Dear Access member,
You’re invited to join our next SupChina direct conference call on Tuesday, July 23, at 2 p.m. EST. It will be a no-holds-barred conversation with our own TechBuzz China podcaster, Rui Ma, 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.
On Sinica this week, we speak again with Antony Dapiran, a corporate lawyer in Hong Kong and the 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.
—Jeremy Goldkorn, Editor-in-Chief
1. World’s most invasive mosquito nearly eradicated from two Guangzhou islands
Researchers have all but obliterated populations of the world’s most invasive mosquito species — the Asian tiger mosquito (Aedes albopictus) — on two islands in the Chinese city of Guangzhou.
They reduced A. albopictus populations by up to 94% using a combination of two promising control techniques in a field trial for the first time. The two-pronged approach1, published in Nature on 17 July, integrates the sterilization of female Asian tiger mosquitoes with the infection of males using Wolbachia pipientis, a bacterium that hinders the insects’ ability to reproduce and transmit disease-causing viruses such as dengue and Zika.
See also: China is leading the next step in fighting malaria in Africa in the Atlantic.
2. Xinjiang, Huawei, and the techno-trade war
It’s day 378 of the U.S.-China techno-trade war by our count. One noteworthy development: The U.S. government appears to be forming a line on the internment camps in Xinjiang. We’ve included relevant reports in this section.
Here is the latest news:
Huawei holdup: “Progress toward a U.S.-China trade deal has stalled while the Trump administration determines how to address Beijing’s demands that it ease restrictions on Huawei,” reports the Wall Street Journal (paywall). Bloomberg says (porous paywall) that “Trump and Xi are struggling to find a path forward in the trade talks.”
“More than 50 global companies, including Apple and Nintendo, have announced or are considering plans to move production out of China,” according to Nikkei Asian Review (porous paywall).
Nikki Haley, former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, clarifies her zero-sum view of the U.S.-China relationship in an article titled How to win against Beijing. She concludes thusly:
China requires a response that is not just “whole of government” but “whole of nation.” Fortunately, there is support across the political spectrum for countering China’s new aggressive policies. We must act now, before it’s too late. The stakes are high. They could be life or death.
In counterpoint, Jonathan D. Pollack and Jeffrey A. Bader have published a policy brief titled Looking before we leap: Weighing the risks of US-China disengagement. Excerpt:
For both Washington and Beijing, the patient rebuilding of a rules-based order, not the assertion of unilateral advantage by either, remains the only credible path forward. Rather than mirror-image Chinese xenophobic or paranoid behavior, the United States should insist on reciprocity in the relationship to promote openness, move aggressively to open China’s markets, welcome Chinese visitors and researchers, and defend our allies. The United States also needs to fix its own broken domestic politics and mitigate the downsides of globalization at home to diminish the gratuitous scapegoating of China. Without such efforts, the region and the world will inevitably move toward open-ended rivalry, or worse — from which no country, including the United States, can possibly benefit.
Donald Trump met various victims of religious persecution from around the world on Wednesday, including four people from China. From the South China Morning Post:
“That’s tough stuff,” said Trump on Wednesday in response to an account by Jewher Ilham of the network of camps in Xinjiang and the ongoing imprisonment of her father, the prominent Uygur scholar Ilham Tohti.
Note: “Tough stuff” is the exact phrase U.S. Vice President Mike Pence used to describe America’s own concentration camps at its southern borders.
Nancy Pelosi, speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, “has warned that the U.S. risks losing its moral authority to speak out against violations of religious freedom elsewhere in the world if it does not hold China accountable for its policies targeting Uyghurs,” according to Radio Free Asia.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo today “called China’s treatment of its Uyghur Muslim minority the ‘stain of the century’ and accused Beijing of pressuring countries not to attend a U.S.-hosted conference on religious freedom,” reports Reuters.
The U.S. House of Representatives passed the Intelligence Authorization Act (IAA) for Fiscal Years 2018, 2019, and 2020. Among other requirements, the bill demands:
A full, public accounting of the camps in Xinjiang from U.S. intelligence agencies.
A description of all United Front Work in the U.S.
The protection of Taiwanese elections from political interference.
Vietnam appears to be “quietly avoiding” Huawei in its 5G plans, according to the New York Times (porous paywall).
Russia and China have vowed to “deepen trade in soybeans” after the trade war killed U.S. crop exports, says the South China Morning Post.
3. Sinophobia and the Chinese brain drain
That giant sucking noise you hear from Washington, D.C., is the sound of the best Chinese scientific and engineering talent draining away to China, according to Bloomberg (porous paywall):
U.S. targeting of Chinese scientists fuels a brain drain
…Six years later, Yick Xin Technology Development Ltd. is up and running, but not in Virginia. The company’s R&D and new patent registrations — the lifeblood of any technology startup — have moved to China. The planned William & Mary spinout left the U.S. after federal agents hounded its founder, Zhao, for two years, and prosecutors accused him of trying to smuggle a robotic arm from Florida to a university in China that U.S. officials had linked to the nation’s top nuclear weapons lab. The charges were dismissed in December 2017 — but Zhao, shaken by the ordeal, gave up his U.S. research operations…
…Chinese scientists and engineers are often detained and searched at U.S. airports these days while traveling to and from China, as family members watch in panic. “They frequently use the porn excuse.”
4. Will China abolish mailing addresses in favor of a geolocation code?
The State Post Bureau “plans to replace the country’s postal codes with unique ‘personal address IDs’ in a bid to streamline mailing in the country’s growing e-commerce industry,” reports Sixth Tone (or see announcement in Chinese).
“The project…will allow each resident to register for an individual postal ID using their government-issued identity card and proof of residence.” The codes “are intended to be short enough for people to remember them with ease.”
The codes will enable “geographical precision” and “allow couriers to identify both the recipient and intended delivery address for any parcel.”
No date of implementation has been announced.
In 2018, Chinese couriers handled over 50 billion parcels, according to the State Post Bureau.
5. Rules for China’s private rocket men
Perhaps inspired by Elon Musk’s SpaceX, and a recent proliferation of Chinese space and rocketry startups, China has issued its first set of regulations for commercial rocket companies (in Chinese). Quartz reports (paywall):
Many of China’s rules are similar to those required of American rivals. Orbital launches must be conducted at “approved” sites, a space news blog said [in Chinese], which means one of the four national launching sites in Jiuquan, Xichang, Taiyuan, and Wenchang. Space launch sites are similarly regulated in the US, and all orbital launches take place at government facilities. China has restricted the export of rocket technology; similar rules in the US prevent rocket makers from hiring foreign nationals or allowing them into manufacturing facilities
China offers several examples of the types of companies subject to the regulation, including companies building smaller rockets (those launching payloads up to an altitude of 200 kilometers), reusable boosters, and re-entry capsules.
Also from Quartz (paywall):
China’s space lab Tiangong-2 is coming back to Earth on July 19, if all goes as planned (link in Chinese). Unlike Tiangong-1, which China lost contact with before it burned up somewhere over the South Pacific in April 2018, this one’s return is designed to be in a controlled manner.
6. Chinese Trump supporters
In The rise of the Chinese-American right, Rong Xiaoqing examines new Chinese immigrants to the U.S. who support Trump:
They are only part of the rising force of conservatism among new Chinese immigrants in the U.S., aroused by nationwide issues such as the racially conscious admissions policy of Ivy League colleges and the legalization of marijuana for recreational use. Their emergence on the political horizon may herald a climate change in a community that has been considered a solid base for the Democrats for two decades.
See also on SupChina:
7. Learning Zulu in Beijing
The Sowetan newspaper of South Africa reports:
Speaking on the publication of the first Zulu-Chinese textbook and Zulu-English-Mandarin dictionary, Mthuli Buthelezi said the development of Zulu in China was a watershed moment.
Buthelezi is one of the lecturers who have been appointed to teach Zulu at the Beijing Foreign Studies University in China…
He said ultimately, the university desired to teach all the indigenous languages spoken in SA. “They are starting with Zulu, because it is the most spoken among the indigenous languages,” he said.
—Jeremy Goldkorn, Editor-in-Chief
BUSINESS AND TECHNOLOGY:
An enormous cloud
China’s public cloud market growth double global average in 2018 / TechNode
According to a report (in Chinese) by research firm IDC, China’s infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) public cloud market grew 86.1 percent year on year to $4.65 billion, accounting for nearly 13 percent of the global market.
China’s P2P giant exits P2P
Ping An-backed Lufax to ditch P2P lending on regulatory woes / Reuters
Lufax, one of China’s largest online wealth management platforms that is backed by financial giant Ping An Insurance, plans to exit its once-core peer-to-peer lending (P2P) business, three sources with direct knowledge of the matter told Reuters.
The move by Lufax to exit P2P, in which companies gather funds from retail investors and loan the money to small corporate and individual borrowers, is due to regulatory hurdles, two of the sources said, and comes amid China’s crackdown on the business to contain broader financial risks.
The end of state-led growth?
China’s state-driven growth model is running out of gas / WSJ (paywall)
In light of recent dismal trade numbers, chief economics commentator with the Wall Street Journal Greg Ip says: “A recession or crisis may not be imminent, but the long-run implications are just as serious. Absent a change in direction, China may never become rich.”
Bullish on Hong Kong
China investor beating 98% of peers bets on Hong Kong stocks / Bloomberg (porous paywall)
“After beating almost all rivals in China with a 45 percent return in one equity fund, investor Qū Yáng 曲杨 is shifting his money into Hong Kong.”
5G rollout in China
Beijing going 5G / Xinhua
Beijing has built 5,285 5G base stations across the city as of the end of June, the municipal telecom authorities said yesterday. Constructed by the country’s three major carriers, the 5G base stations are in the city’s core urban zones, the new airport, the horticultural expo and venues for the 2022 Winter Olympics.
China’s Didi seeks up to $2 billion as ride-hailing firms want investors to fund growth / WSJ (paywall)
China’s dominant ride-hailing company Didi Chuxing Technology Co. is working to raise up to $2 billion from investors, according to people familiar with the matter, the latest sign that firms in the sector including Uber Technologies Inc. and Lyft Inc. are eager to raise money to fuel investments while posting steep losses.
SCIENCE, HEALTH, AND THE ENVIRONMENT:
Public health campaigns
China urges citizens to cut consumption of oils, sugar and salt / The Straits Times via Bloomberg
China is calling on its people to reduce their intake of edible oils, sugar and salt as part of a nationwide campaign to minimise health risks.
The country is the world’s top consumer of soybean oil, processed from imported beans, and the biggest user of sugar after India.
POLITICS AND CURRENT AFFAIRS:
Hong Kong protests: Is military force off the table?
China scrambles to deliver new Hong Kong strategy – but military response not an option / SCMP
Mainland Chinese officials in charge of Hong Kong affairs are working on a comprehensive strategy to solve the city’s political crisis that will be presented to the top leadership for deliberation soon, according to people familiar with the discussion, but resorting to military force is not on the table.
Officials are developing both an immediate strategy to handle the increasingly violent weeks-long protests in the city, as well as a long-term plan that may lead to an overhaul of Beijing’s approach to managing the restless former British colony.
Xinmin Evening News, a Shanghai metro paper put out by the Chinese Communist Party Shanghai Municipal Committee, published an article [in Chinese] on July 13 asserting that American NGOs plotted recent demonstrations in Hong Kong against a controversial extradition bill.
The European Parliament adopted a resolution calling for “appropriate export control mechanisms” on technologies that could be used to violate human rights in Hong Kong.
Yang Hengjun to be charged
Australian detained in China expected to be charged: Lawyer / Channel NewsAsia
Yáng Héngjūn 杨恒均 has been moved to “criminal detention” and is expected to be formally charged soon, according to the democracy advocate’s lawyers. Yáng previously worked as a diplomat in China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs before becoming a writer and an Australian citizen. He was detained on national security grounds by Chinese security forces in January shortly after returning to China with his wife, Yuán Xiǎolìang 袁小靓, who was also subjected to interrogations and has been denied permission to leave China.
Belt and Road and debt trap debate
Is China the world’s loan shark? / Bloomberg (porous paywall)
“This is how empires start,” begins this opinion piece from Bloomberg about China’s One Belt, One Road. Citing a new study out of the Kiel Institute that says that China’s international lending is actually higher than previously known, the writer argues that this could lead to greater political leverage for China internationally.
The Belt and Road ‘debt sustainability framework’ / Panda Paw Dragon Claw
An examination of the complex topic of “debt sustainability” in response to allegations that China’s One Belt, One Road initiative counts as “debt trap diplomacy.”
Where is the Evidence of Debt Traps in Africa? / ChinaFile
In the most recent episode of the China in Africa Podcast, the hosts talk with Deborah Brautigam, a Johns Hopkins University professor and the director of the China-Africa Research Initiative in Washington, D.C., who recently published an article on the lack of evidence for the “debt trap” narrative.
China may be courting Japan to allay Belt and Road controversy / SCMP
The People’s Bank of China last month named MUFG Bank as the first yuan clearing bank in Japan, and only the second non-Chinese bank after JPMorgan last year, to be allowed to clear and settle yuan-denominated transactions.
The selection of Japan’s largest bank to clear yuan transactions is the latest step in the warming of economic relations, and comes as Beijing makes changes to its Belt and Road strategy to improve lending practices and the quality of the infrastructure projects that connect Asia with Africa and Europe.
China to embed anti-corruption officers in BRI projects / Financial Times (paywall)
“The Chinese Communist party’s top graft inspector plans to expand its anti-corruption campaign overseas by embedding officers in countries participating in China’s Belt and Road Initiative.”
Six Early Rain Church members flee to Taiwan, apply for U.S. asylum / Radio Free Asia
Six members of the Early Rain Covenant Church that was recently raided by authorities in the southwestern Chinese province of Sichuan have applied for visa extensions on the democratic island of Taiwan, pending asylum applications to the United States.
Campaign to help migrant workers claim unpaid salaries / China Daily
The government has a mixed record on migrant worker treatment, but a new national campaign to help workers aims to change that:
A nationwide campaign has been launched to help migrant workers claim unpaid salaries, the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security said at a news conference on Thursday.
The 40-day campaign, from July 16 to August 26, will focus on projects with government or State-owned company investment, and contractors with a history of owing salaries to employees, a document released at the news conference said.
Scrutiny of foreign teachers continues
Hiring of foreign teachers should abide by rules / China Daily
On Tuesday, Beijing No 3 Intermediary People’s Court gave a final ruling in the retrial of a case, in which three defendants working for an education company were given prison sentences of one and a half to two years for helping people to illegally cross national borders… The court’s decision comes at a time when how to strengthen management of expats particularly in the education sector in China has stirred heated discussions, after some universities were exposed providing international students with supernational treatment.
SOCIETY AND CULTURE:
Sexism and journalism
The challenge of reporting on women in China, where men control the narrative / NYT (porous paywall)
Amy Qin discusses her recent article, A prosperous China says ‘men preferred,’ and women lose:
By the end of our reporting, we had talked to dozens of women. I was stunned to find that nearly every woman we spoke with had a personal story to tell about egregious discrimination at the workplace or in the home.
Chinese workers on the transcontinental railroad
‘Forgotten by society’ – how Chinese migrants built the transcontinental railroad / Guardian
At the National Museum of American History until spring 2020: “Forgotten Workers: Chinese Migrants and the Building of the Transcontinental Railroad [traces] the forgotten Chinese workers who built the western leg of the railroad across the Sierra Nevada mountains, connecting the Union Pacific and Central Pacific railroad in 1869.”
Marvel’s Chinese superhero
Marvel’s Shang-Chi casting rumor reopens debate about the racist Fu Manchu caricature / Abacus
“The epitome of Yellow Peril narratives was originally the superhero’s dad and Chinese netizens aren’t having it.”
SINICA PODCAST NETWORK
Sinica Podcast: An update on the Hong Kong protests
This week, we speak again with Antony Dapiran, a corporate lawyer in Hong Kong and the 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.