Hongkongers write their own anthem

Access Archive

Dear Access member,

Are you a student in the U.S. or elsewhere? Access member Jacob Finke is working with a network of students across the U.S. to raise awareness about the internment of Uyghurs and Kazakhs in Xinjiang. They are hoping to write some sort of open letter from students across the U.S. and the world, showing that they are paying attention and that this issue is not going away. Write to Jacob at finkej310@gmail.com. He would also appreciate being connected to professors or others who work with student networks to spread the word. 

On a similar note, a SupChina contributor who goes by the pseudonym Yi Xiaocuo has launched a website called Camp Album Project: Art to Fight Xinjiang Abuse. Uyghur-created poetry and art was also the subject of Darren Byler’s column back in March

Our word of the day is “Glory to Hong Kong” (願榮光歸香港 yuàn róngguāng guī xiānggǎng), the name of the new anthem written by and widely adopted by protesters in the city. 

—Lucas Niewenhuis, Associate Editor


1. Hongkongers write their own anthem

It’s no secret that many Hongkongers, especially young people, are no fans of the Chinese national anthem. The proposal of the Hong Kong government last year to impose a penalty on anyone who “sings the national anthem in a distorted or derogatory manner, or insults the national anthem in any other manner,” was met with a great deal of grumbling. And just yesterday, thousands of protesters booed the anthem as it played at a 2022 Fifa World Cup qualifier against Iran

So Hong Kong protesters wrote their own anthem. Called “Glory to Hong Kong” (願榮光歸香港 yuàn róngguāng guī xiānggǎng), the piece “did not exist a few weeks ago” and “was crowdsourced/workshopped online,” according to Antony Dapiran. It was released with a slickly produced and striking music video of an orchestra of protesters in full gear, cut with footage of demonstrations in the streets. Click here for an English translation of the lyrics. 

Today, September 11, singing this anthem in shopping malls became the primary mode of protest. Partially, this was because some groups of protesters called for a temporary cessation of street protests out of respect for the 9/11 anniversary in the U.S., the Hong Kong Free Press says. The South China Morning Post has a report on these shopping mall singing protests; click here for a video of one of them. 

Other stories from the City of Protest:

A call for leniency rejected: Hong Kong tycoon Li Ka-shing, in his first public comments on the protests other than a cryptic newspaper advertisement, called for young people to be given “a way out” from strict prosecution. But chief executive Carrie Lam was quoted as replying, “The government will not endorse or condone any act that goes against the rule of law,” the SCMP reports

However, eight activists who protested in 2016 were “all spared jail” in legal rulings today, according to the SCMP. These include the “chairmen of two political parties – Avery Ng Man-yuen, 42, of the League of Social Democrats, and Ivan Lam Long-yin, 24, from Demosisto,” who participated in a protest against Beijing’s interpretation of the city’s Basic Law.

Of cockroaches and dogs: Dehumanizing language is widely directed toward both protesters and police, and police have acknowledged that their multiple uses of the word cockroaches to describe protesters is “not ideal,” Quartz reports. “Protesters, on the other hand, now widely refer to police as ‘dogs.’”

2. Shanghai’s STAR market lures biotech listings

Last week, we noted that star private equity investor Shān Wěijiàn 单伟建 and his firm, PAG, had paid $540 million for a controlling stake in Hisun BioRay Biopharmaceutical, the biotech division of state-owned Hisun Pharma. 

News of the boom in Chinese biotech continues this week. Nikkei Asian Review reports:

Nearly 30 startups in China’s red-hot biotechnology sector are looking to list in Shanghai or Hong Kong over the next few months, including the highly anticipated IPO of Suzhou Zelgen Biopharmaceuticals, which has a pipeline of 11 novel drugs to treat cancer and other diseases.

Of the 28 companies listed on the Shanghai Stock Exchange’s Star Market, three are biotech startups with a combined market capitalization of 59 billion yuan ($8.3 billion) as of Monday.

For an in-depth introduction to the potential and likely future of the STAR board, see TechBuzz China’s Ep. 40: China’s Newest Stock Exchange Experiment: Shanghai’s Technology Innovation Board.

For an even shorter overview, we covered the debut of STAR in our Weekly Briefing on July 30

3. American companies are canceling investment in China: AmCham Shanghai

Pessimism is rising among American companies about the Chinese market, according to a newly released survey by the American Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai. Click here to view the full report. A few top-line findings:

  • “More than a quarter of the respondents — or 26.5% — said that in the past year, they haveredirected investments originally planned for China to other regions. That’s an increase of 6.9 percentage points from last year, the AmCham report said, noting that technology, hardware, software and services industries had the highest level of changes in investment destination,” per CNBC

  • Pessimism about revenue prospects: “The proportion of companies surveyed by the American Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai that expect revenue to grow in China this year dropped by a third from last year to 50 percent. Those expressing optimism about their prospects over the next five years dropped by a fifth to 61 percent,” the FT reports.

  • BUT: Companies “cited China’s slowing economy as a greater concern than the deepening trade war between Beijing and Washington.” 

In other U.S.-China techno-trade war news, now on day 433:

China has released a “set of lists of U.S. goods to be excluded from the first round of additional tariffs on U.S. products,” per Xinhua. CNBC has a breakdown of the products excluded for a year starting September 17, including prawn seedlings, grease, whey for feed, and lubricating base oil. The New York Times called the exemptions a “modest olive branch to Trump,” and Trump called the exemptions a “good gesture,” but in the end, it probably won’t change much. 

Fentanyl inspections: “The Trump administration has drafted an executive order that would increase inspections of mailed packages, in an effort to crack down on shipments of counterfeit goods and deadly drugs from foreign nations including China,” the New York Times reports

This follows conflicting statements from Trump on fentanyl from China. On August 23, part of a Twitter tirade stated, “Fentanyl kills 100,000 Americans a year. President Xi said this would stop – it didn’t.” But then on September 1, Trump claimed credit for a drop in the flow of fentanyl from China. 

A thorough fact-check of Trump on Chinese economics was done by the Washington Post, and is worth a read. 

“An increasing number of US universities are looking to buy insurance policies against a drop in revenue from international students,” the FT reports. “A 10 percent decline in new international student enrolments at US universities…over the past two academic years has already cost the US economy $5.5bn, according to a report from Nafsa, previously known as the National Association of Foreign Student Advisers.” For more on the increasing visa difficulties and other factors dissuading Chinese students from enrolling at American colleges, see a new article in the Daily Tar Heel, and our Sinophobia Tracker

4. JPMorgan ventures into political correctness trap

Last month, JPMorgan became the first foreign business to take control of its local joint venture in China, as it gained a 51 percent stake in China International Fund Management, formerly owned by its local partner Shanghai International Trust. 

With the increased presence in China comes heightened alertness to the potential of a move that could land the bank on Beijing’s bad side. Bloomberg reports that the company has “told some staff to ensure that they don’t refer to Hong Kong, Macau or self-governing Taiwan as separate countries”:

The regions should on first reference be Hong Kong SAR, Macau SAR and Taiwan, China, Stuart Marston, supervisory analyst global manager, said in a recent email, which was seen by Bloomberg News. JPMorgan has also added a note in its disclosures section to clarify usage, according to the email. The language wasn’t used in numerous prior research notes published over the past few months though reports in recent days are incorporating the changes.

This is very practical, business-wise: The bank is proactively avoiding the controversies that have gotten nearly a dozen international brands in hot water just in the past few months. But as the company is the first to own its own joint venture, it is also signaling that this is the new standard practice for any international company involved in the mainland market. 

—Lucas Niewenhuis


BUSINESS AND TECHNOLOGY:

The company behind Hong Kong’s stock exchange offered Wednesday to buy the London Stock Exchange for 29.6 billion pounds ($36.5 billion).

Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Ltd. (HKEx) announced that it has proposed combining itself with London Stock Exchange Group PLC, according to the exchange’s press release. The offer price implies a premium of 22.9% on London Stock Exchange Group’s share price at the close of trading on Tuesday.

Shares of London Stock Exchange Group jumped 16.4% immediately after HKEx announced the offer, but quickly gave back much of the gain. The stock was still up 6.3% in the late morning, London time.

China’s auto sales could experience negative to low growth over the next three years, an official with the country’s top industry association said, after sales fell for a 14th consecutive month in August. 

The number of new energy vehicles (NEVs) sold contracted for the second month in a row…[while] total auto sales fell 6.9% from the same month a year earlier to 1.96 million… This followed declines of 4.3% in July and 9.6% in June.

  • iPhone 11 disappoints
    Tepid reaction for Apple’s new iPhones in China amid tough competition / Reuters
    The iPhone 11 has had a disappointing release in Asia, despite a lower price tag ($50 less than the previous model), a faster processor, and even an additional camera. This is likely because its main competitors, Huawei and Samsung, still boast cheaper prices along with new 5G-capable smartphones.

  • More on the corporate social credit system
    What is the corporate social credit system? / China Business Review
    China Business Review, the US-China Business Council’s podcast, has a new episode on China’s social credit system. The episode features an interview with Angela Deng, a manager of business advisory services at the Council, explaining “how the system works, the challenges China faces in completing and launching the system, and how companies should prepare for its rollout.”
    For more, see our August 28 Access newsletter: Social credit for companies is here to stay.

  • Meatless meat
    Impossible Foods says China its top priority meat substitute market / Reuters
    See also a Sixth Tone article from last week on Chinese competitors to Impossible Foods and other growing Western meat substitute brands. 

POLITICS AND CURRENT AFFAIRS:

Last week, Google dropped a bombshell in the form of a long, detailed analysis of five chains of iOS vulnerabilities discovered by its security teams. Google didn’t say who was behind the attacks, nor who was targeted, but described the attack as “indiscriminate,” and potentially hitting “thousands” of people.

Apple disagrees… 

“First, the sophisticated attack was narrowly focused, not a broad-based exploit of iPhones “en masse” as described. The attack affected fewer than a dozen websites that focus on content related to the Uighur community,” Apple wrote. 

  • Mar-a-Lago trespasser found guilty of trespassing and lying
    Mar-a-Lago intruder Zhang Yujing found guilty on both counts, Florida jury decides / AP via SCMP
    “Chinese businesswoman Zhang Yujing has been convicted of trespassing at US President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club and lying to Secret Service agents…The 33-year-old Shanghai business consultant faces up to six years in prison when she is sentenced on November 22.”

SOCIETY AND CULTURE:

  • Sexism in education
    Chinese school sparks sexism row after urging boys to grow ‘heroically’ and girls to be ‘tranquil’ / SCMP
    An elementary school in Chengdu has developed a course called “Boys and Girls Are Vastly Different.” The course is meant, according to the principal, to allow boys to “grow heroically” and give girls “tranquil feminine examples.” The course also encourages boys and girls to learn traditionally gendered vocations, having boys learn to build rockets while girls knit. This has led to a backlash online:

“They are tying the hands of girls when young, and when these girls grow up, people would say there are only a few female scientists because girls are born unfit for that role,” a Weibo user said. “It’s typical gender discrimination,” another said. “Why can’t boys knit and girls build rockets?”

On Monday, the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) announced that airlines will be able to decide on in-flight meal services offered to passengers – a move that’s expected to leave more than a few passengers’ stomachs growling. The CAAC will do away with a provision on meal service, which will allow airlines to decide on in-flight catering services depending on flight duration, among other factors… 

For short-haul flights, the CAAC called for airlines to consider canceling or simplifying their meal service to ensure passenger and flight staff safety.

  • Inflation changes nursery rhyme lyrics
    Famous Chinese nursery song “One Penny” inflates to “One Yuan” / What’s on Weibo
    “Famous Chinese children’s song ‘One Penny’ (一分钱) has changed its penny to a Chinese yuan ($0.15). The lyrics to the song are now published online and in children’s books with the different lyrics, Chinese news platform City Bulletin (@都市快报) reports on Weibo.”


FEATURED ON SUPCHINA

Click Here

On the border of China and Myanmar, commerce and consternation

The Chinese border town of Ruili, home to tens of thousands of Burmese, is the notorious final frontier of Yunnan as it meets Myanmar. Once famous for sex, drugs, and gambling, the city is hard at work burying its seedier side as China prepares to turn the area into a hub for its Belt and Road Initiative. But for the sizable Rohingya population in Ruili, China’s presence comes with a reminder of its close relationship with a Myanmar regime that has been condemned by the United Nations of human rights abuses. As one jade trader says, “My government is killing us, day by day.”

Former University of Illinois professor Xu Gang sued over alleged rape and other sex crimes

Three people have filed a lawsuit against disgraced Chinese curator Xú Gāng 徐钢, a former professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign (UIUC), who was accused of sexual misconduct stretching back decades in a series of damning revelations that came to light last year.