The US knows the main threat is China

China’s President Xi Jinping opened the CCP’s 20th party congress by doubling down on four key issues: no let up on zero-Covid; no renunciation of force when it comes to Taiwan; a promise to build up China’s military strength; and no tolerance of any opposition to his rule. As he enters his third term, the most important new challenge he has to address are the export controls announced by the US on the eve of the congress that threaten to undercut China’s ability to develop semiconductors and supercomputers. Xi remains defiant: he promised to ‘resolutely win the battle in key core technologies.’ Yet Xi must be worried that the US

Joe Biden has jolted China

The chip war between China and America is heating up, with an increasingly assertive Joe Biden battling with Xi Jinping as he enters his third term as Chinese leader. The US last week further restricted China’s access to advanced American know-how, in what were some of the most stringent export controls for decades. Xi didn’t mention semiconductors in a speech on Sunday marking the opening of the Communist party’s twice-a-decade congress in Beijing, but he did pledge that China would ‘resolutely win the battle in key core technologies’. To compete with the US, China will need better tech. These new export controls will make Xi’s vision much harder to achieve. Joe

Is China’s zero Covid game up?

Omicron has broken through China’s Covid wall. On Tuesday, the country saw a record-high of more than 5,000 cases, the highest number since the original Wuhan outbreak. To Brits (and most people around the world), that might sound like a laughably small number – but, as you might expect, China’s zero Covid machine has jumped into action, leading to a disproportionate, severe response. In the most afflicted areas like Shenzhen and Changchun, public transport has been suspended, non-essential businesses closed, residential compounds locked down. People can leave their homes to take part in compulsory city-wide mass testing (social media is flooded with videos of lengthy unsocially-distanced queues at test sites)

Unmasking ‘panda diplomacy’

The star of the Beijing Winter Olympics wasn’t an athlete: it was Bing Dwen Dwen, the spacesuit-clad panda mascot. It was deployed to cover the harsher political edges of the games, and was romping around on the ice at the closing gala. Bing Dwen Dwen is only the latest example of China’s use of ‘panda diplomacy’, so successful over recent decades. The Chinese Communist party has long used them as envoys to potential partners. A bill now wending its way through the US Congress strikes at the heart of panda diplomacy. If it passes, it will keep American-born giant panda cubs in the US, which would break China’s monopoly on

Is an anti-Xi resistance emerging?

From the 1980s to 2017, at least every five years, China’s National Party Congress would be a moment of intriguing flux in the usually staid public politics of the Chinese Communist party. Rising stars are promoted, the old retired and, every other Congress, a new Secretary General would be appointed. Beforehand, a flurry of papers and opinion editorials would be published as various factions jostled for influence. This year’s Congress wasn’t meant to be exciting. Having abolished term limits, this is the moment when Xi Jinping is meant to be affirmed in his third term. There are few viable successors on the horizon. Nevertheless, an opening salvo in the pre-Congress war of

China breaks new records in the Surveillance Olympics

Never before have the participants in a major sporting event been so closely monitored as in this Winter Olympics in Beijing. The 1980 Summer Olympics in Soviet Moscow were nothing in comparison. Athletes are competing under a blanket of observation, ostensibly to keep Covid at bay, yet imposed by a paranoid Communist party for whom critical words or thoughts are as dangerous as any virus. Everyone attending the games, including athletes, support staff and media, must install on their phones an app, My 2022, which harvests a wide range of personal data. It has the ability to censor and track its users, according to cybersecurity experts who have examined the

China is right to laugh at the west

Signs of the enervating weakness of the west’s governing elites aren’t that hard to find but the case of the Winter Olympics may be the most demeaning. The UK and Canada have followed the US and Australia in announcing a diplomatic boycott of February’s games in Beijing over China’s human rights record. It’s a crushing blow to the communist dictatorship: Xi Jinping has been unable to sleep or dress himself since learning that the deputy head of the British mission will be skipping the mixed doubles luge final. The UK’s boycott may not even be a boycott, with Boris Johnson saying ‘we do not support sporting boycotts but there are certainly

There is no Russia-China axis

You should be careful what you wish for, because you might just get it, so the old cliché goes. In diplomacy at the moment, it seems you should be careful of the threats you prepare for, because you may end up producing them. There is a growing trend in the West towards treating Russia and China as some single, threatening ‘Dragonbear’ (a reference to the two countries’ national animals). This underrates the very real tensions between Moscow and Beijing, but risks pushing them even closer together. The most recent case in point was Nato secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg’s interview in the Financial Times, in which he criticised ‘this whole idea that we

The truth about China’s genocide against the Uyghurs

Last night, the BBC showed witnesses giving stomach-turning testimony about organised rape and torture inflicted upon Uyghurs in China’s far west region of Xinjiang. Victims and former guards, now abroad and willing to talk, spoke of electric batons inserted into women’s genitalia, gang rape by police, an organised rape in front of 100 other women forced to watch with those who looked away punished, and the forcible sterilisation of a 20-year-old. As one witness said: ‘Everyone who leaves the camps is finished.’ In January, both the outgoing and incoming American Secretaries of State confirmed their view that the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) treatment of Uyghurs constituted genocide. Not some analogous