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  • Author: Arzan Tarapore
  • Publication Date: 06-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Australian Strategic Policy Institute
  • Abstract: More than a year has passed since Chinese troops began to occupy previously Indian-controlled territory on their disputed border in Ladakh. The crisis has cooled and settled into a stalemate. This report warns that it could escalate again, and flare into a conflict with region-wide implications. The report assesses the risk of conflict by analysing its likelihood and consequences. A possible war would be costly for both India and China. But a possible war could also risk stirring Indian distrust of its new partners, especially in the Quad – Australia, Japan, and the United States. The report outlines some conditions under which a war would disrupt or dampen those developing partnerships. The report concludes by offering a framework for policymakers to shape India’s expectations and the strategic environment before and during a possible war.
  • Topic: Conflict Prevention, Foreign Policy, Defense Policy, National Security, Strategic Planning
  • Political Geography: China, India, Australia, Asia-Pacific
  • Author: Daniel Ward
  • Publication Date: 07-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Australian Strategic Policy Institute
  • Abstract: Country agnosticism, under which Australia’s laws treat all foreign influence efforts in the same way, regardless of their source country, is the key failing of Australia’s statutory response to foreign governments’ influence activities. It has imposed sweeping, unnecessary regulatory costs. It has caused waste of taxpayer-funded enforcement resources. It has diverted those resources from the issues that really matter. And it has brought unnecessary legal complexity. Yet for all that, nobody believes that the laws are truly country agnostic. Not the Australian media, which routinely describe them as ‘aimed at’ China. Nor, presumably, the media’s audience. Nor, certainly, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), which regards itself as the target, explicitly citing the laws as a key grievance. Perhaps the greatest cost of country agnosticism is that the current statutory framework isn’t as effective as it needs to be. Why? In adopting a country-agnostic stance, we blinded ourselves to the very factor that matters most in evaluating and responding to foreign influence—its source country. It’s time to remove the blindfold. We should recognise this basic truth: foreign influence transparency requirements must be more stringent in relation to some source countries than others.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Defense Policy, National Security, Strategic Interests
  • Political Geography: China, Australia, Asia-Pacific
  • Author: Fergus Ryan, Audrey Fritz, Daria Impiombato
  • Publication Date: 06-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Australian Strategic Policy Institute
  • Abstract: Since the launch of ASPI ICPC’s Mapping China’s Technology Giants project in April 2019, the Chinese technology companies we canvassed have gone through a tumultuous period. While most were buoyed by the global Covid-19 pandemic, which stimulated demand for technology services around the world, many were buffeted by an unprecedented onslaught of sanctions from abroad, before being engulfed in a regulatory storm at home. The environment in which the Chinese tech companies are operating has changed radically, as the pandemic sensitised multiple governments, multilateral groups and companies to their own critical supply-chain vulnerabilities. The lessons about national resilience learned from the pandemic are now being applied in many sectors, including the technology sector, where a trend towards decoupling China and the West was already well underway. As the geopolitical rivalry between the US and China has heightened, both sides increasingly see any reliance on the other for strategic commodities, such as rare-earth minerals and semiconductors, as dangerous vulnerabilities.
  • Topic: Science and Technology, Bilateral Relations, Geopolitics, COVID-19, Supply Chains
  • Political Geography: China, Australia
  • Author: Samantha Hoffman, Nathan Attrill
  • Publication Date: 06-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Australian Strategic Policy Institute
  • Abstract: Most of the 27 companies tracked by our Mapping China’s Technology Giants project are heavily involved in the collection and processing of vast quantities of personal and organisational data — everything from personal social media accounts, to smart cities data, to biomedical data. Their business operations—and associated international collaborations — depend on the flow of vast amounts of data, often governed by the data privacy laws of multiple jurisdictions. Currently, however, existing global policy debates and subsequent policy responses concerning security in the digital supply chain miss the bigger picture because they typically prioritise the potential for disruption or malicious alterations of the supply chain. Yet, as we have defined it in this report, digital supply-chain risk starts at the design level (Figure 1). For the People’s Republic of China (PRC), the designer is the Chinese party-state, through expectations and agenda-setting in laws and policy documents and actions such as the mobilisation of state resources to achieve objectives such as the setting of technology standards. It’s through those standards, policies and laws that the party-state is refining its capacity to exert control over companies’ activities to ensure that it can derive strategic value and benefit from the companies’ global operations. That includes leveraging data collection taking place through those companies’ everyday global business activities, which ASPI’s International Cyber Policy Centre (ICPC) described in the Engineering global consent report. Technology isn’t agnostic—who sets the standards and therefore the direction of the technology matters just as much as who manufactures the product. This will have major implications for the effectiveness of data protection laws and notions of digital supply-chain security.
  • Topic: Security, Science and Technology, Data, Supply Chains
  • Political Geography: China, Asia
  • Author: David Uren
  • Publication Date: 06-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Australian Strategic Policy Institute
  • Abstract: hat if China were to attempt to seize Taiwan by force and the US and allies responded militarily? One consequence would be the disruption of China’s trade with many countries, including Australia. While strategic analysts have been working over such scenarios for years, there’s been little study of the likely economic consequences. This study is focused on the short-term shock to Australia’s economy. The objective is to contribute to an understanding of the nature of Australia’s economic relationship with China and the likely paths of adjustment should that trade be severed. It also explores the options available to the Australian Government to ameliorate the worst of the effects of what would be a severe economic shock. The conclusion of this report is that the disruption to the Australian economy would be significant. There would be widespread loss of employment, along with consumer and business goods shortages that would be likely to necessitate rationing.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Defense Policy, Economics, National Security, Conflict
  • Political Geography: China, Taiwan, Asia-Pacific, United States of America
  • Author: Kyle Marcrum, Brendan Mulvaney
  • Publication Date: 06-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Australian Strategic Policy Institute
  • Abstract: This Strategic Insights report is the first in a series of essays, workshops and events seeking to better understand the nature of deterrence, particularly from the viewpoint of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and its People’s Liberation Army (PLA). The series is a joint project between the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) and the US China Aerospace Studies Institute (CASI). Over the coming months, ASPI and CASI, along with our research associates, will examine the concept of deterrence, how both democratic countries and the People’s Republic of China (PRC) approach deterrence, what liberal democracies are doing to deter China and what China is doing to deter them, and assess the impacts of those efforts. The series will culminate in an in-person conference that will put forward policy options for Australia, the US and our allies and partners. These publications will draw heavily from original PRC and PLA documents, as well as interviews and personal experiences, to help understand the framework that the PRC uses when it thinks about what we call here ‘deterrence'.
  • Topic: Defense Policy, National Security, Chinese Communist Party (CCP)
  • Political Geography: China, United States of America
  • Author: Nathan Ruser, James Leibold
  • Publication Date: 05-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Australian Strategic Policy Institute
  • Abstract: In this report, we provide new evidence documenting the effectiveness of the Chinese government’s systematic efforts to reduce the size of the indigenous population of Xinjiang through a range of coercive birth-control policies. Using the Chinese government’s own publicly available statistics, we have compiled a dataset of county-level birth-rates (natality) across 2011-2019. We then marshal this data to analyse trends across nationalities and spatial regions in Xinjiang, before and after the 2016 crackdown, and comparatively with other countries as recorded in the UN population dataset. Finally, we place these statistics in context through our analysis of county-level implementation documents and other official Chinese language sources which have been previously overlooked. In 1979, Deng Xiaoping launched the “one child policy” and created a complex set of bureaucratic institutions and practices for controlling population growth. Party officials rather than women would decide what they did with their bodies. The one-child policy has seen a dramatic drop in China’s fertility rate and unleashed new concerns about a looming demographic crisis. Yet the instinct to control remains. As Party officials are loosening family-planning rules on Han women, they are simultaneously cracking down on the reproductive rights of Uyghur and other indigenous nationalities in Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) over perceived fears of instability and uneven growth. In the name of stability and control, the CCP under President Xi Jinping is seeking to fundamentally transform the social and physical landscape of Xinjiang. This includes the construction of hundreds of prison-like detention centres and the mass internment of Uyghurs, Kazakh and other indigenous nationalities; a regime of highly intrusive and near constant surveillance; the erasure of indigenous culture, language and religious practices and sites; and mandatory job assignments that are indicative of forced labour; among other now well-documented human rights abuses.
  • Topic: Demographics, Population, Ethnic Cleansing, Family Planning, Cyberspace, Birth Rates
  • Political Geography: China, Australia, Asia-Pacific, Xinjiang
  • Author: Charlie Lyons Jones, Raphael Veit
  • Publication Date: 02-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Australian Strategic Policy Institute
  • Abstract: The People’s Republic of China (PRC) has become increasingly willing to project military power overseas while coercing and co-opting countries into accepting the objectives of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). Beijing’s greater willingness to flex its muscles, both politically and militarily, is supported by its overseas investments in critical infrastructure, which provide the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) with the logistical enablers needed to project military power beyond the ‘first island chain’ in the Western Pacific. ‘Controlling the seas in the region, leaping across the ocean for force projection’ (区域控海,跨洋投送) is the term Chinese naval commentators use when referring to the PLA Navy’s bid to project power across the world. Australia should build its research and analytical capacity to better understand the nexus between the CCP and SOEs. That due diligence, building on open-source research conducted for this report, will better illuminate the PRC’s global expansion, potential grey-zone operations and the companies and individuals involved.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Defense Policy, National Security, Navy
  • Political Geography: China, Asia-Pacific, South China Sea
  • Author: Jacob Wallis, Albert Zhang, Ariel Bogle
  • Publication Date: 03-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Australian Strategic Policy Institute
  • Abstract: Chinese Communist Party (CCP) diplomatic accounts, Chinese state media, pro-CCP influencers and patriotic trolls are targeting the UK public broadcaster, the BBC, in a coordinated information operation. Recent BBC reports, including the allegations of systematic sexual assault in Xinjiang’s internment camps, were among a number of triggers provoking the CCP’s propaganda apparatus to discredit the BBC, distract international attention and recapture control of the narrative. In ASPI ICPC’s new report, Albert Zhang and Dr Jacob Wallis provide a snapshot of the CCP’s ongoing coordinated response targeting the BBC, which leveraged YouTube, Twitter and Facebook and was broadly framed around three prominent narratives: That the BBC spreads disinformation and is biased against China That the BBC’s domestic audiences think that it’s biased and not to be trusted That the BBC’s reporting on China is instigated by foreign actors and intelligence agencies. In addition, the report analyses some of the secondary effects of this propaganda effort by exploring the mobilisation of a pro-CCP Twitter network that has previously amplified the Covid-19 disinformation content being pushed by China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and whose negative online engagement with the BBC peaks on the same days as that of the party-state’s diplomats and state media. To contest and blunt criticism of the CCP’s systematic surveillance and control of minority ethnic groups, the party will continue to aggressively deploy its propaganda and disinformation apparatus. Domestic control remains fundamental to its political power and legitimacy, and internationally narrative control is fundamental to the pursuit of its foreign policy interests.
  • Topic: Media, Journalism, Chinese Communist Party (CCP), BBC
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, Australia
  • Author: Andrew Davies
  • Publication Date: 03-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Australian Strategic Policy Institute
  • Abstract: This report analyses the future impact that hypersonic weaponry will have on global affairs. Hypersonic systems include anything that travels faster than Mach 5, or five times the speed of sound. We may be on the cusp of seeing hypersonic weapons proliferate around the world, with Russia, China and the US all in the process of developing and testing them. By 2030 they are likely to be in the inventory of all of the major powers. And Australia might well join them - we have some world class researchers and have been active in joint programs with the US for over 20 years. The government has added hypersonic weapons to its defence acquisition plan. It's a topic we should be interested in and better informed about. It's always hard to predict exactly how much will change when a new technology enters the battlefield, but Australia is investing tens of billions of dollars in advanced sensors and combat systems to defend its surface vessels against subsonic and supersonic weapons. It's not clear that they will be effective enough against hypersonic weapons. On the plus side for our defence forces, hypersonic strike weapons with ranges of thousands of kilometres could return a strike capability to the ADF that has been missing since the F-111 was retired a decade ago. There are some strategic stability issues to be wrestled with as well. The US is developing a 'prompt global strike' system that would allow it hit a target pretty much anywhere on Earth in 20 minutes. Russian and Chinese systems are being developed with a nuclear or conventional warhead capability. The combination of short warning times and nuclear warhead ambiguity is potentially highly destabilising.
  • Topic: Defense Policy, National Security, Nuclear Weapons, Science and Technology
  • Political Geography: China, Australia, United States of America
  • Author: Albert Zhang, Jacob Wallis, Zoe Meers
  • Publication Date: 03-2021
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Australian Strategic Policy Institute
  • Abstract: This report explores how the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), fringe media and pro-CCP online actors seek—sometimes in unison—to shape and influence international perceptions of the Chinese Government’s human rights abuses in Xinjiang, including through the amplification of disinformation. United States (US) based social media networks, including Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, along with Chinese-owned TikTok (owned by Chinese company ByteDance), are centre stage for this global effort. The Chinese Government continues to deny human rights abuses in Xinjiang despite a proliferation of credible evidence, including media reporting, independent research, testimonies and open-source data, that has revealed abuses including forced labour, mass detention, surveillance, sterilisation, cultural erasure and alleged genocide in the region. To distract from such human rights abuses, covert and overt online information campaigns have been deployed to portray positive narratives about the CCP’s domestic policies in the region, while also injecting disinformation into the global public discourse regarding Xinjiang. The report’s key findings: Since early 2020, there’s been a stark increase in the Chinese Government and state media’s use of US social media networks to push alternative narratives and disinformation about the situation in Xinjiang. Chinese state media accounts have been most successful in using Facebook to engage and reach an international audience. The CCP is using tactics including leveraging US social media platforms to criticise and smear Uyghur victims, journalists and researchers who work on this topic, as well as their organisations. We expect these efforts to escalate in 2021. Chinese Government officials and state media are increasingly amplifying content, including disinformation, produced by fringe media and conspiracist websites that are often sympathetic to the narrative positioning of authoritarian regimes. This amplifies the reach and influence of these sites in the Western media ecosystem. Senior officials from multilateral organisations, including the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations (UN), have also played a role in sharing such content. The Xinjiang Audio-Video Publishing House, a publishing organisation owned by a regional government bureau and affiliated with the CCP’s United Front Work Department, has funded a marketing company to create videos depicting Uyghurs as supportive of the Chinese Government’s policies in Xinjiang. Those videos were then amplified on Twitter and YouTube by a network of inauthentic accounts. The Twitter accounts also retweeted and liked non-Xinjiang-related tweets by Chinese diplomatic officials and Chinese state-affiliated media in 2020.
  • Topic: Human Rights, Media, Social Media, Chinese Communist Party (CCP)
  • Political Geography: China, United States of America, Xinjiang
  • Author: Jake Wallis, Tom Uren, Elise Thomas, Albert Zhang, Samantha Hoffman, Lin Li, Alex Pascoe, Danielle Cave
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Australian Strategic Policy Institute
  • Abstract: This report analyses a persistent, large-scale influence campaign linked to Chinese state actors on Twitter and Facebook. This activity largely targeted Chinese-speaking audiences outside of the Chinese mainland (where Twitter is blocked) with the intention of influencing perceptions on key issues, including the Hong Kong protests, exiled Chinese billionaire Guo Wengui and, to a lesser extent Covid-19 and Taiwan. Extrapolating from the takedown dataset, to which we had advanced access, given to us by Twitter, we have identified that this operation continues and has pivoted to try to weaponise the US Government’s response to current domestic protests and create the perception of a moral equivalence with the suppression of protests in Hong Kong.
  • Topic: Science and Technology, Internet, Social Media, COVID-19, Misinformation , Twitter
  • Political Geography: China, Asia
  • Author: Albert Zhang, Elise Thomas
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Australian Strategic Policy Institute
  • Abstract: This new research highlights the growing significance and impact of Chinese non-state actors on western social media platforms. Across March and April 2020, this loosely coordinated pro-China trolling campaign on Twitter has: Harassed and mimicked western media outlets; Impersonated Taiwanese users in an effort to undermine Taiwan’s position with the World Health Organisation (WHO); Spread false information about the Covid-19 outbreak; Joined in pre-existing inauthentic social media campaigns.
  • Topic: World Health Organization, Non State Actors, Geopolitics, Social Media, COVID-19, Misinformation , Twitter
  • Political Geography: China, Taiwan, Asia, Australia
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Australian Strategic Policy Institute
  • Abstract: A range of actors are manipulating the information environment to exploit the Covid-19 crisis for strategic gain. ASPI’s International Cyber Policy Centre is tracking many of these state and non-state actors online and will occasionally publish investigative data-driven reporting that will focus on the use of disinformation, propaganda, extremist narratives and conspiracy theories. The bulk of ASPI’s data analysis uses our in-house Influence Tracker tool—a machine learning and data analytics capability that draws out insights from multi-language social media datasets. This report includes three case studies that feature China, Taiwan, Russia and Africa
  • Topic: Internet, Social Media, COVID-19, Misinformation
  • Political Geography: Africa, Russia, China, Taiwan, Asia
  • Author: Alex Joske
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Australian Strategic Policy Institute
  • Abstract: What’s the problem? The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is strengthening its influence by co-opting representatives of ethnic minority groups, religious movements, and business, science and political groups. It claims the right to speak on behalf of those groups and uses them to claim legitimacy. These efforts are carried out by the united front system, which is a network of party and state agencies responsible for influencing groups outside the party, particularly those claiming to represent civil society. It manages and expands the United Front, a coalition of entities working towards the party’s goals.1 The CCP’s role in this system’s activities, known as united front work, is often covert or deceptive.2 The united front system’s reach beyond the borders of the People’s Republic of China (PRC)—such as into foreign political parties, diaspora communities and multinational corporations—is an exportation of the CCP’s political system.3 This undermines social cohesion, exacerbates racial tension, influences politics, harms media integrity, facilitates espionage, and increases unsupervised technology transfer. General Secretary Xi Jinping’s reinvigoration of this system underlines the need for stronger responses to CCP influence and technology-transfer operations around the world. However, governments are still struggling to manage it effectively and there is little publicly available analysis of the united front system. This lack of information can cause Western observers to underestimate the significance of the united front system and to reduce its methods into familiar categories. For example, diplomats might see united front work as ‘public diplomacy’ or ‘propaganda’ but fail to appreciate the extent of related covert activities. Security officials may be alert to criminal activity or espionage while underestimating the significance of open activities that facilitate it. Analysts risk overlooking the interrelated facets of CCP influence that combine to make it effective.4 What’s the solution? Governments should disrupt the CCP’s capacity to use united front figures and groups as vehicles for covert influence and technology transfer. They should begin by developing analytical capacity for understanding foreign interference. On that basis, they should issue declaratory policy statements that frame efforts to counter it. Countermeasures should involve law enforcement, legislative reform, deterrence and capacity building across relevant areas of government. Governments should mitigate the divisive effect united front work can have on communities through engagement and careful use of language. Law enforcement, while critically important, shouldn’t be all or even most of the solution. Foreign interference often takes place in a grey area that’s difficult to address through law enforcement actions. Strengthening civil society and media must be a fundamental part of protecting against interference. Policymakers should make measures to raise the transparency of foreign influence a key part of the response
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Science and Technology, Foreign Interference, Chinese Communist Party (CCP)
  • Political Geography: China, Australia, Australia/Pacific
  • Author: Emile Dirks, James Leibold
  • Publication Date: 06-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Australian Strategic Policy Institute
  • Abstract: What’s the problem? The Chinese Government is building the world’s largest police-run DNA database in close cooperation with key industry partners across the globe. Yet, unlike the managers of other forensic databases, Chinese authorities are deliberately enrolling tens of millions of people who have no history of serious criminal activity. Those individuals (including preschool-age children) have no control over how their samples are collected, stored and used. Nor do they have a clear understanding of the potential implications of DNA collection for them and their extended families. Earlier Chinese Government DNA collection campaigns focused on Tibet and Xinjiang, but, beginning in late 2017, the Ministry of Public Security expanded the dragnet across China, targeting millions of men and boys with the aim to ‘comprehensively improve public security organs’ ability to solve cases, and manage and control society’.1 This program of mass DNA data collection violates Chinese domestic law and global human rights norms. And, when combined with other surveillance tools, it will increase the power of the Chinese state and further enable domestic repression in the name of stability maintenance and social control. Numerous biotechnology companies are assisting the Chinese police in building this database and may find themselves complicit in these violations. They include multinational companies such as US-based Thermo Fisher Scientific and major Chinese companies like AGCU Scientific and Microread Genetics. All these companies have an ethical responsibility to ensure that their products and processes don’t violate the fundamental human rights and civil liberties of Chinese citizens. What’s the solution? The forensic use of DNA has the potential to solve crimes and save lives; yet it can also be misused and reinforce discriminatory law enforcement and authoritarian political control. The Chinese Government and police must end the compulsory collection of biological samples from individuals without records of serious criminal wrongdoing, destroy all samples already collected, and remove all DNA profiles not related to casework from police databases. China must enact stringent restrictions on the collection, storage, use and transfer of human genomic data. The Chinese Government must also ensure that it adheres to the spirit of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1966), the International Declaration on Human Genetic Data (2003), the Universal Declaration on the Human Genome and Human Rights (1997) and the Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989), as well as China’s own Criminal Law (2018). National and international legal experts have condemned previous efforts to enrol innocent civilians and children in forensic DNA databases, and the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to privacy should investigate the Chinese Government’s current collection program for any violations of international law and norms.2 Foreign governments must strengthen export controls on biotechnology and related intellectual property and research data that’s sold to or shared with the Chinese Government and its domestic public and private partners. Chinese and multinational companies should conduct due diligence and independent audits to ensure that their forensic DNA products and processes are not being used in ways that violate the human and civil rights of Chinese citizens.
  • Topic: Science and Technology, Minorities, Surveillance, Chinese Communist Party (CCP), DNA
  • Political Geography: China, Australia, Asia-Pacific
  • Author: Anthony Bergin, Tony Press
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Australian Strategic Policy Institute
  • Abstract: Given recent broader tensions in the China–Australia relationship, China’s global ambitions, lack of progress on key Antarctic policy initiatives and the potential for significant geopolitical consequences for the future of Antarctica and for Australia’s strategic interests, it’s important that Australian policymakers reconsider our long-term Antarctic policy settings. The report found no clear evidence that China is violating the Antarctic Treaty. But it argues we should apply a more sharply focused assessment of the costs and benefits of cooperation, given China’s more assertive international posture and increasing interests in Antarctica. The recommendations in the report are designed to maximise the value and mitigate the downside risks of China engagement for our Antarctic and broader national interests. Overall, we should adopt a more transactional approach in our Antarctic engagement with China, making it clear what we require from cooperation and what we expect from China. Given the track record Beijing has in moving rapidly on a broad front, as it’s done in the South China Sea, we need to be prepared to respond to a rapid increase in the speed and scale of China’s actions in Antarctica.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Climate Change, National Security, Bilateral Relations
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, Australia, Australia/Pacific, Antarctica
  • Author: Vicky Xiuzhong Xu, Danielle Cave, James Leibold, Kelsey Munro, Nathan Ruser
  • Publication Date: 03-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Australian Strategic Policy Institute
  • Abstract: The Chinese government has facilitated the mass transfer of Uyghur and other ethnic minority1 citizens from the far west region of Xinjiang to factories across the country. Under conditions that strongly suggest forced labour, Uyghurs are working in factories that are in the supply chains of at least 82 well-known global brands in the technology, clothing and automotive sectors, including Apple, BMW, Gap, Huawei, Nike, Samsung, Sony and Volkswagen. This report estimates that more than 80,000 Uyghurs were transferred out of Xinjiang to work in factories across China between 2017 and 2019, and some of them were sent directly from detention camps.2 The estimated figure is conservative and the actual figure is likely to be far higher. In factories far away from home, they typically live in segregated dormitories,3 undergo organised Mandarin and ideological training outside working hours,4 are subject to constant surveillance, and are forbidden from participating in religious observances.5 Numerous sources, including government documents, show that transferred workers are assigned minders and have limited freedom of movement.6 China has attracted international condemnation for its network of extrajudicial ‘re-education camps’ in Xinjiang.7 This report exposes a new phase in China’s social re-engineering campaign targeting minority citizens, revealing new evidence that some factories across China are using forced Uyghur labour under a state-sponsored labour transfer scheme that is tainting the global supply chain.
  • Topic: Human Rights, Science and Technology, Labor Issues, Minorities, Business , Uyghurs
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, Australia
  • Author: Fergus Hanson, Emilia Currey, Tracy Beattie
  • Publication Date: 09-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Australian Strategic Policy Institute
  • Abstract: The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is increasingly deploying coercive diplomacy against foreign governments and companies. Coercive diplomacy isn’t well understood, and countries and companies have struggled to develop an effective toolkit to push back against and resist it. This report tracks the CCP’s use of coercive diplomacy over the past 10 years, recording 152 cases of coercive diplomacy affecting 27 countries as well as the European Union. The data shows that there’s been a sharp escalation in these tactics since 2018. The regions and countries that recorded the most instances of coercive diplomacy over the last decade include Europe, North America, Australia, New Zealand and East Asia. The CCP’s coercive tactics can include economic measures (such as trade sanctions, investment restrictions, tourism bans and popular boycotts) and non-economic measures (such as arbitrary detention, restrictions on official travel and state-issued threats). These efforts seek to punish undesired behaviour and focus on issues including securing territorial claims, deploying Huawei’s 5G technology, suppressing minorities in Xinjiang, blocking the reception of the Dalai Lama and obscuring the handling of the Covid-19 pandemic. China is the largest trading partner for nearly two-thirds of the world’s countries, and its global economic importance gives it significant leverage. The impacts of coercive diplomacy are exacerbated by the growing dependency of foreign governments and companies on the Chinese market. The economic, business and security risks of that dependency are likely to increase if the CCP can continue to successfully use this form of coercion.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, European Union, Economy, Chinese Communist Party (CCP)
  • Political Geography: China, Europe, Asia
  • Author: Nathan Ruser, James Leibold, Kelsey Munro, Tilla Hoja
  • Publication Date: 09-2020
  • Content Type: Special Report
  • Institution: Australian Strategic Policy Institute
  • Abstract: The Chinese Government has embarked on a systematic and intentional campaign to rewrite the cultural heritage of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR). It’s seeking to erode and redefine the culture of the Uyghurs and other Turkic-speaking communities—stripping away any Islamic, transnational or autonomous elements—in order to render those indigenous cultural traditions subservient to the ‘Chinese nation’. Using satellite imagery, we estimate that approximately 16,000 mosques in Xinjiang (65% of the total) have been destroyed or damaged as a result of government policies, mostly since 2017. An estimated 8,500 have been demolished outright, and, for the most part, the land on which those razed mosques once sat remains vacant. A further 30% of important Islamic sacred sites (shrines, cemeteries and pilgrimage routes, including many protected under Chinese law) have been demolished across Xinjiang, mostly since 2017, and an additional 28% have been damaged or altered in some way. Alongside other coercive efforts to re-engineer Uyghur social and cultural life by transforming or eliminating Uyghurs’ language, music, homes and even diets, the Chinese Government’s policies are actively erasing and altering key elements of their tangible cultural heritage. Many international organisations and foreign governments have turned a blind eye. The UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) have remained silent in the face of mounting evidence of cultural destruction in Xinjiang. Muslim-majority countries, in particular, have failed to challenge the Chinese Government over its efforts to domesticate, sinicise and separate Uyghur culture from the wider Islamic world.
  • Topic: Islam, Culture, UNESCO, Uyghurs
  • Political Geography: China, Xinjiang