China Reform Monitor No. 1377

Related Categories: Democracy and Governance; Human Rights and Humanitarian Issues; Intelligence and Counterintelligence; International Economics and Trade; China; Africa

Foreign Minister Wang Yi said Beijing must be "on guard" because the "black hand" of Western forces is "stirring up trouble" in Hong Kong. "Some Western forces are using this issue. They have made trouble in Hong Kong, stirred up opposition and tried to sabotage Hong Kong's stability and damage the implementation of one country, two systems," Wang has asserted. "We want to say this loudly: Pull back the black hand you have shown. Hong Kong is China's domestic affair. You shouldn't interfere in Hong Kong. Hong Kong isn't a place for you to run amok." A Foreign Ministry spokesperson was even more explicit, naming the U.S. as the culprit: "We urge certain people in the U.S. to respect basic facts, discard arrogance and prejudice, stop playing dirty tricks that meddle in Hong Kong affairs."

The statements have drawn outrage from Hong Kong's pro-democracy activists. One such protester, Joshua Wong, has said that "Mr. Wang's suggestion that we are somehow under the control of the West... reflects what Beijing's rule is fundamentally about: deception, ungrounded accusations against dissidents, and ultra-nationalism as a means of control. It is no wonder why Hong Kongers are determined to stand up against extradition to China." (CNN, June 20, 2019)

China has issued three new travel alerts advising its citizens to "raise safety awareness" when in the United States. The country's Culture and Tourism Ministry, citing recent cases of "shooting, robbery and theft," warned Chinese of the risks of traveling in the U.S. China's embassy and consulates in the U.S. also issued a security alert alleging "repeated harassment" by local law enforcement officials. Moreover, the Education Ministry warned Chinese students and scholars about growing visa issues. "I tell parents to stay rational and stay calm," said Tomer Rothschild of Elite Schools of China, a Beijing-based educational consultancy that helps Chinese students enroll in U.S. universities. "I don't see any (U.S. visa issues) across hundreds of our students."

The warnings come amid growing anti-U.S sentiment in official Chinese media. Beijing has published a raft of commentaries accusing Washington of "trade bullying" and "hegemony," with one People's Daily editorial claiming the U.S. is the "enemy of the world." CCTV is airing an old documentary series, "The Great War to Resist the U.S, and Aid North Korea," which includes historical footage and patriotic narration. The Study Times has published a long analysis of U.S.-China negotiations during the Korean War concluding that: "Over two years of negotiations has shown the world: What the U.S. government failed to obtain at the negotiating table, they still failed to obtain though the use of warplanes and cannons." (CNN, June 6, 2019)

China is implementing export controls for its sensitive military technology. "This is a major step to improve [China's system] and also a move to counter the U.S. crackdown. Once taking effect, some technology exports to the U.S. will be subject to the control," posted Hu Xijin, editor-in-chief of the official Global Times. Ironically, Beijing's approach is likely to be similar to the same U.S. export controls on strategic technologies that Beijing has bemoaned for decades. China, however, will probably also block exports of rare earth minerals, which are used in smartphones, lasers, instrument panels, wind turbines and MRI machines and more than 90 percent of hybrid and electric cars. (Financial Times, June 8, 2019)

China's military has conducted "irresponsible actions" towards the U.S. military in Djibouti, said Rear Admiral Heidi Berg, director of intelligence at the U.S. Africa Command. Berg accused China of "intrusion activity" around the U.S. base, including "attempts to gain access,” and said the PLA was "constraining international airspace" by using lasers and drones to interfere with American pilots in order to stop them from flying over China’s military base not far from the U.S. facility – Camp Lemonnier. For its part, China claims low-flying U.S. aircraft are spying on its facility. (Newsweek, June 18, 2019)