Apple Daily closes; Zhang Weiwei on telling “Chinese political stories”; Ft. Detrick and Zhao Lijian; Commodities

Today’s Essential Eight items:

  1. Apple Daily closes

  2. Xi video chats with the astronauts

  3. Zhang Weiwei on telling “Chinese political stories”

  4. Australia-China

  5. US-China

  6. More pressure on Commodities

  7. Did the WHO miss some data in Wuhan?

  8. Wuhan Military World Games, Ft. Detrick and Zhao Lijian

Thanks for reading.


The Essential Eight

1. Apple Daily closes

Hong Kong's pro-democracy Apple Daily signs off in "painful farewell" | Reuters

Hundreds of supporters gathered outside Apple Daily’s building on Wednesday night to show support, sometimes in heavy rain, and waved smartphone lights. Journalists came out onto the balcony and responded with their own phones.

The last front page carried a photograph of a member of staff waving at supporters, with the headline “Hong Kongers bid a painful farewell in the rain”...

The paper, whose online version will also stop updating, said it was printing a million copies of its last edition - more than 10 times its normal print run.

Shortly after midnight, some news stands waiting for delivery already had hundreds of people queueing.

Apple Daily opinion writer arrested by Hong Kong national security police | Hong Kong Free Press HKFP

The pro-democracy tabloid said the man was their lead opinion writer Yeung Ching-Kei – known under the pen name Li Ping. Yeung – who police said was arrested in Tseung Kwan O on Wednesday – often published editorials for Apple Daily, as well as other opinion articles.

HK secessionist tabloid Apple Daily to end its edition on Thursday - Global Times

After the Hong Kong Police Force (HKPF) arrested another staff member of Apple Daily on suspicion of violating the national security law, the pro-secessionist tabloid announced on Wednesday that it will issue its last edition on Thursday amid mounting financial pressure.

The HKPF arrested a 55-year-old man on suspicion of colluding with foreign forces and endangering national security, the police confirmed with the Global Times on Wednesday. Hong Kong media reports said the man is a columnist working for Apple Daily that is facing an imminent shutdown.

The HKPF told the Global Times that the possibility of more people being arrested cannot be excluded.

Hong Kong media said the man arrested was a columnist with the penname "Li Ping." He has become the latest staff member arrested from the tabloid founded and owned by the modern-day traitor Lai Chee-ying, also known as Jimmy Lai...

While some foreign journalists and observers lamented the closure of Apple Daily on social media, claiming the matter "as an end of era," Chinese experts said it's indeed the end of era when foreign proxies and secessionist forces meddling in China's internal affairs in instigating the color revolution in Hong Kong exit the political life for good.

Apple Daily case is assault on Hong Kong’s freedoms | Financial Times Editorial

The implications range well beyond journalism. Banks will be wary that analysts’ reports critical of Chinese politics or state companies could cause them trouble. It is a small jump from the move against Apple Daily, its assets frozen by a court order, to assaults on bigger or foreign businesses.

Such developments strip away the advantages that long made Hong Kong such an important financial hub and gateway to mainland China: the free flow of ideas and information, backed by rule of law...

Hong Kong’s Apple Daily newspaper folds under government pressure - The Washington Post

At the time of its closure, Apple Daily had 600, 000 paying subscribers — the largest independent media outlet in Hong Kong — and assets that would have allowed it to print for at least 18 more months. About 1,000 people will be affected by the closure, said Mark Simon, an adviser to Lai, adding that he was “hopeful” they could continue publication elsewhere.

Committee to Protect Journalists - CPJ board honors Hong Kong’s Jimmy Lai with Gwen Ifill Press Freedom Award

New York, June 21, 2021-- The Committee to Protect Journalists today said it will honor Jimmy Lai, the imprisoned founder of Hong Kong’s Next Digital media company and Apple Daily newspaper, with the 2021 Gwen Ifill Press Freedom Award. The award is presented annually by CPJ’s board of directors to recognize extraordinary and sustained commitment to press freedom.

Hong Kong: Statement by the Spokesperson on the closure of Apple Daily’s Hong Kong operations - European External Action Service

The closure of Apple Daily’s Hong Kong operations clearly shows how the National Security Law imposed by Beijing is being used to stifle freedom of the press and the free expression of opinions. Its closing seriously undermines media freedom and pluralism, which are essential for any open and free society. The erosion of press freedom is also counter to Hong Kong’s aspirations as an international business hub.

The European Union recalls that these freedoms are enshrined in the Basic Law, and that China made international commitments under the Hong Kong Basic Law and the Sino-British Joint Declaration of 1984 to respect Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy and rights and freedoms, including freedom of the press. All rights enshrined in the Basic Law under the ‘One Country, Two Systems’ principle should be fully protected and restored.

Closure of Apple Daily in Hong Kong: Foreign Secretary's statement - GOV.UK

The forced closure of Apple Daily by the Hong Kong authorities is a chilling blow to freedom of expression in Hong Kong.

It is crystal clear that the powers under the National Security Law are being used as a tool to curtail freedoms and punish dissent – rather than keep public order.

The Chinese government undertook to protect press freedom and freedom of speech in Hong Kong under the UK-Sino Joint Declaration. It must keep its promises, and stand by the commitments it freely assumed.

Question: Or what if it does not "keep its promises"? More toothless paper tiger sanctions? Even much tougher sanctions, say on systemically important financial institutions and senior leaders like standing committee members and their relatives, moves that would also be painful for the countries implementing the sanctions, would not change the trajectory of Hong Kong. So UK, US and other politicians can issue tough statements, but if you are Xi do you really care? From his perspective he re-ordered the South China Sea at very little cost, and now Hong Kong is back in the hands of patriots. It is Hong Kong, PRC and Xi and the CCP will do with it what they want. The Apple Daily closure will probably have the desired chilling effect on other media, now they will likely have to find examples in the legal profession to ensure that group gets with the new reality as well.


2. Xi video chats with the astronauts

Chinese astronauts talk with Earth - CGTN

Nie Haisheng (56), Liu Boming (54) and Tang Hongbo (45) are now stationed at the core module Tianhe, some 380 kilometers above the Earth. Their's marks China's longest manned space mission to date, and the first since 2016.

On Wednesday, Chinese President Xi Jinping sent out greetings to three astronauts via video link, congratulating their successful entering into the station while thanking them for their work...

"How's life there," Xi...asked the trio about their health, life and work

"Building a space station is an important milestone for China's spaceflight cause," Xi said in the televised chat.

"This will be a contribution that opens new horizons for humanity's peaceful use of space. You are the representatives of countless fighters in the new era of China's spaceflight cause," he said...

With five launch missions done this year, China plans six more missions, including the launch of the Wentian and Mengtian lab modules, two cargo spacecraft and two manned spaceships, in 2022 to complete the construction of the space station.

The Wednesday CCTv Evening News report - 习近平同神舟十二号航天员亲切通话

Question: Does it take less effort in zero gravity to waive your hand at the General Secretary for about a minute?

Xi Jinping hails China space station astronauts in long-distance call | South China Morning Post

In an interview with state-run People’s Daily last week, crew commander Nie said this mission would be more taxing than the 2016 one because the space station was far bigger than the space lab.

Nie added that another challenge was Tiangong’s recently built robotic arm, which the head of the US Space Command has warned could be used in a future system for grappling other satellites.

“It is also the first time we will act in concert with the robotic arm – the arduousness and complexity of this is beyond imaginable,” Nie said.

Comment: The scene from Netflix's Space Force in which the Chinese space station uses its robotic arm to disable a US satellite:

Chinese rocket manufacturer outlines manned Mars mission roadmap, timetable - Global Times

China's prime rocket manufacturer has unveiled a roadmap for the country's future manned Mars exploration missions, which not only includes manned landing missions but also Mars base building.

Wang Xiaojun, head of the state-owned China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology (CALT), outlined the plans in his speech themed "The Space Transportation System of Human Mars Exploration" at the Global Space Exploration Conference (GLEX 2021) via a virtual link, the academy told the Global Times on Wednesday.


3. Zhang Weiwei on telling “Chinese political stories”

Zhang Weiwei, the discussant at last month's Politburo study session on improving China's international communication, writes in Beijing Daily, republished here on Guancha - "It is entirely possible to tell Chinese political stories more thoroughly and wonderfully". It is long--8500+ characters-and so I have only excerpted a small sample here. but it looks to be a useful roadmap to understanding how the leadership analyzes the "discourse gap" with the West and the messaging they may use to try to close it.

张维为:完全有可能把中国政治故事讲得更透彻、更精彩

The rise of China is a miracle in human history. Never before have so many people changed their destiny in such a short time. This miracle was realized by the Chinese people under the leadership of the Communist Party of China, and was achieved by the Chinese people's continuous exploration and struggle along the road of socialism with Chinese characteristics, so the political story of China should be the most wonderful story in the world.

However, things are not so simple. First of all, it comes from external challenges. In particular, the siege of China by Western discourse has never stopped. In a sense, the West is even more afraid of the rise of China's soft power, because it may end the Western institutional myth and discourse hegemony constructed by the West for centuries.

In addition, China also faces internal challenges: many officials and scholars lack "four self-confidences"; We talk about politicians running newspapers, schools and media, but there are still too few such politicians. Many officials still have the problem of "stereotyped party writing", and the words have no affinity and persuasiveness; Many scholars still have the problem of "foreign stereotyped writing" and [言必称希腊] cannot open their mouths without citing ancient Greece. [Bill: 言必称希腊 is a phrase used by Chairman Mao in his 1941 essay "Reform our study 改造我们的学习”. Mao used it to mean blind worship of foreign ideas. It sure seems like there is an increase in Mao references and Mao quotes these days...]. As a result, they can neither read China nor the world; New social media has the problem of "kitsch". All these prevent us from telling Chinese political stories well.

In addition, penetrating thinking and insufficient words are also the difficulties in telling Chinese political stories well. Besides official discourse, our other discourses, such as academic discourse, mass discourse, international discourse, etc., can not meet the needs of telling Chinese political stories well. In a word, the process of our discourse construction lags behind the scale and speed of our country's rise...

I have been studying the original Chinese political discourse for many years. I want to combine my research results and communication practice, and put forward some personal views on how to tell Chinese political stories better.

To tell Chinese political stories well depends on whether we can really deconstruct western discourse, especially the mainstream narrative of western discourse on China, and establish our own political narrative of China. This narrative should be a new discourse that can integrate official discourse, academic discourse, mass discourse and international discourse, and a discourse that can really spread widely and enter the mind...

For a long time, the mainstream political narrative of China in the West is based on an extremely shallow and biased analysis paradigm, that is, the so-called discourse paradigm of "democracy or autocracy", and what is democracy and autocracy can only be defined by the West...

Zhang concludes with:

Capital has no motherland, and a new phenomenon has emerged in recent years: today, the desire of capital forces to improve their own political system and social structure has obviously decreased, because through globalization and networking, the source of their biggest profits is often not their own country, which is also a new institutional dilemma facing the West.

In contrast, although the gap between the rich and the poor in China has widened, Chinese political forces have generally ensured a substantial improvement in the living standards of the disadvantaged groups. Chinese social forces have continued the tradition of Chinese populism, and the mainstream of society has almost always tended to control capital. This balanced pattern of the three forces should be the main reason why China can avoid the American-style financial crisis and debt crisis, and it may also be the main reason why the prospect of ordinary people's "Chinese Dream" is more brilliant than that of the "American Dream".

On different occasions, I have extracted three criteria from China's experience to comment on the ability of countries in the world to govern the country: (1) whether a country has political power that can represent the overall interests of the people. China has it, but many western countries such as the United States have long since lost it. (two) the government's ability to integrate and reform is strong or weak. (3) Whether the market role and the government role can be better combined. These three standards can be used to measure a country's comprehensive competitiveness and its future prospects.

In a word, as long as we focus on paradigm shift, cross-border comparison, cultural narrative, modern perspective, Chinese standards and international expression, it is entirely possible for us to tell Chinese political stories more thoroughly and brilliantly, thus providing more Chinese wisdom for enriching human political civilization.

中国崛起是人类历史上的奇迹,从来没有如此多的人在如此短的时间内改变了自己的命运。这种奇迹是中国人民在中国共产党的领导下实现的,是中国人民沿着中国特色社会主义道路不断探索和奋斗取得的,所以中国的政治故事理应是世界上最精彩的故事。

然而,事情并不那么简单,首先是来自外部的挑战,特别是西方话语对中国的围攻从未停止,西方对中国软实力崛起某种意义上更为恐惧,因为这可能终结西方几个世纪以来所建构的西方制度神话和话语霸权。

此外,中国还面临来自内部的挑战:不少官员和学者缺乏“四个自信”;我们讲政治家办报、政治家办校、政治家办媒体,但这样的政治家还是太少;不少官员还存有“党八股”的问题,话语没有亲和力和说服力;不少学者还存有“洋八股”的问题,言必称希腊,结果既读不懂中国,也读不懂世界;新社交媒体则存有“媚俗”的问题。这些都妨碍我们讲好中国政治故事。

另外,具有思想穿透力的思辩和话语不足,也是讲好中国政治故事的难处所在。除了官方话语以外,我们的其它话语,如学术话语、大众话语、国际话语等,也满足不了讲好中国政治故事的需求。总之,我们话语建设的进程还明显落后于我们国家崛起的规模和速度...

我这些年一直在进行原创性中国政治话语的研究。我想结合自己的研究成果和传播实践,就如何更好地讲好中国政治故事提出一些个人看法。

讲好中国政治故事,很大程度上取决于我们能否真正地解构西方话语,特别是西方话语对中国的主流叙述,并确立我们自己对中国的政治叙述。这种叙述应该是一种能够融官方话语、学术话语、大众话语和国际话语为一体的新话语,一种真正能够广为传播、入脑入心的话语...

长期以来,西方对中国的主流政治叙述基于一个极其浅薄而又充满偏见的分析范式,即所谓的“民主还是专制”的话语范式,而什么是民主,什么是专制,只能由西方一家界定...

资本无祖国,这些年又出现了新现象:今天资本力量要求改善本国政治制度和社会结构的愿望已明显减少,因为通过全球化和网络化,其最大利润的来源地往往已不是本国,这也是西方面临的一个新的制度困境。

相比之下,虽然中国的贫富差距拉大了,但中国政治力量总体上还是保证了困难群体生活水平的大幅提高,中国社会力量延续中国平民主义的传统,社会主流几乎也一直倾向于节制资本。三种力量的这种平衡格局应该是中国得以避免美国式金融危机和债务危机的主要原因,这可能也是普通百姓的“中国梦”前景已经比“美国梦”前景更为精彩的主要原因。

我还在不同场合从中国经验中提炼出三条标准,来评述世界各国的治国理政的能力:(一)一个国家是否具有能够代表人民整体利益的政治力量。中国有,美国等很多西方国家早就没有了。(二)政府的整合能力和改革能力是强还是弱。(三)市场作用与政府作用是否能够较好地结合起来。这三条标准可以用来衡量一个国家的综合竞争能力及其未来前景。

总之,只要我们从范式转换、跨国比较、文化叙事、现代视角及中国标准、国际表述等五个层面着力,我们完全有可能把中国政治故事讲得更透彻、更精彩,从而为丰富人类政治文明提供更多中国智慧。

Comment: Zhang sure has a Marxist way of analysis.

A good, recent backgrounder on Zhang from the China Media Project - Powers of Persuasion

Here is yet another reminder that the PRC can not tell its stories globally without American social media platforms - How China Spreads Propaganda About Uyghurs in Xinjiang - The New York Times

A monthslong analysis of more than 3,000 of the videos by The New York Times and ProPublica found evidence of an influence campaign orchestrated by the Chinese government.

The operation has produced and spread thousands of videos in which Chinese citizens deny abuses against their own communities and scold foreign officials and multinational corporations who dare question the Chinese government’s human rights record in Xinjiang.

It all amounts to one of China’s most elaborate efforts to shape global opinion...Many of these videos of people in Xinjiang first appeared on a regional Communist Party news app. Then they showed up on YouTube and other global sites, with English subtitles added...

On Twitter, a network of connected accounts shared the videos in ways that seemed designed to avoid the platform’s systems for detecting influence campaigns.
China’s increasingly social media-fluent diplomats and state-run news outlets have since spread the testimonials to audiences of millions worldwide.


4. Australia-China

Report - Lowy Institute Poll 2021

The 2021 Lowy Institute Poll captures the mood of the Australian public at this remarkable moment. Australians have a renewed sense of optimism about the world and their place in it. The country is rightly proud of its efforts to manage the pandemic.

While Australians’ trust in many countries has increased in 2021, sentiment towards China is now quite bleak. For the first time, more Australians see China’s economic growth as a negative rather than a positive. The majority of Australians blame China for the current tensions in the bilateral relationship. More Australians see China as a security threat than an economic partner. Confidence in China’s President Xi Jinping, already declining, has fallen to a new record low.

However, Australians do not want regional competition to slide into confrontation. Most still believe we can maintain good relations with both superpowers. A majority of Australians would prefer to stay neutral in the event of a military conflict between China and the United States...

Almost no Australians (5%) say they have confidence in North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un. Kim Jong-un is the only world leader on the list in 2021 who receives fewer votes of confidence than China’s President Xi Jinping.

Frances Adamson, the outgoing secretary of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade -The insecure superpower: a volatile mix that will make China our challenge for decades - Sydney Morning Herald

This siege mentality – this unwillingness to countenance scrutiny and genuine discussion of differences – serves nobody’s interests. It means, among other things, that China is undergoing a steep loss of influence in Australia and many other countries.

The latest Lowy Poll, out on Wednesday, confirms as much, revealing that Australians’ trust in China has fallen to record lows.

GT survey shows 49.6% say Australia ‘too dependent’ on China economically - Global Times

Almost half of the Chinese participating in the latest Global Times survey believe that Australia is "too dependent" on China in terms of its economy, up by 6.4 percentage points compared with a year ago. Meanwhile, Chinese people's willingness to travel and study in the country dropped, suggesting a further cooling down in trade in services amid seriously fraught ties.

The survey was conducted by the Global Times Research Center in cooperation with the Australian Studies Center of Beijing Foreign Studies University (BFSU) from June 11-15 via an online questionnaire with market survey firm DATA100. The survey collected 2,067 responses in 10 Chinese cities among people aged 18-70...

China has been insisting on depoliticizing the economic and trade sectors, and therefore whether China will further take countermeasures against Australia, depends on Australia's attitude and policy direction.

China can take action against Australia related to all products except for iron ore -- the only commodity for which China finds it hard to obtain alternative sources, Yu Lei, chief research fellow at the research center for Pacific Island Countries of Liaocheng University in East China's Shandong Province, told the Global Times on Tuesday.


5. US-China

Biden pushes for high-level meetings with Beijing officials | Financial Times - Demetri Sevastopulo

The US and China are discussing a possible meeting between Antony Blinken, secretary of state, and Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi at a G20 meeting in Italy next week, according to three people briefed on the talks.

The Biden administration has also told Beijing it would like to send Wendy Sherman, deputy secretary of state, to China over the summer.

The White House is considering a call with Xi Jinping, which would be Biden’s second engagement as US president with his Chinese counterpart...

The White House has also held preliminary internal discussions about sending Blinken or Jake Sullivan, national security adviser, to China this year, which could set the stage for Biden and Xi to hold a bilateral summit on the margins of the G20 leaders meeting in Rome in October.

Comment: The FT’s Sevastopulo seems to be the best-sourced journalist in DC when it comes to US-China policy.

7th Fleet Destroyer Transits Taiwan Strait > United States Navy > News-Stories

The Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer USS Curtis Wilbur (DDG 54) conducted a routine Taiwan Strait transit June 22 (local time) through international waters in accordance with international law. The ship's transit through the Taiwan Strait demonstrates the U.S. commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific

PLA on alert during US warship’s latest Taiwan Straits provocation - Global Times

The PLA Eastern Theater Command organized maritime and aerial forces, tracked and monitored on high alert the USS Curtis Wilbur guided missile destroyer through its entire course when it made a transit in the Taiwan Straits on Tuesday, said Senior Colonel Zhang Chunhui, spokesperson of the Command, in a statement released on Wednesday.

The Asia-sized hole in Biden's trade agenda - POLITICO

“The key thing, frankly, is they need a very clear Asian economic strategy and plan, including with respect to China, and that seems to be something that they are in no hurry to generate,” said Charles Freeman, senior vice president for Asia at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Biden Opens New Front in Trade War With China: Semiconductors - Foreign Policy

Want to understand the Biden administration’s China strategy? Set aside the South China Sea and the Quad. A more useful marker of the administration’s thinking may come from a South Korean company that few in Washington have ever heard of. Magnachip, based in South Korea, produces a type of semiconductor needed in the most advanced screens, such as those for the newest smartphones. It’s a small company, with revenues of around $500 million last year, a tiny fraction of chip industry behemoths like Intel or Taiwan’s TSMC. But the Biden administration is now blocking its purchase by a Chinese private equity fund. The fate of the deal will send a major message about how Washington is thinking about the United States’ economic relationship with China...

Unless the company’s disclosures are hiding something, the only substantive connection Magnachip has to the United States is that its shares trade on the New York Stock Exchange.

Yet CFIUS has struck again. On June 15, the committee ordered Magnachip to halt its sale until CFIUS has finished investigating. The next day, South Korea’s regulators issued their own set of demands regarding the proposed transaction.


6. More pressure on Commodities

China Launches Probe Into Commodities Amid Surging Prices - Caixin

China’s top economic planner and market regulator have jointly launched a probe into supplies and prices of commodities, in the country’s latest efforts to rein in the recent sharp rally in prices and curb speculation.

The National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) and the State Administration for Market Regulation recently dispatched teams to various provinces and cities to investigate spot and futures trading in commodities, according to a statement (link in Chinese) released by the NDRC on Wednesday.

The teams are also looking into upstream supply and price fluctuations faced by downstream industries that produce the finished goods that are sold to consumers, as well as seeking opinions on combating speculation and ensuring market supply, according to the statement.

The brief annoucnement - 国家发展改革委价格司与市场监管总局价监竞争局近日派出多个工作组赴有关省市开展大宗商品市场联合调查

Recently, the Price Department of the National Development and Reform Commission and the Price Supervision and Competition Bureau of the General Administration of Market Supervision sent several joint working groups to the relevant provinces and cities to investigate the problem of guaranteeing supply and stabilizing prices of bulk commodities. The working group will learn more about relevant enterprises' participation in spot market transactions during the commodity period, listen carefully to the reflection of upstream supply quantity and price changes by middle and lower reaches enterprises, as well as suggestions on cracking down on speculation and ensuring market supply, and listen to the opinions of relevant experts and market institutions on strengthening the linkage supervision of spot market during the commodity period and maintaining the normal order of the market.

近日,国家发展改革委价格司与市场监管总局价监竞争局派出多个联合工作组,赴有关省市就大宗商品保供稳价问题进行调查。工作组将详细了解有关企业参与大宗商品期现货市场交易情况,认真听取中下游企业对上游供货数量和价格变化情况的反映以及打击投机炒作、保障市场供应的建议,听取有关专家、市场机构对加强期现货市场联动监管、维护市场正常秩序的意见。

LME Copper Base Metal Prices Rise With China's First Release of State Stockpiles - Bloomberg

“The market had apparently expected a larger quantity and appears relieved, with the result that prices have actually risen again quickly,” Daniel Briesemann, an analyst at Commerzbank AG, said in an emailed note.


7. Did the WHO miss some data in Wuhan?

China deleted early coronavirus data that could help explain pandemic origins, researcher finds- The Telegraph

Detective work by a leading American scientist has revealed early sequences of the coronavirus genome were deleted from a key global database at the request of Chinese researchers.

The sequences, which have been recovered from cloud storage and published in a pre-print, have been described by experts as “the most important data” on the origins of Covid-19 in more than a year.

The recovered data does not support either the “natural origins” or “lab leak” theory over the pandemic’s source, scientists say. However, it suggests the virus was circulating in Wuhan earlier than previously thought, and could perhaps point toward answers on the origins of Sars-CoV-2 - answers that could not only help end this pandemic but prevent the next one...

The paper was published on the preprint server bioRxiv by Professor Jesse Bloom, an influenza virus expert at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, the United States.

Comment: Bloom's long Twitter thread on what he found:

Recovery of deleted deep sequencing data sheds more light on the early Wuhan SARS-CoV-2 epidemic | bioRxiv

The origin and early spread of SARS-CoV-2 remains shrouded in mystery. Here I identify a data set containing SARS-CoV-2 sequences from early in the Wuhan epidemic that has been deleted from the NIH's Sequence Read Archive. I recover the deleted files from the Google Cloud, and reconstruct partial sequences of 13 early epidemic viruses. Phylogenetic analysis of these sequences in the context of carefully annotated existing data suggests that the Huanan Seafood Market sequences that are the focus of the joint WHO-China report are not fully representative of the viruses in Wuhan early in the epidemic. Instead, the progenitor of known SARS-CoV-2 sequences likely contained three mutations relative to the market viruses that made it more similar to SARS-CoV-2's bat coronavirus relatives.


8. Wuhan Military World Games, Ft. Detrick and Zhao Lijian

Opinion | Congress is investigating whether the 2019 Military World Games in Wuhan was a covid-19 superspreader event - The Washington Post

In October 2019, more than 9,000 international athletes from more than 100 countries traveled to Wuhan, China — and many of them later got sick with covid-19-like symptoms. But there has never been a real investigation into whether the virus that causes covid-19 was already spreading at the Wuhan Military World Games. Now, multiple U.S. lawmakers are demanding the U.S. government begin one...

As the covid-19 pandemic took hold worldwide in early 2020, athletes from several countries — including France, Germany, Italy and Luxembourg — claimed publicly they had contracted what they believed to be covid-19 at the games in Wuhan, based on their symptoms and how their illnesses spread to their loved ones. In Washington, military leaders either dismissed the idea out of hand or weren’t aware of it. Meanwhile, no one performed any antibody testing or disease tracing on these thousands of athletes...

“Given unanswered questions surrounding the origins of the pandemic, information involving the health of service members who participated in the 2019 games could provide key evidence in understanding when COVID-19 first emerged,” Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.) wrote in a letter Monday to Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Gen. Mark A. Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. “While anecdotal, these reports raise important questions about the timeline of the initial COVID-19 outbreak in Wuhan.”…

The State Department’s only consideration of the Wuhan Military World Games came when the Chinese foreign ministry began citing the event in its own propaganda in March 2020. The Chinese asserted that U.S. Army personnel might have brought the virus to Wuhan from Fort Detrick in Frederick, Md., where the U.S. Army bioresearch program is based.

06/23/2021 China MFA Press Conference

China News Service: Recently Mike Gallagher, US Representative for Wisconsin's 8th congressional district, posted an article on the COVID-19, saying that China is engaged in a systematic "coverup" designed to avoid culpability for its "mishandling" of the pandemic. What is China's comment?

Zhao Lijian: Since the onset of the epidemic, China has unreservedly shared with other countries its experience in containment and treatment in an open and transparent manner. China has received WHO experts twice and co-released with WHO the joint mission report on origin-tracing, making positive contributions to the global response. China's efforts have gained worldwide recognition.

I wonder if the US congressman concerned has paid enough attention to the massive outbreak of EVALI in Wisconsin in July 2019. The world has yet to see a clear conclusion about the disease. As a lawmaker representing Wisconsin, does he think this is a systematic "coverup" by the US side? If he really wants to find out the truth, it might help if he goes to Fort Detrick, which is just an hour's drive away from Wisconsin. In June 2019, research work at Fort Detrick was suspended after an inspection found failure to follow procedures and mechanic glitches and leaks. Around the same time, EVALI broke out on a large scale in Wisconsin.

Fort Detrick is infamous for its security risks and leak incidents. Its so-called research respecting no moral bottom line and "release of viruses" are just shocking. After WWII, it sheltered and recruited some notorious Nazi war criminals and took over their research in biological warfare. Among them are Erich Traub, head of Nazi Germany's biological warfare lab, and Shiro Ishii, who was in charge of Unit 731 of the Imperial Japanese Army that waged the war of aggression against China. At Fort Detrick, the objects of experiments include plants, animals and human beings. According to reports, Sidney Gottlieb, who was in charge of human experiments, once gave seven black prisoners multiple doses of LSD for 77 days straight to test how drugs work on forcing confessions.

In the face of widespread doubts and concerns from the international community, the US remains reticent and evasive. What is it afraid of? No country but the US can be truly accused of systemic coverup. Are there more terrible truths that remain unknown in the US? Once again we urge the US to open up Fort Detrick as soon as possible, grant necessary access to international experts to learn relevant information, and publish research conducted in its over 200 biological labs all over the world.

Which led to this response from Rep. Gallagher:

At around 3:00 Rep. Gallagher flips the board to show a map of Asia, then says things about Taiwan that are going to pop some blood vessels in Beijing. Rep. Gallagher may make the cut for the next round of PRC sanctions on US officials, and I would not be surprised if soon Wisconsin exports to the PRC of American Ginseng run into issues, even though the vast majority of the state’s American Ginseng exports come from a county not in Rep. Gallagher’s district.

Viral Politics: Next-Stage Investigation into Covid-19 Origins Discussed on Weibo | What's on Weibo

Many web users support the Chinese official reaction that it is time for America to investigate the epidemic within its own borders. “First, discrediting and framing China regarding the virus origin has become a ‘national policy’ of the U.S. government to get rid of their [own] predicaments,” Chinese economist Tao Yongyi (@陶永谊) wrote on Weibo: “Now, the best defense is a good offense.”



Business, Economy and Trade

Premier stresses reform and opening-up in western development - SCIO Premier Li...made the remarks during a meeting of the steering group on western development on June 21. Vice-Premier Han Zheng...also attended the meeting, which deployed work plans for western development at present and during the 14th Five-Year-Plan period...The Premier asked related departments to implement new development concepts, promote high-quality development, further reform and opening-up, and enhance internal driving forces. He also called for more work in the protection of the ecological environment and improvement of peoples' lives to herald the new situation of western development, and expand room for the country's sustainable and healthy development...Vice-premiers Sun Chunlan and Hu Chunhua, state councilors Wang Yong and Xiao Jie, and He Lifeng, head of the National Development and Reform Commission, also attended the meeting.

Ant Inching Closer to IPO as Valuation Drops 60%, Bernstein Says - Bloomberg The firm controlled by billionaire Jack Ma could be worth about $120 billion upon listing due to slower revenue growth, Bernstein analysts led by Kevin Kwek wrote in a June 17 report. Ant may also have to inject 30 billion yuan ($4.7 billion) to 40 billion yuan of capital into its new consumer finance unit to support credit growth, the analysts said.

Jack Ma’s Ant in Talks to Share Data Trove With State Firms - WSJ Ant Group Co. is in talks with Chinese state-owned enterprises to create a credit-scoring company that will put the fintech giant’s proprietary consumer data under regulators’ purview, according to people familiar with the matter. The new entity, which could be established as soon as the third quarter of this year, could result in Ant ceding some control over the voluminous data it has on the financial habits of Chinese citizens.

Yicai - China’s First Carbon Emissions Market Issues Rules Ahead of Launch The Shanghai Environment and Energy Exchange published some details about the market yesterday, including trading methods and hours. More guidelines are expected to follow, a person familiar with the platform told Yicai Global. Speculation that the market will open on June 25 is not true, the same source added.

Yicai - China's Local Gov't Bond Issuance Picks Up in June Despite Tighter Regulations Some 40 percent more municipal bonds were issued in China in June than in May, and the overall distribution was uneven nationwide, even though regulators are getting stricter on the amount of debt being leveraged by local governments.

China's Ant highlights distinction between NFTs and cryptocurrencies | Reuters Ant, the Jack Ma-controlled fintech group, put on sale two NFT-backed app images via its payment platform Alipay and all the items quickly sold out on Wednesday. Ant's adoption of non-fungible tokens caused confusion on social media where they were linked to virtual currencies such as bitcoin

China Huarong International says it repaid maturing dollar bond | Reuters Huarong International had transferred sufficient funds to a designated account to make principal and interest payments on a maturing $250 million bond due June 24, the company said in a post on its official WeChat account.

虚拟货币挖矿清退下:有人巨亏出售矿机,有人趁低收购准备出海 China’s clampdown on cryptocurrencies has sent bitcoin miners scrambling. A miner told the Paper that he had sold all his 85 bitcoin machines. Another Sichuan-based miner said he had no plans to sell his equipment and was hoping to move to the United States. “Many of us are not willing to move overseas, but we’re really left with no choice.” said one miner.

中国华融出售子公司进行中:消金、金租可能由注册地金融机构接手 - 21经济网 Huarong is pushing ahead with efforts to sell its units, the 21st Century Business Herald reported. The paper, citing an unnamed source, said there was considerable bidder interest. “The transfer of shares of Huarong 华融消费金融 will follow public procedures, and there are many potential buyers, who have offered similar prices. But the opinions of local governments will be equally important, and the sales would likely go to a local financial institution,” the source said, “That way, there will be tax revenues but also financial licenses.” “华融消费金融的股份转让会走公开程序,潜在买家不少,各家报价差不了太多,但是当地政府意见很重要,非常可能给当地一家金融机构,留在当地既有税收又是牌照。”近日,一位知情人士对21世纪经济报道记者表示。

Chinese Brands Top Euro 2020 Sponsorship - Caixin Four Chinese companies — Hisense, Alipay, Vivo and TikTok — are among the 12 sponsors of Euro 2020, the first top-notch sporting event launched since the pandemic after a one-year delay. Other sponsors include American brands FedEx, Booking.com and Coca-Cola; Germany’s Volkswagen; Russian energy giant Gazprom; the Netherlands’ brewer Heineken and food delivery service Takeaway.com; and Qatar Airways.

Profits of Chinese SOEs surge in Jan.-May - Xinhua The combined profits of SOEs surged 170 percent year on year to 1.79 trillion yuan (about 277 billion U.S. dollars) in the first five months of 2021, according to the Ministry of Finance. Average profit growth for the same period in 2019 and 2020 came in at 13.5 percent. During the January-May period, the profits of centrally administered SOEs rose 130 percent year on year to 1.25 trillion yuan. The SOEs saw their total revenue rise 30.5 percent year on year to about 28.22 trillion yuan.

China to boost new forms, models of foreign trade to develop new competitive edge - Xinhua China will accelerate the development of new forms and models of foreign trade to push forward its upgrading and foster new competitive strengths, the State Council's executive meeting chaired by Premier Li Keqiang decided on Tuesday...Policies to support cross-border e-commerce development will be improved. Integrated pilot zones for cross-border e-commerce will be piloted in more areas. The list of goods in cross-border e-commerce retail import will be finetuned. Management of cross-border e-commerce import and export returns and exchanges will be made more convenient. Guidelines on protecting intellectual property rights in cross-border e-commerce will be drafted, to deter counterfeit and substandard goods. The meeting required vigorous efforts to advance the development of overseas warehouses. Traditional foreign trade companies, cross-border e-commerce platforms and logistics firms will be encouraged to participate in developing overseas warehouses and make them more standardized, digitized and intelligent

China 2049 - Brookings - Edited by David Dollar, Yiping Huang, and Yang Yao It’s clear that China is the world’s next economic superpower. But what isn’t so clear is how China will get there by the middle of this century. It now faces tremendous challenges such as fostering innovation, dealing with ageing problem and coping with a less accommodative global environment. In this book, economists from China’s leading university and America’s best-known think tank offer in depth analyses of these challenges.

Virtual currencies face more oversight - China Daily China is expected to issue tougher measures to intensify the crackdown on illegal mining and trading of virtual currencies, after the central bank reinforced a ban on related services provided by financial institutions, experts said on Tuesday.

Debt-Ridden State-Owned Aluminum Company Finds Strategic Investor - Caixin Huanghe Hydropower Development Co. Ltd., an energy subsidiary of central government-owned State Power Investment Corp. Ltd., on Saturday agreed to be a strategic investor in Qinghai Provincial Investment, according to the filing. Sources with knowledge of the deal told Caixin that Huanghe Hydropower will take over all the assets of the metal producer. In June 2020, Qinghai Provincial Investment and 16 of its subsidiaries received court approval to begin bankruptcy reorganization, after it defaulted on multiple bonds, including overseas bonds worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

Suning Seeks to Buy Stake From State-Backed Fund Despite Drowning in Debt - Caixin Caixin learned that Suning.com’s move may be linked to a company called Yunwang Wandian (云网万店) Technology Co. Ltd., which it founded in November with 6 billion yuan ($926 million) in financing led by Shenzhen Capital. Sources told Caixin Suning was seeking access to the firm’s cloud services including logistics, supply chain and aftersales to retailers.

Chip shortage restricts China’s car production, leaving showrooms empty, but local brands are faring better | South China Morning Post Car output in China dropped 6.8 per cent in May to 2.04 million vehicles compared with the same month last year, and sales fell 3.1 per cent to 2.12 million units, according to data from China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT).

World’s Top Bitcoin Mining-Rig Maker Halts Sales as Clients Flee - Bloomberg The world’s biggest maker of Bitcoin machines told the local mining community Wednesday it has stopped selling new equipment after prices for top-tier rigs plunged by about 75% since April. By postponing sales, it could help miners exiting the industry get better prices for their machines. Bitmain could also benefit if the reduced supply buoys prices over the longer term for new machines.

China's top political advisor stresses expanding domestic demand - Xinhua Wang [Yang]...made the remarks when attending panel discussions at the ongoing session of the Standing Committee of the 13th CPPCC National Committee...Nine members of the Standing Committee of the CPPCC National Committee offered suggestions at the meeting, such as expanding financing channels for modern infrastructure construction and pushing the upgrading of traditional industries. Reforms in logistics mechanism should be deepened to accelerate smooth economic circulation, while industrial vitalization plans for areas lifted out of poverty should be formulated and implemented, according to their proposals. Other suggestions include accelerating the building of a green trade system and fostering a stronger public health system.


Politics and Law

Chinese Communist Party centenary rap falls flat as music fans diss-miss track | South China Morning Post The song, featuring 100 artists, praises the country’s achievements – such as overcoming famine, developing 5G technology and sending rockets into space. There is also commentary related to China’s place in the world. Rapper Mercy takes aim at the G7 countries – which include the US, Canada and Germany – accusing them of antagonising China. There was condemnation for 100% when it was released on Sunday, with some music industry insiders criticising the song for trying to make a quick buck.

Media center for CPC centenary celebrations to launch official website - Xinhua The website, www.100cpcnews.cn, will be accessible in both Chinese and English, and will publish news updates on celebration activities and arrangements for press conferences, media interviews and visits.


Foreign and Defense Affairs

Canada sheds crocodile's tears for its indigenous people; not qualified to criticize China: FM Canada is unqualified to criticize China. They have to reflect on their own misdeeds on human rights, Zhao Lijian, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson, told a press conference on Wednesday, responding to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's remarks over topics of China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. Recently, the remains of 215 indigenous children were found in a former residential school in British Columbia. Zhao said, "We have noticed that although the Canadian government has expressed that it is 'heartbroken' for the 'shameful' chapter, it shifted responsibility to the Church, saying that the Catholic Church is blocking the investigation and urged it to take responsibility." "Such kind of crocodile tears exposed the Canadian government's hypocrisy and showed it lacks courage and sincerity to face its own misdeeds on human rights. It also worried the public for whether the situation of the indigenous people in Canada would be improved," said Zhao.

China Focus: China refutes human rights accusation by Western countries - Xinhua Zhao also expressed strong dissatisfaction and opposition to British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab backing Canada's actions in tweet. "This is a politically motivated accusation against China based on lies and false information, and it is a gross interference in China's internal affairs under the pretext of human rights," Zhao said. Pointing out that the British army tortured and injured innocent local civilians during wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, Zhao said the British side, however, blatantly justified the crimes perpetrated by its soldiers in legal form. China urges the British side to seriously reflect on its gross human rights violations, and not attempt to distract attention and shirk responsibilities by attacking and smearing China, Zhao said

Melting Arctic Ice Pits Russia Against U.S. and China for Control of New Shipping Route - WSJ $$ an opening of the passage would put Russia at the center of a new global shipping route for energy supplies and cargo. Moscow says it has the right to restrict passage and set prices for transit, and the route would also give it an important bargaining chip in its ties with China—one of the biggest beneficiaries of the 3,500-mile long passage...“There is a certain interest in the NSR from the Chinese Navy for strategic mobility to move troops between Pacific to Atlantic theaters,” said Vasily Kashin, an expert on Russia-China relations at the Moscow-based Higher School of Economics. “And they do have this interest in establishing their presence on the Atlantic.”

Foreign Minister Mahuta’s video call with China's State Councilor Wang Yi – Readout 22 June 2021 | New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade Minister Mahuta emphasised that Chinese leadership and ambition would be critical to achieving success for the global response to climate change. She outlined the importance that New Zealand places on the international rules-based system, and the values-based approach that New Zealand takes to its foreign policy. In this regard, noting that New Zealand takes a respectful, predictable and firm approach, Minister Mahuta also reiterated New Zealand’s grave concerns over the human rights situation of ethnic Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in Xinjiang province, as well as deep concerns over the erosion of political freedoms in Hong Kong.

China explores water ingestion trial methods for warplanes, enhances all-weather combat capability - Global Times Experts said on Wednesday that this will allow China's future warplanes to fly safer even under bad weather and runway conditions. The Test Flight Center of the state-owned Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC) recently conducted China's first water ingestion trial on a warplane, which achieved success despite the current lack of experience, China Aviation News, a newspaper affiliated with AVIC, reported on Friday.

China's 2021 White Paper on Tibet: Implications for India's China Strategy | ORF The Chinese government is known to be fond of marking anniversaries. On 23 May, the 71st year since the signing of the 17-point agreement between Beijing and Lhasa,[a] it issued another White Paper on Tibet.[1] It is the third White Paper in the Xi Jinping era, the first having been released in 2015 and the second, in 2019...The latest White Paper adds emphasis on the importance of maintaining a tight hold on the region, ensuring Chinese control over the selection of the next Dalai Lama, and emphasising border management and development. It underlines “managing religion in the Chinese context” and guiding “Tibetan Buddhism to adapt to socialist society”—in other words, Sincising Tibetan Buddhism.

朝中举办座谈会纪念领导人互访 | 韩联社
To commemorate the third anniversary of Kim Jong-un's visit to China and the second anniversary of Chinese President Xi Jinping's visit to the DPRK, the International Liaison Department of the CPC Central Committee held a joint DPRK-China symposium on the 21st. Song Tao, head of the International Liaison Department of the CPC Central Committee, said at the symposium that the top leaders of the two countries, as the leaders and pillars of the development of China-DPRK relations, play a strategic leading role in safeguarding the common interests of both sides and world peace, and the two countries will make positive contributions to peace and stability in the common region.

Misjudgments of CPC blind West of reality and future - People's Daily Online Why do some Western politicians and scholars show much more intention to demonize the Communist Party of China (CPC) when they know very little about the largest political party in the world? To understand China today, one must first know more about the CPC. As the Chinese people are about to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the founding of the CPC, the Global Times reporter Bai Yunyi interviewed the country's top political scientist Zheng Yongnian, presidential chair professor, acting dean of the School of Humanities and Social Science and the Founding Director of the Advanced Institute of Global and Contemporary China Studies, the Chinese University of Hong Kong, Shenzhen. He talked about how to see the legitimacy of the CPC and how it reached reforms goals through non-Western ways. // The original of the interview with Zheng - 知名政治学者郑永年接受《环球时报》专访:西方对华错误政策源于误读了中共

Surprise! The EU knows how to handle China – POLITICO Chinese officials may complain about the term “systemic rivalry,” but they believe in it as much as Brussels. The difference is that for Beijing, there is no separation between market and state. Interestingly, this is also the view in Washington — but Europeans are convinced they have a better plan. They will keep insisting that to do business in their territory, China will have to do it on European terms. And indeed, Chinese officials have sent some messages that they want to continue talking. “We are very calm,” said the official in Brussels.

Yicai - Foreign Influencers Start Off Visit to Yangtze River Delta in Shanghai More than a dozen China-based social media influencers from countries including Britain, Italy and Mexico attended the launching ceremony of international communication series Daka China’s “Hello, Yangtze River Delta” event in Shanghai yesterday. The event, co-organized by the Cyberspace Administration of China and China Radio International, will run until June 27 and will take place in key cities in the Yangtze River Delta region, including Shanghai, Suzhou, Hangzhou and Huangshan.

Germany must confront China on human rights despite trade, says industry | Reuters Germany needs an honest discussion about how to deal with trading partners such as China and must not duck confrontation if red lines on human rights are crossed, the head of the influential BDI industry association said on Tuesday.

Chinese president calls for building closer Belt and Road partnership - Xinhua China stands ready to work with all parties to build a closer Belt and Road partnership, President Xi Jinping said Wednesday in a written message to the Asia and Pacific High-level Conference on Belt and Road Cooperation. Xi said the joint building of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) that he proposed is aimed at carrying forward the spirit of the Silk Road, working together to build an open platform of cooperation, and providing new impetus for cooperation and development among countries.

He Yafei: Time to End China and India’s Border Brinksmanship - Caixin The world is witnessing great changes unseen in a century: changes in the global balance of power, traditional security threats from geopolitical competition and such nontraditional security threats as the spread of the pandemic that have converged like never before...We should be particularly concerned about the current China-U.S. and China-India relations, which are now in deep water.

China bolsters ties with Myanmar junta despite international condemnation | Financial Times $$ Yun Sun, an expert on Myanmar-China relations with the Stimson Center, a US think-tank, said Beijing had already made a “fundamental assessment” that Myanmar was moving into another prolonged period of military rule. “I think the Chinese can see that this military coup is successful and is here to stay,” she added.

Shanghai Aims to Expand Influence Through Soft Power - SixthTone The announcement came a month after the city’s municipal government discussed plans to strengthen its soft power while serving as a model for other regions in China. A group of experts had gathered for a forum in May to talk about expanding the city’s influence at home and abroad.

Telephone Conversation between Special Representative of the Chinese Government on Korean Peninsula Affairs Liu Xiaoming and Special Representative for Korean Peninsula Peace and Security Affairs of the ROK Noh Kyu-duk Liu Xiaoming reaffirmed China's firm support for the ROK and the DPRK to improve relations and promote reconciliation and cooperation. It is important that all sides follow the dual-track approach and the phased and synchronized principle to actively engage in positive dialogues through bilateral and multilateral channels, and make unremitting efforts for a political settlement of the issues of the Korean Peninsula. Noh Kyu-duk briefed Liu on recent exchanges among the ROK and relevant parties. He stated that the ROK has similar stance with China on the Peninsula Issues, and expressed his country's willingness to strengthen communication and cooperation with China to play constructive roles in promoting the denuclearization and lasting peace of the Peninsula.

Feds: We Don’t Have Chinese Defector Dong Jingwei  - SpyTalk Swirling, widespread reports over the past several weeks that Beijing’s top counterintelligence official had defected to the United States are “not accurate,” a U.S. government official told SpyTalk on Tuesday. “We are just looking to correct the record,” said the official, speaking on terms of anonymity to discuss the highly sensitive issue...on Tuesday a U.S. official reached out to say reports of Dong’s defection were not true. Speaking strictly on terms of anonymity, the official declined to elaborate further, including on Dong’s present whereabouts, only hinting that the counterspy remains in China.


Hong Kong and Macao

Hong Kong pro-Beijing legislators intervene in judicial appointment | Financial Times $$ Justice Maria Yuen, the wife of Geoffrey Ma, the city’s previous chief justice, was set to be appointed as the next permanent judge on Hong Kong’s Court of Final Appeal, two people familiar with the events told the Financial Times. But she withdrew her candidacy for the city’s top court after legislators raised concerns over the appointment, the people said. The lawmakers argued that Yuen might be influenced by her husband, who pro-Beijing groups criticised in the past after he defended the neutrality of Hong Kong’s judiciary, according to a person with knowledge of their thinking.

In Depth: What’s Stopping Hong Kong From Fixing Its Housing Crisis? - Caixin “The sheer size of interest groups in Hong Kong is the root of the problem,” said a senior government official. Representatives of various interest groups in the city’s land market have constantly blocked efforts to change the status quo through lawsuits or measures to hinder policymaking, the official said. Property tycoons have deep influence over Hong Kong’s political and business arenas, one government source said... “Hong Kong’s land problem is a political problem, not an economic one,” Ronnie Chichung Chan, president of developer Hang Lung Properties, said at a forum on May 31. Chan said the shortage of land in Hong Kong is not due to the government’s reluctance to sell. “Who was responsible for Hong Kong’s land insufficiency more than two decades ago?” Chan said. “I think politicians should bear the brunt. Every time the government introduced a land policy, it was blocked by opposition politicians in the Legislative Council. It’s quite absurd that a small agenda can take more than a year to pass!” // Question: So when are we going to see moves to smash these interest groups, or at least rejigger them to better balance between mainland interests and increasing housing supply? And how long can the good times last in HK for a US passport-holding tycoon like Ronnie Chan?


Taiwan

Taiwan offered another 5 million Covid-19 vaccine doses by Buddhist group | South China Morning Post Buddhist Compassion Relief Tzu Chi Foundation says it will buy doses from BioNTech, but it is unclear whether it will bypass Fosun, the regional distributor Island extends soft lockdown for two more weeks after recording 104 new infections and 24 deaths


Tech and Media

TikTok Rival Kuaishou Technology Wins Broadcasting Rights for 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games and 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics - Pandaily On June 23rd, Kuaishou, a Chinese short video company and rival of TikTok, held a strategic cooperation conference in Beijing with Voice of China, a state-owned company. Kuaishou obtained the rights to broadcast the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games and the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics on its short video platform. Su Hua, Chief Executive Officer of Kuaishou, revealed that Kuaishou’s global monthly active users (MAUs) reached 1 billion.

How China’s Kuaishou could succeed where Quibi failed - Protocol — The people, power and politics of tech According to Kuaishou, more than 20,000 short series have been created on the service through 2020. Since the genre's emergence in late 2019, the number of people watching short dramas everyday on Kuaishou has exceeded 210 million, nearly half of the daily active users of the app, with an accumulated 35 million hours of viewing.

【抖音】记录美好生活 You can now use Bytedance's Douyin in a web browser

In an Attempt to Increase Competition, the U.S. Congress Is Weakening American Big Tech Against Chinese Companies - The Globe Unlimited Section 6.B. “Suits by Persons Injured” allows any person, including foreign state actors, to sue American Big Tech. That means it would also allow state-owned enterprises to sue for damages for online discriminatory conduct or self-preferencing under the terms of the bill, allowing, for example, Chinese state-owned enterprises to seek damages and potentially injunctive relief. // Comment: This seems not constructive



Society, Arts, Sports, Culture and History

Sun Liping on Lying Flat - Reading the China Dream Sun Liping (b. 1955) is a prominent professor of sociology at Tsinghua University, as well as an active public intellectual in China, known for his liberal perspectives on social and political issues...Sun Liping makes no claim to offer a penetrating sociological analysis of lying flat. As in most of his WeChat posts, he offers his thoughts and perspectives in a fairly informal manner. His main message here is that lying flat is not something that merely affects trendy young slackers, but is instead a preoccupation of much of China’s over-worked middle class, the same ones who are not having enough children, as Sun observes in another WeChat post translated on this site. His message seems to be that China’s economic miracle is not sustainable, although it is unclear if he is addressing Party leaders or China’s capitalist bosses. Sun’s original post attracted enough reader interest that he published two updates with reader comments, which are also translated here...

Qin Hui on “lying flat” - 秦晖:“无为躺平,绝仁弃义”_爱思想


Energy, Environment, Science and Health

CNPC discovers China’s largest shale oil field in Ordos Basin with 1 billion-ton reserve - Global Times China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) has discovered a shale oil field containing estimated 1 billion tons of shale oil in Northwest China's Ordos Basin, CNPC announced on Sunday on its Sina Weibo social media account, becoming the country's largest shale oil field ever discovered...CNPC also announced on Saturday through its WeChat account that the company had discovered the one-billion-ton oil-gas field in the Tarim Basin. CNPC said the oil-gas reserve is estimated to produce 4 million tons of oil and 1.4 billion cubic meters of natural gas annually before 2025.

Yicai - Tsinghua University Scientist Wins Kyoto Prize for Advanced Technology Yao Qizhi, also known as Andrew Chi-Chih Yao, was among those honored this year, when the Inamori Foundation announced the recipients of the Kyoto Prize -- known as the ‘Japanese Nobel Prize’ -- on June 18. The foundation said that Yao had “created new trends in computer science and made a great contribution to cutting-edge research in various areas, especially in security, secure computing, and quantum computation through establishing innovative fundamental theories for computation and communication.

Record Rainfall Raises River Levels, Flood Risk in Northeast China - SixthTone According to the Ministry of Water Resources, 13 rivers, mostly in Heilongjiang province, have experienced above-normal water levels, with five exceeding historical highs last witnessed decades ago. Flash flooding in some areas has swept away bridges and inundated farms along the banks. The current average precipitation in the Heilongjiang River Basin is said to be the highest since 1961, according to state-owned China News. Since May, average rainfall in the basin has reached 155 millimeters, nearly twice the previous record.

山西加速推进14个新兴产业治疗“煤炭依赖症”-中新网 China’s coal province wants to reduce its reliance on the dirty fuel. For years, coal has sustained the economy in Shanxi, but now officials there are hoping to turn to less polluting industries to drive growth. At a press conference this week, officials there identified 14 “strategic and emerging” sectors to nurture in the next five years. Among them: semiconductors, big data, and bio-based material.

Safety Concerns Spark Plans to Bar Used Electric-Vehicle Batteries From Power Storage - Caixin China’s energy agency has proposed banning retired electric-vehicle (EV) batteries from being used for power storage on a large scale, amid concerns over safety and a lack of proper testing and evaluation guidelines.

South China City Officials Accused of Taking Bribes to Falsify Environmental Data - Caixin Prosecutors in Chaozhou’s Xiangqiao district have filed charges against six officials, including Liang Runxiong, the director of the city’s environmental monitoring station, and his deputy director Chen Lue, according to the indictments. Police arrested the two officials in October and November, respectively.

China Approves Its First CAR-T Cell Therapy - Caixin China’s National Medical Products Administration gave the nod to Fosun Pharma Kite Biotechnology Co. Ltd., a joint venture of Shanghai Fosun Pharmaceutical Group Co. Ltd. and a unit of U.S. drug giant Gilead Sciences Inc., to start marketing Gilead’s Yescarta for the treatment of adults with B-cell lymphoma that has either relapsed or failed to respond to two other types of treatment.


Education

Yicai - ‘Off-Campus Training Center of the Universe’ Stands Empty in Beijing Once dubbed the ‘off-campus training center of the universe,’ Beijing Huangzhuang is a shadow of its former self as the impact of the pandemic rumbles on and China ramps up supervision of off-campus tutoring. The buildings, where local education institutions are clustered, are almost empty now, a Yicai Global reporter recently found on a visit.


Rural and Agricultural Issues

中国农业农村发展经验值得借鉴(国际论坛) Scot Rozelle on page 3 of today's People's Daily - “China's agricultural and rural development experience is worth learning from” // For other countries, China's agricultural and rural development has many experiences to learn from. The first is China's land management policy, which laid the foundation for the early Chinese rural population to get rid of poverty. Secondly, China has adopted a step-by-step approach and formed a good incentive mechanism to enable farmers to obtain agricultural technology and non-agricultural jobs. All these can be used for reference by other countries.