More than 70 percent of divorces in China are initiated by women

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Dear Access member,

Our word of the day is divorce (离婚 líhūn).  

On a happier note, there are only five business days left until our NEXT China conference in New York City on November 21. The conference will open with a keynote speech by world-renowned HIV/AIDS researcher David Ho, and in the afternoon, there will be six industry-specific breakout sessions. Our goal is to have every attendee leave with fresh, indispensable knowledge of what’s next in China and in their China-related career. 

Book your ticket today by clicking here, and be sure to use the code NCAccess for $150 off your ticket. 

—Jeremy Goldkorn, Editor-in-Chief 


1. More than 70 percent of divorces in China are initiated by women

Disrupting long-held assumptions that Chinese women tend to endure unhappy marriages due to societal expectations and economic pressures, a recent speech given by Zhōu Qiáng 周强, president of the Supreme People’s Court, revealed that over 70 percent of divorces in China are initiated by women.

Zhou, China’s highest-ranking judge, made the striking revelation on November 6, in a speech (in Chinese) at Beijing’s Tsinghua University. Commenting on the topic of China’s overall divorce rate, which has been rising continuously since 2002, Zhou said that roughly 74 percent of the divorces handled by Chinese courts were filed by women. He also pointed out that contrary to the popular belief that most couples start to unravel at the seven-year mark, Chinese marriages are inclined to fall apart as soon as three years after the wedding.

While Zhou didn’t elaborate on when the data was collected or why more women were doing the walking, Chinese social media was aflame over his remarks. Many internet users applauded the phenomenon as a sign of Chinese women asserting more control over their marriages in spite of familial and cultural pressures in Chinese society, where women are expected to stay in a bad marriage — even in extreme cases that involve domestic violence or an unfaithful partner. 

For details, please click through to SupChina

—Jiayun Feng

2. Schools close after third day of violent clashes in Hong Kong 

Things in Hong Kong are not looking good: After three days of increasingly violent clashes between protesters and police, “Beijing’s liaison office in Hong Kong says the city is ‘sliding into the abyss of terrorism’ and a harsher crackdown is needed to end the unrest and restore order,” according to the South China Morning Post.

One reason for the violence: “Police have begun raiding the edges of the biggest campuses to make arrests, leading student activists to engage with them in pitched battles that resemble medieval sieges,” according to the New York Times (porous paywall).  

What happened today?From ABC

Scores of masked protesters wielding makeshift weapons and armor barricaded themselves inside the Chinese University of Hong Kong on Wednesday after violent clashes with riot police overnight…They have amassed a stockpile of gasoline bombs along with various rudimentary weapons, including bows and arrows, homemade slingshots and gasoline-dipped javelins…

The Chinese University of Hong Kong and several other colleges in the city have canceled classes for the rest of the academic semester as the protesters, who are thought to be high school and college students, have turned the campuses into battlefields. Primary and secondary schools in Hong Kong have also suspended classes for Thursday.

Public transportation was disrupted across Hong Kong on Wednesday morning as protesters blocked streets, prevented train doors from closing and vandalized railway cars. 

Police have helped dozens of university students from mainland China evacuate Hong Kong.

Other news from the City of Protest: 

Kids behind bars: “There has been more than a fourfold rise in under two months in the number of students aged below 16 arrested during the ongoing unrest in Hong Kong, a trend lawmakers have described as ‘worrying,’” says the South China Morning Post

“Finance firms in Hong Kong urged staff on Wednesday to seek safety or work from home as anti-government protests paralyzed the city’s business district for a third day,” reports Reuters

“The European Union on Tuesday declared that a full investigation was needed into the ‘root causes’ of protests in Hong Kong, where police and protesters turned the campus of one of its top universities into a battlefield,” reports the South China Morning Post

“Organizations in Shenzhen and Hong Kong have joined the central government’s liaison office in Hong Kong to offer help to mainland students amid campus clashes in the special administrative region,” according to the South China Morning Post.  

3. There is no phase one deal 

The Wall Street Journal reports (paywall):

Tariffs are emerging as the main stumbling block in efforts by the U.S. and China to come to a limited trade deal, a month after the two countries called a truce in their trade war.

The logjam centers on whether the U.S. has agreed to remove existing tariffs in the so-called “phase one” deal that the two countries have been working toward — or whether the U.S. would only cancel tariffs set to take effect December 15, according to people familiar with the talks.

This would seem to be a rather significant problem when the Tariff Man is the one who has to sign the deal. 

Other news from various fronts of the U.S.-China techno-trade war, day 496:

“If the sentiment of manufacturers is any guide, the U.S. is losing out more from the escalation of the trade war,” said Michael Metcalfe, global head of macro strategy at State Street Global Markets, per the Financial Times (paywall). “U.S. manufacturing sentiment has collapsed in the past nine months, spectacularly so in the last quarter. Meanwhile, their Chinese counterparts, at least by the official measure, are no less cautious than they were at the beginning of the year.”

U.S. manufacturing group hacked by China? Reuters reports:

As trade talks between Washington and Beijing intensified earlier this year, suspected Chinese hackers broke into an industry group for U.S. manufacturers that has helped shape President Donald Trump’s trade policies, according to two people familiar with the matter.

The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) was hacked over the summer and hired a cybersecurity firm, which concluded the attack came from China, the two sources said.

Cheap American soybeans: “Chinese commercial crushers have bought up to seven cargoes of American soybeans this week for December and January shipment thanks to competitive U.S. prices versus South American prices and good crush margins in China, said two traders familiar with the matter,” according to Reuters

The new purchases come at a time of confusion over payments of extra duties for U.S. shipments booked under a tariff-free quota system remained, the two traders said.

4. Xi’s in Brazil 

Xí Jìnpíng 习近平 is in Brazil for the BRICS meeting and a meeting with the Brazilian president. This is Xinhua’s brief readout:

Chinese President Xi Jinping said on Wednesday China is fully confident in China-Brazil cooperation and stands ready to achieve common prosperity with Brazil.

China is willing to share development experience and gains with Brazil, so as to achieve common prosperity, Xi said during his talks with Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro.

5. Voices From China: When students are tarred with the Party’s brush 

Voices From China is where we try to balance our coverage of China, much of which is based on Anglophone media, with perspectives from China and Chinese people, ranging from Party statements to the musings of private citizens. 

Last week, the U.K. parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee released a brief report addressing foreign interference with academic freedom in U.K. universities. Scholar Andrew Chubb tweeted:

Universities are powerful institutions, and fair game for criticism and scrutiny of their decision making and practices. What’s not fair game are the 100,000+ Chinese overseas students in the UK, who are presented in the report as a kind of problem population.

In response, someone commented: “Interested to know what your estimate would be of the total percentage of Chinese students in U.K. whose families are full members of CCP?” 

Today, we present a Twitter thread from journalist Jin Ding (who is no Party sycophant) on that topic: 

My dad, a CCP member, a journalist, an editor, and an educator. He is my mentor, my peer supporter, and my forever inspiration. We talk about my work every single week ever since I studied journalism in college. I’m so proud to be his daughter.

I would laugh if anyone thinks I’m compromised because my dad’s party membership. He took advantage of his membership to the best for making his work be seen by the people. Yes, he taught me how to deal with gov machines. And he is teaching his students to do the same.

He only advised me to become a member when he thinks I’d be getting a journalism job inside of China. ‘you won’t be promoted if you are not.’ and yea my dad knows how hard for a woman to climb up the career ladder in Chinese journalism. He also believed I should become a leader.

Such loaded words ‘the CCP membership’ on Twitter. None of those has the guts my dad had when he spent thirty yrs of his career writing about local life in China and shred lights on ordinary Chinese. But oh, he’s a ccp member so it can all be dismissed because he’s compromised.

Now there’s people suggesting his membership gets to discrediting me? Please refer to 1950s Red Scare and what Edward Murrow said when he reported Milo Radulovich

For other perspectives from China, see the OPINIONS, OP-EDS, AND RANTS section toward the bottom of the newsletter. 

6. Chinese companies that see a dark future

The China Law Blog, established in 2004, is written by a team of lawyers with many years of on-the-ground experience helping foreign companies get into China, and deal with the (many) legal issues of companies already operating there. 

I have found that the information these lawyers get from the clients, anonymized on the blog, is one of the more reliable indicators of both company sentiment and the general climate for business in China. Here’s lead lawyer and blogger Dan Harris

In the 1990s, I represented a number of international fishing and timber and mining companies that did business with Russia. This was not so long after the fall of the Soviet Union and there were a bunch of large Russian companies — many of them formerly state-owned — looking to do deals with my clients, mostly American and Western European companies. My clients would set up long term deals with these Russian companies which nearly always went bad quickly because the Russian company would grab whatever money there was and walk away.

This would leave my clients dumbfounded at how the Russian company would so “irrationally” sacrifice so much money in the long term to grab a relatively small amount of money in the short term. I would find myself explaining the following to them:

You have to understand that for most Russian companies there is no long term. They are used to the Soviet Union where the rules and the laws constantly and unpredictably changed to their detriment. They do not believe they will be able to operate freely five years or even one year from now. So though you see them as having irrationally sacrificed massive long term gains for much smaller short term rewards, they see themselves as having quite rationally grabbed what they could while it was still there.

I am writing about this now because China today is feeling a lot like Russia in the 1990s. I am getting the sense that many Chinese companies are pessimistic about their futures and they are acting accordingly. Our China lawyers are seeing evidence of this everywhere.

Read the whole thing: How to conduct business with Chinese companies that see a dark future

—Jeremy Goldkorn


BUSINESS AND TECHNOLOGY:

A crown jewel of President Xi Jinping’s Made in China 2025 plan is faltering.

Tsinghua Unigroup Co. is the business arm of the prestigious Tsinghua University, Xi’s alma mater. The company has been trying to establish itself as a leader in China’s nascent memory-chip industry since 2015, when it famously tried to acquire stakes in U.S. rivals Micron Technology Inc. and Western Digital Corp. Both advances were rejected amid concerns that U.S. regulators wouldn’t approve the deals on national-security grounds. 

Electronic displays are an underappreciated yet integral feature of our digital economy — they are literally all around us. A quiet revolution is taking place in this market, as the dominant liquid crystal display (LCD) technology yields ground to a superior substitute: the organic light-emitting diode (OLED).  

China’s powerful tobacco regulator is weighing whether to stop local authorities from banning the sale of e-cigarettes in brick-and-mortar stores — except for those near schools. 

The unreleased policy from the State Tobacco Monopoly Administration (STMA), which oversees, and shares staff and offices with, China National Tobacco Corp., the world’s largest tobacco company by sales, would come even after the body banned all online sales of e-cigarettes earlier this month.

Tesla Inc. won permission to start mass production at its China factory, clearing one of the last hurdles to begin selling locally built cars in the world’s largest electric-vehicle market… Tesla unveiled its first vehicles assembled at the Shanghai facility earlier this month, made as part of trial operations.

China Evergrande Group, the property giant with ambitions to become the world’s biggest maker of electric vehicles, plans to unveil its debut car by June — a year later than first promised.

The car, to be sold under the Hengchi brand, will debut in the first half of next year, with mass production starting in 2021, the company said in a statement late Tuesday.

Chinese electric vehicle (EV) manufacturer XPeng, backed by Alibaba Group Holding Ltd , said on Wednesday it has raised US$400 million from investors including Xiaomi Corp to fund its growth…

The fundraising comes at what bankers and industry insiders describe as an increasingly tough financing environment for Chinese EV startups which must jostle for attention in a crowded sector and produce convincing arguments about future profitability despite government cuts to EV subsidies and plans to phase them out.

China’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), the country’s economic planning agency, has launched a rare national security probe into the acquisition of a stake in a domestic retailer by supermarket chain Yonghui Superstores, the company said in a statement Wednesday…

It is rare for the NDRC to cite national security concerns in when examining deals between companies in China’s retail sector. Yonghui’s biggest shareholder is Dairy Farm, a subsidiary of British conglomerate Jardine Matheson that holds a 20 percent stake in the company. All Yonghui’s other known shareholders are Chinese entities, including internet giants Tencent and JD.com.

  • Money laundering
    China steps up fight against money laundering / Caixin (porous paywall)
    “China’s central bank ramped up its fight against money laundering and terrorist financing last year, imposing substantially higher fines than in 2017 and expanding its campaign into non-financial sectors.”

  • Bitcoin and Alibaba
    Amazon of China goes big on Bitcoin / Decrypt
    “Alibaba — a China-based retailer who counts multinational behemoth Amazon among its closest rivals — has entered into a partnership allowing customers to earn 5 percent in bitcoin for every purchase.”

  • Comparative censorship
    Which government censors the tech giants the most? / Comparitech
    “Some governments avidly try to control online data, whether this is on social media, blogs, or both. And surprisingly, China only features in the top 10 for one category.”

  • The future of the internet and artificial intelligence
    China’s lead in the AI war won’t last forever / Bloomberg (porous paywall)

Debates about whether China or the U.S. will dominate the 21st century are thus necessarily debates about who will lead in AI innovation, and whether democratic or authoritarian systems are better suited to that challenge. A new report from the bipartisan National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence contains reason for cautious optimism on that latter question, even as it reminds us that an authoritarian China will be a formidable competitor indeed.

SCIENCE, HEALTH, AND THE ENVIRONMENT: 

Giant Chinese seafood supplier Zhangzidao Group said yesterday it found more than 80 percent of scallops at a farm in the sea between China and the Korean Peninsula had died due to “unidentified” causes.

  • Animal abuse in the pet industry
    The dark side of China’s pet boom / China Dialogue
    “A regulatory hole is leaving millions of dogs and cats to suffer at the hands of an unscrupulous trade.”

POLITICS AND CURRENT AFFAIRS:

The Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and the State Council have published an outline [in Chinese] for promoting patriotic education in the new era… 

Patriotic education in the new era should be guided by Marxism-Leninism, Mao Zedong Thought, Deng Xiaoping Theory, the Theory of Three Represents, the Scientific Outlook on Development and Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era, it said… 

It stressed the role of Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era in arming the whole Party and educating the people.

Patriotic education should also focus on education on socialism with Chinese characteristics, the Chinese Dream, China’s national conditions and the world situation, as well as fine traditional Chinese culture. 

At a routine press conference, China’s Taiwan Affairs Office (TAO) confirmed  [in Chinese] the detention of a renowned and outspoken China-friendly academic, Tony Shih (施正屏 Shī Zhèngpíng), citing his involvement in criminal activities endangering China’s national security as the reason…Shih had been engaging in cross-strait academic exchanges and reportedly [in Chinese] took a job at China Healthcare Enterprise Group Ltd. as the chief economist.

[The TAO spokesperson] said Shih along with Tsai Chin-shu (蔡金樹 Cài Jīnshù), the chairman of the South Taiwan Cross-Strait Relations Association, are both in detention awaiting trials for their engagement in activities that endanger national security. Family members of Shih are said [in Chinese] to be keeping silent to avoid further troubles.

Tsai went missing in July of 2018 after attending a food show in Quanzhou, Fujian, promoting cross-strait agricultural trade relations.

Another missing Taiwanese citizen, Morrison Lee (李孟居 Lǐ Mèngjū) was out of contact when traveling to Hong Kong for a vacation in August. Lee was said to have joined pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong at the time. Ma also confirmed that Lee has been detained for national security reason but didn’t give further details about his case.

Common Destiny, a movie-documentary about the modern Silk Road, tells the story of lives transformed by dreams realised through persistence and the enabling power of infrastructure development. In many ways the movie presents the narrative of China’s materialist theory of development, led by and underpinned by infrastructure, a contrast to Western countries’ current focus on development aid.

Uyghur activists say they have documented nearly 500 camps and prisons run by China to detain members of their ethnic group, alleging that Beijing could be holding far more than the commonly cited figure of one million people.

The East Turkestan National Awakening Movement, a Washington-based group that seeks independence for the mostly Muslim region known to China as Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, gave the geographic coordinates of 182 suspected “concentration camps” where Uyghurs are allegedly pressured to renounce their culture.

Global retailers are facing scrutiny over cotton supplies sourced from Xinjiang, a Chinese region plagued by allegations of human rights abuses. China is one of the world’s top cotton producers and most of its crop is grown in Xinjiang. 

Rights groups say Xinjiang’s Uyghur minority are being persecuted and recruited for forced labour. Many brands are thought to indirectly source cotton products from the Xinjiang region in China’s far west.

Japanese retailers Muji and Uniqlo attracted attention recently after a report highlighted the brands used the Xinjiang-origin of their cotton as a selling point in advertisements.

H&M, Esprit and Adidas are among the firms said to be at the end of supply chains involving cotton products from Xinjiang, according to a Wall Street Journal investigation.

People First Party Chairman James Soong [宋楚瑜 Sòng Chǔyú] announced that he plans to make a fourth bid for Taiwan’s presidency at a briefing in Taipei on Wednesday. A Soong campaign would likely hurt the chances of the Kuomintang’s candidate, Han Kuo-yu (韓國瑜 Hán Guóyú), since he and Soong both draw support from voters who favor eventual unification with China.

SOCIETY AND CULTURE:

  • Comics
    A mind for absurdity / Neocha
    “All it takes is an eye for it: Everyday life offers plenty of material that can, with a little effort, produce comic results. For example, a high school dean might criticize a student’s crazy haircut. But what if that hairstyle is due to his bizarrely shaped head? This is Dick Ng’s creative philosophy: to draw comics from life, but to make them more outlandish, more absurd.” 

OPINIONS, OP-EDS, AND RANTS:  

A recent poll by the Chicago Council on Global Affairs found that two-thirds of Americans believe the U.S. should pursue a policy of friendly cooperation and engagement with China. In a new, short video webcast, [economist Andy Rothman explains] why engagement is the best strategy for the U.S. to achieve its long-term objectives with China.

In dealing with China, the US and its allies need to confront, compete and cooperate across multiple domains. Today, this seems inconceivable. Instead, we are looking at a crumbling alliance and a fraught relationship between the US and China. None of this augurs well for humanity’s future. Remember: it could be so much better. 

Western media outlets have been reporting on the Hong Kong situation with bias in recent days. They are misleading the Western public’s understanding of the city’s situation, encouraging mobs, and fueling the riots in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong is a city on the brink of collapse. It can pull back from the brink, but only if Lam changes course. She must realise that the only way to break the stalemate is dialogue and reform, not more violence.

Even if the current crisis dies down, the most radicalised youth will not just return to normal lives. They will take their war to the next level at the next opportunity. It’s not the rule of law, but lawlessness that Hong Kong needs to worry about.


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Death threats for opponent of internet addiction center in China

It’s been two years since Yuzhang Academy (豫章书院 Yùzhāngshūyuàn), a Confucian institute that purportedly treats internet addiction in Nanchang, Jiangxi Province, closed its doors after a high-profile scandal over its use of torture methods on students. But earlier this month, the facility came under the public eye again after a Weibo user claimed he has received death threats from people associated with the school because of his commitment to helping former attendees seek legal justice against their abusers.


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ChinaEconTalk: Reinterpreting Beijing and its history

Jeremiah Jenne, history teacher, writer, and the man behind Beijing by Foot, is in the guest seat this week. He speaks with Jordan about the changes — both tangible and intangible — that Beijing has undergone in the last few decades.