Tag Archives: China

Global Affairs Weekly Stories (Week of July 3, 2022)

Note:

I have been working on several projects lately and have been very busy these past few weeks. I am publishing at a slower rate during the summer but plan to publish weekly again soon.

Here’s what’s going on in the world for the week of July 3, 2022.

Global News

Fighting climate change will require tackling energy imbalances globally, according to a new study.

Story Link Here

The world’s fisheries are one of the major subjects for the five-day United Nations Ocean Conference in Lisbon, Portugal.

Story Link Here

The BRICS nations are holding their summit virtually.
Story Link Here

Americas

Activists in Latin America are continuing the fight for bodily autonomy and reproductive rights.

Story Link Here

The June 6th hearings recently interviewed Cassidy Hutchinson, and here are five takeaways from that interview.

Story Link Here

El Salvador is facing extreme water stress with more than 60% of available water resources polluted and more than 600,000 people going without sanitation or access to drinking water. 
Story Link Here

Africa

In West Africa, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) have lifted sanctions on Mali after the military government offered a proposed 24-month timetable for bringing back democratic elections.

Story Link Here

Germany and Nigeria have signed an accord for the return of the Benin Bronzes, artifacts from the Kingdom of Benin dating between the 16th and 18th Centuries. 

Story Link Here

Ghana will be seeking financial assistance from the IMF.

Story Link Here

Europe

Explainer: The NATO Summit yielded a new framework and areas of focus including re-orientating towards countering Moscow’s activities in Europe and the recognition of Beijing as a security challenge.

Story Link Here

Sanctions for Moscow have been pledged at the end of the G-7 summit.

Story Link Here

France and Australia working to mend ties after the scuttling of submarine deal.

Story Link Here

Russian land occupation in Georgia as seen on the border.

Story Link Here

Middle East

Iran is willing to continue negotiating on a nuclear deal.

Story Link Here

Tunisia’s president has proposed a draft constitution that would considerably concentrate power in the hands of the executive branch, much to the anger of many on the Tunisian government and civil society.

Story Link Here

Southern Idlib, Syria has been stripped of resources and civilian goods by the government.

Story Link Here

Asia

Protests in Karakalpakstan, Uzbekistan have left several dead and an unknown number possibly injured as locals take to the streets over draft amendments that would tighten the connection between the government and the autonomous region.

Story Link Here

How disinformation helped Ferdinand Marcos Jr. win the Presidency in the Philippines.

Story Link Here

Japan is having the worst heatwave since 1875.

Story Link Here

G-7 promise to raise $600 billion dollars over the next five years to provide nations with an alternative to financial investment from Beijing. The Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment will serve as an alternative to the Belt and Road Initiative for nations seeking development funding.

Story Link Here

Leave a comment

Filed under Asia, Climate Change, Disinformation, G-7, International Development

Global Affairs Weekly Stories (Week of June 19, 2022)

Here’s what’s going on in the world for the week of June 19, 2022.

Global News

The World Health Organization is creating a vaccine-sharing program with nations in Africa and 30 countries outside the continent to combat Monkeypox. However, the program might draw away vaccines from the continent to richer countries where the cases of Monkeypox are mostly mild whereas the ailment is endemic in Central and Western Africa.

Story Link Here

Explainer: The Russian war against Ukraine is causing a global food shortage and raising global food prices.

Story Link Here

While not published last week, here is a guide for making one’s garden into a carbon sink.

Story Link Here

Americas

Columbia has elected their first leftist president in former rebel Gustavo Petro. Several other Latin American countries have also elected more progressive and leftist presidents, but in Columbia there was a mood of who the electorate wanted least in power.

Story Link Here

Puerto Rican politicians are pushing to hold a vote on the future of the island as either a commonwealth, independent or the 51st State of the United States of America.

Story Link Here

Juneteenth celebration in America, commemorating the arrival of Union troops in Galveston, Texas June 19, 1865, to enforce the Emancipation Proclamation ending slavery in Texas.

Story Link Here

Africa

Explainer: The tensions between Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo goes back decades and is currently flaring again.

Story Link Here

Facebook moderators failed to remove extremist content from Jihadist groups such as Islamic State and al-Shabab according to a study by Institute for Strategic Dialogue.

Story Link Here

Explainer: South African President Cyril Ramaphosa and “Farmgate”, which could see the president facing criminal charges.

Story Link Here

Europe

Dutch authorities stopped a GRU operative from infiltrating the International Criminal Court in the Hauge. The ICC is currently investigating war crimes allegations against Russia in Ukraine.

Story Link Here

The United Kingdom and European Union are in a row over a unilateral change to the Brexit agreement made by the UK government regarding trade on the Northern Ireland border.

Story Link Here

The EU will fine tech companies that fail to consistently deal with deepfakes with fines up to 6% of global turnover.

Story Link Here

Middle East

Israel and Egypt signed a deal with the EU to export natural gas and oil in exchange for the EU’s assistance with energy exploration in the two nations’ territorial waters.

Story Link Here

The EU has unfrozen aid for the Palestinian Authority.

Story Link Here

In Iraq, Muqtada al-Sadr, the head of the Sadrist movement and ordered 73 politicians from his movement to resign from the government.

Story Link Here

Asia

Bank customers in Henan, China found their COVID tracker apps turning red when they entered the city to withdrawal money from troubled rural banks, denying them access to public services like trains and entry into buildings. 

Story Link Here

China launches the Type 003 “Fujian” carrier on Friday.

Story Link Here

Islamic State launched an attack on the Sikh community in Afghanistan, killing one and wounding seven in Kabul.

Story Link Here

Leave a comment

Filed under Climate Change, Cybersecurity, International Conflict, News, Russia, Technology and Proto Types

Here’s what’s going on in the world for the week of May 31, 2022.

Global News

The tobacco industry is a major polluter and climate change according to the World Health Organization.

Story Link Here

Chinese disinformation and misinformation are especially prominent in Google News. CCP propaganda showing up in 88% of new searches on search engines like Bing and Google.

Story Link Here

Chinese foreign lending often targets the home providence of incumbent political leadership, favoring projects in the home city or providence of a sitting head of state. However, this effect disappears when the incumbent is out of power. This also means that China is at risk of backlash from projects that serve little or no benefit to the borrowing country and the debt for these projects become a debt burden.

Story Link Here

Americas

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro signed a decree increase the fine amount for individuals who provide false information in order to gain logging license applications or forest concessions. Environmental activists point out that the legislation doesn’t really address the core problems related to illegal logging or that fines can expire if not paid.

Story Link Here

Cyber criminals launched a ransomware attack on Costa Rica’s public health agency computer systems, causing the government to shut down the system.

Story Link Here

The Summit of the Americas will be held in the United States of America for the first time since 1994, but Mexico might not attend. Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela had not been invited to the summit.

Story Link Here

Africa

Protests are taking place in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo over alleged Rwandan support for M-23, a rebel force that clashed with the Congolese military in Northern Kivu, which borders Rwanda.

Story Link Here

The war in Ukraine is causing food shortages in Africa. Both Ukraine and Russia are major food and fertilizer exporters, with Africa being a recipient of more than 40% of grain and wheat exports from Russia in the past few years.

Story Link Here

The United Nations Security Council passed unanimously a resolution condemning armed robbery, hostage-taking and piracy off the Gulf of Guinea. Piracy in the region costs coastal states around 2 billion USD a year while piracy in the region remains high despite global decline of piracy.

Story Link Here

Europe

Turkey and Russia in discussions over incursions in Northern Syria.

Story Link Here

The European Union will embargo 90% of Russian oil exports by December. Poland and Germany are also planning on phasing out Russian oil as well by the end of the year.

Story Link Here

After being sworn in for a second term on Tuesday, Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic will seek European Union membership for the country, but not join NATO.

Story Link Here

Middle East

 Israel and the United Arab Emirates have signed the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement, a free trade deal that is potentially worth more than 10 billion USD, according to the UAE.

Story Link Here

Lebanon has re-elected Nabih Berri for a seventh term as Speaker of Parliament.

Story Link Here

Oxfam is calling on warring sides of the Yemeni war to renew the ceasefire struck in April, citing the need for humanitarian aid and assistance to millions at risk of starvation.

Story Link Here

Asia

China’s attempt to sign comprehensive security and regional coordination over fisheries and other issues, ended up falling short as the 10 Polynesian nations approached by Beijing had refused to sign on.

Story Link Here

 The Bai Lan attitude, or “let it rot”, reflects a growing disillusionment in Chinese youth. The lack of economic opportunities and uncertainty for the future are driving the attitude. However, it’s not unique to China.

Story Link Here

A leak of alleged documents and photos from a database in Xinjiang provides more evidence of abuses and involuntary detention of Uighurs in the internment camps. Beijing denies the claims despite this being the second data leak since 2019 showing abuses.

Story Link Here

The Department of Foreign Affairs is protesting Beijing’s imposition of a unilateral moratorium of fishing in disputed and Filipino territorial waters, an act that is illegal according to a ruling by the  Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague in 2016.

Story Link Here

Leave a comment

Filed under Climate Change, Cybersecurity, International Conflict, News, Russia

Global Affairs Weekly Stories (Week of February 13, 2022)

Here’s what’s going on in the world for the week of Feb. 13, 2022.

Global News

Climate change threatens the ability of some regions of the world to adapt.

Story Link Here

The COVID-19 pandemic is not over yet and more variants are likely according to the World Health Organization’s chief scientist, Soumya Swaminathan.

Story Link Here

Deloitte’s 2022 Global Health Care Outlook highlights the six major issues affecting global health for the coming year. Some of these issues include mental health, access to care, and digital changes and the environment.

Story Link Here

Americas

Canadian police have cleared protestors from Ambassador bridge on Sunday. The bridge accounts for 25% of US-Canadian trade traffic. The majority of Canadians do not support the ongoing protests in Ottawa.

Story Link Here

Fact Check: Canadian protestors and the “Freedom Convoy”.

Story Link Here

Africa

Somaliland foreign minister Essa Kayd told China the country cannot dictate their relationship with Taiwan. Beijing has largely undermined Taiwan’s recognition in Africa, with only eSwatini having full recognition by Taiwan.

Story Link Here

European Union officials are now focusing on assisting African nations with COVID-19 vaccination challenges such as low shelf life, vaccine training, hesitancy and logistics of distribution of the vaccines. However, African nations such as South Africa are also focusing on developing their own capacity to produce vaccines domestically to avoid over-reliance on imported vaccines.

Story Link Here

Women farmers in Sierra Leone are utilizing swamp lands for agriculture through a agricultural collective. The collective is not only using a potentially greater yielding environment for farming, it’s also providing autonomy and economic growth opportunities for the community.

Story Link Here

Europe

Finland, a non-NATO member sharing a border with Russia, has bought dozens of F-35 stealth aircraft and surface-to-surface missiles from Lockheed Martin. This is part of the country’s ongoing work to improve their military and not related to current tensions between Russia, Ukraine and NATO.

Story Link Here

A former senior general has called for Putin to resign over the Ukraine crisis and other issues related to Putin’s rule of the country.

Story Link Here

Leaders from several political parties met to work on a government after Erdogan, including former members of the current President’s own party.

Story Link Here

Explainer: Putin’s negotiation strategy over Ukraine, according to analysts.

Story Link Here

Middle East

Israel is working on a systemic integration of AI and digital technologies throughout all branches of the military.

Story Link Here

Daesh remains a transnational threat despite prior losses in territory and leadership.

Story Link Here

Protestors have continued for a fifth day in the Syrian city of Sweida, despite government forces being sent in to patrol the streets. The protesters are upset over the living conditions and loss of government supports, in a nation where 90% of the population lives in poverty according to the United Nations.

Story Link Here

Asia

Indonesia is testing a domestic COVID-19 vaccine, the “Merah Putih” or “Red and White”, on human subjects as part of an effort to improve vaccination rates in the largest South East Asian nation. If successful, the government plans to increase domestic vaccination rates and donate the vaccine to other nations.

Story Link Here

The Quad alliance is seeking new “dialogue members” as the organization creates a united front against authoritarian regimes. Initially set up to counter increasing aggressiveness from Beijing, the Quad is also working on efforts to combat COVID-19 and how to work better with organizations like Association of South East Asian Nations.

Story Link Here

The International Labor Organization released a report detailing continued abuses of Uighur and other Turkic and Muslim minority groups in Xinjiang, China, by Beijing. While denying the allegations, Beijing continues to claim the local government is promoting vocational training, language studies and “de-extremism” despite ongoing allegations from locals and human rights groups and international agencies. As covered in an earlier study posted on Global Affairs Weekly, some of the Uighur militants who crossed into Northern Afghanistan did so in response to Beijing’s activities, and some Jihadist groups are also citing the CCP’s policies and actions in Xinjiang as a rallying cry for regional militants.

Story Link Here

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Global Affairs Weekly Stories (Week of January 2, 2022)

Here’s what’s going on in the world for the week of Jan. 2, 2022.

Global News

Five good stories for the environment for 2021.

Story Link Here

Economic and political reforms in China will have winners and losers outside the country’s borders. Here is an analysis of who might gain and lose from the Common Prosperity campaign.

Story Link Here

The Tequila Splitfin, a Mexican fish species that was extinct in the wild, has been conserved in captivity and is now being reintroduced to its native habitat. The effort was community drawn and supported, and provides a template for other communities to follow to preserve endangered species.

Story Link Here

Americas

Guatemala’s Valor Party is attempting to pass a bill that would give amnesty to imprisoned military, government and police members convicted of crimes such as genocide, crimes against humanity, torture and other nationally and internationally recognized crimes perpetrated during the Guatemalan civil war. Similar bills have been attempted but defeated, though the current president is the former vice-presidential pick for the 2019 election.

Story Link Here

The Mexican state-owned company Petroleos Mexicanos will reduce exported oil to 435,000 barrels a day in 2022 and stop exporting by 2023, as part of the country’s effort to become energy independent. Mexico is one of the most prominent players in international oil markets.

Story Link Here

Several Latin American countries have higher rates of vaccination against COVID-19 than Europe and North America. While there are outliers like Brazil, many have been successful in vaccinating their populations. This in large part due to a combination of imported vaccines and the development and production of local vaccines.

Story Link Here

Africa

The United States has cut Guinea, Mali and Ethiopia from participation in the African Growth and Opportunity Act, a program that provides duty-free access to the US market in return for meeting eligibility requirements like political pluralism and lowering trade barriers.

Story Link Here

In Mali, the military junta is proposing to stay in power another five years despite the timeline set by West African mediators. The move risks greater sanctions by neighboring countries.

Story Link Here

In a blow to the credibility of the Sudanese military’s transitional government and power-sharing agreement, Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok resigned. While the military claims to be on track to a civilian controlled government by 2023, protestors in the country are not swayed and have promised more protests this year.

Story Link Here

Europe

The Conservative Party lost control of a seat they held for nearly 200 years in a by-election last Friday, dealing a blow to Prime Minister Boris Johnson. The seat, in North Shropshire, was won by 6,000 votes by Helen Morgan of the Liberal Democrats party.

Story Link Here

Russia pivots to China for energy exports, as the two nations embrace closer economic and political ties. Gazprom will be finalizing an energy deal to build a pipeline from the Yamal Peninsula in Siberia to China, called Power of Siberia 2, with the capacity of 50 billion cubic meters of gas annually. This is the second such pipeline connecting Russian energy products to China’s markets.

Story Link Here

France takes over the EU Presidency for the next six months. Climate, member-wide digitalization, and “strategic autonomy” are the areas France will most heavily focus on during this period.

Story Link Here

Middle East

Iran launched a rocket into space, carrying three research devices. While this was a space launch, the technology to launch the rockets could also be used to launch missiles.

Story Link Here

More calls for the Tunisian government to release information on the whereabouts of Noureddine Bhiri, the deputy president of the Ennahdha party, after he was detained by plainclothes police officers last Friday.

Story Link Here

Bahrain has sent an ambassador to Syria for the first time in 10 years, following the lead of other Gulf States.

Story Link Here

Asia

Evergrande shares will be suspended from trading Monday as part of efforts to combat the company’s liquidity troubles. The company is the most heavily indebted developer in the world, with more than 300 billion USD in liabilities.

Story Link Here

 South Korea’s Lee Jae-myung, the front runner for Democratic Party, promises to work with the USA to develop nuclear submarines for the country. The ruling party’s presidential candidate also promises to work on mediation for the US and North Korea and to end Seoul’s use of strategic ambiguity in US-China relations by pursuing “pragmatic diplomacy based on national interest”.    

Story Link Here

EU is considering additional sanctions and arms embargo on Myanmar, citing abuses and escalating violence by the military. The country was taken over by the military after a February coup and has faced internal violence by the military against various groups including ethnic minorities and pro-democracy protestors.

Story Link Here

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Global Affairs Weekly Stories (Week of December 26, 2021)

Here’s what’s going on in the world for the week of Dec. 26, 2021.

Global News

The James Webb Telescope has launched.

Story Link Here

An explainer for the new COVID-19 treatment pills.

Story Link Here

Americas

US employees of Amazon will now have an easier time forming unions.

Story Link Here

Lithium mines in Mexico are a source of tensions for the Mexican government.

Story Link Here

The Canadian economy is back to pre-pandemic levels.

Story Link Here

Africa

The United States will be lifting travel bans for 8 southern African countries on New Year’s Eve.

Story Link Here

Protestors took to the streets of several Libyan cities to demand the presidential elections be held on time after the promised vote was cancelled.

Story Link Here

Gambia’s truth commission released a report on the crimes of former dictator, Yahya Jammeh, should face trial for crimes he committed during his 22 years in power, before he lost the 2016 election and fled to Equatorial Guinea.

Story Link Here

Desmond Tutu, a human rights advocate, foe of Apartheid, and Nobel Peace prize recipient, died Sunday at 90 years old.

Story Link Here  

Europe

Russian president Vladimir Putin has stated he will consider alternatives if NATO does not comply with his demands of military force reduction in Central and Eastern Europe and the barring of Ukraine from joining the alliance.

Story Link Here

The website OVD-Info has been blocked on the Russian Internet. The website is known for tracking the arrests of protestors and offering legal aid to detained protestors.

Story Link Here

The EU and U.K have announced a formal agreement to manage shared fishing stocks. However, this deal does not cover the ongoing dispute between France and the UK over fishing rights and access to fishing stocks. Environmentalists also say the deal will continue overexploitation of fishing stocks.

Story Link Here

Middle East

The Saudi-led coalition reported striking a Houthi rebel camp in the Yemeni capital of Sanaa. The coalition targeted weapons storehouses as part of a larger aerial bombing campaign.

Story Link Here

The Israeli government plans on doubling the number of settlers in the Israeli-controlled parts of the Golan Heights in the coming years.

Story Link Here

Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I tested positive for COVID-19 after displaying mild symptoms. He is the spiritual leader of the world’s Orthodox Christian community, but not in the same manner as the Pope as the head of the Catholic Church. Instead, he’s best described as first among equals. He is doing well and wished Christmas wishes to all and called on the faithful to follow medical guidance and get vaccinated.

Story Link Here

Asia

Taliban has dissolved the Electoral Commission, Electoral Complaint Commission, the Ministry for Peace and the Ministry of Parliamentarian Affairs. These commissions and ministries were considered “unnecessary” by the Taliban government but could be brought back later on. The Taliban had already dissolved the Women’s Affairs Ministry.

Story Link Here

Japan is bolstering bilateral development of new technologies and replacing older fighter craft as part of an approved 5.4 trillion-yen defense budget for fiscal year 2022.

Story Link Here

Hundreds of people fled into Thailand after an airstrike by the Myanmar military in the border town of Lay Kay Kaw, as part of an operation targeting ethnic Karen guerillas. Fighting in the region grew since last February when the Myanmar military launched a coup against the elected government and the Karen guerillas offered safe haven for those who opposed the military.

Story Link Here

Xi’an, home to 13 million people, is under lockdown after confirmed COVID-19 infections reached their highest in 21 months. China’s “zero-Covid” strategy is still in effect despite the relatively low number of confirmed cases in country.

Story Link Here

The Communist Party Chief of Xinjiang, Chen Quanguo, is moving to another post. Ma Xingrui, who formerly served as governor of Guangdong providence, will take his place.

Story Link Here

Leave a comment

Filed under Amazon, Asia, Coronavirus, Russia, South Asia

Collision Course: China and the Taliban

The Problem in a paragraph- China has economic and domestic security risks with an unstable Afghanistan, from BRI projects in the region and the shared border in Northern Afghanistan/Western China. The Taliban are a major risk factor because they cannot be trusted to keep their commitments to domestic stability and security, and follow an ideology of governance that promotes instability and terrorism. The CCP cannot call upon reliable allies to do the fighting if conflict arises, as the regional security framework is lackluster and Afghanistan’s neighbors have either vested interest in the Taliban and militant groups operating openly, or do not trust Chinese ambitions for the larger region. China and the Taliban have mutually conflicting goals and visions for Afghanistan. 

Taliban Risks

The Afghan Taliban (referred hereafter as the Taliban) have a history of bad faith dealings following a pattern of using force to change conditions on the ground that undermine peace plans, betraying agreements once they acquire what they want, and actively breaking promises they make while professing to honor them.

One example is the promise the Taliban has made to Beijing about the Uighur militants and keeping Afghanistan free of them. According to one report, Akhtar Mohammad Khairzada, deputy governor of Badakhshan, has claimed foreign fighters have come to the region and served with the Taliban. Other officials and analysts have claimed the Taliban is bolstering their ranks with Uighur, Turkic, and Uzbek, and other foreign groups due to the strategic location of Badakhshan between Pakistan, China, and Tajikistan. The additional manpower from these groups helped the Taliban to wrestle for control in Maimi district, and generally become a major force in the region.

While promising to prevent Uighur crossings into Afghanistan, the Taliban still hosts training camps to train fighters for ongoing conflicts and “war”.  As of 2020, the Taliban is still operating a training camp for war on the Chinese border region of Badakhshan- the Abu Ubaidah Ibn Jarrah Training Center.  The Taliban has an active militant training camp on the border with China, one that is in the same territory as Taliban affiliated Uighur militants.  They are actively recruiting and trying to attract fighters with a focus on fighting a “war” despite the USA withdrawing.  While the Afghan Taliban has claimed they would prevent Uighur insurgents, Uighur militants have been crossing into Afghanistan, particularly in Badakhshan, despite Taliban claims to barring Uighurs from entering the country.  Currently, these militants are going to fight for a local branch of Islamic State or as part of the Taliban. 

The Taliban cannot speak with a unified voice as they are made up of different groups that were loosely unified in their fight against the Soviet Union and the United States. The early Taliban derived their power from the support of militias raised in the Madrasas in rural areas, and could barely control them during the early 1990s. Today, the Taliban still has the problem with internal unity and has been vague to avoid angering rank and file members. In one example, several members of the Taliban joined ISIL-K after internal disagreements over the direction of the movement. The nature of alliances and commitments is such that different factions making up the Taliban can break off and join other groups, with a risk to the overall strength and cohesion of the Taliban as a political entity.

There is no reason to believe the Taliban has changed for the better. The areas under Taliban rule are reporting violence and repression by the group similar to what was reported in the 1990s.  The Taliban may be more sophisticated for an international audience and promote a moderate image abroad, but they are just as violent and repressive as they were in the 1990s. In most of the territories the Taliban have taken over, women’s education has either ceased altogether or is severely limited.  Part of this reflects local commanders having leeway to enforce Taliban decrees as they see fit, but mostly this is part of the way the Taliban traditionally treated women’s education. Musicians in areas the Taliban is actively threatening are worried that the Taliban will return to banning music and killing musicians. The educated youth of Afghanistan are also fleeing the country, despite Taliban assurances their freedoms and successes will be protected. Based on their present actions, the youth have no reason to believe the Taliban leadership, as the actions on the ground indicate the Taliban is acting the same way it did when it took over the country back in the 1990s.

Chinese action in Afghanistan as a risk

Beijing has taken steps to increase Chinese influence in Afghanistan, and some of it undermines long-term stability goals in the country.

On the economic side, Beijing is using BRI projects to hold off other nations from investing in Afghanistan. One example was in December 2011, when the China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) won a $400 million bid to drill in three oilfields in the Afghan provinces of Faryab and Sar-i-Pul, a contract lasting for 25 years. The fields hold only 87 million barrels, a fraction of Iran’s oilfield capacity, but China has not drilled the wells. Another example is the Mes Aynak mine, which Beijing secured, but has done little to develop since winning the bid. The cost to Kabul for the lack of activity in the Mes Aynak mine is estimated at 2 billion USD, almost the total amount the mine contract was worth in 2007. Meanwhile the Taliban has been illegally mining the region for hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth in precious metals. For Kabul, the mine is a major economic asset to the country, which in 2018 relied on foreign aid for 40% of GDP. While Beijing is holding back on the mine, they are reportedly in negotiations with the Taliban for infrastructure contracts. 

 In terms of security, China has stationed PLA troops in Badakhshan, but the Afghan government balked at Beijing’s attempts to create a Chinese military base in the region. Beijing also attempted to force the Afghan government to take Chinese navigation and internet systems and Chinese military hardware, which Kabul believes would have rendered them dependent on China for security goods. When rebuffed by Afghan government officials, Beijing started doling out equipment to rival political powers and the Taliban in Badakhshan. Beijing also sought to cultivate local power brokers and undercut the national Afghan government. Such behaviors have increased local resentment towards the Chinese presence in communities that had been promised gains from the BRI. It also poses a security risk to Kabul as Beijing is effectively cultivating potential rivals to regional authority from Kabul. 

Lastly, Beijing is undermining trust with Kabul. On December 10, 2020, Kabul authorities broke up an alleged Chinese spy ring in the capital, one that had been operating for seven years before it’s discovery.  Indian intelligence helped Afghan authorities in uncovering the spy ring, which was working with the Haqqani Network to track down Uighurs in country. The alleged spy ring was made up of Chinese nationals who were attempting to set up a fake cell of the East Turkistan Independence Movement (ETIM) to ensnare Uighur separatists in Afghanistan. The alleged spy ring was discovered by the National Directorate of Security (NDS), Afghanistan’s intelligence agency, after receiving intelligence on the ring from the Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW), India’s foreign spy agency. The arrests of Chinese nationals were coupled with authorities seizing arms and drugs found with the suspects. The Haqqani Network, which the alleged spy ring was attempting to infiltrate, has been driving insurgent conflict in Afghanistan for 40 years.  

As China moves into Afghanistan for economic, security, and geopolitical reasons, Beijing has made a bet on the Taliban becoming the political power in Afghanistan. They also have investment and security concerns in the country that force China to be present. Yet the Taliban cannot be trusted to be a responsible actor on the international stage and follow a domestic policy that will force them into conflict with China and other border nations, possibly internationally.

Jihadist groups are starting to orientate their focus on China in response to China’s rise in geopolitical power and military expansion and modernization efforts. One example of a new wave of Jihadist attention towards China is the Jihadist cleric, Abu Zar al-Burmi, is active in recruitment and driving the focus against China for actions against the Uighurs and Rohingya and more generally against Islamic populations. He’s active in Pakistan and Afghanistan and his rhetoric has strongly focused on China’s activities in Central and South Asia. While the United States, Russia, and the West in general, are still considered enemies, China is joining that list of target nations. 

For the Taliban, this means more Jihadists groups will come to Afghanistan to fight against China and possibly launch attacks in the region, which the Taliban may not actually care much about. October 2020, the Afghan Taliban claimed it was under no obligation to sever ties with al Qaeda. The Taliban has strong links to al Qaeda even in 2021, despite pledges to distance themselves from the international terrorist group.  Historically, al Qaeda helped strengthen the Taliban in Afghanistan and spend decades developing overlapping allegiances between the two organizations.  The Taliban is attempting to maintain their relationship with al Qaeda while convincing the larger international community that they can be trusted to keep Afghanistan free of terrorist organizations.  One example is when Taliban officials floated the idea of treating al Qaeda fighters as “refugees” in Taliban controlled territories.  As of February 25, 2021, the Taliban has made little effort to actually rein in al Qaeda in Afghanistan and the terrorist group is currently gaining strength in country under the protection of the Afghan Taliban.   

The proposed solutions Beijing has for Afghanistan also seem undermined from the start. Relying on other nations to curtail the risks in Afghanistan is fraught with other goals Beijing is pursuing at the potential determent of their would-be allies. Islamabad uses the Taliban to check Indian geopolitical influence and has a history of supporting militants, but their connections are not as easily disentangled due to domestic connections between these groups and the Pakistani military and parts of government.  One example is the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and their relationship with the Afghan Taliban. While Islamabad doesn’t want a total Taliban victory due to fears that it could galvanize their own domestic insurgents, they may not have much of an option to confront them in Afghanistan.

Tajikistan has their own issues with China. In 2010, China gained part of the Pamir region as part of a concession by Tajikistan in return for assistance with security.  The Pamirs are resource rich and located primarily in Tajikistan, but strategic in location for potential military operations in Afghanistan and Central Asia.  In 2020, a Chinese historian published an article on official outlets of the PRC claiming the entire Pamirs belong to China historically and should be returned.  Citing only Chinese sources and arguing for taking back the entire region, the article stirred anger both in Tajikistan and Russia.  This also stoked fears and suspicions that Beijing is going to try to annex the territory after building up the military infrastructure and power, and that the BRI and other promises by Beijing are just temporary measures to stall response. Beijing may offer to work with Dushanbe to fight militants on the border, Dushanbe and other Central Asian nations are likely looking at how such asks might position them into subservience or weakness to Beijing.  With 52% of the country’s debt owed to China and increased Chinese military presence close to the Wakhan Corridor, Tajik government officials may worry about being used as a staging point for military operations in Central Asia and being pulled into Beijing’s larger plans for power projection in Central Asia.

Russia is a complicated factor as well. Beijing is using the Shanghai Cooperative Organization to project influence and write economic and technological standards in Central Asia, putting Moscow’s traditional influence and geo-strategic goals at risk. Chinese hackers targeted Russia recently with a specialized malware that allows remote access and self-destructs after its’ mission is finished. Despite claims of greater partnership between Moscow and Beijing, both are far from an effective military and political alliance, with underlying tensions over whether Beijing will pursue their own goals at Moscow’s expense and who would be in the junior position in any such alliance. The BRI and SCO are being used by Beijing to increase clout in Central Asia, and Moscow is attempting to thread a path that keeps Russian influence without being encircled and vassalized by Beijing.  

While Beijing might propose a multi-national coalition or utilization of the SCO, Beijing’s own actions telegraph a willingness to use said institutions to further geo-political ends at the expense of allies. If Beijing tries to rally neighbors to take on militants in Afghanistan, those neighbors each have a reason to not commit to fighting militants. Beijing will either have to commit to forces on the ground in Afghanistan or somehow convince those neighbors to send troops and take on active military roles in country.  The former poses a risk to prestige and drawing Beijing into the same trap other major powers faced, the latter requires fundamental changes to Beijing’s foreign policy and getting involved in the domestic affairs of other nations overtly. 

Conclusion

Beijing is making the same mistakes prior nations have made in Afghanistan. First, Beijing is undermining Kabul’s ability to fight the Taliban while making deals with the Taliban. Second, Beijing is trying to promote China as a peacemaker in Afghanistan’s conflict. Third, Beijing seems to be trusting the Taliban. Fourth, Beijing’s policies domestically against Muslim Uighurs is making them a target internationally for Jihadists, including those active in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Now conflict will likely happen with either a total Taliban victory or Afghan civil war. In an Afghan civil war, the Taliban and remnants of the government will be unable to stop foreign insurgents from coming to the country and setting up for attacks on neighbors. Yet in the case of Taliban victory, the Taliban takes control of the country entirely and goes back to their old ways. There is no indication that the Taliban has improved socially, and their goal is at odds with Beijing’s- the establishment of an Emirate following the model the Taliban attempted in the 1990s. The rank and file will likely promote closer ties to Al Qaeda and other international terrorist groups who would seek haven in Afghanistan. Once ready, they launch attacks in Xinjiang, requiring Beijing to respond.

In either case, if Beijing does not respond, domestic security and legitimacy of the CCP are at risk. Yet if Beijing gets involved, they risk being trapped in Afghanistan fighting an insurgency. Unlike a war with Taiwan, or in the South China Seas, or India, this would be a war of necessity as Afghanistan is both the gateway to Central and South Asia, and shares a land border with China. If the Taliban take control or if there is a civil war, China becomes vulnerable to terrorist attacks that would threaten the CCP’s legitimacy at home and economic and political interests in Central Asia. Unlike the USA, China will always have the risks associated with an unstable Afghanistan. Yet Beijing’s actions are ensuring their ambitions will be on a collision course with the Taliban.   

If the Taliban were to moderate, it would pose a risk for the Taliban as an organization- either rank and file break off and form their own groups or defect to rivals. That in turn poses a threat to the Taliban’s hold on power and could escalate into civil war if enough defect to rivals. These are the same fighters that the Taliban traditionally used to enforce decrees in cities and to fight rival warlords. This organizational threat will play into the hands of insurgents coming into Afghanistan and incentivize Taliban leadership to maintain ambiguity on their policy stances even as their militias impose policies that violate Taliban promises to the international community.

Lastly, there is probably not much appetite for the larger international community to engage militarily against the Taliban in retaliation for violated promises. Most nations will probably leave Afghanistan to the Taliban and raise only threats of sanctions or other non-military means of punishment. Yet this won’t mean much to the Taliban, as it allowed both domestic atrocities against the Afghan people and provided haven to Al Qaeda and Jihadist insurgents back in the 1990s.

For China and the CCP, this poses a serious problem. The Taliban may take them up on offers of infrastructure development and raw resource extraction, but the Taliban’s ultimate goal is the establishment of their Emirate, one based on their ideological and religious views. The CCP’s Belt and Road Initiative may offer the Taliban money, but they will choose their Emirate over foreign economic integration and this means that the CCP has to deal with an ideology that is at odds with the vision of the CCP for the region.

Their would-be allies in the region also have cause to distrust coalitions to fight the Taliban. The CCP tends to pursue goals through dual purpose initiatives and activities. Nations that border Afghanistan will see the insurgents as a threat, but they also see risks in following Beijing’s lead, such as territorial losses in Tajikistan or facing domestic chaos in Pakistan. While all can agree on the threat posed by insurgents, there is little trust that Beijing won’t use chaos in Afghanistan to advance their own agenda in Central and South Asia at the expense of Afghanistan and their neighbors.

Beijing cannot expect the USA or the international community to get involved militarily, and due to the shared border and ambitions of the CCP, Beijing will have no choice but to take the lead in any future military conflict in Afghanistan. Its not a conflict they want, but it is one they would have no choice but to engage with.     

Leave a comment

Filed under Central Asia, East Asia, International Conflict, South Asia, Terrorism

News at Noon- China Today

Hi all,

Here are some news stories I have been reading for today that I think would be interesting.

From China,

Despite reopening, many Chinese firms are facing layoffs, pay cuts, and uncertain export conditions as other countries combat COVID-19.  Even while China reports no new cases at home, they are dealing with how other countries fight the virus in terms of policies such as quarantines, country lockdowns, and canceled orders as domestic capital and resources go to fight the virus.

Domestically, authorities in Hubei have lifted the lockdown on the providence and are now allowing people to move through the region where the majority of the COVID-19 cases in China actually took place.  Wuhan is still under lockdown, but residents in Xianning are undergoing fast response testing before they can leave the city.  This measure is meant to prevent the virus from transmitting and reflects a larger domestic effort by authorities to prevent another outbreak.

In addition to a 344 billion dollar stimulus to fight the economic impact of the virus, authorities are also placing restrictions on incoming and outgoing flights. Those coming in from abroad to Shanghai will be placed in quarantine for 14 days, meanwhile incoming flights have been limited to one route and one flight per week as of March 29th.  The reason for these measures is to combat COVID-19 infection from abroad, as new Covid cases came from overseas travelers.  Most of these cases were of Chinese passport carriers coming back to China.

In a nutshell, China is fighting new COVID-19 cases from abroad by limiting the ability of the virus to spread, specifically by targeting travel and movement in regions where the virus was first reported in country and from other parts of the world currently affected by COID-19.  The impact of the virus is economically felt both from slowdowns in country and loss of business overseas as other countries repurpose their resources to fight the virus.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under East Asia, Economics, Social and Cultural