October 8, 2021 – Stealth War 58: Boundary Standoff; Sino-Japanese Relations; #MeToo Activist Arrested; Leadership Reshuffles; U.S. Special Operations Forces in Taiwan

By: Jamestown Foundation

Wed October, 2021, Age: 3 months

 

 


October 8, 2021

Welcome to the Stealth War Newsletter, a collection of the top 5 recent news items, collected on The Jamestown Foundation’s new website, stealth-war.org. To continue to receive this weekly collection, click the button below to subscribe. 

Strategic Indicator
This issue’s number to watch-40%
Percent decrease in China’s ‘Golden Week’ travel spending from pre-pandemic levels, which is worse than last year’s disparity. The spending decline may be indicative of declining consumer confidence and growing economic worries across China.

This Week:

* Chinese and Indian Forces in Boundary Standoff

* Xi Jinping speaks with new Japanese PM Fumio Kishida as Strains in Sino-Japanese Relations Mount

* #MeToo Activist Among those Arrested in China’s Widening Crackdown on Civil Rights

* Xi Oversees Leadership Reshuffles in Tibet and Xinjiang

* Public Revelations of U.S. Special Operations Forces in Taiwan Cloud Outlook for Renewed US-China talks

Top Stories

(source: The Hindu)

Chinese and Indian Forces in Boundary Standoff

Last week, Indian and Chinese troops faced off in Tawang, Arunachal Pradesh, after dozens of Chinese soldiers crossed over to the Indian side of the contested boundary. Per an official Indian source: “Some Chinese soldiers were detained for few hours and let off after the issue was resolved at the ground level as per established protocols between the two countries,” stated an official source.” Despite tensions both sides were able to de-escalate based on agreed about protocols of conduct along the border.

Relations between New Delhi and Beijing have suffered of late due to the unresolved  boundary dispute, including the Chinese penetration of Barahoti near the Uttarakhand region in September, as well as the continued standoff in Eastern Ladakh involving thousands of units from both sides. As an additional complication, the lack of ability to reach a settlement on the Line of Control (LAC),has notably increased difficulties, as Chinese and Indian forces continue to occupy the area based on individual perspectives. Due to the rise in encounters along the LAC over the past 18 months, Chinese and Indian military representatives have participated in a series of confidence building measure talks intended to reduce tensions. Manoj Mukund Naravane of the Indian Army has subsequently stated that India and China have both agreed to attend “the 13th round of Corps Commander-level talks” in the interest of facilitating a strategy for the withdrawal of occupying forces surrounding eastern Ladakh.

(source: Kyodo News)

Xi Jinping Speaks with New Japanese PM Fumio Kishida as Strains in Sino-Japanese Relations Mount 

This week,  a great deal of media attention was devoted to the meeting between China’s leading diplomat and Politburo Member Yang Jiechi, and U.S. National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan in Zurich, Switzerland, which led to plans for a virtual leader-level summit between General Secretary Xi Jinping and President Joe Biden later this year. However, this week, Xi Jinping has already held a call with newly elected Japanese Prime Minister KIshida, with both leaders agreeing to seek “constructive and stable” relations.

The Xi-Kishida call comes as Sino-Japanese relations, which have long been held up as a model for peaceful coexistence despite national differences, have become increasingly strained over the course of 2021. Japan has been unnerved by China’s increasingly assertive behavior on its periphery, which Tokyo saw as epitomized in legislation passed by Beijing earlier this year that authorizes the China Coast Guard to use force against foreign vessels to assert China’s maritime security claims. For its part, China has been irked by Japan’s increased rhetorical backing and engagement of Taiwan, and has repeatedly urged Tokyo to “stop interfering in China’s internal affairs and not send wrong signals to Taiwan secessionists.”

The call between Xi and Kishida comes on the heels of a phone conversation between Biden and Kishida on Tuesday, when the President reaffirmed the U.S. commitment to defending the Diaoyu/Senkaku islands in the East China Sea, which are administered by Japan but claimed by China.

(source: NuVoices).

#MeToo Activist Among those Arrested in China’s Widening Crackdown on Civil Rights

This week, Guangzhou police revealed that one of China’s most well-known #MeToo activists, Sophia Huang Xueqin, has been detained along with labor activist Wang Jianbing. This news comes two weeks after the pair were reported missing under suspicious circumstances. The two activists disappeared on September 19, one day before Huang was supposed to fly to the United Kingdom for a university program.

Huang became one of China’s leading women’s rights activists when she helped plaintiffs in an alleged case of sexual harassment at Beihang University in Beijing in 2018. Since then, the #MeToo movement has grown in China, and was further  ignited in 2018 when Kris Wu, a Chinese-Canadian pop star, was arrested on suspicion of rape and denied the charges. While enthusiasm for #MeToo waned after 2018, it was revived a month ago after an Alibaba employee accused her boss of sexually assaulting her after she was pressured to drink at a work event.

As enthusiasm for #MeToo picks up, crackdowns on online activism have too. Earlier in 2020, nationalist commentators accused Chinese feminists of working with “foreign forces.” In addition, WeChat blogs dedicated to LGBT awareness were shut down. The arrests of Huang and Wang are evidence China’s crackdown on the rising feminist movement.

(source: AP)

Xi Oversees Leadership Reshuffles in Tibet and Xinjiang

On Friday morning, at the 33rd meeting of the Standing Committee of the Eleventh People’s Congress of the Autonomous Region in Lhasa, the chairman of the Tibet Autonomous Region Qizhala resigned. He will be replaced by Yan Jinhai (严金海) who is currently the vice chairman of the Tibet Autonomous Region and the party secretary of Lhasa. Qizhala is expected to take up a new job in Beijing in the National People Congress, the nation’s top legislature, a typical path for regional chiefs towards the end of their careers. This reshuffle is part of the political maneuvering ahead of the party congress next autumn, which occurs every five years. President Xi Jinping is expected to start his third term as General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party, and is the first leader in decades to maintain this position for three terms.

The Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region’s leader, Shohrat Zakir, is also stepping down. He will be replaced by Alken Tuniaz, who is now the only ethnically Uygur member of the Communist Party Committee in Xinjiang and second in the political hierarchy. In addition to impacts on central leadership, both appointments reflect Beijing’s careful control over Xinjiang and Tibet, which are strategically important to China and politically sensitive due to their poor human rights situations.

(sources: FMPRC)

Public Revelations of U.S. Special Operations Forces in Taiwan Cloud Outlook for Renewed US-China talks 

On Wednesday, U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan and Chinese diplomat Yang Jiechi met in Zurich in a closed door meeting, their first since the two countries’ summit in Alaska earlier this year. Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian claimed that the talks between Sullivan and Yang were “constructive” and emphasized the need for a mutually beneficial relationship over a “competitive” one. The meeting resulted in a decision to have U.S. President Joe Biden and Chinese leader Xi Jinping hold a virtual meeting by the end of the year.

The bilateral talks, however, were held in a context of heightening tensions between the two countries. A recent Wall Street Journal report revealed the presence of U.S. special operations forces in Taiwan. Although the presence is small, it reveals U.S. concerns over Chinese aggression against the island, especially with China’s recent uptick in incursions in to Taiwan’s claimed airspace. Chinese media has lambasted the presence of U.S. troops as accelerating the trend toward a “cross-strait war” and defended the incursions as efforts to curb “secessionism” and “foreign forces.” Meanwhile, polling in September by Intelligentsia Taipei revealed that most Taiwanese are not concerned about any imminent invasion by China. Given concerns over cross-strait relations, China’s expansive maritime claims, human rights and other issue areas, the Director of the CIA William Burns announced the establishment of a China Mission Center dedicated to countering threats from the PRC. The unit’s establishment signals a broader strategic shift to focus on China in the intelligence community.

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