Chinese Ambassador to Bangladesh Li Jiming has said China is ready to join hands with the international community, including member states of the IORA, to contribute to global development, shoulder the responsibilities for unity and progress, and create a better future for the world. He stressed that in face of various risks and challenges, President Xi Jinping has put forward the Global Development Initiative and the Global Security Initiative, offering Chinese solutions and Chinese wisdom to world peace and development. Read more: IORA ministers meet Thursday, Momen for making the best use of sea Ambassador Li attended the 22nd Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) Council of Ministers meeting held in Dhaka on Thursday. This meeting, under the theme of "Harnessing the Opportunities of the Indian Ocean Sustainably for Inclusive Development", discussed the cooperation in COVID-19 response and economic recovery, trade and investment, the blue economy, climate change, disaster mitigation and pollution prevention and marine security, and reached broad consensus on further deepening cooperation within the IORA and building a prosperous and stable Indian Ocean. The IORA's Chair Bangladesh, 23 member states, including the United Arab Emirates, India, Australia, South Africa, and France, as well as ten dialogue partners such as China, the United States, Japan, and the Republic of Korea attended the meeting. Ambassador Li participated in and addressed the meeting on behalf of China. He said that as an important economic cooperation organization in the region, the IORA has been committed to strengthening capacity building and promoting solidarity and cooperation among member states and contributing to the lasting stability and sustainable development of the region. Read more: Even after over 2 decades, IORA market not fully explored by member states: Momen As a dialogue partner country, China has always attached importance to the status and role of the IORA, actively participated in various IORA activities and continuously deepened the practical cooperation with the IORA and its member states, he said.
A fire in an apartment building in northwestern China's Xinjiang region has killed 10 people and injured nine, authorities said Friday. The fire broke out Thursday night in the regional capital of Urumqi, where temperatures have dropped to below freezing after dark. The blaze took around three hours to extinguish. The injured were all expected to survive and the cause of the fire is under investigation, the local government said. Read more: 38 killed in factory fire in China The tragedy comes days after 38 people died in a fire at an industrial trading company in central China caused by welding sparks that ignited cotton cloth. Four people have been detained over the fire in the city of Anyang and local authorities ordered sweeping safety inspections. Aging infrastructure, poor safety awareness and, in some cases, government corruption has led to series of recent fires, explosions and building collapses around China, which continues to grapple with new COVID-19 outbreaks, prompting lockdowns and rigid travel restrictions affecting millions of people. Read more: Maldives fire: Identitties of Bangladeshi victims confirmed
Chinese Ambassador to Bangladesh Li Jiming has said Bangladesh and his country are working to deepen their financial cooperation. "China is positively considering some financial cooperation with Bangladesh in one way or another," he said while responding to a question at the programme "China's New Journey" held at a hotel in Dhaka Friday. The Ambassador said he had in-depth discussions with the finance minister of Bangladesh and the Bangladesh Bank governor recently. "During those meetings, we reached some consensus that we really should take some measures, including but not limited to currency swap arrangement and the clearance of trade with the Chinese yuan or Renminbi (RMB)," Ambassador Li said. "But before anything substantial can be achieved, we have a lot of technical issues, technical difficulties" to overcome, he added. Read: Bangladesh seeks Portugal's investment, expertise in blue economy, wind power generation Also, the ambassador said under the leadership of the Communist Party of China with "Comrade Xi Jinping at its core, and with the majestic power" of the Chinese people, China has historically solved the problem of absolute poverty and built a moderately prosperous society in all respects. "I believe these stories will encourage the people of Bangladesh who are moving forward on the road of building the Sonar Bangla," he said. The Chinese people have embarked on a new journey to build a prosperous, strong, democratic, culturally-advanced, harmonious and beautiful modern China, Ambassador Li said. "Countless new stories are being written. But what we are willing to share with the world are not only these stories, but also the fruits of our harvest," the Chinese envoy added. He hoped that through joint efforts, the development of China would be closely linked with that of Bangladesh. "The two countries could share a brighter future. I hope that we can continue holding hands in the future and write a new chapter of the China-Bangladesh friendship story," the ambassador said. The event was presented by China Media Group in cooperation with Apon Nibash Service Company. An Xiao Yu, a delegate of the 20th National Congress and the Director General of China Media Group's Asia and African Languages Department, spoke at the programme virtually from Beijing. He said, "The 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China was held recently where the overall goals of China's further development were determined. A new journey to build China as a modern socialist country was unveiled.” “China's new journey means China's new development. China's new development brings a new opportunity for the world too. Modernization of Chinese characteristics is the modernization of a large population, the common prosperity of all people, the harmony between material civilization and spiritual civilization, the coexistence of people and nature, and peaceful development,” Xiao Yu said. 'China's New Journey' was highlighted at the event through video documentaries that feature several stories. Yu Li Wen, Cultural Counselor of Chinese Embassy, Ke Changliang, President of Chinese Enterprise Association in Bangladesh, Cai Chunlei, Executive Chairman of Bangladesh Association for the Promotion of Peaceful Reunification of China, Liu Chun Tao, Dhaka Bureau Chief of Xinhua news agency, Chen Qihua, Secretary General of Overseas Chinese Association in Bangladesh, and Zhang Qing Bin, President of the Youth Committee of the Overseas Chinese Association in Bangladesh, among others, were also present at the event. Yu Guang Yue Anandi, Director of China Media Group’s Bangla Department and other newsmen from the Bengali Department in Beijing joined the programme virtually from Beijing.
The European Council president urged global powers Tuesday to intensify pressure on Russia over its war against Ukraine, including Moscow's biggest supporter, China, saying that this week's meeting of the world's largest economies was crucial to stopping Moscow's push "to use food and energy as weapons.” Charles Michel, speaking to reporters on the first day of the Group of 20 meeting in Bali, said the nine-month war waged by Russia, a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council, has disrupted lives across the world, as food and energy prices surge and economies stagnate. “Russia’s war impacts us all, no matter where we live, from Europe to Africa or the Middle East, and the single best way to end the acute crisis in food and energy is for Russia to end this senseless war and to respect the U.N. charter,” Michel said. “The Kremlin has decided to weaponize food, driving up hunger, poverty and instability.” Read more:Biden to meet China's Xi on Monday for Taiwan, Russia talks Europe, Michel said, is working to help Ukraine, a big food exporter before the war, increase its shipments, and is also trying to address disruptions in fertilizer supplies and rising prices. EU sanctions against Russia, he said, don’t target agricultural products, even though Russia has imposed restrictions on its own food and fertilizer products. “This is not a battle (of) Russia against the Western part of the world. It’s a battle for the U.N. charter. It’s a battle for the international law. It's a battle for the idea that this is not acceptable to try to change by force internationally recognized borders.” Michel said he had no plans to meet with the most senior Russian present in Bali, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. China, the world's second biggest economy, has largely refrained from public criticism of Russia’s war, although Beijing has avoided direct support of the Russians, such as supplying arms. Michel avoided direct criticism of China when asked if Beijing has shown any signs of changing its steadfast support of Russia in recent days. Instead, he said that the G-20 meeting Tuesday and Wednesday was important to convince all nations present “to put more pressure on Russia." After a meeting Monday between President Joe Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping, Biden said the two leaders discussed Russia’s aggression against Ukraine and “reaffirmed our shared belief” that the use or even the threat of nuclear weapons is “totally unacceptable” — a reference to Moscow’s thinly veiled threats to use atomic weapons as its invasion of Ukraine has faltered. Read more: UN Security Council rejects Russian request for bioweapons investigation Michel said that Europe must make sure that it creates a different economic and political relationship with China than the one it did with Russia. “We don't want to make the same mistakes maybe we make with Russia on fossil fuels,” which Europe was very dependent on, “with China, (where) we don't want to be too dependent for the innovative technology that we need today and that we need more in the future. That's why it's important to rebalance the relationship,” Michel said.
A showdown between Presidents Joe Biden and Vladimir Putin isn’t happening, but fallout from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and growing tensions between China and the West will be at the fore when leaders of the world’s biggest economies gather in tropical Bali this week. The Group of 20 members begin talks on the Indonesian resort island Tuesday under the hopeful theme of “recover together, recover stronger.” While Putin is staying away, Biden will meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping and get to know new British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Italy’s Giorgia Meloni. The summit’s official priorities of health, sustainable energy and digital transformation are likely to be overshadowed by fears of a sputtering global economy and geopolitical tensions centered on the war in Ukraine. The nearly 9-month-old conflict has disrupted trade in oil, natural gas and grain, and shifted much of the summit’s focus to food and energy security. The U.S. and allies in Europe and Asia, meanwhile, increasingly are squaring off against a more assertive China, leaving emerging G-20 economies like India, Brazil and host Indonesia to walk a tightrope between bigger powers. Indonesian President Joko Widodo has tried to bridge rifts within the G-20 over the war in Ukraine. Widodo, also known as Jokowi, became the first Asian leader since the invasion to visit both Russia and Ukraine in the summer. He invited President Volodymyr Zelenskyy of Ukraine, not a G-20 member, to join the summit. Zelenskyy is expected to participate online. “One of the priorities for Jokowi is to ease the tension of war and geopolitical risk,” said Bhima Yudhistira, director of the Center of Economic and Law Studies in Indonesia’s capital, Jakarta. Last year’s G-20 summit in Rome was the first in-person gathering of members since the pandemic, though the leaders of Russia and China didn’t attend. Read: Ukraine fears 'city of death' as Russia withdraws troops from Kherson This year’s event is bracketed by the United Nations climate conference in Egypt and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations summit in Cambodia, which Biden and some other G-20 leaders are attending, and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting in Thailand right afterward. The American president vowed to work with Southeast Asian nations on Saturday, saying “we’re going to build a better future that we all want to see” in a region where China is working to grow its influence. On Sunday, Biden huddled with the leaders of Japan and South Korea to discuss China and the threat from North Korea. One question hanging over the Bali summit is whether Russia will agree to extend the U.N. Black Sea Grain Initiative, which is up for renewal Nov. 19. The July deal allowed major global grain producer Ukraine to resume exports from ports that had been largely blocked for months because of the war. Russia briefly pulled out of the deal late last month only to rejoin it days later. Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba on Saturday called for more pressure on Russia to extend the deal, saying Moscow must “stop playing hunger games with the world.” As leaders contend with conflicts and geopolitical tensions, they face the risk that efforts to tame inflation will extinguish post-pandemic recoveries or cause debilitating financial crises. The war’s repercussions are being felt from the remotest villages of Asia and Africa to the most modern industries. It has amplified disruptions to energy supplies, shipping and food security, pushing prices sharply higher and complicating efforts to stabilize the world economy after the upheavals of the pandemic. United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is urging the G-20 to provide financial help for the developing world. “My priority in Bali will be to speak up for countries in the Global South that have been battered by the COVID-19 pandemic and the climate emergency, and now face crises in food, energy and finance — exacerbated by the war in Ukraine and crushing debt,” Guterres said. The International Monetary Fund is forecasting 2.7% global growth in 2023, while private sector economists’ estimates are as low as 1.5%, down from about 3% this year, the slowest growth since the oil crisis of the early 1980s. China has remained somewhat insulated from soaring inflation, mainly because it is struggling to reverse an economic slump that is weighing on global growth. The Chinese economy, the world’s second largest, grew at a 3.9% pace in the latest quarter. But economists say activity is slowing under the pressure of pandemic controls, a crackdown on technology companies and a downturn in the real estate sector. Forecasters have cut estimates of China’s annual economic growth to as low as 3%. That would be less than half of last year’s 8.1% and the second lowest in decades. Read: G20 finance leaders in Bali to tackle Ukraine, inflation Chinese President Xi will be coming to the summit emboldened by his appointment to an unusual third term as party chairman, making him China’s strongest leader in decades. It’s only his second foreign trip since early 2020, following a visit to Central Asia where he met Putin in September. Biden and Xi will hold their first in-person meeting since Biden became president in January 2021 on the event’s sidelines Monday. The U.S. is at odds with China over a host of issues, including human rights, technology and the future of the self-ruled island of Taiwan. The U.S. sees China as its biggest global competitor, and that rivalry is only likely to grow as Beijing seeks to expand its influence in the years to come. The European Union is also reassessing its relationship with China as it seeks to reduce its trade dependency on the country. Biden said he plans to talk with Xi about topics including Taiwan, trade policies and Beijing’s relationship with Russia. “What I want to do ... is lay out what each of our red lines are,” Biden said last week. Many developing economies are caught between fighting inflation and trying to nurse along recoveries from the pandemic. Host Indonesia’s economy grew at a 5.7% pace in the last quarter, one of the fastest among G-20 nations. But growth among resource exporters like Indonesia is forecast to cool as falling prices for oil, coal and other commodities end windfalls from the past year’s price boom. Read: Biden-Xi meeting: US trying to understand where China really stands At a time when many countries are struggling to afford imports of oil, gas and food while also meeting debt repayments, pressure is building on those most vulnerable to climate change to double down on shifting to more sustainable energy supplies. In Bali, the talks are also expected to focus on finding ways to hasten the transition away from coal and other fossil fuels. The G-20 was founded in 1999 originally as a forum to address economic challenges. It includes Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkey, the United Kingdom, the United States and the European Union. Spain holds a permanent guest seat. Some observers of the bloc, like Josh Lipsky, senior director of the Atlantic Council’s GeoEconomics Center, question whether the G-20 can even function as geopolitical rifts grow. “I’m skeptical that it can survive long-term in its current format,” he said in a briefing last week. That makes things especially tough on host Indonesia. “This is not the G-20 they signed up for,” Lipsky said. “The last thing they wanted was to be in the middle of this geopolitical fight, this war in Europe, and be the crossroads of it. But that’s where they are.”
There won’t be concessions from the U.S. side. No real deliverables, which is government-speak for specific achievements. Don’t expect a cheery joint statement, either. During President Joe Biden’s highly anticipated meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Monday, the leaders will be circling each other to game out how to manage a relationship that the U.S. has determined poses the biggest economic and military threat. At the same time, U.S. officials have repeatedly stressed that they see the two countries’ interactions as one of competition — and that they want to avoid conflict. Here’s a look at what each side is hoping to achieve out of the leaders' first in-person encounter as presidents, to be held on the island of Bali in Indonesia: FOR THE UNITED STATES Essentially, Biden and other U.S. officials are trying to understand where Xi really stands. In a news conference shortly before leaving Washington, Biden said he wanted to “lay out … what each of our red lines are, understand what he believes to be in the critical national interests of China, what I know to be the critical interests of the United States.” Read more: Biden to meet China's Xi on Monday for Taiwan, Russia talks That mission has become all the more imperative since the conclusion of the Community Party congress in Beijing, during which Xi secured a norm-breaking third term as leader, empowering him even further. It’s a goal that will be much more readily achieved in person, White House officials say, despite Biden and Xi’s five video or phone calls during the U.S. president’s term. Biden told reporters on Sunday that he's “always had straightforward discussions” with Xi, and that has prevented either of them from “miscalculations” of their intentions. “I know him well, he knows me,” Biden said. “We've just got to figure out where the red lines are and what are the most important things to each of us, going into the next two years.” The U.S. president will want to send a message to Xi on White House concerns about China’s economic practices. Taiwan is sure to come up, and Biden will want to emphasize to Xi that the U.S. will stand ready to defend the self-governing island should it come under attack by China. Biden also will seek to make clear his concerns about Beijing’s human rights practices, as he has in their previous interactions. Read more: Xi, Biden exchanging views on China-U.S. ties, issues of common concern Biden will also use the meeting to press for a more aggressive posture from Xi on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The Chinese leader has largely refrained from public criticism of Vladimir Putin’s actions while declining to actively aid Moscow by supplying arms. “We believe that, of course, every country in the world should do more to prevail upon Russia, especially those who have relationships with Russia, to end this war and leave Ukraine,” said U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan. Finally, U.S. officials say they’re eager to see where the two superpowers could actually collaborate. Though there are numerous areas in which Biden and Xi won’t see eye to eye, the White House has listed several issues where they conceivably could, including health, counternarcotics and climate change. FOR CHINA Xi has yet to give a wish list for talks with Biden, but Beijing wants U.S. action on trade and Taiwan. Perhaps most importantly, the Group of 20 gathering in Bali and the meeting with Biden give China's most powerful leader in decades a stage to promote his country's image as a global player and himself as a history-making figure who is restoring its rightful role as an economic and political force. China pursues “increasingly assertive foreign and security policies aimed at changing the international status quo,” Kevin Rudd, a former Australian prime minister who is president of the Asia Society, wrote in Foreign Affairs. That has strained relations with Washington, Europe and China's Asian neighbors, but Xi is unfazed and looks set to be more ambitious abroad. The meeting is “an important event of China’s head-of-state diplomacy toward the Asia Pacific,” said a foreign ministry spokesman, Zhao Lijian. He said Xi will “deliver an important speech” on economic growth. Read more: Biden, Xi talk more than 2 hours at time of US-China tension Zhao called on the Biden administration to “stop politicizing” trade and embrace Beijing’s claim to sovereignty over Taiwan, the self-ruled island democracy that split with the mainland in 1949 and never has been part of the People's Republic of China. Beijing wants Washington to lift tariffs imposed by former President Donald Trump in 2019 and to pull back on increasing restrictions on Chinese access to processor chips and other U.S. technology. Biden has left most of those in place and added curbs on access to technology that American officials say can be used in weapons development. “The United States needs to stop politicizing, weaponizing and ideologizing trade issues,” Zhao said. Xi’s government has stepped up efforts to intimidate the elected government of Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen by flying fighter planes near the island and firing missiles into the sea. Beijing broke off talks with Washington on security, climate cooperation and other issues after U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan in August in a show of support for its government. “The United States needs to stop obscuring, hollowing out and distorting the ‘one-China principle,’” said Zhao, referring to Beijing’s stance that Taiwan is obligated to join the mainland under Communist Party leadership. Another goal for Xi: Don’t get COVID-19. The G-20 will be only Xi's second foreign trip in 2 1/2 years while his government enforces a severe “Zero COVID” strategy that shut down cities and kept most visitors out of China. Xi broke that moratorium by attending a September summit with Putin and Central Asian leaders. But he skipped a dinner and photo session where Putin and others wore no masks.
Beijing closed city parks and imposed other restrictions as the country faces a new wave of COVID-19 cases, even as millions of people remained under lockdown Friday in the west and south of China. The country reported 10,729 new cases on Friday, almost all of them testing positive while showing no symptoms. More than 5 million people were under lockdown Friday in the southern manufacturing hub Guangzhou and the western megacity Chongqing. With the bulk of Beijing’s 21 million people undergoing near daily testing, another 118 new cases were recorded in the sprawling city. Many city schools switched to online classes, hospitals restricted services and some shops and restaurants were shuttered, with their staff taken to quarantine. Videos on social media showed people in some areas protesting or fighting with police and health workers. “It has become normal, just like eating and sleeping," said food service worker Yang Zheng, 39. “I think what it impacts most is kids because they need to go to school.” Demands for testing every 24 to 48 hours are “troublesome,” said Ying Yiyang, who works in marketing. “My life is for sure not comparable to what it was three years ago," said Ying. Family visits outside of Beijing can be difficult if the smartphone app that virtually all Chinese are required to display does not green-light travel back to the capital, Ying said. “I just stay in Beijing,” Ying said. Read more: Biden to meet China's Xi on Monday for Taiwan, Russia talks Numerous villages on the capital's outskirts that are home to blue-collar workers whose labor keeps the city running were under lockdown. Many live in dormitory communities, which taxi and ride-sharing drivers said they were avoiding so as not to be placed in quarantine themselves. Lockdowns in Guangzhou and elsewhere were due to end by Sunday, but authorities have repeatedly extended such restrictions with no explanation. Chinese leaders had promised Thursday to respond to public frustration over its severe “zero-COVID” strategy that has confined millions to their homes and severely disrupted the economy. The government said Friday it was reducing the amount of time incoming passengers would be required to undergo quarantine. The U.S. Embassy this week renewed its advisement for citizens to avoid travel to and within China unless absolutely necessary. Incoming passengers will only be quarantined for five days, rather than the previous seven, at a designated location, followed by three days of isolation at their place of residence, according to a notice from the State Council, China's Cabinet. It wasn’t immediately clear when and where the rules would take effect and whether they would apply to foreigners and Chinese citizens alike. Relaxed standards would also be applied to foreign businesspeople and athletes, in what appeared to be a gradual move toward normalization. Airlines will no longer be threatened with a two-week-long suspension of flights if five or more passengers tested positive, the regulations said, potentially providing a major expansion of seats on such flights that have shrunk in numbers and soared in price since restrictions were imposed in 2020. Those flying to China will only need to show a single negative test for the virus within 48 hours of traveling, the rules said. Formerly, two tests within that time period were were required. “Zero-COVID” has kept China’s infection rate relatively low but weighs on the economy and has disrupted life by shutting schools, factories and shops, or sealing neighborhoods without warning. With the new surge in cases, a growing number of areas are shutting down businesses and imposing curbs on movement. In order to enter office buildings, shopping malls and other public places, people are required to show a negative result from a virus test taken as often as once a day. With economic growth weakening again after rebounding to 3.9% over a year earlier in the three months ending in September, forecasters had been expecting bolder steps toward reopening the country, whose borders remain largely closed. Read more: China launches Covid-19 vaccine inhaled through mouth President and ruling Communist Party leader Xi Jinping is expected to make a rare trip abroad next week, but has given little indication of backing off on a policy the party has closely associated with social stability and the avowed superiority of his policies. That has been maintained by its seven-person Politburo Standing Committee, which was named in October at a party congress that also expanded Xi’s political dominance by appointing him to a third five-year term as leader. It is packed with his loyalists, including the former party chief of Shanghai, who enforced a draconian lockdown that sparked food shortages, shut factories and confined millions to their homes for two months or more. People from cities with a single case in the past week are barred from visiting Beijing, while travelers from abroad are required to be quarantined in a hotel for seven to 10 days — if they are able to navigate the timely and opaque process of acquiring a visa. Business groups say that discourages foreign executives from visiting, which has prompted companies to shift investment plans to other countries. Visits from U.S. officials and lawmakers charged with maintaining the crucial trading relations amid tensions over tariffs, Taiwan and human rights have come to a virtual standstill. Last week, access to part of the central city of Zhengzhou, home to the world’s biggest iPhone factory, was suspended after residents tested positive for the virus. Thousands of workers jumped fences and hiked along highways to escape the factory run by Taiwan’s Foxconn Technology Group. Many said coworkers who fell ill received no help and working conditions were unsafe. Also last week, people posted outraged comments on social media after a 3-year-old boy, whose compound in the northwest was under quarantine, died of carbon monoxide poisoning. His father complained that guards who were enforcing the closure refused to help and tried to stop him as he rushed his son to a hospital. Despite such complaints, Chinese citizens have little say in policy making under the one-party authoritarian system that maintains rigid controls over media and public demonstrations. Speculation on when measures will be eased has centered on whether the government is willing to import or domestically produce more effective vaccines, with the elderly population left particularly vulnerable. That could come as soon as next spring, when a new slate of officials are due to be named under Xi's continuing leadership. Or, restrictions could persist much longer if the government continues to reject the notion of living to learn with a relatively low level of cases that cause far fewer hospitalizations and deaths than when the pandemic was at its height.
Chinese President Xi Jinping met with Pakistani Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif in Beijing on Wednesday. China has always viewed its relations with Pakistan from a strategic and long-term perspective and prioritized Pakistan in its neighborhood diplomacy, Xi told Sharif, who is on an official visit to China. China appreciates Pakistan's firm will for friendly cooperation with China and appreciates its support on issues related to China's core and major concerns, Xi said. Read more:In Xi's China, even internal reports fall prey to censorship China will firmly support Pakistan's efforts in safeguarding national sovereignty, territorial integrity, development interests and national dignity, he said. China sympathizes with the Pakistani people who have suffered from the devastating floods and will provide additional emergency assistance to help Pakistan in post-disaster reconstruction, Xi said. Xi briefed Sharif on the important outcomes of the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC). He pointed out that China will continue to adhere to the basic state policy of opening-up and continue to provide new opportunities to Pakistan and other countries with China's new development. He called on the two sides to advance the construction of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor with greater efficiency and welcomed Pakistan to expand its export of high-quality agricultural products to China. Read more:China’s Communist Party capable of new, greater miracles: Xi Jinping Sharif said it is a great honor to be one of the first foreign leaders invited to visit China after the landmark 20th CPC National Congress, which demonstrates the profound friendship between Pakistan and China. Pakistan hopes to learn from China's successful state governance experience and deepen cooperation with China in various fields to advance its own development. This is the direction and only choice for Pakistan in the future, the prime minister said. Pakistan will further strengthen security measures and spare no effort to protect the safety of Chinese institutions and personnel in Pakistan, Sharif said.
When the coronavirus was first detected in Wuhan in late 2019, reporter Liao Jun of China’s official Xinhua News Agency told conflicting stories to two very different audiences. Liao’s news dispatches assured readers the disease didn’t spread from person to person. But in a separate confidential report to senior officials, Liao struck a different tone, alerting Beijing that a mysterious, dangerous disease had surfaced. Her reports to officials were part of a powerful internal reporting system long used by the ruling Communist Party to learn about issues considered too sensitive for the public to know. Chinese journalists and researchers file secret bulletins to top officials, ensuring they get the information needed to govern, even when it’s censored. But this internal system is struggling to give frank assessments as Chinese leader Xi Jinping consolidates his power, making it risky for anyone to question the party line even in confidential reports, a dozen Chinese academics, businesspeople and state journalists said in interviews with The Associated Press. It’s unclear what the impact has been, given the secretive nature of high-level Chinese politics. But the risk is ill-informed decision-making with less feedback from below, on everything from China’s stance on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine to its approach to the coronavirus. “Powerful leaders become hostages,” said Dali Yang, an expert on Chinese politics at the University of Chicago. “They actually are living in cocoons: protected, but also shielded from information that they should be open to.” The reports are classified as state secrets and include what would be considered staples of journalism in many other countries: corruption, strikes, public criticism, industrial accidents. Newspapers, think tanks and universities across China each have their own classified reporting channel, sending intelligence to local and provincial officials. But a few outlets, such as Xinhua and the state-controlled People’s Daily, supply intelligence directly to China’s rulers. Their confidential reports have toppled officials, changed policy, and launched government campaigns against poverty and waste. The Communist Party calls internal reporting a secret weapon, acting as its “eyes and ears,” while propaganda acts as its “throat and tongue.” Those who write internal reports are often thoughtful and critical, says Maria Repnikova, a Chinese media expert at Georgia State University. They can face threats or intimidation, even when backed by the state, with officials taking extreme measures to block bad news from reaching their superiors. Xi is intimately familiar with the power of this internal reporting system, said Alfred Wu, a former reporter who met Xi when he governed Fujian province. Xi cultivated ties with journalists from Xinhua and the People’s Daily, outlets with direct lines to Beijing — and the power to influence his career. “He’d always mingle and socialize with journalists,” Wu said. “Xi’s street smarts helped him so much.” After coming to power in 2012, Xi stifled dissent and launched an anti-corruption campaign that jailed rivals. The crackdown has made reporters more cautious about what they write in internal memos. A Xinhua journalist famed for internal reports that helped take down a senior executive at a state company is now unable to publish, according to a close associate, because the risks are too big. The internal reports system was also vulnerable to corruption. Officials and businesspeople manipulated it to lobby for their interests. In one incident, Shanxi province officials gave cash and gold ingots to reporters to cover up a mine accident that killed 38 people. Xi’s crackdown has reined in corruption, but also sidelined many of Xi’s competitors and paralyzed low-level officials reluctant to act without clear permission from the top. The government’s tightening grip on the internet under Xi is also warping the internal reports. Decades ago, there were few ways for officials to know what ordinary people thought, making the reports a valuable channel of insight. But the internet “handed everyone their own microphone,” the People’s Daily wrote, resulting in an explosion of information that internal reports struggled to analyze. The internet also posed a threat: Critics bonded online, organizing to challenge the state. Xi tackled both issues. Under him, China beefed up big data analysis to harness the vast tide of information. He also launched a campaign against “online rumors” and put millions of censors to work. One of the first to be detained was an investigative journalist accusing an official of corruption. So while internal reports now draw heavily on online information, the internet itself has become strictly censored, which can distort the message sent to the top. Electronic surveillance has also become pervasive under Xi, making it tougher for sensitive information to be shared, one current and one former state media journalist said, speaking on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to speak to foreign media. As a result, people withhold critical information — sometimes, with catastrophic consequences. In the early days of the virus outbreak in Wuhan, Xinhua’s Liao reported the arrest of eight “rumormongers” for spreading “false information.” In fact, they were doctors warning each other about the emerging virus in online chats. Her story discouraged others from speaking up, leaving the central leadership blind to the virus’ spread. The information department of the State Council, China’s Cabinet, declined to comment. Xinhua did not immediately respond to an AP request for comment. The virus story illustrates a paradox of the internal reports: The tighter controls are, the more valuable the reports become. But tighter controls also make it harder to find reliable information. Interviews with Chinese academics suggest when it comes to decisions made by the top, there’s now little room for discussion or course correction. Beijing’s public stance on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is clear: Under Xi’s “no limits” partnership with Russia, officials voice sympathy with Moscow’s grievances with the West, portraying the U.S. as a hypocritical bully and NATO as the aggressor. But in private conversation, many Chinese foreign policy experts express views that diverge from the party line — a diversity of opinions that isn't being conveyed to China’s leaders, they say. Many experts worry China has alienated Europe by standing with Russia. A landmark investment deal with the European Union looks all but dead, and Europe is increasingly aligning its China policy with the latter’s biggest rival, the United States. One scholar took a calculated risk to get his views heard. Government adviser Hu Wei published an online essay in March criticizing the war and arguing Beijing should side with Europe. Hu wrote publicly because he worried his bosses wouldn’t approve an internal report, according to Zhao Tong, a fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Even if the piece was censored, he reasoned, it might get the attention of senior officials. More than 100,000 people viewed Hu’s essay online. Within hours, it was blocked.
China remains the greatest security challenge for the United States despite Russia’s war in Ukraine, and the threat from Beijing will determine how the U.S. military is equipped and shaped for the future, according to a new Pentagon defense strategy. While the document released Thursday says that conflict with China “is neither inevitable nor desirable,” it describes an effort to prevent Beijing’s “dominance of key regions” — a clear reference to its aggressive military buildup in the South China Sea and increased pressure on the self-governing island of Taiwan. It warns that China is working to undermine American alliances in the Indo-Pacific and use its growing military to coerce and threaten neighbors. At the same time, the 80-page, unclassified report notes Russia’s war in Ukraine and says Moscow is a serious threat to the U.S. and its allies, with nuclear weapons, cyber operations and long-range missiles. And it warns that as China and Russia continue to grow as partners, they “now pose more dangerous challenges to safety and security at home, even as terrorist threats persist.” China “is the only competitor out there with both the intent to reshape the international order, and increasingly the power to do so,” Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said at the Pentagon. “Unlike China, Russia can’t systemically challenge the United States over the long term. But Russian aggression does pose an immediatee and sharp threat to our interest and values.” The report reflects that the U.S. for the first time is facing two major nuclear-armed competitors in Russia and China. The strategy, along with two other reports released Thursday on missile defense and nuclear weapons, provides a sweeping blueprint for America’s military planning over the next four years. While much of it is consistent with the previous report, the strategy takes into account how the world has changed since 2018, when U.S. troops were still fighting in Afghanistan and a massive Russian invasion of Ukraine seemed almost unthinkable. Read: Pentagon chief: al-Qaida may seek comeback in Afghanistan The previous strategy, released in 2018 under then-President Donald Trump, reflected the fundamental shift from a U.S. military focused on countering extremists to one that must prepare for war with a major power. The 2022 defense strategy increases the focus on allies as a key element of U.S. defense, underscoring the broader Biden administration effort to repair relations with partner nations that were splintered by Trump. At the center of the new document is the concept of “integrated deterrence,” which means the U.S. will use a broad combination of military might, economic and diplomatic pressures, and strong alliances — including America’s nuclear arsenal — to dissuade an enemy from attacking. It concludes that China remains “the most consequential strategic competitor for the coming decades,” while Russia remains an “acute” threat. Since the last report, both China and Russia have become more aggressive in using their militaries. Russia launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February, and China has escalated its longstanding threat to retake Taiwan, by force if necessary. And Russia, North Korea and Iran have all accelerated their nuclear weapons testing and threats. This is the first strategy since the U.S. ended its 20-year war in Afghanistan and withdrew all troops last year. The U.S. still has a small number of troops in Iraq and nearly 1,000 in Syria, but has largely shifted from the counterterrorism operations that dominated the last two decades to focus on threats from major competitors such as China. The new review calls for increased research and development on cutting-edge technologies, including hypersonics, cyber, artificial intelligence and directed energy. And in a nod to recent recruiting challenges, it says the Pentagon must change its culture to attract a skilled force. The Pentagon also released an accompanying nuclear posture review, which underscores the growing risks of nuclear danger, particularly as the relationship between China and Russia grows. It says the U.S. is committed to modernizing its nuclear forces while also looking at current nuclear capabilities that may no longer be needed for deterrence. The nuclear review confirms the cancellation of the sea-launched cruise missile program, calling it not necessary. The program was included in the 2018 Trump administration’s posture review, but the Biden budget early this year signaled its end by eliminating its funding. This is the first time the Pentagon’s three strategy documents — the national defense review, and those governing missile defense and nuclear posture — were developed and released at the same time. Read: The big Pentagon internet mystery now partially solved The new focus on integrated deterrence comes as the U.S. finds itself at a crossroads where all three legs of its nuclear-triad — submarine-launched nuclear missiles, long-range bomber aircraft and ground-based launching systems — are aging fast and require hundreds of billions of dollars to modernize. But the country also faces a new environment where its decades-old approach of avoiding nuclear war is changing. Nuclear deterrence focused for decades on preventing war between just two nuclear superpowers, Russia and the United States, and relied on the concept of mutually assured destruction to prevent either side from resorting to a first strike. Now, however, Russia has repeatedly threatened to use lower-yield “tactical” nuclear weapons in Ukraine, in response to a counteroffensive by Kyiv that has retaken swaths of land previously held by Russian troops. And Russia’s setbacks in Ukraine with its conventional forces could cause it to rely more on its nuclear forces. “We are certainly concerned about escalation, we have been so from the very beginning of this conflict,” Austin said. “It would be the first time that a nuclear weapon has been used in over 70 years. So that certainly has the potential of changing things in the international community.” At the same time, in the Pacific, officials say North Korea is preparing for another nuclear test, which would be the first in five years. The report also notes China’s and Russia’s rapid gains in hypersonic missiles, which are harder for the U.S. to detect. They are also improving their abilities to shoot down satellites, or shove them out of orbit. The U.S. has rushed to counter those threats by building a ring of low-orbiting satellites that aims to hasten the detection of hypersonic launches and also to build in redundancy, so if one U.S. satellite is attacked, the remainder of the ring is still operating.