Discover more from Sinocism
European leaders in Beijing; Tsai in California; Xinhua attacks US financial hegemony; Saudi-Iran Beijing meeting
Apologies for the newsletter being a bit late today. I got caught up in the announcement of Substack’s new Twitter-like service Notes, which I hope some of you can start using next week. I have been testing it for almost two months and am very excited about it.
There will be no Sharp China podcast this week as my co-host is now on paternity leave. I hope to be back next week with a special guest host.
The PRC was on holiday today for the Qingming Festival.
Summary of the Essential Eight:
European leaders in Beijing - Macron and von der Leyen have both arrived in China. It would be wonderful if Macron could actually make progress on finding a path to peace in Ukraine, but it is hard to be optimistic. Perhaps Xi will give him a “win” by calling Zelensky soon after Macron returns home? That would be smart, would let Macron say the trip was a success and would make Xi look like he is trying to be the peacemaker. Odds that may happen?
Tsai in California - Taiwan President Tsai went to California today and met with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy and a bipartisan group of members of Congress. PRC officials can not be pleased with either her meetings or the comments by her and McCarthy. The substantive reaction so far has been muted, but I would not be surprised to see something more robust once Ma Ying-jeou has returned to Taiwan and Macron and VDL have flown back to Europe. For historical perspective, the 1995-96 Taiwan Straits Crisis lasted about eight months.
More US-China - Politico has a story claiming that PRC side is not receptive to US overtures to hold high-level talks. I have been hearing similar things. This may be PRC “punishment” for more US misdeeds, and an effort to use what perhaps the PRC side sees as US eagerness to talk to extract movement on key issues from the US before they even talk. Or perhaps, as Wang Jisi has suggested, “China no longer holds any expectations for improving China-US relations 中国也已不对改善中美关系抱任何期望”. In which case expect things to get worse. Among the regular propaganda attacks on the US, Xinhua has launched a series attacking “Exposing American Financial Hegemony and Its Disruption of the Global Economy 起底美国金融霸权祸乱全球经济系列述评”. There has been lots of noise about the impending end of US dollar hegemony recently; any chance there is a concerted effort to stir up this idea?
Saudi-Iran meeting in Beijing - The foreign ministers of Iran and Saudi Arabia will meet in Beijing Thursday, another step in the deal that China helped negotiate. Xi could have a good week positioning himself as a peacemaker between this meeting and the possibility of any progress on Ukraine as an outcome of his Macron and VDL meetings.
Restrictions coming for Rare Earth Magnet Tech? - There are reports out of Japan that the PRC may ban exports of some types of rare-earth magnet technology. I do not believe anyone has actually said there is a ban, but restrictions are included in a draft technology export restriction list.
PRC-Russia Internet censorship cooperation - RFE/RL says it has obtained “documents and recordings from closed door meetings in 2017 and 2019 between officials from the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC), its chief Internet regulator, and Roskomnadzor, the government agency charged with policing Russia's Internet” that show was early as 2017 “Beijing and Moscow were sharing methods and tactics for monitoring dissent and controlling the Internet”.
Another banker goes down - Another senior banker falls in the ongoing cleanup of the financial system. Li Xiaopeng, former head of China Everbright Group, is under investigation. Interestingly, Caixin says that “a number of people connected to him are already the subject of corruption probes, and he had been accused of favoritism towards people from his home province, Henan, the sources said”, and suggests there may be links between Li and Cong Lin, the former banker who may be the reason Bao Fan has disappeared. Like most systems with easy access to rent-seeking opportunities, once they start rooting through the financial system there will be a long list of potential targets.
Chips - The PRC wants the WTO to look into the US-led semiconductor restrictions. I doubt they will get very far, but they can say they worked through existing multilateral fora to try to resolve the problem.
Thanks for reading.
The Essential Eight
1. European leaders in Beijing
“China, with its close relationship with Russia, which has been reaffirmed in recent days, can play a major role,” he told members of the French community in Paris. “Do we agree with everything [in China’s plan]?” he said, referring to China’s 12-point peace plan unveiled in February. “No,” he said. “However it shows … a will to play a responsible role and try to build a pathway to peace.”...
In an interview with POLITICO, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba made clear that any peace plan proposed by China that allows for Russian rule over any Ukrainian territory — including Crimea — is a non-starter.
“I said it to my Chinese counterpart, the foreign minister in particular, that there is one thing that really is the common foundation for your foreign policy and our foreign policy is the principle of territorial integrity,” he said. “So anything you can do to restore peace that will respect the territorial integrity of Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders is welcome. Every peace concept that is based on a different principle will be rejected.”
“Only China can have a game-changer effect,” the official, who requested anonymity in line with French diplomatic practice, said. “We know there will be no Chinese condemnation of Russia, but the president has worked enormously to see how, with China, we can be useful to the benefit of Ukrainians.”..
“We are an ally of the Americans. We are not equidistant between China and the United States,” the French official said. “But we don’t have the same positions on China, because we don’t have the same interests.”
"We hear increasingly loud voices expressing a strong concern about the future of relations between the West and China that in some form lead to the conclusion that there is an inescapable spiral of mounting tensions," Macron told reporters at the French Embassy in Beijing.
There is also an impression that de-coupling from the Chinese economy is already underway and that the only remaining question is over pace and intensity, he added.
"I do not believe, in any case I do not want to believe, in this scenario."
In a show of Western cohesion on the eve of his departure, Mr Macron spoke to America’s president, Joe Biden. The two expressed a “common desire to engage China and accelerate an end to the war in Ukraine”. Mrs von der Leyen, meanwhile, talked to Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky. She said the eu wanted “a just peace that respects Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.”..
with protests over his pension reforms continuing at home, Mr Macron faces more pressure to secure a meaningful Chinese commitment on Ukraine. It would need to go beyond a simple expression of opposition to nuclear threats or attacks, as Mr Xi conveyed to Mr Scholz.
One possibility is for Mr Xi to make a personal pledge, similar to ones already given by some Chinese officials, to refrain from arming Russia. Another option is that Mr Xi schedules virtual talks with Mr Zelensky. Some foreign officials had expected those to happen soon after Mr Xi visited Moscow in March.
Qin Gang met with French Foreign Minister Colonna in Beijing. He calls back to the time of Mao and de Gualle to push on the idea of "strategic autonomy" (i.e. don't follow the Americans):
Qin Gang said that since the time of Mao Zedong, Zhou Enlai, and General Charles de Gaulle, China and France have established and developed their relationship in the spirit of strategic autonomy. The more complex the world situation, the more this principle should be upheld. China attaches great importance to President Macron's visit and is willing to work with France to make this visit fruitful, leading the China-France comprehensive strategic partnership and practical cooperation in various fields to a higher level
Question: Will AUKUS come up during the discussions with Macron?
The Chinese people have always appreciated the strategic autonomy and independent diplomatic spirit demonstrated by France in the changing international landscape. Back then, former French President Charles de Gaulle adhered to pursuing an independent foreign policy to safeguard France's national sovereignty and independence. Today, we can also see this in President Macron
The ambassador, Fu Cong, said China was not on Russia’s side in the war in Ukraine. “‘No limit’ is nothing but rhetoric,” he said, referring to a statement from last year about the countries’ relationship...
He insisted the lack of a call was of no great importance, that Mr. Xi is very busy, and that there were frequent lower-level contacts between the two countries. Western analysts have contrasted that lack of communication with the close contact of Mr. Xi and Mr. Putin, including a trip by Mr. Xi to Moscow last month.
“I know people are fixated on the presidential call,” Mr. Fu said. “The fact that President Xi is not speaking to Zelensky does not signify that China is on the side of Russia on the Ukrainian issue.”
Comment: Xi had some time freed up on his schedule last week when Brazil’s Lula postponed his visit.
Macron and French foreign policy in general are seen as presenting several key attributes that are of importance to China: relative stability, a natural proclivity towards US-scepticism, a large sway over EU reforms and a presumed greater emphasis on national interests as opposed to ‘ideology’ relative to other major western countries. Put differently, France’s main appeal to China’s international relations experts is its potential role in helping prevent a further “Americanisation” of the EU’s China policy and the consolidation of a US-led bloc of countries aimed at stymying China’s economic and geopolitical rise. Strategic autonomy à la française is what China wants for Europe...
Today’s edition of Sinification provides excerpts from an article co-authored by Zhang Ji (张骥) and a fellow France specialist Xue Sheng (薛晟). Appearing in Fudan University’s yearly “Report On European Policies Towards China” published a few weeks ago, it discusses recent and future trends in Sino-French relations and provides a somewhat cursory and, at times, rose-tinted analysis of France’s stance on China. Nevertheless, its main arguments remain reasonably mainstream and therefore of note.
The Federation of German Industry (BDI) effectively called for a renegotiation of the frozen EU-China investment deal in a somewhat surprising statement on Wednesday (5 April).
“With its stance in Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine, China has lost a lot of trust in Germany and Europe,” BDI Managing Director Tanja Gönner said in the statement.
German industry expects European Commission President Ursula Von der Leyen and French President Emmanuel Macron, who are visiting Bejing this week, “to insist on the Chinese leadership’s reliability, and compliance with international rules,” the industry body said, calling out Russia and China.
Russia's announcement that it will station tactical nuclear weapons in Belarus shows that a Russia-China joint statement days earlier amounted to "empty promises", NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said on Wednesday.
"NATO Secretary-General made inappropriate remarks about China, which were refuted by the mission in the European Union"
We have taken note of Stoltenberg's remarks and resolutely oppose NATO's repeated slanderous attacks on China. Our position on relevant issues is clear and has been emphasized many times. Why doesn't NATO reflect on itself and ask itself how many bombs have been dropped on people in other countries?
2. Tsai in California
“It is no secret that today the peace we have maintained and the democracy which (we) have worked hard to build are facing unprecedented challenges,” Tsai said in remarks alongside McCarthy. “We once again find ourselves in a world where democracy is under threat and the urgency of keeping the beacon of freedom shining cannot be understated.”
The meeting gave both Tsai and McCarthy a prominent platform to highlight US-Taiwan ties.
“The friendship between the people of Taiwan and America is a matter of profound importance to the free world. It is critical to maintain economic freedom, peace and regional stability,” McCarthy said.
“We’re stronger when we are together,” Tsai said. “In our efforts to protect our way of life, Taiwan is grateful to have the United States by our side.”
More from McCarthy, standing in front of Reagan’s Air Force One jet:
“I believe our bond is stronger now than at any time or point in my lifetime. And of course, President Tsai is a great champion of that bond… Our cooperation with the people of Taiwan continues to expand through dialogue and exchange. The friendship of the people of Taiwan and America is a matter of profound importance to the free world, and it is critical to maintain economic freedom, peace and regional stability.”
“I believe that our bond is stronger now than at any time or point in my lifetime,” McCarthy said in remarks alongside Tsai following the meeting...
In addition to McCarthy, Tsai met with Rep. Pete Aguilar, who is a member of Democratic House leadership; the leaders of the new China select committee, Reps. Mike Gallagher, R-Wis. and Raja Krishnamoorthi, D-Ill.; House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Jason Smith, R-Mo.; and about a dozen other House lawmakers from both parties.
“The friendship between the people of Taiwan and America is a matter of profound importance to the free world and it is critical to maintain economic freedom, peace, and regional stability,” he said.
Punchbowl posted a copy of the letter Li Xiang of the PRC embassy in DC sent to Rep. Ashley Hinson - China's letter to hinson - Punchbowl News
I have to point out that China will not sit idly by in the face of a blatant provocation and will most likely take necessary and resolute actions in response to the unwanted situation. Let's work together to prevent such a thing from happening.
Comment: I know they have to write these missives for bureaucratic reasons, but has anyone told the PRC Embassy that these kinds of letters just make things worse?
The meeting with Republican Sens. Dan Sullivan of Alaska, Joni Ernst of Iowa and Democratic Sen. Mark Kelly of Arizona was disclosed just as Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen and the Biden administration are heading into the most pivotal event in her closely watched travels through the U.S...
The senators’ meeting with Ms. Tsai took place Friday morning at the Lotte New York Palace hotel and lasted about an hour. All three senators are military veterans, and members of the Senate Armed Services Committee. Ms. Tsai previously had met with Mr. Sullivan and Ms. Ernst multiple times, but this was the first time she met Mr. Kelly.
A combined arms brigade under the PLA 72nd Group Army recently held a realistic combat-oriented beach assault exercise that honed its capabilities to fight and win, China Central Television (CCTV) reported on Tuesday,
This unit is an amphibious force that is responsible for cross-sea landing missions, CCTV reported, showing footage in which Type 05 series amphibious armored vehicles boarded the PLA Navy's landing ships, including a Type 071 amphibious landing ship, conducted a beach assault, and then pushed deep into the land during the exercise.
Over the past few days, a vessel-borne helicopter regiment affiliated with the PLA Eastern Theater Command Navy carried out landing exercises in both day and night on the Type 075 amphibious assault ship Guangxi, js7tv.cn, a video news website of the PLA, reported on Wednesday.
Taiwan's defence ministry said the Chinese ships, which were led by the carrier the Shandong, passed through the Bashi Channel which separates Taiwan from the Philippines and then into waters to Taiwan's southeast...
"The Chinese communists continue to send aircraft and ships to encroach in the seas and airspace around Taiwan," the ministry said.
Reuters spoke to three U.S. officials and several other sources close to the matter who see the Biden administration with limited options for halting the gradual drift toward China, with some saying Taiwan itself appeared resigned to losing more allies in the Americas.
It is a more pessimistic view than President Joe Biden’s aides have expressed publicly and, U.S. sources say, helps to explain Washington’s muted response to Honduras’ recent ditching of Taiwan, which was seen as a lost cause.
3. More US-China
Secretary of State Antony Blinken wants to reschedule his date with China. Beijing is giving him the cold shoulder.
The Biden administration called off Blinken’s planned trip to Beijing in February after a Chinese spy balloon traversed U.S. skies, but has since been trying to restart high-level talks. That includes rescheduling the Blinken visit, and setting up other trips by top U.S. officials and a phone call between President Joe Biden and Chinese leader Xi Jinping, a current U.S. official and a former State Department official said.
But China is rebuffing the U.S. efforts, the people said, and its willingness to fully engage may hinge on the drama around Wednesday’s meeting in California between Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen and Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy .
Depressing from Wang Jisi - 王缉思：症结在各自国内政治问题 中美再多对话也难改善关系 | 早报
Renowned Chinese scholar Wang Jisi said that the crux of the deterioration in China-US relations lies in their respective domestic political issues, and more dialogues can hardly promote the improvement of relations between the two countries. China no longer holds any expectations for improving China-US relations.
Wang Jisi is the founding dean of the Institute of International Strategy at Peking University. He expressed this view on Monday (April 3rd) during a lecture at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore, in response to questions from attendees.
操弄美元 收割世界——起底美国金融霸权祸乱全球经济系列述评之一-新华网 Xinhua has launched a series titled "Exposing American Financial Hegemony and Its Disruption of the Global Economy - A Series of Commentaries". This is the first installment - "Manipulate the dollar, harvest the world"
After the global financial crisis of 2008, it took the European Union 13 years to return GDP per capita to its pre-crisis level, while it only took the United States two years to do so.
Despite a brief jolt, the United States continues to plunder the world.
However, the abuse of the dollar, the weaponization of global financial infrastructure and the country's irresponsible monetary policy are backfiring and eroding the U.S. credibility.
According to data from the IMF, the dollar's share within the global reserves fell by more than 10 percentage points compared with 20 years ago. The declining trend shows no sign of ending.
放纵资本 为害世界——起底美国金融霸权祸乱全球经济系列述评之二|金融危机|美元霸权_网易订阅 This is the second installment in the Xinhua series - "Unrestrained Capitalism Harms the World"
As the United States steers the course of international financial hegemony, it faces global scrutiny over its economic and financial policies and the effectiveness of its market regulations.
By indulging in government-business corruption, tolerating lack of effective oversight and allowing capital to run wild, the United States has been letting its people down and undermining its credibility worldwide.
“That phenomenon of ‘China Inc.’ and the convergence between the state and the economy is something that we continue, and our systems continue, to grapple with,” Tai told reporters on Tuesday. The US is “working with partners to ensure that we have partnerships, and that it’s not just us alone taking on the PRC model,” she said, referring to the People’s Republic of China.
Drum Tower: China v America - Drum Tower | Acast The Economist’s Beijing bureau chief, David Rennie, and senior China correspondent, Alice Su, are joined by The Economist’s editor-in-chief, Zanny Minton Beddoes. They discuss what the escalation means and what can be done to defuse the tensions.
The United States spent decades contributing to regime change and destabilization in Latin America," criticized Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a Democratic member of the U.S. House of Representatives, "We can't help set someone's house on fire and then blame them for fleeing."
The U.S. needs to seriously reflect on its terrible record on the issue of refugees and immigrants and correct its course, and make real efforts to improve the situations of foreign refugees and immigrants in the country. It should stop all hegemonic and bullying practices, stop creating new crises, stop acting like a "human rights guardian," and stop using human rights as a pretext to smear and attack others.
The arbitrary detentions of the U.S. at home and abroad tell the world that the country is in every sense an "empire of arbitrary detention" with the worst human rights violations. The U.S. should face up to and reflect upon its own deplorable record with regard to democracy and human rights, stop politicizing democracy and human rights issues, stop interfering in other countries’ internal affairs in the name of democracy, and stop undermining the human rights of people of other countries.
Maurice Greenberg and his group wrote and open letter to Biden and Xi and paid to place it in the Wall Street Journal as an advertisement. No word if they also tried to place it as an ad in a PRC publication like People’s Daily:
4. Saudi-Iran meeting in Beijing
The top envoys for Saudi Arabia and Iran will meet in Beijing on Thursday, an Iranian official and a Saudi-owned newspaper said, as the two regional rivals work to hash out next steps of their diplomatic rapprochement amid a China-brokered deal.
The meeting between Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al Saud and his Iranian counterpart, Hossein Amirabdollahian, will be the first formal meeting between Saudi Arabia and Iran's most senior diplomats in more than seven years.
The meeting to be held in Beijing will touch upon some detailed arrangements following the agreement reached last month, including the two countries reopening embassies and the upcoming visit of Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi to Saudi Arabia, Liu Zhongmin, a professor at the Middle East Studies Institute of Shanghai International Studies University, told the Global Times on Wednesday.
In the long run, the three sides also need to talk about many other issues as there is still a long way to go for Saudi Arabia and Iran to establish mutual trust. For example, the three sides could discuss whether it is necessary to set up a tripartite mechanism or even any bilateral mechanism between Saudi Arabia and Iran, between the Gulf Cooperation Council and Iran or between the Arab League and Iran as the relationship between Saudi Arabia and Iran involves many other issues in addition to their bilateral ties, such as issues related to Yemen and Syria, according to Liu.
5. Restrictions coming for Rare Earth Magnet Tech?
China is considering banning the export of technologies used to produce high-performance rare earth magnets deployed in electric vehicles, wind turbine motors and other products, citing “national security” as a reason, it has been learned...
Beijing is currently in the process of revising its Catalogue of Technologies Prohibited and Restricted from Export — a list of manufacturing and other industrial technologies subject to export controls — and released a draft of the revised catalog for public comment in December. In the draft, manufacturing technologies for high-performance magnets using such rare earth elements as neodymium and samarium cobalt were added to the export ban. The solicitation of comments ceased late January and the revisions are expected to be adopted as early as this year.
China is considering prohibiting exports of certain rare-earth magnet technology in a move that would counter the U.S.'s advantage in the high-tech arena.
Officials are planning amendments to a technology export restriction list, which was last updated in 2020.
The revisions would either ban or restrict exports of technology to process and refine rare-earth elements. There are also proposed provisions that would prohibit or limit exports of alloy tech for making high-performance magnets derived from rare earths.
In all, there are 43 amendments or additions in the draft list first announced in December by the commerce and technology ministries. Officials have finished taking public comments from experts, and the changes are expected to go into force this year.
According to a Japanese company source, when China imposed restrictions on rare earth exports to Japan around 2010, several Chinese government officials told Japanese firms that they would supply rare earth materials in exchange for rare earth-related technology.
The Japanese government added high-performance magnets to the catch-all regulation in 2012 because such materials can be used in various types of weapons.
Following the move, related production involving Japanese firms in China temporarily stopped. But since around 2014, the establishment of joint Japanese-Chinese ventures for the production of high-performance, rare-earth magnets set the stage for the outflow of key technologies.
These shifts have occurred so rapidly that they’ve wrongfooted Beijing. “China has not adapted to the current new global rare earth competition pattern,” Dai Tao, a professor at the Chinese Academy of Geological Sciences, wrote in a recent paper.
6. PRC-Russia Internet censorship cooperation
Years before Chinese leader Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin declared a "no-limits" partnership and the Kremlin launched a wide-ranging censorship campaign following its full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Beijing and Moscow were sharing methods and tactics for monitoring dissent and controlling the Internet.
That growing cooperation between the two countries is shown in documents and recordings from closed door meetings in 2017 and 2019 between officials from the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC), its chief Internet regulator, and Roskomnadzor, the government agency charged with policing Russia's Internet, that were obtained by RFE/RL's Russian Investigative Unit (known as Systema) from a source who had access to the materials. DDoSecrets, a group that publishes leaked and hacked documents, provided software to search the files...
Among those deliberations -- which are cataloged through meeting notes, audio recordings, written exchanges, and e-mails that have been verified by RFE/RL -- Russian officials are seen asking for advice and practical know-how from their Chinese counterparts on a range of topics, including how to disrupt circumvention tools like VPNs and Tor. They are also seeking ways to crack encrypted Internet traffic as well as seeking tips from China's experience in regulating messaging platforms.
In turn, Chinese officials sought Russian expertise on regulating media and dealing with popular dissent...
On the sidelines of the World Internet Conference in Wuzhen, China, in October 2019, Roskomnadzor and the CAC signed a cooperation agreement on counteracting the spread of "forbidden information" and the obtained documents show select requests from the CAC in December 2019 to block information inside Russia under the guise of that deal.
Apple’s efforts center on India as a location for production of iPhones and accessories, Vietnam for AirPods and Mac assembly, Malaysia for some Mac production, and Ireland—where suppliers currently build the relatively easy-to-produce iMacs—for a range of simpler products. Managers in Apple’s operations department have instructed employees to focus on sourcing additional components and locating production lines outside China for more new products coming in 2024, though the company also plans to retain extensive operations in the country.
With Cook’s direct involvement, Apple has also assembled hundreds of employees into what some people within the company have called “tiger teams” to address weaknesses in its supply chain. It has expanded the efforts of these teams, which set up shop in suppliers’ factories in China and other countries, assess facility maintenance schedules, and assemble more extensive lists of backup suppliers for every component, right down to screws and plastic inserts. The company is working to improve its forecasts, component by component, to better anticipate potential shortages.
Apple is also exploring ways to reduce its reliance on Taiwan, where chipmaking giant TSMC Ltd. makes many of the semiconductors crucial to all its products. That effort, prompted by concerns over geopolitical tensions centering on Taiwan, has started slowly
7. Another banker goes down
Li Xiaopeng, the former chairman of state-owned financial conglomerate China Everbright Group Ltd., has been placed under investigation for suspected corruption, as the government’s crackdown on misconduct in the financial sector intensifies...
It comes one year after Li stepped down as the chairman of Everbright Group and China Everbright Bank Co. Ltd., but rumors of official probes into his alleged misconduct have circulated since late 2021, sources with knowledge of the matter told Caixin.
A number of people connected to him are already the subject of corruption probes, and he had been accused of favoritism towards people from his home province, Henan, the sources said...
Cong Lin, a president of China Renaissance Holdings Ltd. who became the subject of an investigation in September last year and whose joining the investment bank might have been related to the disappearance of its billionaire founder Bao Fan, was also connected to Li, according to sources.
Announcement of the investigation of Li - 中国光大集团股份公司原党委书记、董事长李晓鹏接受审查调查|界面新闻 · 快讯
Beijing has called on the World Trade Organization to review restrictions on chip exports to China by the US, Japan and the Netherlands, saying they may have “violated” the trade body’s principles, according to state media.
China questioned the three countries over the existence of a deal seeking to limit its access to chip-making equipment during a two-day meeting of the WTO’s Council for Trade in Goods in Geneva that concluded on Tuesday.
China has filed a lawsuit against Japan over its semiconductor export control measures, as Chinese representatives at the World Trade Organization (WTO) requested a review of the US-led restrictive agreement with its allies to contain China's semiconductor industry....
China is highly concerned about Japan's semiconductor export controls and urges it to rectify its actions, a spokesperson for the Chinese Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) said in a press release late Tuesday. China has filed the lawsuit with the WTO against Japan over the issue, and will take resolute measures to safeguard its legitimate rights, if the Japanese side insists on disrupting bilateral semiconductor cooperation, the spokesperson said.
“Japan joining the export curbs will do great harm to China’s ability to make and develop chips smaller than 16 nanometers,” said Akira Minamikawa, analyst at research company Omdia.
As export controls designed to freeze-in-place China’s leading edge chip development are a powerful brake on Beijing’s ambitions to become self-sufficient in foundational technologies. But this should not obscure the fact that China is building significant capacity in semiconductor markets that rely on mature process nodes – including in sensors, power semiconductors, and microcontrollers found in every day consumer electronics, vehicles, and medical devices. This note takes a closer look at which semiconductor segments still lie beyond the reach of US regulators and where Chinese chipmakers and state backers may focus their resources. We also assess how China’s expanding market share in these mature technology segments could trigger regulatory actions by the US aimed at steering supply chains away from China...
US fabless chip designers depend almost entirely on foreign foundries for contract-manufacturing of legacy chips: 80% of foundry capacity for 20-45nm process nodes is located in China and Taiwan. For 50-180nm process nodes, China and Taiwan together control around 70% of foundry capacity globally.
An attempt by the US and partners to outpace China in building out manufacturing capacity for trailing edge process nodes would require considerable time and resources, as well as political tolerance of higher prices. In the next 3-5 years China is due to add nearly as much new 50-180nm wafer capacity as the entire rest of the world.
On March 26, 2023, Western Digital identified a network security incident involving Western Digital’s systems. In connection with the ongoing incident, an unauthorized third party gained access to a number of the Company’s systems.
Upon discovery of the incident, the Company implemented incident response efforts and initiated an investigation with the assistance of leading outside security and forensic experts. This investigation is in its early stages and Western Digital is coordinating with law enforcement authorities.
The Company is implementing proactive measures to secure its business operations including taking systems and services offline and will continue taking additional steps as appropriate. As part of its remediation efforts, Western Digital is actively working to restore impacted infrastructure and services. Based on the investigation to date, the Company believes the unauthorized party obtained certain data from its systems and is working to understand the nature and scope of that data.
Comment: No attribution given. FWIW, YMTC is one of Western Digital's main competitors, so there is already speculation the attack came from the PRC.
Business, Economy and Trade
Vanguard plans exit from China joint venture | Financial Times $$ The US-based $8tn fund manager last month briefed the country’s securities watchdog and the Shanghai government on a planned exit from the venture, according to three people familiar with the matter. In a statement, the joint venture said the co-operation between its shareholders had not changed and that business was running as normal. China’s Securities and Regulatory Commission and the Shanghai government did not comment, while Ant Group itself said its joint venture with Vanguard was operating as usual and declined to comment on “market speculation”.
停工停产！又一家造车新势力陷停摆风波，新能源车行业迎“淘汰赛” | 每经网 Enovate, a Changsha-based car maker, has reportedly ceased production due to “cash issues and plans related to production and sales,” National Business Daily said, citing other media reports. In 2021, the car maker built its second factory in Changsha. The newspaper said the car maker’s troubles may herald an “eliminating race” in the new-energy car sector.
又一地促汽车消费政策出台：深圳放宽新能源车牌申请 - 21经济网 Shenzhen is making it easier for non-Hukou residents to purchase new-energy cars. In 2022, car manufacturing in that city grew 125.1% year over year to 215.4 billion rmb. New-energy car market penetration in 2022 reached 48%. Under the newly relaxed rule, which will last until Dec 31 2023, non-Hukou residents in the city can now apply to buy new-energy cars even if they did not contribute to a basic medical insurance 基本医疗保险 for 24 consecutive months.
中国要求美日荷澄清是否存在芯片出口限制协议_手机新浪网 China has “expressed concern” over a chip export restriction agreement reached among the U.S., the Netherlands, and Japan at a recent WTO meeting. Chinese representatives, according to Chinese state media, asked the three WTO member states to confirm whether such an agreement exists and, if so, whether it should be reviewed by the WTO.
政策加力提效 基建投资“淡季不淡” _ 经济参考网 _ 新华社《经济参考报》官方网站 The first quarter is traditionally a lull period for infrastructure projects. Not this year. Experts told the Economic Information Daily that investments in new infrastructure this quarter likely would register a growth rate of around 10% compared to the same period last year. They say such investments will likely be a main driver of economic growth this year.
Politics and Law
During the session, the guiding principles of the speech made by Xi Jinping, general secretary of the CPC Central Committee, at a recent meeting on the education campaign were studied, and work on the supervision and guidance of the campaign was discussed and arranged.
Li Ganjie, a member of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and executive deputy chief of the central leading group of the campaign, told the session that efforts should be focused on producing real results in the education campaign.
Comment: Li is expected to replace Chen Xi has head of the Central Organization Department, but so far there are no public indications the change has occurred.
Liu Jinguo, secretary of the Secretariat of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China and deputy head of the Education Leading Group on the Theme of Learning and Implementing Xi Jinping's Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era, presided over the meeting.
Liu Jinguo - Wikipedia Liu Jinguo (simplified Chinese: 刘金国; traditional Chinese: 劉金國; pinyin: Liú Jīnguó; born April 1955) is a Chinese politician and public security official who is the current director of the National Supervisory Commission and a secretary of the Secretariat of the Chinese Communist Party. Since 2014 he has served as Deputy Secretary of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection. Previously he held various senior posts at the Ministry of Public Security.
CPC equips itself with new theories for journey ahead-Xinhua Arming all Party members with the Party's new theories is a fundamental and strategic undertaking that has far-reaching implications for the greater vision. Also on Monday, the first two volumes of a new book series of selected works of Xi Jinping were published. These books are expected to serve as another authoritative resource for the Party and the country to study and apply Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era. Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era covers various realms and respects, including reform, development, social stability, domestic affairs, foreign relations, national defense, and governance of the Party, the state, and the military, which constitute a comprehensive scientific system.
Xi Jinping’s inner circle is getting ‘even tighter’ with powerful new chief of staff | South China Morning Post Cai Qi, director of what is officially known as the General Office of the Communist Party Central Committee – one of the most powerful offices in China – is the highest-ranked official to head the office since the time of Mao Zedong. The office wields a great deal of influence because it is responsible for arranging the paperwork, meetings and personal security of the country’s top leaders. But, located far from the public eye inside the Zhongnanhai leadership compound, it is also one of the party’s most secretive organs.
Why Xi Jinping is not another Chairman Mao | The Economist To call Mr Xi a second Mao is misleading. Mao was a radical, willing to blow up an establishment he distrusted. Scornful of the notion that internal party discipline could reform arrogant bureaucrats, he chose to chasten cadres with violent class struggle, imposed from below by the mob. In contrast, Mr Xi is a career politician who calls on party members to self-purify, under the supervision of fearsome internal-discipline inspectors. He believes in top-down control, not chaos. He has worked to extend his party’s reach into every corner of the economy and society. He has built a vast apparatus of censorship, surveillance and propaganda to control the masses, not to unleash them. Put another way, Mr Xi wants to be more than a Mao-style strongman. He also wants to wield power through the deep state.
Blog: Zhang Jike Case Highlights Cracks in China’s Privacy Law - Caixin Global On the Chinese mainland, however, the punishment for secretly filming and distributing private content is a minor public security violation. The punishment is not severe enough to deter these crimes, calling for detention of up to five days or a fine of up to 500 yuan ($72.63). If the circumstances are more severe, detention of five to 10 days may be imposed, along with a fine of up to 500 yuan.
What are the Policy Assignments of China’s New State Council Leadership? | Asia Society People familiar with the matter have informed Asia Society Policy Institute's Center for China Analysis of the policy responsibilities assigned to the Premier, four Vice Premiers, and five State Councilors for both 2018-2023 and 2023-2028 (please see tables below).
China banks: state purges of bankers signal weaker profits ahead | Financial Times The current purge should rattle investors. Corruption may be a pretext or a genuine motive for ousting out-of-favour bosses. But clear-outs undoubtedly make lenders more obedient politically and less commercial in their motives.
Foreign and Defense Affairs
A Prisoner of China. An American Scandal. | The Free Press For 11 years, Mark Swidan has languished in a Chinese prison on charges no one believes. ‘If this were a politically connected person, he would have been out a long time ago…
Chinese Naval Surveillance Ship Docks in South African Port - Bloomberg A Chinese surveillance ship that can track rocket and spacecraft launches was docked at the eastern port of Durban this week...The presence of the Yuan Wang 5, which is now heading west according to data compiled by Bloomberg, has previously raised concern among China’s geopolitical rivals
China’s moves to assert control along disputed border risk further tensions with India | South China Morning Post China is planning to upgrade two Tibetan towns along the disputed border with India to city status, in a move that may help consolidate its hold over the region but risks further inflaming tensions. The announcement, which one analyst said amounted to an assertion of its sovereignty, follows a row this week with India after the Chinese authorities published a map of newly “standardised” place names that included Indian-held territory south of the Line of Actual Control (LAC).
Don’t jump to conclusions over data on distressed Mekong River, says China official | The Straits Times “Some parties start with preconceptions, and even come to a conclusion before they analyse the data,” Mr Hao Zhao, secretary-general of the Beijing-based Lancang-Mekong Water Resources Cooperation Centre, told The Straits Times in an interview on Monday. He was speaking on the sidelines of the Mekong River Commission (MRC) international conference in Vientiane, Laos.
China accuses Canadian MPs of foreign interference after report saying Taiwan should decide its own future - The Globe and Mail The Chinese government is accusing Canada of foreign interference, after a high-profile parliamentary committee released a report that says the Taiwanese people, rather than Beijing, should decide the fate of the self-ruled island. The report on Taiwan by the House of Commons special committee on the Canada-People’s Republic of China relationship also urges the Canadian government to make efforts to join AUKUS, a United States-Britiain-Australia defence pact that has been condemned by Beijing as an “Asia-Pacific version of NATO.”
Two border counties in SW China's Xizang upgraded into 'county-level city' to boost border development - Global Times According to Xizang's regional government, Mainling and Cona will be placed under the direct jurisdiction of Xizang region with unchanged administrative areas after the approval of the Communist Party of China's Central Committee and the State Council. The upgraded administrative ranking of the two border areas showed that China not only strives for a peaceful and harmonious border, but emphasizes to improve the governance in the border region so as to strengthen the border line, Qian Feng, director of the research department at the National Strategy Institute at Tsinghua University, told the Global Times on Wednesday.
Surprise reply letter from Xi to US high school Chinese learners deepens students’ resolve to be cultural bridge - Global Times Xi Jinping, general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and Chinese president, has managed to find time to reply to some letters from different sectors of the society and different parts of the world despite of his busy work schedule...The Global Times traced and contacted some of the recipients of Xi's letters, to hear the inspiring stories behind the letters and their communications with the Chinese president.
China ships stay in Japan waters near Senkakus for record time - Japan Today Chinese coast guard ships lingered in Japanese territorial waters near the Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea for a record 80 hours and 36 minutes before the three vessels left the area Sunday evening, the Japan Coast Guard said. It is the longest period Chinese ships have intruded into the waters since the Japanese government put the islets under state control in 2012.
Japan turns proactive on development aid to counter China - Nikkei Asia Japan will start proposing official development assistance projects to emerging economies without waiting for them to request aid, taking a more proactive approach to counter the influence China has built through heavy spending in Asia, Africa and elsewhere.The cabinet intends to approve revisions in May to Japan's Development Cooperation Charter, the basis of Tokyo's aid policy. The draft revisions released Wednesday by the Foreign Ministry would be the first changes to the document since 2015.
Vatican says China has unilaterally appointed bishop to Shanghai | Reuters Chinese authorities have appointed a new bishop to Shanghai, the largest Roman Catholic diocese in China, the Vatican said on Tuesday, in an apparent violation of a bilateral pact between the two states. The Holy See was informed "a few days ago" of the decision by China to transfer Bishop Shen Bin from Haimen, in Jiangsu province, to the diocese of Shanghai, the Vatican said.
Bipartisan lawmakers to meet with Iger, Cook, other execs about China-Axios A bipartisan group of lawmakers is planning a three-day trip to Hollywood and Silicon Valley this week to meet with CEOs and top executives at Disney, Apple, Alphabet, Microsoft and more, sources told Axios.
A Public-Private Partnership Can Reform Our China Relationship | RealClearPolicy An advantageous path forward can only be constructed with the full cooperation of government and industry working together. This partnership must construct a rebalanced and consistent rules-of-engagement for the future well-being of this vital bilateral relationship. Afterall, the current bilateral condition for all industries is simply unacceptable. Specific to Hollywood, we must no longer tolerate and comply with Beijing forcing upon us items like global censorship, international pro-China narratives and propaganda, inadequate revenue-share agreements, joint ventures such as China’s 57% and 70% ownership of Disney’s and Universal’s respective PRC-located theme parks, illegal copyright and IP exploitation, tech theft, restrictive film quotas, process swaps, and skillset exchanges. Enough is enough!
China's hyperspectral Earth observation satellite put into use-Xinhua The satellite, Gaofen-5 02, was launched into space on Sept. 7, 2021. Designers mounted seven payloads on it, including short-wave infrared hyperspectral cameras. The onboard devices will monitor air, water, and land, strengthening China's environmental protection efforts to fight pollution and provide support for achieving the carbon peaking and neutrality goals, said the ministry.
Senior Chinese diplomat co-hosts high-level dialogue cooperation meeting-Xinhua Wang Yi, director of the Office of the Foreign Affairs Commission of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, on Tuesday co-hosted the Third Meeting of China-Indonesia High-level Dialogue Cooperation Mechanism with Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan, Indonesia's Coordinator for Cooperation with China and Coordinating Minister of Maritime Affairs and Investment...When talking about the Global Civilization Initiative, Wang said China is ready to strengthen exchanges and mutual learning between civilizations with Indonesia and encourage the governments, political parties, parliaments, localities and non-governmental forces of the two countries to play a positive role in enriching and improving the content and forms of inter-civilization dialogue.
Hong Kong security czar slams pro-democracy political cartoonist over funding quip — Radio Free Asia In the latest in a string of official comments targeting the Zunzi comic strip, Tang said the strip had "made misleading accusations and aroused public dissatisfaction with the government," an accusation that could fall within the purview of a draconian security law banning public criticism of the authorities. In the cartoon strip published in the Ming Pao newspaper, two government officials discuss the implications of a recent request from the city's police force for H.K.$5.2 billion to set up a digital media platform to collate video and images gathered by officers on phones and bodycams.
Shanghai Party chief meets Ma Ying-jeou, 'peace, cooperation the common voice across Straits' - Global Times Chen Jining, the secretary of the Shanghai Municipal Committee of the Communist Party of China, met with former chairperson of the Chinese Kuomintang (KMT) party Ma Ying-jeou on Wednesday. Ma on Wednesday arrived at Shanghai, the final stop of his trip to the mainland, where he stressed that maintaining peaceful and stable cross-Straits relations is the mainstream view of people in Taiwan.
Taiwan's tech muscle strengthens even as Chinese threat grows | Semafor Since 2018, around 6,500 people, including Newton, have been able to settle in Taiwan by applying for the Taiwan Employment Gold Card, a flexible work and residence permit designed for highly-skilled professionals. It has helped make Taiwan into a regional tech hub known not just for hardware firms like TSMC and Foxconn, but also areas like artificial intelligence development.
Tech and Media
Sequoia and Other U.S.-Backed VCs Are Funding China’s Answer to OpenAI — The Information The American investors, including U.S. endowments, back key Chinese VC firms such as Sequoia Capital China, Matrix Partners China, Qiming Venture Partners and Hillhouse Capital Management that are striking local AI startup deals, which haven’t been previously reported.
Society, Arts, Sports, Culture and History
Electronics tech giant denies accusation after screenshots of employee venting fury on overtime request goes viral online - Global Times The case soon began trending on Chinese social media platforms as it once again resurfaced debate over the brutal "996" work culture with many netizens hoping that it could be a chance for employers to genuinely implement employee rights for time off. On Wednesday afternoon, China Electronics Technology Group Corporation (CETC), a state-owned electronics technology giant, said a man who scolded his supervisor over excessive overtime was in fact not an employee from the corporation, and the company involved also doesn't belong to CETC
ITF resumes tennis in China with no word on Peng Shuai | AP News The WTA, which runs the sport’s top-tier women’s events, hasn’t announced if it will resume staging tournaments in China. In late 2021, WTA Chairman and CEO Steve Simon announced that the WTA would be suspending all of its tournaments — including the season-ending WTA Finals — that were held in China because of concerns over Peng, costing the tour millions.
Queer China deserves better journalism – The China Project Australian news outlet Crikey recently retracted a three-part series they called "China’s queer purge" after receiving backlash from the Chinese LGBTQ community. We asked two journalists passionate about reporting on LGBTQ issues to share their reactions.