News roundup: Another day, another missile
New long-range air-to-air missile
The state-run China Daily today published an article that says, “An image released online by the Chinese Air Force has led to speculation that the military is testing a beyond-visual-range, air-to-air missile in combat drills.” Although the piece says that a Chinese Air Force spokesman was “unavailable for comment,” it quotes a PLA Air Force equipment researcher who believes that China has a new missile “that can hit high-value targets such as early-warning planes and aerial refueling aircraft” and estimates the range of the new missile at 400 kilometers, which is much farther than the range of any previous air-to-air missile. Reports of the new missile first surfaced last year when similar images were circulated; at the time, Popular Science published an analysis of its capabilities and implications.
The circulation of photos of the missile and the China Daily story are reminiscent of the unofficial photos of the Dongfeng-41 intercontinental ballistic missile that we highlighted yesterday: a plausibly deniable way of showing that you are carrying a big stick.
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South Korea seeks to keep Beijing friendly
On Tuesday, we noted the cancellation in China of concerts by two South Korean musicians, apparently in retaliation for Seoul’s plan to deploy an advanced U.S. missile defense system on its soil. Today, Reuters reports that the South Korean government “will look to improve communication and cooperation with China” to ensure that South Korean companies do not suffer from a cooling of the relationship.
Open economy, closed internet?
Bloomberg published yesterday an op-ed by Chinese premier Li Keqiang, who wrote: “In a world with a plethora of uncertainties, China offers an anchor of stability and growth with its consistent message of support for reform, openness, and free trade.” Today, Quartz responded with a piece titled “China’s premier just extolled the virtues of openness on a news site blocked by China.”
On the subject of blocking, if you need to use a virtual private network (VPN) in China, the South China Morning Post has a roundup of the possible implications of the latest crackdown on VPN services.
Today on SupChina
The second part of our Sinica Podcast interview with Sidney Rittenberg is live. In this episode, Sidney talks about his time in solitary confinement in China, the behavior of Russian advisers sent to Beijing by the Soviet Union, and much more. We also publish “Vegans in China” by Simone McCarthy, a look into the growth of vegetarianism in the country that consumes more than half the world’s pork.
This issue of the SupChina newsletter was produced by Sky Canaves, Lucas Niewenhuis, and Jiayun Feng. More China stories worth your time are curated below, with the most important ones at the top of each section.
BUSINESS AND TECHNOLOGY:
Apple sues Qualcomm in Beijing seeking 1 billion yuan ($145 million) / Reuters
The dominant American manufacturer of communications chips for mobile phones, Qualcomm, is being sued in a Chinese court twice by Apple, once for unfair market practices and again for breaking a licensing agreement. This follows numerous legal complaints in the past month against Qualcomm, including on January 17 from the U.S. Federal Trade Commission for anti-competitive tactics. Qualcomm was previously the subject of one of China’s highest-profile anti-monopoly cases, which applied a 2008 law to fine the company $975 million in 2015.
In other computer chip news, an official at China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology made a rare public interview to call U.S. concern over Chinese chip investments “unnecessary panic.” Wilbur Ross, the nominee for U.S. secretary of commerce, said last week that he is “very, very concerned” about Chinese investments in the sector. The Obama administration estimated last year that China was spending $150 billion on semiconductor research over the next decade, but China disputes this figure and says it “far, far” exceeds actual spending.
China’s newest problem with fakes threatens bond market plan / Bloomberg
Analysts are predicting a record number of defaults in Chinese corporate debt in 2017, due to a number of factors: the willingness of Chinese executives to engage in unethical behavior to save a struggling business; the recent cases of forged official seals in bond trading worth billions; a “severe lack of risk control” in legal structures around debt and finance; and a trend line based on a skyrocketing number of defaults in 2016 compared with the years before.
- Jack Ma’s Ant Financial pushes into U.S. with $880m Moneygram acquisition / Tech in Asia
- This Chinese soccer team is worth more than AC Milan / Bloomberg
- Toutiao: Chinese news app with 600 million users that you’ve never heard of / MIT Technology Review
- Smog: Who’s cashing in while China chokes? / SCMP
- Trump candidacy grounded coveted China project / WSJ (paywall)
- The little-known role of Western economists in building a post-Mao China / NYT (paywall)
POLITICS AND CURRENT AFFAIRS:
China to drive global nuclear power growth / World Nuclear News
An analysis recently released by BP shows that China is expected to account for close to three-quarters of the global increase in nuclear power capacity by 2035. This follows news earlier in the month that China plans to spend $361 billion to expand non-fossil-fuel energy (wind, hydro, solar, and nuclear) so that by 2020, half of its new power generation is from those sources. China became the world’s top generator of solar energy last year.
China says cities must avoid looking identical in urban development / Reuters
China’s government released a policy document urging cities to protect “special cultural characteristics and symbols” and identifying a “historical responsibility” of the Communist Party to promote traditional Chinese culture. Reuters also reported that the document made a “brief mention” of protecting dialects rather than entirely pushing for the national language to be Mandarin, which has usually been the government policy.
- Ahead of China’s new year, Xi pushes for clean, reformed military / Reuters
- Trump has 1.3 billion reasons not to pick a fight with China / Bloomberg
- Opinion: If the U.S. ever went to war with China, it would be a Trump distraction technique / The Guardian
- China releases new list of items banned for export to North Korea / Yahoo News
SOCIETY AND CULTURE:
When China’s feminists came to Washington / Foreign Policy (paywall)
Among half a million protesters who participated in the Women’s March in Washington on January 21 was a group of Chinese feminists who saw the event “as a chance to combat creeping global misogyny.” Moreover, they hoped their appearance would send a message to Chinese president Xi Jinping’s administration, “who had detained the Feminist Five for ‘disturbing public order’ following ‘subversive’ campaigns against sexual harassment on buses and for more readily accessible women’s bathrooms.”
Chinese create fake Trump tweets as jokes and New Year wishes / SCMP
Jike, a Shanghai-based startup, has created a tool that allows users to create and save images that look like tweets from Donald Trump. The service has become a viral hit this week, with Chinese internet users sending Chinese New Year greetings and making jokes such as “All the universities should cancel the homework and exams for Chinese students to enjoy the Spring Festival” and “To Chinese Fellas, stop PhotoShopping my Twitter, or I swear you will SUFFER SERIOUS CONSEQUENCES!” You can find more fake Trump tweets on Weibo (in Chinese), or you can make your own fake Trump tweets here. Twitter itself is blocked in China.