Huawei employee arrested for spying in Poland

Access Archive

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1. Huawei employee arrested for spying in Poland

Reuters reports: “Poland has arrested a Chinese employee of Huawei and a former Polish security official on spying allegations.” A spokesperson for the Polish Internal Security Agency (ISA) said they were detained on January 8 in Warsaw.

  • “This matter has to do with his actions, it doesn’t have anything to do with the company he works for,” said the ISA spokesperson of the detention of the Huawei employee, who is a Chinese national.

  • A Huawei employee called “Wang Weijing” was arrested but not charged, “a person with knowledge of the matter” told Reuters, which found a LinkedIn profile of a person who “worked for Huawei’s Polish division since 2011 and previously served as attache to the Chinese General Consul in Gdansk from 2006-2011.” That LinkedIn profile appears to have been deleted.

  • Polish media reports said the Polish citizen was a former ISA officer, and that “security services had searched the offices of his current employer, telecoms firm Orange Polska. Huawei’s local offices were also searched.”

  • Huawei issued a bland statement that it “was aware of the situation but had no immediate comment,” and that “Huawei complies with all applicable laws and regulations in the countries where it operates, and we require every employee to abide by the laws and regulations in the countries where they are based.”

  • China’s foreign ministry today “expressed grave concerns over the incident and urged Poland to protect the lawful rights of the Chinese detainee,” reports the South China Morning Post, adding that a spokesperson for China’s embassy in Warsaw “told Chinese state media that Beijing ‘attached great importance’ to the case and was following it up with the Polish foreign ministry.”

The arrests come in the context of growing scrutiny of — and hostility to — Huawei globally. With its equipment likely to be excluded from 5G networks in the U.S., the U.K., Australia, New Zealand, and Canada, global grumbles about the secretively managed Chinese company are growing louder.

  • Earlier this week, Reuters reported that “Norway is considering whether to join other western nations in excluding China’s Huawei Technologies from building part of the Nordic country’s new 5G telecommunications infrastructure.”

  • Reuters also reported on “corporate filings and other documents” from Iran and Syria that show that Huawei is closely linked to two firms suspected of being front companies that Huawei used to evade sanctions.

  • For more analysis of recent news concerning Huawei, take a listen to the most recent two episodes of Sinica: Meng Wanzhou’s arrest: The legal dimension, and Huawei and the tech cold war.

—Jeremy Goldkorn

2. Trade war, day 190: Liu He schedules a visit to D.C. for January 30-31

There is really only one piece of news directly on the trade war today, and that is that top economic official Liú Hè 刘鹤 is scheduled to visit Washington, D.C., for high-level trade negotiations on January 30-31. The Wall Street Journal reports (paywall) on those plans, and says that it may be conditional on the government shutdown:

For now, Vice Premier Liu He is planning to meet with his U.S. counterparts, including U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, for negotiations on Jan. 30 and Jan. 31, according to people briefed on the matter. These people caution that the plan could be delayed by the partial U.S. government shutdown.

Of course, the Huawei news above and the latest on China’s economic slowdown (see related links below) are also related to the trade war, though less directly. Both of those will probably end up being much, much larger stories in 2019 than the tariff standoff.

For the tariffs themselves, with the reportedly (mildly, vaguely) successful talks in Beijing this week, Liu He coming to D.C., and Trump’s apparent blind eagerness for a deal to calm financial markets, the end appears to be nearing. In early January and in December, I would have told you that the 90-day talks were more likely to break down (as with previous talks) than to end in a deal that commits to lowering tariffs, but now I think the opposite.

Even more indication that Trump is gearing up to spin whatever comes out of 90-day negotiations as a “big win” can be found in this typically confounding and unnecessary analogy by the president, per CNN: Trump says China is ‘more honorable than Chuck and Nancy.’

Noted China-watcher Bill Bishop also predicts today that “the Chinese offer will fall far short of what U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer wants, but using a mixture of big purchase commitments, unofficial lobbying, flattery, and headline concessions it will ultimately prove enough for Trump.”

Other links for today:

—Lucas Niewenhuis

3. A nasty crackdown on Twitter users

New York Times tech reporter Paul Mozur on Twitter:

China is in the midst of one of the nastiest social media crackdowns I can recall. Over the past few months 100s -— maybe 1000s — have been called in by police for the crime of being on Twitter and expressing opinions about China.

For more, see Mozur’s article: Twitter users in China face detention and threats in new Beijing crackdown (porous paywall).


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—Jeremy Goldkorn, Editor-in-Chief

Here are the stories that caught our eye this week (other than the changing status of the trade war, summarized above):





  • Cinema
    A look at 2019 Chinese New Year films / China Film Insider
    “As of this writing, 16 films have been scheduled to release during the 2019 Chinese New Year. Among them, most are comedies and animated films. Usually, homegrown science fiction movies are rarely seen in the China market. This Chinese New Year slate, however, includes two local science fictions.”
    Five most typecast Chinese actors / World of Chinese
    “Chinese TV is notorious for formulaic plots and character clichés. Sometimes, these stock figures even have the same faces. Among Chinese audiences, an actor who is famous for being typecast is known as a ‘specialized household’ (专业户 zhuānyè hù), a a term that originally described rural households that ran cottage industries in a single product.”

  • Lifestyles of the super-rich
    Teenage son of Chinese billionaire Wang Qinghui becomes owner of $17.5 million mansion Bishopscourt / Domain Media
    “It was the best Christmas present a teenager could hope for — a Sydney mansion worth a whopping AU$17.5 million ($12.61 million). And it now leaves one of the country’s most stunning historic homes in the hands of a young man still not yet old enough to buy alcohol.”

  • Spring Festival in the Forbidden City
    Discovery at Beijing’s Forbidden City lifts curtain on Lunar New Year celebrations in China’s Qing dynasty / SCMP
    “A discovery at the Forbidden City in Beijing suggests that Lunar New Year was just as big an entertainment event on the calendar for one Qing dynasty emperor as it is for hundreds of millions of TV viewers across China today. On Wednesday, staff renovating the Palace Museum’s Hall of Mental Cultivation, or Yang Xin Dian, found two copies of opera programmes from the reign of Qianlong (1735-95).”

  • It’s hard to be a doctor in China
    Why China’s young doctors want out of the system / Sixth Tone
    “Low pay, long hours, and conflict with patients are pushing once-idealistic medics out of public hospitals.”

  • Endangered species and social media
    Chinese couple fined US$1,500 for cooking endangered naked carp for their parents / SCMP
    “A couple from northwest China who decided to treat their parents to a home-cooked meal found themselves in hot water recently after their choice of main course turned out to be a rare and protected species of fish. The problem started when the pair from Qinghai Province videoed themselves preparing the naked carp (Gymnocypris przewalskii) and uploading the footage to social media.”

  • Elon Musk in Beijing
    Chinese hotpot with ex-girlfriend Grimes rounds out big few days for Telsa chief Elon Musk / SCMP
    “Tesla Motors chief executive Elon Musk dined at a hotpot restaurant in Beijing, a day after he received an offer of permanent Chinese residency from Premier Li Keqiang. Musk was seen eating at Qimen Shuanrou in the capital’s Guijie area with singer Grimes, a former girlfriend, in videos that appeared on social media on Thursday.”


Fan-made ‘Ultraman’ video goes viral on the internet

Ultraman is a popular Japanese science-fiction television series. Most Asians who were born in the 1990s have watched it or at least heard of it. The episodes mainly depict how a science patrol battles giant evil monsters and protects Earth. On January 10, a fan-made Ultraman video went viral on the internet.

We also published the following videos this week:


Kyrgyzstan goalie forgets what sport he’s playing, dunks ball into own goal

China was the beneficiary of a tremendous soccer boner by Kyrgyzstan’s goalkeeper on January 7, when the goalie executed a two-handed dunk of the ball into his own goal to gift China an equalizer. Meanwhile, this year’s NBA China Games have been announced, with LeBron James’s Los Angeles Lakers taking on the Brooklyn Nets in Shanghai and Shenzhen on October 10 and 12, respectively. The games look interesting for a number of reasons.

Film Friday: ‘Einstein and Einstein’ depicts the painful reality of growing up in China

Storytellers the world over are drawn to bildungsroman, focusing on those moments just before adulthood. But whereas many of the joys and agonies of growing up are universal, some pains are unique — or at least particularly wrenching — to those who experience them in a particular environment. That’s the story the director Cao Baoping 曹保平 tells in Einstein and Einstein (狗十三 gǒu shísān), whose protagonist’s coming-of-age comes with a harsh education in how to manage expectations.

China, Taiwan, and a dearth of ideas

Taiwan’s local elections in late November were roundly described as a crushing defeat for the broadly pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party and President Tsai Ing-wen 蔡英文. But did Chinese President Xi Jinping, in a January 2 speech in which he reiterated the idea of “one China,” misjudge the will of the Taiwanese for self-dependence — and inadvertently revive Tsai’s political prospects?

‘Deers’ vs. ‘Horses’: Old and new Marxist groups wage ideological battle at Peking University

Beatings, interrogations, kidnappings, expulsions. One by one, Peking University’s Marxist student activists are getting picked off like flies. With every reprisal, the strength of this group wanes. Recently, a “new” Marxist group on campus, backed by the Party and advocating Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era as “Sinified Marxism’s most recent achievement, Marxism for modern China, Marxism for the 21st century,” has gone on the offensive and attacked the “old” Marxists, who are helpless to reply because their official accounts have been blocked.

The Venezuela-China relationship, explained (Part 1 of 4)

This is the first of a four-part series that spotlights the Venezuela-China relationship. On April 18, 2001, Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez sang with Spanish pop star Julio Iglesias fragments of the song “Solamente una vez” in Caracas. In the audience was Jiang Zemin 江泽民, then president of the People’s Republic of China, who attended the signing of cooperation agreements, credits, and treaties that sealed the beginning of a trade relationship between China and the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela. Thus began a relationship of 17 years that continues with the current Venezuelan president, Nicolás Maduro.

China Fintech Today: A new column about China’s financial technology sector

This is the first of a biweekly roundup of news from one of the most innovative sectors of the Chinese economy: financial technology, or fintech. China is where some of the most exciting advances in finance — from blockchain to big data — are occurring; it also has the world’s most advanced cashless economy. China Fintech Today is written by Sara Hsu, a specialist in unseen financial flows, sustainable development in Asia, and the Chinese macroeconomy.

A new Li Bai biography by Ha Jin, ‘The Banished Immortal,’ looks at the man behind the myth

Lǐ Bái 李白 towers over Chinese literature. But few have attempted, especially in English, to explain the man behind such household poems as “A Quiet Night Thought,” “Waking From Drunkenness on a Spring Day,” and “Drinking Alone by Moonlight” — how an itinerant drunk with political aspirations would end up becoming the greatest poet in Chinese history. Award-winning author Ha Jin attempts to separate the man from the myth in a new biography of Li Bai, “The Banished Immortal.”

The lifetime of a meme: The lesson of Zhang Jinlai, a.k.a. Liuxiaolingtong

The internet’s meme economy is complicated. Some memes are self-explanatory and inherently funny, but some can be overwhelming and hard to comprehend for those who weren’t online to witness them firsthand. Take, for example, Liuxue 六学, short for Liuxiaolingtong studies 六小龄童学, a category of memes based on actor Zhang Jinlai 章金莱, better known as Liuxiaolingtong 六小龄童, which exploded on the Chinese internet at the beginning of 2019. What in the world is Liuxue and Liuxiaolingtong? Let us explain.

Chinese Corner: Guide dog Jenny, Hu Xijin, and 29 trips to the central petition office

This week’s Chinese Corner features stories about a custody battle over a celebrity guide dog, a piece on the 150,000 scavengers (trash collectors) of Beijing, a profile of Global Times editor-in-chief Hu Xijin, and the story of a Heilongjiang couple who has made 29 trips to the petition office in Beijing…only to be sentenced to 13 years in prison for “blackmailing and extortion.”

China Business Corner: The new WeChat and its ‘Top Stories’ feature

WeChat has a new feature called Top Stories, which powers a new page separate from subscriptions and Moments, where users can find articles their friends have liked. Also in this week’s China Business Corner: Revisiting the show Entrepreneurial Age, starring Angelababy; Tencent and Alibaba prepare to face off in Southeast Asia; and Chengdu is testing 5G connectivity inside its subway system.

Kuora: How rice vs. wheat shaped Chinese personality differences

To even casual observers, there are quite pronounced differences in the personalities and mannerisms, broadly speaking, of northern and southern Chinese. According to one theory, differences in geography and climate — and the agriculture that could be supported, wheat vs. rice — gave rise to the observable psycho-cultural differences that are apparent today. It’s something to chew on, anyway.

Friday Song: Beijing punk band Demerit

Formed in 2003, Demerit gained a following in Beijing’s punk scene through consistent high-octane performances, fueled by politically charged lyrics and a disregard for social norms. One of its tracks, “Do You Smell It / Sink or Swim,” is featured in a new compilation album released by Maybe Mars, which can be downloaded for free.


Sinica Podcast: Huawei and the tech cold war

This week on the Sinica Podcast, Kaiser and Jeremy speak with Samm Sacks, Cybersecurity Policy and Chinese Digital Economy Fellow at New America, and Paul Triolo, Geotechnology Practice Head at the Eurasia Group. The two are among the best positioned to discuss the implications of the shocking arrest of Huawei CFO Mèng Wǎnzhōu 孟晚舟 in Vancouver on December 1. The discussion focuses primarily on technological and national security aspects of the clash between Washington and Beijing, how Meng’s arrest fits into that clash, and the realities of fragmentation in the global telecommunications industry.

Ta for Ta episode 12: Jamie Barys

Jamie Barys is the Chief Eating Officer of UnTour Food Tours, China’s top-ranked food tour operator. A native of Tennessee, Jamie believes that the best way to get to know a culture is to eat your way through it. Whether she’s exploring China’s hidden hole-in-the-wall restaurants or sneaking back into kitchens to snag behind-the-scenes recipes, she’s always hungry for more. Never one to keep a good thing to herself, Jamie co-founded UnTour Food Tours in 2010 to help visitors discover China’s best-kept culinary secrets. Jamie has been living (and eating) in China since 2007.

ChinaEconTalk: The rise and fall of a Suzhou soft-serve baron

Mister Softee, the famed northeastern American ice cream brand, in Suzhou, China? Yes, that was a thing. Turner Sparks, rising from humble beginnings as just another English teacher making his way in the world, achieved fame and fortune thanks to a catchy jingle and some tasty mango-flavored soft serve. Yet his vision of China-wide ice cream domination dissolved amid a deluge of backstabbing regulators, slashed tires, and stolen cones. Listen here to learn about the circumstances that finally melted Turner’s ice cream dream.

TechBuzz China: WeChat’s 7.0 Update and Allen Zhang, the Man Behind the App

In episode 34 of TechBuzz China, co-hosts Ying-Ying Lu and Rui Ma talk about the latest version of WeChat, which first came out on iOS the third week of December 2018, and on Android a few days later. It has been over four years since WeChat released an update this large, and since then, it’s added on over half a billion monthly active users. The latest updates included several widely expected features, namely, enhanced sharing of both video and content, which overlap with Bytedance’s core strengths — definitely not a coincidence. What’s the latest behind what is still arguably the most influential internet product of the past decade? And what has been the impact of WeChat’s founder on its product development?

The Caixin-Sinica Business Brief, Chinese-made apps in India and more

This week on the Caixin-Sinica Business Brief: Upcoming talks between U.S. and Chinese negotiators in Beijing this week, Chang’e 4’s historic mission, weak demand for the iPhone in China, the spread of Chinese-made apps in India’s tech scene, and more.


Wedding banquet

Ham and peanuts, spareribs, fried fish, pig’s blood, lotus root, snow peas, tea tree mushrooms, single-use chopsticks: a classic wedding feast in northern Yunnan to celebrate the marriage of my friend’s daughter.

Eight guests ate at each of 12 auspiciously red tables, then rotated out to allow the next wave of guests to eat their fill. My friend fed over 600 people from surrounding villages in the Three Parallel Rivers areas.

Photo and caption by Matthew Chitwood, who is @theotherchina on Instagram.