NBA game goes ahead in Shanghai, but mood remains dark

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Dear Access member,

Happy Double Ten Day! 

In what is now Wuhan on October 10, 1911, an armed rebellion called the Wuchang Uprising began, resulting in the end of the Qing dynasty within a year. 

While not celebrated by Beijing, Double Ten Day (雙十節 shuāngshí jié) is Taiwan’s National Day. President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文 Cài Yīngwén) celebrated by giving a speech rejecting “the ‘one country, two systems’ model proposed by Beijing as the future of cross-strait relations, while highlighting freedom, democracy and sovereignty,” according to the Taipei Times. 

—Jeremy Goldkorn, Editor-in-Chief


Screenshot from ESPN: NBA game in China played with some restrictions.

1. NBA game goes ahead in Shanghai, but mood remains dark 

“After three days of fanning nationalistic outrage, the Chinese government abruptly moved on Thursday to tamp down public anger at the NBA as concerns spread in Beijing that the rhetoric was damaging China’s interests and image around the world,” reports the New York Times (porous paywall). 

The two NBA teams currently in Shanghai, the Los Angeles Lakers and Brooklyn Nets, played their scheduled preseason game today in a stadium packed with thousands of passionate fans, although no media interviews were allowed. The crowd reportedly cheered and clapped when the teams entered the stadium, but they were later booed online by angry nationalists who called them traitors — see SupChina for more on the game and online response

But the trouble is far from over: “Houston Rockets sneakers and other merchandise were pulled from several Nike stores in major Chinese cities,” reports Reuters. We can expect the NBA to be in the doghouse for quite some time. 

2. Self-censorship at Apple, Blizzard, and Google 

The latest news from three tech firms whose corporate blather often goes on about free speech and individuality:

“Apple has removed from its App Store a smartphone app used by Hong Kong pro-democracy activists to crowdsource the location of protesters and police, after Chinese state media suggested the tech giant was aiding ‘rioters,’” reports NPR. Apple had initially rejected then accepted the app.

Google has removed a role-playing mobile game based on the Hong Kong protest movement called The Revolution of Our Times, which launched for Android on the Google Play Store last week. The Hong Kong Free Press reports that Google said the game violated the platform’s “sensitive events policy.”

The Quartz mobile app has been removed from Apple’s China App Store “after complaints from the Chinese government,” reports the Verge. “According to Quartz, this is due to the publication’s ongoing coverage of the Hong Kong protests.” The Quartz website is already blocked in China. 

“Gamers are complaining they are unable to delete their Activision Blizzard accounts, as they attempt to show solidarity with an e-sports competitor,” reports the BBC

The US publisher caused controversy by placing a 12-month ban on a player who had voiced support for pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong on Sunday.

Users say they get error messages when they try to erase their accounts. Some suggest it could be deliberate. But the firm has indicated a technical problem is to blame.

3. U.S.-China trade talks not canceled yet 

In Washington, D.C., yesterday, Chinese vice premier and chief trade negotiator Liú Hè 刘鹤 met Craig Allen of the United States-China Business Council and Myron Brilliant of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. He made the following remarks, per Xinhua

Liu said the Chinese delegation, which came to the negotiations with utmost sincerity, is willing to carry out serious dialogue with the U.S. side on issues of mutual concern, including trade balance, market access and investor protection, and push forward the negotiations to achieve positive progress.

This morning, Donald Trump tweeted:

Big day of negotiations with China. They want to make a deal, but do I? I meet with the Vice Premier tomorrow at The White House. 

Today, Liu and entourage talked to their U.S. counterparts in preparation. Bloomberg says (porous paywall) that the discussions began at 9 a.m. and “extended into the afternoon.” No one expects much more than a modest deal — perhaps some agricultural purchases in exchange for some tariff relief. Nonetheless, the U.S. stock market jumped higher, reports CNN

Other tidbits of information about the talks: 

“A previously agreed currency pact [could be] part of an early harvest deal that could also see a tariff increase next week suspended, according to people familiar with the discussions,” reports Bloomberg (porous paywall). Bloomberg also says (porous paywall) that China plans to ask the U.S. to lift sanctions on its biggest shipping company, COSCO, “which the U.S. accuses of knowingly violating restrictions on carrying Iranian petroleum.”

“Trump administration officials are weighing a range of options that could inflict additional economic pain on China as the United States continues looking for ways to force Beijing to change longstanding practices that have put American companies at a disadvantage,” says the New York Times (porous paywall). 

The ideas under consideration would move the White House’s negotiating tool of choice beyond tariffs toward limiting China’s access to American capital markets and imposing greater scrutiny on its companies, according to people familiar with the discussions.

—Jeremy Goldkorn


BUSINESS AND TECHNOLOGY:

Chinese artificial intelligence firm iFlytek Co. Wednesday forecasted significant profit growth in the first three quarters of this year. In a filing to the Shenzhen Stock Exchange, iFlytek expected its net profit attributable to shareholders to reach at least 330 million yuan (about $46.7 million) in the first nine months.  

  • Earlier this week, the U.S. government added iFlytek to its entity list of sanctioned companies for being “implicated in China’s campaign targeting Uyghurs and other predominantly Muslim minorities in the autonomous region of Xinjiang,” per the New York Times (porous paywall). 

POLITICS AND CURRENT AFFAIRS:

Just days ahead of President Xi Jinping’s visit to India, the Chinese leader demonstrated his country’s resolute support for Pakistan over its dispute with India in the Himalayan Kashmir region, vowing to support Islamabad’s “core interests and key concerns.”

“The rights and wrongs of the situation in Kashmir are clear,” China Central Television reported Wednesday [in Chinese], citing Xi who was hosting Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan in Beijing. “China supports Pakistan in safeguarding its legitimate rights and interests and hopes that the parties concerned can resolve the dispute through peaceful dialogue.”

What’s True
China granted trademarks for multiple products, potentially including voting machines, under Ivanka Trump’s eponymous brand in late 2018.

What’s False
Ivanka Trump, who serves as an adviser to her father President Donald Trump, shuttered her business in 2018.

SOCIETY AND CULTURE:


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