All about Document No. 1

Access Archive

Dear Access members,

Our next guest chat on Slack is with Christian Shepherd, incoming Beijing correspondent for the Financial Times, on February 27 at 10 a.m. EST. While he was at Reuters, Christian wrote about a wide array of fascinating political topics: everything from Erik Prince in Xinjiang to disappearing constitutional law textbooks, the struggles of Marxist student activists at Peking University, and a seemingly endless crackdown on Chinese rights lawyers.

—Jeremy Goldkorn and team

1. Agricultural plans in Document No. 1    

“Agriculture, rural areas, and farmer’s issues remain China’s top priorities for the 16th consecutive year as its ‘No. 1 Central Document’ prioritizes development of agriculture and rural areas,” said Xinhua News Agency after the release of the document.

In Chinese, the Central Number One Document is 中央一号文件 zhōngyāng yīhào wénjiàn, but let’s just call it Document No. 1. It is the first policy document issued by the Communist Party’s Central Committee every year. As befits a Party that rose to power through a rural revolution, it’s always about agriculture. This year it devotes plenty of space to one policy Xí Jìnpíng 习近平 has frequently called a priority: poverty alleviation. Much of the document is similar to last year’s. Here are some key points:

  • Tourism: Environmentally friendly tourism in remote areas is to be encouraged, with investment in infrastructure and transport.  

  • City people: The document urges entrepreneurs to start businesses in rural areas and “all kinds of urban talents” to invest and participate in the “revitalization” of the rural economy.

  • Soy: Beijing will increase domestic soybean production by expanding planting areas and subsidies. At a press conference about Document No. 1, officials hastened to assure a journalist that “China’s soybean market will remain open,” and that “China and the U.S. will continue to be important soybean trading partners.”

  • Imports: Reuters notes that as in previous years, the document “also called for stable grain production, increased imports of agriculture products where there are shortages in the domestic market and diversified import channels.”

  • Corn: Production should be stabilized (in past years, there have been unmanageable surpluses) and the grain supply diversified. Support for growing rapeseed in the Yangtze River Basin is specifically mentioned.

  • Other stuff in the document: A new subsidy system for farms and farmers, crackdowns on grassroots corruption and smuggling of farm produce, mitigating pollution in rural areas, and various green policies such as support for recycling manure.

  • “Shares of Chinese livestock companies, along with pig and poultry breeders, rose” yesterday after the release of Document No. 1, according to The Poultry Site.

  • The full text of Document No. 1 is here (in Chinese).

—Jeremy Goldkorn

2. Is a U.S.-China trade deal forming?

Reuters and Bloomberg reported today that the U.S. and China are drawing up memorandums of understanding (MOUs) on as many as six areas of economic tensions. Reuters lists them: “forced technology transfer and cyber theft, intellectual property rights, services, currency, agriculture, and non-tariff barriers to trade.”

This would mean all of U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer’s apparent seven points of negotiation, with the notable exception of subsidies for state-owned enterprises, have been discussed in detail between the two sides. As for whether the MOUs will come to fruition or mean much in the end, well, “we’ll see.”

A few other U.S.-China relations and trade-related links today:

—Lucas Niewenhuis

3. China’s most notorious internet detox camp finally shuts its doors

Earlier this week, rumors started swirling that the Internet Addiction Treatment Center in Linyi, Shandong Province, which was once the most notorious internet detox camp in China, had finally closed its doors. The shutdown has now been confirmed by multiple sources, including several newspapers and a former patient.

For more information, please click through to SupChina.

—Jiayun Feng


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



  • Xinjiang — the genetic surveillance frontier
    American firm, citing ethics code, won’t sell genetic sequencers in Xinjiang / WSJ (paywall)
    “Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc. said it will no longer be selling or servicing genetic sequencers in China’s Xinjiang region, following mounting criticism that its products were used for state surveillance of citizens there that enabled human rights abuses…
    The devices were described in a December 2017 Wall Street Journal article that highlighted the ways Chinese police gather DNA samples from many citizens who aren’t criminal suspects. Earlier that month, a report by Human Rights Watch identified Thermo Fisher as a supplier of some DNA sequencers to Xinjiang police.”
    China uses DNA to track its people, with the help of American expertise / NYT (porous paywall)
    “Collecting genetic material is a key part of China’s campaign [in Xinjiang], according to human rights groups and Uighur activists. They say a comprehensive DNA database could be used to chase down any Uighurs who resist conforming to the campaign…
    To bolster their DNA capabilities, scientists affiliated with China’s police used equipment made by Thermo Fisher, a Massachusetts company. For comparison with Uighur DNA, they also relied on genetic material from people around the world that was provided by Kenneth Kidd, a prominent Yale University geneticist.”

  • Xinjiang — successful executives in need of “vocational training”
    Energy executives abroad ensnared in China’s Xinjiang crackdown / dpa International
    “dpa has interviewed the family members of four people working in the energy sector in Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan who have reportedly disappeared in Xinjiang internment camps.”

  • Taiwan-EU cooperation
    China no obstacle to pact with Taiwan: EU official / Taipei Times
    “The EU would not rule out the possibility of signing a bilateral investment agreement (BIA) with Taiwan, even though it observes a ‘one China’ policy, a European Commission official said on Tuesday.”

  • Britain-China military tensions
    Britain admits warship threat upset China / Reuters
    “Britain on Thursday admitted that talk by its defence minister of deploying a warship in the Pacific had complicated the relationship with China.”

  • Silencing the rights activists
    China’s rights activists face torture, detention, ‘disappearance’: report / Radio Free Asia


  • Waste cycle and China’s trash import ban
    ‘Moment of reckoning’: US cities burn recyclables after China bans imports / Guardian
    “It’s a situation being replicated across the US as cities struggle to adapt to a recent ban by China on the import of items intended for reuse…. The huge Covanta incinerator just outside Philadelphia, located in Chester City, Pennsylvania, is sent about 200 tons of recycling material every day since China’s import ban came into practice last year, the company says.”

  • Accurate but unfortunate translations
    Hong Kong has a cum problem / The Outline
    “This linguistic oddity in Hong Kong very likely traces its roots back to the British, who ruled the city from 1841 until 1997…The local government isn’t oblivious to the smutty innuendo. A few years ago, it made a concerted effort to cover up the word on bins after receiving numerous complaints on its ‘unpleasant meaning.’”

  • Handwriting robots as cheap as $30
    This Chinese robot does homework for you – in your own handwriting / Inkstone
    “The case of a Chinese schoolgirl and her so-called copying robot has intrigued social media and fueled growing interest in the machines – and a debate about how the Chinese language should be taught.”


Amazing ink brush writing skills — with a workout!

Most ink brush writers today prefer to use light brushes with firm tips. They’re easy to use and you don’t need to worry about your arm getting tired. However, the ink brush writer Wang Huaizhong 王怀忠 likes to use brushes that weigh around 66 pounds! It’s quite a workout to lift one of them up. But Wang can do that and hold the brush with one arm. And — he can also write with it!


‘The Wandering Earth’: China’s futuristic blockbuster rehashes Hollywood-style nationalism, clichés, and schmaltz

The much-anticipated sci-fi blockbuster The Wandering Earth 流浪地球 premiered on February 5, the first day of the Lunar New Year, to immense commercial success. But beyond the oversized CGI and cool visuals, The Wandering Earth has problems, namely: disaster movie tropes, overplayed sentimentalism, and graceless nationalism. A film of just disaster clichés is empty, but a film that tries to fill that void with sentimentality is actively annoying.


Sinica Live with Zha Jianying: Dealing with the troublemakers

This week, Sinica is live from Fordham Law School in New York City! This episode features Zhā Jiànyīng 查建英, journalist and author of China Pop: How Soap Operas, Tabloids, and Bestsellers Are Transforming a Culture and Tide Players: The Movers and Shakers of a Rising China, who joined Jeremy and Kaiser at a Sinica Live Podcast event on January 14. The three discuss the experiences of Zha’s half-brother, Zhā Jiànguó 查建国, a democracy activist in China who was charged with subversion of state power and subsequently jailed for nine years. In addition, they pore over the political realities of contemporary China, the likelihood of reform, and the pressures that “moderate liberals” encounter in the face of rising suppression of political freedoms in the country.


The market at Bangdong

During the New Year holiday, villagers hit the market to stock up on supplies for the festivities in rural Yunnan Province. Photo by Matthew Chitwood, who is @theotherchina on Instagram.