Balochistan Liberation Army attacks Chinese consulate

Access Archive

Dear Access member,

We’ve got a short roundup for you today. Regular programming resumes on Monday.

—Jeremy Goldkorn, Editor-in-Chief

1. Balochistan Liberation Army attacks Chinese consulate in Pakistan

“Three suicide attackers stormed the Chinese consulate in the Pakistani city of Karachi amid a series of gunshots and an explosion on Friday, but were killed before they could get into the building in a car packed with explosives, police said,” reports Reuters. Two civilian bystanders died, but no one at the consulate was injured.

  • The Baloch Liberation Army (BLA), a separatist insurgent group in the resource-rich southwestern province of Balochistan, claimed responsibility.

  • “China is exploiting our resources,” said a BLA spokesperson to Reuters by telephone. He confirmed that there were three attackers. The Karachi police chief “said the three attackers came in a car filled with explosives but failed to get inside the heavily fortified compound.” Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan called the attack “part of conspiracy against Pak and China economic and strategic cooperation.”

  • A major artery of the Belt and Road — a signature project of Xí Jìnpíng 习近平 — is the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, which passes right through Balochistan, and terminates in the deep-water port in the town of Gwadar. The strategic importance of that port to China is apparent from the $1.62 billion Beijing initially budgeted to develop it, which was followed up with numerous other pledges and projects.

  • The BLA has fought an armed struggle against the state of Pakistan since 2004, demanding equal rights and self-determination for the Baloch people, and an end to repression and exploitation of Balochi resources. Over the last couple of years, the BLA has begun targeting Chinese projects and people in Pakistan.

  • In August this year, a BLA suicide attacker drove a truck full of explosives into a bus carrying Chinese engineers near Quetta, the capital of Balochistan Province. The attacker died, and six passengers were injured. “We targeted this bus which was carrying Chinese engineers. We attacked them because they are extracting gold from our region, we won’t allow it,” said a BLA spokesperson, according to Agence France-Presse.

  • In 2017, two Chinese teachers living in Quetta were kidnapped and executed, apparently by Islamic State militants in Balochistan.

2. Ten-year visas are in play — trade war, day 141

Despite America being in a post-Thanksgiving coma, the trade war and related frictions remain in the news:

  • “The U.S. embassy in Beijing has revoked 10-year multiple-entry visas issued to some researchers specializing in China-US relations, a further tightening of entry controls as ties between to the two countries worsen,” reports the South China Morning Post.

  • North Carolina State University (NCSU) will shut down its Confucius Institute after 12 years of operation, reports The News & Observer. “NCSU Provost Warwick Arden said the primary reason for the closure was to better align the university’s China and Asia programs with the rest of the university’s global strategy. But he added, ‘We’re certainly aware of the concerns that are circulating around Confucius Institutes.’”

  • “At a time when China is accused of industrial-scale cyber espionage, CCTV reports that a Chinese internet company was also successfully attacked, and that there have been many large attacks aimed at China recently,” tweeted New York Times reporter Chris Buckley. You can find an article about the CCTV report here (in Chinese).

  • “Washington asks allies to drop Huawei,” says the Wall Street Journal (paywall). “American officials have briefed their government counterparts and telecom executives in friendly countries where Huawei equipment is already in wide use, including Germany, Italy and Japan, about what they see as cybersecurity risks.”

  • City of Angels says farewell to Cosco: “China’s Cosco Shipping Holdings Co. is starting the process of selling its large container terminal in Long Beach, California, a major gateway for U.S. trade,” reports the Wall Street Journal (paywall). “Cosco agreed earlier this year with CFIUS [the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S.] to place it in a U.S-run trust and sell it within a year to allay national security concerns over a Chinese state entity running a major U.S. gateway.”

3. Weekend reading

African swine fever has reached Beijing

The Financial Times reports (porous paywall) that two farms “in the Fangshan district southwest of Beijing, which held almost 1,800 hogs between them, had reported a total of 86 hogs dead from the disease.” Down south, Xiamen Airlines has stopped serving pork on flights “due to African swine fever outbreaks,” says Reuters.

Is China undereducated?

A new book argues that undereducation is a serious problem that jeopardizes China’s chances of escaping the middle-income trap: “Only 30 percent of the labor force has a high school education or higher. That puts China behind all other middle-income countries, including Mexico, South Africa, Thailand, and Turkey.”

HIV statistics

From the Global Times on Twitter: HIV/AIDS in China according to the National Health Commission:

  • 1.25 million people are living with HIV/AIDS as of the end of 2018

  • 80,000 new cases each year

  • 69.6 percent of the carriers contracted it through heterosexual sex in 2017, 25.5 percent of the carriers contracted it through homosexual sex

Dolce & Gabbana’s adventures in China

The Italian design house remains a subject of nationwide discussion after the cancellation of a Shanghai show following controversy about a video ad campaign and leaked, offensive text messages from cofounder Stefano Gabbana.


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

—Jeremy Goldkorn, Editor-in-Chief

Here are the stories that caught our eye this week:

  • The APEC summit in Papua New Guinea was a fiasco this year, as U.S.-China tensions consumed the event. For the first time in APEC’s 29-year history, world leaders at the annual summit failed to issue a joint communique at its conclusion because the U.S. was insisting on language that Beijing pushed back against. It was also reported that negotiators will not meet in Washington before the end of this month, further raising the stakes for the Trump-Xi meeting set after the G20 in Argentina on December 1.

  • The high-tech side of the trade fight was taken up a notch as the U.S. Commerce Department issued a request for public comment on tightening export controls for 14 broad categories of “emerging technologies.” Paul Triolo, head of global technology policy for the Eurasia Group, writes for SupChina that these latest American moves to limit tech exports are going to make life very difficult, and very complicated, for many industries, and cross-Pacific collaboration on artificial intelligence may be the worst affected. The Global Times had an interesting reaction to this news: “In the face of American fury, we need to remain calm.”

  • The U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer slammed China with a 53-page report that concludes the country has “not fundamentally altered its unfair, unreasonable, and market-distorting practices that were the subject of the March 2018 report on our Section 301 investigation.”

  • But it’s not just the U.S. that criticized China’s trade and investment practices this week. The Maldives said it would pull out of a free trade agreement with China, the European Union proposed a law to screen foreign investments, and Lóng Yǒngtú 龙永图, who led the talks that led to China’s entry to the World Trade Organization, openly criticized the country’s trade war tactics, specifically, its decision to target American soybeans with tariffs.

  • African swine fever has spread to hog farms in 20 provincial-level regions in China. The 19th was Shanghai, and the 20th was Beijing. Even though more than half a million hogs had been culled since the first outbreak in August, the disease will be “very complicated and very tough” to eliminate.

  • Eco-tourism construction is killing Chinese sturgeons, the fisheries bureau of Hubei Province said.

  • President Rodrigo Duterte deepened his China-friendly policy stance as Xi Jinping visited the country on November 20 — though many of the 29 agreements established were broad or vague.

  • The abuse of Muslims in Xinjiang is a “penetrating” issue in American and European policy circles, as even lawmakers who were once favorable toward China are now using terms like “concentration camps,” according to Megha Rajagopalan, the BuzzFeed journalist who wrote groundbreaking reports about Xinjiang before authorities failed to renew her visa.

  • Chinese state media is expanding further into Western social media — on Facebook, for example, four of the five fastest-growing media pages are Chinese state media.

  • Popular actress Zhào Wēi 赵薇 and her husband, Huáng Yǒulóng 黄有龙, were blacklisted from the Shanghai Stock Exchange for violating disclosure rules.

  • Kǒng Línlín 孔琳琳, the CCTV employee in the U.K. who slapped a Conservative Party volunteer in September, will not be charged with a crime.


  • Blood money
    One of China’s biggest blood-products firms looks to go global / Caixin (paywall)
    “Shanghai RAAS Blood Products Co. Ltd. said in a statement Thursday that it will acquire Grifols Diagnostic Solutions Inc. (GDS), a U.S. subsidiary of Spanish blood-product giant Grifols valued at around $5 billion, in exchange for new RAAS shares….
    Since its founding in 1988, Shanghai RAAS has become China’s leading producer and seller of clinical blood products — which are derived from human blood — including human albumin, which is used to treat those who have blood deficiencies, such as some cancer patients.”

  • Mobike leaves Manchester
    Manchester first city in the world to lose Mobikes due to vandalism / Manchester Evening News
    “Mobike is pulling out of Manchester — making us the first city to lose the bike-sharing firm as a result of vandalism and theft.”
    Mobike’s announcement ended thusly: “Goodbyes are never easy, but we hope to see you again in London, Newcastle, Oxford and Cambridge, as well as across Europe in cities including Paris, Berlin, Madrid and Milan.”

  • Ecommerce — imported goods
    Beijing relaxes ecommerce imports to stimulate consumer spending / Caixin (paywall)
    “The Chinese government is raising the amount of money that people living in major cities can spend tax-free on overseas goods via e-commerce platforms by 30%, as it looks to stimulate consumer spending amid trade tensions with the U.S.”

  • When artificial intelligence just isn’t that smart
    Surveillance system catches China’s air con queen jaywalking, but turns out to be a bus ad / SCMP
    “Dǒng Míngzhū 董明珠, chairwoman of China’s biggest maker of air conditioners Gree Electric Appliances…found her face splashed on a huge screen erected along a street in the port city of Ningbo that displays images of people caught jaywalking by surveillance cameras. That artificial intelligence-backed surveillance system, however, erred in capturing Dong’s image on Wednesday from an advertisement on the side of a moving bus.”

  • Slaughterhouses pumping cows full of water
    Abattoirs closed, 29 detained over cattle pumped full of water / Sixth Tone
    “After the cows are butchered, the heavier, waterlogged meat fetches higher prices but could be unsafe to eat, depending on the cleanliness of the water.”
    Sixth Tone editor David Paulk on Twitter: “People in China are outraged and sickened by this week’s story about live cattle in Anhui being intubated and pumped full of water before slaughter. But the worst part? This isn’t even a new phenomenon: A slaughterhouse in Hunan made headlines in April 2017 for doing the same thing.”

  • Mobile payment titans
    Alipay and WeChat may have grown too big to fail / Caixin (paywall)
    “China’s regulators are compiling a list of systemically important financial institutions. Sources say the payment platforms’ owners just might make it.”


  • Xinjiang: “If we do not protest when a million people are detained without trial, when will we speak out?”
    The West begins to stir over China’s massive abuse of Muslims / Economist (porous paywall)
    “Chinese officials cynically believe — and will say in private — that Western leaders and envoys raise human rights out of a sense of reluctant obligation, in order to placate activists and public opinion back home. This time, however, the charge is being led by ambassadors, not the public.”
    Xinjiang specialist Darren Byler for Sinopsis: A project far more extreme than the Stanford Prison Experiment / Sinopsis
    The Uighurs and China’s long history of trouble with Islam / New York Review of Books

  • Late Orientalists misguiding German policy?
    Opinion: Why Germany isn’t ready to face China’s power politics / by Didi Kirsten Tatlow in Zentrum Liberale Moderne
    “For decades, Sinol­o­gists who were largely blind to China’s expan­sive power pol­i­tics have dom­i­nated Germany’s polit­i­cal advice circles, cul­ti­vat­ing an image of China that our author calls ‘Late Ori­en­tal­ism.’ Shaped by roman­ti­cism, it strug­gles with a dif­fi­cult ques­tion: How to deal with a rising, anti-demo­c­ra­tic super­power?”

  • Truckers protest pollution regulations
    China Labor Bulletin on Twitter: “Video: hundreds of truckers on strike gather at Xi’an government building. They protest new regulations on exhaust pollution which puts them out of the roads.”

  • Marxist student crackdown
    In China, the Communist Party’s latest, unlikely target: young Marxists / NPR
    The article cites historian Zhāng Lìfán 章立凡: “I think this shows China’s Communist Party can no longer justify itself. While the party talks about serving the people, China’s actually been practicing capitalism… Since the current leader came to power, many colleges have established Marxist study centers, and that leads to a conflict for the ruling party. You’re brainwashing the youth with Marxist theory, but by doing so, you’re giving them a tool to fight against the government.”

  • Free land in Kenya for Chinese investors
    Meru woos Chinese investments with offer of free land / Business Daily
    “Meru Governor Kiraitu Murungi has promised Chinese investors free land as he seeks to attract investment in agribusiness and the hospitality industry. The county government also offered to help the foreign investors acquire national government licenses to fast-track establishment of processing plants in the county.”

  • Foreign education ventures
    Oxford University opens research center in China / Sixth Tone
    “The newly established institute in Suzhou will accommodate 12 research projects and remain fully owned by Oxford University.”

  • Car crash in Liaoning
    Five killed as car hits schoolchildren in northeast China / AP
    “It is not known if the incident was a deliberate attack.”


  • Violence against women
    A Chinese actor admits hitting a woman — and some take his side / NYT (porous paywall)
    “Her face was darkened by bruises, her limbs battered. The photos that Haruka Nakaura, a Japanese model, shared on Instagram left little doubt about what had happened to her…
    Yet on Chinese social media this week, there was considerable support for Jiǎng Jìngfū 蒋劲夫, a 27-year-old Chinese model and actor who subsequently admitted to having beaten Ms. Nakaura. The two had been dating.”

  • Hanfu clothing movement
    A retro fashion statement in 1,000-year-old gowns, with nationalist fringe / NYT (porous paywall)
    “I’ve asked the store many times why can’t they add a pocket at the back for my phone and cigarettes… They think I’m a heretic.”

  • Hunting in Hubei
    China’s nascent hunting parks help drive domestic tourism / FT (paywall)
    “Gun ownership is tightly restricted in China, but at the Taizi Mountain Hunting Culture Theme Park in central China’s Hubei Province, visitors can pay to rent weapons and pursue animals, including rabbits and wild pigs — which can be cooked and eaten on site.”

  • Access to medicine for transgender people
    Bitter pills: Trans women face shrinking access to hormones / Sixth Tone
    “Even if trans people are willing to go through the humiliation of being diagnosed, it doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll be able to get what they’re looking for.”


We published the following videos this week:


Beijing Ren: Tea and Starbucks at Qianmen

Qianmen 前门, meaning “front gate,” refers to the city gate and tower that stand directly south of the Forbidden City. These structures were once part of the fortifications that included a city wall, and now comprise one of the best-known parts of Beijing. For centuries, the area was a cauldron of vibrant culture, where commerce mixed with art, entertainment, and local life. We went there to check out Qianmen’s modern culture, symbolized by a gigantic Starbucks that opened over the summer.

Chinese Corner: On Weibo, men are ‘trash’

In this installment of Jiayun Feng’s weekly review of interesting nonfiction on the Chinese internet, she looks at Weibo’s discrimination against male users, the dark business of silencing petitioners, a gifted filmmaker who died tragically young, and the highly stressful business of education.

‘A Gay’s Life’: First-of-its-kind web game explores the LGBT Chinese experience

There is nothing quite like the interactive Chinese browser game A Gay’s Life, a gamified field guide of sorts for living as a gay person in China, and the first of its kind to tackle the themes of accepting one’s sexual orientation, coming out to friends and family, and navigating gay dating.

U.S. efforts to control advanced technology hitting new levels, directed squarely at China

Paul Triolo, head of global technology policy for the Eurasia Group, explains why the latest American moves to limit tech exports are going to make life very difficult, and very complicated, for many industries. Successful cross-Pacific collaboration on artificial intelligence may be the worst affected.

‘Very complicated and very tough’ — China’s African swine fever challenge

In its second breakout from its indigenous environment in the sub-Sahara, African swine fever has finally achieved what many veterinary scientists and virologists have long predicted was terrifyingly inevitable. It is on the move throughout China, home to more than half the world’s pigs.

Patriotism gone wrong at a marathon  

Imagine that you are in first place at the end of a marathon, sprinting toward the finish line, when suddenly a patriotic volunteer barges into you to hand you a national flag… This is what happened to Hé Yǐnlì 何引丽 at the Suzhou Taihu Marathon in Jiangsu on November 18.

Kuora: When does a foreigner ‘really’ understand an adopted country?

What is native-level understanding of a country? Kaiser Kuo explains his viewpoint after decades as an expatriate American in China.


Sinica Podcast: Myth-busting China’s social credit system with Manya Koetse and Rogier Creemers

This week’s Sinica comes from a live recording at the Asia Society of Switzerland in Zurich. Kaiser talked to Manya Koetse, editor and founder of What’s on Weibo, and Rogier Creemers, a postdoctoral scholar, about China’s social credit system, a fiercely debated and highly controversial subject in the West.

TechBuzz China: The Greatest Train Wreck of the Chinese Internet: Renren, China’s Facebook

In episode 30 of TechBuzz China, co-hosts Ying-Ying Lu and Rui Ma talk about Renren Inc., the closest Chinese analogue to Facebook. The company — which once had a near-monopoly on the Chinese social networking space, and had raised $800 million in its 2011 IPO — recently announced that it would sell all of its social networking assets to Beijing Infinities Technology, a holding company, for a mere $20 million in cash and $40 million worth of stock. This episode explores the question: What happened?

Ta for Ta, episode 10: Joan Kaufman

Joan Kaufman is the New York-based senior director for academic programs at Schwarzman Scholars, a newly launched elite international master’s program, which trains leaders in global affairs at Tsinghua University in China. Ta for Ta is a new biweekly podcast hosted by Juliana Batista, which captures the narratives of women from Greater China at the top of their professional game.

ChinaEconTalk: China’s Domestic Sports Market With Mark Dreyer

China’s government aims to create a $500 billion sports industry by 2020. But how are those ambitions playing out on the ground in the Chinese basketball and soccer leagues? SupChina columnist and longtime China sports watcher Mark Dreyer gives his take.

The Caixin-Sinica Business Brief, episode 70

This week on the Caixin-Sinica Business Brief: The controversy surrounding China’s drive to get ahead in 5G technology, the recent outbreak of African swine fever, the gaming industry in China, and more.


Kitten time!

A young girl plays with her kitten on the streets of Qingdao, a port city, and the hometown of the famous Tsingtao Beer, in the northeastern part of China in Shandong Province. Photo by Daniel Hinks.

Jia Guo