• Industrial output rises in July
• India – China border situation continues to fester
• Xi Jinping’s anti-corruption campaign against the police in China
• Pakistan FM Qureshi visits counterpart Wang Yi in China
• Japan is warned by China not to ban TikTok
• Japan marks 75th Anniversary of atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki
• Japanese shipping firm considers compensation for Mauritius oil spill
• Shinzo Abe becomes Japan’s longest continuously serving PM
• US sanctions 11 HK officials including Chief Executive Carrie Lam
• HK Publisher arrested under new National Security Law
• US Health Secretary visits Taiwan
• Kim Jong Un replaces Premier of North Korea
II Developments in China
Industrial output rises in July
Industrial output rose in China in July 2020 as compared to the same month of the previous year by what seems a healthy 4.8%. However, consumer retail sales dropped 1.1% in the same month. This permits Beijing to argue that its economy is coming out of the decline sparked by the Covid-19 pandemic.
India – China border situation continues to fester
The border situation in Ladakh between India and China continues to fester. Despite several rounds of diplomatic as well as military talks, China does not show any sign of restoring the status quo ante. They seem to want to hold on to their current ground positions and all efforts at de-escalation and disengagement have so far proved futile. The two armies will now prepare for wintering in the harsh climes of Ladakh. In order for India to get across its message to China that if there is no peace on our borders, then the rest of the relationship also cannot stay the same and will suffer and decline, the Government will need to take some more policy measures to convey our seriousness to Beijing.
Xi Jinping’s anti-corruption campaign against the police in China
Chinese leader Xi Jinping has run a series of anti-corruption campaigns against different segments of the power structure in China ever since he took charge of the Communist Party of China in end 2012. After the Party and the Armed Forces, Xi has trained his guns on the police force in China. Recently, the authorities moved against the Shanghai city police chief Gong Daoan accusing him of corruption and removing him from that post. He is the third such senior police official moved against in recent times. Xi has utilized such anti-corruption campaigns to get rid of officials who oppose him and put into place those who are his supporters.
Pakistan FM Qureshi visits counterpart Wang Yi in China
Pakistan Foreign Minister Qureshi made a dash to China on 20-21 August where he held the Strategic Dialogue between the two Ministers. As could be expected, Kashmir featured in their talks and the Chinese statement afterward stated that no change in the status quo should be made. CPEC was not merely discussed but there is likely to be further acceleration of those projects. India has objected to discussion of a matter internal to our country re-affirming that the entire erstwhile state of J&K is an integral part of the nation. There are reports that Qureshi went to China with a begging bowl as Islamabad requires foreign exchange to tide over its crisis. Relations with Saudi Arabia have queered recently and Beijing was the last resource. Chinese President Xi Jinping is expected to visit Pakistan next month and he could announce a package of measures aimed at providing that nation with some face saving measures. However, Chinese foreign exchange assistance to Pakistan has always been in the form of commercial bank loans which come at a high price. The trend is becoming clearer by the day, that Pakistan is becoming increasingly more dependent on China.
III Developments in Japan
Japan is warned by China not to ban TikTok
China warned Japan on 7 August not to ban the mobile phone app TikTok, owned by Bytedance, stating that such a move would have a major negative impact on bilateral relations. India was the first country to ban the short video app which was popular here. In a ballooning impact, the United States has also decided to ban the app and Japan is very actively considering a similar move. South Korea is also reportedly considering similar action against TikTok. Perhaps, India has much more leverage over China than many of us had imagined!
Japan marks 75th Anniversary of atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki
August marks the anniversary of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki which brought the 2nd World War to an end. The 75th Anniversary of this event was marked in a park in Nagasaki on 9 August 2020 in solemn fashion. The Hiroshima anniversary was marked on 6 August in a similar way. There were calls for a world free of nuclear weapons at the events, which happens each year but of course the nuclear weapon states pay no heed to such calls.
Japanese shipping firm considers compensation for Mauritius oil spill
The Japanese firm which owns the MV Wakashio which is spilling oil off the coast of Mauritius after running aground on a reef is willing to pay damages and reparations. Nagashiki Shipping which owns the ship even though under a Panamanian flag made this statement in Japan in mid August. India has sent a team to assist local authorities in dealing with the oil spill.
Shinzo Abe becomes Japan’s longest continuously serving PM
On 24 August 2020 Shinzo Abe became Japan’s longest continuously serving Prime Minister passing Eisaku Sato’s 2798 straight days in office. Abe’s ruling coalition has won 6 consecutive national elections. Abe’s approval ratings amongst the public have, however, declined this year and there is talk of his having to handover the baton as PM to a younger candidate.
IV Developments in Hong Kong
US sanctions 11 HK officials including Chief Executive Carrie Lam
The US Administration levied economic sanctions on 11 current and former Hong Kong officials including current Chief Executive Carrie Lam on 7 August 2020 for “implementing Beijing’s policies of suppression of freedom and democratic processes”. The US-based assets of these individuals or entities are blocked and Americans are prohibited from dealing with them. In retaliation, China has placed sanctions on several US personalities such as Senators Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio.
HK Publisher arrested under new National Security Law
HK publisher Jimmy Lai of Apple Daily was arrested in early August under the new, draconian National Security Law. Apple Daily is fiercely pro-democracy and Lai is being investigated for collusion with a foreign country or external elements. He is the most high profile target of the new law so far.
V Developments in Taiwan
US Health Secretary visits Taiwan
US Health Secretary Alex M. Azar II made a much publicized visit to Taiwan in early August 2020 becoming the highest level US official to visit that island nation since 1979 when the US recognized the PRC and agreed to adhere to a “one – China policy”. In a meeting with Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen he praised Taiwan’s democracy as well as its response to Covid-19.
VI Developments in North Korea
Kim Jong Un replaces Premier of North Korea
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un replaced the Premier of his country and named Kim Tok Hun to the position after severe flooding damaged standing crops in North Korea. This is looked upon very seriously in North Korea which is not able to grow as much food as it consumes and each year is at the mercy of donors through the World Food Program.
(The views expressed are personal)