Why China won’t call JeM terrorists?

Access Archive

Dear Access member,

No one big story today, but below is a selection of articles that grabbed our eyes.

As always, you can write to us about anything you like by replying to this email or instant-messaging us anytime on Slack.

—Jeremy Goldkorn, Editor-in-Chief


Why China won’t call JeM terrorists?

Why has China consistently refused to categorize Kashmiri militant Masood Azhar and his group, Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM), as terrorists? Writing in Foreign Policy, Yelena Biberman and Jared Schwartz offer a plausible theory:

China and Pakistan are facing a delicate balancing act. They both want to push the Taliban to engage with Kabul. But the Taliban, which have extensive ties to groups such as JeM, can generate instability in the region through operations similar to the February 14 attack in response to pressure.

China and Pakistan, in order to protect the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), must simultaneously remain on the militant groups’ good side and cajole the Taliban. The potential costs of failure, such as regional chaos and lost investment, are high. But the potential benefits of success — snatching Afghanistan from India while building a massive economic corridor with security benefits likely to follow — are highly alluring.

Another blow against freedom of assembly in Hong Kong  

The BBC reports:

Nine pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong have been found guilty of public nuisance charges for their role in a civil disobedience movement that called for free elections in the city.

Among them are three prominent activists, seen as figureheads of Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement.

They could be jailed for up to seven years for their part in the “Umbrella Movement” protests of 2014.

See also:

Lush life for Moutai again

Kweichow Moutai Co., Ltd (SHA: 600519) is the company that makes Moutai (Máotái 茅台), the firewater that Richard Nixon helped make famous. Moutai is perhaps China’s most established indigenous luxury brand.

Its share prices were in the doldrums in 2014 as the anti-corruption campaign led by Xí Jìnpíng 习近平 decimated the boozy nightlife typical of urban China from the 1990s, which was funded with the proceeds of official graft.

Now Moutai has bounced back. Xinhua reports:

Share price of Kweichow Moutai…opened at a record high of 900 yuan (about $133.93) per share Monday. The company’s share price surged 3.47 percent at the midday to 895 yuan per share, bringing its total capitalization to surpass one trillion yuan.

Moutai reported profit growth of 31 percent in the first quarter this year, with net profits of 11 billion yuan, and revenues of 25.7 billion yuan during the period, up 21 percent year on year.

The Chinese Mar-a-Lago trespasser

The Miami Herald reports:

A federal prosecutor argued in court Monday that Yujing Zhang, the Chinese woman arrested trying to enter President Donald Trump’s private Mar-a-Lago club in Palm Beach, “lies to everyone she encounters,” adding that a search of her hotel room uncovered more than $8,000 in cash, as well as a “signal-detector” device used to reveal hidden cameras.

Found in the search: $7,500 in U.S. hundred-dollar bills and $663 in Chinese currency, in addition to nine USB drives, five SIM cards and other electronics, according to federal prosecutor Rolando Garcia. Signal detectors are portable devices that can detect radio waves, magnetic fields and hidden-camera equipment.

Zhang sounds as if she was up to no good. But it’s worth noting that many Chinese people — and myself when I lived in China — often travel with multiple phones, a variety of electronic devices, and large amounts of cash.

On SupChina last week: Chinese trespasser at Mar-a-Lago was going to Cindy Yang event.

Huawei in Pakistan

In 2017, the Punjab Safe City Authority, a government body responsible for security in the Pakistani province of Punjab, asked Huawei to remove Wi-Fi-transmitting cards from a video surveillance system. This was due to a “potential of misuse,” reports the BBC, citing anonymous sources.

The report cites a Huawei spokesperson who called the problem a “misunderstanding,” and “added that the cards had been installed to provide diagnostic information.”

Ban on bitcoin mining to come?

Sometime around April Fools’ Day, the price of bitcoin surged around 30 percent, pushing it above the $5,000 per bitcoin mark. Cryptocurrency websites attributed the surge to Chinese investors.

Perhaps we now know why. In China, the world’s biggest miner of bitcoin, the supply of the cryptocurrency is about to be squeezed. Today, Reuters reports:

The National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) said on Monday it was seeking public opinions on a revised list of industries it wants to encourage, restrict or eliminate. The list was first published in 2011.

The draft for a revised list added cryptocurrency mining, including that of bitcoin, to more than 450 activities the NDRC said should be phased out as they did not adhere to relevant laws and regulations, were unsafe, wasted resources or polluted the environment.

The NDRC policy would not be an outright ban on cryptocurrency mining. But it probably means the end of cheap electricity, and many other problems for companies that continue to run computers minting virtual money.

With China’s financial services industry prohibited from offering bitcoin and other crypto services, it will become much more difficult to convert yuan into bitcoin, whatever it is worth.

Woman arrested for disrespecting communist symbol in video

The Public Security Bureau of Rong County, Sichuan Province, arrested a woman on April 8 on the charge of “disorderly behavior” (寻衅滋事 xúnxìn zīshì; literally, “picking quarrels and provoking troubles”).

SupChina’s Chelsea Cheng reports that her crime was uploading a video of herself fishing for snakes in immodest clothing while wearing a red scarf (红领巾 hónglǐngjīn), the symbol of the Young Pioneers.

No firm date for deal — U.S.-China trade war, day 278

“Donald Trump’s four-week time frame for the United States and China to settle on an agreement to end the trade war is not guaranteed, with an editorial in a newspaper closely affiliated with Beijing urging patience ‘as neither side has made any promise that there will definitely be a deal,’” reports the South China Morning Post.

Reuters cites a White House source who says that “U.S. officials are ‘not satisfied yet’ about all the issues standing in the way of a deal to end the U.S.-China trade war but made progress in talks with China last week.”

—–

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:

Buying children a house and paying for their wedding are the top priorities for Hong Kong’s middle class, who estimate they need at least HK$5 million ($637,175) to cover retirement expenses, according to a survey by China Construction Bank (Asia).The bank surveyed 2,500 Hongkongers in January on their savings and wealth management habits, including 511 respondents between the ages of 35 to 55 earning between HK$30,000 and HK$60,000 per month.

Chinese shares have also been bolstered by rising foreign interest. Net flows into China’s stock market through the Shanghai and Shenzhen Stock Connect program topped 125 billion yuan ($18.6 billion) in the first quarter of 2019, nearly triple the same period a year earlier, data from Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Ltd showed.

SCIENCE, HEALTH, AND THE ENVIRONMENT:

Five more people were struck down by measles in Hong Kong on Monday, including the first pregnant woman to fall ill in this year’s outbreak.Three were airport employees. The new cases brought the number of measles infections in the city since the start of 2019 to 61. Some 29 have been airport or airline personnel.There were only 15 cases in Hong Kong in the whole of last year.

On Wednesday, the world will see the first photo of a black hole, an image made possible because telescopes around the planet were joined in a two-year project to create a virtual radio antenna almost the size of the Earth itself, enabling astronomers to create a virtual radio antenna almost the size of the Earth itself, enabling astronomers to pick up faint signals from the far reaches of the universe.

POLITICS AND CURRENT AFFAIRS:

The most immediate concern for Washington is Chinese attempts at gaining influence in Palau, the Federated States of Micronesia (FMS) and the Marshall Islands. These microstates have so-called compacts of free association (Cofa) with the US — agreements that give them subsidies and visa-free US residence for their citizens in exchange for the right to base its troops on their territory and block other countries from doing so.

Australia’s hardline immigration minister was swept up in the deepening saga over Chinese meddling in domestic politics Tuesday (April 9), delivering another blow to a government facing defeat in next month’s election.

An investigation by national broadcaster ABC revealed that Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton met privately in 2016 with Chinese billionaire Huáng Xiàngmò 黄向墨 to discuss obtaining Australian citizenship.

A Sydney council was bullied by the Chinese consulate into blocking a popular “anti-China” newspaper from sponsoring a community event, it has been revealed…. The Australian-owned Vision China Times is one of the most read Chinese-language newspapers in the country but it has been criticized for being “anti-China” by Chinese consular officers.

Beijing is wary of instability around the North Korean regime posing a threat to the security of China’s northeast, fearing an influx of refugees into one of its poorest regions. North Korea’s trade has suffered to the extent that the Korea Development Institute said in February it had almost collapsed.

  • South China Sea
    Opinion: Is China our ‘friend’? / Philippine Daily Inquirer
    “Having built giant artificial islands (likely using our own soil) and fully militarized them with state-of-the-art weapons, China ultimately wants to dominate the whole South China Sea without firing a single shot.”
    Vietnam wants a South China Sea dispute resolution pact with teeth, not more politics / SCMP
    “The Southeast Asian bloc of nations and China are a step closer to forming a Code of Conduct for the South China Sea, and for Vietnam it’s a chance to replace a disappointing and toothless diplomatic pact with real dispute resolution mechanisms.”
    Patrick Chovanec on Twitter: “Reports that US may be positioning USS Wasp near Scarborough Shoal, an area hotly contested between the Philippines and China. Note that the U.S. recently pledged to defend Philippines from attack in South China Sea…”

  • New Zealand PM questions China’s role in harassment of scholar
    Jacinda Ardern pushes back on claims China is behind NZ professor’s intimidation / TV New Zealand
    “Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has pushed back on claims Australian intelligence agencies have identified China’s spy service as the prime suspect behind the intimidation of University of Canterbury Professor Anne-Marie Brady.”

  • Xinjiang spin
    With pressure and persuasion, China deflects criticism of its camps for Muslims / NYT (porous paywall)
    Among several new details reported in this NYT piece: “In January, China escorted eight officials from the Organization of Islamic Cooperation on a 10-day tour of Xinjiang that included visits to select facilities, said a human rights advocate who was briefed on the visit.”

  • Questions about the Belt and Road
    Grading China’s Belt and Road / Center for a New American Security
    A new report by Daniel Kliman, ​Rush Doshi, Kristine Lee, and Zack Cooper evaluates the opportunities and risks for countries that sign up for China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). In short, the authors recommend that countries ask themselves the following questions of any BRI project. Is it:

—Sovereignty upholding?

—Transparent?

—Financially sustainable?

—Locally engaged?

—Geopolitically prudent?

—Environmentally sustainable?

—Corruption resistant?  

Spain’s top envoy to China has called on Beijing to open its market and level the playing field to close the “substantial” trade gap between the two countries. Rafael Dezcallar de Mazarredo, who took up the ambassador role in Beijing last year, also said that while Madrid was deepening cooperation with China on its “Belt and Road Initiative,” it was not the answer to Spain’s most pressing concern — addressing the trade imbalance.

One of China’s leading social media platforms announced on Monday that it had silenced a number of leading opinion formers, including Yú Jiànróng 于建嵘, a popular outspoken liberal intellectual with more than seven million followers…

“I feel odd. I don’t know which of my comments violated the country and Sina’s regulations,” Yu told the Post. He said he had not posted any political content on his account for two years.

SOCIETY AND CULTURE:

A regulatory crackdown is negatively impacting the capital city’s premier (and now star-free) film event, which runs April 13-20.

…Bureaucratic to the core, the Beijing fest has been an occasion for political genuflection more than a pure celebration of cinematic art. But until two or three years ago, the prospective upside of making such gestures appeared to be enough, as Hollywood heavyweights of the past and present — Natalie Portman, James Cameron, Brett Ratner, Oliver Stone and others — all made trips east to curry favor and build their brands during the flagship film event of China’s capital city.

In 2019, the broader climate and attendant incentives are drastically transformed — and the Beijing festival is feeling the effects.

Authorities in China are stepping up monitoring of staff and students at the country’s higher education institutions through the use of personal data, surveillance cameras in classrooms, and student informants who are the ruling Chinese Communist Party’s eyes and ears on the ground.

The pros and cons of the Xǔ Zhāngrùn 許章潤 Case are offered in these contrasting essays. In one, the author, who is a friend of Xu’s, deploys the cynical language and exaggerated high dudgeon of the Maoist era to offer Xu’s overlords some tongue-in-cheek advice. In the other, the writer launches an earnest defence of a man punished for championing policies that even Xi Jinping claims to support.

“We were told we had to score at least 30 points a day,” one official told the South China Morning Post…. While at times state media has appeared to wish to roll back this propaganda push — dropping the use of Xi Dada, a nickname for the President — it has ramped back up in recent months, as China prepares to mark a number of key anniversaries this year, including the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic.


VIDEO ON SUPCHINA

Meet the winner of this year’s China Institute fashion competition

Feiyang Qiao, a senior at Parsons School of Design, who studies fashion, said that she wanted to use her wedding collection to show that Chinese weddings don’t have to be expensive and that Chinese fashion goes beyond the color red and embroidery.


FEATURED ON SUPCHINA

Chinese Corner: The rise of Shanghai’s ‘Vagrant Master’ and what it says about our internet

To call the rise of Shěn Wēi 沈巍 meteoric is an understatement. Seemingly overnight, the 52-year-old scavenger in Shanghai became a sensation on the Chinese internet, after a video of him talking in-depth about Chinese literature and philosophy went viral. But the way people have responded to him has been troubling — and reflective of how sick the internet can be.

Also in this week’s Chinese Corner: Professional mourners, Barbie’s China problem, the rise of digital fortune-telling, and Hong Kong’s ridiculous tabloids.


Sinica Early Access: Peter Lorentzen’s data-driven analysis of Xi Jinping’s anti-corruption campaign

Is the ongoing anti-corruption drive a sincere effort to root out official wrongdoing? Or is it a political purge of Xi Jinping’s enemies? This question has been hotly debated since the outset of the campaign in 2013. Now Peter Lorentzen of the University of San Francisco and Xi Lu of the National University of Singapore have harnessed data to examine the anti-corruption drive in the hopes of settling the question. Kaiser sits down with Peter on the sidelines of the recent Association for Asian Studies Conference to talk about the findings in their paper, “Personal Ties, Meritocracy, and China’s Anti-Corruption Campaign.”

  • Sinica Early Access is an ad-free, full-length preview of this week’s Sinica Podcast, exclusively for SupChina Access members. Listen by plugging this RSS feed directly into your podcast app.