News roundup: An airport in Tibet near disputed border with India

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Top China news for March 6, 2017. Get this daily digest delivered to your inbox by signing up at

India wary as large new airport terminal in Tibet opens

The second-largest airport terminal in the Tibet Autonomous Region began operating today in Nyingchi, close to the border with the Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh, part of which China claims as its own. Xinhua News Agency says that the airport will be “able to handle 750,000 passengers and 3,000 tonnes of cargo throughput annually by 2020.”

The Times of India comments that China’s extensive infrastructure development in Tibet “has sparked concerns in India as it also provides major advantage to the Chinese military.” In related news, on Friday, foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said that “China is gravely concerned over information that India has granted permission to the Dalai Lama to visit Arunachal Pradesh.” According to the Indian Express, Geng warned India against allowing the visit to the disputed border region, “saying it would cause ‘serious damage’ to bilateral ties and peace.”  

China’s military budget up by 7 percent

A report from the Finance Ministry distributed on Sunday at the opening of the National People’s Congress did not include military spending figures as is customary. But state media today said that China’s military budget for 2017 will increase by 7 percent to 1.044 trillion yuan ($151.43 billion), which is about a quarter of planned American defense spending for the year. The rise is the smallest percentage in more than a decade. Bloomberg has a comprehensive report on the defense budget and the worries abroad about China’s transparency on its military spending and activities.

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China to “open up like never before”

Xinhua News Agency says that “China is seen as the anchor of globalization” and has noted remarks by premier Li Keqiang that detail “unprecedented opening-up measures to the outside world.” The report says that foreign firms will be able to list on China’s stock markets, participate in national science and technology projects, and be treated the same as domestic firms in license applications and government procurement.

Video memoirs of a China legal scholar

Jerome Cohen is a highly respected scholar who has been studying Chinese law since the 1960s. He has published a series of video memoirs covering his time in China in the 1970s, a visit to North Korea, and many other subjects, including some of the prominent legal and human rights cases he has worked on during his long career.

Donald Trump or the Wanli Emperor?

Zhu Yijun, normally called the Wanli Emperor, ruled China from 1572 to 1620 in the late Ming dynasty, overseeing a period of steady decline. A humorous website about “American decline” has published an amusing post that compares the famously neglectful emperor with the current president of the United States.

This issue of the SupChina newsletter was produced by Sky Canaves, 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.


  • Baidu rumored to invest in electric car startup solidifying autonomous car strategy / TechNode
    Internet giant Baidu reportedly plans to invest about $100 million in NextEV, a high-end electric car manufacturer founded in Shanghai in November 2014. The alliance is intended to boost Baidu’s faltering autonomous driving business. NextEV has raised more than $600 million since June 2015, and last year launched its first electric car — the NIO EP9.
  • How China’s Airbnb copycats beat the Silicon Valley titan at its own game / SCMP
    Zhu Bai Jia is a Shenzhen-based startup founded in 2012 that assists Chinese outbound tourists with short-term rentals in some 70 countries, and also helps them plan entire trips. Airbnb launched a similar service last year. “The joke in our sector is that ‘China used to copy Silicon Valley, but now it is Silicon Valley that copies China,”’ according to Li Le, a spokesperson for Zhu Bai Jia.


  • 30 dead as intense fighting breaks out in Myanmar-China border town / SCMP
    At least 30 people were killed earlier today after clashes between ethnic rebels and Myanmar security forces broke out in Laukkai, a town in the Chinese-speaking Kokang region on Myanmar’s border with China. The attacks came after Aung San Suu Kyi, the Nobel Peace Prize winner who became the leader of the National League for Democracy in November 2015, tried to convince a delegation of ethnic armed groups to participate in a major peace conference during a meeting last week. The attacks are some of the worst to break out in Kokang since an incident in 2015 that left dozens dead and resulted in tens of thousands of people fleeing to China.
  • Police detain two men for instigating people to smash Korean cars / (in Chinese)
    In news reminiscent of the anti-Japanese protests of 2012, police in Qidong, Jiangsu Province, have detained two men for posting a call on social media to smash cars made by Korean companies. Three people were arrested for acting on the call. There has been a coordinated blockade of South Korean business in China following Seoul’s decision to deploy the American THAAD missile defense system. There is widespread anti-Korean sentiment online in China: Until recently, a search for South Korea (韩国 Hánguó) on Chinese social media would show mostly postings about Korean pop music, TV dramas, and cosmetic surgery, but today, most of the search results on Weibo (in Chinese) for that country are invective.


  • Sex education textbook recalled by school after complaints from parents / Global Times (in Chinese)
    A groundbreaking Chinese elementary school textbook on sexual education stirred debate on Sina Weibo over the weekend. Featuring explicit illustrations of intercouse and controversial topics like homosexuality, the book first came to public attention when a mother from Hangzhou posted several photos of illustrations in the book to the social media platform Weibo and wrote, “Is it appropriate for a second-grade kid to study this?” According to China’s News Service, the materials involved had undergone strict scrutiny before being published. Many internet users praised the book as an advanced move for China’s sexual education, which has been criticized as deficient for many years. The book also contains information intended to teach children how to protect themselves against sexual abuse. At least one school (in Hangzhou) decided to recall the books.
  • No more utopias / LA Review of Books
    In “Foreigners Under Mao: Western Lives in China, 1949-1976,” author Beverly Hooper depicts “the Mao-era experiences of that tiny community of Western diplomats, journalists, foreign experts, and students — along with a very special cohort, the ‘long-term friends of China,’ consisting mostly of Americans and a few Brits who saw the Chinese Communist Party as the bright hope for a socialist future.”