Spin and stimulus

Access Archive

Dear Access member,

We’ve got three things at the top for you today.

If you’re in New York on November 7: Join the Asian Financial Society for a panel discussion on Asians in NYC Real Estate. For details and to reserve a space, click here.

—Jeremy Goldkorn, Editor-in-Chief

h2>1. Spin and stimulus

China’s responses to the trade war and the country’s slowing economy are coming into shape. It’s a mix of public relations, reassurance for the markets, new policies and promises about new policies, and economic stimulus.

  • Today’s major event was the opening of the five-day China International Import Expo in Shanghai, where China vowed to “bake a 40-trillion-dollar big import cake.” Xí Jìnpíng 习近平 gave a speech — though, as we note below, the audience turnout among other world leaders was underwhelming.

  • “The Shanghai stock exchange plans to launch a new trading platform to ease equity-raising for small tech companies, President Xi Jinping said on Monday,” reports Gabriel Wildau of the Financial Times (porous paywall). “The new ‘technology innovation board’ will also test out a new, deregulated mechanism for initial public offerings… The approval system has led to a chronically long queue of companies waiting for IPO approval and created incentives for corruption among officials with approval authority.”

  • We’ll see if it actually happens: Way back in 2001, a Chinese technology magazine I was editing had a feature story censored. Its topic: “a Chinese version of Nasdaq, or a stock exchange for small companies which is not yet up but is expected in the next few years.” That mooted stock exchange never launched.

  • Xi also promised to cut import tariffs, reduce trade barriers, and further open up access to the economy for foreign companies. He vowed better protection for intellectual property. You can read more about his promises via the BBC, AFP, SCMP, and Bloomberg.

  • Shanghai correspondent of the Economist, Simon Rabinovitch, tweeted: “Xi Jinping’s line that China will import more than $40trn worth of goods and services over the next 15 years is a classic of its kind: a great, big number for a great, big headline, but one that looks far shabbier on closer inspection.” Click through to read the explanation.

  • Chart of the day: China can nearly meet Xi’s import target without doing anything, says Caixin.

—Jeremy Goldkorn

2. Trade war, day 123: Seeking allies among indebted nations

There was a somewhat disappointing VIP turnout for Xi’s grand import fair, reports Keith Bradsher for the New York Times (porous paywall). “Despite months of energetic efforts by China to persuade foreign leaders to attend, only about a dozen presidents and prime ministers — from Hungary, the Dominican Republic and El Salvador, among others — showed up Monday morning.”

  • Many came from developing countries with a history of heavy borrowing from Beijing, while “notably absent were the leaders of major trading nations like Germany, Britain, South Korea and Japan.”

  • On the sidelines of the import fair, so far, China has wrapped up talks with Singapore to upgrade their free trade agreement and will sign a horticultural export deal with Kenya, though tensions remain with that country’s upcoming ban on Chinese fish imports.

  • Alibaba’s Jack Ma (马云 Mǎ Yún) vented at the import fair, calling the U.S.-China trade war the “stupidest thing in the world.”

  • Last week’sirrational exuberance” over Trump-Xi talks in Buenos Aires next month following the G20 summit took a quick turn back to reality, with global markets mixed and analysts looking to the meeting as merely a starting point for resolution of the trade crisis. “The distance between a leaders’ statement that they would like to work something out…and actually reaching a deal is ginormous,” Scott Kennedy, a scholar of U.S.-China relations at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, told Bloomberg (porous paywall).

  • Also looming: Tuesday’s U.S. midterm elections, where gains by Democrats could provoke Trump into a more combative tone.

Other trade-war-related news:

—Sky Canaves

3. Renmin University keeps pressure on Marxist students

On Friday, we noted reports that two students at Nanjing University were assaulted and hauled away, “according to a witness and video footage, after they led protests against their university on Thursday for refusing to recognize an on-campus Marxist student society.”

On October 20, Cornell University suspended a partnership with the prestigious Renmin University in Beijing after students affiliated with its Marxist society were punished for supporting labor rights in China. About 50 students from across China, including students from both Nanjing and Renmin universities, went to Huizhou in southern China in August to protest against the treatment of factory workers.

Yesterday, Yuan Yang of the Financial Times reported (porous paywall) that one of the students from Renmin University said “she had been carefully watched by teachers, who warned her against speaking out again.”

“They would keep asking to eat with me, and would always end the meals by asking me what activities I’ve been involved in. They keep ‘recommending’ that I don’t post more on social media or accept interviews,” she said. “I still feel these are things I should do. I have not violated any rules. These are my rights.”


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


  • Electric-vehicle manufacturing
    Why China indirectly controls EV markets / Oilprice.com
    China “is already well-established as the global leader for the batteries that power electric vehicles, which are seen as a vital component to the future of the automotive industry… The European market should start contending with the likely outcome that European car production will soon be making a mass move to China.”

  • Music copyright protection
    Over 6,000 songs to be taken down from China’s karaoke systems / What’s on Weibo
    “A recent announcement issued by the CAVCA (China Audio-Video Copyright Association) ordered Chinese KTV managers and karaoke operators across the country to take down 6,000 Chinese music videos from their assortment of songs for copyright issues.”

  • The increasing sophistication of censorship — Weibo
    Beijing now able to flag Weibo posts as ‘rumor’ / FT (porous paywall)
    Yuan Yang reports:

Sina Weibo, China’s top microblogging platform, has given the Chinese government the ability to directly flag posts as “rumor,” in the latest sign of how Beijing is policing online content.

“Media and government accounts [on Weibo] will no longer only have the simple role of providing information, but will also be able to directly participate in the governance of our platform’s content,” Weibo wrote on its official blog last week… Weibo’s decision, which was first reported by news website Sixth Tone, will make it easier for government bodies to shape internet discourse in a more subtle way than deleting posts.




Viral on Weibo: A food delivery in the sky!

On November 4, a tower crane driver was filmed getting his food delivered in the sky in Chengdu, Sichuan Province.


And now, an amazing Chinese rendition of ‘Cell Block Tango’ (with translated lyrics)

This is the best thing we’ve seen on Chinese social media in a while — a song by Tú Yǒuqín 徒有琴, a student at the Central Conservatory of Music. She plays the part of six women from six different parts of China who sing, in their particular dialects, about their horrible experiences with the men in their lives. It’s all set — fittingly and so very well — to the tune of “Cell Block Tango” from the musical Chicago.

Kuora: Irony and postmodernism in China

Irony doesn’t permeate the attitudes of young Chinese to nearly the same extent that it does their counterparts in the developed anglophone West, and there’s much more direct, unfiltered earnestness to the way that your ordinary Chinese person will approach literature, televisual media, music, fashion, or sports. This is, of course, not to say that irony and some of its arguably related phenomena, like postmodernism, don’t exist in China. They do, and, in the case of irony, they have for a very long time.

Friday Song: The songs, dreams, and worlds inspired by Jin Yong

Karoline Kan writes for SupChina: The evening when news came out that Chinese wuxia writer Jin Yong 金庸 passed away, within minutes, my WeChat Moments timeline was filled with posts in which people expressed sadness and shared their memories of reading Jin Yong and watching films and TV shows adapted from his works. One can’t overstate how influential Jin Yong was in the Chinese diaspora. His works are a “shared language” among ethnic Chinese people, in mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and overseas communities in Singapore, North America, etc.

The Caixin-Sinica Business Brief, episode 68

This week on the Caixin-Sinica Business Brief: Alibaba’s “hotel of the future,” the fall of Féng Lìzhì 冯立志, Google’s project to develop a search engine for the Chinese market, and what happened with the Brazil election and its meaning for China.


Sorting fish

In this 1998 photo, fishermen on Meizhou Island, which is close to the shores of Putian in Fujian, sort their catch on the beach. The island is known as the birthplace of the Chinese sea goddess Mazu.

Jia Guo