China Analysis Digest #69
Date range: August 15-22, 2022
Sources scanned: 122
Publications: 191 (English), 41 (Chinese)
Comment: a number of highlighted articles this week revolve around the issue of identity. What does it mean to be a dissident in Xi's China? What does it mean to be a minority people claimed by the state as part of the "Chinese nation"? What does it mean to be "Chinese" in an age of rising nationalism and xenophobia? As we will see, there are no easy answers.
Reading the China Dream
Yao thinks pre-Qin Confucianism offers a solution in talking about relative or relational equality instead of absolute equality. In other words, Confucius, Mengzi, and Xunzi all argued that people are born different, and that they can become a “sage” through effort. Government should thus do what it can to level the playing field, providing the same “starting line” for all members of society (within reason, and without insisting on “absolute equality”) but should also recognize “high achievers” (perhaps our equivalent of “sages”) and grant them greater compensation and authority. Yao thus prefers a politics of meritocratic hierarchy—ruling as society that is as open and mobile as possible—to what he sees as the “beggar your neighbor” politics driven by absolute egalitarianism."
At the same time, however, if a person’s—or a nation’s—sole goal is to make money, this can quickly devolve into mere opportunism, which is what concerns Yao. In this piece, he seems more concerned with opportunism as practiced by China’s government under the cover of pragmatism and commercialization—various levels of government shifting and avoiding responsibilities by centralizing or decentralizing as the situation dictates, without consideration of long-term results or social justice. He cites Russia and India as two examples China definitely does not want to follow, Russia being a kleptocracy and India a non-functional “democracy.”"
[Chinese original:] 是的，無家的時代已經來臨，早已經來臨，從來就不曾離去，流亡者偏就以此時代為家，如歌的斧斤砍向不周之山。譴責可能遭遇譴責，那就譴責吧；我們受夠了折磨，該是輪到折磨去盡情折磨自己的時候了。
Comment: Xu's anguish is accompanied by a liberating acceptance of the consequences of his dissent. Barmé is paying so much attention to Xu because Xu represents the humanistic spirit of China in an age of banality. He sees in Xu a venerable lineage that predates the current rulers of China and one that will outlast it.
China Media Project
The CHIPS Act flies in the face of past US policy supporting the open multilateral trading system. It represents exactly the sort of policy that the US has accused China of pursuing. There cannot be a competitive free market in semiconductors once some companies’ plants are heavily subsidized...
China’s recent experience shows why R&D related to individual products is best left to competitive market forces. The Chinese government has poured an estimated $100 billion or more into subsidies and support for the semiconductor industry. Yet...Chinese President Xi Jinping’s “plan to throw money at the semiconductor industry has resulted in many unproductive companies chasing government subsidies, with an estimated 15,700 new semiconductor companies started in the first five months of 2021”...
It is ironic that the Biden administration (along with a bipartisan majority in Congress) has chosen to react to China’s inefficient industrial policy by adopting one of its own."
Wall Street Journal
- How China’s Propaganda Influences the West
- America’s Industrial Base Isn’t Ready for War With China
- How the Chinese Communist Party Steals U.S. Technology
Australian Financial Review
Comment: this observation also applies to Xi's diagnosis of the key political challenges for the Party: the problem is not the lacking/slowing of economic growth per se, but the uneven division of the pie and the lacking of "spiritual civilisation" and cohesion of identity (hence the emphasis on China's civilisational uniqueness and national pride/humiliation).
War on the Rocks
- Managing Sino-American Dynamics at the Precipice
- Parsing the New Sino-American Crisis
- Conflating Ukraine with Taiwan
East Asia Forum
- The economic ties that bind China
- China–US rivalry no new Cold War
- Beijing and Washington’s unlikely vaccine cooperation
- China–Canada relations come full circle
- Vietnam eyes China’s expanding presence in Cambodia
Pearls and Irritations
- Explainer: the complex question of Taiwanese independence
- U.S.-China fight to lead planet earth will be decided “within 15 years”
- The rise of China- the biggest shift in our international environment since Europeans settled on this continent
- Why is Australia conducting provocative intelligence flights and activities off the China coast in support of the US?
- In the ever deteriorating relationship with China, the mainstream media have a lot to answer for
- The goading of China continues day after day. Pelosi was just the most recent deliberate provocation
- Would Australian defence of Taiwan amount to the crime of aggression?
- India’s window of opportunity to counter China’s influence in South Asia
- Burgeoning ties between Beijing and Ankara create an existential problem for the West
- South Korea seeks closer strategic links with Australia
News & Magazines
The long-term risk is that the United States will be unable to manage a decades-long competition without falling into habits of intolerance at home and overextension abroad. In attempting to out-China China, the United States could undermine the strengths and obscure the vision that should be the basis for sustained American leadership...
The lodestar for a better approach must be the world that the United States seeks: what it wants, rather than what it fears. Whether sanctions or tariffs or military moves, policies should be judged on the basis of whether they further progress toward that world rather than whether they undermine some Chinese interest or provide some advantage over Beijing. They should represent U.S. power at its best rather than mirroring the behavior it aims to avert. And rather than looking back nostalgically at its past preeminence, Washington must commit, with actions as well as words, to a positive-sum vision of a reformed international system that includes China and meets the existential need to tackle shared challenges."
Comment: Jessica Chen Weiss' argument is on the spot. Whether on industrial policy, tariffs, foreign interference, etc, mirroring Beijing's approach is counterproductive. Can you address a fear by becoming it?
- China’s economy is beset by problems
- China’s chips push is mired in corruption allegations
- The creative ways Chinese activists protest pollution
Rest of World
But earlier this month, DXY’s accounts across multiple social platforms were abruptly suspended...it came after the site hosted accounts that challenged traditional Chinese medicine, especially its use in combating Covid-19 — something the Chinese government is promoting."
Comment: DXY's encounter highlights the narrowing of public spaces that are not subject to politicisation in China, a trend we have seen in multiple areas, including aesthetics, pop culture, literature and scientific research, in recent years. Politicisation is not the sole prerogative of the Chinese state; it is also happening because of the changing sensibilities and rising intolerance among parts of the Chinese public.
- ‘Rosewood’ Explores China’s Philosophy of Ecological Protection
- Why Tigers, Bears, and Elephants Keep Wandering Into Chinese Towns
- Why Young Chinese Are Learning to Live in the Now
This shift did not begin with the pandemic. Even prior to COVID-19, China’s economy was struggling to find a new growth engine capable of maintaining the staggering growth of the 1990s and 2000s. And there were signs that young Chinese were increasingly unwilling to make the kind of total commitment to work that private companies had grown accustomed to...
This shift is also reflected in people’s apathy toward marriage and childbirth. Family formation has always been the most significant long-term promise — and investment — in an individual’s life...
Almost every living generation of Chinese can claim its share of turmoil and trauma. In a sense, this makes today’s twenty-somethings even more unique. As perhaps the first generation in the past two centuries with no firsthand experience of war, hunger, or economic contraction in their childhood and adolescence, they are largely unprepared for the current malaise. After a lifetime of continuous development and annual GDP growth rates of 6% or higher, what do you do when growth drops to 0.4%, as it did in the second quarter of 2022?
What happens when suspension becomes free fall? The 19th century French sociologist Emile Durkheim called the phenomenon of once-unifying beliefs being questioned and abandoned, but not yet replaced with a new consensus, “anomie”... people become disoriented, frustrated, and lack a sense of purpose and direction. China’s not at that point yet...[but perhaps soon...]"
Comment: the China Dream of national rejuvenation and the state's call, for example, for young people to have more children to offset an ageing population, are not so attractive when you, as a young Chinese, find your life aspirations in tatters because you can't even find a job. What happened last time when we had a large, restive young population in China? Tiananmen 1989. And before that? The Cultural Revolution and the exiling of millions of urban youth to the countryside by Mao. What will Xi do this time?
- On Dialysis in China? Pray There Isn’t a Lockdown.
- The Challenges Ahead for China’s Digital Yuan
- The Key to Reviving Urban Rivers? Recreation, Not Regulation
- If Tech Transfers Didn’t Build China’s Chip Industry, What Did?
Although no longer reliant on forced technology transfers, the Chinese chip industry still depends on returnees and overseas talent for their engineering and management expertise, as well as technologies licensed or bought abroad...
Meanwhile, as recent corruption investigations indicate, large state funds are not always efficient allocators of capital.
Nevertheless, while the U.S.-China trade war that broke out in 2018 has slowed China’s technological development in some spheres, it has also accelerated the process of indigenous innovation. Ultimately, this drive, rather than any sanctions, will determine the future of China’s chip industry."
China Digital Times
- UN Special Rapporteur’s Report: “Reasonable to Conclude” Existence of Forced Labor in Xinjiang
- Translation: Quarantine Diary. “All I Had Was One Question: What Exactly Are The Rules?”
- Latest Targets of Hong Kong Censorship Include Films, Publishers, and Pro-Transparency Social Media Pages
- Another U.S. Congressional Delegation Visits Taiwan, Beijing Restarts Military Drills
- Kimono Detention Latest Incident of Anti-Japanese Sentiment in China
- Latvia and Estonia Exit China’s “16+1” Central and Eastern European Cooperation Group
- Does Asia think America’s best days are behind it? Q&A with Andrew Sheng
- Giant Chinese companies delisting from U.S. exchanges signals the end of an era
- China is the U.S.’s techno-security bogeyman
- China’s grand space ambitions
- U.S. finally passes semiconductor subsidy bill, but it’s not going to help competition with China
- Joshua Wong pleads guilty under Hong Kong’s National Security Law
- How companies are dealing with the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act
- The importance of succession ritual in China, then and now
- China’s sprawling world of web fiction
Like wuxia and romance novels, web fiction has a reputation — depending on the critic’s generosity — of having little literary value or being corruptive, erosive, and distracting from what is real and important. This is certainly the opinion of the government, which has launched large-scale campaigns once every few years since as early as 2004 to purge fiction platforms of undesirable content. Chapters and even entire novels have been locked because of offending content, often including descriptions of sex, gambling, substance abuse, or gore. In 2020, the National Press and Publication Administration (NPPA) issued a notice requiring web fiction platforms to implement a real-name registration system and tighten up administration within their platforms."
Comment: even during the period of high Maoism, the Chinese people found ways of self-expression and cultural (re)production, some in the crevices not policed by the state, others in the ambiguous borderlands where socialist rhetoric and revolutionary ethos were subverted and repurposed. The point is that human beings will always try to find ways to express themselves.
- Wearing a kimono could get you arrested in China, as anti-Japanese sentiment rises
- China’s photovoltaic boom is just getting started, but there may be dark clouds ahead
- China cuts key interest rates as economy falters in July
- China launches new military drills after new U.S. congressional visit to Taiwan, but Xi and Biden still set to meet
- Artificial intelligence in China: Orchestras but no ultrasounds
- The Taiwan Strait crisis has strengthened Xi Jinping’s position
- Female representation in the Chinese leadership: Countdown to CCP's 20th Party Congress
- 'Homecoming' listings heat up in Hong Kong
- Taiwan Strait war will destroy peace and trade in the Asia-Pacific region
- Pelosi’s Taiwan visit reveals the ugliness of Chinese nationalism
- SEA's great power 'neutrality' risks being pro-China and anti-US
- China cannot afford to be impulsive on Taiwan
- China's economic recovery has become a political issue
- KMT could still turn the tables on the DPP in Taiwan's year-end local elections
- China normalising military measures in the Taiwan Strait
- Financial decoupling: China’s next step amid intensifying China-US rivalry?
- Here’s how Hainan can become the next financial hub
- What’s Behind China’s Recent Messaging to Australia?
- China’s Semiconductor Breakthrough
- China Moves to Fill The Void Left By Russia Sanctions – On Its Own Terms
- How Would Japan Respond to a Taiwan Contingency?
- China’s Digital Inroads in the Global South
- How Pelosi’s Visit to Taiwan Drove Chinese Public Opinion Toward Reunification by Force
- China, Japan Officials Meet Amid Taiwan Tensions
- Chinese Drone Maker DJI and the US Congress
- China’s Anger Over Pelosi Visit Will Further Alienate Taiwanese
- China, Indonesia, and Malaysia: Waltzing Around Oil Rigs
- Potential Logistical and Operational Costs of a China-Taiwan Conflict
- The War in Ukraine Is Not a Watershed in China-EU Relations – Yet
- Chinese Navy Ship Docks in Sri Lanka, Stokes Worry in India
- Crossing the Line: The Makings of the 4th Taiwan Strait Crisis?
- A Fourth Taiwan Strait Crisis or an Inflection Point for the Status Quo?
- Taiwan Frets for ‘Thousands’ Trafficked Into Cambodia
- China’s Taiwan Strategy Could Impact India’s Economy
- Following China’s Military Drills, Taiwan Settles Into New Normal
- Do Legislative Visits Actually Help Taiwan?
- Why AI Is the New Frontier in China-US Competition
- Taiwan’s KMT: Between a Rock and a Hard Place
- Is China Declining?
- India’s Taiwan Moment
- We’re Still Asking the Wrong Questions About War With China Over Taiwan
- Don’t Sacrifice Taiwan in the Fight for LGBT Rights
- Taiwan Can’t Rely on ‘Daddy America’ to Solve Its Problems
- How Nancy Pelosi’s Taiwan Gambit Backfired
- More Chinese Military Bases in Africa: A Question of When, Not If
Center for Strategic and International Studies
- The AI-Surveillance Symbiosis in China: A Big Data China Event
- Decisionmaking at the Speed of the Digital Era
- Economic Indicators of Chinese Military Action against Taiwan
- Speaker Pelosi’s Taiwan Visit: Implications for the Indo-Pacific
Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
- The Paradox of the Russia-China Relationship
- How Pelosi’s Taiwan Visit Has Set a New Status Quo for U.S-China Tensions
- Turkey-China relations: Ankara must balance complications on many fronts
- Saudi Arabia’s once marginal relationship with China has grown into a comprehensive strategic partnership
- Nigeria sees China as a steady partner and its largest lender
- China-Kenya relations: Economic benefits set against regional risks
- Kazakhstan’s three-way balancing act between competing powers is under pressure
- Indonesia’s wary embrace of China
- Chile’s once-pioneering relationship with China is turning into dependency
Council of Foreign Relations
- What Are the Implications of the Cyber Dimension of the China-Taiwan Crisis?
- Xi Jinping’s Guns of August
- What is Taiwan’s plan to protect itself against Chinese pressure?
- Can South Korea chart a path between the US and China in the Indo-Pacific?
Australia-China Relations Institute
- Huawei: Critically assessing the 5G ban and commonly cited risks
- A way forward for Australian strategic policy
China Research Group
Observer Research Foundation
- Pelosi’s visit spurs Chinese discussions on a two-front crisis
- China’s ‘spy ship’ poses a dilemma for New Delhi
- How can India Stay Relevant While Dealing with China?
- India’s Taiwan Moment
- Chinese Chequers: Chip on China’s shoulder
Politico China Watcher
Beijing to Britain
Beijing to Canberra and Back
“Australia doesn’t endorse the one-China principle. We have a one-China policy. Among other things, that means that although we acknowledge the position of the Chinese government that Taiwan is a province of the PRC, we don’t support the Chinese government’s view. We remain committed to both recognising the government of the PRC as the sole legal government of China while also deepening our rich and mutually beneficial unofficial ties with the peoples of Taiwan.”"
Maple Kingdom (China-Canada)
- Xiao Jianhua gets 13 years, BRI in BC, Taiwan Trips & Victor Ho placed on "wanted" List for Hong Kong activism
- Panel discussion on China tech companies after Tencent's earnings report
- What "algorithm details" Beijing asked for from Chinese tech giants
- China will NOT break up tech platforms: PKU task force
- Eurobonds, not bilateral debts, trapped poor countries
Tracking People's Daily
- Xi's Northeast Visit - FOCAC Diplomacy - Tibet Counterpart Support Conference - Propaganda Dept. on Core Socialist Values - Zhong Sheng on Taiwan Situation - CCCWS on China's Diplomacy
- Top Leadership's Back - Li's Guangdong Visit - China-Japan High-Level Political Dialogue - Taiwan Tensions - Pushback on US' Sub-saharan Africa Strategy - Guo Heping on China's Foreign Aid Policy
- Li on Economic Situation - Xi & Energy Security - Cultural Development Plan - Zhong Sheng on US' Taiwan Policy - Policies to Support Childbirth - S&T Innovation Board - AUKUS Criticism
- Understanding the New Development Concept - Party’s Leadership & Xi's Core Position - July Economic Data - Outreach to Developing World - US lawmakers visit Taiwan - Warning Japan
China Law Translate
- Guiding Opinions on Further Improving and Implementing Measures to Support Stimulation of Childbirth
- Provisions on the Administration of Radio, Television, and Online A/V Program Production and Business (Draft for the solicitation of comments)
China Trade Monitor
Supreme People's Court Monitor
- Why & How the Supreme People’s Court is Providing Services and Safeguards for the Unified Market Policy
China Aerospace Studies Institute
- PLA Aerospace Primer 3rd Edition
- An Assessment of People’s Liberation Army Rocket Force Survivability Training
Society & Culture
What's on Weibo
- In Order to Save Energy, Shanghai Bund Will Not Light Up on Monday and Tuesday
- Bubble Tea Madness: ‘Modern China Tea Shop’ Opening Creates Chaos in Nanjing
- The Social Media Spectacle of China’s Taiwan Military Exercises
- Fresh Off the Boat, Xiamen Fish Are Tested for Covid-19
- Chinese Woman Taken Away by Suzhou Police for Wearing Japanese Kimono
Later...CCTV uncoincidentally promoted a topic (#穿汉服就是回到古代吗#) related to wearing Hanfu or traditional Chinese clothing, writing: “As Chinese national traditional clothing, Hanfu can be fully integrated into modern daily life. (..) Change into Hanfu, let the beautiful culture move forward in a new era!”"
Comment: when pride in one's own country/culture transmutes into a sense of superiority, righteousness/grievance and xenophobia, tragedy looms on the horizon. In China's case, the biggest tragedy would be the closing of the Chinese heart to the world.
- From Isolated Nation to Island Nation: Searching for Taiwan’s Place in the Wider World
- Taking a leaf out of Taiwan (and Vietnam): How “Taiwanese” is Taiwanese bubble tea?
- Tension Across the Taiwan Strait: Perspectives, Concerns & Dynamics from South Asia
- 全党必须完整、准确、全面贯彻新发展理念 / 习近平
- 新时代我国发展壮大的必由之路 / 本刊编辑部
- 完整、准确、全面贯彻新发展理念 谱写社会主义现代化建设新篇章 / 国家发展和改革委员会
- 深入学习贯彻习近平生态文明思想 努力开创新时代美丽中国建设新局面 / 中共生态环境部党组
- 坚持创新驱动 建设材料强国 / 周育先
- 自主创新造就中国高铁“国家名片” / 孙永才
- 坚持在发展中保障和改善民生 / 新华社记者
- 新时代统战工作的根本指针 / 本刊评论员
- 实现祖国完全统一是大势所趋、大义所在、民心所向 / 本刊评论员
- 用科学方法论指导抓落实 / 景俊海
- 让中国精神的灯火在新时代的文艺高峰上闪亮 / 铁 凝
- 温暖万家的“点灯师傅” / 中共浙江省委
By Adam Ni