Tanzania: Dual-use ambitions?
It's easy to forget that the eastern coast of Africa is part of the Indian Ocean. With no chokepoints in the way, a naval port in Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique or the Seychelles would greatly enhance any major power's strategic aims in the vital waters.
For China, eager to establish a foothold in the Indian Ocean region, East Africa offers an easier entry point than, say, Myanmar, Sri Lanka or Pakistan, which would immediately invite strong pushback from the region's other heavyweights, such as the U.S., Japan, India and Australia, also known nowadays as the Quad.
Tanzania announced on Saturday that it would revive a $10 billion port project in the town of Bagamoyo with Chinese help, igniting speculation that Beijing seeks an additional dual-use foothold on the East African coast.
If China could have a second Indian Ocean-facing base, after Djibouti, it could ease the so-called Malacca dilemma -- the country's dependence on the world's busiest chokepoint -- and be a game-changer. Ken Moriyasu reports.
After Joe Biden defeated incumbent Donald Trump at the polls last November, 39% of Chinese companies in the U.S. expected better relations between Washington and Beijing, according to a recent survey released by the New York-based China General Chamber of Commerce -- up from 33% in 2020. But Biden's recent crackdown on Chinese companies is testing early optimism that Sino-American relations and business prospects would improve on his watch, Nikkei Asia's Yifan Yu reports.
Tesla has taken another hit in China. Chinese regulators said that the U.S. electric-car builder would "recall" nearly 300,000 China-made and imported Model 3 and Model Y cars for an online software update related to assisted driving, with owners not required to return their vehicles. The State Administration for Market Regulation said the move is linked to an assisted-driving function that drivers can inadvertently activate, causing sudden acceleration.
Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou will appear in a Canadian court this week with her defense lawyers to argue about a set of documents from HSBC that could be key to avoiding extradition to the U.S.
A recent Ministry of National Defense press conference left nobody wondering who the People's Liberation Army serves: The Chinese Communist Party.
The briefing, while focusing on the planned celebrations for the 100th anniversary of the CCP, was also clear about Taiwan and the U.S.: "The complete reunification of China is a historical trend," a spokesperson said. "The great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation is unstoppable. Peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait is a common aspiration of all. 'Taiwan independence' is a dead end. To China, 'Taiwan independence' means war. ... Any attempt to 'seek independence by relying on the United States' is doomed to failure."
There was also a clear demand to Washington: "China is firmly opposed to any form of official exchanges or military contacts between the U.S. and Taiwan."
Meanwhile, Quad members continue to train and build up. Bloomberg reports that India is increasing its army's footprint in a range of the Himalayas disputed with China. The U.S. Naval Institute reports on a "high-tempo" exercise between the U.S. and Indian navies, with further participation by Sri Lankan and Japanese forces expected.
And the Indo-Pacific Command has announced the successful end of joint Exercise Southern Jackaroo, "in the heart of the Australian Outback," between U.S. Marines, Australian Army soldiers, and Japan Ground Self-Defense Force members. The U.S. Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard units, led by Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson, were recently announced to have conducted "integrated operations" off the coast of Hawaii for the past two weeks.
Southeast Asia is trying to stem another COVID-19 wave. Indonesia is in the middle of a record-breaking spike. And Vietnam, which had long kept cases to a minimum, is dealing with its own rise. Both countries are reluctantly relying on China's Sinovac vaccine, which has drawn scrutiny following reports of infections and even deaths among the vaccinated.
The scrutiny could only increase as the Tokyo Olympics draw nearer. Many competing athletes have received the Sinovac vaccine, and the Japanese government has outlined special precautions for athletes from regions plagued by the delta variant. Uncertainty around the games may be one reason U.S. President Joe Biden has decided against attending. But first lady Jill Biden still might go, he confirms.
In July 1921, a dozen or so men gathered in a part of Shanghai under French control and established the Chinese Communist Party. On Thursday, General Secretary Xi Jinping celebrates its centennial in Beijing as the guest of honor and will surely tout his administration's achievements as the party sets its eyes on the next 100 years.
The party has been promoting the celebration in the lead-up with "red tourism" campaigns as well as a museum showcasing Xi as second only to Mao Zedong in its history.
Watch our webinar on whether China will surpass the U.S. as the world's leading superpower here.