Chinese foreign minister calls for independent Palestinian state
On April 13, Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad Al-Maliki was in Beijing, where he met with his Chinese counterpart, Wang Yi. They held a joint press briefing in which Wang noted that this year is the 70th anniversary of the adoption by the UN General Assembly of the resolution on the partition of Palestine and Israel, which gives Israel and Palestine the right to establish their own country, but that Palestine has not yet been able to establish an independent, sovereign state. He said that this is “unfair,” and that “this kind of historical injustice must be corrected and should not go on.” The Chinese foreign ministry has a readout of the press conference (in Chinese); Reuters has a short report on Al-Maliki’s visit.
The meeting comes just a few weeks after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu came to China with a huge business delegation and met with President Xi Jinping, signing a number of deals in the aviation, education, science, health, and environmental sectors, as well as an accord that will allow “thousands of Chinese workers to come to Israel to work in the building industry.” Despite its historical support of many Middle Eastern governments and causes, China has had a highly cordial relationship with Israel since the opening of diplomatic ties in 1992.
Nuclear power for China’s third aircraft carrier?
In February, state media announced that China was close to completing its second aircraft carrier, and the first such vessel to be domestically built from scratch. The Liaoning, China’s first carrier put into use by the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN), was completed using the shell of a ship partly built in Ukraine by the Soviet Union. The country’s second carrier, so far named 001A, is scheduled to begin sea trials in 2019, and is, according to the Global Times, “China-built,” and will feature “much more advanced…design, combat capability and technologies.” The article also quotes another expert who says that “to protect China’s territories and overseas interests,” the country will need “two carrier strike groups in the West Pacific Ocean and two in the Indian Ocean,” or at least “five to six aircraft carriers.”
Today’s People’s Daily carries an article (in Chinese) on the development of China’s third aircraft carrier, which will also be wholly domestically built. The piece quotes Xu Guangyu 徐光裕, a retired PLA major general involved in the rebuilding of the Liaoning, who says that the third carrier will be developed by “taking a lot of little steps at a fast pace” and that it may be nuclear powered. He also says that aircraft taking off from the new ship may do so using electromagnetic technology, whereas the Liaoning and 001A carriers use the “ski-jump” method, taking off from a ramp on the front of the carrier.
How WeChat censorship works
The Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto has released a report on censorship at WeChat, China’s most popular mobile messaging and networking platform owned by internet giant Tencent. The report explains the blocking of some activists’ accounts, some details behind the way keywords are filtered, and new revelations about the censorship of “sensitive” images on the platform.
Women and China:
A Forum on How Women Are Shaping the Rising Global Power
SupChina’s conference in New York on May 18 will feature 20 women leaders in Chinese technology, business, and culture. Read all about it and book your early-bird tickets up until April 18.
A date with you?
Dear reader, a question on dates: Do you prefer us to refer to events as happening “today,” even though it might mean yesterday if you’re reading us in China or the day after we send our email? Or would you prefer us to write that something happened “on April 13”?
As always, you can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and we appreciate your feedback on this question or anything else.
—Jeremy Goldkorn, Editor-in-Chief
Sinica Podcast with Virginia Kamsky
Today on Sinica, we speak with one of the leading foreign businesspeople in China and a legend of the U.S.-China commercial relationship. Virginia Kamsky gives her insight into the opportunities and pitfalls of doing business in the country as a woman and as a foreigner.
Geely: The astonishing rise of a small Chinese car company
Ahead of the Shanghai International Automobile Industry Exhibition (Auto Shanghai) that starts on April 21, we publish an inside look into one Chinese car company by Michael Dunne.
This issue of the SupChina newsletter was produced by Sky Canaves, Lucas Niewenhuis, Jia Guo, 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:
Investor expectations through the roof on Xiongan
The announcement on the weekend before last of a new city-by-fiat about 100 kilometers (62 miles) southwest of Beijing called the Xiongan New Area (雄安新区 xióng ān xīnqū) caused an immediate real estate boom, swiftly followed by a suspension of property purchases to stop speculation. The ban on housing sales did not cool investor enthusiasm for listed companies connected to the area. Further details emerged that among the first organizations to move to the new city will be research institutes affiliated to government ministries that are currently located in Beijing.
Xiongan continues to attract attention from investors and media. The South China Morning Post says it may become “China’s biggest public works project, ever.” Bloomberg calls it a “$290 billion dream to turn backwater into a new Shenzhen.” The SCMP report notes a Morgan Stanley analysis that estimates Xiongan could end up attracting four to eight times as much investment as the Beijing Olympics. Bloomberg, meanwhile, quotes an investor who expects that “in five years, Xiongan New Area is going to be the most high-end tech center.”
High expectations for Xiongan are being guided by state media, as a top headline in the People’s Daily declared (in Chinese) Xiongan to be part of a “large-scale project to last a millennium,” overseen directly from the “core” authority of President Xi Jinping. However, a large portion of the project seems directed toward a short-term goal — stimulating the steel industry — while eschewing its stated long-term goal of building a “green” city.
- Now in Shenzhen: Ex-DJI employees launch mobile power station / TechNode
- Chinese investment in U.S. tech startups may have already peaked / Recode
- China’s Silk Road push in Pakistan edges out U.S. investments / Bloomberg
- China’s construction firms expand so they can bid strongly for U.S. infrastructure projects / SCMP
POLITICS AND CURRENT AFFAIRS:
More than 24 hours after Xi Jinping’s phone call with Donald Trump, an article (in Chinese) about the conversation is still one of the top headlines on Chinese state media. There is plenty of other reporting and punditry on the new American president and what he means for China and North Korea, but not much is clear except that Donald Trump has reversed much of his campaign rhetoric, and that China may be willing to give some concessions to the U.S. on trade and North Korea. A sampling of the coverage is below:
- Shanghaiist: After listening to Xi explain Chinese-Korean history for 10 minutes, Trump realizes ‘it’s not so easy’
- Global Times: Trump’s reversal on Chinese currency a welcome move
- People’s Daily (in Chinese): Trump says American government will not label China a ‘currency manipulator’
- People’s Daily (in Chinese): Trump’s ‘Asia Pacific Strategy’ is just an upgraded version of the desire to control Northeast Asia
- Washington Post: Trump says he will not label China currency manipulator, reversing campaign promise
- Wall Street Journal (paywall): Trump says dollar ‘getting too strong,’ won’t label China a currency manipulator
- Wall Street Journal (paywall): Trump says he offered China better trade terms in exchange for help on North Korea
- Why is Xi Jinping giving Guangdong a rare thumbs-up ahead of China’s power reshuffle? / SCMP
- Rewards of up to 5 million yuan offered for terrorism tip-offs by remote area in China’s Xinjiang / SCMP
- China’s nuclear get-out clause over defense of North Korea / SCMP
- Philippines’ Duterte cancels visit to disputed South China Sea island / Reuters
- Opinion: Australia is sleepwalking into a confrontation with China / Sydney Morning Herald
- Book review: China’s ‘trial of the century’ spotlights changes in legal profession / Bloomberg
SOCIETY AND CULTURE:
Notoriously strict high school gets cold welcome in Zhejiang
Hengshui High School in Hebei has gained infamy over the years for its militarized teaching style and excessive emphasis on student performance. It opened a branch in Jiaxing, a city near Shanghai in Zhejiang Province, on March 26, stirring up a storm in educational circles in the city and on social media.
The new campus offers a glimpse of the teaching method adopted by the school. According to Zhejiang News (in Chinese), one of the newly renovated buildings on campus carries a slogan that reads, “When you open your eyes in the morning, the competition begins.” Along the road adjacent to a dorm building, portraits of students who graduated from Hengshui High School and excelled in the country’s national college entrance exam, the gaokao (高考 gāokǎo), are displayed. Last year, 139 graduates of Hengshui were admitted to Peking and Tsinghua universities — the top two tertiary educational institutions in China — making up nearly half of the successful applicants from Hebei Province.
However, the new branch school in Zhejiang has faced fierce criticism from local education experts and internet users. “The school only cares about scores but lacks humanity, which is not suitable for our quality education in Zhejiang, which is people-oriented,” Fang Hongfeng 方洪峰, an official at the provincial Department of Education, told the Global Times. On the social media platform Weibo, many commenters expressed similar concerns: “Hengshui High School has already destroyed students in Hebei. Please don’t introduce its teaching style to other provinces,” an online commenter wrote (in Chinese).
- Mammoth tusk haul seized by Chinese customs / BBC
- Runners from around the world are flocking to marathons hosted by China’s most toxic cities / Quartz
- China’s grim rural boarding schools / The Economist (paywall)
- This is the wedding dress capital of the world / Smithsonian Magazine
- This is what one of China’s newest luxury internet cafes looks like / Mashable
- Spring attracts hundreds of climbers to Tibet’s peaks / China Daily