December 10, 2021- Stealth War 67: China Eyes West Africa Atlantic Base: U.S. Sanctions as Cambodia Moves Deeper into China’s Orbit; State Media urges Party Members to Have Three Children; China’s Naval Amphibious Assault Ship Passes Operational Screening; China, Belgium Pledge Greater Cooperation as Beijing Seeks to Shore up Europe Ties

By: Jamestown Foundation

Mon December, 2021, Age: 1 year



December 10, 2021

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

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Strategic Indicator
This issue’s number to watch

> One Trillion

Value lost by Chinese stocks that trade on U.S. exchanges since February. The tech sector has been particularly hard hit as investors have become increasingly concerned by new regulations and political pressure on huge, private firms such as Alibaba Group and Tencent. 

This Week:

China Eyes Military Base in Equatorial Guinea

*  U.S. Imposes Arms Embargo, Sanctions as Cambodia Moves Deeper into China’s Orbit

*  State-run Media Encourages Party Members to Have at Least Three Children 

*  China’s Naval Amphibious Assault Ship Passes Operational Screening

*  China, Belgium Pledge Greater Cooperation as Beijing Seeks to Shore Up Fraying Ties With Europe

Top Stories

(source: Nations Online

China Eyes Military Base in Equatorial Guinea

U.S. intelligence assesses that China has plans to build a permanent military base in Equatorial Guinea, according to a report published in the Wall Street Journal this week. The new port would be located in the country’s capital city of Malabo, which lies on the coast of the small west African nation. U.S. officials are concerned about the strategic location of the base that would allow Chinese warships to regroup and rearm directly across from the U.S. East Coast. The report also mentions that the U.S. is appealing diplomatically to Equatorial Guinea in an effort to a put a halt to the project.

A Chinese base in Africa has been a source of anxiety for the U.S. military for some time. In April 2021, General Stephen Townsend, commander of the U.S. African Command told the Senate that China’s “most significant threat” would be “a militarily useful naval facility on the Atlantic Coast of Africa.”

U.S. criticism of the base has already developed its own media narrative in China. The Chinese state-run media outlet Global Times both denied the claim that the base was being built, and then published an editorial claiming that the “US coerces others to prevent Chinese warships’ presence” a day after the publication of the Wall Street Journal’s report. Furthermore, the Global Times argued that even if China is building such a base, it’s purpose would be simply to combat piracy and protect Chinese investments in the area, rather than to pressure the U.S. in the Atlantic Ocean.

(source: RFA)

U.S. Imposes Arms Embargo, Sanctions as Cambodia Moves Deeper into China’s Orbit 

Earlier this week, the U.S. State Department imposed an arms embargo on Cambodia, as the Department of Commerce simultaneously announced new trade restrictions on the sale of military and dual-use technologies to the Southeast Asian country. Prime Minister Hun Sen, who runs the country as an authoritarian strongman, dismissed the US sanctions as “only political gestures” noting “I have nothing there, so they can sanction me and can freeze my assets and confiscate them if they like.”

In response to the U.S. move, a spokesperson for Cambodia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs stressed that Phnom Penh abides by the principal of “permanent neutrality” in its international relations. However, over the last several years, U.S. officials have expressed growing concern over China’s lead role in upgrading Ream Naval Base, which is located outside of Cambodia’s main port city, Sihanoukville. In 2019, The Wall Street Journal reported that a secret treaty had been signed providing the PLA Navy access to the base for 30 years.

(source: Xinhua)

State-run Media Encourages Party Members to Have at Least Three Children 

As China’s population ages, the party-state has rapidly swung from compelling families to limit themselves to only one child to taking steps to encourage couples to have more children in an effort to reverse China’s historically low birthrates. In this vein, a recent editorial in the state-run China Reports Network that urges party members to have three children has gone viral. The article charges that “no party member should use any excuse, objective or personal, to not marry or have children, nor can they use any excuse to have only one or two children.”

The Chinese Communist Party’s fear of hitting a demographic cliff, as birth rates fall and the population ages, has contributed to a broader effort to reassert traditional gender norms. In recent years, the gender gap in China’s workforce has increased and low levels of female participation are more comparable to Japan, which has long struggled to incorporate women in to its work force, than the US or European Union. The push to promote more masculine values has also extended into the media and the public domain with the Chinese government taking measures to ban male performers exhibiting “abnormal”, “effeminate” aesthetics from broadcast media earlier this year.  

(source: Global Times)

China’s Naval Amphibious Assault Ship Passes Operational Screening

On Tuesday, China Central Television reported that the first new PLA Navy Type 075 amphibious assault ship, the Hainan, successfully completed an operational assessment based on “strengthening joint operations [and] multidimensional landing combat.” The new amphibious  assault ship is a key accomplishment in the PLA’s naval modernization program and will reduce the time allocated toward loading equipment and deployment. The platform has a full-length flight deck and is able to  deploy three types of helicopters, the Z-18J early warning helicopter, the Z-9 anti-submarine helicopter and the Z-8C transport helicopter. The ship also has a floodable well deck from which to deploy hovercraft and armored amphibious assault vehicles.

The Hainan’s training and operational assessment were reportedly completed in an unrevealed location in the South China Sea. According to the nationalist state-run tabloid Global Times, a task force including the Type 075, and “an aircraft carrier will serve as a tremendous deterrent to “Taiwan independence” forces, and these warships will play a leading role in striking targets in the east side of the Taiwan island if the occasion comes to that.”

(source: Xinhua)

China, Belgium Pledge Greater Cooperation as Beijing Seeks to Shore Up Fraying Ties With Europe 

On Tuesday, Beijing and Brussels pledged to enhanced cooperation during a video meeting between Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and Belgium Prime Minister Alexander De Croo. Both leaders expressed appreciation for their bilateral cooperation, with this year marking the 50 year anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Belgium. During the meeting, Beijing confirmed its desire for increased cooperation in Belgium’s biomedicine, microelectronics and modern agriculture sectors. In return, China said it will work with Belgium to strengthen the protection of intellectual property rights and support free trade.

Headquartered in Brussels, the EU is China’s biggest trading partner and China is the EU’s second-largest, behind the U.S. However, the pledge comes amidst rising tensions between China and the EU over China’s unfair trade practices, such as preferential treatment of state businesses, and repeated violations of intellectual property rights. Despite extensive China-EU economic ties, there has been speculation that the EU will implement an anti-coercion instrument against China and other countries suspected of economic bullying, with punitive actions including tariffs and suspension of market access.




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