Editor’s note for Monday, May 11, 2020

Dear Access member,

Three things you need to know today:

ONE: U.S. restrictions on visas for Chinese journalists 

Last Friday, at about the same time our newsletter went out, news broke that the U.S. Department of Homeland Security was instituting new visa restrictions on Chinese journalists. It is no surprise that today, the Chinese foreign ministry said that Beijing will “have to take countermeasures.”

We cover the journalist visa restrictions in more detail below in story #2. I will add two things here: Firstly, like the U.S. restrictions on people working for Chinese state media which gave the Chinese government an excuse to expel American journalists, these new restrictions will encourage the worst behavior in Beijing and likely be used as justification for ever greater controls on foreign journalists in China.

Secondly, read this compilation of reactions from Chinese-born journalists working in the United States, introduced by Shen Lu, who writes:

I was one of many Chinese journalists drawn to the beacon of press freedom, hoping that in the United States, a country whose democratic institutions inspired me to come and study journalism in the first place, we could work as proper journalists without fear.

For some of us, it takes leaving China to be rid of that assistant role and to have our own voice. But it turns out that press freedom doesn’t protect us in China, and it seems to no longer protect us in the U.S.

In Beijing, meanwhile, or rather in Beijing no longer: Chris Buckley, perhaps the most widely respected foreign correspondent covering China, has left the country as part of the government-ordered exodus of reporters working for the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Washington Post. Buckley is Australian, but that did not help in the escalating tit-for-tat between Beijing and Washington over media in each other’s countries. A profile of Buckley was published over the weekend in the Australian ABC.

TWO: Shanghai Disneyland reopened today amid uncertainty

It was the first of the global media behemoth’s theme parks to do so since the COVID-19 pandemic began (see our report last week). But social distancing was in force, and the future is far from certain: as you can read in story #1 below, China is reporting new COVID-19 outbreaks, including in Wuhan. And despite new government guidelines we reported on Friday, movie theaters and other entertainment venues in China still face a future of uncertainty.

THREE: Phase one trade deal is dead?

“This week the realization the ‘phase one’ trade deal may be a bust went mainstream.” That’s according to Dexter Roberts, author of The Myth of Chinese Capitalism. From Dexter’s newsletter:

The occasion for this was Trump publicly questioning whether China is on track to meet the deal commitments. Never mind that the possibility of China meeting the inflated purchase promises was something that no one knowledgeable expected even before COVID-19 came around.

See also:
China’s poor purchasing performance: How should the United States respond? / Center for Strategic and International Studies
Chinese advisers call for talks on new trade deal with U.S.: Global Times / Reuters

Our word of the day is wartime mode 战时状态 zhànshí zhuàngtài (see story #1).

Finally, on May 21, we’re hosting a webinar titled Post-pandemic financial markets between the U.S. and China. Hear from CEOs and experts from the U.S. and China as they tackle questions about COVID-19 and its impact on business and markets globally. We’ll also hear their thoughts on the global pandemic and how we should expect the world to operate in a COVID-19 economy. Get $10 off with an Access members promo code: CEOACCESS21.

—Jeremy Goldkorn, Editor-in-Chief