EU agrees to de-risk from China, China passes foreign relations law, and US weighs tougher restrictions on chip exports to China
+ China on track to crush clean power target and WeChat, Alipay to support foreign bank cards
Welcome to another edition of What’s Happening in China, a weekly newsletter that curates the latest and most important news and developments from the country.
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PHOTO OF THE WEEK
A string of multinational companies – including German car giant Volkswagen, Spanish clothier Zara and China-based online retailer Temu – have come under renewed scrutiny this month for allegedly inadequate efforts to determine whether Uyghur forced labor is used in their supply chains.
In its preliminary findings, published last week, Republican representative Mike Gallagher and Democratic congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi, both of Illinois, criticized Temu for failing to maintain “even the facade” of a program that would meaningfully comply with the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act, or UFLPA, which bars from entry into the United States products made in whole or in part in China’s northwestern Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, where reports of Muslim persecution proliferate.
According to modeling by Zhanwei Du of the University of Hong Kong and Lauren Ancel Meyers of the University of Texas at Austin, Covid may have killed more than 1.4 million people in China from Dec. 16 to Jan. 19 — or more deaths in a single month than the U.S. has recorded throughout the pandemic.
[…] we estimate that the vast majority of the population (97% [95%, 99%], sensitivity analysis lower limit of 90%) was infected during December, with the nation-wide epidemic peaking on Dec. 23. Overall, our results highlight the extremely high transmissibility of the variant and the importance of proper design of intervention exit strategies to avoid large infection waves.
POLITICS & SOCIETY
China is adding to Xi Jinping's vast powers with a new law that will assert Beijing's interests on the world stage.
The law threatens to punish entities that act in ways "detrimental" to China's interests but does not specify which lines should not be crossed.
Experts say the law underscores China's aggressive diplomacy, but how actively it will be enforced when it takes effect on 1 July remains to be seen.
The law provides a legal stamp to the Party’s leadership over all foreign affairs. Another key element of this is found in Article 17, which says that the first goal of PRC foreign policy is to “uphold its system of socialism with Chinese characteristics.” And as we know, the most essential feature of the system of socialism with Chinese characteristics is the leadership of the CCP. Ergo, now legally, the fundamental purpose of Chinese foreign policy is sustaining the CCP-led regime.
Chinese Workers Confront the Curse of 35 – The New York Times
China’s postpandemic economic rebound has hit a wall, and the Curse of 35 has become the talk of the Chinese internet. It’s not clear how the phenomenon started, and it’s hard to know how much truth there is to it. But there’s no doubt that the job market is weak and that age discrimination, which is not against the law in China, is prevalent. That is a double whammy for workers in their mid-30s who are making big decisions about career, marriage and children.
Chinese online travel giant Trip.com is offering 50,000 yuan (US$6,897) in subsidies to employees who give birth, a policy that puts the company at the forefront of corporate efforts to address China's declining population.
According to a statement by the Shanghai-based company, all employees with three years of service are entitled to the programme. Starting Saturday, eligible workers who have newborns will receive 10,000 yuan on each of the first five birthdays of their child. The company said it has earmarked 1 billion yuan for the scheme so far.
The move comes as the country is awakening to a demographic crisis after four decades of notorious birth controls imposed by the central government. China's population peaked in 2022 as the number of births fell below 10 million for the first time, a trend that is expected to continue.
China dictates that roughly half of all middle school graduates enter regular high school while the other half either attend vocational school or drop out. This policy, as well as longstanding concerns about the quality of vocational schools, are raising the stakes for students taking China’s high school entrance exam.
In China, there is a growing trend for parents to send their kids to “character-building” summer camps in the wilderness. But in this unregulated new industry, the danger is often very real.
While celebrations were held around the world for Pride month, there were no major LGBT events in China.
The country's largest Pride event has been suspended since 2021.
For years, international climbers and authorities were locked in a standoff over Liming’s sandstone cliffs. Now, the sport’s popularity and China’s success on the global stage have transformed climbing into a valuable resource.
The commercial nature of these urban spaces renders the dynamic between patrons and animals fundamentally unequal; the cafés naturally prioritize their clients’ needs above the animals’ consent. As a result, though the life of a café cat may seem enviable, they are first and foremost workers. And like all workers, they can be exploited.
Coming up next:
Hong Kong's national security law 3 years later
EU agrees to de-risk from China
US, Dutch to hit China's chipmakers
How US-China rivalry is complicating a global debt crisis
WeChat, Alipay to support foreign bank cards
And so much more…
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