Mad about THAAD
The U.S. military began deploying the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system to South Korea on Monday to protect against a possible missile attack from North Korea. Talks about the deployment began more than a year ago, much to the displeasure of the Chinese government, which sees the move as a dangerous change to the strategic balance in northeast Asia. As the installation of the missile system began, Xinhua News Agency released several reports reiterating China’s opposition. Foreign ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said, “We will take steps to maintain our security interests,” and he urged the U.S. and Korea to stop deployment. Another Xinhua article said that Seoul was “hurriedly pushing the deployment of THAAD…as part of efforts to break through political difficulties facing impeached President Park Geun-hye and the conservative bloc.” A more strongly worded article in Chinese by Xinhua is headlined “America and South Korea to bear all consequences of the THAAD deployment.”
In anticipation of deployment, the last few months have seen a growing number of retaliatory actions against South Korea by China, and widespread criticism from Chinese citizens online. Yesterday, we noted that Chinese police had detained two men for inciting people to smash up Korean-brand cars. Reuters reports that South Korea is considering filing a WTO complaint against China because of the coordinated boycott. The Washington Post has a good roundup of related news, including a video of the THAAD missiles arriving in South Korea on a U.S. military plane.
Lung transplant center opens in Beijing hospital
The China-Japan Friendship Hospital in Beijing has opened a lung transplant center as part of an effort to build a system to treat a variety of respiratory diseases. Respiratory health has become a serious issue in China, which has an aging population, high smoking rates, and severe air pollution. Lung cancer is the most common type of cancer in China, with more than 700,000 new cases of the disease in 2015. Xinhua News Agency has a report (in Chinese) on the new lung transplant center. In January, Bloomberg published an article titled “China’s airpocalypse paves a path for new cancer medicines,” which looks at new investments in pharmacology and health care.
The uses of Trump
The South China Morning Post reports that the Communist Party chief of Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, one of China’s major Muslim provinces, “has cited U.S. President Donald Trump’s immigration policies in stressing the need to combat religious extremism.” On March 3, the English language Twitter account of the People’s Daily called media reports of the torture of a detained Chinese lawyer “fake news” (see this New York Times article [paywall] for more). Yesterday, the English website of the People’s Daily published an opinion piece by an American writer that doubles down on the fake news accusation; it concludes, “Rather than slander Trump, or China for that matter, the Western media should look in the mirror and reflect on why a sitting U.S. president is lashing out at them.”
Video of American journalist’s question at NPC goes viral
Anthony Kuhn is an international correspondent for NPR with many years of experience in China. At a press conference of the National Development and Reform Commission at this week’s National People’s Congress, Kuhn used his fluent Chinese to ask two questions about people affected by the Beijing-Tianjian-Hebei integration project, and then translated his own question into English, astonishing the official interpreter. A video of his questions has gone viral on the Chinese internet and attracted thousands of comments on social media (in Chinese).
Today on SupChina
“The naked poetry of Ren Hang,” by Simone McCarthy, reflects on the tragically short life of one of China’s most provocative and promising young photographers.
This issue of the SupChina newsletter was produced by Sky Canaves, Lucas Niewenhuis, and Jia Guo. More China stories worth your time are curated below, with the most important ones at the top of each section.
BUSINESS AND TECHNOLOGY:
Go long China, short U.S.: 5 smart stock trades / Barron’s (paywall)
One well-known investor has no confidence that the Trump rally will last. Marc Faber, who first became famous by advising clients to get out of the stock market before the October 1987 crash, believes that optimism about U.S. stock markets caused by the perception that the current president is business-friendly is misplaced, and that Chinese stocks offer a better long-term investment. Barron’s offers its own stock tips based on Faber’s theory: Sell shares in American companies such as ExxonMobil, Verizon, JPMorgan Chase, Apple, and Nike, and buy into their Chinese counterparts such as PetroChina, China Mobile, China Construction Bank, Tencent, and Anta Sports. It should be noted that Faber has a long history of bearish views on the American economy.
European businesses attack China high-tech push / Financial Times (paywall)
The EU Chamber of Commerce in Beijing today released a 70-page report on China’s industrial policy, known as Made in China 2025. Calling the initiative “highly problematic,” it cites as a major issue the “intense pressure” on European companies to “turn over advanced technology in exchange for near-term market access.” Made in China 2025, also translated as China Manufacturing 2025, names 10 sectors in which China should dominate locally and be competitive globally, including robotics, advanced medical technology, semiconductors, and new energy vehicles. The Center for Strategic & International Studies has a primer on Made in China 2025 here; the Chinese government’s page on the project is here.
- China to send Chang’e-5 lunar probe into space in 2017 – probe to return with lunar samples this year / People’s Daily
- China to develop satellite-delivery rockets released from airplanes / China Daily
- China’s city land sales surge 73 percent despite cooling measures / SCMP
- China is worried that ‘deglobalization’ and protectionism will threaten its growth / Quartz
- China to strictly control local government debt quotas: finance minister / Reuters
POLITICS AND CURRENT AFFAIRS:
China calls for ceasefire after Myanmar border region clashes / Reuters
Following the fighting yesterday in the Chinese-speaking Kokang region of Myanmar that left 30 dead, China has called for a ceasefire and announced that it is providing humanitarian aid for those fleeing the violence. Kokang is a part of northeastern Myanmar that borders Yunnan Province in southwestern China. The largely ethnically Chinese Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA) organized the attacks on government outposts in the city of Laukkai in response to Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi’s efforts at peace talks. The border region has seen significant ethnic violence in the past; for instance, in 2015, the MNDAA was involved in much larger clashes that led to tens of thousands of refugees flooding across the border to China.
Real economy, SOEs crucial for development of NE province: Xi / Xinhua
Northeastern Liaoning Province had a rough year in 2016. As the core of an economic rust belt that depends heavily on steel production and other basic industrial outputs seeing less demand, it was the only Chinese province to dip into a recession in the last year. Further amplifying its recent problems were an election fraud scandal and the admission that the regional government had faked economic data. Today, Xinhua reported on a meeting during which President Xi Jinping discussed how to restart Liaoning’s economy. A primary emphasis in the discussion was on how state-owned enterprises can become more innovative and link up new and old technology.
- Taiwanese universities may be self-censoring political discussion to attract Chinese students – the number of students coming from the mainland is up 4,000% since 2007 / Quartz
- Calls for Chinese judges and Chinese-language judgements following conviction of 7 police officers / Hong Kong Free Press
- China’s brightest journalists argue they’re not brainwashed, but maintaining an orderly society / Quartz
- First cruises, now flights… China plans to fly tourists to disputed South China Sea islands – see also a report from half a year ago on ‘conflict tourism’ / SCMP
SOCIETY AND CULTURE:
Teen in custody for insulting migrants on Beijing subway / Sixth Tone
A 17-year-old man on a Beijing subway over the weekend was filmed calling two women “outsider bitches,” among other offensive terms. The confrontation started when the two women asked passengers to scan a QR code on their phone to follow their startup company on social media, and ended when the train pulled into a station with the man pushing one of the women out of the door. The video clip (included in the article linked above) went viral and started a social debate about the discrimination that migrants face in Beijing.
Hugo Award winner Hao Jingfang releases interactive fiction / Xinhua
Hao Jingfang 郝景芳, winner of a 2016 Hugo Award for science fiction for her novelette Folding Beijing, has published a new work of “interactive fiction,” which she wrote with five other authors. The work is about the founding of the Western Han Dynasty (206 BCE–AD 24) and allows readers to choose different storylines. You can read it at Qiaobooks.com for a fee of 9.9 yuan ($1.40). You can listen to a Sinica Podcast with Ken Liu, translator of Folding Beijing here, and read a SupChina roundup of notable recent Chinese science fiction here.
- Death by a thousand job cuts: The human cost of China’s zombie firms / SCMP
- How China’s rush to urbanize has created a slew of ghost towns / SCMP
- Cities and data: China’s weapons in the battle for clean air / BBC News
- ‘Parched’ Chinese city plans to pump water from Russian lake via 1,000-kilometer pipeline / The Guardian