Discover more from Sinocism
National Day celebrations; Missiles galore; Hong Kong violence; US tour guide charged as MSS spy
The National Day celebrations went off without a hitch in Beijing and General Secretary Xi has already issued an order of commendation for everyone who participated in his first National Day military parade as General Secretary, President and Chairman of the Central Military Commission.
The hardware highlight was the missiles, weapons that are giving US defense planners a lot of heartburn. In past parades some of the weapons on display may have been fake, but I will bet the ones in this year’s show are real, and I hope that US and other intelligence services were not surprised by anything they saw.
Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao, absent from the big dinner Monday night, walked onto the Tian'anmen Rostrum with Xi. Their portraits appeared in the parade after the military one, as did those of Mao Zedong, and Deng Xiaoping (poor Hua Guofeng, the forgotten leader…). Zhu Rongji missed both the Monday evening event and the parade, so it appears he may be quite ill.
Xi appeared to be quite comfortable waving at his own portrait as it went by:
But there was no mention of Xi as the “People’s Leader 人民领袖”.
Hong Kong was a mess, as expected, and a police officer shot a protestor for the first time. The 18 year-old victim is expected to live, but the escalation of the violence may have significant ramifications.
China is now on holiday until October 8. I would prefer not to take a break with the newsletter but I am not going to waste your time so unless there is something particularly interesting the newsletter will not be back in your inbox until October 7 at the earliest.
Thanks for reading.
The Essential Eight
1. National Day celebrations
Thousands of servicemen and women goose-stepped through the square, sophisticated tanks and armoured vehicles rumbled and up-to-date fighters flew by. The historic parade consisted of 15,000 personnel, 580 pieces of armament and more than 160 aircraft in 15 foot formations, 32 armament formations and 12 echelons.
The National Day parade was the first of its kind since socialism with Chinese characteristics entered a new era and the first overall demonstration of Chinese armed forces after their comprehensive reform and restructuring in recent years.
"Seventy years ago on this day, Comrade Mao Zedong solemnly declared here to the world that the PRC was founded. The Chinese people have stood up," Xi said on Tian'anmen Rostrum when addressing a grand rally. "The Chinese nation has since then embarked on the path of realizing national rejuvenation."
Independent political scientist Chen Daoyin says Xi's speech this morning was concise and comprehensive. The tone was less confrontational, especially compared to his speech in early September where he emphasised the need for “struggle”.
Chen says this is mainly because the parade is considered an event for celebration and Xi is trying to send a message of unity. But it doesn’t necessarily mean policies will be softened.
Deng Yuwen, an independent political scientist and former deputy editor of the Study Times, says that unlike speeches by his predecessors at previous military parades, Xi only paid tribute to Mao Zedong as a founding father of the People's Republic. He did not mention Deng Xiaoping, father of China’s economic reforms, among others.
Tuesday CCTV Evening News started with a 33 minute report on the parades
Chinese President Xi Jinping honored the flags of the Communist Party of China (CPC), the nation and the People's Liberation Army at the beginning of his review of the armed forces Tuesday morning.
Comment: This is not the first time a military parade under Xi has put the Party flag ahead of the State flag, which would seem to be in contravention of the national flag law.
In Beijing - where images of events like the Tiananmen Square crackdown of 30 years ago are heavily censored, and China’s wartime victories are glorified in television serials - praise for the military show seemed virtually unanimous.
“They picked 12 people in the whole world and I happen to be one of them. It’s quite an honor,” said Beijing-based American businessman Gary Dvorchak, whose family ties with President Xi Jinping date to Xi’s often-mythologised visit to the U.S. state of Iowa in 1985.
Xi, at the time a member of a small provincial delegation on an agricultural tour, stayed with Dvorchak’s family.
“My government contacts called in June and asked if I want to be in an event on national day ... I didn’t know until two weeks ago that it was the parade,”
There was a float for princelings, along with lots of snarky Twitter commentary:
2. The hardware
The bottom line: Missiles, missiles, and more missiles. For coercion, coercion, and coercion. Paraded, ironically, down Beijing’s “Avenue of Eternal Peace” (长安大街). Tradition holds that all systems displayed are already deployed for service in the People’s Liberation Army (PLA). For specialists, this just underscores a long-running PRC effort at missile-centric deterrence. For other observers, the sheer scope and scale of hardware displayed—much of it conveniently labeled with large English letters—may well offer a revelation concerning Beijing’s military might and assertiveness...
Arguably today’s biggest single statement for foreign consumption—literally backstopping the entire parade—was China’s debut of the DF-41 solid-fueled road-mobile intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM). China’s newest, most powerful, and arguably most advanced nuclear weapons system, the DF-41 has clearly been designed and deployed with deterring the United States in mind...
Other missiles displayed for the first time ever in the parade marked China at the cutting-edge of frontier military technologies. These included the little-known DF-100/CJ-100 “supersonic cruise missile,” described as “the newest in the Changjian series,” and the prominently-displayed DF-17 conventional missile with its sleek hypersonic glide vehicle...
Chinese strategists view conventionally-armed missiles as far more acceptable, and hence far more useful. Thus, China’s conventional missiles exceed its nuclear missiles by at least a 7:1 ratio. That happens to exploit an enormous loophole in even general arms control discussions, let alone actual enforceable restrictions.
A final message appears in the background: that of China's refusal to enter a multilateral logic of arms control, both at the strategic and non-strategic level despite growing pressure from the United States and its allies in this direction. By demonstrating its ability to rapidly increase its nuclear capabilities but maintaining a deliberately limited format, China is demonstrating that it is in control of its own arms without compromising on its deterrence. By accelerating the modernization of the non-nuclear segment, it claims that it will not negotiate on the category of armaments over which Washington no longer has normative power and China being the only dominant player at the moment.
Such mid-range, land-based missiles, which the U.S. was banned from possessing from under its Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty with Russia, were among the reasons why some supported the Trump administration’s withdrawal from the Cold War-era pact this year. The PLA’s dedicated Rocket Force has tested advanced “hypersonic” missiles that are almost impossible to intercept, according to a Japanese defense white paper released Friday.
With the U.S. and China now locked in a struggle for technological and geopolitical dominance, Tuesday’s parade is likely to intensify calls in the U.S. for tighter controls on transfers to China of technology or expertise with any potential military use.
A senior Chinese military official said last week that all the equipment in the parade is in active service.
It is worth mentioning that all the nuclear weapons displayed by China will not be used in pre-emptive strategic strikes, or to threaten non-nuclear nations. China is the only nuclear power that declares no-first-use nuclear policy. The firm policy will be applied to all of China's nuclear weapons.
China has firm strategic planning, which won't be disrupted by temporary factors. Western media outlets, in analyzing 70th founding anniversary celebrations of the PRC, tend to list temporary factors as if the scale and level of this year's military parade is designed for those factors. China traditionally celebrates founding anniversaries every 10 years. Displaying new weaponry is also a tradition.
Military muscle is not a bad thing. The key is how to use such muscle. After seven decades, it is time for China to show some muscle to the world. China's strength is a reliable guarantee of national unity and world peace. It is also a solid foundation to act against any force that tries to sabotage regional peace and development. China has always pursued a defensive national defense policy, and the 70 years of peaceful rise is China's greatest contribution to the development of mankind.
3. Hong Kong
Right after daybreak on Tuesday, the fire-red Chinese flag was hoisted accompanied by the rousing national anthem in Hong Kong. But because of safety threats, officials watched from inside a convention center. A planned fireworks display was also canceled...
By midday, protesters were carrying Chinese flags with its stars rearranged into swastikas, and ripping celebratory banners from buildings in protests and marches that spread out over more than five Hong Kong districts. Half of the subway network was closed by night, and protests had spread to more than a dozen areas...
Local media outlets reported that the police used live ammunition in several parts of the city, all of them in the Kowloon and New Territories areas.
A spokeswoman for the police said an officer shot an attacker who was posing a “huge safety threat” to protect the officer himself and his colleagues. The spokeswoman identified the injured man as an 18-year-old and said he was shot in the left side of his chest.
A different video filmed by the City University Student Union’s Editorial Board appeared to show a group of protesters attacking a police officer who fell to the ground.
Another officer holding a pistol rushed to the scene and the student appeared to hit him with a rod. The officer then shot the student.
Police Public Relations Branch Senior Superintendent Yolanda Yu defended the officer’s action in a video on Facebook, saying that he did so to save himself and his colleague from attack.
It’s not just protesters who are out tonight: Local residents are on Nathan Road in Hong Kong's Prince Edward. Unlike protesters, they’re not wearing gas masks or any protection — they’re just in T-shirts.
Many are yelling at the police line, taunting the riot police who are equipped with helmets and shields.
“Shoot your gun! You were so brave to shoot the protester,” some taunted, referring to the person who was shot earlier today.
“Shoot all of us!” some yelled angrily.
A source familiar with the arrangement said Li, senior adviser of CK Hutchison Holdings and CK Asset Holdings, was invited by the Hong Kong government a few months ago. The 91-year-old billionaire decided not to go north, citing his age.
However, his elder son Victor Li Tzar-kuoi, chairman of both companies, was in Beijing attending the celebrations
State media puts pressure on Li Ka-shing, a powerful property tycoon, showing the Communist Party’s view of business as a means of control...
Ren Zhiqiang, a property developer, found his social media accounts deleted when he used them to criticize the party’s tightening control over discourse and is no longer allowed to leave the country.
4. Official Taiwan statement on PRC National Day
In a statement issued on Tuesday in response to Xi’s National Day address, Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council urged Beijing to understand that the self-ruled island had never been a part of the People’s Republic and that Taipei would never approve of one country, two systems.
“For the past 108 years, the Republic of China has remained a sovereign state that has pursued democracy and economic prosperity. The Chinese communist authorities must accept the international reality that Taiwan has never been part of the People’s Republic since its formation [in 1949],” the council said.
“[Beijing’s] one country, two systems proposal for managing cross-strait relations is not applicable in Taiwan and will never be accepted by the Taiwanese people.”
The Republic of China's founding anniversary is next Thursday, October 10.
Mr. Peng was exposed through a double-agent operation that the Federal Bureau of Investigation began in 2015 to target the MSS, the complaint said. The double agent, whom the government refers to in the complaint as “the Source” and whose affiliation and identity aren’t disclosed, allegedly provided MSS intelligence officers with classified information at the direction of the U.S. government, including through Mr. Peng, it says.
“According to the allegations, Peng conducted numerous dead drops here in the United States on behalf of Chinese intelligence officers and delivered classified information to them in China. His arrest exposes and disrupts an operation by those Chinese intelligence officers to collect such information without having to step foot in this country,” said Assistant Attorney General of National Security John C. Demers. “Coming on top of our many recent Chinese espionage cases—involving both national defense and intellectual property information—this case illustrates the seriousness of Chinese espionage efforts and the determination of the United States to thwart them.”..
According to the complaint filed Sept. 24, 2019, and unsealed this morning, Peng, 56, a U.S. citizen living in Hayward, California, acted at the direction and under the control of MSS officials in China in retrieving classified information passed to him by a confidential human source (the source), leaving money behind for the source, or both. His activities included one dry run and at least five successful “dead drops” between October 2015 and July 2018. The dead drops occurred in the Bay Area and in Columbus, Georgia.
The full complaint is here in PDF.
Thinking I should augment the newsletter business by writing Chinese spy thrillers...the streaming video market so bubbly, probably some buyers out there...
Both state-owned and privately run firms purchased between 12 and 15 cargoes, or as much as 1 million metric tons, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the information is private.
The China-U.S. trade war is an epochal event that can push China to the brink of collapse, especially if the U.S. links its values and human rights to its dealings with China. If China agrees to the structural changes America demands in this trade war, it will greatly increase China’s cost of doing business. And if Mr. Xi doesn’t agree to these structural changes and a deal with America is killed, the flow of foreign currency into China will slow, delivering a potentially fatal blow to an already weakened economy.
Comment: This is an argument I am hearing a lot in DC right now. I am not convinced it is solid
Shortly thereafter, House Republican Conference Chairwoman Liz Cheney of Wyoming released a statement contradicting the President, and pointing to the People's Republic of China's oppressive governing tactics.
"This is not a day for celebration," Cheney said in a joint statement with Representative Mike Gallagher. The US will use the occasion to "rededicate ourselves to ensuring that the Chinese Communist Party is left on the ash heap of history," they added.
Rep. Jim Banks (R., Ind.), a member of the House Armed Services Committee, demanded in a new communication obtained by the Washington Free Beacon that congressional authorities and the Department of Justice begin providing answers about why China Daily, a notorious Communist Party mouthpiece, is winding up on the doorsteps of nearly every congressional office each morning.
6. Pork problems persist
It's hard to discern the actual pork supply and demand situation in China because the country's news media are crammed with reports about farmers regaining confidence, the government's "good" and "effective" policy measures, and obediently chanting the mantra, "restoring production capacity and stabilizing pork supply," in obedience to Vice Premier Hu Chunhua's orders to "manage public opinion" regarding pork supplies given a month ago...
Vice Premier Hu Chunhua repeated his proclamation that restoring pork production is a "major and urgent task" during his inspection of farms and slaughterhouses in three provinces last week. Hu issued another exhortation to ensure pork supplies for the new year holidays and called for officials to fight to restore pork supplies to normal next year.
This will be difficult to accomplish, even if there are no more major outbreaks of ASF or other diseases. It takes about 14 months to raise a pig to maturity (including the gestation period), and it will take one or two generations to rebuild grandparent and parent breeding herds before normal supplies can be restored.
China, the world’s biggest pork-producing and consuming nation, has reported that about 1.2 million pigs have been culled in an effort to contain African swine fever. Yet pig inventories plunged 39% in August from a year earlier, when the virus was first detected in the country. That equates to a loss of 167 million animals, based on the 428 million head the U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates China had at the end of 2018.
Paul Donovan, chief economist at UBS Global Wealth Management, was placed on leave in June after he said that the outbreak of the disease only “matters if you are a Chinese pig” or “if you like eating pork in China”.
A spokesperson for UBS confirmed that Mr Donovan was scheduled to return to work on Wednesday.
7. Disturbing predictions of impact of forthcoming cybersecurity protection regime
The plan for the new system is ambitious and comprehensive. As explained by Guo Qiquan, the chief cheerleader for the plan, the main goal of the new system is to provide “full coverage”. As explained by Guo, “It will cover every district, every ministry, every business and other institution, basically covering the whole society. It will also cover all targets that need [cybersecurity] protection, including all networks, information systems, cloud platforms, the internet of things, control systems, big data and mobile internet.”...
It is important to fully understand what this means. Under the Cybersecurity Law, the Chinese government has the right to obtain from any person or entity in China any information the Chinese government deems has any impact on Chinese security. The Chinese government understands that foreign companies and individuals will be reluctant to simply turn over their information to the Chinese government when asked. For that reason, the Chinese Cybersecurity Bureau does not plan to politely make a formal request for the information. The fundamental premise of the new cybersecurity systems is that the government will use its control of communications to simply take the information without discussing the matter with the user. All data will be open to the Chinese government.
8. Wang Shuping obituary
Dr. Wang was one of a group of Chinese doctors, researchers, activists and journalists who took great risks to spread information about the hidden epidemic in Henan Province and other regions. She was the whistle-blower who marshaled evidence of it.
“Wang Shuping was the earliest medical worker to enter the fray in the war against AIDS,” Gao Yaojie, a doctor from Henan, who become the public face of efforts to expose and treat the spread of AIDS there, wrote in a tribute to Ms. Wang. “For this, she suffered the most grievous attacks and pain of her life.”...
“Speaking out cost me my job, my marriage and my happiness at the time, but it also helped save the lives of thousands and thousands of people,” Dr. Wang said in a question-and-answer exchange on the theater’s website. “I wanted to prevent disease, I didn’t care about power and position.”
Frances Cowhig, author of the play “The King of Hell’s Palace” inspired by the life of a Chinese public health hero Salt Lake City’s Sunshine Christensen aka Shuping Wang, and Wang Shuping (王淑平), wrote this tribute to her friend.
Politics and Law
[1909.11974] Read, Attend and Comment: A Deep Architecture for Automatic News Comment Generation By Ze Yang†, Can Xu♦, Wei Wu♦, Zhoujun Li†∗†State Key Lab of Software Development Environment, Beihang University, Beijing, China ♦Microsoft Corporation, Beijing, China
A Princeton professor flagged this article, two of whose authors work at Microsoft:
Party leadership and rule of law in the Xi Jinping era - Jamie P. Horsley The substantive impact of Xi’s push to institutionalize and legalize party leadership over everything is not clear. To date, the party appears to view its leadership as primarily political and seeks to promote a professionalized, efficient, and effective state, economy and legal sector. It is sending mixed messages, however. Emphasizing party leadership raises concerns about increased politicization of decisionmaking, with less transparency and accountability, potentially threatening not only economic and social development, but also the rule-of-law project that is intended to enhance party legitimacy. The party’s conditional attitude toward law, reflected in its continued resort to extra-legal means in dealing with perceived enemies, creates uncertainty over the reliability of the party-state’s legal commitments both at home and abroad.
Minitrue: Find and Delete Information about Taiwanese Movie “Detention” | China Digital Times (CDT) The recently released psychological horror movie “Detention,” based on a video game with the same name, is set in 1960s Taiwan under martial law. The new movie is apparently being targeted by Chinese censors because of its political storyline.
Foreign and Defense Affairs
The United Front Work Department Assumes a Diplomatic Role - Jamestown In the first week of September, a “United Front Organizations Special Symposium” (统一战线组织专题研讨会, Tongyi Zhanxian Zuzhi Zhuanti Yantaohui) was held in Beijing. Under the official slogan of “Forging Synergy and Promoting Consensus” (凝心聚力, 增进共识 / Ning Xin Juli, Zengjin Gongshi), this meeting brought together representatives from the united front branches of all four of Asia’s remaining Communist party-states: the People’s Republic of China (PRC), North Korea, Vietnam, and Laos. Official PRC media coverage praised the event as an opportunity for these united front organizations to “strengthen relations [and] closely cooperate to pursue a brighter future for socialist countries” in Asia
Jailed Uyghur Professor Ilham Tohti Honored With Vaclav Havel Human Rights Prize In Absentia - RFA The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) has awarded jailed Uyghur scholar Ilham Tohti the 2019 Vaclav Havel Human Rights Prize, named after the Czech playwright and politician who opposed Soviet communism, making him the first dissident from China to receive the prize.
Experts Say Beijing Will Bring South China Sea Lessons to Space - USNI News The way China is aggressively asserting itself in the South China Sea likely will be the way Beijing will behave in the increasingly contested domain of space, the executive secretary of the National Space Council said Monday. “It’s hard to believe China’s behavior will be any better” in that domain than it is in the maritime, Scott Pace said. He cautioned transatlantic partners that “Europe is not exempt” from China’s effort to elbow its way into dominance in space.
China’s Youth Are Caught in the Cult of Nationalism – Foreign Policy - Vicky Xiuzhong Xu Even when Chinese nationalists go abroad, it is difficult for them to change their minds. Many effectively stay inside the Great Firewall for the comfort and convenience it offers. Others, like me, are shocked and outraged when exposed to ideas that are unspeakable and unthinkable back in mainland China. Encouraged by Since I reported on a Sydney pro-China rally marred by aggression and violence, I have become a national enemy on the Chinese internet. Articles and social media posts calling me a traitor have spread from Australia to the United States and even my hometown. These accounts have been read by almost every fellow Chinese person I’ve ever crossed paths with. A bare handful of Chinese friends have reached out and voiced support for my work. Dozens, meanwhile, who were once friends or at least friendly, have violently condemned my treacherous behavior.
Tech and Media
Uber’s Stock Drop Weighs on Didi Chuxing’s Valuation — The Information Some of Didi’s existing shareholders are looking to sell their stakes on the secondary market at much lower prices than the company’s most recent $57 billion valuation, people familiar with the matter said. That’s bad news for SoftBank, which together with Abu Dhabi’s state fund invested $4 billion into Didi in 2017 at a $56 billion valuation.
Form F-1 - Netease's Youdao IPO filing We’re the leading intelligent learning company in China with over 100.0 million average total MAUs* in the first half of 2019. Starting from online knowledge tools, we currently offer a comprehensive suite of learning products and services that are accessible, reliable and trustworthy. Today, for tens of millions of people, Youdao is the go-to destination for looking up a word, translating a foreign language, preparing for an exam, and picking up a new skill. Through technology, we enrich the lives of people of all ages every day, guiding them on their journey of pursuing knowledge and sharing ideas.
Chinese tech information platform 36Kr files for US IPO - TechInAsia The Ant Financial-backed company listed the size of the offering at US$100 million, a placeholder amount that is likely to change, according to its F-1 filing with the US Securities and Exchange Commission. Founded in 2011, 36Kr consists of three major business segments: news publication and information platform provider 36Kr media, a venture capital unit, and co-working space operator Kr Space.
TikTok owner ByteDance's H1 revenue better than expected at over $7 billion - sources - Reuters ByteDance, which was loss-making in the first-half, also posted a profit in June and was confident of making a profit in the second half of the year, one of the people said, declining to be identified as the company has not made a public announcement. Robust growth has led the Beijing-based startup to revise its revenue target for 2019 to 120 billion yuan from an earlier goal set late last year of 100 billion yuan, a second person said.
Read the full transcript of Mark Zuckerberg’s leaked internal Facebook meetings - The Verge TikTok is doing well. One of the things that’s especially notable about TikTok is, for a while, the internet landscape was kind of a bunch of internet companies that were primarily American companies…TikTok, which is built by this company Beijing ByteDance, is really the first consumer internet product built by one of the Chinese tech giants that is doing quite well around the world. It’s starting to do well in the US, especially with young folks. It’s growing really quickly in India. I think it’s past Instagram now in India in terms of scale. So yeah, it’s a very interesting phenomenon...we have a product called Lasso that’s a standalone app that we’re working on, trying to get product-market fit in countries like Mexico, is I think one of the first initial ones. We’re trying to first see if we can get it to work in countries where TikTok is not already big before we go and compete with TikTok in countries where they are big.
Society, Arts, Sports, Culture and History
Feminism and Social Change in China: an Interview With Lü Pin (Part 3 of 3) « In the final part of her interview, Lü Pin discusses the Feminist Five case, how the #MeToo movement caught on in China at a time when the feminist movement seemed to be fading, and the eventual shutdown of Feminist Voice. According to Lü Pin, while the feminist movement is facing an uncertain future, the repressive regime is far from claiming victory.