China News - 17 December 2021
This will be the final daily newsletter before we break for the festive period. It has been a busy 2021: thank you for your support and please do visit our website to catch up on policy briefs and events from throughout the year.
圣诞快乐 - see you in 2022!
New analysis: The UK's South East Asian opportunity. Charles Dunst, an adjunct fellow with the Center for Strategic and International Studies’s Southeast Asia programme, argues that South East Asian countries welcome more engagement from countries like the UK - but won’t stop engaging China. Read the paper here.
We will also be launching a new podcast series today. In the first episode, Charles will discuss his paper and the emergence of South East Asia as an economic centre and geopolitical battleground. Keep an eye out for this on our website and social media channels.
UK and Australia sign ‘world-class’ historic trade deal. The deal removes tariffs on almost all goods and will allow British firms to bid for an extra £10 billion worth of Australian public sector contracts each year. It is also seen by the UK government as a gateway into the fast-growing Indo-Pacific region and will boost the UK’s bid to join the CPTPP trading bloc. Gov.uk, Politico, 16 December
US Congress passes import ban on Chinese Uyghur region. The Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention Act will require companies to prove that goods imported from China's Xinjiang region were not produced with forced labour. It has been criticised by major companies that do business in the area, including Coca-Cola, Nike and Apple. BBC, The Guardian, 17 December
Human Rights Foundation launches new tool to raise awareness of brands linked to Uyghur forced labour. HRF, 16 December
US accuses China of developing ‘brain control weaponry’. The US commerce department has put China’s Academy of Military Medical Sciences and 11 affiliated biotechnology research institutes on an export blacklist for allegedly helping the Chinese military to develop “brain-control” weapons. FT, The Telegraph, 16 December
Senate backs Biden nominee Nicholas Burns to be ambassador to China. Biden's choice of former NATO ambassador Burns marks a shift for the role of ambassador to Beijing, a position which recently has been filled by former politicians, not seasoned diplomats. Reuters, 16 December
China-EU annual summit ‘pushed back until next year’ as trade and human rights disputes fester. Sources told the SCMP that tit-for-tat sanctions over Xinjiang and the ‘death’ of the CAI investment deal mean there is little room for the two sides to make progress in key areas. SCMP, 16 December
KPMG among businesses backing Hong Kong’s ‘patriots’ election. KPMG is one of several big businesses in Hong Kong encouraging staff to vote in what the government is billing as a “patriots-only” election for the city’s legislature, as authorities worry about low turnout in the poll. FT, 17 December
Chinese spies accused of using Huawei in secret Australia telecom hack. Bloomberg, 16 December
World coal power demand to hit new high after China, India, US surge amid rising consumption. Reuters, 17 December
Taiwan says it will seek closer economic ties with Lithuania as dispute with Beijing deepens. SCMP, 16 December
Economy & tech
Taiwan to restrict tech companies' sales of China assets. Taiwanese regulators will soon have new powers to block domestic tech companies from selling off their subsidiaries or other assets in China, the latest move by Taipei to prevent the leak of sensitive technologies, including semiconductors, to the mainland. Nikkei Asia, 15 December
Olaf Scholz sparks a China crisis for Volkswagen. The new German Chancellor’s tougher stance on China’s human rights situation and violations of universal norms may create problems for the carmaker in its biggest market. The Telegraph, 16 December
China to boost outbound investment to try to curb strengthening yuan. China’s foreign exchange regulator has allocated fresh quotas for some institutions to invest in offshore financial markets under a special program, in a bid to encourage more outbound investment to ease pressure on the yuan’s continued appreciation. Caixin, 16 December
Premier Li Keqiang extends economic support for key small firms during State Council meeting. SCMP, 16 December
Beijing tells Evergrande to prioritise paying workers and suppliers. Bloomberg, 16 December
Money manager disappears with $313m from Chinese builder. BBC, 17 December
Xi Jinping’s leadership style: micromanagement that leaves underlings scrambling. The Chinese president delves into the details of policy and sometimes issues cryptic instructions that officials go overboard trying to carry out. WSJ, 15 December
Microsoft's Bing suspends auto suggest function in China at government's behest. Reuters, 17 December
Cosmic rays could unearth secrets of Terracotta Army tomb. The Times, 17 December
Opinion & editorial
China’s trade attack on Lithuania exposes EU’s powerlessness. Stuart Lau and Barbara Moens. Politico, 16 December
Will Omicron justify China’s ‘zero Covid’ policy? Expert says the variant is ‘booster shot’ for Beijing’s approach. The Week UK, 16 December
In China, Wang Huning is the man to see. Wang is understood to be the big thinker in President Xi Jinping’s inner circle. Hugh Hewitt. Washington Post, 16 December
Beyond Global Britain: A realistic foreign policy for the UK. This policy brief sets out a comprehensive European vision for Global Britain on the world stage. Jeremy Shapiro and Nick Witney. European Council on Foreign Relations, Beijing to Britain, 15 December
Conclusions from the Sixth Plenum. This Sixth Plenum showed the strong political control held by Xi Jinping and further entrenched his views on governance ahead of the 20th Party Congress. Charles Parton. Council on Geostrategy, 15 December
China is securing battery metals on the global stage. Jacob Mardell. MERICS, 16 December
Next China: The year ahead. Bloomberg, 17 December