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China Reform Monitor - No. 1325

Moscow, Beijing draw closer;
Overtures, and thinly-veiled threats, toward Taiwan

Edited by Joshua Eisenman
May 3, 2018

April 4:

"I am visiting Russia as China’s new defense minister to show the world a high level of development of our bilateral relations and firm determination of our armed forces to strengthen strategic cooperation," China's Defense Minister, General Wei Fenghe, said in Moscow in
comments carried by CNN. Wei’s remarks were made as part of a public state visit designed to showcase the growing strategic ties between Russia and China amid recent pledges of closer cooperation between the leaders of the two countries. The Russian-Chinese rapprochement is manifesting itself in other ways as well; Foreign Minister Wang Yi recently met in Moscow with his counterpart, Sergei Lavrov, at a meeting in which the two reaffirmed the "strategic partnership" between Russia and China against a "unipolar" world dominated by the U.S., the Associated Press reports.

April 5:

China’s Nanhai VIII rig has discovered a massive 1.9 trillion cubic meter natural gas deposit in Russia’s Leningradskoye field off the Yamal Peninsula in the Kara Sea. The 15,469 metric ton semisubmersible rig owned by China Oilfield Services Ltd (COSL) drilled to a depth of 160 meters. Leningradskoye is owned by Russian energy giant Gazprom, which has signed oil exploration deals with COSL, a subsidiary of China’s state-owned oil company CNOOC,
the Asia Times reports.

April 6:

Peking University Third Hospital’s sperm bank is requiring all potential donors to show loyalty to the Communist Party. In a statement on its WeChat social media account, the hospital said that donors must "love the socialist motherland,” have "favorable political qualities," and must "support the leadership of the Communist Party, be loyal to the party's cause and be decent, law-abiding citizens, free of political problems." Donors must also be between 20 and 45, not have any genetic or infectious diseases, weight problems, color blindness or hair loss. According to China's National Health Commission, there are only 23 sperm banks nationwide and many have a shortage of donors,
the BBC reports.

April 11:

Beijing wants to build a tunnel beneath the Taiwan Strait, known as the “Beijing-Taipei expressway and rail link.” The most likely route, from Fuzhou, Fujian to Hsinchu, Taiwan, would be 122 km – more than twice as long as the Channel Tunnel between France and England. In 2016, the project was mentioned in China’s 13th Five-Year Plan, causing Taiwan’s then-premier Simon Chang to vehemently disavow the idea at a special session of the legislature. Politicians in Taiwan continue to call the idea “nonsense” and refuse to discuss it. Wang Mengshu, China’s top railroad engineer and an ardent tunnel advocate, responded by claiming the two sides had discussed the plan with then-president Ma Ying-jeou. Wang said his team had several covert meetings with a Ma confidant who was the “point person” on the plan. Regarding concerns that the tunnel would give China’s military a shortcut to take island, Wang said the PLA could already mount an amphibious invasion whenever it wanted,
Asia Times reports.

April 12:

Xi Jinping, the chairman of China’s Central Military Commission, has visited Hainan Island to inspect the biggest naval parade in PRC history, involving the Liaoning, China’s first aircraft carrier, 50 other warships, 80 military aircraft and more than 10,000 troops. Soon afterward, the PLA announced that on April 18 it would hold live-fire drills in the Taiwan Strait – China’s first naval exercise in the waters since September 2015. The maneuvers intimidate Taipei, are a show of geopolitical support for Russia, and put pressure on the U.S., said Antony Wong Dong a military analyst in Macau. “It’s very likely that as Russia’s strategic partner, China [is using its] navy to show its political support to Russia at such a sensitive moment,” Wong said. The drill near the South China Sea also highlights China’s “determination to defend its sovereignty in the contested area, and the navy’s capacity to protect China’s interests along the Belt and Road,” said Song Zhongping, formerly of the Second Artillery Corps. This week the USS Theodore Roosevelt staged a training exercise near the Philippines, with 20 F-18 Super Hornet fighter jets performing a take-off and landing exercise,
the South China Morning Post reports

Related Categories: Russia; China; China and East Asia Program

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