Archive for ‘Beijing’


Beijing new airport subway line starts test run

BEIJING, June 15 (Xinhua) — Self-driving trains for the subway line connecting downtown Beijing with its new international airport started trial run Saturday, according to local authorities.

Stretching 41.4 kilometers, the new line supports autopilot system and can run at a speed of 160 km per hour, with as many as 448 passengers, according to Beijing Major Projects Construction Headquarters Office.

It runs through Daxing and Fentai, two districts in the southern part of Beijing, and will take only 19 minutes to get from the Caoqiao station in Beijing’s south third ring road to the new airport after it starts operation by the end of September.

The line is part of an integrated transport network that will combine subways, expressways, intercity rail and high-speed rail with the airport at the center.

Beijing Daxing International Airport, located 46 kilometers south of downtown Beijing, is designed to take pressure off overcrowded Beijing Capital International Airport in the northeastern suburbs. It sits at the junction of Beijing’s Daxing District and Langfang, a city in neighboring Hebei Province.

Source: Xinhua


Beijing sees ‘broad consensus’ with UN on Xinjiang as human rights groups blast envoy’s visit

  • UN counterterrorism chief Vladimir Voronkov not expected to make statement after visiting region last week
  • Trip prompts calls for independent observation in Muslim-majority area where an estimated 1 million people are held in detention facilities
Residents go through a security checkpoint at the entrance to a bazaar in Hotan, Xinjiang. The UN’s counterterrorism chief visited the far western region last week. Photo: AP
Residents go through a security checkpoint at the entrance to a bazaar in Hotan, Xinjiang. The UN’s counterterrorism chief visited the far western region last week. Photo: AP
Human rights group Amnesty International has joined growing criticism of a top UN official’s visit to China’s 
Xinjiang region

, echoing calls for more independent investigations of detention facilities for ethnic Uygurs.

The invitation to the United Nations envoy to visit was Beijing’s latest attempt to show it has nothing to hide in what it calls “re-education facilities” that hold an estimated 1 million people in the Muslim-majority area in western China.
But critics have warned that state-led media tours and diplomatic visits lack the unfettered access needed to make a proper assessment of alleged rights abuses in the region.
UN counterterrorism chief Vladimir Voronkov 
visited Beijing and Xinjiang

from Thursday to Saturday and met Le Yucheng, the vice foreign minister, according to a statement from the foreign ministry on Sunday. The statement said the two sides had reached a “broad consensus”.

UN human rights chief ‘is welcome to visit Xinjiang’

Voronkov’s visit follows months of pressure to allow the UN to investigate alleged human rights abuses in Xinjiang. China has so far only allowed guided tours of the region for foreign journalists and diplomatic envoys.

Reuters reported on Saturday that Voronkov’s itinerary was planned by China and that his UN office did not expect to make any public statement about the trip, according to an email from Voronkov’s office seen by the news agency.

The United Nations said in August last year it had credible reports that detention facilities in Xinjiang held 1 million Uygurs and other Muslims. Beijing says the facilities are for “vocational training” and tied to deradicalisation and anti-terrorism efforts.

Patrick Poon, a Hong Kong-based researcher with Amnesty International, said he was “very much concerned” about how the UN envoy’s visit had been arranged.

“From what we saw in the previous visits orchestrated by the Chinese government for diplomats, it’s very difficult for anyone to believe how this visit will be able to show any authentic situation on the ground,” Poon said.

“If the Chinese government is sincere, let independent UN experts, such as the special rapporteurs, have independent observation of what’s happening in Xinjiang.”

Xinjiang’s vanishing mosques highlight pressure on China’s Muslims
His remarks followed criticism of the trip from Human Rights Watch on Friday.
“The UN allowing its counterterrorism chief to go to Xinjiang risks confirming China’s false narrative that this is a counterterrorism issue, not a question of massive human rights abuses,” Human Rights Watch UN director Louis Charbonneau told Agence France-Presse.
Also on Friday, US Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan called UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres to express “deep concerns” about Voronkov’s visit, according to the State Department website. Sullivan called for “unmonitored and unhindered access to all camps and detainees in Xinjiang by UN human rights officials”.
The United States has been increasingly vocal about China’s human rights abuses. Vice-President Mike Pence is due to give a speech on China’s “control and oppression” of citizens on June 24, but according to Bloomberg it could be postponed to avoid inflaming tensions with Beijing ahead of a possible meeting between US President Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping at the Group of 20 leaders summit in Japan on June 28-29. The speech was originally scheduled for June 4 but was delayed by Trump, Bloomberg reported, citing sources familiar with the matter.
Source: SCMP

Lessons from an old trade war: China can learn from the Japan experience

  • In the last half of the 20th century US worries about a rising Japan led to tariffs and technology mistrust
  • Differences in the Chinese experience may predict a different outcome
Toshiba was one of the companies affected by US actions to prevent the rise of Japan in a trade war that echoes in today’s tensions between the US and China. Photo: Reuters
Toshiba was one of the companies affected by US actions to prevent the rise of Japan in a trade war that echoes in today’s tensions between the US and China. Photo: Reuters
If history is a mirror to the future, the similarities between the spiralling technology stand-off between China and the US and the economic wars waged by the US with Japan – which peaked in the 1980s and 1990s – may be instructive. But there are differences between the two which may predict a different outcome.
The US-Japan economic tensions started in the 1950s over textiles, extended to synthetic fibres and steel in the 1960s, and escalated – from the 1970s to 1990s – to colour televisions, cars and semiconductors, as Japan’s adjusted industrial policy and technology development moved it up the industrial chain.
Boosted by government support, Japan’s semiconductor industry surpassed the US as the world’s largest chip supplier in the early 1980s, causing wariness and discontent in the US over national security risks and its loss of competitiveness in core technologies.

The Reagan administration regarded Japan as the biggest economic threat to the US. Washington accused Tokyo of state-sponsored industrial policies, intellectual property theft from US companies, and of dumping products on the American market.

The US punished Japanese companies for allegedly stealing US technology and illegally selling military sensitive products to the Soviet Union. It also forced Japan to sign deals to share its semiconductor technologies and increase its purchases of US semiconductor products.

“The Trump administration is using similar tactics against China that were used against Japan in the 1980s and 1990s,” said an adviser to the Chinese government, on condition of anonymity, adding that the US was continuing its hegemony to curtail China’s tech development and was trying to mobilise its allies to follow suit.

After talks to end the US-China trade faltered last month, Huawei – a global leader in the 5G market – is now standing at centre stage of a protracted technology stand-off between Beijing and Washington, which has grown increasingly wary of the rising competitiveness of Chinese tech companies.

Zhang Monan, a researcher with the Beijing-based China Centre for International Economic Exchanges, does not foresee an easing of the rivalry between the US and China.

“The current US-China conflicts are more complicated than those between the US and Japan,” she said.

“The US will only get more intense in its containment of China and the tech rivalry won’t ease, even if China and the US could reach a deal to de-escalate the trade tensions.”

Huawei is at the centre of a technology stand-off between Beijing and Washington. Photo: AP
Huawei is at the centre of a technology stand-off between Beijing and Washington. Photo: AP

Back in 1982, the US justice department charged senior officials at Hitachi with conspiracy to steal confidential computer information from IBM and take it back to Japan. IBM also sued Hitachi. The two companies settled the case out of court and Hitachi paid 10 billion yen (US$92.3 million) to IBM in royalties in 1983, while accepting IBM inspections of its new software products for the next five years.

Toshiba, a major electronics producer in Japan, and Norway’s Kongsberg Vaapenfabrikk secretly sold sophisticated milling machines to the Soviet Union from 1982 to 1984, helping to make its submarines quieter and harder to detect. This transfer of sensitive military technology in the middle of an arms race between the US and the Soviet Union was not revealed until 1986.

The US issued a three-year ban on Toshiba products in 1987 and the company ran full-page advertisements in more than 90 American newspapers apologising for its actions.

In 1985, the US imposed 100 per cent tariffs on Japanese semiconductors. A year later, in its five-year semiconductor deal with the US, Japan agreed to monitor its export prices, increase imports from the US, and submit to inspections by the Office of the United States Trade Representative.

A display of chips designed by Huawei for 5G base stations on show at the China International Big Data Industry Expo. Photo: AP
A display of chips designed by Huawei for 5G base stations on show at the China International Big Data Industry Expo. Photo: AP

This was followed by a second five-year semiconductor deal in 1991, in which Japan agreed to double the US market share in Japan to 20 per cent. In yet another bilateral semiconductor deal in 1989 Japan was required to open its semiconductor patents to the US.

Meanwhile, the US government boosted its efforts to help American businesses cement their industrial leverage in the chip sector and unveiled rules to protect its domestic chip industry.

The two countries were irreconcilable in 1996 on how to measure their respective market share. Overall market circumstances had also changed by then, with the US becoming competitive in microprocessing, and South Korea and Taiwan emerging as strong rivals to Japan.

Its dominance in semiconductors lost, Japan reached out to Europe for a range of cooperative technology deals.

Cooperate, don’t confront: academic advises Beijing on trade war tactics

“History can tell that high technology matters greatly to national security strategies. It is not a process of mere market competition. It follows the law of the jungle,” Zhang said.

The US has intensified its investment scrutiny by rolling out the Foreign Investment Risk Review Modernisation Act last year, which extends the regulation to key industrial technology sectors.

Zhang predicted the US would continue to contain China’s technological development in key sectors such as AI, aerospace, robots and nanotechnology – all of which are of great importance to Beijing.

The US has said Chinese tech giants Huawei and ZTE present a national security risk. Last April it cut US supplies to ZTE, citing violations of sanctions against Iran and North Korea. The ban was removed three months later after ZTE paid US$1.4 billion in fines.

It was a wake-up call for China to develop its own core technologies. The subsequent US ban on Huawei added to the urgency to do so, observers said.

Wang Yiwei, a professor in international relations with Renmin University, said China had to develop its own hi-tech know-how while continuing the opening up process.

“China has paid a price to learn whose globalisation it is,” he said.

“We may see some extent of disengagement with the US in technology and dual-use sectors, but China can speed up cooperation with European countries, and other countries such as Israel, to offset the risks from the US.”

In December, the US filed criminal charges against Huawei and its chief financial officer Sabrina Meng Wanzhou, alleging bank fraud, obstruction of justice and technology theft.

The squeeze continued last month with the US blacklisting Huawei, restricting its access to American hi-tech supplies and putting pressure on its allies to freeze the company out of the 5G market. So far, those allies, including Germany and Japan, have remained hesitant about meeting the US request and refrained from siding with either country.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said on Monday that Huawei had obtained 46 commercial contracts in 30 countries as of June 6, “including some US allies and some European countries that the US has been working hard to persuade out of the contracts”.

For Zhang, the differences between Japan’s experience of US concerns of technological advancement and China’s may offer some hope for Chinese ambitions.

“Dependent on US for security protection, Japan was limited in [its ability to] push back and was already a developed country,” she said.

“But China has huge domestic market potential to address the imbalance [between] economic and technology development. This remains a big attraction to multinational companies, which would enable China to integrate into global innovation and technology cooperation, but China has to figure out how to dispel the doubts on its growth model.”

Source: SCMP


From cosplay to cause play: why the Communist Party supports a revival in traditional Chinese clothing

  • Han costumes are enjoying a renaissance across China, buoyed by a call to nationalism backed by President Xi Jinping
Women wear Han-style clothing in Beijing as part of April’s Traditional Chinese Costume Day celebration. Photo: AFP
Women wear Han-style clothing in Beijing as part of April’s Traditional Chinese Costume Day celebration. Photo: AFP
Dressed in a flowing robe adorned with beaded floral embroidery from a bygone era, stylist Xiao Hang looks like she emerged from a time machine as she strides across the bustling Beijing metro, attracting curious glances and questions.
While China embraced Western fashion as its economy boomed in recent decades, now a growing number of young people like Xiao look to the past for their sartorial choices and have adopted hanfu, or Han clothing.
The costumes of the Han ethnic majority are enjoying a renaissance in part because the government is promoting traditional culture in an effort to boost patriotism and national identity.

Like the film, television and comic book productions that have inspired cosplay fans in the West, period dramas on Chinese TV have contributed to the surge in interest in traditional clothing. The Story of Minglan, a series set during the Song dynasty, attracted more than 400 million viewers over three days when it was first shown this year.

The success of television drama The Story Of Minglan this year reflects China’s interest in its Han heritage. Photo: Baidu
The success of television drama The Story Of Minglan this year reflects China’s interest in its Han heritage. Photo: Baidu

While each Han-dominated dynasty had its own style, hanfu outfits were generally characterised by loose, flowing robes with sleeves that reached the knees.

“When we were little, we would drape sheets and duvets around ourselves to pretend we were wearing beautiful clothes,” Xiao said.

Once a worker at a state-owned machine manufacturing company, Xiao now runs her own hanfu business, where she dresses customers for photo shoots and plans hanfu-style weddings.

The Hanfu fashion revival: ancient Chinese dress finds a new following

In modern China, the hanfu community includes history enthusiasts and anime fans, students and young professionals.

Yang Jiaming, a high school pupil in Beijing, wears his outfit under his school uniform.

“Two-thirds of my wardrobe are hanfu,” he said, decked out in a Tang-style beige gown and black boots, adding that his classmates and teachers were supportive of his fashion choices.

A government-supported revival in Chinese culture has energised the hanfu community. Since he entered office in 2012, President Xi Jinping has supported the promotion of a Han-centric vision of Chinese heritage.

Fans of traditional Chinese clothing dare to mix old and new, and hanfu is not the preserve of women. Photo: AFP
Fans of traditional Chinese clothing dare to mix old and new, and hanfu is not the preserve of women. Photo: AFP

In April, the Communist Youth League of China launched a two-day conference celebrating traditional Chinese garb, which included hanfu and took in Traditional Chinese Costume Day.

A live broadcast of the event drew about 20 million viewers, alongside an outpouring of emotions.

“Chinese people have abandoned their own culture and chosen Western culture. The red marriage gown has now become a wedding dress,” wrote a user of Bilibili, a video-streaming platform popular among young anime, comic and gaming fans in China.

Clothes were the “foundation of culture”, said Jiang Xue, who is part of Beijing-based hanfu club Mowutianxia, which has received funding from the Communist Youth League.

“If we as a people and as a country do not even understand our traditional clothing or do not wear them, how can we talk about other essential parts of our culture?” she said.

Forget K-pop and US missiles, Korea is back in fashion with China thanks to live-stream shopping

The style has not yet gained mainstream acceptance in China.

In March, two students in Shijiazhuang Medical College, in northern Hebei province, were reportedly threatened with expulsion for wearing the outfits to class.

Others said they were put off by the reaction they got while wearing hanfu in public.

“I used to be very embarrassed to wear [hanfu] out,” screenwriter Cheng Xia said.

The 37-year-old said she overcame her reservations after going out dressed in a full outfit last year.

Meanwhile, the movement to revive Han ethnic clothing has prompted questions about nationalism and Han-ethnocentrism – a sensitive issue in China, where the government is wary of conflict between ethnic groups.

High school pupils and young children are drawn to China’s hanfu trend. Photo: AFP
High school pupils and young children are drawn to China’s hanfu trend. Photo: AFP

For instance, within the hanfu community there is long-running opposition towards the qipao, the high-collared, figure-hugging garment that was once a staple of women’s wardrobes.

Known as cheongsam in Cantonese, the qipao – meaning “Qi robe” – began as a long, loose dress worn by the Manchu, or Qi people, who ruled China from the 17th century until the early 1900s.

Its popularity took off in 1920s Shanghai, when it was refashioned into a fitted must-have, favoured by actresses and intellectuals as a symbol of femininity and refinement.

“Some people … think that the cheongsam was inspired by the Qing dynasty, which is not enough to represent China. There are nationalist undertones in this issue,” Chinese culture scholar Gong Pengcheng said.

Master of a dying art: traditional dressmaker recalls golden era of cheongsam in Hong Kong

“It is a good trend to explore traditional culture and clothing culture … There are many things we can talk about, and we need not shrink to nationalist confrontation.”

Yang, the high school pupil, was more upbeat. He said: “At the very least, we can wear our own traditional clothes, just like the ethnic minorities.”

Source: SCMP


Chinese president leaves for Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan

BEIJING, June 12 (Xinhua) — Chinese President Xi Jinping left Beijing on Wednesday afternoon for Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan.

At the invitation of Kyrgyz President Sooronbay Jeenbekov, Xi will pay a state visit to Kyrgyzstan and attend the 19th meeting of the Council of Heads of State of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) in Bishkek, capital of Kyrgyzstan.

At the invitation of Tajik President Emomali Rahmon, Xi will attend the fifth summit of the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA) in Dushanbe, capital of Tajikistan, and pay a state visit to the country.

Xi’s entourage includes Ding Xuexiang, member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, member of the Secretariat of the CPC Central Committee, and director of the General Office of the CPC Central Committee; Yang Jiechi, member of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and director of the Office of the Foreign Affairs Commission of the CPC Central Committee; State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi; and He Lifeng, vice chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference and head of the National Development and Reform Commission.

Source: Xinhua


How Tiananmen crackdown left a deep scar on China’s military psyche

  • Many of those involved feel profound ‘guilt and shame’ over the lives lost in Beijing 30 years ago, according to two former PLA officers
  • Move to tone down language used to describe movement – as ‘political turmoil’ rather than a ‘counter-revolutionary rebellion’ – came from army

The brutal military crackdown on peaceful protesters in Beijing 30 years ago might have saved the Communist Party’s rule, but it has since become a cross to bear for the People’s Liberation Army.

Today, the world’s largest fighting force is still haunted by the 

Tiananmen Square

tragedy in 1989, despite efforts to rebuild its image. After the bloodshed, it was the military that suggested the pro-democracy student movement be referred to not as a “counter-revolutionary rebellion” but as a time of “political turmoil”, two former PLA officers told the South China Morning Post.

They said the move to tone down the language around the crackdown reflected the anxiety and shame felt by many rank-and-file officers over a fateful decision that has tainted the military’s reputation and legacy.

Up to that point, the PLA had been widely respected by the Chinese public. Even during the turbulent decade of the Cultural Revolution from 1966, the military was largely uninvolved. Rather, it was instrumental in bringing an end to the chaos and setting China on the path of reform and opening up.

The crackdown in 1989 was unprecedented for the PLA and dealt a crippling blow to its reputation and morale – and the question over the legitimacy of the decision to send in the tanks and open fire on the protesters remains.

“[I believe] the Tiananmen crackdown will be revisited one day – it’s just a matter of time. The ultimate responsibility will fall to those military leaders who directly implemented the decision,” a retired researcher with the PLA’s Academy of Military Science, who requested anonymity, told the Post.

PLA soldiers with automatic weapons eat ice creams as protesters plead with them to leave Tiananmen Square on June 3, 1989. Photo: Reuters
PLA soldiers with automatic weapons eat ice creams as protesters plead with them to leave Tiananmen Square on June 3, 1989. Photo: Reuters

Throughout history and across cultures, following orders has been a fundamental principle of military service. But the absence of a written order on the mission from the commander in chief – late paramount leader Deng Xiaoping – puts its legality in doubt.

It is estimated that hundreds, or perhaps more than 1,000, civilians were killed during the crackdown that began on the night of June 3 and continued until the morning.

“No matter whether it is one or 10,000 people killed, it’s still wrong to shoot at unarmed civilians,” said a retired PLA officer who served in the army’s political department and also declined to be named. “But [the troops] had to do this dirty job because the party’s rule was in danger.”

According to the former military researcher, many commanders involved in the crackdown questioned the decision to use force to quell the protests, particularly since they had only been given a verbal order from above and never saw a written instruction from Deng, who was chairman of the Central Military Commission (CMC).
This was further complicated by the fact that Zhao Ziyang, the party’s general secretary at the time, openly opposed a military crackdown. Without the support and approval of the party’s chief, the operation violated the long-held principle of “the party commanding the gun”.
Even then CMC vice-chairman Yang Shangkun and Xu Qinxian, commander of the 38th Army Corps that had been sent to Beijing, had qualms about carrying out the verbal order, according to the former researcher.
It is not known how many troops were sent in to crush the protests, but the number could be as high as 200,000, according to a book by US-based scholar Wu Renhua.
Soldiers patrol Changan Avenue in Beijing on June 4, 1989. Photo: Jeff Widener/AP
Soldiers patrol Changan Avenue in Beijing on June 4, 1989. Photo: Jeff Widener/AP

The retired PLA political officer said the instruction to commanders was to “clear out Tiananmen Square by June 4 – and whoever stands in our way is an enemy of the state”.

“Most officers and soldiers were only trained to use heavy weapons like machine guns and tanks. They didn’t even know there were things like rubber bullets, tear gas or other kinds of non-lethal weapons for crowd control,” said the former officer.

“To meet the deadline to clean up the square, some commanders asked their troops to shoot into the air to scare away the crowds – that was the only thing they could think of doing,” he said.

But although they started off firing into the air, ricocheting bullets hit many protesters as they fled and in the chaos and bloodshed, inexperienced troops panicked and started firing into the crowd, according to the former officer.

The army’s clean image was destroyed overnight, and in the minds of many, renmin zidibing – the army of our sons – became the feared and reviled tool of a killing regime.

It also left a psychological scar on the military, which is reflected in the effort to tone down the narrative around the crackdown.

The former researcher said the push to use “political turmoil” instead of the more provocative “counter-revolutionary rebellion” to describe the movement first appeared in a military academy reference book, the Chinese Military Encyclopaedia, in 1997. He said it was proposed by military advisers who believed it could help soften attitudes towards the crackdown.

Then president Jiang Zemin with American journalist Mike Wallace during an interview in 2000. Photo: Xinhua
Then president Jiang Zemin with American journalist Mike Wallace during an interview in 2000. Photo: Xinhua

Former president Jiang Zemin spoke of the “political turmoil” in 1989 during an interview with American journalist Mike Wallace in 2000, and the wording has since been widely used by state media.

Meanwhile, the suppression of the protesters also prompted calls for a separation of the army and the party, so the PLA would be a “national” force rather than a political one.

But after 

a decade of debate

, the idea was squashed by the top leadership in 2007, on the eve of the PLA’s 80th anniversary. It was labelled as a plot by hostile Western forces to topple communist rule in China and is now a taboo subject.

“But despite banning discussion of military nationalisation, the calls from within the PLA to rehabilitate the military and for a review of what happened with the student movement have never stopped,” the former PLA political officer said.
“Many senior military officers believe the students weren’t attempting to overthrow communist rule – they were just asking for a better political system. That’s why calling it a counter-revolutionary rebellion is wrong.”
Curious Beijing residents gather to look at the military hardware in Tiananmen Square on June 7, 1989. Photo: AP
Curious Beijing residents gather to look at the military hardware in Tiananmen Square on June 7, 1989. Photo: AP
On Sunday, days ahead of the 30th anniversary, Defence Minister General Wei Fenghe

defended the Tiananmen crackdown

, telling a regional defence forum that putting an end to the “political turbulence” had been the “correct policy”.

“Throughout the 30 years, China under the Communist Party has undergone many changes – do you think the government was wrong with the handling of June Fourth?
There was a conclusion to that incident. The government was decisive in stopping the turbulence,” Wei said at the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore.
But according to the former PLA researcher, military top brass involved in the crackdown still felt profound “guilt and shame” over the lives lost.
“None of those people in the PLA would feel a sense of honour for participating in the crackdown,” he said. “Instead they harbour a deep feeling of shame.”
Source: SCMP

China to send defence minister to Singapore security conference as tensions with US rise

  • Observers will be watching to see if General Wei Fenghe holds talks with his American counterpart
  • Forum comes as Beijing and Washington are at odds over issues ranging from security to trade
General Wei Fenghe will be the first Chinese defence minister to attend the Shangri-La Dialogue in eight years. Photo: Reuters
General Wei Fenghe will be the first Chinese defence minister to attend the Shangri-La Dialogue in eight years. Photo: Reuters
China is sending its defence minister to a leading Asian security forum next week, the first time in eight years that a high-ranking Chinese general will represent the country at the conference.
General Wei Fenghe, a State Councillor and China’s defence minister, will speak at the three-day Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore, a gathering that comes as Beijing and Washington are at odds over issues ranging from security to trade.
“In a highly anticipated speech, General Wei Fenghe will speak on China’s role in the Indo-Pacific at a pivotal time for the region,” the International Institute for Strategic Studies, an organiser of the conference, said on Monday night.

Chinese military sources said that Wei would lead a “relatively big” delegation to the gathering, which starts on May 31 and is co-organised by the Singaporean government.

South China Sea stand-offs ‘a contest of wills’
The last time Beijing sent a high-ranking officer to the event was in 2011 when General Liang Guanglie, then the defence minister, attended.
Acting US secretary of defence Patrick Shanahan will also attend the conference and deliver a speech.
The spoils of trade war: Asia’s winners and losers in US-China clash

Beijing-based military specialist Zhou Chenming said observers would be watching to see whether the two senior defence officials held talks.

“The whole world will keep a close eye on any possible encounters between the Chinese and the Americans … At least now China has shown its sincerity in sending Wei to attend the conference, who is of equal standing as Shanahan, if the latter is willing to hold talks with him in good faith,” Zhou said.

But he said a meeting between Wei and Shanahan would be difficult because of the current distance between Beijing and Washington on major issues.

How Trump’s tweets bested China in the trade war publicity battle

“It’s not realistic to expect they will make a breakthrough because both sides will just sound their own bugles. The … mistrust between China and the US is actually growing every day,” Zhou said.

Just on Sunday, the USS Preble, an Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer, sailed within 12 nautical miles of the Scarborough Shoal, an area in the South China Sea claimed by both China and the Philippines.


Chinese foreign ministry responded on Monday

by strongly urging “the US to stop such provocative actions” and saying it would “take all necessary measures” to protect its “national sovereignty”.

Military analysts said the size of the Chinese delegation at the conference would underscore the importance of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) attached to the event this year.
One military insider said the delegation would also include Lieutenant General He Lei, former vice-president of the Academy of Military Science, who headed China’s delegation in 2017 and 2018; and Senior Colonel Zhou Bo, director of the defence ministry’s Centre for Security Cooperation. In addition, the PLA would send a number of Chinese academics to speak at various sessions of the forum.
China tries to go one on one with Malaysia to settle South China Sea disputes

Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong will deliver a keynote speech on the opening day of the annual dialogue.

Japan and South Korea are also sending their defence ministers, according to a report by The Korean Times on Tuesday. The report also said South Korean Defence Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo was keen to hold one-on-one meetings with his Chinese and Japanese counterparts on the sidelines of the conference.

Source: SCMP


China sees over 6 mln entries, exits during Dragon Boat Festival holiday

BEIJING, June 10 (Xinhua) — China’s border check agencies saw about 6.13 million inbound and outbound trips made during the three-day Dragon Boat Festival holiday, up 6.3 percent year on year, the National Immigration Administration (NIA) said Monday.

During the holiday that ended Sunday, Chinese mainland residents made more than 3.2 million entries and exits, up 11.3 percent from the previous year, NIA data showed. Entries and exits made by residents from Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan stood on a par with the same period last year at about 2.1 million.

Entries and exits made by foreign citizens increased by 5.3 percent to 812,000, according to the NIA.

Compared with major airports in places such as Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, some small and medium-sized airports reported an obvious rise in their trans-border passenger volumes during the holiday this year, said the NIA, citing that of an airport in the port city of Tianjin surging 28.6 percent.

Source: Xinhua


Washington and Beijing in ‘contest of wills’ in South China Sea

  • Latest US mission in disputed waters may prompt China to step up its countermeasures
The USS Preble. Photo: Handout
The USS Preble. Photo: Handout
China and the United States have entered a “contest of wills” in the South China Sea, according to analysts.
The assessment follows the latest passage of a US warship through disputed waters near the Scarborough Shoal on Sunday.

It was the second such incident this month and follows a number of missions earlier this year, as the US seeks to challenge China’s activities in the South China Sea.

But analysts predicted that China would step up its countermeasures to show that it would not compromise on sovereignty. However, Beijing and Washington appear to have kept communication channels open to avoid military miscalculations.

Lieutenant Commander Tim Gorman of the US Pacific Fleet defended Sunday’s mission, which saw the USS Preble passing within 12 nautical miles of Scarborough Shoal, an area claimed by both China and the Philippines.

Gorman said the mission was designed “to challenge excessive maritime claims and preserve access to the waterways as governed by international law”.

“All operations are designed in accordance with international law and demonstrate that the United States will fly, sail and operate wherever international law allows,” he continued.

“We conduct routine and regular freedom of navigation operations (FONOPs) as we have done in the past and will continue to in the future. FONOPs are not about any one country, nor are they about making political statements.”

The US is known to have conducted four freedom of navigation operations this year – one in the Paracel Islands and three in the Spratley chain. It carried out seven last year and six in 2016, according to the Pentagon.

‘Divide and conquer Asean’: China tries to go one on one with Malaysia to settle South China Sea disputes
China’s Southern Theatre Command issued a strong response to the latest incident, saying it endangered the ships and personnel of both sides, undermined China’s sovereignty and security, violated basic norms and undermined regional peace and stability.
Senior Colonel Li Huamin, a spokesman for Southern Theatre Command, said its troops would be kept on high alert and take all necessary measures to resolutely safeguard China’s sovereignty and security.
Washington has also urged its allies to help it to counter China’s activities in the region, where it is accused of building up its military infrastructure, and so far this year the US has conducted join exercises with Britain, the Philippines, Japan and India.
The past 12 months have also seen French and British warships sailing through the Taiwan Strait and Paracel Islands respectively.
US and Philippine coastguard vessels during a joint operation near the Scarborough Shoal. Photo: AFP
US and Philippine coastguard vessels during a joint operation near the Scarborough Shoal. Photo: AFP

Collin Koh, a maritime security expert at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, said the US and China were now engaged in a “contest of wills” but “weren’t keen to come to blows considering their mutual interdependence”.

He also said the US military was keen to publicise its operations to “normalise them”, adding: “My sense is that the US side seeks to enhance strategic communication to the wider international community about these operations, and which would also become ‘visible’ to the regional governments as a form of strategic assurance.”

Song Zhongping, a Hong Kong-based military analyst, agreed that “the US has normalised the FONOPs to repeatedly provoke China, which won’t stop”.

He continued: “China should step up its countermeasures to let the US know that Beijing won’t make any concessions on its maritime sovereign claims.”

Song also argued that China also needed to strengthen its coastguard’s capability and the navy and air force’s ability to fight away from China’s coastline.

US naval chief says ‘freedom of navigation’ exercises in South China Sea get more attention than they deserve

Shi Yinhong, an international relations professor specialising in US studies, said US President Donald Trump’s administration “has already greatly increased the frequency and intensity of US FONOPs in the past two years”.

Shi added that this situation “had become or was becoming the new normal” and China was “having to restrain itself a little” to prevent the risk of conflict.

However, he said the country’s programme to reclaim land and step up its military capabilities in the waters had given it “real military advantages” that the US “cannot change by an inch”.

But the US and China have continued their mutual dialogue.

Koh noted that both Chinese Defence Minister Wei Fenghe would be attending the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore, an event senior Chinese officials have skipped in recent years.

Wei’s US counterpart, Patrick Shanahan, will also be there and “this could mean that both sides wish to maintain channels of communications to manage their rivalry”, Koh said.

Source: SCMP


Why China struggles to win friends and make itself heard

  • Beijing has to reconcile the competing needs to appear tough to the Chinese public and conciliatory to an international audience
  • China feels US has long had the advantage in shaping global opinion but it now needs to make itself heard
China must appear tough for an increasingly nationalistic audience at home and be conciliatory to an international audience wary of China’s assertive foreign and defence policy. Photo: Xinhua
China must appear tough for an increasingly nationalistic audience at home and be conciliatory to an international audience wary of China’s assertive foreign and defence policy. Photo: Xinhua
In just the last week, a Chinese official posed a question that would resonate among his fellow cadres: as China rises, why are we not making more friends and why are our voices not heard?
The question has gained weight as the trade war with the United States has deepened, and Chinese officials have scrambled to win the battle of public opinion at home and abroad.
It also came to the fore at the annual Shangri-La Dialogue security forum in Singapore on the weekend, when Chinese officials were faced with balancing the need to appear tough for an increasingly nationalistic audience at home and being conciliatory to an international audience wary of China’s assertive foreign and defence policy.
Senior Colonel Zhao Xiaozhuo, a senior fellow at the People’s Liberation Army’s Academy of Military Sciences and a public diplomacy veteran for the military, said the expectations clashed in Singapore.
“Currently there are two parallel worlds in the public opinion landscape, one domestic and another international, and the two of them are basically split and in two extremes,” Zhao said.
“[The Shangri-La Dialogue] is a place where the two worlds clash. As the Chinese delegation [at the forum] we need to show our position, but it is becoming more difficult to balance [the expectations of the two sides].
“If you are tough, the domestic audience will be satisfied, but it won’t bode well with the international audience. But if we appear to be soft, we will be the target of overwhelming criticism at home.”
China asks state media to pick battles carefully with long US trade war looming, sources say

Zhao said this was an unprecedented challenge for Chinese cadres, who must also satisfy the expectations of the leadership.

“Our task was about diplomacy and making friends. But [with the tough position] you may not be able to make friends, and might even exacerbate the tension,” he said.

The pressure was immense when Chinese Defence Minister General Wei Fenghe took to the stage on Sunday in a rare appearance at the forum. Concerned about how Wei’s performance would be received at home, Beijing ordered Chinese media to minimise their coverage of acting US defence secretary Patrick Shanahan’s address in case it made China appear weak, according to a source familiar with the arrangements for Chinese media.

In his speech, Wei struck a defiant tone, vowing that the PLA would “fight at all costs” for “reunification” with Taiwan and that China was ready to fight the US to the end on the trade front.

Chinese Defence Minister Wei Fenghe makes a rare appearance at the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore. Photo: Reuters
Chinese Defence Minister Wei Fenghe makes a rare appearance at the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore. Photo: Reuters

Major General Jin Yinan, from the PLA’s National Defence University, a member of the Chinese delegation to the Singapore summit, said Wei’s speech defied expectations that China would show restraint with the US, and demonstrated China’s confidence on the world stage.

The public response at home was immediate and positive. Tens of thousands of Chinese internet users flooded social media platforms such as the Twitter-like Weibo service to express their approval for Wei’s hard line.

“This is the attitude that the Chinese military should show to the world,” one commenter said.

“I am proud of my country for being so strong and powerful,” another said.

Over the past year, Beijing’s propaganda apparatus has tightly controlled the domestic media narrative on the trade war, barring independent reporting on the tensions. But since the breakdown of trade talks in early May, the authorities have gone one step further by escalating nationalistic rhetoric in newspapers and on television.

How Donald Trump’s tweets outgunned China’s heavy media weapons in the trade war publicity battle

China has also tried to make its case to the world with an official statement. On the same day that Wei addressed the gathering in Singapore, the State Council, China’s cabinet, put China’s side of the dispute in a white paper, saying the US should bear responsibility for the breakdown of the trade talks.

A Chinese delegate at the forum said Beijing felt Washington had long had the advantage in shaping global opinion and there was an urgent need for China to make itself heard.

“We should get more used to voicing our position through Western platforms. The US has been criticising us on many issues. But why should the Americans dominate all the platforms and have the final say over everything?” the delegate said.

Before Wei’s appearance at the dialogue, China had not sent such a high-ranking official for eight years. It had long sought to play down the importance of the forum, seeing it as a platform wielded by the US and its Western allies to attack China.

In 2002, China set up the Beijing Xiangshan Forum to rival the Singapore gathering and amplify its voice on security issues.

But Chinese officials are well aware that Xiangshan does not have the same impact and profile as the Shangri-La Dialogue, according to Collin Koh, a research fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore.

“[At the same time, the long absence of high-level Chinese representation to the Shangri-La Dialogue also] raises the question of whether it might be sustainable in the long run for [the dialogue] if they continue to not have such ministerial representation [from China],” Koh said.

Zhao, who is also the director of the Xiangshan forum’s secretariat office, agreed that China lagged the US in promoting the image of the military and in winning public opinion.

“China has not fought a war in 30 years. We have only built some islands in the South China Sea and yet have received so much criticism from the international media. The US has engaged in many wars but they are seldom criticised. This reflects that China is in a disadvantaged position in international discourse,” he said.

Expectations collided at the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore this month. Photo: AFP
Expectations collided at the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore this month. Photo: AFP
In a rare conciliatory gesture – and just days before the 30th anniversary of the crackdown on pro-democracy protesters in Tiananmen Square – Wei took questions from a room of international delegates on a range of sensitive issues, including the crackdown and China’s mass internment camps in Xinjiang. While he largely toed the official line in his reply, his presence at the forum and willingness to address the questions raised hopes that China would become a more responsible partner in global affairs despite its continuing disputes with the US.
Andrea Thompson, US undersecretary of state for arms control and international security, said Wei’s attendance at the Singapore gathering was a “positive sign” and she hoped that China would be more open and transparent in addressing issues such as arms control and cybersecurity.
“I appreciate that he is here. I think it’s important to have a dialogue … There will be areas where we will agree, and some areas where we disagree, but you still have to have dialogue,” Thompson said.
Source: SCMP
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