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Xi’s Trip to the Kingdom, Continued Covid Policy Transition, Jiang Zemin Memorial
News Brief (12/8)
Xi’s Trip to the Kingdom
VERMILION: China and Saudi Arabia signed a multitude of strategic agreements on Thursday that highlight their deepening cooperation. The language used by Crown Prince and Prime Minister Mohammed bin Salman Al Saud (MBS) underscores Saudi Arabia’s attempts to balance between the United States and China. These agreements include weapons manufacturing, 5g networks, and additional energy exports from Saudi Arabia to China.
In an op-ed published in Saudi media, Xi said he was on a "pioneering trip" to "open a new era of China's relations with the Arab world, the Arab countries of the Gulf, and Saudi Arabia".
China and Arab countries would "continue to hold high the banner of non-interference in internal affairs", Xi added.
That sentiment was echoed by the crown prince, who said his country opposed any "interference in China's internal affairs in the name of human rights", Chinese state broadcaster CCTV said.
Xi, due to meet other Gulf oil producers and attend a wider gathering of Arab leaders on Friday, said China would work to make those summits "milestone events in the history of China-Arab relations", and that Beijing sees Riyadh as "an important force in the multipolar world".
Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states like the United Arab Emirates have said that they would not choose sides between global powers and were diversifying partners to serve national economic and security interests.
“Xi is deliberately courting America’s allies — meeting or hosting the leaders of Western democracies from Germany to Japan,” said Danny Russel, a vice president of the Asia Society Policy Institute and former assistant secretary of state. Now, with his visit to Saudi Arabia, “Xi is demonstrating that the United States is not the only game in town.”
Mr. Xi, who is hoping to weaken U.S. influence in the region, held talks with King Salman of Saudi Arabia on Thursday and signed a strategic partnership agreement with the kingdom. The pact strengthens diplomatic and economic ties in an already complex relationship that has diversified beyond oil to include arms, technology and infrastructure.
Unlike Washington, Beijing is not asking leaders to choose sides. China’s stated policy of noninterference means that issues like human rights never get in the way of business. Beijing says it accepts Riyadh’s flimsy explanation for Mr. Khashoggi’s death, while the Saudis have rejected efforts to condemn China’s mass detention of Muslim Uyghurs.
Friendly relations in the Gulf are paramount for China, which counts on the region as its top supplier of oil. It’s also a key node along its Belt and Road Initiative, and an important market for Chinese consumer goods and technology. Huawei, the Chinese telecommunications giant, which is banned in the United States, provides 5G networks in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates.
Continued Covid Policy Transition
VERMILION: The CCP is continuing its shift away from zero-Covid (清零) with its ten point plan (CN), but has yet to lay out a plan for opening up. Local and foreign investors are growing tired of continued lockdowns and interruption to business.
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The Chinese government on Wednesday unveiled a broad easing of its strict “zero Covid” policy, after an extraordinary outburst of discontent in mass street protests a week ago.
The changes do not dismantle the policy, but they represent a loosening of measures that have dragged down the economy by disrupting daily life for hundreds of millions of people, forcing many small businesses to close and sending youth unemployment to a record high.
In the meantime, nonmedical interventions, including social distancing, quarantine and home isolation, are not enough to prevent large scale outbreaks, he said.
“It’s fine to have a major outbreak at some point, if you’re well prepared,” Dr. Sridhar said.
For China, this would mean booster shots for the elderly, enough Covid pills like Paxlovid stockpiled in hospitals around the country to help deal with severe Covid cases and enough hospital beds with ventilators.
“If they are considering a pivot, they need to bolster their defenses because a storm is coming,” Dr. Sridhar said.
VERMILION: The CCP will have to balance between economic reopening and large-scale Covid outbreaks. It is highly likely that Covid numbers coming out of China will be censored.
China Covid: British firms call for “clarity and stability” after Beijing scraps some controversial virus curbs - SCMP
British companies in China are calling for clarity on recently relaxed coronavirus restrictions to help reverse pessimism among businesses and clear up lingering uncertainties.
Changes to virus policy and management protocols have restored much-needed optimism among member companies, the British Chamber of Commerce in China said on Thursday.
However, uncertainty and unpredictability remain, both in regards to controls and transparency of the business environment, said Alexandra Hirst, senior policy analyst at the chamber.
“Opening up feels like there’s an end in sight, we are seeing a shift in strategy, she said. “But there’s also still concerns in the short term about what this means and how this is going to impact operations [such as] the risk of staff now testing positive, and how implementation will be on a local level.
关于进一步优化落实新冠肺炎疫情防控措施的通知 - NHS (CN)
First, scientific and accurate differentiation of risk areas.
Second, further optimize nucleic acid detection.
Third, optimize and adjust isolation methods.
Fourth, implement "quick closure and quick opening" in high-risk areas.
Fifth, ensure that people have access to basic drugs.
Sixth, accelerate elderly vaccination against Covid-19.
VERMILION: China has not approved any non-Chinese vaccines. China’s domestic vaccines are not as effective as those developed in the West.
Seventh, strengthen situational awareness and management of the health status of key populations.
Eighth, ensure the normal operation of society and basic medical services.
Ninth, strengthen guarantees for epidemic-related security.
Tenth, further optimize school-based epidemic prevention and control work.
VERMILION: Each one of these points is expanded on in the full article.
Jiang Zemin Memorial
VERMILION: On Tuesday morning China bid farewell to late leader Jiang Zemin in a nationwide memorial service. Jiang’s death marks a blow to the Shanghai Clique (上海帮) which was widely seen as a counterbalance to Xi’s faction, the New Zhijiang Army (之江新军).
Xi calls for the country and Communist Party to “inherit the will of Jiang and to write a new chapter of socialism with Chinese characteristics”.
Xi then calls for party cadres to rally around his leadership and party leadership, saying the party’s leadership is the hope of the country.
To Xi’s left are Li Keqiang, Wang Yang, Zhao Leji, Han Zheng, Ding Xuexiang and Wang Qishan.
To his right are Li Zhanshu, Li Qiang, Wang Huning, Cai Qi, Li Xi, Li Ruihuan, Wen Jiabao, Zhang Dejiang, Yu Zhengsheng, Li Lanqing, Zeng Qinghong, Wu Guanzheng, Li Changchun, He Guoqiang, Liu Yunshan and Zhang Gaoli.
VERMILION: Xi, delivering remarks at Jiang Zemin’s state funeral, called for upholding the leadership of the CCP central committee with himself as the core of the committee. This message was likely not a response to unrest during the protests, but a warning to CCP members that Xi is now without opposition and the party must fall in line behind his personal leadership. Notably, Hu Jintao, China’s previous leader, was absent from the ceremony.
BEIJING, Dec. 6 (Xinhua) -- Officers and soldiers of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) watched or tuned in to the live broadcast memorial meeting for Comrade Jiang Zemin on Tuesday morning.
They listened carefully to a speech delivered by Xi Jinping, general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, Chinese president, and chairman of the Central Military Commission.
The PLA officers and soldiers said they are determined to uphold the firm leadership of the CPC Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping at its core and build the people's armed forces into world-class forces.
Shanghai Gang Faction will fade away with former President Jiang’s Death - The Straits Times
Mr Zhu Rongji, who served as premier from 1998 to 2003, and Mr Zeng Qinghong, who was vice-president from 2003 to 2008, are the dozens of the retired Standing Committee members who belong to the Shanghai clique.
“(But) Zhu is 94 and not in good health,” said the insider, requesting anonymity. Mr Zhu did not attend the opening of the 20th congress.
On the other hand, Mr Zeng, 83, the most trusted political ally of Mr Jiang, has close ties to Mr Xi...
A photo dated Aug 3, 2017, never published by state media but seen by The Straits Times, shows Mr Xi and Mr Zeng standing side by side and clasping hands, ostensibly taken to quash speculation of a political fallout between them.
Significantly, First Lady Peng Liyuan stood next to Mr Zeng while Mr Zeng’s wife flanked Mr Xi, in a sign that the two couples are like family and extremely close.
VERMILION: Everything within the CCP is delicately orchestrated and the physical location of key leaders as well as absence of certain individuals is very telling regarding the current status of power within the CCP.
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