Happy Friday! China has been on holiday since Wednesday in celebration of International Worker's Day. Everyone will be back to work by Monday.
Thanks for reading.
An audience watches a short film about the May 4th Movement at The Great Hall Of The People on April 30 in Beijing. Photo: Andrea Verdelli/Getty Images
Tomorrow is the 100th anniversary of the May 4th Movement, which sparked the rise of many radical Chinese political and social leaders, and is one of the sensitive events this year that has the PRC government locking things down even more tightly than normal.
Why it matters: At the same time, the Party, which controls the official history of the movement, is again trying to harness the legacy of May 4 for its own goals.
On Tuesday, the Party convened a gathering at the anniversary at which Xi Jinping urged patriotism among youth, striving for brighter China (Xinhua):
The essence of patriotism is having unified love for the country, the Party and socialism, Xi added, urging young Chinese to follow the instructions and guidance of the Party, and remain dedicated to the country and the people.
Young people are also urged to establish belief in Marxism, faith in socialism with Chinese characteristics, as well as confidence in the Chinese Dream of national rejuvenation...
In the new era, the theme and direction of Chinese youth movement and the mission of Chinese young people, Xi said, are to uphold the leadership of the CPC, and work along with the people to realize the two centenary goals and the Chinese Dream of national rejuvenation.
My thought bubble: Be wary of underestimating how many believe in the patriotic and increasingly jingoistic propaganda and Xi's repeated claims that China is closer than it has ever been to national rejuvenation, or of how many sycophants and opportunists there are in a country as large as China who see safety and opportunity in embracing the Party line.
Speculation is again building that the U.S. and China are on the verge of a trade deal. USTR head Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary were in Beijing earlier this week, and Liu He is leading a large delegation to Washington next week.
Between the lines: There is so much noise about the talks, it does seem the two sides are closer to a deal, but it is by no means done.
What we're hearing: The PRC side, at least, is starting to plan for a possible mid-June state visit by Xi to the U.S. to seal a deal.
One thing to watch: Frontline's "The inside story of President Trump’s gamble to confront China over trade," airing on May 7, with a cameo by yours truly.
The Pentagon is required by Congress to issue a report on China's military power annually. The 2019 version came out Thursday. The excutive summary states China's strategy as:
Over the coming decades, they are focused on realizing a powerful and prosperous China that is equipped with a “world-class” military, securing China’s status as a great power with the aim of emerging as the preeminent power in the Indo-Pacific region.
This year's report included sections on influence operations and China in the Arctic. From the summary of the influence operations section:
A cornerstone of China’s strategy includes appealing to overseas Chinese citizens or ethnic Chinese citizens of other countries to advance CCP objectives through soft power or, sometimes, coercion and blackmail. Furthermore, China harnesses academia and educational institutions, think tanks, and state-run media to advance China’s security interests.
China’s foreign influence activities are [predominantly] focused on establishing and maintaining power brokers within a foreign government to promote policies that China believes will facilitate China’s rise.
Why it matters: The trade negotiations are one of the easier aspects of U.S.-China relations, and this report is another reminder that even if there is a trade deal, the broader relationship will only feature intensifying strategic competition.
From Mike Allen's must-read Axios AM (sign up here):
Why it matters: "Silicon Valley is awash in Chinese and Saudi cash."
From Joe Uchill's excellent Axios Codebook newsletter (sign up here):
Bloomberg reported Tuesday that Vodafone's Italian division had discovered "backdoors" in its Huawei-brand telecommunications equipment in 2011 and 2012.
But, but, but: The story did not play well in the security community, where the evidence is seen as insufficient of the central claims. It didn't make a strong case that the "backdoor" was anything more than a minor, unintentional problem. Vodafone's official stance was it wasn't.
Here's what actually happened: The story was based on internal memos leaked to Bloomberg.
To be clear: This chain of events is common for manufacturers. It's hard to make the leap to claiming this was a backdoor based on the story.
However: Bloomberg may not have given the full account of the technical reasoning that the Telnet issue was intentional.
According to Zanero, the following was left out of the story:
The bottom line: It still isn't a smoking gun. Even with Zanero's elaborations, to most of the security community, this has read like Vodafone employees attributing malice to incompetence.
Human Rights Watch reverse engineered an app by police and officials in Xinjiang, and on Thursday released a report and video on what they found:
This report provides a detailed description and analysis of a mobile app that police and other officials use to communicate with the Integrated Joint Operations Platform (IJOP, 一体化联合作战平台), one of the main systems Chinese authorities use for mass surveillance in Xinjiang ...
Authorities are collecting massive amounts of personal information — from the color of a person’s car to their height down to the precise centimeter — and feeding it into the IJOP central system, linking that data to the person’s national identification card number...
Xinjiang authorities consider many forms of lawful, everyday, non-violent behavior—such as “not socializing with neighbors, often avoiding using the front door” — as suspicious.
The app also labels the use of 51 network tools as suspicious, including many Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) and encrypted communication tools, such as WhatsApp and Viber.
Read the report and watch the video here.
The New York Times - Admissions Scandal: When ‘Hard Work’ (Plus $6.5 Million) Helps Get You Into Stanford
Reuters - U.S. seeks to challenge China's electric-vehicle supply chain dominance
South China Morning Post - Why China dropped its opposition to UN blacklisting of Pakistan-based terror chief Masood Azhar
The Guardian - 'Stand together': support surges in China for student accusing JD.com tycoon of rape
PingWest - Pinduoduo, the Fast-Growing Ecommerce Firm, Unobtrusively Encourages Simulated Trading: An Investigation
Variety - ‘Avengers: Endgame’ Crowned Top Foreign Title of All Time in China
WIRED UK - Airbnb listings in China are littered with racist discrimination
MacroPolo - Mao Redux: The Enduring Relevance of Self-Reliance in China
China Channel - Searching for Bodies
USA Today - Jawbone of prehistoric human 'cousin' Denisovan discovered in Tibet
What's on Weibo - "Be as Good as Your Word": The Chinese Social Credit Song is Here
This week's issues of my Sinocism China Newsletter