News roundup: China might not buy your hotel, casino, or soccer club
China to restrict overseas investments by state-owned enterprises
China’s state-owned asset regulator, the State-Owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission (SASAC), has said it will issue a “negative list” of investments abroad that are prohibited for state-owned enterprises (SOEs). SASAC has not yet specified what sectors will be involved, but a report in Caixin (paywall) on the matter mentions that in December, “four government agencies, including the State Administration of Foreign Exchange (SAFE), warned of ‘irrational outbound investment trends’ in some sectors, including property, hotels, cinemas, entertainment and sports clubs.” Caixin notes that the desire to slow down capital outflows and stem the depreciation of the yuan may be factors behind the decision to issue the list.
Today on SupChina
We publish the first part of a Sinica Podcast interview with Sidney Rittenberg, an American who went to China in 1945 as a GI, and lived there until 1980 as an elite Communist Party member who got to know Mao Zedong and Zhou Enlai. However, his connections to the political elite did not spare him from spending 15 years in solitary confinement.
If you missed it, yesterday we published an article on the recent boom in creative nonfiction in China by Tabitha Speelman, and a video interview with Michael Yamashita, the award-winning National Geographic photographer who regularly contributes images to our website.
This issue of the SupChina newsletter was produced by Sky Canaves, Lucas Niewenhuis, and Jia Guo. More China stories worth your time are curated below, with the most important ones at the top of each section.
BUSINESS AND TECHNOLOGY:
First freight train from China to Britain arrives in London / Reuters
The first train to travel all the way to Britain from China arrived in London on Wednesday after a 7,500-mile journey from the trading city of Yiwu. The journey took 18 days, about half the time an ocean carrier would need to complete the trip. The train brought in mostly household items, including clothes, fabrics, bags, and suitcases. London is the 15th European city to have a direct rail link with China. Although this journey was largely symbolic, it represents China’s ambitions to build a transcontinental network that will make the “One Belt, One Road” initiative into something much more substantial than a mere slogan.
- China is America’s ‘vendor,’ and needs to treat its biggest customer better, Trump’s commerce pick says / Quartz
- China says can resolve trade disputes with new U.S. government / Reuters
- Stemming the tide: Six things China can do next to curb outflows / Bloomberg
- China state banks offer funds in bid to cool fierce liquidity squeeze, yuan dips / Reuters
- Dalian: This city is a booming microcosm of China’s new economy / Bloomberg
POLITICS AND CURRENT AFFAIRS:
China says police and judges need absolute loyalty to party / Reuters
This week, government statements and state media have emphasized ideological purity and loyalty to the Communist Party from media, educational institutions, and the judiciary. The latest call for loyalty goes out to the police: Reuters reports on a statement released by the official Xinhua News Agency on Wednesday, which calls on law enforcement and judicial officials to have “clear political beliefs” and “stay absolutely loyal to the party.”
- China’s top graft buster says officials should be made to sweat / Reuters
- China’s Xi Jinping says Paris climate deal must not be allowed to fail / The Guardian
- China says Philippines’ Duterte to visit again as ties warm up / Reuters
SOCIETY AND CULTURE:
Lotus plumbs the history of Chinese “flower girls” & modern-day sex work / Refinery 29
Zhang Lijia is the author of “Socialism Is Great!” A Worker’s Memoir of the New China. In this article, she writes about how finding out that her grandmother was a “flower girl” — a euphemism for prostitute — inspired her to write her newly published novel, Lotus.
- Film review: ‘Some Like It Hot’ more like lukewarm water / China Film Insider
- In China, pollution fears are both literal and metaphorical / NPR
- Parking in China can be a long march / WSJ (paywall)
- China health plan threatened by shortage of family doctors / Financial Times (paywall)
- China city bans second-time wedding banquets / BBC News
- Stanford’s Beijing study abroad program suspended indefinitely / Stanford Daily