Katyusha News Reference – Tuesday, March 16, 2021

I. The New Federal State of China News

1. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said a decision passed unilaterally last Thursday by the Chinese National People’s Congress undermines Hong Kong’s electoral system. Blinken said the report identified 24 China and Hong Kong officials whose actions have reduced Hong Kong’s autonomy. He added that foreign financial institutions which knowingly conduct significant transactions with these officials would be subject to sanctions. According to the update released by the U.S. State Department, the 24 Chinese and Hong Kong officials accused of eroding Hong Kong’s autonomy include 14 vice chairmen of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, officials from the National Security

2. Britain should look to crack down on forced labour of Uighurs in China’s Xinjiang region with a blacklist of companies that cannot show clean supply chains and tough penalties for those which break anti-slavery law, lawmakers said on Wednesday.

3. The Biden administration is pursuing a unified, “tough-minded” stance on China and will not let Beijing pit different parts of the U.S. government against each other, a senior administration official said on Tuesday. Washington believed it was going into talks with top Chinese officials with an increasingly strong hand, and would lay out its concerns about China’s behavior regarding Hong Kong, human rights violations in Xinjiang province, and Beijing’s continuing “malicious” cyber activity, the official told a telephone briefing. A second official said the United States did not expect any specific “deliverables” or outcomes from the meeting scheduled for March 18 in Alaska, and no joint statement was expected.

4. China warned the European Union on Tuesday against planned EU sanctions for human rights violations, saying Beijing would not yield if Brussels interfered in its internal affairs.EU ambassadors are expected on Wednesday to give the go-ahead for sanctions in response to alleged human rights abuses against China’s Uighur Muslim minority.

5. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Tuesday called for deeper economic and security ties with Japan, as he and Defence Secretary Lloyd Austin seek to use their first trip abroad to strengthen Asian alliances in the face of China’s assertiveness.

6. UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said on Tuesday that Britain would like a positive relationship with China but not at the expense of upholding its values.

7.  Japan and the United States have shared serious concerns over rising tensions in the East and South China Seas, Japanese defense minister Nobuo Kishi said on Tuesday. Kishi made the comments after talks with U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, who is visiting Tokyo. Their discussions centered on China, but also included North Korean issues, Kishi told reporters after the meeting.

8. The United States on Tuesday accused Chinese state media of publishing “disinformation” about its diplomats in Hong Kong as it denied its staff invoked immunity to avoid isolating after positive coronavirus tests.

9. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is set to visit India in April as part of his government’s tilt towards the Indo-Pacific in order to unlock new opportunities in the region, his office announced on Tuesday.

10. “Japan and the U.S. on Tuesday vowed to keep conducting joint military drills around the Senkaku Islands amid an upsurge in Chinese incursions into Japanese waters near the disputed islets. “China uses coercion and aggression to systematically erode autonomy in Hong Kong, undercut democracy in Taiwan, abuse human rights in Xinjiang and Tibet, and assert maritime claims in the South China Sea that violate international law,” Blinken said,”We are united in the vision of a free and open Indo Pacific region, where countries follow the rules, cooperate, whenever they can, and resolve their differences peacefully, and in particular we will push back if necessary when China uses coercion or aggression to get its way.”

11. China’s Ambassador to the EU, Zhang Ming said today that his country’s “deradicalization centers” for Muslims in the western region of Xinjiang are “not entirely different” from those found in Britain, France and the U.S.,insisting that the centers were effective in fighting terrorism.

12. Sources indicate that the State Assets Supervision and Administration Commission (Sasac) of the Communist Party of China’s State Council has ordered state-owned enterprises in Myanmar to evacuate non-essential employees.

13. Huawei will start charging smartphone makers royalties for the use of its patented 5G technology as a means of increasing its revenue, with intention to slow down the decoupling by tangling patent ties with existing tier one handset makers Apple or Samsung.  

14. Xi Jinping on Monday chaired a meeting of the communist party’s top financial advisory and coordination committee, ordering regulators to step up oversight of internet companies, crack down on monopolies, promote fair competition and prevent the disorderly expansion of capital.

15. Americans now view China as the nation’s greatest enemy, more than doubling the rate from last year. According to a Gallup poll released Tuesday, 46 percent of Americans believe China is the greatest enemy, followed by Russia at 26 percent and North Korea at 9 percent.

16. New Zealand’s Fonterra said on Wednesday it will sell its joint venture farms in China and its remaining stake in infant formula maker Beingmate as it looks to move its focus from Beijing and prioritize domestic operations. The world’s biggest dairy exporter has decided to leave mainland China.

17. The Professional Teachers’ Union (PTU) of Hong Kong withdrew from the Civil Human Rights Front on Sunday, followed the next day by the Hong Kong Democratic Party, the city’s largest opposition party. China’s state-run Global Times hinted on Monday the Front could soon be banned under the national security law, gleefully quoting political activists who understood the message that dissent is no longer tolerated in Hong Kong:

18. Another chronically ill elderly person died In Hong Kong, after receiving the Sinovac COVID-19 vaccine. As a result, only 3% of the population over the age of 16 has been vaccinated. However, instead of stopping the vaccination of elderly people over 60 years old, the Hong Kong government has extended the vaccination program to more people in the community, which include people of the younger age, so that the amount of vaccination coverage increased to 5.5 million, reaching 73% of the population of Hong Kong

19.  A new COVID-19 vaccine developed jointly by Anhui Zhifei Longcom Biopharmaceutical Co. Ltd. and the Chinese Academy of Sciences has received approval for emergency use by the health regulators The firm did not provide details of the trial design or results of the Phase I test of the experimental vaccine

20. The State Council announced on March 16 that Yin Zhonhua will be the deputy director in charge of economic affairs at the liaison office in Hong Kong. Media reported that, Yin will be in charge of Chinese SOE, economic exchange and other matters after taking office. The Liaison Office at the Hong Kong has been undergoing a massive internal personnel reshuffle. People close to the situation said the personnel change marked the beginning of a “reform phase” of Beijing’s approach to Hong Kong

21. An election in Pakistan’s Senate was briefly disrupted after opposition politicians said they has found at least six “Chinese spy cameras” hidden in a voting booth, triggering a massive parliamentary uproar and disrupting the Senate vote. Authorities have ordered an investigation into the incident According to Pakistan’s Dawn newspaper, the booth was removed, and voting continued after a new one was installed.

22. In a study of CCP coronavirus vaccine and mutant viruses recently published in Cell, the research team, led by Dr. Alejandro Balazs, a core member of the Ragon Institute in the United States,  found that the neutralizing antibodies induced by COVID-19 vaccines were significantly less effective against the variants first described

23. The administration of President Joe Biden has told the Chinese government that “we are not going to leave Australia alone on the field”, according to the President’s Indo-Pacific co-ordinator, Kurt Campbell. “We have made clear that the US is not prepared to improve relations in a bilateral and separate context at the same time that a close and dear ally is being subjected to a form of economic coercion.” It is the first interview a senior Biden official has given to any Australian media.

24. China Radio International (CRI), the official media of the Chinese Communist Party, has launched as many as 158 programs on the Podcast. Among them, Taiwan-themed talk shows  such as”cross-Strait Youth“and”cross-strait search ” aim to change the negative impression of the Taiwanese people on the mainland.

25. The China Ofilim group was cut off from Apple’s supply chain after being included in the “entity list of the US Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS). On the evening of March 16, Ofilim told investors it received a notification from a “particular overseas client” saying it would cut its business ties. And subsequently the company will no longer obtain orders from that existing client

II World News 

1. Boris Johnson will today declare that the UK is boosting its nuclear arsenal as a major review warns that Russia and China are the ‘biggest threats’ and a biological ‘dirty bombs’. The Integrated Review of security, defense, and foreign policy will also herald a huge shift in emphasis from conventional forces to cutting edge warfare, with investment in space and laser weapons.

2. France has discovered a new COVID-19 variant that appears to be able to escape detection by standard tests for the virus. Researchers at the Institut Pasteur are looking into whether the variant has genetic modifications that make it more difficult to detect, the outlet reported.

3. U.S. intelligence has assessed that North Korea could be preparing to carry out its first weapons test since President Joe Biden took office in January, CNN said Tuesday, citing several officials speaking on condition of anonymity.

4. Taiwan’s newly-appointed defense minister said on Wednesday it has strengthened deployments in the disputed South China Sea and that the United States has approved the export of sensitive technology to equip Taiwan’s new submarine fleet.

5. Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp reached a three-year content-supply deal on Monday with Facebook Inc in Australia, the companies said. The battle has received global attention because it could become a template for regulating large technology companies.

Himalaya Moscow Katyusha(RU)ladin

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