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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

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

Two Incidents of Foreigners Being Stabbed in China Occurred in June

In June, two incidents of foreigners being stabbed in mainland China occurred. Chinese authorities claimed both were “isolated incidents,” but some analysts believe this is due to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) fostering and encouraging anti-foreign sentiment among the public.

On June 10, four teachers from Cornell College in Iowa, USA, were stabbed by a 55-year-old local man named Cui while at Beishan Park in Jilin City, Jilin Province. The attacker has been arrested, and the four teachers have returned to the United States. On June 24, at a school bus station in Suzhou City, Jiangsu Province, a Japanese woman in her thirties and her son were stabbed by a 52-year-old unemployed man named Zhou while waiting for another child to return home from school. A Chinese woman, Hu Youping, who tried to stop the attack, was stabbed multiple times by the assailant and unfortunately died later.

At the time of the Suzhou incident, numerous anti-Japanese comments appeared online, with some even praising the assailant’s actions as patriotic. To preserve its international image, the CCP removed the anti-Japanese comments and shifted the media narrative from “Chinese person stabs Japanese mother and child” to “Chinese person bravely saves Japanese mother and child.”

1. Epoch Times, June 26, 2024
2. Radio Free Asia, June 28, 2024

Xi Jinping Warned CCP Members Not to Touch the “High Voltage Line”

CCTV published an article titled “The General Secretary Warns Party Cadres Not to Touch This ‘High Voltage Line’.” It quotes Xi Jinping from 2015 to 2024 to warn the Chinese Communist Party cadres to be loyal. On January 1, 2024, the newly revised ” Regulations on Disciplinary Actions of the CCP Members” came into effect, outlining 37 “high voltage lines” across seven aspects for the Party organizations and members. On January 8, Xi stated the “Nine Musts,” which are also considered the “high voltage lines.” Observers have analyzed that the first three “musts,” which are to adhere to the centralized and unified leadership of the Party Central Committee, to lead the great social revolution, and to follow the ideology of socialism with Chinese characteristics of the new era, refer to absolutely safeguard Xi’s leadership and absolutely be loyalty to him.

Echoing the CCTV article, the South China Morning Post reported on June 16th that the Central Committee on Disciplinary Inspection issued a special report on June 12th, warning, “Do not openly speak ill of the Party on major issues,” and that “publicly expressing opinions that contradict the decisions of the Central Committee is absolutely not allowed.” The report also warned that “irresponsible discussions” of the Party’s major policies, “disrupting thoughts,” publicly criticizing party unity, and obstructing policy implementation will be “severely dealt with.”

Radio France International commented that these articles showed the politicla atmosphere in China is tense as the CCP’s Third Plenary Session of the 20th National Congress approaches.

1. Radio France International, June 17, 2024中国/20240617-勿碰高压线-习近平在警告谁
2. CCTV, June 17, 2024

China Publishes Tough Law on ‘Taiwan Independence Elements,’ Including Death Penalty

On May 26, 2024, China’s Supreme People’s Court, Supreme People’s Procuratorate, Ministry of Public Security, Ministry of State Security, and Ministry of Justice jointly issued a document titled “Opinions on Lawfully Punishing Stubborn ‘Taiwan Independence’ Elements for Crimes of Splitting the State and Incitement of Splitting the State.”

The document defines ‘the crime of splitting the state’ as:

(1) Initiating or establishing “Taiwan Independence” separatist organizations, planning or formulating “Taiwan Independence” separatist action programs, plans, or schemes, or directing members of “Taiwan Independence” separatist organizations or other individuals to engage in activities that split the state or undermine national unity.

(2) Formulating, amending, interpreting, or repealing relevant regulations in the Taiwan region or through “referendums”, in attempt to change the legal status of Taiwan as part of China.

(3) Attempting to create “two Chinas,” “one China, one Taiwan,” or “Taiwan independence” in the international community by promoting Taiwan’s membership in international organizations whose members are limited to sovereign states or through official exchanges or military contacts.

(4) Abusing authority power to extensively distort or falsify the fact that Taiwan is part of China in the fields of education, culture, history, or news media, or suppressing parties, groups, or individuals that support the peaceful development of cross-strait relations and national unity.

(5) Other actions attempting to separate Taiwan from China.

It defines the principal offenders or those with particularly serious crimes shall be sentenced to life imprisonment or fixed-term imprisonment of more than ten years. Among them, those causing particularly serious harm to the state and the people, as well as those with particularly heinous circumstances, may be sentenced to death. Active participants shall be sentenced to fixed-term imprisonment of more than three years but less than ten years. Other participants shall be sentenced to fixed-term imprisonment of less than three years, detention, control, or deprivation of political rights.

Source: China Review News, June 21, 2024

To Pressure Taiwan, China Suspends Tariff Concessions on 134 Taiwanese Products

On May 31, the Customs Tariff Commission of China’s State Council announced the suspension of tariff concessions on the second batch of products listed under the “Cross-Strait Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement.” Starting from June 15, preferential tariff rates under the agreement will no longer apply to 134 lines of products exported from Taiwan to China. These include certain auto parts, textiles, and petrochemical products.

Scholars believe this move is part of Beijing’s continued efforts to exert economic pressure on Taiwan. At the same time, most of the affected products are those for which China has overcapacity, meaning that Beijing can afford to reduce Taiwanese imports of those products. The move could be detrimental to cross-strait relations and may accelerate Taiwan’s decoupling from China.

Source: VOA, June 1, 2024

Beijing Sanctions U.S. Defense Contractors and Congressman Mike Gallagher

On May 20, Taiwan’s new President Lai Ching-te was sworn into office. On the same day, Beijing announced sanctions against three American defense contractors: General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, General Dynamics Land Systems, and Boeing Defense, Space & Security, for their involvement in arms sales to Taiwan.

On the next day, Beijing announced sanctions against Republican Congressman Mike Gallagher, who served as the Chairman of the House Select Committee on the Strategic Competition Between the United States and the Chinese Communist Party before resigning in April this year. The Chinese government said it will “freeze” Gallagher’s movable and immovable assets and other types of property within China; prohibit Chinese organizations and individuals from engaging in transactions, cooperation, or other activities with him; and deny him a visa and entry into China.

Gallagher, 40, has served as a federal congressman from Wisconsin since 2017. He is a staunch China hawk, having strongly condemned Beijing’s malign policies and practices, and having repeatedly expressed firm support for Taiwan. In February of this year, Gallagher led a delegation from the U.S. Congress to visit Taiwan, meeting with then-President Tsai Ing-wen and President-elect Lai Ching-te.

Source: VOA, May 21, 2024

Xinhua: U.S. is the Real Creator and Exacerbator of Ukraine Crisis

On May 11, Xinhua published a critical commentary saying that the U.S. is the creator and exacerbator of the Ukraine crisis and declaring that China is innocent on the matter. The below is a partial translation of the article.

The crisis in Ukraine, ongoing for over two years, is chiefly attributed to the United States’ geopolitical ambitions. Viewing NATO as a tool for hegemony, the US spearheaded NATO’s eastward expansion, disregarding Russia’s security concerns and pushing for Ukraine’s integration into NATO. By persistently exacerbating the crisis, the US aims to maintain its global dominance. Providing significant military aid to Ukraine, it has fostered a proxy war against Russia, leveraging the turmoil to bolster its geopolitical interests and its sales of natural gas and arms. However, the U.S.’s motivations lie not in concern for Ukrainian well-being or global stability, but in preserving the hegemonic status of the U.S. By crafting a “Ukraine trap,” it has sought to entangle Russia and assert control over Europe, ultimately reshaping the global geopolitical landscape to its advantage.

The U.S. is well aware of its role in the Ukrainian crisis. However, because of this, the guilt-ridden U.S. continually shifts blame and deflects attention regarding the crisis. Not only has it spread false information following the eruption of the crisis, blaming Russia on all counts, but the U.S. has also attempted to unfairly implicate China, which has no connection to the crisis. Recently, the U.S. has absurdly claimed that China helped Russia establish the Russian defense industry. Before U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s visit to China, the U.S. even threatened to sanction Chinese banks so as to hinder China’s ability to support Russian military production. China’s stance is clear: it is neither the creator of the Ukraine crisis, nor is it involved, and China has not engaged in any opportunistic behavior. China will not shoulder blame nor pay for others’ actions. The U.S. should stop smearing and pressuring China, and it should cease its unilateral sanctions on Chinese companies. Such irresponsible and deceitful behavior by the U.S. will only exacerbate the crisis, damage its own reputation, and backfire.

Source: Xinhua, May 11, 2024