tirsdag 3. august 2021

Withdrawal Of US Troops From Afghanistan And The Future Of Central Asia

The United States and the NATO alliance have officially begun withdrawing troops from Afghanistan. US President Joe Biden says this is the beginning of an end to the war. They have already handed over control of Bagram Airfield, 25 kilometers north of the capital Kabul, to the Afghan government. Earlier this year, Biden set a deadline of September 11 for the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan, but the BBC reported on July 9 that the withdrawal would be completed by August 31. But looking at the activities of the army, it seems that they will not take that much time. Analysts expect the full withdrawal to be completed by mid-July.

Meanwhile, the event of the withdrawal of US troops has raised concerns in Central Asia severely. Anxiety is especially prevalent in Pakistan, Iran, China and India. The root cause of anxiety – Security Issues. In the last twenty years, the United States has spent nearly two and a half trillion US dollars on Afghanistan.

Xi Jinping Is Using Party Outreach to Build an Anti-U.S. Bloc

On July 6, Chinese President Xi Jinping gave a keynote speech at the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and World Political Parties Summit, proclaiming the CCP “is willing to continue to work with parties and political organizations of all countries.” As with other Beijing-led forums, the CCP is using this summit as an opportunity to promote its own foreign-policy objectives, including creating a less liberal democratic world order. But Xi’s messaging at the summit, now held for the fourth time, has evolved; whereas before it focused on cooperation and development, today China is looking to build a political bloc directed against the United States and other liberal democracies.

The CCP and World Political Parties Summit targets foreign political parties, whether in power or not. Attendees included former Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan, and Argentine President Alberto Fernández. This effort to engage at the national and subnational political level is a potentially potent tool for the CCP. The annual summit—with representatives from more than 600 political parties and organizations around the world—provides the CCP a venue where it can control the agenda, discourage foreign criticism of the party, and establish and deepen connections on its own terms with international political parties. Xi’s personal participation and the summit’s institutionalization demonstrate the importance the CCP places on the meeting.

The long game: China’s grand strategy to displace American order

The following is an excerpt from “The Long Game: China’s Grand Strategy to Displace American Order” by former Brookings Fellow Rush Doshi. This introductory chapter summarizes the book’s argument. It explains that U.S.-China competition is over regional and global order, outlines what Chinese-led order might look like, explores why grand strategy matters and how to study it, and discusses competing views of whether China has a grand strategy. 

It argues that China has sought to displace America from regional and global order through three sequential “strategies of displacement” pursued at the military, political, and economic levels. The first of these strategies sought to blunt American order regionally, the second sought to build Chinese order regionally, and the third — a strategy of expansion — now seeks to do both globally. The introduction explains that shifts in China’s strategy are profoundly shaped by key events that change its perception of American power.

German warship heads for South China Sea for first time in nearly two decades amid tension with Beijing

Germany on Monday sent a warship to the South China Sea for the first time in almost two decades, joining other Western nations in expanding its military presence in the region amid growing alarm over China's territorial ambitions. China claims swathes of the South China Sea and has established military outposts on artificial islands in the waters that contain gas fields and rich fishing.

The US Navy, in a show of force against the Chinese territorial claims, regularly conducts so-called "freedom of navigation" operations in which their vessels pass close by some of the contested islands. China in turn objects to the US missions, saying they do not help promote peace or stability.

Washington has put countering China at the heart of its national security policy and seeks to rally partners against what it says are Beijing's increasingly coercive economic and foreign policies.Officials in Berlin have said the German navy will stick to common trade routes. The frigate is not expected to sail through the Taiwan Strait either, another regular US activity condemned by Beijing. Nevertheless, Berlin has made it clear the mission serves to stress the fact Germany does not accept China's territorial claims.

India to deploy naval task force into South China Sea and beyond

India is sending a task force of four warships into the South China Sea on a two-month deployment that will include exercises with Quad partners the United States, Japan and Australia, India's Defense Ministry announced Monday. The warships will depart India early this month, the Defense Ministry statement said, without giving a specific departure date.

The task force, which includes a guided-missile destroyer, guided missile frigate, anti-submarine corvette and guided-missile corvette, will participate in a series of exercises during the two-month deployment, including the Malabar 2021 naval exercises with US, Japanese and Australian forces. In other bilateral exercises during the deployment, the Indian warships will work with naval units from South China Sea littoral states, including Singapore, Vietnam, Indonesia and the Philippines, the Defense Ministry said.

Will Taiwan’s Olympic win over China herald the end of ‘Chinese Taipei’?

In the hours between Taiwan winning gold and silver in Olympic badminton on the weekend, local courts in Taipei were packed with enthusiastic young players. The nail-biting matches had lit a fire of sporting patriotism – not least because both were against China, Taiwan’s goliath neighbour, which claims Taiwan as a province it must retake.

The doubles win by Lee Yang and Wang Chi-lin was Taiwan’s second gold medal, after Kuo Hsing-Chun won in weightlifting, and added to its biggest medal haul in Olympic history. Taiwan sits 18th in the table. Chinais first. Nevertheless, social media was awash with celebrations.

In a post on Facebook, Lee dedicated the win to “my country, Taiwan”. President Tsai Ing-wen congratulated the team for “winning the first badminton gold medal in our country”. Both phrases were deliberate, and fed into a reignited debate over a decades-old rule that has forced the island’s team to compete at the Olympics under “Chinese Taipei”, a name that exists on no map. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) formally recognised Beijing over Taiwan in the 1970s, and barred Taiwan from competing under its own name or as a country.

Wuhan: Chinese city to test entire population after virus resurfaces

Authorities in the Chinese city of Wuhan will begin testing its entire population, after a handful of positive coronavirus cases were detected there. Wuhan has recorded seven locally transmitted cases - the first local infections in more than a year. The city of 11 million people shot into the spotlight after the coronavirus was first detected there in 2019.

China is currently seeing one of its biggest outbreaks in months, with 300 cases detected in 10 days. Some 15 provinces across the country have been affected, which has led to the government rolling out mass testing measures and lockdown restrictions. Authorities have attributed the spread of the virus to the highly contagious Delta variant and the domestic tourism season.

Tokyo Olympics: Chinese nationalists turn on their athletes

The pressure on Chinese athletes to perform has never been higher. Anything less than a gold is being seen as athletes being unpatriotic by furious nationalists online. The BBC's Waiyee Yip reports. China's mixed doubles table tennis team made a tearful apology at the Tokyo Olympics last week - for winning a silver medal. "I feel like I've failed the team... I'm sorry everyone," Liu Shiwen said, bowing in apology, tears welling in her eyes. Her partner, Xu Xin, added: "The whole country was looking forward to this final. I think the entire Chinese team cannot accept this result."

Their finals loss against Japan in a sport they usually dominate had left many online furious. On microblogging platform Weibo, some "keyboard warriors" attacked the pair, saying they had "failed the nation".

Shares slide after China brands online games 'electronic drugs'

Shares in two of China's biggest online gaming firms have slipped after a state media outlet called them "electronic drugs". Tencent and NetEase shares fell more than 10% in early Hong Kong trade before regaining some of those losses.

Investors are increasingly concerned about Beijing cracking down on firms. In recent months authorities have announced a series of measures to tighten their grip on technology and private education companies. An article published by the state-run Economic Information Daily said many teenagers had become addicted to online gaming and it was having a negative impact on them. The news outlet is affiliated with the official Xinhua news agency. The article cited Tencent's hugely popular game Honor of Kings, saying students were playing it for up to eight hours a day, and asked for more curbs on the industry. "No industry, no sport, can be allowed to develop in a way that will destroy a generation," it said before going on to liken online games to "spiritual opium".

Tencent has now said it would introduce new measures to reduce children's access to and time spent on its Honor of Kings game. The company also said it plans to eventually roll out the policy to all of its games.`

Police in China’s XUAR Question Uyghurs For Attending Eid Prayers Without Permission

Police in China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region took in for questioning more than 170 Uyghurs who attended prayer services without permission from authorities during the Muslim Eid al-Adha holy days, a senior police officer said. Authorities in Aykol township of Aksu city (in Chinese, Akesu) city allowed only Uyghurs over the age of 50 to participate in worship services during the holiday on July 20-23, the officer from the district’s police station told RFA last week.

Many of the 12 million Muslims in the XUAR celebrated Eid al-Adha, also known as Qurban Heyt (in Chinese, Gurban), with prayers, dancing and the slaughtering of goats or sheep as a religious sacrifice. Authorities in a number of city and county centers throughout the XUAR had staged controlled displays of religious worship to counter accusations of widespread rights abuses in the region by opening a few long-shuttered mosques to the public during the Eid holy days to present a semblance of normalcy.

The senior police officer in Aykol told RFA that more than 170 Uyghurs accused of violating regulations regarding Eid prayers are currently being held in custody, though he said he could not comment on their whereabouts or whether they were being detained in “re-education” camps or detention centers.

“I believe there are more than 170 people,” he said.

Myanmar's descent into darkness

Six months after Myanmar’s military toppled the government of Aung San Suu Kyi, rejecting without proof her party’s landslide November 2020 re-election victory as fraudulent, the country of 54 million has slid back into the darkness that the 76-year-old leader’s fledgling, flawed democracy was trying to help it escape.

The State Administrative Council, the junta established by the Feb. 1 coup d’état leader Min Aung Hlaing, has been met with widespread public rejection and has responded with lethal military force to crush street protests, and mass arrests to quell walkouts by white collar professionals. More than 900 civilians have been killed and more than 5,400 are in detention.

Myanmar’s coup crippled an already outmatched government fight against the coronavirus, just as a vicious third wave of the pandemic hit a country racked with conflict, short of food, and scattered with hundreds of thousands of refugees.

With its neglect of COVID-19, its repression of the media, and its economic mismanagement, critics liken the State Administrative Council to the State Law and Order Restoration Council, the junta’s name from 1988 to 1997, a notoriously harsh period in the army’s fifty-year rule that ended in 2011, when the military went partially back to the barracks for a decade.

mandag 2. august 2021

China needs allies, people and countries who will stand for its universal values but it's not clear yet what they are

As China celebrated its Army Day on August 1, the children of Sunzi, the strategist of victory without a fight, know there is something better than guns for national defense. Or they ought to know. China needs friends, people and countries who will stand for China’s universal values, as they stood in the past century for the values of the Soviet Union or the United States.

The USSR narrative was of liberation from capitalist oppression. The American narrative is about freedom and liberty. These values lead to a lot of mistakes but they are part of the quest for freedom. These narratives are not “the truth” but they have a drive, a global appeal that goes beyond the single country. What is China’s narrative? China wants to make life better for the Chinese, fine, and then what about other countries? Will China be the dominant power in a constellation of lesser countries in the world?

Philippines’ Duterte Retains Pact Allowing US War Exercises

The Philippines will keep having large-scale combat exercises with the United States after President Rodrigo Duterte retracted his decision to terminate a key defense pact in a move that may antagonize an increasingly belligerent China. Duterte’s decision was announced Friday by Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana in a joint news conference with visiting U.S. counterpart Lloyd Austin in Manila. It was a step back from the Philippine leader’s stunning vow early in his term to distance himself from Washington as he tried to rebuild frayed ties with China over years of territorial rifts in the South China Sea.

“The president decided to recall or retract the termination letter for the VFA,” Lorenzana told reporters after an hour-long meeting with Austin, referring to the Visiting Forces Agreement. “There is no termination letter pending and we are back on track.”

Who Is Qin Gang, China’s New US Ambassador?

In the early morning of July 29, Beijing time, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hua Chunying tweeted a video to wish “Ambassador Qin Gang” a “safe and smooth journey across the Pacific Ocean.” The official Twitter account of the Chinese Embassy in the United States had been updated with Qin’s name and profile picture. Later in the afternoon, Washington time, Qin tweeted a photo of himself walking alongside aides and deputies in JFK airport, with the message: “Arrived in USA. Looking forward to the coming time in the country!”

As the next Chinese ambassador to the United States, Qin Gang, 55, will need to contend with fraught ties between the two superpowers. Unlike his predecessor, Cui Tiankai, a veteran diplomat with deep knowledge of U.S. affairs and personal connections with incumbent and former U.S. government officials and lawmakers, Qin has never specialized in dealing with the United States.

Britain Returns to Asia, to China’s Dismay

On July 1, 1997, the government of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth handed over its colony of Hong Kong to sovereign Chinese control. Twenty-four years later, the monarch’s namesake, the aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth, has arrived in Asia – this time not to hand over a piece of its former empire, but to make a statement of Britain’s intent to support the countries and territories of Southeast Asia, and the world’s shipping, from increasing Chinese aggression, under the U.S.-championed slogan of the free and open Indo-Pacific (FOIP).

HMS Queen Elizabeth is “the largest vessel ever built for the Royal Navy” and can carry up to 40 aircraft. Leading a flotilla into the South China Sea on July 26, it has been engaging in naval exercises throughout its journey since setting sail from Portsmouth in the United Kingdom on May 22.

The mission of HMS Queen Elizabeth in her maiden deployment is not solely focused on showing strength to China.

Why Taiwan Is Beating COVID-19 – Again

During the pandemic, Taiwan went about business as usual. Schools were open, concerts were playing, theaters were packed. Restaurants were bustling, the economy was booming, and expatriates and overseas Taiwanese flooded into the island. Taiwan was among a group of fortunate countries, including Australia, New Zealand, Vietnam, and Singapore, whose citizens went about business as usual as tight borders, strict quarantine rules, and excellent contract tracing kept the virus at bay.

That enviable routine came to an end in mid-May 2021 when an outbreak of COVID-19 transmission upended everyday life. Yet, COVID-19 cases have fallen significantly in recent days. New cases per day have fallen from 535 on May 17 to an average of fewer than 20 in the past seven days. On July 26, Taiwan reported a new low of 10 cases of community transmission.

Delta variant challenges China's zero Covid strategy — and raises questions over its vaccine efficacy

China's hardline zero Covid strategy is facing a fresh challenge from the rapid spreadof the Delta variant, amid concerns over the efficacy of Chinese vaccines against the highly contagious strain. The Delta variant, which appears to cause more severe illness and spreads as easily as chickenpox according to an internal document from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), has wreaked havoc across the world. Now, it is causing China's worst outbreak in months.

China reported 328 local Covid-19 infections in July, close to the total from the previous five months, according to the National Health Commission. Although that's only a fraction of the cases reported in countries like the United States and the United Kingdom, it is perceived as a serious threat in China, where authorities attempt to keep local infections at zero.

The latest outbreak started two weeks ago in the eastern city of Nanjing, where nine airport cleaners were found to be infected during a routine test. Since then, the cluster has spread to at least 26 cities across China, including a tourist hot spot in the southern province of Hunan and the capital Beijing.
Chinese authorities responded swiftly with mass testing, targeted lockdowns, extensive contact tracing and quarantine of close contacts — a tried and tested formula that has helped it quickly tame local flare-ups since March 2020.

Hong Kong artist Anthony Wong accused of breaking law by singing at a pro-democracy rally three years ago

A prominent Hong Kong singer and pro-democracy activist has been arrested by the city’s anti-corruption watchdog over accusations he broke the law by singing at a political rally three years ago. The arrest of Anthony Wong on Monday is the latest official move against those who had been pushing for greater democracy in the semi-autonomous Chinese territory.

Hong Kong’s independent commission against corruption said Wong performed two songs at the 2018 rally and urged attendees to vote for the pro-democracy candidate Au Nok-hin in a byelection. The watchdog also charged Au, who won the election, in part for publicising the rally on social media and saying that Wong would be performing.

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