China Geopolitical Watch – From October 22 to October 28, 2022

10/23/2022 : President Xi Jinping unveils his government upon his re-election for a third term. -Thomas Taochy-

Xi Jinping was re-elected on Sunday October 23 for a third term as President of the People’s Republic of China. During the 20th Party Congress, the President unveiled the members chosen to form his cabinet. They include «rising stars» such as Li Qiang, Cai Qi, Li Xi and Ding Xuexiang, according to the South China Morning Post. The former head of the anti-corruption agency Zhao Leji and the face of Chinese ideology Wang Hunning complete the Politburo with Xi Jinping.

In hierarchical order, the Chinese government will thus be composed of President Xi Jinping, followed by Premier Li Qiang, then Zhao Leji, Wang Huning, Cai Qi, Ding Xuexiang and finally Li Xi.

According to a report by the media Xinhua, Xi Jinping «personally» recruited senior party members on their ability to stand up to the West to circumvent sanctions.

However, the Chinese president’s decisions were not unanimous. First of all, many were surprised by the removal of Hu Chunhua, previously considered as one of Xi Jinping’s successors. In addition, many critics deplored the absence of women in the bureau, the first time in 20 years. Finally, former president Hu Jintao, who had, according to The Guardian media, expressed his disagreement with the content of the official documents, was escorted out in the middle of the party meeting.

10/24/2022: Two Chinese nationals charged with espionage and attempted bribery in U.S. courts -Anna Balawender-

On Monday, Oct. 24, the U.S. Department of Justice announced the indictment of two Chinese nationals, He Guochun and Wang Zheng, on charges of attempted obstruction of justice, explains the Associated Press. The documents released by the Justice Department also mention espionage, attempted bribery and money laundering. The document does not explicitly state the purpose of the bribe, stating only that the purpose was to obtain confidential information about the ongoing investigation into «Company 1» on behalf of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). Associated Press, however, claims that it is Huawei.

The Guardian states that the target of the bribe was a double agent working for US intelligence. Wang and He allegedly asked him for the witness list, trial strategy and other confidential information. «This case exposes the interconnectedness between CCP intelligence officers and Chinese companies», said Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco, as quoted by The Verge.

This public denunciation is part of a broader arrest campaign: Merrick Garland, a U.S. federal judge, also announced 11 other arrests on Monday, according to the New York Post. Those arrests are in connection with the attempt to force an anti-CCP activist to return to China, as well as the recruitment of intelligence officers on U.S. soil.

10/27/2022 : Deliberation for new Chinese government appointments amid national and international economic turmoil -Vadim Leduc Argenta- 

The National People’s Congress (NPC) of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) will meet this week between October 26 and 30. The purpose of this meeting is to appoint new senior government officials. These nominations concern among others the positions of vice-premiers of economy, science, technology, foreign trade, or the fight against pandemics. According to an official CCP statement, the PNA’s mission is to review laws, amendments, examine financial work and «deliberate on relevant appointments and dismissals (of personnel)».

This meeting comes amid heavy turbulence on the Chinese market, worrying investors from all sides. Turbulence both domestic and international with the disagreements between China, the European Union and more generally the G7. These tensions highlighted by The Guardian concern the future of dialogues and trade between these actors. All eyes are therefore on these appointments, which are supposed to «guide the country through the economic storms to come» and aim to «continue Xi Jinping’s grand modernization strategy» according to SCMP. On the other hand, these appointments are part of a logic of a transition more radical politics with the arrival of Li Qiang as number 2 of the party.

10/24/20022: China reacts to Japan-Australia military agreement -Olivier Husson-

At the regular press conference of Foreign Ministry, spokesman Wang Weibin was asked about the Japan-Australia military agreement. «Bilateral exchanges and cooperation need to be conducive to mutual understanding and trust […] rather than targeting any third party or undermine their interests», the spokesman said without mentioning any country. He added that «The Asia-Pacific region does not need military blocs, still less groupings that could provoke bloc confrontation or stoke a new Cold War. People in the region will be on heightened alert and stand against any act that undermines regional peace and stability and hurts regional solidarity and cooperation.»

In recent years, there have been several military cooperation projects involving the United States in the Indo-Pacific region, such as QUAD and AUKUS. They all aim to counter Chinese expansionism in the Pacific and Indian Oceans. The war in Ukraine has revived fears of a Chinese invasion of Taiwan. According to a YouGov poll, a majority of the Australian population now favours the delivery of arms to Taiwan.

Beijing-Canberra relations have been tense for several years. This week, imports of Australian wine in China have plunged by 92%, according to the South China Morning Post. Customs hikes, under the pretext of anti-covid measures, are part of China’s strategy in this diplomatic feud.

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