China during the past week made fresh moves to further its ambitions in the Indo-Pacific region and beyond as it laid out a red carpet for Brazilian President Lula. Simultaneously, China’s foreign ministry on Thursday sanctioned US congressman Michael McCaul, chairman of the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee, for visiting Taiwan. Meanwhile, senior defense officials of Japan, the United States and South Korea agreed to step up efforts to realize real-time information sharing about North Korean missiles. The USA on its part sought to expand its partnerships with key SE Asian states – Indonesia and Vietnam. Indonesia is to receive a grant worth US$649 million from the United States to fund infrastructure development and small business projects across the country. Secretary of State Antony Blinken is undertaking a three-day visit to Vietnam. Australia cracked down on Chinese interference with an Australian marketing professional who has been working in China for two decades facing court after becoming just the second person arrested under Australia’s foreign interference laws.
China rolls out red carpet for Brazil’s President Lula, with pledge to elevate ties
South China Morning Post | 14th April 2023
Chinese President Xi Jinping rolled out the red carpet for his Brazilian counterpart in Beijing on Friday, pledging to work with Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva to take bilateral ties to new heights. In a meeting at the Great Hall of the People, Xi first congratulated Lula on his third term in office and thanked him for making the trip after a recent illness. “You came from afar soon after recovery. This shows the great importance you attach to the relationship between our two countries,” Xi said, referring to Lula’s bout of pneumonia last month.
China sanctions senior US lawmaker Michael McCaul for visiting Taiwan
South China Morning Post | 14th April 2023
China’s foreign ministry on Thursday sanctioned US congressman Michael McCaul, chairman of the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee, for visiting Taiwan, saying he had sent a “serious wrong signal to Taiwan independence separatist forces”. China views democratically governed Taiwan as its own territory and strongly objects to all high-level engagements between foreign and Taiwanese officials, especially if they involve Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen. McCaul visited Taipei last week and met Tsai, pledging to help provide training for Taiwan’s armed forces and to speed up the delivery of weapons.
Japan, U.S., South Korea agree to enhance North Korean missile info sharing
Kyodo News | 15th April 2023
Senior defense officials of Japan, the United States and South Korea agreed Friday to step up efforts to realize real-time information sharing about North Korean missiles. The agreement was reached in Washington a day after North Korea said it had test-fired a new solid-fuel intercontinental ballistic missile. The officials also said they discussed ways for their armed forces to resume trilateral drills to maintain peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region in a “more effective manner.” In the wake of a thaw in relations between Japan and South Korea, the three countries held a director-general level meeting for the first time in about three years.
US grants Indonesia $649m for infrastructure, small business development
Jakarta Post | 14th April 2023
Indonesia is to receive a grant worth US$649 million from the United States to fund infrastructure development and small business projects across the country. Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati and US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen concluded negotiations to launch a $698 million fund, with $649 million coming from the US Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) and $49 million from Indonesia, to support the development of climate-conscious transportation infrastructure in five provinces and increase access to financing for women-owned micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs).
US State Secretary arrives in Hà Nội for official visit
Vietnam News | 14th April 2023
United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken arrived on Air Force 2 at Nội Bài International Airport on Friday evening, beginning his official visit to Việt Nam from April 14-16. Welcoming him at the airport were US Ambassador to Việt Nam Marc Knapper and head of the Americas Department of the Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs Lê Chí Dũng. The trip is made at the invitation of Vietnamese Minister of Foreign Affairs Bùi Thanh Sơn, as the two countries are celebrating the 10th anniversary of their Comprehensive Partnership.
Australian man who worked in China charged with foreign interference
The Age | 15th April 2023
An Australian marketing professional who has been working in China for two decades has faced court after becoming just the second person arrested under Australia’s foreign interference laws. Alexander Csergo appeared on a screen at Parramatta Local Court on Saturday facing one charge of reckless foreign interference, which has a maximum penalty of 15 years in jail.