China’s defense spending attracts attention, but the question is whether Beijing will mediate in Ukraine

VSChina released its latest growth figure for 2022. The defense budget has increased and a Chinese military expert cited tensions in the “southwest” – India’s border – for the upward revision. Chinescope brings you the main stories of China and the world.

China over the week

Reading the tea leaves of China’s elite politics is not a task for the faint-hearted. Lianghui session is an annual event that every Chinese watcher pays attention to.

China announced the economic growth figure at the annual plenary session of the Communist Party of China (CPC). On March 5, Premier Li Keqiang set the modest GDP growth target of 5.5% for 2022. The latest figure is the slowest growth target set by China in 30 years.

the lianghui, or the “two sessions,” is the annual gathering of China’s two main political bodies, the National People’s Congress (NPC) and the Chinese People‘s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC). Delegates from across China – from both political bodies – gathered in Beijing on March 4. The APN meets from March 5 to 11 with ten agenda items under discussion.

Premier Li Keqiang announced the GDP target at the opening session of the NPC. This year’s focus lianghui was domestic economics, unlike the last annual session where the issue of foreign forces and national security was central.

At the opening of the NPC session, the prime minister presents the government’s “work report”, which sets economic and other objectives for the coming year.

“We are very clear about the issues and challenges ahead of us,” Li told 3,000 NPC deputies. He also added that China would create 11 million new urban jobs and keep the unemployment rate below 5.5%.

The hashtag “2022 two sessions” was viewed 110 million times on Weibo in 24 hours.

Another figure that caught the world’s attention was China’s defense spending. China revealed that the annual military budget would increase by 7.1%, exceeding the GDP target. The country will spend 1.45 trillion yuan ($230 billion) on defense in what is called a “reasonable increase”. In 2018, the Chinese defense budget increased by 8.1% and 2019 was marked by an increase of 7.5%.

A Chinese military expert justified this increase in military spending and veiled the reference to tensions with India as challenges in the “southwest”.

“Foreign interests are now an inescapable part. We need a strong national defense force to maintain peace and stability in Asia-Pacific to provide a favorable external environment for our economic development. On the other hand, we must take into account the security and development needs of the country. For example, we face challenges in the Taiwan Strait, the South China Sea and the Southwest. This is something we also need to consider,” Chinese military expert Fu Qianshao said.

The invasion of Ukraine may have surprised Chinese political elites, but attempts have been made in the past week to stifle geopolitical headwinds.

Wang Yi, Chinese Foreign Minister, told his Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba that China could mediate in the Russian-Ukrainian war. The Chinese Foreign Ministry statement cited Kuleba’s request for China to broker a ceasefire. “On the current crisis, China calls on Ukraine and Russia to find a solution through negotiation and supports all constructive international efforts that lead to a political settlement,” Wang Yi said.

On Saturday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke with Wang Yi about the war in Ukraine. “…the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries should be respected, and China welcomes negotiations between Russia and Ukraine to resolve the crisis,” Wang Yi said on the call, according to a report. reading from CGTN, a public cable network.

But Yun Sun, a Chinese foreign policy expert, said China is unlikely to follow through on the mediation suggestion.

“[Beijing] will not give the world the satisfaction of opposing Russia. Putin knew it. Whatever Russia does, the United States remains the greatest threat to China. For that alone, China will not oppose Russia. Yun Sun said The Guardian.

Last week, Chinescope told you about the New York Times reporting that US officials were sharing information with the Chinese side about Russia’s impending invasion of Ukraine. The Chinese Foreign Ministry called on the New York Times report “pure fake news”.

“The report of New York Times is pure fake news. Such a practice of deflecting attention and shifting blame is despicable. The ins and outs of the development of the Ukrainian question are obvious. The crux of the problem is known to everyone,” said Wang Wenbin, spokesperson for the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The scramble to explain why China failed to see the Russian invasion and was caught off guard continues.

Zhao Tong, a leading Chinese expert on nuclear security, wrote a Twitter thread explaining why China didn’t predict war in Ukraine.

“China probably didn’t predict the war. Even many senior Russian intelligence and military officials and many top Russian experts did not seem to foresee the war. Given the deep mistrust of the United States, China likely dismissed the information shared by the United States as psychological warfare to drive a wedge,” wrote Zhao.

On a recent reporting trip to the Tibetan areas of Garze County, two Associated press journalists had suggested that no new self-immolations had been reported inside Tibet for two years. A new case of self-immolation was reported last week. Tibetan singer Tsewang Norbu allegedly set himself on fire on February 25 in front of the Potala Palace in Lhasa. The attempted self-immolation was stopped, but Nobu was reportedly the victim of a beating following the incident.

“Tsewang Norbu tried to protest against the Chinese government by attempting to set himself on fire and according to a few of my reliable sources inside Tibet, (he) died,” according to a Tibetan living in exile who spoke to the Tibetan service of FRG.


Read also : As globalization is bombarded, a ‘fortress economy’ is tempting, but India must know its limits


China in the world news

This week, a figure who had defined US China policy under President Donald Trump appeared in Taiwan. Former US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo said the United States should diplomatically recognize Taiwan as a “free and sovereign country” during his visit to Taipei.

Pompeo is on a four-day tour of Taiwan and spoke at an event hosted by the Taipei-based Prospect Foundation. Some Taiwanese commentators have speculated that Taiwan’s invitation to Pompeo was part of Taipei’s strategy to woo him ahead of his potential nomination for the US presidential race in 2024 – which has done the rounds.

“I believe the United States government should immediately take the necessary and long overdue steps to do what is right and obvious. This is to offer the Republic of China (Taiwan) diplomatic recognition of America as a free and sovereign country,” Pompeo said.

As recent sanctions weigh on the Russian economy, companies are now looking to open Chinese bank accounts. According to Reuters, the Moscow branch of a Chinese state-owned bank has seen renewed interest in opening new bank accounts. “Over the past few days, 200 to 300 companies have approached us, wanting to open new accounts,” said an employee of a Chinese state-owned bank working in Moscow. Reuters.

Meanwhile, Chinese banks are looking for workarounds to avoid sanctions and the SWIFT ban imposed on Russia. “The internal perception is that if the sanctions get worse on SWIFT, we can find ways around them,” said an executive at a Chinese development bank who did not want to be identified.

What you need to read this week

Ukraine: Did China have a clue? —Yun Sun

China official report —Stella Chen

And Anthony Saich on how China views the Russian invasion of Ukraine — Jeremy Goldkorn


Read also : The Ukrainian crisis has many lessons for India. Most important: Atmanirbharta is the way to go


Experts this week

“It can be seen that although there are differing opinions on India’s future diplomatic options, once India enters the logical path of confronting China, the insecurity brought by the conflict between the Russia and Ukraine will increase dramatically. From this mounting anxiety, it seems that the United States and Russia are both powerful levers for India to jointly control China, and losing either of them is a huge loss for India,” wrote Southern members Wang Siyuan and Zhang Zhenyang. Asia group.

Podworld

China’s views on human rights have become synonymous with the detention of Uyghurs in Xinjiang. But the country has a long history of contextualizing human rights through domestic politics. Dr. Rana Siu Inboden, Senior Fellow at the Robert Strauss Center for International Security and Law at the University of Texas-Austin, spoke to the ChinaPower Podcast. Chinescope recommend listening to the episode.

The author is a freelance columnist and journalist. He is currently pursuing a master’s degree in international politics with a focus on China at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London. He was previously a Chinese media reporter at the BBC World Service. He tweets @aadilbrar. Views are personal.

This is a weekly summary that Aadil Brar writes about what is happening in China. This will soon be available as a subscriber-only product.

(Edited by Anurag Chaubey)