Editor’s note for Friday, August 21, 2020

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

My thoughts today:

Finally, some details on the rushed executive order targeting WeChat that President Trump signed two weeks ago, per Bloomberg:

The administration is still working through the technical implications of how to enforce such a partial ban on the app, which is owned by Tencent Holdings Ltd., one of China’s biggest companies. A key question is whether the White House would allow Apple Inc. and Alphabet Inc.’s Google to carry the app in its global app stores outside of the U.S., according to the people, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The intention is to prohibit any downloads or updates of the WeChat app in U.S. app stores, two of the people said. U.S. companies with China operations such as Starbucks Corp. could still advertise and process transactions with Chinese consumers via the app, they said.

In other words, the new rules won’t crush Apple’s smartphone business in China — an admittedly unscientific Weibo poll of Chinese consumers found that 95% would simply give up their iPhones if Wēixìn 微信, the Chinese version of WeChat, stopped working on them.

Our top story is on India-China relations, and how even as the border standoff has remained cool since the bloody brawl in June, New Delhi and Beijing seem to be only digging deeper trenches. One important factor on the Indian side is that anti-China nationalism has greatly increased.

On the Chinese side, the now-exiled and excommunicated Cài Xiá 蔡霞, a former professor at the Central Party School of the Chinese Communist Party, recently went public with her support of a common theory of Beijing’s perspective on international conflict:

Considering domestic economic and social tensions, as well as those in the party of the last few years, [Xí Jìnpíng 习近平] will think of ways to divert the attention of the Chinese public, provoking conflict with other countries, for example encouraging anti-American sentiment and the recent clash between China and India.

However, just like the true Chinese casualty count, we may not know for sure how decisions in Beijing factored into the latest India-China border conflict for many years, if not decades.

Our word of the day is to disengage front-line troops 一线部队脱离接触 yīxiàn bùduì tuōlí jiēchù, a process that has still not fully happened on the India-China border, two months after a violent clash.

—Lucas Niewenhuis, Newsletter Editor (Jeremy will be back on Monday)