Global Times recently reported that the Chinese military operating at China’s first international military base, located in Djibouti, conducted its first combat exercise on September 22. This was the first time in the Chinese military’s history that a foreign-resident range was use for a live ammunition exercise. It is also considered as a warning to “those who attempt to challenge China.” The Chinese troops have been stationed at the base since August 1. The Global Times report also mentioned that Japan planned to conduct an armed evacuation exercise three days later in Japan’s Djibouti military base not far away. Japan established its base in 2011.
Source: Global Times, September 23, 2017
South Korea’s largest newspaper Chosun recently reported in its Chinese Edition that the North Korean government has banned residents who live near the nuclear test site from entering Pyongyang – after its sixth nuclear test. Those residents who had scheduled appointments with Pyongyang hospitals were told not to come visit. Experts expressed the belief that the Punggye-ri Nuclear Test Site suffered a certain level of collapse after the last nuclear test and local residents could have been exposed to radioactive contamination. That was the biggest potential reason for the North Korean authorities to establish the ban. In the meantime, North Korea has been mobilizing its citizens in nationwide war preparation exercises. The North Korean military was given permission to shoot if they encounter a group of soldiers where most “wear glasses and are taller than average,” even if the group is in North Korean military uniforms.
Source: Chosun, September 22, 2017
Well-known Chinese financial news media group Caixin recently reported that Standard and Poor’s (S&P) just announced the decision to downgrade China’s sovereign credit rating from AA- to A+. This is the first time in 18 years that S&P has downgraded China. In May, another world-class ratings organization, Moody’s, also downgraded the rating of China’s currency. S&P explained that concern over China’s debt level was the primary cause of the downgrade. S&P expects sustained growth of loans made outside the standard banking system over the next two to three years, while China’s total debt growth rate will remain higher than its GDP growth. The financial risks in the Chinese economy are still increasing. S&P did acknowledge the success of the recent efforts the Chinese government put in place to control the growth of debt. However, it will take time for the new policies to have a tangible impact. S&P also mentioned that it may increase China’s ratings if the rate of debt growth slows down significantly. All of the international ratings organizations have been monitoring China’s debt level and its financing platforms carefully. They have repeatedly asked the Chinese government to improve the information transparency of local government debts.
Source: Caixin, September 21, 2017
Epoch Times recently reported that the students, including elementary and kindergartner students, in China are required to memorize the “core socialist values” which consist of 12 values in 24 Chinese characters. They were introduced during 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China in 2012. Whether the students are able to memorize the characters has become one of the measures for whether a city qualifies for a “civilized city” award. According to the article, the officials from local school districts in Shanghai, Shanxi, Hubei, Jiangsu, and Yunnan provinces visit the school or call students at home to conduct random tests on students. The reporter, in conducting phone interviews with some students and parents in China, was told that the students do not totally understand what it means but they must memorize the words. One parent told Epoch Times that it was brainwashing and that the party was using it to shift people’s attention away from other social issues. Another parent said it was ironic that the students were taught to mix the concept of “Party,” “Country,” and “People” together at a very young age. A China expert told Epoch Times that this type of “one party propaganda” is unprecedented in Chinese history, which has traditional values that focus on loyalty, benevolence, filialness, and justice. The party’s Publicity, Education, and Culture Department has completely destroyed humanity and China’s traditional values. Since 1949, the brainwashing has never stopped,” The article also listed online comments which criticize the practice of forcing students to memorize “core socialist values.”
Source: Epoch Times, September 22, 2017
According to an article that Hong Kong Mingbao published, it was decided during a recent Central Politburo meeting that, at the upcoming 19th National Congress, the party’s constitution will be revised and amended to include Xi Jinping thought. Following Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping, Xi will become the third Chinese party leader who will have his thoughts written into the party’s constitution. The article reported the source as saying that Xi’s speech to the provincial level party leaders on July 26 will be the basis for his report at the 19th National Congress. His speech on July 26 can be summarized as follows: “in order to gain control in the fast paced era and to win during the new and grand battle, we must adhere to the basic principles of Marxism; we must apply a broader perspective and more long-term vision to think about and grasp the future development of the country when dealing with a series of major strategic issues; we must continue to expand new horizons and come up with a new theoretical understanding.”
Source: Mingbao, September 19, 2017
According to an article published on the BioDiscovery.com website, foreign pharmaceutical companies have been changing their strategies in China and some are pulling out of China. GE CTC recently announced that it will no longer conduct pharmaceutical research and development in China. The work will be picked by the company’s two other research centers in Niskayuna, New York and Bangalore, India. GE has 150 research labs in China. Over 3,000 research positions will be impacted. Meanwhile, GSK, a British pharmaceutical company headquartered in Brentford, London will adjust its strategy in China. In the next two years, it will close the plant in Suzhou Jiangsu Province and change the manufacturing plant in Tianjing from a prescription drug manufacturing plant to a manufacturer of tablets only. On September 8, Eli Lilly announced that it will close its research lab in Shanghai, the first research lab in an Asia Pacific country, while also reorganizing its marketing strategy. It will impact 3500 jobs worldwide and will be completed by December 31, 2017.
The reasons for the foreign pharmaceutical companies undergoing changes in China are partly due to competition from domestic pharmaceutical companies in China. In addition, according to an article that the Epoch Times published, both AmCham China and the European chamber of Commerce indicated that the investment climate in China has deteriorated in recent years. The top three reasons for foreign companies to leave China are increases in the cost of labor, changes in the company’s strategic advantage, and concerns over China’s regulatory policies. Whereas the third reason ranked 5th last year, it made the top three this year. For example, some companies expressed fear that the new Internet security policy has increased China’s ability to control company’s private data and impose further restriction on foreign companies. Moreover, foreign companies are also becoming the subject of the influence of the party’s ideology. According to a report from Reuters in August, the Chinese partners of some foreign companies have insisted that those who are party members should be promoted to the company’s management level. It also requires that the company allocate operating funds for the party’s branch office, or even requires that the chairman of the board must be the same person as the company’s party secretary. It means that once the party organization becomes part of the company, it will have direct power over the company’s operating policies, human resources, and its strategic development policy. The practice since 2001, soon after China joined the WTO, has been that when the party organization’s involvement started in private companies in China, they would be required to “make recommendations” regarding the company’s regular operations.
Biodiscovery.com, September 15, 2017
Epoch Times, September 22, 2017