Violent unrest in Kazakhstan, coupled with a Russian-led military intervention to prop up Qasym-Zhomart Toqaev, the country’s embattled president, has already left its mark on the country and Central Asia as a whole.
The Biden administration is reviewing e-commerce giant Alibaba’s cloud business to determine whether it poses a risk to the United States’ national security, according to three people briefed on the matter, as the government ramps up scrutiny of Chinese technology companies’ dealings with American firms.
The focus of the probe is on how the company stores US clients’ data, including personal information and intellectual property, and whether the Chinese government could gain access to it, the sources said. The potential for Beijing to disrupt access by US users to their information stored on Alibaba cloud is also a concern, one of the people said.
As climate change forces the world’s militaries to adapt to new security conditions and ponder their own carbon footprints, the People’s Liberation Army has been largely silent.
The same is not true for the Chinese government as a whole; Xi Jinping, for example, has promised to reduce the country’s carbon output starting in 2030 and achieve full carbon neutrality by 2060. But little has been heard from the PLA’s senior leaders, academics, and strategists. While climate change is a part of the Chinese military and militia’s concept of non-traditional security threats, addressing its effects does not yet appear to be part of its security strategy.
As China and Russia have grown closer in recent years through a deepening political partnership, the two countries’ sometimes competing interests in Central Asia were viewed as a factor that could derail their warming ties.
While Moscow was seen as the main military provider in the region, Beijing’s slow venture into Central Asian security in recent years with unofficial outposts and increased training — combined with rising influence through its multibillion-dollar Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) infrastructure project — created a cocktail for increased friction and potential rivalry.
But analysts say China’s and Russia’s handling of violent unrest in their mutual neighbor, Kazakhstan, has pushed the two countries even closer together. It has also highlighted the lengths the two powers are willing to accommodate each other during a fast-moving and high-stakes crisis.
Wang Jingyou was living in Turkey last year when he found that the 7,000 kilometres (4350 miles) between him and his homeland was no obstacle to an offended Chinese state.
Wang had left China after voicing his support on TikTok for Hong Kong’s democracy protests, but after he questioned the outcome of an Indian-Chinese border clash on social media in February 2021, mainland authorities sprung into action.
This article is the first in a two-part series on the evolution of the People’s Liberation Army’s (PLA) enlisted force. Part one provides background and examines key issues in the PLA’s conscription and recruitment of enlisted personnel. Part two overviews the role of the enlisted force in the annual training cycle. The PLA’s yearly training cycle has always revolved around the annual conscription cycle, but each service and subordinate branch has been affected differently based on the size of the conscript force within the service/branch. Four major reforms have directly affected the conscript force: 1) the number and percentage of conscripts within the overall enlisted force; 2) the transition from an illiterate conscript force to a more educated force; 3) the creation of a two-year conscript force and a 28-year noncommissioned officer (NCO) corps; and 4) the change from a one to two-cycle annual conscription process.
It has been 71 years since the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and the local government of Tibet signed a 17-point agreement on “the peaceful liberation of Tibet” (Central Tibetan Administration, May 23, 2019). Nevertheless, the region remains a major source of insecurity and vulnerability for the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). The PRC considers Tibet an integral part of China and since 1999, has invested heavily in the region’s dual-use infrastructure under its western development strategy (西部大开发, xibu da kaifa) (China Brief, November 19, 2021). Under General Secretary Xi Jinping, emphasis on infrastructure development in Tibet has continued. China has not only invested in conventional infrastructure development such as roads, railways and airports, but also in border defense villages, and next generation infrastructure including internet connectivity projects (for a discussion of the PRC’s construction of transportation infrastructure in Tibet, see part one of this series, China Brief, November 19, 2021) )
This article reviews the next generation infrastructure that China is building and developing in Tibet, which includes xiaogong villages on the borders with India, Nepal and Bhutan, a new all-weather oil pipeline, and power, and internet connectivity infrastructure across the restive Tibetan plateau. The subsequent section considers the implications of these developments for China’s unresolved border dispute with India.
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) has sought to achieve a “zero-infection” (零感染,ling ganran) rate among its population. The Chinese government has pursued this objective through the “dynamic clearance” (动态清零, dongtai qing ling) policy, which is predicated on keeping China’s international borders largely closed, and rapidly detecting, isolating, and eliminating domestic outbreaks (People’s Daily, January 7). Dynamic clearance relies on digital monitoring, mass testing, and controlling population movement to achieve early detection and reduce of COVID-19 transmission. Responses to even single-digit case clusters include mandatory lockdowns, and centralized quarantines in government health centers for potentially infected or exposed groups (Xinhua, August 19, 2021).
In December, a war of words raged across the Pacific over the very meaning of the word “democracy” (China Brief, December 14, 2021). The United States held its Summit for Democracy, inviting other democracies of various stripes, while China convened its own competing “Dialogue on Democracy,” calling out the U.S. for fomenting a cold war-style global geopolitical split (CGTN, December 2, 2021; U.S. Department of State).
This discourse battle exemplifies a trend in Chinese views of the U.S. that has been gradually forming over the past 15 years. The 2008 global financial crisis, ill-fated American military campaigns, and mismanagement of the COVID-19 pandemic have led Chinese leaders to doubt U.S. power and capabilities. Yet, Washington has held on to the belief that it is capable of shaping China’s behaviors, either through inducement or deterrence. Even as the U.S. recognizes the limits of its influence and the recent relative decline in prestige, it still sees tremendous strengths in its military and economic prowess, alliance networks, democratic values, and soft power.
The perception gap between China and the U.S. concerning American power is a potential recipe for disaster. While this does not imply that conflict is imminent or unavoidable, it does make miscalculations and miscommunications in the U.S.-China relationship both more likely and more dangerous.