The Kashmir problem

Access Archive

Announcements for Access members:

Thanks to all who joined us for our Slack chat with Kaiser Kuo earlier today. The conversation can still be viewed live on the #supchina_access channel, and later this week, it will be archived to the #access_qa_archive channel.

Our next Slack chat is already scheduled: Christian Shepherd, incoming Beijing correspondent for the Financial Times and former Chinese politics reporter for Reuters, will join us on Wednesday, February 27, at 10 a.m. EST. While at Reuters, Christian wrote about everything from Erik Prince in Xinjiang to disappearing constitutional law textbooks, the outlawing of Marxist student activism at Peking University, and a seemingly endless crackdown on Chinese rights lawyers. After spending his early childhood in Beijing, he returned in 2013 to do a master’s degree in Chinese studies at the University of Nottingham Ningbo China and then studied Mandarin at the Tsinghua-based IUP.

—Jeremy Goldkorn, Editor-in-Chief


1. The Kashmir problem

In a nutshell, there was a terrorist attack in Indian-controlled Kashmir by a group China refuses to call “terrorist.”

Pakistan, Kashmir, the disputed borders between China and India, the malcontent Balochis: there are so many things that could go wrong in the relationship between South Asia and China this year. This is just one of them:

In the South China Morning Post, C. Uday Bhaskar, director of the Society for Policy Studies, New Delhi, writes on how China’s stance on Kashmir attack will test ties with India:

The terror attack in the Pulwama district of Jammu and Kashmir on Thursday, killing over 40 Indian paramilitary policemen, is by far the deadliest assault since the proxy war between India and Pakistan began about three decades ago. This attack [was] claimed by the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), a terror group banned by the United Nations…

…Apart from issuing pro forma statements against terror as a global challenge, China has provided unstinting and uncritical support to Pakistan despite its role in nurturing Islamic terror groups and related ideology.

It is pertinent to note that at the UN Security Council, Beijing used its veto to shield JeM leader Masood Azhar from global sanctions. This issue is likely to receive considerable diplomatic attention at the bilateral level and the Xi-Modi camaraderie exuded at Wuhan last year in April will be tested…

…China has supported the Pakistani stance apropos Azhar and is the only member of the UNSC that has opposed listing the JeM leader as a global terrorist despite the evidence from over two decades. Azhar is accused of masterminding JeM’s attack in January 2017 on an Indian air force base in the border town of Pathankot.

See also:

—Jeremy Goldkorn

2. Huawei — U.K. and Germany not aligned with U.S.

Since 2012 the U.S. has effectively shut Huawei out of the American market. More recently, the Trump administration has been pressuring U.S. allies around the globe to follow its lead in banning Huawei from sensitive 5G networks at the very least. In the second half of 2018, Australia, New Zealand, and then Japan all did so.

  • But earlier this month, Germany appeared to be leaning against the idea of banning Huawei outright — Bloomberg reported, “Cabinet members from Merkel’s administration…concluded that singling out Huawei from a list of suppliers was not legally viable.”

  • The U.K. is now also leaning toward “mitigating” safety risk from Huawei, rather than banning its equipment outright, the Financial Times reports (paywall). The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), a wing of the British intelligence agency GCHQ, has “determined that there are ways to limit the risks,” two sources told the paper.

  • This could be a watershed moment because, as the FT notes, “the UK has access to sensitive US intelligence via its membership of the Five Eyes intelligence sharing network,” which also includes Australia, New Zealand, and Canada.

  • “Other nations can make the argument that if the British are confident of mitigation against national security threats then they can also reassure their public and the U.S. administration that they are acting in a prudent manner in continuing to allow their telecommunications service providers to use Chinese components as long as they take the kinds of precautions recommended by the British,” one of the FT’s anonymous sources said.

  • The apparent conclusion of British intelligence follows a remarkable op-ed (paywall) in the FT last week by former GCHQ head Robert Hannigan, who stated, “The key point here, obscured by the growing hysteria over Chinese tech, is that the NCSC has never found evidence of malicious Chinese state cyber activity through Huawei.”

The cases of Huawei in Germany, Canada, and New Zealand are complicated. Here are three articles to read to understand why:

And in case you were wondering how the Chinese government feels about the pushback on Huawei, the SCMP published just the AP article you’re looking for under a headline that about sums it up: ‘Hypocritical, immoral, unfair bullying’: Chinese spokesman Geng Shuang blasts US for ‘fabricating’ security fears against Huawei as economic ploy.

—Lucas Niewenhuis

2b. Pacific Reset update: ‘Soooo’ much progress

Donald Trump tweeted twice about the U.S.-China trade negotiations over the weekend:

(We should note that this is not how tariffs work.)

The second tweet caught the attention of Chinese state media, which repeated the optimistic tone, the SCMP reports:

China applauds ‘positive’ Donald Trump tweet ahead of Washington talks

…[An] opinion piece [in Chinese], which was published by the official Xinhua news agency, the People’s Daily and the Global Times under the pseudonym Niu Tanqin, is seen to be part of Beijing’s efforts to reassure its citizens that the trade war with the United States will soon be over.

It did contrast previous columns on Trump by the same author, who in March last year argued that China dislikes the American president for his “insatiable demands, greediness and lack of trust worthiness”…

—Lucas Niewenhuis

3. Xinjiang data leak — millions tracked by facial recognition

“Victor Gevers, a well-known security researcher,” told tech news website ZDNet that a facial recognition database that “the Chinese government is using to track the Uyghur Muslim population in the Xinjiang region has been left open on the internet for months.”

  • SenseNets, a Shenzhen-based company, owns the database. Its website is here (in Chinese). “Vitalize video value” is its English marketing slogan.

  • The database contained information on 2,565,724 people, “along with a stream of GPS coordinates that came in at a rapid pace.” During the last 24 hours that Gevers followed the database, “nearly 6.7 million GPS coordinates were recorded, meaning the database was actively tracking Uyghur Muslims as they moved around.” All coordinates were in Xinjiang.

  • “Names, ID card numbers, home addresses, dates of birth, photos, and employer,” along with a list of GPS locations each user had been seen visiting, were included in the database.

  • The database is no longer accessible on the internet: “Not knowing what he found at the time, Gevers reported the exposed database to its owner…the Chinese company, which secured it earlier today… Gevers said he now regrets helping the company secure its oppression tool.”

See also:

  • “Never again” is happening again — that’s according to influential journalist Anne Applebaum who compares the world’s lack of concern about the internment camps in Xinjiang to excuses given for similar apathy about the Soviet gulags and Ukrainian famine of 1932-33.

  • World Uyghur Congress chief to visit Canada: Asia Times reports: “Canada’s troubled ties with China could be headed for another blow-up in the coming weeks to add to the Huawei political crisis that is still unfolding in Ottawa. The president of the World Uyghur Congress [Dolkun Isa], who Beijing regards as a leading terrorist, said he is preparing for a first visit to Canada after Ottawa cleared him of any security threat by granting him a five-year entry visa.”

  • What will happen to these Uyghurs detained in Thailand? “All of the seven Uighur nationals who escaped from an immigration police detention cell in this northeastern border province on Tuesday night have been recaptured,” reports the Bangkok Post. The article notes, without elaborating on the fate of the seven recently captured Uyghurs: “In the past, Thailand has been criticised for sending detained Uighurs back to China, where they reportedly face persecution.”

  • ‘Show me that my father is alive.’ China faces torrent of online pleas. That’s the headline of the New York Times report (porous paywall) on the #MeTooUyghur social media campaign.

  • Other news of the crushing of minority cultures: Chinese province defends ban on children taking ‘illegal’ Tibetan language classes, reports the South China Morning Post.

—Jeremy Goldkorn

4. Chinese female bodybuilder in feud with internet police over bikini videos

Lara Zhang, an Australia-based Chinese female bodybuilder, engaged in a social media feud on Monday with China’s cyber police, who accused her of spreading pornography after she posted a bodybuilding video of herself posing in a bikini on Weibo. The controversial clip was shared by Zhang in July 2018, but the official Weibo account of internet police in Maoming, Guangdong Province, somehow dug it out today and warned Zhang of the legal consequences of posting “obscene” content on the Chinese internet.

Click through to SupChina for more details.

—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:

The Department of Fisheries has lifted a ban on fish imports following a biting shortage after President Uhuru Kenyatta’s directive against Chinese catch that had flooded the market. The ban was lifted in January, barely three months after the restrictions took effect in November…

…Kenya imports approximately 1.8 million kilogramme of fish every month. It produces about 135,000 tonnes annual against an annual demand of 500,000 tonnes… Most factories that import fish cite unreliable supply from the local market, which affects their customers.

Chinese demand for gold jewelry has regularly surpassed that of India and America combined since then, accounting last year for 14 percent of physical gold demand globally. China has been the world’s largest producer since 2007. Yet it consumes even more gold (1,089 tonnes) than it unearths (426 tonnes). Flush with cash, its miners are moving to the high street: China Gold and Shandong Gold, two state-owned giants that are the country’s largest miners, have recently set up jewelry affiliates.

POLITICS AND CURRENT AFFAIRS:

SOCIETY AND CULTURE:


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Yes, China has thousands of years of history and culture, but, no, today’s Chinese middle class doesn’t read Confucius while drinking tea with erhu music in the background. The Middle Earth podcast gives you an in-depth look at the media that real Chinese people consume, and how it’s made in the world’s second-largest culture industry.

Kuora: Explaining China’s Warlord Period, which splintered the country

China’s Warlord Period is generally dated from 1916 to 1928, though it could be argued that warlordism continued in parts of China all the way up to 1949 and even beyond. The event that inaugurated it was the death of Yuan Shikai — cliques and factions proliferated, in shifting patterns of alliance, fracturing China. On May 4, 1919, patriotic students poured out into the streets in rage and opposition to warlordism and imperialism, and it was out of this that the Communist Party really began to coalesce.

Tiananmen protester Hou Deijian composes patriotic song ‘Chinese Dream’

On December 31, 2018, a song called “Chinese Dream” (中国梦) was performed at a “release ceremony” at a high school in Zhengding, Hebei Province, the city where President Xi Jinping served as party secretary for three years beginning in 1983. While nationalistic songs extolling the Chinese Communist Party and Xi’s Chinese Dream are not uncommon, one would most certainly not have expected one coming from Hou Dejian 侯德健, a Taiwan-born songwriter who once protested at Tiananmen Square.


SINICA PODCAST NETWORK

Sinica Podcast: Introducing the Middle Earth podcast

This week on Sinica, we’re proud to launch the Middle Earth podcast, which discusses China’s culture industry. In this debut episode on the Sinica Network, host Aladin Farré chats with three individuals who have all hit the big time and become internet celebrities in China: Erman, whose musings on love and relationships turned into a viral success and a full-time job; Ben Johnson, an Australian English teacher, whose short videos on cultural differences have attracted millions of views and 3 million followers; and Tang Yiqing, who started Juzi Video and has a venture-backed company with 30 million young fans. Learn their secrets for how to become a wanghong (网红 wǎnghóng; internet celebrity)!

Subscribe to Middle Earth on Apple Podcasts, Overcast, or Stitcher, or plug the RSS feed into your favorite podcast app.

The Caixin-Sinica Business Brief, episode 76

This week on the Caixin-Sinica Business Brief: the seemingly never-ending trade talks between China and the U.S., Didi Chuxing’s mass layoffs, China’s trade surplus, Huawei, Doug Young on the wine scene in China, and more.


PHOTO OF THE DAY

Sparklers on the streets of Bangdong

To celebrate the start of the Year of the Pig in rural Yunnan Province, children play with “fairy sticks” (仙女棒 xiānnǚbàng; sparklers) in the streets. Photo by Matthew Chitwood, who is @theotherchina on Instagram.