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China has a negative celebrity list of 88, as Xi doubles down on 3rd term

Chinascope — The Week Behind The Wall is everything you need to know about what’s happening in China this week.

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In this week’s Chinascope, we look at the Chinese military’s response to Bipin Rawat’s comments, detention of Macau’s gambling tycoon, China’s mysterious new hypersonic missile, and other stories buzzing in China – and the world.

China over the week

India and China’s rocky relationship took another turn in the past week.

Chief of Defence Staff Bipin Rawat’s recent remarks about China being the “biggest threat” to India didn’t go unnoticed in Beijing. The Chinese military spokesperson officially responded to Rawat’s comment.

Chinese Ministry of Defence spokesperson Wu Qian said that Rawat was hyping the “China military threat”. Wu mentioned that the remarks went against the guidelines of the leaders of the two countries in which they outlined that they “weren’t a threat to each other”. The spokesperson didn’t clarify who the “leaders” of the countries were, but we can assume that he was referring to India’s Minister of External Affairs Subrahmanyam Jaishankar and China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s meeting in Moscow earlier in 2020.

Wu used a Chinese poem to drive his message home about keeping the discussion channel open between the people of the two countries. “With bronze as a mirror, you can fix your clothes; with history as a mirror, you can know the rise and decline; with people as a mirror, you can understand the gains and losses,” he quoted from Li Shimin’s poem.

The tensions over the border stand-off between India and China remain despite diplomatic engagement to resolve the dispute. On 18 November, the countries held the 23rd Meeting of the Working Mechanism for Consultation & Coordination on India-China Border Affairs (WMCC), where they agreed to hold the 14th round of commander-level talks soon.

ThePrint’s senior correspondent Snehesh Alex Philip reported citing sources that the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) carried out a rotation of troops for the winter deployment. President Xi Jinping’s campaign to secure a third term in office and uncertainty over relations with the US is likely to keep the India-China border dispute simmering.

India has issued a joint statement supporting Beijing’s 2022 Winter Olympics after the RIC (Russia-India-China) meeting on Friday. There was widespread disagreement with the Ministry of External Affairs’ move to support Beijing.

Meanwhile, Macau’s status as a mecca of gambling in East Asia has always been at odds with the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) ideology. The city has a semi-autonomous status with its Chief Executive picked by Beijing. On Sunday, Macau’s gambling mogul Alvin Chau Cheok Wa was arrested after a 2019 investigation into his Suncity Group’s business transactions. The Group, a Hong Kong-listed company with 1,291 employees, has gambling operations in Macau, the Philippines, and some other locations.

On Saturday, the Wenzhou city police in the province of Zhejiang reported that Chau, along with a group, organised and ran a gambling network that saw the participation of 80,000 gamblers. The police have alleged that the network involved 199 stakeholders operating in gambling halls in Macau, online gaming facilities in the Philippines, and other locations.

Gambling syndicates and gangs are integral to the Chinese, Japanese, Taiwanese, and other East Asian communities where some groups have the immunity to operate if they support the local regime. Some crime syndicates in North America have regularly helped the CCP in its agenda abroad.


Also read: Chinese media calls out BJP ministers & leaders for tweeting Beijing airport image as ‘Noida’


Beijing’s crackdown on celebrity culture continued this week. In its earlier editions, Chinascope talked about a campaign to “correct” celebrity culture.

The China Association of Performing Arts has issued a ‘negative list’ of 88 celebrities engaged in illegal activities, which included Chinese-Canadian star Kris Wu, Zheng Shuang, Zhang Zhehan. The notice says that the list shouldn’t be allowed to stream live until further information. “Unlike ordinary people, celebrities often have millions of fans. Their improper behaviour can prompt their fans to do the same thing and cause social problems,” reported China Daily.

US President Joe Biden’s recent remarks about Taiwan raised questions about American commitments to Taipei. But US lawmakers have been conducting quiet diplomacy in a bid to support Taiwan.

A second delegation of US lawmakers visited Taipei on 25 November. The US congressional delegation included Representatives Nancy Mace, Colin Allred, Elissa Slotkin, and Sara Jacobs. The Taiwanese media reported that the visiting delegation would “discuss US-Taiwan relations, regional security, and other significant issues of mutual interest.”

A delegation of Lithuanian parliamentarians has also arrived in Taipei on Sunday to participate in a democracy forum. Beijing recently severed diplomatic ties with Lithuania to protest against its growing ties with Taiwan.

The Chinese military conducted a naval and air force drill amid the visit by the US lawmakers.

“China has always valued its military relationship with the US and is willing to maintain contact and communication with the American side but with the principle that China’s sovereignty, dignity and core interests are inviolable,” said Wu Qian.


Also read: ‘Prepare to fight,’ China tells citizens. Xi Jinping has big plans for party and security


China in world news

China’s hypersonic missile programme has been shrouded under a layer of intrigue. The story took another twist this week after The Financial Times reported about new technological advancements in the missile programme.

“Pentagon scientists were caught off-guard by the advance, which allowed the hypersonic glide vehicle, a manoeuvrable spacecraft that can carry a nuclear warhead, to fire a separate missile mid-flight in the atmosphere over the South China Sea,” added the newspaper.

There is still a lack of clarity on what China hopes to achieve from such a complex piece of missile technology.

The US remains concerned about its proprietary intellectual property being used in China’s military programme.

On 24 November, the US Department of Commerce announced the blacklisting of 12 Chinese entities. Out of the 12, eight entities were blacklisted to stop them from accessing US quantum computing technology. The department argued that the technology could potentially help the PLA improve “counter stealth and counter submarine” technologies.

The idyllic Solomon Islands in Oceania is rarely in international news. But that changed this past week. Malaita Province residents travelled to Guadalcanal Island – the nation’s capital – to express their unhappiness with the economic support extended to the province. But the Solomon Islanders consider Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare too close to Beijing and aren’t happy about breaking ties with Taiwan. The Solomon Islands officially ended relations with Taipei in September 2019.

Sogavare has blamed foreign interference for the recent protests. But the analysis of local reports suggests that there is widespread anger over economic issues. There is also concern about the growing influence of mining companies on the country.

Japan has steadily increased its defence budget in the past years, primarily in response to growing military threats from China.

The budget for the Japanese national defence forces has been increased beyond 1 per cent of the GDP, which was the limit for the past years. Japan will spend an additional $6.75 million on national defence this year. The defence budget will be 1.14 per cent of the GDP for the coming year. Experts believe that China and North Korea are the reason why Japan has consistently increased its budget over the last few years.


Also read: Chinese navy is planning ahead. India’s approach doesn’t match up, above sea or below


What you must read this week

A Squabble About History Almost Killed Xi Jinping’s FatherJoseph Torigian

Cancel Culture Isn’t the Real Threat to Academic FreedomYangyang Cheng

Experts this week

“The caste system restricts the enthusiasm among people to seek development and hinders India from turning its huge population into a demographic dividend. Modi has repeatedly said that ‘India will be the world’s third-largest economy by 2030’. Now, with institutional factors superimposed on the impact of the epidemic, Modi’s ‘Indian dream’ has been hit hard,” said Wang Shida, deputy director and associate research professor at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, in an interview with China Youth Daily.

India in China

Sina Weibo users mocked the publicity poster released by the Uttar Pradesh government depicting the Beijing airport. The video explaining the context of the publicity material used in UP was viewed over 1,81,000 times. The story was widely shared and discussed on the Chinese website.

Podworld

The Carter Center recently surveyed US citizens’ perceptions of China. Sinica Podcast’s Kaiser Kuo interviewed Michael Cerny and Yawei Liu of Carter Center about their survey findings. Chinascope recommends listening to the conversation.

Chinascope also recommends listening to the conversation between The Diplomat’s Abhijnan Rej and Carnegie-Tsinghua Center for Global Policy Senior Fellow Tong Zhao on China’s nuclear weapons program.

The author is a columnist and a freelance journalist, currently pursuing an MSc in international politics with focus on China from School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London. He was previously a China media journalist at the BBC World Service. He tweets @aadilbrar. Views are personal.

This is a weekly round-up that Aadil Brar writes about what’s buzzing in China. This will soon be available as a subscribers’-only product.

(Edited by Humra Laeeq)

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