China will be on vacation next Monday and Tuesday for the Labor Day Holiday. If you happen to be in Beijing on Saturday, be aware that authorities are warning evening rush hour traffic will be the worst of the year.
1 big thing: China sounds alarm on tech self-reliance
Chinese President Xi Jinping continues to emphasize the need for China to cut reliance on foreign technology.
Why it matters: China has had programs for decades to develop indigenous technologies, but the focus is rapidly intensifying as the U.S. puts more pressure on China.
1. Xi chaired a national conference on the "work of cybersecurity and informatization" last weekend.
- Per Xinhua, he stressed that China will inject more resources into research, industrial development and policy making in order to achieve breakthroughs in information technologies.
2. Xi went on an inspection tour of Hubei Province. One of the main propaganda themes so far from his trip is the need to take control of China’s technological destiny. At one stop on Thursday Xi told his audience, per the NYT's Chris Buckley tweet:
The threat: The recent U.S. sanctions that may cripple ZTE, a new Department of Justice investigation of Huawei that could lead to similar sanctions, and what appears to be a broader Trump administration strategy to thwart China’s technology ambitions could make a U.S.-China technology war run much hotter than the overall conflict over trade.
- Technology CEOs the world over with supply chain dependencies in China should be increasingly nervous and focused on their firms' efforts to have viable contingency plans for a U.S.-China technology cold war.
The U.S. efforts may fail, according to James Lewis of the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Lewis writes:
Go deeper: Reuters reports today that the Trump administration “may start scrutinizing informal partnerships between American and Chinese companies in the field of artificial intelligence.”
2. U.S. delegation in Beijing next week
The South China Morning Post has a few more details on the trip next week. It does not sound like expectations should be particularly high:
Why it matters: Made in China 2025 goes to the heart of the growing US-China technology war. It was never reasonable to expect China to modify a plan it sees as vital to achieving its goal of National Rejuvenation, and given the renewed public emphasis from Xi on developing indigenous core technologies it is even less likely there will be a breakthrough in the US-China trade disputes, unless President Trump decides to take a lesser deal, declare victory, and move on.
3. "Internet Superpower" goal means more controls
The cybersecurity conference mentioned above was important to further China's agenda to become what it calls an “Internet Superpower."
The details: The meeting reiterated that the Communist Party intends to strengthen its ability to shape and control online activities. According to Xinhua, during the meeting:
Xi also reiterated China’s goal of reforming global internet governance to better accommodate China’s approach:
Quick take: As robust as China’s internet controls may be, the party clearly does not think they are tough enough. Given the scandals in the West over fake news and the use of Facebook and Twitter to influence elections, expect more countries to welcome China’s approach to cyber governance.
4. Summit of giants: Modi goes to China
Axios' Erica Pandey writes: Chinese President Xi Jinping and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will have one big goal for their summit today — dial down the tensions in a relationship that's full of them.
The big picture: As China ramps up its investments in South Asia through its trillion-dollar Belt and Road Initiative, India feels increasingly encircled — and threatened. India sees itself as China's equal, but Beijing doesn't see it that way at all. That makes cooperation difficult.
Go deeper: Read the full story here.
5. Putting the Communist back in the Party
The Politburo met twice in the last week.
- The first meeting excited investors as some interpreted official comments on the meeting as a sign a new round of economic stimulus is coming.
- The second meeting, was a Politburo Study session Xi chaired on Marx and Engel's "The Communist Manifesto”.
According to Xinhua, XI stressed the importance of studying the Communist Manifesto:
My thought bubble: The contemporary PRC brand of Marxism and Communism is far removed from the original visions, but the CCP believes it has the right, the power and ability to evolve those ideas to fit the times, an effort led by a cadre of theoretical gymnasts who would put Nadia Comăneci to shame.
The big picture: Doubling down on Marxism is a means to an end for the Party, but that does not also mean that Xi himself is not an ardent Marxist whose fervor is only increasing as he sees a world evolving and fracturing in ways that would stir the loins of any sentient Chinese Marxist historical materialist. Xi proudly sees himself as a Marxist leading Communist China, even as he positions himself as the putative leader of globalization.
6. Alibaba is bypassing Amazon in China
Axios' Steve LeVine writes: Alibaba, the Chinese e-commerce gargantuan, says it isn't in a race with Amazon for U.S. customers, but that it's eager to take U.S. merchandise to its 550 million customers in China.
Why it matters: American politicians and technologists are unusually sensitive to what's often perceived as China horning in on American customers, markets and tech.
But they may be missing a different game — using an elaborately built system, Alibaba is linking U.S. merchants directly to millions of Chinese customers, bypassing Amazon and other American platforms and becoming an essential way station to the Chinese market.
Go deeper: Read the full story here.
7. West Virginia Senate Candidate Considered PRC Citizenship
The New York Times has a bonkers story on coal baron, convicted felon and GOP Senate candidate Don Blankenship.
According to the Times, in 2009 he said:
A popular Twitter account that satirizes the Chinese government summed up it perfectly:
8. Worthy of your time
- ChinaFile Conversation - Does China Want the Koreas to Reconcile?
- Caixin - Central Bank Official Says Property Tax Should Be Tested Locally First
- Paul Heer - The Asan Forum - Understanding the Challenge from China
- East Asia Forum - China’s intimidation in the South China Sea poses an economic threat to Vietnam
- Yuen Yuen Ang - Foreign Affairs - Why Authoritarian Capitalism Works in China—for Now
- Bertil Lintner - Asia Times - How China gets what it wants in Myanmar
- AFP- 'Eradicate the tumours': Chinese civilians drive Xinjiang crackdown
- WSJ - China Guards Its Historical Heroes With New Law
- SupChina - ‘Make Americans call us daddy’: Nationalist Chinese rap provokes Penn State CSSA response
- Bloomberg - How Blackstone Became China’s Real Estate Connection
- South China Morning Post - Top Shanghai academic’s sacking the latest to be censored in China’s #MeToo saga
- Samm Sacks - Center for Strategic and International Studies - What the Facebook Scandal Means in a Land without Facebook: A Look at China’s Burgeoning Data Protection Regime
- South China Morning Post - Chinese tourists killed in North Korea bus crash were on ‘red tour’ marking Communist Party’s Korean war role. Kim Jong Un saw off the bodies onto the train back to China. Video--在朝遇难中国游客遗体和伤员送返国内 金正恩亲自送行
- Recent issues of my Sinocism China Newsletter