xi Jinping says democracy is now in the hands of Hong Kong’s “patriots”. China’s top diplomat Yang Jiechi is on a visit to Pakistan. The United States and its allies will invest $600 billion in an infrastructure plan to counter China’s Belt and Road Initiative. chinascope Goes to Beyond Headlines to bring you the stories from China that changed our world this week.
China in a week
There are many reasons for the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to celebrate July 1. After all, it is the official foundation day of the party. But this year’s anniversary had a special significance, as Hong Kong also celebrated the 25th anniversary of its handover to Beijing.
To mark the event, President Xi Jinping made his first visit outside the Chinese mainland since the pandemic began in 2020. “Today, I want to emphasize again that ‘one country, two systems’ has been repeatedly tested in practice. It is in line with the fundamental interests of the country and the nation, as well as the fundamental interests of Hong Kong and Macau. It has been generally approved by the international community. Such a good system, there is no reason to change it, it should be followed for a long time,” Xi said during his speech on July 1.
The ‘one country, two systems’ approach has defined Hong Kong’s relative autonomy. But ever since Beijing introduced a national security law in Hong Kong and ended the country’s autonomy, the doctrine has lost its meaning.
“Hong Kong is now truly democratic after the Patriots came under control,” Xi said. But the Hong Kong scenes told a different story. A video of members of the Legislative Council taking the oath of allegiance to the CCP and Beijing, while Xi watched, was the defining scene of the visit.
Beijing made sure no one spoiled its celebration in Hong Kong. United Kingdom Embassy in China shared a post Chinese microblogging platform Weibo with details about the Sino-British joint announcement that was censored.
But the censorship ensured that the ‘right’ social media trends got the most views. The hashtag “25th anniversary of Hong Kong’s return to homeland” has been viewed 2.44 billion times on Weibo.
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Before arriving in Hong Kong, Xi stayed in Wuhan, where he insisted on continuing the zero-Covid policy. “The population base of my country is huge. If we implement prevention and control policies like ‘collective immunity’ and ‘lying down’, the results will be disastrous. Our implementation of the dynamic clearing policy is determined by the Party’s Central Committee by the nature and purpose of the Party and the national circumstances of our country,” Xi said during his visit.
Xi was not the only high-profile Chinese politician to have traveled outside the mainland last week. Yang Jiechi, director of the Office of the Central Commission on Foreign Affairs, was also on a visit to Pakistan from June 29 to July 4 to meet Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif. Yang Jiechi is the most empowered diplomat and sits at the top of the foreign policy bureaucracy in China.
He said, ‘Pakistan is China’s ‘hardcore’ friend and trusted brother. No matter how the international situation changes, mutual trust and friendship between China and Pakistan remains strong,” Yang told Sharif during the visit.
Yang also met Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari and Pakistan Army Chief Qamar Javed Bajwa. A day before Yang’s visit to Pakistan, Nikkei Asian Review The report said that China’s Ministry of State Security had asked Pakistan to allow a Chinese security company to operate inside Pakistan. However, Pakistan’s Interior Ministry objected to the request and told China that its military could provide adequate protection to Chinese civilians and CPEC projects.
Although it is not so. Yet another Chinese politician traveled outside the mainland on the business of the CCP.
Chinese Vice President Wang Qishan, who was in the Philippines to attend the inauguration ceremony of newly-elected Ferdinand Marcos Jr. Wang, called on the Philippines to improve bilateral ties by ‘properly handling’ the South China Sea dispute.
“The Chinese side has always accorded priority to the Philippines in its neighborhood diplomacy, and stands ready to work with the new Philippine government to further its friendship, enhance mutual trust and deepen cooperation in order to create a new ‘golden government’. May the beginning of an ‘era’ of bilateral relations,” said Wang Kishan in Manila.
Xi, Wang and Yang’s coordinated visits outside the Chinese mainland are a sign that China may allow travel to the mainland in the coming months.
But as government officials move out of China to strengthen ties, XI is trying to tighten its grip on the throne within the country. One of Xi’s aides, Wang Xiaohong, was appointed minister of public security – the top of the surveillance food chain.
His appointment is a sign that Xi is trying to consolidate his support within the internal security system ahead of the 20th Party Congress.
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China in world news
After months of speculation about Beijing’s open support for Russia’s war in Ukraine, little has come in the way of direct support. But Washington believes that some Chinese companies are independently backing Russia.
The US Commerce Department has added five Chinese companies to its entity list to provide aid to Russia’s military and defense companies. “Today’s action sends a powerful message to institutions and individuals around the world that if they want to support Russia, the US will cut them off,” said Alan Estevez, undersecretary of commerce.
The move has left many wondering whether the US is now openly blaming Beijing for supporting Russia’s war. And American officials had to clarify their position. “China is not providing material assistance. A senior Biden administration official said it was a normal business enforcement action against entities backfilling for Russia. Reuters on condition of anonymity.
While attending an international security forum in 2018, I noticed a subtle change in the language used by NATO to describe China’s growing influence on the world stage. Things have come full circle since then, as NATO has now declared China a “security challenge” in the first such announcement.
NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said: “We are now facing an era of strategic competition. China is building up its forces with nuclear weapons, threatening its neighbours, including Taiwan.”
But the Chinese state media did not remain silent on these allegations and responded by framing China as a strategic challenger.
“China is thousands of miles away from Europe, and has never in history posed a security challenge to the organization. Instead, the security challenge comes on the other side, with NATO sending warships and military aircraft into the South China Sea in recent years to Asia- have flexed their muscles in the Pacific,” by an editorial China Daily Told.
Meanwhile, at the G7 leaders’ gathering in the Bavarian Alps, President Biden announced that the US and its allies are planning to invest $600 billion in infrastructure projects to counter China’s Belt and Road Initiative.
The funding will be made available through a combination of direct government and private investment, with the aim of challenging the autocracy.
A new Pew poll on thoughts about China confirms the negative views we’ve seen over the past two years.
“Among the nations surveyed, an average of 79 percent consider these policies a serious problem, and 47 percent say they are a very serious problem. Four of the issues asked included China’s military might, Economic competition with China and China’s involvement in domestic politics in each country – more people label human rights policies as a very serious problem than others say the same thing,” the Pew Research report said.
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experts this week
“… it is doubtful that the United States attempts to use the ‘US-Japan-India-Australia Quad Mechanism’ to lead the creation of alliances in the Asia-Pacific region. For the United States, if If the Asia-Pacific region wants to reshape its alliances, it depends mainly on the Five Eyes alliance, AUKUS and several bilateral alliances. The ‘Quad Security Dialogue’ is only a complementary mechanism, not a primary mechanism,” Li Haidong, Professor, Institute of International Relations, China Foreign Affairs University, wrote.
The author is a columnist and a freelance journalist, currently pursuing an MSc in International Politics with a focus on China from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London. He was previously a Chinese media reporter for the BBC World Service. He tweeted @aadilbrar. Thoughts are personal.
This is a weekly round-up that Adil Brar writes about in China. It will soon be available as a product only available to the customers.
(Edited by Srinjoy Dey)