I Overview

China:

• China’s Politburo holds Study Session on Quantum Science and Technology
• China posts good economic results for Q3
• China to impose sanctions on US firms selling arms to Taiwan
• 5th Plenary Session of Chinese Communist Party’s Central Committee meeting in Beijing
• India – China border faceoff continues

Japan:

• Quad Foreign Ministers meet at Tokyo
• External Affairs Minister Jaishankar meets his Japanese counterpart
• PM Suga delivers policy speech at opening of special Diet Session

South Korea:

• Xi Jinping’s speech on Korean War triggers protests from Seoul
• PM has telephonic conversation with President of South Korea

Taiwan:
 
• Chinese Embassy reacts furiously to Indian media reportage on Taiwan

II Developments in China

China’s Politburo holds Study Session on Quantum Science and Technology

The Politburo of the Chinese Communist Party held a Study Session on Quantum Science and Technology on 16 October aimed at providing a push to its research and development in China. General Secretary Xi Jinping presided over the session and stressed the need for China to develop self-reliant technology in this area in order to secure a stable supply chain. He promised more governmental assistance and support to the industry in development policy, talent recruiting and academic environment all of which indicate a sharp focus on the subject and enhanced budgetary support in the coming years. This is an important development signaling the continuing importance the Chinese Communist Party places on advanced S&T.

China posts good economic results for Q3

China’s GDP expanded by 4.9% in Q3 making it one of the few major economies in the world which posted positive growth even as the pandemic continues to haunt countries across the globe. Retail sales rose 3.3% in September on a year-on-year basis, while the industrial capacity utilization rate was reported at 76.7%. Value added industrial output in September grew 6.9%. Chinese exports rose 9.9% in September while imports increased by 13.2%. The IMF has predicted 1.9% growth of the Chinese economy for 2020 as a whole. Statisticians are alleging that there may be some data manipulation which has ensured these results with one consultancy firm pointing out that while China recorded growth in fixed asset investment in the first three quarters of the year absolute figures for the same period showed a drop of several trillion yuan.

China to impose sanctions on US firms selling arms to Taiwan

China has decided to impose sanctions on US firms such as Lockheed Martin, Boeing and Raytheon involved in arms sales to Taiwan. The US has planned arms sales of roughly US $ 1.8 billion to Taiwan this year.

5th Plenary Session of Chinese Communist Party’s Central Committee meeting in Beijing

The 5th Plenary Session of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China is taking place at Beijing 26-29 October. It is discussing details to be included in China’s 14th Five Year Plan (2021-25) as well as undertaking an assessment of economic targets for the nation in 2035.

India – China border faceoff continues

The faceoff between Indian and Chinese troops along the LAC in Ladakh continues with clear signals that the two Armies will winter in these inhospitable climes in the coming months. This once again shows the serious nature of China’s military moves this year. Border commanders are likely to continue their meetings over the coming weeks but the Chinese are obviously not prepared to restore the status quo ante. 

III Developments in Japan

Quad Foreign Ministers meet at Tokyo

The Foreign Minister of the 4 Quad countries – India, Australia, Japan and the US – met at Tokyo on 6 October to take their cooperation forward. The fact that the meeting was taking place physically and not virtually signifies the importance all four nations place on it. While there was no Joint Statement issued by the four, each of them issued their own public statement. The fact that the meeting took place even as China’s military aggression and coercion continues on India’s borders is an indication of its importance. The United States is indeed leading this process as its own trade and technology battle with China continues. Underplaying the significance of the Quad in the present geopolitical situation will be a mistake. Naturally, all round Chinese aggressiveness is the driving factor in the process.

External Affairs Minister Jaishankar meets his Japanese counterpart

The 13th India – Japan Foreign Ministers Strategic Dialogue was held in Tokyo on 7 October. Dr Jaishankar and Toshimitsu Motegi reviewed the entire gamut of the relationship including cyber security on which the text of an inter-governmental agreement had been finalized recently. The Supply Chain Resilience Initiative was discussed as was the connectivity pillar of the Indo-Pacific Region which is called the Indo-Pacific Oceans Initiative where Japan has agreed to be the leading partner. The meeting once again highlighted the importance of the two Asian countries working together to ensure multi-polarity on our continent.

PM Suga delivers policy speech at opening of special Diet Session

PM Suga delivered a policy speech laying out his priorities on 26 October at the opening of a special session of Japan’s Diet. He announced that Japan will be carbon free by 2050. He also highlighted the importance of the Japan-US alliance, spoke about maintaining stable ties with China and professed that he was open to meeting North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. Suga had just completed his first diplomatic trip abroad as PM – to Vietnam and Indonesia. 

IV Developments in South Korea

Xi Jinping’s speech on Korean War triggers protests from Seoul

Earlier this month, Chinese leader Xi Jinping delivered a speech on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the Chinese entry into the Korean War, which has sparked protest from Seoul alleging that the speech distorts history. As the Korean War was the only instance when Chinese and US troops faced off with each other, Xi has obviously used his speech to address the current tensions in China – US ties to warn that history shows that China will stand up for itself. Both Seoul and Washington have objected to these remarks stating that they distort history. Analysts say that the speech by Xi was aimed at his domestic audience to ensure that they understood China’s resolve to stand for its rights against the US. Seoul has also been dragged into this controversy which is actually part of the sparring between the US and China.

PM has telephonic conversation with President of South Korea

PM Narendra Modi spoke on telephone with South Korean President Moon Jae-in on 21 October reviewing important global developments including the Covid pandemic, the ongoing diversification of international value chains as well as a rules based global trade order. It will be recollected that a Korean national is in the running to be the next Director General of the WTO (along with a Nigerian candidate). 

V Developments in Taiwan

Chinese Embassy reacts furiously to Indian media reportage on Taiwan

Many Indian media outlets including TV and print media have been interviewing different Taiwanese personalities including Foreign Minister Dr Joseph Wu provoking strong reactions from the press department of the Chinese Embassy in Delhi which has been pointing out to the Government of India’s “One China” policy which recognizes Beijing and not Taipei. This clearly shows that Beijing does not understand an independent media and how it functions. It also does not seem to realize that the more it protests, Beijing adds to and contributes to the life of the story. While the Indian Government must stick to its policy, the people of India are free to follow what they think is right in the current scenario. Incidentally, some years ago a study had been undertaken on whether an FTA between India and Taiwan would be in the interests of the two sides, which had shown a perfect complementary fit between the two. 
 


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(The views expressed are personal)
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About the Author

Ambassador Gautam Bambawale

Former Ambassador of India to China and Distinguished Fellow, Ananta Centre Former Ambassador to Bhutan, China and High Commissioner to Pakistan

Ambassador (Retd) Gautam Bambawale was a member of the Indian Foreign Service from 1984 to 2018. He was India’s Ambassador to Bhutan, Pakistan and China.

Bambawale was stationed in Washington DC in 2004-07 during the Indo-US nuclear deal which transformed ties between the two countries. He has been India’s first Consul General in Guangzhou (China) 2007-09. He was Director of the Indian Cultural Centre, Berlin 1994-98.

Ambassador Bambawale worked in the Prime Minister’s Office 2002-04. At the Ministry of External Affairs he was Joint Secretary for East Asia from 2009-2014. Bambawale has dealt with China for 15 years of his 34 year diplomatic career. He is fluent in Mandarin Chinese and German.

Ambassador Bambawale is currently Distinguished Professor, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, Symbiosis International University, Pune and teaches a course on Diplomacy and International Governance at the Symbiosis School of International Studies. He has an M.Phil. in Economics from the Gokhale Institute of Politics and Economics, Pune.