No force can ever undermine China’s status

Access Archive

Dear Access member,

Our word, or phrase of the day, is a line from the National Day address of General Secretary Xí Jìnpíng 习近平: “No force can ever undermine China’s status” (没有任何力量能够撼动我们伟大祖国的地位 méiyǒu rènhé lìliàng nénggòu hàndòng wǒmen wěidà zǔguó de dìwèi). 

—Lucas Niewenhuis, Associate Editor

Xi stands on the Tiananmen rostrum and reviews the parading troops and military hardware. Photo from a series of 21 images published on Xinhua News Agency’s Chinese site. 

1. An enormous parade to celebrate 70 years of the P.R.C. 

For the 70th anniversary of the People’s Republic of China, Beijing held a nearly three-hour-long parade. The South China Morning Post has a chronological timeline of China’s National Day parade, as it happened

The festivities began with an eight-minute address by Xi Jinping. Per Xinhua:

No force can ever undermine China’s status, or stop the Chinese people and nation from marching forward, President Xi Jinping said on Tuesday, China’s National Day… 

“Seventy years ago on this day, Comrade Mao Zedong solemnly declared here to the world that the PRC was founded and the Chinese people had stood up,” Xi said on Tian’anmen Rostrum.

“This great event completely reversed China’s miserable fate born from poverty and weakness and being bullied and humiliated over more than 100 years since the advent of modern times,” Xi said, adding that the Chinese nation has since then embarked on the path of realizing national rejuvenation.

You can click here to read a full transcript of Xi’s short National Day address (in Chinese). 

With its 70th anniversary, the P.R.C. has reached the average age of China’s past dynasties, writes the LA Review of Books: China Channel — though, of course, there was a huge variance in their longevity, “from the Heng Chu dynasty (403–404), which lasted for less than a year, to the Tang (618–907), which ruled China for 289 years.” 

“What Xi Jinping hasn’t learned from China’s emperors” is the title of a piece in the New York Times by historian James Millward, who argues that Xi has turned the country away from “the Qing tradition with flexible approaches to diversity and sovereignty” in places like Xinjiang and Hong Kong, and makes the country’s future more uncertain as a result. 

Though Xi made no direct mention of other countries or external threats to China in his speech, he did urge continuation of the policy direction of “peaceful reunification” and “One Country, Two Systems” (和平统一、一国两制 hépíng tǒngyī, yīguó liǎngzhì), with the aim of protecting prosperity and stability in Hong Kong and Macau, and the goal to “unite all of China’s children” (团结全体中华儿女 tuánjié quántǐ zhōnghuá érnǚ), including those across the Taiwan Strait. 

Taiwan rejected the idea: “The Chinese communist authorities must accept the international reality that Taiwan has never been part of the People’s Republic since its formation…[the] one country, two systems proposal for managing cross-strait relations is not applicable in Taiwan and will never be accepted by the Taiwanese people,” Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council said in a statement, per the SCMP

The military parade

After Xi’s short address, a massive military parade proceeded. 

“Thousands of servicemen and women goose-stepped through the square, sophisticated tanks and armoured vehicles rumbled and up-to-date fighters flew by. The historic parade consisted of 15,000 personnel, 580 pieces of armament and more than 160 aircraft in 15 foot formations, 32 armament formations and 12 echelons,” per Xinhua

Two pieces of military hardware caught the most attention:

“I have experienced the power of Chinese military weaponry. My horizons have been greatly expanded,” one 12-year-old student told Reuters, exemplifying the patriotic zeal of the citizens selected to personally witness the military display. 

More on National Day in Beijing

—Lucas Niewenhuis

2. Hong Kong protester shot by police

As Beijing held festivities for the 70th anniversary of the P.R.C., Hong Kong protesters held what they called a “day of mourning,” during which they shouted the slogan “There is no National Day celebration, only a national tragedy,” the Hong Kong Free Press reports

Then, a specific tragedy occurred, as the first live shots — two of them — were shot at point-blank range by a police officer at an 18-year-old protester, according to Hong Kong Free Press, which compiled footage from sources such as the University of Hong Kong Student Union’s Campus TV. He was last reported to be at Princess Margaret Hospital in critical condition.

The United Kingdom said the “use of live ammunition is disproportionate, and only risks inflaming the situation,” per Reuters, and the EU called for “de-escalation and restraint” following the incident, AFP reports

Other updates from the City of Protest:

“Hong Kong held a flag-raising ceremony on Tuesday to mark the 70th anniversary of the People’s Republic of China, as top government officials and some 12,000 guests watched from inside the Convention and Exhibition Centre in Wan Chai,” Hong Kong Free Press says. Eleven train stations were shut down, in an apparently effective tactic to reduce the turnout of protesters — though thousands still took to the streets over the course of the day. The New York Times has a minute of footage of scenes of violence in Hong Kong on China’s National Day

“The Hong Kong police have arrested more people in relation to the July 1 storming of the Legislative Council building, including an activist, an actor, and a reporter,” the Hong Kong Free Press reports

Top officials in Beijing may not actually be all that worried about the crisis in Hong Kong, scholar Andrew Nathan writes in Foreign Affairs, because they interpret the grievances of Hongkongers largely through an economic lens:

But according to two Chinese scholars who have connections to regime insiders and who requested anonymity to discuss the thinking of policymakers in Beijing, China’s response has been rooted not in anxiety but in confidence. Beijing is convinced that Hong Kong’s elites and a substantial part of the public do not support the demonstrators and that what truly ails the territory are economic problems rather than political ones—in particular, a combination of stagnant incomes and rising rents. Beijing also believes that, despite the appearance of disorder, its grip on Hong Kong society remains firm. The Chinese Communist Party has long cultivated the territory’s business elites (the so-called tycoons) by offering them favorable economic access to the mainland. The party also maintains a long-standing loyal cadre of underground members in the territory. And China has forged ties with the Hong Kong labor movement and some sections of its criminal underground. Finally, Beijing believes that many ordinary citizens are fearful of change and tired of the disruption caused by the demonstrations.

Beijing therefore thinks that its local allies will stand firm and that the demonstrations will gradually lose public support and eventually die out. As the demonstrations shrink, some frustrated activists will engage in further violence, and that in turn will accelerate the movement’s decline. Meanwhile, Beijing is turning its attention to economic development projects that it believes will address some of the underlying grievances that led many people to take to the streets in the first place.

—Lucas Niewenhuis


Paul Donovan, chief economist at UBS Global Wealth Management, was placed on leave in June after he said that the outbreak of the [African swine fever] only “matters if you are a Chinese pig” or “if you like eating pork in China.”

A spokesperson for UBS confirmed that Mr Donovan was scheduled to return to work on Wednesday.

His tongue-in-cheek remarks provoked outrage in China, after a rival bank and some news outlets falsely claimed that he was being racist, owing to the insulting nature of the word “pig” in the country, where it connotes laziness and stupidity.

  • Billions for Bytedance
    TikTok’s owner had $7 billion in revenue for the first half of the year / Reuters via CNBC
    “China’s ByteDance, owner of video-sharing app TikTok, booked revenue of $7 billion to $8.4 billion in a better-than-expected result for the first half…Robust growth has led the Beijing-based startup to revise its revenue target for 2019 to 120 billion yuan [$16.8 billion] from an earlier goal set late last year of 100 billion yuan [$14 billion].”

  • 36Kr files for Nasdaq IPO
    Chinese tech information platform 36Kr files for IPO in the US / Tech in Asia
    “China-based 36Kr, a media, information, and co-working company serving tech companies and entrepreneurs in the country, has filed for an initial public offering on the Nasdaq Global Select Market. The Ant Financial-backed company listed the size of the offering at US$100 million, a placeholder amount that is likely to change, according to its F-1 filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission.”

  • China Mobile CEO retires
    China Mobile managing director and CEO retires at 60 / Caixin Live
    “Lǐ Yuè 李跃, the managing director and CEO of China’s largest mobile carrier China Mobile, has retired at the age of 60, according to an internal letter seen by Caixin. A veteran of the country’s telecom industry, Li took the helm at China Mobile in 2010.”


  • Endangered species
    After 450 million years, the Chinese horseshoe crab is now endangered / Chinadialogue
    “In March this year, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) listed the Chinese horseshoe crab (also known as the tri-spine horseshoe) as endangered. But few people in China are aware of the plight of this 450-million-year-old creature, and experts are calling for stronger measures to protect it.”


  • Interview with Cui Tiankai
    NPR’s interview with China’s ambassador to the U.S. / NPR
    Steve Inskeep interviews Cuī Tiānkǎi 崔天凯 about a range of topics — the 70th anniversary of the P.R.C., Xinjiang, Hong Kong, the trade war, intellectual property, and more — and gets slick expressions of the Party line. A few quotes:

    • “Whatever we are doing in Xinjiang is to protect people from the threat of terrorism.”

    • “You see, about 30 or 40 years ago, very few people in China had the slightest idea of what intellectual property rights was. So from that very low base, we have developed a whole set of laws and rules to protect intellectual property rights. We are making progress.”

    • “[In Hong Kong] they’re challenging the Basic Law itself, are challenging China’s sovereignty over Hong Kong.” 

  • U.S.-China techno-trade war
    California man charged with smuggling fabricated U.S. secrets to China / NYT (porous paywall)

The United States ran a double-agent operation against China’s Ministry of State Security, an indictment unsealed in California revealed on Monday, as it announced that it had arrested an American citizen and charged him with smuggling what he thought were classified American secrets to China’s leading intelligence agency.

The charges against Xuehua Peng, 56, of Hayward, Calif., who first moved to the United States in 2001, follow a four-year investigation in which the F.B.I. placed seemingly secret documents on small, secure digital memory cards and tracked them as they made their way to Beijing. The Justice Department released surveillance video showing the cards being transferred through “dead drops” — one party leaving them in a prearranged spot and then the other picking them up — in California and Georgia.

In the past few years, more and more Uyghurs, a minority who speak a Turkic language and call Xinjiang home, have moved to Turkey as they flee an assimilation campaign led by Beijing. Some live in Zeytinburnu, a neighborhood adjoining the sea that for decades has been a safe haven for immigrants from the Middle East and Central Asia. Traveling to Turkey has been possible for Uighurs, who are seen as culturally close to Turkish people. But once settled there, many live in a legal limbo, without resident or work permits or the possibility to renew their Chinese passports.


A trio of nationalistic films cleaned up at the box office Monday as the People’s Republic of China prepared to celebrate its 70th anniversary…According to Maoyan, China’s biggest movie ticketing app, the three films — “My People, My Country,” “The Climbers,” and “The Captain” — accounted for 98.6% of the pre-holiday box office Monday, though they also accounted for 98.7% of total screenings. 

“Homeland Dream,” the world-building title akin to the iconic “SimCity” of yesteryear, has become the most downloaded free game on the Chinese Apple iOS store since its Sept. 24 launch, beating out money-spinners like Tencent’s own mainstay “Honour of Kings.” The title — developed in partnership with the state-run People’s Daily — lets players build a virtual metropolis from scratch while collecting cartoonish images of Communist slogans, national landmarks and politically tinged buzzwords such as “One Country, Two Systems.”

  • Fugitive found in mountains of Yunnan
    Chinese man on the run for 17 years found in cave by police drone / Guardian
    “Chinese police reportedly used drones to track down a convicted human trafficker who had been on the run for 17 years and was living in a cave. Song Moujiang, 63, who was jailed for trafficking women and children, had evaded police capture after escaping a prison camp, Yilaochang Farm in Sichuan Province, in March 2002… He later fled to a tiny cave that was less than ‘two square meters’ and lived an isolated existence.”


Click Here

Seventy songs for 70 years of the People’s Republic of China

On the occasion of the 70th birthday of the People’s Republic of China, Krish Raghav has compiled a list of significant Chinese songs, one for each year of the P.R.C.’s existence, from “March of the Volunteers” (1949) to “Glory to Hong Kong” (2019)

Opinion: China is not a technology superpower. Stop treating it like one

Paul Triolo writes: Sure, China wants to lead in artificial intelligence and other technologies. But when U.S. policymakers confuse China’s aspirational rhetoric with reality, they risk taking actions that undermine their own country’s ability to innovate. 

Extreme binge-watching: China’s youth are streaming at accelerated speeds to save time

After putting up with unnecessarily long-winded TV shows on television for years, an increasing number of Chinese audiences, especially young viewers, are watching videos at accelerated speeds on streaming services in order to get through countless hours of content more efficiently, per a recent survey conducted by the Beijing News. 


Click Here

Middle Earth #20: Making a Metropolis: Contemporary Chinese Architecture and Urban Planning

Architects and urban planners in China discuss the challenges of the job in a rapidly urbanizing nation.