Feminists drinking tea with cops – China’s latest top news

Jeremy Goldkorn’s selection of the top stories from China on August 30, 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.

Feminists vs. security agents

In 2016, a Guangzhou-based group called F Feminist organized a campaign to place billboards in subway stations in Guangzhou to raise awareness of sexual harassment — groping is a common problem faced by female passengers on public transport in China. The group raised 40,000 yuan ($6,000) from donors on the internet to pay for advertising space, but as Sixth Tone reported in April this year, the Guangzhou city government refused to allow the billboards to be displayed, even after their content was toned down.

Later in the summer, local security agents harassed the organizers with the aim of running them out of town. One of the organizers (link in Chinese) posted a transcript of the meeting with the agents. The transcript was censored swiftly, but not before it had circulated widely. The website Chuang has posted a translation. As Chuang explains, the transcript is titled “Drinking tea with China’s ‘national treasure’: Five questions,” which is a play on words:

First, “being invited to drink tea” (被请喝茶 bèi qǐng hē chá) colloquially refers to interrogation by police or other agents of the party-state. Second, the Domestic Security Department (国内安全保卫局 guónèi ānquán bǎowèi jú, or simply 国保 guóbǎo) of the Ministry of Public Security sounds the same as “national treasure” (国宝 guóbǎo).

Read the whole thing if you enjoy absurdity.

How do you solve a problem like North Korea?

Some thinking on North Korea, published before and after the Hermit Kingdom fired a missile that flew over Japan on August 29:

  • The China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations (CICIR) is one of China’s most influential think tanks, and is affiliated with the Ministry of State Security. Yang Wenjing 杨文静, chief of U.S. Foreign Policy at CICIR, has published an article on China-U.S. Focus in response to a Wall Street Journal op-ed (paywall) by U.S. Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson that says the U.S. will replace “the failed policy of ‘strategic patience’…with a new policy of strategic accountability.” Yang says nothing has really changed — “the main focus is still to push other countries, especially China, to sever any links with the D.P.R.K. that may enable the country to continue to boost its nuclear activities.” She says that “it’s still unknown if this issue can be resolved unless North Korea itself decides to change its behavior.”
  • Bloomberg says “China has tightened the economic screws on both Koreas — on the North for firing missiles, and on the South for deploying a shield to stop them,” and that South Korea has taken “a $4.7 billion hit from the drop in tourism alone,” while China’s refusal to buy North Korean coal, iron ore, and lead, “which accounted for more than 50 percent of the nation’s exports,” will have a huge impact on its economy.
  • Agence France-Presse reports that “China says it’s working with the U.N.” on a response to North Korean missile tests and has “dismissed” pressure from the U.S.

Chinese FM says ‘huge potential for cooperation’ with India

The Himalayan border standoff between China and India ended this week, conveniently just in time for the BRICS meeting, which begins this Sunday in the southeastern coastal city of Xiamen. Reuters reports on remarks by Chinese Minister of Foreign Affairs Wang Yi 王毅 at a news briefing: He said it was normal for neighbors to have differences, but that “there is huge potential for cooperation between China and India.”