Asian Insider, Dec 11: China adopts ‘grey-zone’ warfare; Australia axes Covid vaccine

Asian Insider brings you insights into a fast-changing region from our network of correspondents and commentators.

Hi all, 

In today’s bulletin: China launches 'grey-zone' warfare to subdue Taiwan; Challenges in China's quest for tech autonomy; Australia cancels local Covid-19 vaccine development due to HIV false positives; Bali 'ready' for international tourists before Christmas: UN tourism agency; China sends sanctioned official to AmCham dinner in Beijing; and more

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China launches 'grey-zone' warfare to subdue Taiwan

The Chinese People’s Liberation Army has launched a form of “grey zone’ warfare” against Taiwan, an irregular type of conflict which stops short of an actual shooting war, where the aim is to subdue the foe through exhaustion. 

Beijing is conducting waves of threatening forays from the air while ramping up existing pressure tactics to erode Taiwan’s will to resist. 

These flights complement amphibious landing exercises, naval patrols, cyber attacks and diplomatic isolation, according to current and former senior Taiwanese and US military officers.

That has led to the risk of conflict now rising to its highest level in decades. 

Go deeper:

Taiwan scrambles fighters for second day as Chinese jets buzz island 

Xi Jinping says China 'must be, will be' reunified with Taiwan

Challenges in China's quest for tech autonomy

China’s response to the United States’ tech decoupling is to aim for self-reliance and innovative excellence, but there are problems that it needs to overcome to succeed, writes Straits Times Global Affairs Correspondent Goh Sui Noi. 

This quest had its beginnings in the mid-2000s when China had sought technological self-sufficiency as a way to strengthen its own innovative capacity, but the difference now is that it is also a response to the changing and more hostile external environment.

The success of these efforts will hinge on a difficult balancing act for the government that will involve asserting control over academia and industry, yet allowing enough room for innovation to take place.

Read more:

Xi Jinping stresses China needs independent innovation as world changes 

CCP sets course for China to become tech power by 2035

Australia cancels local Covid-19 vaccine development due to HIV false positives

Australia has cancelled the production of a locally made vaccine against Covid-19 after trials showed it could interfere with HIV diagnosis, with the government instead securing additional doses of rival vaccines.

The antibodies generated by a vaccine being developed by the University of Queensland (UQ) and biotech firm CSL were found to lead to some false positive HIV test results, the makers said.

Analysts said the cancellation of the contract removed an “important” opportunity for the vaccine-maker that would have brought it A$100 million (S$101 million) in extra revenues.

Here’s more:

South African trial of AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine still months from efficacy results 

5 steps to safe and effective Covid-19 vaccine distribution 

ST Asian Insider video: Wuhan one year later

One year after the novel coronavirus emerged in the city of Wuhan in China’s Hubei province, life in the city which endured weeks of lockdown last winter has returned almost to normal.

But below the surface there remains trauma and anxiety, with many residents yet to forget the weeks of fear and uncertainty when this city was brought to its knees and cut off from the rest of China.

Straits Times China Correspondent Elizabeth Law visited Wuhan very recently, and shared what she found with Asian Insider host, Straits Times US Bureau Chief Nirmal Ghosh.

Bali 'ready' for international tourists before Christmas: UN tourism agency

The United Nations World Tourism Organisation says the renowned resort island of Bali is ready to welcome international tourists before Christmas.

The declaration followed the visit of a UN delegation to Bali this week to host a capacity-building workshop on restarting international tourism, the first of its kind in Asia.

Bali relies heavily on tourism and the island's economy contracted by 10.98 per cent year-on-year in the second quarter of this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.  

Here's more:

Coronavirus: Battered Bali sees flicker of recovery as holiday season looms 

Singaporeans extend helping hand in tourist-drained Bali

China sends sanctioned official to AmCham dinner in Beijing

Beijing sent a top official sanctioned by the United States to an American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) China dinner in a show of defiance that could feed criticism of the business group in Washington. Mr Wang Chen, a member of the Communist Party's Politburo, was Beijing’s representative at the annual event on Thursday (Dec 10), even though he was one of the 14 officials sanctioned by the US on Monday over the body's role in constraining freedoms in Hong Kong.

In other news...

HK media tycoon Jimmy Lai charged under national security law: Hong Kong democracy activist and media tycoon Jimmy Lai has been charged under the city's national security law on suspicion of colluding with foreign forces and endangering national security. Lai, who was due to appear in court on Saturday (Dec 12), has been charged with two offences, including a call for sanctions against Hong Kong. 

Aussie Uighur family reunited after leaving Xinjiang: An Australian man from China's Muslim Uighur community has been reunited with his family after Beijing agreed they could depart Xinjiang. The reunion came after Chinese authorities banned Mr Sadam Abudusalamu's wife Nadila Wumaier and son from leaving Xinjiang in 2017 by confiscating their passports, in what became a high-profile human rights case in Australia.

Japan urges a 'quiet' year-end, but to keep up tourism campaign: Japan’s government has urged people to spend a “quiet” year-end after daily coronavirus infections hit a record. Despite this, however, it said it would keep providing subsidies to promote tourism in contrast to media reports that said it may pause the campaign. 
 

That’s it for today. Hope today’s bulletin was interesting for you. Thanks for reading and we’ll be back with you next week.

Arvind