Exercises around Taiwan conclude as PRC issues new white paper; Xi and the 20th Party Congress; Chips mess
Summary of the Essential Eight:
New white paper on Taiwan - The Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council and the State Council Information Office released the third white paper on Taiwan, and the first since 2000. I highly doubt they wrote this over the weekend, rather the Pelosi visit was a good pretext to publish it, just as her visit was a good pretext to launch long-planned military drills.
More Taiwan - The PLA Eastern Theater Command declared an end to the military exercises but says it will “continue to carry out military training for war preparedness, and organize normalized combat-readiness security patrol in the Taiwan Strait”. The New York Times reports that “within a few weeks” the US Navy will send ships through the Taiwan Strait, but they will not send an aircraft carrier as that would be “too provocative”. KMT vice chairman Andrew Hsia has led a delegation to the mainland, a trip planned before the Pelosi visit and subsequent reaction that now looks very poorly timed, and will likely not help the KMT in the next election.
Outbreaks - Still bad in Hainan, worsening in Tibet and Xinjiang, lockdowns in Urumqi.
Xi and the 20th Party Congress - The Asia Society published a report today by Chris Johnson on Xi Jinping and the 20th Party Congress in which he argues that Xi has “overreached” and facing political troubles are incorrect. I agree with Chris’ conclusions, as regular readers know, and in this paper he lays out a very well-argued case as to why those hoping/speculating that Xi will be somehow “checked” at the upcoming Party Congress are likely to be disappointed.
No beach vacation for Wang Yi - Foreign Minister has been very busy since August 1, and his most recent meetings were with Mongolian officials in Ulan Bator and then the South Korean foreign minister in Qingdao.
PRC reports on US human rights - Xinhua released a report on US forced labor, clearly in response to the US reports and against forced labor in Xinjiang, and the China Society for Human Rights Studies issued a report on human rights violations in the Middle East.
PRC chips mess - Three more executives connected to the “Big Fund” are under investigation. Bloomberg reports that the recent investigations stem from a review, I believe led by Vice Premier Liu He, of the semiconductor development plans that showed limited progress in developing “breakthrough” technologies needed to end the US stranglehold over core semiconductor tech. These investigations may effectively be an admission of failure of the current semi-marketized approach to developing breakthroughs. I would not be surprised if they now try something more centrally disciplined, perhaps with management by people from the PLA space programs.
PRC-Australia reset button may be short-circuiting - The reaction to Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan and a speech by the PRC Ambassador to Canberra are two immediate reminders that for there to be any sort of a reset the Australian side will basically have to accept blame for past transgressions and agree to whatever Beijing wants.
Thanks for reading.
The Essential Eight
1. New white paper on Taiwan
The Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council and the State Council Information Office released the third white paper on Taiwan, and the first since 2000. I highly doubt they wrote this over the weekend, rather the Pelosi visit was a good pretext to publish it, just as her visit was a good pretext to launch long-planned military drills.
National reunification by peaceful means is the first choice of the CPC and the Chinese government in resolving the Taiwan question, as it best serves the interests of the Chinese nation as a whole, including our compatriots in Taiwan, and it works best for the long-term stability and development of China...
We maintain that after peaceful reunification, Taiwan may continue its current social system and enjoy a high degree of autonomy in accordance with the law. The two social systems will develop side by side for a long time to come. One Country is the precondition and foundation of Two Systems; Two Systems is subordinate to and derives from One Country; and the two are integrated under the one-China principle...
It is a fact that since Hong Kong and Macao returned to the motherland and were reincorporated into national governance, they have embarked on a broad path of shared development together with the mainland, and each complements the others' strengths. The practice of One Country, Two Systems has been a resounding success
The white paper included new content based on the situation of the new era, including specific warnings to the secessionist Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) that currently rules the island by saying its secessionist actions are obstacles that "must be removed," and it also highlighted the US' dangerous role in interrupting China's reunification process. The document provides more clear guidelines for the post-reunification governance over the island and why it will benefit the international community...
Following the unprecedented military drills conducted by the PLA that encircled the island of Taiwan, the latest white paper is part of the comprehensive effort made by the Chinese mainland to further promote or even speed up the reunification process, said experts.
Some observers believe that such effort is similar to "the Peking model." In January 1949, the PLA encircled Peking, now the capital Beijing, which was then occupied by the KMT forces, and eventually forced the KMT commanders to surrender so the liberation of the city was peaceful...
Li Fei, a professor at the Taiwan Research Institute at Xiamen University, said that "the Peking model," in other words, is an idea of "smart reunification" - an approach combining peaceful efforts and military strength.
Such approach needs to be carried out step by step, and to normalize the current military drills around the island is one step forward. If "smart reunification" still cannot realize our final goal, a more direct approach based on strength will be needed, he noted
Comment: A useful thread on this white paper from Amanda Hsiao of the International Crisis Group
The Chinese government published two previous white papers on Taiwan in August 1993 and February 2000. These two white papers provided a comprehensive and systematic explanation of the basic principles and policies regarding the resolution of the Taiwan question, said the spokesperson.
As China's national rejuvenation has become a historical inevitability, we now have better conditions, more confidence and greater capabilities to achieve national reunification. As China embarked on a new journey to build a modern socialist country in all respects, it is necessary to issue a new white paper on national reunification, said the spokesperson...
The white paper also demonstrated our strong confidence toward complete national reunification, our resolute determination in fighting against separatist forces seeking "Taiwan independence" and external interference, as well as our original aspiration in safeguarding the well-being of people on both sides of the Taiwan Straits, said the spokesperson.
Under the current complex international and cross-strait situation, the release of the white paper is conducive to exposing the "Taiwan independence" separatist forces' collusion with external forces in making provocations, as well as their vicious words and deeds that attempt to undermine China's sovereignty and territorial integrity or stand in the way of its reunification, the spokesperson said.
China had said in two previous white papers on Taiwan, in 1993 and 2000, that it "will not send troops or administrative personnel to be based in Taiwan" after achieving what Beijing terms "reunification".
That line, meant to assure Taiwan it would enjoy autonomy after becoming a special administrative region of China, did not appear in the latest white paper.
Page 1 commentary in the Thursday People's Daily - "The process of the complete unification of the motherland can not be stopped"
There is a campaign underway by the People’s Republic of China (PRC) to reinterpret UN Resolution 2758 as based on its “One China” Principle and spread the fallacy that, through the resolution, UN member states came to a determination that Taiwan is a part of the PRC.
Yet, in passing the resolution in 1971, the countries solely intended to grant the seat occupied by the Republic of China in the General Assembly and the Security Council to the PRC.
2. More Taiwan
The PLA Eastern Theater Command declared an end to the military exercises but says it will “continue to carry out military training for war preparedness, and organize normalized combat-readiness security patrol in the Taiwan Strait”. The New York Times reports that “within a few weeks” the US Navy will send ships through the Taiwan Strait, but they will not send an aircraft carrier as that would be “too provocative”. KMT vice chairman Andrew Hsia has led a delegation to the mainland, a trip planned before the Pelosi visit and subsequent reaction that now looks very poorly timed, and will likely not help the KMT in the next election, as it almost looks like they are auditioning to be a puppet government.
The operations involving troops of multiple services effectively tested the armed forces' integrated combat ability, said Shi Yi, spokesperson with the Command.
The Command will closely follow the development of the situation across the Taiwan Strait, continue to carry out military training for war preparedness, and organize normalized combat-readiness security patrol in the Taiwan Strait to defend China's sovereignty and territorial integrity, Shi said...
Over the past few days, troops from the Navy, Air Force, Rocket Force, Strategic Support Force and Logistic Support Force under the Eastern Theater Command conducted joint exercises and training in the waters and airspace off the northern, southwestern and southeastern coasts of the island, including operations of joint blockade, assault on ground and sea targets, airspace control, joint anti-submarine drill, and integrated logistics and support.
The armed forces' integrated combat ability has been improved and their readiness in contingency response been tested, Shi said.
New armaments including stealth fighters, multiple launch rocket systems and YY-20 refueling aircraft were applied in the operations
Within a few weeks, officials said, the U.S. Navy is planning to run ships through the Taiwan Strait, ignoring China’s recent claim that it controls the entire waterway. Officials said they would not send the Ronald Reagan, the Japan-based aircraft carrier, because it would be too provocative.
The visit will be led by KMT Vice Chairman Andrew Hsia, according to local media reports. The delegation will arrive in the Chinese mainland on Wednesday and will conduct "7 + 3" quarantine after arriving in Xiamen, East China's Fujian Province.
After the quarantine, the KMT delegation will visit the Taiwan Business Association in Xiamen, and will then go to the Pearl River Delta, the Yangtze River Delta and other places to meet with local Taiwan businesspeople, said the reports.
according to a KMT insider who spoke to the Chinese-language Liberty Times (the sister paper of the Taipei Times), the delegation originally planned to visit Beijing and meet with Taiwan Affairs Office Minister Liu Jieyi (劉結一) and Zhang Zhijun (張志軍), the top Chinese official in charge of Taiwan relations, but it was scrapped after the itinerary was leaked...
According to the KMT insider, “it was an invitation for the delegation to visit by the Beijing leadership, and the original theme focused on new opportunities across the Taiwan Strait and the KMT’s role in history, but [KMT] officials added to the main agenda how to dilute anti-China sentiment in Taiwan and explain the KMT’s current US-friendly stance.”
The US claims that there is no change in its one-China policy. But in fact, it has been undermining the one-China principle over the years. It has put into its one-China policy some unilateral stuff, including the “Taiwan Relations Act” and the “Six Assurances”. This is against international law. China never accepts it, and is always opposed to it.
The US also claims that Pelosi’s visit does not violate the one-China policy. The three joint communiqués provide that the US can only maintain cultural, commercial and other unofficial relations with Taiwan. The executive, legislative and judicial branches are all part of the US Government. Pelosi is the number three figure in the US Government. During her stay in Taiwan, she was speaking on behalf of the US from the beginning to the end. Even she herself admits that it is an official visit. If this is not official engagement, then what is it?...
So what is the status quo of the Taiwan Strait? The status quo is that both sides of the Strait belong to one and the same China, Taiwan is part of China, and neither China’s sovereignty nor its territorial integrity is ever divided. It is not China who is changing the status quo, but the US and the “Taiwan independence” separatist forces.
Over the years, the US has been colluding with the Taiwan authorities, and elevating its substantive relations with Taiwan. It has sold large amounts of weapons to Taiwan, helped it develop so-called “asymmetric capabilities”, and emboldened the “Taiwan independence” separatist forces. If these are not changing the status quo, what are they?
Refusing to recognize the 1992 Consensus, the DPP authorities have insisted on pushing for “incremental independence”, and redoubled efforts to remove the Chinese identity of Taiwan. If these are not changing the status quo, what are they?
China's suspension of cooperation with the US in related fields will undoubtedly make the report card of the Democrats poorer, as problems in these areas are where the US needs more support from China. Among them, narcotics trafficking and climate change are key issues for the Biden administration and the Democratic Party to capitalize on to win votes. Therefore, China's countermeasures are a real bitter pill for the US to swallow.
Comment: They really are trying to leverage parts of the democratic Party to pressure Biden. The Biden Administration should respond by having the PCAOB telling the CSRC they have 24 hours to agree to the terms to keep PRC firms listed in the US, terms they have been talking about for many months, or the talks are cancelled.
I’ve seen very little acknowledging that so many things taken for granted that contributed to peace, commerce and stability on the Strait can now be challenged as China seeks to test how far it can go, in every domain. Not just firing missiles in close-in zones ringing Taiwan, but perhaps fighter aircraft and unmanned aerial vehicles right across it, daring Taiwan to shoot first. Targeting companies even loosely affiliated with the Democratic Progressive Party in Taiwan, perhaps just because they are in the DPP-friendly south. Interrupting Taiwan military resupply of its offshore islands, or even the Penghus.
Still bad in Hainan, worsening in Tibet and Xinjiang, lockdowns in Urumqi.
National Health Commission - At present, the epidemic situation in Sanya, Hainan is still at a high level. The epidemic situation in Xinjiang, Inner Mongolia, Guangdong and other provinces is still in the stage of rapid development, and there is a certain risk of social transmission. Tibet, Shigatse, Ali and other places have recently reported local epidemics, and the risk of spread is high. The local epidemic situation in Gansu, Guangxi, Shandong and other provinces and autonomous regions has been effectively controlled.
The new facilities provide 2,000 beds in the capital, Lhasa, and 1,000 in the city of Shigatse. After living most of the pandemic virtually virus-free, Tibet reported 28 new cases for Tuesday and has imposed a partial lockdown of Lhasa -- including the famed Potala Palace, the traditional winter residence of the Dalai Lamas -- while it mass tests to root out hidden chains of transmission. A team of health experts from Beijing has arrived to support its epidemic measures.
Xinjiang's daily COVID-19 caseload on Tuesday was 122, bring total cases there to 536 as of press time. Since the first case was found on July 30, 11 prefectures in the Xinjiang region have reported sporadic cases. Among them, 27 cases are scattered across four districts of Urumqi. Ili Kazak Autonomous Prefecture reported 78 cases, the highest number of cases in Xinjiang...
Xinjiang region is currently at the peak of annual travel season. Since the current wave of epidemic flare-up, the region has received 8.82 million tourists from July 30 to August 7, and measures will be taken to protect their interests, according to local authorities.
Urumqi cases are from the BA.5.2 variant
Several areas of Urumqi are going into "static management" lockdown for 5 days
11 cases in the Ali region of Tibet, local govenrment shuts all tourist areas, including Mt. Kailash and Lake Manasarovar
Comment: Was just reminiscing last night that 8 years ago this week we were heading there to do the Kailash Kora. How times flies, and how the world has changed...
A farmer in Henan province was forced by his community to make an apology by loudspeaker for farming during a lockdown. On Aug. 2, the resident of Ningling county was made to repeat the phrase, “I got caught spraying insecticide on my fields. Don’t learn from me. Don’t go out, just stay at home.”
Since a video of the incident was posted online on Aug. 3, the local authority’s harsh measures have come under widespread criticism, especially their impact on farmers’ agricultural schedules in the heat of summer.
China and Britain have agreed to resume direct passenger flights between them, the British embassy in China said on Wednesday.
4. Xi and the 20th Party Congress
The Asia Society published a report today by Chris Johnson on Xi Jinping and the 20th Party Congress in which he argues that Xi has “overreached” and facing political troubles are incorrect. I generally agree with Chris’ conclusions, as regular readers know, and in this paper he lays out a very well-argued case as to why those hoping/speculating that Xi will be somehow “checked” at the upcoming Party Congress are likely to be disappointed.
The year 2022 is proving to be a difficult one for China and for President Xi Jinping. Choices like Xi’s embrace of Russia and the zero-COVID policy have prompted sporadic outbursts from the Chinese public and a backlash abroad. Unsurprisingly, this has spawned speculation that Xi is facing political difficulties at home that could hamstring or even disrupt his plan to remain China’s top leader after the 20th Party Congress later this year. Despite the real challenges Xi and the party have faced in 2022, however, this paper will argue that such narratives rest on a series of faulty assumptions about the impetus for Xi’s consolidation of power, the presence of powerful opposition voices within the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) system, and the judgment that Xi’s policy approach amounts to a series of blunders that may help his critics as they try to diminish him at the party congress...
The policy implications of faulty assumptions about Xi’s fortunes and the general state of elite politics could be substantial. Their cascading effects could seriously impair policymakers’ ability to craft a full range of policy solutions when grappling with uncertainty in real time. Unlike under his post-Deng predecessors, when a lack of leadership cohesion resulted in policy drift, Xi has a plan and is executing it, even if it is not to the West’s liking. Therefore, foreign governments would be wise to deal with Xi as he is if they seek to mount effective policy responses...
In sum, Xi’s grip is firm and he is enacting a transformative agenda, even if not to the West’s liking. Unlike in previous periods, there is largely one voice making consequential decisions that will shape the course of geopolitical events.
a discussion on China's 20th Party Congress with Asia Society and ASPI President Kevin Rudd, Senior Fellow on Chinese Politics, Chris Johnson, and Lecturer at the University of Vienna, Dr. Ling Li.