January 14-January 20, 2019

China’s Reaction to Recent Huawei Incidents

Front-page coverage of Huawei incident by the Global Times (环球时报) — Chinese government’s popular mouthpiece with focus on international issues — suggests the country’s close attention to the recent U.S. criminal charges against Huawei. The article filled the front page condemning the nature of U.S. DoJ’s (Department of Justice) decision to file two charges against Huawei unlawful and political. Huawei was recently charged and investigated for stealing technology from an American telecommunication firm T-mobile, and its Chief Financial Officer (CFO), Meng Wanzhou, was also arrested for violating state sanctions by doing underhand business with sanctioned Iran. The Chinese journalists said both the allegations lacked evidence and were an attempt to blemish the company’s public image to keep its influence in U.S. in check. Another featured and widely read editorial on the Global Times website also claimed the arrest was a calculated political move by the United States to suppress the rise of China and its rapid technological advancement. These disapproving depictions of Huawei incidents on one of the most widely read state newspapers in China suggest a soured relationship between the two governments, and possibly leave much of the Chinese public feeling aggrieved at the incident. [Global Times]

Xi Jinping Builds a New City Near Beijing

Xi Jinping’s seeming uninteresting visit to a newly developing city called Xiong’an headlined China’s most influential official newspaper, People’s Daily, for two consecutive days. Hoping to alleviate the over-concentrated infrastructures, population and developments in China’s capital, Beijing, Xi made special visit to oversee the construction of a new city, Xiong’an, that sits just 100km southwest of the capital. This budding city is being developed as part of Xi’s ambitious development scheme to transfer “non-capital functions” (非首都功能) — unessential infrastructure for China’s capital such as manufacturing factories, logistical bases, administrative buildings, excessive educational and medical facilities — from overpopulated and overburdened Beijing to new cities in vicinity. This grand scheme, called “Coordinated Development Scheme for the Beijing-Tian’jin-He’bei Region (京津冀协同发展)”, came under the national spotlight again since its passing in 2015, as Xi delivered a long speech at the national forum stressing the importance of this new city. Xi’s close attention to the development and construction of the new cities warrants his continued commitment to this development scheme in the coming years, and signals a possibility of his adopting economic policies that are conducive to attracting investments from both domestic and foreign firms. []

January 21-January 27, 2019

Can China End the Trade War in an Upcoming Talk with U.S.?

The Global Times — a popular Chinese state newspaper with focus on international issues — expressed optimism that a trade agreement might finally be reached in an upcoming meeting (tentative) between China and U.S. In a softened tone, the newspaper claimed President Trump and his administration are now very hopeful for holding a trade talk with China before March 1st, and the Chinese journalists attributed Trump’s sudden turn from hard line attitude to his strategic needs “to ease the domestic situations — the political tension resulting from the prolonged U.S. government shutdown and the economic tension in U.S. market due to trade war”. This major state news media again brought up the issue as it updated the prospect of the trade meeting on its headline two days later, refuting the rumor of cancelled trade talk with U.S.— a day after the Financial Times reported Trump’s cancellation of the preparatory talk scheduled with two Chinese vice-ministers between January 21st to 25th. It then assured that an “important” trade talk will be held on January 30th and 31st between China’s vice-premier, Liu He, and Robert Lighthizer, the U.S. trade representative. However, the newspaper was seen subtly switching the wording and relegating what it previously described as the main, high-level “important trade talk” with Liu He down to a level of “preparatory talk” in the later report, quietly sweeping the cancellation of “preparatory talk” with two Chinese vice-ministers under the rug. [Global Times]

China’s State Propaganda Harnessed on Trendy Media Platforms

In a monthly group meeting of Xi Jinping’s elite Politburo members, the top twenty-five leaders of Chinese Communist Party, and the media experts of People’s Daily— China’s most important state news agency, Xi articulated the needs to integrate the traditional state news media with modern and trendy types of media to better propagate and permeate the Party’s ideological guidance to the people, especially the youth that prefers accessing electronic and trendy-looking media sources. The group meeting, called the Session of Politburo Group Study (中共中央政治局集体学习) was first initiated in 2002 to educate the Politburo members about a wide array of issues related to the changing political agendas of the Chinese Communist Party, by taking short lessons from the prestigious scholars and experts of the field. Since the passing of relevant national decision in 2014 to refine traditional news media to more trendy state propaganda channels, China’s major state-owned medias such as People’s Daily(人民日报) and Xinhua News Agency (新华社) developed numerous political propaganda channels that better attract the digital generations — such as People Daily’s “Why So Serious With Politics and Economics (一本政经)” and “Spicy Economics and Finance” (麻辣财经). Xinhua even opened its account, called “New China”, on global media platforms, such as YouTube, Facebook and Instagram, that are blocked in China. Seeing these unconventional changes in China’s sternest state medias, one could expect many more new and trendy forms of state medias and ideological propaganda to follow the suit. []