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China Reform Monitor - No. 1243

President Obama gets cold welcome in Hangzhou;
China and Japan competing for infrastructure projects in SE Asia

Edited by Joshua Eisenman
September 13, 2016

August 15:

In late June, a Japanese Air Self-Defense Force (ASDF) aircraft employed a countermeasure to avoid a possible Chinese missile attack, according to Kunio Orita, former head of Japan's Air Support Command. Since late May Chinese jet fighters have approached the disputed Diaoyu Islands more than three times, once flying within 50km of Japanese airspace, 
the South China Morning Post (SCMP) reports. Between April and June, Japan scrambled fighters against Chinese aircraft a record 199 times, compared to 198 times in the preceding three months. Japan's defense ministry has criticized China's air and sea activities as “high-handed” unilateral actions intended to alter the status quo by force. 

August 22:

Three Chinese military planes including a bomber flew into an area where the air defense identification zones (ADIZ) of South Korea and China overlap, 
Yonhap reports. The Chinese aircraft entered “without notification,” but left after the South Korean military sent fighter jets to escort the intruders out of the area. The Chinese planes flew over was the western side of Ieodo, a submerged rock 150 km southwest of South Korea's Jeju Island. In 2013, China expanded its ADIZ over a reef and other islands off the Korean coast. In response, South Korea expanded its ADIZ to include airspace over Ieodo and the Marado and Hongdo islands. In January, Chinese military planes entered the overlapping ADIZ area, but South Korean jets didn't intercept them.

August 25:

China and Japan are engaged in a "fierce" rivalry to build railroads in Southeast Asia, 
SCMP reports. The Japanese highlight their advanced technology and safety record, while their Chinese competitors position themselves as low-cost alternatives that deliver faster. The two are competing over a high-speed rail project to connect Singapore and Malaysia by 2026. The Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High Speed Rail project was announced last month, but lobbying began last year. Premier Li Keqiang wrote a letter to his Malaysian counterpart, expressing a "deep interest" the project. In March, China Railway Group announced that it will invest $2 billion to develop the area surrounding the new central Kuala Lumpur station. East Japan Railway has opened an office in Singapore, and in April organized a high-speed rail symposium in Kuala Lumpur to showcase its technology. Japan's Minister of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism visited Singapore last month to meet with local officials. Chinese firms are building railways in Laos, Thailand and Myanmar as part of the "Pan-Asia Railway Network," a vast infrastructure plan to connect China with Southeast Asia. A Japanese firm is building the 670-km high-speed railway line connecting Bangkok and Chiang Mai in northern Thailand. Tokyo, which aims to triple infrastructure exports to $284 billion by 2020, is also financing the Philippines' $2.4 billion North-South Commuter Railway to connect Manila with outlying areas.

August 26:

Taiwan's Vice President Chen Chien-je plans to visit the Vatican next month, prompting criticism from Beijing. Chen is a devout Catholic belonging to Taipei's Holy Family Parish, AsiaNews reports. The Vatican has no formal relations with Beijing and maintains diplomatic ties with Taipei. China has repeatedly urged the Vatican “to recognize the PRC as the sole government representing China and that Taiwan is an inalienable part of China,” the official Xinhua news agency reports

September 3:

President Obama and his staff received a “bruising” welcome when they arrived in Hangzhou, Jiangsu for the G20 Summit, 
the New York Times reports
. When Air Force One arrived, there was no staircase for the President to disembark in view of the television cameras, forcing him to use a side door. Reporters were kept behind a rope, prompting an angry exchange between a Chinese security official and White House aides. When National Security Adviser Susan Rice ducked under the rope, she was challenged by a Chinese official prompting a heated exchange. Later at the West Lake State House, where Mr. Obama met President Xi, White House aides, protocol officers, and Secret Service agents were stopped at a checkpoint triggering a shouting match over how many and which Americans should be allowed into the building before the president's arrival.

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