More news from China on Belt and Road, the death of Utopia, Australia tensions, and trade war covfefe

Business & Technology

Building the Belt and Road, one cobblestone at a time

The TIR Convention (Transports Internationaux Routiers) is a multilateral treaty signed in Geneva in 1975 to simplify administration of international road transport. The organization that created the TIR Convention has announced that China has become the 73rd country to join TIR. The announcement says the deal will offer “time savings in China of up to 80%,” and calls China’s participation “a cornerstone of the Belt and Road initiative.”

The death of Utopia

Utopia (乌有之乡 wūyǒu zhī xiāng) is the name of a website and bookstore run by Maoists nostalgic for the revolutionary spirit of earlier times. In late April, one of Utopia’s editors was killed in a bus accident during a “Red revival” tour of North Korea. Now comes the news that Utopia’s website has been shut down. The always-excellent China Media Project reports:

One key characteristic of Xi Jinping’s “New Era” has been the progressive elimination of all forms of ideological variance within the Party. Growing centralization of Party power has come with a pronounced narrowing of the discourse spectrum. Everyone must converge at the center — or remain silent.

Now comes the news, not altogether surprising, that Utopia, the leftist website espousing that “our only firm belief is in Mao Zedong Thought,” could be shuttered indefinitely.

‘The Chinese are deeply pissed off.’

Talking about the heightened tensions between China and Australia in the past few months, Hugh White, a noted Australian analyst of Pacific security issues, told the Financial Times (paywall): “The fundamental problem is that Australia is trying to walk both sides of the street by saying we want the U.S. to remain a dominant power in Asia while also supporting the rise in China… It is clear the Chinese are deeply pissed off.”

They are unlikely to get less pissed off today: The Guardian reports that Australian foreign minister Julie Bishop raised objections to China’s activities in the South China Sea in a meeting with her counterpart Wang Yi 王毅.

Trade war covfefe ?

This morning, Donald Trump tweeted: “Our Trade Deal with China is moving along nicely, but in the end we will probably have to use a different structure in that this will be too hard to get done and to verify results after completion.”

Whatever that means, the markets are losing hope: CNBC reports that most global stock prices declined by the end of trading yesterday.

Previously in SupChina’s trade war coverage:

Unintended consequences — trade war edition