Editor’s note for Monday, July 6, 2020

A note from the editor of today's SupChina Access newsletter.

Dear Access member,

It finally happened. The message began circulating on the internet earlier today: “Friends in Beijing report that this morning, local time, Professor Xu Zhangrun was formally detained. Some ten police vehicles and dozens of police officers were involved in the operation.”

Xu is a law professor at the prestigious Tsinghua University, but in the last two years has become best known for his spirited criticism of Xi Jinping’s rule. His arrest for the crime of writing essays is as inevitable as it is tragic. See story 2 below, or this New York Times report, which has a telling detail: Xu had “stored a few pairs of underwear and a toothbrush in a small bag” next to his front door to prepare for the day when the police would come to take him away.  

But why now? It’s impossible to know, but perhaps it’s because China’s critics are preoccupied with the crackdown in Hong Kong, and the authorities figure they might as well get a bunch of other cracking down done at the same time, while there is bound to be negative press anyway.

On a completely different subject, 121 people have died or gone missing in heavy flooding in southern China, a story almost absent from global news headlines.

But the money doesn’t care about floods and detained professors, nor, it seems, the end of Hong Kong as we knew it. The Shanghai Composite Index has technically entered bull market territory, while the yuan has surged as investors bet on China’s economy roaring back. “Remember 2015? A rally not accompanied by climbing industrial profits can end in tears,” warns the Financial Times.

Want to chat about any of this, or something else? On July 8, join me and Sinica Podcast co-host Kaiser Kuo for a Zoom call-in show to recap how much China and its relationship with the world has changed in 2020.

Our word of the day is hold up white paper to protest: 举白纸抗议 jǔ báizhǐ kàngyì

—Jeremy Goldkorn, Editor-in-Chief