Xi Jinping vowed to turn China’s military into a ‘great wall of steel’ at the last session of the National People’s Congress. The Chinese foreign ministry confirmed that Xi will visit Moscow from 20 to 22 March. Chinese expert alleges that India has an ‘overbearing’ influence on Bhutan’s foreign policy, calls for Beijing to establish direct ties with Thimphu. The US threatens to ban TikTok if Chinese parent company ByteDance doesn’t sell its stake. Chinascope brings you insights about Xi’s upcoming visit to Moscow—and much more.
China over the week
The world’s eyes will be on President Xi Jinping when he lands in Moscow Monday for a state visit, the first since the beginning of the Russia-Ukraine war. The Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson confirmed the visit Friday.
It’s no coincidence that Xi has decided to schedule his visit to Moscow on the 20th anniversary of the Iraq war. Both China and Russia have relied on bashing the US for its wars in the Middle East — and elsewhere — to justify their close security and economic cooperation.
“During his upcoming state visit to Russia, Xi will have an in-depth exchange of views with President Putin on bilateral relations and major international and regional issues of mutual interest, boost strategic coordination and practical cooperation between the two countries and inject new impetus into the growth of bilateral relations,” said Wang Wenbin, spokesperson of China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Without going into detail, Wang said Xi and Putin would draw a ‘new blueprint for the bilateral relationship’ during the visit.
Wang didn’t confirm the rumoured upcoming call between Xi and Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy, but instead, alluded to the fact that Ukraine will be discussed during the bilateral meeting.
“China will uphold an objective and fair position on the Ukraine crisis and play a constructive role in promoting talks for peace,” he said.
The Chinese state media has been busy setting the stage for Xi’s Moscow visit by publishing authoritative op-eds on the Chinese-Russian tango.
“Anyone who has ill intentions towards us and wants to divide our friendship will not succeed,” said Igor Morgulov, Russia’s ambassador to China, according to Xinhua News Agency. The quote was part of an op-ed that was prominently displayed on the front page of the news agency’s website.
“A mature and tenacious Sino-Russian relationship will effectively promote the unity, development and prosperity of the Eurasian continent, bring together forces to jointly safeguard the norms of international relations and strengthen mutually beneficial cooperation, inject strong positive energy into the complicated international situation, and make new contributions to building a community with a shared future for mankind,” it read.
The visit comes on the heels of the lianghui (two sessions) meeting that concluded last week.
In his final speech at the 14th National People’s Congress, Xi had a message about China’s military modernisation. He called for transforming the People’s Liberation Army into a “great wall of steel”.
“We must comprehensively promote the modernisation of national defence and military construction and build the people’s army into a great wall of steel that effectively safeguards national sovereignty, security and development interests,” said Xi.
Also Read: China’s position on Russia-Ukraine war could bring US sanctions into play
China in world news
Following the 15 June 2020 clash in Galwan, the Chinese embassy in India hasn’t officially published its views on India-China relations in mainstream media. But Ma Jia, Chinese Chargé d’affaires ad interim, Embassy of China in India, penned an op-ed in The Hindu last week calling on India to become part of the ‘Asian Century’.
“This echoes what Mr. Jaishankar had expressed in 2022 — that the Asian Century will happen when China and India come together,” wrote Ma.
Ma’s op-ed completely ignores the ongoing military stand-off at the Line of Actual Control (LAC) and instead sells New Delhi a bargain to accept economic trade with Beijing.
Though China’s representatives in India make it sound like everything is hunky dory with India-China relations.
External affairs minister S. Jaishankar, on the other hand, has sounded the alarm again on the trajectory of India-China relations. He was speaking at the India Today Conclave last week.
He called the situation in Ladakh ‘very fragile’ and ‘quite dangerous’, a choice of words that the minister hasn’t used to describe the relationship in the past.
“Sources in the government said Jaishankar’s use of the word ‘dangerous’ is deliberate given the aggressive posture adopted by the Chinese, as assessed by the Indian military, and also the geo-political circumstances arising out of Xi Jinping’s rare third term as the Chinese President,” reported The Indian Express.
China has also zeroed in on the relationship between India and Bhutan, accusing the former of ‘regional hegemony’.
“The so-called special relationship between India and Bhutan is the political basis of India’s control over the country. It stems from India’s insistence on inheriting the colonial heritage of the British Empire and India’s concept of regional hegemony, and takes the unequal treaties signed by the two countries as the legal basis” wrote Sun Xihui, associate research fellow with the National Institute of International Strategy at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.
The Chinese Academy of Social Sciences advises the top leadership on matters of international security and regional politics.
Sun hints at Beijing wanting to directly engage with Bhutan to undercut India’s influence on the Himalayan nation.
“China has resolved most of its land border issues through negotiations since the 1950s but does not complete its border talks with Bhutan because India insists on representing Bhutan in the negotiations, while China hopes to directly engage with Bhutan,” wrote Sun.
A campaign to ban TikTok in the US, which had slowed down under former President Donald Trump’s administration, has picked up again. It’s facing fresh backlash in the United States, the United Kingdom and New Zealand— the app has been banned from government devices.
The US Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) has asked TikTok’s parent company ByteDance to divest its stake from the video app company or face a ban in the US. TikTok continues to be available to millions of Americans despite US senators calling for a ban.
India banned it following the June 2020 clash in Galwan.
TikTok’s CEO Shou Zi Chew told The Wall Street Journal that ByteDance founder, Zhang Yiming, isn’t considering divesting from TikTok. Instead, the company has proposed a plan called Project Texas to hire Oracle Corp which will store the US user data, keeping it off limits from the Chinese government.
Chew is set to testify before the US Congress next week.
Must read this week
Interests, Not Ideology, Should Drive America’s Approach to China – Ryan Hass
China’s Consumption Conundrum – Damien Ma and Houze Song
Biden and Xi Are Doomed to Escalation – James Crabtree
How China Prolongs Myanmar’s Endless Internal Conflicts – Antonio Graceffo
US Doesn’t Need to Block China Everywhere All at Once – Minxin Pei
For the 10-year anniversary of the podcast ‘China in the World’, its host Carnegie Endowment’s Paul Haenle has compiled clips from previous years for a series of ‘look back episodes’. Chinascope recommends listening to last week’s episode titled — 10 Years of China-Russia Relations.
The author is a columnist and a freelance journalist. He was previously a China media journalist at the BBC World Service. He is currently a MOFA Taiwan Fellow based in Taipei and tweets @aadilbrar. Views are personal.
(Edited by Theres Sudeep)