Developments within China and apparent thaw between USA and China over the past week have raised curiosity across the globe and among governments worldwide. The latest high-level talks between China and the US signal that ties are slowly warming, and that there is political resolve to manage tensions. Purge in China continued with General Li Shangfu, a veteran of China’s military modernisation drive, who rose through the ranks to become defence minister in 2023 disappearing over corruption charges. Meanwhile, China’s neighbour Japan witnessed a major cabinet reshuffle that corrected gender imbalance. New Defense Minister Minoru Kihara has said that he is “very concerned” about China’s rapid military buildup and moves in the East and South China seas, calling for strengthening trilateral security cooperation between Japan, South Korea and the United States. In SE Asia, Beijing has scrambled to send a top diplomat to shore up ties with Hanoi amid growing USA-Vietnam ties. Despite China’s economy growing at a slower pace than expected this year, the country’s demand for Indonesian goods remains solid. And North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s rare Russia trip may be an attempt to send signals to Japan and South Korea by both Moscow and N Korea amid NATO’s growing interest in the Pacific.
US-China ties seen ‘warming up again in stages’ as top officials meet
South China Morning Post | 18th September 2023
The latest high-level talks between China and the US signal that ties are slowly warming, and that there is political resolve to manage tensions, according to analysts. The assessment came as Chinese Vice-President Han Zheng is expected to meet US Secretary of State Antony Blinken in New York on Monday.
Beijing scrambles to bolster relationship with Vietnam as Hanoi elevates ties with the US
South China Morning Post | 17th September 2023
As Vietnam’s relationship with the United States becomes a countervailing force to China amid disputes over the South China Sea and economic matters, Beijing has scrambled to send a top diplomat to shore up ties with Hanoi. The fence-mending trip from September 4-6 by Liu Jianchao, head of the Chinese Communist Party’s International Department, who is responsible for Beijing’s inter-party diplomacy, came just days ahead of US President Joe Biden’s first visit to China’s communist-ruled neighbour on September 10.
Li Shangfu – the public face of China’s military – under corruption probe
The Strait Times | 17th September 2023
General Li Shangfu, a veteran of China’s military modernisation drive, rose through the ranks to become defence minister in 2023. Within six months, he disappeared under the cloud of a corruption probe. Gen Li grew to prominence under President Xi Jinping’s pursuit of military might during his decade in power while China’s relations with the United States soured over issues including Taiwan, which Beijing regards as a renegade province to be reunified, by force if necessary.
New Japan defense chief ‘very concerned’ about Chinese military moves
The Japan Times | 17th September 2023
New Defense Minister Minoru Kihara said Sunday that he is “very concerned” about China’s rapid military buildup and moves in the East and South China seas, calling trilateral security cooperation between Japan, South Korea and the United States “the cornerstone” of Tokyo’s response to an increasingly tense regional environment that also includes North Korea and Russia. Kihara, who replaced his predecessor, Yasukazu Hamada, in a Cabinet reshuffle Wednesday, highlighted the need for continuity as Japan continues to shed some of the postwar constraints on its military amid a number of growing threats.
Japan’s new cabinet reflects PM’s focus on gender and defence
Reuters | 13th September 2023
Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida has picked a woman as foreign minister and appointed as defence minister a politician who has worked to build ties with Taiwan in Wednesday’s new cabinet line-up. The choices, among 11 new faces and five women, spotlight a focus on gender equality and a stronger line on defence, as Kishida battles sagging ratings and with his term as leader of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) set to end next year.
China slowdown? Indonesian exporters are not feeling it, yet
Jakarta Post | 15th September 2023
Despite China’s economy growing at a slower pace than expected this year, the country’s demand for Indonesian goods remains solid, though experts believe it is too soon to say whether that will last. Statistics Indonesia (BPS) official Amalia Adininggar Widyasanti revealed that Indonesia’s non-oil and gas (NOG) exports to China amounted to US$5.38 billion in August, up 9.36 percent from July.
North Korea’s leader wraps up Russia trip with drones gift
The Strait Times | 18th September 2023
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un left Russia on Sunday after a rare six-day visit that appeared to solidify his country’s ties with President Vladimir Putin, fanning Western fears that Pyongyang could provide Moscow with weapons for its assault on Ukraine. Mr Kim’s tour of Russia’s Far East, which began on Tuesday, has focused intensely on military cooperation, including a symbolic exchange of rifles with Mr Putin and an inspection of state-of-the-art Russian weapons.