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Xi-Biden Summit Ends Up As Lose-Lose For Both

San Francisco was just another link in a long chain of events that are resulting in a multiplying of frictions between Beijing and Washington, writes Prof. Madhav Das Nalapat

CCP General Secretary Xi Jinping has been facing growing uneasiness with his leadership style within the senior ranks of his party. This is the consequence of (a) economic turmoil in China in an era of attempted decoupling of industry and commerce from that country, (b) the consequent steady fall in property prices and (c) rising unease within the CCP at Xi’s intrusive control over the party machinery and its personnel, including his whimsical appointments and punishments. These appear to be fuelled mostly on the basis of personal loyalty. In such a situation, it was imperative for Xi to travel to San Francisco for the APEC conference to convey the impression globally and domestically that the Sino-US relationship is re-entering a stable and friendly phase.

The problem facing Xi is that in past periods, it was possible for the CCP’s top leadership to use honeyed words to successfully camouflage the PRC’s hostile actions against a target country. Equally helpful in such a cover up was that several such operations were done through foreign cutouts rather than directly. Such camouflage has begun to fray with the ongoing wars in Ukraine and Gaza, where the pro-Russia and Hamas-friendly tilt of the PRC is clear even to the many western apologists of the CCP. Six weeks after the start of the conflict between the Israeli Defense Forces and Hamas, a war that began with the latter’s terror attack on Israel, it has become impossible to ignore which side the CCP is on, evidently to ensure that US attention got focused away from the Taiwan straits.

In Ukraine, Beijing’s pro-Moscow stance shows although sometimes language used by its spokespersons denote a more neutral hue. The war in Ukraine and now in Gaza have, not coincidentally, been seen as helpful to the Central Military Commission staff officers tasked with preparing plans for a steady snuffing out of Taiwan’s sovereignty. At present, Taiwan is a country in all but name. CMC planners have been tasked by Xi Jinping to work on a plan of action that will result by 2027 in Taiwan becoming another Hong Kong in all but name. Economic headwinds in China have led Xi to focus on achieving military success to ensure a fourth term, and the biggest prize would be the de facto takeover of Taiwan by the PRC.

In the PLA strategy of invasion by stealth, practically the whole of Taiwanese air and sea space has by now come under the control of the PLA, all that is as yet left being land. Artificial Intelligence is being used by CCP infowarriors to attempt to create a perception in young Taiwanese in particular that any kinetic resistance to the PLA would be ineffective. Images from both Ukraine and Gaza added to those created by AI are being disseminated in CCP-controlled social media platforms to create a defeatist mentality among the Taiwanese. Unfortunately for Xi, the opposite is taking place. As more facts tumble out about the repressive, control freak nature of the CCP top leadership, the greater is the antipathy within the Taiwanese public to becoming another Hong Kong, a city which Xi has made autonomous in name only.


Global distaste for the bullying of Taiwan by the PRC is mounting, and barring a shrinking number of citizens mostly in their 70s and 80s, Taiwanese citizens oppose any form of control of their country by the PRC. They regard themselves not as PRC citizens but as Taiwanese, in the same way that those of Chinese descent in Singapore consider themselves to be Singaporean and not Chinese in the political sense of that term. The DPP, the ruling party in Taiwan, has nominated a popular and personable advocate of an independent Taiwan, William Lai, as its standard bearer in the Presidential elections due early next year. Even the KMT, which in past decades was dominated by individuals who favoured eventual unification with China, has nominated a Taiwanese rather than what is termed locally as a “Mainlander” (i.e. an individual descended from those who arrived from China in 1949 or later) as its standard bearer.

KMT Presidential candidate Hou You-yih, was in the past Chief of Police during the Presidential term of pro-independence DPP leader Chen Shui-bian, and recently went on a very successful tour of the US. Being “dark blue” (or in other words, favouring eventual merger into the PRC) now makes any politician toxic to most voters, which is why the KMT is now dominated by those who are “light blue” (or in other words, those who favour the status quo rather than either get absorbed into China or make a unilateral declaration of independence).

Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen is a lifelong believer in democracy and in the right of her people to be free from external control. She has been careful to avoid giving any excuse to the CCP to intervene in the island country, which is why the unilateral aggressiveness of the PRC under Xi has raised global concerns and boosted support for Taiwan in a manner not seen in the past. In effect, by the actions of the CCP, Taiwan has been set on a course to join Japan and South Korea in being a military ally of the US. Despite the influence of the Sino-Wahhabi lobby in Washington, President Biden has repeatedly signalled his intent not to permit distractions in Ukraine and Gaza to prevent the US from intervening kinetically in any situation involving a land invasion of Taiwan by the PLA. According to sources in San Francisco, this was conveyed emphatically to Xi as well.


The shifting of tectonic plates altering US-PRC relations from ally to friend to rival to foe have led to a shrinking of appetite among global investors to put more money into China. Since 2019, any foreign investor has to cede full control of data to the CCP so as to operate without hindrance in China. Those who are uncooperative find themselves in trouble with the authorities very quickly. The US, Taiwan and Japan were the mainstay of foreign investment in China, but by 2021, all investors from all three have begun relocating to more welcoming shores, including India. As a consequence, unemployment is rising in China and growth has become sluggish. Property values have been going down steadily, bad news in a country where many tens of millions invest in property as a way of securing their future through later sale at a high price of the physical asset.

Several within the CCP believe the aggressive approach of Xi to be the cause of China’s economic decline, and such a perception is spreading in sync with shutdowns and job losses. Critics of Xi find themselves in prison or bankrupted by arbitrary actions of local authorities. For Xi, it was politically essential to show that it was business as usual between the US and China, so that the outward flow of foreign investment would get reversed. For the Chinese side, the Xi-Biden meeting was about optics, while the meeting between Xi and the top CEOs of the US companies was the substantive business. In the meeting with CEOs, it became clear to the executives who had paid $40,000 to have a Chinese-laced dinner with Xi that the PRC would not change its present course, however much Xi in his meeting with Biden sought to paper over such inflexibility.

Whether it be plunging the US into an opioid crisis through the smuggling of fentanyl, or building up military assets throughout the world through debt trap diplomacy, the CCP would go ahead with such moves, talk of cooperation notwithstanding. At the $ 40,000 a head business dinner, Xi’s contempt for the US and democracy came through in his responses, making several of his fellow diners take more seriously those who had claimed that General Secretary Xi was a throwback to the Mao era who has jettisoned Deng Xiaoping Thought completely in a return to both Maoist rhetoric and attitude towards private investment.

Continuing economic headwinds will show that Xi has failed in his mission of luring back foreign investment to the PRC. Nor has there been success during the meeting of the top leadership of both sides in Xi convincing the Biden administration to lessen restrictions on transfer of advanced technology to China. In view of the risk of kinetic conflict between the two superpowers, such restrictions continue, although as yet behaviour-altering apps such as TikTok have been allowed to continue under Biden.

For President Biden, the very optics of meeting the CCP General Secretary without getting anything more substantive than a repeat of vague commitments often made and subsequently ignored in the past are a vote loser, making higher the prospect of the Democratic Party moving towards another candidate in next year’s Presidential polls. Given that it was Xi who travelled to meet Biden rather than the other way around, most of the population of the PRC are unlikely to be taken in by media accounts of the Xi visit re-opening the way to large-scale sharing of technology and movement of investment into China by the US.

While some headline writers trumpeted the “historic” nature of the meeting, San Francisco was simply just another link in a long chain of events that are resulting in a multiplying of frictions between Beijing and Washington. As events of the first half of the past century show, playing nice with dictators makes not just bad policy but bad politics in a democracy, as President Biden will soon discover.

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Xi-Biden Meet Averts A US-China Head On Collision

While he sat down for talks with President Biden, the Chinese leader showed no signs of deviating or tweaking the two centenary goals, which anchor a basic contradiction in the China-US ties, reports Atul Aneja

During the much-awaited talks between Chinese President Xi Jinping and his US counterpart Joe Biden, Beijing and Washington have defined a new roadmap for dialogue.

These talks in San Francisco, on the sidelines of the APEC summit, build on the ice-breaking Xi-Biden dialogue held at Jakarta during the G-20 summit held last November in Bali.

So, what has Xi and Baden achieved in San Francisco? More importantly, has a new initiative been taken that has the legs to transform China-US ties positively and fundamentally? Besides, will whatever has transpired in San Francisco leave a trail towards a new global hierarchy apexed by the G-2—US and China?

It is now evident that China and the US have averted a head on collision, by embedding their relationship with several safety valves to release tensions, which are bound to arise following Beijing’s disruptive assertion to achieve its two centenary goals. During the 19th Party Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) in 2017, President Xi had declared his country’s pursuit of two strategic goals. The first, which has already been achieved officially, was to remove extreme poverty, by doubling the 2010 GDP by 2021. In turn, the removal of extreme poverty would turn China into a “moderately prosperous society.”  The second centenary goal, which was bound to draw the US into fierce competition, was to turn China into a leading nation in all spheres of human endeavour. The timeline for achieving the second goal was 2049—a year that aligned with the 100 years of the formation of the People’s Republic of China (PRC). The historic project would culminate in a great rejuvenation of China or the achievement of the “Chinese dream.”

While he sat down for talks with President Biden, the Chinese leader showed no signs of deviating or tweaking the two centenary goals, which anchor a basic contradiction in the China-US ties. He pointed out that with its development following its own logic and rules, “China is advancing the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation through modernization in its own unique style.” Xi also stressed that “China has no plans to surpass or replace the US, and the US should not attempt to suppress or contain China.”

Yet, the world’s largest and second largest economy showed their firm intent to avoid a military conflict—a position that undergirded a string of conflict-avoidance measures channelled through an intricate, multi-layered military dialogue mechanism.

Consequently, the talks yielded revival of high-level military communication apart from envisaging the China-US defence department working meetings, China-US military maritime security consultation mechanism and China-US military regional leaders’ conversations.

The two sides also agreed to strengthen their partnership to mitigate the Climate crisis, set up an intergovernmental dialogue on Artificial Intelligence (AI), and establish a China-US drug control cooperation working group to contain the availability and usage of the deadly fentanyl synthetic opioid that has spread like a wildfire in the US.

Though San Francisco has opened re-engagement, there are serious   underlying problems, caused by Beijing’s rise and pursuit of the China containment strategy by the United States.

For instance, the US is bound to counter China’s intent to exercise its sovereignty over Taiwan under the one-China principle. From a US perspective, Chinese control over Taiwan has deep geostrategic implications, as it will liberate Beijing from the carefully crafted island-chain strategy, which took root after World War-II.

Historically, the emergence of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) in 1949 and the onset of the Cold War, led John Foster Dulles, a former US Secretary of State, to develop the “island chain strategy” of besieging China and the former Soviet Union from the sea. Dulles’s doctrine, aired during the heat of the Korean War in the early fifties, had three layers.

Of the three island chains, the “first island chain” was the most important. The lengthy network starts from Kamchatka peninsula in Russia’s Far East and weaves its way into Japan. Then, from the southernmost part of the Japanese mainland, it passes through Okinawa, a part of a larger Ryukyu Island chain which ends with Taiwan. From Taiwan, the “first island chain” heads towards the Philippines and the island of Borneo, before looping towards the tip of the Malay Peninsula. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the first island chain has begun to increasingly focus on China.

But Beijing’s control over Taiwan would breach the first island. With its territorial hold on Taiwan, the Chinese can dock their nuclear submarines in Taiwan’s exceptionally deep waters, beyond the surveillance network of the three island chains, thereby exploding the China-containment strategy. Besides, the Chinese are bound to take exception to the formation of the Australia-UK-US (AUKUS) alliance, crafted specifically to contain China in the Indo-Pacific.

The US attempt to militarise the Indo-Pacific QUAD comprising India, US, Japan, and Australia will also breach a détente, possibly emerging between Beijing and Washington following the Xi-Biden talks.

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Australian Prime Minister Meets Xi Jinping

Whitlam’s iconic visit to China to meet Mao Zedong in 1973 marked the first trip by an Australian Prime Minister after the establishment of diplomatic ties…reports Asian Lite News

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese met Chinese President Xi Jinping here on Monday.

The announcement was made by China’s state-run Xinhua news agency.

Albanese, who arrived in Shanghai on November 5, became the first Australian Prime Minister to visit China since 2016.

In a post on Monday morning, Albanese said: “It is 50 years since Gough Whitlam became the first Australian Prime Minister to visit China. Since he visited the Temple of Heaven in Beijing much has changed.

“But what is constant is that engagement between our two countries remains important.”

Whitlam’s iconic visit to China to meet Mao Zedong in 1973 marked the first trip by an Australian Prime Minister after the establishment of diplomatic ties.

After a series of trade and security disputes between the two nations, Albanese’s visit is aimed at easing years of tensions, the BBC reported.

“What I’ve said is that we need to co-operate with China where we can, disagree where we must and engage in our national interest,” the Prime Minister told rreporters in Beijing on Monday, ahead of the meeting.

Asked by reporters if Australia can “trust” China, Albanese said his past engagements with Mr Xi have been “positive” and “constructive”.

“But we recognise, as well, that we come with different political systems, very different values arising from that and different histories. But we deal with each other on face value,” the BBC quoted the Prime Minister as saying.

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Biden-Xi Meet Set for November in San Francisco

The meeting comes on the heels of a meeting Biden held with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi in Washington last week….reports Asian Lite News

US President Joe Biden will meet Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping in San Francisco in November, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre announced on Tuesday (local time). She said that Biden looks forward to the meeting.

While addressing a press briefing on Tuesday (local time), Karine Jean-Pierre said, “We’ve been talking about the President, who said he was looking forward to meeting with President Xi. And so, I’m not going to get into details about this meeting that’s going to happen in November next month. It’s going to be in San Francisco. It’s going to be a constructive meeting. The President’s looking forward to it.”

When asked again if the meeting was happening, Jean-Pierre responded, “Yes.” However, she refused to divulge details regarding the agenda of the meeting.

Other reporters then pressed Jean-Pierre on whether she just confirmed the meeting will happen. Jean-Pierre said, “What I’m saying is that we’re aiming to have a constructive conversation meeting between the leaders in San Francisco in November so that’s what I’m saying. That’s what is going to happen in San Francisco in the next month, in November. We are having a constructive conversation in San Francisco. I think I just confirmed it.”

Karine Jean-Pierre said that the US has been clear with its policy with respect to China and called it “intense competition.” She said that Biden will have a “tough but important” conversation with Xi Jinping. She spoke about the earlier meetings held between US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and his Chinese counterpart.

In the press briefing, Jean-Pierre said, “We have been clear; our policy and how we move forward with China haven’t changed. This is intense competition, right? We have said that we want to move forward with China. We understand that intense competition means intense diplomacy; that’s what you’re going to see. That’s what the president is going to be doing–having a tough but important conversation.”

“I am not going to get into any kind of decision made on this. This is going to be about diplomatic conversations. We have seen about three secretaries go to China and have these diplomatic conversations. We saw Secretary Antony Blinken, and we also saw National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan having important diplomatic conversations with their counterparts in China. This is an important relationship. Again, this is about competition; that’s what we want to see with China and this is going to be an important diplomatic conversation.”

The meeting comes on the heels of a meeting Biden held with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi in Washington last week. The White House said Biden “emphasised that both the United States and China need to manage competition in the relationship responsibly and maintain open lines of communication,” and he “underscored that the United States and China must work together to address global challenges.”

Joe Biden last met Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in Bali in 2022. The ties between India and China have been strained since US House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan, which China claims is part of its territory.

The US-China relationship began to sour in 2018 when the Trump administration slapped hefty tariffs on USD 50 billion worth of Chinese goods. It deteriorated further over a range of issues, including rights abuses, the South China Sea, Taiwan, technology and the COVID-19 pandemic. (ANI)

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Xi Jinping Warns West Against Decoupling from Chinese Economy

Xi denounced unilateral sanctions, economic pressure, decoupling, and disruptions in the supply chain, pushing back against perceived Western attempts to impede China’s progress….reports Asian Lite News

Chinese President Xi Jinping cautioned Western nations against “decoupling” from China’s economy, emphasising that China’s development should be seen as an asset, not a threat.

In a speech at the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) forum in Beijing, Xi also denounced unilateral sanctions, economic pressure, decoupling, and disruptions in the supply chain, pushing back against perceived Western attempts to impede China’s progress.

He stressed that mutual development, rather than viewing others’ growth as a threat or economic interdependence as a risk, is the path to improving one’s own well-being and advancing development. Xi asserted that when China thrives, the world benefits.

He said Belt and Road international cooperation has gotten off the ground, grown rapidly and produced fruitful outcomes over the past 10 years.

The cooperation has extended from the Eurasian continent to Africa and Latin America, and more than 150 countries and over 30 international organizations have signed Belt and Road cooperation documents, Xi said when delivering the keynote speech.

Three sessions of the forum have been held, and over 20 specialized multilateral cooperation platforms under the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) have been established, Xi said.

Belt and Road cooperation has progressed from “sketching the outline” to “filling in the details,” and blueprints have been turned into real projects, Xi said, noting that a large number of signature projects and “small yet smart” people-centered programs have been launched.

Xi highlighted the guiding principles for high-quality Belt and Road cooperation in his speech.

“Important guiding principles for high-quality Belt and Road cooperation have been laid down, which include the principle of ‘planning together, building together, and benefiting together,’ the philosophy of open, green and clean cooperation, and the goal of pursuing high-standard, people-centered and sustainable cooperation,” he said.

Covering the land, the ocean, the sky and the Internet, the global network of connectivity built under the BRI has injected fresh vitality into the millennia-old Silk Road in the new era, Xi noted.

When COVID-19 struck, the Belt and Road became a life-saving road, Xi said.

China provided more than 10 billion masks and 2.3 billion doses of vaccines to other countries and jointly produced vaccines with over 20 countries, making a special contribution to BRI partners’ efforts in fighting COVID-19. And China also received valuable support from more than 70 countries when it was hit hard by the pandemic, he said.

“The BRI represents humanity’s joint pursuit of development for all,” Xi said.

Belt and Road cooperation transcends differences between civilizations, cultures, social systems, and stages of development. It has opened up a new path for exchanges among countries, and established a new framework for international cooperation, Xi said.

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Not All Is Well In Xi Jinping’s PRC

The following has been extracted from the book ‘Cold War 2.0: Illusion versus Reality’ – by Prof. Madhav Das Nalapat

While the CPC speaks often of the divergences between itself and political formations and policies within NATO, especially the US, the reality is that much of the policies being formulated within Beijing are based on an exhaustive study of the past policy of countries such as the US or the UK during their prime until the middle of the previous century.

The PLA, judging by its actions in various theatres, appears to have lifted not simply pages but chapters from US (and earlier UK) policy of relying on armed force to achieve the objectives set for it by the leadership. The CPC’s propensity to adapt and adopt what regime analysts in the PRC believe to be the toolkit of the US ought not to come as a surprise, as the intention of the Chinese leadership is to replace Pax Americana with Pax Sinica, just as Pax Britannica was replaced during the course of the 1939-45 war by Pax Americana.

The difference is that the changeover then was smooth, with the UK acquiescent in what it knew to be inevitable. The CPC leadership is aware that this time around, there may be resistance from Washington to efforts at its being replaced by Beijing as the global epicentre of authority. The earlier strategy is to ensure that the power differential reach such a level as to make resistance futile.

Such a plan was proceeding smoothly so long as the ‘final objective’ of the CPC leadership was not obvious but has been facing increasing headwinds now that CPC General Secretary Xi Jinping has judged that the time for ‘hiding one’s strength and biding time’ is over. Apart from the onset of Cold War 2.0 between the PRC and the US, what may upset Xi’s plans is what appears to be an obsessive focus on centralization in the office of the general secretary. Every subordinate source of authority has found its discretionary powers diminished, usually in practice but occasionally in a formal way as well.

Decentralization of authority and giving confidence to lower levels to take decisions within a wide band of policy was a factor that drove the high growth engine of the PRC from 1983 to 2012, the year in which General Secretary Xi took over and began the work of consolidating his hold over the Party and the government that institution controls.

In such a process, the private sector had been a force multiplier, but since the advent of Xi, private industry has had to accept dictates and personnel given to it by the Party even on issues related to business decisions taken by subsidiaries in foreign locations. The apparent discord between Alibaba founder Jack Ma and Xi that surfaced in 2020 most probably arose when the former hesitated to rubber-stamp some of the demands made on his entities by elements in the PLA and the intelligence services.

Obedience to such dictates, or even accepting many of the requisites of what in the Soviet Union were called the ‘Organs’ in the Stalin era, could lead to legal complications in several host countries that are important for the overall profitability of several Chinese versions of the Korean Chaebol. In effect, Chinese companies are being ordered by the CPC under Xi to act as the catspaw for the PRC, specifically the PLA, including by covertly handing over user data that the military may find of use. Jack Ma may have sought to demur, and more than his outsize public persona, this was probably what led to his eclipse from both public view as well as in the day-to-day operations of the enterprise he founded and ran expertly before the dust-up with Xi’s underlings.

There was a time, especially during the decade when Jiang Zemin was CPC general secretary, when the Party did a lot of what its public and private businesses wanted the state to do. These days, Xi has ensured that the reverse is taking place. There is a difference between coordination between the government and the private sector (in the manner witnessed over decades in Japan and South Korea), and subordination of the latter to the former in the manner which took place in India under Nehru and Indira Gandhi.

The Nehru model is now being tried out in steroidal form in Xi’s China, where private companies are in effect being turned into subsidiaries of the state. Despite several tycoons joining the ranks of the ‘party of peasants and workers’ since the Jiang period, it is apparent from the web of policy directives in both implied as well as written form that merely being a CPC member is not sufficient, although it may be a necessary condition for prospering in the Xi era in a way that it earlier was not. What is called for by the general secretary is complete acceptance of the dictates of the Party that get conveyed through the relevant units of that immense construct.

As Jack Ma may some day testify, it is not enough that such fealty extends to 50 per cent or even 60 per cent of the Party’s ‘requests’ being carried out by the private enterprise concerned. Anything below a level of obedience of close to 100 per cent is regarded as disloyalty and may be subject to the consequences inflicted for such a mindset and behaviour patterns. Especially given (i) the decoupling of several foreign advanced tech enterprises from the PRC and (ii) the shrinkage of the global market as a consequence of restrictions placed since Cold War 2.0 came into effect, the manner in which the private sector in China is getting its autonomy and authority eroded is likely to impact the growth that has for decades powered the expansion of PRC’s external influence and domestic well-being.

The taking away of so much effective authority over decision-making involving matters of concern to the provinces and cities they are tasked to administer has resulted in a subterranean discontent against the CPC general secretary that could manifest in a much more visible manner should the decline in economic performance relative to past decades continue. Economic progress is judged not merely in absolute but in relative terms, and memories remain fresh of the days of Deng, Jiang and even Hu, when the autonomy of party cadres was substantial and the standard of living of the people rose in a manner not witnessed in the past, certainly not for the previous two centuries.

Xi has understood the danger and has sought to combat it by boosting ‘patriotic’ feelings among the people, attempting to drill into them the perception that the hardships they have begun to face are not the result of CPC policies but the consequence of the hostility of countries that are envious about China’s rise and who seek to throttle this. Given Xi’s reliance on the military as the enforcer of diplomacy, it would not be unusual for several within the PRC (including the CPC) to believe that much of the fissures with outside powers that are being witnessed since the onset of Cold War 2.0 are not so much the consequence of the PLA-influenced policies of General Secretary Xi towards several countries, including the US and India, but active sabotage of Xi’s policies by such powers.

At the same time, the risks are considerable for the assumed securing of public support through a major victory in the field, such as the capture of Taiwan or a repeat of the humiliation inflicted on India in 1962. Should conditions continue to deteriorate, impacting Xi’s support among the people and the cadre, this may be an option that the CPC leadership core may regard as a necessary exercise for domestic reasons of public acquiescence to dictatorship and their continued cooperation.

The problem facing Xi is that the population of the PRC in the twenty-first century is very different from what it was in the first half of the twentieth, and repeating the experiments and slogans of the Mao period may not work as well this time around. Unlike during that time, there is no longer a fear among large swathes of the population that their country is under threat from outside. Quite the reverse in fact, given the manner in which the perception of the undoubted rise of the PRC into superpower status has been disseminated and mainstreamed.

Neither are there vivid memories of mass starvation and deprivation, which is why hardship that would have seemed trifling in the 1950s may soon be a cause for public discontent. Visible declines in living standards may cause social eruptions that the leadership may judge can be met only by an external show of force and a military triumph, such as the takeover of Taiwan or an attempted 1962-style humiliation of India by seizing Arunachal and Ladakh. Such a contingency may explain the preparatory build-up across both the Taiwan and Himalayan theatres by the PLA. This suggests a possible involvement of that force once ordered by the general secretary to create a diversion designed to quell domestic unrest caused by some of his policies.

Excerpted with permission from Penguin Random House India from “Cold War 2.0: Illusion versus Reality” by Madhav Das Nalapat.

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China’s Military Crackdown Highlights Xi’s Authoritarian Rule

Many people around Xi are yet to hear any official explanation for the recent absences, resignations, and silence on important problems….reports Asian Lite News

A dinner reception last week to commemorate the establishment of modern China saw several important military personnel missing in attendance, pointing towards an ongoing military crackdown in China, which has left Beijing’s political circles wondering about President Xi Jinping’s objectives, Nikkei Asia reported.

The report in the Japanese daily by Katsuji Nakazawa, a Tokyo-based senior staff and editorial writer said that Li Shangfu, 65, the state councillor and minister of national defence, was one of the most noteworthy absences.

Li hadn’t been seen in days. On the evening of September 28, when they watched the broadcast reception at the banquet chamber of the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, the Chinese audience was made aware of his fall from favour.

The night was meant to celebrate the 74th anniversary of the foundation of the People’s Republic of China. It was also the eve of the start of the National Day holidays and the eve of the Moon Festival, or the Mid-Autumn Festival, when families gather to celebrate under the elegance of the full moon. But the atmosphere hovering over Beijing’s political class was far from elegant, Nakazawa writes.

The Chang’e moon exploration project, named after the Chinese moon goddess, was launched by China under the direction of eminent military leader Li Shangfu. The general’s absence on the eve of the Moon Festival, when he was so closely associated with the moon thanks to one of his most important missions, is indicative of how brutal China’s politics have become.

Li was really too senior to serve as the nation’s defence minister, but Xi gave the nod out of respect for Zhang. Li was thus named as state councillor and defence chief in March. Another is that Li was in charge of procuring Russian high-performance missile systems and fighter planes. As a result, he has received sanctions from the United States for allegedly breaking prior sanctions on Russia. There is speculation among Chinese political circles that by harshly punishing Li, Xi was conveying a message: Zhang, a fellow second-generation red who was viewed as Xi’s buddy, is at least partly responsible, Katsuji Nakazawa opined.

Zhang appears to be safe for now; his presence at the banquet has been confirmed, according to Nikkei Asia.

The massive purging now underway represents a significant shift in dynamics. The fact that the military equipment procurement division was hit first is no coincidence. Zhang, Li’s predecessor, is not the subject of the inquiry; only Li is, according to Nakazawa’s analysis in Nikkei Asia.

Former members of the Politburo Standing Committee, the party’s highest decision-making body, have not been invited lately with the exception of milestone dinners like the one hosted to commemorate the People’s Republic of China’s 70th anniversary, he added.

The same is true for Xi’s close advisors. The event was also missed by Li Zhanshu, a 73-year-old former chairman of the National People’s Congress Standing Committee.

Chi however did. Chi, who is 94 years old, is still active and was moving about on her own. Because of the military’s considerable political influence over Xi, he was invited. Former defence ministers were traditionally invited to the banquet, but this year there was an odd omission. Wei Fenghe and the current minister Li Shangfu were also absent.

Many people around Xi are yet to hear any official explanation for the recent absences, resignations, and silence on important problems. They were anxious to deduce the intentions of the top leader at the dinner by observing those who were present, attempting to read their facial expressions, and identifying those who were not. (ANI)

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Xi-Dahal Joint Statement Has ‘Imlications’ For Tibet

Of the 13 points in the joint statement, four have direct references to Tibetan affairs and encompass politics, boundary management, health and infrastructural issues….reports Asian Lite News

The joint statement issued by Nepal and China in Beijing following the visit by Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal institutionally strengthens China’s hand on matters relating to Tibet and Tibetans, the International Campaign for Tibet said on Wednesday.

The Campaign’s President Tencho Gyatso said: “Nepal is bound by international law to respect the principle of non-refoulement, which precludes states from returning a person to a place where he or she might be tortured or face persecution.

“The principle of non-refoulement is included in several treaties signed and ratified by Nepal, such as the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (Article 3), General Comment No. 20 of the Human Rights Committee and General Comment No. 6 of the Committee on the Rights of the Child.”

Of the 13 points in the joint statement, four have direct references to Tibetan affairs and encompass politics, boundary management, health and infrastructural issues.

Politically, the joint statement says: “The Nepali side reiterated that Tibet affairs are China’s internal affairs, that it will never allow any separatist activities against China on Nepal’s soil.”

Although the fundamentals have not changed, this formulation separates Tibet from Taiwan as well as the One China Principle, unlike two earlier joint statements in 2019 (when President Xi Jinping visited Nepal) and 2018 (when then Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli visited China), which said: “The Nepali side reiterated its firm commitment to the one-China policy with Tibet and Taiwan affairs as being China’s internal affairs, and the determination on not allowing any anti-China activities on its soil.”

The joint statement refers to implementation of an agreement on boundary management, raising concerns not only about the plight of Tibetans who are trying to flee via Nepal, but also the possible deportation of those who have already entered Nepal.

The “agreement between the government of the People’s Republic of China and the government of Nepal on the boundary management system”,which the joint statement now says the “two sides agreed to bring into force…as soon as possible”, provides the Chinese authorities additional avenues to get Tibetans deported from Nepal to Tibet.

According to the text of the agreement that ICT has seen, Articles 26 and 27 of the agreement deal with “persons crossing the border illegally”.

Article 26.2 reads: “The boundary representatives or competent authorities of both sides shall investigate the cases of persons found while crossing (the) border illegally, ascertain their identities, cross border facts and reasons as soon as possible and hand them over to the side where they stayed before crossing the border within seven days from the day when they were detained.”

In recent years, the number of Tibetans able to escape from Tibet through Nepal has been dwindling due to China’s heightened security in border areas, as well as its general clampdown in Tibet.

From the 1980s until 2008, there was a steady flow of 2,500 to 3,500 Tibetans escaping into exile via Nepal annually.

The flow of refugees from Tibet dropped dramatically in the wake of the party’s response to the pan-Tibet protests in spring 2008. In 2008, the number of refugees from Tibet dropped to 588 from 2,338 in 2007.

After a gradual climb up to 753 in 2011, the number of refugees dropped by 50 per cent to 375 in 2012, the year Xi assumed leadership.

With the intensive securitization of Tibet, the number of refugees from Tibet trickled down steadily throughout the decade of Xi’s rule: the number dwindled to 19 Tibetans in 2019, five in 2020, 10 in 2021, and only five in 2022.

The joint statement also refers to the Lhasa Economic and Technological Development Zone Investment Development Company, which intends to invest in projects in Nepal, but no concrete decision is announced.

Even though the joint statement was issued on September 26, Prime Minister Dahal is scheduled to visit Tibet, possibly on September 29, before returning to Nepal.

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Xi, Maduro Elevate China-Venezuela Ties

The two presidents announced the elevation of the China-Venezuela relationship to an all-weather strategic partnership…reports Asian Lite News

Chinese President Xi Jinping held talks with his Venezuelan counterpart, Nicolás Maduro Moros, who is on a state visit to China, at the Great Hall of the People on Wednesday.

The two presidents announced the elevation of the China-Venezuela relationship to an all-weather strategic partnership, Xinhua news agency reported.

“China has always viewed its relations with Venezuela from a strategic and long-term perspective, and firmly supports Venezuela’s efforts to safeguard national sovereignty, national dignity and social stability, as well as Venezuela’s just cause of opposing external interference,” Xi told Maduro.

“The establishment of an all-weather strategic partnership between China and Venezuela meets the common expectations of the two peoples and conforms to the general trend of historical development,” Xi said, calling on the two sides to push for more fruitful China-Venezuela strategic cooperation, bring more benefits to the two peoples and inject more positive energy into world peace and development.

Maduro said Venezuela and China enjoy profound friendship and fruitful cooperation, making bilateral relations a model for relations among countries of the Global South. He said the Venezuelan people thank the Chinese government and people for their valuable support and assistance when Venezuela was suffering from illegal unilateral sanctions and the COVID-19 pandemic.

Maduro said Venezuela’s national development and Venezuela-China relations are at a significant stage. “The establishment of an all-weather strategic partnership is of historic significance and will surely usher in a new era of bilateral relations.”

Sun Yanfeng, Deputy Director of the Institute of Latin American Studies, China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, noted that Venezuela is the first Latin American country that China established an all-weather strategic partnership with.

“The upgraded relationship means increased political trust, strategic need of each other, and high-level cooperation between the two sides. It also means they will surely expand cooperation in multilateral frameworks and, therefore, contribute to building a fair and just international order,” Sun said.

ALSO READ: Xi’s No-Show in Global Summits Sparks Debate on China’s Intentions

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Xi’s No-Show in Global Summits Sparks Debate on China’s Intentions

Is China shifting its policy with President Xi Jinping missing the G20 summit in New Delhi right after skipping a speech at BRICS business forum?…writes Mahua Venkatesh

Chinese President Xi Jinping’s absence for the G20 summit, which kicked off in New Delhi today, has been in discussion for a while. Beijing gave no reason for Xi not attending the summit amid speculations. Whether it is Xi’s pressing domestic economic situation, his awkwardness to meet US President Joe Biden amid US-China tension or the rising rift with India, for China, this could be a missed opportunity.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s increased engagement on the global stage – both multilateral and bilateral — has given India a platform to project itself as a credible voice in the world. India is now aggressively bridging the gap even with Southeast Asian nations, once considered China’s backyard. On the other hand, Xi’s overseas engagements have drastically come down since the outbreak of the Covid pandemic. The inclusion of the African Union under India’s G20 presidency has also cemented New Delhi’s position as a voice for the Global South.

Eyebrows were also raised last month when Xi unexpectedly decided to skip a scheduled speech at the BRICS business forum. In his place, his commerce minister Wang Wentao read out the speech.

Again, no reason was given for Xi’s move.

Bill Bishop, who leads a newsletter Sinocism, focusing on Chinese affairs had then pointed out that Xi had not made many public appearances for some time and that it was “a bit strange”.

Analysts are now watching Xi’s actions closely. “We don’t know if the absence is for any particular reason but it would be interesting to note whether Beijing’s overall foreign and domestic policies are undergoing a shift as new challenges emerge for the leader,” one of them said.

US President Joe Biden with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping in Bali, Indonesia (Photo Twitter@SpokespersonCHN)

With a patchy economic recovery in China in the post Covid phase leading to rise in unemployment and debt levels, Xi might want to intensify nationalist sentiments, another said, referring to a recently released map by Beijing which showed Arunachal Pradesh as part of its territory.

Meanwhile, according to the Conversation, a media outfit providing in depth analysis, the effect of Xi’s refusal to attend the New Delhi G20 summit is effectively a statement contesting India’s coveted status as a global leader.

“You only have to look at Modi’s list of overseas travel since 2020 to see that he has engaged with, and been hosted by, a wide range of world leaders. At the same time, hampered by COVID and facing a difficult economy, Xi’s foreign visits have been limited,” the Conversation said, adding that contrary to Beijing’s decades-old strategy of containing India in the South Asian region, New Delhi has begun to spread its strategic relationships in south-east Asia, Europe, Africa, Oceania and the US. “This has significantly challenged China’s status in the international sphere,” it said.

Many have been critical of Xi’s decision of skipping G20. US National Security Adviser Jack Sullivan at a recent press briefing said, “If China wants to come in and play the role of spoiler, of course, that option is available to them.”

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