Trump makes nice with Xi
By the time you read this, China’s President Xi Jinping will be on his Air China jet heading back to Beijing. His meeting with Donald Trump at the American president’s gold-encrusted private club in Florida seems to have gone very smoothly, even if it was, in CNN’s words, “overshadowed” by the U.S. strike on Syria. The missile attack on a Syrian government airfield, the New York Times reported (paywall), puts Xi in a tough position as it will likely cause China to revisit its assumption that the U.S. won’t unilaterally strike North Korea. For more on China and Syria specifically, see “China holds position on Syria following U.S. strikes” below.
In a gesture that was almost certainly planned, Xi unbuttoned his suit jacket to display a Trump-length tie (pictured above). Xinhua News Agency says the two presidents had “deep-going, friendly, long-time talks at [the] Mar-a-Lago resort,” and that Trump accepted an invitation to pay a state visit to China in 2017 “with pleasure.” Reuters notes that Trump declared that his relationship with the Chinese president was “outstanding.” In a separate report, Reuters mentions that Xi “urged cooperation with the United States on trade and investment.” Speaking at the banquet last night, Trump joked he had “got nothing” so far from Xi, but said that they had “developed a friendship” and that “long term,” he and Xi are going to have a “very, very great relationship” (see video).
Will the good vibes from the meeting continue? Perhaps not: The New York Times reports (paywall), “The Trump administration is planning to roll out its first concrete measures against China on trade, administration officials said on Thursday.”
Shanghaiist has compiled an album of photos of the visit, including of the banquet settings and Xi supporters waving Chinese flags near Mar-a-Lago.
Who will move to Xiongan New Area?
The government’s announcement last weekend of the Xiongan New Area (雄安新区 xióng ān xīnqū), a city to be created by fiat about 100 kilometers (62 miles) southwest of Beijing, was followed by an immediate boom in real estate. This caused the government to suspend property transactions, but this did not deter investors from buying up shares in companies connected to the new zone.
Today, the People’s Daily reports (in Chinese) that the creation of Xiongan will push forward the Jing-Jin-Ji plan to integrate the infrastructure and economies of Beijing, Tianjin, and Hebei provinces. Meanwhile, Caixin notes that “research institutes affiliated to government ministries will be among the earliest” to move to Xiongan — one of the aims behind the creation of the new zone is to ease population pressures on Beijing by relocating some government functions there.
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Viral video Friday
Footage of the Trump and Xi meeting went viral this week in China, but so did videos of a quadruped robot, a self-made showerhead, and an especially skillful dog. Watch Jia Guo’s compilation here.
This week on SupChina
- Sinica Podcast: Nationalism in Russia and China
- Video: Xi-Trump meeting: A contrast in rhetoric
- Video: China’s One Belt, One Road exhibit in Atlanta
- Is America’s bright spot in agricultural trade with China fading?
- Millennials of U.S.-China
- The Trump-Xi summit: Why personal relationships matter
This week’s news roundups are:
- April 3: Real estate speculators rush to site of planned new city
- April 4: Chinese state media asks: Is there nepotism in the White House?
- April 5: Exiled Chinese billionaire is member of Trump’s private club
- April 6: Xi comes to Mar-a-Lago with ‘tweetable deliverables’
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:
World Cup 2018, brought to you by China
The scandal-hit international governing body of soccer, the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), has recently found financial relief thanks to Chinese sponsors. The Financial Times reports (paywall) that the consumer electronics group Hisense (海信集团 hǎixìn jítuán) yesterday signed an agreement to sponsor FIFA’s 2018 World Cup for around $100 million. Hisense is the second major Chinese company to partner with FIFA. Dalian Wanda, the real estate and entertainment conglomerate run by billionaire Wang Jianlin, agreed last month to sponsor the next four World Cups.
Even amid trade tensions, Ford pushes pickup trucks in China / NYT (paywall)
Ford found that “Built Ford Tough” needs no translation in Chinese, and plans to roll out premium vehicles with the tagline in China this spring.
- China court orders Samsung units to pay $11.6 million to Huawei over patent case / Reuters
- The country where 70 percent of millennials are homeowners / BBC News
POLITICS AND CURRENT AFFAIRS:
China holds position on Syria following U.S. strikes
The Chinese Foreign Ministry today reiterated China’s support for political, rather than military, solutions for the ongoing civil war in Syria, following a U.S. missile attack on Thursday night on a Syrian government air base. At the ministry’s daily press conference, spokeswoman Hua Chunying 华春莹 notably declined to “criticize or condemn” the U.S. missile strike, which likely caught China off guard.
China has maintained a distanced and somewhat ambiguous position on the Syrian civil war since it began in 2011. The nation has voted with Russia six times at the UN to deny sanctions against the government of Bashar al-Assad, preferring to tout its “principle of non-interference” in internal affairs of foreign countries instead. Nevertheless, China stands out as one country that has maintained both an embassy in Damascus — many have shut down or relocated — and a significant trading relationship with Syria during its civil war.
- Inside the China vs. China feud for American hearts and minds – Kevin Peraino writes on the historical context of Nationalist vs. Communist outreach to the U.S. / Politico
- China fighter plane spotted on South China Sea island: think tank – at Woody Island in the Paracels / Reuters
- Philippines to upgrade facilities, not occupy new areas in disputed sea: military / Reuters
- China and Myanmar to discuss replacement for dam / SCMP
SOCIETY AND CULTURE:
Your own private karaoke
What’s on Weibo reports on a Chinese company called M-Bar 友唱 (yǒu chàng), which provides private self-service karaoke booths in shopping malls. Customers use WeChat to access the service, which automatically stores recordings of their sing-alongs in the app, and also allows for social media sharing. The cost is 12 yuan ($1.70) per song. What’s on Weibo says that “one of the reasons why the mini KTV booth has become so popular is its game element,” which allows users to compete with friends as their singing skills are rated. The software awards points “for hitting the good points at the end of every song.”
Beijing struggles to get residents to declare war on trash / Reuters
The government has initiated a push to get citizens to sort and recycle their garbage, but Beijing “is struggling to persuade its upwardly mobile residents to sort their trash.”
Reinventing that old town sound / Sixth Tone
“Dali’s Old Town in rural Yunnan Province is a refuge for wayward musicians, a bastion of ethnic folk traditions, and a quiet haven for avant-garde Chinese music.”
- Chinese sci-fi writer nominated for second Hugo Award / China Daily
- Life in a Chinese treaty port: Eurasian traces great-grandparents’ journey from London slum to Hong Kong and beyond / SCMP