Asia Communique

Xi to promote "common prosperity" — Wang Yang in Lhasa — Asia Communique is evolving!

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China over the week

Xi Jinping spelt out his vision for promoting “common prosperity”. Xi presided over the meeting of the Central Finance and Economics Committee on August 17. “It is necessary to adhere to the people-centred development concept and promote common prosperity in high-quality development,” Xi Jinping said at the meeting.

“While it remains unclear how exactly the government will go about achieving that objective, it does seem fairly certain that Beijing will be undertaking a campaign of wealth redistribution in which taxes increase for the rich so that more can be provided to the poor,” reported Bloomberg.

“President Xi Jinping has underlined the importance of promoting the common prosperity of all ethnic groups across the country and called for efforts to enhance prosperity and stability in border areas”, reported China Daily.

China passed a personal data protection law on August 20. “Lawmakers approved the law at the closing meeting of a regular legislative session of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, which started Tuesday”, reported Xinhua.

According to South China Morning Post (SCMP), the law will be one of the toughest data protection laws in the world. The law would make access to personal data difficult and expensive for tech companies in China. Here is an unofficial translation of the personal information protection law.

The personal information protection law suggests the crackdown on technology companies will continue for the foreseeable future. The regulators will set up institutions that will check data privacy violations.

‘Though the new privacy rules could allow China’s central government to control how lower-level agencies use and share data, nothing suggests “anything resembling legal limits on government surveillance,”’ Karman Lucero, a fellow at the Yale Law School Paul Tsai China Center, told Wall Street Journal.

Wang Yang, a member of the Standing Committee of the Politburo, was in Lhasa for a four-day visit on the occasion of the 70th anniversary of Tibet's so-called “peaceful liberation”.

Wang Yang was accompanied to Lhasa by You Quan, Padma Choling and Zhang Qingli. The high-powered central delegation was in the planning for the past weeks. The Potala Palace administration issued a notice about the closure of the palace site.

You Quan is secretary of the Secretariat of the CPC Central Committee and head of the United Front Work Department of the Central Committee.

The other officials who accompanied Wang Yang represented the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress and the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference.

“The transportation map of the country is like a painting. The central, eastern, and northeastern regions of China are all painted well with fine brushwork. The white space in the western part is too large,” Xi Jinping is said to have remarked during his recent train ride from Nyingchi to Lhasa.

On August 18, China Huarong Asset Management said they would receive a bailout from Citic Group, the state-owned bad-debt buyer. “For years, Beijing looked the other way as companies like Huarong borrowed heavily to expand,” said NYT. In 2020, Huarong announced $15.9 billion in a net loss. Huarong’s bailout challenges the narrative that there are no too big to fail companies in China.

“Mr Ma failed to keep pace with Beijing’s shifting views and lost an appreciation for the risks of falling out of step, according to people who know him. He tuned out warnings for years, they said. He behaved too much like an American entrepreneur,” wrote Keith Zhai, Lingling Wei and JingYang in Wall Street Journal. Jack Ma’s Costliest Business Lesson: China Has Only One Leader is a profile of Jack Ma on what led to his falling with the CCP in WSJ.

“China will set up new central government-owned conglomerates focusing on strategic emerging industries at an appropriate time, the State Assets Supervision and Administration Commission (SASAC) said on Thursday,” reported Reuters.

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang was in Henan province’s Zhengzhou city to examine the rehabilitation work after the recent devasting floods.

“This accident had a huge impact on society … [We should] seek truth from facts and conduct a thorough investigation,” Li told local officials, according to SCMP.

Zhou Jiangyong, a party secretary of Hangzhou city in Zhejiang Province, is being investigated for “suspected serious violations of Party discipline and laws,” said China’s anti-corruption watchdog. “He is the first secretary of the municipal party committee of Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province to be dismissed since the 1980s”, according to China Daily.

China in world news

President Biden is preparing to nominate veteran diplomat Nicholas Burns as the next ambassador to China. “Mr Burns will face Senate confirmation as the Biden administration has sought to rally allies to counter China’s economic and military presence around the globe”, reported Wall Street Journal.

CGTN has resumed the broadcast in the UK. The Chinese state media broadcaster was banned in the UK for violating the rules of OFCOM.

“China dreams of emulating the Taliban, but let me be blunt: We've got the will & means to defend ourselves,” Taiwan's foreign minister Joseph Wu said on Saturday.

“China is a big country with a huge economy and capacity - I think they can play a very big role in the rebuilding, rehabilitation, reconstruction of Afghanistan,” Shaheen told CGTN television in an interview late on Thursday.

As the hearing portion of the Meng Wanzhou extradition case wrapped up in British Columbia, the Chinese state media called on Canada to release her. Global Times launched a petition to pressure the Canadian government to release Meng.

Xinhua and other outlets published several commentaries on the Meng case. “Canada, let go,” said a headline of an op-ed in Xinhua.

‘Four Taliban staff came to the Xinhua News Agency’s Kabul branch in the morning on the 17th to check the documentation of the bureau. Before leaving, they also told the bureau staff that “you must go to work normally”,’ reported Xinhua.

“The international community should fully respect the independence and sovereignty of Afghanistan and the will of its people, conduct more dialogue and provide more guidance, refrain from a predetermined mindset and exceeding one's duties to meddle in others' affairs, and not turn Afghanistan into an arena of geopolitical games,” said Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi in a statement after speaking to UK’s Dominic Raab.

“According to the International Panel on Fissile Materials, as of April, China had approximately 14 tons of weapons-grade highly enriched uranium and approximately 2.9 tons of military-grade plutonium,” wrote Malcolm Davis.

China insists its zero-Covid strategy is correct. Challenging it can be dangerous — CNN

China Aims Its Propaganda Firehose at the BBC — Wired

Social Talk

A post with a clip by People’s Daily about the Taliban overtake of power in Kabul set off a backlash on Chinese social media. "‘At 3 PM Beijing time, the People’s Daily issued a post titled, “What Kind of Organization is the Taliban” (塔利班是什么组织) in which it briefly described the origins and development of the organization. The post suggested the Taliban had arisen as a group comprising “students in refugee camps”’ reported China Media Project. The post was eventually deleted on Weibo.

The post ranked as the fifth top trend before the post was deleted.

‘A post on the WeChat blog Philosophia asking "Is Taleban the choice of the Afghanistan people?" was read more than 100,000 times and widely shared on social media platforms before it was censored on Thursday’, reported Bloomberg.

“Na Ying exists the live recording of The Voice of China” was a top trend on Weibo. Na Ying is a judge of a reality singing show called The Voice of China. Na Yin is one of the central attractions of the show. The hashtag was viewed 350 million times.

Experts this week

“What needs to be pointed out is that the occupation of Afghanistan by the United States and its allied forces has ended, but the trouble it brought to Afghanistan has not ended, and it is still creating new turbulence in the region,” wrote Jin Feng, a researcher of Shanghai International Studies University.

“Third, Southeast Asian countries do not want to choose sides between China and the US or help the US to contain China's rise, because by doing so they will hurt their own interests,” wrote Jia Chunyang, assistant researcher of US studies with China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations.

India in China

An article published by SCMP about India’s construction activity close to the Line of Actual Control received attention on Chinese social media.

“An Indian journalist wrote an article to disclose: India is close to the Sino-Indian border, and hundreds of workers have flocked to the ‘Roof of the World’” said the title of the article that was published by various Chinese media websites.

“India is making big infrastructure projects near the China-India border” began trending on Weibo late on Sunday.

Hundreds of workers flock to ‘roof of the world’ as India pushes infrastructure near China border — SCMP

Business Street

Chinese AI startup SenseTime to file for Hong Kong IPO by end-August — Reuters

Baidu’s $1bn bond draws strong demand despite China tech crackdown — Financial Times

Podworld

The start of modern Sino-Japanese relations — China Stories (Sinica)

Decoding Chinese technology policy, with Lotus Ruan — NüVoices

Historian Adam Tooze on why China’s modern history should matter to Americans — Sup China

Upcoming Watch

On Monday, Beijing officials will lead a delegation to Hong Kong to brief local officials about China’s latest five-year economic plan.

US Vice President Kamala Harris is on a trip to Southeast Asia this week. Harris will visit Singapore and Vietnam during the four-day visit. Strengthening alliances and China will be the focus of Harris’ visit.