In this week’s Chinascope, we look at the country’s response to the abduction of a boy from Arunachal Pradesh, a worker’s gig details on social media, the controversial remarks by the German navy chief, and other major stories from China and the world.
China over the week
President Xi Jinping has promoted seven military officers to the rank of general, a ceremony for which was held on 21 January at the Bayi Building in Beijing.
The seven officers promoted are Wu Yanan, commander of the Central Theater Command, Xu Deqing, political commissar of the Central Theater, Liu Qingsong, political commissar of the Northern Theater Command, Qin Shutong, political commissar of the PLA Ground Force, Yuan Huazhi, political commissar of the Navy, Li Yuchao, commander of the Rocket Army and Zhang Hongbing, political commissar of Armed Police Force.
Experts who watch promotions in the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) closely, commented that there were no major surprises in the promotions awarded at the ceremony.
China’s actions close to Arunachal Pradesh were once again in the news.
On 19 January, Tapir Gao, BJP’s Arunachal Pradesh president and MP from Arunachal East, wrote on Twitter that the Chinese army abducted a 17-year-old boy named Miram Taron of Zido village from “inside Indian territory”.
Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian responded to the allegations and this was enough to start a trend on Baidu.
The search “Did PLA kidnap a 17-year-old boy from India? China responded” was the 5th trend on Baidu Friday, and it was viewed over 4.5 million times.
“I’m not aware of the situation. I want to stress that Zangnan (the southern part of China’s Tibet) is an inalienable part of China’s territory. China opposes India’s illegal occupation of China’s Zangnan. The Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) manages the boundary and cracks down on illegal border crossing in accordance with the law,” said Zhao Lijian.
On Sunday, the PLA informed the Indian Army that Miram had been discovered, and followed the procedure for his return.
This past week, debate about inequality in China resurfaced after the contact tracing details of a migrant worker were posted on Chinese social media. 43-year-old Yue Mou’s movement that involved him taking up over 31 odd jobs in 14 days before he tested positive in Beijing were posted on social media.
Yue, who was looking for his son he lost in Beijing in 2020, did everything — from construction work to food delivery.
“My family can’t afford it with less than 10,000 yuan a month. I raise six people alone. I give my parents about 2,000 yuan a month. My father is 76 years old, and my mother is 66. They are not on the subsistence allowances either. They have heart disease, high blood pressure, coronary heart disease, and they spend a lot of money on medicine,” Yue told China News Weekly.
Taiwan’s recent tensions with Beijing has pushed the island nation to boost its defence budget.
Taiwanese legislature has announced a special $8.71 billion five-year spending plan to purchase long-range missiles and naval ships. It approved the plan on top of the already record defence budget of $16.89 billion set to be spent in 2022.
Beijing is also closely watching the developments in Ukraine that may guide its plan for Taiwan’s future.
“If Putin succeeds in invading Ukraine, the temptation for Xi to attack Taiwan will rise, as will the domestic pressure on the Chinese leader from excitable nationalists, sensing the end of the American era,” wrote Gideon Rachman in Financial Times.
China in world news
Germany hasn’t been a significant player in the Asian security architecture for a long time. In December last year, a German ship sailed through the South China Sea for the first time in 20 years.
But the European power was in the news this past week because of its Vice Admiral Kay-Achim Schönbach.
German navy chief Vice Admiral Kay-Achim Schönbach started a controversy after his remarks at Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses.
Schönbach called China ‘not that nice country’ which gives money to dictators.
Schönbach has now stepped down from his position for saying that Crimea was lost, and Putin “probably” deserved respect.
A day before Schönbach spoke at IDSA, Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi and the new German foreign minister Annalena Baerbock held their first call since the latter assumed office.
Pakistan is trying to attract Chinese companies after the recent uptick in attacks on their facilities.
The Pakistan government is offering tax exemptions and other incentives to Chinese companies looking to relocate their operations. Pakistan is competing against Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.
“The government is offering tax exemption on company income for a decade, duty-free imports of factory equipment and as well no taxes on raw materials used for products that will be exported,” Bloomberg reported quoting the Chairman of Pakistan’s Board of Investment Muhammad Afzar Ahsan.
Pakistan recently announced a plan to offer permanent residency to Chinese nationals who want to stay and invest.
The US Justice Department has dropped its case against MIT professor Gang Chen over his research ties with China. Chen was accused of failing to disclose the millions in funding he received from China since 2012 as an “overseas expert”.
On Friday, the Department of Justice said a Professor named Simon Saw-Teong Ang had pleaded guilty to one count of making a false statement about his Chinese patents to the FBI. Ang didn’t disclose the details about being listed as an inventor on multiple patents in China. But the investigation into other academics with ties to China continues.
What you must read this week
The People’s Liberation Army in the South China Sea: An Organizational Guide – Zachary Haver
Why Young Chinese Are Turning Their Backs on Western Brands – Sixth Tone
Experts this week
“The Russian public had previously had a high level of support for the move to take back Crimea, but once the bloody reality of the Ukrainian war emerged, Russian society quickly turned to a defensive attitude. They denied that Ukrainian was a ‘real war’ and distanced Russia from it while criticising the US and Ukrainian governments. For now, in the event of an all-out war between Russia and Ukraine, it will be difficult for Russian society to regain the cross-class consensus that took back the high patriotism that Crimea had in the first place,” wrote Zhang Xin, an associate professor at the School of Politics and International Relations, East China Normal University.
Dr Elizabeth Economy is a well-renowned expert on Chinese politics and its foreign policy. Economy spoke to Bonny Lin of the Centre for International and Strategic Studies on the ChinaPower podcast. Chinascope recommends listening to the conversation.
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 Anurag Chaubey)