Dear Access member,
If you tried to sign up for our SupChina direct conference call with Rui Ma next week, please try again — our website had a glitch, but should be recording sign-ups now. The conference call will take place on Tuesday, July 23, at 2 p.m. EST, and will be a no-holds-barred conversation with our own TechBuzz China podcaster in which I will try to get her to air the dirty laundry of the entire Chinese tech scene. Please register to attend at SupChina Direct.
Also, another reminder: We have published our most recent Red Paper, summarizing the last three months of China news. Access members can view and download at this link.
—Jeremy Goldkorn, Editor-in-Chief
1. Trump to U.K. — do it our way, not the Huawei
Describing Anglo-American ties as a “special relationship” might not make sense right now in light of recent events, but if you’ve been following the news on both sides of the Atlantic, this report from The Telegraph (paywall) makes a lot of sense indeed:
Donald Trump’s negotiators have signalled that the next prime minister’s hopes of a post-Brexit trade deal with the United States rest on his willingness to fall in line with tough American policies against the Chinese telecoms giant Huawei.
Whitehall correspondence seen by The Sunday Telegraph reveals that British officials close to transatlantic trade talks believe allowing Huawei to provide equipment for new 5G mobile networks could be a deal-breaker.
In one message a civil servant lifts the lid on how the controversy over the alleged threat to security posed by Huawei is intertwined with a web of diplomatic and trade concerns in Washington D.C.
Meanwhile, Huawei “is planning extensive layoffs at its U.S. operations…as the Chinese technology giant continues to struggle with its American blacklisting,” says the Wall Street Journal (paywall).
2. A letter praising ‘counter-terrorism’ program in Xinjiang from 37 countries
Meanwhile, an extraordinary event in human rights diplomacy happened in the last week: Two unprecedented letters to the president of the UN Human Rights Council were signed by dozens of countries expressing either support for or condemnation of China’s well-documented treatment of Turkic Muslims in the Xinjiang region.
The condemnation came first, from the ambassadors of 22 countries, including Australia, Canada, Japan, and many Western European countries, but not the United States, which quit its position on the council a year ago.
China responded with a letter of its own: Russia and Saudi Arabia were among the 37 states that expressed support for China’s ethnic policies in Xinjiang as a successful “counter-terrorism and deradicalization” program, Reuters reports.
“There are basically three types of countries supporting China’s Xinjiang policy: anti-Westerners, opponents of human rights in general, and poor countries economically dependent on China,” Georgia College international relations professor Gennady Rudkevich wrote on Twitter, with a color-coded map.
More on Xinjiang:
Criticism and commentary
3. Slowest growth in nearly three decades in China
“China is expected to release second-quarter growth data on Monday showing that its economy slowed on a quarterly basis to the weakest rate in 27 years,” reports CNBC.
“The ratio of job vacancies to jobseekers overall dropped to 1.68 in the first three months of this year, the lowest level since early 2015,” reports the South China Morning Post.
4. Chinese scientists in Canada under scrutiny
We have recently reported on the investigation and suspension of Chinese researchers at biomedical labs at Emory University in Atlanta, for alleged improper use of federal funding and related lack of disclosure of ties to Chinese institutions.
While it is rational for the U.S. and other countries to take measures to stop espionage or theft of intellectual property by agents of Beijing, I worry that this is fast becoming a new Yellow Peril, which is one reason why we made a Sinophobia Tracker: to shed light on a trend that risks becoming a policy of bigotry hard-wired into the U.S. government.
Now it seems the scrutiny applied to Chinese scientists in the U.S. is reaching Canada. Presented without comment, CBC reports:
A researcher with ties to China was recently escorted out of the National Microbiology Lab (NML) in Winnipeg amidst an RCMP investigation into what’s being described as a possible “policy breach.”
Dr. Xiangguo Qiu, her husband Keding Cheng and an unknown number of her students from China were removed from Canada’s only level-4 lab on July 5…A Level 4 virology facility is a lab equipped to work with the most serious and deadly human and animal diseases [including Ebola]…
Security access for the couple and the Chinese students was revoked, according to sources who work at the lab and do not want to be identified because they fear consequences for speaking out…
While there are few details available, experts say this could be a case of intellectual property theft or technology leakage to China.
Other China-Canada news:
The Star reports:
Conservative MPs want Canada’s intelligence agency to probe whether a former Canadian ambassador is encouraging China to interfere in the upcoming federal election. John McCallum was the ambassador to China from March 2017 until January 2019, when the Liberals fired him following a number of public comments that broke with the government’s line on the detention of two Canadians in China.
5. Buckle up for ‘a bumpy few months around the Taiwan Straits’
Han Kuo-yu ( 韓國瑜 Hán Guóyú), a “China-friendly mayor in Taiwan on Monday won the opposition party’s nomination for the 2020 presidential election, beating Foxconn founder Terry Gou (郭台銘 Guō Táimíng) and issuing a direct challenge to President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文 Cài Yīngwén) who is seeking re-election,” reports Reuters.
Meanwhile, the South China Morning Post says that “Air and naval forces from the People’s Liberation Army will conduct routine drills close to the Taiwan Strait in the coming days.”
As Hong Kong / Taiwan / Macau bureau chief for Agence France-Presse Jerome Taylor tweets in this thread that explains the state of cross-Straits tensions: “Buckle up, it’s gonna be a bumpy few months around the Taiwan Straits ahead of January’s presidential election.”
6. Iran: China steps in as the U.S. retreats
Here’s an interesting story from the South China Morning Post:
Iran is hoping to attract up to one million Chinese tourists from next month in a bid to shore up its falling economy, badly hit by US sanctions. Vali Teymouri, Iran’s deputy director for tourism affairs, told the South China Morning Post that the Iranian government’s new visa waiver program for Chinese visitors — first announced in June — could be implemented as early as the end of this month.
June 2019 — China is buying Iranian LPG despite sanctions, ship-tracking shows / Bloomberg (porous paywall)
April 2019 — China buys a lot of Iranian oil, and it’s not happy at all with US sanctions / CNN
—Jeremy Goldkorn, Editor-in-Chief
BUSINESS AND TECHNOLOGY:
Baidu under fire
Baidu apologizes over fake message from grief-stricken father / SCMP
“Baidu, China’s largest search engine, has apologized after its news aggregator posted a fake message claiming to be from the father of an abducted nine-year-old girl whose body was found on Saturday.”
The ‘water attack’ of Chinese tech exec opens a flood gate of complaints against the company / Global Voices
“When a protestor of unknown motivation doused the head of Baidu’s CEO last week, Chinese internet users reacted with complaints, airing their own grievances against China’s biggest search engine is now coming under fire by Chinese netizens.”
Tencent’s new corporate slogan
Tencent wants to be a good person? / ChinAI newsletter
Jeffrey Ding and Jordan Schneider translate a Chinese-language article by Zhōu Yú 周余 on Tencent’s new slogan, “Tech for good.” The Chinese is 科技向善 kējì xiàng shàn — literally, “science and technology for good/benevolence.”
China’s quest to build jet engines
Chinese company in bid to buy Ukrainian aeroengine giant / Global Times
A Beijing-based aviation industry investment company reportedly renewed its attempt to acquire stakes in a Ukrainian aircraft engine manufacturer and the application is being reviewed by the Ukrainian antitrust authority.
The Ukrainian company, which has built engines for the world’s largest transport aircraft the An-225, could help China boost its aeroengine industry if the deal materializes, Chinese analysts said on Sunday.
SCIENCE, HEALTH, AND THE ENVIRONMENT:
China says its greenhouse gas emissions soar over 50 percent from 2005 to 2014 / CNBC
China’s climate-warming greenhouse gas emissions hit 12.3 billion tonnes in 2014, up 53.5 percent in just a decade, the environment ministry said on Monday, citing the country’s latest carbon “inventory” submitted to the United Nations.
China’s carbon emissions data is notoriously opaque, but as a signatory to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, Beijing is obliged to submit an official inventory to the UN on a regular basis. It has previously released figures for 2005 and 2010.
When atmospheric models traced a mysterious spike of an ozone-destroying gas to two provinces in China earlier this year, scientists waited to see how the Chinese government — and other nations — would respond to this possible violation of international law.
Now the government is under pressure to act — and has presented a plan to help it track and reduce emissions of the chemical, known as trichlorofluoromethane or CFC-11. Measures include establishing a national monitoring network to track ozone-depleting chemicals, along with heftier penalties for companies caught illegally producing the chemical.
POLITICS AND CURRENT AFFAIRS:
Hong Kong protests
Hong Kong protesters, police clash as demonstrations target Chinese traders / Reuters
“Hong Kong protesters clashed with police on Saturday in a town near the boundary with mainland China where thousands rallied against the presence of Chinese traders, seizing on another grievance following major unrest over an extradition bill.”
Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam condemns ‘rioters’ at Sunday Sha Tin protest; denies she tried to quit post / Hong Kong Free Press
Riot police clash with protesters in Hong Kong shopping centre – video / Guardia
The quiet end of investigative journalism
‘We’re almost extinct’: China’s investigative journalists are silenced under Xi / NYT (porous paywall)
She was once one of China’s most feared journalists, roaming the country uncovering stories about police brutality, wrongful convictions and environmental disasters. But these days, Zhāng Wénmǐn 张文敏 struggles to be heard. The police intimidate Ms. Zhang’s sources. The authorities shut down her social media accounts. Unable to find news outlets that will publish her work, she lives largely off her savings.
The quiet end of a Weibo celebrity from another era
Reports vanish as Chinese socialite Guo Meimei quietly freed from jail / SCMP
One of China’s most notorious internet celebrities has been freed from jail after serving a five-year term for operating illegal casinos in Beijing, but despite huge interest in the case, mainstream media largely stayed away [SIC] from reporting her release.
Guō Měiměi 郭美美, a 28-year-old socialite and online celebrity, was at the centre of a nationwide scandal back in 2011 when she flaunted her flashy lifestyle on social media to millions of followers, while falsely claiming that she worked at a firm linked to the state-backed Red Cross Society of China.
SOCIETY AND CULTURE:
Disney and fan culture
Chinese celeb promoting ‘Lion King’ is no Simba, critics say / Sixth Tone
In an open letter to Disney posted Thursday and widely shared after the movie’s release Friday, a user on microblogging platform Weibo slammed the company’s decision to use Cài Xúkūn 蔡徐坤 — a member of the boy band Nine Percent — as a brand ambassador for the 2019 film in China. The post, which includes an image of a lion cub next to the celebrity, says Cai “stands for everything Simba does not.”
Born again: China’s girl groups and the life cycle of a stardom / Chinese Film Insider
“China’s idol industry went from boom to bust in the blink of an eye. Now some girls are fighting their way back to the top.”
Fighting back against abusive teachers
Chinese teacher banned from classroom after teenage girl records abusive rants / SCMP
“A teacher from northwest China has been banned from the classroom after a pupil recorded his frequent tirades of abuse.”
Foreigners arrested in marijuana crackdown — follow-up
China’s reefer madness is sweeping up foreigners / Foreign Policy (paywall)
Earlier on SupChina: The coming crackdown on ‘cannabis culture’ in China?
Four Britons arrested in China after drug bust involving foreigners / The Guardian
FEATURED ON SUPCHINA
Friday Song: Ai Jing’s yearning for Hong Kong in ‘My 1997’
In 1992, in the eyes of many on the mainland, Hong Kong was a fantastical place, one of crowded shopping malls, gigantic concert stadiums, and midnight movie theaters. These images haunted a generation of Chinese youth, and helped them imagine a future — 1997, specifically, when the city would be handed back to China from Great Britain — where they could obtain visas and finally visit the bustling metropolis. This — the “flowery world” (花花世界 huā huā shì jiè) that is Hong Kong — was the subject of one of the popular tunes of that time, “My 1997,” written by then-23-year-old Ai Jing.
For the Xi’an traveler, learn about the man behind the Terracotta Army
Kaiser Kuo writes: For the Xi’an traveler, do a little reading about the emperor who commissioned the Terracotta Warriors, a monument to his massive ego. He’s known now as Qin Shihuangdi (you’ll also see Qin Shi Huang), the founding emperor of the Qin Dynasty — a short-lived but very important period. He became king of one of seven “Warring States” that were still fighting it out for supremacy in the mid-3rd century BC. We also recommend the food, particularly in the city’s awesome Muslim Quarter.
Anta shrugs off short-seller report, targets Zion Williamson for shoe deal
When the stock price of Anta, one of China’s top sportswear brands, took a dive on Monday morning, the company voluntarily suspended trading before lunchtime. After stemming the tide, the company declared that a Muddy Waters report — in which it accused the company of fraud — was ”incorrect and misleading,” before shares resumed trading on Tuesday. With all this going on, Anta has also been keen to make a splash abroad: it has reportedly offered Zion Williamson, the recent No. 1 pick in the NBA draft, a four-year deal worth $80 million, well above what the Western brands are prepared to shell out on an annual basis and double what was being discussed just a few months ago.
SINICA PODCAST NETWORK
Sinica Early Access: An update on the Hong Kong protests
This week, we speak again with Antony Dapiran, a corporate lawyer in Hong Kong and author of City of Protest: A Recent History of Dissent in Hong Kong, to catch up on the fast-moving events in the former British colony. Antony talks about the occupation of the Legislative Council (LegCo) building by protesters, the curious decision by Hong Kong authorities to allow the occupation of that building — which has usually been a red line, to be defended at all cost — and the support that this seems to have within the broader movement. We also discuss reactions of mainland Chinese to events in Hong Kong and ponder what could come next.
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.
The Caixin-Sinica Business Brief, episode 91
This week on the Caixin-Sinica Business Brief: China’s exports of goods, blockchain entrepreneur Justin Sun, Huawei’s press event last week, Doug Young on a Chinese real estate company getting into education, and more.