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Wednesday, May 29, 2024

COMMENTS ON THE MEDIA’S COVERAGE OF CHINA ISSUE NUMBER #510

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Graham Perry
Graham Perry
Experienced Arbitration Lawyer | China & Chinese Business Affairs | Public Speaker/Lecturer.

GOOD MORNING FROM LONDON

#1     CHINA’S PROGRESS IN SPACE

#2     THE BELT AND ROAD INITIATIVE

#3     XINJIANG’S COTTON EXPORTS SURGE

#4     XI JINPING VISITS EU/PARIS/HUNGARY/SERBIA

#5     ELECTIONS IN THE SOUTH PACIFIC

“THE PURPOSE OF THE ‘GOOD MORNING FROM LONDON POSTS’ IS TO PROVIDE INFORMATION ABOUT CHINA THAT IS OFTEN MISSED, OR INTENTIONALLY DISREGARDED BY THE WESTERN MEDIA. AND IN FUTURE ISSUES THERE WILL CONTINUE TO BE A SWEEP OF RELEVANT CHINA INFORMATION WHICH IS REGULARLY UNREPORTED IN THE MEDIA. WE START WITH CHINA’S PROGRESS IN SPACE.

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#1     CHINA’S PROGRESS IN SPACE

          WASHINGTON POST

“China on Friday will embark on one of its most ambitious space missions yet: the launch of a probe to retrieve samples from the far side of the moon and bring them back to Earth within two months. If successful, it would be a first, for any country.

Beijing has ambitions to become a space power and scientific force, laying out plans to land Chinese astronauts on the lunar surface by 2030 and set up a base at the moon’s south pole. This has created a new frontier in its broad rivalry with the United States, also including computer chips and solar panels.

China’s methodical steps over the years to extend its reach from Earth orbit to the moon and even Mars have worried NASA — whose own moon program, called Artemis, is facing delays — and members of Congress.

During a NASA budget hearing this week, Rep. Frank Lucas (R-Okla.), chairman of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee, said that “while the U.S. remains the global leader in space exploration, we face increasing challenges internationally.”

China has already successfully landed unmanned spacecraft on the far side of the moon and brought back samples from the near side, but Friday’s mission will attempt to combine the two.”

GRAHAM PERRY COMMENTS;-

China is on the move and with just one overseas base in Djibouti which protects China’s large international maritime fleet. Unlike the US, China does not develop trade to pave the way for 800+ military bases. China is not an imperialist power. It zealously protects its frontiers with the 14 countries bordering China and there will be tensions and fisticuffs along the way. But protecting borders is not Imperialism. China does not have an Empire and does not want an Empire but it will, if necessary, rely on force to protect its boundary limits.

But China has an active Space Programme and further evidence of its progress is contained in the above article in The Washington Post. Gradually through its ambitions in Space; its pursuit of the Belt + Road Initiative; and the expansion of its links with the rest of the world, China will become the largest economy and bring about a rise in the life style and well-being of the 1.4bn people by the time of the  one hundredth anniversary in 2049 of the founding of the Peoples Republic of China.

#2   BELT AND ROAD INITIATIVE

       SIMON CURTIS AND IAN KLAUS

“Over the past decade China has put infrastructural and urban development at the heart of a strategy aimed at nothing less than the transformation of international order. The Belt and Road Initiative, which seeks to revitalize and reconnect the ancient Silk Roads that linked much of the world before the rise of the West, is an attempt to place China at the centre of this new international order, one shaped by Chinese power, norms, and values. It seeks to do so, in part by shaping our shared urban future.

  Simon Curtis and Ian Klaus explore how China’s specific investments in urban development—cities, roads, railways, ports, digital and energy connectivity—are directly linked to its foreign policy goals. Curtis and Klaus examine the implications of these developments as they evolve across the vast Afro-Eurasian region. The distinctive model of international order and urban life emerging with the rise of Chinese power and influence offers a potential rival to the one that has accompanied the rise and zenith of Western power, marking a new age of infrastructural geopolitics and Great Power competition.”

GRAHAM PERRY COMMENTS

It is refreshing to read an informed Western comment about BRI which is free of talk of “debt trap diplomacy” – the phrase that was used by the West to dismiss China’s Belt and Road Initiative until it was knocked on the head by the IMF.

No country in history has ever advanced USD1 trillion to assist recipient countries in the development of their infrastructure. According to Curtis and Klaus 150 countries are now active participants in BRI. The breadth of vision required by the Chinese architects of BRI is quite remarkable and, at a stroke, sets up a model of development for the Global South countries and which has –  as a secondary consequence – the firing of China’s challenge to the US and the West to create a new world order.

Gradually China is forcing its opponents to take it seriously as it becomes increasingly clear that China has moved a big distance from its 1949 title “The Sick Man of Asia”. Talk of de-coupling and de-risking will continue but will eventually be jettisoned as the world votes with its feet to become more closely attached to the big China experiment.

#3    XINJIANG COTTON EXPORTS BEAT WESTERN SANCTIONS

         SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST

A “revolutionary shift” in the technology used in Xinjiang’s textile mills has seen a record surge in exports, in defiance of US sanctions that have barred most Western fashion labels from selling any product woven with a strand of the region’s cotton.

Customs records show Xinjiang’s textile exports last year reached 108 billion yuan (US$14.8 billion), with a 74 per cent jump for yarn and other raw materials, and a rise of 30 per cent for clothing.

The 2023 results followed Washington’s sanctions imposed in June the previous year, which largely banned Xinjiang textiles over human rights concerns over the alleged treatment of the region’s largely Muslim Uygur population.

At about the same time, Chinese scientists, with government and industry support, introduced artificial intelligence and 5G to Xinjiang’s mills, according to a peer-reviewed paper published earlier this month by the Chinese academic journal Textile Technology. The technologies slashed energy use and improved quality, boosting Xinjiang cotton’s global competitiveness, said the project team, led by senior engineer Huang Kehua, in the paper.

“The sweeping and efficient digital connection brings a revolutionary shift to the manufacturing process, making it smarter and more productive,” according to the team. Because of 5G’s swifter speeds compared to conventional wireless technology, it supports more connections and drastically cuts data transmission delays – paving the way for AI to oversee the factory’s entire operation.

In contrast to other countries – where 5G technology is rarely used in factories mainly because of its high cost – China’s extensive construction of 5G base stations and rapid technological advances have significantly reduced the expense.

A cutting-edge 5G IoT communications module in China is now priced as low as 65 yuan (US$9), a fraction of the cost compared to similar products available in Western markets, according to industry data.

The transformation of Xinjiang’s textile industry represents just part of the broader upgrade taking place across the region’s entire industrial landscape.

China’s state grid expects Xinjiang’s renewable energy generation capacity to surpass fossil fuels by the end of this year – thanks to rapid development of solar and wind power – providing cheap, clean energy for manufacturing and AI computing centres.

Xinjiang, the largest provincial-level administrative region in China, produces more than 90 per cent of China’s cotton, and a quarter more than the entire output of the United States.

GRAHAM PERRY COMMENTS;-

The US tries hard to derail China. Why? Because China is a real fundamental challenge to the hitherto unchallenged global dominance of the US. The US saw off the challenge from the USSR and assumed it could do the same with China. But China is quite different and the US is slow to realise that China presents an enduring long term challenge to the US. Washington has never before encountered anything quite like China.

In an attempt to build a worldwide coalition against China, the US quite suddenly gave a new gloss – a new interpretation –  in 2017 in the form of Secretary of State Pompeo’s allegation that China had practised genocide against the Muslim Uighurs of the Xinjiang Autonomous Region. There were hostilities; there was violence. It had nothing to do with race or genocide and everything to do with attempts by Uighur extremists to separate the Autonomous Region of Xinjiang from China. The extremists failed. The leaders were executed and the followers were sent to re-education camps. During the period of the violence the Uighur population in Xinjiang increased from 10m to 12m – not the figures you would expect if genocide was being pursued.

Blinken followed Pompeo and the US assault on China’s reputation has persisted with attempts to force economic hardship on China by banning cotton exports from Xinjiang. It has failed as the above article from the South China Morning Post makes clear. China is resilient. It knows it is engaged in titanic struggle with the US which seeks to blow China comprehensively off course.  The US is approaching the time when its leaders have to decide whether to go to war with China. China does not want war and will go a long way to avoid provoking Washington. China knows the world is big enough to accommodate both countries but only if the US pulls back from the brink and recognises that dialogue and discussion are preferable to confrontation and Armageddon.

The confidence of China is underlined by information from the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology  which predicts that by the end of 2025  70% of China’s textile industries will have achieved digital connectivity and completed the AI transformation.

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#4   XI JINPING VISITS HUNGARY AND SERBIA

       SOUTH CHINA MORNINNG POST

“Chinese President Xi Jinping’s Paris visit next month is set to capture the political centre stage for his European tour, but his expected trips to Central and Eastern European states will be no less significant for the dynamics of the China-Europe relationship.

Talks between Xi and France’s President Emmanuel Macron are likely to focus on persuading China to reduce its growing trade and industrial ties with Russia – an economic partnership that Western governments are concerned is bolstering Russia’s military industrial complex in its conflict with Ukraine.

Xi’s visit comes as Brussels ramps up trade measures against China, which has slammed the moves as “naked protectionism”. European Union President Ursula von der Leyen asserts that China’s green technology subsidies, allegedly spanning a broad range of industries from electric vehicles (EVs) and lithium-ion batteries to wind turbines, constitute unfair competition.

In a move seen as a counterbalance to the inevitable political pressure from Paris and amid the economic threats from Brussels, Xi reportedly plans to also visit Hungary and Serbia during his European tour.

The leaders of both countries are among the most ardent European advocates of China’s Belt and Road Initiative. Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban and Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic were the only two European heads of state at China’s third Belt and Road summit last year, which was also attended by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Back in 2012, Hungarian capital Budapest hosted the founding of the China-CEEC cooperation mechanism to promote the Belt and Road Initiative and cooperation with 16 Central and Eastern European countries. Greece’s membership in 2019 made it “17+1”. Collaboration foundered during the pandemic and after the Ukraine crisis broke out, Estonia and Latvia left the group, a year after Lithuania did the same.”

GRAHAM PERRY COMMENTS;-

This publication focusses on the growing importance of China in the world today. In 1949 China was an economic backwater with little influence on world affairs. Today China has grown considerably and with its rise to global status its influence on the world stage increases. This month US Secretary of State Blinken and German Chancellor Scholz have both visited Beijing and, shortly, President Xi Jinping will visit the EU in Brussels, President Macron in France, Prime Minister Orban of Hungary and President Vucic of Serbia – the latter two being leaders of countries that have strongly endorsed China’s Belt and Road Initiative.

The EU will have to decide how far to pursue its complaints against China on EU imports of Electric Vehicles and Solar Panels from China. But no country is more experienced than China in knowing when to be firm and unyielding and when to be understanding and conciliatory. The China attitude follows the analytical approach set down by Mao Tsetung in his recommended article On Contradiction which will have been re-read by the China delegation accompanying Xi on his four capital visit. It provides a comprehensive all-embracing

Macro approach to dealing with problems and difficulties taking into account major and minor issues both in the short term and the long term and the analysis of political issues and pressure points.

Years of going to China, dealing with Chinese negotiators, handling problems and obstacles provides the opportunity to grasp the mind set that infuses Chinese attitudes and, as China plays an increasingly prominent role in world affairs, so the people on the opposite side of the table will come to appreciate China’s approach and be better placed to follow the dynamic that permeates all discussions. Grasp the strategy and be accommodating with the tactics – provided you have a clear understanding of the thinking on the other side of the table.

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#5   CHINA AND THE SOLOMON ISLANDS

       THE UK GUARDIAN

MPs in the Solomon Islands have elected as their new Prime Minister Jeremiah Manele, a former Foreign Minister who has pledged to continue the Pacific country’n policy of embracing China.

Speaking outside Parliament [ on 2 May 2024],  Manele said “I humbly stand before you, as your elected prime minister. We must respect and uphold the democratic process”.

The previous prime minister, Manasseh Sogavare, withdrew from the contest this week and backed Manele after failing to secure a majority in last month’s election.

Manele was Foreign Minister in 2019, when Sogavare’s government turned its back on Taiwan and established diplomatic relations with Beijing…

The poll was watched closely by China, the US and Australia because of the potential impact on regional security  after Sogavare struck a security pact with China in 2022”

GRAHAM PERRY COMMENTS;-

The Pacific Island region is an important part of China’s BRI. Reference has been made to the Air Silk Road which links Asia with Central and South America. China has signed BRI agreements with all ten Pacific Islands with whom it has diplomatic relations. China’s direct investment is in mining, fisheries, aquaculture and harbour construction.

The Pacific Islands are regarded by the US – as former President Eisenhower said – as an “American Lake” The United States has a strong military presence in the region through the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, with about 375,000 military and civilian personnel, 2,460 aircraft, and 200 naval vessels, including five aircraft carrier strike groups. Under the Joe Biden administration, the Pentagon has prioritized building up U.S. military bases in Guam and Australia to offset China’s influence.

The Solomon Islands are strategically located in the Pacific, and the United States and its regional allies, such as Australia and New Zealand, are concerned that the China-Solomon Islands security pact allows Chinese naval vessels to replenish there. A spokesperson for China’s Ministry of National Defense said reports of a naval base are false.

The issue of China’s developing relations with the Solomon Islands are indicative of a re-arrangement of the world balance of power. China is coming of age and will exercise greater influence on world affairs in the years ahead. Some will think this is an example of “coercion” or “imperialism”. It doesn’t. That is not China’s agenda but it will take time for observers to be convinced of China’s declared intention not to become the world’s newest Imperialist power. China is something quite different, quite new but it will take time for observers to recognise the significance of the changes that are underway at a rapid pace. We are living in the Present and the Present is Making History.

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