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Xi's New Year Address & Qin's Chats with Afghan & Indonesian FMs
It’s a shorter holiday edition of the paper today. This will continue for a while, with there being limited news to report. Instead, there will likely be more positive feature stories in the paper. I’m going to use my discretion on doing the newsletter through the holidays.
Before we get to today’s edition, however, I wanted to share two bits of information that might be of interest to many of you.
First, if you are interested in public policy, and particularly why the Indian State works the way it does, do check out my colleague Pranay Kotasthane and Raghu S. Jaitley’s new book: “Missing In Action: Why You Should Care About Public Policy.” If you’ve followed Pranay and Raghu’s Anticipating the Unintended substack, then you know that this will be a fantastic read.
Second, if you are interested in space policy, Takshashila has a new 3-week online course on 'Space Power'. Do check it out.
With that done, let’s look at some of the key reports from the People’s Daily today:
First, there’s a report with NBS data from Friday. It says that China’s R&D expenditure was 3,087 billion yuan ($455 billion) in 2022, a 10.4% increase year on year. R&D spending was around 2.55% of GDP in 2022. Basic research expenditure was 195.1 billion yuan, an increase of 7.4% over the previous year and accounting for 6.32% of overall R&D expenditure.
Second, on Page 2, there’s a report talking about Shanghai United Imaging Healthcare Co., Ltd. The report basically talks about the company as a success story in the context of the policy to ensure the independence and controllability of key core technologies. It says that the company’s products are being used in 900 tertiary hospitals in the country and are being used by clinical and scientific research institutions in more than 50 countries.
Third, if you are interested, here’s Xi Jinping’s speech at the Spring Festival gathering at the Great Hall of the People.
Here’s the paragraph on the COVID policy shift.
“We have put people and their lives first and kept optimizing the epidemic prevention and control measures according to the mutation of the virus and the anti-epidemic situation, so as to protect people's lives and health to the greatest extent and minimize the impact of the epidemic on economic and social development. Now, epidemic prevention and control still requires much efforts, but we can see the light at the end of the tunnel, as long as we work together and persevere, we will surely win the final victory.”
And here’s the chunk on 2023:
“2023 is the first year to fully implement the guiding principles of the 20th CPC National Congress, with both hopes and challenges. We will take keeping stability the top priority, and seek progress while maintaining stability. We will better balance both domestic and international situations, coordinate epidemic prevention and control with economic and social development, and development with security. We will comprehensively deepen reform and opening up, strive to achieve an overall upturn in economic performance, and continue to improve people's lives. As long as we work hard with firm confidence, we will get off to a good start on our new journey. The greatest truths are the simplest, and hard work is the key. The new journey is a long one full of glories and dreams where there is no shortcut, but hard work. We should come down to earth, work hard, and not fall into fantasies or distractions. We should be honest and studious, respect the reality, do not act against rules or work recklessly. We should seek truth and be pragmatic, focus on the actual effect, and do not make superficial work or show. Those who work will succeed, and those who walk will arrive at their destination. A person of action will leave a good name in history. We created a glorious past with hard work, and we will create a better future in the same way.”
Today in the paper, there’s an article on how Xi’s new year speech aroused enthusiastic responses from overseas Chinese.
Also on the page is a report with comments from Leslie Maasdorp, New Development Bank Vice President, saying that China’s opening up will have a “very positive impact” on the Chinese and world economy. He added that “China is one of the largest investors in green energy fields, such as solar energy and wind energy. China’s new investment in these high-growth areas will make a positive contribution to global growth.” 马斯多普在瑞士达沃斯举行的世界经济论坛年会期间告诉记者，中国优化调整防疫政策将推动中国经济增长并在经济各方面产生“滚雪球”效应，这将对中国和世界经济产生“非常积极的影响”。他认为，中国企业恢复疫情暴发前的生产水平，将刺激全球贸易流动和供应链恢复。马斯多普说，中国是太阳能、风能等绿色能源领域的最大投资方之一。中国在这些高增长领域增加新投资，将为全球增长做出积极贡献.
Finally, although these are not in PD today, Qin Gang spoke to his counterparts from Indonesia and Afghanistan over the weekend.
Speaking to Amir Khan Muttaqi, Qin talked about the need for “strong measures” to ensure the safety of Chinese personnel and institutions in Afghanistan. The report adds:
“Qin said China highly values developing good-neighborliness, friendship and cooperation with Afghanistan, and always respects its independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity, the independent choices made by the Afghan people and their religious beliefs and ethnic customs. China does not interfere in Afghanistan's internal affairs, nor does it seek self-interest or a sphere of influence in Afghanistan, he said. Qin said China supports the Afghan interim government in building an inclusive and broad-based political structure, implementing moderate and sound domestic and foreign policies, combating terrorism in all its forms and forging friendly relations with all countries, especially its neighbors.” —
Just a reminder of a few news stories from Afghanistan over the past month or so, which put into perspective what Beijing says when it talks about not interfering in internal affairs but taking care of its interests:
In December, the Taliban government issued a statement suspending all women from attending university, the highest level of education most Afghan girls will be able to attain is grade 6 — the final year of primary school.
In December, there was also an attack targeting the Kabul Longan Hotel, which is popular with visiting Chinese businesspersons. In early January, 8 people were killed and seven arrested following raids on hideouts of the Islamic State militant group in Afghanistan.
Also early in January, the Xinjiang Central Asia Petroleum and Gas Co signed a deal to extract oil from the Amu Darya basin and develop an oil reserve in Afghanistan’s northern Sar-e Pul province.
In mid-January, former Afghan parliamentarian Mursal Nabizada was shot dead in Kabul. NYT’s report on the killing also adds: “Women are now barred from gyms, public parks and high schools; they cannot travel any significant distance without a male relative; and they must cover themselves head to toe in burqas and headpieces in public.”
Xinhua’s report on the chat with Indonesia’s Retno Marsudi says:
“China-Indonesia relations are facing new development opportunities currently, the Chinese diplomat said, adding that he stands ready to work with Marsudi to follow the strategic guidance of the two countries' heads of state to push for a closer and stronger China-Indonesia community with a shared future. China encourages more quality Chinese enterprises to invest and do business in Indonesia, and hopes Indonesia to provide more safety guarantee and policy facilitation, Qin said. For her part, Marsudi said China is an important partner of Indonesia on bilateral and multilateral levels, and Indonesia is looking forward to the development of bilateral ties and will strengthen exchange and cooperation with China. Indonesia attaches great importance to and will try its best to ensure the security of Chinese projects and personnel, said Marsudi, adding that Indonesia welcomes the arrivals of Chinese tourists as early as possible. Indonesia, who holds the ASEAN presidency this year, will be dedicated to promoting the development of ASEAN-China relations and expects continuous support from China, she said.”
That bit about security is worth noting. It comes amid the death of two workers including a Chinese national after a riot broke out at a nickel smelting plant operated by PT Gunbuster Nickel Industry (GNI), a local unit of China's Jiangsu Delong Nickel Industry. CNA reports that “local employees angry at working conditions and pay held a one-day strike that resulted in clashes with security officers when they tried to enter the premises and set fire to heavy machinery and vehicles.” The Diplomat also has a detailed article on this.
In another development, CNN reported that “Indonesia has deployed a warship to its North Natuna Sea to monitor a Chinese coast guard vessel that has been active in a resource-rich maritime area, the country’s naval chief said on Saturday of an area that both countries claim as their own. Ship tracking data shows the vessel, CCG 5901, has been sailing in the Natuna Sea, particularly near the Tuna Bloc gas field and the Vietnamese Chim Sao oil and gas field since December 30, the Indonesian Ocean Justice Initiative told Reuters. A warship, maritime patrol plane and drone had been deployed to monitor the vessel, Laksamana Muhammad Ali, the chief of the Indonesian navy, told Reuters. “The Chinese vessel has not conducted any suspicious activities,” he said. “However, we need to monitor it as it has been in Indonesia’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) for some time.”
On this, Collin Koh, a research fellow with the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore, told SCMP that:
“Beijing’s deployment was certainly ‘to send a signal to both Indonesia and Vietnam’. It came as both Jakarta and Hanoi finalised their 12-year negotiation to delimit their overlapping EEZs in the South China Sea, Koh said, noting that the pact was instrumental in facilitating Indonesia’s gas exports to Vietnam, under a deal agreed upon in 2017. ‘So this development might have come across as rather disconcerting to Beijing, which has counted on intra-Asean divisions and fissures to prevent the emergence of a united front,’ Koh said.
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