News roundup: Does China’s space program threaten NASA’s dominance?

Business & Technology

Top China news for November 28, 2016. Get this daily digest delivered to your inbox by signing up at

‘RIP, friend of China’ – the country reacts to Castro’s death

On Saturday, November 26, President Xi Jinping sent a message of condolence to Cuban president Raúl Castro after the death of his brother, the revolutionary leader Fidel Castro, on Friday. The message (in English here) and news of Castro’s death dominated central state media over the weekend. What’s on Weibo summarizes reactions from Chinese social media in an article titled “‘RIP, friend of China’ – Chinese netizens light virtual candles for ‘Comrade’ Castro.”

China’s relationship with Cuba was not always easy: CNN notes that “Havana and Beijing established diplomatic relations in 1960, but their opposing positions in the Cold War resulted in little substantive interaction between the countries for more than two decades… Relations didn’t fully resume until 1989, and Castro made his first and only state visit to China in 1995.”

In other news, Bloomberg published a package about China’s space program. There is a video titled “China’s billion-dollar space plan, along with an article, “China’s secretive space program threatens NASA’s dominance,” which explores how China has become “NASA’s biggest rival in space exploration with plans to land ‘taikonauts’ on the moon by 2036 and Mars thereafter.” Also worth a look is the description of a military base at the center of the program, “where the Great Wall ends and the desolation of the Gobi Desert begins,” and from where China’s manned rockets blast off.

In addition, U.S. president-elect Trump continues to generate media coverage in China, although he is not always mentioned by name, as in this People’s Daily article that is titled “World should uphold globalization: Chinese premier.”

The main story in Monday’s Chinese central state media was the United Nations secretary-general-elect Antonio Guterres’s visit to Beijing. Those reports focused on China’s commitment to “firm support” for the UN, while Reuters highlighted calls by Guterres “for human rights respect” at a press conference with the Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi. Guterres, the former prime minister of Portugal, will begin his five-year term succeeding Ban Ki-moon as the world’s top diplomat on January 1, 2017.

More China news worth your time is summarized below.


  • China to curb megadeals as regulators tame record overseas spree / Bloomberg
    Sources say that the government plans to introduce numerous restrictions of Chinese deals abroad, barring most investments that exceed $10 billion and limiting investments of $1 billion or more through September 2017.
  • China’s rust belt faces exodus of young talent / Financial Times
    The trend has worried leaders in Beijing, says Zhou Jianping, the director of the department charged with northeast China’s economic transition at the National Development and Reform Commission. “Most of the people who left that region are elites, at the management level or the backbone of production lines,” he states.
  • Millennial workers force factory rethink in China / Financial Times
    “Unlike their parents, who saw a factory job as a rare opportunity to get ahead, today’s young Chinese workers have more options, especially in the fast-expanding service sector, and want more control over their lives, rather than being forced into long overtime shifts.”
  • Shenzhen Connect offers Chinese stocks. Will the world buy? / NYT
    “Global investors will be able to tap China’s tech-heavy Shenzhen market, but many investors worry about last year’s crash and government interference.”
  • China’s ball of money is rolling back to commodities / Bloomberg
    “Fundamental issues of declining supply and rising demand are partly to blame, but market watchers reckon that an uptick in trading volumes smacks of speculation, likely nudged by tightening measures in property markets.”
  • Opinion: What China’s ‘export machine’ can teach Trump about globalization / The Conversation
    “The impact of Chinese companies investing abroad looks likely to be as big, or bigger, than that of its exports,” writes Penelope B. Prime. “If the next administration carries out its campaign promises, then the U.S. may miss out on many of the benefits of foreign investment altogether from China and elsewhere, such as revitalized towns with new jobs and tax-paying businesses.”
  • Chinese tech firm LeEco uses Black Friday to introduce itself to U.S. shoppers / LA Times
    Although the company has some flashy marketing efforts and an expanding array of products and business lines, “technology analysts doubt that LeEco stands a chance with its current consumer electronic lineup in the U.S., where companies such as Apple, Samsung and Sony have built their brands and enormous marketing budgets over decades.”
  • ‘Social’ feature turns China’s Alipay into a hook-up app / WSJ
    A new feature on the Alibaba-affiliated Alipay allowed only women to post images in public groups and restricted male users’ ability to engage with the social functions based on their credit ratings.



  • Animosity in a Burmese hub deepens as Chinese get richer / NYT
    Tensions in Mandalay have been rising as locals view the Chinese coming to the city to do business as “interlopers who take advantage of Mandalay’s location close to India and Bangladesh, Laos and Thailand, as well as a large swath of southern China.” Moreover, The New York Times writes, “some of the Chinese view the Burmese as beneath them, slow at business and making money.”
  • China’s giant smog-sucking tower was simply no match for its air pollution / Quartz
    The Smog Free Tower in Beijing was touted for its ability to purify 1 million cubic feet of air per hour, but an NGO’s testing found that it is failing to live up to the claims.
  • The place in China where the women lead / NPR
    The matrilineal Mosuo society in Yunnan Province has drawn an increasing number of tourists over the years, and while the tourism boom has helped alleviate the poverty and isolation of the ethnic minority group, it is also eroding traditional family structures.