- 16th Round of Military Talks on LAC
- Virtual BRICS Summit
- EAM Jaishankar holds talks with Chinese FM Wang Yi
- PM greets HHDL on his birthday
- Chinese companies in India in the cross-hairs of the Enforcement Directorate
- Xi Jinping visits HK as it marks its 25th Anniversary of return to China
- Former Japanese PM Shinzo Abe is assassinated
- South Korea mulls joining US-led semiconductor alliance
- South Korean Won at 13-year low against US Dollar
- North Korea recognizes breakaway republics of Donetsk and Luhansk
- US Navy destroyer patrols Taiwan Straits
- Former US Defense Secretary visits Taiwan
- New HK Chief Executive sworn in
- Hong Kong marks 25th anniversary under return to Chinese rule
II Developments in China
16th Round of Military Talks on LAC
The 16th round of talks about the situation in Eastern Ladakh was held between the Indian Army and the PLA on 17 July 2022. All indications are that the talks did not result in much progress in disengaging forces of the two sides where they are still in close proximity. On the larger issue of de-escalation of forces, it appears that the Chinese side does not intend to do so at all.
Virtual BRICS Summit
The 14th BRICS Summit was held virtually on 23-24 June 2022. The host was China’s President Xi Jinping. PM Modi led India’s participation at the Summit. He called for strengthening of the BRICS identity and proposed the establishment of an Online Database for BRICS documents. The non-BRICS engagement segment of the Summit was held on 24 June 2022. Participating guest countries were Algeria, Argentina, Cambodia, Egypt, Ethiopia, Fiji, Indonesia, Iran, Kazakhstan, Senegal, Uzbekistan, Malaysia and Thailand. PM highlighted India’s development partnership with Africa, Central Asia, SE Asia and the Caribbean. Given the current flux in geopolitics it appears that the salience of BRICS as an inter-governmental organization is reducing. An expansion of BRICS, which is being discussed, will probable make the grouping even less significant.
EAM Jaishankar holds talks with Chinese FM Wang Yi
EAM Dr S Jaishankar held talks with Chinese FM Wang Yi on 7 July 2022 on the sidelines of a G20 Foreign Ministers Meeting at Bali, Indonesia. EAM called for an early resolution of all outstanding issues along the LAC in Eastern Ladakh. He spoke of the need to maintain momentum to complete disengagement from all remaining areas so as to restore peace and tranquility in the border areas. He reaffirmed the importance of abiding by bilateral agreements and protocols. The India – China relationship is best served by observing the 3 mutuals – mutual respect, mutual sensitivity and mutual interests. Contrary to the Indian position as expounded by EAM, China has been insisting on keeping the boundary and the rest of the relationship on separate tracks so that one does not interfere with the other. India has not agreed to this way of viewing matters and as a result there is very little interaction between the two countries.
PM greets HHDL on his birthday
Through his social media platforms, PM Modi made it known that he had greeted HH the Dalai Lama on his birthday on 6 July. This is a move aimed at Beijing to remind them that India does have some important cards to play in the relationship. Very soon thereafter, it became known that the Government of India had allowed HHDL to visit Ladakh, once again a signal of sorts. The reaction from the Chinese Foreign Ministry was immediate that Tibet affairs are the internal matter of China and that Beijing opposes contact between HHDL and foreign officials.
Chinese companies in India in the cross-hairs of the Enforcement Directorate
After Xiaomi, it was the turn of VIVO to be investigated by the Enforcement Directorate of India as pressure was dialed up on these firms. In both cases the ED found some irregularities in operations of the firms. China called for their firms to be treated as per the law of the land without any discriminatory approach. India’s MEA stated that the actions did not have any foreign affairs content.
Xi Jinping visits HK as it marks its 25th Anniversary of return to China
1 July 2022 marked the 25th anniversary of Hong Kong’s return to the mainland which merited a visit by Xi Jinping who was stepping outside the Chinese mainland for the first time since the start of the Wuhan Virus in January 2020. Even as China strongly believes that its current tough policies in HK are correct, there continues to be a steady flow of foreign firms and expatriate nationals out of the Special Administrative Region even as the HK authorities led by its new Chief Executive John Lee continued the crackdown on democracy activists and implemented the national security measures which were recently made valid for the territory.
III Developments in Japan
Former Japanese PM Shinzo Abe is assassinated
Japan and the world was left numb and stunned by the very public assassination of former Japanese PM Shinzo Abe when he was shot at an election rally he was holding in the city of Nara on 8 July 2022. While Abe was rushed to hospital the news of his death was announced a few hours later. The shooter was a 41-year old former navy personnel who was currently unemployed. He made a gun at home which was used in the assassination as guns are not easy to purchase in Japan. He did not flee the scene and has been taken into custody by the police. He stated that he did not like a particular organization of which Abe was a part. Nothing further has been revealed about this organization.
India was very vocal of its distress at this situation with the Government stating that Abe’s immense contributions elevated the India – Japan relationship to the level of a Special Strategic and Global Partnership. The loss of a great friend of India has been felt across the nation. The whole of India mourns with Japan on this sad occasion. India observed one day of national mourning on 9 July 2022. As a special gesture PM Modi penned his thoughts on Shinzo Abe and their very special relationship which appeared in several Indian dailies as an op-ed. Abe had been awarded the Padma Vibhushan for his contributions to the India – Japan partnership.
IV Developments in South Korea
South Korea mulls joining US-led semiconductor alliance
Seoul is mulling joining a US-led semiconductor alliance called the “Chip 4” which appears to be aimed at countering China’s growing influence in global supply chains. Chip 4 was first proposed by Washington in March this year aimed at bringing together chip makers in the United States, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan. While Japan and Taiwan seem to be willing to join, Seoul has been procrastinating due to its strong economic ties with Beijing. China accounts for 40 per cent of South Korea’s chip exports. Korean chip makers Samsung and SK both have plants in China making chips there.
South Korean Won at 13-year low against US Dollar
The Korean Won fell to a 13-year low against the US Dollar with 1 $ fetching 1326.1 Won on 15 July. The 1300 Won level was a psychological barrier which has now been breached. With interest rates rising in the United States, the Won is likely to move even lower. Korean exports grew at their slowest rate in June 2022.
V Developments in North Korea
North Korea recognizes breakaway republics of Donetsk and Luhansk
On 13 July 2022, Pyongyang announced that it was recognizing the independence of the People’s Republic of Donetsk and the People’s Republic of Luhansk, the two parts of Ukraine which Russia has already proclaimed as having been liberated in its special military operations against Kiev. Ukraine immediately announced it was breaking diplomatic ties with North Korea. It is believed by analysts that this step was taken by Pyongyang in an effort to ingratiate itself with Moscow as well as to benefit from the ensuing Russian gratitude.
VI Developments in Taiwan
US Navy destroyer patrols Taiwan Straits
A U.S. Navy guided missile destroyer USS Benfold patrolled through the Taiwan Strait on 19 July passing through international waters in accordance with international law. The US Navy emphasized that the warship’s passage demonstrates US commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific. The Chinese PLA’s Eastern Theatre Command claimed that such frequent provocations by the US demonstrate that it is a “destroyer of peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait”.
Former US Defense Secretary visits Taiwan
Former U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper along with other members of a US think tank Atlantic Council is visiting Taiwan from 19 July onward. They are to meet senior government officials, think tanks and business representatives. They will exchange views on the security situation in the Indo – Pacific and Taiwan’s relations with the United States.
VII Developments in Hong Kong
New HK Chief Executive sworn in
John Lee the new Chief Executive of Hong Kong was sworn in by President Xi Jinping of China on 1 July 2022 at a glittering event at the Convention and Exhibition Centre. 1300 invited guests attended the ceremony. Separately, the Chief Executive also appointed four under secretaries and two political assistants.
Hong Kong marks 25th anniversary under return to Chinese rule
1 July 2022 marked the 25th anniversary of HK’s return to China in 1997. Chinese President Xi Jinping was in the Special Administrative Region to mark this landmark. Recent events have seen a severe crackdown on pro-democracy activities in HK as well as the passage of a new national security law made applicable to the territory which indicates the direction in which HK is headed under Chinese rule. Foreigners and foreign firm are exiting HK in record numbers.