Watch contributors: Thomas Taochy, Protasius Isyudanto, Marie Corcelle, Emilien Kauffman, supervised by Anna Balawender
The files we follow : China’s relations with the United States, Russia, Central Asia and Africa; Taiwan situation, Chinese military expansion and demonstrations in the South China Sea; News of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), and the Chinese involvement with and within the major international organizations…
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In March, China clarified and strengthened its positions. On the one hand, it continued to deepen cooperation with Russia; on the other hand, it hardened its rhetoric on Taiwan, and faced the continuing aggravation of tensions with the United States. It has reaffirmed its commitment to Southeast Asia, particularly in the framework of ASEAN. Below are summaries of the month’s events by geographic zone.
President Xi Jinping first made a high-profile visit to Russia. The Russian and Chinese foreign ministers discussed the Russian-Ukrainian conflict at the G20 Summit in New Delhi and affirmed their cooperation in economic and military matters, as well as the continuation of joint military exercises. China recently completed the construction of a railroad line connecting China to Europe and has strengthened bilateral relations with Belarus, including medical and cultural cooperation. Finally, the Chinese president has expressed support for President Putin’s continued rule in Russia, while the International Criminal Court has issued an arrest warrant for the Russian president.
In March, the relationship between China and the United States has been very tense. The United States continued its initiatives to undermine Beijing’s influence through visits (Kurt Campbell to the Solomon Islands, Rick Waters to Hong Kong), and partnerships deepening (first AUKUS meetings, tripartite meeting with Japan and the Philippines). On the trade and economic front, the United States has also sanctioned its Chinese rival through the banning of the Tiktok application and the reduction of imports from Xinjiang. Finally, Washington has imposed sanctions on Americans who are too close to the Chinese Communist Party (the pilot Daniel Duggan, the former trader Sam Bankman-Fried).
In the same month, Taiwan continued to arm itself with the United States after further Chinese incursions into its maritime and air sovereignty zones. Honduras switched its allegiance from Taipei to Beijing as the legitimate Chinese government. China reiterated its rejection of Taiwan’s independence bid as President Tsai Ing-wen visited the United States, greeted by pro-democracy supporters and pro-China critics alike. Kuomintang party leader Ma Ying-jeou visited Beijing, recalling the survival of the pro-independence movement in Taiwan.
Concerning events in the South-East Asian region, China reproached the US of creating an “Asian NATO” through its Indo-Pacific Strategy while stating the ASEAN-centeredness as an important aspect in the region. It went on to denounce the AUKUS nuclear submarine deal with Australia, while Malaysia and Indonesia raised their concerns on the matter. On China, The Cambodian PM stated that the ASEAN-China relation has brought the bloc more leverage in the international stage while the ASEAN secretary-general’s visit to Beijing resulted with China’s pledge to ratify the ASEAN non-nuclear proliferation treaty.
In the multilateral sphere finally, TikTok was banned in EU government phones while the app’s representatives assured its users’ data safety. The ban eventually spreaded out to US, UK and Canadian government phones. On the human rights front, the UNHRC has stated “grave concern” regarding the human rights situation in China’s Xinjiang region. Meanwhile, the US has accused China and Russia of obstructionism in the UN Security Council on the newly drafted North Korea sanction package.