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US-China Relations

People Cheer as China Closes U.S. Consulate in Chengdu

On Friday July 24, after China announced the closure of the U.S. consulate general in Chengdu, China’s official media, including CCTV  began broadcasting live images outside the consulate on social media platforms. At the peak, more than 20 million people were watching. The state media showed images of trucks leaving the U.S. consulate, while the signs and nameplates on the outer wall of the consulate were being removed. Many people went to the consulate for a visit. Some of them held Chinese flags and tried to take a picture in front of the consulate. Dozens of police officers were stationed outside the consulate. They asked onlookers not to stay and tried to stop any provocative behavior. Fire trucks were also at the scene to prevent possible accidents. One man was taken into police custody because he was shouting, “China Add Oil (Go China)! I am a Chinese.” The police fined another man because he tried to light a fire cracker outside the consulate. When a bus with brown tinted glass left the consulate, the onlookers started booing. One 63-year-old man told Reuters that closing the consulate was a reciprocal action that China took against the US. Another video circulating online showed a man between 50 and 60 years old choked up. He said, “The U.S. should be a friend.” Many others were afraid to speak to the media and refused to be interviewed.

In this diplomatic war between the U.S. and China, Zhuang Zuyi, the wife of Jim Mullinax, the American consulate general in Chengdu, and a Taiwanese food writer was also accidentally involved. Zhuang often writes on Weibo about food and life in Chengdu and never hides her love for Sichuan province. She has performed on the street of Chengdu and has close to 600,000 followers on Weibo. Since the news of the closure of the Chengdu consulate, Zhuang’s social media account has been flooded with thousands of angry comments calling her “spy” and “Taiwan Independent.”

The US Embassy in China posted a video and wrote on its official Twitter account on Monday, July 27, “Today, we bid farewell to the U.S. Consulate in Chengdu. We will always miss you.” People commented that they appreciated the help from the US. They are hoping for a free China and are looking forward to the return of the consulate back in Chengdu in the near future.

1. BBC Chinese, July 27, 2020

2. Epoch Times, July 27, 2020

Is China Getting Ready for War?

As the U.S.-China relationship has deteriorated, China has begun spreading an atmosphere of getting ready for war. On July 25, 2020, in Beijing, posters on how to handle air raids, which had not been posted for nearly 50 years, appeared in Beijing’s Haidian District. A video circulating on the Internet shows that air-raid billboards were on display, which reminded residents “how to enter an air-raid shelter quickly after hearing the alarm …”

In some places along China’s southeast coast, public announcements are posted, notifying people that retired naval and air force personnel, including their families, must go and register with the community neighborhood committee, which indicates that these people may be called to return to the military at any time.

According to a  notice issued by the Shuiyun Street Community Neighborhood Committee in Chongqing City, Sichuan Province, on July 24, 2020, families of active-duty border/island officers and soldiers living in its jurisdiction, especially those stationed in Xinjiang, Tibet, Yunnan, Guangxi, Hainan, and at other borders and islands, are required to register with the community neighborhood committee.

On the evening of July 27, Beijing time, the Chinese Communist Party media CCTV Headline News broadcasted a piece of old news that in January 2020, Xi Jinping wrote to the Top Gun Sixth Company of the People’s Liberation Army, emphasizing that the military must follow the CCP command to prepare for war.

1. Radio Free Asia, July 27, 2020
2. Voice of America, July 28, 2020

Pompeo’s Advisor’s Name Removed from Honor Stone in China

Miles Yu became immediately famous after the Washington Times reported that Yu is a chief China policy adviser at the U.S. State Department. Recently the high school that Yu once attended in China chiseled his name off the honor stone tablet.

Miles Yu, 57, graduated from Yongchuan High School in Chongqing city in 1979. In the same year, he was admitted to the prestigious Nankai University for having the highest scorer in liberal arts field in Sichuan Province on the national college entrance examination. Over the years, Yongchuan High School has engraved the names of top-score graduates on a campus stone tablet in commemoration.

Radio France International (RFI) shows a video in which a stonemason hired by the school was using an iron chisel to scrape away the characters of Yu’s Chinese name from the stone, followed by comments from overseas Chinese community, such as

A: Sooner or later, this name will be engraved again.
B: It turns out that Mr. Yu was the number one student on the college entrance examination and I admire him even more.
C: This is a magic country where history can be tampered with.

There were also some from mainland China, such as

D: The imperialistic U.S. government uses a person who has been away from China for so long to make its China policy. It will only get worse and worse. Let the name be kept as a laughing stock.
E: Maybe it (the name) will be engraved again someday.
F: By doing this, won’t it make people be more curious about the name that was erased, and attract more attention?

Source: Central News Agency, July 29, 2020

CCP Scholar: CCP Can Cut Down the Number of U.S. Diplomatic Staff if U.S. Closes another Consulate

On July 24, The United States closed the Chinese Consulate in Houston, Texas. Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs David R. Stilwell said the consulate was the command center for Beijing to develop students and spies and to gather economic and military intelligence.

Recently, Cai Wei, China’s Consul General in Houston, along with two other Chinese diplomats brought a few passengers to the boarding gate of a special flight that the Chinese government arranged for Chinese citizens at the Houston airport. However, the birthdate on one of the traveler’ ID cards was incorrect.

On July 21, the Chinese staff started burning things inside the consulate. The flames and smoke from the fires was visible from outside. Firefighters were called to come to the scene, but the consulate didn’t let them in.

Beijing closed the U.S. Consulate in Chengdu City, Sichuan Province, in retaliation.

However, Huanqiu (the Global Times), a hawkish state-controlled media with a strong anti-America attitude, published an article on July 24, showing a softer tone.

It quoted from Lv Xiang, a researcher at the Institute of American Studies, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, that from the perspective of confronting China, it is not impossible for the U.S. to close more Chinese consulates (e.g. the San Francisco Consulate). Beijing can consider responding by cutting down the number of U.S. diplomatic staff, especially the staff doing intelligence work in Hong Kong.

However, the article did not suggest closing another U.S. consulate as a reciprocal countermeasure.

1. BBC, July 22, 2020
2. Huanqiu, July 24, 2020

Beijing to Deploy Korean War TV Dramas to Arouse Nationalism

China’s National Radio and Television Administration (NRTA) is a ministry-level executive agency that controls state-owned TV and radio broadcasters, as well as other non-state movie and television studios. On July 17, NRTA held a nationwide video conference with its subsidiary entities to arrange and schedule TV dramas that have the theme of the Sino-Japanese War during WWII and the Korean War. The Chinese government has been calling the former  the War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression and the later the War to Resist US Aggression and Aid Korea. It also emphasized TV dramas with the themes of battling the corona virus so as to “tell the touching story of China’s action against the (Wuhan) pneumonia epidemic.”

The year 2020 marks the 75th anniversary of the victory in the Sino-Japanese War, which was actually fought by the Nationalist government, the predecessor of today’s Taiwan government. It lost the civil war to the Communists in 1949. To Beijing, the Sino-US relations pose the biggest challenge since the establishment of diplomatic relations. The theme of the Korean War has also become the focus of the regime’s propaganda. Claiming to be the winner of the war, for decades, the Chinese Communist Party has been using it to promote anti-American nationalist sentiments .

Source: Central News Agency, July 23, 2020.

Lianhe Zaobao: Chinese Banks Adjust Plans in Response to U.S. Sanctions

Singapore’s primary Chinese language newspaper, Lianhe Zaobao, recently reported that, according to internal sources from five major China state-owned banks, the Chinese banking industry is updating emergency plans in order to deal with potential new U.S. regulations that may add more sanctions against China after implementing the Hong Kong National Security Law. The Bank of China as well as the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China are preparing for the worst-case scenario which would be losing the source for obtaining U.S. Dollars or the potential of losing the clearing mechanism in the U.S. Dollar system. One source said that one never knows what will actually happen; it is better to hope for the best and prepare for the worst. A new U.S. regulation just passed both chambers (still pending Trump’s signature) which will allow the punishment of banks working with the individuals identified by the U.S. government as having helped destroy Hong Kong’s autonomy. The banks also considered the case of a run on the Bank of China, HK Branch, as well as the lessons that Iranian banks currently suffering from U.S. sanctions have learned. Some Chinese international equipment leasing companies are going through similar exercises.

Source: Lianhe Zaobao, July 10, 2020

Lianhe Zaobao: Intel Put Supplying Chinese Manufacturer on Hold

Singapore’s primary Chinese language newspaper Lianhe Zaobao recently reported that, in order to comply with the U.S. government’s new export restrictions, Intel has put supplying Chinese manufacturer Inspur Group on hold. Intel explained in an announcement that the move was solely to ensure that U.S. laws are followed. Inspur Group is China’s largest computer server manufacturer and is ranked number three in the world. It is a large customer of Intel’s and Inspur’s entire product line of families uses Intel processors. Intel’s decision formed a strike on Inspur’s future, causing its stock to fall five percent within a day. The U.S. Department of Defense established a 20-company list not long ago identifying Chinese companies either owned or controlled by the Chinese military. According to new U.S. regulations, these companies are banned from obtaining advanced U.S. technologies. The list includes both Huawei and Inspur. Inspur manufactures both traditional servers and Artificial Intelligence (AI) servers.

Source: Lianhe Zaobao, July 3, 2020

A Xi’an Company Banned the Use of the Apple iPhone

Well-known Chinese news site Tencent News recently reported that a company in the City of Xi’an just issued a company-wide ban on the use of the Apple iPhone. Any company employee found using an Apple iPhone will be fined six months’ worth of merit pay, which will be directly deducted from payroll. In the meantime, if an employee buys a Huawei cellphone, the company will award RMB 100 (around US$14). The company also pays any employee RMB 1000 (around US$140) for a domestically made car purchase. The story went viral online among Chinese netizens. It triggered a heavy debate on what is the right take on American products. However, not long ago, Apple iPhone 11 sales ranked among the top two across several major Chinese online retailers. It shows that Apple iPhones are widely recognized among Chinese consumers. Among the online discussions of the event, the population appears to be very divided. Many suggested their own companies had similar policies but they may not be published. Some suggested the iPhone buyers should be fired directly. However, a large number of people thought the fine was too extreme, and some even suggested that the fined iPhone buyers sue the company. Technical netizens also pointed out that Huawei products also use American technology.

Source: Tencent News, June 8, 2020