September 25, 2020 – Stealth War Newsletter 9

By: Jamestown Foundation

Fri September, 2020, Age: 3 years



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September 25, 2020

Strategic Indicator
This issue’s number to watch


The year by which China pledges to achieve carbon neutrality as President Xi Jinping pushed for a “green revolution” at the UN general debate on Tuesday. As of this year, China is still the largest polluter state in the world.

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This week, Chinese President Xi Jinping made strong efforts to cement China’s position as a responsible “major power” in a “post-American” era at the UN, and stated in a video conference with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres that Beijing “will not sit idly by and allow its national sovereignty, dignity, and development space to be undermined.”

The U.S. House of Representatives moved this week to block imports from Xinjiang that had were allegedly made with forced labor. The Chinese government has protested that millions of workers have benefited from its “educational and vocational training” camps, but new reports released this week have shown that Beijing has drastically expand its internment camps and coercive labor policies both in Tibet and Xinjiang.

Xi’s speech at the UN attempted to portray China as a leader in international cooperation over global issues such as climate change and healthcare, attempting to take over diplomatic space ceded by the U.S. decision to pull back on its funding commitments to the WHO and leave the Paris Climate Agreement. President Trump, in his speech at the UN, said the WHO was “virtually controlled” by China.

The U.S.-China relationship continues to decline over fears of research and technology theft, with a report by the Nikkei Asian Review finding that three-quarters of companies recently blacklisted by the U.S. have had dealings with the People’s Liberation Army (PLA). In the past few months, the FBI and Department of Justice have begun increasingly scrutinizing researchers links to China’s military establishment, culminating in a series of visa fraud arrests and the banning of over 1000 visiting scholars earlier this month. This past Wednesday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned politicians at the state and local level to be vigilant of united front activities and specifically called out the “predatory and coercive behavior” of organizations such as the U.S.-China Friendship Association and the China Council for the Promotion of Peaceful Reunification.

Following the second of two historic high-level visits by senior U.S. officials to the democratic country of Taiwan, Foreign Minister Joseph Wu said in an interview with NPR that Taiwan is not pursuing formal diplomatic relations with the U.S. for now, but that there is “a lot” of room to strengthen ties in other ways, including in the economic, trade, political, and security realms. Increased overtures between the U.S. and Taiwan have caused concern in China, which views Taiwan as being under its sovereignty. In addition to increasing official overtures, U.S. foreign policy experts have openly mulled revisiting the question of U.S.-Taiwan relations following the de-classification of the Six Articles earlier this month. Business leaders and politicians from the EU have also turned increasingly to Taiwan, as Europeans’ skepticism of trade with China has grown. China has not responded well to this apparent global policy shift: the Taiwanese Defense Military has reported 46 incidents of Chinese planes violating Taiwanese airspace in the past nine days, and a hysterical op-ed in the state media organ The Global Times has warned that the possibility of returning U.S. forces to Taiwan would “trigger reunification-by-force-operation”.

And finally, the conflict between the U.S. and China over the future of TikTok has continued this week, as a potential deal to sell TikTok’s American operations to Walmart and Oracle has appeared to sputter. Contrary descriptions of the basic components of the deal appeared in American and Chinese media, with even basic facts such as who would ultimately retain ownership of the American subsidiary of TikTok Global or who would control parent company Bytedance’s proprietary algorithms, being unresolved. Whatever deal is eventually reached would need to be approved by both the American and Chinese governments; as the likelihood of a successful deal shrinks, TikTok has turned to the U.S. court system, asking a U.S. judge on Wednesday to block the federal order that would ban TikTok from U.S. app stores. A federal judge in San Francisco issued a preliminary injunction blocking the related WeChat ban this past Sunday.

Stealth War Flyover


In the second episode of Stealth War Flyover, Jamestown President Glen Howard and former Senior Director for Strategy to the President Robert Spalding discuss President Trump’s recent executive order potentially banning TikTok and WeChat; what policy options Washington has on the situation in Hong Kong; and recent comments made by Keith Krach, the undersecretary of state for economic growth, energy and the environment, on U.S. universities’ index funds holding Chinese stock.

Stealth War Flyover is a periodic series featuring Brigadier General (ret.) Robert Spalding and Jamestown Foundation President Glen Howard discussing and dissecting the latest news in the ongoing competition between China and the United States.

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