Dear Access member,
One thing to do tomorrow if you’re in New York:
We’re recording a Sinica Podcast with a live studio audience at Lair East in Manhattan on July 17. In this show, Kaiser will interview me, and you will be welcome to ask questions or throw rotten tomatoes. Bring your own. It’s free for Access members, but $20 for everyone else: Please email email@example.com to register.
Two things to read:
A decade before her disappearance in connection with tax evasion, Fàn Bīngbīng 范冰冰 hired Rian Dundon as her personal English tutor. Read his lively tale of a bygone era of foreigner hustling in Beijing here.
Attacking Chinese on our campuses only hurts America, argues Frank Wu in Inside Higher Ed: “It would cause a tremendous setback in America’s global competitiveness and probably a brain drain in reverse.”
Now on with today’s news.
—Jeremy Goldkorn, Editor-in-Chief
1. Shanghai gets serious about garbage sorting and recycling
In the 1980s, China began importing scrap metal, plastic from recycling programs, and just about every other kind of foreign waste that could be processed into usable materials. But three decades of economic growth also led to China producing plenty of its own garbage, much of it recyclable.
So in 2018, bans on importing most types of foreign waste were implemented. But the recycling plants did not disappear, and the government is now taking steps to launch a domestic recycling program, starting in Shanghai.
Recycling in China relies on an informal network of solo garbage collectors who sort through piles of urban waste unsystematically. Residents do not sort their garbage.
But on July 1, Shanghai launched a garbage sorting and recycling program that aims to make the city’s waste collection more efficient and maximize recycling. The program, outlined here (in Chinese), calls for all domestic garbage to be sorted into these categories:
Recyclable, including paper, plastics, glass, scrap metal, fabric
Hazardous, such as batteries, light bulbs, medicines, paint
Perishable — food waste and Chinese medicine dregs
Dry — anything that is not recyclable, hazardous, or perishable
Fines of up to 100,000 yuan ($14,500) are listed for companies and government organizations that contravene certain rules. There are no fines listed for individuals or households.
The scheme encourages manufacturers to “improve the recycling rate of waste products and packaging materials” and promotes local recycling plants, although details are not given.
Shanghai residents are still struggling to understand the garbage-sorting rules: Agence France-Presse reports:
“It’s for the good of our homeland, but we keep making mistakes,” said Nie, a trading company staffer, laughing as he struggled to separate the bag’s contents into various bins.
“We have to get this right before the fines really start.”
Xí Jìnpíng 习近平 often speaks about garbage sorting — see, for example, this rap video about “things close to Xi’s heart,” or do a Google search for Xi’s name and “垃圾分类” (lājī fēnlèi — garbage sorting).
2. China arrests another Canadian
The Chinese Foreign Ministry has announced the arrest of another Canadian, this time on drug charges. The spokesperson did not mention any connection to the arrest of Huawei CFO Mèng Wǎnzhōu 孟晚舟, or to the other Canadians currently detained in China, but the detention of foreigners for crimes is not usually announced by the Foreign Ministry.
If there was any doubt about the connection between the latest arrest and Beijing’s anger at Ottawa, the Global Times dispels it with this quote from a professor at the China Foreign Affairs University: “Li warned that viewing China as an opponent was wrong and would only make Canada meet more setbacks in bilateral relations.”
On the other hand, it is still unclear what exactly is behind the recent dismissal of a Chinese researcher from a Canadian biomedical lab, which we noted yesterday.
Canadian student detained for alleged drug offenses, China says / Globe and Mail (porous paywall)
3. U.S.-China techno-trade war — from Wall Street to pharma
There’s no reason to hope for a swift or tidy end to the U.S.-China techno-trade war, now in day 376 by our count, but here is a selection of the latest reporting, speculation, and scuttlebutt:
“Wall Street is the latest front for U.S. suspicions about China,” suggests Jodi Xu Klein in the South China Morning Post, noting that the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is leading “cries for vigilance as investors become more exposed to Chinese stocks” of companies with untransparent accounting standards.
The Philippines chooses Chinese 5G: “The country got its first taste of next-generation 5G services in late June with gear supplied by Huawei,” reports the Wall Street Journal (paywall). This month, a new carrier “backed by state-owned China Telecommunications Corp.” will start rolling out a new network “largely designed in China, to be executed by Chinese engineers in the Philippines.” The article calls the moves “a blow to the U.S.”
Related, in the New York Times: As Duterte courts China, U.S. says don’t forget your old friend (porous paywall)
China’s not desperate for a deal. That is the takeaway from two interviews with respected analysts of the Chinese economy:
In this video, James Kynge of the Financial Times says that “tariffs on exports are less important to China than Donald Trump thinks.”
“One of Wall Street’s leading authorities on Asia believes China is in no rush to cut a trade deal with the United States,” according to CNBC. “Despite China’s worst quarterly growth number in 27 years, Yale University senior fellow Stephen Roach contends its economy isn’t as bad as the latest figure implies.”
Scroll down to the BUSINESS AND TECHNOLOGY section of this email for more on China’s economy.
Is someone on the inside profiting from Donald Trump’s erratic announcements about trade with China? Vanity Fair magazine asks: “Who knew Trump would offer a truce with Xi?”
Jimmy Lai (黎智英 Lǐ Zhìyīng), the “Hong Kong media magnate and democracy champion…thinks that President Donald Trump is wise to ‘play hardball’ with China’s ruling communists on trade because ‘that’s the only thing they understand,’” says the Wall Street Journal (paywall). “But Mr. Lai is also urging the U.S. to ‘show humility’ and allow China an opportunity to save face in striking a new deal.”
Is Chinese pharma the next target of the Trump administration’s decoupling program? An article published in several American newspapers warns of America’s overreliance on pharmaceuticals made in China, and calls on the U.S. to consider medicine a “strategic asset.”
4. Peter Thiel sees Yellow Peril at Google
The Trump-supporting billionaire and Facebook investor Peter Thiel spoke to a gathering of self-described conservatives in Washington, D.C., on July 14. Without presenting any evidence, Thiel suggested that Chinese spies had infiltrated Google. Fox News picked up Thiel’s remarks, leading to a Donald Trump tweet promising to “take a look.”
This is yet another inflammatory insinuation that will make life a little more stressful for engineers and scientists at American companies, and a new one for our Sinophobia Tracker.
5. Parenting and senior care by GPS
Nearly 17,000 primary school students in Guangzhou were given free watches with tracking chips connected to Beidou, China’s homegrown version of GPS, reports the Guangzhou Daily (in Chinese, or see this SCMP report):
Unaware of the trap she has just walked into, one fourth grader enthused: “With this watch, Mom and Dad can know where I am, and I can call and voice message them immediately after class.” Wearing the watches is voluntary — the parents signed up for the scheme.
A “safety bracelet for the elderly” is the next phase of the program run by the China Satellite Navigation System Management Office, which runs Beidou.
—Jeremy Goldkorn, Editor-in-Chief
BUSINESS AND TECHNOLOGY:
New products from Huawei
Huawei keeps market guessing on release of its in-house developed Hongmeng OS / Tech in Asia
Huawei’s “Hongmeng,” its in-house-developed OS system, may be released as early as August, according to the company’s latest moves.
Huawei to sell TVs as smartphone sales slide / TechNode
In what may go hand in hand with Huawei’s OS release, the company announced it would unveil its smart television in August, “according to Chinese media outlet Yicai, a move that broadens the Chinese telecom giant’s business into the TV-related sector.”
Treating respiratory diseases
Cipla inks pact with Acebright Group to build respiratory biz in China / Moneycontrol
Drug maker Cipla on July 16 said it had entered into an agreement with Shanghai-based Jiangsu Acebright Pharmaceuticals to set-up a joint venture company in the People’s Republic of China for local manufacture of respiratory products…
In China, respiratory diseases are the second largest cause of death. It is estimated that of the 100 million Chinese — who are thought to have asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease — only 30 percent have been diagnosed and only five million are receiving any kind of treatment.
China’s ride-hailing giant Didi opens app to [carmakers] / Quartz
Didi Chuxing “which has some 550 million registered users in China, announced this week (July 15) that passengers will soon be able to order services provided by newcomers to the ride-share industry, including Guangzhou Automobile Group (GAC), First Automobile Works Group (FAW), and Dongfeng Motor (DFM) on Didi’s app.
Tesla cuts prices in China to help boost sales / Bloomberg via The Irish Times
“Tesla cut prices for all vehicles shipped to China to help boost sales in its second-largest market.”
Economic slowdown and government response
China’s SOEs posted record profits in June, but second quarter profit growth slowed substantially / SCMP
Net profits at China’s state-owned enterprises hit record high of 158.5 billion yuan ($23 billion) in June, a rise of 8.4 percent from a year earlier, but net profit growth slowed substantially as the country’s economic growth rate slid to its lowest reading on record.
Unemployment rate in urban Chinese areas at 5.1 percent in June / Shanghai Daily
Even as the ratio of vacancies to job seekers in the first quarter of 2019 has hit the lowest level in four years, state media reports that China’s job market “remained stable in June,” at 5.1 percent.
China’s debt ratio is growing as its economy loses steam / Bloomberg (porous paywall)
The nation’s total stock of corporate, household and government debt now exceeds 303 percent of gross domestic product and makes up about 15% of all global debt, according to a report published by the Institute of International Finance. That’s up from just under 297 percent in the first quarter of 2018.
From yesterday: China posts its lowest quarterly growth in 27 years as the trade war drags on / CNBC
Ideology in the movie business
China Film Administration: We want more good (read: patriotic) content / SupChina
The head of the government department responsible for approving and censoring films gave a speech in which he explicitly encouraged Chinese filmmakers to find more “valuable and heavy” topics and materials in China’s “excellent traditional culture,” “revolution culture,” and “advanced culture of socialism.”
SCIENCE, HEALTH, AND THE ENVIRONMENT:
Fuel from agricultural residues
How China could use bio-waste to mass-produce cheap super-fuel for missiles / SCMP
“Chinese scientists say they have developed a technology to convert bio-waste into fuel for missiles and hypersonic planes, reducing fuel costs by as much as 60 percent.”
POLITICS AND CURRENT AFFAIRS:
Repression of Tibetan Buddhism
Travel restrictions imposed on Sichuan’s Yachen Gar Buddhist center / Radio Free Asia
Authorities in western China’s Sichuan Province have imposed tight travel restrictions on the Yachen Gar Tibetan Buddhist center, barring visits from outside the area and setting up checkpoints to monitor the movements of vehicles, Tibetan sources say.
The new restrictions follow efforts beginning in May to reduce the number of monks and nuns living at the sprawling complex in Kardze (in Chinese, Ganzi) prefecture’s Palyul (Baiyu) County, with thousands forced out and sent back to their hometowns for political re-education.
Xinjiang internment camps
China slams Australian broadcaster over Xinjiang report as universities investigate claims / SCMP
An investigative report from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, which examined the links between the ongoing crisis in Xinjiang and Australian institutions, has come under fire from the Chinese embassy in Australia, accusing it of “lies, distortion, and bias.”
Opinion: You can’t force people to assimilate. So why is China at it again? By Adrian Zenz / NYT (porous paywall)
One of the scholars who has done the most to expose the abuses in Xinjiang argues that China’s ultimate goal in Xinjiang is to “exercise complete ideological supremacy” over the country’s minorities.
Uyghur man dies in Xinjiang internment camp after sacking over Muslim prayers / Radio Free Asia
An anonymous source recently sent a letter to RFA’s Uyghur Service claiming that Alimjan Emet, 22, was beaten to death while being interrogated at a camp in Kashgar’s Yengisheher (Shule) county because he had denied praying in secret — an allegation that had earlier led to his removal as an employee at a loan office in his home township of Ermudan.
Malaysian pipeline deal gone wrong
China requests ‘friendly consultation’ over assets seizure from state-linked company in Malaysia / SCMP
A foreign ministry spokesperson expressed hope on Tuesday that Malaysia could resolve its issues with a Chinese SOE through “friendly consultation,” saying that the project in dispute was “carried out in accordance with the contract.”
The comments came a day after Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad confirmed his government had seized more than 1 billion ringgit ($244 million) from a bank account of China Petroleum Pipeline Bureau as the oil and gas pipeline projects, worth $2.3 billion, had been canceled.
Hong Kong protests
Extremist mobs? How China’s propaganda machine tries to control the message in the Hong Kong protests / Hong Kong Free Press
A timeline of Chinese state media and propaganda messaging about the Hong Kong protests as they unfolded.
Hong Kong protesters to target annual book fair and Beijing-owned Sino United Publishing / SCMP
Opponents of the now-suspended extradition bill are planning to expand their protests to Hong Kong’s hugely popular annual book fair by targeting booths run by a mainland China state-owned publishing conglomerate.
The massive protests that have rattled Hong Kong in recent weeks will put hundreds of thousands of mainland Chinese tourists off visiting the city this year, according to HSBC.
It has revised down its estimated growth of mainland tourist arrivals for the year to 9 percent from 9.7 percent, according to a research report it released on Tuesday. Visitor numbers increased by 14 percent in 2018.
Hong Kong’s retail sector may see double-digit decline year on year over summer holidays due to anti-extradition bill protests, fears business association / SCMP
“Hong Kong’s retail sector should brace for a double-digit percentile decline year on year over the summer holidays.”
Propaganda and thought work
Move over Trump: China’s tweeting diplomats open fresh front in propaganda fight / Reuters
More rude tweets from Chinese ambassadors, this time from Cuī Tiānkǎi 崔天凯, Beijing’s man in D.C. and new member of Twitter, who focused on Taiwan:
“#Taiwan is part of #China. No attempts to split China will ever succeed. Those who play with fire will only get themselves burned. Period.”
From yesterday’s Access newsletter: Chinese diplomat defends China’s Xinjiang policy with old-fashioned racism
The Central Party School
Inside China’s top ‘Party schools’: Plenty of Communist doctrine on tap / The Washington Post (porous paywall)
Gerry Shih looks at the Central Party School, where Communist cadres get their thinking set straight.
See also from Reuters in June: Toilet revolution and boutique hotels on curriculum at China party school
SOCIETY AND CULTURE:
Foreign teachers continue to come under scrutiny
Oversight tightened on expat staff at cram schools / China Daily
“The Ministry of Education will strengthen oversight of foreign teachers at after-school training institutions after several foreign instructors were detained for alleged drug use earlier this month in Xuzhou, Jiangsu Province, a senior official said.”
Online foreign teachers’ personal info to be made public in China / That’s China
The Ministry of Education has announced new guidelines (in Chinese) for online education companies. Among other new “suggestions,” the guidelines stipulate:
Online platforms must prominently display the résumés and work qualification of foreign teachers.
Lesson times must be 40 minutes or shorter and conclude by 9 p.m.
No tattoos in mixed martial arts
Chinese government is cracking down on MMA fighters with tattoos / MMA Mania
Las Vegas–based Ultimate Fighting Championship, a company that runs mixed martial arts (MMA) competitions, “is heavily investing in China,” resulting in headlines like this from 2017 in the South China Morning Post: China could be huge for MMA thanks to deep talent pool, sport’s heritage and support trainee fighters get. Now MMA faces a uniquely Chinese problem: the government ban on entertainers displaying tattoos.
The dog meat debate
‘Opposing dog meat consumption is hypocritical’ — Weibo users respond to anti-dog meat protests in South Korea / What’s on Weibo
“I won’t oppose the eating of dog meat,” one person writes: “Because if I support the anti-dog meat movement today, then tomorrow it will turn against the eating of cows, then the eating of pigs, and then the eating of fish.”
FEATURED ON SUPCHINA
China Film Administration: We want more good (read: patriotic) content
As Chinese audiences were grappling with an unusually bleak summer season caused by an array of high-profile cancellations of hotly anticipated movies, the China Film Administration, the top regulator of the country’s film industry, held a meeting last week with government officials from local propaganda departments and professionals in the movie sector. The head of the organization said China lacks “high-quality content” on the big screen, specifically, “blockbusters with Chinese characteristics” that have the potential of “rejuvenating national spirit and displaying Chinese people’s feelings for home and country.”
SINICA PODCAST NETWORK
Middle Earth #15: Center stage in China: Live performances today
Live art is one of the few mediums that hasn’t been radically transformed by the digital age. No screen is yet able to capture the magic of in-person performance, be it a comedy show, theater, or even Peking opera. The live performance scene is particularly vibrant in contemporary Beijing, where comedy and theater offerings are as diverse as they are popular. In this episode, Aladin interviews some of Beijing’s emerging live performers to discuss what happens on the stage — and behind the scenes.