Links for Thursday, May 21, 2020


  • Are international firms leaving China?
    Despite attempts to lure them away, multinationals aren’t leaving China / Caixin (paywall)
    “Though for now, these calls [to reduce reliance on Chinese manufacturing] have fallen on deaf ears in boardrooms in Japan, Europe and the U.S. Recent company announcements and surveys performed by several business groups in China show that the country is still an attractive choice.”
    German shoe brand walks out of China, sets foot in Agra / TNN via Times of India
    “Von Wellx, owned by Casa Everz Gmbh, has announced the shifting of its entire shoe production business in China, with a capacity of over three million pairs annually, to India with an initial investment of Rs 110 crore.”
  • How Australian exporters are dealing with beef ban
    AACo tries exporting around China / Australian Financial Review (paywall)

AACo [Australia Agricultural Company] is diverting sales of some China beef exports after trade tensions [paywall] squeezed the Australian cattle giant’s second-biggest market…

AACo managing director Hugh Killen on Wednesday said it was still exporting its beef from another facility to China and “diverting the rest”.

He told The Australian Financial Review that options included selling trim — used as ingredients for food such as hamburgers — to markets such as the US. Other cuts might go to Korea, for instance, he said.

Due to the quarantine measures, lithium production is expected to drop globally by 110,000 tonnes this year, representing a loss of U.S.$960 million, according to English consultancy Roskill. In Argentina, production is expected to drop 35%, and in Chile by 20%.

On top of live projects slowing down, planned investments have been delayed or cancelled, in several cases by Chinese companies. China is the world’s leading consumer of lithium, primarily for battery manufacturing.


Air pollution in China has already bounced back from astounding lows during the country’s coronavirus shutdown to monthly levels exceeding those recorded during the same period last year, data show. Chinese government figures confirm a spike in April, which the Finland-based Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air (CREA) warns could herald the beginning of a “dirty” economic rebound from the crisis in China.

  • South Africa to investigate thousands of wildlife shipments to China
    South Africa to probe giraffe, meerkat, rhino shipments to China / Bloomberg (porous paywall)
    “Barbara Creecy, South Africa’s environment minister, said she is planning an investigation after animal rights organizations [Ban Animal Trading and the EMS Foundation] alleged that wildlife ranging from giraffes and meerkats to rhinos are being illegally sold and shipped to Chinese zoos.”


President Donald Trump escalated his rhetoric against China, suggesting that the country’s leader, Xí Jìnpíng 习近平, is behind a “disinformation and propaganda attack on the United States and Europe.”

“It all comes from the top,” Trump said in a series of tweets on Wednesday night. He added that China was “desperate” to have former Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee, win the presidential race.

  • Global Times editor Hú Xījìn 胡锡进 responded on Twitter: “On the contrary, Chinese netizens wish for your reelection because you can make America eccentric and thus hateful for the world. You help promote unity in China and you also make intl news as fun as comedy. Chinese netizens call you ‘Jiànguó,’ 建国 meaning ‘help to construct China’.”
  • …As the U.S. and China point fingers over stranded students
    China, U.S. point fingers over delays in bringing students home / Caixin

Logistical issues between Chinese airlines and American transport authorities are hindering efforts to bring home Chinese students from the U.S., officials from both countries have said.

Delays to chartered repatriation flights are due to Chinese carriers submitting charter applications “with little to no notice before proposed flight operation,” a spokesperson from the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) told Caixin in an email.

The comments come after China’s foreign ministry said Tuesday that the flights were delayed because the U.S. had not approved the flight plans and urged Washington to fast-track the procedures.

China’s parliament is poised to enact its first civil code, a wide-ranging legislative package that includes strengthening protection of property rights in a Communist Party-ruled country whose embrace of private ownership has long been awkward.

The civil code, in the works since 2014, will become law at a time when China needs its often-embattled private sector to step up investment to help revive a virus-battered economy, and will be a centrepiece of the annual parliamentary session that begins on Friday after a more-than two month delay.

However, the civil code is largely an amalgamation of existing laws, meaning its impact may be limited, some analysts said.

‘A page in history has already been turned’ on the issue of the so-called ‘1992 consensus’ in relation to cross- Taiwan Strait affairs, Mainland Affairs Council (MAC) Minister Chen Ming-tong 陳明通 [Chén Míngtōng] said Thursday [commenting on China’s response to Tsai Ing-wen’s (蔡英文 Cài Yīngwén) inauguration speech].

Mr. Xi, shaped by his years of adversity as a young man, has seized on the pandemic as an opportunity in disguise — a chance to redeem the party after early mistakes let infections slip out of control, and to rally national pride in the face of international ire over those mistakes. And the state propaganda machine is aggressively backing him up, touting his leadership in fighting the pandemic.

Now, Mr. Xi needs to turn his exhortations of resolute unity into action… 

  • What Xi knew: pressure builds on China’s leader / FT
    Examining how well China’s official narrative of the COVID-19 outbreak is likely to hold up against international scrutiny, the FT writes: “The evidence so far about Mr. Xi’s role is inconclusive but leaves some difficult gaps for the party to explain.”
  • Is the Australian media hopping on the anti-China bandwagon?
    Has the press gallery forgotten we’re not at war with China? / Inside Story (Australia)
    Hamish McDonald writes: “In short, we are not at war and we don’t need to match the ‘patriotic’ journalism of Beijing’s intemperate Global Times.”


In 2019, a “Stop Transgender Teaching in New Zealand Schools” petition was widely shared [in Chinese] within New Zealand’s Chinese community. The petition urged the country’s parliament to remove content related to gender diversity from the sexuality education curriculum. Many Chinese parents worried the classes would implant “gay thoughts” in their children’s minds, reflecting both their anti-LGBT prejudice and a misunderstanding of how sexuality education works in New Zealand.