Beijing warns Turkey after Xinjiang criticism

Access Archive

Dear Access member,

Some things to read:

“The Chinese scientist and the foreign tongue” is the title of the latest essay by particle physicist Yangyang Chen, our science columnist.

“In 2009, when I returned to my room while reporting out of the western region of Xinjiang, I found a police officer reclining on the bed, smoking a cigarette and casually swiping through the photos on my digital camera.” That’s one of the entertaining nuggets in this article in the New York Times (porous paywall): “Limiting your digital footprints in a surveillance state” by China tech reporter Paul Mozur.

Our Access members Q&A with Christian Shepherd is now archived on the members Slack channel.

Have a great weekend!

—Jeremy Goldkorn, Editor-in-Chief

Deng Li, the Chinese ambassador to Turkey, in an interview with Reuters.

1. Beijing warns Turkey after Xinjiang criticism

On February 9, the government of Turkey issued a strongly worded statement that condemned China for its treatment of Uyghurs as a “great shame to humanity.” This pushback — from the country that considers the Uyghurs kin — marks a new phase in the international response to the atrocities taking place in Xinjiang.

  • When China tried to discredit a part of Turkey’s critique, involving the alleged death of folk poet Abdurehim Heyit, by publishing a video of him in forced-confessional-reality-TV style, Uyghurs around the world also demanded evidence that their missing relatives in Xinjiang are alive. The #MeTooUyghur social movement was born.

  • Beijing then tried backdoor diplomacy to tamp down criticism from Ankara directly. Reuters reported on February 22, “China is lobbying hard to thwart scrutiny of its mass detention camps for Muslim Uighurs in the Xinjiang region at the U.N. Human Rights Council’s main annual session opening on Monday, diplomats and activists said.”

  • But it didn’t work. On February 25, Turkey continued its high-profile criticism at the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva. Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu made no mention of the mass internment camps (which were mentioned in the previous government statement), but urged China to make a distinction between “terrorists and innocent people.” Cavusoglu added:

We encourage Chinese authorities and expect that universal human rights, including freedom of religion, are respected and full protection of the cultural identities of the Uighurs and other Muslims is ensured.

  • Beijing called these “irresponsible and bad remarks” in a foreign ministry press conference on February 27, and added that “certain people in Turkey have ignored basic facts, kept smearing China’s efforts to combat terrorism and eradicate extremists, vilify the government of China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region for the measures it has taken, which is clearly ill-intended.”

With backdoor diplomacy apparently not working, Beijing seems to be moving on to harsher measures to shut down criticism from Turkey.

  • The Chinese ambassador to Turkey, Dèng Lì 邓励, told Reuters in an interview, “There may be disagreements or misunderstandings between friends but we should solve them through dialogue. Criticizing your friend publicly everywhere is not a constructive approach.”

  • He added a threat about economic ties: “If you choose a non-constructive path, it will negatively affect mutual trust and understanding and will be reflected in commercial and economic relations.”

  • “Deng said that many Chinese companies were looking for investment opportunities in Turkey including the third nuclear power plant Ankara wants to build.” He then, apparently, listed off a number of bilateral investment prospects that could be affected:

Several Chinese firms, including tech giant Alibaba, are actively looking at opportunities in Turkey after the lira’s sell-off has made local assets cheaper.

In addition to Alibaba, which last year purchased Turkish online retailer Trendyol, other companies holding talks included China Life Insurance and conglomerate China Merchants Group, Deng said.

“China has decided to temporarily close the consulate in Izmir from February 28, 2019. All diplomatic and consular services of the Izmir consulate will be handled by the Chinese embassy [in Ankara],” according to a notice on the embassy’s WeChat social media account.

The notice went on to say that the decision related solely to internal working arrangements and work efficiency had been one of the factors taken into account.

The shutdown of the Izmir consulate comes days after Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu told a United Nations rights forum in Geneva that reports of human rights violations in Xinjiang were a serious cause for concern.

—Lucas Niewenhuis

2. Huawei PR fail

“Chinese telecom giant Huawei has issued an unusual invitation to foreign media outlets to visit its facilities and meet staff as the company pushes back against global pressure arising from US accusations that it spies for Beijing,” reports Agence France-Presse.

The invitation immediately backfired. Here are two responses from respected American journalists on Twitter:

Josh Rogin: “INBOX: Huawei is inviting me on an all-expenses-paid junket to China? That’s gonna be a hard pass. Any American journalist who takes Huawei money should be ashamed and shamed.”

Ana Swanson: “Huawei sent out a letter to US journalists inviting us to visit their campuses. The invitation was sent to my colleagues and I…via the Chinese embassy.”

Other Huawei news today:

—Jeremy Goldkorn

3. Reports of domestic violence drop in Hangzhou

Today marks the third anniversary of China’s implementation of its landmark Anti-Domestic Violence Law. Earlier this week, Hangzhou, the capital of Zhejiang Province, released a three-year monitoring report (in Chinese) on its handling of family violence cases since 2016, which offers a glimpse of the law’s effectiveness on a national level and what specific trends need closer attention.

Click through to SupChina for more details.

—Jiayun Feng


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—Jeremy Goldkorn, Editor-in-Chief

Here are the stories that caught our eye this week:

  • China watched uneasily as Pakistan and India came closer to the brink of war than in many years, after the latest developments following a terrorist attack in India-controlled Kashmir by a group China refuses to call “terrorist.”

  • Chinese state media highlighted some “opinions on strengthening the Party’s political construction,” rather than the India-Pakistan spat and Washington, D.C. turmoil that consumed media airspace practically everywhere else globally. The report contained an interesting exhortation to “resolutely prevent unbelief in Marxism-Leninism and belief in ghosts and spirits.”

  • There’s something very fishy going on at the Supreme People’s Court of China, after former judge and whistleblower Wáng Línqīng 王林清 appeared in a televised “confession” and is now under investigation for “leaking state secrets.”

  • Trump delayed tariff increases on China, and Chinese state media happily repeated the optimism on trade talks. But we really don’t know any more than a week ago about where negotiations might go. China has reportedly accepted Trump’s offer of a Mar-a-Lago summit in late March, but details are not set yet. U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer testified to Congress that “much still needs to be done” to seal a deal with China.

  • Even as China’s stock markets surged, factory output continued to shrink in February.

  • In the newest flashpoint of China’s dog ownership debate, a real estate developer in Yuncheng, Shanxi Province, has implemented a strict no-dog policy in some of its buildings, which ignited online conversations about how to balance the interests of dog owners and haters in China.

  • A reproductive health clinic in Nanchang, Jiangxi Province, is experiencing some online backlash regarding its recent advertisement that features a female victim of domestic violence.

  • Yesterday, on a rare slow news day, we highlighted some opinions on the U.S.-China trade war and other issues, including this one from Edward Luce in the Financial Times: “Donald Trump is itching to surrender to China on trade.”





Meet the master of coin sculptures!

A guy with the alias “Coin Master” recently had some of his videos go viral on Kuaishou, a Chinese short-video platform. He uses coins like Legos to build all kinds of sculptures, such as the front of Tiananmen Square as well as extremely detailed towers. This can’t be done without some serious architectural skills. Take a peek!

We also published the following videos this week:


The tragic end of Shi Hui, Maoist China’s most promising actor-director

During the late 1940s and early 1950s, Shi Hui 石挥 was one of the most popular actors in China. His performances in movies like Miserable at Middle Age 哀乐中年 and This Life of Mine 我这一辈子 were brilliant, and today, both movies still top lists of the most-acclaimed Chinese movies. But he became a target when the Anti-Rightist movement erupted, and was attacked and humiliated at every turn. His suicide at the age of 42 ranks as one of the great tragedies of Chinese cinema.

After yearlong stint in detention camp, Uyghur footballer Erfan Hezim signs with new Chinese club

Last summer, Uyghur player Erfan Hezim (a.k.a. Ye Erfan 叶尔凡) was reportedly placed in a forced detention camp in his native Xinjiang, allegedly for traveling overseas without permission, even though those trips — to Dubai and Spain — were for football training camps. Fortunately, Hezim has now been released after an 11-month spell in confinement, and he’s just signed with League One club Shaanxi Chang’an Athletic. A prodigious talent at youth levels, it will be interesting to see if Hezim’s enforced absence from the sport has affected his career, or if he is able to make his way back up to the Chinese Super League.

The Chinese scientist and the foreign tongue

The word for science in Chinese today, kexue 科学, corresponds with the Japanese word for science, kagaku. The use of this imported term at the start of the 20th century symbolized a profound shift in the Chinese psyche, its genesis and aftermath equally rooted in loss and shame. For generations of Chinese scientists who followed, the cultivating of a foreign tongue was not only a tool to help untangle the mysteries of nature, but also an exercise of individual agency in the shifting tides of state power. Yangyang Cheng explores these ideas in this moving essay that blends her personal experience as a Chinese physicist in the U.S. with the tragic and remarkable history of her predecessors.

A SupChina Quiz to the Nines

2019 is a big year for anniversaries in China. How much do you know about important, momentous events that happened in years ending in “9”? Take this 12-question quiz to find out. Let us know how you do — tweet your score to @supchinanews.

Young Taiwanese are dreaming of careers in China — but unification is still a nightmare

In the years since Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen took power, Xi Jinping has dangled economic carrots with the hope that political consensus will follow, and the Chinese government has offered incentives to Taiwan’s workers to get them to stay. But the majority of Taiwanese citizens, while they may appreciate the job opportunities across the strait, have little interest in abandoning their democracy. Meanwhile, Tsai is seeking measures to combat Taiwan’s “brain drain,” including strengthening relations with South and Southeast Asian countries via the New Southbound Policy.

China Business Corner: Folding-screen phones might be the next big thing

Folding screens on cell phones might seem outrageous, but they could be in everyone’s future. Also in this week’s China Business Corner: Contrasting iQiyi and Netflix, taking a look at why the food delivery business is so attractive to young individuals, and reasons why “knowledge-sharing” apps are popular among rural mothers.

China Fintech Today: The P2P boom is truly over

China Fintech Today is a roundup of news from one of the most innovative sectors of the Chinese economy: financial technology, or fintech. In 2018, the growth of China’s peer-to-peer (P2P) lending sector dramatically reversed: 1,407 internet platforms that offered P2P lending services shut down due to increased regulation between July 2017 and June 2018. This year, the government has continued to lead a reorganization of the industry.

Kuora: All the times the Chinese Communist Party nearly died

At several points in its relatively short history, the Chinese Communist Party came close to collapse. First, it barely made it to its seventh birthday, as Chiang Kai-shek launched the “White Terror” that killed many of the young CCP’s leaders. Then there was the Long March, an encirclement campaign in Yan’an, and full-blown civil war itself. The Cultural Revolution and protests at Tiananmen in 1989 also threatened the Party’s existence — and would have changed how modern China looks today.

The rise of Chinese student power casts further uncertainty over Canada-China ties

Canadians’ opinion of China, on a downward trajectory over the last few years, may have hit a new low in the wake of the angry displays of Chinese student power at two university events in the province of Ontario early in February. First, a group of Chinese students campaigned aggressively to oust Chemi Lhamo, a Tibetan Canadian, shortly after she was elected student president of the University of Toronto Scarborough Campus. Days later, another group tried to intimidate Uyghur activist Rukiye Turdush as she was giving a talk at McMaster University on human rights abuses inflicted on her people in China’s Xinjiang region.

Manchester City makes official foray into Chinese football

In a move that’s been in the works for several years, the Manchester City football club — or, more precisely, its parent company, City Football Group (CFG) — now has an official foothold in China, as it is part of a deal to purchase third-tier Chinese club Sichuan Jiuniu 四川九牛 FC alongside the club’s two other partners in this joint venture, humanoid robot firm UBTECH and sports investment fund China Sports Capital. Sources say the vast majority of the money has been put up by UBTECH, which takes a controlling 51 percent stake in the club, while CFG receives as much as 40 percent for precisely zero money.


Sinica Podcast: Everything you ever wanted to know about Taiwan but were afraid to ask, Part 1

This week, we feature the first half of an extensive interview with Shelley Rigger, a political scientist at Davidson College and the leading U.S. expert on the politics of Taiwan. This first half of the interview, which covers the history of Taiwan through 1996, was conducted by Neysun Mahboubi of the UPenn Center for the Study of Contemporary China Podcast (one of our favorite China podcasts), and is republished here with the Center’s permission.

TechBuzz China: Podcasting in China — the Myth and the Reality

Episode 39 of TechBuzz China is on a topic of special interest to our co-hosts, Ying-Ying Lu and Rui Ma: podcasting in China! It was sparked by two recent pieces of news within the podcasting industry. The first was the acquisition of Gimlet Media, a podcasting network, by the newly IPOed music-streaming service Spotify for $200 million; the second was the $100 million raised by the podcasting platform Himalaya. In fact, Himalaya’s main investor, China’s Ximalaya FM, boasts 23 million daily active users and is rumored to be going for an IPO soon.

Middle Earth: How does China’s advertisement market work?

This episode is the second part of a two-part series about how the internet changed the way to consume and create content. Last time, the panel comprised people who earn a living by creating only on the Chinese internet, but today we meet the other side of the fence, the more “capitalistic” one: those who make, sell, or deal with advertisements.

The Caixin-Sinica Business Brief, episode 77

This week on the Caixin-Sinica Business Brief: the closure of 28 Confucius Institute programs by Canada’s province of New Brunswick, China’s first court devoted to financial cases, new studies of Chinese mental health, and more.

NüVoices Podcast: Queer culture, perception, and representation within China

On the first episode of the second season of the NüVoices Podcast, Alice Xin Liu and Sophie Lu are joined by Alex Li, senior editor at Vice China. Alex has a Ph.D. in gender and sexuality studies and a master’s degree in psychology. She is also the host of the gender and sexuality channel Biede Girls for Vice China. Alice was previously a guest on her podcast, Biede Girls Podcast, to talk about her bicultural background.

ChinaEconTalk: Rubber ducks and semiconductors — navigating China’s legal system

“The champagne days are over,” writes Dan Harris, reflecting on how the tone of his China Law Blog has evolved since its creation in 2006. As the founder of Harris Bricken, an international law firm with a major China presence, Dan has a unique window into how macro changes in China’s economy and trade relations play out within a law firm. In this conversation, Jordan and Dan discuss common misconceptions about the law in China; memorable Chinese legal scams; joint ventures in China; day-to-day operations of an international law firm in the country; and intellectual property cases and enforcement within the Chinese legal system on the mainland.


Happier times in Kashgar

A man smiles in a teahouse, or chaikhana, in the old city of Kashgar in 1997. Photo by Jeremy Goldkorn.