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This article appears in the November 12, 2021 issue of Executive Intelligence Review.

[Print version of this article]

China Briefs

Highest Award Goes to Developer of Pebble-Bed Reactor

In a ceremony Nov. 3 at the Great Hall of the People, President Xi Jinping awarded the National Natural Science Award jointly to Gu Songfen of the China Aviation Industry Corporation, and Professor Wang Dazhong at Tsinghua University.

Professor Gu was the first to develop a design for a Chinese jet fighter in the 1950s. He was also instrumental in pushing China at an early date into stealth technology and artificial intelligence.

Professor Wang was the chief designer of spherical nuclear fuel elements, which are essential for fourth-generation pebble-bed high-temperature fission reactors. Over more than six decades, Wang has led his team in the nuclear field, turning the country from a latecomer to a leader in advanced nuclear energy technologies.

Starting from scratch, Wang and his colleagues built China’s first self-developed shielded test reactor at Huyu village at the foot of the Yanshan Mountains in Beijing.

The average age of the people selected for the design and construction of the project was 23.5 years, and no one on the team had studied abroad or even seen a working nuclear reactor. They started from building engineering models and conducted designing and calculations with several dozen hand-cranked computers.

Wang led the work on the first pebble-bed test reactor at Tsinghua. As a result of his work, China has developed two commercial pebble-bed reactors in Shandong province, the first of which is to be connected to the electricity grid before the end of this year. With the lead in this technology, China is prepared to become a major producer of these reactors for export.

Euro MPs Visit Taiwan as PRC Ministry Tries to Quell War Rumors

An EU parliamentarian delegation landed in Taiwan Nov. 3 “to offer support for our friends,” as one put it. This is the first official European Parliament delegation to visit Taiwan, in keeping with the Biden Administration’s campaign to contain China by playing the “Taiwan card.” The lawmakers met Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen, Premier Su Tseng-chang and several other senior officials. The delegation is headed up by French parliamentarian, Raphael Glucksman, the son of 1968er “philosopher” André Glucksman. Raphael Glucksman was also an adviser to Mikhail Shaakashvili of Georgia in his anti-Russia campaign.

At the same time, China prepared a week of live ammunition training on the South China Sea south of Taiwan, aimed at countering recent U.S.-Japan joint drills in the region. Well-known Chinese military commentator Song Zhongping said, “Our military exercises are strongly targeted…. China’s military exercises are actually preparing for fighting.”

Tensions are indeed high. Comments that people should stockpile essentials, from the Chinese Ministry of Commerce, led to a near-panic situation, which led to the Ministry stating that the recommendation was not because of fear of an imminent war. When text messages circulated on social media that the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) was planning to begin sending out draft notices, the PLA issued a notification that the notices were bogus. Conscription requirements for the PLA have been met by volunteers since 1949.

Unnamed Western NGO Caught in Web of Illicit Operations

A non-governmental organization (NGO) working in China, which has not yet been named in the Chinese media, set up maritime monitoring points along China’s coast, supposedly to monitor garbage in the ocean. On Nov. 2, the China’s Central Political and Legal Affairs Commission announced that the information the NGO had collected on latitude and longitude, environment, geology, and ocean flow could easily be exploited by foreign intelligence and military agencies, posing a potential threat to China, as reported in the South China Morning Post.

The monitoring points spanned China’s coastline from north to south, touching on the waters of the South China Sea, East China Sea, Yellow Sea, and Bohai Sea. Twenty-two of the monitoring points were close to military targets.

This NGO, as reported in the Chinese press, has received funding from more than 20 overseas institutions since 2014, totaling more than $300,000. The NGO was accused of spreading false reports of waste amount and density detected, 20 times and 8 times higher respectively, compared to China’s official data. The matter has been dealt with in accordance with the law according to the news reports.

China Holds 4th International Import Expo

China held its fourth China International Import Expo (CIIE) in Shanghai Nov. 5-10 with 3,000 plus business exhibitors from 127 countries on site. While the Biden Administration is cooking up new ways to restrict Western reliance on “supply chains” connected to China—recently in the U.S.-EU trade agreement in which the parties commit to use only “clean” aluminum and steel, meaning produced in plants not fueled by China’s coal—many major U.S. companies attended the CIIE to exhibit their wares and to establish a footing, or expand on their existing presence in the large Chinese marketplace.

In fact, this year more American companies (198) exhibited at the CIIE than in any of the three preceding CIIEs. Some companies attended several or all of the last three CIIEs—notably Honeywell, heavily involved in Belt and Road projects. Some are total “newcomers” like U.S. e-commerce giant, Amazon. According to Amazon’s China Director, Amazon Global Store will continue to deepen localization initiatives to build a more immersive cross-border online shopping capacity. U.S. giants Cargill and Pfizer have already signed up for next year’s Expo.

In his opening remarks to the attendees by video hook-up, President Xi underlined China’s commitment to continued opening up, making the field attractive for international investment. He underlined that China has lived up to all of its commitments made 20 years ago when it joined the WTO—something contested by the U.S.—and was looking forward to working together with other nations in maintaining and reforming the international trade system.

Foreign Affairs Publishes Taiwan ‘Puff Piece’

Taiwan’s independence-minded president Tsai Ing-wen was given an opportunity to spread her provocative message in the Nov.-Dec. issue of the Council of Foreign Relations’ journal Foreign Affairs. The cover, “The Divided World, America’s Cold Wars,” pictures Presidents Joe Biden and Xi Jinping confronting each other, with Harry Truman and Joseph Stalin confronting each other in the background. Tsai makes her case for an “independent Taiwan” to American policy makers. She does not directly call for Taiwan independence, as this would possibly set off a military conflict with Beijing, but she does paint Taiwan as an integral part of Biden’s “alliance of democracies,” which she claims lies on the “front lines” in the fight against the “authoritarian” countries, i.e., China and Russia.

She notes that Taiwan lies on the “first island chain,” which runs from northern Japan to Borneo. If this line were “broken by force,” she claims, it would disrupt international trade and destabilize the entire Western Pacific, as if the number one trade country in the world, the People’s Republic of China, would be at all interested in disrupting the vital lines of international trade. For China, if that first island were entirely controlled by a foreign and antagonistic power, it would constitute total encirclement of China on its vital maritime border.

The distance between Taiwan and mainland China is roughly the same as the distance between Florida and Cuba. Many of the countries in the region, including Japan and Australia, have joined President Biden’s China-antagonistic “alliance of democracies.” China has made clear that they would have no choice but to use military force if Taiwan were to host foreign troops, as these troops would constitute an invasion of China’s sovereign territory.

But this, indeed, seems to be Tsai’s short-term goal, as her government admitted in October that U.S. troops were in Taiwan training Taiwan’s military in the use of American weapons, and that the U.S. Coast Guard is now working together with the Taiwan Coast Guard in strengthening Taiwan’s defenses, despite the fact that the Coast Guard’s official task, assigned by Alexander Hamilton, is to guard the U.S. coastline! Chinese government spokesmen have already asserted that this could be declared a foreign invasion of China. Tsai also noted that Taiwan will create an “All-Out Defense Mobilization Agency” in 2022, although it is not clear what this will entail.

Tsai’s appeal to participate in UN organizations such as the WHO was backed up by Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Oct. 26, who said that Washington will “encourage all UN member states to join us in supporting Taiwan’s robust, meaningful participation throughout the UN system and in the international community.” Membership in UN organizations is restricted to nations only. Taiwan is not a country; it is a territory of China and has been so recognized under the “One China Principle.” U.S. support for Tsai’s mobilization toward independence, however disguised, represents the greatest threat to stability in the Asia Pacific region.

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