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Weekly Contemporary Developments

17 - 31 May, 2020

  • Military tensions mount on the India-China border
    Reports of Chinese incursions into India raise tensions between the nuclear-armed neighbours WHEN INDIAN and Chinese soldiers brawled at Pangong lake in Ladakh earlier this month—a punch-up serious enough to leave many in hospital—General M.M. Naravane, India’s army chief, was unworried. Such “temporary and short-duration face-offs” happened from time to time at such remote stretches of the two countries’ 3,500km border, he said. Both sides had “disengaged”. But a week later he dashed north to the headquarters of his 14th Corps in nearby Leh, the state capital, suggesting that something more serious was afoot. (The Economist, May 29, 2020)
  • China and India move troops as border tensions escalate
    Thousands of Chinese troops reportedly move into sensitive areas along Himalayan frontier Tensions between China and India over their Himalayan border have escalated, with China accused of moving thousands of troops into disputed territory and expanding a military airbase in the region. Thousands of Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) troops are reported to have moved into sensitive areas along the eastern Ladakh border, setting up tents and stationing vehicles and heavy machinery in what India considers to be its territory.. In response, the Indian army has moved several battalions from an infantry division usually based in the Ladakh city of Leh to “operational alert areas” along the border, and reinforcement troops have been brought in. (The Guardian, 27 May 2020)
  • Senior Indian, Chinese military commanders set to meet to defuse Ladakh tensions
    Divisional commander-level talks are set to be held ‘soon’, while diplomatic talks are also on between India & China to ensure the issue is settled peacefully. Top tactical commanders from the Indian and Chinese armies are set to meet again “soon” in eastern Ladakh to ease tensions that have arisen from an unprecedented troop build-up since early May. Sources said divisional commander-level talks will be held soon, and will be in continuation of the two rounds of talks held on 22 May and 23 May. Diplomatic talks are also being held between the two countries to ensure the issue is settled peacefully. (THE PRINT, 31 May, 2020)
  • China Increases Troops in Ladakh, India to Maintain
    The Chinese military is fast increasing its troops in areas around ... Viral Fake News: 'Amzath Ali and Thamim Shaikh' Not Arrested in Kerala ... areas along the LAC, the de-facto border between India and China. ... in April 2018 in the Chinese city of Wuhan, months after the Doklam standoff. (The Wire, May 24, 2020)
  • Army buildup, escalating India-China border tensions: What is happening in Ladakh?
    On May 5, around 250 Indian and Chinese army personnel clashed with iron rods, sticks, and even resorted to stone-pelting in the Pangong Tso lake area of Ladakh, in which soldiers on both sides sustained injuries. In a separate incident, nearly 150 Indian and Chinese military personnel were engaged in a face-off near Naku La Pass in the Sikkim sector on May 9. At least 10 soldiers from both sides sustained injuries. After Chinese accusation of Indian Army's border transgressions and strong Indian pushback, Ladakh has become a festering point for the Sino-Indian relations. The border skirmishes have resulted in Chinese military fast increasing its troops in areas around Pangong Tso lake and Galwan Valley along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) in Ladakh. This seems to be a clear signal that it was not ready to end its confrontation with the Indian Army anytime soon. (The Week, May 24, 2020)
  • Wuhan economy faces long, slow road to recovery after coronavirus lockdown
    The economic impact of the Covid-19 outbreak is only beginning to be felt by the city where the disease first emerged. The effects are being felt by everyone from farmers to kindergarten workers, and even working for the local government may no longer offer any security. (South China Morning Post, China, May 17, 2020)
  • China hits back at America’s ‘unreasonable suppression’ of Huawei
    After Washington announces new restrictions on technology giant, Beijing says it will ‘firmly uphold Chinese firms’ legitimate and legal rights and interests’. Observers say China is likely to retaliate, but exactly how remains to be seen (South China Morning Post, China, May 17, 2020)
  • China’s financial sector well-equipped to weather COVID-19-plagued global financial storm:senior official
    China grasped upon a pivotal window of opportunity in 2019 for its financial sector to be market-oriented, law-based, and globalized, well-equipping its markets to weather a coronavirus-induced global financial tsunami in 2020, Lu Lei, deputy head of China's foreign exchange regulator, said on Saturday. (Global Times, China, May 17, 2020)
  • China set to be world's first major country to launch digital currency: expert
    China's digital currency experiment has advanced stably amid the COVID-19 outbreak, and China will become the first major country to launch digital currency in the world, an industry insider said Saturday. (Global Times, China, May 17, 2020)
  • China ramping up research into 6G
    Work on next-generation network proceeds despite US pressure. As the US scrutinizes 5G telecom equipment provided by Huawei, and some in Europe set fire to 5G towers, companies and research institutions in China are looking into 6G - the sixth-generation mobile wireless network. (Global Times, China, May 18, 2020)
  • Information war during the pandemic shows West's arrogance over China's system: experts
    The COVID-19 pandemic has been rapidly spreading globally, causing tremendous loss. But what is spreading more easily and faster is fake news, World Health Organization WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at the Munich Security Conference in February. (Global Times, China, May 18, 2020)
  • Russia summits are on the cards for Xi Jinping in July
    Moscow preparing to go ahead with meetings of BRICS emerging economies and SCO security bloc in St Petersburg as planned. It would be the Chinese president’s first overseas trip since the coronavirus hit and could be a boost for the alliance amid growing backlash over pandemic (South China Morning Post, China, May 21, 2020)
  • U.S. threats to withdraw from WHO are unrealistic
    On May 18, U.S. President Donald Trump revealed in a tweet that he had written a letter addressed to Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO). (People’s Daily, May 21, 2020)
  • Voices growing at two sessions to allow third child, protect rights of mothers
    Amid the continuously dropping birth rate and mounting pressure from an ageing society, Chinese legislators and political advisors have proposed allowing families to have a third child and called for better protection of economic rights for women who have children. (Global Times, China, May 21, 2020)

1 - 16 May, 2020

  • Beijing is moving steadily to bring Hong Kong closer into the fold
    With arrests of pro-democracy figures and central government oversight expanding, Beijing is pushing for patriotic education and an anti-sedition law – moves likely to reignite Hong Kong protests, which, in turn, could earn a crackdown. (South China Morning Post, China, May 8, 2020)
  • US imposes fresh visa restrictions on Chinese journalists as media once again finds itself a target
    Ninety day limit on Chinese citizens is latest in series of tit-for-tat measures targeting reporters and news outlets from Washington and Beijing. New York Times Beijing bureau chief Chris Buckley became latest foreign reporter forced to leave country on Friday. (South China Morning Post, China, May 11, 2020)
  • US-China tensions in South China Sea fuelled by increase in military operations
    US aircraft have carried out 39 flights over waters near China – two of them close to Hong Kong – since start of the year, while navy has also ramped up its activity. US defence secretary says he wants to boost investment in region. (South China Morning Post, China, May 11, 2020)
  • China donates more medical supplies to Philippines to help fight COVID-19
    China is donating more medical equipment and supplies to help the Philippines contain the spread of COVID-19 and speed up the country's recovery from the highly infectious disease. (People’s Daily, China, May 11, 2020)
  • Quick resolution to China-India border faceoff shows communication mechanism effective: Chinese analysts
    Chinese and Indian troops reportedly had a faceoff along the two countries' border which was quickly resolved by local dialogue, Indian media reported. This showed the effectiveness of the bilateral communication mechanism established after the Doklam Standoff, Chinese analysts said on Sunday. (Global Times, China, May 11, 2020)
  • US president’s threat to terminate phase one deal risks resurfaces of tit-for-tat tussle
    US President Donald Trump, who is overseeing one of the worst public health crises in US history and facing a tough reelection battle, has no leverage to wage another trade war with China and any attempt to pressure Beijing into making more concessions will likely prompt forceful countermeasures, Chinese trade experts close to the government said on Sunday. Trump is seemingly threatening to terminate the China-US phase one trade agreement, a move that could end a truce and reignite the multi-year trade war between the world's two biggest economies, the experts noted. (Global Times, China, May 11, 2020)
  • Biden takes aim at Trump’s China ‘failures’ in next phase of his 2020 US presidential race
    Joe Biden to hammer Donald Trump's ‘tough talk, weak action’ on China, top adviser says. Biden’s team argues that Trump is helping China by undermining US relations with traditional allies (South China Morning Post, May 13, 2020)
  • US Senate passes Uygur Human Rights Policy Act
    The Senate passes legislation that would pave the way for targeted sanctions against government officials in China over alleged human rights abuses. While no tally was taken, around two-thirds of the Senate had previously signed onto the bill as cosponsors. It must now go to the House for a vote. (South China Morning Post, China, May 15, 2020)
  • Pakistani senate passes resolution to thank China for support in COVID-19 fight
    The Senate of Pakistan on Thursday unanimously passed a resolution to express gratitude to China for supporting Pakistan during the COVID-19 crisis. Taking note of China's strong support and timely assistance to Pakistan during the current COVID-19 crisis, the senate, Pakistan's upper house of parliament, expressed its deep appreciation to the Chinese government and the Chinese people for their unflinching role as "all-weather friends" of Pakistan, according to the resolution. (People’s Daily, China, May 15, 2020)
  • Coronavirus: UN chief laments lack of global leadership as US-China row stalls truce resolution
    Security Council has spent over a month negotiating resolution calling for humanitarian truce in conflicts around the world. Sticking point is disagreement over how it should refer to World Health Organisation, which Trump has accused of being too ‘China-centric’. (South China Morning Post, China, May 1, 2020)
  • China on ‘high alert’ as ‘troublemaker’ US patrols South China Sea
    Chinese military takes aim at operations by American warships near the Spratly and Paracel islands. US says sweeping maritime claims in the area pose a threat to freedom of the seas The Chinese military called the United States a “troublemaker” in the disputed South China Sea on Thursday, stressing that China was on “high alert” to safeguard its interests in the contested waters. (South China Morning Post, China, May 1, 2020)
  • China's Hubei reports no increase in COVID-19 cases for 30 consecutive days
    WUHAN, May 4 (Xinhua) -- No new confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) were reported in central China's Hubei Province Sunday, the provincial health commission said Monday. This marks that Hubei has reported no new confirmed COVID-19 cases for 30 consecutive days since April 4. Meanwhile, in Hubei, the areas outside Wuhan have reported no new confirmed COVID-19 cases for 60 consecutive days. (People’s Daily, China, May 4, 2020)
  • Delayed South China Sea talks expose China’s complex relationship with neighbours duringpandemic
    Nations may need help from China during virus outbreaks but remain wary of Beijing as adversary in disputed waters. Analysts say code of conduct negotiations are too sensitive and important for virtual meetings and may be delayed until coronavirus crisis is resolved. (South China Morning Post, China, May 8, 2020)