May 27, 2022- Stealth War 89: Canada Bans Huawei and ZTE; Chinese FM Set out on Pacific Tour; Biden’s Remarks Cast Doubt on U.S. Strategic Ambiguity toward Taiwan; Xinjiang Police Files Leaked; China and Russia Veto New Round of UN Sanctions on North Korea

By: Jamestown Foundation

Fri May, 2022, Age: 1 year


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May 27, 2022

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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Stat Du Jour 
This issue’s number to watch


Number of countries that Chinese telecommunications company Huawei operates in (see the first entry below). 

This Week: 

* Canada Bans Huawei and ZTE

* Chinese FM Set out on Tour of Pacific Island Nations

* Biden’s Remarks Cast Doubt on U.S. Strategic Ambiguity toward Taiwan

* Xinjiang Police Files Leaked as UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet Visits China

* China and Russia Veto New Round of UN Sanctions on North Korea

Top Stories

(source: CGTN)

Canada Bans Huawei and ZTE

Last week, Canada announced that it will ban Chinese technology giants Huawei and ZTE from involvement in building up its 5G telecommunications networks due to security concerns. Canada is the last member of the Five Eyes intelligence sharing partnership between the U.S., UK, Australia, and New Zealand, to ban Huawei, so Ottawa’s decision aligns it with the policies of key allies. The law stipulates that the companies must be removed from involvement in Canadian networks by June 28, 2024. The security concerns stem from the fact that Huawei and ZTE ultimately answer to the PRC government, and have long faced accusations of gathering intelligence and undertaking cyber operations. Huawei and ZTE are among the largest providers of telecommunications hardware and services in the world, with the former capturing 29 percent of global revenue for telecom equipment in 2021, and the latter capturing 11 percent. From December 2018 until late last year, Ottawa and Beijing were at odds over the detention of Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou on a U.S. extradition request. In response, China detained two Canadian citizens, who worked in the think tank and business communities, Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor for nearly three years. Determination to earn their release, which finally came in September 2021, may have been a factor in Canada’s delay on deciding whether to ban Huawei and ZTE from its domestic 5G networks.

While the ban on Huawei and ZTE is a step in the right direction, particularly with regards to protecting critical infrastructure, there are still many security flaws inherent in 5G that will take a long time to mitigate. Worse still, Huawei has tapped into the markets of 170 countries, building the telecommunications infrastructure of many over the years, and there is an ongoing battle over global telecommunications standards for 5G and 6G. Thus, the real challenge that lies ahead is helping the rest of the world mitigate the risks, regardless of if they are reliant on PRC companies or not, as vulnerabilities will be present throughout supply chains and it is not reasonable to assume that all of the countries that the West does business with will be able to abandon the Huawei and ZTE infrastructure that is already in place.

(source: FMPRC)

Chinese Foreign Minister Embarks on Tour of Pacific Island Nations

Chinese Foreign Minister (FM) Wang Yi will visit the Solomon Islands and a host of other pacific island nations between May 26th and June 4, according to Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin. Wang Yi will visit Kiribati, Samoa, Fiji, Tonga, Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea and East Timor. The FM will also have video meetings with the heads of state of the Cook Islands and Niue, as well as chair the second China-Pacific Island Countries Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in Fiji. The Solomon Islands confirmed the trip on May 23rd, saying they were ready to welcome the 20-person delegation to the capital of Honiara, and that the trip will be a “milestone” in bilateral relations. According to Li Ming, the Chinese ambassador to the Solomon Islands, both sides will discuss a number of key bilateral issues and agreements, including the recently signed security pact between Beijing and Honiara. FM Wang will be the highest-ranking Chinese official to visit the island nation since the two formalized diplomatic relations several years ago after President Sogavare switched recognition from Taiwan to Beijing. It should be noted that Sogavare maintains that deepening ties with China are in no way meant to replace his country’s relationship with Australia, whose Foreign Minister he met with in April of this year, along with the United States and Japan.

The high-profile Chinese tour of the Pacific islands comes at an important time for the Asia-Pacific region. Joe Biden met in Tokyo with members of the “Quad” group of nations (the U.S., Japan, Australia, and India) this week, and while there the POTUS insisted that the United States would defend Taiwan from a Chinese invasion. The Chinese tour is also occurring at the same time that Australia’s new Foreign Minister Penny Wong is set to travel to Fiji to discuss how to deepen Canberra’s engagement with the region.

(source: RFA)

Biden’s Remarks Cast Doubt on U.S. Strategic Ambiguity toward Taiwan

On May 23, U.S. President Joe Biden was in Japan on his first visit to Asia as President. When asked at a news conference, “Are you willing to get involved militarily to defend Taiwan,” if the People’s Republic of China (PRC) were to invade Taiwan, President Biden responded, “Yes, that’s the commitment we made.” This response, along with two similar statements over the past year, outraged the PRC and has been taken by many to imply that the US policy of “strategic ambiguity,” has ended; an implication which President Biden and the White House subsequently walked back. While this was the event that grabbed headlines, there were numerous other Taiwan-PRC-U.S. events of significance immediately preceding it, all of which lend context to the impact of President Biden’s statement.

On May 10, the U.S. Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines testified before a Senate Committee that the threat facing Taiwan will be particularly acute between now and 2030. On the same day, the PRC protested changes in the wording of the US State Department’s Bilateral Relations Fact Sheet Taiwan Fact Sheet, which were apparently made on May 5. Specifically, phrases acknowledging Taiwan as part of the PRC and rejecting U.S. support of Taiwanese independence were removed from the webpage. Meanwhile, during the second week of May, Japan observed over 100 flights launched off of a PRC aircraft carrier not far from Okinawa. On May 15, Taiwan began its annual war games, beginning with five-days of tabletop simulations. On May 20, it was reported that satellite imagery revealed the PRC was practicing attacking Japan’s early warning system aircraft that would play a role in observing the PRC if it were invading Taiwan. Finally, on May 24, a PRC anti-submarine warfare plane entered Taiwan’s air defense identification zone, marking the 70th air incursion  in the 17 days, fitting a larger pattern of more aggressive sea and air based incursions. This PRC’s military antagonism toward Taiwan and Japan will likely continue as President Xi Jinping attempts to solidify power this at the upcoming 20th Party Congress this fall.

(source: CCTV)

Xinjiang Police Files Leaked as UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet Visits China

On May 24, tens of thousands of police photographs, internal speeches, and official documents from Xinjiang were released online, providing new, unprecedented details on the Chinese government’s mass surveillance and internment of Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims. Dr. Adrian Zenz, who regularly writes analysis for the Jamestown Foundation, released the huge cache of data after he received the files from an anonymous source who hacked confidential police computer servers in Xinjiang. The Xinjiang Police Files reveal the scope and “prison-like nature of re-education camps” and confirm the direct involvement of top Chinese leaders, notably President Xi Jinping. Transcripts of internal speeches made by former Xinjiang Party Secretary Chen Quanguo and Public Security Minister Zhao Kezhi provide further evidence that one to two million people have been incarcerated, that the targeted ethnic minorities were “severely influenced by the infiltration of extremist religious thought” and thus security threats, and directly linked Xi to the mass internment camps. In a June 2018 internal speech, Zhao says Xi provided “important instructions on governing Xinjiang according to the law, unifying and stabilizing Xinjiang, and building Xinjiang over the long term” and directed authorities to “conduct de-extremification work” and increase the capacity of detention facilities. Following the leak, top British and German diplomats said the reports were shocking and called for a transparent investigation into the allegations of human rights violations.

The release coincides with the high-profile visit of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, to Xinjiang. Bachelet arrived in China on Monday for the six-day trip, marking the first visit by an UN human rights commissioner since 2005, and is expected to issue a public statement and hold a press conference on May 28. State news agency Xinhua reported that Bachelet hopes “to enhance mutual understanding and trust, jointly cope with global challenges and promote the development of international human rights.” Many human rights organizations believe China will use the visit “as a public relations stunt while pressuring Bachelet to further delay her report or to dilute its findings,” referring to Bachelet’s September 2021 statement that her office is finalizing its report on the allegations of human rights violations in Xinjiang. In a regular press conference on Tuesday, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Wenbin said the data release is “the latest example of the anti-China forces’ smearing of Xinjiang.” Wang also condemned human rights groups’ concerns over Bachelet’s trip, stating that “plots to use human rights issues for political manipulation and tarnish China’s image by fabricating and spreading lies and rumors will not succeed.” However, when asked by Reuters several times if Bachelet will get to meet Uyghurs or former so-called trainees, Wang simply stated she will have “extensive exchanges with various sectors” and “with people from all walks of life during her visit to China.”

(source: Xinhua)

China and Russia Veto New Round of UN Sanctions on North Korea 

International attention is focused on the Ukraine War and rising U.S.-China tensions, but North Korea is making a bid to seize headlines with a bout of renewed missile testing. Currently, North Korea is facing a severe COVID-19 outbreak, which Supreme Leader Kim Jong-Un has called the gravest crisis since the famine that ravaged the country in the early 1990s. Kim has personally taken charge of the epidemic prevention efforts, and while he has acknowledged the scale of the viral outbreak, the number of deaths reported by North Korean authorities is incredulously low. As is often the case, Pyongyang has turned to international saber-rattling to distract from its domestic woes. Hours after U.S. President Biden departed Japan after meeting with allies, North Korea tested three missiles, including one believed to be its largest Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM).
In response to North Korea’s renewed missile testing, the U.S. proposed additional sanctions on the “Hermit Kingdom” at the UN Security Council  (UNSC). However, both China and Russia vetoed the resolution resulting in a 13-2 vote.  At a press conference on Thursday, PRC Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin stressed that multilateral diplomacy and not sanctions are the solution to the long-running standoff on the Korean Peninsula.

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