News roundup: Angry words and an aircraft carrier from Beijing over Taiwan
TODAY’S TOP STORIES
Fiery rhetoric from Beijing on Taiwan
Chinese state media today prominently featured reports of a speech by the spokesman for China’s Taiwan Affairs Office at a “routine” press conference in which he blasted supporters of independence for Taiwan and Hong Kong. He quoted from a Mao Zedong poem and compared independence activists to flies who bash themselves against a wall and fall to the ground bloodied and with broken heads. Another warning to Taiwanese independence activists came from the People’s Liberation Army Navy, which this week sailed its sole aircraft carrier just south of Taiwan.
The South China Morning Post notes that “Beijing is facing a host of threats to its status quo as the independence-leaning leadership of Taiwan grows more vocal, protesters in Hong Kong call for complete separation from the mainland, and an incoming Donald Trump presidency in the U.S. threatens to take a more hardline stance in its ties with the world’s second-largest economy.” Reuters has an article that explains the reference to the Mao poem in the Taiwan Affairs Office spokesman’s speech. The Chinese language report on the speech is here.
A regular feature about what’s buzzing on Chinese social media
China’s low-quality films: Is it the movies or the critics who are responsible?
The People’s Daily published an article (in Chinese) that said that “ill-intended and irresponsible comments” from well-known movie critics seriously damage the Chinese film industry. Chinese social media reacted with anger as many commenters said that the poor quality of the movies was the real problem. The story is a trending topic on Weibo today, collected under the hashtag meaning “Negative criticism harms film industry” (in Chinese).
More stories worth your time are summarized below, with the more important stories at the top of each section.
BUSINESS AND TECHNOLOGY:
- China Beige Book shows broad improvement across all industries / Bloomberg
“Revenues, profits, jobs and capital expenditures improved from the third quarter while new orders were stable, according to the private survey released by CBB International.”
- China’s markets are tamed — but not tempting / WSJ
“Many investors say the market lacks reasons to continue climbing and they fear uncertain moves from regulators could damp gains.”
- China bulls determined to find their voices as sentiment sours / Financial Times
Despite the current lack of global interest in Chinese stocks, “many [strategists] think the world’s second-largest capital market could be on the brink of another bull run.”
- No happy new year in China as currency, liquidity fears loom / Bloomberg
The reset of China’s foreign currency conversion quota on January 1 is likely to see a sharp increase in capital outflows, while a relatively early Lunar New Year holiday at the end of the month will increase demand for cash.
- China’s ‘One Belt, One Road’ takes to space / WSJ
“Countries along Beijing’s flagship Silk Road Economic Belt and 21st-century Maritime Silk Road will be among the first in line to plug into China’s new satellite-navigation services.”
- Plain-vanilla real estate gains clout with Chinese / WSJ
“Chinese investors and insurers say they need to diversify their assets and are discovering other, less conspicuous ways to make money in real estate.”
- Fat herds, leaner profits: For China’s pig farmers, New Year feasts bring cold comfort / Reuters
“A slump in retail prices and a spike in feed costs are grinding up profits,” write Hallie Gu and Dominique Patton.
- The 10 largest investments in China this year / Tech in Asia
“Most of China’s largest funding rounds in 2016 came from well-known companies, such as Didi Chuxing, Uber and Ant Financial,” reports Eva Xiao.
POLITICS AND CURRENT AFFAIRS:
- U.S. anti-propaganda law ‘may set stage for war of ideas with China’ / SCMP
“China is mentioned just once in the 1,623-word Countering Disinformation and Propaganda Act, but observers said it could become a tool to counter Beijing,” write Wei Qi and Violet Law. “The legislation was signed as part of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2017 shortly before Christmas.”
- China tells top officials to lead corruption fight by example / Reuters
“Speaking at a meeting of the Politburo, the core of the ruling party, Xi said its members must set an example in lawful governance efforts and use of power, state television said on its main evening news.”
- Chinese hackers charged with trading on stolen law firm data / Bloomberg
“Three Chinese hackers made more than $4 million in illicit profits after breaking into the servers of top corporate law firms in New York, the U.S. said in announcing charges and the arrest of one of the men.”
- In Hong Kong’s book industry, ‘everybody is scared’ / The Guardian
A little over a year after five Hong Kong-based booksellers were seized by Chinese security forces, “the whole industry is wondering if hard-hitting books on Chinese politics still have a future in the former British colony,” writes Ilaria Maria Sala.
SOCIETY AND CULTURE:
- To speak is to blunder / The New Yorker
“Over the years, my brain has banished Chinese,” writes novelist Yiyun Li. “To be orphaned from my native language felt, and still feels, like a crucial decision.”
- Donald Trump rooster statue takes China by storm / CNN
To mark the upcoming Year of the Rooster, a large sculpture of the fowl featuring Trump-style hair and hand gestures was erected at a shopping center in the northern city of Taiyuan.
- Chinese state media is blaming its apocalyptic smog problem on kitchen fumes / Quartz
“An editorial in state mouthpiece People’s Daily on December 24 warned that fumes from cooking with oil are a ‘major cause of air pollution in urban cities.’”
- Chinese prosecutors charge thousands of school bullies / SCMP
China has a legal age of criminal responsibility of 16, but it can be lowered to 14 in severe cases, such as the instance this year in which a 15-year-old was “handed a three-year custodial sentence for robbing his schoolmates.”
- Bike-sharing revolution aims to put China back on two wheels / The Guardian
“From Shanghai to Sichuan Province, bike-sharing schemes are being rolled out on an unprecedented scale in an effort to slash congestion and air pollution,” reports Tom Phillips.
- As China’s young head to cities, elders find new appeal in old age homes / Christian Science Monitor
“Chinese families have typically shunned dedicated nursing homes for fear of losing face,” writes Michael Holtz. “But now they are giving such facilities a second look, as elderly and their families alike find tradition challenged by the demands of modernizing Chinese life.”
- Carrie Fisher’s final protest was against China’s dog meat festival, with her beloved pet Gary at her side / Quartz
Fisher joined a protest outside the Chinese embassy in London in June to oppose the Yulin Dog Meat Festival and tried to present a petition signed by 11 million people calling for a ban on the event.
- China’s Sichuan cannot get enough spicy marinated rabbit heads / Yahoo News
“A lot of people outside our province do not dare taste them, because the rabbit heads do look quite terrifying,” says one supplier.
- Weibo from A to Z: A look back at the biggest trending topics of 2016 / What’s on Weibo
A look back at 26 stories that went viral on the Chinese social media platform, from Alipay’s sexy photo scandal to Zhang Guoli’s prematurely reported “speech” during the annual legislative meetings.