Trade war: Will it ever end?

Access Archive

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Here are some events that may interest you. Today’s news is below.

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—Jeremy Goldkorn, Editor-in-Chief

Women’s Conference: Only 3 days left for early-bird tickets!

We are hosting our third annual SupChina Women’s Conference in New York on May 20, 2019. It’s a conference about business, technology, and finance in the U.S.-China sphere with an all-female lineup of star panelists.

If you’d like to attend the conference, buy your tickets now, as early-bird prices (a 25 percent discount!) only run until March 31. As an Access member, be sure to claim your additional 10 percent off any ticket with the promo code SCWCACCESS2019.

Also, this year, we are once again going to honor SupChina Female Rising Stars for recognizable professional success in the early years of their career, one in business and one from the nonprofit sector. Please submit your nominations before the deadline of April 5 to events@supchina.com. Click here for more information and for nomination criteria.

Beijing events: Da Shan and female science-fiction writers

If you’re in Beijing this weekend, please come to live tapings of the Sinica and NüVoices podcasts. Sinica has Da Shan and David Moser as guests, while the NüVoices Collective will host a spirited discussion with authors Táng Fěi 糖匪 and Jī Shǎotíng 姬少亭 (link in Chinese), two up-and-coming writers on China’s burgeoning science-fiction scene.

—Jeremy Goldkorn, Editor-in-Chief


1. The never-ending trade war, day 266

Another round of trade talks has “hit the ground running,” the South China Morning Post reports, as the American delegation, led by U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, sat down for a working dinner with their counterparts in Beijing on Thursday. If that sounds familiar to you, it probably feels even more familiar to Mnuchin — as indicated in the images above, he has been going on high-stakes delegations to Beijing to avert trade war escalations for nearly a year now.

As is customary, the negotiations are being accompanied by confusing signals about whether there has been, or will be, much progress:

  • “They’re talking about forced technology transfer in a way that they’ve never wanted to talk about before — both in terms of scope and specifics… If you looked at the texts a month ago compared to today, we have moved forward in all areas,” one anonymous senior official optimistically told Reuters.

  • “This is not time-dependent. This is policy- and enforcement-dependent. If it takes a few more weeks, or if it takes months, so be it. We have to get a great deal, as the president says, that works for the United States. That’s our principal interest,” Trump economic adviser Larry Kudlow told Bloomberg (porous paywall).

  • Kudlow’s comments are “the latest indication of a slowdown in the negotiations,” the Financial Times interpreted (paywall), concluding that “even the prospects of a final handshake in late April, the earliest possible timeframe, seems optimistic.”

  • But at least there are more soybean purchases: “Chinese state-owned firms bought about 1.5 million tonnes of U.S. soybeans on Thursday for shipment in July and August, in their second major purchase of U.S. supplies this month,” Reuters reports.

  • Premier Lǐ Kèqiáng 李克强 also, unsurprisingly, promised further financial opening and a reduction in the “negative list” of areas of investment restriction, and stated, “We need to prevent a trust deficit from occurring,” implying that he believes there is currently no trust deficit.

  • Li also “disclosed the proposal to allow trial operations for foreign cloud-service providers at a Monday meeting with about three dozen corporate chieftains, including those from IBM Corp., Pfizer Inc., Rio Tinto PLC, BMW AG and Daimler AG,” according to the Wall Street Journal (paywall).

Meanwhile, there is the always-present risk that geopolitical and technology tensions will overshadow agreements on economic exchange.

For the United States…

Bloomberg writes (porous paywall):

Even as the U.S. and China near a deal on trade, the Trump administration is becoming increasingly assertive in challenging Beijing on its geopolitical red lines.

Since Sunday alone, the U.S. has sailed a warship through the Taiwan Strait, released a report criticizing travel restrictions in Tibet and hosted Uyghur exiles at the State Department. The moves — all of them defying China’s warnings against meddling in what it views as its internal affairs — came ahead the arrival of Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer in Beijing for trade talks.

…for Britain…

The Guardian reports:

The Huawei oversight board, which is chaired by the head of GCHQ’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), said it had found further “significant technical issues in Huawei’s engineering processes leading to new risks in the UK telecommunications networks.”

The watchdog said in its annual report on Huawei that the company had made “no material progress” in addressing existing security flaws identified in last year’s assessment and raised serious doubts about the Chinese company’s ability to deliver a $2bn (£1.5bn) programme to address concerns previously raised by the UK oversight board.

…and for Canada.

“Canada on Thursday took a notably tougher line with China over its ban on Canadian imports of canola seed, saying Beijing had provided no scientific evidence to justify the move and was hurting its own reputation,” according to Reuters. See yesterday on SupChina: China admits canola oil block is connected to Huawei.

—Lucas Niewenhuis

2. Female wealth managers

Bloomberg reports (porous paywall):

Wealth management is a business area where global banks including UBS, JPMorgan Chase & Co. and HSBC Holding Plc, facing greater scrutiny as to gender diversity, have added more women. And the banks have recognized that in this market local language skills and local knowledge regarding taxation, transfer of wealth and related issues make them more valuable to clients than someone flown in from headquarters…

…While this shift partly stems from a desire to meet diversity goals, it’s also a response to the astounding wealth in the region and the need for wealth managers that make Chinese clients — and increasingly Chinese women clients — feel comfortable.

3. A second Tsinghua University professor is investigated

The suspension and investigation of Tsinghua University law professor and liberal intellectual, Xǔ Zhāngrùn 许章润, was sudden but not unexpected. His controversial essay, titled “Imminent Fears, Immediate Hopes,” which attacked the scrapping of presidential term limits by Xí Jìnpíng 习近平, went viral over half a year ago — but 2019 is not a year like any other. This year is chock-full of sensitive anniversaries for the Chinese Communist Party, and the two of utmost importance, the 100th anniversary of the May Fourth Movement and the 30th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square protests, are just around the corner.

Indeed, as SupChina previously reported, there are already signs that the Youth League committees of institutions that played a crucial role in these landmark events, such as Peking University, have begun scoping out the political inclinations of their classmates in order to ensure nothing out of the ordinary happens in the near future.

However, an investigation of another Tsinghua University professor —  Lǚ Jiā 吕嘉, an associate professor at the School of Marxism — parallel to the one being conducted on Xu but virtually unnoticed by media outlets, once again shows that political censorship in 2019 is not a simple case of Communist Party top brass ordering university minions to check their faculty. Rather, patriotic leftist students also play a crucial role in transforming spaces where liberal ideas could find a safe haven into political straightjackets, or even traps.

For details, please click through to SupChina.

4. Xinjiang update

Two of America’s biggest public pension funds own stakes in Hikvision, a Chinese company that supplies surveillance technology to detention camps in Xinjiang where Muslims are held. The California State Teachers’ Retirement System, or Calstrs, and the New York State Teachers’ Retirement System continue to hold investments in Hikvision despite a crackdown by Washington over the way western capital markets have funded mass detention in China.

Hikvision, which is the world’s biggest surveillance company, supplies systems to facilities that Beijing describes as “education centres,” where an estimated 1m Uighurs are being held, according to human rights groups…

…[But] funds including Fidelity Emerging Markets, Goldman Sachs EM Equity, Fullerton Global Emerging Markets Equities and RWC Global Emerging Equity plus three other US funds have all closed their positions in recent months, according to Copley Fund Research, a consultancy. All of the funds declined to comment.

  • Writing from Istanbul, Megha Rajagopalan and K. Murat Yildiz report:

Turkey is one of the few Muslim-majority countries to call out China’s crackdown on Uyghur Muslims. A BuzzFeed News investigation finds that several Turkish nationals have also disappeared, something that has never been publicly acknowledged by Turkey.

—Jeremy Goldkorn

—–

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:

SCIENCE, HEALTH, AND THE ENVIRONMENT:

  • Is the U.S. going to drive Chinese scientists away?
    The man who took China to space / Foreign Policy (porous paywall)
    “Hsue-Shen Tsien [錢學森 Qián Xuésēn] was driven out of the United States by political paranoia. Will the same happen to a new generation of Chinese talent?”

  • Coal and climate change
    Push for more coal power in China imperils efforts to fight climate change, researchers say / AFP
    “Even as the number of coal-fired power plants under development worldwide declines, increased coal use in China and a proposal to boost capacity could imperil global climate change goals.”
    China’s carbon emissions could peak before 2030 / MIT Technology Review
    “In addition to leveling out carbon pollution by 2030, China’s Paris commitments also include raising the share of clean sources in its energy mix to 20 percent over that same period.”

  • Healthcare companies on Shanghai’s new NASDAQ-style board
    Five health sector firms apply to list on new high-tech board / Caixin (paywall)
    “Nearly a third of applicants to list on the Shanghai Stock Exchange’s new Science and Technology Innovation Board are biotech or pharmaceutical companies, information published by the board shows.”

POLITICS AND CURRENT AFFAIRS:

China on Thursday accused the US of undermining the authority of the UN anti-terrorism committee by “forcefully moving” a resolution in the UNSC to list Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar as a global terrorist, saying America’s move only “complicates” the issue. The US, supported by France and the UK, has moved a draft resolution in the UN Security Council to blacklist the Pakistan-based terror group’s chief.

China’s ruling Communist Party expelled the former chief of Interpol on Wednesday, accusing him of abusing his power to finance an extravagant lifestyle and committing ‘serious’ violations of the law. The disappearance of the former Interpol chief, Mèng Hóngwěi 孟宏伟, during a trip to China last fall drew global attention and highlighted the perils of being on the wrong side of China’s opaque, highly politicized legal system.

Wáng Yǔ 王宇, the Chinese human rights lawyer who was detained by police outside the US embassy in Beijing on Wednesday night, was released less than 24 hours after she was held… On July 9, 2015, Wang became the first lawyer to be swept up by the nationwide “709” clampdown on lawyers and campaigners launched in what critics of the government said was an attempt to stymie China’s emerging human rights defense movement.

Chinese officials pressured a Montreal-based human rights research institute affiliated with Concordia University to cancel a conference featuring a prominent exiled Uyghur leader, says one of the organizers of the event… While he chose to ignore the request and went ahead with the conference on Tuesday as planned, Matthews said he later found out that the consul general was also putting pressure on different people in Montreal to get Concordia University to annul the event.

Hong Kong’s expulsion of a British journalist and banning of a pro-independence party has led the United Kingdom to issue a wary assessment of the city on Wednesday. In the UK’s latest Six-Monthly Report on Hong Kong, which covers July 1 to December 31, Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said he was concerned that the former British colony’s high degree of autonomy was “being reduced”’ with regard to civil and political freedoms.

SOCIETY AND CULTURE:


VIDEO ON SUPCHINA

SupChina Talks, Episode 1: Chen Man on her photography, life, and entrepreneurship

Chen Man, a superstar photographer and entrepreneur, sits down with SupChina in New York City during Fashion Week to discuss her work, views, and latest projects! This is Episode 1 of our new SupChina Talks series, which features interviews with interesting and notable Chinese individuals.


FEATURED ON SUPCHINA

The Massachusetts train company that China built

Western Massachusetts is likely not the first place that comes to mind when talking about U.S.-China cooperation, particularly amid the current trade war. But it’s here, in Springfield, Massachusetts, that one Chinese company is striving to create a brick-and-mortar identity for itself on American soil, with employees hailing from both sides of the Pacific. CRRC MA has won several contracts to build trains for urban rail lines in the U.S., and along the way, has promoted local initiatives praised by politicians at all levels.

The SupChina Quiz: U.S.-China Diplomatic History

How much do you know about the history of U.S.-China relations? Take this 12-question quiz to find out. Let us know how you do — tweet your score @supchinanews.


SINICA PODCAST NETWORK

Sinica Podcast: Samm Sacks on the U.S.-China tech relationship

This live Sinica Podcast recorded in New York on March 6 features Samm Sacks, Cybersecurity Policy and China Digital Economy Fellow at New America. She and Kaiser Kuo discuss the many facets of U.S.-China technology integration and competition, touching on topics such as data security, artificial intelligence, and how to build “a small yard with a high fence.”