November 5, 2021- Stealth War 62: DOD China Report; Xiangshan Forum; PRC Leaders Skip Climate Talks; New Blows to Human Rights in Hong Kong; Wuhan Journalist Near Death

By: Jamestown Foundation

Wed November, 2021, Age: 2 years



November 5, 2021

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Strategic Indicator
This issue’s number to watch4.9%

China’s reported year-on-year growth for the third quarter of 2021, down from 7.9% in the second quarter. The slowdown is driven by a number of factors, a decline in construction, an energy crunch, and an increase in state regulatory actions impacting a number of sectors. 

This Week:

*  Pentagon’s Annual China Military Power Report Highlights PRC’s Rapid Nuclear Force Modernization and Expansion 

*  China Holds Yearly Defense Forum Virtually: Charges AUKUS with Harming Regional Stability

*  China’s Leaders Skip Global Climate Talks

*  New Blows to Human Rights in Hong Kong

Citizen Journalist Who Covered Early Days of Wuhan COVID Outbreak Nears Death in Prison

Top Stories

(source: FAS

Pentagon’s Annual China Military Power Report Highlights PRC’s Rapid Nuclear Force Modernization and Expansion 

On Wednesday, the Pentagon released its annual report to Congress on Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China. Per the report, the PRC is on pace to have 1,000 nuclear warheads by 2030, including 700 “deliverable” warheads by 2027, which would put China near parity with allowable nuclear deployments for the US and Russia under the New START agreement. In talks on a New START extension with Russia last year, the Trump administration sought to incorporate China into the arms control framework that limits nuclear weapons and their strategic delivery systems. Ultimately Presidents Biden and Putin agreed to a five year extension on a bilateral basis in February. This week, following the publication of the DOD’s annual China report, the State Department urged Beijing to accept repeated US requests for arms control negotiations.

The new DOD report notes China’s rapid recent progress in expanding and modernizing its nuclear forces. Per the report, the PRC has already established a nascent “nuclear triad” as it develops air launched ballistic missiles, and improves its land and sea-based nuclear capabilities. The report also states that China is moving to increase the peacetime readiness of its nuclear forces by shifting  to a launch-on-warning posture that leverages its expanded silo-based force. Per the Pentagon,  China has also expanded its array of road-mobile, solid-fueled launchers, and is improving the range and reliability of its sea-launched ballistic missiles.

(source: ChinaMil)

China Holds Yearly Defense Forum Virtually: Charges AUKUS with Harming Regional Stability

Since its launch a decade ago, China has sought to position the annual Xiangshan forum as a peer to other preeminent international security conferences, particularly the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore and the Munich Security Conference. This year’s dialogue was held virtually as Beijing persists with its “zero-COVID” policy in an effort to tamp down a worsening viral outbreak ahead of the 2021 Winter Olympics.

The virtual forum featured a panel on strategic stability to address the supposedly destabilizing impact of US-Australia-UK military pact on regional stability, through the erosion of nuclear non-proliferation norms and the creation of military blocs in the region.

Notably, Jean-Louis Lozier, an advisor at the Security Studies Center of the French Institute of International Relations, expressed concerns about the impact of AUKUS on nonproliferation norms. Richard Tanter, Senior Research Associate at Australia’s Nautilus Institute, implied the deal could raise IAEA concerns.

Zhao Xiaozhuo, deputy director of the Xiangshan forum said each power had its own reason for joining AUKUS, the US to contain China, Australia to be more relevant and the UK to  relive its “past colonial glory” in Asia.

(source: Wikipedia).

China’s Leaders Skip Global Climate Talks

China’s role in this year’s global climate change conference (COP26) has fallen short of expectations. While many nations sent heads of state, China sent two lower-level representatives: the envoy for climate change, Xie Zhenhua, and the deputy minister of Ecology and Environment, Zhao Yingmin. Over 100 nations at the conference pledged to reduce methane emissions, but China, in addition to Russia and India, declined to sign on to the agreement. President Xi Jinping delivered a written statement on the harm created by climate change, but did not unveil any new commitments at the summit.

China’s lack of enthusiasm and the no-show from Xi elicited criticism from western leaders, notably President Biden. In his Glasgow speech, Biden criticized Xi for his failure to attend the conference. China hit back immediately, saying, “we are not the one who withdrew from the Paris Agreement.”

China’s domestic media coverage of COP26 has been limited, mainly sticking to the points laid out in Xi’s written statement. However, several outlets are claiming the conference deliberately did not provide a video method for Xi to deliver his speech, telling the Chinese delegation that only written speeches were permitted. Other delegates participated remotely via video conference.

(source: Bangkok Post)

Citizen Journalist Who Covered Early Days of Wuhan COVID Outbreak Nears Death in Prison

Zhang Zhan, 38, a former lawyer, who travelled to Wuhan in February 2020 to chronicle the COVID-19’s initial outbreak is near death due to a hunger strike. Zhang was detained in March 2020. In December, she was sentenced to four years’ incarceration on the vague charge of “picking quarrels and provoking trouble.” Three weeks ago, Zhang’s family requested to visit her at the Shanghai women’s prison where she is being held, but has yet to receive any response from the authorities.

During her hunger strike, Zhang has been force fed nasally and is severely underweight. This is taking place as China continues to refuse any and all calls from the international community for greater information on the origins of  the COVID-19 epidemic in China. In an August 2021 statement, US President Biden charged China with obscuring critical information on COVID-19’s origins, asserting that “from the beginning, government officials in China have worked to prevent international investigators and members of the global public health community from accessing it. To this day, the PRC continues to reject calls for transparency and withhold information, even as the toll of this pandemic continue to rise. “

More Blows to Human Rights in Hong Kong 

The human rights landscape in Hong Kong reached a new low this week. The Hong Kong government passed a law to censor films that are “deemed to violate China’s national security interests” which will stifle the local film industry. The Executive Council of Hong Kong has also ordered that the already-defunct Hong Kong Alliance in Support of Patriotic Democratic Movements of China, which is behind the June 4 Tiananmen Square vigil, have its license stripped. Although Hong Kong’s government initially said its 2020 National Security Law would  “impact only a small group of people,” these episodes indicate that it has in reality been used as a pretext to restrict the civil and political rights in a much broader way.

In addition, when asked about Amnesty International’s recent announcement that it will close its two offices in Hong Kong by the end of the year due to restrictions imposed by the National Security Law, Chief Executive Carrie Lam obfuscated, falsely claiming that “there is no way that one could prove that this is exactly the reason for [them] taking such a decision.”




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