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China’s Photovoltaic Industry Faces Extensive Oversupply

Chinese companies have dominated the world’s photovoltaic industry (i.e. solar panel production). The sector represents one of the “new three products” (new energy vehicles (i.e. electric vehicles), lithium batteries, photovoltaic products) comprising Beijing’s current industrial strategy. In 2023, China’s exports of the “new three products” totaled 1.06 trillion yuan (US$ 150 billion), surpassing the trillion-yuan mark for the first time. Within just half a year, however, the entire Chinese photovoltaic industry has fallen into a loss territory.

As of July 9, among the listed companies that have disclosed their mid-year performance forecasts, most companies in the photovoltaic industry are forecasting significant losses. Among them, seven companies – LONGi Green Energy, Tongwei Co., Ltd., TCL Zhonghuan, Aiko Solar, Shuangliang Eco-Energy, Jingyuntong, and Hongyuan New Energy – are expected to have loss exceeding 1 billion yuan each. LONGi Green Energy, the world’s largest photovoltaic company, indicates a net loss of 4.8 billion to 5.5 billion yuan. Its market value has fallen from its peak of 550 billion yuan to below 100 billion yuan.

In the past, China provided heavy national subsidies to the photovoltaic industry that had attracted many manufacturers enter this field, producing homogeneous products. By the end of 2023, China’s annual production reached 861 gigawatts, more than twice the global installation volume of 390 gigawatts. It is predicted that the capacity will increase by another five to six hundred gigawatts this year. It is estimated that China’s silicon wafer, battery, and module production capacity to be put into operation in 2024 will be sufficient to cover the global annual demand till 2032 (nine years).

Critics point out, “(China’s) support for the photovoltaic industry is a result of government policy, rather than market guidance. (The current overcapacity) was inevitable. It is a result of a planned economy that has mismatched production and market (demand).”

Source: Epoch Times, July 14, 2024

Japan’s 2024 Defense White Paper Reveals Significant Reduction in Number of Chinese Missiles and Aircrafts

The Japanese Ministry of Defense recently released its 2024 Defense White Paper, revealing a significant reduction in the number of intermediate-range missiles possessed by the Chinese Rocket Force. The 2024 Defense White Paper reported 212 intermediate-range missiles, down from 278 in the 2023 report. The decline since 2021 has been even greater.

In 2023, there were a total of 70 DF-21 series missiles; by 2024, only 24 DF-21A/E missiles remained, with all DF-21B/C/D series missiles, including the so-called “carrier killer” DF-21D, disappearing.

China’s DF-26 missile count has reached to 140, an increase of 30 from 2023. Additionally, the number of nuclear warheads has increased to 410, up from 350 in both 2022 and 2023.

The number of J-20 aircraft has increased from 140 in 2023 to 200 in 2024. The number of J-16 aircraft has grown from 262 in 2023 to 292 in 2024. The J-10 fighter jets remain at 588 units as 2023. The number of carrier-based J-15 aircraft remains 60, insufficient to fully equip its two aircraft carriers.

Source: Epoch Times, July 12, 2024

“People’s Court” Finds Xi Jinping Guilty of Genocide and Crimes against Humanity

A “people’s court” known as The Court of the Citizens of the World, held a trial in Hague, against China’s top leader Xi Jinping, from July 8 to July 12. Based on evidence of Xi’s effective control over the state organs committing widespread and systematic violations in Tibet and Xinjiang, the court confirmed charges of crimes against humanity in Tibet and genocide and crimes against humanity to Uyghurs in Xinjiang, against Xi Jinping.

Though the court cannot take forcible actions against Xi, it hopes that its findings can compel countries to impose sanctions or reconsider their economic and political ties with China.

Source: VOA, July 13, 2024

Hong Kong Strengthens “Patriotic Education” with New Initiatives and Programs

Guangming Daily reported that China’s “Patriotic Education Law” came into effect on January 1, 2024. In April, the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR) government established a Patriotic Education Working Group. Recently, Hong Kong has carried out a variety of patriotic education activities.

In May, the Hong Kong government announced that the “Hong Kong Museum of Coastal Defense” would be reestablished under a new name: the “Hong Kong Museum of Anti-Japanese War and Coastal Defense.” The aim of this change is “is to help visitors gain a deeper understanding of the history of the anti-Japanese War (WWII), appreciate the close ties between Hong Kong and China, and enhance visitors’ sense of national identity, belonging, and pride.”

The government pushed out new middle school curriculum guidelines on the subject of Chinese history: the “Hong Kong National Security Education Curriculum Framework.” The national security education curriculum frameworks pertains to 15 subjects. All elementary and middle schools are required to fly the national flag on every school day, on New Year’s Day, on the Hong Kong SAR Establishment Day, and on National Day. Schools are also required to hold a flag-raising ceremony once a week. Elementary and middle schools are instructed to organize national education activities on major holidays. The General Studies subject at the elementary schools is to include content on national identity and Chinese culture. Chinese history has become a compulsory subject in middle school. The high school’s Citizenship and Social Development subject is to closely align with China’s development.

The Guangming Daily reported that universities and middle and high schools in Hong Kong are actively engaging in various exchange and internship programs in mainland China “to help Hong Kong youth gain a better understanding of the motherland and enhance their sense of affinity towards the country.” The Hong Kong Joint Publishing Group, including Hong Kong Sanlian Bookstore, Hong Kong Zhonghua Book Company, and the Hong Kong Commercial Press, publishes approximately 2,000 new books in Chinese and English each year. Among these, hundreds of publications are on national education, many of which have won prestigious publishing awards both domestically and internationally. For example, they published a series of books of “How Much Do You Know About the National Flag, National Emblem, and National Anthem,” the series of “My Home in China,” and the picture book “Our Country, Our Security.”

Source: Guangming Daily, June 30, 2024

China Expands “Big External Propaganda” with Local International Communication Centers

Since 2023, China’s “big external propaganda” (大外宣) activities (a series of propaganda campaigns aiming to project China’s voice and image overseas) have been rapidly shifting from the purview of the central government to a responsibility of China’s local governments. As of now, China has established 23 provincial-level international communication centers, in Shenzhen, Jiangsu, Shanghai, Hebei, etc… The latest additions include the “Zhejiang International Communication Center” established on May 31 and the “Tianjin International Communication Center” established in early June this year. According to the official newspaper Tianjin Daily, the Tianjin center “will send more than ten filming teams to multiple countries and regions, using cameras and writing to showcase Tianjin’s core role in building a community with a shared future for humanity, co-constructing the ‘Belt and Road,’ and to serve the main diplomatic strategy of the country.”

An article titled “Efforts to Strengthen the Development of International Communication Capabilities and Systems” on Qiushi Journal in November 2023 pointed out that these international communication centers, “by displaying local characteristics,” has become a “new force” in China’s international communication. The ” Jiangsu International Communication Center” has set up channels in seven languages on overseas mainstream social platforms such as X Platform, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube, which are blocked in China. The director of the Hubei Communication Center stated that the Hubei center has formulated a “one place, one strategy” approach: “For example, we focus on football-related content to Brazil and Argentina and food and emotional programs to Southeast Asia and Italy.” The “South Asia and Southeast Asia Regional International Communication Center” in Yunan Province is “the only media institution in (China) targeting South Asia and Southeast Asia.” The center publishes journals in Burmese, Thai, Khmer, and Lao, maintains websites in seven languages: Burmese, Lao, Thai, Khmer, English, Vietnamese, and Chinese, and writes on social media platforms with regional languages.

A public diplomacy scholar in the UK told VOA that China’s central government-level communication institute like China Global Television Network (CGTN) now seem to increasingly focus on political news, leaving non-sensitive and non-conflictual topics to the local international communication centers, letting them focus more on culture, tourism, history, and other areas. Joshua Kurlantzick, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, told VOA that China’s provincial international communication centers are just one of many attempts in Beijing’s “big external propaganda” efforts. “If one doesn’t work, China has many other options.”

Source: VOA, June 19, 2024

China Expand EV Presence in Brazil

Chinese car manufacturers are increasing their presence in the Central and South American markets with electric vehicles (EVs) and plug-in hybrid vehicles (PHVs). From January to April 2024, sales of new Chinese cars reached 48,000 units, eight times the number from the same period last year. Data released by the Brazilian Electric Vehicle Association shows that in 2023, sales of electric vehicles (EVs, PHVs, and hybrid vehicles (HVs)) increased by 91 percent compared to 2022, reaching a record high of 94,000 units. The top five sellers include three Chinese companies – BYD, Chery Automobile, and Great Wall Motors. In April 2024, those three manufacturers accounted for 7 percent of new car sales in Brazil.

In March 2024, BYD announced that it would double its investment from the original plan to 5.5 billion reais in its Brazilian production base. This will be Brazil’s first pure EV factory, expected to start production as early as the end of 2024, gradually reaching full production capacity of 300,000 units per year. BYD also plans to double the number of its sales showrooms in Brazil to 200 by the end of 2024.

Source: Nikkei, May 24, 2024

Socioeconomic Factors Behind the Decline in Marriage and Divorce Rates in China

An article circulated on Internet talked about how poor economic conditions in China have caused Chinese people to “freeze” (i.e. to not to make major life-style changes or life-changing decisions).

In the first quarter of this year, the number of marriage registrations nationwide was 1.969 million pairs, a decrease of 178,000 pairs from the same period in 2023. Meanwhile, the divorce registrations also decreased from 641,000 pairs in the same period last year to 573,000 pairs, a reduction of 68,000 pairs

What has caused the decline in both marriage and divorce rates? According to the article, the reason is the decline in people’s income and assets. In China, the most crucial hurdle preceding marriage is the purchase of an apartment. Usually, the three families (the young couple and both of their parents) pool their savings together to buy the “marriage” apartment. However, nowadays, despite government policies heavily incentivizing house sales (aiming to stimulate the stagnant Chinese housing market), people are not buying houses or apartment units (being afraid that the price will fall later).

As far as divorce is concerned, the issue of how to divide assets is pertinent. Here, too the sluggish housing market is at play; couples are unable to sell their houses at high prices, meaning that dividing up the couple’s assets for a divorce is difficult.

According to the article, the root cause of the “freeze” in social activity among Chinese people is the socioeconomic impact of a sluggish Chinese economy. This pertains to employees in various sectors of the economy:

  • Government Sector Employees: Central and state agencies are carrying out uniform 5 percent reductions in staffing.
  • Private Sector Employment: The Internet, semiconductor, and advanced manufacturing industries are all under pressure. Jobs at high-tech companies, which used to be good for job-hopping, are becoming less secure. The electric vehicle industry may seem promising, but in reality many EV companies face financial trouble; fierce competition makes EV companies lose money. Chinese industrial transformation, the impact of AI, and oversupply of talent will all have long-term impacts.
  • Finance Sector: the industry is experiencing widespread salary cuts.

Source: China News, June 29, 2024

Beijing International Book Fair: A Global Platform for Cultural Exchange and Publishing Cooperation

Guangming Daily reported that the five-day 30th Beijing International Book Fair (BIBF) recently concluded. The report said that, from “inviting in” to “going out” (i.e. inviting foreign publishers into China as well as publishing Chinese works abroad), this year’s BIBF achieved extensive cross-border and cross-field exchanges and integration in the publishing world. This year’s BIBF resulted in over 2,100 Sino-foreign copyright trade agreements or intentions, attracted 1,600 exhibitors from 71 countries and regions, showcased 220,000 types of Chinese and foreign books, held over 1,000 cultural events, and welcomed nearly 300,000 visitors. More Chinese stories are being widely disseminated around the world through the BIBF platform.

The continuously growing BIBF, together with renowned international book fairs such as the Frankfurt Book Fair in Germany, the New York Book Fair in the United States, and the Bologna Children’s Book Fair in Italy, is building a stage for the exchange and mutual learning of world civilizations. The BIBF, by simultaneously “inviting (foreign publishers) in” and “going out,” provides a platform and build bridges for the global “flow” of cultural achievements. Copyright transactions and international publishing cooperation between China and other countries have also become routine outside the BIBF.

Source: Guangming Daily, June 28, 2024