Trump and Xi have ‘developed a friendship’


Top China news for April 7, 2017. Get this daily digest delivered to your inbox by signing up at

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

This week’s news roundups are:

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.


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.


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.


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.”