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October 21, 2022- Stealth War 107: PRC Diplomats Assault Protesters at Manchester Consulate; Chinese State-Owned Shipping Giant COSCO to Gain a Foothold in Hamburg Port; Amidst Brain Drain, Hong Kong Launches “Largest Ever” Talent Attraction Program; Another Casualty of Zero-COVD: Outrage Mounts over Death of Girl in Chinese Government Quarantine Center; Papua New Guinea and Australia to Sign Security Treaty

By: Jamestown Foundation

Fri October, 2022, Age: 1 year


October 21, 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 times that General Secretary Xi Jinping used the term “security” (安全) in his address to open the 20th Party Congress on Sunday. Xi only used the word 54 times in his 2017 address

This Week: 

* PRC Diplomats Assault Protesters at Manchester Consulate

Chinese State-Owned Shipping Giant COSCO to Gain a Foothold in Hamburg Port

* Amidst Brain Drain, Hong Kong Launches “Largest Ever” Talent Attraction Program

Another Casualty of Zero-COVD: Outrage Mounts over Death of Girl in Chinese Government Quarantine Center

Papua New Guinea and Australia to Sign Security Treaty

Top Stories

(source: RFA)

PRC Diplomats Assault Protesters at Manchester Consulate

On October 16, diplomats from the People’s Republic of China (PRC) Consulate in Manchester harassed and beat protesters on camera and in full view of UK police officers. The incident occurred during a peaceful protest against Xi Jinping’s growing cult of personality, the crushing of one country two systems in Hong Kong and the severe human rights violations perpetrated by the PRC in Xinjiang, Tibet and elsewhere. The Consul General Zheng Xiyuan and the other PRC diplomats found the posters offensive, which prompted them to confront the demonstrators outside the consulate.

After verbally harassing the protesters, the diplomats, including Zheng, vandalized the protesters’ posters and attempted to pull them inside the grounds of the consulate. The demonstrators struggled over at least one of the signs near the  entryway and the situation quickly devolved into a physical altercation, which the PRC has baldly mischaracterized as an attempt to storm the compound. In the process, one of the protesters, a man from Hong Kong, was dragged by his hair past the gates by Zheng, despite a UK officer attempting to intervene.

Contrary to video evidence, the PRC claims the protester would not release the throat of one of their officials and subsequently stumbled in. Once past the gate, six PRC representatives immediately began pummeling the protester as the mask-clad Zheng looked on. Despite rules against law enforcement encroaching on embassy or consulate grounds uninvited, UK police entered the courtyard and pulled the man to safety. Zheng later claimed the lives of his staff were in danger. However, he later justified his participation in the assault by stating: “the man abused my country, my leader. I think it’s my duty,” adding that any diplomat would do the same.

The UK is currently investigating the incident, with one “junior British foreign office minister” expecting the PRC would waive diplomatic immunity for any official facing charges for the incident, but this sounds more like wishful thinking.

Unfortunately, all around the world, Chinese Communist Party officials and their proxies feel entitled to physically and verbally attack anyone criticizing Xi or the PRC. Such behavior is not only tolerated but has even resulted in criminal charges against the victims (e.g. Australia). Without vilifying PRC citizens or other Asians, government and non-government officials must be aware of the scope, intentions and consequences of these tactics.

London did summon the PRC Ambassador over the incident, but has hitherto failed to make Zheng persona non grata, which has generated growing outrage in the UK. Former Tory leader Iain Duncan Smith derided the attack as an “outrageous and violent attack” on peaceful protesters and stressed that all those involved should be “made persona non grata immediately and sent back to China.”

(source: Xinhua)

Chinese State-Owned Shipping Giant COSCO to Gain a Foothold in Hamburg Port

This week, an investigation by German regional public broadcasters reports that German Chancellor Olaf Scholz is pushing to approve efforts by Chinese state-owned shipping giant, COSCO to buy a share of Hamburg’s container port. In advocating the deal, Scholz is ignoring warnings from six federal ministries, including  Vice Chancellor Robert Habeck, who serves as Minister of Economic Affairs and Climate. Concern over the potential investment stems from fears of creating an economic over-dependence on China when Germany is just now realizing the consequences of energy dependence on Russia ahead of a blistering winter.

COSCO first reached a deal to acquire a stake in the port September 2021, which is now being subject to regulatory approval. If approved, the company will secure a 35 percent minority stake in the container terminal at Tollerort. The site is one of three such terminals inside the Hamburg port complex, and an essential element of the port’s revenues. Hamburg is Europe’s third largest port, and the logic for approving Chinese investment is that the port will then be favored by Chinese shipping companies exporting to Europe. According to German media, Vice Chancellor Habeck has been attempting to get the issue on the agenda of the Federal Cabinet in order to formally oppose the acquisition while Scholz’s chancellery is instead demanding the ministries draft a compromise that will be approved as the deadline for signing the deal approaches at the end of October. Interestingly, Scholz was the mayor of Hamburg for seven years until 2018. During his tenure, the city’s trade with China boomed.

(source: Global Times)

Amidst Brain Drain, Hong Kong Launches “Largest Ever” Talent Attraction Program

Since Beijing imposed the National Security Law on Hong Kong in mid-2020 more than 200,000 residents have fled the city. Those who have left include some of the brightest and most globally oriented young professionals and students. Another factor driving outmigration is the PRC’s strict zero-COVID policy, which has contributed to the city’s decline as an international business hub. Growing numbers of multinational companies have relocated, or plan to relocate, their Asia headquarters to other locations in the region such as Singapore. According to a recent survey of European companies in Hong Kong, only 17 percent had no plans to relocate their Asian headquarters elsewhere outside of China.

Hong Kong Chief Executive John Lee acknowledged that the city’s workforce has shrunk by 140,000 people in the past two years. In order to counter this brain drain, Lee announced the “largest” talent attraction program in the city’s history. Individuals who are eligible for the new visa program must have an annual salary over $318,000 or have graduated from one of the world’s top 100 universities.

(source: Wikipedia)

Another Casualty of Zero-COVD: Outrage Mounts over Death of Girl in Chinese Government Quarantine Center

News that a 14-year-old girl, who was taken into a centralized quarantine center in Henan province, has died has sparked another bout of outrage with the zero-COVID policy on social media. The girl, Guo JinJin, came down with a fever shortly after being compelled to go the center. Netizens responded with shock to footage of Guo convulsing and trembling on a bed in the crowded building. Her family shared a video narrated by the girl’s aunt, who said her niece died due to fever-related causes. The relative said the family repeatedly begged authorities for medical help, but they were ignored. The family has also requested that the ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP) examine the cause of Guo’s death.

In his address to open the 20th Party Congress, Xi doubled down on the “dynamic zero-COVID policy” despite its growing economic and social costs. He described the efforts as a “people’s war to stop the spread of the virus.” China has used only domestically made vaccines. Consequently, some experts assert that Xi’s attachment to zero-COVID indicates his skepticism that vaccines will protect the population against a potential wave of infections this winter. Moreover, due to almost three years of zero-COVID, the PRC has developed very little herd immunity to COVID-19 and as a result, the population remains very vulnerable, particularly the elderly. Finally, zero-COVID is a power tool for social control, so Xi may have an interest in permanently institutionalizing the policy.

(source: Deccan Herald)

Papua New Guinea and Australia to Sign Security Treaty

On October 13, while in Papua New Guinea (PNG), Australian Defense Minister Richard Marles announced that Canberra wishes to sign an “ambitious” bilateral security treaty with Port Moresby. This comes on the heels of Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong’s visit, a joint UK-Australia-PNG military exercise, and the White House’s Pacific Islands Summit at the end of September. The latter of which yielded a roadmap including “soon” beginning negotiations with Papua New Guinea on a Defense Cooperation Agreement (DCA), along with a variety of other security, development, and cooperation initiatives. The defense minister’s statements were also coincided with the PNG’s talks with Japan, which focused on “expanding and strengthening” already strong bilateral relations, including existing defense cooperation.

Marles believes that existing security agreements and cooperation between PNG and Australia will make the process relatively quick and easy, as the treaty will primarily focus on advancing the bilateral security relationship. Negotiations are set to begin in November, and Australian Prime Minister Albenese is scheduled to visit the nation in December. For PNG’s part, Prime Minister James Marape stated that “PNG has no greater relationship than the PNG-Australia relationship.” So far, it would seem that the Quad is well on its way to solidifying its strategic relationship with a key Pacific partner in its effort to counter the People’s Republic of China. However, Beijing is still very active in the nation’s development and it would not be surprising if Beijing tries to find a way to obstruct Australia’s growing security relations with Papua New Guinea. Although Australia is by far the country’s biggest trading partner, accounting for about 35 percent of all exports, China’s share has shot up of late, increasing by 25 percent last year. Moreover, Beijing and Port Moresby are in discussions on a free trade agreement, which could give a major boost to natural resource exports to China.