Two kinds of Canadian oil

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1. Two kinds of Canadian oil

“China has big plans for its rapeseed bounty in Sichuan,” reports Blomberg via the South China Morning Post: “Levering off its famed cuisine, the top producing province wants to harvest more of the oilseed for a branded cooking oil, just as the outlook for imports clouds over due to a dispute with Canada.”

Canola is a type of rapeseed oil (see Wikipedia for scientific description of canola, and see for a chef’s take on the difference between regular rapeseed oil and canola). Canola is, of course, the Canadian import that China is squeezing in apparent retaliation for the arrest of Huawei CFO Mèng Wǎnzhōu 孟晚舟. Both types of oil are called 菜籽油 càizǐ yóu in Chinese.

Sichuan “will spend 500 to 600 million yuan ($74 million to $89 million) over three years to grow, process and promote a local brew called ‘Tianfu Rapoil’, officials said last week.”

In addition, buyers of canola oil “are scouring other markets for suppliers,” including Ukraine, Russia, and Kazakhstan, “which together produce about 5 million tonnes of the crop a year, most of it for overseas sale and at less cost.”

Another kind of Canadian oil that China isn’t buying: the Vancouver Sun reports that “Chinese demand for Canadian crude oil shipped through the Port of Vancouver has dried up in 2019.” One analyst who monitors tanker traffic said “there had been only three tankers that loaded crude oil from the terminal and none went to China,” compared to last year when China “bought 6.56 million barrels of crude (12 tanker loads), or almost one-third of all the crude shipped out of B.C. in 2018.”

The change in demand for this second type of oil does not seem to be connected to Huawei. The analyst told the Vancouver Sun that his “interpretation is that a significant amount of oil was sent to China near the end of 2018 when the price was very low, and it stopped the moment the Alberta Premier curtailed production and the price returned to normal.”

—Jeremy Goldkorn

2. Xinjiang update: Chen Quanguo ascendent, mosques destroyed, Australians detained

The Wall Street Journal has a great profile of Chén Quánguó 陈全国 (paywall), the Party Secretary of Xinjiang in charge of implementing what scholar Darren Byler calls “the hard edge of Xi’s authoritarian management style.”

A few notable details:

  • “He is in contention to join the party’s top leadership body, the Politburo Standing Committee, which currently has seven members, in 2022.”

  • “After the government outlawed the Falun Gong spiritual group in 1999, Mr. Chen participated in the crackdown as a senior Henan official, with responsibilities over the destruction of the group’s pamphlets, books and CDs. He later oversaw efforts to cleanse Henan party ranks of Falun Gong by re-educating and expelling offenders, according to provincial histories.”

  • As Party leader in Tibet, he had “sought to dilute the Tibetans’ sense of ethnic identity. He promoted education in Chinese instead of in Tibetan, and offered financial and other incentives to encourage interracial marriages…thousands of people deemed influenced by the Dalai Lama, whom Beijing denounced as a separatist, were forced into re-education classes.”

  • In Xinjiang under Chen’s direction, “At least 7,700 convenience police stations were operating by last summer, with many more being built, according to a Journal review of government notices, procurement documents and state-media reports.”

  • “A senior Chinese official told foreign diplomats at a Beijing briefing in February that Xinjiang’s re-education camps — which he calls vocational-training centers — may accept foreigners for classes, attendees say. Days later, in Urumqi, Mr. Chen hosted more than 200 politicians from nearly 30 countries, including Russia, Egypt and Turkey, for a symposium on Xinjiang’s ethnic policies.”

And while “U.S. lawmakers from both parties have asked President Trump’s administration to place Mr. Chen on a sanctions list,” Bill Bishop writes today in Sinocism (paywall), “From what I hear there is basically consensus within the White House to impose sanctions over Xinjiang, except for President Trump.”

Other news from and about Xinjiang and Uyghurs:

  • Mosques destroyed
    Bulldozing mosques: the latest tactic in China’s war against Uighur culture / The Guardian
    Rachel Harris notes that the Keriya mosque in Hotan no longer exists, according to satellite images. That mosque, one of reportedly hundreds destroyed in recent years, is “thought to date back to 1237 and extensively renovated in the 1980s and 1990s, [and] was photographed on a festival day in 2016 with thousands of worshippers spilling out on to the streets.”

  • Australian citizens detained
    Revealed: Five Australian children trapped in China amid Uighur crackdown / Guardian
    “At least five Australian children are trapped in China, unable to return home because of the Chinese government’s crackdown on Uighur Muslims, the Guardian can reveal.
    The children, who range in age from one to six, are all Australian citizens and come from three different families. They have been stuck in China for up to two years, and are all separated from at least one of their parents.”
    China confirms Xinjiang detention of Australian Uyghur’s wife, mother / Radio Free Asia
    “In an email dated April 1, Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) told Almas Nizamidin that the Chinese Embassy in Canberra had responded to its inquiry about his wife Gulzeynep Abdureshit (in Chinese, Buzainafu Abudourexiti) and mother Zulpiye Jalalidin (Zuyipiya Jiala), who were taken into custody in the XUAR in 2017 and 2018, respectively.”
    Another case was reported by BuzzFeed in February: An Australian Uyghur baby, trapped in Xinjiang

  • One of the few American Democrats speaking out
    Rep. Ilhan Omar on Twitter: “Over a million Uyghurs have been sent to ‘re-education camps’ in China — where systemic beatings and deaths have been reported. These are crimes against humanity and anyone responsible must be fully held to account. Words alone are not enough.”
    Darren Byler on Twitter: “Great to see @IlhanMN leading the charge against Islamophobia and anti-Muslim violence around the world!…”
    Rep. Omar also retweeted this, from Isaac Stone Fish: “Say what you’d like about Rep. Omar: this is one of the boldest statements on the concentration camps in China by a Democrat, and she deserves praise for stating it.…”
    James Fallows on Twitter: “Could have missed it, but haven’t heard 2020 Dems talk much on Uighur concentration camps in China, a truly major issue.”

  • Rally in D.C.
    Photos: Owen Churchill on Twitter: “Palpable hope at DC #Uyghur rally today that the US will lead intl community in taking action against what is happening in Xinjiang. Crowd chanted ‘USA, USA’ several times…”
    Photos: Todd Stein on Twitter: “Uyghur freedom rally, Freedom Plaza, Washington, DC…”

Finally, on SupChina today we have a piece on “The future of the fight to preserve Uyghur culture.” In short, Uyghurs making new efforts to preserve their language and traditions in the U.S., U.K., and elsewhere — as well as scholars of Uyghur culture — have mixed feelings about whether future Uyghur generations will distance themselves from their heritage, or if there will be a revival of the culture when and if the repressive campaign lets up.

—Lucas Niewenhuis


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—Jeremy Goldkorn, Editor-in-Chief


MSM Malaysia Holdings Bhd. is nearing the final stages of discussions to set up partnerships in China’s downstream sugar industry, Executive Director Khairil Anuar Aziz said…

…There’s “opportunity if you really blend it with the current lifestyle of people” in China, Khairil said in an interview at the company headquarters in Kuala Lumpur last week. “We really want to provide sugar to all these different industries — bakeries, bubble tea, healthy drinks. The demand is there.”

“Baidu president of new business Zhāng Yàqín 张亚勤 has become embroiled in a class action lawsuit against Chinese electric vehicle manufacturer Nio after he served as a director at the company for three months last year…

…The lawsuits against Nio allege that the company misrepresented itself in its IPO filing and violated US securities laws, resulting in losses for investors. Multiple law firms are currently involved in the New York and California suits, which were filed after Nio made public its fourth-quarter and full-year 2018 financials in early March.

  • Goldbugs at the PBoC
    China buys 360,000 ounces of gold in March / Kitco
    “According to the latest statistics from the People’s Bank of China, the central bank added 360,000 ounces of gold to its foreign reserves last month. Gold reserves totaled 60.62 million ounces as of the end of March. Commodity analysts at ING said that since November, China has added 1.38 million ounces to its reserves.”

  • Tourism: Holiday stats
    112 million tourist trips in China over Qingming Festival / That’s Guangzhou
    “Over the course of the three-day holiday from April 5-7, 112 million domestic trips were made in the Middle Kingdom, according to the PRC’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism. The number of domestic tourists went up by 10.9 percent compared to last year’s figures, with revenue from tourism reaching 47.8 billion yuan [$7.12 billion].”

  • Tencent games abroad
    Tencent have launched their WeGame client outside China / PC Gamer
    “The Tencent Gaming Platform is their digital storefront and launcher, which has 200 million users, but has only been available in China until now. With servers in Hong Kong, the newly launched platform, WeGame X, can be accessed by the rest of the world.”

  • Shell to frack in Shandong?
    Shell enters China’s shale oil scene with joint study with Sinopec / Reuters
    After Shell’s “exit from shale gas drilling in Sichuan Province in the southwest after spending at least $1 billion (766.22 million pounds) and getting unsatisfactory results,” the Anglo-Dutch energy company has agreed with Sinopec to “study the Dongying trough of Shengli in China’s eastern province of Shandong.”

  • Bad loans in the provinces
    China sounds alarm over bad-loan surge at small banks / FT (paywall)
    “The National Audit Office said that some banks in Henan Province in central China had recorded 40 percent of their loan books as bad debt by the end of 2018, the first official disclosure in decades of such high rates of toxic assets.”

  • No money for CIC  
    China’s US$1 trillion sovereign wealth fund has gone quiet / Bloomberg News Network

China’s sovereign wealth fund was set up in 2007 to much fanfare. It was supposed to be a vehicle that helped invest the country’s massive pile of foreign-exchange reserves abroad through big-ticket deals.

For about a decade, it did just that. At the height of the financial crisis, China Investment Corp. sank US$5.6 billion into Morgan Stanley to steady the struggling bank, a stake that eventually rose to 10 percent…

Now CIC — the world’s second-biggest sovereign wealth fund, with almost $1 trillion in assets — seems to have gone small-time. The fund hasn’t received any new money for offshore investing since 2012, when it was given $50 billion on top of its initial $200 billion starter kit. It’s gone from being on investment bankers’ speed dials to near irrelevance overseas.


  • Carbon emissions
    Pretty soon we’ll have to stop blaming China for global carbon emissions / Popular Science
    “The House Subcommittee on Environment and Climate Change held its first meeting of the year yesterday, which featured a lot of talk about United States-China relations and the matter of emissions reduction.”
    Small factories in China count the cost of Beijing’s war on pollution / SCMP
    “Hundreds of workshops in Shijiazhuang, Hebei were told to halt production in November to help curb smog over winter — but machinery still lies idle at some.”

  • Climate change: Effects on China
    Govt report details alarming effects of climate change in China / Sixth Tone
    “In a social media post Tuesday, the National Climate Center outlined the bleak findings of the China Meteorological Administration’s ‘China Climate Change Blue Book (2019)’ in five sections, covering the atmosphere, hydrosphere, cryosphere, terrestrial biosphere, and climate change’s ‘driving factors.’”

  • Endangered animal trafficking
    Seizure of 14 tons of pangolin scales in Singapore sets a dismal record / NYT (porous paywall)
    “Singaporean customs officials and the country’s national parks board said in a statement that the scales, which had been shipped from Nigeria, were headed to Vietnam, home to the second most lucrative black market for pangolin scales, after China.”

  • Sichuan forest fire
    Strong wind rekindles forest fire in Sichuan / China Daily
    “A forest fire that killed 31 people, including 27 firefighters, reignited in Li’er village, Muli county on Saturday afternoon, and two new blaze broke out in Yuxi and Mianning counties of the Liangshan Yi autonomous prefecture in Sichuan Province on Sunday, local authorities said.”


Two Australian writers, including one now detained in China, were the targets of a Chinese government intelligence operation conducted partly on Australian soil.

An investigation by The Age, The Sydney Morning Herald and Four Corners can reveal that the Chinese operation was seeking details about former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull’s 2016 classified inquiry into Beijing’s campaign to influence Australian politics.

Blogger Yáng Héngjūn 杨恒均, who is currently detained in China, and Sydney academic-writer, Dr Féng Chóngyì 冯崇义, were both targeted by Chinese authorities for information on John Garnaut, the China expert and former journalist who led the classified investigation.

Stuck in Germany’s northwestern rust belt, the city is hardly a throbbing metropolis and was long a byword for industrial decline and unemployment. But Duisburg is the world’s largest inland port and one of Europe’s biggest transport and logistics hubs. It is also the western terminus of Chinese leader Xí Jìnpíng’s 习近平 new Silk Road, the Belt and Road Initiative.

The U.S. government’s development finance agency, the Overseas Private Investment Corp., aims to double investment in Africa to $12.4 billion to counter growing Chinese economic and political influence on the continent.

In October, the U.S. Congress passed a law that effectively raised OPIC’s lending cap to $60 billion from $29 billion, which increased project funding for developing nations including those in Africa to counter China.

The Cabinet is this week to publish guidelines governing a ban on the use of Chinese information technology (IT) products by central and local government offices…The guidelines cover mobile devices, security cameras and server components among others, and Chinese companies affected by the ban could include Huawei Technologies Co, Hangzhou Hikvision Digital Technology Co and ZTE Corp.


A number of WeChat official accounts, which are similar to Instagram- or Twitter-verified influencer accounts, publish Chinese-language restaurant recommendations in New York. And in doing so, they play a critical role in the city’s Chinese food ecosystem — one that’s entirely independent of the dining scene that’s driven by media mentions and English-language user-based platforms such as Foursquare and Instagram. These WeChat accounts are their own system, funneling restaurant news and discounts to tens of thousands of Chinese diners in NYC.

Start with a performer playing President Trump. Then bring in a long-lost brother who was raised in China.

Throw in castmates portraying a ping-pong-loving Máo Zédōng 毛泽东, a deal-seeking Kim Jong Un, Ivanka Trump and Mao’s power-hungry fourth wife.

They are singing. Opera. In Cantonese…“Trump on Show” [粵劇特朗普 Yuèjù Tèlǎngpǔ] opens April 12 in Hong Kong with its creator — 64-year-old feng shui master, Li Kui-ming [李居明 Lǐ Jūmíng ] — offering something of a fever dream of politics, history and diplomacy framed around the current tensions between Washington and Beijing.

In 2014, the U.S. Labor Department formally inducted the Chinese workers who helped build the transcontinental railroad into its Hall of Honor, giving them a place in American labor history alongside union leaders such as Eugene V. Debs and A. Philip Randolph and champions of worker dignity such as Mother Jones and Cesar Chavez.

What was remarkable about that moment was that it took the nation 145 years to recognize Chinese immigrants’ role in building the nation.


Does porn have educational value in China? New study says yes

For a country where sexually explicit content is banned, sex scenes get cut out of films, and cleavage has to be blurred on TV, there’s no actual shortage of porn in China — whether it’s called huangpian (黄片 huángpiàn), A-pian (A片 A-piàn), xiao dianying (小电影 xiǎo diànyǐng), or any of its many other names. Fueling the demand, as it turns out, are China’s urban millennials: 70 percent of men and 50 percent of women report watching porn at least once a week, according to a recent study conducted by China’s leading mobile platform for women’s sexuality, Yummy, and the sex toy app Taqu 他趣 (Touch). Many respondents reported that viewing porn has improved their sex lives and is educational.

The future of the fight to preserve Uyghur culture

As the Chinese government crushes Uyghur culture in Xinjiang, Uyghurs abroad are making new efforts to preserve their traditions — but will they succeed? Some scholars say a revival is possible.

Kuora: The how and why of eunuchs in imperial China

It’s not clear when the practice of using castrated males as servants in the imperial palace began in China, but it is clear that castration was a form of punishment practiced since the first historically attested dynasty, the Shang. Why were they used in court? In theory, eunuchs could be trusted not to get amorous with the women of the palace, and would have less incentive to corruption and embezzlement because they would have no heirs of their own. But in reality, eunuchs often became extremely powerful personal agents of the emperor.

Canadian Women’s Hockey League is no more. What will become of its Chinese team?

The collapse of the Canadian Women’s Hockey League this week has serious repercussions for the future of ice hockey in China, a situation that might seem strange if you haven’t been following this two-year journey. Also in this week’s China Sports Column: Wuhan Zall’s Rafael Silva suspended five games for kicking ball after whistle, veteran shuttler Lin Dan and paddler Ma Long are both surging at the right time, and Stephon Marbury has launched his new Globe Ball.

Friday Song: Chyi Yu’s folk classic ‘The Olive Tree,’ written by San Mao

“The Olive Tree,” released by Chyi Yu 齐豫 in July 1979 on an album of the same name, remains a timeless folk classic. The song was composed by Li Tai-Hsiang 李泰祥, with lyrics written by acclaimed Taiwanese writer and traveler San Mao 三毛. Li’s vision to popularize the classic folk genre can be seen through his masterful combination of traditional instrumentation with Chyi’s gentle and limpid vocals.