North Korean blues in Namibia and China, courtesy of Japan – China’s latest top news

Jeremy Goldkorn’s selection of the top stories from China on August 25, 2017. Part of the daily SupChina newsletter, a convenient package of China’s business, political, and cultural news delivered to your inbox for free. Subscribe here.

China displeased with new Japanese sanctions

On August 25, the Japanese Cabinet “approved the imposition of new unilateral sanctions on a number of companies and individuals from China, Namibia and North Korea in a bid to further pressure Pyongyang over its nuclear and ballistic missile programs,” according to Japan Times.

  • The sanctions, coordinated with the U.S., are aimed at stopping Pyongyang from profiting from businesses abroad.
  • Tokyo has targeted four Chinese and two Namibian companies, as well as one Chinese and one North Korean individual.
  • Japan Times says that “Namibia has been deepening relations with North Korea in recent years,” according to a source.
  • On the other side of the Pacific, Bloomberg reports that some American analysts say the Trump administration’s search for additional ways to squeeze North Korea “may end on the doorsteps of China’s biggest oil companies and banks.”
  • The Washington Post also has details on one Chinese entrepreneur the U.S. alleges traded North Korean coal for goods, including “components of nuclear devices.”

Xinhua News Agency published the Chinese foreign ministry’s reaction swiftly after news about the sanctions broke. So swiftly, in fact, that its English article on the subject takes some of the language directly from the Japan Times report. Speaking at the daily foreign ministry briefing, spokesperson Hua Chunying 华春莹 denounced the sanctions, and made the following points:

  • China is implementing the North Korea–related resolutions of the United Nations Security Council.
  • “We oppose unilateral sanctions imposed by any country outside the framework of the Security Council, and in this case we oppose sanctioning Chinese entities and individuals.”  
  • China is “dissatisfied” with and “strongly opposes” the Japanese sanction.

Namibia has previously appeared as a bit player in Chinese business deals that may not be completely above the board:

  • In 2009, China’s internet censors blocked all searches for Namibia (纳米比亚 nàmǐbǐyǎ) after news broke in the southwest African country of a corruption scandal involving a Chinese company linked to the son of then president Hu Jintao 胡锦涛.
  • In 2008, a Chinese-owned ship carrying arms thought to be intended for Zimbabwe was refused entry to South African ports because of worries that the arms would be used by Robert Mugabe’s government to suppress political opposition after a disputed election. The ship was then reported to be headed for a Namibian port, but there were protests in the Namibian capital and it was later reported that it docked in either Angola or Congo.

People’s Daily invests in website for military enthusiasts

Caixin reports that the People’s Daily’s newspaper’s holding company (which is listed on the Shanghai Stock Exchange) will pay about 7.2 million yuan ($1.08 million) for a 1.5 percent share of The site, whose name means “iron blood” (铁血 tiěxuè), became popular soon after its launch in 2001 as a gathering place for patriots and people who like to salivate over photos of jets and guns.

Atmospherics at the Beijing Book Fair

The publishers…

The recent brouhaha over censorship at foreign academic journals to comply with Chinese government requests is on the minds of publishers at the annual Beijing Book Fair. Joanna Chiu (a recent Sinica Podcast guest) went to the book fair and talked to some publishers about self-censorship and the China market.

…and the Party

Xinhua News Agency reports that senior leader Liu Yunshan 刘云山, director of the Communist Party’s propaganda department from 2007 to 2012, visited the book fair, and “asked publishers to have confidence in Chinese culture and promote the country to become a strong power in publication industry.”

Helicopters and light planes

The Wall Street Journal says (paywall) that although China has “fewer than 4,000 helicopters and light aircraft,” this is likely to change as “China’s leaders have decided to promote general aviation—air services spanning leisure and transportation, logistics and emergency services.”

The Journal predicts “a bonanza for aircraft makers, air base operators and infrastructure developers.”

Maybe not. In reaction to the story, pilot and former Mexican ambassador to China Jorge Guajardo tweeted: “They’ve been talking about liberating airspace for years. I’ll believe it when I see it.”