Death sentence for Canadian. Poland to suffer next?

Access Archive

Dear Access members,

Welcome to our new members, and thanks to all of you for your kind support.


—Jeremy Goldkorn and team

Top four China news stories today

In a rush? These are the four things you need to know today:

  1. A Canadian man was sentenced to death for drug trafficking by a Chinese court.  

  2. Vaccine protests: At least 145 parents, angry that their children received expired vaccinations, clashed with police and officials in a town in Jiangsu Province.

  3. Trump said he thinks the U.S. is going to “do a deal with China” and end the trade war. SupChina says, who knows?

  4. New Zealand: A popular Chinese-language newspaper and website operating in a joint venture with one of the country’s leading media organizations is soft-pedaling the China news.

SupChina analysis and commentary

1. Death sentence for Canadian. Poland to suffer next?

Agence France-Presse reports on Beijing’s latest act of retaliation against Canada for the arrest of Huawei CFO Mèng Wǎnzhōu 孟晚舟: “A Chinese court sentenced a Canadian man to death on drug trafficking charges on Monday after his previous 15-year prison sentence was deemed too lenient, a ruling likely to deepen a diplomatic rift between Ottawa and Beijing.”

Globe and Mail correspondent Mark MacKinnon says that this would be “the first Canadian or American ever executed by the People’s Republic.”

  • Beijing really wanted the world to know about the sentence. Nathan VanderKlippe, China correspondent for the Canadian Globe and Mail, was in Dalian covering today’s sentencing, and tweeted this:

How badly does China want coverage of the Schellenberg trial? I’m in Dalian, in a bus taking us to an offsite viewing room. An official said we couldn’t leave yet because “some US and British journalists signed up but haven’t arrived yet.”

  • Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau this morning told reporters, per CBC:

It is of extreme concern to us as a government, as it should be to all our international friends and allies, that China has chosen to begin to arbitrarily apply [the] death penalty…as in this case facing a Canadian.

  • A warning for Poland: In related news, nationalistic rag the Global Times reacted to the arrest of a Huawei manager for espionage in Poland, saying (in Chinese) that Warsaw should “pay…a price”:

The whole world is clear that Poland has acted an accomplice to the United States, so we should make Poland suffer a bit (应该让它吃点苦头 ràng tā chī diǎn kǔtóu), and not worry what Western public opinion thinks.

  • Poland and Polish citizens in China should take this threat seriously — the Global Times has form. On December 12, after the arrest of Meng Wanzhou, the Global Times published a video invective narrated by the paper’s editor, vowing that “China will take revenge if Canada does not restore Meng Wanzhou’s freedom.” As that video was being shot and uploaded, news of the detention of Canadians Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor was breaking.  

Further reporting on Canada, Poland, and Huawei:

2. Vaccine protests end in scuffle with police

Reuters reports that police and officials in Jinhu County, Jiangsu Province, say they are investigating complaints that at least 145 children received expired polio vaccines. On Friday, parents of the affected children protested, and scuffled with police and a local official — see this video.

Of all the issues that could lead to a real popular uprising against the government in China, and will ensure high emigration rates — no matter what the health of China’s economy is — this is the biggest: messing with the health of citizens’ kids.

See also on SupChina:

—Jeremy Goldkorn

3. Trade war, day 193: ‘I think that we are going to…do a deal with China’

Today, Trump again reiterated his optimism about reaching a trade deal with China.

  • We’re doing very well with China… I think that we are going to be able to do a deal with China… China wants to negotiate.” These were Trump quotes relayed by Reuters, in a report titled “Trump predicts U.S. will reach trade deal with China.”

  • Last week, we observed that the outlook on the 90-day trade negotiations appears to be changing in a positive, if vague (and certainly unsatisfying for American hardliners, who still see little to no progress on their most important issues), direction.

  • However, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and other hardliners are likely pushing Trump to be more skeptical of Beijing, and the latest news about China slow-walking American credit card companies’ applications to deal in Chinese currency would help Lighthizer’s case.

For details and sources of the above and more on the trade and tech war, please click through to SupChina.

—Lucas Niewenhuis

4. Soft-pedaling the news: Chinese-language media in New Zealand

A popular Chinese-language newspaper and website in New Zealand operated in a joint venture with one of the country’s leading media organizations is soft-pedaling the China news. reports:

The Chinese NZ Herald is the result of a 2016 joint venture between NZME, which own the NZ Herald, and long-running Chinese publication The Chinese Herald. The website and WeChat channel, which use the NZ Herald branding, feature both translated pieces from the English-language Herald, articles from the Chinese Herald, and stories from other Chinese news sources…

…Indeed, despite extensive reporting by the English-language NZ Herald on the Brady paper and the subsequent break-in to her home — stories which all concern the China-New Zealand relationship — almost none of this reporting has been translated for the Chinese NZ Herald.

—Jeremy Goldkorn


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



  • Potemkin tours and other ways to defuse criticism of concentration camps
    China intensifies lobbying to thwart criticism of Muslim detentions / WSJ (paywall)
    The Journal suggests that the closely managed tours of “vocational training” facilities in Xinjiang, even for the China-friendly diplomats from Muslim-majority countries, may  have “raised more questions than [they] answered.” Also, that “Chinese diplomats have petitioned several governments in their capitals against attacking Beijing’s Xinjiang policies at the United Nations.”

  • Rectifying the Gospel
    In China, they’re closing churches, jailing pastors – and even rewriting scripture / The Guardian
    “China’s Communist party is intensifying religious persecution as Christianity’s popularity grows. A new state translation of the Bible will establish a ‘correct understanding’ of the text.”

  • Sweden: Is China-built satellite station spying on us?
    Swedish defense agency warns satellite station could be serving Chinese military / SCMP
    “A Swedish defense agency has warned that the country is facing a growing security challenge from China, saying one of its satellite stations could be serving the Chinese military. Claims about the station in Kiruna, northern Sweden — which was built by China in 2016 — add to controversy over increasing Chinese influence in the country.”

  • Sichuan online activist on trial for leaking state secrets
    China blocks Western diplomats from trial of ‘cyber-dissident’ / Reuters
    Huáng Qí  黃琦 is sometimes called China’s first “cyber-dissident” for founding website, which reported on people disappeared by the Chinese state, victims of 1989-related oppression, petitioners, and other malcontents. Huang is charged with “leaking state secrets.” Reuters reports:

China on Monday blocked Western diplomats from attempting to attend the trial of a well-known Chinese activist who ran a website reporting alleged rights abuses, amid U.N. concerns about his health.  

One prominent aspect of media control in the Xi Jinping era has been its growing brazenness. No longer is censorship quite so shrouded in secrecy as it once was. Rather, it is announced openly as a matter of social and political necessity, and as the legal obligation of every company seeking to profit from the potentially lucrative digital space.

A pair of binding documents released this past week by the China Netcasting Services Association are a great case in point. They openly set out the “content review” standards expected of companies providing online video services…



Heavy smog blankets northeast China

Toxic heavy smog hit many regions in northeast China over the weekend and continued on Monday, causing the visibility in some of the worst-affected areas to be reduced to less than 164 feet (50 meters).

Not your typical rural life — meet the countryside acrobatic boys!

Gaining more than 1 million views on Kuaishou, a Chinese short-video-sharing platform, these schoolboys from rural Shandong Province wowed the internet with their pyramid stunts.


The Venezuela-China relationship, explained: Belt and Road

This is the second of a four-part series that spotlights the Venezuela-China relationship. At the second China-CELAC Forum in 2018 (CELAC was formed in Venezuela in 2011, and does not include the U.S. or Canada), China’s foreign minister, Wang Yi 王毅, called Latin American countries “a natural extension” of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s Belt and Road Initiative. Venezuelan investments in China had not always been part of the Belt and Road Initiative, but they very much are today.

Kuora: Yunnan, with all its history, is more than a vacation getaway

This week’s Kuora explores one of the most beautiful provinces of China — Yunnan, which was incorporated into the Han dynasty (206 B.C.E. to C.E. 220) in the 2nd century B.C.E., came to be dominated by semi-sinicized tribal people for a while, came back to Han Chinese rule in the 14th century, but soon after became a feudatory under a Chinese general…and so on and so forth. It’s an interesting story. Check it out.

Friday Song: Panic Worm — Chicken Spit

This week’s focus is on Wuhan’s post-punk poster boys of Panic Worm and their single “Chicken Spit.” Released in July 2018 with Ruby Eyes records, the band’s debut album, Elusive Magic, finds it, in the band’s words, “diving head first into the territory of ’80s post punk scattered with ’90s slacker sensibilities.”


Sinica Early Access: Gene-edited babies, CRISPR, and China’s changing ethical landscape

This week on Sinica, Kaiser and Jeremy chat with Christina Larson, a science and technology reporter for the Associated Press, about a major story that her team broke: the Chinese scientist He Jiankui’s announcement that he had edited the genes of embryos conceived in vitro, and that twin girls had been born, making them — if his claims are true — the world’s first gene-edited babies. We look at the overwhelmingly critical response to this announcement in the Chinese scientific community, among ordinary people, and among officials, as well as what this may mean for the ethical landscape in Chinese science. Please note that this show was taped in December 2018, and since then, He Jiankui has resurfaced, claiming that he’s doing just fine — so far.

  • Sinica Early Access is an ad-free, full-length preview of this week’s Sinica Podcast, exclusively for SupChina Access members. Listen by plugging this RSS feed directly into your podcast app.

The Caixin-Sinica Business Brief, episode 74

This week on the Caixin-Sinica Business Brief: The arrest of a Chinese Huawei executive in Poland, missing documents from the Supreme People’s Court, Elon Musk’s visit in Beijing, China’s fertility rate in 2018, and more.


Handmade porcelain

A worker trims a giant pot at a factory in Jingdezhen, Jiangxi Province. Its famed blue-and-white porcelain (青花瓷 qīnghuācí) is still made by hand.