Asia Daily: October 12, 2023
California-based Navy sailor pleads guilty to providing sensitive military information to China. A U.S. Navy sailor, Petty Officer Wenheng Zhao, 26, pleaded guilty in Los Angeles to conspiring with a foreign intelligence officer from China and receiving a bribe. Initially, Zhao had pleaded not guilty when charged on August 4. The Justice Department claims that Zhao, stationed at Naval Base Ventura County, conspired to collect nearly $15,000 in bribes from a Chinese intelligence officer in return for information, photos, and videos related to Navy exercises, operations, and facilities. He faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in federal prison and has been in custody since his arrest on August 3. By Stefanie Dazio for AP News, October 11
A Chinese Australian journalist detained for 3 years in China returns to Australia. Cheng Lei, an Australian journalist who worked for China's state broadcaster CGTN, has returned to Australia after being detained in China for over three years without trial. She was arrested in August 2020 on suspicion of illegally supplying state secrets overseas. The incident has further strained the already tense relations between Australia and China. Australia's opposition leader, Anthony Albanese, had previously called for her release. By Rod McGuirk for AP News, October 11
IMF says Sri Lanka debt talks ongoing, unaware of specific deals. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) stated it hasn't been informed of specific agreements in Sri Lankan debt discussions, even after China announced a deal with Sri Lanka. Peter Breuer, an IMF official, highlighted that talks with all creditors, including China, are ongoing. Sri Lanka, grappling with a severe economic crisis, suspended its debt repayments in May 2022. By Jorgelina do Rosario for Reuters, October 11
Yoon, officials strongly condemn Hamas killings as act of terrorism.
President Yoon Suk Yeol and top South Korean officials condemned the actions of the Hamas militant group in Israel, labeling it as terrorism that violates international humanitarian law. The condemnation came during an emergency meeting to discuss the implications of the escalating Israel-Hamas conflict. South Korea plans to collaborate with the international community for a swift resolution and peace establishment. By Lee Haye-ah for Yonhap News Agency, October 11
Beijing tells China’s poor that help is coming, as leaders order wider social security net amid rising economic toll. Beijing has announced plans to expand its social security system, ensuring that vulnerable groups are not left behind amidst economic challenges. This decision was made after a Communist Party's Politburo meeting, highlighting the need for a robust social security system. This initiative is in response to increasing economic risks, including the property market downturn and global economic pressures. The government's goal is to balance sustained growth with social stability. By Zhou Xin for South China Morning Post, October 12
Exclusive: India allows cough syrup firm linked to Uzbek deaths to re-open factory. India's Uttar Pradesh state has allowed Marion Biotech to resume most of its production activities. This decision comes after the company's cough syrups were linked to the deaths of 65 children in Uzbekistan last year. In the past, tests by an Indian government laboratory found that 22 samples of syrups produced by Marion were "adulterated and spurious." By Krishna N. Das for Reuters, October 11
Ukraine fatigue unlikely to reach Japan anytime soon. Despite the ongoing conflict in Ukraine reaching a stalemate and Western nations grappling with increasing war fatigue, Japan's stance on the situation is expected to remain consistent in the foreseeable future. Foreign Minister Yoko Kamikawa emphasized in a recent interview with The Japan Times that Japan's primary objective should be to enforce stringent sanctions against Russia and bolster support for Ukraine. Kamikawa stressed the importance of a collective effort by the international community, including nations from the Global South, to back Ukraine. By Gabriele Ninivaggi for The Japan Times, October 11
Rule curbing AI chip exports to China under final review. A rule that would restrict the export of advanced computer chips to China is under final review by the U.S. Commerce Department. This move is part of the Biden administration's efforts to curb Beijing's technological ambitions and protect national security. The rule, which has been in the works for more than a year, would require U.S. companies to obtain a license to sell certain artificial intelligence chips to China. The chips in question are designed for training AI models, a key component in the development of advanced AI applications. By Alexandra Alper for Reuters, October 11
Marcos condemns deaths of Filipinos in Israel, condoles with kin. President Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. expressed his sorrow over the deaths of two Filipinos caught in the Israel-Hamas conflict and denounced the ongoing violence and terror attacks. He emphasized the Philippines' commitment to lasting peace in accordance with UN resolutions and international laws. Marcos also assured continuous support for overseas Filipino workers and the Filipino community impacted by the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. By Kristina Maralit for The Manila Times, October 11
China to hold Belt and Road celebration with Putin expected. China announced plans to host a Belt and Road forum in Beijing in 2023 to celebrate the 10th anniversary of its ambitious infrastructure initiative. Russian President Vladimir Putin is expected to attend the forum, highlighting the close ties between Beijing and Moscow. The BRI has been both praised for its potential to drive economic growth and criticized for potentially increasing debt dependency among participating countries. Channel News Asia, October 11
Paranoia Strikes: Part II. The U.S. Congress has been producing an increasing number of anti-China proposals, with many being statement bills that are unlikely to become law. However, the intensity of these proposals has escalated, and their chances of becoming law have risen. A prime example is the Chinese Military and Surveillance Company Sanctions Act of 2023. This bill aims to push the Treasury Department to add entities like the Chinese Military Companies list, to its Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons List (SDN list). This bill is part of a broader trend of paranoia, with other proposals aiming to bar Chinese students from attending Texas public colleges or buying property in the state. Such measures could further strain U.S.-China relations and reflect a growing fear within the U.S., contrasting with past American confidence. By William Reinsch for CSIS, October 10
Philippines’ New National Security Plan Falls Short in Taiwan Policy.
The Philippines recently unveiled its National Security Policy (NSP) 2023-2028, which aims to address various security challenges. However, the policy falls short in its approach to Taiwan. While the NSP acknowledges the importance of the Indo-Pacific region and the need for a free and open Indo-Pacific, it lacks a clear stance on Taiwan despite the island's strategic significance. The Philippines' ambiguous position on Taiwan can be attributed to its balancing act between the U.S., its treaty ally, and China, its largest trading partner. It's essential for the Philippines to reconsider its approach to Taiwan in its national security strategy, given the island's increasing importance in regional geopolitics. By Robin Michael Garcia and Thomas J. Shattuck for The Diplomat, October 11
China approach offers hope for Afghanistan. China's approach to Afghanistan, post-U.S. withdrawal, offers a glimmer of hope for the war-torn nation. Beijing's strategy is rooted in its broader Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), aiming to integrate Afghanistan into its economic development plans. Unlike the West, which primarily focused on military solutions, China is emphasizing economic cooperation and infrastructure development. However, the Taliban's unpredictable nature and the complex regional dynamics, including India's reservations about China's increasing influence, can pose hurdles. South China Morning Post, October 12
China Goes on the Offensive in the Chip War. The Biden administration's strategy to control the future of computing involved denying China access to specific advanced semiconductors and enhancing chip capabilities domestically. However, China is challenging this plan by investing in cutting-edge processors and becoming competitive in legacy chip manufacturing and design. This poses a threat to the U.S., which may need to fight on two fronts: restricting China from leading-edge chip production and addressing China's advantage in legacy semiconductor manufacturing and design. By Sihao Huang and Bill Drexel for Foreign Affairs, October 11
Commentary: Why Hamas' deadly surprise attack on Israel matters to Singapore. One of the essential reminders of the Israel-Hamas conflict is the perennial illusion that military-technological superiority creates effective deterrence, especially against seemingly weaker opponents. The recent conflict underscores that even with advanced AI-enabled intelligence and high-tech military capabilities, strategic surprises can still occur. This event serves as a lesson for Singapore and other nations to remain vigilant and adaptive in their defense strategies. By Michael Raska for Channel News Asia, October 11
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