News roundup: Taiwan scrambles jets
Taiwan scrambles jets as Chinese aircraft carrier sails through Taiwan Strait
South China Sea tensions continue to escalate: A Chinese navy flotilla, including the country’s sole aircraft carrier, sailed through the Taiwan Strait on Wednesday. The group entered Taiwan’s air defense identification zone; as a result, Reuters reports, “Taiwan scrambled jets and navy ships to ‘surveil and control’ the passage of the Chinese ships.” Chinese vice foreign minister Liu Zhenmin stated, “The Taiwan Strait is an international waterway shared between the mainland and Taiwan. So, it is normal for the Liaoning to go back and forth through the Taiwan Strait in the course of training.” Chang Hsiao-yueh, minister for Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council, said that his island’s government “has sufficient capability to protect our national security,” but that “any threats would not benefit cross-Strait ties.”
Trump’s China trademarks ‘risk a constitutional crisis’
Donald Trump continues to suck media oxygen: The latest China-related report, from AFP, claims that the president-elect has at least 45 trademark applications pending in China filed in his own name. Moreover, this might have consequences. AFP notes, “Experts from across the U.S. political spectrum said the applications could put Trump on a collision course with the U.S. constitution,” which “forbids federal officials from receiving a gift or ‘emolument’ — a salary, fee or profit — from a foreign government.” Meanwhile, according to the South China Morning Post, China’s deputy foreign affairs minister says that Beijing is willing to arrange meetings with Trump’s team at the World Economic Forum at Davos later this month.
Today on SupChina: Please enjoy our special feature on the groundbreaking Chinese photographer Chen Man. We’ve included an image gallery along with an abridged translation of various media interviews with her from the last few years.
More China stories worth your time are curated below, with the most important ones at the top of each section.
BUSINESS AND TECHNOLOGY:
- Banks forced to cover tracks of China’s forex regulator / Reuters
After the yuan’s decline of more than 6 percent against the dollar last year, several bankers told Reuters that the State Administration of Foreign Exchange (SAFE) had told banks to keep its instructions about tightening capital outflows secret. SAFE, an agency under of the People’s Bank of China, denied the allegation and called the report “inaccurate” and “misleading.” In a statement released on Wednesday, SAFE’s Shanghai branch said it didn’t impose new measures but had asked banks to conduct “strength checks on compliance and deal authenticity.” Reuters reported that “a representative from an international bank attending the meeting said there were no written instructions, but a high-ranking SAFE official told them explicitly what was expected of them. ‘You must control your forex deficit, but you can’t say that SAFE is controlling capital outflows,’ the official told the bankers.”
- China’s 2 percent inflation feels more like 20 percent to big-city renters / Bloomberg
Soaring rental and purchase housing prices mean that many urban Chinese have been feeling squeezed despite China’s low official inflation rate of 2 percent. “‘For college graduates in Beijing or Shanghai, rental can take up 50 percent of their pay checks,’ said Ding Shuang, chief China economist at Standard Chartered Plc in Hong Kong, adding that what people spend on will dictate their inflation perceptions.”
- In China, insurers sell risky products to fund risky investments, freaking out regulators / WSJ (paywall)
- Yahoo to become Alibaba alter ego with name change / Caixin
- Alibaba looks to bricks and mortar with bid for mall operator in China / NYT (paywall)
- Bitcoin falls 10% as China plans to investigate exchanges / CNBC
- Why is Nokia’s smartphone comeback limited to China? / Newsweek
POLITICS AND CURRENT AFFAIRS:
- Xi to stress China’s ‘responsible’ global role in Davos / WSJ (paywall)
China’s foreign ministry followed up today on reports from yesterday that Xi Jinping would be the first Chinese head of state to attend the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. The ministry stated that Xi will respond to criticism of China’s economy, “encourage various parties to put economic globalization in perspective, and push forward economic globalization in a more inclusive and equitable way.” As China moves to defend free trade and the upcoming U.S. administration plans to move away from it, it was also reported that there will be “open channels of communication” between the Chinese and American delegations attending Davos.
- China to set up Asia-Pacific security framework amid growing mistrust among its neighbors / SCMP
In its “first policy white paper on Asia-Pacific security cooperation,” Beijing called for more military exchanges and transparent military alliances with its neighbors. But it criticized U.S.-South Korea collaboration to install a missile defense system in Seoul, arguing that “small and medium-sized countries need not and should not take sides among big countries.”
- China’s biggest challenges: 7 things Xi needs to nail in 2017 / Bloomberg
- China is scrubbing outspoken Taiwan and Hong Kong celebrities from its streaming services / Quartz
- Trump through Chinese eyes / Project Syndicate
SOCIETY AND CULTURE:
- China to boost beds, staff to handle healthcare strains / Reuters
As part of its 2016–2020 five-year health plan, China aims to add 89,000 new hospital beds and train 140,000 new obstetricians and nurses by the end of the decade, partly due to the country’s aging population and the relaxation of its one-child policy. According to the new plan, demographic problems are likely to become more pronounced in the coming five years as China’s average life expectancy is expected to increase, along with its population.
- How mixed Chinese-Western couples were treated a century ago / Asia Society
An interview with Emma J. Teng, a professor of Asian civilizations at MIT and author of the book Eurasian: Mixed Identities in the United States, China, and Hong Kong, 1842–1943, on challenges for racially mixed couples in the United States and China in the 19th century and what historical stands can still be felt today.
- Edifice complex: China is the world’s largest skyscraper factory, again / WSJ (paywall)
- China: The secret lives of urban waste pickers / The Guardian
- Hong Kong divided over Forbidden City museum plan / BBC News
- Feminism in China and the Wandering Life: An interview with Maura Elizabeth Cunningham / LA Review of Books
Keep an eye on what’s buzzing among China’s 700 million social media users.
China says no to Pokemon Go over public safety and national security concerns / Beijing Morning Post (in Chinese)
China’s media regulating authority announced on Tuesday that Pokemon Go, along with other augmented reality games, will be banned in China for now until potential security risks related to them are fully evaluated. The authority’s statement explained, “given overseas consumer experience and several cases, games of this genre present big social risks during their operation, such as posing a threat to geographical information security, social transportation safety, and personal safety.” The statement drew mixed reactions online, as some commented that “the government is truly afraid of public gathering,” while others applauded the decision, writing that “national secrets are very likely to be disclosed if the game is introduced to China.”