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Wednesday, May 29, 2024

COMMENTS ON MEDIA COVERAGE OF CHINA #509

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GOOD MORNING FROM LONDON

#1    ISRAEL/ TAIWAN REVIVE RELATIONSHIP.

        CHINA/HAMAS AND PLO MEET.

#2    CHINA’S HIGH-TEC PROGRESS AND THE WORLD BALANCE OF POWER

#3   CHINA – CAR IMPORTS AND CAR EXPORTS

 

#1   ISRAEL/TAIWAN OVERTURES.      CHINA/HAMAS/PLO INITIATIVE

       SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST

TAIWAN/ISRAEL

As tensions in the Middle East escalated amid the Israel-Gaza war, an Israeli parliamentary delegation visited Taiwan last week in a show of warming ties with Taipei.

The cross-party delegation, led by chairman of the Knesset’s Israel-Taiwan friendship association, Boaz Toporovsky, met government officials and legislators throughout the trip, including Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, Foreign Minister Joseph Wu, vice-president-elect Hsiao Bi-khim and Legislative Yuan speaker Han Kuo-yu.

The group – the second Israeli parliamentary delegation to visit Taiwan within a year – also visited the Southern Taiwan Science Park and a green energy demonstration site in Tainan.

“With your support, bilateral interactions have recently been very close,” Tsai said at a meeting with the delegation.

During their 30-year informal relationship, Taiwan and Israel have signed 33 agreements to strengthen exchanges in education, public health and other areas, including a tourism agreement signed last month.

In February, Taiwan’s ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) established its own Taiwan-Israel parliamentary friendship group. And in March, it donated US$$500,000 to the Federation of Local Authorities in Israel to aid emergency responses in communities affected by the war.

“I look forward to Taiwan and Israel leveraging our industrial strengths and continuing to deepen our partnership, based on our shared values of freedom and democracy, to jointly build more resilient global supply chains,” Tsai said.

CHINA/HAMAS/PLO

China has not confirmed whether two rival Palestinian groups are meeting in Beijing, saying only that Beijing backs “internal reconciliation among Palestinian factions through dialogue and consultation”. It followed a report from Riyadh-based Arab News that Hamas and Fatah were holding talks in Beijing on Friday aiming to end their internal divisions.

The report came after a major power shuffle in the Fatah-led West Bank as Washington pressured the party to step into the Israel-Gaza war and prepare post-war reforms in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip.

Following last year’s peace deal reached between China, Iran and Saudi Arabia, Beijing said it was willing to mediate in the Israel-Gaza conflict.

Beijing has not condemned Hamas for the October 7 attack on Israel despite pressure.

GRAHAM PERRY COMMENTS;-

In recent years relationships between China and Israel have strengthened. Prime Minister Netanyahu has visited Beijing and trade between the two countries has increased. However, since the beginning of the Gaza War there has been a pause because of differences between the two countries in relation to the current War. Israel is determined to eliminate Hamas after the 7 October Hamas attack whereas China contends that lasting peace requires the taking into account of the past grievances of the Palestinian people.

Israel focuses almost exclusively on the 7 October Hamas attack with no regard to the different views about developments since the 1917 Balfour Declaration whereas China considers long term peace in the region can only be achieved if Israel negotiates in good faith with the Palestinians with the past very much in mind.

Both sides – Israel and Hamas – approach the conflict with quite different attitudes. The dominant mind set in the Israeli position is, understandably, the Holocaust. Critics of Israel often miss the significance of the influence on Israelis and overseas Jews of the deaths of 6m Jews. Many non-Jews, sympathetic to the pain and suffering of Jews in World War II, fail to appreciate how this event dominates Jewish thinking and leads to a stubbornness of approach.

The world knew what was going on – in June 1942 the UK House of Commons adjourned its session for one day in memory of 1m Jews who had died. In fact, it was much worse but the point is that the combatants in WW2 knew that killing camps had been set up with one intention – to kill Jews. Pause for a moment and reflect on how this quite recent historical experience (1942-1945) infuses Israel’s mind set today. The priority of the US, the UK, the USSR and other combatants was to defeat Germany, Japan and Italy. The killing of 6m people identified by their religion and their ethnic origin could not they say, and did not, divert the Allies from their goal of destroying the Axis powers.

There are arguments that come into play to explain away the Allied failure to focus on saving 6m people but if you have relations among the 6m – and most Jews do – you are unwilling to listen to too many Post WWII rationalisations. “Never Again” is uppermost in the thinking of Jews in Israel and abroad and forms the core of intransigence that is the hallmark of Israeli thinking.

And the experience of the Holocaust comes readily to mind when, as Jonathan Freedland points out in yesterday’s UK Guardian newspaper, that at this week’s demonstrations at Columbia University in New York some demonstrators were filmed chanting  “We say Justice, you say ‘How’?/ Burn Tel Aviv to the ground/ Ya Hamas, we love you/ We support your rockets too”/ “We don’t want no two states/We want it all”. Also heard at Columbia U was a slogan written in Arabic which said “From the water to the water Palestine will be Arab”. Meaning as Freedland states “ that there will be no Jews  from the River Jordan to the Mediterranean Sea , a goal that spells doom for the 7.2m or so Jews who live there”. The Holocaust comes quickly to mind.

At the same time there are views that permeate attitudes of some Israelis to the Gaza War which are not acceptable such as “A State in Palestine is the fulfilment of Jewish destiny; Jews are the Chosen People; Jews have worked hard to build Israel and are entitled to the fruits of their toil; the Arab nations should accommodate the Palestinians”

Again, as Freedland states observing the situation in the US “There are plenty of Americans, including American Jews, who have been appalled  by Israel’s conduct  of its war against Hamas, by the sheer numbers killed, and by the obstruction of humanitarian aid  to Gaza”.  

There is also the aggressive seizure of Palestinian land by the Israeli settlers as well as the Israeli reliance on the Balfour Declaration of 1917 for its claim to a national homeland given to Jews by the UK Government that itself had no rights to Palestine – merely the spoils of victory against the Ottoman Empire in World War I.

Coming back to Israel and China, the strongly right wing Netanyahu Government pauses its hitherto growing relationship with China and turns towards Taiwan to make a political point. However, this will not deflect China who will continue to talk to Hamas and the PLO in pursuit of the goal of chiselling out an agreement that will assist in the negotiations that will eventually have to take place between future Israeli Governments and future Hamas/PLO leaders. 

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#2   CHINA’S HIGH-TEC PROGRESS

       SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST AND ACTA OPTICA SINICA

“China’s advances in emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, 5G and quantum computing are reshaping world politics by prompting an increasing US-led effort to counter its growing influence, a new study has concluded.

Describing the situation as “unprecedented” the researchers said a global “balancing coalition” had been formed in response – by the United States and it allies – which uses sanctions, export bans and controls in key industries such as semiconducting, as well as forming strategic alliances to reduce China’s reach in emerging technologies (ETs).

“China’s growing power and expansion in emerging [technologies] are key to driving momentum of the global shifts in technology and the geopolitical landscape,” Maria Papageorgiou, study author and a lecturer at the University of Exeter in Britain, said in a university statement on Monday.

The development of emerging technologies, which have “unpredictable implications” on national security, “demands a reassessment of the role of technology in international affairs and its impact on the international system,” the team wrote.

China’s advances in fields such as AI and 5G have been accompanied with a global technological spread through initiatives such as the Digital Silk Road, which had made it a competitor and a “threat” to the US, according to the paper.

While perceptions of a country’s power are often constrained by geographical proximity, the transboundary nature of these emerging technologies makes them “unimpeded by traditional air, land, or sea defences”.

GRAHAM PERRY COMMENTS;-

The rise of China has reminded the world of the impact of emerging technologies. As the above article observes, China’s advance in Artificial Intelligence and 5G has propelled it – in a quite short period of time – to a leading position as a world economic power. China’s growth is the “key to driving momentum of the global shifts in technology and the geopolitical landscape,” says the Exeter University  Report.

STEM is the term that embraces four interconnected disciplines: Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. The acronym STEM describes the educational approach that integrates these four fields into a cohesive and structured programme.

The UK based Journal of Education Science and Technology states;

 In the past decades, China has become the largest rising economy with a strong forward momentum in STEM advancement and education, which has profoundly impacted the global economy. This study investigates the current trends in STEM career aspirations among Chinese adolescents, who will soon become the future workforce.

The results indicate a significant increase of students’ STEM aspirations in comparison to the 2015 PISA outcomes. Further investigation suggests that the rapid change can be attributed to the recent transitions in world politics which have shifted from collaboration to exclusive competition. Insights gained from this study call for a change of mindset to recognize that in the STEM economy, collaboration is the most powerful form of competition.”

Further evidence of China’s progress in Science comes with the announcement that Chinese working on next-generation nuclear submarine technology have found a way to significantly improve the efficiency of the laser propellers that could drive the underwater vessels. The breakthrough overcomes the decades-old problem of how to harness the technology to propel underwater vessels, according to the Acta Optica Sinica paper. The new design can produce almost as much thrust as a commercial jet engine, using optical fibres that coat the submarine.

The researchers said the new technology can produce nearly 70,000 newtons of thrust – almost the force of a commercial jet engine – using 2 megawatts of laser power emitted through the submarine’s coating of optical fibres, each thinner than a human hair – an efficiency previously thought impossible to achieve.

The laser pulses not only generate thrust but also vaporise seawater, creating bubbles all over the submarine’s surface in a phenomenon known as “supercavitation” which can significantly reduce water resistance.

Theoretically, the development could allow a submarine to travel faster than the speed of sound without producing the mechanical noise vibration that usually gives away its location, according to the researchers.

The project team is led by Ge Yang, associate professor with the School of Mechanical and Electronic Engineering at Harbin Engineering University in Heilongjiang province, where China’s first submarine was developed.

The leap in technological progress of the PLA Navy’s weaponry and equipment in recent years is closely related to this vast institution, based in northeastern China’s heavy industrial manufacturing centre.

The US government has imposed severe sanctions and blockades on the university’s more than 30,000 students and scientists.

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#3   MOTOR VEHICLES – GERMANY OPPOSES EU POLICY ON CHINA.

       CHINA OUTLOOK

On October 4, 2023, the EU officially launched an anti-subsidy investigation into Chinese-made electric vehicles. On October 11th, the three major German automakers – BMW, Mercedes, and Volkswagen Group – received a 7-page questionnaire from the European Commission, asking them to provide detailed information about their operations in China.

The EU expected German automakers to support its policy of suppressing Chinese cars, as Germany is a major automotive nation, and theoretically, curbing Chinese cars should align with German automakers’ interests. Moreover, Germany was the largest overseas market for Chinese cars.

After intense debate for six months, German automakers unanimously chose to support Chinese automakers and strongly opposed the EU’s measures against them. On April 14, 2024, during German Chancellor Scholz’s visit to China, 650 German companies, including all German automakers, jointly opposed the EU’s proposed tariffs on Chinese cars. On April 15th, Chancellor Scholz delivered a public speech in Shanghai, solemnly promising that the German market welcomes Chinese cars. Subsequently, German automakers also announced plans to increase investments in the Chinese market.

This decision had its reasons. Germany is currently the largest overseas market for Chinese electric cars, but with only around 70,000 units sold, far lower than German car sales in China. While Chinese cars are strong, they have just started, and cannot overnight nullify the long-established automakers. Chinese car sales in Germany are only a fraction of their total sales, but for BMW, Mercedes, and Audi, 30-40% of their global sales come from China. BMW Group relies on China for nearly 1/3 of its sales, while Volkswagen Group derives 40% of its profits from China.

After weighing the pros and cons, German companies unanimously decided to oppose EU restrictions on Chinese electric cars. German Economy Minister Habeck even stated that the EU’s decision to investigate Chinese electric cars was strongly pushed by France, as French car sales in China are much lower than Germany’s, shifting blame away from Germany while taking a jab at France.

The disparity in sales between China and Germany is the direct reason for Germany’s welcoming stance toward Chinese cars. If the EU’s restrictive policies trigger retaliatory tariffs from China, the damage to Germany would far outweigh the harm to China. However, even though fewer competitors would be better, would Germany really watch Chinese automakers grow step by step, when suppressing them could benefit German automakers’ long-term future? First, Germany sees no hope in suppressing Chinese automakers, as the Chinese market alone can sustain their research and production. Second, the world is vast, and German automakers face competitors beyond just Chinese automakers. Rather than battling the rising Chinese automakers, it’s better to eliminate other competitors first.

The rise of Chinese automakers not only doesn’t mean the end of German automakers but can actually help them make more money, provided they adapt their approach. This time, Chinese cars have risen through technology. Audi has long wanted to launch its own new energy vehicles but struggled for years due to slow progress in electric car development.

By leveraging the Chinese automotive supply chain, German automakers can overcome their current disadvantages in the new energy sector and become a global powerhouse in new energy vehicles. This would undoubtedly make the Chinese automotive supply chain more formidable, leading to even more dominant Chinese electric cars. However, at least German automakers would survive and share the global market with Chinese cars – better than perishing together. For China, if German automakers cooperate, US restrictions on Chinese cars would become moot, as German cars with Chinese parts would be sold globally without justification for US limitation.

GRAHAM PERRY COMMENTS;-

In the previous issue – #508 – there was an article focusing on the conflict of interest between EU diplomats and Germany concerning the policy towards China. Chancellor Scholz was in China with a trade delegation. He was representing German interests – that is his constituency, not Brussels and Scholz made clear in a speech in Shanghai that Germany welcomed the challenge of Chinese Electric Vehicles in the EU. Shortly thereafter German car manufacturers announced plans to increase investments in the Chinese market.

Scholz wants to see more Mercedes and BMW’s purchased by Chinese buyers and he knows that a ban on Chinese EV’s in the EU would result in lower sales of German cars in China. Business is BusinessAnd Politics is Politics. Brussels have one set of political priorities and Berlin has another set of economic principles.  

 GRAHAM PERRY

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