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October 28, 2022- Stealth War 108: Partners, Fellow Marxist States, Trade Suitors Eager to Visit Beijing, Meet with Xi After the 20th Party Congress; Xi Emphasizes Military Strength; Widespread Protests Erupt Over Strict Zero-COVID Lockdowns in Tibet; Dutch Investigate Secret Overseas PRC Police Stations; China Slams New U.S. National Defense Strategy as Evidence of America’s “Cold War Mentality”

By: Jamestown Foundation

Fri October, 2022, Age: 1 year


October 28, 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 watch110 

Approximate number of “Overseas Police Stations” operated by the People’s Republic of China per a recent report from Safeguard Defenders. The stations are primarily used to facilitate extraordinary renditions of individuals wanted for prosecution or political discipline in China (see the fourth entry below). 

This Week: 

* Partners, Fellow Marxist States, Trade Suitors Eager to Visit Beijing, Meet with Xi After the 20th Party Congress

Xi Emphasizes Military Strength as New PLA Leadership Gathers

* Widespread Protests Erupt Over Strict Zero-COVID Lockdowns in Tibet

Dutch Investigate Secret Overseas PRC Police Stations

China Slams New U.S. National Defense Strategy as Evidence of America’s “Cold War Mentality”

Top Stories

(source: Xinhua)

Partners, Fellow Marxist States, Trade Suitors Eager to Visit Beijing, Meet with Xi After the 20th Party Congress

Fresh from his dominant showing at the 20th Party Congress, Chinese Communist Party (CCP) General Secretary is getting set to receive a stream of delegations led by foreign leaders.  The first leader to visit will be Vietnamese Communist Party General Secretary Nguyen Phu Trong who will travel to Beijing on Sunday. The visit is significant as the Vietnamese party boss rarely travels abroad. Following Xi’s “re-election” as General Secretary by the Central Committee, Trong sent a congratulatory message expressing his hope to “further strengthening political trust, and setting a great direction for future development of the relationship between the two countries.”

Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif will travel to China for the first time in his tenure on November 1, along with Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari. The Sharif government is hoping to use the talks to jumpstart progress on the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which has slowed both due to China’s internal financial issues and continued instability and insecurity in Pakistan.

Finally, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz will lead a business delegation to China from November 3-4, despite fellow European Union leaders expressing serious concern over the trip. A number of EU parliamentarians have even gone so far as to warn Scholz that there can be no separate deals with China. Last year, Scholz generated concern when he discussed “deepening” economic relations with China in a phone call with Xi and called for immediate ratification of the EU-China investment deal, which has been halted over human rights concerns.

(source: Xinhua)

Xi Emphasizes Military Strength as New PLA Leadership Gathers 

On October 27, the Central Military Commission (CMC) of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) “held an executive meeting on studying and implementing the guiding principles of the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CCP).” The official press release relays a focus on the full political and ideological alignment of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) with the CCP Central Committee and, more importantly, General Secretary Xi Jinping, who also chairs the CMC. The meeting featured the new lineup of CMC leadership, which the South China Morning Post described as a “clear signal that the [PLA] will be focused on Taiwan for the next five years and beyond.”

Recently confirmed as the CCP’s General Secretary for a third term, an achievement not seen since Mao, at the 20th Party Congress, CMC Chairman Xi emphasized the success and continuation of his “anti-graft” campaign in the military and the execution of a “comprehensive political education campaign” to ensure their commitment to his leadership. The program’s purpose is not solely to fight corruption, but also entails the removal of thousands of PLA officers insufficiently loyal to the Party and Xi. Such efforts are of utmost importance as the PRC is both facing significant domestic challenges and increasing pressure to gain full control over Taiwan, the latter of which increasingly seems to require military action. In this vein, in a written report, Xi called for faster military growth and development, citing the need to normalize the use of military power and the ability to “win regional wars.”

Some view the phrase “regional wars” to be a welcome return to previous rhetoric, after Xi’s 2019 report dropped the world regional, which many took as a sign of the PLA’s intention to transform itself into a global expeditionary force. More likely, however, it implies a focus on intensifying regional contingencies along the border with India, and above all the struggle for Taiwan, which as is becoming increasingly clear, would now engulf much of the first island chain, from Japan to Australia.

(source: RFA)

Widespread Protests Erupt Over Strict Zero-COVID Lockdowns in Tibet

On Wednesday, rare large protests have reportedly broken out in Tibet against strict Chinese government-imposed zero-COVID rules. According to Radio Free Asia, protests occurred in the capital of Lhasa, where residents took to the streets in large numbers to express their ire over the harsh lockdown that have been imposed in the region for more than two months. These were the first mass protests to occur in Tibet since the 2008 Tibetan Uprising, which was a series of demonstrations against the Chinese government’s brutal treatment of ethnic Tibetans and blasphemous approach toward Tibetan Buddhism. That year, the PLA and police crushed the protesters, killing dozens of individuals. Video footage of the Wednesday protests was captured during both the day and night, with daytime footage showing Tibetans standing still or milling about along with Han Chinese zero-COVID enforcers in white hazmat suits. At nighttime, however, crowd surges and car blockades took place, while the crowd repeatedly raised their voices.

According to the videos and Radio Free Asia’s Tibetan Service, protestors warned Chinese officials that they would “set off a fire” if they refused to lift the COVID lockdown restrictions. What setting off a fire means remains up to debate, but it could be referring to the Buddhist practice of self-immolation, which would add to the total number of immolations since 2009 which sits at 150. The protests appeared in the Chakrong area, in Lhasa’s Chéngguān district in the eastern part of the capital, as well as in the Payi district. Social media posts from residents claim that the lockdown order which came through two months ago left them with little time to prepare, leaving Tibetans short of food and basic necessities. It also made it more difficult for those infected to locate treatment centers. In addition to self-immolation, last month reports from the region came out that Tibetans in Lhasa were jumping from buildings. On a separate but related note, at least 22 people in northern China died of starvation or lack of medical attention due to zero-COVID related impediments last month. This indicates that what is transpiring in Tibet is not a localized problem, but a symptom of a larger issue resulting from the Zero-COVID measures of the CCP.

(source: Wikipedia)

Dutch Investigate Secret Overseas PRC Police Stations 

On October 25, the Netherlands’ RTL  Nieuws reported that the People’s Republic of China (PRC) has been operating at least two illegal “police” or “overseas service” stations in Dutch territory since 2018 to silence dissidents abroad.  It is unclear as to whether or not there are facilities with earlier founding dates. On the surface, these facilities allowed Dutch citizens of Chinese descent to report changes in civil status, renew passports, and to renew PRC driving licenses. However, many, if not all, of these activities are supposed to occur through official embassy and consulate locations.

While the true purpose of such illegal facilities is openly promoted in PRC media as a way to “’crack down on local and illegal criminal activity in Fuzhou that has to do with overseas Chinese’,” a PRC Foreign Ministry spokesperson said the claims were “simply untrue.” In the context of a September 12 report by Safeguard Defenders, concerning 110 PRC “police ‘service stations’” around the world, resulting in recent media attention, as well as previous reports documenting Beijing’s global abduction programs, and the recent US Department of Justice charges against PRC intelligence officers, it is clear that the stations in the Netherlands are not solely intended to bring criminals and corrupt officials to justice, but also seek to ensnare critics of the CCP, including Uyghurs, Tibetans and pro-democracy exiles from Hong Kong.

(source: Wikipedia)

China Slams New U.S. National Defense Strategy as Evidence of America’s “Cold War Mentality” 

A spokesperson for China’s Ministry of National Defense (MND) expressed outrage over the characterization of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) as America’s “most consequential strategic competitor for the coming decades” in the new U.S. National Defense Strategy (NDS). In his introduction to the NDS,  Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin wrote that he reached this conclusion based on “the PRC’s increasingly coercive actions to reshape the Indo-Pacific region and the international system to fit its authoritarian preferences, alongside a keen awareness of the PRC’s clearly stated intentions and the rapid modernization and expansion of its military.”

MND spokesperson Senior Colonel Tan Kefei said that the NDS “is full of Cold War mentality and promotes the idea of a zero-sum game, hyped up geopolitical conflicts and major power competition, viciously making camp confrontations by ideology.” He also asserted that the U.S.’s focus on strategic competition “went against the era’s subject of peace and development” as well as “the common expectation of the international community.” At the recently concluded 20th Party Congress, Xi stated “we will work faster to modernize military theory, personnel and weapons” and promised “we will enhance the military’s strategic capabilities.” Xi said achieving this task is essential to “safeguard China’s dignity and core interests.”