WHO report; Hong Kong election system fixed; Taiwan; Useful foreigners

The WHO report is out, no one is happy, and we will probably never know the origins of COVID-19.

WHO Director-General Tedros’ remarks at the press briefing were surprisingly critical of China and gave life to the lab leak hypothesis - WHO Director-General's remarks at the Member State Briefing:

The team reports that the first detected case had symptom onset on the 8th of December 2019. But to understand the earliest cases, scientists would benefit from full access to data including biological samples from at least September 2019.

In my discussions with the team, they expressed the difficulties they encountered in accessing raw data. I expect future collaborative studies to include more timely and comprehensive data sharing...

The team also visited several laboratories in Wuhan and considered the possibility that the virus entered the human population as a result of a laboratory incident.

However, I do not believe that this assessment was extensive enough. Further data and studies will be needed to reach more robust conclusions.

Although the team has concluded that a laboratory leak is the least likely hypothesis, this requires further investigation, potentially with additional missions involving specialist experts, which I am ready to deploy.

The PRC official response is only just beginning. The Global Times has quoted an anonymous Chinese expert who they say was on the Chinese WHO team and is suggesting that the virus could have arrived into Wuhan on frozen food brought by foreign participants at the October 2019 7th Military World Games, while the Foreign Ministry spokesperson again brought up Fort Detrick.

The US and 13 other countries issued a joint statement today highlighting concerns about the WHO report.

The discourse struggle over the source of the pandemic is only going to intensify, while hope for finding the truth about its origins fades.

Today’s Essential Eight items:

  1. Hong Kong election system fixed

  2. WHO report

  3. US 2020 human rights report on China

  4. Taiwan

  5. Useful foreigners and American social media platforms

  6. Gangbusters

  7. Bytedance among world’s most valuable companies

  8. Wuhan semiconductor scam

Thanks for reading.


The Essential Eight

1. Hong Kong election system fixed

China's top legislature adopts amended annexes to HKSAR Basic Law - Xinhua

China's top legislature on Tuesday voted unanimously to adopt the amended Annex I and Annex II to the Basic Law of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR).

The two annexes concern the method for the selection of the HKSAR Chief Executive and the method for the formation of the HKSAR Legislative Council and its voting procedures, respectively.

The amendments were passed at the closing meeting of the 27th session of the Standing Committee of the 13th National People's Congress (NPC).

President Xi Jinping signed presidential orders to promulgate the amended annexes.

Update: China’s top legislature unanimously approves HK electoral overhaul plan, laying out details - Global Times

Some of the major changes involve the proportion of seats in LegCo, which now include 40 seats from the Election Committee, 30 from functional constituencies and 20 which are directly elected, with the number of seats increasing from 70 to 90.

The current seats of super district councillors were scrapped, while newly added seats include HKSAR deputies to the NPC and HKSAR members of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) - the top political advisory body - as well as representatives of Hong Kong members of relevant national organizations.

Also, a new section of 300 members has been added to the Hong Kong Election Committee, taking the total number of seats from 1,200 to 1,500. This section is comprised of HKSAR deputies to the NPC and HKSAR members of the National Committee of the CPPCC.

As for the Election Committee, the 117 seats returned from the district councillors have been scrapped, and the 183 new seats returned from regional organizations include district fire safety committees, anti-crime committees and representatives of associations of Hong Kong residents in the mainland.

Hong Kong electoral changes: ‘small group of people’ to make up powerful vetting committee | South China Morning Post

Under the resolution endorsed by the NPC on March 11, the “candidates’ qualification review committee” would be responsible for ensuring anyone running for chief executive, the Legislative Council or the Election Committee itself posed no threat to national security.

The source said the Committee for Safeguarding National Security, chaired by the chief executive, and Beijing’s national security office in Hong Kong would advise the group.

HK electoral reform filters agents of external forces, uproots risk of 'color revolution' - Global Times

In the new amendments, a committee was established to review the qualifications of election committee members and LegCo candidates, to guarantee the principle of "patriots governing Hong Kong."

Hong Kong expects to hold LegCo election in December - Xinhua

Apart from the LegCo election, members of the Election Committee will be determined in September and the HKSAR Chief Executive will be selected in March 2022, Lam said.

HKSAR's chief executive firmly supports NPC's adoption of amended annexes to HKSAR Basic Law - Xinhua

Lam said that she and the HKSAR government will spare no effort in taking forward the necessary amendments to the local electoral legislation in accordance with the amended Annex I and Annex II.

"We will extensively explain the matters to the public such that more and more people will recognize the necessity and urgency of such improvements to the electoral system and render their support," she said...

"I firmly believe that by improving the electoral system and implementing 'patriots administering Hong Kong', the excessive politicization in society and the internal rift that has torn Hong Kong apart can be effectively mitigated, thereby enhancing the governance capability of the HKSAR," Lam said.

No external interference will hamper enduring success of "one country, two systems": Commissioner's office of Chinese foreign ministry - Xinhua

Over 2.38 million signatures were collected in 11 days in support of the NPC's decision, and a survey by the Bauhinia Institute found about 70 percent of the residents agree that the improvement boosts their confidence in Hong Kong's future, the spokesperson said, stressing that all this proves that the efforts by the NPC and its Standing Committee represent the people's will and the historical trend.

Any smear campaign will get nowhere and only meet strong opposition by all Chinese people, including Hong Kong compatriots, the spokesperson said.

UK's Raab says China's changes in Hong Kong breach Joint Declaration | Reuters

“Today China enacted changes to Hong Kong’s electoral system which are a clear breach of the Joint Declaration – undermining the freedoms of the people of Hong Kong and breaking Beijing’s international obligations,” Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said.

MoFa - Two Interviews On Amended Annexes to HKSAR Basic Law

First with Deng Zhonghua, second with Zhang Yong

Xinhua - “修订香港基本法附件一附件二具有十分重要深远的意义”——专访全国人大常委会法制工作委员会副主任张勇-新华网

"It is of great significance to amend Annex I and Annex II of the Basic Law of Hong Kong" —— An exclusive interview with Zhang Yong, deputy director of the Legislative Affairs Commission of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress

Annex 2 full text -中华人民共和国香港特别行政区基本法附件二香港特别行政区立法会的产生办法和表决程序--新闻报道-中国共产党新闻网

Annex 1 full text - 中华人民共和国香港特别行政区基本法附件一香港特别行政区行政长官的产生办法--新闻报道-中国共产党新闻网

Foreign Ministry Spokesperson's Remarks on the Adoption of the Amendments to Annexes I and II to the Basic Law of the Hong Kong SAR by the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress

This is a move to systemically revise and improve the methods for the selection of the Chief Executive of the Hong Kong SAR and for the formation of the Legislative Council of the Hong Kong SAR. It will provide strong institutional safeguards for the full and faithful implementation of the policy of One Country, Two Systems and the principle of "patriots administering Hong Kong", and ensure the stability of Hong Kong in the long run. It embodies the common aspiration of the Chinese people, including the Hong Kong compatriots.

The move to improve the electoral system of the Hong Kong SAR aims to develop, in a gradual and orderly manner, a democratic system that is in line with the constitutional order of Hong Kong and suited to its actual situation. It will better ensure extensive and balanced political participation of Hong Kong residents and serve the interests of all social strata, all sectors and all parties of Hong Kong society. It will help improve the governance efficacy of the Hong Kong SAR, safeguard the fundamental interests of Hong Kong and promote its long-term development. We are convinced that the new electoral system will help foster a better political, social, legal and business environment and usher in brighter development prospects for Hong Kong.

Wednesday's People's Daily will carry this article on the HK changes from a People's Daily commentator - "The fundamental policy to ensure the stability and far-reaching of "one country, two systems"". The commentary concludes: 人民日报评论员:确保“一国两制”行稳致远的治本之策-新华网

When there is political harmony, there will be harmony among people, and when there is harmony among people, there will be prosperity. "Only those who love their country can govern Hong Kong well. It is believed that with the improvement of Hong Kong's electoral system and under the leadership of those who govern Hong Kong with patriots as the main body, Hong Kong will be able to get back on the right track, focus on solving deep-rooted problems, develop the economy, improve people's livelihood, and achieve the good governance that the whole society expects; Hong Kong will definitely set out again and embark on a bright path of long-term governance and stability. Hong Kong will definitely make a fresh start, embark on a bright path of long-term governance and stability, create a bright future for the "Pearl of the Orient", and write a new chapter of "one country, two systems"!

政通则人和,人和则事兴。“爱国者治港”完全符合“一国两制”方针,只有爱国者才能治理好香港。相信随着香港选举制度的完善,在以爱国者为主体的治港者带领下,香港一定能重回正轨,集中精力破解深层次问题,发展经济、改善民生,实现全社会共同期盼的良政善治;香港一定会重新再出发,踏上长治久安的光明大道,创造“东方之珠”的美好未来,谱写“一国两制”的崭新篇章!


2. WHO report

Virus origin / Origins of the SARS-CoV-2 virus Report

WHO Report Leaves Big Questions About COVID-19 Origins

“We’ve only scratched the surface of this very complex set of studies that needs to be conducted,” Peter Ben Embarek, a WHO food scientist and coleader of the study, said at the launch of the report on Tuesday.

WHO Report Into Covid-19 Origins Leaves Key Questions Unanswered - WSJ $$

the 319-page document, shared with WHO member states ahead of its planned publication on Tuesday, also recommends further studies into evidence, often cited by Chinese authorities, that the virus may have circulated in other countries—including the U.S.—in late 2019, and that it has spread via frozen food...

it also suggested further consideration of respiratory-illness data from clinics at the World Military Games in October that year. Chinese officials have suggested that a U.S. delegation to those games might have introduced the virus to Wuhan. Washington has denied that. The annex of the WHO report states that “nothing resembling COVID-19 had been seen” at clinics during those military games.

Joint Statement on the WHO-Convened COVID-19 Origins Study - United States Department of State

The text of the following statement was released by the Governments of the United States of America, Australia, Canada, Czechia, Denmark, Estonia, Israel, Japan, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, the Republic of Korea, Slovenia, and the United Kingdom...

we voice our shared concerns that the international expert study on the source of the SARS-CoV-2 virus was significantly delayed and lacked access to complete, original data and samples. Scientific missions like these should be able to do their work under conditions that produce independent and objective recommendations and findings. We share these concerns not only for the benefit of learning all we can about the origins of this pandemic, but also to lay a pathway to a timely, transparent, evidence-based process for the next phase of this study as well as for the next health crises...

It is critical for independent experts to have full access to all pertinent human, animal, and environmental data, research, and personnel involved in the early stages of the outbreak relevant to determining how this pandemic emerged. With all data in hand, the international community may independently assess COVID-19 origins, learn valuable lessons from this pandemic, and prevent future devastating consequences from outbreaks of disease.

Comment: Interesting that France, Germany and New Zealand did not join this statement.

中国-世卫组织新冠病毒溯源联合研究报告:调查其他国家的潜在早期传播“是重要的”_网易新闻

Xinhua News Agency: The China-WHO joint research report on the traceability of SARS-CoV-2 was released in Geneva on the 30th. The report believes that it is "important" to investigate the potential early transmission in other countries.

中国-世卫组织新冠病毒溯源联合研究报告发布_澎湃国际_澎湃新闻-The Paper

Ambassador Chen Xu, Permanent Representative of China in Geneva, said that international experts from China and WHO have demonstrated the spirit of science and openness. Chinese governments at all levels have provided necessary assistance for the smooth work of the expert group in Wuhan, which fully reflects China's open, transparent and responsible attitude and has been highly appreciated and fully affirmed by experts from both sides. Traceability is a scientific problem, which should be carried out by global scientists. Politicizing the traceability problem will only seriously hinder the global traceability cooperation, undermine the global anti-epidemic efforts, and lead to more loss of life. This runs counter to the desire of the international community to unite against the epidemic. Traceability is also a global task. This joint study between China and WHO will promote the traceability of many countries and places in the world, provide positive and beneficial guidance, and provide a scientific guide for human beings to better understand viruses.

中国常驻日内瓦代表陈旭大使说,中国和世卫组织国际专家展现了科学、开放精神。中国各级政府为专家组在武汉的顺利工作提供了必要协助,充分体现了中方开放、透明、负责任的态度,也得到了双方专家的高度赞赏和充分肯定。溯源问题是科学问题,应由全球科学家合作开展有关工作。将溯源问题政治化的行径只会严重阻碍全球溯源合作,破坏全球抗疫努力,导致更多的生命损失。这同国际社会团结抗疫的愿望背道而驰。溯源也是一项全球性任务,中国—世卫组织这次联合研究将对全球多国多地溯源起到良好的促进作用并提供积极有益的指导,也为人类更好认识病毒提供了一份科学指南。

Virus origins unsolved in WHO report, ‘more states should be probed’ - Global Times

The WHO report also touched upon the hypothesis of the 7th Military World Games regarding virus origins, a possibility previously raised by a Chinese epidemiologist. The WHO report said that "no appreciable signals of clusters of fever or severe respiratory disease requiring hospitalization were identified during a review of these events," but recommended a further joint review of the data on respiratory illness from on-site clinics during the games.

"The hypothesis was raised by foreign experts during our communication," a Chinese expert from the joint team's animals and environment group told the Global Times. He said that large international events need to be considered as an option during origins tracing work of an epidemic. 

The Chinese expert, who asked for anonymity, said that they obtained records from the Wuhan government, which show many countries had transported food to Wuhan during the event, many via cold chain route. "But now we only have records, no samples, so it will be difficult for us to find the evidence," he admitted. 

The scientist also said it is highly probable that the virus was transmitted via cold chain, given the fact that cold chains triggered most of the later outbreaks in China after the one in Wuhan. "But at the early stage, all eyes were fixed on animals, so not enough samples were connected in the cold chain environment," said the expert, suggesting further research in this area.

Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying's Regular Press Conference on March 30, 2021

AFP: I have a question about the novel coronavirus. A Chinese foreign ministry spokesman tweeted last year that the US military might have brought the virus to Wuhan, but the WHO's report on its mission to China that is supposed to be released today has made no mention of this possibility. Does China still believe that the US military brought the virus to Wuhan?

Hua Chunying: I understand that people are very interested in the upcoming WHO joint mission report on origin-tracing. The Chinese side has received a copy circulated by the WHO, and competent authorities are looking into it. I'd like to emphasize once again that the issue of origin-tracing is a scientific one that should be left to scientists.

As for the tweet posted by one of my colleagues on his personal account last year, I have noticed that some individuals from Western countries keep coming back to this issue. There really is no need for doing so.

If you think about it, since the outbreak of COVID-19, how many lies and rumors and lies against China have been told by certain politicians, leaders and lawmakers in the US and Europe, including those about China's lab leak and making of the virus? I wonder how many of those lies you have checked? Besides, there is still a big question mark over the the lab at Fort Detrick.

Again, if you think about it, there have been a lot of media reports and many questions raised since June 2019 about this, but has anyone got any clarification from the US side? When some on the US side pointed fingers at our laboratory in Wuhan, we openly invited the WHO mission for a visit and provided full cooperation. We have also given media access to foreign journalists. But can the US side do the same, and invite international experts and media for a visit in an open and aboveboard manner?

At the end of day, all these questions should be left to scientists and experts of health and disease control, to draw a conclusion that can stand the test of fact and time. We also hope that other countries will follow China's example, and provide WHO experts with full and comprehensive cooperation and support.

WHO report says COVID originated in bats, but critics claim the study was biased | PBS NewsHour

A January State Department statement that three former officials tell "PBS NewsHour" was the result of new intelligence the U.S. received last fall concluded: "Several researchers at the lab became sick with a COVID-like illness in the fall of 2019. The Wuhan Institute of Virology had a separate military-run lab" and that the lab — quote — "altered and then removed" online records of its work...

privately, Biden administration officials question the January statement. A senior State Department official told "PBS NewsHour" the statement put spin on the ball and was plucked out of a cacophony of noise to point to one theory.

A senior intelligence official tells "PBS NewsHour" there's a possibility COVID came from a lab, but the January statement was not a complete story and the intelligence community does not have high confidence in any origin theory.


3. US 2020 human rights report on China

Comment: Reiterates that “Genocide and crimes against humanity occurred during the year against the predominantly Muslim Uyghurs and other ethnic and religious minority groups in Xinjiang.”

2020 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: China (Includes Hong Kong, Macau, and Tibet) - United States Department of State

Genocide and crimes against humanity occurred during the year against the predominantly Muslim Uyghurs and other ethnic and religious minority groups in Xinjiang. These crimes were continuing and include: the arbitrary imprisonment or other severe deprivation of physical liberty of more than one million civilians; forced sterilization, coerced abortions, and more restrictive application of China’s birth control policies; rape; torture of a large number of those arbitrarily detained; forced labor; and the imposition of draconian restrictions on freedom of religion or belief, freedom of expression, and freedom of movement...

Significant human rights issues included: arbitrary or unlawful killings by the government; forced disappearances by the government; torture by the government; harsh and life-threatening prison and detention conditions; arbitrary detention by the government, including the mass detention of more than one million Uyghurs and other members of predominantly Muslim minority groups in extrajudicial internment camps and an additional two million subjected to daytime-only “re-education” training; political prisoners; politically motivated reprisal against individuals outside the country; the lack of an independent judiciary and Communist Party control over the judicial and legal system; arbitrary interference with privacy; pervasive and intrusive technical surveillance and monitoring; serious restrictions on free expression, the press, and the internet, including physical attacks on and criminal prosecution of journalists, lawyers, writers, bloggers, dissidents, petitioners, and others as well as their family members, and censorship and site blocking; interference with the rights of peaceful assembly and freedom of association, including overly restrictive laws that apply to foreign and domestic nongovernmental organizations; severe restrictions and suppression of religious freedom; substantial restrictions on freedom of movement; refoulement of asylum seekers to North Korea, where they have a well founded fear of persecution; the inability of citizens to choose their government; restrictions on political participation; serious acts of corruption; forced sterilization and coerced abortions; forced labor and trafficking in persons; severe restrictions on labor rights, including a ban on workers organizing or joining unions of their own choosing; and child labor.

Secretary Antony J. Blinken On Release of the 2020 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices - United States Department of State

The report we’re releasing today shows that the trend lines on human rights continue to move in the wrong direction.  We see evidence that in every region of the world this is happening.

We see it in the genocide being committed against the predominantly Muslim Uyghurs and other ethnic and religious minority groups in Xinjiang

The PRC issued its annual report on the US human rights situation last week, as discussed in the March 24 newsletter.


4. Taiwan

Comment: We are three months away from the 100th anniversary of the founding of the CCP. PRC officials are all talking especially tough now, and the Taiwan issue is the most sensitive of all their sensitive issues. Many people I think is rightfully getting more nervous about tensions over Taiwan rising to levels we have not seen in decades.

US to make it easier for diplomats to meet Taiwanese officials | Financial Times $$

In one of his final acts in office, Trump significantly loosened constraints that had made it difficult for US diplomats to hold such meetings. Experts were waiting to see if Joe Biden would reverse course.

But the Biden administration has decided to keep many of the Trump changes in place, according to people briefed on the policy. The limits on contacts between American diplomats and Taiwanese officials had been in effect for decades until Trump loosened them.

One person familiar with the guidelines said they would focus on encouraging US officials to meet Taiwanese counterparts rather than imposing limits on contact. A second person said most of the restrictions on interactions “between US and Taiwanese diplomats . . . will disappear”.

Comment: Interesting that the Biden Administration did not roll these back. The Trump team looks to have done the Biden folks a favor.

PLA aircraft again surround Taiwan in drills with US intervention on mind - Global Times

The flight paths of the warplanes on Monday were similar to those in the exercise on Friday, which was the largest featuring 20 PLA aircraft. But unlike the Friday exercise, the PLA sent another group of warplanes on Monday that were not observed by Taiwan island's defense authorities, but Japan's.

A Y-9 reconnaissance aircraft and a Y-9 patrol aircraft - often referred to as the Y-8 anti-submarine warfare aircraft - on Monday flew across and then returned from the Miyako Strait, with the Y-9 reconnaissance aircraft flying close to the eastern side of Taiwan island before returning, according to a press release by Japan's Ministry of Defense Joint Staff.

This means Taiwan island was surrounded from both west and east, with the PLA coming from different directions, analysts said.

Taiwan says tracks intruding Chinese aircraft with missiles, not always scrambling | Reuters

Taiwan’s air force is no longer scrambling each time Chinese aircraft encroach on its air defence identification zone but tracks the intruders with ground based missiles instead to help save resources, a senior official said on Monday...

Though they have not flown over Taiwan itself, the flights have ramped up pressure, both financial and physical, on the air force to ensure its aircraft are ready to go at any moment in what security officials describe as a “war of attrition”.

Biden and Suga to note Taiwan Strait in April joint statement - Nikkei Asia

Japan and the U.S. plan to affirm the importance of stability in the Taiwan Strait when Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga visits Washington next month for a summit with President Joe Biden, Nikkei has learned.

The two sides are in discussions to include the passage on Taiwan in a joint statement after the summit. Both countries also intend to take a unified stance opposing China's new law empowering the coast guard.

Such a statement on Taiwan would mark a rare public expression of concern by U.S. and Japanese leaders. The last time was 1969, when Prime Minister Eisaku Sato and President Richard Nixon stressed in a statement that Taiwan's security is crucial for Japan's security.

Japan stands to surely lose by supporting US’ Taiwan stance - Global Times

Japan and the US plan to affirm the significance of stability in the Taiwan Straits when Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga visits Washington in April for a summit with US President Joe Biden, according to Nikkei. The report said that the two sides are in discussions to include the passage on the island of Taiwan in a joint statement to be released after the summit...

Japan's recent noises on the Taiwan question will definitely hit its relations with China. If the passage on Taiwan is included in the joint statement after the summit between Suga and Biden, the hit will be grave. If Japan makes any substantive move that impairs China's national interests on the Taiwan question, China will take countermeasures against it. Japan's loss will sharply outweigh its gain if it ties itself on the US' anti-China chariot and sows discord across the Taiwan Straits.

U.S. lawmakers reintroduce Taiwan Relations Reinforcement Act - Focus Taiwan

The bill was jointly introduced by Republican Marco Rubio, a member of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, and Democratic Senator Jeff Merkley, who is chairman of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China.

If the act were passed, it would change the status of the head of the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT), which represents U.S. interests in Taiwan in the absence of official ties...

It would also require the U.S. president to establish an "inter-agency Taiwan Task Force" comprised of senior government officials who would submit an annual report to Congress detailing actions that should be taken to enhance U.S.-Taiwan relations.


5. Useful foreigners and American social media platforms

Strange bedfellows on Xinjiang: The CCP, fringe media and US social media platforms | Australian Strategic Policy Institute | ASPI

Since early 2020, there’s been a stark increase in the Chinese Government and state media’s use of US social media networks to push alternative narratives and disinformation about the situation in Xinjiang. Chinese state media accounts have been most successful in using Facebook to engage and reach an international audience....

Chinese Government officials and state media are increasingly amplifying content, including disinformation, produced by fringe media and conspiracist websites that are often sympathetic to the narrative positioning of authoritarian regimes. This amplifies the reach and influence of these sites in the Western media ecosystem. Senior officials from multilateral organisations, including the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations (UN), have also played a role in sharing such content.

The China-based foreigners defending Beijing from Xinjiang genocide claims | South China Morning Post

In a 12-minute presentation during a live online discussion on March 19, Canadian YouTuber Daniel Dumbrill, who runs a craft beer bar in the southern city of Shenzhen, explained why the US and Western countries wanted “to disrupt China and its relationships”. A video of the presentation was widely shared by Chinese state media, including broadcaster CGTN, as well as on social media platform Weibo. It was originally uploaded to YouTube, a platform blocked in China...

China’s foreign ministry played Dumbrill’s video before its press conference last Friday, followed by the screening of part of a 2018 speech by former US secretary of state Colin Powell’s chief of staff Lawrence Wilkerson. The career army officer said if the US Central Intelligence Agency wanted to destabilise China, the best way to do so would be to mount an operation using Uygurs in the remote western region...

Dumbrill’s presentation was part of a panel discussion which also featured the Chinese consul-general in Calgary Lu Xu, Radhika Desai, professor of political studies at the University of Manitoba, Toronto-based activist Omar Latif who visited Xinjiang in 2019, and Max Blumenthal, founder and editor of US-based news website The Grayzone.

China Used Twitter, Facebook More Than Ever Last Year for Xinjiang Propaganda - WSJ

Since 2018, Chinese state media have been some of the most-liked accounts when it comes to posting about Xinjiang on Twitter, the report found. China’s primary international news channel, CGTN, has more than 115 million followers on its Facebook page—more than that of pop superstar Rihanna.

Harnessing its popularity, CGTN was the Facebook page with the most likes on posts mentioning Xinjiang for three years in a row, totaling about 5.8 million likes in 2020, according to ASPI, which analyzed more than 270,000 public Facebook posts. That year, the top six pages posting on the topic all belonged to Chinese state media...

The Grayzone, a media outlet founded by an American journalist that describes itself as dedicated to investigative journalism and “analysis on politics and empire,” published a lengthy piece in 2019 that called into question widespread estimates of detainees in Xinjiang internment centers.

According to ASPI, between December 2019 and February 2021, the Grayzone was cited in English at least 252 times by Chinese state-owned news outlets.

Comment: It is worth pointing out yet again that currently there is no effective path for the PRC to wage effective global information operations and increase its international discourse power that does not run through American social media platforms like Twitter, Youtube and Facebook.

03/30/2021 China MFA Press Conference & Remarks on Hong Kong

Bloomberg: Does the foreign ministry have any evidence that it would like to present today that the United States is fomenting unrest in Xinjiang?

Hua Chunying: You were here last Friday, right? Last Friday we showed a video about former chief of staff to former Secretary of State Colin Powell. He plotted to start the Iraq War. His own admission at least shows that the US side had a motive. So did the US do it or not? I think this question would be better left to the US side, and you'd better ask them to clarify: What did they do since they had such intention and said it so plainly? And how did they do it? You are very good at investigation and research, and you are welcome to do a follow-up, continuous investigation report on this matter.

One obvious example is US revocation of the designation of the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) as a terrorist organization. I remember the Canadian internet influencer Daniel Dumbrill in the video we screened last time also called this an obvious move to support and connive at terrorism and terrorist organizations. The US tried to foment unrest in Xinjiang and bring down China from within, but when they found that this could hardly come off, they began to think of another way, even to malign the innocent cotton.



6. Gangbusters

State TV Documentary Puts a Patriotic Spin on Fight Against Gangs, Guns and Graft

a new government-produced documentary series is bringing some of the country’s most egregious graft cases to the nation’s screens, while being careful to shine a strictly positive light on a flagship Communist Party policy.

“Crackdown on Crime: For the Country’s Prosperity and the People’s Safety,” a slick six-part collaboration between China’s anti-mafia office and the state-owned China Media Group, is being shown by state broadcaster CCTV every night through Wednesday…

The first episode of “Crackdown on Crime,” which premiered Saturday on state broadcaster CCTV, told the story of four brothers surnamed Liu who were imprisoned in 2019 for crimes including the destruction of more than 100 grave sites in an eastern Chinese village to build a lavish hall commemorating their ancestors.

The brothers, who built a fortune through illegal mining, packed the local government with family members, wooed higher officials with gifts of expensive alcohol, and silenced visitors who complained that dangerous extraction techniques were damaging their homes.

Before their downfall, the brothers were appointed deputies to municipal and provincial legislatures in East China’s Anhui province. They also received government-issued honors for sending excavators to assist with relief work following the deadly 2008 Sichuan earthquake.

On Youtube here:


7. Bytedance among world’s most valuable companies

ByteDance Is Said Valued at $250 Billion in Private Trades - Bloomberg

Shares of ByteDance Ltd., the Chinese parent of hit video app TikTok, are trading at a valuation of more than $250 billion in the secondary market, according to people familiar with the matter.

The Beijing-based startup’s value has surged in recent weeks as investors gain confidence in the business and founder Zhang Yiming weighs options for an initial public offering, said the people, asking not to be named because the transactions are private. ByteDance was valued at $140 billion during its last fundraising, according to CB Insights.

ByteDance Acquired MOBA Game Developer Moonton, Deepening Battle With Tencent in SEA- PingWest

Founded by an ex-Tencent employee, Moonton is the developer of Mobile Legends: Bang Bang (MLBB), one of the most popular multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) games in Southeast Asia, a region with a combined population of 650 million. Previously, Tencent had bid for Moonton but failed.

Exclusive: India blocks bank accounts of China's ByteDance, company mounts challenge | Reuters

Indian authorities have blocked at least two of ByteDance’s bank accounts for alleged tax evasion, prompting it to ask a court to quash the directive that it fears will hit its operations, two sources with direct knowledge told Reuters.

ByteDance Drops Unfair Competition Complaint Against Tencent

Douyin filed the suit in the southern city of Fuzhou, Fujian province, in September 2019 alleging that Tencent violated fair market competition by blocking links to Douyin on Tencent-owned social media platforms WeChat and QQ. Douyin demanded that Tencent remove the restrictions and pay compensation of 90 million yuan ($13.7 million)...

In December 2020, the Fuzhou court said the case should be transferred to Shenzhen, where Tencent is based. Douyin appealed in February.

Court documents showed that Douyin applied to drop the case March 15. Bytedance and Tencent declined to comment.

Comment: Tencent doesn't lose in court in its hometown of Shenzhen

Douyin Denies Turning a Blind Eye to Dodgy Medical Advertising - Caixin

Short video platforms are emerging as a messy new front in China’s long battle against dodgy medical advertising, with TikTok’s Chinese twin forced to deny allegations it allows people to masquerade as doctors to sell products.

It comes after ByteDance Ltd.’s Douyin was accused by online media outlet Kailuobo of hosting content where people pose as doctors in order to give “health” advice that actually guides users to products like nasal sprays, some with hundreds of thousands of likes...

Caixin found ads for products masquerading as medical advice remain prolific on the platform’s uncertified accounts. In just one example, a man dressed in a lab coat using the title “doctor” doles out medical tips and encourages viewers to buy everything from baby wipes to chiropractic tools

The China Spec: Douyin

In this article, we help you understand the history and key features of Douyin.  Wherever relevant, we give you the reasoning and context behind the app’s most important functionalities while highlighting the ones that we think could eventually make it into TikTok.  Finally, we end with some concluding remarks about lessons we can learn from Douyin, its design, and business model.


8. Wuhan semiconductor scam

Billion Dollar Heist: How Scammers Rode China's Chip Boom to Riches - ChinaTalk

Today, Wuhan Hongxin Semiconductor Manufacturing (HSMC) is a colossal wreck..

Chiang Shang-Yi, the venerable chip-making veteran who led TSMC’s R&D team, joined the company. Under Chiang’s guidance, HSMC acquired a coveted ASML lithography machine. Success seemed inevitable.

But the flashy developments blinded observers to the truth about HSMC. The company was a complete scam. The following is a slightly abridged translation of the now-deleted 36Kr investigation conducted by Qiu Xiaofen, Su Jianxun, and edited by Yang Xuan, published on January 28, 2021…

Why was the Wuhan Dongxi district government so anxious to invest?

One reason was the success of a rival district government’s successful investment in the “Yangtze River Storage” chip project, which eventually succeeded in producing 64-level 3D NAND Flash chips, a staple in smartphones. The project was created in Wuhans’ Donghu New Technology Development Zone on the east bank of the Yangtze River, tantalizingly close. Wuhan’s Dongxihu District made its own goal: to build "core, screen, intelligence, network, new" industrial clusters, "to create fabs that connect industries both up- and downstream from chipmaking.”

A senior investor in the semiconductor field said, “Local governments are not particularly rational. They see everyone else doing chips and think, ‘why can’t we do that as well?’ They never say, ‘You investing in chips is okay, but if I invest, the market is overheated.’”


Business, Economy and Trade

UN panel warns that ‘well-known global brands’ may be linked to Xinjiang human rights abuses | South China Morning Post Scores of Chinese and foreign companies producing “well-known global brands” may be involved in human trafficking, forced labour and other human rights abuses in China’s Xinjiang region, a United Nations working group said on Monday, calling more attention to an issue that Beijing is increasingly on the defensive about. “Several experts appointed by the Human Rights Council said they had received information that connected over 150 domestic Chinese and foreign domiciled companies to serious allegations of human rights abuses against Uygur workers,” the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) said. No specific companies were named, but the working group mentioned the sectors of agribusiness, tech, automotive, and textile and garment.

Investors press companies on human rights in Xinjiang | Reuters The group of more than 50 investors, backed by the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility, said it is in the process of contacting more than 40 companies, including H&M, VF Corp, Hugo Boss and Zara-owner Inditex, requesting more information about their supply chains and urging them to quit situations that could lead to human rights abuses.

唐山钢企排污被“抓现行”追踪:涉事钢企及第三方监测公司相关涉案人员已被刑事拘留 _中国经济网——国家经济门户 The Ministry of Ecology and Environment found during an unannounced visit to Tangshan City, Hebei Province in March that four steel enterprises had not implemented the corresponding emission reduction requirements during the emergency response to heavy polluted weather and falsified production records, which sparked widespread public concern. The reporter learned from the Tangshan Municipal Committee on the 30th that the steel enterprises involved and the third-party monitoring companies involved in the case have been criminally detained.

21 CBH exclusive 独家丨深圳加码监管全部涉房贷款 每季度滚动排查资金流向 - 21财经 On March 30th, two people in the industry told 21st Century Business Herald that recently, Shenzhen regulators demanded to check the implementation of real estate credit control policies and whether operating loan funds illegally flowed into the property market every quarter...On the same day, Shenzhen Banking Insurance Regulatory Bureau responded to the reporter of 21st century business herald, saying that the rolling investigation covers all existing businesses as of the end of the reporting period, including real estate corporate and personal credit business, business loans, consumer loans, credit cards, wealth management, investment and other off-balance sheet financing businesses, among which business loans are the focus of investigation, and the investigation results are to be reported within 5 working days after each quarter.

钢铁行业碳达峰及降碳行动方案成型 _ 经济参考网 _ 新华社《经济参考报》官方网站 The reporter of Economic Information Daily was informed that the Action Plan for Carbon Peak and Carbon Reduction in Iron and Steel Industry (hereinafter referred to as the "Plan"), which is being compiled, has now formed a revised and improved draft, which preliminarily determines the peak target and key tasks of the industry. According to relevant sources, under the goal of "carbon peaking" in 2030 and "carbon neutralization" in 2060, the goal of carbon peaking in the steel industry is initially set as: before 2025, carbon emissions will peak; By 2030, the carbon emissions will be reduced by 30% compared with the peak value, and the carbon emission reduction is expected to be 420 million tons.// 为实现碳达峰碳中和的目标,钢铁行业碳达峰行动方案和路线图已基本明确。《经济参考报》记者获悉,正在编制的《钢铁行业碳达峰及降碳行动方案》(以下简称《方案》)目前已形成修改完善稿,初步确定行业达峰目标和重点任务。   据相关人士透露,在2030年“碳达峰”和2060年“碳中和”的目标约束下,钢铁行业碳达峰目标初步定为:2025年前,实现碳排放达峰;到2030年,碳排放量较峰值降低30%,预计实现碳减排量4.2亿吨。

快讯|银保监会:发布《关于银行保险机构切实解决老年人运用智能技术困难的通知》_财经网 - CAIJING.COM.CN A directive from China’s banking regulator has instructed banks not to force elderly people to use "smart technologies" and to respect their traditional banking habits. 尊重老年人使用习惯。商业银行要保留仍在使用中的纸质存折、存单等老年人熟悉的服务方式,不得强迫老年人使用银行卡,不得强制老年人通过自助式智能设备办理业务,不得违规代替老年人操作,不得对老年人使用柜面人工服务设置分流率等考核指标。

FCC commissioner to urge tougher steps on Chinese network equipment | Reuters Federal Communications Commissioner Brendan Carr on Tuesday plans to call for new steps to ensure Huawei Technologies and ZTE equipment is barred from U.S. telecommunications networks and ensure no electronic devices enter the U.S. produced with forced labor, sources briefed on the matter said.

Japan pension whale GPIF in China bond quandary: backlash or gains? - Nikkei Asia Japan's Government Pension Investment Fund faces the tricky question of whether to adopt Chinese sovereign debt into its portfolio, a move that would lead to healthy returns but risks sparking outrage over financially backing an alleged human rights abuser. The issue gained steam Monday when the British index provider FTSE Russell decided to include Chinese government bonds in its benchmark FTSE World Government Bond Index (WGBI). The incorporation will be phased in over a three-year period starting at the end of October.

China determined to build iron ore hub in Africa, as Australia goes Quad - Nikkei Asia The top focus for China's diversification push is Guinea, a poor country in West Africa, O'Connor said. A 110 km range of hills called Simandou is said to hold the world's largest reserve of untapped high-quality iron ore. Commodity watchers have known of Guinea's potential for many years, but the lack of infrastructure has hamstrung such development efforts. A roughly 650 km railroad would need to be built from scratch, as well as a modern port from which the iron ore would be shipped.

Yicai - Great Star Gains After Chinese Toolmaker Agrees to Buy Bust German Firm’s Assets Great Star’s shares jumped after the Chinese toolmaker said it will spend EUR27.9 million (USD32.8 million) to acquire the assets of an insolvent German competitor, an acquisition that will make it the world’s main supplier of pneumatic nailers and related consumables...Great Star will buy 15 subsidiaries of Joh Friedrich Behrens in an all-cash deal

Yicai - Chinese Health Drink Firm Genki Forest Triples in Value to USD6 Billion After New Funding Round The fundraising was led by US private equity firms Warburg Pincus and L Catterton as well as Chinese venture capital company Sequoia China. The amount raised was not given and Beijing-based Genki Forest has yet to confirm the news.

China Looks to Slow Growth of Money-Losing High-Speed Rail - Caixin If a high-speed rail route is operating at less than 80% of its designed capacity, then a second line shouldn’t be built covering the same route, according to guidelines jointly released by the country’s top economic planner and the transport authority on Monday. The guidelines also say that new high-speed rail links should only be built to cities that already see more than 15 million total inbound and outbound trips per year. The guidelines also called for tightening scrutiny over traffic volume and punishing those who fabricate data.

FTSE Russell Signs Off on Adding Chinese Government Bonds to Flagship Index - Caixin FTSE Russell has decided to begin adding Chinese government bonds (CGBs) to its FTSE World Government Bond Index on Oct. 29, the company said in a statement on Monday. To better serve the passive investment nature of some trackers, the inclusion will be phased in over a 36-month period, longer than the 12 months that it initially planned in September.

China’s housing crash exposes a growing regional economic divide | Financial Times $$ While home sales have shot up across China’s developed markets, led by Shanghai and Shenzhen, following Beijing’s successful control of the virus, the picture remains weak in Zhengzhou. Official data show the city’s housing transactions, measured by floor space, were down by almost half in the first two months of this year from the same period of 2019. That compared with a 76 per cent jump among the top 10 coastal cities over the same period.

Worker at Chinese steel giant jumps into furnace after stock losses - Global Times Baogang Group, one of China's major steel producers, confirmed Tuesday that a steel worker with the group had committed suicide allegedly due to losses from stocks and futures trading. A viral video online showed the man jumped into a blast furnace.

Mutually beneficial China-EU investment deal won’t fall apart - Global Times - Wei Jianguo There is also an element of national credibility attached to the agreement. If the European side stops reviewing the agreement, its credibility will be severely damaged. Will the EU renege on its word and simply tear up an agreement like former US President Donald Trump did? It's hardly possible...Will the EU stop continuing on that wrong course? I think the EU will not go too far, because tying itself to the US chariot and eventually become a pawn for Washington is not what European countries want. - The article was compiled based on a commentary written by Wei Jianguo, former Chinese vice minister of commerce and executive deputy director of the China Center for International Economic Exchanges

Movies, tourism, catering expected to be firing on all cylinders in the coming holidays - Global Times China's consumption is expected to be firing on all cylinders - from the movie box office and tourism to the catering sector - during the upcoming three-day Qingming Festival and five-day May Day holidays



Politics and Law

Xi Focus: CPC leadership reviews guideline on promoting high-quality development of central region - Xinhua The Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee held a meeting on Tuesday to review a guideline on promoting high-quality development of the country's central region in the new era...Promoting the high-quality development of China's central region is of overall significance as it has rich resources, well-developed transport networks, a sound industrial foundation, and massive development potential, according to the meeting.

Xi Focus: Xi stresses role of revolutionary cultural relics in inspiring people - Xinhua Xi Jinping has stressed the importance of better protecting, managing and utilizing revolutionary cultural relics to inspire people to build a modern socialist China and achieve national rejuvenation. Xi...made the remarks during his recent instruction on work related to the country's revolutionary cultural relics...A national conference on revolutionary cultural relics was held in Beijing on Tuesday, during which Xi's instruction was delivered by Sun Chunlan, a member of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and China's vice premier. // 习近平对革命文物工作作出重要指示强调 切实把革命文物保护好管理好运用好 激发广大干部群众的精神力量-新华网 // Do Mao Badges count as revolutionary cultural relics? I wrote my SAIS MA thesis on them in 1995

CGTN to release its last documentary on fighting terrorism in Xinjiang - CGTN On April 2, CGTN will present a special documentary on fighting terrorism in Xinjiang. With unprecedented transparency, "The War in the Shadows" is a 60-minute film revealing the reasons behind Xinjiang's terrorism from inside of the region

China found using surveillance firms to help write ethnic-tracking specs | ReutersThe technical standards, published by surveillance research group IPVM, specify how data captured by facial recognition cameras across China should be segmented by dozens of characteristics - from eyebrow size to skin color and ethnicity...They included security camera manufacturers Uniview, Hikvision and Dahua. Washington blacklisted Hikvision and Dahua in 2019 for their alleged role in “high-technology surveillance against” ethnic minorities in China.Dahua described as “false” media reports that it had helped draft government standards for detecting individual ethnic groups.

Dahua and Hikvision Co-Author Racial And Ethnic PRC Police Standards - IPVMHikvision and Dahua helped write Chinese police video surveillance standards which include tracking people's skin color - such as "black", "yellow" and "brown" - and ethnicity, IPVM has verified...The standards also include "ethnicity" tracking, without naming any specific ethnicity. However, evidence found by IPVM indicates "ethnicity" tracking targets Uyghurs and Tibetans specifically.

How a deadly bomb attack on Chinese village officials highlights simmering tensions at the grass-roots level | South China Morning Post Last Monday’s attack on the village committee office in Mingjing in the southern province of Guangdong was blamed on a lone individual who was angered by officials’ handling of a property dispute...The authorities say the 59-year-old, identified only by his surname Hu, was one of five people killed in the blast, which also wounded five others.

Chinese Netizens Enraged by ‘Too Light’ Rape Sentence, Again - SixthTone A district court in the eastern Zhejiang province found the man, an undergraduate student at Shaoxing University surnamed Zhao, guilty of raping a fellow student following a dinner with the school’s music club, domestic outlet Jiemian reported Sunday. Along with others, the female student had attended a dinner hosted by Zhao at which alcohol was served. The Yuecheng District People’s Court in Shaoxing said in its verdict that the 20-year-old man was given a three-year jail term, along with four years of probation, because he had compensated the female student and “received her forgiveness,” according to Jiemian.

The 'Four Togethers' and 'Three Gifts' Handbook - Xinjiang Documentation Project This handbook contains instructions for campaign workers as they visited households to carry out “Four Togethers and Four Gifts” (四同四送 si tong si song) activities. Beginning sometime after 2014, when the fanghuiju campaign (访惠聚) was first implemented, these activities blended poverty alleviation work with knowledge dissemination and state surveillance. Cadres and other civil servants were assigned Uyghur or Kazakh “relatives”—usually family members of recent detainees—and lived, dined, and worked with them for extended periods.

China logs over 151,000 public interest lawsuits in 2020 - Xinhua Chinese prosecutors handled a total of 151,260 public interest lawsuits in 2020, according to statistics released by the Supreme People's Procuratorate (SPP). The cases covered areas including wildlife protection, cultural heritage conservation, live-streaming sales and food and drug safety, the SPP said.

中国共产党百年伟大贡献 The great contributions of the Communist Party of China in the past century(庆祝中国共产党成立100周年专论)- 曲青山 By Qu Qingshan, head of the Institute of Party History and Literature of the CPC Central Committee//  In a word, China has continuously made new progress in educating the young, learning to teach, earning from work, getting medical care for the sick, providing for the elderly, living and supporting the weak, so that the development results will benefit all the people more and fairly, and the people's sense of acquisition, happiness and security will continue to increase, and the essential requirement of common prosperity will be gradually reflected in real life. The Chinese people have ushered in a great leap from inadequate food and clothing to a well-off and prosperous life ...The success of China's reform and opening up and socialist modernization has raised the great banner of socialism with Chinese characteristics in the world, making scientific socialism glow with great vitality in China in the 21st century; It provides a brand-new choice for countries and nations in the world who want to accelerate their development and maintain their independence, and contributes Chinese wisdom and Chinese solutions to solve human problems. 总之,我国在幼有所育、学有所教、劳有所得、病有所医、老有所养、住有所居、弱有所扶上持续取得新进展,使发展成果更多更公平惠及全体人民,人民群众的获得感、幸福感、安全感不断增强,共同富裕的本质要求在现实生活中逐步得以体现。中国人民迎来了从温饱不足到小康富裕的伟大飞跃... 我国改革开放和社会主义现代化建设的成功,在世界上高高举起了中国特色社会主义伟大旗帜,使科学社会主义在21世纪的中国焕发出强大生机活力;为世界上那些既希望加快发展又希望保持自身独立性的国家和民族提供了全新选择,为解决人类问题贡献了中国智慧和中国方案。


Foreign and Defense Affairs

Beijing courts Southeast Asian nations in bid to counter South China Sea backlash | South China Morning Post Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi will meet his Southeast Asian counterparts this week, stepping up Beijing’s attempts to engage with the region and counter growing criticism over its activities in the South China Sea. Sources said in addition to meeting with four Southeast Asian foreign ministers, Wang will also have talks with his South Korean counterparts in Fujian province. Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Hua Chunying said on Tuesday that Singapore’s Vivian Balakrishnan, Indonesia’s Retno Marsudi and Teddy Locsin from the Philippines would visit China from Wednesday to Friday. It is understood Malaysia’s Hishammuddin Hussein visit is scheduled from Thursday to Saturday.

Japan, Indonesia sign arms transfer pact amid China concerns - AP The agreement came during “two plus two” security talks among the foreign and defense ministers of the two countries, which share concerns about China’s growing influence and territorial claims in the East and South China seas. “It has become difficult to take for granted the premises that have supported the peace and prosperity of the international community,” Japanese Foreign Minister Toshimitsu Motegi said in opening remarks at the talks.

Dutch frigate to join British Carrier Strike Group The Dutch Ministry of Defence have confirmed that HNLMS Evertsen will be joining the upcoming UK Carrier Strike Group deployment to the Asia-Pacific.

China and North Korea to revive trade in April amid US tension - Nikkei Asia "I heard that North Korea is planning to accept Chinese goods from mid-April," a Chinese man in his 30s at a trading company in Dandong, a city across the Yalu River from North Korea, told Nikkei. He said the information came from the North Korean side and he was preparing to restart his business. A number of other trading companies also confirmed that bilateral trade is expected to resume in April. At first, goods will only travel between Dandong and Sinuiju in North Korea, by rail over the Sino-Korean Friendship Bridge, which is the main route of trade between the two countries.

President Biden Announces his Intent to Nominate Key Members for the Department of State | The White House Daniel J. Kritenbrink, Nominee for Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Daniel J. Kritenbrink, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, Class of Minister-Counselor, has been U.S. Ambassador to Vietnam since 2017.  He was previously the Senior Director for Asian Affairs at the National Security Council, and Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing

‘US laws do not apply in China,’ court is told, as new front opens in Meng Wanzhou extradition fight | South China Morning Post Meng, arrested at Vancouver’s airport more than two years ago, is accused of defrauding HSBC by lying to the bank about its business in Iran, thus putting it at risk of breaching US sanctions – but her alleged conduct involved a 2013 meeting in a Hong Kong teahouse, Meng is a Chinese citizen, and HSBC is a British bank, her lawyer Gib van Ert said. “United States laws do not apply in China,” said van Ert, and “if any laws were broken that day, that is a matter for China”. Canada had a duty to protect Meng from the US attempt to violate international law, he said.

The mysterious user editing a global open-source map in China’s favor - Rest of World Altering OpenStreetMap to advance national interests could be considered an extension of what experts call “cartographic warfare” when countries enforce territorial claims via maps. “In the ’50s and ’60s, China and India were engaged in this and would publish competing maps to bolster the strength of their claims to territory,” said M. Taylor Fravel, director of the Security Studies Program at MIT, who has studied China’s borders and territorial disputes. “What we are seeing now in open source I would characterize as the latest manifestation of the ways in which states have sought to advance their claims through maps and mapmaking.”

Myanmar Regime’s Cabinet Includes Some Old China Hands - The Irawaddy Coup leader Senior General Min Aung Hlaing has not always seen eye-to-eye with the Chinese leadership, but he won’t mind setting aside those qualms if Myanmar finds itself facing isolation in the wake of his Feb. 1 coup; in fact he seems to have planned for just such a scenario. Looking at the junta’s cabinet lineup, one finds a number of ministers who have long associations with the Chinese government and institutions.

NASA should get Taiwan status right - People's Daily OnlineEnraged Chinese netizens have bombarded NASA with demands to withdraw their names from the organisation's initiative to "send your name to Mars" after they found out that NASA has labelled Taiwan as a "country," as well as omitting part of Tibet from China's territorial boundaries on its official map. The initiative, which is open to netizens worldwide who can sign up to have their names sent into space on NASA's future Mars mission, has attracted over 18 million participants around the globe as of press time. Over 4 million applicants from the Chinese mainland, as well as more than 130,000 from Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan have signed up for the initiative, making China the top country on NASA's list of name submissions.

US, China exchange data on their Mars missions | South China Morning Post Nasa sought approval from Congress and talked with the China National Space Administration (CNSA) about the Tianwen-1, the US space agency confirmed on Monday. The purpose was to lower the risk of a collision, as their spacecraft are both orbiting the red planet. Other space agencies that operate Mars probes were also contacted.

China’s 2027 Goal Marks the PLA’s Centennial, Not an Expedited Military Modernization - Jamestown Authoritative Chinese sources indicate that the 2027 goal is not a call for the PLA to become fully modern—or on par with the U.S. military—in just seven years. Instead, the 2027 goal is a new short-term marker for ensuring that China’s military modernization campaign continues to progress along the CCP’s long-established roadmap. Importantly, it also serves as a major propaganda tool and a reminder to the international community of China’s growing power.

Greek president meets with Chinese defense minister - Xinhua Greece attaches importance to China's position in international affairs, and appreciates China's achievements in economic and social development and its great progress in human rights, said the Greek president. Greece is willing to actively participate in the Belt and Road Initiative and the cooperation between China and Central and Eastern European (CEE) countries, Sakellaropoulou said.

Partners, Competitors, or a Little of Both? | Center for a New American Security (en-US) In the Arctic, Russia and China’s interests are converging around resource extraction projects, the expansion of the Northern Sea Route, and the enhancement of operational awareness and security cooperation. The increasing synergy in the Arctic will be most consequential for the United States on two fronts: First, Beijing is working with Moscow to improve its military capabilities. Second, Russia is increasing its economic reliance on China in the Arctic in ways that may raise Moscow’s willingness to back Beijing’s priorities in other regions and on other issues to avoid jeopardizing its economic ties with Beijing.

China providing vaccine aid to 80 countries, 3 int'l organizations: FM spokesperson - Xinhua China is providing vaccine aid to 80 countries and three international organizations, exporting vaccines to more than 40 countries, and cooperating with more than 10 nations in vaccine research, development and production, a Foreign Ministry spokesperson said Tuesday. Spokesperson Hua Chunying made the remarks at a press briefing after World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warned Monday against a widening gap between numbers of coronavirus vaccines in wealthy countries and those distributed to poorer nations through the global COVAX initiative.

What the Chinese Communist Party wants from the United Kingdom | Council on Geostrategy The CCP would like to see a Britain which supports China’s view of globalisation, is open, innovative and sharing. It recognises Britain’s close ties with the US, but seeks to dilute them. Thus when Britain joined the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, that was a triumph; when it – eventually – rejected Huawei as a 5G telecoms provider, that was a setback.

World leaders call for pandemic treaty, but short on details - AP Although the 25 signatories of the commentary called for “solidarity,” and greater “societal commitment,” there was no indication any country would soon change its own approach to responding to the pandemic. China, Russia and the United States didn’t join in signing the statement.


Hong Kong and Macao

Proposal to restrict access to information in Hong Kong company registry sets alarm bells ringing for journalist groups | South China Morning Post Journalists have no privilege to access personal information, Hong Kong’s leader said on Tuesday, after media groups expressed concern that press freedom would be undermined by a government proposal to restrict public viewing of some data in the Companies Registry.  Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said the amended restriction was also needed to prevent the “weaponisation” of personal information, as well as false information and hate speech online.

Hong Kong Festival Cancels Opening Film Due To 'Technical Reasons' - Variety Rooted in the long-established vein of Hong Kong crime films, “Where the Wind Blows” “depicts the friendship and rivalry between two ambitious detectives who form dangerous alliances with organized crime,” according to the HKIFF catalog. The IMDd synopsis describes it slightly differently: “A corrupt police sergeant’s career is curtailed by the launch of Hong Kong’s Independent Commission Against Corruption.” “Technical reasons” is widely understood in mainland China as a euphemism for censorship.


Taiwan

Palau president visits Taiwan despite Chinese pressure - AP The president of the Pacific island nation of Palau was visiting Taiwan on Tuesday along with the U.S. ambassador to his country, a show of solidarity as China increases diplomatic, economic and military pressure on Taiwan. Palau President Surangel Whipps said during a meeting with Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen that he and his delegation “feel like home when we are here.”

BNT vaccine deal becoming less likely: health minister - Focus Taiwan opposition Kuomintang Legislator Chen Yu-jen (陳玉珍) asked Chen at the hearing if there is pressure from China and European countries on Taiwan's procurement of COVID-19 vaccines. In reply, the health minister admitted that pressure exists, but said he is not certain of the source of the pressure. "There are many possibilities, so we are keeping as low a profile as possible," he said. Chen's remarks came more than one month after he told lawmakers that he was "certain" that BNT will sign a deal to supply COVID-19 vaccines to Taiwan

Revenge Eating in Taipei - Vittles I first realised the geopolitical tables had turned when, after a spell of small talk, a taxi driver in Taipei asked when I was planning to head back home to America.  ‘There’re a lot of people like you here right now,’ he said, explaining that he’s observed a recent surge of Taiwanese-Americans who came to Taiwan to escape the pandemic, and assuming that I was one of them.   ‘No, no. I’m based here,’ I replied. ‘I didn’t come here to escape the pandemic. I’m here to stay.’ ‘Good decision. America isn’t doing so well,’ he said, genuinely worried. ‘You’re lucky.’


Tech and Media

Yicai - Xiaomi to Invest USD10 Billion in New Smart EV Business Xiaomi will set up a wholly owned subsidiary to run the business and invest CNY10 billion (USD1.52 billion) in the project’s first phase, the Beijing-based company said in a filing to the Hong Kong stock exchange after the market closed today.


Society, Arts, Sports, Culture and History

Beijing Half Marathon resumes in April - Xinhua The Beijing Half Marathon, originally canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, will resume on April 24th, the organizing committee confirmed on Tuesday. The half marathon covers a total length of 21.0975 km, with a limited number of 10,000 participants, starting from Tiananmen Square and ending at the Olympic Park

‎故事 FM: E484.我在美国做按摩女:亚特兰大枪击案背后的真实亚裔人生 on Apple Podcasts

The Complex Legacy of China’s Cinematic Pirates - SixthTone YYeTs.com had a prolific output: The group translated and disseminated video files of countless foreign films and TV series, and its sudden disappearance caused an uproar on the Chinese internet, despite the seemingly clear-cut facts of the case. For netizens, the loss of YYeTs.com was about more than just the rights and wrongs of a single group of people. The collective was a symbol of China’s long, complicated history of content piracy, and the news of its demise had several generations of Chinese feeling nostalgic for a simpler era of widely disseminated, easy-to-access, and largely free content.

Chinese club coach questions Lippi's China legacy - Xinhua Chinese Super League club Qingdao FC head coach Wu Jingui has questioned the legacy Marcello Lippi left for Chinese football.  "I heard that he did not allow some of his training sessions to be taken video and his Chinese coaching staff were not allowed to watch. I had a feeling that he did not come to China to help," Wu told a Shanghai TV program. "We had spent so much money on him, and what he left for us after he walked out?" the Qingdao side head coach asked.


Energy, Environment, Science and Health

事业单位科研人员发放现金奖励将不受限-新华网 China is set to scrap the cash reward cap for R&D staff at state-owned institutions and firms. “ The cash reward will not be restricted by the performance-based salary set by the work unit, and will not be considered as a basis for setting the total performance-based salary for the coming year.” Xinhua reported, citing a document drafted by the country’s labour watchdog and two other ministries.

国新办举行中国可再生能源发展有关情况发布会---国家能源局 State Council press conference on renewable energy...National Energy Administration says renewable energy sources will grow from 40% of total capacity to 50% by 2025, and that they meet 2/3 pf the increase in power consumption by 2025. // 一是大规模发展。在“十三五”基础上,“十四五”期间可再生能源年均装机规模将有大幅度的提升,装机规模将进一步扩大,到“十四五”末可再生能源的发电装机占我国电力总装机的比例将超过50%。二是高比例发展。可再生能源在能源消费中的占比将持续提升,到“十四五”末,预计可再生能源在全社会用电量增量中的比重将达到三分之二左右,在一次能源消费增量中的比重将超过50%,可再生能源将从原来能源电力消费的增量补充,变为能源电力消费增量的主体。

国家能源局:今年起风电光伏进入平价阶段 摆脱对财政补贴依赖_中证网 The Chinese solar industry this year will enter the “fair pricing” stage and wean itself off government financial support, the head of China’s energy watchdog said this week.

碳排放权交易管理条例渐行渐近:建国家碳排放交易基金,不再建地方碳市场 - 21财经 21CBH - "The regulations on the management of carbon emission trading are gradually approaching: building a national carbon emission trading fund, no longer building a local carbon market", on the release of the Interim Regulations on the Management of Carbon Emissions Trading (Revised Draft)

China to improve grassland protection, restoration - State Council China will strengthen protection and restoration for grasslands and further develop ecological civilization, according to a circular released by the State Council on March 30...As the circular said, a preliminary system for grassland protection and restoration should be established by 2025, when grassland deterioration is fundamentally curbed. By 2035, the system will be further improved. The comprehensive vegetation coverage for grasslands should stabilize at 60 percent. In the middle of the century, all degraded grasslands will be comprehensively treated and restored. By then, the grassland ecosystem will achieve a virtuous circle. A new pattern of harmonious coexistence between human and nature will be formed. // 国办印发《关于加强草原保护修复的若干意见》_滚动新闻_中国政府网

County in Fire-Prone Sichuan Says Only Adults Can Buy Lighters - SixthTone In a notice issued Sunday, the brushfire prevention authority in Sichuan’s Mianning County outlined new rules for the sale of fire-starting products during the current “forest and grassland fire prevention period” from Jan. 1 through June 30. According to the notice, anyone under the age of 18 may not buy such products anywhere in Mianning County, while those 18 or older can if they show their national ID, but only one item at a time. The notice also encourages locals to trade in their old lighters for new ones, though it doesn’t say whether such exchanges are discounted or free.

Over 110 mln COVID-19 vaccine doses administered across China - Xinhua A total of 110.96 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines had been administered across China as of Monday, the National Health Commission said Tuesday.

Beijing, Shanghai Open Bookings for Foreign Residents to Get Covid-19 Vaccines - Caixin The jabs to be used in both cities are Chinese-made inactivated vaccines and require a course of two doses to be effective.

Budget to support TCM use to double - China Daily China plans to double its investment in traditional Chinese medicine in the next five years compared with the previous five-year plan period, bolstering many infrastructure projects, authorities said on Monday.  The size and scope of the support for TCM will be "unprecedented" during the 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-25) period, said Sun Zhicheng, a senior administrator at the National Development and Reform Commission's department of social development. He added that from 2016 to 2020, over 30 billion yuan ($4.57 billion) was devoted to developing TCM.

China's air quality affected by sandy winds: ministry - Xinhua The sandstorms originated from Mongolia and traveled southward, engulfing most parts of China's northern regions, the spokesperson said. Liu added that natural factors were mainly responsible for the sandstorms. However, he also said that more focus should be placed on protecting the ecological environment and strengthening international cooperation as there is only one earth


Jobs and Events

Difficult choices: Taiwan’s quest for security and the good life - Brookings In his new book — “Difficult Choices: Taiwan’s Quest for Security and the Good Life” — Nonresident Senior Fellow Richard Bush weaves together a detailed and nuanced analysis of the difficult policy choices that Taiwan faces, both internally and externally. He also explores how its democratic political system might improve its performance for the public that it serves. On April 14, the Center for East Asia Policy Studies at the Brookings Institution will host Bush for a discussion of his new book, moderated by Senior Fellow Ryan Hass.


Rural and Agricultural Issues

住建部公开征求意见:县城新建住宅以6层为主 最高不超过18层 _中国经济网——国家经济门户 According to the official website of the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development, the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development issued a notice on the 29th, to strengthen the county green low-carbon construction for public comment. The notice proposes that new residential buildings in the county seats are mainly 6-storey, and the proportion of 6-storey residential buildings and below should be no less than 75%. The maximum height of new residential buildings in the county seats should not exceed 18 stories.