Links for Tuesday, January 21, 2020


  • Chinese 5G comes to Uganda
    China’s ZTE, MTN start 5G technology trial in Uganda / PML Daily (Uganda)
    Chinese telecom giant ZTE and South Africa’s MTN together launched Africa’s first 5G trials in Uganda. 5G will deliver much faster connection speeds and allow for communication among devices, the so-called “Internet of Things.” Officials from both companies said the 5G commercial rollout will happen sometime before the end of the year.
  • American investors rush in where angels fear to tread?
    Wall Street wants to conquer China. Here’s what may go wrong / Bloomberg (porous paywall)

The opportunity of making inroads in the world’s second-largest economy is prompting the likes of Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and JPMorgan Chase & Co. to detail expansions that some estimate will see $1 trillion plowed into China. Plans to throw open the $45 trillion market were expedited last week after China said it will hasten the entry for securities firms, rating companies and credit-card providers as part of a trade deal with the U.S.

Yet, a bevy of hurdles still promise to complicate the efforts of U.S. banks and financial services firms. China is home to the world’s four largest banks by assets, the biggest global fintech company and other formidable competitors. Its tightly-controlled system is opaque and arbitrary when it comes to licenses, and the regulation burden is heavy. Recruiting talent has already proved tricky with experienced local executives often preferring state-backed companies.

China is now a prime market for Namibian beef, the Meat Corporation of Namibia (Meatco) said last week after exporting 130 containers amounting to 3 000 tonnes of beef to that market…

The move follows growth in reciprocal trade in different commodities with statistics by the Namibian Statistics Agency showing that China has now overtaken South Africa as the top export market for Namibian goods.


From 2000 to 2017, R&D spending in the United States grew at an average of 4.3 percent per year, found the report, which the NSF released on 15 January. But spending in China grew by more than 17 percent per year during the same period… The United States accounted for 25 percent of the US$2.2 trillion spent on R&D worldwide in 2017, and China made up 23 percent.

Since 2017, China National Offshore Oil Corporation (CNOOC) has been working with French and UK oil majors Total and Tullow to exploit an estimated 1.8 billion barrels of untouched oil in western Uganda [including the construction of a 1,445 kilometre pipeline]. Yet the project is stuck in limbo, and the oil remains underground.

… However, on September 4 last year, CNOOC’s plans were suspended when Total suddenly announced plans to decommission its pipeline activities.

The stoppage is a chance for CNOOC and potential Chinese lenders to re-evaluate their commitment to an economically and politically risky project that would push East Africa and the world closer to an environmental and climate disaster. Expanding renewable energy is a more sustainable option for CNOOC and investors.


China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) has found crude oil and natural gas in the deepest well drilled in Asia’s onshore, striking hydrocarbons in a pre-salt layer for the first time in China.

The discovery was made in the Tarim oilfield in China’s northwestern region of Xinjiang in a well deep 8,882 meters (29,140 feet), which was first drilled in July last year.

Production from the now spudded well in the pre-salt area is expected at 133.46 cubic meters of oil per day, while daily gas production is seen at 48,700 cubic meters, according to a CNPC statement carried by Reuters.

A former Interpol chief accused of bribery was sentenced to 13-and-a-half years in jail by a Chinese court on Tuesday.

Mèng Hóngwěi 孟宏伟, who was the first Chinese head of Interpol, vanished on a trip back to the country from France in September 2018. China later confirmed he had been detained as part of President Xí Jìnpíng’s 习近平 drive against corruption. 

US President Donald Trump said on Tuesday that he and President Xí Jìnpíng’s 习近平 “love each other,” while insisting that negotiations for a phase two trade deal will start “very shortly.”

Trump told the annual World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, that his relationship with Xi “is an extraordinary one” less than a week after the two countries agreed their phase one trade deal.

“He’s for China, I’m for the US, but other than that we love each other,” Trump said in his speech, stirring laughter in the room.

The United States must supply the right products at the right prices to make it possible for China to honour its commitment under last week’s trade deal, a group of Chinese scholars said on Monday.

As part of the phase one trade deal signed in Washington last week, China agreed to buy an additional $200 billon worth of American goods and services over the next two years, including US$32 billion worth of agricultural products.

[Responding to scepticism over whether China can deliver the promised purchases] “First of all, we will do our best [to increase purchases]; but the second point is that the U.S. must provide good products at competitive prices,” said former vice-commerce minister Wei Jianguo, adding that China’s promised purchases of U.S. farm goods is not a “one-sided obligation.”

Fudan is one of at least three universities that have revised their charters since 2018, emphasizing unswerving loyalty to the Communist Party, an NPR analysis found. They have downgraded or erased language about academic freedom from their charters, while adding a new clause: “The university Communist Party committee is the core leadership of the school.”

The move is part of a broader trend that has been growing since 2013, the year Xí Jìnpíng 习近平 became China’s president. From 2013 to 2017, at least 109 universities unveiled their first-ever charters, affirming party leadership, according to NPR’s analysis.

  • Guì Cóngyǒu 桂从友 lashed out at local media in an interview on the weekend, saying they ‘have a habit of criticizing, accusing and smearing China.’
  • He has been summoned for a meeting at the foreign ministry on Tuesday, and three Swedish parties have called for him to be expelled.

When Huawei chief financial officer Mèng Wǎnzhōu’s 孟晚舟 extradition hearing takes place this week, the outcome will be decided by an impartial judge, based on the facts and the law, and free of the pernicious influence of politics. As such, one winner is sure to emerge: the very principle of the rule of law itself. And, as a matter of geopolitics, the Trudeau government would do well to emphasize this fact as publicly and forcefully as it possibly can.

  • The cult of Xi
    Tracing the “people’s leader” / China Media Project
    A history of the term “people’s leader” (人民领袖 rén mín lǐngxiù), which “first emerged in reference to Xí Jìnpíng 习近平 in April 2017, peaked briefly in the first half of 2018 before waning again — most likely as a reflection of the difficulties facing China in the midst of the trade war with the United States.”


According to a report in state media outlet The Paper [in Chinese], seven people in the city of Suzhou (a prefecture level city in Anhui, not to be confused with the more famous garden city in Jiangsu) have been publicly shamed as part of a recent initiative to “expose uncivilized behaviors [and] improve citizens’ quality.” Their surnames, partial ID numbers and photos were published on a WeChat account operated by the local government, which encouraged the public to send in photos of anyone partaking in “uncivilized behaviors.”

In the winter of 1910, Dr. Wu Lien-teh [伍连德 Wǔ Liándé] stepped onto a frigid train platform in the northern Chinese city of Harbin. He was there to solve a medical mystery, at great personal risk. Over the past few months, an unknown disease had swept along the railways of Manchuria, killing 99.9 percent of its victims. The Qing Imperial court had dispatched Malayan-born, Cambridge-educated Dr. Wu north to stop the epidemic before it spread to the rest of the empire.