IIn this week’s Chinascope, we watch the People’s Liberation Army hoisting a flag in the Galwan Valley, China naming 15 locations inside Arunachal Pradesh, the Covid-19 lockdown in Xi’an, China’s growing scrutiny on Twitter and other landmark stories from China – and the world.
China during the week
Chinascope kicks off the new year with an action-packed edition.
Tensions between Beijing and New Delhi continued into the New Year after a Chinese flag was hoisted in the Galwan Valley. The news has become a major social media trend in China. The timing of the ceremony matters as China’s new land border law has come into force effect January 1st. The new law will firmly strengthen China’s sovereignty and establish more villages in border areas.
Video of People’s Liberation Army (PLA) soldiers sending a New Year’s “message” to India and hoisting a Chinese flag in the Galwan Valley was originally shared by Global Times on the Chinese social media platform Weibo at 11:35 a.m. Beijing time. Shen Shiwei, a state media reporter, tweeted that the flag hoisted at Galwan was “special” since it was hoisted over Tiananmen Square in Beijing.
The search trend “Heroes of Galwan Valley Send New Year’s Greetings” was the second main trend on the Baidu search engine. A hashtag “Heroes of Galwan Valley send New Year’s greetings” began appearing on Weibo when the video was shared. It has been viewed 2.24 million times and has continued to grow.
The video was then shared by other Chinese state media, including the official Xinhua News Agency. Video shows a flag raising ceremony and soldiers shout slogans wishing everyone a Happy New Year. “We promise the homeland that we will keep the border,” the PLA soldiers added in their message.
The message used in the video suggests that the video was intended for domestic audiences. Beijing wanted to let New Delhi know that the border standoff was far from over. The APL used the exact location in the pass for similar types of symbolic ceremonies.
The clip also contained the narration of old footage from the Galwan clash in June 2020, which state media have used in the past.
On the same day, the Indian Army and the PLA exchanged sweets and other gifts at Hot Springs and Demchok in eastern Ladakh, and at Nathula and Kongra La in northern Sikkim. On Sunday, the story of the candy swap began to be all the rage on Baidu. the hashtag “Chinese and Indian soldiers exchange greetings and sweets at the border” was the fifth search up trending on the platform, and has been viewed 4.5 million times.
Also read: This Nagaland hashtag is all the rage on Weibo. And Xi wants Chinese religions to follow the CCP first
Meanwhile, India’s Defense Ministry said India’s armed forces have been reorganized and realigned along the Line of Real Control (LAC) in response to infrastructure construction by the People’s Liberation Army.
“The force levels in the areas where disengagement has not yet taken place have been sufficiently increased. The threat assessment and internal deliberations resulted in a reorganization and realignment of forces in accordance with the army’s mandate to guarantee territorial integrity and respond to the major increase in the forces of the People’s Liberation Army and military infrastructure, ”the defense ministry said in a statement.
If video of Chinese soldiers waving a flag was not enough, the Chinese Ministry of Civil Affairs Posted a notice last week regarding the use of the “correct” place name for 15 locations in Arunachal Pradesh.
Of the 15 sites, eight are residential areas, four mountains, two rivers and the famous Sela Pass in Arunachal Pradesh. China calls Arunachal Pradesh “Southern Tibet”.
“In accordance with the relevant regulations of the State Council on the management of geographic names, our ministry and relevant departments have standardized certain geographic names in southern Tibet. The second batch of public place names in southern Tibet (15 in total) is now officially announced ”, noted notification by the ministry.
As expected, Narendra Modi’s government was not happy with the names assigned to the locations inside Arunachal Pradesh.
“Arunachal Pradesh has always been and always will be an integral part of India. The attribution of invented names to places in Arunachal Pradesh does not change this fact, ”replied the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Both countries are also experiencing an increase in Covid-19 cases.
China’s “zero-Covid” policy has gone into effect in Xi’an City, Shaanxi Province. More than 13 million Xi’an residents are under strict lockdown to curb the spread of Covid-19 variants after a cluster of cases is discovered. So far the city has reported 1,451 cases of Covid-19 since the start of the recent wave of infections on December 9.
Strange scenes in Xi’an showing individuals publicly humiliated for violating Covid-19 restrictions have been shared on Chinese social media.
Chinese authorities admitted they found him difficult deliver food to the people of Xi’an. All residents have been informed that they will receive food. Authorities have asked large e-commerce companies such as JD.com and Meituan to stabilize food prices after residents complained about the price increase.
Under strict restrictions, China has once again successfully cracked down on another news organization that went against its wishes.
Until recently, media freedom in Hong Kong was considered a beacon in East Asia. Beijing quickly used the National Security Law to put an end to all kind of critical reporting.
Hong Kong National Security Police raided the offices of Stand News, an independent media outlet, last week. The organization ceased operations after its $ 78 million worth of assets were frozen by authorities in Hong Kong. News from the stand was one of the most dynamic news outlets that covered extensively the Hong Kong protest movement in 2019. The former editors of News from the stand were accused under a colonial-era sedition law and were denied bail. News from the stand at stopped all operations.
Also read: Xi Jinping wants Chinese artists and writers to practice “morality”. And a big publisher quits
China in the world news
Taiwan is not only a point of contention between Beijing and Washington DC but also Tokyo.
China and Japan will establish a military hotline to “defuse potential crises on the disputed islands and the Taiwan Strait,” according to Japanese officials.
The deal to establish the hotline was reached during a two-hour phone call between Japanese Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi and Chinese Defense Minister Wei Fenghe.
On a virtual level, the steady increase in Chinese citizens’ use of Twitter over VPNs has worried Beijing over the past two years. Now, we have learned about Beijing’s mission to monitor Twitter and Facebook for anti-CCP content.
the New York Times revealed the existence of sophisticated software used by Beijing to track comments from a Chinese student in Australia. Chinese police summoned the student’s father, videotaped him, and shared it with the NYT. Just posting a message like “I stand with Hong Kong” as a Chinese citizen might get you into trouble.
Another related investigation speak Washington post confirmed the existence of software to collect national data and “collect data on foreign targets from sources such as Twitter, Facebook and other Western social media”. the Washington post analyzed tenders that show the development of a network of state media entities developing opinion monitoring systems for the Chinese state.
managed by the Chinese state World Time Online won a three year Contract valued at $ 531,000 to provide a “China-related Foreign Media and Journalists Opinion Monitoring System.”
“Now we can better understand the underground network of anti-China personnel,” analyst working in Beijing-based opinion monitoring unit Recount the Washington post.
The implication for anyone on Twitter, Facebook, or any platform is that Big Brother in Beijing is watching you.
Meanwhile, Elon Musk’s “brotherly” romance with Beijing has been in the news lately. Musk even has noted that “maybe I am partly Chinese”.
Beijing last week complained to the United Nations space agency that Elon Musk’s Starlink satellites were on a collision course with the Chinese space station.
Also read: Historic Chinese resolution whitewashes Mao’s legacy, puts Xi Jinping center stage
What you need to read this week
And then there were five – David Bandurski
China’s reformist generation adapts to middle-class life – Peter Hessler
For this week, Chinascope recommends listen to a podcast episode with Damien Ma of Marco Polo on the forecast for the real estate market in China and things you might want to watch before the 20th National Party Congress later this year.
The author is a freelance columnist and journalist. He is currently pursuing an MA in China-focused International Politics at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) at the University of London. He was previously a Chinese media reporter for the BBC World Service. He tweets @aadilbrar. Opinions are personal.
This is a weekly roundup that Aadil Brar writes on what’s hot in China. This will soon be available as a subscriber-only product.
(Edited by Srinjoy Dey)