China Weekly Report | Volume VI; Issue 3

    Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud and Chinese President Xi Jinping pledged to make the China-initiated AIIB a win-win financing platform

    FOREIGN AFFAIRS

    China, Saudi Arabia to lift ties to comprehensive strategic level

    China and Saudi Arabia agreed to lift their bilateral ties to a comprehensive strategic partnership on January 19 eyeing more industrial capacity cooperation. The two countries signed a Memorandum of Understanding in industrial capacity cooperation after Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud held talks with visiting Chinese President Xi Jinping. The document also said they will jointly pursue the China-proposed “Belt and Road” initiative. The Chinese president arrived in Saudi Arabia on January 19 on the first stop of his three-nation tour of the Middle East, as the world’s second-largest economy seeks closer political and economic ties with the region.It is the first state visit by a Chinese head of state to Saudi Arabia in seven years. Xi will also travel to Egypt and Iran on his first overseas visit this year that lasts from Jan. 19 to 23. The two countries signed a slew of cooperation deals after the talks between their leaders, covering sectors such as energy, communications, environment, culture, aerospace, science and technology. They also pledged to make the China-initiated Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank a win-win financing platform whereby regional interconnectivity can receive a boost. In addition, the two countries agreed to seek political solutions to regional hotspot issues, and support the establishment of a zone free of nuclear weapons and weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East.

    Source(s): The Xinhua News Agency, January 20, 2016

    Pakistan, China, US urge Taliban to rejoin Afghan peace talks

    Afghanistan, Pakistan, China and the United States sat down to talks on January 18 aimed at laying the ground for a negotiated end to almost 15 years of war between U.S.-supported government forces and Taliban insurgents now firmly on the offensive. Taliban forces have stepped up their campaign in the last year to topple the Kabul government, which has struggled since most foreign troops left at the end of 2014. High-profile suicide attacks and Taliban territorial gains in Helmand province have underlined how far Afghanistan remains from peace. The Taliban, who now control or contest more territory than at any time since they was ousted by a U.S.-led intervention in 2001, did not attend the talks.The four nations in a statement after the meeting in Kabul called on “all Taliban groups to enter into early talks with the Afghan government to resolve all differences politically.” The next round of talks will be on Feb. 6 in Islamabad.

    Source(s): Reuters, January 19, 2016

    China supports UN response on North Korean nuclear test

    China said on January 15 that it supports the UN Security Council to make a “necessary response” to the nuclear test conducted by North Korea, but the resolution should not stir confrontation. The nuclear test went against UN resolutions as well as the denuclearization goals for the Korean Peninsula. The authority of the UN and the nuclear non-­proliferation system should be maintained, said Foreign Minister Wang Yi. China will conduct close communication and coordination with all members within the Security Council, he said. Wang said China knows parties have differences on the proposed new Security Council resolution, but the international community should make joint efforts toward a “unified and clear” direction. “Instead of stirring confrontation, we should firmly advance the goal of denuclearization; instead of causing chaos on the peninsula, we should look for ways to maintain the long-term stability and security; instead of going toward the opposite directions, we should push all parties back to the Six-Party Talks,” he said. The Six-Party Talks, which involve China, North Korea, South Korea, the US, Russia and Japan, were launched in 2003, but stalled in 2008. Pyongyang quit in 2009.

    Source(s): Global Times, January 16, 2016

    POLITICS & SOCIETY

    Missing Hong Kong publisher Gui Minhai paraded on China TV

    A Hong Kong publisher reported missing last October has appeared on Chinese state TV saying he voluntarily handed himself over to the authorities. Gui Minhai said he turned himself in after being on the run for 12 years over a drunk-driving conviction. Mr Gui, a Swedish national, is one of five Hong Kong booksellers to go missing recently.Some in Hong Kong have alleged they are being detained by China because of a book critical of the mainland.Thousands joined rallies in Hong Kong last week over the disappearances, saying it amounted to an erosion of freedoms.

    Source(s): BBC, January 18, 2016

    China takes aim at Taiwan after landmark pro-independence party win

    After a decisive win over the weekend in both presidential and parliamentary elections in Taiwan, independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party is quick to stress on how it is keen to maintain the status quo with China. The reality, however, will be far more complex after eight years of cordial China-Taiwan relations under the Nationalist Party (KMT), analysts say. A former top negotiator, newly-elected Tsai has been softening her pro-independence position and has been consistent in sending the message that the status quo should be maintained.

    Source(s):CNBC, January 18, 2016

    No end to Tibet surveillance programme

    Chinese authorities have indefinitely extended an intensive surveillance programme in villages across the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) that was due to end in 2014, Human Rights Watch said today. There are indications that the “village-based cadre teams” (zhucungongzuodui) scheme, which is unprecedented in China, will become permanent.In the TAR, where the fundamental rights to freedom of expression, peaceful assembly, religion and privacy are already highly restricted, the extension of this scheme signals authorities’ intention to suppress any signs of dissent or criticism among Tibetans.

    Source(s):Human Rights Watch, January 18, 2016

    ECONOMY

    China’s yuan firms as central bank keeps pressure on speculators

    China’s yuan rose on Monday as the central bank announced a fresh move to deter offshore speculation in the currency, while stocks rebounded modestly from near levels last seen at the depths of last year’s summer crash.The People’s Bank of China (PBOC) said it would start implementing a reserve requirement ratio (RRR) on offshore banks’ domestic deposits, in a move that seemed intended to soak up additional liquidity. “The market sees that this is a gesture by the PBOC to warn speculators that are betting on a fast depreciation of its currency,” said Zhou Hao, senior emerging markets economist for Asia at Commerzbank AG in Singapore.

    Source(s):Reuters, January 18, 2016

    China’s securities chief calls for reflection of stock market routs

    China will “rethink” its approach to regulating the securities business following the market rout this past summer, the chief of the industry’s watchdog said on Saturday.The China Securities Regulatory Commission meeting was Xiao Gang’s first public appearance of the year and came amid rumours he might step down following the market ­turmoil.The sharp sell-offs that have hit the market has eroded investor confidence and hurt the credibility of the commission.An official statement on yesterday’s meeting seemed aimed at quietening the speculation about Xiao’s future, confirming he remained its chief, at least for now.

    Source(s): South China Morning Post, January 17, 2016

    SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

    China confirms the existence of the world’s largest canyon in the South Pole

    China’s 32nd Antarctic expedition team on January 18 confirmed an earlier speculation in the South Pole of the world’s largest canyon. The canyon, more than 1000 km long, 1500 m deep, and 26.5 km wide at the top, is larger than the Grand Canyon in the U.S. and dubbed the largest canyon discovered on earth, according to Chinese scientists. China’s expedition team, who launched the search last November around the Princess Elizabeth Area of the South Pole, has also found many sub-glacial lakes and currents connected to the canyon, forming a giant “wetland” beneath the Antarctic ice. They also detected large-scale “warm ice” under the sheet along with a number of lakes. Warm ice can easily be melted into water. The Chinese expedition team had surveyed an area of 866,000 km, with the aid of China’s first fixed-wing aircraft, carrying an ice radar, high-precision differential GPS system.

    Source(s): The Xinhua News Agency, January 19, 2016

    China to land probe on dark side of moon in 2018

    China has officially begun a new round of lunar exploration and will send the Chang’e-4 probe to the far side of the moon in 2018, China’s State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense (SASTIND) announced on January 14. The far side of the moon is never visible to Earth because of gravitational forces and has never been explored by humans. Chang’e-4 will be the first mission in human history to embark on this expedition, said Liu Jizhong, chief of the lunar exploration centre under SASTIND. China already boasts mature science and technology for sending a probe to the far side of the moon, and is open to cooperation with international society, said Liu. China achieved its first soft-landing on the moon with Chang’e-3 in December 2013, and it is still sending messages back to Earth.

    Source (s): The Xinhua News Agency, January 14, 2016

    BIBLIOGRAPHY

    1.      Laura Zhou, “Nuclear blackmail’: North Korea’s bomb test raises threat for China”, South China Morning Post, January 9, 2016

    2.      “A New Dawn for Taiwan and China”, Bloomberg, January 17, 2016

    3.      EmanueleScimia, “China, the US and the paradox of tension in the Taiwan Strait”, South China Morning Post, January 18, 2016

    4.      Andreas Illmer, “China’s growth data – can you trust it?”, BBC China, January 19, 2016

    5.      Wei Longbao and Chen Zhangliang, “What should be done to ensure food security?” China Daily, January 16, 2016

    6.      “‘They tore through everything’: Labour activists increasingly targeted in civil rights crackdown in China, say supporters”, South China Morning Post, January 15, 2016

    7.      Peter guy, “Innovation in China’s technology companies missing a creative spark”, South China Morning Post, January 3, 2016

    Contributors:

    Pratnsahree Basu

    Swagata Saha

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