‘A series of outrageous maneuvers’ from Beijing

Access Archive

Dear Access member,

We’ll be taking Monday off for Memorial Day, a U.S. holiday, but we’ll send an alert if there is any extraordinary breaking news. As I said in yesterday’s newsletter, the geopolitics of the entire Indo-Pacific region may have changed again by Tuesday, so we’ll be in touch if something major breaks! Today, however, was slow: We’ve got just two things for you at the top.

The early-access Sinica episode for next week is up already! It features Janet Yang, Hollywood producer, talking about trends in Chinese film, how she survived as an Asian woman in the notoriously sexist Hollywood film industry, the deep cultural differences and surprising similarities between China and the U.S., and some of her current projects. To listen to early-access Sinica, plug this feed directly into your podcast reader: http://sinicaaccess.libsyn.com/rss

Correction: Yesterday, we linked to this story: China prosecutes promoters of $2.3 billion OneCoin pyramid scheme. It’s on a website called CCN (Crypto Coin Network), not CNN!

Have a great weekend!

—Jeremy Goldkorn and team

Taiwan is down to one African friend

In late April, the Caribbean island nation of the Dominican Republic switched diplomatic recognition from Taiwan to the P.R.C. Yesterday came news that Burkina Faso in West Africa did the same, making Swaziland (just renamed eSwatini) the last African country to stay loyal to Taipei. Outside of Africa, a raggle-taggle bunch of 16 Central American and Pacific countries are all that’s left in Taiwan’s camp, plus the Vatican. Since then:

  • “Taiwan’s air force scrambled aircraft on Friday as Chinese bombers flew around the self-ruled island, just a few hours after Taiwan vowed not to be cowed having lost another diplomatic ally amid growing Chinese pressure,” reports Reuters.

  • “Taiwan will have to try to get closer to Washington in the face of increased pressure from mainland China,” warned Alexander Huang Chieh-cheng 黄杰诚, former deputy minister on Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council, according to the South China Morning Post.

  • “Although China has long sought to isolate Taiwan,” the New York Times reports from the island (paywall), “people here said its latest efforts have been the most intense in decades.” These include the recent threats from Beijing to foreign airlines that do not mark Taiwan as part of China on their websites.

  • “The series of outrageous maneuvers from China intended to diminish Taiwan’s sovereignty has crossed a red line for Taiwanese society,” said Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen 蔡英文, according to Taiwan News.

  • “China’s intimidation campaign is evidence of the way in which China will behave as it becomes more powerful. Taiwan is not an isolated case. It’s time that other countries realized that caving in to Beijing will only embolden the Chinese to continue such coercive behaviors,” tweeted Bonnie Glaser, senior adviser for Asia and director of the China Power Project at CSIS.

Today’s Google Doodle

Today Google illustrates their homepage with a picture of James Wong Howe 黄宗沾 (1899-1976), a Chinese-born American cinematographer who worked on more than a hundred films, won two Oscars, and is credited with a number of technical innovations. Time magazine has a brief video about him; here is his Wikipedia page.


Our whole team really appreciates your support as Access members. Please chat with us on our Slack channel or contact me anytime at jeremy@supchina.com.

—Jeremy Goldkorn, Editor-in-Chief

Here are the stories that caught our eye this week:

  • The U.S.-China trade war is on hold for now, as a divided American negotiating team settled for scraps and the Chinese declared the result “win-win.” Meanwhile, Trump’s continued search for concessions for telecom giant ZTE alarmed lawmakers across Washington.

  • Trump canceled his meeting with Kim Jong-un, a move that blindsided South Korea but likely pleased both Beijing and Tokyo, which felt the negotiations were moving too fast. Now both the U.S. and China will be tempted to use sanctions on the North as a playing card in continuing trade negotiations — unless, of course, Trump changes his mind on the summit again. Lo and behold, the Washington Post reports today, “Trump sounds optimistic tone about future North Korea talks, suggests June 12 summit could happen after all.”

  • China reached for the dark side of the moon as the Queqiao (鹊桥 quèqiáo; “magpie bridge”) relay satellite blasted off from Sichuan Province on May 21. Queqiao will allow China’s lunar rover, the Chang’e 4, to send data back to Earth from parts of the Moon that not even robots have explored before. As we detailed in the Monday Access newsletter, this is just the latest in a long line of advancements for China’s space program.

  • Didi Chuxing is rumored to be planning an IPO in Hong Kong, following Xiaomi’s lead and changes in listing rules. The Shanghai stock market is also attracting a massive listing, with Foxconn Industrial Internet registering for a $4 billion IPO. The Chinese government has begun to urge its most successful companies to list on domestic stock exchanges instead of looking for capital in New York.

  • “Independent fertility” could replace the Two-Child Policy within a year, according to reports, as signs grow that Beijing is willing to further loosen family planning policies and is dissatisfied with the small size of the baby boom since the One-Child Policy was officially abolished in 2016.

  • A Tibetan-language activist has been given a five-year prison sentence in China after appearing in a New York Times video in which he urged higher standards for Tibetan-language education. Tashi Wangchuk was accused of “inciting separatism,” but the Times says he “just wanted the Tibetan language to be taught well in schools.”


Chinese man with stage 4 cancer deported after family trip

What goes viral on Chinese internet today: Yuanjun Cui, dying of stage 4 cancer, was deported to China with his wife after a weeklong cruise to the Bahamas on May 21. The couple came to the U.S. to say goodbye to their daughter and grandchildren when the incident happened.


The varying fortunes of the Chinese owners of European soccer teams

In this week’s China Sports Column, we check in on the varying fortunes of the Chinese owners of European soccer teams; AFL’s path to China meets resistance; Iniesta isn’t coming to China after all; and Messi sends a note of congratulations to Tibetan climber Danzin Norbu, aka Dan Zengluobu 旦增罗布, who showed off a Messi jersey on the summit of Mount Everest.

Dating website for sugar daddies and ‘sweethearts’ gains popularity in China

Seeking Arrangement, an American dating website dedicated to connecting sugar daddies and younger women, is under investigation by Shanghai police after a surge in popularity in China.

Safety tips are the last things that Chinese women need after the Didi murder case

SupChina’s Jiayun Feng comments on the victim-blaming directed toward women, and the lack of blame laid on Didi itself, after the rape and murder of a female passenger on Didi Chuxing’s Hitch ride-sharing service earlier this month.

China Unsolved: The Boy in the Red Dress

China Unsolved is a new SupChina weekly series profiling China’s most notorious unsolved mysteries. This week, we look at the story of 13-year-old Kuang Zhijun 匡志均, who was found dead in his family’s farmhouse in Chongqing in 2009, suspended by his wrists from a wooden beam with both hands and feet firmly bound with 12 knots each, skillfully and professionally tied.

Sinica Podcast: Talking trade and tech with Yasheng Huang

Kaiser, along with GGV Capital’s Hans Tung and Zara Zhang, interviews Yasheng Huang, a renowned economist and professor of global economics and management at the MIT Sloan School of Management, about recent U.S.-China trade tensions, geopolitical factors affecting the tech industry, and how China’s growth compares with that of India and other developing countries.

Swimming on a period? Chinese celebrity Angelababy sparks online debate

Social media users are complaining about Chinese entertainer Angelababy aka Yeung Wing 杨颖 after she blamed her reluctance to get in the water in a reality TV competition on the first day of her period. The debate expanded to include the safety of swimming while menstruating, which many Chinese women believe is ill-advised.  

Twitter’s first-ever client event in China

This week on the Caixin-Sinica Business Brief podcast : Twitter’s first-ever client event in China, Baidu’s Qi Lu 陆奇 to step down as COO, a new report on the Chinese ride-hailing market, Doug Young on the latest with Lenovo and hotpot chain Haidilao, and more.

Film Friday: ‘In the Heat of the Sun’

Our new feature is Film Friday, where we link to or embed a film that can be watched online for free, and write about why you should watch that film. This week’s film is In the Heat of the Sun 阳光灿烂的日子, the directorial debut of Jiang Wen 姜文. It’s a film about the fun and chaos experienced by a group of privileged youth (like Jiang himself) who grew up in Beijing’s government- and military-related courtyards in the early 1970s during the Cultural Revolution. The film avoids the typical storytelling cliches from that era.

If China had superheroes…

Avengers: Infinity War, released in China on May 11, has been setting box office records. The movie got us wondering: Apart from maybe Leng Feng from Wolf Warrior 2, who could be considered a “superhero” for today’s Chinese youth to look up to and obsess over? Here are some candidates.

Mingbai: Money, money, money, China style

Renminbi (人民币 rénmínbì), “the people’s currency,” shortened to RMB, and measured in yuan (元 yuán), is the money used in China. This week, Mingbai explores the bills and their motifs.

The Mingbai team will be going on summer holiday for a while, but will be back later in the year with much more old news that everyone in China knows, but you still don’t!

How to run the most prestigious international auction firm in China: Q&A with Caroline Cai

Jinqing Caroline Cai 蔡金青, chairman of Christie’s China, talks about the rapid growth of the prestigious British firm since it became the first international auction house to open a representative office in Shanghai in 1994 and the future of the Chinese art market.

TechBuzz China: Murder on the Didi Express

On this week’s podcast, Rui Ma and Ying-Ying Lu talk about recent news from China’s automobile industry: A female passenger was allegedly raped and murdered after she called a cab using the Didi Hitch service, and China has loosened policies toward foreign new-energy vehicle carmakers.

Police after you? Stay away from Jacky Cheung concerts

Maybe criminals should stop attending Jacky Cheung concerts. For the third time in less than two months, a Chinese fugitive has been captured at a Jacky Cheung concert using facial-recognition technology. The latest computer-assisted arrest took place on May 20 in Jiaxing, Zhejiang Province.

Till death or exam do us part: Chinese province offers ‘divorce test’

The civil affairs bureau of Jiangsu Province recently introduced a voluntary test for divorcing couples before they make their final decision. The first to take the exam was a thirtysomething couple with two kids. The wife got full marks. The husband scored a 0.

Q&A with Lili Zheng, first mainland Chinese female partner at Deloitte

Click here to read a Q&A with Lili Zheng 郑莉莉, the first woman from mainland China to become a partner at Deloitte, one of the “Big Four” global accounting firms. Lili was one of the technology panelists at our second annual Women’s Conference: How Women Are Shaping the Rising Global Power, on May 14.

Viral videos

Kuora: When it comes to cultural influence, the U.S. is soundly ahead of China

There’s no doubt that leaders of Western countries — however you wish to define “the West” — all nurture a desire to see China evolve peacefully into a more pluralistic and liberal polity. Whether any or all of those countries’ leaders wish to “impose” this on China is another question. How much truth is there to Beijing’s claims that the West is trying to impose “peaceful evolution” on China?

‘The Flying Tigers’ excerpt: Roosevelt’s quest to get American fighter planes to China

Before the Flying Tigers — a now-iconic American volunteer air force unit — could help China fight the Japanese, it was incumbent upon President Franklin D. Roosevelt to actually get fighter planes halfway around the world, during a time before the U.S. had formally declared war. In this excerpt from the book The Flying Tigers, author Sam Kleiner explains how he did it.


Sacred summit

Kawagarbo is the highest mountain in Yunnan Province. It is also one of the most sacred mountains in Tibetan Buddhism and is visited by tens of thousands of pilgrims each year.

Jia Guo