November 24 – Dec. 1
https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-11-21/beijing-to-judge-every-resident-based-on-behavior-by-end-of-2020 Beijing moves to set up “social credit” system to grade 22 million inhabitants and guide their social behavior. Middle class Americans will be repelled, but questions of the relationship of the state to the behavior of the citizens are not confined to China.
https://www.caixinglobal.com/2018-11-26/fujian-chemical-spill-was-10-times-larger-than-initially-reported-101352056.html?rkey=4jojc%2BU9DvsCMaCKnsLR6vFL%2FE7ci4pKoHeveKe%2FdTwU53yHOHXxXg%3D%3D&cxg=web&Sfrom=twitter More on the Fujian environmental mishap. Reminds us: no word of the tanker carrying petroleum distillate that went down in the East China sea months ago.
https://beta.scmp.com/news/china/society/article/2175006/chinese-city-swallowed-ferocious-sandstorm-creates-blizzard An incredible account of a sandstorm “swallowing” a city in Gansu. Illustrations are breathtaking.
https://chinarrative.substack.com/p/father-was-his-gentlest-on-road-to?utm_campaign=post&utm_medium=web&utm_source=twitter This is a powerfully moving article, with multiple ambiguous overtones indicative of the complexity of Sino-American relations today. Your editor believes that it can be read “straight,” for its content and the light it sheds on the reality of social tragedy and redemption in a China that many Westerners seldom see.
This article makes no bones about portraying a single Chinese company, Alibaba, in a positive light for its efforts at social betterment. Is this free “advertising” for Ali? We recommend just taking the article at face value.
Then there’s the questions of whether Americans cling to the vision of China as a charity case, and “love China” because they can sympathize with China’s misfortunes or try to “help” the needy Chinese. Most of that historic baggage has been lost with China’s rise. Again, we feel that the article should be taken “straight,” and that it’s o.k. to feel sympathy, and empathy, with the people it describes, even if the prevailing American discourse these days is one of fear and even repulsion.
http://www.sixthtone.com/news/1003252/chinas-aging-migrant-workers-are-facing-a-return-to-poverty Another reminder that there are those in China who are producing, in English for foreign readers, very well done and often powerful stories about life in China and the complexities and hardships that many people face there. As the headline stories deteriorate in both countries, Your Editor hopes that readers will continue to search, and read, more widely about contemporary China.
SPECIAL THIS WEEK
https://www.bloomberg.com/opinion/articles/2018-11-27/taiwan-s-2018-election-result-shows-smarter-chinese-influence?utm_content=business&utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=social&cmpid=socialflow-twitter-business&utm_campaign=socialflow-organic Journalist and author Richard McGregor on the recent Taiwan local elections, in which the DPP did miserably and the KMT rose from the dead. Analyses Beijing’s grass-roots “influence operations” on Taiwan.
https://www.wsj.com/articles/u-s-china-exploring-deal-to-ease-trade-tensions-1543508589?mod=djemalertNEWS In the day-to-day, breathless and largely engineered media feast leading to the Trump-Xi Episode in Buenos Aires, today’s report, from the very reputable WSJ team, hints at the possibility of a “deal” involving postponement of more US tariffs in return for talks on modifications of the “architecture” of US-China economic relations. The heavy breathing of the past ten days (every think tank, every major media outlet with a new analysis) mirrors the run-up to, for example, the Trump-Kim Jung Un meeting in Singapore earlier in the year. This story is, in fact, a miserable indictment of the process of American policy making on China. No two ways about it.
https://www.wsj.com/articles/scholars-warn-of-chinese-influence-operations-in-u-s-1543449490 A massive new report on PRC “influence operations” in the United States, just released by the Hoover Institution and the Asia Society’s China Center, with a long list of distinguished “Working Group” members (only one of whom is of Chinese extraction) from the academic and policy communities. Will cause many ripples, especially when taken with arguments like Ely Ratners (below) that dealing with China threat now represents a good way of achieving bipartisan cooperation in US domestic politics. (This comment is NOT about the content of the new report itself.)
https://www.wsj.com/articles/scholars-warn-of-chinese-influence-operations-in-u-s-1543449490 A restrained and relatively well-balanced news item regarding the Report discussed in the preceding item.
https://www.lowyinstitute.org/the-interpreter/debate/us-leadership-asia A long and continuing dialogue between Ely Ratner of the U.S. and Hugh White of Australia about the growing US-China strategic confrontation in the Pacific region. This site shows all segments to date, so one might start with the most recent, Hugh White’s piece on what the US would have to do to “deter” China from its present course in the Pacific.
https://www.lawfareblog.com/end-us-naval-dominance-asia Sober and blunt analysis of the emerging decline of U.S. naval dominance in the Pacific, by a respected U.S. scholar of Sino-American strategic relations, Robert Ross.
https://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/china/2018-11-27/there-no-grand-bargain-china Ely Ratner, formerly Biden’s top foreign policy advisor, concluded in a memorable Foreign Affairs article a year or so ago (with Kurt Campbell) that the American “China establishment” had fundamentally mis-read China from the 1970s on, and accepted his own culpability for that mistake. Now in this new Foreign Affairs piece he argues bluntly that the US and China have such different aims in Asia that no Trump-Xi “deal” or other “meet halfway” alternatives are feasible, and certainly not in Buenos Aires this week.
https://www.wsj.com/articles/transcript-of-president-trumps-interview-with-the-wall-street-journal-1543272091 MUST READ. A genuine, unscripted phone call between Trump and WSJ’s Bob Davis, one of the best US journalists on China and US-China relations. Most of the transcript focused on China, but read the whole thing; the ending is delightful.
https://www.wsj.com/articles/u-s-china-trade-fight-risks-fragmenting-global-market-says-beijings-ambassador-to-the-u-s-1543228321 Ambassador Cui Tiankai’s blunt-spoken interview with WSJ on the eve of the Xi-Trump meeting in Buenos Aires.
https://www.bloomberg.com/opinion/articles/2018-11-28/gm-needs-china-more-than-it-fears-donald-trump?cmpid=socialflow-twitter-business&utm_campaign=socialflow-organic&utm_content=business&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter GM in China.
https://www.brookings.edu/blog/order-from-chaos/2018/11/26/trade-deal-or-not-the-long-range-prospects-for-us-china-relations-are-growing-more-troubling/?utm_campaign=John%20L.%20Thornton%20China%20Center&utm_source=hs_email&utm_medium=email&utm_content=67876202 Brookings’s Ryan Hass on the larger problems in the relationship, trade deal or no.
https://beta.scmp.com/economy/china-economy/article/2175853/china-warned-prepare-lengthy-trade-war-us Down and down. Prominent PRC econ. advisor predicts long grinding geo-economic conflict with US, regardless of Trump-Xi meeting, argues China will ultimately triumph.
https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/trump-loves-big-deals-but-lets-not-hold-our-breath-for-one-with-china-at-the-g-20/2018/11/29/f9440f8c-f41a-11e8-aeea-b85fd44449f5_story.html?utm_term=.713788e42353&wpisrc=nl_opinions&wpmm=1 As US-China troubles filter out into the general, non-specialist journalism sector, this piece by a WaPo columnist who writes on a lot of things is, actually, quite good.
https://beta.scmp.com/news/china/diplomacy/article/2175692/china-wants-academics-and-think-tank-members-help-defuse PRC floundering around, trying to figure out how to connect with right-wing US think tanks now that the political atmosphere and the list of “influential” thinkers is in flux in Washington.