The tweeter-in-chief says he’ll meet Xi

Access Archive

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China’s top trade negotiators are in the U.S. meeting with our representatives. Meetings are going well with good intent and spirit on both sides. China does not want an increase in Tariffs and feels they will do much better if they make a deal. They are correct.

I will be meeting with their top leaders and representatives today in the Oval Office. No final deal will be made until my friend President Xi, and I, meet in the near future to discuss and agree on some of the long standing and more difficult points. Very comprehensive transaction….

China’s representatives and I are trying to do a complete deal, leaving NOTHING unresolved on the table. All of the many problems are being discussed and will be hopefully resolved. Tariffs on China increase to 25% on March 1st, so all working hard to complete by that date!

What does that mean? Honestly, it could mean anything at all. I am still not holding my breath for a deal. Please see below for our usual roundup of the latest news from the trade war — what we’re now calling the Pacific Reset.

China and Black History Month

To celebrate America’s Black History Month, James Evans of Harvard’s Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies and scholars Keisha A. Brown and Ruodi Duan have compiled a “Reading and teaching guide to the history of Black and African American connections with China.” Later this week, SupChina will publish an interview with Keisha Brown, who has a special research interest in Sino-Black relations.

—Jeremy Goldkorn, Editor-in-Chief


1. Pacific Reset, day 210: It’s all up to Trump

A February Trump-Xi meeting, alluded to in Trump’s morning tweets, was confirmed by the Wall Street Journal to have been proposed by Vice Premier Liú Hè’s 刘鹤 delegation. Specifically, they suggested “that Mr. Trump meet with Mr. Xi in the Chinese resort island of Hainan after his planned summit with the North Korean leader, Kim Jong Un, in late February.”

As the Journal points out, “the president has effectively become the chief negotiator” again by signalling a face-to-face meeting with Xi is in the cards. Because the meeting would come so close to the end of the 90-day period, Trump’s whims would become even more important, and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer’s talking points less so.

So what does Trump want, and what is Beijing looking to offer to meet his demands? Some clues:

  • Trump followed up his first round of tweets with another, emphasizing, “Looking for China to open their Markets not only to Financial Services, which they are now doing, but also to our Manufacturing, Farmers and other U.S. businesses and industries. Without this a deal would be unacceptable!”

  • Liu’s offer to negotiators yesterday “includes more Chinese purchases of U.S. farm and energy products and promises to invite more American capital into the manufacturing and financial-services sectors,” the WSJ says.

  • China agreed today to buy 5 millions tons of soybeans, a move Trump said would “make our farmers very happy.”

  • “This is either going to be a big deal or it’s going to be a deal that we’ll just postpone for a while,” Trump told reporters, appearing to indicate that the March 1 deadline is flexible.

  • “The more likely scenario is a deal where Trump declares victory, which is relatively modest in scope, and the two sides de-escalate tension and continue discussions on complicated issues left unresolved,” Cornell University professor Eswar Prasad told the WSJ.

—Lucas Niewenhuis

2. Single woman in Beijing requests access to national sperm bank

An unmarried woman in Beijing is calling for Chinese lawmakers to remove restrictions on single women shopping in the country’s national sperm bank.

Calling herself Alan 阿烂, the 27-year-old woman has sent letters (in Chinese) to more than 70 deputies to the National People’s Congress, hoping that a proposal to grant single women’s access to the state-run sperm bank will be drafted and discussed at this year’s Two Sessions in March.

“I have always liked babies. The older I get, the stronger my desire to conceive. For me, part of what it is to be human is to be a mother,” Alan wrote on her personal WeChat account. “I am not down for marriage at this point of my life, but I am confident that I will be a competent mother.” She added that she was greatly disappointed when she found out that the national sperm bank only provides services to married couples. “While I’m not ready for marriage at this point, I’m fully prepared for pregnancy, physically and mentally. I believe in my rights to have babies,” she said.

Under current fertility regulations, government-approved sperm banks in China can only serve married couples. Meanwhile, single women are banned from receiving reproductive treatments such as IVF by hospitals and clinics. Facing a host of restrictions, unmarried Chinese women with a desire to conceive often turn to underground agencies, which operate in a murky area devoid of strict regulations.

Click through to SupChina to read more about the story.

—Jiayun Feng

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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


BUSINESS AND TECHNOLOGY:

  • Economic slowdown
    Hundreds more Chinese companies just warned on profits / Bloomberg (porous paywall)
    “Some 440 firms disclosed on Wednesday — the day before a deadline to do so — that their 2018 financial results deteriorated, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Of the more than 2,400 mainland-listed firms that have announced preliminary numbers or issued guidance this season, some 373 said they’ll post a loss, the data show. About 86 percent of those were profitable in 2017.”
    China’s manufacturing remains listless, if slightly improved / WSJ (paywall)
    “After falling for four straight months, the manufacturing purchasing managers’ index rose a tick to 49.5, from 49.4 in December, the National Bureau of Statistics said Thursday. The January reading beat economists’ expectations. Even so, the gauge showed that China’s critical manufacturing sector appears anemic, with the index below the 50 mark that signals a contraction for the second month in a row.”
    Alibaba CEO says China consumers still spending despite slowdown / WSJ (paywall)
    “Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. posted its slowest quarterly revenue growth in nearly three years, a robust 41% that still prompted executives to try to dispel market concerns that the e-commerce giant is being hit by China’s economic slowdown.”
    Didi Chuxing mulls layoffs / The Information (paywall)
    “While plans haven’t been finalized and the figures may still change before a decision is made, senior managers are looking at cutting headcount at some departments by as much as 20%, according to a person briefed on the discussions.”
    China’s Bytedance staff say bonuses clipped by slowdown, competition / Reuters

  • Science and technology at the Shanghai Stock Exchange
    Securities regulator unveils plan for new S&T trading board / Asia Times
    “The China Securities Regulatory Commission on Wednesday issued the much-anticipated overall plan for setting up the Science and Technology Innovation board on the Shanghai Stock Exchange.”

  • Retails trends leading up to the Spring Festival
    For holiday spending, Chinese consumers favor brick and mortar / TechNode
    “Though e-commerce gets most of the press, Chinese consumers still prefer brick and mortar outlets for their holiday shopping. According to Penguin Intelligence, a China-based internet analytics firm, in 2018 more than 80% of people born in the 1980s and 1990s bought New Year products at physical shops, as did over 90% of those born in the 1970s. Even among shoppers born after 2000 — who normally prefer digital channels — 79% bought their New Year items at physical stores.”

  • Internet company investment in mobility
    Tencent moves into automotive with $150M joint venture / TechCrunch
    “Ride-hailing startup Didi Chuxing, which owns Uber China, announced earlier this week a new joint venture with state-owned BAIC. Hot on the heels came another entity set up between Tencent and the GAC Group.”

  • An embarrassing incident for Nio
    Commenters call China’s Tesla rival a ‘stupid smart car’ after breakdown goes viral / Caixin
    “The breakdown of a Nio car caused a traffic jam after the car was stuck for more than an hour on Beijing’s central Chang’an Avenue… The incident occurred after people in the car — two of them potential customers taking it for a test drive — tried to update its operating system, according to a screenshot posted on Weibo that has since gone viral.”

  • Zhengzhou-based pork company in crisis
    China company that paid debt in ham instead of cash is running low on pigs / Bloomberg (porous paywall)
    “The cash crunch that left Chuying Agro-Pastoral Group Co. unable to service some of its debt has now intensified to the point that it’s unable to buy enough feed…
    It’s the latest twist for the small-cap company that’s been challenged on multiple fronts, from the spread of African swine fever — which has seen more than 900,000 hogs culled across the country — to an economic slowdown to a deleveraging drive by policy makers that’s tightened credit flows to weaker borrowers…
    In Chuying Agro’s case, the company said in November that holders of 271 million yuan of its debt agreed to take ham or pork gift packages instead of interest payments.”

  • Managing the power grid
    China launches sweeping audit of power grid / Caixin (paywall)
    “The audit aims to create a more accurate picture of the price differential of how much grids pay electricity producers and how much they then charge users in order ‘to improve management and efficiency.’”

  • Taiwan powers down nuclear, builds more renewables
    Nuclear power to be abolished in 2025 / Taipei Times

  • Chinese sci-fi at American theaters
    Headlines from China: Chinese sci-fi movie ‘The Wandering Earth’ to open in North America in February / China Film Insider
    “The Wandering Earth, the so-called first Chinese science-fiction blockbuster, has been set to release in North America on February 8… According to The Hollywood Reporter, The Wandering Earth will be released in 22 U.S. cities, 3 Canadian cities and several cities in Australia.”

  • The tricky business of selling foreigners baijiu
    Can baijiu, China’s sorghum firewater, go global? / Economist (porous paywall)
    “Only recently have [Kweichow Moutai] and some of China’s thousands of other baijiu-makers begun stepping up efforts to develop foreign markets… Foreigners’ ignorance of the drink is perplexing when one considers the world’s familiarity with Chinese food. It does not help that Westerners generally do not drink spirits neat. Making good use of baijiu in a cocktail tends to require more imagination and ingredients than are found in many bars and homes.”

  • That app that supposedly shows nearby debtors

POLITICS AND CURRENT AFFAIRS:

  • More translated essays from Xu Zhangrun
    Humble recognition, boundless possibility — part I / China Heritage
    The Tsinghua University law professor made waves last summer with the year’s highest-profile rebuke of Xi’s policies, including the term limit abolition. Scholar Ian Johnson comments on Twitter: “This might be the most sustained, brilliant critique of the Xi administration to date: Xu Zhangrun’s complete, three-part essay, wonderfully translated by Geremie Barme of @chinaheritage.”

  • On-the-ground realities of the Xinjiang crackdown, and the Western businessmen who ignore them
    In the depths of Xinjiang: Ubiquitous persecution / Bitter Winter
    “Yuli county is located in central Xinjiang, and is under the administration of the Bayingolin Mongol Autonomous Prefecture. It has a population of approximately 120,000 people, of which 47.6% are Uyghurs… Bitter Winter recently visited Yuli county to find out what life is like for people there now.”
    Erik Prince company to build training center in China’s Xinjiang / Reuters
    “Hong Kong-listed Frontier Services Group (FSG), co-founded by former U.S. military services contractor Erik Prince, has signed a deal to build a training base in China’s far western region of Xinjiang… Prince, deputy chairman of FSG, is a former U.S. Navy SEAL officer and the brother of U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos.”

  • P.R.C. military in Argentina
    China’s military-run space station in Argentina is a ‘black box’ / Reuters
    A “remote 200-hectare compound operates with little oversight by the Argentine authorities, according to hundreds of pages of Argentine government documents obtained by Reuters and reviewed by international law experts.”

  • Beijing tries to salvage Malaysia rail project
    China offered to nearly halve cost of Malaysia’s $20-billion rail project: sources / Reuters
    “Contractor China Communications Construction Co Ltd (CCCC) had offered to cut construction costs of 67 billion ringgit ($16.39 billion) for the 688-km (428-mile) project by as much as half, the sources said.”

  • Chinese business in Iran and North Korea
    North Korea accused by UN of illegally selling fishing rights to Chinese companies, violating sanctions / SCMP
    “A UN panel is expected to accuse North Korea of illegally selling fishing rights to other countries as a means of generating income in contravention of past Security Council resolutions, diplomatic sources said in advance of an upcoming sanctions report.”
    China scales back Iran nuclear cooperation ‘due to fears of US sanctions’ / SCMP
    “Ali Akbar Salehi, the head of Atomic Energy Organisation of Iran (AEOI), said on Wednesday that the Chinese were ‘reducing the speed of cooperation despite their commitment’ to redesign the Arak heavy water reactor.”

  • Belt and Road debt
    Maldives to ask China to cut its Belt and Road debt / FT (paywall)
    “The Maldives is to ask Beijing to reduce the debt it accrued during a recent Chinese investment boom, according to its new finance minister, who claims that large-scale graft inflated the value of contracts under the previous government.”

  • Asylum seekers in Taiwan
    Chinese asylum seekers allowed entry to Taiwan / Taipei Times
    “Two Chinese asylum seekers who have been stuck at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport for four months were allowed to enter Taiwan late on Wednesday. Yan Kefen (顏克芬), 44, and Liu Xinglian (劉興聯), 64…submitted a request for asylum on the grounds of political persecution in China, but could not provide any supporting evidence, the Mainland Affairs Council said.”

  • Re-examination of Wang Jian’s death
    French police deny report Chinese billionaire Wang Jian committed suicide / AFP
    “On Thursday, the French newspaper Liberation published a front-page investigation into the death which ruled out foul play, but claimed that Wang had committed suicide, possibly because of business worries or pressure from Chinese authorities.”
    See the SupChina report from last summer: HNA’s chairman, Wang Jian, falls to accidental death in France.

  • The crime of blogging about Mao, Xi, and anyone in between
    Blogger tried for ‘defaming’ Chinese leaders past and present / Radio Free Asia
    “Former bank employee and blogger Liu Yanli, 44, stood trial at the Dongbao District People’s Court in Hubei’s Jingmen city on Thursday, on charges of ‘picking quarrels and stirring up trouble,’ her sister said.”

  • 2022 Olympics
    China’s Xi: 2022 Winter Games will be green, inclusive, open / Washington Post

SOCIETY AND CULTURE:

  • Cultural shift toward saying “thank you” for services
    Chinese netizens discuss: “Do you say ‘thank you’ to the food delivery man?” / What’s on Weibo
    SupChina contributor Chris Taylor, a longtime resident of Taiwan, says that “the Taiwanese brought service culture to China, and I think that’s a great untold story, particularly when seen through the optics of Taiwan as a former Japanese colony.”

  • #MeToo: The case of Zhu Jun
    #MeToo’s future in China hinges on a lawsuit against a TV celebrity / Quartz
    “Zhou recently announced on Weibo that she is now seeking to sue the TV host for sexual harassment, something only made possible after a Supreme Court order went into effect this month. If the court agrees to her request to amend her earlier accepted complaint of ‘violation of personal rights’ against Zhu, it would be the first-ever civil sexual-harassment lawsuit in the country, Qu Zhenhong, a Beijing-based lawyer, told Quartz.”
    Read more about Zhu Jun on SupChina.

  • Bribery in education
    Beijing bans red envelopes in parent-teacher chat groups / Sixth Tone
    “On Tuesday, the city’s education bureau published a notice banning non-school-related posts in parent-teacher chat groups on social platforms like WeChat and QQ. The notice explicitly targets commercial content and red envelopes filled with digital cash, which parents often use to curry favor with their kids’ teachers.”

  • Musical diplomacy
    Philadelphia Orchestra to tour China to celebrate diplomacy / AP
    “The Philadelphia Orchestra is celebrating 40 years of official U.S.-China diplomatic ties with a new tour. Music Director Yannick Nezet-Seguin will lead the tour in May to Beijing, Tianjin, Hangzhou, Nanjing and Shanghai, with Shanghai-born pianist Haochen Zhang as soloist.”

  • Bird poaching
    Uncaged: Saving China’s songbirds from the poachers’ nets – video / Guardian
    “Bird poaching — for meat or for the pet trade — has become a silent epidemic across China, resulting in the deaths of tens of thousands of migratory birds each year. Gu Xuan, a young conservationist, is determined to break this cycle of death and destruction, and set the birds free.”

  • The corruption case of a Canadian pop star’s mother
    Canada-based pop star Wanting Qu pleads for mother in Harbin death-penalty corruption case – but China’s netizens are unimpressed / SCMP
    “Canada-based pop star Wanting Qu has issued a heartfelt plea for justice in the long-delayed Chinese corruption case against her mother, a former Harbin city official who prosecutors want executed for allegedly embezzling 350 million yuan (US$52 million). Qu’s posting on Weibo, telling how her ‘heart aches’ for her mother, Qu Zhang Mingjie, went viral this week.”

  • The funeral dirge of Luo Lang
    China’s most played piece of music / LARB China Channel
    “Though writing music is often an attempt at achieving immortality, even the most popular music can die with the beliefs that inspired it. Songs that were staples in the 1960s, such as ‘The East Is Red,’ are now seldom heard outside period dramas due to their toxic associations. But one such song that has endured in China is the funeral dirge (āiyuè 哀乐), composed in 1945 by then-25-year-old Luo Lang.”

  • Live-streaming addiction, and then a disappearance
    ‘Dorky’ young Chinese man goes missing after spending parents’ money on live-streaming hostess / SCMP
    “The man surnamed Liu is believed to have taken 1.7 million yuan (US$253,000) from his parents before vanishing from his family home in Changsha, the capital of the central province of Hunan, at the end of December, Red Star News reported on Wednesday… Media reports said he was spending 12,000 yuan a month on a subscription to YY that gave him special viewing privileges.”


VIDEO ON SUPCHINA

How to show off your knife skills by cutting fruit!

The Spring Festival begins next week, kicking off the Year of the Pig in China. People are starting to prepare food for the holiday — especially the last meal of the old year, nian ye fan (年夜饭 nián yè fàn), when families gather together and have a sumptuous feast. The internet is now filled with new and interesting ways to make ordinary foods look fancy and special. Here’s a video of a talented foodie who can turn fruit into all kinds of shapes with a knife, such as turning oranges into cute little pigs!


FEATURED ON SUPCHINA

The SupChina Quiz: 2018 Year of the Dog in review

The Year of the Dog began on February 16, 2018, and will give way to the Year of the Pig on February 5, 2019. The Year of the Dog was incredibly consequential for China, and this quiz will test your knowledge of major events. Also, there will be an actual dog-related question.


SINICA PODCAST NETWORK

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Sinica Podcast: Mexican and Canadian diplomats in a changing, challenging China

This week on the Sinica Podcast, Kaiser and Jeremy chat with two former ambassadors to the P.R.C. who served during the years marking the transition from the Hu/Wen administration to the rule of Xi Jinping: Jorge Guajardo of Mexico and David Mulroney of Canada. They discuss the significant challenges that they faced, the perceptible changes in China’s diplomatic norms and practices during their tenures as ambassadors, and, finally, the benefits and drawbacks that their countries see from the Trump administration’s more assertive posture toward China.