GOOD MORNING FROM LONDON
#1 TOURIST TRAVEL TO CHINA RECOVERS BUT SLOWLY
#2 US/CHINA BRINKMANSHIP IN S CHINA SEA 
#3 US/CHINA AND WAR 
#4 CHINA AND AFGHANISTAN
#1 NIKKEI ASIA
TOURIST TRAVEL TO CHINA RECOVERS – SLOWLY
Asia’s rebounding hotel market continues to fuel major Western hotel chains’ quarterly growth as the region’s post-pandemic travel boom shows no signs of slowing down and Asia’s rebounding hotel market continues to fuel major Western hotel chains’ quarterly growth international travel to and from China slowly — but steadily — returns.
“The excellent rebound in greater China means that it too has now completed its post-COVID recovery,” said InterContinental Hotel Group CEO Elie Maalouf on the company’s third-quarter trading update call in October. The rebound in China is still driven almost entirely by domestic travel rather than the international travel that has been a larger part of the bounce back elsewhere in the region. Despite reopening to international tourists in early 2023, flights to and from the country have yet to return to pre-pandemic levels.
“We still do not have the airlift back in China, it is now 45% of 2019,” said InterContinental CFO Michael Glover. It is starting to come back, but not all the way back there,” he said. Because of this, hotel revenues in China’s tier two, tier three, and tier four cities are outpacing those of tier one, which are more reliant on international visitors.
Despite the sluggish return of international air travel, the hotel chains were confident the Chinese tourism industry would avoid the country’s disappointing economic recovery in other sectors. China’s ongoing real estate crisis has weighed heavily on that macro outlook, but so far the property crisis has yet to hit Western hotels. “On Country Garden, it is not a huge component of our overall pipeline yet in China. And so I don’t feel like there’s any risk,” said Hilton CEO Chris Nassetta.
There’s a lot of noise about China and their economy, but from a travel/tourism point of view, in China, it’s very, very strong now. We think that will carry into the beginning of the year,” said Nassetta.
GRAHAM PERRY COMMENTS
Some supporters of China make the mistake of talking up China’s economic recovery and giving it a pace it does not possess. China will recover but it will take time. China also needs to be sure that whatever mistakes were made that led to the setback are not repeated. It is true in life that more is learned from failure than from success. When things are going well people often become giddy with achievement. Mistakes follow.
#2 THE INDEPENDENT 3 NOVEMBER 2023
US BOMBER + CHINA JET ALMOST COLLIDE
A Chinese Jet came dangerously close to a US bomber over the South China Sea last week, the US military has said amid concerns over Beijing’s growing aggression around disputed waters A Chinese J-11 twin-engine fighter jet came within 10 feet of the American B-52 aircraft nearly causing an accident on 24 October, the US military said in a statement.
The Chinese jet flew in front and below the American bomber in an “unsafe and unprofessional manner” with “uncontrolled excessive speed” that put both aircraft in “danger of collision”, the military added. “We are concerned this pilot was unaware of how close he came to causing a collision.”
The incident took place at a time when the relationship between the world’s two largest economies is strained over a range of issues including Taiwan, China’s human rights record and its increased military activity in the South China Sea.
Beijing has asserted claims to the entire sea as its own, denying the claims of other Southeast Asian countries and defying an international ruling. In order to assert its sovereignty, China continues to fortify islands in the disputed region.
The Chinese foreign ministry responded by pinning the blame on the US, accusing it of flying the aircraft over the sea in an effort to deliberately provoke. “The US military planes travelled thousands of miles to China’s doorstep to flex muscle,” said foreign ministry spokesperson Mao Ning. “That is the source of maritime and air security risks, and is not conducive to regional peace and stability.”
The US military argued that the aircraft was “lawfully conducting routine operations” ahead of the incident on Tuesday, but did not immediately respond to questions about specifically what the B-52 was doing over the South China Sea. After a similar incident in May, the Chinese government dismissed American complaints and demanded that Washington end such flights over the South China Sea.
GRAHAM PERRY COMMENTS
“B-52” rings a bell. Gary Powers, Bridge of Spies and a reported US weather plane that was engaged in photo-reconnaissance over the USSR in 1962. Another phrase comes to mind – Mao Tstung saying “A single spark can start a prairie fire”. Some people in the West dismiss talk of bruising confrontations between China and US in the South China Sea as indulgent speculation. But the above reports show how close the two big countries came to open conflict. China recalls the US bombing of China’s Embassy in Belgrade. They are on their guard. Can you imagine how the US would feel if China’s jets flew as close to Los Angeles as US bombers fly to Shanghai?
#3 DOMINANCE IN THE SOUTH CHINA SEA
NOVEMBER 2023 ISSUE OF FOREIGN POLICY
“Since the 1980s, the People’s Liberation Army Navy has sought to be the dominant power in the South China Sea. China has not yet accomplished that goal, but it is much closer than Washington cares to admit. China’s artificial island building and its expansion of military capabilities in the area, combined with a massive naval and air force modernization program, raise serious questions about the U.S. military’s ability to maintain primacy in the area. Admiral Phil Davidson, then commander of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, testified before the Senate in 2018 that China “is now capable of controlling the South China Sea in all scenarios short of war with the United States.” In reality, the balance has shifted even more than that. The truth is that the United States would likely have little choice but to cede the South China Sea in the opening stages of any conflict with China.
GRAHAM PERRY COMMENTS; – It is not irresponsible to talk up the possibility of War between the US and China. Both sides are testing the resolve of the other and when US B-52s come close to China’s Jets on China’s borders we need to realise that the world is on the brink. It was the US academic Professor Graham Allison’s who said “Thucydides’s Trap refers to the natural, inevitable discombobulation that occurs when a rising power threatens to displace a ruling power… [and] when a rising power threatens to displace a ruling power, the resulting structural stress makes a violent clash the rule, not the exception.”
#4 CHINA AND AFGHANISTAN
NIKKEI ASIA 8 NOVEMBER 2023
Earlier this month, Xinjiang Central Asia Petroleum and Gas (CAPEIC) signed a 25 year oil extraction deal with the Afghan Taliban authorities for the Amu River oil field in northwestern Afghanistan. The company is expected to invest $150 million in the first year of the contract and $540 million over three years, However, China’s growing economic footprint in Afghanistan is attracting unwanted attention from militants. ISIS-K, the regional affiliate of the Islamic State group in Afghanistan, has stepped up hostile rhetoric against Beijing.
Last September, ISIS-K published an in-depth editorial titled “China’s Daydream of Imperialism”. The article warned that China’s pursuit of resources in Muslim lands and its treatment of its own Muslim Uyghur population in the Xinjiang autonomous region could lead to conflict with the group,
The Turkistan Islamic Party, another insurgent group that advocates for the rights of Uyghur Muslims, is reported to have established bases in the northeastern Afghan province of Badakhshan. The group, however, is under pressure from its Taliban hosts to refrain from attacking Chinese interests inside Afghanistan or using Afghan soil to launch operations against such targets abroad, Mir said.
While the Afghan Taliban protect fellow ethnic Pashtun militant groups, such as the Pakistani Taliban and the Haqqani network, the ISIS-K is seen as a foreign interloper with fighters as ethnically diverse as Chechens, Uzbeks and Indians.
ISKP, as the group is also known, “seeks to draw a contrast between their fighters and the Taliban, accusing the Taliban of being a Pashtun nationalist movement with a noninterventionist [stance], refusing to use its political influence to help the oppressed Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang,” Webber said. “Conversely, by criticizing and threatening China while also conducting attacks against Chinese nationals, ISKP presents itself as the only true Islamic militant vanguard standing up for Muslims in ‘East Turkestan,'” as the Uyghurs call their homeland.
GRAHAM PERRY COMMENTS;- Towards the end of President Trump’s Presidency he changed his policy towards China. He unilaterally imposed punitive tariffs and customs duties on imports from China in an effort to compel China to acquiesce in Trump’s goal of bringing China to heal. At the same time his Secretary of State Pompeo accused China of genocide in relation to events in China between 2007 and 2012. A change was underway and the US and China have been locked in conflict not co-operation. [The issue between China and some Uyghur Muslims was never about race. It was about security. It should be noted that during this period the Uyghur population increased from 10m to 12m – not quite evidence of genocide.] Problems remain in the area and China is braced for more hostilities with the Turkistan Islamic Party as the extract from Nikkei Asia makes clear. On 15 November President Biden is due to meet with President Xi Jinping. Face to face meetings can help to reduce tensions between the US and China but fundamental problems remain deep-seated both in the S China Sea with the US and in Xinjiang with the Turkistan Islamic Party.