A video in Hokkien is a message to Taiwan

Access Archive

April 20, 2018

Dear Access member,

Thank you for your support. We have realized that our Monday newsletters are often our best, for two main reasons. First, both Western and Chinese media organizations often publish in-depth features on China topics over the weekend, which gives us plenty of material to work with. Second, the Chinese government likes to dump interesting news on Fridays or over the weekend, and unlike its counterparts in many Western countries, the Party works on Sundays.

So, we’ve decided that you, as our loyal supporters, should get the benefit of our best work. From May 14, only our Access members will receive the Monday newsletter. We’ll announce it at our SupChina Women’s Conference in New York.

Thanks again for being part of Access. Please chat with us on our Slack channel or contact me anytime at jeremy@supchina.com.  

Have a great weekend.

1. Target Taiwan: After the live-fire drill, a flyby and a video in Hokkien  

The Chinese air force has circulated a propaganda film dubbed into Hokkien (闽南话 mǐnnánhua  a.k.a. 福建话 fújiànhuà). You can watch it on the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) website.

  • Hokkien is the main dialect of Fujian Province, the mainland side of the Taiwan Strait. As Reuters points out, it is “strongly identified with Taiwan’s pro-independence movement.”

  • The video shows H-6K bombers, Su-30 and J-11 fighters, and reconnaissance aircraft flying in the airspace around Taiwan. Singapore’s Straits Times says China’s air force called the exercise a “‘sacred mission,’ as Taiwan denounced its big neighbor over what it called a policy of military intimidation.” A spokesperson from China’s Taiwan Affairs Office “said the air force flyby served as a warning against those pushing for Taiwanese independence.”

  • Last week, China’s navy organized a massive demonstration of its fleet in the South China Sea. On Wednesday, China’s military did a live-fire drill in the Taiwan Strait.

  • Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen 蔡英文 has just tweeted her departure from Swaziland after a four-day visit. She attended ceremonies marking 50 years of diplomatic ties between Taiwan and Swaziland, the Swazi king’s 50th birthday, and the 50th anniversary of Swaziland’s independence. The tiny nation jammed between South Africa and Mozambique is one of only two African countries that still diplomatically recognize Taiwan; the other is Burkina Faso.  

  • “Taiwan works to keep tiny Swaziland on its side” is how Voice of America headlined its report on the visit.

  • The Swazi king also bestowed the Order of the Elephant 象王勋章 (xiàng wáng xūnzhāng) on Tsai, making her, in the Swazi government’s words, “the first foreign head of state to be the recipient of this medal.”

  • Tsai was in Swaziland when the king changed the country’s name to the Kingdom of eSwatini to mark 50 years since independence from British rule. Swazis themselves call their country eSwatini, which means “place of the Swazi.” The Guardian has more on the name change.

In other military developments in waters claimed by China, Reuters reports: “Chinese and Australian naval vessels had an ‘encounter’ in the South China Sea this week, and China acted professionally and lawfully, its defense ministry said, rejecting reports China challenged Australian warships.”

2. The week that was: Live-fire drills and Xi’s education level

Aside from the live-fire drill in the Taiwan Strait and today’s Hokkien video, these are the other stories that caught my eye this week:

3. Dodgy drugs and endangered animals  

Like the Wild West, China is not short of snake oil merchants, and we looked at three of them this week in our piece titled Three types of snake oil.

  • A liquor produced by Hongmao, a company based in Ulaanchab City 乌兰察布市 in Inner Mongolia, is one of the fraudulent medicaments in question. The hooch is advertised as a health tonic for elderly people.

  • Last year, a doctor debunked these claims online and argued that the liquor might actually be harmful for older people. His reward: being arrested, and then detained for 100 days (click on the snake oil link above for details on the poor doctor’s treatment).

Yesterday, reader Aron White of the Environmental Investigation Agency wrote with some additional information:

One thing to add to the story on Hongmao Yaojiu is the fact that the wine lists “leopard bone” in its list of ingredients. Domestic trade in leopard bone was banned in 2006, but that ban allowed pharmaceutical companies to continue using existing stocks of leopard bone.

Any product being commercially traded that contains leopard bone should also have a special label affixed, issued by the State Forestry Administration. Hongmao Yaojiu has no such label, and so questions have been raised around where this leopard bone came from — quite aside from the very questionable use of a highly endangered species in commercial trade at all.

Here are a few links to Chinese news stories on the use of leopard bone:

—Jeremy Goldkorn


Is there no room for freaks in the Chinese Dream?

Elizabeth Stride, is a writer, father, and drag queen in Beijing. When Sina Weibo chose to sweep its platform for violent, pornographic, and “homosexual” content on April 13, it was a sober reminder that while China’s genuine diversity is represented within its expansive LGBTQ tent, it remains a damn shame that we aren’t allowed to see it.

Zhou Qi scored in an NBA playoff game (!)

China’s lone NBA player, Zhou Qi 周琦, scored his first postseason points this week, posting the final basket of the game as his Houston Rockets crushed the Minnesota Timberwolves 102-82.

Also: Guangzhou Evergrande’s Wang Junhui and Situ Haolong — teammates — fought each other in a game, and now they must write daily self-criticism essays.

‘Foreign infiltration’ and National Security Education Day

Xinhua commemorated National Security Education Day on April 15 with an animated video, and the Ministry of Education released a document that recommends that “national security education” become part of curricula from primary schools to universities. What exactly is National Security Education Day (全民国家安全教育日)?

Searching for jazz in Shanghai

Between nightclubs, century-old hotels, and up-and-coming jazz clubs, you’ll always find jazz playing in Shanghai. While we’re far removed from the art form’s peak in China — that was in the 1930s — one can’t help but admire the Chinese musicians today

striving to integrate jazz, this quintessentially foreign creation, into their culture.

Q&A with Lulu C. Wang, veteran investor

The finance industry “continues to be very much male-dominated, particularly at very senior levels of portfolio management or leadership of investment firms,” says Lulu C. Wang, founder and CEO of Tupelo Capital Management. Nevertheless, she told SupChina ahead of her appearance at our second annual Women’s Conference, “I think it is a wonderful industry and one very suited to women.”

The legacy of the Black Panther party in China

Poet and activist Tyson Amir was in Beijing last Friday to promote his book and perform at an event called Culture Shock, organized by the local organization BLK GEN. Amir spoke to SupChina about his work, and how his ideas about power and inequality relate to China.

Kuora: The Opium Wars and China’s “Century of National Humiliation”

Upset by the inability to export opium to China, Britain went to war. For China, it was the beginning of what would become known as the “Century of National Humiliation.”

Mingbai: Know your Chinese emperors

China has had quite a number of emperors. If you care about history (and perhaps even more so if you don’t!), here are four of the most important Chinese emperors of all time.

Friday Song: Chen Li remains unextinguished, inextinguishable

Chen Li 陈粒 has been called China’s “first artist of the folk world” (民谣界第一位 mínyáo jiè dì yī wèi). Her lyrics are infused with Chinese cultural references and idioms. In “Unextinguished” (不灭 bù miè), Chen Li tackles the subject of a difficult breakup.

Sinica Podcast: Live from Beijing: David Moser and Jess Meider on jazz in China

This week’s podcast was recorded live on March 13 at The Bookworm in Beijing as part of the Bookworm Literary Festival. The entire episode is a hoot, as SupChina Asia managing editor Anthony Tao sat in for Kaiser and Jeremy to talk music with longtime jazz musicians David Moser (no stranger to Sinica listeners) and Jess Meider.

The Caixin-Sinica Business Brief, episode 44

This week on the Business Brief: Xi Jinping’s reiterated promises to open up the country’s economy to foreign investors; new guidelines in Beijing to allow out-of-towners to apply for full access to the capital’s public services; Didi Chuxing’s expansion outside of China; and more.



Smog comeback

Heavy smog blanketed Beijing in 2013. In April this year, it staged a comeback in China’s industrial Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region as curbs on steel production for the winter season came to an end.

Jia Guo