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China Reform Monitor - No. 1338

China expands media links to Africa;
Asian nations band together to balance Beijing

Edited by Joshua Eisenman
August 22, 2018

July 5:

On June 26, Beijing hosted the 4th Forum on China-Africa Media Cooperation, which included 400 officials and heads of media organizations from 44 African countries. A dozen new agreements were signed at the forum. Zambia's Minister of Information and Broadcasting revealed that, thanks to China, by 2020 Zambia would have universal broadcasting coverage. In Kenya, Beijing has brought satellite TV to 16,000 households in 800 villages and equipped 2400 public institutions with solar-powered satellite projector TVs for free,
the Philippine Inquirer reports. CGTN Africa has created programs such as Africa Live and Faces of Africa, and last year as part of the Beijing TV Dramas Broadcasting Exhibition in Africa, China aired 17 films and 400 TV episodes in seven African languages across 20 African countries, and translated 18,000 hours of Chinese content. Additionally, Huaxia Film Distribution is developing cinemas in Africa and backing China-Africa co-productions via its "Belt and Road Cinema Circuit Community." By the end of the year, China's StarTimes Ltd. will provide digital TV service to 10,112 villages in 25 African countries.

July 6:

To limit China's military influence, Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Island countries are developing the "Biketawa Plus" regional security declaration. The agreement, which is set to be inked at the Pacific Islands Forum in September, will cover defense, law, humanitarian assistance, disaster relief, environmental security, and climate change. It builds on the Biketawa Declaration signed in 2000 by Pacific leaders, and links Australia's existing bilateral security agreements with the Solomon Islands, Tuvalu and Nauru,
The Australian reports. Last month, Australia's Defense Minister visited Tonga and the Solomon Islands, and Canberra has launched security negotiations with Vanuatu in response to China's effort to establish a military presence there. The Indo-Pacific Endeavour 2018 military exercises this year included defense and security training with armed forces from Vanuatu, Fiji, Tonga, Samoa, Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands, and Australia. In May, Canberra agreed to build an undersea internet cable connecting Australia with Papua New Guinea and the Solomons.

July 10:

The Pentagon has sent two guided missiles destroyers, the USS Mustin and USS Benfold, through the Taiwan Strait in an "innocent passage" operation amid Beijing's increasing efforts to coerce Taipei. The deployment is part of the Pentagon's policy of asserting that international waters claimed by China are in fact open and free,
the Free Beacon reports. The Pentagon is considering sending an aircraft carrier through the Taiwan Strait and dispatching warships to visit Taiwan. "We staunchly oppose any move that harms China's national interest. We won't accept that. The Taiwanese public should clearly understand the real purpose behind these U.S. moves and not help them to play the ‘Taiwan card,'" said Liu Jieyi, China's senior official for Taiwan affairs, in comments carried by Taiwan's Central News Agency. Last month, China's warships conducted an island encirclement drill around Taiwan, and in May air force H-6 bombers, surveillance aircraft, and Su-35 fighter jets circled the island.

July 12:

The official Global Times published an editorial entitled, "Rise in China's strength and international standing drives US antagonism." It argues that: "The US has adopted a number of hostile policies against China on trade, the South China Sea, Taiwan and cultural exchange since the beginning of this year. US politicians cannot accept Washington's decline and China's rise. As a result, they have resorted to a tougher China policy. It has become political correctness in the US to be hawkish toward China. Washington doesn't want to see the success of China's market economy, supported by its state-owned enterprises. The Trump administration is eager to use its aggressive China policy to divert the public's attention from domestic problems. Washington is worried about Beijing's rising influence in the region and attempts to use South China Sea disputes to drive a wedge between China and other countries. The comprehensive rise in China's strength and international standing has been welcomed by most countries while US unilteralism and protectionism has been resisted."

June 13:

U.S. ambassador to the WTO Dennis Shea has accused Beijing of failing to meet its commitments,
the South China Morning Post reports
. "Given China's very large and growing role in international trade, and the serious harm that China's state-led, mercantilist approach to trade and investment causes to China's trading partners, this reckoning can no longer be put off. It is clear that the WTO currently does not offer all of the tools necessary to remedy this situation," Shea told the twice-yearly WTO review of China's trade policies. As part of the review, Beijing has received more than 1600 questions from 33 WTO members, covering tariff cuts, market access, SOE reform, subsidies, overcapacity and intellectual property protection. "[China] is falling far short of the mark, and this is one of the reasons for the flagging legitimacy of the WTO...China hails the multilateral trading order, but the system is not holding China to account," said Scott Kennedy at the Center for Strategic & International Studies.

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

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