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August 14, 2020 – Stealth War Newsletter: Issue 4

By: Jamestown Foundation

Fri August, 2020, Age: 3 years



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August 14, 2020

Strategic Indicator
This issue’s number to watch

$51 million

The value of real estate assets in Hong Kong owned by relatives of top Chinese Communist party leaders, which will be impacted as China cracks down on the special administrative region’s independence.

Top Stories

Last Friday, the Trump administration imposed sanctions on 11 senior officials in Hong Kong and on the mainland whom they accused of curtailing freedoms in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR). In response, China announced sanctions against 11 American lawmakers and heads of organizations promoting democratic causes on Monday, with Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian warning, “China urges the U.S. to have a clear understanding of the situation, correct mistakes, and immediately stop interfering in Hong Kong affairs and interfering in China’s internal affairs.” Yet despite China’s assertion that issues related to border regions such as Hong Kong, Macau, Xinjiang and even Taiwan are “internal affairs,” the HKSAR in particular has long served as a gateway between mainland China and the rest of the world. Its unique position has been underscored by its differences from the mainland. Shortly after China issued its largely symbolic sanctions, police in Hong Kong arrested the media mogul Jimmy Lai and several pro-democracy activists, showing that the administration would not be deterred in its national security crackdown by U.S.-China politicking. All were released on bail later in the week. Activists in the UK have launched a civil suit in London against five British citizens who occupy high-ranking roles in the Hong Kong Police Force (HKPF) and are accused of perpetuating acts of brutality against protesters over the past year, seeking to draw a direct line between current events and the island’s colonial history.

U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex M. Azar III visited Taiwan this week, making him the highest-ranking U.S. official to travel to the island since the U.S. officially ended diplomatic relations with the Republic of China (ROC) in the 1980s. Azar’s visit heightened maritime tensions between the U.S. and China, with the Taiwanese Defense Ministry reporting that China had sent two fighter jets to fly over the Taiwan Strait just as Azar began a meeting with Taiwanese president Tsai Ing-wen. China has also been testing the waters in the South China Seas, where it has long-standing territorial disputes, recently escalating its live fire drills and maritime activity. The South China Morning Post (SCMP) reported that China has ordered its service personnel operating in the area “not to fire the first shot,” and to exercise restraint in their increasingly frequent standoffs with U.S. planes and ships in the region. Yet even as China has sought to de-escalate tensions with the U.S., its actions around the Diaoyu/Senkaku islands have provoked a strong response from Japan, with Japan’s defense minister Taro Kono responding to an allegation that China will no longer obey the ban on fishing vessels around the islands beginning August 16, warning that Japan’s Self Defense Forces (SDF) are standing by and ready to respond to any intrusions.

And finally, Huawei’s head of consumer business has said that the company will no longer be able to procure its flagship Kirin 9000 chips beginning September 15 due to U.S. sanctions on its suppliers. With no comparable domestic alternatives, Huawei may have adapt its Huawei Mate 40 smartphone series to use the Taiwanese MediaTek’s standard chipsets, losing a major competitive hardware advantage even as it has recently surpassed Samsung and Apple to become the largest smartphone retailer in the world. This week also saw further blows to Huawei’s campaign to be a major global 5G supplier, with the U.S. signing an agreement with Slovenia to keep Huawei out of their national telecom infrastructures. Following a similar agreement signed last year, Romania released legislation this week aimed at keeping Huawei out of its national 5G networks, while India restarted discussions on approvals for 5G trials that will exclude Huawei in line with investment rules issued July 23.

Stealth War Flyover


The Jamestown Foundation is proud to release the inaugural episode of a new video series, Stealth War Flyover. Part of Jamestown’s new website, Stealth War, this periodic series will feature Brigadier General (ret.) Robert Spalding and Jamestown Foundation President Glen Howard dissecting the latest news in the ongoing competition between China and the United States.

In this first episode, Howard and Spalding discuss the recent decision by the United Kingdom to ban Huawei from its 5G infrastructure; the announcement by Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company that they will cease processing new orders from Huawei; and the sudden closure of China’s Consulate in Houston.

Watch Here

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