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June 17, 2022- Stealth War 92: Chinese Government Encourages Public Support for Countering Foreign Espionage; Papua New Guinea’s Upcoming Election and China; Japan and Australia Seek to Deepen Defense Ties; Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin Hold Phone Call, Pledge to Strengthen Ties; China and Pakistan Undertake High-Level Military Diplomacy

By: Jamestown Foundation

Fri June, 2022, Age: 2 years



June 17, 2022

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Stat Du Jour 
This issue’s number to watch$40.2 billion 

Japan’s defense spending in the current fiscal year, which is a record high

This Week: 

* Chinese Government Encourages Public Support for Countering Foreign Espionage with Cash Rewards for Information

* Papua New Guinea’s Upcoming Election and China

* Japan and Australia Seek to Deepen Defense Ties

* Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin Hold Phone Call, Pledge to Strengthen Ties

* China and Pakistan Undertake High-Level Military Diplomacy

Top Stories

(source: Global Times)

Chinese Government Encourages Public Support for Countering Foreign Espionage with Cash Rewards for Information 

The People’s Republic of China (PRC) has stepped up encouragement of citizens to be vigilant against foreign espionage by offering new cash rewards of up to $15,000 and special certificates to those who alert authorities of potential security breaches. Rewards for reporting foreign spies have long existed in China, but by publicizing and standardizing the new incentives the Ministry of State Security is hoping to provide additional motivation to citizens to share information.

The recently announced rewards follow new regulations implemented earlier this year that require organizations hosting foreign citizens, sending employees overseas or doing business with foreign companies to report to the relevant authorities and debrief citizens on potential security threats. The regulations further expand an already expansive category of activities that are classified as espionage. For example, a journalism student who worked for a Western media outlet was recently accused of spying because they had “engaged with more than 20 hostile foreign groups and more than a dozen officials of a Western country,” and gave information that could “stigmatize China.”

PRC authorities’ broad view of activities that constitute espionage fits within an all-encompassing approach to security, which is embodied in the “holistic national security concept.” Under this framework, the Central National Security Commission (NSCs) presides over subordinate NSCs all the way down to the county level. The interlocking bodies seek to achieve effective management of domestic security through information sharing and coordination.

(source: EAF)

Papua New Guinea’s Upcoming Election and China

Papua New Guinea (PNG) will hold general elections from July 2-22, to determine new parliamentary representatives, and ultimately, the next prime minister. The nation is politically fractured, with no single political party managing to win enough seats to form a government alone since its independence in 1975, yielding on the one hand coalitions that must work together, and on the other, highly contentious, corrupt, and even violent election cycles. With so many overwhelming concerns, it is easy to see why PNG looks for development and security assistance where it can get it and the People’s Republic of China (PRC) is more than happy to assist. PNG’s proximity to Australia and the Pacific Islands Countries (most notably the Solomon Islands) has made it a focal point of geopolitical competition, which its government has traditionally attempted to balance for personal and national gain. An illustration of this balance occurred recently when Australia’s new prime minister and the PRC’s foreign minister visited for separate talks on the same day with PNG Prime Minister (PM) Marape.

PRC President Xi’s 2018 visit to PNG marked the beginning of its heightened status Chinese foreign policy. Over the last few months, as part of its push for ports, trade, and security compacts in the region, the PRC and PNG have reaffirmed and deepened their comprehensive strategic commitments through several high level meetings. Commitments include the “enhancement” of PNG’s participation in the Belt and Road Initiative, a bilateral free trade agreement, easier investment paths for the PRC, infrastructure development, COVID relief, and PRC rights to develop the island’s natural resources. A lack of transparency has obscured the details of these agreements and the potential existence of other contracts with Chinese entities. These deals and negotiations may also factor into the elections, with PM Marape strongly supporting them, and his main challenger, former PM O’Neill stating that the agreements may be nullified if his political party is able to form a government after elections and disapproves of them. Despite all this, it is difficult to say whether PNG will favor the West or the PRC. Given its parliament’s need to form a coalition to govern, its rampant corruption, and Australia’s role in helping it achieve independence, it seems likely that the nation will continue its hedging strategy, but, as with so many things, influence may ultimately come down to who invests more in development, and more importantly, politicians.

(source: Kyodo News)

Japan and Australia Seek to Deepen Defense Ties

On June 15, the new Australian Defense Minister Richard Marles, Japanese Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi, and other officials met in Tokyo. The outcome of this meeting was a pledge to strengthen strategic cooperation in the Indo-Pacific in order to counter the growing strength of the People’s Republic of China (PRC). The agreement entails increased military cooperation (with a focus on training for better interoperability), and standing together against any unilateral efforts to forcefully change the status quo in the East and South China seas. The context and timing of the agreement is notable for several reasons.

First, this meeting serves as an introduction to relations with the cabinet of the newly elected Australian Prime Minister (PM) Albanese, who was sworn in on May 23. Second, on June 13, PRC state media announced that President Xi Jinping had signed an order allowing the use of the PRC’s military for operations abroad “other than war,” and which came into effect on June 15. Experts have been quick to point out the measure is similar to the law Russia passed almost 48 hours before invading Ukraine, raising questions about an invasion of Taiwan or other kinetic actions in the future. Third, over the past few months, particularly since May, the PRC has become far more aggressive both in general and towards Japan, holding numerous large scale military exercises, participating in joint nuclear bomber flights with Russia, launching jets off of aircraft carriers near Okinawa, all but attacking Australian and other allied military planes in international waters, and leveling threats against Japan and its allies.

This security environment has caused Japan to consider several significant policy changes. On June 15 it was also announced that Japan’s PM Kishida will be the first Japanese leader to attend a NATO summit. Second, in addition to allocating a record $40.2 billion for defense, Tokyo appears to be considering upping its defense spending to the NATO benchmark of at least two percent of GDP. Third, during U.S.-Japanese military exercises on June 16, representatives from 16 countries’ militaries were present as observers, in part to discuss future security cooperation focused on countering PRC threats. Fourth, this election cycle in Japan the current PM’s party is focusing on “drastically strengthen[ing] the country’s defenses within five years,” including a possible “counterstrike” capability against the PRC’s military leadership should Japan be attacked first. In short, Tokyo is seeking to become a better military partner with current and potential allies throughout the region, and the more bellicose the PRC becomes, the more Japan is willing to shed its historically limited defense strategy.


Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin Hold Phone Call, Pledge to Strengthen Ties

People’s Republic of China (PRC) President Xi Jinping and Russian Federation President Vladimir Putin had a phone conversation on June 15 to mark the occasion of Xi’s 69th birthday. According to Chinese state media, Xi used the call to push for a diplomatic resolution of the ongoing Ukraine crisis. The Kremlin readout of the conversation emphasized that the two leaders discussed ways to deepen economic cooperation, trade and military-technical ties. While accounts of the exchange differ slightly, it is clear that Xi refrained from criticizing Russian military aggression against Ukraine, and that he positively noted the “sound development” of bilateral relations “in the face of global turbulence and transformations.

Following the call, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin emphasized that Xi was in active communication with leaders in both Russia and Ukraine in order to de-escalate the conflict and find a diplomatic solution. Notably, Beijing has not imposed any sanctions on the Russian Federation over the invasion. For its part, Moscow stated that it would support Beijing’s affairs in Xinjiang, Hong Kong, and Taiwan. In addition, Xi and Putin both emphasized their countries’ vital economic relationship. In particular, the recent completion of the Heihe-Blagoveshchensk bridge over the Amur river is a testament to the growing trade links between the two countries. Putin also expressed interest in greater Russian cooperation with the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) and the Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa (BRICS) agreement. These two regional bodies help further trade relations between the PRC and the Russian Federation. With China hosting the upcoming BRICS conference on June 23-24, economic ties between the two countries remain very strong.

The relationship between Beijing and the Kremlin has not gone without criticism. In March, United States Secretary of State Anthony Blinken condemned the countries’ partnership, stating that China was already on the wrong side of history. Notably, the United States and other Western countries have levied harsh and crippling sanctions on the Russian Federation. Secretary Blinken also decried the PRC’s support of Russia, citing that the country’s position on the United Nations Security Council gave it an obligation to speak out against the invasion. Wang Wenbin responded to these remarks in June, stating that NATO aggression had prompted Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. As the war drags on, the relationship between the PRC and the Russian Federation will likely deepen given the two sides mutual enmity toward the West.

(source: China Mil)

China and Pakistan Undertake High-Level Military Diplomacy

On June 12, Pakistan’s Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa met with China’s highest ranking uniformed military officer, Central Military Commission (CMC) Vice Chairman Zhang Youxia. The meeting is important as it brings together two senior stakeholders in the China-Pakistan relationship for the first time since a new government took power in Islamabad last month. The new government in Pakistan has sought to steady relations with the U.S. while still maintaining its traditionally close links to China.

The withdrawal of the U.S. from Afghanistan last year created new challenges for the Chinese and Pakistani militaries by shuffling the security landscape and emboldening extremist groups in the Af-Pak region. A particularly serious issue in the relationship has been the growing security challenge and rise in terrorist attacks targeting China’s expansive presence in Pakistan. Militants associated with both the Pakistani Taliban and Baluch Liberation Army have launched several attacks on the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). On April 26, a Baluch separatist group organized a suicide bombing by a female militant outside Karachi University’s Confucius Institute that killed four people, including three Chinese staff and their Pakistani driver. In the meeting between Zhang and Bajwa “both sides strongly condemned the terrorist attack” on the Confucius Institute and stressed that any effort to undermine the “all-weather” China-Pakistan friendship will not succeed.