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Briefings - 3. page

Xi Jinping Gives Instructions on Uniting Global Ethnic Chinese

On July 29th and 30th, the United Front Work Conference of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) was held in Beijing. Xi Jinping delivered a speech.

Xi said, “Promoting the great unity of the Chinese people is the historical responsibility of China’s patriotic united front work in the new era. To do this job well, we must . . .  truly unite all Chinese people in different parties, nationalities, classes, groups, and with different beliefs, and those who are living under different social systems.”

Obviously, “those who are living in different social systems” refers to ethnic Chinese who are living outside of China.

“(We ought to) strengthen the overseas patriotic forces, building up the cohorts who know and befriend China.”  … Xi added, “We must do a good job in our united front work in cyberspace,”

The CCP’s united front work strives to track down, maintain relationships with, influence and sway prominent people and groups both inside and outside of China. It focuses on individuals or groups outside the CCP, particularly in the community of overseas Chinese, in an effort to make sure that they support or serve the CCP’s goals. The CCP’s central committee has a United Front Work department.

Source: People’s Daily, July 31, 2022

Lianhe Zaobao: China’s July Manufacturing PMI Showed Both a Production and a Demand Slowdown

Singapore’s primary Chinese language newspaper Lianhe Zaobao recently reported on an  announcement that China’s National Bureau of Statistics made. China’s manufacturing purchasing managers’ index (PMI) in July declined by 1.2 percentage points from the previous month to 49 percent, falling below the growth line. The Bureau indicated that many factors influence the decline of the manufacturing PMI. For example, it is affected by traditional production off-season, insufficient market demand, and low prosperity of high-energy-consuming industries. Industries like textiles, petroleum, coal and other fuel processing, ferrous metal smelting and rolling processing have continued to be in the contraction range. This was one of the main factors for the decline of PMI. Both manufacturing activities and demand in the manufacturing sector have slowed down. Raw material procurement activities have also tightened accordingly. The purchasing volume index and the import index both decreased by more than two percentage points from the previous month. The international situation has become more complex and severe, and the market demand is under pressure. The new orders index and the index of new export orders both dropped significantly. The manufacturing PMI now is below 50, indicating that China’s economic recovery remains shaky. Challenges to China’s GDP growth in the third quarter may be bigger than earlier expected.

(1) Lianhe Zaobao, August 1, 2022

(2) China’s National Bureau of Statistics, July 31, 2022

Tencent Stock Suffered a Major Decline

Well-known Chinese news site Sohu (NASDAQ: SOHU) recently reported that, on the last trading day of July, Hong Kong stocks fell across the board. The Hang Seng Technology Index plummeted by nearly 5 percent, and Tencent Holdings fell by 4.36 percent. Tencent’s stock price approached the HK$300 mark again, almost returning to the level five years ago. Just over a year ago, Tencent’s per-share price approached a historical peak of HK$750. However, now it has fallen by nearly 60 percent. its market value has evaporated by about HK$4.4 trillion (around US$560 billion). In the past two years, Tencent’s share price has been continuously declining due to the combined effects of multiple factors such as China’s anti-monopoly movement, the government restrictions on online gaming for minors, and China’s strict COVID-19 combat policies, as well as the reduction of shares held by the largest shareholder. Tencent’s financial numbers are indeed slowing over the years, according to its 2021 report. The latest growth rate is the lowest in recent years. Since the end of June, Tencent has launched a share repurchase program. The total scale of this program has reached RMB 3.9 billion (around US$578 million). Tencent Holdings has repurchased a total of about HK$10.01 billion (around US$1.28 billion) dollars this year. Tencent has been China’s largest internet company.

Source: Sohu, July 31, 2022

Global Times: U.S. Is Tightening Export of Chip Equipment to China

Global Times recently reported that two U.S. chip equipment companies confirmed that the U.S. crackdown on Chinese chips has expanded from 10 nm to 14 nm technologies. In addition, the scope of the new regulations may not be limited to China’s SMIC (Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corporation), but may also include other chip manufacturers investing and operating in China. Analysts expressed the belief that the latest move by the United States to suppress China’s chip industry may try to have a long-term impact on the Chinese chip industry, On the one hand, it will also hurt the interests of American companies. The scope of U.S. export restrictions may include other chip manufacturers operating in China, such as Taiwan’s TSMC. According to people familiar with the matter, in the past two weeks or so, all U.S. equipment makers have received letters from the Commerce Department describing the requirement. A statement released by the U.S. Department of Commerce said that the Biden administration is tightening relevant policies against China, focusing on weakening China’s efforts to produce cutting-edge chips in response to major national security risks facing the United States. In the eyes of the U.S. government, 14nm is a watershed between advanced and backward chip manufacturing processes. Since 14nm and below technologies are considered advanced, the U.S. embargo focuses on chip equipment with 14nm and below capabilities in order to achieve the purpose of containing Chinese chips and their competition. The chip industry is an industry requiring close cooperation among global industries. The suppression of China by the United States will inevitably affect the normal development of the global chip industry.

Source: Global Times, August 1, 2022

North Dakota Governor Urged Federal Investigation of Chinese Company’s Purchase of Land near Air Force Base

Doug Burgum, Governor of North Dakoda wrote a letter to Secretary of the Treasury Janet Yellen and Lloyd Austin, Secretary of Defense, asking the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) to speed up its review of the Chinese company Fufeng Group’s plan to  purchase land in North Dakota because it is a national security concern. Also in a letter to the U.S. Department of Defense ,Senators John Hoeven, Kevin Cramer and Marco Rubio requested that (CFIUS) conduct a review of the Fufeng Group’s land purchase.

Fufeng Group wants to buy 360 acres of land in Grand Forks, North Dakota, to build a corn processing plant. However, the site just happens to be only 22 miles away from the Grand Forks Air Force Base, which is what raises the national security issue.

China Aviation Industry General Aircraft Co. Ltd bought Cirrus Aircraft, headquartered in Duluth, Minnesota in 2011. Cirrus has factories in Duluth and Grand Forks. Its Grand Forks plant was even closer to the air force base than Fufeng Group’s planned plant site.

Source: VOA, July 28, 2022

China Opposes “Chip 4” Alliance

China has taken multiple actions to oppose the “Chip 4” alliance, an initiative that the U.S. is proposing for four major chip production countries, the U.S., Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan. Beijing is afraid that forming the “Chip 4” alliance will isolate China. Other consequences are implied.

Huanqiu (Global Times) published a commentary on July 20, stating, “(T)he South Korean government and related companies can judge by common sense alone that participating in this matter not only will not have any incremental gains, but will also face the risk of significant damage to their interests. Data shows that last year, South Korea’s semiconductor exports totaled $128 billion, of which 60 percent went to mainland China and Hong Kong. To cut ties with this large market is tantamount to business suicide. The U.S. has handed South Korea a knife and is forcing it to do so.”

On July 25, China’s Ambassador to South Korea Xing Haiming met with Yang Hyang-ja, a South Korean National Assembly member and Chairman of the Special Committee on Strengthening the Competitiveness of the Semiconductor Industry. Xing said, “China is willing to work with South Korea to adhere to the principle of a fair and just market, eliminate external interference, and to strengthen cooperation in semiconductors and other fields .…”

Xing met with South Korean Trade Minister Ahn Duk-geun on the same day.

Huanqiu (Global Times) also published an article on July 28 to suggest that Taiwan should not  join the “Chip 4.” It stated, “Currently, Taiwan’s chip exports to the mainland account for more than 40 percent of its total chip exports. Semiconductors and other electronic and communication products are large commodities. If the TSMC  (Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company) joins the ‘chip 4’ alliance to exclude the mainland China market, it will undoubtedly cause huge losses to the entire Taiwan economy.”

1. Huanqiu (Global Times), July 20, 2022
2. Global Times, July 25, 2022
3. Huanqiu (Global Times), July 28, 2022

Former Central Bank Official: China’s Real Estate Industry Will No Longer Drive Economic Growth

A former Chinese official, Sheng Songcheng, wrote an article titled, “China’s Real Estate Market Is Now at a Turning Point.” Sheng is the former Director of the Survey and Statistics Department of the People’s Bank of China and is now a Professor of Economics and Finance at the China Europe International Business School.

Sheng said that China’s real estate industry is a at a transition point. In the future, China is unlikely to rely on this industry to boost large economic growth. China’s per capita dwelling space is close to 2/3 of that of the United States, while its per capita GDP is only 1/6 of that of the U.S. This indicates that the development of China’s real estate industry has reached a new stage (a ceiling).

Sheng argued that, although real estate development may not help the economic growth much in the long run, it still can in the short term, especially during the downfall of the economy due to the COVID lockdown,. He suggested that the government should loosen policies and provide more money to help the struggling real estate companies to complete their projects.

Source: SINA, July 29, 2022

One Year after “Double Reduction” Policy, China’s Tutoring Industry Goes Underground and Is Unreachable

China attempted to regulate the tutoring industry with a “double reduction” policy to reduce the burden on both students and parents. A year later, the tutoring industry has not disappeared, but has gone underground, with higher tuition fees and more hunting efforts that end up redistributing resources to middle and upper-class families.

For example, a parent surnamed Wu in Beijing said her child’s English class used to cost about $20,000 a year before the “double reduction,” but now it’s twice as much due to a special arrangement for a private tutor. She estimated that her daughter’s extracurricular learning costs are more than $10,000 a month. Such tutoring expenses are affordable for the Wu family. However, most Beijing families earn only a quarter of her family’s income.

Another parent in Shanghai, surnamed Fan, said her daughter can only attend a tutorial class that has been converted to a non-profit organization due to the “double reduction” policy. To cut costs, the classes have switched from physical to online. Her child has not gained much and her grades have slipped.

Fan said that although she saved money on tutoring, she had to spend more time teaching her daughter. She found she could not teach as systematically as the tutoring class and she also said it was difficult for her to find underground tutoring as other parents have been reluctant to share their information. In some cases, parents worry someone might tip off the authorities. In others, it’s because the competition at their children’s schools is so fierce. They don’t want other children to have access to the same tutor.

Source: Central News Agency (Taiwan), July 26, 2022