NBR News Brief

July 7, 2023


China and Taiwan 

China’s chipmaking export curbs ‘just a start’, Beijing adviser warns before Yellen visit, Reuters 

China’s announcement of export controls on gallium and germanium, metals used in semiconductors and military applications, intensified ongoing tech tensions ahead of U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen’s visit. Following the Dutch government’s Friday announcement of expanded semiconductor export controls targeting chips that could be used for Chinese military purposes, an influential Chinese advisors said the new Chinese controls as just the beginning of its countermeasures against growing global restrictions on its high-technology sector. Further restrictions on rare earths may follow. Meanwhile, Washington is considering tightening controls on AI chips and restricting Chinese companies’ access to U.S. cloud-computing services. 


KMT presidential candidate could change 1-year military service policy, Focus Taiwan 

KMT presidential candidate, Hou Yu-ih, promises to cut Taiwan’s mandatory military service to four months, conditional on cross-strait stability, contrasting the DPP’s recent extension to a year due to rising tensions. Representatives from the Institute for National Defense and Security Research argue against Hou’s proposal, citing the benefits of a longer military term for thorough training is necessary due to Taiwan’s falling birth rates. Furthermore, Hou rejects the DPP’s idea to weave military service into college education, foreseeing educational disorder and gender disparities in degree completion times. 


Additional News 

Taiwan vice premier meets with Japan ruling party secretary-general, Taipei Times 

Hong Kong’s legislature unanimously backs bill to revamp district councils, reducing directly elected seats to just 19 per cent; EU hits out in response, South China Morning Post 

‘You can never become a Westerner:’ China’s top diplomat urges Japan and South Korea to align with Beijing and ‘revitalize Asia’, CNN 



Korean Peninsula 


  1. Korea retrieves N. Korean spy satellite wreckage, ends salvage operation, Yonhap News Agency

The South Korean military has recovered the wreckage of a North Korean spy satellite in the Yellow Sea, stating that it had “no military utility” and thus ending a 36-day operation with the United States to retrieve the submerged debris from North Korea’s failed rocket launch in May. Camera parts and other optical equipment were recovered, which allowed for joint analysis on the development of North Korea’s long-range rocket and space programs. The operation faced numerous challenges, such as poor underwater visibility and rough currents, but was able to salvage a presumed part of the rocket’s second stage on June 15. 


Korea to launch new bureau in fight against human trafficking, The Korea Herald 

South Korea will establish an anti-human trafficking bureau in response to international criticism over its approach to the issue. The “Department of Rights and Rescue” will be responsible for supporting human trafficking victims and female North Korean defectors, in addition to creating a comprehensive plan to prevent human trafficking. The bureau will run for six months until the end of 2023, but may be extended to June 2024. Due to its failure to crack down on sexual and labor exploitation toward foreign workers, South Korea was downgraded to a Tier 2 country in the 2022 and 2023 annual human trafficking report published by the U.S. Department of State. 


Additional News 

Inaugural session of S. Korea-U.S. Nuclear Consultative Group likely to be held in Seoul this month, Yonhap News Agency 

Government remains ambivalent about Fukushima water release, seafood imports, The Korea Times 

Yoon calls for swift launch of space agency, The Korea Herald 

Unification Ministry to shift focus to N. Korean human rights, The Korea Herald 





UN nuclear agency endorses Japan’s plan to release treated radioactive water into the Pacific Ocean, Associated Press 

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) approved Japan’s planned release of treated radioactive wastewater into the sea from the damaged Fukushima nuclear plant. The IAEA stated that this plan conforms to international safety standards and that the effects on the environment and human health are expected to be negligible. Rafael Mariano Grossi, Chief of IAEA, submitted his final assessment and endorsement to Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on Tuesday after visiting the site. The plan is opposed by local residents and fishermen, as well as groups in South Korea, China, and some Pacific Island nations because of safety concerns and political reasons.  


Pro-Russian hackers target Japan’s top port handling Toyota trade, Kyodo News 

The Port of Nagoya, Japan’s largest port and a crucial hub for Toyota’s trade, has been targeted by a Russian hacker group called LockBit 3.0. The hackers launched a ransomware attack, demanding payment for the recovery of the port’s computer system. As a result, the port has been unable to load and unload containers, affecting Toyota’s import and export operations. However, Toyota stated that its production has not been disrupted as it uses a separate computer system for managing finished vehicles. The authorities are investigating the incident, and the port intends to resume operations soon, although temporary congestion is expected. 

Additional News 

NATO and Japan to cooperate in 16 areas, align defense equipment, Nikkei Asia 

Japan, S. Korea agree to revive currency swap pact amid warming ties, Kyodo News 

Japan and South Korea arranging summit to be held in Lithuania, Japan Times 

Japan’s Ebara to make recycling plastic easier and more efficient, Nikkei Asia 



South Asia 


Putin, Xi and Modi Meet on Camera, but With No Signs of Greater Unity, The New York Times 

During a virtual summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, the leaders of Russia, China, and India each showcased their individual priorities. India has a vested interest in the forum due to its reliance on Central Asian countries for energy and its need to maintain influence in Afghanistan, and during the meeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi highlighted his country’s rising stature and indirectly targeted Pakistan in his call for united action against terrorism. India’s growing alignment with the United States and the friction between China and India were not mentioned during the summit. Despite tensions, all three leaders emphasized control over their domestic issues and the desire for a multipolar world.  


Pakistan gets a $3 bn lifeline — but some say the IMF’s terms may choke it instead, Indian Express  

Pakistan has secured a $3 billion “stand-by” arrangement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to address its balance of payments crisis and falling foreign exchange reserves. Although the deal provides temporary respite, it also comes with tough conditions. Among other limitations, Pakistan must end subsidies in the power sector, rebase tariffs to ensure cost recovery, and remove import restrictions. While welcomed by the government, critics argue that the IMF’s strict conditions may exacerbate economic turmoil. While the funding will help stabilize the economy short-term, some economists believe deeper reforms are needed, and Pakistan’s long-term economic outlook remains uncertain—the upcoming general election only adding political uncertainty to the situation. 


Additional News 

India refiners start yuan payments for Russian oil imports,’ The Times of India 

Bilawal meets Japanese counterpart in Tokyo as both sides agree to boost bilateral ties, Dawn 



Southeast Asia 


South Korea, Vietnam to boost work on North Korea nuclear threat, Reuters 

On June 24, South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol concluded a three-day state visit to Vietnam, which marked President Yoon’s first visit to a member of ASEAN. Through a bilateral summit, Vietnamese President Vo Van Thuong and President Yoon expressed their commitment to enhancing trade and investment opportunities, promoting cultural exchanges, and boosting security cooperation. Together, they signed 17 agreements, including an MoU on critical minerals to ensure a stable supply chain for South Korean companies and boost investment, as well as agreements to boost defense industry relations. 


Thai opposition party struggles to take power after election win, Al Jazeera 

On July 3, King Maha Vajiralongkorn of Thailand opened the first parliament session two months after the May 14 election won by the progressive opposition Move Forward Party. During this session, the House of Representatives confirmed veteran politician Wan Muhamad Noor Matha, leader of the Prachachart Party, as the speaker. This confirmation was perceived as a compromise between the coalition partners Move Forward and Pheu Thai, who had been at odds over this post. However, the appointment of a deputy speaker remains a contentious issue, causing a division within Parliament. Despite the ongoing deadlock, Pita Limjaroenrat, the leader of the opposition Move Forward Party, maintains confidence in the party’s prospects. 


Additional News 

‘Fish diplomacy’ deepens ties between Indonesia, Japan, Nikkei Asia 

Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar faces crucial test of support in state polls next month, Associated Press 

Cambodia PM sends troops to Vietnam border to shoot down drones, Nikkei Asia 

East Timor’s independence hero Xanana Gusmao returns to power as prime minister, Associated Press 





Albanese called to reconsider trip as Beijing ‘reaches into our democracy’, The Sydney Morning Herald 

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese is facing growing pressure to cancel his upcoming trip to Beijing due to China’s bounties on Hong Kong activists residing in Australia. Chinese authorities have been accused of overreaching by issuing bounties, which has sparked increased concerns regarding human rights. There’s also apprehension about high-profile Australians remaining in Hong Kong. While some argue that Albanese should cancel the trip unless China retracts the bounties, others believe it provides an opportunity to address these issues directly with Beijing and advocate for detained Australians. 


Indonesian president in Papua New Guinea for talks on border, trade, Reuters 

Indonesian President Joko Widodo visited Papua New Guinea (PNG) for discussions on border issues and trade with PNG President James Marape on Wednesday July 5th. The talks resulted in several agreements, including on customs, fighting transnational crime, student programs, and border adjustments to facilitate economic and trade relations. Widodo also pledged support for PNG’s education and health sectors. Despite these developments, challenges remain, including the ratification of a Defense Cooperation Agreement. This visit comes as major powers, including India and the U.S., increase their engagements with PNG, a country that maintains strong trade relations with China.

Additional News 

Australia says Solomon Islands security treaty review an ‘opportunity’ to revitalizse, Reuters 

Court voids suspension of Samoa’s former prime minister, Radio New Zealand 

Fiji police investigating source of leaked document calling for military intervention, Fiji Times 

Green economy, security in focus as Indonesia, Australia leaders meet in Sydney, Reuters 



United States 


China-U.S. ties: Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen has ‘frank and productive’ discussion with ambassador Xie Feng ahead of Beijing visit, South China Morning Post  

Ahead of Janet Yellen’s meeting in Beijing with Chinese officials, Xie Feng visited Washington to ease economic tensions between the two superpowers. Yellen advocated for partnership rather than isolation, which Xie echoed. The meeting in Washington was able to lay the groundwork for a constructive conversation in Beijing by sorting through the preliminary trade issues such as trade restrictions and tariffs on Chinese tech goods. While recent meetings have gone well, relations remained strained amid ongoing trade and technology tensions. However, both countries seem to be expressing willingness to cooperate, with both leaders emphasizing the importance of working in the same direction economically.   


U.S. aircraft carrier makes Da Nang port call as America looks to strengthen ties with Vietnam, AP News 

Both the United States and China have tried to expand their influence in the South China Sea region with the United States making a rare port of call at Da Nang on Monday July 3. With increasing tensions between China and Vietnam, the United States sees an opportunity for collaboration with Vietnam, viewing the country as a key target for U.S. influence and strengthened economic relations. However, Beijing has noticed U.S. advances on their neighbor and has made efforts to mend fences through goodwill tours and naval training ships.  


Additional News 

U.S. condemns vandalism at Indian consulate in San Francisco, Sikh separatists started fire, South China Morning Post 

China unveils sweeping foreign policy law as Xi consolidates power — and aims to counter the US, CNN  

U.S. Navy says Iran tried to seize two oil tankers, fired on one, NBC