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Ministry of Commerce: China’s Trade Surplus with the U.S. Reached Record High in June

The Chinese Ministry of Commerce recently posted a notice on its official site regarding the news that, according to data from the General Administration of Customs, China’s June trade surplus with the U.S. reached US$28.97 billion, which is the highest level since the year 1999. The total exports to the U.S. in June amounted to US$42.62 billion, which is a new record. Overall Chinese June exports saw an 11.3 percent increase, while imports increased by 14.1 percent – both were lower than the same numbers in May. China’s overall June trade surplus was at US$41.61 billion. Experts expressed their belief that the record-setting numbers with the U.S. showed a healthy U.S. economy with strong growth as well as a slightly weakening Chinese economy. Some also thought China’s domestic spending was weak due to its lack of investments. Also, in June, China had a trade surplus of US$16.25 billion with the European Union, a trade deficit of US$2.89 billion with Japan, and a trade surplus of US$4.22 billion with Russia. In the first half of 2018, China had an overall global trade surplus of US$135.4 billion.

Source: The Chinese Ministry of Commerce Official Site, July 13, 2018
http://www.mofcom.gov.cn/article/i/jyjl/e/201807/20180702766046.shtml

LTN: China’s Soybean “Punishment” against the U.S. Brought Uncle Sam More Business

Major Taiwanese news network Liberty Times Network (LTN) recently reported that the primary “weapon” China deployed in the trade war with the U.S. was China’s soybean tariff. China is the largest U.S. soybean buyer and the “punishment” was designed to have a negative effect on U.S. farmers, who mostly supported Trump in the last election. However, the significantly lowered price of U.S. soybean futures triggered a wave of non-Chinese buyers who even hoarded in volume. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, major U.S. soybean importers generated a year-over-year purchase increase of 27 percent for July-to-September U.S. soybean futures. These buyers include Mexico, Pakistan, and Thailand. Even Brazil, the  world’s largest exporter of soybeans, is planning to buy more U.S. soybeans for domestic use and export Brazilian soybeans to China at a much higher price. Argentina, as the third largest soybean exporter, increased its purchase of U.S. soybeans due to domestic weather conditions.

Source: LTN, July 12, 2018
http://ec.ltn.com.tw/article/breakingnews/2486656

Apple Daily: Beijing Seems to Be Removing Publicly Displayed Xi Jinping Posters

Major Hong Kong newspaper Apple Daily recently reported that a number of real estate management companies in Beijing received orders from public safety authorities to remove all publicly displayed Xi Jinping posters and other materials that have his picture printed on them. The background of this move was a recent incident in Shanghai. A woman poured ink on such posters and then the method spread. It was rumored that the order for removing the posters came from Xi himself. At the current economic crossroads when China is facing a trade war with the U.S., in addition to this latest poster removal order, multiple unusual things have occurred recently such as an increased number of reports on Premier Li Keqiang. A project to study the years Xi Jinping spent in a county named Liang Jia He was called off. Another noticeable fact was that, on the front page of the July 9th People’s Daily newspaper, no mention was made of Xi Jinping’s name in any of the headlines. This was the first time in five years.

Source: Apple Daily, July 13, 2018
https://hk.news.appledaily.com/international/daily/article/20180713/20448515

Epoch Times Commentary: Is the Trade War a War to Fight for the Fate of China or a War That Will Lead to the Devastation of the Chinese Communist Party

Epoch Times published a commentary article titled, “Is the Trade War a War to Fight for the Fate of China or a War That Will Lead to the Devastation of the Chinese Communist Party?” Below are some highlights from the article.

Since the trade war started, the U.S. economy has shown positive signs: the stock market is stable; the U.S. currency is appreciating; the Republicans and the Democrats have a consensus on U.S. China policy.

Compared to the U.S. which is calm and united, China appears to be more chaotic. So far this year, it has had the worst stock market performance in the world. In the first six months, the market dropped down 17 percent. The Chinese currency exchange rate suffered a major decline, indicating a lower confidence in China’s economy.

The top leaders in China have also been sending inconsistent messages to the media. The latest statement that the central administration made showed a completely different position form that of the official media, which vowed to “strike back firmly” and take a hardline stance of “an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth” in the trade war against the U.S. Chinese premier Li Keqiang stated on July 7 that China will not change its determination to reform and open its market. It was consistent with Xi Jinping’s previous statement of “taking caution when dealing with the trade war to avoid derailment on the path to reform.” However while it promised that, before the end of June, it would open up the market further for multiple industries, China was reported to be making it more difficult for U.S. goods to clear Chinese customs. Meanwhile the tone of the Chinese official media also changed from statements such as “The U.S. is bound to be defeated,” “We will fight back at any cost,” “The Rise of the Great Powers,” to statements such as “Hide one’s talents, and bide one’s time while waiting for the right opportunity,” “The New Cold War,” and “Fight for the fate of the nation.” The shift in the media can also be seen in articles that People’s Daily published calling to stop the boastful writing styles in the media.

No matter how chaotic it appears, one thing is clear: Beijing has come to realize that the U.S. is serious this time. The trade war is escalating into a comprehensive, sustained confrontation.

The U.S. demands fair trade from China but the current Chinese Communist Party ruling system is incapable of meeting the demand. It might appear that the war is between two countries, but what China is really fighting for is to maintain the power of the ruling Communist Party and to keep it from collapsing.

There are three obvious economic crises that China faces: the Chinese Currency Bubble (Over-supply of Money Issued); the Real Estate Bubble; and the Debt Bubble.

The trade war will not only cast a shadow on China’s economy; it will put pressure on China to resolve its currency, real estate, and debt crises. It is pushing Communist China toward a dead end. If it does not reform, pressure from the trade war will burst the economic bubble and China’s economy may collapse. If it undergoes reform, it will touch the interests of the privileged class which may result in an internal collapse of the political system. In either case, the Chinese communist party will face devastation.

Source: Epoch Times, July 10, 2018
http://www.epochtimes.com/gb/18/7/10/n10552044.htm

hk01.com: Government Officials and the Media Misinterpreted Xi Jinping’s Intentions

On July 6, the U.S. launched a 25 percent tariff on $34 billion worth of imports from China. Hong Kong hk01.com published an article on an interview it had with a Chinese official who works in the foreign diplomacy department and chose not to be identified. The official conveyed a very different message from the official Chinese media. It could be an indication that Beijing wants to change its position in the Sino US trade War. Below is a summary of the statement the official made during the interview.

Beijing reached a consensus internally long ago that the Sino-US trade war was inevitable and that Sino-US relations will enter an unprecedented period of tension. Since the 18th Congress, China’s internal and external policies have shown that China hopes to enhance its international status and increase its international influence. It has used a certain approach that has violated the existing economic and security practices that the U.S. has established. The U.S. has made frequent diplomatic accusations.

Xi Jinping clearly understands the gap in which China lags behind the U.S. and that the U.S. is the only superpower in the world. However, some officials and media have misinterpreted Xi’s intention. Xi never wanted to change the foreign policy of “hide our capabilities and bide our time” left from the Deng Xiaoping era. Two proposals that Xi made were based on his assessment of China’s current situation: the first was that, “the Pacific Ocean is big enough to accommodate both China and the U.S.” and the second was the “one belt one road project.” Xi made the first proposal and wanted the U.S. to understand that China has no intention of threatening the U.S. position in the Asia Pacific region. The second proposal was meant to fix the excess domestic capacity and create more job opportunities for the Chinese people. However there are a considerable number of officials within the Chinese government and some of the Chinese Communist Party’s media who misinterpreted the central strategic intentions. They interpreted that first proposal as if Beijing wanted to be equal to the U.S. and challenge the U.S. dominant position in the world. The official media took the second proposal and widely promoted nationalism and populism in China. This caused an unrealistic expectation among Chinese officials and the general public. The official also blamed the western media for capitalizing on the opportunity. They widely publicized the nationalism and populism trends and caused China’s image to suffer a big loss in the international community. In summary the current Sino-US relationship resulted from the officials misinterpreting the central government’s intention, making improper judgments, and issuing improper instructions. The media then publicized the populist sentiments. The article that People’s Daily recently published was meant to correct the hyperbolic and boastful writing style that the official media have used.

As to the future of the Sino-US relationship, China will continue to maintain reasonable and polite diplomacy with the U.S. It will find different channels so as to establish a unilateral solution to minimize the negative impact to China’s domestic economy, serve China’s national interest, and fight for the interests of the Chinese people.

Source: Hk01.com, July 10, 2018
https://www.hk01.com/%E5%88%86%E6%9E%90%E8%A9%95%E8%AB%96/207705/01%E5%B0%88%E8%A8%AA-%E4%B8%AD%E5%85%B1%E5%AE%98%E5%93%A1%E8%A9%B3%E8%A7%A3%E4%B8%AD%E7%BE%8E%E8%B2%BF%E6%98%93%E6%88%B0-%E7%BF%92%E8%BF%91%E5%B9%B3%E5%BE%9E%E6%B2%92%E6%94%BE%E6%A3%84%E9%9F%9C%E5%85%89%E9%A4%8A%E6%99%A6

Legal Daily: The Market for Ghostwriting Graduation Theses

A recent Legal Daily article gave some details about the business of ghostwriting graduation theses in China.

“Due to the large demand, producing graduation theses has become an industry and many services are provided. They include ghostwriting, plagiarism checking, and plagiarism prevention.”

In March 2018, Zhang Feng (a pseudonym), a state-owned enterprise employee, became involved in the ghostwriting business to earn some extra money.

Zhang told the reporter, “Somehow I was connected to a social media account, which is like an intermediary or agent. The account would receive an order for writing a thesis, and then broadcast it to look for people who would like to fill the order. Then the order taker directly contacted the buyer to negotiate a price.”

“The buyer’s needs are varied. For example, someone placed an order for everything to be done, from designing all the way to programming. Some buyers already have a draft design and only need to have the thesis written. Some have already finished writing the thesis, but need to check for plagiarism and make any adjustments needed to avoid plagiarism. There are also some people who want to modify the paper’s format and come up a power point presentation.”

“Most of the students who have such a need are junior college students and undergraduate students. As far as graduate students, according to Zhang, most of those hiring ghostwriters are part-time MS/MA students who also have a job.”

Source: Legal Daily, July 12, 2018
http://www.legaldaily.com.cn/index/content/2018-07/12/content_7591993.htm?node=20908

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