Analysis

Alarm grows over threat posed by Chinese regime to world community

Salaam Times and AFP

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A Chinese military truck convoy carries weapons and equipment during a live-fire training operation in a disputed region not far from Central Asia, where Beijing is becoming increasingly entrenched economically and militarily. [Chinese Ministry of Defence]

China has been viewed as a strategic threat by a number of countries for years, but recently the implications of Beijing's actions around the world have expanded significantly the degree of alarm.

From remote Himalayan valleys to small tropical islands, an increasingly assertive Chinese regime is embracing conflicts like never before.

The confrontations are seen as part of President Xi Jinping's nationalist drive to return a once-weak China to its purportedly rightful place of dominance in the world and to shed a past of discreet diplomacy.

"There is a sense that the time has come for China to claim its spot under the sun," said Steve Tsang, director of the China Institute at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London.

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Shown is one of the many 'unlawful' Chinese military bases built on artificial islands in the South China Sea. [File]

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The Kremlin's welcoming ceremony in June 2019 in Moscow for Chinese President Xi Jinping, shown with Russian President Vladimir Putin in the centre. Despite outwardly friendly relations, divergent interests are increasingly souring relations betwen the two countries. [Kremlin]

That means meeting the call by Xi to "unsheathe the sword", he said.

Territorial rows

"From India to Japan... to Australia to Canada, the Chinese have been bullying their way around the world," Hong Kong's last British governor, Chris Patten, told an online discussion organised by British lawmakers on July 8.

"What's happened in Hong Kong is just part of a broader series of actions taken by the Chinese Communist Party taking advantage of the fact that we're all of us focused very much on dealing with the coronavirus," he said, referring to China's imposition of a controversial security law in Hong Kong, which effectively ended the city's cherished autonomy and democracy traditions.

In Central Asia, the region is undergoing a geopolitical transition in which the Russian and Chinese regimes are vying for influence.

Beijing has been ramping up military co-operation with Central Asian states, much to the worry of Moscow.

Chinese military officials regularly meet with defence ministers from Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, and Beijing's aid to the region takes a variety of forms. Turkmenistan, for instance, receives air defence systems, drones and light armoured vehicles from China. Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan receive combat drones from China as well as technical assistance to their armed forces.

Beijing is paying special attention to military co-operation with Tajikistan, which borders both China and Afghanistan and shares a longer border with Afghanistan than does any other country.

A few years ago, China built a military base in Tajikistan just a few miles from Afghanistan's Wakhan Corridor, a move that many see as the beginning of Beijing's encroachment into Afghanistan, which is key to China's security and continental ambitions.

China's state-owned companies and banks over the years have inked infrastructure deals, mining concessions and loans across Central and South Asia, and its deep diplomatic ties to Afghanistan, Pakistan and the Taliban are a sign of heavier Chinese influence to come.

In the South China Sea, Beijing, at the expense of other nations' territorial claims, has been building artificial islands and establishing a heavy military presence in a brazen pursuit of resources.

"We stand with the international community in defence of freedom of the seas and respect for sovereignty and reject any push to impose 'might makes right' in the South China Sea or the wider region," US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on July 13.

Beijing has constructed a series of ports along the Indian Ocean, creating a necklace of refuelling and resupply stations from the South China Sea to the Suez Canal. Ostensibly commercial in nature, the ports would allow its rapidly growing navy to expand its reach.

Beijing is leveraging its financial dominance over countries to exact military use for strategic areas and ports, particularly in Gwadar, Pakistan, and Jask, Iran.

Malign foreign influence

The Chinese regime is engaged in a highly sophisticated malign foreign influence campaign, and its methods include bribery, disinformation campaigns, blackmail and covert deals.

While Twitter, YouTube, Google and Facebook are banned in China, which uses a "Great Firewall" to restrict access to news and information, Chinese diplomats and state media hypocritically take advantage of openness abroad and have flocked to such platforms in recent years to push Beijing's narrative.

Coronavirus disinformation spread by Russian and Chinese journalists is finding a bigger audience on social media than does content created by premier news outlets around the world, the Oxford Internet Institute said in a report published June 29.

Twitter on June 12 said it had deleted more than 170,000 accounts linked to Chinese government disinformation campaigns.

The European Union (EU) on June 10 released a report charging that the Chinese and Russian regimes have sought to undermine European democracy and burnish their own reputations during the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic with "targeted influence operations and disinformation campaigns".

Chinese-backed hackers are attempting to steal research and intellectual property related to treatments and vaccines for COVID-19, the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the US Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) warned in May.

Intellectual property theft, espionage

To achieve its goal of becoming a superpower, Bejing recognises the need to make leaps in cutting-edge technologies.

But rather than engage in the hard slog of innovation, it often steals intellectual property and then uses it to compete against the very companies it victimises.

"In effect, cheating twice over," said Christopher Wray, director of the FBI, adding that Beijing is targeting research on everything from military equipment to wind turbines to rice and corn seeds.

"The Chinese government is engaged in a broad, diverse campaign of theft and malign influence, and it can execute that campaign with authoritarian efficiency," he said when he spoke at the Hudson Institute on July 7. "They’re calculating. They're persistent. They're patient. And they're not subject to the righteous constraints of an open, democratic society or the rule of law."

"China, as led by the Chinese Communist Party, is going to continue to try to misappropriate our ideas, influence our policymakers, manipulate our public opinion and steal our data," Wray said. "They will use an all-tools and all-sectors approach -- and that demands our own all-tools and all-sectors approach in response."

"Through its talent recruitment programmes, like the so-called Thousand Talents Programme, the Chinese government tries to entice scientists to secretly bring our knowledge and innovation back to China -- even if that means stealing proprietary information or violating export controls and conflict-of-interest rules," he said.

"The Chinese government is also making liberal use of hacking to steal corporate and personal data -- and they’re using both military and non-state hackers to do it."

"China has now taken its place, alongside Russia, Iran, and North Korea, in that shameful club of nations that provide a safe haven for cyber criminals," US Assistant Attorney General John Demers said in a US Justice Department statement.

Human rights abuses

The Chinese regime's programme to "unsheathe the sword" includes worrisome human rights abuses at home as well.

Chinese authorities have rounded up more than one million Uighurs and other Muslim minorities in Xinjiang and locked them up in re-education camps as part of a vast brainwashing campaign. Evidence points to a systematic sterilisation of women.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in a conference call with reporters July 9 called the situation "the stain of the century" and condemned "horrific and systematic abuses" in Xinjiang including forced labour, mass detention and involuntary birth control.

Exiled Uighurs on July 7 urged the International Criminal Court (ICC) to investigate the Chinese regime for genocide and crimes against humanity, filing a huge dossier of evidence with the The Hague-based court to back their case.

Beijing meanwhile undermines the freedom of thought of those under its control.

Chinese authorities in Hong Kong, for instance, have ordered schools to remove books for review under the new security law, which has criminalised certain opinions such as calls for independence or autonomy.

Libraries in the financial hub said they were pulling titles written by a handful of pro-democracy activists, a move the United States called "Orwellian", in reference to George Orwell's book 1984, which focuses on the consequences of government over-reach, totalitarianism, mass surveillance and repressive regimentation of all persons and behaviours within society.

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Part 2 Dushanbe and Moscow have felt this danger and even from now they have begun countering the Chinese measures; however, so far Kabul is quiet and careless. In Afghanistan, success of the peace process, and beginning of a new era of relations with America and Europe, especially the successful entry of Taliban to the political arena of the country will give us the chance to turn the regional-strategic politics based on our interests. Progress of Chinese domination will give Moscow the opportunity to turn its camp of strategic politics from the East to West because the threat Russian security and integrity is facing with from Eastern china, is more serious than the threat it faced from the Western NATO. Russians could not stop Europeans by using the card of natural gas from their aggressive maneuvers toward Russia; however, China which is high on its military and economic power so far doesn't care about its anti-marginal strategic measures, and this dragon can be beaten only with the power of direct strategic involvement. Note: the article in the annex is useful for the purpose. (Enayatullah) https://jamestown.org/program/beijing-implies-tajikistans-pamir-region-should-be-returned-to-china/?fbclid=IwAR2ruFseTU-mGWVC-LLsoTdPwbixXK88A8jx7nkBJKlRC9imD8wjfXMKcyY

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Part 1 China is quickly developing as a new colonial and arrogant power in our neighborhood. On one hand, this country is trying to encircle the whole world with its one road one belt dragon, and on the other side, they have launched a number of provoking measures to take control over Pamirs in the north of Afghanistan in the near future. A prominent partisan-state Chinese historian writes in one of his latest articles (with reference in the annexed analyses) that Pamirs (either if Afghanistan's or Tajikistan's) is a historically part of China that China lost in 19th decade and this area will soon or later get connected by force or consent back with China. For this same reason, China has begun making a series of military installments near the northern border of our country. China has begun making a large airfield in the city of Tashqurghan, occupied east Turkestan. Apart from this, they kept working on a net of thirty other airports and roads in the area. The situation is worse than that as China has occupied an area of 1 million square kilometre of East Turkestan or Xinjiang and they torture Turkmen and Kazakh Muslims in camps such as that of Nazis. On one side, they occupied East Turkestan, and on the other side, their so-called claim over Afghanistan's and Tajikistan's Pamirs can begin an endless era of strategic conflicts with Kabul and Dushanbe. (more in the next comment)

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Afghanistan is key for the security of China and its hope for occupying the continent. These words found way to my heart.

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See! How much the world has developed, and look at the situation of Afghanistan. China is building an artificial island, but we cannot provide electricity for ourselves. Afghanistan's electricity is still imported from the neighboring countries, while Afghanistan has a lot of water that can export electricity to other countries. The international community donated billions of dollars to Afghanistan, but it did not do fundamental works to make Afghanistan self-sufficient. During these days of Eid ul-Adha, some provinces of Afghanistan do not have electricity, as Tajikistan has cut off electricity, because it needs it for itself, and most of Afghanistan's electricity comes from Tajikistan. Anyway, your news was very interesting to me; especially the photo of artificial island was something new for me. Thanks a lot.

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May God not give China power. If China becomes a world superpower like the United States, know that Asian countries will not have their good day. The Chinese are very cruel people, because majority of them are Buddhists and Buddhists are very ruthless people.

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Though I prefer America on China and Russia, but in recent years, China's international policy is better than America. The events that occurred in the Arab World including Libya, Iraq, Syria and in Afghanistan and are still going on where humans are slaughtered like chickens, either if Americans agree or not, its responsibility in one way or other goes to America. On the other side, we witness that China has begun a plan of investment in the cost of $50 billion in Pakistan. Similarly, they have considered development programs in Iran too. I think it will be better for America to forget about its arrogance, and make relations of love, humanity and peace with the world countries. Long life to Afghan-American friendship. Death to the terrorist army of Pakistan and to ISI.

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