asia

Party centenary: Xi honors the heroes of communism, but external pressure mounts


On July 1st, the country stops for the celebrations. The regime glorifies the economic recovery from the Covid crisis. The problems are external: Japan ready to protect Taiwan; India sends 50,000 more soldiers to the border with China; Indonesia opens a maritime base with US help. Xi is left with Putin’s support (for now).

Beijing (AsiaNews) – We must “forever trust, love, and contribute to the CCP””. This is the invitation (order) that Xi Jinping made today to the Chinese people as he awarded 29 members of the CCP with the “July 1st medal”.

The day after tomorrow, China will come to a standstill to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the party’s foundation. The Chinese president is touting confidence, boasting a stable economic recovery from the coronavirus crisis. The celebrations, however, come at a time of growing external pressure, and not only from the US, with which Beijing is engaged in a tough political, economic and technological standoff.

Speaking yesterday at the Washington-based Hudson Institute, Japan’s Deputy Defense Minister Yasuhide Nakayama said it was necessary to “wake up” to Chinese pressure on Taiwan and “protect” the Taiwanese democracy. Tokyo has recently increased its support for Taipei, overcoming fears of a possible retaliation from China.

Reunification with Taiwan is the only explicit objective contained in Xi’s plan for the “rejuvenation of the great Chinese nation”. Beijing considers the island a “rebel” province and does not rule out reconquering it with the use of force.

The situation is no less tense on the Himalayan front on the border with India. The Chinese foreign ministry yesterday asked the Indian government to take measures to ease tension along the frontier. According to Bloomberg, Delhi has recently sent 50,000 additional soldiers to garrison the provisional border (Line of Actual Control), bringing the number of troops there to 200,000.

The two Asian giants share a 3,488 km border in the rugged Himalayan region, over which they fought a brief but bloody conflict in 1962. Delhi claims large sections of Aksai Chin (which the Chinese obtained from Pakistan). Instead, Beijing makes claims on the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh. On 15 June 2020, Indian and Chinese troops clashed in the Galwan valley, between Ladakh and Chinese Aksai Chin: 20 Indian soldiers died, along with an unknown number of Chinese soldiers.

The news is no more comforting for Beijing on its southern flank either. On June 25, Indonesia and the United States laid the groundwork for the construction of a training center for the Indonesian Coast Guard. It will rise on the island of Batam, the capital of the Indonesian province of the Riau islands, a few tens of kilometers from the strategic Strait of Malacca.

The facility will be completed within a year and will not house US forces. According to the Indonesian government, there are no specific reasons behind the choice of Batam as the location of the new center.

Several analysts think differently. Indonesia is implementing a naval strengthening program, partly aimed at tackling China’s activism in the waters around the Natuna Islands, included in the Riau province. The Chinese are not making territorial claims on this Indonesian archipelago of 272 islands, but are claiming the right to exploit its fish-rich waters, a fact that is met with strong opposition from Jakarta. The Natuna are located on the southwestern edge of the South China Sea, which Beijing claims for nearly 90%. Indonesia, Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia and Taiwan, with the support of the United States, oppose China’s territorial claims.

The only apparently quiet sector for the Chinese is the northern one. China and Russia yesterday extended a twenty-year treaty of friendship and cooperation signed in 2001 until 2026. The two countries join forces in the face of the geopolitical challenge launched by the Biden administration. In the long run, however, problems such as the creeping Chinese “colonization” of eastern Siberia risk creating tensions between Beijing and Moscow.





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