This week in China news…
China celebrated the 50th anniversary of the establishment of the Tibetan Autonomous Region on September 8 (one week after the official founding of the TAR). Yu Zhengsheng, chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, gave the keynote speech at the celebration, which he used to celebrate Chinese Communist Party leadership and to warn against Tibetan separatism.
“Only by sticking to the CPC’s leadership and the ethnic autonomy system, can Tibetans be their own masters and enjoy a sustainable economic development and long-term stability,” the CCP Central Committee said in a written message read at the celebration.
Meanwhile, Yu vowed that China would “intensify the fight against separatism” – particularly “the sabotage attempts of the Dalai Lama clique.” Yu told China’s army, police, and judiciary to be ready for a “protracted battle” (in Xinhua’s words) against the Tibetan religious figure and his followers.
In other China domestic news, the National Development and Reform Commission just approved three new railway projects with a total worth of $22 billion, People’s Daily reports. The new railways continue the trend of investing in China’s underdeveloped heartland: two of the new lines will be in Yunnan province, on the China-Myanmar border, while the other will link Chongqing, the largest city in central China, with Henan and Hubei provinces.
Earlier this week, I noted that China’s decision to cut 300,000 troops from the PLA heralds a new round of military modernization. Kevin McCauley, writing for the Jamestown Foundation’s China Brief, takes in-depth look at what that means – from the history of China’s military reform and modernization efforts to an analysis of what the next steps might look like. The big take-away: the troop cut likely means China is getting ready to create joint theater commands at long last.
Speaking of military affairs — China, Australia, and the United States held their second trilateral exercise this week, Xinhua reports. Dubbed Kowari 15, the exercises saw 10 soldiers from each country head into the Australian brush for survival training. Commanders spoke of the value of the exercises in building friendship and trust among the soldiers.
Nikkei Asian Review has an overview of the shifting diplomatic dynamics among Southeast Asian countries, some of which are edging away from China – and toward the United States – due to growing concerns over China’s actions in the region. The article includes a graphic placing the 10 ASEAN member states on an axis based on their relationship with China: Laos, Cambodia, and Myanmar are China’s closest partners, with Vietnam and the Philippines on the other end of the scale.