Editor’s note for Wednesday, August 19, 2020

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

My thoughts today:

I’ve been writing apocalyptic headlines and notes rather regularly recently, as you may have noticed. Here’s another pessimist, the famous international relations realist John Mearsheimer: “I worry greatly that not only will we have a war between the United States and China, but also that there’s a serious possibility nuclear weapons would be used” he told Asahi Shimbun.

One of the major tensions between the two countries is of course over Huawei. The most recent American restrictions on the company announced on Monday would “kill” it, one according to one industry executive. That assessment seems to be shared by many:

  • The Financial Times calls the U.S. move a “mortal threat.”
  • Nikkei Asian Review reports on “how a handful of U.S. companies can cripple Huawei’s supply chain,” and separately notes that China’s 5G rollout has been slowed down by U.S. restrictions on Huawei and its less famous rival ZTE.

Our word of the day is fig leaf (遮羞布 zhēxiūbù, literally, “cover up shame cloth”).

The word was used in yesterday’s briefing from the Chinese foreign ministry in answer to a question about Huawei. The spokesperson said: “What the U.S. has done shows clearly that the market economy and fair competition principle it claims to champion is nothing but a fig leaf” (transcripts in English, Chinese).

Finally, I’ll be away tomorrow and Friday, leaving you in the capable hands of my colleague Lucas for the rest of the week.

—Jeremy Goldkorn, Editor-in-Chief