Dear Access member,
If you’re in New York on July 17, come to a live taping of the Sinica Podcast and say hello to our me and our whole team. Access members get in free.
—Jeremy Goldkorn, Editor-in-Chief
1. Erdoğan on ‘living happily in Xinjiang’
The top story on the websites of all central state media outlets today is the Xinhua readout of Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s visit to China, and meeting with Xí Jìnpíng 习近平 (English, Chinese).
In recent years, Turkey has never seemed to be able to really make up its mind over whether to firmly stand with the Uyghurs, who Turks consider their kin, or whether to sweep their current existential cultural crisis at the hands of Beijing under the rug — in favor of better ties with Beijing.
Even before the current crisis in Xinjiang, popular Turkish support for Uyghur causes has created tensions with China.
In August 2017, Erdoğan’s foreign minister went so far as to announce that the government “absolutely will not allow in Turkey any activities targeting or opposing China,” and that Turkey would censor — or, in his words, “eliminate” — any “media reports targeting China.”
Then, in early 2019, the Turkish government issued a strongly-worded statement calling China’s “systematic assimilation” of Uyghurs via internment camps a “great shame for humanity.” Like previous criticisms, this led to a strong backlash from Beijing.
The news today swung the Turkish stance in the opposite direction, as Erdoğan gave a major signal of support for China’s Xinjiang policies during his meeting with Xi, according to the Xinhua readout:
Turkey stays committed to the one-China policy, Erdogan said, stressing that residents of various ethnicities living happily in Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region thanks to China’s prosperity is a hard fact, and Turkey will not allow anyone to drive a wedge in its relations with China. He also expressed the readiness to deepen political mutual trust and strengthen security cooperation with China in opposing extremism.
In other Xinjiang news, the Guardian reports that Chinese border police at the Irkeshtam border crossing between Kyrgyzstan and Chinese Xinjiang “are secretly installing surveillance apps on the phones of visitors and downloading personal information,” including emails, texts, contacts, and information that can be used to identify or track the handset itself.
2. Trapped in China — the daughter-in-law of Zhou Yongkang
Zhōu Yǒngkāng 周永康 began his career as a geologist doing oil exploration at the legendary oil fields of Daqing, and rose through the ranks to become a Politburo Standing Committee member from 2007 to 2012, in charge of China’s vast security and law enforcement apparatus. Zhou’s career ended unceremoniously when he became the biggest “tiger” to fall in the anti-corruption campaign initiated by Xí Jìnpíng 习近平, and he is now serving a life sentence. His son Zhōu Bīn 周滨 is serving an 18-year term on related charges.
The Zhou family is back in the news: Zhou Bin’s wife, Huáng Wǎn 黄婉, has been tweeting up a storm. Since as early as June 22, she has been protesting her treatment by the Chinese government. She says she was detained, sometimes in a cell, for more than two years after police raided a family apartment in 2013, and is now subject to an exit ban on what she describes as trumped-up charges.
James Areddy of the Wall Street Journal has a good long piece on Huang’s situation (paywall). Excerpt:
U.S. diplomats say China is applying exit bans more broadly to block departures of Americans, including for business disputes—and that few publicize their ordeals out of fear they will receive worse treatment. A spokesman for the U.S. Embassy in Beijing said in a statement: “U.S. citizen Huang Wan is subject to an exit ban and has been unable to leave China since 2016.”
After this story was published online, China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued a statement that said because Ms. Huang is involved in a continuing legal dispute about a lease, she has been informed by a court her travel is restricted in line with the country’s Exit and Entry Administration Law.
By posting documents online, Ms. Huang is challenging the secrecy that the Chinese Communist Party demands in legal cases. Though the party says it has punished more than one million officials in recent years for corruption, virtually nobody has discussed how the process works. Nor have family members of punished officials, who in some cases have been evicted from their homes and prosecuted.
3. China prepares to decouple tech sector from the U.S.
We still don’t know what exactly Donald Trump and Xí Jìnpíng 习近平 agreed to as terms for the trade war cease-fire announced by the American president via Twitter on the weekend, but the one theme emerging from today’s reporting on the Sino-American techno-trade war is that the Chinese government and companies like Huawei are preparing for a future where they do not have to rely on any American technology.
Here is today’s news and commentary:
“China wants to create a tech landscape where the US can no longer hurt it,” says CNBC, while noting in a separate article that the tech war with the U.S. “is spurring Chinese firms to develop their own chips.”
Huawei founder Rèn Zhèngfēi 任正非 has also indicated confidence in his firm’s ability to weather the attacks from Washington in an interview with the Financial Times (paywall). He is apparently unimpressed by the “reprieve” granted by Trump, saying that allowing American companies to resume selling to Huawei “will not have ‘much impact’ on its business as it adjusts to a new era of American hostility.”
“Trump’s decision to allow U.S. companies to continue selling to Huawei followed an extensive lobbying campaign by the U.S. semiconductor industry that argued the ban could hurt America’s economic and national security,” reports the South China Morning Post.
A number of Chinese companies that tried to open factories and businesses in chronically depressed areas of the U.S. have fallen victim to the trade war, destroying hoped-for jobs, according to the LA Times.
“China’s rise in a rapidly changing world presents a challenge that only strategic, patient, firm coalition diplomacy can meet successfully,” argues veteran diplomat Susan A. Thornton in Is American diplomacy with China dead? Good luck with that under the current American administration. You can hear a Sinica Podcast with Thornton here.
Made in China 2025 is still a government priority, but China has strategically dropped much of the rhetoric around it to placate foreign ears — this is the conclusion, in brief, of a long report by the Mercator Institute for China Studies: Evolving Made in China 2025.
“How Poland became a front in the cold war between the U.S. and China” is the title of a Reuters report on the alleged spying case in Poland involving a Chinese businessman who speaks Polish, worked for Huawei, and says he is “an innocent casualty of the campaign against Huawei.”
4. The coming crackdown on ‘cannabis culture’ in China?
In what may be the opening salvo of a new campaign against marijuana use in China that may target foreigners, China Youth Daily has published an article titled Don’t use “cannabis culture” to absolve yourself of law violations and crimes (in Chinese).
125 international envelopes and packages entering China in 2018 were found by police to contain about 55 kilograms of cannabis and cannabis products, according to the article. There was a significant spike in the amount of weed smuggled from North America, implying that the domestic trend is to some extent linked to cannabis legalization in parts of North America.
Most suspects in these cases were foreign students in China, and Chinese people who have studied or worked in foreign countries. “People who smoke weed belong to a relatively stable circle, where they see cannabis consumption as a way to socialize.”
Returning Chinese students are of special concern to the journalist, who refers several times to the dangers of being corrupted by decadent Western potheads. The article quotes a prosecutor in Jiangsu Province who warns that Chinese students who “get into weed circles” abroad “facilitate the spread of ‘cannabis culture’ like contagious viruses” when they return home.
The article contains a warning to foreigners in China that should be taken seriously by anyone living there:
Some people will argue that they are foreigners so can apply foreign laws that “green light” smoking marijuana. They say they are not subject to Chinese law on the issue of smoking marijuana. However, it needs to be clear that, according to Chinese laws, China’s jurisdiction over crimes committed by foreigners is based on the principle of territorial jurisdiction…If an act or result of a crime is committed in the territory of our country, it is considered to be a crime in our country. As long as foreigners smoke, produce, transport, supply, or illegally possess marijuana in China, it constitutes a crime and should be severely sanctioned by law.
Want to mail yourself weed in China? First listen to this Sinica Podcast: An American’s seven months in a Chinese jail.
—Jeremy Goldkorn, Editor-in-Chief
BUSINESS AND TECHNOLOGY:
Offshore online gambling
China has a new casino: the Philippines / LA Times
The online boom was set in motion when Duterte signed Executive Order No. 13 in 2016, stripping two small regional economic agencies of the authority to issue offshore gambling licenses and handing it to the Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp., which is both a national regulator and a gambling operator.
Almost overnight, investors in the Philippines and from across Southeast Asia seized the new opportunity to reach Chinese gamblers.
Their online game of choice is baccarat. The sites also featured roulette and the Chinese dice game sic bo. Many feature livestreams with dealers at empty tables.
SAP is not giving up on China
Software giant SAP eyes partnerships, opportunities in China / CNBC
German enterprise software giant SAP is setting its ambitions on China.
“At the same time, we are also innovating in China for China. We have over 3,000 developers in China. We have a massive China acceleration plan,” said Krishnamurthy, who is responsible for shaping SAP’s global strategy.
“There’s a huge opportunity in China. 50 percent of companies in U.S. and Europe are already looking at smart factory solutions, compared to 25% in China. So we think there’s an opportunity gap,” he said.
Walmart is doubling down on China
Walmart is investing $1.2 billion in China / CNN
“The US retail giant plans to invest around 8 billion yuan ($1.2 billion) in distribution centers in China over the next two decades, it said in a statement sent to CNN Business.”
ChemChina chief ‘confident’ in subsidiary Syngenta, despite ambassador slapdown / Caixin Global (paywall)
A Reuters article included in yesterday’s Access newsletter reported a choice quote by the Chinese ambassador to Switzerland, in which he candidly expressed his disagreement with ChemChina’s decision to acquire Swiss agrochemical and seed company Syngenta, saying it “wasn’t a good deal for the China side.” But ChemChina’s chairman, Níng Gāoníng 宁高宁, insists there is no plan to sell its new subsidiary.
The further travails of Nio, would-be Tesla
Electric car start-up Nio hit by departures / FT (paywall)
Yesterday we noted that Nio had to recall nearly 5,000 vehicles because of battery problems. More news of troubles today: Members of senior management have decided to abandon ship.
Car sales up, car sales down
Behind the plunge in China auto sales: chaotic implementation of new emission rules / Reuters
The crux of the problem: a June 30 deadline for cars built to so-called China-5 emissions standards to be sold. After that only vehicles meeting new standards could be put up for sale…
According to Shanghai-based Buick dealer Ron Li: “Customers didn’t know how long they could drive China-5 cars or whether they would be able to resell them in the future. And to be honest, we didn’t know either.”
China’s vehicle sales picked up after stimulus, ministry says / Bloomberg (porous paywall)
China’s vehicle sales “recovered significantly” last month after “provincial governments announced stimulus plans of their own to revive demand in the world’s biggest automobile market, the commerce ministry said.”
China’s NEV sales may top 2 million next year, BYD founder says / Yicai
Sales of new energy vehicles in China may exceed 2 million units next year, according to the founder of leading electric carmaker BYD, as the market penetration rate climbs to nearly 10 percent.
China issues T4 licenses to Baidu as driverless car tests begin on public roads / TechNode
Baidu announced Monday that it was granted T4 licenses to test self-driving cars in the capital city of Beijing in the first instance of an autonomous vehicle (AV) company qualifying to test on public roads.
However, securing a T4 permit does not mean that Baidu’s robotaxis will be allowed to test its vehicles on open roads. So far, AV companies with T4 licenses are only allowed to test vehicles in a closed pilot zone in southern Yizhuang district.
Financial industry opening
China pledged to give foreign financial firms more access. How’s that going? / Bloomberg (porous paywall)
To summarize: The government has already opened various sectors as it promised. However, “China says that full foreign ownership of securities firms, futures firms and life insurers will be allowed by 2020, but there’s no framework for that to take effect.”
China to scrap foreign ownership caps on financial firms a year early / Caixin (paywall)
“Premier Lǐ Kèqiáng 李克强 said China will abolish limits on foreign ownership of securities, futures and life insurance firms in 2020, one year ahead of schedule. At present, the limit of foreign ownership in these entities is set at 51 percent.”
China accelerates the opening of its financial sector to foreigners / WSJ (paywall)
“China’s second-in-command: We’re building an even playing field for foreign firms.”
Investors can’t get enough of China’s new Nasdaq-style board
Investors flood into high-tech board shares / Caixin (paywall)
Investors are making a frantic scramble for shares in companies to be listed on China’s new high-tech board, with some initial public offerings (IPOs) oversubscribed more than 300 times, amid expectations their prices will surge when they start trading.
State-owned ship-building giant
China to weld its biggest shipbuilders into single state-run giant / WSJ (paywall)
“If approved, the merger of China Shipbuilding Industry Corp. (CSIC) and China State Shipbuilding Corp. (CSSC), announced in stock filings late Monday, would create the world’s second-largest shipbuilder.”
SCIENCE, HEALTH, AND THE ENVIRONMENT:
Working to save the Marco Polo sheep / Xinhua
“Chinese researchers believe they have discovered new ecological corridors for Xinjiang’s endemic yet endangered ‘Marco Polo sheep,’ a type of sheep named after the Italian explorer who took note of them during his travels through the region centuries ago.”
POLITICS AND CURRENT AFFAIRS:
Beijing seeks crackdown on Hong Kong protesters
Beijing tells Hong Kong to prosecute activists who stormed legislature, as complex to stay closed for ‘considerable’ time / HKFP
“China’s top office on Hong Kong affairs has said the city’s government must seek criminal liabilities from those who stormed into the Legislative Council building on Monday.”
China calls Hong Kong protesters who stormed legislature ‘extreme radicals’ / NYT (porous paywall)
Background to Hong Kong protests
What to know about Hong Kong’s evolving protest movement / NYT (porous paywall)
Profile: Carrie Lam, Chief Executive of Hong Kong / BBC
Opinion: A Hong Kong Protester’s tactic: Get the police to hit you / NYT (porous paywall)
Hong Kong: A timeline of mounting protests / AFP
The Catholic Church
Holy See urges Chinese priests to register with communist gov’t / Church Militant
The Holy See issued guidelines on Friday to priests in China that are causing confusion to the underground Church. The guidelines sought to walk the tightrope of urging clergy toward “obligatory” registration with the Chinese Communist Party while respecting Catholic doctrine.
Religion official goes down for corruption
Chinese religion official in corruption spotlight ‘in aftermath of mosque demolition protest’ / SCMP
Gāo Zhènyǔ 高振宇, 61, head of the Religious and Ethnic Affairs Commission in the Ningxia Hui autonomous region, was under investigation for alleged “serious violations of law and discipline”, the Communist Party’s anticorruption watchdog, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, said on Monday.
A source said Gao, who was also a Standing Committee member of the Ningxia People’s Political Consultative Conference, was purged for alleged corruption and his handling of a mass protest against the proposed demolition of Weizhou’s grand mosque in August.
Behind the warming ties between Japan and China
China and Japan’s pragmatic peace / Foreign Policy (porous paywall)
While there has been little change or progress made on the structural issues that characterize the relationship between the two powers, Donald Trump’s tough stance on China has left it with little option but to recalculate its approach to Japan, argues J. Berkshire Miller, a senior visiting fellow with the Japan Institute of International Affairs in Tokyo.
More on the treatment of rights lawyers in detention
Wife’s visit confirms fears Wang Quanzhang tortured / RSDL Monitor
Yesterday, we linked to a translation by David Cowhig of an article by Lǐ Wénzú 李文足, wife of imprisoned Chinese human rights lawyer Wáng Quánzhāng 王全璋, who was tried and convicted of subversion of state power in December 2018, on her first visit with her husband since he was taken. RSDL Monitor, which researches state-sanctioned kidnappings in China, interprets:
Wang’s warning to his wife at their short meeting was a signal that she should not ask for any more prison visits. He was asking her to keep silent; to stop her advocacy. He repeated this message again and again.
This aspect of their meeting is perhaps the most frightening and the most important. It shows that China is still obsessed with controlling Wang, even though he is helpless in prison. It also hints that Li will likely be blocked from seeing her husband in prison again.
Did British cops take orders from Beijing?
China pressured London police to arrest Tiananmen protester, says watchdog / Guardian
Extraordinary evidence has emerged that the Metropolitan Police targeted a Chinese dissident in London following concerted pressure from Beijing. Shào Jiāng 邵江, a Tiananmen Square survivor who fled China and was granted political asylum, was arrested in London in October 2015 during a state visit from President Xi Jinping.
SOCIETY AND CULTURE:
Tourism in America
Chinese tourists still love Los Angeles despite overall decline in visits to US / AP
While overall Chinese tourism to the U.S. is down due to trade tensions and a strong U.S. dollar, Los Angeles seems to have bucked the trend, which some are crediting to a savvy use of Chinese social media, catering to Chinese buying habits, and evolving desires, such as including “more cultural excursions and sightseeing tours in small groups and fewer visits to shopping centres in tour buses.”
Photography and gender
The journey of a bra / ChinaFile
A roundup of “China’s best photojournalism…that focuses on Chinese issues related to women and gender,” and profiles of female Chinese photographers.
The treatment of domestic workers
Rules of the house prove too much for Chinese housemaid / SCMP
The demands made on Chinese housemaids by their employers have triggered a heated debate after a Shanghai woman gave her new employee a list of 20 rules to memorize before she started work.
The new housemaid was required to sleep on the living room floor, change into special clothes when caring for her employer’s baby, clean floors by hand with just a towel, and refrain from eating garlic.
A TV series about tea
BBC Studios wins first fully-funded commission in China with tea series as annual results unveiled / Deadline
BBC Studios has won its first fully funded commission in China – a six-part factual series about tea. The production division of the British public broadcaster is making One Cup, A Thousand Stories for China Mobile’s digital content subsidiary Migu.
Alternative retirement arrangements
Seven Chinese girlfriends buy huge house where they will retire and die together / NextShark
A group of seven girlfriends in southeastern China purchased a dream home as part of their pact to retire and die together in the future.
What started as a joke among the friends in 2008 has now become a reality in the 700-square-meter (753-square-foot) house in suburban Guangzhou, Guangdong province.
FEATURED ON SUPCHINA
Op-ed: China’s digital imperialism: Shaping the global internet
William Chalk argues on SupChina: China has been quietly exporting its system of online control — in both technique and proprietary technology — to governments across the world. This proliferation is a key component of China’s geopolitical strategy and represents a sweeping bid to own the infrastructure and ideology supporting the world’s future economic powers. Its timing couldn’t be better, as more governments are turning to China for direction and support at a time when the global leadership of the U.S. is declining.