Happy yushui (雨水 yǔshuǐ) — today begins the second solar term of the traditional Chinese calendar, when the Sun reaches the celestial longitude of 330 degrees.
If you’re in New York on Monday, February 26, from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., please join us for a live recording of the Sinica Podcast on courts and torts in China — traffic law, injury, and liability, and the way the law affects Chinese people’s behavior after accidents.
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U.S. Secret Service denies it tackled Chinese official during Trump visit to Beijing
Axios has published a rather remarkable tale gathered from insider sources in Washington, D.C.: “On Thursday, November 9, when President Trump and his team visited Beijing’s Great Hall of the People, Chief of Staff John Kelly and a U.S. Secret Service agent skirmished with Chinese security officials over the nuclear football.”
- When the U.S. military aide carrying the nuclear football — the device that can launch America’s nuclear missiles — entered the Great Hall, “Chinese security officials blocked his entry,” according to Axios. Then, “Kelly rushed over and told the U.S. officials to keep walking,” after which there was a brief scuffle in which “a U.S. Secret Service agent grabbed the Chinese security official and tackled him to the ground.”
- Why did it happen? Axios says that “Trump’s team followed the normal security procedure to brief the Chinese before their visit to Beijing…but somebody at the Chinese end either didn’t get the memo or decided to mess with the Americans anyway.”
- The U.S. Secret Service has denied that the incident took place, tweeting on February 19, “FACT CHECK: Reports about Secret Service agents tackling a host nation official during the President’s trip to China in Nov 2017 are false.”
- But the rumors here run deep: James McGregor, a veteran China businessman, responded to the story by saying, “This story has been circulating through journalism and diplomatic circles since the Trump visit. I have heard it from enough different people to believe it is true.”
- Here are SupChina summaries of the first and second days of Trump’s visit to Beijing in November 2017.
The prison diary of Peter Humphrey
The former Shanghai-based investigator has, for the first time, described his 23 months in a Chinese prison (paywalled) in the Financial Times:
- In January 2013, the Anglo-American pharma group GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) received an anonymous email alleging that its Chinese sales team was engaged in a massive scheme to bribe doctors and hospitals to prescribe GSK drugs, followed by a sex tape of the head of its China operations and his girlfriend.
- The email and sex tape appeared to have come from an insider, and GSK suspected its former head of government affairs in China. The company hired a Shanghai-based risk advisory firm run by Briton Peter Humphrey and his Chinese-born American wife, Yu Yingzeng 虞英曾, to investigate.
- In June 2013, the Chinese government began its own investigation into bribery by GSK. In July, Humphrey and Yu were arrested, and accused of “illegally acquiring personal information” of Chinese citizens. They were convicted and ended up spending 23 months in captivity. Humphrey was released early from prison under diplomatic pressure: He was suffering from prostate cancer, and not receiving treatment.
- In September 2014, GSK China was found guilty of bribery and paid a fine of around $500 million.
- Frequent interrogations “locked in an iron chair inside a steel cage,” abusive prison guards, almost no communication with the outside world or with his wife — this is the life Humphrey describes.
- “He filed a detailed report to the Beijing government on Shanghai’s abuse of China’s judicial system and awaits a reaction,” according to the FT. He and Yu have also “filed suit against GSK in U.S. courts on racketeering charges.”
- Other foreigner prison diaries:
— Shanghaiist: An American’s experience as an inmate in a Shanghai jail
Racism and dodgy maps on the world’s most-watched TV show
SupChina has reported on a skit in the Spring Festival TV Gala set in Africa and featuring a Chinese actress in blackface — viewers in China and around the world have condemned it as racist.
- Black Lives China, a website about “the black experience in, around, and in relation to China,” has posted a commentary on the affair: Racism — with Chinese characteristics: How Blackface darkened the tone of China’s Spring Festival celebrations.
- There has been another controversy about a Spring Festival Gala segment, “one that has gotten far less air time outside China,” but is described in detail by the China Media Project: Chinese internet users noticed that a scroll presented as a Ming dynasty map of the Silk Road has been doctored, apparently to “make a stronger political case for China’s Belt and Road Initiative.
- Don’t click through to this Language Log post on “excessive quadrisyllabicism” unless you want to learn how to condemn a fallen official in four-character phrases in true Party style, or are interested in the sad fate of China’s former internet censor-in-chief, Lu Wei 鲁炜.
- More on Lu: The fall of Lu Wei, first commander of the Cyberspace Administration of China; Access members can click here for the extended version.