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China Newsletter (Issue 82 – March 15, 2021)

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China Newsletter

What China Is Reading

Issue 82 – March 15, 2021

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In This Issue

The articles shared here do not necessarily reflect the views of China Newsletter or Dialogue China. All articles sourced from WeChat public accounts unless otherwise noted.I. Editorial

1. Accountability is the Best Historical Memory

II. Policy

2. Break the “Paper-Centric” Tradition? Chinese University of Hong Kong Professor: “Vested Interest Trap” is the Real Problem

3. Escaping the “Samuelson Trap” – A Strategic Choice to Turn the Country’s Fortunes Around

III. Politics

4. The “Chinese School” Has Been Shouted About For Years. Why is it So Long Delayed?

5. Biden Boldly Says There Can Be a New Start? Only One Will Be More Aggressive

IV. Society

6. Population Cliff: Permitting a Third Child?

7. The Mystery of Suspension: Why do Chinese Social Organizations Claim to Number 800,000, but People are Rarely Aware of Them?

8. “Beijing Fold” in Flux: Who Deserves to be Middle Class in a Big City?

V. Finance and Business

9. The Broken Rental Dream: Will Long-Term Rental Apartments Become the Next Peer-to-Peer Lending?

10. Why Did the Anti-Monopoly Sword Swing at Alibaba?

11. Manual Labor Work Shortage is Accelerating

Editorial

1. Accountability is the Best Historical Memory

Wang Dan – Radio Free Asia Opinion – January 22, 2021

January 23, 2021 marked the first anniversary of the lockdown of Wuhan following China’s coronavirus outbreak. The pandemic – which began in Wuhan – has infected 94 million and killed 2 million worldwide in the past year. It has done great damage to human society and still poses a tremendous threat. The people really responsible for this pandemic and the calamity it has caused have not been held accountable, and last year’s whistleblowers have mostly been forgotten. This is a mockery of history and disrespects the victims of the pandemic, especially those who died. On this occasion of the first anniversary of the Wuhan lockdown, I state that human society requires historical memory and to learn the lessons of history. The most effective historical memory would be to hold accountable those who were really responsible for the spread of the pandemic a year ago. And those who were really responsible are the Chinese government and its leader Xi Jinping. This is the real history, the historical truth.

What we should all reflect on is: one year after the lockdown of Wuhan, do we still remember the inhumane and violent closure that cost the people of Wuhan so much, and have the people of Wuhan been compensated for their loss? How many people still talk about “Fang Fang’s Diary” that was so popular online back then? Are we still concerned about the people who documented the truth about the epidemic such as citizen journalists Chen Qiushi and Fang Bin? Where are they now? Do we still think of Dr. Li Wenliang and remember the fact that he was punished by the government for blowing the whistle? We should also ask: What did Zhang Zhan* report that warranted a four-year prison sentence? We all know that the Chinese government has a habit of covering up history, but are we, as compatriots, going to gradually forget the history of a year ago?
* Zhang Zhan is a Chinese citizen journalist and former lawyer who was tortured by Chinese secret police and sentenced to four years in prison on the charge of “picking quarrels and provoking trouble” (寻衅滋事) for her reporting on the Chinese government’s mishandling of the COVID-19 pandemic. She is the first citizen journalist to be sentenced for reporting on the pandemic in China, although at least 47 other journalists are currently in detention in China for their coronavirus reporting.

We must vigilantly highlight the fact that the Chinese Communist authorities are not only covering up history, but rewriting and distorting it with reckless abandon. Today, when you approach the so-called Memorial Hall for the Fight Against the Pandemic in Wuhan, the most prominent image you see is a portrait of Xi Jinping. The authorities are deceiving the people that it was Xi Jinping’s “wise leadership” that led China to quickly contain the pandemic. In reality Xi Jinping completely abdicated “personal command and deployment.” He knew the seriousness of the virus as early as December 2019, but for more than a month ordered the truth be concealed from both Chinese society and the rest of the world. China has not yet given the outside world a convincing explanation for a mysterious explosion that occurred near the Wuhan Institute of Virology [WIV] after the outbreak of the pandemic. Why did the Chinese government allow experts from the World Health Organization to come to Wuhan to investigate the outbreak only a year after it was supposedly under control last spring, and why were hundreds of pages of relevant research documents removed from the WIV website before the experts arrived? What is the Chinese Communist Party and its government hiding?

What we must most strongly guard against is the rewriting of history by the Chinese Communist regime. Today the whole world seems to be praising China’s pandemic prevention efforts, but forgetting that the same government that made the achievements is the one that started the pandemic. And now the Chinese Communist authorities have arranged for writers to spread the news on the Internet that “the epidemic did not originate in Wuhan.” The party that should bear the most responsibility is portraying itself as a hero that should be praised. According to the official tone of the Chinese Communist Party, instead of China giving the world an explanation, the world now owes China an apology. Isn’t this a huge absurdity? In just one year history has been thoroughly rewritten. This is not only the responsibility of the Chinese Communist Party’s propaganda, but also the responsibility of us ordinary people who tend to forget the past.

Global pandemics like COVID-19 are very likely to occur again in the future. We must be prepared to face this challenge. The best preparation we can make is to clarify the facts and pursue accountability for those who cover up the truth. As the first anniversary of the lockdown of Wuhan passes, we must continue to insist on holding accountable those who are really responsible.

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Policy

2. Break the “Paper-Centric” Tradition? Chinese University of Hong Kong Professor: “Vested Interest Trap” is the Real Problem

Chen Chunsheng – Beijing Cultural Review – December 16, 2020

Why Read This?
As a witness to the 40 years of Chinese scholarship after the resumption of the college entrance examination, the author points out that Chinese scholarship has undergone radical changes on the whole, but the number of intellectual inventions that can truly leave a mark on history has not grown at the same time, nor has the self-confidence of the Chinese intellectual community been strengthened. In spite of the difficulties, humanities scholars should strive to maintain disciplinary self-awareness and protect the humanistic spirit, especially in the era of digitalization, where the strength of humanities scholars is mainly reflected in their vision and general knowledge.(Read the full text

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Policy

3. Escaping the “Samuelson Trap” – A Strategic Choice to Turn the Country’s Fortunes Around

Gao Bai – Beijing Cultural Review – December 5, 2020

Why Read This?
As 2020 draws to a close, the recovery of the world economy is not optimistic, even though China has taken the lead in emerging from the epidemic. The epidemic-induced break in cross-country industrial chains, the sharp decline in cross-country investment, the rapid increase in geopolitical risks, and the various risks hidden behind the economic stimulus policies of various countries are all squeezing the external space for China’s economic development. In the future, China needs to learn how to adjust the distribution of trade benefits to achieve the goal of reducing international conflicts and enhancing cooperation, thus creating a more favorable external environment for China’s future development.(Read the full text

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Politics

4. The “Chinese School” Has Been Shouted About For Years. Why is it So Long Delayed?

Pan Wei – Beijing Cultural Review – December 8, 2020

Why Read This?
Since the 21st century, the world landscape has quietly changed, and the Western theories that used to be regarded as the standard have encountered a realistic impact, and their explanatory power has been increasingly weakened. More and more Chinese scholars are dissatisfied with the long-standing domination of Chinese social sciences by Western discourse and hope to establish a “Chinese school” to discuss “Chinese problems” using “Chinese methods.” The author highlights the fact that in the United States, the Chinese school of social science was launched. In particular, the author points out that at a time when the United States has initiated a worldwide confrontation between the United States and China, China should be wary of falling into the “Pompeo trap” of a system-only and doctrine-only dispute, otherwise it will not be conducive to the construction of an international united front and the forging of a domestic consensus.(Read the full text

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Politics

5. Biden Boldly Says There Can Be a New Start? Only One Will Be More Aggressive

Feng Kaidong – Beijing Cultural Review – December 15, 2020

Why Read This?
Public opinion suggests that Trump’s all-out campaign to suppress Chinese industry and technology will continue into the Biden era, and may even intensify. The author cautions that in the future, the U.S. is likely to “weaponize” all the pillars of the international system it dominates, including currency, military, international economic and trade order, and global production and technology networks, and China must be well prepared.(Read the full text

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Society

6. Population Cliff: Permitting a Third Child?

Xing Haiyang – Sanlian Life Weekly – December 11, 2020

Why Read This?
“The total fertility rate has fallen below the warning line, and China’s population development has entered a critical turning point.” Half a month ago, an article by China’s Minister of Civil Affairs, Li Jiheng, sparked much debate. He suggested that the fertility level should be steered up and stabilized in an appropriate range to increase the labor supply. In the past two days, the number of experts suggesting the opening of the third child has increased, and it has also aroused extensive public discussion. The actual fact is that the actual fact is that the particulars of the actuals are not only the actuals, but also the actuals that are not the actuals. The company’s main goal is to encourage the public to take advantage of the new market.(Read the full text

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Society

7. The Mystery of Suspension: Why do Chinese Social Organizations Claim to Number 800,000, but People are Rarely Aware of Them?

Chen Feng – Beijing Cultural Review – December 19, 2020

Why Read This?
For some time in the past, “social governance” has been highly valued, and social organizations have been regarded as an important subject of grassroots governance, and have been developing rapidly under the government’s support and cultivation policies and the promotion of government purchase of services. In contrast, social organizations’ participation in actual governance is very limited, and most of them are still unable to reach out to the community and have low service capacity. The author calls for a return to the “community” and a genuine discovery of the “masses” for Chinese social organizations to start again.(Read the full text

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Society

8. “Beijing Fold” in Flux: Who Deserves to be Middle Class in a Big City?

Li Chunling – Beijing Cultural Review – December 28, 2020

Why Read This?
The Beijing case flow survey report not only identifies the risk of infection in the region, but also unfolds a picture of the survival of “ordinary people” living in the folds of the big city, which has struck a chord. The pressure and anxiety of the middle class comes from four main sources: housing, children’s education, medical care and elderly care, with housing being their biggest concern. The author argues that this is partly due to the low level of social security and poor quality of public services, and partly due to the strong materialistic desires generated by the rapid economic growth and social changes in the past few decades. The author argues that when formulating policies, the government should not only compensate the bottom class, but it is also necessary to consider the impact of policies on the middle class and try to provide more development opportunities for young people.(Read the full text

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Finance and Business

9. The Broken Rental Dream: Will Long-Term Rental Apartments Become the Next Peer-to-Peer Lending?

Stinking Old Ninth Finance and Business – Sanlian Life Weekly – December 10, 2020

Why Read This?
The inception of long-term rental apartments and Peer-to-Peer [P2P] lending are similar in many ways. Both were born in the policy windfall, and the rapid development of both industries has largely taken advantage of the policy wind. However, the crisis in the long-term apartment market has intensified recently, with more and more landlords failing to collect rent, resulting in many tenants being evicted from their homes. The current crisis in the long-term rental apartment market is very reminiscent of P2P lending. Just last month all the red-hot P2P platforms were wiped out. Will the long-term apartment market become the next P2P lending debacle?(Read the full text

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Finance and Business

10. Why Did the Anti-Monopoly Sword Swing at Alibaba?

Stinking Old Ninth Finance and Business – Sanlian Life Weekly – December 28, 2020

Why Read This?
Chinese regulators opened a case against Alibaba for alleged monopolistic practices such as “two-for-one.” The so-called “two-for-one” refers to e-commerce platforms that require merchants to choose between themselves and their competitors. Alibaba’s stock price in the U.S. plunged 13% after the company was investigated for alleged monopolization. An ordinary antitrust investigation should not have been so damaging. What will be the outcome of this antitrust sword wielded against the giant Alibaba?(Read the full text

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Finance and Business

11. Manual Labor Work Shortage is Accelerating

Wang Huimin – Beijing Cultural Review – December 7, 2020

Why Read This?
The continuous development of artificial intelligence technology has gradually invaded the inner core meaning of human being and profoundly pried up the labor relations formed based on it. If the destiny of the masses in the era of developed capitalism was to become “laborers” who sold labor in exchange for the means of survival, how can “laborers” survive when artificial intelligence can replace most human labor, and when even labor is already worthless? The author suggests that in countries where the government vows to represent the interests of the majority of workers (such as China), an alternative future may emerge that is different from the above model.(Read the full text

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