China News - 18 January 2021
The China Research Group’s first event of 2021 takes place this Thursday 21 Jan at 6:30pm GMT on the next four years of US-China relations under President Biden with Gideon Rachman, Evan Medeiros, Jude Blanchette and Tom Tugendhat. Register here.
UK lawyer prosecuting Hong Kong activists called a ‘mercenary’ by Dominic Raab. David Perry, a QC, was hired by HK authorities to prosecute nine activists for unlawful assembly. Dominic Raab, who was a human rights lawyer before becoming an MP, said he could not understand how anyone could take on such a case “in good conscience”. FT, The Times, 17 January
Tory rebels seek to block trade deal with China over Uighurs. Around 30 Tory MPs are expected to rebel on Tuesday’s vote on the amendment co-sponsored by IPAC’s Iain Duncan Smith and former minister Nus Ghani. It is backed by all the opposition parties as well as the Muslim Council of Britain and the Board of Deputies of British Jews. FT, 17 January
Chinese and Russian vaccines in high demand as world scrambles for doses. Yet for all the grand ambitions and the queue of willing buyers, neither the Gamaleya Institute nor Sinopharm and Sinovac Biotech have published full sets of trial data. A plane carrying one million doses of Sinopharm’s Covid-19 vaccine arrived yesterday in Serbia. Reuters, FT, 18 January
Armin Laschet elected leader of Merkel's CDU party. His election is seen as “good news for China-Germany relations” by Beijing-based analysts. Laschet is current leader of North Rhine-Westphalia - home to the European headquarters of Huawei. A Foreign Policy article from last March sets out some of Laschet’s key dovish foreign policy positions, with evidence of a preference for economy-over-security. Foreign Policy, BBC, SCMP, 16 January
US steps up claims Covid-19 may have escaped from Chinese lab. Mike Pompeo’s State Department statement insinuated cases of seasonal illness/Covid-19 symptoms in Autumn 2019 and accused the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) of preventing an investigation into the pandemic's origin. The Telegraph, Bloomberg, State Department Factsheet, 16 January
China imposes reciprocal sanctions US lawmakers, officials over Hong Kong, Taiwan moves. SCMP, 18 January
HSBC CEO expresses regret to Hong Kong activist over frozen bank accounts. Noel Quinn, HSBC chief executive, personally wrote to a Hong Kong pro-democracy activist to express regret after the bank froze his bank account. Hong Kong activist Nathan Law has also attacked firms 'colluding' with Beijing. FT, City AM, 18 January
Hong Kong censorship debate grows as internet firm says can block "illegal acts". Reuters, 15 January
Beijing spying fears as it emerges airframes of new MoD spy planes were previously used by Chinese airlines. The Government has admitted that two of the five new RAF Wedgetail spy planes were previously operated by commercial airlines in China. The Telegraph, 16 January
New FCDO-supported network to boost UK-China collaboration for global development. IDS, 11 January
UK announces G7 to be held in Cornwall from June 11-13. Australia, India and South Korea will be invited as guest countries. New G7 2021 website, Bloomberg, 16 January
End the Uighur Genocide Movement campaigners to target 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics sponsors. The Guardian, 18 January
China’s economy expands at faster rate than before coronavirus, with 6.5% GDP growth in the Q4 of 2020 and annual growth of 2.3%. Retail sales lagged behind the industrial sector: go deeper with Michael Pettis’ analysis of a highly imbalanced industrial-led recovery. BBC, FT, 18 January
China reports more than 100 new COVID cases as New Year holiday exodus looms, with Chinese Lunar New Year looming. Reuters, 18 January
Economy & tech
Trump admin slams China's Huawei, halting shipments from Intel. The Trump administration notified Huawei suppliers, including chipmaker Intel, that it is revoking certain licenses to sell to the Chinese company, Reuters reports. Separately, Brazil's Bolsonaro looks set to allow Huawei participation in 5G auctions Reuters, SCMP, Reuters, 17 January
Britain’s biggest bus builder Alexander Dennis (ADL) and BYD announce new partnership. Automotive World, 11 January
Build Your Dreams (BYD) was named as one of 83 companies as using forced Uyghur labour in ASPI’s Uyghurs For Sale paper over its links to Hubei Yihong Precision Manufacturing - a company that allegedly employs forced labour.
Video-sharing app TikTok makes £88m loss in its first year in the UK, spending £80.2m on sales and marketing. In its UK accounts, TikTok said it was looking at 'a number of strategic options' for its future structure in the UK. This Is Money, 17 January
Longer reads & opinion
China's faltering performance on economic reform. Kevin Rudd and Dan Rosen of Rhodium Group argue that China’s weak progress on economic reform shows that China’s model of authoritarian capitalism is not unstoppable - a point being carefully analysed by Biden’s foreign policy team. Nikkei Asia, 18 January
Integrated Review: With the UK’s long-awaited foreign policy and defence review due in the next few weeks, Politico have published an excellent profile of review lead John Bew. Politico, 18 January
China must learn from Covid, not pay for it. Clare Foges in The Times argues that our focus should be on averting another disaster - not apportioning blame. The goal should not be to establish guilt, but to apply global pressure on wildlife trade and early warning systems. The Times, 18 January
A slate of opinion articles on the China genocide amendment. Paul Goodman writes in support of the government against the amendment in Conservative Home. In the FT, Jonathan Ford argues that Raab’s policies generate minimal obligations. The UK’s measures announced on Tuesday last week don’t go as far as the actions of Canada and the US, says Human Rights Watch. Nick Timothy, former top adviser to PM Theresa May, says in The Telegraph that the UK should support the amendment and broker a coalition to counter China. Nus Ghani and Bill Browder were also in The Telegraph, writing in support of the amendment and Britain’s use of the Magnitsky Act.
We need a new era of international data diplomacy. Multilateral consensus on data governance represents one of the most important challenges of the 21st century. FT, 18 January
Long read: UK entrepreneurs find a safe haven in China despite political tensions. “It’s business as usual, as far as I’m concerned.” The Telegraph, 17 January
Xi’s no fool — he knows post‑virus China needs new friends. The Times, 17 January
It’s set to be a big week for China in Parliament.
China releases its 2020 GDP data and its revised foreign investment screening rules come into effect.
Committee action: From 4pm, the Joint Committee on National Security Strategy meets to hear evidence from Professor Ciaran Martin, former chief of the National Cyber Security Centre.
Commons: Oral questions to the Foreign Office from 11:30am. At 1pm, MPs debate the Lords amendment to the Trade Bill which allows the government to withdraw the UK from trade agreements with countries declared to be committing genocide. The amendment is supported by opposition parties, and co-led by Iain Duncan-Smith, Nus Ghani and Lisa Nandy. It will need roughly 40 Tory rebels to defeat the government.
Committee action: Public committee on Telecommunications (Security) Bill meets to hear further oral evidence on the bill, including from Dr Alexi Drew. From 9:45am, the BEIS Committee hears evidence on net zero and UN climate summits, including from new Secretary of State Kwasi Karteng and new COP 26 President Alok Sharma. And from 2:30pm, the Foreign Affairs Committee hears evidence on environmental diplomacy.
Joe Biden is sworn in as 46th US president. The Standing Committee of the China’s National People’s Congress holds a three-day meeting, where they are expected to discuss new measures against BNO passport holders.
Commons: At 1pm, the National Security and Investment Bill returns to the Commons for its report stage and third reading. A new cross-party amendment led by FAC members Tom Tugendhat, Chris Bryant and Stewart McDonald seeks to add a framework for the definition of national interest.
Event: At 12pm, Tom Tugendhat, Lisa Nandy, Professor Lawrence Freedman, Rana Mitter and Anand Menon debate Global Britain after Brexit at a UK in a Changing Europe event.
Event: At 6:30pm, the China Research Group hosts our panel on Biden’s China policy and the future of US-China relations in the next four years with Gideon Rachman, Jude Blanchette and Evan Medeiros. Sign up here.
Committee action: General Committee on the Telecommunications (Security) Bill meets to further consider the bill.
Lords: At 12pm, ministers field questions on the G7 summit.