- New Museum of the Communist Party of China inaugurated for Centenary Celebrations
- Rumors of a defection from China’s Ministry of State Security
- Bytedance revenues double in 2020
- China criticizes G-7 statements and comments
- Anniversary of Galwan marked in India
- China gives 1 billion doses of vaccine against Covid-19
- Japan ratifies RCEP
- Japan reached target of 1 million vaccine doses in a day
- Japan’s population falls to 126.22 million in 2020
- Japanese household assets hit record high
- Japan all set for the Olympic Games
- US Representative for North Korea visits Seoul
- Finance Minister vows full economic recovery in 2021
- North Korea refuses talks with US
- North Korea informs WHO that not a single case of Covid-19 detected
- Kim Jong-un loses some serious weight
- Apple Daily shuts down due to unprecedented crackdown
- G-7 calls on China to respect HK’s autonomy
- Hardliner John Lee appointed Chief Secretary
- Taiwan – U.S. to resume trade talks
II Developments in China
New Museum of the Communist Party of China inaugurated for Centenary Celebrations
A spanking new museum of the Communist Party of China was inaugurated on 18 June 2021 in north Beijing when General Secretary Xi Jinping and the entire membership of the Party’s Politburo Standing Committee visited the Museum. They took an oath to uphold the ideals of the Party. All this is timed for the Centenary celebrations of the founding of the Communist Party of China which falls on 1 July 2021. The museum itself is divided into 4 themes – (a) establishing the Communist Party of China (b) establishing the People’s Republic of China (c) implementing reform and opening up (d) promoting socialism with Chinese characteristics to build a well-off society. China is a nation which places importance on documenting history, treating this as something very important. The new Museum is another example of this mode of thinking. With the Communist Party of China now having been in government for over 70 years and no sign of its power waning, a separate Museum for the Party was inevitable. Moreover, now there is no way to distinguish between the history of the Party and the recent history of China.
Rumors of a defection from China’s Ministry of State Security
Over the past 10 days, there have been very strong rumors of a defection by a senior Chinese official from China’s Ministry of State Security – its foreign intelligence apparatus – to the United States. The rumors concern the defection to the West of Vice Minister of State Security Dong Jingwei along with his daughter. Dong was in charge of counterintelligence. If this is true – which seems very unlikely at present – it will constitute the highest-level defection from Communist China to the United States.
Bytedance revenues double in 2020
Bytedance, the Chinese company which owns the popular short video app TikTok, has announced that its revenues grew strongly in 2020 more than doubling to US $ 34.3 billion. Gross profit rose to US $ 19 billion. Incidentally, TikTok is one of the apps banned in India by the Government.
China criticizes G-7 statements and comments
Alleging that some countries are still stuck in a Cold War, zero-sum game mentality, China denounced statements made by the Cornwall G-7 Summit. Calling the present time, an age of collaboration, the official Xinhua news agency stated that the era when a small number of countries can control the destiny of the world and dictate a global agenda is gone. It called for discarding China bashing and criticized the U.S. for wanting to maintain its hegemony. Incidentally, the G-7 communique had called for a timely, transparent, expert-led, science-based study of the origins of Covid-19. It had called on China to respect human rights and expressed serious concern about the situation in the South China Sea.
Anniversary of Galwan marked in India
The first anniversary of the Galwan incident where 20 India soldiers and an unspecified number of Chinese soldiers (China has announced only 4 casualties) died in the first such incident on the border in 45 years, was marked with solemn commentary in India. As the situation where troops are in fairly close proximity, except in the Pangong Tso sector where a disengagement process has been implemented, continues till date most commentaries in India focused on the seriousness of the border standoff even a year down the line. There is little doubt that bilateral ties have been dented and will continue to move downwards as long as this situation on the border continues. A reset is taking place in India – China relations with the trend being downward.
China gives 1 billion doses of vaccine against Covid-19
Chinese media gave broad coverage to the fact that 1 billion doses of vaccine have been given so far all over the country. While this does not mean that 1 billion people in China have been vaccinated, the speed, scale and scope of the vaccination program is making excellent headway in China.
III Developments in Japan
Japan ratifies RCEP
Japan ratified the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement and deposited the instrument of ratifications with the ASEAN Secretariat on 25 June 2021. Japan becomes the third of 15 nations to ratify the Agreement. RCEP will come into effect 60 days after it is ratified by at least 6 ASEAN countries and 3 other nations.
Japan reached target of 1 million vaccine doses in a day
Japan’s drive to vaccinate its people went into overdrive as the Tokyo Olympics drew closer and in mid-June hit the target set out by PM Suga of 1 million vaccine doses in a day. Japan is racing to vaccinate its population by the time of the Olympic Games. Meanwhile, Tokyo reported 619 new Covid-19 cases on 22 June the first time this figure hit this number since May. The nation-wide tally was 1779.
Japan’s population falls to 126.22 million in 2020
As of 1 October 2020, Japan recorded a total population of 126.22 million thereby dropping it to 11th position in the world ranked by size of population. Japan recorded a decline in its population of 0.7 % from 2015 to 2020 thereby becoming the only top 20 populous countries to record a drop in population size.
Japanese household assets hit record high
Assets held by Japanese households rose by 7.1% to a record 1946 trillion Yen (17 trillion US $) at the end of March 2021. Consumers reduced spending during the pandemic and stock prices also recovered to ensure this result. Cash and deposits expanded to 1056 trillion Yen an annual increase of 5.5% over the previous year.
Japan all set for the Olympic Games
Japan is all set to host the Olympic Games at Tokyo from 23 July to 8 August 2021 even while uncertainty due to the Covid-19 situation continues to dog the games.
IV Developments in South Korea
US Representative for North Korea visits Seoul
The US Representative for North Korea Sung Kim visited Seoul in the third week of June 2021 to consult with the Government there. The two sides are actively considering dissolving a working group arrangement where they discuss North Korea affairs. This measure is being considered after Pyongyang stated that it was not helpful to advancing inter-Korean talks. Now, the US and South Korea are considering lowering the level of such consultations to Director General level.
Meanwhile, Sung Kim met with President Moon Jae-in, National Security Adviser Suh Hoon and Unification Minister Lee In-yong.
Finance Minister vows full economic recovery in 2021
South Korean Finance Minister Hong Nam-ki has established two goals for the economy in the second half of 2021 – (a) complete economic recovery (b) major structural transformation into a leading economy. He revised South Korea’s GDP growth rate upwards by a full percentage point to 4.2%. While pushing for higher employment, Korea is also accelerating its push for the Korean New Deal to promote a digital, low-carbon economy. The Government plans to launch a climate fund next year to help the country meet its goal of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.
V Developments in North Korea
North Korea refuses talks with US
North Korea shot down any possibility of a quick revival of talks with the United States when supreme leader Kim Jong-un’s sister Kim Yo-jong stated on 22 June that the expectations Washington chose to harbor “the wrong way, will plunge them into greater disappointment”. US Special Representative for North Korea Sung Kim was in Seoul for talks with the Government of President Moon Jae-in.
North Korea informs WHO that not a single case of Covid-19 detected
North Korea has informed the WHO that it has not had a single case of Covid-19 in the country. Over 30,000 people have been tested till date according to Pyongyang.
Kim Jong-un loses some serious weight
North Korean state television has aired views of ordinary North Koreans expressing concern over a much slimmer looking Kim Jong-un. One resident was caught on camera stating that people are heartbroken to see the General Secretary looking slimmer.
VI Developments in Hong Kong
Apple Daily shuts down due to unprecedented crackdown
HK newspaper Apple Daily, owned by democracy activist Jimmy Lai, faced an unprecedented crackdown on 17 June when national security police raided the newspapers premises and arrested five directors of the newspaper. This measure was taken for alleged collusion with a foreign country or external elements which endangered national security. Such action is unheard of in Hong Kong and can be traced back to the passing of the national security law by Beijing making it applicable to Hong Kong too. Apple Daily closed down permanently in late June 2021 dealing a great blow to freedom of speech in Hong Kong.
G-7 calls on China to respect HK’s autonomy
The Cornwall G-7 Summit called on China to respect those rights, freedoms and high degree of autonomy for Hong Kong enshrined in the Sino-British Joint Declaration and the Basic Law. How this will be implemented will be interesting.
Hardliner John Lee appointed Chief Secretary
Hardline security chief of Hong Kong was promoted to the position of Chief Secretary, the number two position in the HK Government, in a recent Cabinet reshuffle. Former Police Commissioner in turn was promoted to take Lee’s former post as Security Chief of HK. Deputy Police Commissioner Raymond Siu will replace him as Police Commissioner. With these changes hardliners on security matters have been promoted in all these positions.
VII Developments in Taiwan
Taiwan – U.S. to resume trade talks
Taiwan and the United States will resume trade talks on 30 June 2021 after a hiatus of five years under their Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) which itself was concluded in 1994. Two way trade was US $ 91 billion in calendar 2020.