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Security Brief: PACOM Week of April 3, 2022

Updated: Apr 11

April 3 - 6, 2022 | Issue 2

Francesca Cavazzuti, Halle Morel, PACOM Team

Léopold Maisonny, Editor; Demetrios Giannakaris, Senior Editor


Chinese authorities extended the lockdown on Shanghai and its residents[1]


Date: April 4, 2022

Location: Shanghai, China

Parties involved: China’s State Council; Chinese Authorities; Shanghai’s residents; Industries operating in the Shanghai area

The event: Chinese authorities announced that Shanghai would remain under lockdown while waiting for the test results of its 26 million residents. On March 28, the city began a two-stage lockdown, which was to end on April 5. However, on Monday, April 4, China reported more than 13,000 new cases, 9,000 in Shanghai. This prompted the government to maintain the lockdowns without announcing their end. Residents have complained about the restrictions, lack of food and medicines, and inadequate quarantine facilities. China’s Zero-COVID approach to containing the virus includes isolating everyone testing positive, regardless of whether they are symptomatic.[2]

Analysis & Implications:

  • The extension of the lockdown will very likely force industries in Shanghai to halt or temporarily reduce production due to a lack of personnel. Impacted industries will very likely experience production and income losses, which will likely be disadvantageous to domestic and international competition. The threat of a new lockdown will likely discourage potential investors, likely leading affected industries to record a deficit. If a new lockdown occurs, there is a roughly even chance that the government will ease the Zero-COVID approach to avoid further economic losses.

  • Despite not indicating the end of the lockdown, it is very unlikely that authorities will extend it significantly, as they will likely want to avoid an increase in residents’ discontent. After examining the majority of the test results, the government is likely to lift the lockdown on the entire city in favor of isolating only the districts with the highest COVID-19 cases. This will likely allow Shanghai residents to conduct daily activities and authorities to contain the virus outbreak.

Date: April 3, 2022

Location: North Korea

Parties involved: US; South Korea; South Korea military; South Korean President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol; South Korean Defense Minister Suh Wook; North Korea; North Korean military; Kim Yo Jong, sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un

The event: North Korea condemned South Korea’s defense minister’s statement regarding South Korea’s ability to fire missiles and strike strategic targets in North Korea. North Korea warned that it could target Seoul and other South Korean targets with its missiles. Kim Yo Jong, Kim Jong Un’s sister, added that the statement worsened the bilateral relations and increased military tensions. South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol stated t

hat if an imminent attack occurred, a pre-emptive strike on North Korea would be South Korea’s best option to counter the new North Korean hypersonic missiles.[3] The US has continuously imposed sanctions on North Korea because of its nuclear weapons program and missile launches.[4]

Analysis & Implications:

  • North Korea’s hardline approach to security challenges makes it unlikely that they will perceive South Korea’s threat of pre-emptive missile strikes as a deterrent to advancing its military capabilities. Instead, North Korea will almost certainly use the statements to justify the need to increase its military capabilities. This will likely include advancing its nuclear development program, boosting conventional military forces, and further missile testing.

  • South Korea’s new President Yoon Suk-yeol’s threats of pre-emptive strikes on North Korea, almost certainly suggests that his presidency will take on a more offensive strategy on handling security concerns with North Korea. As military tensions between North and South Korea escalate, South Korea will almost certainly seek to reinforce its military relationship with the US. This will likely include conducting joint-military operations near the Korean peninsula and strengthening its reconnaissance and defense systems.

  • The US will likely encourage negotiations between North Korea, South Korea, and itself to de-escalate the growing tensions. Unless the US is willing to reduce sanctions on North Korea, the US and South Korea’s strengthening ties and threats of pre-emptive strikes will make it unlikely that North Korea will agree to negotiations. Without negotiations as a likely option, the US and South Korea will likely seek further sanctions on North Korea.

Date: April 3, 2022

Location: Sri Lanka

Parties involved: Sri Lankan cabinet ministers; Sri Lankan citizens; Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa; Samagi Jana Balavegaya (SJB) Party; Janatha Vinukthi Peramuna (JVP) Party; Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE)

The event: Sri Lanka’s President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s cabinet ministers and the governor of Sri Lanka’s central bank resigned following the ongoing protests over Sri Lanka’s economic crisis. The cost of essential goods such as food and medicine has spiked, and the government’s inability to afford fuel has caused rolling power shortages. The protests have escalated with demonstrators calling for the resignation of President Rajapaksa’s government, throwing bricks, and setting fires, forcing police forces to respond with tear gas and barricades. Following the violent protests, President Rajapaksa declared a state of emergency. Later, the government blocked access to social media and imposed a curfew to deter protests from organizing.[5] President Rajapaksa asked the SJB and JVP opposition parties to join together and fill the vacant cabinet positions, but the parties rejected his request.[6]

Analysis & Implications:

  • The opposition’s refusal will very likely incite more protests to pressure the government into resignation. Faced with more frequent and hostile demonstrations, President Rajapaksa will very likely extend the curfew and social media ban and restrict circulation across the country to prevent mass gatherings. The government will likely impose harsher punitive measures on those caught protesting or violating the restrictions. This will very likely increase the number of protesters arrested, detained, and accidentally killed during clashes with the police.

  • The rising governmental instability and continued protests will very likely exacerbate Sri Lanka’s humanitarian crisis. This will likely encourage Sri Lankans to flee the country by boat and seek refuge in India. President Rajapaksa will likely seek an increase in humanitarian aid, loans, and food supplies from India, other Asian neighbors, and international organizations to provide short-term relief to Sri Lankans.

  • Government discontent and economic distress amongst Sri Lanka’s population will likely lead to the rise of dissident and extremist groups. There is a roughly even chance that former rebel groups like the LTTE will garner support, especially amongst the poorer and uneducated parts of the population. These groups will likely challenge the Rajapaksa government by targeting government entities for attacks, with the government very likely responding with military force.


 

The Counterterrorism Group (CTG)


[1]Pudong Shanghai November 2017” by King of Hearts licensed under Creative Commons

[2] Shanghai to extend lockdown of 26 million people as it reviews test results, Reuters, April 2022, https://www.reuters.com/world/china/china-sends-military-doctors-shanghai-test-26-mln-residents-covid-2022-04-04/

[3] North Korea condemns South Korea's remarks on military ability, warns of destructive action, Reuters, April 2022, https://www.reuters.com/world/asia-pacific/nkorea-condemns-skoreas-remarks-preemptive-strike-issues-serious-warning-2022-04-02/

[4] U.S. issues fresh North Korea sanctions after recent missile launches, Reuters, April 2022, https://www.reuters.com/world/us-imposes-north-korea-related-sanctions-treasury-website-2022-04-01/

[5] Sri Lanka ministers resign as protests erupt over economic crisis, CNN, April 2022, https://www.cnn.com/2022/04/04/asia/sri-lanka-crisis-ministers-resign-intl-hnk/index.html

[6] Sri Lanka: Reshuffle begins after cabinet quits over protests, BBC News, April 2022, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-60975941

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