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Briefings - 4. page

PLA Ordered 1.4 Million Bullet Proof Vests

Apple Daily, a media based in Hong Kong, reported that the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) opened a bid for suppliers to provide 1.4 million bullet proof vests, including 930,000 general vests and 467,000 vests with enhanced functions. The price may be up to 13.4 billion yuan (US $1.92 billion).

Currently the PLA army has 13 armies, with 850,000 soldiers. This order, being the largest bullet proof vest order, will give an average of 1.65 bullet proof vests per person.

Some analysts thinks this was the PLA’s deterrence to Taiwan.

Also, China revealed its second 075-class amphibious assault ship at the Zhonghua Shipyard in Shanghai. This type of ship is designed for “military actions against Taiwan.”

Source: Apple Daily, February 26, 2020
https://tw.appledaily.com/international/20200226/2RLO6JRQWZ2JZWNI2WXZKAZPXU/

China Threatened Czech Republic That Its Companies Will Be Punished if Czech Senate Speaker Visits Taiwan

On January 10, China’s Embassy in the Czech Republic, sent a letter to the Czech President’s Office, stating that, if the Czech Senate Speaker Jaroslav Kubera visited Taiwan, Czech companies operating in mainland China, such as Volkswagen subsidiary Skoda Auto or lender Home Credit Group, would be punished.

Kubera died unexpectedly on Jan. 20, before his trip took place.

The letter stated, “Czech companies whose representatives visit Taiwan with Chairman Kubera will not be welcome in China or with the Chinese people.”

“Czech companies who have economic interests in China will have to pay for Chairman Kubera’s visit to Taiwan. China is the largest foreign market for many Czech companies like Skoda Auto, Home Credit Group, Klaviry Petrof and others.”

The Czech president’s spokesman confirmed the letter had been received but did not comment on its contents.

Source: Reuters, February 19, 2020
https://www.reuters.com/article/us-china-czech-taiwan/china-threatened-to-harm-czech-companies-over-taiwan-visit-letter-idUSKBN20D0G3

Xinhua: China’s February PMI Declined Significantly

Xinhua recently reported, based on data that the Chinese National Bureau of Statistics released, that China’s February manufacturing PMI index saw a free fall to 35.7 percent, down by 14.3 percentage points from January. Apparently the coronavirus pandemic was a direct cause of the sharp decline. Among the sub-indexes of the manufacturing PMI, month-over-month, new orders fell 22.1 percent, the raw material inventory fell 13.2 percent, employment fell 15.7 percent, and supplier delivery time fell 17.8 percent. All aspects of manufacturing in China suffered major slow-downs in February. In the meantime, non-manufacturing PMI declined 24.5 percentage points to 29.6 percent, month-over-month. However, financial services and capital market activities are still expanding. For the sectors of broadcasting, satellite services, and internet services, the market saw minor declines – significantly above average. The construction sector had the most significant decline with a month-over-month drop of 33.1 percentage points, to 26.6 percent. China’s overall PMI for February was 28.9 percent, which was 24.1 percent below January. PMI is an indicator of financial activity reflecting purchasing managers’ acquisition of goods and services. A PMI number below 50 typically reflects a decline.

Source: Xinhua, February 29, 2020
http://www.xinhuanet.com/fortune/2020-02/29/c_1125642377.htm

Carrie Lam Plans to Use Coronavirus Containment to Boost the Establishments’ Position in Upcoming Election

Apple Daily reported that it obtained a copy of a report that Hong Kong Executive Carrie Lam sent to Beijing. In the report, Lam mentioned that the coronavirus containment could be used to create a favorable environment for the establishment in the upcoming Legislative Council election in September.

The report said:

From the election politics, the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR) hopes to obtain citizens’ recognition and support by using the effective control of the epidemic in order to create a favorable environment for the establishment. Therefore, we are requesting the Central government to continue to assist the Hong Kong SAR to solve two urgent issues:

1. Allow specified mask and protective equipment manufacturers to continue to deliver supplies to Hong Kong and provide machinery and raw materials to Hong Kong manufacturers who set up local mask production lines.

2. Allow the SAR government to discuss with the Hubei Provincial / Wuhan Municipal government to arrange for Hong Kong people stranded in the local area to return to Hong Kong in batches.

If the Central government can support the completion of these two works, the Hong Kong SAR could retain its administrative reputation and also let the Hong Kong people feel the central government’s care under the ‘one country, two systems’ structure. (We) believe it will be a rare opportunity to change the situation before the Legislative Election in September.

Hong Kong’s Establishment (pro-Beijing group) suffered a big loss in the District Council elections last year because the SAR government took a hardline position against the Hong Kong protests and refused to respond to the public’s demands.

Source: Apple Daily, February 23, 2020
https://hk.appledaily.com/local/20200223/AUBAU7W7CNESCJQTRZAS5MN7RY/

US Embassy in China Posted Pompeo’s Speech on China Expelling Wall Street Journal Reporters

The United States Embassy in China placed a post on its own website in Chinese. It included excerpts from the speech that Secretary of State Pompeo made at the press conference held on February 25, 2020 (original English speech can be found at: https://www.state.gov/secretary-michael-r-pompeo-remarks-to-the-press-5/).

The original transcript is below:

“Expelling our journalists exposes, once again, the governance issue that led to SARS, and now, the coronavirus, namely censorship.  It can have deadly consequences.  Had China permitted its own and foreign journalists and medical personnel to speak and investigate freely, Chinese officials and other nations would have been far better prepared to address the challenge.

QUESTION:  On China, you have issued a strong statement to condemn China for expelling The Wall Street Journal reporters.  What other options being considered by the United States to respond?  And what is your take on this headline controversy that some of The Wall Street Journal’s China staff have asked the paper to apologize and that the headline was considered by the Chinese Government to be racist?

SECRETARY POMPEO:  So with respect to the decision that the Chinese Communist Party made to expel three Wall Street Journal journalists, we made a statement; we’ve condemned it.  We’ve condemned it because it’s the wrong thing to do from a perspective of freedom.  We talk about reciprocity and what Chinese media outlets have access to or are permitted to do here in the United States.  That is not the case for U.S. media outlets or, for that matter, other non-Chinese media outlets inside of China as well.  So there’s an important principle there that we want to defend.

But second, it’s also incredibly important that we get accurate information about what’s taking place there. With respect to the coronavirus, this data set matters. This information matters. The tactical situation on the ground matters, not only to assist us in helping the Chinese people, which we are committed to continuing to do, but to make sure that we are helping citizens all across the world, including citizens right here in the United States.

So we think that information flow inside of China is at a critical moment.  It’s always important that we get good information, that there’s free press everywhere. But it’s especially essential at this time, where data and information matter because they provide things that go beyond anecdote so that we can respond in a way that meets the actual threat, not based on anecdote and rumor.

I don’t want to get ahead of what our policy options are that are being considered.  We’re looking at a broad range of things.  We will take the appropriate action and, if necessary, we’ll make sure that the President also gets a chance to weigh in on this decision as we move through our decision-making process.”

Source: US Embassy and Consulates in China website, February 25, 2020
https://china.usembassy-china.org.cn/zh/remarks-to-the-press-by-secretary-michael-r-pompeo-excerpts-zh/

RTHK: Japan Strengthens Approval Process on Foreign Investments

Radio Television Hong Kong (RTHK, the top government-owned broadcasting organization of Hong Kong) recently reported that Japan plans to strengthen its review and approval process of foreign investments significantly. It will do this in 12 key categories, including national defense, nuclear, air and space, public services, natural gas, network security, and telecommunications. Foreign investments that will take a one percent or more stake in Japanese companies in these categories will require a review and approval first. The criteria used to be ten percent. There are around 400 to 500 publicly listed Japanese companies fitting the criteria. The Japanese government plans to announce the official list of companies in April. In the meantime, the Japanese congress is planning to pass a new law tightening up reporting requirements on foreign investments in national security related companies. Analysts expressed the belief that Japan is concerned that China is trying to obtain critical technologies. The Japanese Deputy Prime Minister pointed out that the new law is to address certain concerns on national security, but it is also designed to welcome more investments. The new approval process is expected to take effect in May.

Source: RTHK, February 21, 2020
https://news.rthk.hk/rthk/ch/component/k2/1509965-20200221.htm?spTabChangeable=0

UDN: The U.S. Plans to Restrict China’s Use of Chip-Making Equipment

United Daily News (UDN), one of the primary Taiwanese news groups, recently reported that the U.S. Trump administration is considering a new trade restriction. This time it points to banning China from using U.S. chip-making equipment for manufacturing. The U.S. Department of Commerce is planning to amend its policies around Country of Origin, which means if it is national security related, there will be more restrictions on foreign vendors who want to use U.S. technology based equipment. This may result in a requirement to obtain prior U.S. permission for foreign manufacturers to produce chips to supply Huawei. Analysts expressed the belief that the new policy aims to slow down China’s speed of improving its technologies. However, the plan may also bring the risk of disrupting the global supply chain of the U.S. giants in the semiconductor industry. The plan is still under debate within the U.S. federal government.

Source: UDN, February 17, 2020
https://udn.com/news/story/12639/4351556

Beijing Daily: Car Sales in the First Half of February Dropped 92 Percent

Beijing Daily recently reported that the China Passenger Car Association (CPCA) just released data showing that, in the first half of February, Chinese passenger car sales saw a landslide decline. Year-over-year domestic sales recorded a 92 percent decline, which is the sharpest drop in history. Apparently, the spreading coronavirus is having an impact on the economy. Most of the car dealerships across China are still not open for business. Some have initiated online sales but have not received much business. China’s Ministry of Commerce commented that the central government is coming up with a plan to encourage consumers to spend on cars. Some local governments have already announced new government subsidies for new purchases of both commercial and passenger automobiles. According to the CPCA, in January, the Chinese automobile market already saw a year-over-year decline of 21.5 percent.

Source: Beijing Daily, February 21, 2020
http://www.bjd.com.cn/a/202002/21/WS5e4f97abe4b0b1db6f9b8bd3.html

The Paper: Bloomberg’s First Debate Performance a Major Disappointment

Well-known new Chinese news site The Paper recently reported that the U.S. Democratic Party had its ninth TV presidential debate in Las Vegas on February 19. The much-hyped former New York mayor Michael Bloomberg made his first debate appearance. However, his performance was a major blow to those who had high hopes for him. The current Democratic presidential field is quite chaotic, though Senator Bernie Sanders has shown some lead. With this background, many saw Bloomberg as someone who could unite the party. However, the other five candidates attacked him heavily while he showed no capability of handling the situation successfully. It was widely expected that Bloomberg would face serious attacks on his wealth as well as previous his record during his time when he served as the New York mayor, such as his Stop and Frisk policy. Bloomberg could not address the issues confidently even with weeks of prior preparations, while Sanders demonstrated strong personality and aggressiveness. U.S. news site Politico described Bloomberg’s performance as a disaster. The Washington Post pointed out that, after seeing the debate, many voters gave up believing that Bloomberg would be the one who could actually challenge Trump. Bloomberg’s lack of charisma may have a big negative impact on his Super Tuesday performance in less than two weeks. Former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden did not have a good performance in the same debate either.

Source: The Paper, February 21, 2020
https://www.thepaper.cn/newsDetail_forward_6058362

Foreign Affairs Ministry Spokesperson on Revoking Press Credentials of Three Wall Street Journal Reporters

Many questions were raised regarding China’s decision to revoke the press credentials of three Wall Street Journal reporters at the press conference that Geng Shuang, the spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, gave on February 20.

One question asked was whether China’s action was a response to the United States designating five Chinese media companies as “foreign missions.” Geng didn’t give a direct answer.

Instead, Geng criticized the Wall Street Journal for publishing an article (“China Is the Real Sick Man of Asia”) that slandered China. He repeated exactly the same statement in his answers to four different questions, which seemed to indicate that Beijing was targeting the Wall Street Journal as a whole, though the three reporters may have had nothing to do with that article.

Question: The commentary department of the Wall Street Journal published the article insulting China. The three reporters are in the news reporting department. Before revoking the credentials of these three reporters, who had nothing to do with the insulting article, did China ask the Wall Street Journal for an apology or try other mediation measures?

Answer: … We are not interested in the internal work assignment (of different people) at the Wall Street Journal. There is just one Wall Street Journal in the world. They must be responsible for their actions.

Question: What if those three reporters got their reporter credentials revoked?

Answer: … We are not interested in the internal work assignment (of different people) at the Wall Street Journal. There is just one Wall Street Journal in the world. They must be responsible for their actions.

Question: It was reported that the CEO of Dow Jones, the publisher of the Wall Street Journal expressed that the article was from its Commentary department. Whether people agree with it or not, the newspaper can provide an opportunity to release all different opinions. How will China comment on it?

Answer: … We are not interested in the internal work assignment (of different people) at the Wall Street Journal. There is just one Wall Street Journal in the world. They must be responsible for their actions. …

Question: These three reporters were from the news reporting department, not the commentary department and had not participated in the article which insulted China. Why did China revoke their reporter credentials? On which law did China base its measure?

Answer: … We are not interested in the internal work assignment (to different people) at the Wall Street Journal. There is just one Wall Street Journal in the world. They must be responsible for their actions. …

Source: The Foreign Affairs Ministry website, February 20, 2020
https://www.fmprc.gov.cn/web/fyrbt_673021/jzhsl_673025/t1747499.shtml