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December 22, 2021- Stealth War 69: Amazon Skews Reviews of Xi’s Book; Will China Deploy J-20 Stealth Jet versus Taiwan?; China urges U.S. Businesses to Push for Improved Ties; U.S.-China Tensions Grow Over Xinjiang; Mass Protests Continue at Gwadar

By: John Foulkes

Wed January, 2022, Age: 2 years


December 22, 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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This issue’s number to watch


Voter turnout in Hong Kong’s Legislative Council (LegCo) election under the new “patriots only” system- the lowest level of participation on record. The low turnout reflects popular anger over China’s abrogation of Hong Kong’s democratic processes and political autonomy since 2014.





This Week:

*  Amazon Skews Reviews of Xi’s Book, Censors Results in China

*  Is China Preparing to Deploy the J-20 Stealth Jet Against Taiwan?

*  China Urges U.S. Businesses to Push for Improved Bilateral Economic Ties

*  Beijing Announces Retaliatory Sanctions as U.S.-China Tensions Grow Over Xinjiang

*  BRI Roundup: Mass Protests Continue at Gwadar, Key Node in China-Pakistan Economic Corridor 




Top Stories




(source: CGTN)




Amazon Skews Reviews of Xi’s Book, Censors Results in China 




Amazon discreetly complied with Chinese authorities’ dictates to censor any reviews of Xi Jinping’s book- The Governance of China, which did not receive the top ranking of 5 stars. The global e-commerce giant has also disabled the ranking and comment functions on the vast majority of publications authored by Xi on

In a response to revelations that Amazon had acceded to Beijing’s demands, the company stated that it “complies with all applicable laws and regulations, wherever we operate, and China is no exception” and stressed the benefits it provides through “access to the written word and diverse perspectives.” However, leaked documents suggest a more concerted effort to cater to the Chinese government. For example, head of lobbying and former Obama White House Press Secretary Jay Carney promoted an Amazon portal called China Books that includes propagandistic titles like Incredible Xinjiang, which portray the situation in the oppressed Western region as a multiethnic paradise. The news follows revelations that Apple agreed to invest nearly $275 billion in a secret deal with Beijing in 2016 in return for continued market and supply chain access to China. 





(source: Global Times)




Is China Preparing to Deploy the J-20 Stealth Jet Against Taiwan?




China has been rapidly increasing production of its J-20 5th generation fighter jet, the country’s most advanced stealth warplane, reported The Global Times. The plane’s manufacturer, Chengdu Aircraft Industrial Group Co Ltd, confirmed that it recently broke records for delivery of its military aircraft due to high demand. The news follows reports last month that China was looking to move quickly to raise production to keep up with the numbers of F-35A Lightnings IIs or F-22 Raptors produced by the the U.S. In fact, Chinese aircraft engineers were reportedly instructed in January to replace the J-20 jets’ Russian engines with home-grown engines, and to continue improvement until they meet all standards, specifically to match the F-22 Raptor’s F1119 engine. The switch to domestically-made WS-10 engines advances capacity mass production, as it was the last system to be domestically mastered.
On December 8, a People’s Liberation Army Air Force J-20A was spotted on a test flight from Chengdu, with serial 61162 that indicates it belongs to the 5th Air Brigade of the Southern Theater Command. The Southern Theater Command oversees the southeastern part of China and the South China Sea, indicating that Chinese military planners may use J-20 jets in a Taiwan or other Western Pacific contingency.








China Urges U.S. Businesses to Push for Improved Bilateral Economic Ties




China has increased its pressure on the U.S. business community to help improve bilateral relations as economic tensions between Beijing and Washington persist. At a meeting with former Assistant U.S. Trade Representative for China Affairs and current chairman emeritus of the American Chamber of Commerce in China Timothy Stratford and former U.S. Consul General in Shenyang and Shanghai Sean Stein, Deputy Foreign Minister Xie Feng emphasized the need to foster “stability” for China’s economy in 2022. In order to achieve this goal,  resumption of normal trade and business ties with the U.S. is vital for China. Calling on the U.S. business community, Xie said, “American businesses should play a bridging role and actively contribute to the healthy and stable development of China-U.S. relations,” through continuing their investment in China. In return, Xie promised Beijing would strengthen intellectual property (IP) protection and respect for contracts to improve the regulatory environment, which driven many businesses to exit the Chinese market. 

These efforts are part of Beijing’s broader diplomatic push to use its economic weight to influence U.S. businesses. Earlier this month, China asked American business groups to “speak up and speak out” in support of Beijing prior to the White House’s announcement of its diplomatic boycott of the Olympic Winter Games and increased tariffs on China. A new U.S.-China travel fast-program was also announced that makes it easier and more efficient for U.S. businesses to travel to China. The program is expected to start early next year.





(source: CNBC)




Beijing Announces Retaliatory Sanctions as U.S.-China Tensions Grow Over Xinjiang




On Tuesday, Beijing announced sanctions targeting four U.S. officials as bilateral tensions mount over Xinjiang. Earlier this month, the U.S. Department of Treasury imposed sanctions on Chinese officials for serious human rights abuses in Xinjiang underway since at least 2016. The Treasury Department also added eight more Chinese companies to investment and export backlists, including a leading drone manufacturer. On December 16, the U.S. Congress approved legislation that bans imports of products made in Xinjiang due to the prevalence of forced labor involving Uyghurs and other Muslim Minorities there. Chinese authorities continue to refute these “groundless accusations,” claiming they violate free trade regulations and will negatively impact global supply chains. 

China’s recent retaliatory sanctions target members of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF). They are Chair Nadine Maenza, Vice Chair Nury Turkel, Commissioner Anurima Bhargava, and Commissioner James W. Carr. These individuals will be banned from entering and doing business in Chinese territory, including Hong Kong and Macao, and their assets in China will be frozen. At a press conference, Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian declared, “Xinjiang affairs are purely China’s internal affairs and the U.S. has no right and is in no position to interfere. The U.S. should lift the so-called sanctions and stop interfering in Xinjiang affairs and China’s other internal affairs.” Zhao also confirmed that additional responses could be forthcoming.





(source: Dawn)




Mass Protests Continue at Gwadar, Key Node in China-Pakistan Economic Corridor 




China has been involved in developing the port at Gwadar on the coast of Pakistan’s Baluchistan province for two decades. However, the port city has experienced over a month of large-scale protests with residents and people from across Baluchistan staging mostly peaceful demonstrations to express their discontent with government policies including China’s privileged presence in Gwadar. Protesters’ frustrations are numerous, but include: the government granting licenses to Chinese boats whose industrial fishing activity is destroying the livelihoods of local fishermen; excessive security checkpoints in Gwadar particularly around Chinese-funded projects; restrictions on trade with Iran; lack of availability of drinking water and energy; the opening of wine shops in the city; and the prevalence of fake medicine in local pharmacies.

Protesters claim that although the government has promised that Chinese investment would create local jobs, economic opportunities have not materialized, and most jobs have gone to Chinese workers or laborers from other regions in Pakistan. The Pakistani government has made efforts to reassure protesters and to meet their demands, for example- moving the Office of director general of Fisheries to Gwadar, increasing patrols to interdict illegal fishing, establishing a new University in Gwadar to serve the local population, and shutting down the wine shops. The protests are especially sensitive to Prime Minister Imran Khan’s political standing, not only because they target Pakistan’s key economic and diplomatic partner-China, but also because they are being led by Jamaat-e-Islami, one of the largest Islamist groups in Pakistan, which has a presence throughout the country and ties to the military.