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China Geopolitical Watch – From September 17 to September 23, 2022

09/18/2022: UK wants to ban Confucius Institutes

A group of British cross-party MPs initiated talks with the Taiwanese government on September 18, discussing the opening of Taiwanese education programs in the UK. The goal of these programs would be replacing the Mandarin classes currently provided by the Beijing-funded Confucius Institutes, controversed in the Western world for their attempts to interfere with academic events (through cancelling conferences embarrassing the Chinese regime, by instance).

The British Prime Minister, Liz Truss, has recently expressed growing hostility towards China, threatening to classify it as an “acute threat” to British national security, a term so far applied to Russia. The United States, for its part, has initiated a similar process with Taiwan in December 2020.

09/21/2022: Cooling of Sino-Indian relations following Subrahmanyam Jaishankar’s diplomatic barrage at the UN

Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, India’s External Affairs minister, met with numerous diplomats on September 21. However, his Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi, was not on the list. But more serious for Beijing is the questioning of India’s status as a member of the BRICS economic organization, which “creates certain dilemmas for India” according to Professor Christopher Clary, especially since New Delhi joined the Quad – a defense organization formed in 2021 by the United States, Australia, India and Japan.

The week before, the presidents of the two Asian giants Xi Jinping and Narendra Modi had already carefully kept their distance during the Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit (“no handshake, no smile“). This mutual avoidance does not come as a surprise, but as a result of the growing unease in Sino-Indian relations in the recent years: recurrent border incidents, economic competition, Chinese support for Pakistan as well as Beijing’s block of India’s bid for a permanent seat at the UN are all points of friction between the two countries.

09/21/2022: Gulf States express their intention to cooperate with China

On September 21, the Chinese Minister of Foreign Affairs met with representatives of the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf (GCC), during their ministerial meeting on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly. The representatives of the six GCC member states – Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman and the United Arab Emirates – expressed their friendship for China and their willingness to cooperate more closely with China in the fields of trade and energy.

For his part, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi welcomed the deepening of cooperation with the Gulf States, of which “China has long been the largest partner“, and also thanked the GCC members for their support of China’s position on Taiwan, Hong Kong, Xinjiang and human rights.

09/22/2022: China reiterates support for a “peaceful resolution” of the Ukraine conflict and reaffirms its neutral position

On September 22, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi spoke at the United Nations General Assembly, reaffirming China’s desire to see a “peaceful resolution” of the Ukrainian conflict through talks. “China’s position on Ukraine is consistent and clear. […] The sovereignty and territorial integrity of all States should be respected.” This Chinese call for dialogue comes a day after the Russian President Vladimir Putin mentioned nuclear weapons at the same forum.

Wang Yi nevertheless met with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov on September 23, both reaffirming their willingness to pursue bilateral cooperation projects, including those mentioned during the meeting in Samarkand on September 15. Despite this, Beijing seems to be distancing itself from Moscow, balancing its diplomatic game in the ‘third way’ mode.

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