China has a fundamental gender problem.
1. China forced millions of people into lockdown and closed big cities yesterday after the number of coronavirus cases tripled in 24 hours, marking the country’s worst day since the original Wuhan outbreak. The country recorded nearly 3,400 new community infections, forcing lockdowns on virus hotspots including Shenzhen, where 17 million residents were prohibited from leaving the city before being tested, after the discovery of 60 cases. A nationwide surge in cases has forced authorities to close schools in Shanghai and lock down several northeastern cities, as almost 19 provinces fight to control clusters of the Omicron and Delta variants. The city of Jilin has been partially locked down, with hundreds of neighborhoods sealed up, while Yanji, an urban area of nearly 700,000 bordering North Korea, was fully closed off. (Source: thetimes.co.uk, italics mine)
2. Chinese stocks listed in Hong Kong had their worst day since the global financial crisis, as concerns over Beijing’s close relationship with Russia and renewed regulatory risks sparked panic selling. The Hang Seng China Enterprises Index closed down 7.2% on Monday, the biggest drop since November 2008. The Hang Sang Tech Index tumbled 11% in its worst decline since the gauge was launched in July 2020, wiping out $2.1 trillion in value since a year-earlier peak. The broad selling follows a report citing U.S. officials that Russia has asked China for military assistance for its war in Ukraine. Even as Chinese authorities denied the report, traders still worry that Beijing’s potential overture toward Vladimir Putin could bring a global backlash against Chinese firms, even sanctions. (Source: bloomberg.com)
3. Russia asked China to give it military equipment and support for the war in Ukraine after Russian President Vladimir Putin began a full-scale invasion last month, according to U.S. officials. Russia has also asked China for additional economic assistance, to help counteract the battering its economy has taken from broad sanctions imposed by the United States and European and Asian nations, according to an official. U.S. officials, determined to keep secret their means of collecting the intelligence on Russia’s requests, declined to describe further the kind of military weapons or aid that Moscow is seeking. Chinese President Xi Jinping has strengthened a partnership with Putin and has stood by him as Russia has stepped up its military campaign, destroying cities in Ukraine and killing hundreds or thousands of civilians. (Source: nytimes.com/japantimes.co.jp)
4. Jake Sullivan, the US national security adviser, will travel to Rome today to meet Yang Jiechi, China’s top foreign policy official, in talks that are expected to focus on the war in Ukraine, the highest level US-China face-to-face meeting since the Russian invasion began. The White House said Sullivan would lead a delegation of National Security Council and state department officials for what would be only his third meeting with Yang since the Biden administration took office in January last year. “This meeting is taking place in the context of Russia’s unjustified and brutal war against Ukraine and as China has aligned itself with Russia to advance their own vision of the world order,” said one person familiar with the agenda, adding that they would discuss the impact of the Russian invasion on “regional and global security.” (Source: ft.com)
5. Yesterday, I distributed a News Items note that quoted extensively from an important article written by Hu Wei, vice-chairman of the public policy research centre in the Chinese State Council. Today, Eurointelligence takes issue with Mr. Hu’s analysis:
Hu seems confident that Putin will lose the war and be displaced. We are not sure on this point either. We don't think this war will end in victory or defeat by either side, but in exhaustion. We see the damage done by continued Russian shelling and the ongoing siege of cities like Mariupol. Our central scenario is that this war will go on for a while and that Putin and Volodymyr Zelensky will eventually reach a settlement that includes the partial de-militarization of Ukraine, with UN troops on the ground to secure Ukraine's security, and a form of devolution for the Russian-speaking parts of Ukraine. A big obstacle we see is that Putin's potential demand of an immediate reversal of all western sanctions. It is not hard to see a situation where the west, in its eagerness to get rid of Putin, becomes the obstacle in a peace agreement.
In the scenario where Putin gets a deal good enough for him to end the war, the situation for China would be different than the one outlined by Hu. Until there is clarity on that matter, we expect China to sit on the fence. If Putin survives, we see China forging closer ties with Russia, and building a series of strategic alliances in opposition to the west. (Sources: uscnpm.org, eurointelligence.com)
6. The war in Ukraine moved to the frontiers of the European Union and Nato yesterday when Russia bombed a military base used by western volunteers less than 15 miles from the Polish border. A volley of missiles hit the facility in the town of Yavoriv, between the border and the city of Lviv in western Ukraine. The blasts at the International Peacekeeping and Security Centre were heard for miles around, shaking windows and lighting up the pre-dawn sky. The Ukrainian authorities said that 35 people had been killed, although they denied Russian reports that among them were members of the “foreign legion” of international recruits that include British, American and other western volunteers. The Russians said the attack had killed up to 180 “foreign mercenaries.” (Source: thetimes.co.uk)
(Zelenskey visits a military hospital. Photo credit: Reuters.)
7. Niall Ferguson: “I don't think Putin is mad. I think power has corrupted him. And it has also distanced him from reality. He clearly underestimated the Ukrainian resistance, and he clearly underestimated the risk to the Russian economy. These are miscalculations, not signs of madness. They're the kind of miscalculations you make if you are very divorced from reality, because you lead the life of a czar, in vast -- if hideous -- palaces, surrounded by people who are terrified of you and tell you what they think you want to hear. If I put myself in Putin's position, I don't think he's trying to resurrect the Soviet Union. He's looking back even further and trying to bring back the Russian Empire, with himself as "Czar Vladimir." It's an ideology of conservative, orthodox nationalism that Putin offers, that has nothing to do with the Soviet legacy. (Source: niallferguson.com, asia.nikkei.com)
Keep reading with a 7-day free trial
Subscribe to News Items to keep reading this post and get 7 days of free access to the full post archives.