China: Masood Azhar is a terrorist

Access Archive

Dear Access member,

Tomorrow is the centenary of the May Fourth Movement. My two favorite pieces of reportage and reflection on the significance and official abuses of China’s first real student movement are these on SupChina (I’m biased):

—Jeremy Goldkorn, Editor-in-Chief

1. Masood Azhar is designated a terrorist

Masood Azhar is the founder of Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM), an anti-Indian militant organization that has been coddled by the Pakistani state, and therefore also by its patron, China.

Now, after many years of blocking the designation of Masood Azhar as a terrorist at the United Nations, China has agreed to the classification. The South China Morning Post says:

The murky world of behind-the-scenes diplomacy is such that there is uncertainty as to what prompted China to drop its objection to having the leader of a militant group behind a bombing that brought India and Pakistan to the brink of war declared a terrorist.

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan on April 25 visited Beijing for his second state visit as PM. The Pakistan government described it as a four-day tour to “take the all-weather strategic cooperative partnership to new heights,” reported Dawn. A deal was clearly made.

—Jeremy Goldkorn

2. Case of Ethiopian engineer detained in China is raised by PM Abiy Ahmed in meeting with Xi

After Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed met Xi Jinping in Beijing last week, he noted two things in a Facebook post:

  1. Lucrative economic deals

  2. The “detainment of the young female engineer Nazrawit Abera”

Fatima Qureshi reports for SupChina that the family of Abera is “living in fear for [her] life” because of China’s near-100-percent conviction rate, and typical sentence of life in prison or capital punishment, for the kind of drug trafficking that she is accused of. But Abera’s family — and over 180,000 who have signed a petition to “Free Nazrawit Abera from Guangzhou Prison” — believe that she was tricked into holding the drugs by a friend.

In similar news this week, an American businessman, Mark Swidan, was sentenced to death with a two-year reprieve on April 30. The Dui Hua Foundation writes that this is “believed to be the first time an American citizen has been sentenced to death…by a Chinese court,” but that specific evidence tying him to drug trafficking has never been released.

—Lucas Niewenhuis

3. What a week! The last seven days in review

Here are the stories that caught our eye this week:

  • There is no evidence of systematic “debt trap diplomacy” on China’s Belt and Road, several independent American researchers recently found. But that didn’t stop the U.S. State Department from releasing a video slamming China’s “Belt and Road debt trap,” without offering a clear alternative to China’s massive infrastructure-building capacity, which is like bringing a knife to a war being fought with ballistic missiles.

  • WeChat’s censors are not #HereForJingyao: The app is purging public accounts that have voiced support for a woman accusing CEO Richard Liu (Liú Qiángdōng 刘强东) of rape. On a related note, Tencent, WeChat’s parent company, is’s biggest investor.

  • Trump is getting desperate for a trade deal, as more and more hardline demands have been softened to appeal to the Chinese to squeak out an ever-less-meaningful “win.” This trend first became apparent two weeks ago, and continued this week with reports that Trump will accept a watered-down commitment on stopping cyber espionage from Beijing.

  • The Xinjiang panopticon tracking every detail of Uyghur life was exposed further by a Human Rights Watch report that reverse-engineered an app that police use to log data.

  • Another six Marxist student activists were disappeared in the days before May 1, International Workers Day. This was grimly predictable: As Eric Fish writes on SupChina, though Xí Jinpíng 习近平 heads a party born out of a youth movement, he’s “now determined to stamp out anything that could threaten to replicate it.” Meanwhile, the Party is using a carefully curated and censored history of the May Fourth Movement to whip up nationalism.

  • Many Canadians have had enough of Beijing bullying, and two former ambassadors to Beijing are among those calling for their government to abandon its non-confrontational approach. New Zealand has reportedly left its close ally to fend for itself. Meanwhile, China is blocking more Canadian products as retaliation for the arrest of Huawei CFO Mèng Wǎnzhōu 孟晚舟 — this week’s targets included peas and soybeans, and pork.

  • The important thing to know about the “really different civilization” of China is that it is “not Caucasian,” the director of policy planning at the U.S. State Department declared. This racist garbage was vociferously objected to by China-watchers across the political spectrum, including non-Trump-aligned conservatives.

  • An India-China oil bloc — which would also buy liquified natural gas — is being discussed by a joint working group and high-level delegations, according to Indian media. But judging from the lack of coverage of this topic in Chinese media, Beijing might consider a deal to be a long way off.

  • A container terminal at Long Beach, California, is no longer Chinese-owned after a Hong Kong–based company was forced to sell its interest due to national security concerns.

  • Bloomberg misfired on China tech and security reporting, again. What the news outlet described as a Huawei-installed “backdoor” on the software of Vodaphone, Europe’s biggest phone company, the company later clarified was actually “a protocol that is commonly used by many vendors in the industry for performing diagnostic functions.” Meanwhile, Supermicro, the company at the center of Bloomberg’s last debunked story, has “told suppliers to move production out of China to address U.S. customers’ concerns about cyber espionage risks.”

  • In the Taiwan Strait, two American ships sailed on April 28–29, the seventh such operation since July 2018. Beijing “expressed concern” about the naval maneuver, but stopped short of lodging a “stern protest.” In other maritime news, the FT reported that back in January, the U.S. navy chief warned China about gray zone naval ops that utilize coast guard or military-affiliated fishing boats to project power in the South China Sea.

  • There are two Confucius Institutes in Israel. They are every bit as controversial there as in the U.S. and Europe.


Our whole team really appreciates your support as Access members. Please chat with us on our Slack channel or contact me anytime at

—Jeremy Goldkorn, Editor-in-Chief



  • The deadly, polluted coastlines
    Curbing deadly ship emissions / Chinadialogue
    “A new report released by researchers from George Washington University, the University of Colorado Boulder and the International Council on Clean Transportation conservatively estimates that shipping was responsible for approximately 60,000 premature deaths globally in 2015, more than one-third of which were in China.”
    China’s coastline in transition / Chinadialogue


The former defense secretary showed the inquiry call records on his phone, which revealed that he had spoken to a Daily Telegraph journalist for 11 minutes from 5.31pm, shortly after a national security council meeting on Tuesday last week.

But while the ex-minister acknowledges being asked about what happened at the NSC, Williamson insists he told him nothing – and adds that his own admission of the phone call shows that he cannot be guilty…

The NSC meeting had held a contentious discussion about whether to allow China’s Huawei to supply “non-core” 5G mobile phone equipment in the UK.

The evening after the meeting broke up, the Telegraph carried a report saying that five ministers, including Williamson, had raised objections about the proposal but the decision was in the end pushed through.

[The parents of Yusi Zhao] paid $6.5 million to a college consultant at the center of an international college admissions scheme, according to a person with direct knowledge of the investigation.

Prosecutors say that the consultant, William Singer, tried to get Ms. Zhao recruited to the Stanford sailing team, providing a fake list of sailing accomplishments and making a $500,000 donation to the sailing program after she was admitted.

The payment to Mr. Singer was by far the largest known in the case, and the disclosure immediately added Ms. Zhao and her family, pharmaceutical billionaires from China, to a cast of powerful figures swept up in the scandal, including two Hollywood actresses and prominent names from the American legal and business worlds.



Our top news this week

From WeChat’s censorship of a sensational rape accusation that involves CEO Richard Liu to the defense of China’s Belt and Road Initiative, here are some top stories we covered this week.


China’s generational divide and the struggles of building a queer family

Less than two minutes into his new feature, director Hao Wu 吴皓 decisively breaks the fourth wall. His first venture into the personal documentary genre, All in My Family, is a deeply intimate, touching work where he uses his own voice to recount his personal struggles in starting a new family…while dealing with an old one. Distributed worldwide by Netflix, All in My Family packs years of the New York–based director’s life into a crisp 40-minute runtime, recounting how his relatives come to terms with his and his partner’s decision to have two children through surrogacy.

‘Truth hidden in the dark’: Chinese international student responses to Xinjiang

Darren Byler, a lecturer at the University of Washington, often gives talks at universities and high schools about Islamophobia and the institutionalized discrimination of Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims in northwestern China. The responses from Chinese international students varies, from insisting only Han natives of China have the authority to speak about the Uyghur “problem” to asking how to get involved in spreading information. Byler notes, “The common themes that emerge are shock and sadness, but also a desire to be courageous and take action.”

Sponsored: FD Gallery’s Fiona Druckenmiller on high-end jewelry and Chinese customers

SupChina caught up with Fiona Druckenmiller, owner of FD Gallery, to talk about being a female business owner, her favorite pieces at the moment, and how to enter the world of estate jewelry.

1919 to 2019: A century of youth protest and ideological conflict around May 4

On the upcoming anniversary of the May Fourth Movement, the Chinese Communist Party will undoubtedly use the occasion to celebrate itself as the descendent of the youthful idealism and political furor that grew out of Peking University 100 years ago. But it will be less enthused about the actions taken by those youths from a century ago, who helped topple a dynasty. While Xi Jinping heads a party born out of a youth movement, he’s now determined to stamp out anything that could threaten to replicate it.

Chinese students also victims of unethical admissions practices

The recent U.S. college admissions scandal was a big deal, but in China, cheating to get into universities abroad is commonplace. Our contributor argues that we need to enact measures to combat unscrupulous education consultancies and unethical admissions practices — for the benefit of everyone, not least of all the students themselves.

Guo Lusheng and underground poetry during the Cultural Revolution

A forgotten generation of Chinese poets had laid the groundwork during the social turmoil of the 1960s and ’70s with their underground poetry, risking their lives in their reactionary criticism of Maoist ideologies. One such poet was Guo Lusheng 郭路生, whose pen name was Shi Zhi 食指 (meaning “index finger”). He was a forerunner of the underground literature movement in the 1960s and hailed as the founder of the New Poetry movement. Now, he resides in a mental institution in his parents’ home in Beijing as a chain-smoking, schizophrenic recluse.

Kuora: What is the most admired Chinese dynasty?

Many Chinese are very admiring of the Tang (AD 618–907), especially the years before the An Lushan Rebellion, which broke out in 755. During this time, the Tang capital at Chang’an was the largest city in the world, an extremely cosmopolitan city that sat at the eastern terminus of the Silk Road. Central Asian music took hold, the three-colored Tang sancai glaze became popular (these pieces remain valuable to collectors today), and poetry flourished. Tang poems by the likes of Li Bai, Du Fu, Wang Wei, and Li Shangyin are memorized even today by most Chinese schoolchildren in the P.R.C., Greater China, and the diaspora.

China’s OPPO to become first Asian sponsor in Wimbledon’s 142-year history

Chinese upstart phone brand OPPO signed a five-year deal with the All England Lawn Tennis Club — Wimbledon’s home — to become the first Asian partner in the tournament’s 142-year history. Also in this week’s China sports news: The field has opened up for Ding Junhui at the World Snooker Championship; Liu Wenbo and Du Mohan, two female golfers from the China LPGA Tour, lined up against the men at this week’s Shenzhou Peninsula Open and are holding their own; and a Chinese call of Damian Lillard’s series-winning three-pointer.


Sinica Podcast: Strength in numbers: USTR veteran Wendy Cutler on managing trade with China

This week on Sinica, Kaiser and Jeremy chat with Wendy Cutler, vice president at the Asia Society Policy Institute, about a new paper she has authored that calls for coordination between the U.S. and other countries in managing issues related to China trade. She makes the case for working through the WTO and other multilateral organizations, and explains why China is more apt to respond more positively to multilateral over bi- or unilateral approaches.

ChinaEconTalk: Aerial acrobatics: China’s aviation industry

This week on ChinaEconTalk, host Jordan Schneider discusses China’s aviation industry with Neil Thomas, Research Associate at the Paulson Institute’s in-house think tank, MacroPolo. Focusing on Boeing’s long history in China, they explore how the company’s interactions with the state have actually proven to be a microcosm of the larger U.S.-China relationship — from early involvement navigating business in the Mao era to the more recent period of strategic competition. Jordan and Neil reflect on this remarkable evolution, and debate whether China’s dependence on U.S. aviation technology is sustainable or even desirable from a Chinese perspective.

The Caixin-Sinica Business Brief, episode 85

This week on the Caixin-Sinica Business Brief: China Unicom becoming the first Chinese carrier to offer 5G wireless telecom services to the public, China’s plan to speed up the review process for IPOs, Doug Young on Luckin Coffee, and more.

Subscribe to the Business Brief on Apple Podcasts, Overcast, or Stitcher.