China goes on charm offensive at Asian Games, but doesn’t back down from regional confrontations

A new china map shows the South China Sea with nine-dash line claims under Chinese territory and a new line next to Taiwan are seen on the map on Friday at a bookstore in Beijing.

HANGZHOU, China — A month before the Asian Games, China released a new national map, doubling down on its claims to almost the entire South China Sea and disputed border territories with India.

A few days before the event, it flew more than 100 warplanes toward Taiwan, stepping up its regular military harassment of the self-governing democratic island that Beijing claims for its own.


At the games themselves, however, outward aggression has taken a backseat to unctuous charm as China sought to win the hearts of more than 40 Asian nations and regions by dazzling them with technology and slathering them with praise.

In a personal appearance in the eastern city of Hangzhou, into which the government poured billions of dollars for the two-week games, Chinese President Xi Jinping welcomed leaders and officials at an opening banquet on Saturday.

“The Asian Games embodies the Asian people’s shared desire for peace, unity and inclusiveness,” Xi told them, according to his prepared remarks.

No mention was made of the status of Taiwan, the tense standoffs in the South China Sea over competing claims with Indonesia, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and the Philippines – all competitors at the Hangzhou games – or the border disputes with India that resulted in a clash three years ago in which 20 Indian and four Chinese soldiers were killed.

Nor was anything said about a diplomatic spat China ignited with India the day before Saturday’s opening ceremony as it refused to back down on its stance on visas for Indian athletes coming from a region that leaders maintain belongs to China, resulting in three women wushu athletes being unable to compete.

The headlines the state-run China Daily’s supplement edition for the games carried after the opening ceremony included “Xi extends hand of friendship,” and “Wave of Glory” alongside a photo of the Chinese leader waving to the crowds.

But while offering a verbal carrot in Hangzhou, Beijing continued brandishing a physical stick elsewhere. Taiwan’s military said Sunday it had detected the Chinese military initiating an exercise featuring warplanes, ships and ground troops in coastal Fujian Province, which faces Taiwan.

The Philippine coast guard reported over the weekend that it had detected a floating barrier placed by China’s coast guard to prevent Filipino fishing boats from entering a lagoon in a disputed shoal in the South China Sea.

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