Chinese stocks, Evergrande's liquidation, and Hong Kong's article 23
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PHOTO OF THE WEEK
I. You started it! No, you started it!
Beijing often hits back at the West's de-risking strategy when, in reality, it can be said that China has been investing in de-risking for decades. Notably, China has directed efforts in areas such as tech, finance, and trade to block or diversify away from nations deemed unfriendly.
If there is an inventor and world leader of decoupling and de-risking, it is by all accounts Beijing.
Long before the United States imposed a flurry of controls on high-tech exports to China in recent years, Chinese leaders made technology the first pillar of their de-risking push. Beijing’s first investment plans in the semiconductor sector, for example, date back to the 1980s—with arguably mixed results, given that China never got beyond producing basic chips at the time.
China’s calculus is simple: Technology forms the backbone of economic and military superiority. Technological self-sufficiency, to Beijing, is therefore an existential imperative to survive and thrive.
China’s efforts to reduce its technological dependence deepened over the past decade. In 2015, two years before former U.S. President Donald Trump started bragging about cutting ties with China, Beijing released its “Made in China 2025” blueprint for self-sufficiency in key technology sectors—including semiconductors, artificial intelligence, and clean tech.
II. It's not just the economy, stupid
Logan Wright, a partner and researcher at Rhodium Group, delivers a systematic analysis of the present Chinese economic landscape, exploring its connections with party ideology in the age of Xi.
China’s economic policymaking process appears broken, or at the very least impaired. The recent liquidation of Evergrande and the uncertainty over measures to support the equity market merely add to a growing list of pressing economic problems where Beijing has either punted, or is refusing to announce any actions they are actually taking. The fact that there has been no Third Plenum meeting on economic reform held, or even announced, marks another meaningful change from past practice. This is not normal, for China or for any government struggling with a burgeoning crisis of confidence, at home and abroad.
III. Unsung heroes
If you’ve set foot in China, you’ve undoubtedly come across a silent army of waitstaff, cleaners, trash collectors, and delivery drivers, dedicated professionals who blend into the urban background of every city. They are the tireless, unsung heroes often overlooked in the rush of daily life.
Shenzhen is a city known primarily for its efficiency and wealth. Public restrooms here are generally clean, creatively designed, and well-equipped; museums and libraries are spacious and brightly lit; and office buildings are sleek and spotless.
Before my mother became a cleaner, I’d always taken the salubrity of both public spaces and my office for granted. I’d never thought to ask myself who made all this cleanliness and convenience possible.
Elderly Uyghur women imprisoned in China for decades-old religious ‘crimes’, leaked files reveal
Hundreds of thousands of Uyghur women, including religious leaders, are estimated to have been arrested and imprisoned in Xinjiang since 2014, with some elderly women detained for practices that took place decades ago, according to an analysis of leaked Chinese police files.
China’s Xinjiang aluminium boom exposes global carmakers to forced labour
A report published on Thursday by Human Rights Watch shows that nearly 10 per cent of the world’s aluminium supply comes from Xinjiang, following a sixfold increase of production in the north-west Chinese region since 2010. Carmakers are the biggest industrial users of the metal.
Jim Wormington, who led the Human Rights Watch research, said “the reality is that the whole mechanism of labour transfer” is deployed for increased coercion and control by the state.
“They don’t have a choice but to participate,” he added. “Once they’re moved, they’re in places where their movement is restricted. They are not able to freely leave employment.” Wormington added that victims of forced labour transfer were subjected to “mandatory ideological . . . indoctrination”.
In song and dance, Uyghurs forced to celebrate Lunar New Year
The mostly Muslim Uyghurs are ethnically and culturally distinct from the Han Chinese, the dominant ethnic group in the country, with their own language, food, culture and customs. Traditionally, Uyghurs have not celebrated the Lunar New Year.
And yet this move is the latest attempt by Beijing to portray the false image that Uyghurs embrace Chinese culture and that they live happily together with the Han Chinese ethnic group that dominates most of the rest of the country, activists and experts say.
“This is China's propaganda,” said Rune Steenberg, an anthropologist who focuses on Xinjiang and Uyghurs and who was in Almaty when the quake occurred. “China is attempting to convey that everyone respects Chinese culture, and that’s just propaganda.”
China’s Living Dead
“Are you sure you are alone?” her daughter would ask whenever she called. Yes, Gulbahar would sheepishly reply, as the police wrote down her daughter’s every word—including the fact that she was meeting with French government officials in an effort to free her mother. “My room became the field headquarters for a Chinese intelligence operation directed against my own family, and I was a part of it,” writes Gulbahar in her powerful, heart-wrenching memoir, How I Survived a Chinese “Reeducation” Camp: A Uyghur Woman’s Story. “I had become a bargaining chip between my family and the police…. Lies leave a terrible taste in your mouth.”
POLITICS & SOCIETY
With China’s economic plenum still unscheduled, observers worry politics remain in command
[…] during Wednesday’s meeting of the Communist Party’s Politburo – its first of 2024 – the 24-member decision-making body indicated the balance of attention will be placed on politics, as the People’s Republic prepares to celebrate its 75th anniversary in October.
Top priorities will include party discipline and cohesion, according to a statement issued after the meeting, though “high-quality development” was also emphasised.
National security and upholding unity under the party and central government’s leadership remain the most crucial goals, while other matters such as youth employment and economic rejuvenation seem to rank lower, observers and foreign chambers said.
“Businesses do not know where they stand due to mixed messaging from the Chinese government, which is contributing to a growing sense of uncertainty, further eroding confidence in this important market,” said Adam Dunnett, secretary general of the European Union Chamber of Commerce in China.
A lack of coordination between different ministries with different agendas has often led to contradicting actions, he added.
Disparity between words and action has often confused the market. Beijing has frequently pledged support for the private sector as well as foreign businesses, but concrete aid has at times eluded those affected.
Regulatory crackdowns, a revamped law on spying and investigations related to national security have also had a chilling effect.