A Fortnight of Links (January 2021)

Law experts pan High Court ruling on retired general
(Taipei Times, 1/14/2021, Jason Pan)

U.S. Issues Total Ban on Xinjiang Cotton and Tomatoes
(China Digital Times, 1/13/2021, John Chan)

Disappointing Chinese Vaccine Results Pose Setback for Developing World
(NYT, published 1/13/2021, updated 1/15/2021, Sui-Lee Wee and Ernesto Londoño)

New Rules Would Punish Firms for Complying With U.S. Sanctions
(China Digital Times, 1/12/2021, John Chan)

The China Dashboard – Winter 2021
(Rhodium Group, 1/12/2021, Daniel H. Rosen and Lauren Gloudeman)

Pompeo voids restrictions on diplomatic contacts with Taiwan
(AP, 1/9/2021, Kevin Freking)

Communist Hong Kong: China taunts the world as it arrests the entire democratic opposition
(WSJ, 1/8/2021, The Editorial Board)

NCC orders phone recall over malware
(Taipei Times, 1/7/2021, Shelley Shan)

Hong Kong police raid office of primary election co-organisers PORI, but voter data ‘physically crushed’, says deputy
(HKFP, 1/6/2021, Selina Cheng)

Dozens of Hong Kong opposition figures arrested under national security law
(CNN, 1/6/2021, James Griffiths and Jadyn Sham)

American lawyer arrested by HK police in national security crackdown
(Reuters, 1/5/2021, Reuters Staff)

TSMC to build advanced IC packaging, testing plant in Japan: report
(Focus Taiwan – CNA, 1/5/2021, Chang Chien-chung and Frances Huang)

Facial Recognition And Beyond: Journalist Ventures Inside China’s ‘Surveillance State’
(NPR, 1/5/2021, Fresh Air: Dave Davies interview with Kai Strittmatter)

Taiwan says Chinese jets made record 380 incursions in 2020
(AFP via Channel News Asia, 1/5/2021)

I have no role in national security: commissioner
(RTHK, 1/4/2021)

China’s Belt and Road: Down but not Out
(Rhodium Group, 1/4/2021, Matthew Mingey and Agatha Kratz)

Noteworthy Links (December 2020)

Hong Kong’s top court revokes bail for Jimmy Lai
(Apple Daily, 12/31/2020)

The world next innovations depend on a single country, Taiwan
(Eric Khun, 12/31/2020)

Shenzhen detainees jailed for up to three years
(RTHK, 12/30/2020)

China drops 76ers broadcasts as Hong Kong row rumbles on
(Japan Times, 12/29/2020)

Trump approves provisions for Taiwan Assurance Act
(Radio Taiwan International – RTI, 12/28/2020, Shirley Lin)

Water Wars: Flirting in the Taiwan Strait
(lawfare, 12/23/2020, Sam Cohen)

Hong Kong media tycoon Jimmy Lai granted bail
(AP, 12/23/2020, Zen Soo)

US warns against travel to HK, cites security law
(RTHK, 12/18/2020)

China Escalates Trade War With Australian Coal Ban, Despite Shortages
(China Digital Times, 12/17/2020, John Chan)

‘Beijing’s Plan to Export Revolution Hasn’t Changed’: Ching Cheong
(Radio Free Asia, 12/17/2020, Chan Chun-ho, translated by Luisetta Mudie)

Competition With China Could Be Short and Sharp: The Risk of War Is Greatest in the Next Decade
(Foreign Affairs, 12/17/2020, Michael Beckley and Hal Brands)

Belt and Road Initiative Takes New Path as State Funding Declines
(China Digital Times, 12/16/2020, Joseph Brouwer)

Why Taiwan Can Feel at Ease with Joe Biden as U.S. President
(RAND, 12/15/2020, Derek Grossman)

Coercive Labor in Xinjiang: Labor Transfer and the Mobilization of Ethnic Minorities to Pick Cotton
(Center for Global Policy, 12/14/2020, Adrian Zenz)

China’s Combative Nationalists See a World Turning Their Way
(New York Times, 12/14/2020, Chris Buckley)

China plays the sanctions game, anticipating a bad US habit
(Peterson Institute, 12/14/2020, Gary Clyde Hufbauer and Euijin Jung)

Pound for Pound, Taiwan Is the Most Important Place in the World
(New York Times, 12/14/2020, Ruchir Sharma)

China’s tiny Jewish community in fear as Beijing erases its history
(The Telegraph, 12/13/2020, Sophia Yan)

Hong Kong pro-democracy media mogul Jimmy Lai faces national security charge, bail denied as prosecution cites tweets
(AFP in HKFP, 12/12/2020)

China has politics too: Xi Jinping prepares for make-or-break decade
(Axios, 12/11/2020, Kevin Rudd)

China Authorities Detain Bloomberg News Beijing Staff Member
(Bloomberg, 12/11/2020, Reto Gregori and Madeleine Lim)

Hong Kong rebel media tycoon Jimmy Lai becomes most prominent person charged under national security law
(ABC News, 12/11/2020, Britt Clennett and Karson Yiu)

Hong Kong media tycoon Jimmy Lai charged under national security law
(Reuters, 12/11/2020)

Taiwanese-American tipped for US trade post
(Taipei Times, 12/11/2020, Kayleigh Madjar)

China launches ‘gray-zone’ warfare to subdue Taiwan
(Reuters, 12/10/2020, Yimou Lee, David Lague, and Ben Blanchard)

How China’s Communist Party trains foreign politicians
(The Economist, 12/20/2020, “Exporting Xi Jinping thought”)

With Account Freezes and Sanctions, Financial Bodies Become Hot Front in Hong Kong Turmoil
(China Digital Times, 12/8/2020, John Chan)

Hong Kong police arrest 8 more opposition figures, inc. ‘Long Hair’, Eddie Chu, Figo Chan, Wu Chi-wai
(HKFP, 12/8/2020, Rachel Wong)

How Ping An, an insurer, became a fintech super-app
(The Economist, 12/3/2020, “Ping An: Metamorphosis”)

How China’s bullying could backfire
(The Economist, 12/3/2020, Chaguan)

Pro-democracy politician Ted Hui announces his exile from Hong Kong
(Apple Daily, 12/3/2020)

Hong Kong pro-democracy tycoon Jimmy Lai detained for fraud
(BBC, 12/3/2020)

Hong Kong activists Joshua Wong, Agnes Chow & Ivan Lam jailed over 2019 ‘unauthorised assembly’
(HKFP, 12/2/2020, Kelly Ho)

The Slow Death of China’s Dialects
(The McGill International Review, 2019, Wing Wong)

Noteworthy Links (November 2020)

Major Brands Lobby to “Water Down” Xinjiang Forced Labor Bill
(China Digital Times, 11/30/2020, John Chan)

China sanctions leaders of US groups over Hong Kong actions
(AP, 11/30/2020)

Taiwan’s GlobalWafers in talks to buy German peer for $4.5bn
(Nikkei Asia, 11/30/2020, Cheng Ting-fang)

Two Chinese warplanes intrude into Taiwan’s ADIZ
(Taiwan News, 11/28/2020, Matthew Strong)

The first lesson of doing business in China: the state comes first
(The Economist, 11/28/2020, Chaguan)

Public order in Singapore has been shaken by a hand-drawn smiley face
(The Economist, 11/28/2020, “Crime in Singapore: A city reels”)

As China’s power waxes, the West’s study of it is waning
(The Economist, 11/28/2020, “China Studies: Barriers to Sinology”)

Lawmakers throw pig guts, punches on Taiwan parliament floor
(AP, 11/27/2020)

Australia Feeling the Force of China’s Escalating Trade War
(China Digital Times, 11/27/2020, John Chan)

Twelve Hong Kong fugitives to face prosecution in China after three months in detention
(HKFP, 11/27/2020, Kelly Ho)

Man jailed for 21 months for throwing eggs at police
(RTHK, 11/26/2020, Maggie Ho)

Beijing confirms jail sentence for Taiwanese professor
(Focus Taiwan, 11/25/2020, Lawrence Chiu and Chiang Yi-ching)

Blinken to value Taiwan’s positive role in world affairs: Paal
(Focus Taiwan, 11/25/2020, Stacy Hsu and Chiang Yi-ching)

China’s authorities issue gag order about virus to doctors in Wuhan
(Kyodo News, 11/25/2020)

Guaranteed Government Bailouts: Is The End Nigh?
(macropolo.org, 11/24/2020, Houze Song)

Taiwan to protect sovereignty with new submarines amid China tensions
(Reuters, 11/24/2020, Ann Wang)

China’s Surveillance Infrastructure Powered by U.S. Tech
(China Digital Times, 11/23/2020, John Chan)

Joshua Wong, Agnes Chow remanded in custody
(RTHK, 11/23/2020, Francis Sit)

Malicious Tip-Offs Stifle Academic Freedom in China, Analysts Say
(VOA, 11/20/2020, Dahai Han)

China Signs World’s Biggest Trade Deal, Encompasses 30% of Global Economy
(China Banking News, 11/15/2020)

Hong Kong pro-democracy legislators hand in resignations
(Associated Press – AP, 11/12/2020, Zen Soo)

Hong Kong opposition lawmakers all quit after four members ousted
(The Guardian, 11/11/2020, Lily Kuo and Helen Davidson)

HK Chief Executive Fires Four Legislators, Prompting Resignation of Entire Opposition
(China Digital Times, 11/11/2020, John Chan)

Xi Jinping’s Strength Is China’s Weakness
(New York Times, 11/9/2020, Richard McGregor)

Switzerland of Asia: Singapore increases presence as tech hub
(Nikkei Asia, 11/5/2020, Mercedes Ruehl)

Hong Kong: People invited to snitch on their neighbours
(BBC, 11/5/2020)

2020 Forbes China Rich List Members See 64% Wealth Boom During COVID-19 Pandemic
(China Banking News, 11/5/2020)

Derailing of Jack Ma’s Ant IPO Shows Xi Jinping’s in Charge
(Bloomberg, 11/4/2020, Enda Curran, Sofia Horta e Costa and Lulu Yilun Chen)

Beijing Resists Pressure to Investigate Origins of COVID-19
(China Digital Times, 11/4/2020, John Chan)

Chinese Authorities Stop Ant Group IPO, Stunning Observers
(China Digital Times, 11/3/2020, Joseph Brouwer)

Noteworthy Links (October 2020)

A Plenum, a Plan… and a Paramount Leader?
(China Digital Times, 10/29/2020, Joseph Brouwer)

What to Expect from China’s New Five-Year Plan
(Rhodium Group, 10/26/2020, Vincent Zhu)

China Wants a Baby Boom. Its Parents Aren’t Interested
(Sixth Tone, 10/24/2020, Wang Lianzhang)

China’s Top Finance Regulators Send Raft of Policy Signals at 2020 Financial Street Forum
(China Banking News, 10/22/2020)

As China recovers from the pandemic, will zombie firms return?
(Peterson Institute for International Economics, China Economic Watch, 10/21/2020, Tianlei Huang)

CCTV Airs Disappeared Taiwan Citizens’ Confessions, War Games
(China Digital Times, 10/15/2020, Joseph Brouwer)

5 takeaways from Xi Jinping’s speech during 40th anniversary visit to Shenzhen
(South China Morning Post, 10/14/2020, Holly Chik)

Behind Xi Jinping’s Steely Façade, a Leadership Crisis Is Smoldering in China
(The Diplomat, 10/9/2020, Sarah Cook)

Mixed Signals on China’s Energy Picture?

If you think understanding China’s energy future is difficult, it may not be you…

Coal on the rise in China, US, India after major 2016 drop                        (Matthew Brown and Katy Daigle, AP, 06.26.2017)

China energy demand may already have peaked: researchers
(David Stanway and Alister Doyle, Reuters, 06.30.2017)

To be fair, the AP article focuses on domestic Chinese coal production, finding:

China’s production rose more than 4 percent through May, according to government figures, compared to a drop of more than 8 percent for the same period a year earlier.

while the Reuters article focuses on China’s total energy consumption, noting that, according to a study by the China Academy of Social Sciences (CASS):

China’s total energy consumption is expected to fall to the equivalent of 4 billion tonnes of standard coal in 2020, which would represent a decline of 8 percent from last year.

The Reuters article also quotes Qiang Liu, director of CASS’s Institute of Quantitative and Technical Economics, as saying:

“(Peak demand) could be this year or next year”

Of course, the Reuters article goes on to say:

The CASS study suggests Beijing is cutting coal use far faster than expected

which does bring the subject of coal directly into the article, at least in terms of consumption, if not production.

Perhaps CASS is just wrong?

As Reuters notes, the study comes weeks after President Trump decided to quit the Paris agreement on climate change and ahead of the July 7-8 Group of 20 summit in Hamburg, Germany.

Moreover, according to Reuters:

The CASS forecast contrasts with China’s 2016-2020 energy plan that said total energy use would grow around 2.5 percent a year until 2020 and a forecast by state-owned China National Petroleum Corp for energy consumption to peak by 2035.

Is there anything else that could explain the seeming divergence between trends in domestic Chinese coal production and consumption?

Perhaps.

Don’t fight China, the Federal Reserve of Coal
(Nathaniel Taplin, WSJ, 06.29.2017)

According to the Taplin article, China – far and away the world’s largest producer and user of coal – has been struggling with excess capacity at home for nearly half a decade, and:

China is now poised to curtail coal imports

in particular:

Chinese state-owned media said Wednesday that many of China’s small or midsize ports were already refusing imported coal shipments, although major ports appear to still be open.

The rationale:

State media said regulators want any benefit from its “supply side reforms” – that is supply curbs – to remain in China.  Translation: higher coal prices and profits at home, not abroad.

Now, if the decline in coal imports were large enough, it is possible that domestic coal production could increase even as overall coal consumption fell.

Is that what’s going on?  Who knows.  An increase in domestic coal production coupled with flat or declining coal consumption is also consistent with an increase in domestic coal inventories.

They say patience is a virtue; so stay tuned, and in time, maybe we’ll learn more.

 

Mixed Signals on China’s Energy Picture?