This week’s Chinascope looks at the agreement signed between China and Bhutan, continuing tensions at the India-China border, LinkedIn leaves China and other major stories from China – and the world.
China over the week
China and Bhutan reached an agreement this past week that the Chinese state media called “a snub” to Narendra Modi’s India. Not too many details are available but the Memorandum of Understanding with Bhutan was hailed as a victory for Beijing. On 14 October, the agreement titled ‘Three-Step Roadmap for Expediting the Bhutan-China Boundary Negotiations’ to resolve the longstanding territorial dispute was signed virtually by Chinese foreign minister Wu Jianghao and Bhutanese foreign minister Dandi Dorje.
“It also deals a blow to Modi’s attempts to contain China and weaponise territorial disputes against the country. Bhutan does not, as India insists, perceive China as a ‘threat’,” said an op-ed published in CGTN.
The Chinese foreign ministry said the agreement’s target was to “advance the demarcation negotiations between the two countries, and work to strengthen the relations between the two countries”.
Earlier, Chinascope told you about the information warfare between China and India. Over the past week, a new video allegedly showing an Indian Army soldier held captive by the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) was leaked on Weibo. Chinese journalists later shared it on Twitter and other platforms.
China’s frustration over Arunachal Pradesh resurfaced this week.
On 13 October, the Chinese foreign ministry opposed Indian Vice President Venkaiah Naidu’s visit to Arunachal Pradesh. “The Chinese government has never recognised the so-called “Arunachal Pradesh” unilaterally and illegally established by India, and firmly opposes Indian leaders’ visits to these regions,” ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said at a press briefing.
India has emerged as an important component of China’s defence strategy, a Chinese professor has argued.
In a report, Ouyang Wei, a retired professor with the PLA National Defence University, has underscored the difficult task of defending the India-China border.
“The recent stand-offs, including the deadly conflict in Galwan River Valley, showed that the task of defending the Sino-Indian land border is more prominent than in other areas,” said the report.
The digital window into China remains narrow, but LinkedIn provides rare access to the country’s professionals. That’s about to change.
Microsoft has announced the company will stop offering social networking services via its platform, LinkedIn. The news started a rumour on Weibo that LinkedIn will completely shut down in China. LinkedIn later clarified on Weibo it is working on rolling out a new jobs-only site in China called InJobs later this year.
InJobs will not have a social media feed. LinkedIn has 54 million users in China, making it the company’s third-largest market after the US and India. Chinese professionals are concerned they wouldn’t find the right work opportunities after LinkedIn shuts down its current platform.
China’s human rights record in the province of Xinjiang is a well-known story. But a new report from inside Xinjiang argues things are changing.
Dake Kang of The Associated Press has claimed that Beijing is easing its grip on Xinjiang.
“A mere fence marks the campus boundaries — a stark contrast from the barbed wire, high watchtowers and police at the entrance we saw three years ago,” wrote Kang about his latest visit to Xinjiang.
But concerns about Xinjiang policy remain. Beijing recently scrapped the assurance to allow children from the minority community to be educated in their native language. “Guiding all ethnic groups to jointly strive to build a modern socialist country must be a crucial aspect of the CPC’s work on ethnic issues in the new era,” President Xi Jinping had said in August.
There is another Chinese company that is unable to pay its dues.
OneSmart Education, a tutoring company, is facing a fate similar to China’s property developer, Evergrande. OneSmart Education owes $420 million in prepaid tuition. The company is facing a crisis after Beijing outlawed private tutoring in September. A series of screenshots showing the company’s troubles were leaked on Weibo. People gathered outside the company’s office demanding repayment of tuition fees paid in advance.
The hashtag “OneSmart Education founder says his family had gone bankrupt” was viewed 92 million times on Weibo.
And this week, Xi Jinping spoke at the Central People’s Congress work conference where he said, “Whether or not a country in the international community is democratic should be judged by the international community, not by a few self-righteous countries. There are many ways to achieve democracy, and they cannot be the same.”
Xi Jinping also wrote an essay in Qiushi – CCP’s theoretical journal – on common prosperity to clarify some misconceptions about his signature campaign.
“The common prosperity we are talking about is the common prosperity of all people, the material and spiritual life of the people are rich, not the prosperity of a few people, nor the uniform egalitarianism.” The article was widely shared by Chinese state media.
In the past, Chinascope has told you about the controversy in China on the meaning of common prosperity. Xi Jinping’s essay suggests that Beijing may look to impose a new taxation regime for private property.
China in world news
China has tested a new “nuclear-capable hypersonic missile in August”, according to Financial Times.
“(T)wo (people) said the test showed that China had made astounding progress on hypersonic weapons and was far more advanced than U.S. officials realised,” the report said.
Some experts have argued that it is unclear if this new capability gives China an advantage over the US’s existing missile defence regime.
The US is looking for ways to support Taiwan as tensions with Beijing remain high.
CNN reported citing sources that the Joe Biden administration had discussed with Taiwanese officials the “possibility of expediting the delivery of American made F-16”.
US Democratic Representatives, such as Elaine Luria, want Congress to allow the president to launch a military operation aboard to defend Taiwan if required.
What you must read this week
China’s Influence in South Asia: Vulnerabilities and Resilience in Four Countries – Deep Pal
The Triumph and Terror of Wang Huning – N.S. Lyons
The story of China’s first atomic bomb – James Carter
“In response to China’s recent domestic policies such as anti-monopoly and curbing the disorderly use of the capital, the Indian media has claimed that ‘due to China’s internal policy adjustments, the world’s investment in high-tech companies has gone to India’. In fact, this statement is fake news because most of the money that goes to India is hot money in the stock market, not real investment,” wrote Liu Zongyi, Secretary-General, China and South Asian Studies Center, Shanghai Institute of International Studies.
India in China
On Weibo, a shooting clip of Ajay Devgn’s upcoming Galwan Valley movie was viewed more than 236,000 times on Weibo, where users mocked the theatrics.
Chinascope recommends listening to an interview with Shelley Rigger on Taiwan’s role in propelling the Chinese mainland’s rise.
The author is a columnist and a freelance journalist. 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 Prashant)