Christians and Muslims in the crosshairs

Access Archive

Dear Access member,

We have five stories at the top for you today, and the usual links below. Some SupChina news:

  • Paul French will join us tomorrow on Slack, Tuesday, September 11, at 11 a.m. New York time. Paul came on Sinica a few weeks ago to talk about his outstanding new book called City of Devils: A Shanghai Noir, the story of two foreigners who ruled the underworld of Shanghai in the 1930s.

  • Today we start announcing the winners of our SupChina photo contest: This week will be devoted to the 2nd prize winners, which will take us from the plateaus of Qinghai to the shadows of Beijing to the snaking roads of Tianmen Mountain. Today we announce a second prize award to Kyle Obermann’s photo, “Tibetan yak” (click the link to learn the gritty story behind the photo).

Click HereHave a great week!

—Jeremy Goldkorn, Editor-in-Chief

Click Here

1. Xinjiang internment camps: the world is starting to notice

Xinjiang was on the agenda at the UN on September 10, after a weekend in which the New York Times featured reporting on China’s repression of Muslims front and center on its Sunday, September 9 issue, and Human Rights Watch released a comprehensive and damning report on the same subject.

United Nations Human Rights Council

New UN human rights chief Michelle Bachelet, a former Chilean president, gave her maiden speech to the UN Human Rights Council today, reports Reuters.

Human Rights Watch report

If you’ve got the stomach for it, take a look at “‘Eradicating ideological viruses’: China’s campaign of repression against Xinjiang’s Muslims,” a 117-page report by Human Rights Watch on “the Chinese government’s mass arbitrary detention, torture, and mistreatment, and the increasingly pervasive controls on daily life.”

  • The report is based on interviews with 58 former residents of Xinjiang, including 5 former detainees and 38 relatives of detainees.

  • The report was researched and documented thoroughly, and includes interview transcripts, photos, and videos about many different aspects of the social engineering program underway in Xinjiang.

New York Times front page

“Kudos to the New York Times for putting Chris Buckley and Austin Ramzy’s story on Xinjiang smack in the middle of their front page. Rare real estate for a subject that richly deserves it,” tweeted Josh Chin, Beijing-based correspondent for the Wall Street Journal. The article is titled: China is detaining muslims in vast numbers. The goal: ‘transformation.’ (porous paywall).

  • “That was not a place for getting rid of extremism,” one Uyghur man who had been detained in a camp in Xinjiang told the Times. “That was a place that will breed vengeful feelings and erase Uyghur identity.”

  • The article includes new photos of an internment camp in Hotan, as well as testimony from victims.

Sanctions coming?

As we were finishing writing this newsletter, the New York Times reported (paywall):

The Trump administration is considering sanctions against Chinese senior officials and companies to punish Beijing’s detention of hundreds of thousands of ethnic Uighurs and other minority Muslims in large internment camps, according to current and former American officials…

Discussions to rebuke China’s treatment of its minority Muslims have been underway for months among officials at the White House and the Treasury and State Departments. But they gained urgency two weeks ago, after members of Congress asked Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin to impose sanctions on seven Chinese officials….

[Senator] Rubio said the Congressional-Executive Commission on China, which he is a chairman of, will also ask the Commerce Department to prevent American companies from selling technology to China that could contribute to the surveillance and tracking.

Reporting elsewhere on Xinjiang and Uyghurs:

2. Christians are in the crosshairs, too

Over the weekend, there were several reports of crackdowns on Christian churches.

  • “The government is ratcheting up a crackdown on congregations in Beijing and several Chinese provinces, destroying crosses, burning bibles and ordering followers to sign papers renouncing their faith,” reports the Associated Press.

  • The Beijing city authorities have banned the Zion church, “one of the largest unofficial Protestant churches in the city and confiscated ‘illegal promotional materials,’” reports Reuters.

  • “The Zion church had for years operated with relative freedom, hosting hundreds of worshippers every weekend in an expansive specially renovated hall in north Beijing,” Reuters says. “But since April, after they rejected requests from authorities to install closed-circuit television cameras in the building, the church has faced growing pressure from the authorities and has been threatened with eviction.”

Respected China watcher and D.C. denizen Bill Bishop commented (paywall): “If Beijing wants bipartisan unity in D.C. they could not have chosen a better action than taking the hammer and sickle to Jesus.” There’s already evidence: Axios AM, the morning email newsletter that has become a must read for Beltway insiders, today featured the above-mentioned AP story on the church crackdown, but did not mention the New York Times’ front page Xinjiang article.

3. Jack Ma retires, sort of

Like Donald Trump and Elon Musk, Alibaba founder Jack Ma 马云 seems to have an extraordinary talent for getting free media coverage. The latest example: Last Friday, the New York Times reported (porous paywall) that Ma said he was stepping down as chairman of the company. Much media coverage followed. Ma then walked it back slightly: his plan is actually to step down next year, and of course he is not actually going to leave the company.

4. Nepal and China embrace, India is wary

  • China will allow Nepal to use four of its ports, “the Nepalese government said on Friday, as the landlocked Himalayan nation seeks to end India’s monopoly over its trading routes by increasing connections with Beijing,” Reuters reports.

  • On Friday in Kathmandu, officials from both countries finalised the protocol of the Transit and Transport Agreement (TTA), giving Nepal access to the ports of Tianjin, Shenzhen, Lianyungang and Zhanjiang, as well as the dry ports at Lanzhou, Lhasa and Xigatse, and the roads that lead to them.

  • Nepal and China will participate in joint military exercises from September 17 to 28 in Chengdu, reports the Times of India. The news comes shortly after Nepal pulled out of a multilateral BIMSTEC military exercises that include several South and Southeast Asian countries.  

—Jeremy Goldkorn

5. Trade war, day 67: Trump pushes for supply chain disruption; China reaches out to Wall Street for advice

In the absence of further news about the impending tariffs on another $200 billion in Chinese goods, Trump targeted one prominent critic of those proposed tariffs: Apple.
<div class=”tweet” data-attrs=”{“url”:”″,”html”:”

Apple prices may increase because of the massive Tariffs we may be imposing on China – but there is an easy solution where there would be ZERO tax, and indeed a tax incentive. Make your products in the United States instead of China. Start building new plants now. Exciting! #MAGA

“,”author”:”realDonaldTrump”,”author_name”:”Donald J. Trump”,”date”:”September 8, 2018″}”>Donald J. Trump@realDonaldTrump

Apple prices may increase because of the massive Tariffs we may be imposing on China – but there is an easy solution where there would be ZERO tax, and indeed a tax incentive. Make your products in the United States instead of China. Start building new plants now. Exciting! #MAGA

September 8, 2018The technology company had sent a letter to the U.S. Trade Representative on September 5, which was reported in the media a few days later, that pointed out the obvious fact that tariffs “will increase the cost of Apple products.”

But the supply chain disruption that Trump says is “Exciting!”, Wall Street sees as quite worrying.

  • Apple’s stock fell 1.3 percent on Monday after the weekend tweet, according to TheStreet.

  • Actually building iPhones in the U.S., for example, would raise cost by 20 percent, a Bank of America analyst concluded, CNBC reports. The current supply chain structure for iPhones is 47 percent based in China, political economist Damien Ma notes.

Beijing realizes that Wall Street is perhaps its most natural ally in trying to persuade Trump to tone down trade tensions.

  • “Chinese Communist party officials have invited the heads of America’s leading financial institutions to attend a ‘China-US Financial Roundtable’ in Beijing on September 16, followed by a meeting with Wang Qishan, vice-president of China,” the Financial Times reports (paywall).

  • The roundtable will be chaired by former Chinese central bank governor Zhou Xiaochuan, and former Goldman Sachs executive John Thornton.

  • Its goal is to “meet every six months to discuss Sino-US relations and advise the Chinese government on financial and economic reforms,” in part because the Trump administration has declined to identify a single point person for either trade negotiations, or for overall U.S.-China relations.

  • But it’s been quite hastily organized: “They only put this together in the last few weeks and September is booked long in advance,” a source told the FT.

  • And it’s not clear it will help: “Xi Jinping’s administration has also found that its most trusted interlocutors on Wall Street appear to have little sway over Mr Trump.” But they’re trying it (again) anyway.

Here’s what else is being reported about the trade war:

—Lucas Niewenhuis


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




  • Village culture
    Former culture chief sounds alarm over China’s vanishing villages / SCMP
    “China’s massive urbanisation drive is killing the country’s traditional villages, taking with it an ancient source of national culture and values, a former top Chinese official has warned.”

  • Children’s TV and gender
    CCTV kids program prompts gender debate / China Media Project
    “This week we start off our list of media stories with an interesting constellation of debates centering around ‘First School Class’ (开学第一课 kāixué dìyīkè), a well-known kids education program that has aired on China Central Television since 2008.”

  • Net celebrity controversies
    Beauty blogger Saya accused of attacking pregnant woman after argument over unleashed dog / What’s on Weibo
    “A violent incident that happened in Hangzhou last week has attracted nationwide attention in China, after news came out that Weibo celebrity and fashion blogger Saya had attacked a pregnant woman due to an argument over her unleashed dog.”


Viral on Weibo: Teachers’ Day in Zhengzhou

At Zhengzhou Technology and Business University in Zhengzhou, Henan Province, about 2,000 freshmen posed en masse with lights as Chinese characters to express their gratitude to their teacher on Teachers’ Day.


Click Here

Chinese Corner: The Death of a Gangster (and his underworld in Kunshan)

What China’s reading this week: The death of ‘Brother Long’ and the underworld in Kunshan he once ruled; a cross-country road trip to see China’s zoos, starting in Harbin; when diligence doesn’t pay off for rural students at Peking University; and 15 days after floods in Shouguang, Chinese farmers feel pride and grief. Chinese Corner is SupChina’s weekly look at what stories are going viral on the Chinese internet.

Sinica Podcast Early Access: China’s ‘reliable friendship’ with Pakistan, explained by Andrew Small

This week, Kaiser and Jeremy chat with Andrew Small, senior transatlantic fellow at the German Marshall Fund in Washington, D.C. Andrew is one of surprisingly few scholars with specialized experience researching China’s relations with what it calls its “all-weather friend” — Pakistan. His book from 2015 on the subject is titled The China-Pakistan Axis: Asia’s New Geopolitics.

Kaiser, Jeremy, and Andrew discuss how Sino-Pakistani ties have been impacted by the recent election of Imran Khan to prime minister, Pakistan’s economic difficulties, and the numerous projects that comprise the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, or CPEC – one of the most important components of China’s Belt and Road Initiative.

  • Subscribe to Sinica Early Access by plugging this RSS feed directly into your podcast app.

Kuora: Chinese food in America doesn’t have to be an abomination

There are all sorts of variations on Americanized Chinese food, and some of it abominable — a real insult to the cuisine from which it is putatively derived. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Friday Song: Wishing You Well

Here’s a throwback to Sun Yue’s 孙悦 1994 hit, Wishing You Peace/Well 祝你平安.

The Caixin-Sinica Business Brief, episode 62

This week on the Business Brief: Topics covered include the regulatory hold-up on new video games in China, a new billion-dollar plastic surgery startup, and yes, that case of the pole-dancing kindergarten principle.


Traditional Tibetan Buddhist families in southeast Qinghai tend to only kill two to three yaks a year for meat. When they do, it is akin to a small, holy ceremony: holy water is poured on the yak before it is suffocated to death — Tibetans prefer not to see blood from a dying animal. Only men are able to see the death. Then, afterwards, field dressing the animal becomes an entire family affair. Almost no part is wasted.

—Kyle Obermann