Xi urges stronger rule of law overseas, no third plenum?, and the upcoming EU-China summit
+ Hong Kong journalist incommunicado after trip to China
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
The NBA responded to a U.S. Congressional committee via a letter Tuesday about concerns over the use of forced labor in China when it comes to league apparel, according to ESPN’s Mark Fainaru-Wada.
The NBA told the committee that it prohibits the use of forced labor when it comes to the making of official league apparel, that it follows U.S. guidelines regarding doing business in China and that it “condemns human rights violations anywhere.”
The response came after the Congressional-Executive Commission on China, a bipartisan committee, sent both NBA commissioner Adam Silver and National Basketball Players Association president C.J. McCollum letters earlier this fall, one of which specifically called out Dallas Mavericks guard and new ANTA executive Kyrie Irving.
The letter sent to Silver warned that ANTA, a Chinese apparel giant worth more than $30 billion, and other Chinese apparel firms “publicly embrace the use of supply chains linked to forced labor that helps fund the genocide committed in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.” The letter that was sent to the NBPA specifically mentioned Irving’s deal with ANTA.
POLITICS & SOCIETY
President Xi Jinping has called for stronger rule of law related to foreign affairs given "external risks and challenges" as China opens up to the outside world, state media reported on Tuesday.
Xi, speaking during a study session of the Communist's Party's powerful political bureau, said that to protect its overseas citizens and interests, it was necessary to deepen international cooperation on law enforcement, strengthen consular protection and assistance, and build strong rule of law.
To facilitate economic and trade exchanges, authorities say Chinese law firms have set up 180 overseas offices in 35 countries and regions, an increase of nearly 50% since 2018.
China needs to actively develop foreign-related legal services and cultivate world-class arbitration institutions and law firms, Xi said.
But authorities in some Western countries, including the U.S., Canada, Britain and the Netherlands, have accused China of illegally setting up "overseas police service centres" to monitor its overseas citizens, accusations that Beijing vehemently denies.
China says such centres are meant to help its citizens renew expired driving licences, and are run by Chinese volunteers, not law enforcement officers.
The call to better protect citizens abroad coincides with recent outbreaks of conflict in countries such as Ukraine and Sudan that have led to China organising evacuations of its people.
Delay in China’s Annual Fall Party Plenum Meeting: A Sign of Deepening Institutional Erosion? – Council on Foreign Relations
China’s Politburo concluded its monthly meeting on Monday with no mention of a date for the third plenum of the 20th Central Committee. Failure to designate a date for this key Party event suggests China’s reform-era political institutions and practices may be eroding yet further under Xi Jinping’s increasingly personalized rule.
Indeed, with only one exception, the Chinese Communist Party has held a plenum meeting of its Central Committee every autumn since the 1990s. The sole recent exception occurred in 2018, when the third plenum of the 19th Central Committee was advanced to February of that year—rather than the fall—as part of the process of amending the PRC constitution to eliminate term limits and pave the way for Xi to serve on as China’s state president for a third term (in addition to his far more important roles as general Party secretary and head of the military).
But even if the delay is merely a tactical one—pushing a core national Party meeting off to a more convenient political date for Xi months or years in the future, it is an ominous sign for the overall trajectory of Chinese politics. As deadening and turgid as they may be, China’s regular Party Congresses and plenums are artifacts of an era in which Party political power in China has been exercised in a somewhat more regularized manner. If even their scheduling is steadily coming undone under Xi’s pivot back towards one-man rule, China’s politics could be poised to become far less predictable.
China's Xi visits financial hub Shanghai – Reuters
China President Xi Jinping visited Shanghai, where he went to several venues and learned about the city's efforts to strengthen its competitiveness as an international financial centre, Xinhua news agency reported on Wednesday.
Xi made the trip on Tuesday and Wednesday and he inspected the Shanghai Futures Exchange, an exhibition on Shanghai's sci-tech innovations and a government-subsidized rental housing community, the report said.
It was his first visit to the city since November 2020 and comes a year after historic street protests against China's zero-COVID policy broke out in Shanghai.
The visit also coincides with the 10th anniversary of the establishment of the Shanghai Free-Trade Zone (FTZ), a testing ground for economic reforms that has struggled to live up to its initial promise of free-flowing currency and easier international trade.
The protests were a brief flare of defiance, the most direct challenge to the Communist Party’s authority in decades. For the young people who took part, it was their first protest. Now, many of them are pondering what’s next.
Doctors in China and experts abroad are not too worried about the situation in China, noting many other countries saw similar increases in respiratory diseases after easing pandemic measures.
"The cases that we are seeing is nothing unusual at the moment, because it's still the same cough, colds, fever presentation, and the good thing about it is that it's actually treatable," said Cecille Brion, head of the pediatrics department at Raffles Medical Group Beijing.
Van Kerkhove said that the rise in cases was expected.
"We are seeing, in general, an increase in respiratory infections around the world. We do tend to see increases in children because they're the school-aged children, and in the northern hemisphere it's the autumn already. We're entering the winter months," she said.
China’s Supreme Court has released a batch of “model cases” affirming that minors who witness domestic violence are also victims of domestic violence, in a move welcomed by legal experts.
The cases, published Monday, emphasizes that “psychological abuse” is also a form of domestic violence, and that minors who are abducted by parents without custody, for instance, should also be considered victims of domestic violence.
“It’s a great sign that the court is taking rules and regulations on paper and implementing them in actual judicial practice with detailed cases for reference,” Lu Xiaoquan, a lawyer at Beijing Qianqian Law Firm, which specializes in legal aid for victims of gender-based violence, told Sixth Tone.
Two years after they first started sharing their story on Chinese social media, millions of netizens are engrossed in the struggles of the Chinese young parents Li Jun and Liang Liang, whose journey of starting a family and buying an apartment in the city at a time of economic downturn turned into an emotional rollercoaster.
For years, young Chinese were told that if they kept their heads down and studied hard, money and success would naturally follow. Now, many are realizing that things aren’t so simple.
In stark contrast to their parents, young Chinese are distancing themselves from family ties and seeking more personal space amid shifting societal dynamics, urbanization, and the influence of social media.
Some of the seniors who gather at Ikea believe that, for people their age, the passing of time is a thing to be endured. One woman who lives in Shanghai’s suburban Jinshan District always sits alone at the Swedish Restaurant, sometimes even resting her head on the table to take a nap. One day in early October, she set out from Ikea in Xuhui with a male friend, traveled two hours on two separate buses to reach another Ikea in the northern Baoshan District, stayed for less than 10 minutes, then made the long journey back to the Xuhui store before returning home. “Time has no value to me,” she says.
Co-founder and CEO of Chinese smartphone-maker Xiaomi Corp., Lei Jun, has donated 1.3 billion yuan ($183 million) to his alma mater Wuhan University, the school said Wednesday.
The cash donation, made in celebration of the school’s 130th anniversary, has set a record for the largest single donation in the university’s history and the largest individual alumni cash donation ever received by a Chinese mainland university, Wuhan University said in a social media post.
The funds will support the university’s research in six major disciplines of mathematics, physics, chemistry, literature, history and philosophy; foster technological innovation in computer science, and support student development, said the post.
A Beijing court began compensation hearings Monday morning for Chinese relatives of people who died on a Malaysia Airlines plane that disappeared in 2014 on a flight to Beijing, a case that remains shrouded in mystery after almost a decade.
No Class War Please, We’re Communists – China Media Project
The latest targets in China’s ongoing — and seemingly never-ending — internet rectification campaign include content that “incites class antagonism.” How did a Communist Party that lived and breathed class struggle for decades get to this point?
The Bones Remember – China Books Review
Three new books grapple with the suppressed histories of modern China, from the Cultural Revolution to the Covid pandemic. But for every state effort to bury the past, there are those who seek to dig it up.