Trump brand wins in China, raises ethics questions back home
For more than a decade, Donald Trump has struggled to gain control over his name in real estate in China. A man named Dong Wei filed a trademark application for the name “Trump” for construction services a mere two weeks before The Donald in 2006, and initially won the rights on a first-come-first-served basis. Despite endless lawsuits, Trump could not win back his name in China — until now. The granting of a 10-year trademark for construction resolves just one of nearly 50 pending trademark applications that Trump has in the country.
The case may reflect a reforming culture of intellectual property protection in China, but it could also reflect an effort by Beijing to win favor with the new Washington administration. Yesterday, the top ethics lawyers for both the George W. Bush and Barack Obama administrations strongly advised against Trump accepting any trademark rulings in his favor in China while sitting as president. They called such actions, even committed tacitly, a “terrible idea” and “highly improper,” as any special treatment from Beijing that gives something of value to the U.S. president would violate the Emoluments Clause of the U.S. Constitution, barring explicit approval from the American Congress.
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Chinese drone taxis in Dubai
Caixin reports that Chinese drone maker EHang announced that it will supply passenger-carrying drones to Dubai, the largest city in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The EHang 184 model is apparently able to carry one person and a small suitcase with a combined weight of 117 kilograms (258 pounds) and fly for half an hour, or 50 kilometers (31 miles), on a single charge.
—Jeremy Goldkorn, Editor in Chief
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:
On inequality in China / Thomas Piketty’s Blog
Thomas Piketty, author of the best-selling Capital in the Twenty-First Century, comments that despite China’s tremendous accumulation of wealth, “the growth in income of the poorest 50% of the Chinese population has only been half the average [in China].” Some academic research has further indicated that China’s true level of wealth inequality may have surpassed the United States over a decade ago, and that government policy on regional development and urbanization have exacerbated the problem.
The accumulation and expression of wealth in China have increasingly resembled that of the United States and other advanced capitalist economies. Bloomberg yesterday published an article on the city of Yuhuang Shannan, an enclave outside of Shanghai specifically for wealthy hedge fund managers (a new phenomenon in China, where hedge funds weren’t recognized by the government until 2012) much like Greenwich, Connecticut, is the center for New York hedge funders.
- China’s holdings of treasuries dropped in 2016 by most on record / Bloomberg
- What’s in the short leash on China’s insurers — risk or politics? / SCMP
- U.S. business in China warms to possible Trump trade policy shake-up / Reuters
- China piles into Cuba as Venezuela fades and Trump looms / Reuters
POLITICS AND CURRENT AFFAIRS:
Armed police out in full force after deadly Xinjiang terror attack / SCMP
Three knife-wielding attackers, identified anecdotally as part of the Uighur ethnic minority group, killed five and wounded five residents of Pishan County in far-western Xinjiang Province. Police on high alert now patrol every 10 to 20 meters in Pishan, SCMP reports. The last year has seen an intensification of the police state in Xinjiang under its new provincial Party boss, Chen Quanguo 陈全国. For more on the state of affairs for Uighurs in Xinjiang, see a detailed roundup published earlier in the month by the Jamestown Foundation.
China’s military progress challenges Western dominance, says IISS / Deutsche Welle
A new report from the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies claims that China is reaching “near-parity” with Western countries in military technology, particularly air power. Though China remains far behind the United States in military spending, it has comfortably claimed the number two spot and is now far ahead of any single European country. Advanced Chinese air-to-air and nuclear-enabled missiles, as well as the nation’s striking advances in “intelligent” weaponry, have recently received much attention.
- Amid protests, China aluminum firm says eco standards met / ABC News
- EU preparing early China summit in message to Trump – sources / Reuters
- Analysis: Stuck in the middle – on the self-censorship of Chinese media / China Media Project
- Opinion: Maybe Trump worries Xi, but another matter is of more immediate concern – argues that Xi is far more concerned with internal Party discipline / Politics from the Provinces
- China considering making foreign submersibles travel on surface / Reuters
- Chinese students in the U.S. are using ‘inclusion’ and ‘diversity’ to oppose a Dalai Lama graduation speech / Quartz
SOCIETY AND CULTURE:
After being James, Peter, and William, I decided to stick with my Chinese name / Quartz
Earlier this month at Columbia University in New York, a number of East Asian students with distinctive non-Western names reported that their name tags were ripped off from their dormitory doors at several residential halls across the campus. The vandalism promoted an investigation conducted by the university’s Office of Multicultural Affairs and a student-made video that went viral on the internet and has garnered 288,000 views so far on Facebook. In the video, Columbia students of Chinese origin explain the meaning of their last names and the reason why keeping a Chinese name, instead of a English one, while interacting with Westerners is important to them. In response to the buzz created by the video, Quartz writer Zheping Huang wrote this personal essay to tell his story of why he used his Chinese name for his bylines.
Police use app to solicit Chaoyang’s online masses to nab lawbreakers / Global Times
Police in Beijing’s Chaoyang district have developed a new smartphone app for locals to easily report suspected illegal behavior. Named after the famous police informants cháoyáng qúnzhòng (朝阳群众), or “Chaoyang masses,” the app “aims to strengthen the relationship between the police and the public, and to fully tap the potential of Chaoyang residents in fighting against crimes,” according to an announcement posted by Chaoyang police on Weibo. On the app, users can anonymously provide tip-offs by uploading videos, photos, and text related to all kinds of suspicious activities such as child trafficking, criminal suspects, and traffic violations. The app also allows users to check on the progress of their reported cases. Over the years, “Chaoyang masses” gained their reputation by successfully bringing several Chinese celebrities who were involved in drug taking and prostitution to justice, including Jaycee Chan, Hong Kong kung fu star Jackie Chan’s son, who was arrested for drug use in August 2014. The snitching app is jokingly called the world’s fifth-largest intelligence group after the United States’ CIA, the Soviet-era KGB, Israel’s Mossad, and Britain’s MI6 by Xinhua News Agency.
- China bird flu deaths surge in what could be the worst season ever / Reuters
- Stark, erotic images of Chinese youth stirs controversy / CNN
- Lao Gan Ma: The story of China’s most spicy godmother Tao Huabi / What’s on Weibo
- Is China on a collision course with world football’s governing body? – considering possible connections between soccer team acquisitions and the Chinese government / China Policy Institute: Analysis
- Fighting on behalf of China’s women — from the United States / NYT (paywall)
- In China, a lonely Valentine’s Day for millions of men / NYT (paywall)
- ‘Pangolin Princess’ detained in China after posting images online of cooked wildlife / The Telegraph