No vocational training for Masood Azhar

Access Archive

Dear Access member,

Your editor has thick skin: barely a day goes by when I am not accused of being too critical of China, and I get called a Communist Party stooge nearly as often. But the most intense negative feedback I have ever received was after this Sinica podcast from 2013, in which we critically discuss Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) with author and journalist James Palmer. TCM believers — especially those not from China — can be fanatic.

My main beef with TCM is that it generally not tested or researched according to scientific method. As James explains in the podcast linked above, and in this article, that is partly by design:

The idea of applying rigorous evidence-based methods, ultimately eliminating the idea of a separate TCM itself, is unacceptable to institutionalised TCM. ‘Among the scientification researchers, most of them have been refusing to conform to the “Western norm of science” in their lab results, for it is thought to be “unsuitable” for TCM,’ Professor Zhang Gongyao wrote to me, frustrated. ‘The researchers of TCM have no interest in eliminating the placebo effect in their lab work.’

Might that reluctance to properly test the methods and herbal remedies of TCM be over? Xinhua reports:

World’s first TCM evidence-based medical center established  

The Chinese traditional medicine (TCM) evidence-based medical center, the world’s first organization of such kind, was officially established Tuesday in the China Academy of Chinese Medical Sciences (CACMS). The center will pool together efforts of CACMS and other organizations like Beijing University of Chinese Medicine for TCM evidence-based research.

Without further ado, here is today’s news.

—Jeremy Goldkorn, Editor-in-Chief


1. China blocks U.N. from designating JeM leader a terrorist

Even if you take the Chinese Communist Party at its word and believe that the large numbers of Uyghurs and Kazakhs deprived of freedom in Xinjiang are being offered free vocational training at “boarding schools”, the justification is explicit: to prevent terrorism.

But while Beijing seems to have developed an omniscient system that can spot “extremists,” even if they have never committed an act of violence, this system does not recognize as a terrorist a militant whose group recently claimed responsibility for a terrorist attack in Kashmir that killed more than 40 people.

China yesterday once again blocked a U.N. resolution, long sought by India, and this time proposed by the U.S., U.K., and France to designate Masood Azhar, leader of Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM), as a terrorist. Why is China blocking the request?

The explanation from Beijing (via Indian news site NDTV): “Our action is to make sure that the committee will have enough time to study the matter so that the relevant sides will have time for dialogue and consultation.” This is difficult to believe: the latest block is the fourth in ten years. This is not an issue that suddenly emerged after the recent Kashmir attack.

Indian media such as The Hindustan Times speculate on two main reasons for China’s position:

  • Beijing’s loyalty to its “all weather friend” Pakistan, where JeM is based.

  • Worries that JeM might target Xinjiang: “China worries the general security situation in the region which would also affect China’s west,” said a Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson, indicating the problems Beijing is facing in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR).

Other relevant reports:

Background

—Jeremy Goldkorn

2. Trade war update: Trump-Xi meeting in March looks unlikely

We are being subjected to at least several more weeks of tariff indecision.

Bloomberg reports today (porous paywall) that the Trump-Xi meeting, if it happens, is not going to happen in March, according to three sources. Specifically, “Despite claims of progress in talks by both sides, a hoped-for summit at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort will now take place at the end of April if it happens at all,” according to one source.

More links for today:

—Lucas Niewenhuis

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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:

  • Tesla Model 3s clear customs
    China customs lifts suspension on Tesla Model 3 imports: sources / Reuters
    Last week on SupChina Access: Tesla gets the first of a thousand cuts from China

  • Undersea cable networks
    America’s undersea battle with China for control of the global internet grid / WSJ (paywall)
    “While the U.S. wages a high-profile campaign to exclude China’s Huawei Technologies Co. from next-generation mobile networks over fears of espionage, the company is embedding itself into undersea cable networks that ferry nearly all of the world’s internet data…
    Current and former security officials in the U.S. and allied governments now worry that these cables are increasingly vulnerable to espionage or attack and say the involvement of Huawei potentially enhances China’s capabilities.”

  • Pinduoduo stock: Now at bargain price!
    New China Billionaire Drops $2.8 Billion as PDD Shares Tumble / Bloomberg via Yahoo Finance
    “The Shanghai-based company reported revenue leapt more than four fold during the quarter ended in December, but lost 2.4 billion yuan ($358 million) compared with a small profit a year earlier. PDD shares dropped 17 percent, the most since it went public last year. That cut the net worth of Huang [Pinduoduo founder Colin Huang, or Huáng Zhēng 黄峥] to $13 billion from $15.8 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.”

  • Chinese millennial fashion brands
    How China Giant MO&Co. Is Breaking into the U.K. Fashion Market / Jing Daily
    “MO&Co. launched in 2004, and primarily targeted millennials — young female professionals with an eye for a stylish chic silhouette…MO&Co. now boasts over 900 stores in mainland China and is seen by fashion-conscious millennials as a popular alternative to Theory or Maje.”

  • Credit, business cycles, and debt
    What China’s $30 Trillion Credit Pile Doesn’t Tell You / Bloomberg (porous paywall)
    Anjani Trivedi writes, “Monthly data align poorly with business activity. For a better gauge of where things are headed, keep an eye on borrowing cycles.”
    The Spell That Made China’s Debt Vanish Is Broken / Bloomberg (porous paywall)
    Shuli Ren writes, “Beijing is now classifying perpetual bonds as liabilities, not equity. That means borrowers’ balance sheets could look a lot more precarious.”

  • Economic slowdown
    China’s Slowdown Hits Employment Even as Recovery Signs Emerge / Bloomberg (porous paywall)
    “With industrial output having its worst start to a year since 2009 and retail sales expanding at the slowest pace since 2012, the unemployment rate jumped to 5.3 percent in February from 4.9 percent in December, the highest level in two years. On the upside, fixed-asset investment accelerated and property investment jumped.”

  • “Blog theft” on Tencent Qi’e Hao
    Following Exposé, Tencent Vows to Crack Down on Blog Theft / Sixth Tone
    “Tech blogger Li Huanxin was none too happy when he discovered this week that someone had been hijacking his blog on Tencent’s Qi’e Hao platform since mid-January, posting entertainment-industry clickbait that had raked in over 75,000 yuan ($11,200) in revenue he never received.”

  • Ofo in Singapore
    Ofo gets more time to remove bicycles from public spaces, is in talks for partnership / Channel NewsAsia

  • Illegal restaurants
    China’s food delivery apps worked with 35,000 illegal restaurants / CNET

POLITICS AND CURRENT AFFAIRS:

SOCIETY AND CULTURE:


VIDEO ON SUPCHINA

How to turn a broken vase into a home for bonsai

This bonsai artist on Kuaishou, a Chinese video-sharing platform, can remake a broken and abandoned vase into a beautiful planter for bonsai. This makes it way cooler for home decoration.


FEATURED ON SUPCHINA

A $22 million soccer museum in China makes claim as the ‘birthplace of football’

Sepp Blatter, the former president of FIFA, is not a popular man. But in Zibo, a prefecture-level city of 4.5 million in Shandong Province, his bronze-cast signature continues to grace the entrance of the Linzi Football Museum, all because he declared in 2005 that Zibo was the birthplace of world football some 2,000 years ago. But Blatter’s fixation on soccer’s supposed predecessor — Cuju — was not born of innate historical and archaeological interest. Of course, just as FIFA had financial interests in China, China has political interests in FIFA — specifically, it wants to host a World Cup.

Chinese proposal aims to clean up live-streaming in the name of underage internet users

The All-China Youth Federation, a government-backed organization affiliated with the Communist Youth League of China, has introduced a proposal to limit minors’ access to online games while protecting their identities online. The initiative hones in on the live-streaming industry, which has exploded in China in recent years.


SINICA PODCAST NETWORK

Sinica Podcast: Is there really an epidemic of self-censorship among China scholars?

This week’s Sinica was recorded at UPenn’s Center for Study on Contemporary China. Jeremy and Kaiser speak with three prominent scholars on China: Sheena Greitens, associate professor of political science at the University of Missouri, Rory Truex, assistant professor of politics and public affairs at Princeton University, and Neysun Mahboubi, research scholar at the Center for the Study of Contemporary China at the University of Pennsylvania. The group tackles a topic that has long beleaguered China-watching circles: self-censorship. In addition, it focuses on a paper that Sheena and Rory published last summer, Repressive Experiences among China Scholars: New Evidence from Survey Data.

ChinaEconTalk: One hour, Two Sessions

China’s Two Sessions, the national annual gathering of the leadership of the People’s Republic of China, will soon be coming to a close. This week on ChinaEconTalk, Jordan sat down with Chris Beddor, a columnist for Reuters Breakingviews, to discuss highlights from this year’s gathering, including state-owned enterprise reform, implications for Made in China 2025, the evolving role of Li Keqiang, and more.


PHOTO OF THE DAY

Is the grass always greener on the other side?

A Tibetan mastiff stands on his hind legs up against a wall in a yard to look over a neighbor’s home in suburban Qingdao, Shandong Province. The dogs used to be pricey and coveted as a symbol of status and wealth, especially in the 1990s in China. Because they used to be sold for tens of thousands of dollars or more, thousands of breeding centers were opened — but as the price fell to less than $1,500, those breeding centers closed, leading to many stray dogs wandering around in villages in Tibet and Qinghai Province.