphasizing the Indo-Pacific region, so I think it’s fine.

However, it is a mistake to think of this as a strategy to create a network encircling China. The region is important because it is expected to see high growth in the future. I think China would find the strategy acceptable because it coincides with the “one road” element of its “One Belt, One Road” [initiative], which can be regarded as a maritime silk road for the 21st century.

The important point is to reduce the threat of war as much as possible in this region. A range of conflict zones exist in the northern inland area, and stable growth will not happen unless the threat of terrorism or civil war is reduced. In the South China Sea, where the Pacific and Indian oceans connect, we need to watch how China acts. It is imperative that it is not allowed to proceed with the construction of more bases.

Finally, a broad agreement by the 11 countries participating in the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade agreement showed Japanese diplomacy is a force to be reckoned with. I don’t think the United States will return to the TPP under the Trump administration, but mainstream U.S. experts in international relations and economics want their country to understand the disadvantages of not joining the multilateral agreement. Though unusual in terms of Japan’s diplomacy, the country must steadily build a framework without the United States, while being willing to welcome the United States if it returns.

Tanaka is an expert in international politics. He served as a professor at the University of Tokyo, vice president of the university, and president of the Japan International Cooperation Agency before assuming his current position in April. His major publications include “Word Politics” and “The Post-Crisis World.” He is 63.

(This interview was conducted by Yomiuri Shimbun Senior Writer Haruki Sasamori.)


Japan, U.S. should align views on China

Ryozo Kato

Former Japanese Ambassador to the United States

Trump’s Asia tour was a kind of debut performance, and he deployed his brand of omnidirectional foreign policy. Although he was absent from the East Asia Summit at the end of his itinerary, I think his emphasis was ultimately on bilateral meetings.

The tour was of major significance in terms of U.S. involvement in Asia. The United States’ two security priorities are Russia, which opposes it on the Ukraine issue, and the Middle East. I’d hesitate to say that Asia is an urgent issue. Because of this, it was important that the tour offered Trump and his aides the chance to feel for themselves the future importance of Asia.

In Japan, Trump first visited the U.S. Yokota Air Base.

He must have recognized the strong presence of the Japan-based U.S. military in East Asia and the firmness of the Japan-U.S. alliance. With North Korea’s nuclear warheads and intercontinental ballistic missiles approaching actual deployment capability, it is obvious but also very significant that he and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe mutually recognized that the situation is approaching the stage where maximum pressure is required to really bring [development] to a halt.

For the United States, I think Japan plays a role similar to that of Britain in Europe, and China is like the former Soviet Union.

However, one aspect is different: While the Soviet Union prioritized the military, China is a major power both economically and militarily. It is not an easy opponent. Chinese President Xi Jinping’s invitation to Trump to visit the Forbidden City was reminiscent of the behavior of an emperor. Trump may not agree with Xi’s values, but it is possible he was impressed by his style of governance.

Traveling through Japan, China and South Korea, Trump likely saw that the position of each country differs even on the single issue of North Korea, and that the issue is not easy to address. It is impossible to formulate and implement a plan to deal with the Korean Peninsula problem without considering China’s strategy.

In a press announcement after the U.S.-China summit, Xi said, “The Pacific is large enough to accommodate both the United States and China,” and raised the possibility of a “G-2 concept” that includes the United States and China. Although this was a natural statement for China to make, steadily implementing such a strategy would diminish the prestige of the United States in the Asia-Pacific region and also harm U.S. national interests.

It must be acknowledged that the Trump administration’s Indo-Pacific strategy is still short on specifics. I would like the United States to first review future changes in the military balance and trends in China before coming up with its Asia policy.

Japan should strengthen talks with the United States on China to develop a shared view on the country. Additionally, Japan must take the necessary steps to ensure the stability of the Asia-Pacific region and that the United States play its role properly.

To increase the deterrence power of the Japan-U.S. alliance, Japan must raise its defense budget that, in turn, requires open domestic discussions about such matters as constitutional amendments, the nuclear issue, energy and cyber issues.


Kato joined the Foreign Ministry in 1965. After working as director general of the Asian Affairs Bureau, senior deputy minister and other posts, he served as the ambassador to the United States from October 2001 to June 2008. After retirement, he served as a commissioner of the Nippon Professional Baseball Organization. He is 76.

(This interview was conducted by Yomiuri Shimbun Senior Writer Tatsuya Fukumoto.)

China showcases jet fighters on South China Sea island

December 4, 2017

China claims almost all of the South China Sea but Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan have counter claims over the waterway.

By: PTI | Beijing | Published: December 3, 2017 9:20 pm

China showcases jet fighters on South China Sea island

An airstrip, structures and buildings on China’s man-made Subi Reef in the Spratly chain of islands in the South China Sea are seen from a Philippine Air Force C-130 transport plane of the Philippine Air Force. (Source: AP/File)

China has showcased its J-11B jet fighters in the disputed South China Sea islands as Beijing seeks to consolidate its hold over the region.

Footage aired by state-run China Central Television (CCTV) on Wednesday for the first time confirmed deployment of the fighter aircraft in a hangar on Yongxing island, a Chinese name for Woody Island, which is part of the Paracel islands -also claimed by Vietnam.

China calls the Paracels as the Xisha islands.

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The presence of the bombers showcases China’s improving air and sea control in the South China Sea, state-run Global Times quoted a Chinese military expert as saying.

The footage was broadcast in a CCTV report on the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Air Force’s drills to improve its nautical combat capability.

Yongxing island is the largest of the Xisha islands in the South China Sea which is also the seat of the Sansha city government established by China’s Hainan province.

With a three-kilometer runway, the airport in Yongxing island is an important dual-use airport in the South China Sea region, the CCTV report said.

China claims almost all of the South China Sea but Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan have counter claims over the waterway.

The US is periodically deploying its naval ships and fighter planes to assert freedom of navigation. Two Chinese J-10 fighter jets were reported to have intercepted a US Navy surveillance aircraft over the South China Sea in May.

The thermostabilized hangar boosts the jet fighters’ durability and resistance to the island’s humidity and high temperatures.

More importantly, the special hangar helps to realize regular deployment of fighter jets in the Xisha Islands, TV commentator Song Zhongping told the daily.

“Other islands in China could also use such aircraft hangars and China’s overall control of air and sea in the South China Sea would be greatly improved as well,” Song said.

China will enhance its capability to safeguard its legal rights in the South China Sea through military and legal enforcement channels, he said.

“Legal enforcement channel” means Chinese fighters intercepting foreign aircraft flying over the South China Sea, he said.

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China says it has sovereignty over all the South China Sea north of its “nine dash line.” On July 12, 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration  in The Hague said this claim by China was not valid. But China and the Philippine government then chose to ignore international law.