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China Reform Monitor - No. 1345

How the Pentagon sees Chinese strategy;
China's anti-Christian offensive

Edited by Joshua Eisenman
October 3, 2018

September 2:

Pentagon's new report to Congress, "Military and Security Developments Involving the People's Republic of China," describes China's military restructuring and posture in the Indo-Pacific region. A summary from the Australian Broadcasting Corp. lists ten key takeaways from the study, including: (1) In 2017, the PLA began a structural and operational reform "to create a more mobile, modular, lethal ground force capable of being the core of joint operations and able to 'fight and win wars.'" (2) China's military modernization seeks "capabilities with the potential to degrade core US operational and technological advantages." China's sees the U.S. as its top threat and uses any means it can to advance its goals, including "targeted foreign direct investment, cyber theft, and exploitation of private Chinese nationals' access to technologies." (3) PLA overwater bomber operating areas are expanding "to strike U.S. and allied forces and military bases in the western Pacific Ocean, including Guam. Such flights could potentially be used as a strategic signal to regional states." (4) China uses "opportunistically timed progression of incremental but intensifying steps to attempt to increase effective control over disputed areas and avoid escalation to military conflict." (5) "China intends to use BRI to develop strong economic ties with other countries, shape their interests to align with China's, and deter confrontation or criticism of China's approach to sensitive issues. Some BRI investments could create potential military advantages for China," especially for its navy. China is likely "to establish additional military bases in countries with which it has a longstanding friendly relationship and similar strategic interests, such as Pakistan."

In Leiyang, Hunan, the city government's plan to transfer students from overcrowded public schools to expensive private schools produced a 600-strong protest that led police to detain 46 people. The protest began with parents gathering and hoisting banners outside six local schools and the city's Communist Party committee building, where they aired grievances to city mayor Li Xiangyang,
Reuters reports. Then they moved on to the police station and began throwing bottles, bricks and firecrackers, injuring over 30 officers and damaging vehicles. The police attributed the violence to "good-for-nothings" looking for trouble, and claimed that of the dozens detained, only one had a school-age child. "Some lawless people are making use of this as an opportunity to stir up trouble," a local official told VOA.

September 3:

Hanoi's plan to open three special economic zones (SEZ) has been stalled until 2019 due to large demonstrations by those fearful of a Chinese influx. "Not one word of the special-zone bill draft bill mentions China," said Minister of Planning and Investment Nguyen Chi Dung, but "some people are deliberately trying to fuel the idea of a threat." In 2013, to lure foreign investment, Vietnam named Quang Ninh, a coastal province that borders China, Khanh Hoa Province, and the island of Phu Quoc as SEZs that would offer benefits like the 99-year leases, relaxed rules on casinos, and streamlined legal procedures. These three areas have among the fastest growing Chinese populations in Vietnam,
Nikkei reports. In June, anti-Chinese protests around the country, including in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, destroyed factories and shops and at least 1,000 people were arrested.

[EDITOR'S NOTE: China's growing influence in the country has become an issue of great public concern. Last year, Chinese FDI in Vietnam totaled $1.4 billion, about five times the 2012 figure. At the same time, Chinese visitors tripled to about 4 million, Chinese are buying property in resort areas like Da Nang, Nha Trang and Phu Quoc, and in some places Chinatowns are emerging.]

September 6:

At the Pacific Islands Forum, Nauru's President, Baron Waqa, aggressively critiqued China's senior envoy to the gathering, demanded he apologize for "crazy" behavior and lashed out at Beijing's "arrogance,"
the Guardian reports. "They're not our friends. They just need us for their own purposes. Sorry, but I have to be strong on this because no one is to come and dictate things to us. We're seeing a lot of big countries coming in and sometimes buying their way through the Pacific, some are extremely aggressive, even to the point that they tread all over us. From this forum, all leaders know how arrogant some of these people are. We won't just seek an apology, we'll even take it up to the UN. Not only that, I will mention it at the UN and every international meeting. Would he behave like that in front of his own president? I doubt it. He disrespected the Pacific, the forum island leaders and other ministers who have come to join us in our territory. Are you kidding? Look at him, he's a nobody. He's not even a minister and he's demanding to be recognized and to speak before the prime minister of Tuvalu. Is he crazy?"

[EDITOR'S NOTE: Nauru is one of Taiwan's diplomatic allies, a point of contention between the Island nation and Beijing. The forum was nearly scuttled before it began, when Nauru immigration officials refused to stamp the PRC delegation's diplomatic passports. U.S. diplomatic cables from 2007 reveal that Taiwan was paying Nauruan government ministers a secret $5,000 monthly stipend, while MPs received $2,500. Most of the buildings and infrastructure used to host the Pacific Islands Forum were built or upgraded by Taiwan.]

September 10:

Beijing is cracking down on Christian congregations, destroying crosses, burning bibles, shutting churches and ordering believers to renounce their faith,
the Associated Press reports.
In Nanyang, Henan a pastor said crosses, bibles and furniture were burned during a raid on his church on September 5. In Beijing, the Zion Church was closed after it rejected a demand to install CCTV cameras in its building. The church, which had been the largest unregistered house church in Beijing, had operated until then with relative freedom. A notice posted on the website of the Chaoyang district government in Beijing said Zion was closed for its failure to register with the government. In February, to "complete" China's religion regulatory system, new rules were adopted to govern religious affairs and increase penalties for unofficial congregations.

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

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