September 16, 2022- Stealth War 103: Tibet in Grip of COVID-19, Forced Lockdowns; China Imposes Sanctions on CEOs of U.S. Defense Firms; Xi Meets With Pakistani PM; Iran to Join SCO; Chinese State Media Highlights Return of “Martyrs” from the “War to Resist U.S. Aggression and Aid Korea”

By: Jamestown Foundation

Fri September, 2022, Age: 9 months



September 16, 2022

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Record number of incursions made by People’s Liberation Army (PLA) warplanes into Taiwan’s Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) in August. This more than doubled the previous monthly record of 196 set last October. ADIZ incursions are tracked by Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense. 

This Week: 

Tibet in Grip of COVID-19, Forced Lockdowns

China Imposes Sanctions on CEOs of U.S. Defense Firms in Retaliation for Taiwan Arms Sales

* Xi Meets With Pakistani Prime Minister, Discusses Deepening Security and Economic Cooperation

Iran to Join Shanghai Cooperation Organization in April 2023

* Chinese State Media Highlights Return of “Martyrs” from the “War to Resist U.S. Aggression and Aid Korea”

Top Stories

(source: RFA)

Tibet in Grip of COVID-19, Forced Lockdowns 

Tibet is no stranger to the People’s Republic of China’s (PRC) draconian “zero Covid” epidemic prevention policy. However, if one only reads state owned media, they could be forgiven for thinking that almost all of its five or so largest cities had virtually no new infections at the end of last month, with only “83 locally-transmitted confirmed COVID-19 cases and 444 local asymptomatic carriers” in all of Tibet as of August 26. The official narrative attributes success “to the arduous prevention and control efforts made by local authorities since the COVID-19 resurgence began on August 7.” Moreover, Beijing claims that due to its decisive action, harvests and other agricultural preparations for the winter are well underway, with no disruptions.

State media claims that the government response to the outbreak in Tibet has been overwhelmingly effective. However, on September 16, the South China Morning Post ran the headline “Coronavirus in China: food shortages and chaos reported in locked down Lhasa,” saying Beijing has “recorded more than 540 infections so far, along with many more asymptomatic cases” in Lhasa alone. The media outlet additionally stated that Tibet’s capital city is facing widespread food shortages and “chaos.” Tibet has an expansive police state apparatus that is stifling even by PRC standards. Nevertheless, anecdotal reports on the microblogging site Weibo indicate the public health situation may be far worse than realized, with Lhasa’s infection numbers in the thousands; the cries for help have even begun reaching outlets such as The New York Times. Unfortunately, Beijing has far more latitude to use violent repression in the sensitive region, and given how more prominent, Han-dominated regions of the PRC were treated during zero-COVID lockdowns, the situation in Tibet looks quite grim.

(source: Wikipedia)

China Imposes Sanctions on CEOs of U.S. Defense Firms in Retaliation for Taiwan Arms Sales

Last week, the U.S. State Department rolled out a $1.1 billion arms package to Taiwan, which include logistical support for Taiwan’s Surveillance Radar Program, 60 Harpoon anti-ship missiles and 100 Sidewinder tactical air missiles. The Harpoon is manufactured by Boeing Defense, Space and Security and the sidewinder is produced by Raytheon, which also furnishes technical support for Taiwan’s radar program.  Despite the approval of the sale, Taipei is still awaiting the delivery of a $2.37 billion sale announced in 2020 for 100 Harpoon missiles.

In response to the latest arms sales, the PRC Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced sanctions on Gregory Hayes, Chairman and CEO of Raytheon, and Theodore Colbert III, president and CEO of Boeing Defense, Space & Security, as a measure to “defend China’s national sovereignty and security interests.” The MFA also stated that U.S. arms sales “violate the one-China principle and the provisions of the three China-U.S. joint communiques.”

The U.S. Congress, which has been a source of calls to strengthen support for Taiwan, applauded the move. However, both Democratic and Republican members expressed concern about the delays in arms deliveries to Taiwan. This week, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee advanced the bipartisan “Taiwan Policy Act of 2022,” which will entitle Taipei to the same benefits as “a major non-NATO ally for the purposes of the transfer or possible transfer of defense” and thereby bolster military aid to Taiwan.

(source: Wikipedia)

Xi Meets With Pakistani Prime Minister, Discusses Deepening Security and Economic Cooperation

Today, Chinese President Xi Jinping met with recently appointed Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on the sidelines of the 22nd Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) Heads of State Summit in the city of Samarkand in Uzbekistan.

The meeting began with President Xi raising concerns over the safety of Chinese citizens in Pakistan due to several recent terrorist attacks on Chinese projects in the country. According to the Chinese Foreign Ministry, Xi said that China hopes “Pakistan will provide solid protection for the security of Chinese citizens and institutions in Pakistan as well as the lawful rights and interests of Chinese businesses.” His plea for safety follows a terrorist attack on a Confucius Institute in Karachi, Pakistan, in April this year by the Baluchistan Liberation Army (BLA). The bombing killed three Chinese tutors in a car along with their Pakistani driver. In July 2021 a bomb exploded hit a bus carrying workers to an under-construction dam in northern Pakistan, killing nine Chinese citizens. Since terrorist attacks peaked in the mid 2000s, Pakistan has seen a decrease in violence in the country thanks to sweeping military operations across the country, but this year showcased the resilience of two particular terrorist groups still operating in contested regions, the Pakistani Taliban (Tehreek-e-Taliban) and the Baluch Liberation Army (BLA). Pakistan has demonstrated its ability to counter terrorism before, and Sharif told Xi that Islamabad will “make its best efforts to protect the security of Chinese citizens and institutions.”

In addition to discussing the security situation in Pakistan, the two leaders reasserted their commitment to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which has suffered from delays due to financial and regulatory holdup on Pakistan’s part. In May this year, a reported 25 Chinese firms operating in Pakistan under CPEC announced they would be forced to cease operations unless payments of 300 billion Pakistani rupees owed to them were paid. Despite this, Xi commended Pakistan for taking the lead on actively supporting the Global Development Initiative and the Global Security Initiative, saying that they will work with Pakistan to implement these projects.

For his part, Sharif also commended the Chinese side for its valuable support concerning severe flooding taking place in some parts of Pakistan. Sharif lauded the Chinese President’s accomplishments and China’s burgeoning strength under his leadership, expressed hope in the success of the upcoming 20th National Congress of the Communist Party, and reaffirmed the one-China policy concerning Taiwan.

(source: Iran Presidency Office)

Iran to Join Shanghai Cooperation Organization in April 2023

During the Shanghai Cooperation Organization’s (SCO) September 15-16 summit, Iran signed the first round of documents required for full membership in the grouping. The SCO and Tehran announced that the nation will become a full member by April 2023. As Chinese state media observed, with Iran joining the SCO, the grouping will account “for 40 percent of the world’s population and 28 percent of global GDP.” Tehran is hoping that by an gaining admission to BRICS and through various bilateral efforts with its neighbors, it can reduce its international isolation and alleviate the economic distress it is facing due to international sanctions and the global economic downturn.

Iran is particularly keen on providing energy to SCO member states, as well as gaining greater access to regional transport infrastructure. Furthermore, the security cooperation dimensions of the SCO will likely increase Iranian arms exports while encouraging greater intelligence cooperation among members. Such factors are particularly beneficial to Russia. President Putin declared on the first day of the summit that his country is “doing everything to make Iran a full member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.” In turn, Iran’s President Raisi emphasized that cooperation with Moscow will allow both countries to neutralize sanctions, and that his nation’s relations with Russia “are not ordinary; they are of a strategic nature. Iran wishes to expand its strategic relations with Russia and all political, economic, trade, and aerospace areas.” Raisi also stressed that Tehran- Moscow cooperation can “neutralize” the effects of US sanctions on both countries. Finally, as Iran expands its regional ties, Tehran may also come to serve as a mediating force between fellow SCO members India, Pakistan, and the China.

(source: Xinhua)

Chinese State Media Highlights Return of “Martyrs” from the “War to Resist U.S. Aggression and Aid Korea” 

As geopolitical tensions with the U.S. remain high, PRC state media has placed greater emphasis on China’s historical experience fighting American forces in the Korean War, which is officially referred to as “the War to Resist U.S. Aggression and Aid Korea.” Earlier this week, a Y-20 heavy transport plane, which was escorted by two Chinese J-20 stealth fighter jets, carried the remains of 88 PLA troops killed in the conflict. Nine such repatriations have taken place since 2014 and the handovers are seen as an important normative and humanitarian symbol of cordial relations between China and South Korea, which were only normalized in 1992. This round of repatriation is the first to occur since the new conservative President Yoon Suk-yeol assumed office in South Korea earlier this year. President Yoon has sought to deepen ties with the U.S. while maintaining decent relations with Beijing.

In 2020, General Secretary Xi gave a speech commemorating the Chinese soldiers who perished in the war and expressed gratitude to “all peace-loving countries” who contributed to the fight against U.S. hegemony in Korea. Last year, “The Battle at Lake Changjin,” a movie which glorifies a PLA unit fighting more advanced American adversaries, was a blockbuster, earning nearly one billion dollars, which made it the highest grossing film of all time in China.




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