Tuesday, 29 November, 2022
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China’s Taliban strategy is taking shape. But it wants to secure its border regions first

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 foreign minister’s meeting with Taliban leaders, a new guideline to classify Chinese Internet companies, tensions between EU and China over Taiwan and other stories from China – and the world.

China over the week

During his visit to Qatar, Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi met senior Taliban leaders, a first since the Taliban seized power in Kabul.

“Once the security situation in Afghanistan is stabilized, China will discuss with Afghanistan the cooperation in the field of economic reconstruction and support the country to boost its connectivity with the region and its capability to seek independent development by giving full play to its geographical advantage as ‘the heart of Asia’,” Yi said.

China’s strategy in Afghanistan – with Taliban in-charge – is taking shape. But it wants to secure the border regions with Afghanistan first.

China is building a new military base in Tajikistan. The plan was approved by Tajikistan’s parliament. “The post will be located in Tajikistan’s eastern Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Province in the Pamir mountains, which border China’s Xinjiang province as well as the northeastern Afghan province of Badakhshan,” reported Reuters.

“The Tajik government has offered to transfer full control of a pre-existing Chinese military base in the country to Beijing and waive any future rent in exchange for military aid from China,” Radio Free Europe reported.

China currently operates one military post in Tajikistan, near the Murghab region close to the Afghanistan border in the narrow Wakhan Corridor. Nargis Kassenova, a scholar at Harvard University, said the existing post is supervised by People’s Armed Police and not by the People’s Liberation Army.

The military base will be one of the handful examples of China’s military presence around the world. Djibouti military base in Africa is one such fully operational Chinese overseas military base.

Chinascope recommends reading Radio Free Europe’s investigation into China’s new strategy for war on terror in the region.

China continues to issue new directives for its companies. The State Administration for Market Regulation issued a draft guideline for classification of Internet platforms.

The draft guidelines say the Internet platforms with over 500 million active annual users and an annual market value of 100 billion yuan in the previous year will be classified as a “super platform”. There is an indication that Beijing wants to target the monopolistic practices of large companies such as Alibaba, Tencent, and Bytedance.

Tensions between the European Union and China over Taiwan escalated during the past week.

Taiwanese foreign minister Joseph Wu made a secret visit to Brussels. He virtually attended the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China (IPAC) organised in Rome and called for a Taiwan-EU investment deal. Wu also made a visit to Czech Republic and Slovakia.

As expected, Beijing isn’t happy with Taiwan’s outreach to the EU.

Seven European lawmakers will visit Taipei in the coming week to further strengthen ties with the Island democracy. The EU parliament recently passed a non-binding resolution for stronger partnership with Taiwan.

The tensions between EU and China began escalating after Lithuania approved the setting up of a “Taiwanese representative office” in the capital Vilnius.

Beijing has warned the EU about its attempt to develop ties with Taiwan.

“They could not stop the one-China principle 50 years ago, and they are even more unlikely to succeed today in the 21st century. If you insist on going your own way, you will definitely pay the price for it,” said Wang Yi ahead of the G20 leaders’ summit in Rome. One-China principle is Beijing’s hardline position that says there is only one sole authority of the Chinese nation and Taiwan is its inalienable part.

Taiwanese president Tsai Ing-wen gave an exclusive interview to CNN and said, “If we fail, then that means people that believe in these values would doubt whether these are values that they (should) be fighting for.”

Tsai also confirmed the presence of US military service members in Taiwan to train the local troops.

President Joe Biden had recently said the US will defend Taiwan if Beijing tries to invade. “Our commitment to Taiwan is rock solid and contributes to the maintenance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait and in the region,” said Sandra Oudkirk, US de facto American ambassador to Taiwan.

Fresh outbreaks of Covid-19 Delta variant affected parts of Beijing, Inner Mongolia and eight other regions.

In Inner Mongolia’s Ejin County, over 35,700 residents were put under lockdown after one-third of the 150 infections were discovered there.

On Thursday, authorities stopped two high-speed trains and sent 450 passengers for tests after staff members were discovered to be Covid positive. China’s stringent Covid-19 policy is likely to affect the upcoming Winter Olympics in Beijing.

China is the only country that now has a “zero tolerance” Covid policy as other countries such as Singapore, Australia, and New Zealand have started treating Covid-19 outbreaks as endemic.

Chinese national security agencies rarely give an insight into their investigations. One of the premier agencies revealed important details about three investigations this past week.

On Sunday, China’s Ministry of State Security published three cases of data theft and espionage to highlight the “non-traditional security” threats. The news release claims that an airline’s data was stolen in January 2020 by an “overseas intelligence agency”. The other case involved an overseas consulting company “secretly collecting shipping data” by hiring managers of shipping companies. The report encouraged people to report any “suspicious circumstances endangering national security”.

The Chinese state media published an article about President Xi Jinping and his mother, Qi Xin.

“A mother-child connection, the unreserved heart of the party, the country, and the people, and the heart-to-heart, is the ‘promise’ between Xi Jinping and his mother,” said the article by CCTV.

Also read: China passes border law to formalise its actions at LAC. And Jack Ma is back

China in world news

According to Financial Times, treaty allies of US like Britain, France, Japan, and Australia have lobbied the Biden administration to stop them from changing the long-held ambiguity on the US’ nuclear weapons use policy. The scramble to maintain a status quo comes ahead of the Biden administration’s “nuclear posture review”, which is likely to be released soon.

Rumours have swirled around world capitals that Biden may commit to a “no-first use” or “sole purpose” policy.

If the US changes its nuclear use policy, the decision will have major implications for China and Russia. US allies have relied on ‘nuclear umbrella’ for security threats from China and Russia.

What you must read this week

What Taiwan Really Wants – Natasha Kassam

Tracking China’s Social Media Influence Operations – Kevin Schoenmakers and Hannah Bailey

Experts this week

“Many Western countries also give aid to Africa, but most of them have attached many political conditions, especially the conditions of political democratization. As a result, these countries are trapped in civil strife and civil war, and people’s lives are very difficult,” wrote Zhang Weiwei and Wu Peng. Zhang is the Distinguished Professor at Fudan University and Wu is Director of the African Department of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

India in China

India’s successful test of the Agni-V ballistic missile was one of the top India-related trends on Weibo. CCTV’s military division reported on the success of the test, which was later shared by other state media outlets. The hashtag “India’s medium and long-range ballistic missile test frequency has increased year by year” was a prominent trend related to the story.


This week, Chinascope recommends listening to a conversation between Professor William Kirby and CSIS’ Bonny Lin on the academic exchanges between US and China. The podcast episode looks at how the academic exchanges between the two countries brought their economies together.

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 Prashant)

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