Links for Friday, August 14, 2020

Notable China news from around the web.

WHAT WE’RE READING:

More important China news and analysis from around the web:

No quantitative easing: The People’s Bank of China is probably not secretly buying up debt. In reaction to reports from Bloomberg, among others, that contain this speculation, Trivium writes today in its China Markets Dispatch:

In July, holdings of Chinese sovereign bonds by “other special clearing members” shot up by about 200 billion yuan [$29 billion] — the largest increase on record…

The fact that the PBoC is on this list has the market speculating that the central bank is engaging in quantitative easing (QE) — by directly buying government bonds to help fund fiscal spending…

The biggest reason to think this wasn’t the PBoC is that a sudden shift toward QE does not fit with a single statement any PBoC or other financial official has made over the past two months — they are focused on monetary exit, not aggressive new support.

How the Jimmy Lai arrest backfired: Jiayang Fan writes for the New Yorker:

Inexplicably, Chinese officials chose to arrest Lai in a manner that created a powerful visual for the world to see. First, two hundred police officers arrived in Apple Daily’s headquarters. As stunned employees looked on and broadcast the scene on Facebook Live, officers searched through desks and seized more than thirty crates of files. Instead of projecting government strength, the brazen attempt at intimidation reinforced the notion that Beijing must resort to bare-knuckle coercion…

The Australian scholar of Chinese history Geremie Barmé told me that the arrest of Lai marked the growth of “Legalistic-Fascist-Stalinism,” a term coined by the former Tsinghua University law professor Xu Zhangrun, whose candid criticisms of the Communist Party have long rankled the state. Barmé called the use of the new security law to stifle press freedom an autocrat’s tactic of repression. “Jimmy Lai and the Apple Daily may just be the beginning,” Barmé told me. “The law here is a weapon of the regime, designed to legitimize the ruler rather than protect the citizenry.”

Fan says that Lai told her in an interview last year, “What China wants in Hong Kong is a capitalistic city without the concept of politics; what China wants in its citizens is a body that responds reflexively to fear.” He added, “Contrary to what they might think, I don’t hate the Party. I just don’t fear them.”

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