To celebrate the centenary of the founding of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), the state Film Administration issued a “Notice on the commencement of the exhibition and screening of outstanding films to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Chinese Communist Party.” The Notice required that, from April to December, all cinemas across the country show at least two “red movies” every week, promoting the CCP.
The CCP’s mouthpiece media People’s Daily Online reported that the notice requires that two movie theater alliances – The People’s Cinema and The Nationwide Alliance of Arthouse Cinemas – are tasked with no less than 5 “Red Movies” per week. The notice asked that, nationwide, urban and rural communities and school campuses conduct movie screening activities having the theme of the celebration of the 100th anniversary of the CCP. CCP members and officials are to be organized to watch some “key films on CCP history” together.
Source: Central News Agency, April 7, 2021
The primary Taiwanese news agency Central News Agency (CNA) recently reported that Liu Yuguang, a mainland China scholar on Buddhism, warned that the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) uses Buddhism as a diplomacy tool in order to expand its influence over Southeast Asian governments.
Liu Yuguang, an associate professor at the School of Philosophy, Fudan University, Shanghai, made these remarks at a lecture on Buddhism that the Institute of East Asian Studies of National Chengchi University held in Taiwan.
According to Liu, the CCP is attempting to legitimize its claim that China is a “Buddhist power” by touting the fact that the total number of Buddhist believers in mainland China exceeds those in other Southeast Asian countries. Also, since Buddhism in India has declined, the CCP has been promoting China as the “new motherland of Buddhism.” It is part of the CCP’s internal propaganda that “Buddhism is the Chinese people’s religion,” which is used to stoke nationalism. However, although the CCP provides some breathing space for Buddhism, it is a quid pro quo. “I let you live, so you have to serve me.”
While domestically, the CCP views religions as a national security matter, such as subversion, secession, and religious terrorism, it has not neglected turning Buddhism into a diplomacy tool for foreign relations.
According to Liu, the CCP has realized that Confucius Institutes outside China have failed as a large-scale foreign propaganda tool because people think that “after all, they [Confucius Institutes] are merely about Chinese.” To expand the CCP’s influence effectively, it has turned to Buddhism as a propaganda tool in its attempts to influence Southeast Asian countries’ believers in Buddhism and their governments. Because Buddhism is practiced throughout Asia, the CCP believes that using Buddhism in its diplomacy will eventually help influence the Asian governments.
For example, the CCP has established religious educational institutions in mainland China such as the Nanhai Buddhist Academy on Hainan Island. The purpose is not to offer training to domestic religious communities but to attract monks from Southeast Asian countries such as Cambodia and Laos. The religious educational institutions help the CCP cultivate relationships with Southeast Asian countries and ultimately use religion to influence political circles in Southeast Asian countries and to lobby and promote bilateral relations on terms favorable to China.
Source: CNA, April 1, 2021.
This year, the Qingming Festival fell on Sunday April 4. It is an important date in the traditional Chinese lunar New Year calendar as that is when millions travel to tend to the graves of their ancestors and family members, offering flowers and burning incense.
Xiaoxiang Morning News, an influential local newspaper in Hunan province, reported that 320,000 people packed the mausoleums and grave yards in Wuhan city on the eve of the Qingming Festival. The report also said that in order to buy a bunch of chrysanthemum, a traditional funeral flower, Wuhanese came out early in the morning and waited in long lines, even though there was a short of supply and the price was high. With too many people buying the flower, Wuhan ran out of chrysanthemum. When a Chinese writer Yan Xiaoyi shared the story on her social media account, someone reported her and her account was banned.
According to official figures, as of April 16 last year, the number of deaths from the Corona virus in China was 3,869; Wuhan accounted for nearly two-thirds of the total number of infections and more than three-quarters of the deaths.
The Civil Affairs Office of the Hubei province government released the information that, in the first quarter of last year, more than 150,000 seniors in the province suddenly disappeared from the list of benefit recipients. The authorities refused to offer an explanation, and forbade the media or individuals from collecting statistics on funeral related information.
Source: Radio Free Asia, April 5, 2021
Well-known Chinese news site Sina (NASDAQ: SINA) recently reported that Federal Communications Commission (FCC) commissioner Brendan Carr called for new rules to ensure that Huawei and ZTE telecommunications technology and equipment will not enter the U.S. telecom network. Carr also proposed that the FCC should not allow equipment made with “forced labor” to enter the United States. The FCC set a rule in 2020 to ban the use of government funds to buy Huawei and ZTE equipment but allowed the telecom operators to use their own money to acquire such equipment. Carr described this as an “obvious loophole.” A spokesperson said that the FCC is working hard at addressing Carr’s concerns. At the end of 2020, the FCC asked American telecom operators to replace the acquired equipment. Congress also agreed to fund this plan with US$1.9 billion.
Source: Sina, April 1, 2021
Global Times, a daily newspaper under the auspices of the Chinese Communist Party‘s flagship newspaper, People’s Daily, recently reported that U.S. Secretary of State Blinken reiterated the Trump administration’s determination last year that Hong Kong no longer enjoys the autonomous trade and financial special treatment it had after the handover of sovereignty in 1997. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying responded on April 1st that Hong Kong’s development has never been the result of foreign gifts. The cancellation or threat of cancellation of the so-called special treatment by the United States cannot stop Hong Kong’s direction towards prosperity. She said the U.S. position disregarded basic facts, made groundless accusations against the Chinese Central Government and the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government, and seriously interfered with China’s internal affairs. Hong Kong is on its path to merging into its motherland. She also called for an immediate stop to the U.S. intervention in Hong Kong’s affairs in order to establish better conditions for the return of a healthy and stable U.S.-China relationship.
Source: Global Times, April 1, 2021
Popular Chinese technology news site CNBeta recently reported that a global chip shortage has intensified since the end of last year and has heavily impacted most of the major automobile manufacturers across the board. The British market research firm IHS Markit expected that, for the first quarter of this year, around one million automobiles will suffer delivery delays due to a car chip shortage. Analysts expressed the belief that the imbalance of supply and demand that the pandemic brought about was the main cause of the semiconductor shortage. The stay-home orders created a large wave of chip demand on personal computers, cellphones, game stations and other consumer electronic products that shifted chip production from automobiles to home devices. The recent fire at the Japanese chipmaker Renesas and the extreme weather in Texas contributed to the chip shortage as well. This trend is pushing the U.S. government and the European Union to start investments in domestic semiconductor manufacturing capabilities. Intel just announced a US$20 billion investment in Arizona for a new factory. Even South Korea, as one of the world’s biggest chip exporters, is forming an alliance with Samsung, SK Hynix and Hyundai to expand its domestic car chip manufacturing.
Source: CNBeta, March 31, 2021
Di Dongsheng is a professor and vice dean of the School of International Studies (SIS) at Renmin University and deputy director and secretary-general of the China Center for Foreign Strategic Studies. Di is known for a public speech he made last November in which he boasted that China has influence in the U.S. political circles. [Editor’s note: That article “CCP Scholar: CCP Can Use Wall Street to Influence the U.S. Political Circle, December 6, 2020, can be seen at http://chinascope.org/archives/25265]
In a video published in February this year, Di gave another talk titled, “Belt and Road 2.0 in the Post COVID 19 Era: Exporting China’s Governance Experience and Capability.” In this talk, Di stated, “The goal of the Belt and Road initiative is to internationalize the Renminbi (Chinese Yuan) and replace the U.S. dollar.”
Di said that the Belt and Road initiative is not about (controlling) resources, in fact it is about defining the value of the RMB: “We go after the younger generations in the belt and road countries. They don’t have money but they want to buy things. We loan money to them. We invest in them. We hire them. Once they have income and money, they will buy products made in China. We will continue to use the money and loan it to them and eventually we will let the people in those countries be part of the Renminbi currency cycle.” Di proposed a model in which Beijing would build special zones (like the Shenzhen special economic zone) in the belt and road countries and then the Chinese people would migrate there. Beijing would still hold the governing power over the Chinese migrants and the local ethnic population in the zone. He also claimed that, “China’s national debt will become the global value-based benchmark. The Chinese people’s consumption power will give birth to the world’s largest market and the Renminbi will become the future world’s currency.
Gong Shengli, a Chinese economist, slammed Di’s statements saying it was merely empty talk because there is lack of trust in the Renminbi in the world and in China’s one-party political system. Gong questioned how many countries have purchased Chinese bonds and where the economic return is from the Belt and Road Initiative. A Taiwanese economist Wu Jialong said that Di’s statements were simply to please Beijing which is in line with China’s rising power narrative.
1. NTDTV, April 2, 2021
2. Guan Video, February 3, 2021
April 4 is the day for the Qingming Festival, also known as Tomb-Sweeping Day when Chinese families visit their ancestors’ graves.
The data released by the China Funeral Association in 2014 show that funeral services reached 200 billion yuan in 2014. The funeral industry has developed into a booming sector.
According to analysts, China’s funeral industry’s market size was about 263.8 billion yuan in 2020 and may reach 411.4 billion yuan by 2026. Based on the data available, the gross profit margin of leading funeral service companies has been over 80 percent, far exceeding that of leading real estate companies in China, which hovers between 22 and 25 percent.
Behind the funeral industry’s profits are the public’s concerns that the rising cost of funerals means that people will soon be unable to afford funeral services.
A survey report on global funeral expenses by the British life insurance agency SunLife shows that the average funeral expenses worldwide are about 10 percent of the annual income of the local people. For China, however, funeral expenses (37,375 yuan or around US $5,690.90) account for about 45.4 percent of the average annual salaries, ranking second globally.
Source: Tencent, April 3, 2021.