Dear Access member,
We will be taking off tomorrow for Independence Day in the U.S., and will be back on Friday.
A thought for July 4 from Tim Mak on Twitter: “Most of the fireworks used for Trump’s Fourth of July celebration are made in China, company behind the show tells me. A limited number of specialty shells were manufactured in the US. About 98 percent of all fireworks used in the US, and 70-75 percent professional displays, are made in China”
Sinophobia Tracker: We’ve launched a page to provide an ongoing record of prejudicial and inflammatory statements from public figures in the United States and other signs of official targeting of ethnically Chinese people, rather than the Chinese government. To go along with it:
The new Yellow Peril? Why we launched a Sinophobia Tracker to follow the treatment of Chinese students and scientists in the United States, plus resources to understand the issue.
Inside Emory’s crackdown on China-influenced research: Jiayun Feng talks to Chinese scientists who have lost their jobs in recent months on alleged national security grounds.
—Jeremy Goldkorn, Editor-in-Chief
1. Xi, Trump, Kim, and their sycophants
David Bandurski of the China Media Project writes:
Reading the official propaganda from Beijing in the wake of last week’s G20 Summit in Osaka, one might have the impression that the Group of Twenty is actually now the “1+19,” and that this “premier forum for international economic cooperation” relies on the forcefulness, grace and wisdom of China’s top leader, Xí Jìnpíng 习近平.
Two pieces of propaganda in particular give us a glimpse into the self-aggrandizing spirit of present-day politics in China, and how the current leadership views itself, narcissistically, in the mirror of global turmoil.
The first of these is the transcript of a discussion with China’s foreign minister, Wáng Yì 王毅, published on the front page of the official People’s Daily newspaper last Friday, June 30, the day after Xi Jinping’s visit to Japan. The second is a very similar “roundup” (综述 zòngshù) released by China Central Television’s official news program, Xīnwén Liánbò (新闻联播).
But Xi is not the only world leader who has media organizations dedicated to flattering him: Kim Jong-un has Korean Central Television while Trump has Fox News. Xi may in fact be envious of the brown-nosing on display on those two TV channels. Satirical news TV program the Daily Show produced an episode about this: Fox News vs. North Korean State TV (on Youtube, well worth the 90 second viewing time).
When we see Xi Jinping on TV, the whole setup is usually micromanaged. So the occasional glimpse of China’s leader that are not staged are always intriguing. One such video clip emerged after Xi’s weekend at the G-20 meeting in Osaka. Circulated on Twitter, the clip shows Xi wandering around a conference venue, apparently ignored by other world leaders.
2. Real estate tycoon accused of raping nine-year-old girl
Chinese billionaire Wáng Zhènhuá 王振华, the chairman of real estate enterprise Future Land, has been detained by Shanghai police on charges of child rape.
Per Xinmin Evening News (in Chinese), a Shanghai-based local newspaper, the assault occurred in a five-star hotel on June 29. The nine-year-old girl who fell victim to Wang is from Jiangsu Province and was brought to Shanghai by her mother’s friend Ms. Zhou 周. The next day, after the incident happened, the girl told her mother and local police was called in to look into the matter. Upon further investigation, Shanghai police discovered the 57-year-old man had sexual intercourse with the minor and caused damage on the child’s private parts.
According to a statement released on July 3 by the Putuo District police bureau, Wang was arrested on July 1 and Zhou turned herself into police on July 2. The case is still under investigation.
In the wake of the news, Future Land Development Holdings Ltd. dropped 24 percent in Hong Kong, wiping out roughly $2 billion in value within minutes.
News articles about the case have been largely censored on the Chinese internet. An anonymous screenshot of a WeChat group conversation shows that the propaganda department in Shanghai has issued orders that require all media publications to stop reporting on the news.
—Jeremy Goldkorn, Editor-in-Chief
BUSINESS AND TECHNOLOGY:
Chinese companies still ‘committed’ to U.S.
CGCC 2019 Annual business survey report on Chinese enterprises in the United States / China General Chamber of Commerce – U.S.A.
Among the findings: “despite the increasingly combative tone and restrictive policies, CGCC members are generally committed to developing their business in the U.S. market and improve the future of the U.S. and China business relationship. The U.S. remains a key investment target for Chinese companies, with 55 percent indicating that the U.S. market is a top three priority.”
Didi still cleaning up after safety scandals
Didi Chuxing removes 306,000 drivers from system for safety vetting / Caixin Live
“Chinese ride-hailing giant Didi Chuxing said it has removed 306,000 drivers from its system because of failures to verify their identities or driving licenses as the company tightens its safety scrutiny after two murders of passengers last year by drivers of Didi’s car-pooling service.”
Rihanna in China
Will Rihanna’s Fenty Beauty take off in China? / Jing Daily
“Fenty Beauty was launched in 2017 by the singer, who is also the first woman of color to oversee a fashion house under LVMH. Largely betting on the star’s worldwide influence, Fenty is the first new LVMH brand since 1987 built by the group. But the star’s halo effect has yet to translate into a selling point in China, as it has in the West. If anything, it’s been the Chinese actress and beauty blogger Lin Yun that has created the buzz for the brand.”
Trade war and shifting supply chains
HP, Dell and Microsoft join electronics exodus from China / Nikkei Asian Review (porous paywall)
“Global consumer electronics makers HP, Dell, Microsoft and Amazon are all looking to shift substantial production capacity out of China, joining a growing exodus that threatens to undermine the country’s position as the world’s powerhouse for tech gadgets.”
$2 Billion firm doubles down on Chinese tech investments / Bloomberg (porous paywall)
“All-Stars Investment Ltd. has invested, or increased its stake, in six privately held Chinese technology companies over the past year, seizing on cheaper valuations, Hong Kong-based Chief Investment Officer Richard Ji said. That’s ‘double or triple’ the number of private deals it strikes in a typical year, he said.”
China’s Centurium Capital raises over $2 billion from GIC, Temasek, others / Reuters
“China’s Centurium Capital, a big backer of domestic startup Luckin Coffee, said it has raised more than $2 billion in its debut fund, giving the private equity firm more firepower to cut deals involving the world’s second-largest economy.”
Vanity and facial recognition
Alipay is launching a beauty filter for facial recognition payments / TechNode
Alipay is launching a new beauty filter feature for its facial recognition payment system “Smile to Pay,” in an effort to boost usage among female users. The company told TechNode that a beauty filter will be automatically applied when users scan their faces to make purchases so that facial features displayed on the machines are slightly enhanced. The new feature will be rolled out nationwide within the next week.
Beijing taxis to go all electric
Beijing will replace all taxis with electric cars in two years / TechNode
“Beijing municipal government will replace all gas-powered taxis with electric cars over the next two years, Xu Heyi, chairman of BAIC Motor Corp, said on Tuesday.”
China services sector growth slows in June as export orders shrink / Reuters
“Growth in China’s services sector slowed to a four-month low in June as new orders from overseas customers fell, a private survey showed on Wednesday, adding to signs of strain on the economy as the U.S.-Sino trade war drags on.”
Who benefits from swine flu?
Europe’s pig farms are biggest winners as China clamors for meat / Bloomberg (porous paywall)
“Top pork consumer China and its neighbors are gobbling up supplies from abroad as the deadly African swine fever virus ravages their own herds and causes millions of pigs to be culled. That has pushed prices in the European Union, which supplies more than half of China’s imports, to a five-year high.”
China has shown ‘shortcomings’ in bid to contain African swine fever: cabinet / Reuters
“The management of transporting live hogs is not strict enough, while there is insufficient capacity in testing for African swine fever virus in hog slaughtering, processing, and circulating procedures, China’s State Council said in guidelines on prevention and control of the pig disease.”
Also, in meat news: Brazil’s ban on donkey slaughter halts trade with China / Chinadialogue
The slaughter of donkeys in the north-eastern Brazilian state of Bahia became subject to new regulations in June 2016 as part of a deal between Brazil and China. In China, donkeys are sought for meat but more so for their skins, which are boiled to produce ē’jiāo 阿胶, a gelatine used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat everything from ageing to lack of libido in women…But in November 2018 animal rights groups won a legal case to ban the slaughter of donkeys in Bahia, adding Brazil to the list of several countries to have done so.
SCIENCE, HEALTH, AND THE ENVIRONMENT:
Extreme weather forecast
China faces extreme weather as temperatures rise, more rain falls – government forecasters / Reuters
“Extreme weather in China is becoming increasingly frequent, with temperatures in some regions hitting record highs this year and with rainfall set to exceed average levels by 70 percent in the next 10 days, officials at the nation’s weather bureau warned.”
Cosmic rays in Tibet
Highest energy cosmic ray recorded by scientists in Tibet / SCMP
“The most powerful particle of light ever observed has been detected by a cosmic ray observatory in Tibet, according to the Chinese Academy of Sciences.The photon hit our planet with an energy burst as high as 450 TeV — or 150 trillion times brighter than the light visible to us from the sun.”
Bamboo: a green alternative for development?
The greener grass: can bamboo help China build sustainable cities? / RADII China
“As environmental issues climb to the top of headlines and political agendas, bamboo is starting to shed that label for a new one — ‘green gold’ — in pockets of China’s construction scene that are revaluing the plant as the savior of sustainable building materials.”
Organ donor sign-ups exceed 1.35m in China / China Daily
The “chairman of the China National Organ Donation and Transplantation Committee, said he was glad to see young people are more interested in organ donation. But despite the increasing number of registered organ donors, it is still far short of what is necessary for organ transplant surgeries in China.”
POLITICS AND CURRENT AFFAIRS:
Weak tea from Canada’s prime minister Justin Trudeau
Canada ‘confident’ U.S. raised issue of detained citizens with China / Reuters
“Canada’s prime minister said said on Tuesday he is confident U.S. President Donald Trump made good on his promise to raise the cases of two detained Canadians during recent discussions with Chinese President Xi Jinping.”
China escalates pressure on detainee issue with seizure of Michael Kovrig’s glasses / Globe and Mail
“Chinese authorities have confiscated the reading glasses of imprisoned Canadian Michael Kovrig as Beijing increases political and economic pressure on Canada to allow a detained senior Huawei Technologies executive to return home, sources say.”
U.S.-China techno-trade war
US federal court finds Chinese-American engineer Shih Yi-chi guilty of exporting military-grade semiconductors / SCMP
“A Chinese-American electrical engineer faces up to 219 years in prison after a federal jury found him guilty of illegally shipping semiconductors with military applications to China. After a six-week trial in southern California, Shih Yi-chi, a 64-year-old part-time Los Angeles resident and former president of a Chinese semiconductor company, was found guilty of making false statements to a government agency, mail and wire fraud and filing false tax returns.”
Trump team weighs giving China a get-out-of-jail free card on Iran / Politico
Despite Trump’s promised reprieve, Commerce Department tells staff to continue treating Huawei as blacklisted / TechCrunch
Japanese brewer Suntory will hold off investing in China amid the trade war / CNBC
“Japanese brewer Suntory Holdings will hold off further investment in China due to uncertainties from the trade war, said its CEO Takeshi Niinami.…’I would rather stay in Southeast Asia now,’ Niinami told CNBC Tuesday at the World Economic Forum in Dalian, China.
Pentagon says China missile test in South China Sea ‘disturbing’ / Reuters
“The Pentagon said on Tuesday a recent Chinese missile launch in the disputed South China Sea was “disturbing” and contrary to Chinese pledges that it would not militarize the disputed waterway.”
Fear mounts that Chinese-American scientists in US are being targeted / SCMP
“In the wake of several Chinese-American scientists being dismissed from their research jobs in the US, fear is rising that the group is being unfairly targeted and has become a victim of the competitive feud between Beijing and Washington.”
Hong Kong protests
Opinion: Hong Kong has nothing left to lose / by Louisa Lim in NYT (porous paywall)
“Inside the protests, I heard a collective roar of rage against a government that has failed, by design, to represent its people.”
Hong Kong protests: Did violent clashes sway public opinion? / BBC
Hong Kong protesters take stock after arrests and China’s condemnation / NYT (porous paywall)
China hardens line on Hong Kong protests, hinting it could intervene / WSJ (paywall)
Anna Fifield on Twitter: “Unsubtle message: the Chinese People’s Liberation Army held ‘emergency response exercises’ at its Hong Kong Garrison, with soldiers ‘conducting exercises in combat tactics and various firearms including rifles and machine guns going on display.’”
Indonesia asks for Belt and Road cash
Indonesia asks China for special Belt and Road Initiative fund / Reuters via SCMP
“Indonesia has asked China to set up a special fund within its Belt and Road Initiative for investment in Southeast Asia’s biggest economy, after offering China projects worth $91 billion, Indonesian government officials said on Wednesday.”
Warming China-Mexico ties
China and Mexico lay out broad plans to strengthen relations / Bloomberg (porous paywall)
“Mexico and China agreed to a plan to bolster their economic and cultural relationship under new President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, seeking to overcome ties that were strained under the previous administration.”
Chinese treatment of workers in Africa
Demonising Chinese labour practices in Africa is wrong / FT (paywall)
“A study of companies in Angola and Ethiopia finds that negative stories are mostly untrue.”
Zdeněk Hřib: the Czech mayor who defied China / The Guardian
“By refusing to expel a Taiwanese diplomat, the Prague mayor has joined the ranks of local politicians confronting contentious national policies.”
Increase in Kazakh oil exports to China
Kazakhstan to divert some oil flows from Europe to China / Reuters
“Kazakhstan plans to increase oil exports to China to 6-7 million tonnes a year from just 1 million tonnes at the expense of shipments to Europe, starting from the second half of 2020, Deputy Energy Minister Aset Magauov told Reuters.”
Acting U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Jonathan Cohen accused China of suppressing and mistreating the Uighurs, according to several diplomats who attended the meeting and spoke on condition of anonymity.
In response, China’s U.N. Ambassador Mǎ Zhāoxù 马朝旭 told diplomats the United States and Germany had no right to raise the issue in the Security Council as it was an internal matter for his country…
The exchange, described by some diplomats as “heated,” occurred during a closed-door discussion by the 15-member Security Council on the United Nations Regional Centre for Preventive Diplomacy for Central Asia.
Xi Jinping calls for ‘timely’ easing of North Korea sanctions after Trump-Kim meeting / SCMP
“Chinese President Xi Jinping urged US leader Donald Trump to show ‘flexibility’ and act in a ‘timely’ fashion to ease sanctions on North Korea at the G20 summit last week – echoing Pyongyang’s high-stakes nuclear demands to Washington – according to Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi.”
Air Koryo to start Pyongyang-Dalian service again in July / NK News
“North Korean state airline Air Koryo will once again offer direct Pyongyang-Dalian services from July 19, a Western tourist company said on Thursday. The development follows Xi Jinping’s June summit with Kim Jong Un, where a vague pledge was revealed in state media to ‘expand pragmatic cooperation and bring greater benefits to the people of the two countries.’”
South China sea
Japan, US and Australia push back on China’s South Pacific expansion / Nikkei Asian Review (porous paywall)
“A war of nerves involving Japan, the U.S., Australia and China is underway over island nations in the South Pacific Ocean such as Palau, Fiji and the Cook Islands, with attention focused on crucial sea lanes in the region.”
Japan flexes its military muscle on edge of South China Sea with joint naval drills involving warships, marines / SCMP
“One of Japan’s largest warships, the helicopter carrier Izumo, offers a glimpse of where its military is headed: for the first time, troops from a newly formed amphibious brigade of Japan’s army took part in an extended naval deployment.”
SOCIETY AND CULTURE:
Don’t take your shirt off in Jinan
Keep your shirt on! Chinese city introduces fines for stripping off in public / SCMP
“Stripping to the waist anywhere outside the boundaries of your own home, swimming in local waterways, or washing your clothes — or feet — in the city’s famous springs was now punishable by a fine, Beijing Youth Daily reported on Wednesday.”
Sci-fi dreams turned into reality?
Evicted and excluded, ‘space base’ villagers doubt tourism boom / Sixth Tone
In October, construction finished on the C-Space Project, a multimillion-yuan venture located some 7 kilometers outside Ningyuan that claims to simulate life on Mars. In reality, the project, which opened to much fanfare in April, is designed to draw space-obsessed tourists, filmmakers, and — eventually — scientists. Local officials hope to capitalize on the growing popularity of Chinese sci-fi, an industry that has recently been bolstered by bestselling novels, blockbuster movies, and space-themed business ventures.
Internet backlash against China’s middle income claim
China’s middle income claim causes uproar as Weibo users ask ‘why am I not that rich?’ / SCMP
A claim that China’s per capita gross national income was “above the average level of other middle-income countries” has caused an uproar on China’s main social media network, forcing the National Bureau of Statistics to defend its statement. Many users questioned why their incomes are far below the per capita nominal gross national income (GNI) of US$9,732 for 2018, which the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) claimed in a statement released on Monday as part of a publication highlighting China’s economic achievements under Communist Party rule over the last 70 years.
FEATURED ON SUPCHINA
Requiem for the ‘Living Dead’: Ten years after 7-5
Most people who know anything about Xinjiang know that on July 5, 2009, a student protest turned into a bloody conflict with Uyghurs attacking Han civilians, killing more than 130 with clubs, cleavers, and bricks. Fewer know that police opened fire on Uyghurs later that day, that they supported Han Chinese retribution in the streets and escalated a process of “disappearing” Uyghur suspects. What is clear, 10 years later, is that the course of Xinjiang history changed forever on that date. The lives of Uyghurs in China have never been the same.
Man storms stage, pours water on Baidu CEO Robin Li’s head
Baidu CEO Robin Li’s appearance at the company’s annual Create AI developer conference in Beijing on Wednesday morning was interrupted by a man who stormed the stage and emptied a bottle of water on his head. Li calmly took a step back and uttered in English, “What’s your problem?”
SINICA PODCAST NETWORK
Sinica Podcast: Military Strategy and Politics in the PRC: A Conversation with Taylor Fravel
This week, Kaiser and Jeremy chat with Taylor Fravel, one of the world’s leading authorities on the People’s Liberation Army. Taylor has a brand-new book out called Active Defense: China’s Military Strategy Since 1949, which examines the changes to the PLA’s strategy, why they happen, and why, just as importantly, in some moments when we’d expect major changes in strategy, they don’t happen. Join us for this deep dive into the drivers of strategic change in this emerging superpower.