Protest turns violent in Paris after police shoot Chinese man
Xinhua News Agency reports that a police officer in Paris shot dead a Chinese national at his home in the French capital on Sunday night “after a neighbor called the police to report a domestic dispute.” The police said that he had attacked an officer “with a sharp object,” but his family disputes this account. The BBC reports that one of the man’s daughters said he “had gone to the door holding a pair of scissors he had been using to prepare fish,” and that the police officers smashed the door in and then shot him. On Monday, around 150 Chinese people living in Paris organized a protest, which turned violent. According to the South China Morning Post, “demonstrators broke down barricades, threw projectiles and set fire to a car during the clashes with police that lasted several hours.” Police used batons and tear gas to disperse the protesters. On Tuesday, the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs called on the French government to protect its citizens living in France. The French foreign ministry responded with a statement that “the security of all Chinese nationals in France is a priority of the…authorities.”
There is a video interview with four of the man’s five children (in French) on a Facebook page for Chinese people living in France. The case is generating significant amounts of discussion on Chinese social media, with some people calling for a boycott of French companies, and others saying that this is just the way the police operate in Western countries.
Women and China: A SupChina-sponsored forum
We’re organizing a conference on May 18 in New York with female speakers who are movers and shakers in technology, business, and journalism in China. Please click here to book tickets.
Too many taxes and fees!
In 2014, Zong Qinghou 宗庆后, chairman of beverage maker Wahaha Group and one of China’s richest people, very publicly complained that excessive taxes and fees levied by local governments were placing an unfair burden on companies and hampering economic growth. The People’s Daily reports (in Chinese) that Zong’s complaints have reached the ears of Premier Li Keqiang, and the central government has cut 496 administrative fees, while local governments have canceled more than 600 types of levies. However, a reporter dispatched to the city of Tianjin and the provinces of Hubei and Gansu found that many businesspeople still feel that there are too many taxes and administrative fees such as “education surcharges, water conservancy construction funds, and cultural construction costs.”
Hu Jintao makes an appearance at a cremation ceremony
Former president Hu Jintao has made very few public appearances, but he is featured in a slightly ghoulish video published by Xinhua News Agency showing a cremation ceremony for Wan Guoquan 万国权, who died in Beijing at the age of 99. Other attendees include current president Xi Jinping and all other members of the Politburo Standing Committee aside from Li Keqiang, who was on his way back from a visit to Australia and New Zealand. Wan’s father was an associate of Zhang Xueliang 张雪亮, one of the men responsible for kidnapping Chiang Kai-shek in the Xi’an incident in 1936 that forced Chiang into forming a temporary alliance with the Communist Party. Wang himself worked on United Front operations as a member of the China Democratic National Construction Association and Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference.
—Jeremy Goldkorn, Editor-in-Chief
Healthcare — China vs. U.S.A.
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:
Billions and billions for ride-share giant Didi and Tesla
Didi Chuxing, China’s largest ride-hailing service, which bought Uber’s business in the country last year, is negotiating a $6 billion investment deal with SoftBank Group, Bloomberg reports today. If the deal is closed, it could be the largest bet that the Japanese billionaire Masayoshi Son has placed on a Chinese technology startup. Didi, whose other investors include Alibaba and Tencent, amassed $10 billion of cash and equivalents last year. The additional funds from SoftBank could likely be used in driverless technology and “potentially on international expansion,” according to the New York Times (paywall). Analysts currently value Didi at around $35 billion.
Meanwhile, the Beijing-based startup is facing difficulties, as many cities are introducing rules that limit the number of private cars and drivers that ride-sharing companies can have. NPR says that regulators are concerned that “these ride-hailing jobs are bringing too many migrants into their cities.” In a village on the outskirts of Beijing, many residents were driving for Didi and Uber, but they only got into the business when the two ride-hailing services were competing for drivers and offering bonuses. However, when Uber was bought by Didi last August and more restrictive rules were introduced to ban out-of-town cars and drivers, hundreds of people lost their source of income, but they still had to pay for their cars’ maintenance. Didi claimed that it created 17 million part-time jobs last year, including 2.4 million to workers laid off from state-run coal and steel plants.
In other auto news, electric car manufacturer Tesla has raised about $1.78 billion from Tencent, the firm behind the WeChat messaging app. Tesla currently has 24 stores in mainland China, 114 supercharging stations, and 348 regular charging stations.
- China’s secret plan to crush SpaceX and the U.S. space program / CNBC
- American Airlines buys China Southern stake as traffic booms / NYT (paywall)
- How China’s bank behemoths make money on the debt war / Bloomberg
- New Zealand and China plan to expand free-trade deal / Bloomberg
- Fallout from China Huishan Dairy spreads / Financial Times (paywall)
- China joins race for booming Indian car market / CNN
POLITICS AND CURRENT AFFAIRS:
Is the Sri Lanka-China deal ‘inviting trouble’ with India?
According to Reuters, Sri Lanka has negotiated with China Merchants Port Holdings to “cut its stake in a strategic port project by up to a quarter,” after the island country saw violent protests in January and continuing unrest in February in response to Chinese investments. As part of its “One Belt, One Road” project to build trade routes across Asia, China has invested billions in southern Sri Lanka, specifically at the port of Hambantota and in a nearby 15,000-acre industrial zone.
China’s stake in the Hambantota port will remain a majority, according to Reuters sources, so it is reasonable to expect Sri Lankan opposition politicians to continue to characterize the plan as wanting “to give permanently the Hambantota Port” to China, as the ex-defense minister did today. The minister warned that Sri Lanka was “inviting trouble” with neighboring India with deals such as this. For more on Sri Lanka’s balancing act between India and China, read this piece (paywall) in the World Politics Review that contends, “A battle for influence is underway in Sri Lanka between China and India.”
Meanwhile, China continues to push its “One Belt, One Road” vision. Today, Xinhua reported (in Chinese) on Xi Jinping’s meetings with three foreign leaders — from Micronesia, Nepal, and Madagascar — all in one day, with one common topic of discussion: One Belt, One Road.
- Australia-China extradition treaty pulled by federal government after backbench rebellion / Australian Broadcasting Corporation
- America’s hidden role in Chinese weapons research – “Many scientists have returned to China after working at Los Alamos and other top U.S. laboratories” / SCMP
- Wary of Trump, China launches EU charm offensive: diplomats / Reuters
- Being immortal: Inside Xi Jinping’s power play to reach the same status as Mao Zedong / SCMP
- Opinion: Like Trump, the Chinese leader is pushing a political system to its limits / The Guardian
- China can deploy warplanes on artificial islands any time: think tank / Reuters
SOCIETY AND CULTURE:
China aims to boost organ donation
There is a surging demand for human organs in China, and the country has hired about 2,000 “organ donation facilitators,” whose main job is to persuade patients’ relatives to give life to others and explain the benefits that will come with the donation. In a Financial Times article (paywall), a facilitator named Qian Gongtao 钱公淘 explained that he deals with four cases per month on average, but that most of his efforts are futile because China in general lacks a tradition of organ donation. “One successful case in 10 is a good ratio,” said Qian.
In 2016, over 4,000 people donated their organs in China, while around 300,000 patients waited for transplants. Donation rates in China have been hovering at a low level of 2.98 per million people in comparison with double digits in the EU. To address the country’s chronic shortage of organs for donation, the government has developed a few methods, such as granting 10,000 yuan each to a poor household that signs off on a donation, inscribing donors’ names on a plaque in an exclusive graveyard, and honoring their ashes in an annual ceremony. On a legislative level, a legal framework on human organ transplants is under discussion to regulate the donation and procurement process. Meanwhile, with the help of Alipay, one of the most popular mobile payment apps in China, users can easily register as organ donors by providing their real names and identification card numbers.
- Olympic athletes have nothing on China’s lunch-delivery guys – “Competing services, staffed mostly by young men on electric scooters, tear through Chinese streets at breakneck speeds and sprint up skyscraper stairs, making up to 10 deliveries per hour, trying not to spill the soup” / WSJ (paywall)
- Beijing brown: An Indian comic artist explores between the lines – An interview with the creator of a comic strip series offering a fresh take on life in Beijing / Sixth Tone
- David Beckham upsets Hong Kong fans after posting about the great time he had in ‘China’ / Shanghaiist
- ‘Space mangoes’ are China’s new futuristic fruit / Food & Wine
- Cemetery offers to honor your ancestors for you this Tomb Sweeping Day, while you watch on WeChat / Shanghaiist