The China-India border standoff ends


Jeremy Goldkorn’s selection of the top stories from China on August 28, 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

India and China both retreat, just in time for BRICS meeting

India and China have negotiated an end to the Himalayan border standoff that began in June, which a Chinese diplomat had called “the worst in 30 years.”

  • Xinhua News Agency says that China “confirmed via on-site checks that India has withdrawn personnel and equipment from… Doklam after a military standoff lasting more than two months,” and that “China will continue to safeguard its territorial sovereignty according to historical boundary treaties.”
  • The Times of India says that “Chinese troops and their road-building equipment too were removed from the face-off site,” but this was not mentioned in any Chinese news reports, nor in the initial statement released by India’s Ministry of External Affairs (MEA). A second statement from MEA said that both sides had moved out “under verification.”

The Washington Post says that in India, “some experts also interpreted the statements — and New Delhi’s comments about having raised its security concerns — to mean that China had quietly agreed to stop building the road in question, but would not say so publicly.”

  • Chinese state media is calling the end of the standoff a victory, but if the Chinese road building has stopped, it is a return to the status quo ante, and it was actually China that stood down.
  • Hindustan Times has a “blow by blow” timeline of the Himalayan standoff.
  • Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is scheduled to visit China for a BRICS forum that begins on September 3.

Insulting the national anthem to become a crime

The Global Times reports that a second draft of a new law that makes insulting the Chinese national anthem a criminal offense is under consideration by the National People’s Congress (NPC). The draft law states that “those who maliciously alter the lyrics in public or play and sing the national anthem in a disrespectful way, can be detained for up to 15 days…and if the behavior constituted a crime, they will have to face criminal charges.”

It’s not clear why the new law is necessary: The authorities already have so many laws and regulations that can be used to punish unpatriotic behavior. But the South China Morning Post says that the law “is set to be applied in Hong Kong, paving the way for strict punishment for those who mock or parody the official song,” so perhaps the protest-loving youth of the Special Administrative Region are the true target?

The Californian king of pu’er tea

David Lee Hoffman is an American man who popularized pu’er tea (普洱茶 pǔ’ěr chá) in the U.S., and is even credited by many with inspiring a cult-like devotion to the fermented tea variety amongst tea connoisseurs in China itself. The San Francisco Chronicle has published a profile of Hoffman that tells the story of his rise to pu’er fame, his extraordinary collection of tea, and the threats he faces from the Marin County government for code violations on the property where he stores his tea in a cave.