Editor’s note for Monday, July 13, 2020

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

In today’s newsletter:

  • U.S. denounces Beijing’s claims in the South China Sea, sides with five Southeast Asian countries
  • Upscale Beijing mall slammed for snobbery after denying entry to food delivery workers
  • Australia’s accusation of Chinese espionage sparks concern and confusion
  • Can anyone beat Chinese Basketball Association team Guangdong Southern Tigers?
  • And plenty more in the links section below

My thoughts today:

Here’s some good news: Outspoken Chinese professor Xǔ Zhāngrùn 许章润 has been released from detention, reports the New York Times (and this has been independently confirmed by SupChina). However, according to our sources, he has been formally fired from Tsinghua University, and cut off from all pension and health care benefits he was entitled to. So maybe not such good news.

Also in the kinda good news but maybe not so much department: “Freed Chinese human rights lawyer Wáng Quánzhāng 王全璋 has filed a rare complaint seeking charges against two officials, accusing them of torturing him during his secret detention,” according to Agence France-Presse.

Don’t get too cheerful! The tension in U.S.-China relations has ratcheted up another notch: see our top story below on the U.S. denouncing Beijing’s claims in the South China Sea. “The world will not allow Beijing to treat the South China Sea as its maritime empire,” is the phrasing Secretary of State Mike Pompeo used. There’s just under half a year left in 2020: keep your seatbelt tightly buckled.

Meanwhile, China is dealing with a disastrous flood season: “The Ministry of Emergency Management increased the flood response level from three to two, the second-highest in a four-tier system,” reports Caixin. “As many as 33 rivers in China have risen to their highest levels in history” and the country should brace for another “grim” week of torrential rain, according to a senior senior water ministry official cited by Reuters. Beijing is implementing “wartime measures” to combat the worst deluge in decades.

Our word of the day is flood disaster 洪涝灾害 hónglào zāihài.

—Jeremy Goldkorn, Editor-in-Chief