Economic Weakness - Factional Divisions - The Modi-Xi Equation - CAC Guidelines for Minors - EU-Japan Summit - US-ASEAN Summit - Bilawal-Wang Yi Chat
I. Zero-Covid, Factional Politics & the Economy
by Manoj Kewalramani
It’s been an interesting week for anyone watching the Chinese economy. For some time now, there has been a big debate about the government prioritising the zero-COVID policy over the economy. And while I don’t think that zero-COVID is going away anytime soon, there’s clearly some serious policy and factional contestation that’s going on.
On Friday, there was a 仲音 article in the People’s, which said that the improving COVID situation in Shanghai is “a strong confirmation of the scientificity and effectiveness of ‘dynamic clearing’, and a strong refutation of the ‘lying flat’ argument.” It further argues that some countries choose to let go of prevention and control because they could not identify an ideal strategy to control the pandemic. Coupled with complex factors such as a slowing economy and a fatigue mentality, ‘lying flat’ was actually a choice made out of helplessness.”
The article had this to say on the economy.
“From the economic point of view, taking strict measures to prevent and control the fierce epidemic will inevitably have a certain temporary impact on the economic and social development. However, it must be recognised that only when the epidemic is effectively controlled can economic development and normal life have favourable conditions; the sooner the epidemic is controlled, the lesser will be the impact on economic development. We should see with confidence that the epidemic prevention and control in China has a good cost-benefit ratio. In 2020, it was precisely because China took the lead in controlling the epidemic and resuming production that China became the first major economy to turn negative economic growth into positive growth. In 2021, China's economy grew by 8.1% year on year, with an average growth of 5.1% over the past two years. China's economic development and epidemic prevention and control remain the world's leaders; In the first quarter of this year, China's GDP grew by 4.8% year-on-year, 0.8 percentage points higher than that of the fourth quarter of last year. The economy got off to a stable start on the whole. This irrefutably proves that effective epidemic prevention and control is a strong guarantee for economic development, and solid epidemic prevention and control results can create a stable and safe development environment for economic growth. If we choose to ‘lie down’, the epidemic is bound to have a severe impact on economic and social development, and is bound to cause greater losses.” 从经济角度而言，对凶猛疫情采取严格防控措施，难免会对经济社会发展造成一定的暂时影响。但必须认识到，只有疫情被有效控制住，经济发展和正常生活才能具备有利条件；疫情越早得到控制，经济发展所受影响就越小。我们应该自信地看到，我国疫情防控有良好的成本效益比。2020年，正因为我国在世界上“率先控制疫情”“率先复工复产”，才最终在主要经济体中“率先实现经济增长由负转正”；2021年，我国经济同比增长8.1%，两年平均增长5.1%，经济发展和疫情防控保持全球领先地位；今年一季度，我国国内生产总值同比增长4.8%，增速高于上年四季度0.8个百分点，经济运行总体实现平稳开局。这无可辩驳地证明，有效的疫情防控是经济发展的有力保障，稳固的防疫成果可以为经济增长营造稳定安全的发展环境。选择“躺平”，疫情势必会对经济社会发展产生严重冲击，势必会造成更大的损失.
At the same time, there’s this excellent report by Lingling Wei in WSJ. She writes about Li Keqiang “helping press China’s authoritarian leader to dial back some measures that steered the country away from Western-style capitalism and contributed to China’s economic slowdown, according to government officials and advisers close to decision-making. Under Mr. Li’s influence, those people said, Beijing recently eased a regulatory crackdown on private technology firms, loosened lending to property developers and home buyers, and acted to help some manufacturers resume production when much of China has been forced into lockdowns by Mr. Xi’s zero-Covid approach. Mr. Li, 66 years old, is also trying to influence the selection of his replacement when he steps down as premier in less than a year, said the people close to decision-making. His goal is another premier who would be a counterweight to Mr. Xi as he consolidates power to rule for at least another five years, the people said.”
Towards the end, the report adds: “Mr. Xi’s desired candidate for the next premier, Li Qiang, Shanghai’s party secretary, is being criticized by some inside the party for his handling of Covid-19 outbreaks in the city, where lockdowns led to widespread anger. Candidates supported by Premier Li may be gaining ground, people familiar with decision-making said. They include Wang Yang, who heads China’s top government-advisory body, and Hu Chunhua, a current vice premier in charge of trade and foreign investment. Both held roles in the Communist Youth League.”
On the bit about factional contestation, I would also recommend this FT article: Shanghai lockdown tests Xi Jinping’s loyalties in China’s Communist party:
“More and more voices are rising in Shanghai and inside the party, especially coming from [vice-premier] Han Zheng, asking Xi to force Li to step down,” said Alex Payette, chief executive of Cercius Group, a consultancy that specialises in elite Chinese politics. Han is a politburo standing committee member and is considered a rival to the Shanghai party secretary to replace Li Keqiang as premier next year. Payette believed Li’s ousting would cause “an earthquake” inside the party, disrupting a delicate system of alliances just ahead of a twice-a-decade party congress in November, when Xi’s third term is expected to be announced and the new politburo line-up unveiled. “If Xi were to sacrifice Li, the message sent to his other allies [and current politburo members] like Chen Min’er, Ding Xuexiang and Cai Qi is that no one is safe and untouchable. . .We expect Xi to bargain with other factions inside the party to keep Li in play, despite the ongoing Shanghai fiasco — though the same cannot be said for Gong (Zheng, mayor of Shanghai)” Payette added.
Amid this, economic data is rather negative.
China’s exports in dollar terms grew 3.9% in April from a year earlier, dropping sharply from the 14.7% growth reported in March although slightly better than analysts' forecast of 3.2%. It was the slowest pace since June 2020. Also, the RMB appears to be weakening.
SCMP reports that in the onshore market, the yuan closed on Friday at 6.7863 per US dollar, after hitting a 19-month low of 6.8110 in midday trading. A weaker yuan has led to capital outflows against a backdrop of a slowing economy, coronavirus disruptions and an aggressive US Federal Reserve interest rate policy.
WSJ reports that “car sales in China have collapsed, hitting auto makers including BMW maker Bayerische Motoren Werke AG, Volkswagen AG and Tesla Inc. Tesla sold just 1,512 cars made at its Shanghai plant in April, down 98% from the more than 65,000 it sold in March, according to data released Tuesday by the China Passenger Car Association. Toyota Motor Corp. on Tuesday apologized for repeatedly missing its production plans, in part because of lockdowns in China, saying it expects to churn out 700,000 vehicles in May rather than the 750,000 it previously expected.” Also, “Apple said recently that lockdowns in China could cost the company between $4 billion and $8 billion in lost sales due to supply-chain problems. General Electric said its healthcare division was facing production and delivery problems because of the lockdowns.”
Reuters reports that new bank lending in China hit the lowest in nearly four and half years in April. Chinese banks extended 645.4 billion yuan ($95.14 billion) in new yuan loans in April, down about 80% from March and dipping to the lowest level since December 2017, according to the People’s Bank of China data.
Surveys of foreign enterprises have shown that a sharp negative sentiment is on the rise. SCMP reports that according to a survey by the German Chamber of Commerce in China released on Thursday, 28 per cent of foreign employees from surveyed companies were planning to leave China before or upon the expiration of their current contracts, due to coronavirus-related measures. And the chamber’s overall survey results, compiled from May 6-8 and involving 460 firms, reinforced the findings of those by other business groups, after the European Chamber of Commerce in China found that 23 per cent of companies polled were considering shifting their current or planned investments out of the country due to Covid-19 controls. And a survey by the American Chamber of Commerce in China also showed that more than half of respondents had already either delayed or decreased their investments.” This is useful data to note: “Foreign-invested enterprises are still responsible for creating around 40 per cent of trade, one-sixth of tax revenue and around 10 per cent of urban jobs in China – while accounting for a mere 2 per cent share of all companies in China, according to official figures.”
On the positive side, Foreign direct investment into the Chinese mainland expanded 20.5% year on year to 478.61 billion yuan in the first four months of the year. In U.S. dollar terms, the inflow went up 26.1% year on year to 74.47 billion dollars. Also, IMF data informsChina accounted for over 18.1% of the global economy in 2021. The US accounts for 23.9% and all EU members combined account for 17.8%. Also, importantly, more than 4,400 of Shanghai’s 9,000 key industrial enterprises have returned to work, according to Wu Jincheng, director of the Shanghai Municipal Commission of Economy and Information. Shanghai’s deputy mayor Wu Qing said on Friday that the city is aiming to achieve social zero “in the middle of this month.” May 20th is the date to watch out in this context.
Beijing, meanwhile, appears to be in a quasi lockdown.
Amid all this, the messaging from the central leadership is also interesting to note. On one hand, there was a massive piece in the People’s Daily on Friday, which basically made the point that things aren’t really that bad when it comes to the Chinese economy. You can read my full breakdown of the piece here in my daily tracker.
TLDR for the piece: Think of the long-term impact of not adhering to zero-COVID; the long-term trend of China’s economic growth remains strong, this current crisis is a stress test for the Chinese economy and industrial and supply chains; we’ve had worse in the past and we’ve done well through those crises; persistence is victory, China is still in a period of strategic opportunities; & finally, trust Xi, he knows best.
On the other hand, at the weekly State Council meeting, Li Keqiang called for the adoption of fiscal and monetary policies that prioritise job creation. Yu Jiadong, vice minister of human resources and social security, argued that in the first four months, 4.06 million new jobs were created in cities and towns. But Yu spoke about the need for greater support for enterprises through fee reductions, deferred payment options and subsidies to keep employment up, particularly for key groups: college graduates and migrant workers. Sheng Laiyun, deputy chief of the National Bureau of Statistics, says that the current COVID-19 outbreaks have had a “huge impact on China’s economy.” But he added: “Although the epidemic has had a greater impact on production and life in some areas, in general, its impact is periodic, short-term, and extrinsic. With the gradual emergence of the policy effect of efficiently coordinating epidemic prevention and control and economic and social development, the impact of the epidemic is expected to gradually weaken.”
II. India-China Ties
by Shrey Khanna
On May 12, General Manoj Pande, Chief of Army Staff made his maiden visit to Ladakh after assuming the reins of the Indian Army. The press release by the Ministry of Defence stated that:
“The Army Chief was briefed on the security situation along the borders with special focus on Eastern Ladakh. The high level of operational readiness being maintained by the forces while maintaining a high tempo of capability development was highlighted.”
The press release also informed that:
“During his three-day visit to Ladakh, General Manoj Pande, Chief of Army Staff will visit forward areas in Eastern Ladakh and interact with troops deployed along the Line of Actual Control in the most difficult and inhospitable terrain in the world.”
On May 9, in his interaction with a group of journalists at the Army headquarters in Delhi, General Pande had stated that the ongoing standoff with China was his “utmost concern”.
He argued that:
“The basic issue remains the resolution of the border. What we see is that China’s intent has been to keep the border issue alive. What we need as a country is a whole of nation approach and in the military domain, this is to prevent and counter any attempt to alter the status quo at the LAC.”
On May 8, the Indian Defence Minister Rajnath Singh addressed the Border Roads Organisation (BRO) on its 63rd Raising Day. In his speech, he asked the BRO to enhance its capability with the latest technology for faster development of infrastructure on the border with China.
“The Chinese presence has increased in the northern sector in the recent past. They managed to reach different places quickly. The BRO must continue to work in parallel and focus on increasing their capability with full use of technology.”
He also mentioned the recent announcement of an increase in the capital budget of BRO by 40 per cent to ₹ 3,500 crore in Financial Year 2022-23.
On May 14, Singh addressed a group of intellectuals in an event where he contended that India had sent out a strong message to China amid the Ladakh standoff.
He said that “We are not concerned about the ‘parinaam’ (consequences), but we will never compromise on our ‘swabhimaan’ (self-respect)”, reported The Times of India.
On May 10, the Director of National Intelligence, Avril Haines, presented the annual threat assessment of the US intelligence community to the Senate Armed Services Committee. The assessment noted that:
“Relations between New Delhi and Beijing will remain strained in the wake of the lethal clash in 2020, the most serious in decades. We assess that the expanded military postures by both India and China along the disputed border elevates the risk of armed confrontation between two nuclear powers that might involve direct threats to U.S. persons and interests and calls for U.S. intervention. Previous standoffs have demonstrated that persistent low-level friction on the Line of Actual Control (LAC) has the potential to escalate swiftly.”
On May 11, a new book titled ‘Modi@20: Dreams Meet Delivery’ was launched in New Delhi to celebrate PM Modi’s 20 years in leadership positions – first as a Chief Minister in Gujarat and then as India’s Prime Minister. In the chapters by National Security Advisor Ajit Doval, the books deals with India-China relations under Prime Minister Modi. The Indian Express produced an excerpt of the same highlighting how PM Modi’s personal equation with Xi resolved many crises.
During the 2017 Doklam standoff, Doval said, India showed resolve both during the standoff and in post-conflict negotiations. He also narrated an incident of Modi walking up to Xi to talk about the issue on the sidelines of G-20 summit.
“After all other options had been exhausted, PM Modi personally took it up with President Xi. PM Modi showed statesmanship when he walked up to President Xi on the sidelines of the G-20 meeting in Germany for an informal meeting. I was an eyewitness to this most dramatic interaction between the two leaders, when they agreed to find an immediate solution. Eventually, after a series of negotiations, the deadlock was resolved. It would not have been possible without the Prime Minister’s direct action”.
Even during the September 2014 standoff in Chumar in Ladakh, Doval said, Modi again used the opportunity of Xi’s visit to India to resolve the issue.
“During the standoff, the Prime Minister seized the opportunity of President Xi Jinping’s visit to India that month. During an informal tete-a-tete with President Xi in Ahmedabad, he was able to convince him about the need to ensure the unconditional and immediate withdrawal of Chinese troops. He did not bank solely on conventional diplomatic or military-to-military engagement. The Indian reaction at a time when the Chinese President was in India, highlighted the Prime Minister’s political resolve to stand firm on issues of national importance.”
On the 2020 clash with the PLA, Doval said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi approved the use of force with alacrity, and such actions to safeguard national interest would be taken in future as well.
“In contravention to all existing border management agreements, inimical forces in the shadow of a pandemic, endeavoured to challenge some of our major interests, which required a proportionate use of force. That use of force was approved with alacrity at the topmost level. It authorized freedom of action at the lowest tactical level. The leadership and troops showed the will to resist unilateral actions. Thus, during this crisis, while we have reacted in a particular manner, there were other options. Some were exercised and some more will be exercised, if vital and major interests of the country are at stake”.
Last month, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) seized Rs 5,551.27 crore ($ 725 million) from the bank accounts of mobile manufacturing company Xiaomi Technology India due to the violations of the provisions of the Foreign Exchange Management Act, 1999. Subsequently, the company’s top officials alleged coercion by the Indian agency.
In response to a question about Xiaomi’s allegations of Indian intimidation of the company’s executives, Zhao Lijian stated in his regular press conference on May 9 that:
“The Chinese side is closely monitoring the matter. The Chinese government always asks Chinese companies overseas to operate in accordance with laws and regulations. In the meantime, we firmly support Chinese companies in protecting their lawful rights and interests. We hope the Indian side can provide a fair, just and non-discriminatory business environment for Chinese companies making investment and operating in the country, and conduct investigation and law enforcement in accordance with laws and regulations so as to beef up the international community’s confidence in investment.”
III. CAC Guidelines to Protect Minors
by Megha Pardhi
Last week, the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) jointly with the Central Civilization Office (Ministry of Culture and Tourism) floated guidelines to protect minors from 'online tipping' and live streaming in cyberspace. CAC has taken this step to protect the physical and mental health of minors. Guidelines are primarily based on "Internet Security Law of the People's Republic of China" and "The Law of the People's Republic of China on the Protection of Minors."
A summary of guidelines is given below:
Minors are not allowed to participate in live broadcast rewards (禁止未成年人参与直播打赏).
Platforms have to implement a real-name registration system. This means that platforms have to verify the real names of the accounts being created.
Platforms have to prohibit the use of the provision of various reward services such as cash recharge, "gift" purchases, and online payment for minors.
Strictly control minors from engaging in streaming (严控未成年人从事主播).
Teens under 16 years of age cannot do live streaming.
Teens between 16 to 18 years of age will have to obtain the consent of their guardians to do streaming.
The use of "internet celebrity children" ("网红儿童") to make money should be supervised.
Platforms will be held responsible for illegal accounts and their actions.
Optimize and upgrade "Teen Mode" (优化升级"青少年模式").
Big tech should optimize and improve their "Teen Mode" (also called youth mode)
Platforms are prohibited from providing "star chasing" ("追星") services in any form.
Platforms should have a strict content review and control process and should have a special review team proportional to the scale of the platform.
Establish a dedicated service team ( 建立专门服务团队).
Platforms should establish an exclusive customer service team for minors to handle complaints and disputes.
Standardize the application of key functions (规范重点功能应用).
Design and functionality to give gifts and increase youth engagement should be standardized.
'Reward amount' should not be the only criteria for launching new functionalities and applications.
Strengthen the management of peak hours (加强高峰时段管理).
Platforms are required to shut down "Teem Mode" user activities after 10pm. This is required so that youth can get enough rest.
During the daily peak hours of the website platform, the number of "Lianmai PK" ("连麦PK") in the live broadcast room of a single account shall not exceed 2 times and there should be no "PK Penalty" ("连麦PK").
Strengthen network literacy education (加强网络素养教育).
Behind the Scenes
Qinglang (清朗): These regulations are part of the Chinese government's "Qinglang" (清朗) series of efforts to clean the internet and reduce chaos in cyberspace. CAC launched Qinglang series of regulations and guidelines to regulate 'fandom' (饭圈 Fàn quān) culture and similar 'idol' culture in cyberspace. The goal of the Qinglang campaign, which means 'clear and bright, is to make the internet a clean environment for a young audience. In August 2021, CAC released a detailed version of the guidelines to curb fandom culture.
Teen Mode/ Youth Mode (青少年模式 Qīngshàonián móshì): This is part of the Chinese government's effort to regulate the online behavior of teenagers and youth in China. This 'anti-addiction' model was introduced by the State Internet Information Office in March 2019. After CAC released guidelines, more than 50 major online social platforms implemented the "Teen Mode" in their applications. Read more about this here.
Why Regulations and Guidelines?
Internet 'idol' culture and the popularity of live streaming have worried China's government and party leaders. Many of these are related to the entertainment industry in China. The toxic 'fandom' culture has become a den of harmful and sometimes illegal activities. Trolling, cyberbullying, cyber sleuthing, slander, excessive or harmful 'gift-giving addiction, etc. have become commonplace. Such popular culture has also contributed to toxic cyberspace and virtual social divisions in cyberspace.
'Idols' or internet celebrities also have a lot of influence. In May 2021, a viral trend in China was heavily criticized for wasting milk. Youth With You 3, a popular talent show in China advertised that fans can support their favorites from the show by buying milk and scanning the QR code inside the bottle caps. This led to the viral trend of people buying milk and scanning QR codes and then dumping milk in drains.
Similarly, fandom culture has grown into an economic impact sector. Many brands use this power of fandoms to drive sales of their products. As reported by Brookings, iResearch Consulting Group estimated
the market value of the fan economy in China at close to $620 billion in 2019. According to iResearch Consulting Group, China's fan economy would grow a further 50 percent by 2023.
Lastly, fandoms have become an effective organizing force. For example, a fandom alliance known as '666 Alliance' arranged medical supplies worth millions of yuan after the Wuhan COIVD-19 outbreak was made official.
IV. The Long & Short of It…
by Manoj Kewalramani
a. Xi Jinping’s CYL Speech:
One of the big political stories in China this week was Xi Jinping’s address to the Communist Youth League on its 100th anniversary. The CYL comprises young Chinese nationals generally aged between 14 and 28. It has more than 73.1 million members. SCMP informs that at its peak in the late 2000s, around a quarter of all Chinese nationals in the age group were youth league members. You can read my full breakdown of the speech here, or access the English version of the speech here. My TLDR was:
The speech basically reiterates some major points about the kind of cadres that Xi desires. They must be true believers in the ideals of communism and Marxism; Party membership should not be seen as a pathway to wealth and power, cadres must be prepared for a difficult life; the doorway into the Party will be tightly guarded, with politics and ideology being key parameters for assessing cadres’ qualities; finally, while the youth in the new era have it better than their predecessors, struggle is unending – so, don’t expect an easy life.
b. US-ASEAN Summit:
Ahead of the US President hosting ASEAN leaders for a two-day summit at the White House, Beijing began to pushback against the concept of the Indo-Pacific. For instance, a long piece on the People’s Daily’s international page argued that
“Recently, the United States has been making moves to woo regional countries and provoke divisions and confrontation. There are indications that the United States is trying to push the ‘Indo-Pacific strategy’ and engage in the so-called ‘Indo-Pacific version of NATO’ to provoke camp confrontation and create tensions in the Asia-Pacific region and even the world, so as to achieve the strategic goal of maintaining its hegemonic position. The Asia-Pacific is a hotspot for cooperation and development, and should not become a geopolitical chess board. Chinese and foreign experts and scholars pointed out that the United States is sticking to the Cold War mentality, playing a geopolitical game in the name of promoting regional cooperation, undermining the ASEAN-centred regional cooperation architecture and harming the overall and long-term interests of countries in the region. Countries in the region should consciously reject the ‘clique/small circle’ (小圈子) mentality left over from the Cold War, work together to build a ‘big stage’ (大舞台) for Asia-Pacific cooperation, and uphold the hard-won momentum of peace and development in the region.”
At the summit, Biden announced (Joint Statement & State Department Fact Sheet) over $150 million in initiatives across the region. This includes “$40 million in order to mobilize $2 billion in blended financing for clean energy infrastructure in Southeast Asia,” $6 million for digital development, and $60 million in new regional maritime initiatives, most of which will be led by the U.S. Coast Guard. The US Coast Guard will also send an attaché to the US mission to ASEAN, and work with the State Department on new initiatives to fight illegal fishing activities. USAID will be given US$10 million to fight Covid-19 and airborne diseases in the region.
SCMP’s story on the summit has this quote from an unidentified US official. “We are not asking countries to make a choice between the US and China,” a senior administration official said before the summit began. “We want to expand areas of cooperation … we need to be responsive to the desires of countries in the region.”
The Chinese foreign ministry’s response to a question about the summit was interesting. Zhao Lijian listed details of Beijing’s economic engagement with the region. And then he said this:
“Our cooperation is rooted in the shared need for deepening good neighborliness and enhancing mutually beneficial cooperation and focused on maintaining regional stability. China and ASEAN do not seek zero-sum games or push for bloc confrontation. China welcomes all cooperation initiatives as long as they can promote long-term and sustainable development and common prosperity in the region. You may ask the US side whether the relevant initiatives are aimed at countering China. On my part, I want to say that both China and the US are Asia-Pacific countries. There is no reason why we cannot share regional friends. It is important to heed the call of regional countries to maintain peace, deepen cooperation and seek common development, and uphold the principles of mutual respect and win-win cooperation. It is necessary that we bear in mind the common and long-term interests of the region, play a positive and constructive part in regional peace, stability and development and do more concrete things for regional cooperation in Asia-Pacific with a healthy mindset and constructive approach.”
c. EU-Japan Summit
Another key summit that was held this week was between the European Union and Japan. Among many other things, the joint statement after the summit said:
“We remain seriously concerned about the situation in the East China Sea, including in the waters surrounding the Senkaku islands, and South China Sea and strongly oppose any unilateral attempts to change the status quo and increase tensions that could undermine regional stability and the international rules-based order. We express serious concern about reports of militarisation, coercion and intimidation in the South China Sea…We underscore the importance of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait, and encourage the peaceful resolution of cross-Strait issues. We will deepen our exchanges on China, notably with regard to political, economic and security dynamics, including on the situation in Hong Kong as well as on human rights, including in Xinjiang. We will continue our close coordination as regards Russia.”
“We emphasise our determination to strengthen cooperation in promoting economic security. We will strengthen the resilience of our economies in the field of critical infrastructure and supply chain resilience, as well as cyber security, and export. We emphasise that the design, development, governance, and use of technology must be guided by democratic values and respect for international law and universal human rights and that technology should not be misused or abused for activities to threaten human rights such as authoritarian surveillance and oppression. We also stress the importance of an open and competitive marketplace in the supply of ICT technology and services as well as a secure, diversified and resilient telecommunication infrastructure, such as 5G and beyond 5G. We will strengthen the EU-Japan dialogue on economic resilience to address or mitigate the risk of excessive dependencies, share best practices to address risks to critical global supply chains, in areas such as semi-conductors and raw materials, and to secure critical infrastructure.”
Beijing responded with anger. “Japan and the EU hyped up China-related issues at the meeting to smear and denigrate China, interfere in China’s internal affairs and stoke regional confrontation. China firmly rejects this and has lodged solemn representation with parties concerned,” said Zhao Lijian.
d. Bilawal-Wang Yi Chat:
The foreign ministers of Pakistan and China had a video conversation this week. Xinhua reported:
“‘China will, as always, firmly support Pakistan in safeguarding national sovereignty, security and dignity and in its commitment to national development and rejuvenation," Wang said, adding that China believes that Pakistan will also firmly stand with China on all issues concerning China’s core interests. Bilawal said he was glad to have his first official bilateral activity since taking office as meeting with Chinese foreign minister. Bilawal said that both the ruling and opposition parties in Pakistan firmly support the bilateral friendship, which is the consensus shared by Pakistani people. Pakistan firmly upholds the one-China policy and supports China's positions on issues related to Taiwan, Xinjiang, Tibet and the South China Sea. And Pakistan fully supports the Belt and Road Initiative, especially the construction of the Pakistan-China Economic Corridor. The two sides also exchanged views on the safety of Chinese citizens and institutions in Pakistan.”
On the recent terror attack in Karachi, Wang said: “The pressing task is to speed up the investigation of the perpetrators and punish them as soon as possible. We should take targeted measures to improve security protection for Chinese personnel, institutions and projects in Pakistan, give timely security warnings, and plug security loopholes so as to prevent similar incidents from happening again.”
Bilawal is later reported to have said that “Pakistan is ready to strengthen cooperation with China to enhance its counter-terrorism capability and ensure the safety of all Chinese citizens in Pakistan.”
China Economic and Security Review Commission: Hearing on China’s Activities and Influence in South and Central Asia - Great resource. I am still reading through these.