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Tianqi Lithium to Acquire World’s Second Largest Lithium Manufacturer

Well-known Chinese news site Sohu recently reported that China’s largest Lithium-based battery material vendor Tianqi Lithium is in the process of acquiring 24 percent of Chile’s Sociedad Quimica Y Minera (SQM) with US$4.3 billion. SQM is the world’s second largest Lithium manufacturer. Canadian fertilizer manufacturer Nutrien previously owned the shares. Tianqi already owns 2.1 percent of the shares of SQM. The additional 24 percent can allow Tianqi to name three seats in the eight-seat SQM board. SQM currently produces 48,000 tons of Lithium Carbonate annually. The expected production in 2019 is 100,000 tons. Lithium Carbonate is the primary material to make rechargeable batteries to be used in products like hybrid cars. Since 2000, the global market for Lithium Carbonate has been growing at an annual pace of 7.2 percent. The deal is still pending approval from the Chilean government, which is conducting an antitrust review.

Source: Sohu, May 17, 2018

BBC Chinese: Hong Kong Reporters Were Beaten up in Mainland China

BBC Chinese recently reported that, not long ago, unknown attackers beat up reporters from Hong Kong media. One latest example was Hong Kong’s Now TV reporter Xu Junming. Five under-cover policemen beat him while he was reporting on a hearing that the Beijing Lawyers’ Association had organized. Their Discipline Committee was punishing human rights lawyer Xie Yanyi. Xie represented Falun Gong practitioners in court. Xu is fully licensed and authorized to report in Mainland China. Another example occurred four days earlier than that. Two unknown men attacked Hong Kong Cable TV reporter Chen Haohui in Sichuan Province while he was reporting on the 10-year anniversary of the 512 Wenchuan Earthquake. These incidents triggered a wave of criticism in Mainland social media. According to Reporters Without Borders, China was ranked number 176 in the Freedom of Press Index, only better than Syria, Turkmenistan, Eritrea and North Korea.

Source: BBC Chinese, May 17, 2018

Social Credit Rating System Restricted over Ten Million from Purchasing Airline or High Speed Train Tickets

RFA reported that since China launched its social credit system, over 10 million people have been restricted from purchasing airline or high speed train tickets due to their poor social credit rating. The social credit system collects data from an individual’s financial records, social behavior such as traffic violations, criminal records, or academic integrity records. The social credit system score is then used to control the individual’s whole life, such as whether he will be restricted from leaving the country, whether he will be accepted by a school, and whether he can become a civil servant. According to a commentary that the article quoted, the social credit score in other countries is used for rating financial credit. However, in China, financial institutions are not the only ones that use the information on an individual’s social credit score. It also contains information that government agencies can use. That information is not used just to manage society, but rather to control society.

Source: RFA, May 18, 2018

Video of Speech Made at Stability Mobilization Conference Leaked

Epoch Times reported that a video recording from an internal stability mobilization conference held in Hebei Province was recently leaked. The recording showed that China imposes strict control over mobile phones and WeChat activities and still maintains the strategy of having “tight control internally over its people but appearing relaxed on the surface” while imposing a harsh cracking down on dissidents such as petitioners. It is unknown when the meeting was held, but in the recording, the person who is the head of the Political Consultative committee said that, as long as one has a cell phone, his whereabouts would be very easy to track. Any posting on Wechat is traceable. He stressed that all the surveillance activity must be handled quietly and that anyone planning to go to Beijing to petition for their rights is considered “anti-party” and “anti-government” and must be stopped using any means. The recording showed that the participants include people in charge of the local Political Consultative committee, the civil court, the public security bureau, cadres from the police station, and managers of departments at the village and county levels.

Source: Epoch Times, May 15, 2018

China’s Vice Premier’s Statement on Trade Negotiation Differed from Joint Statement the White House Issued

In an article Xinhua published on May 20, Liu He, the Vice Premier of China, told the media that the biggest achievement made during the trade negotiation between China and the U.S. was that both parties reached consensus on not engaging in a trade war and on not imposing tariffs on imports. However, a news article Duowei published reported that Liu He’s statement differed from the joint statement that the White House issued. It said that even though China and the U.S. reached an agreement during the trade negotiation, the joint statement didn’t clearly mention that both sides would give up imposing tariffs.

1. Duowei, May 19, 2018
2. Xinhua, May 20, 2018

Duowei: Trump’s Miscalculation in the ZTE Crisis

Duowei News, a Pro-Beijing Chinese media in the U.S., published an article commenting on U.S. President Trump’s change of attitude toward the Chinese tech company ZTE Corporation. Below is an excerpt from the article:

On May 13, Trump said on Twitter that he is working together with Chinese President Xi Jinping to resolve the plight of China’s ZTE Corporation. In response, the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs answered on May 14, saying that China appreciates the positive attitude of the U.S. on the issue of ZTE Corporation and is maintaining close communication with the U.S. on the implementation of specific details. Indeed, this tweet suddenly showed an appearance of goodwill toward ZTE. However, if we review the entire ZTE event, we can see that this “play” performed by Trump has ulterior motives. The ZTE incident itself is not a trade issue, but it was forced to wear a trade war hat because of the timing of the U.S. review.

The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs “appreciated” this (Trump’s reversal of ZTE’s punishment). Trump could use it to tout his ability to “be able to make friends with China and protect the interests of the United States at the same time.” However, Trump’s “miscalculation” lies in the structural contradiction between China and the United States. Whoever laughs until the end is the one who laughs the best. The so-called “China-U.S. trade war” continues to this day. The issue of trade between China and the United States is no longer the core issue. The prominent structural contradictions will be the biggest crux of Sino-U.S. relations for a considerable period of time into the future. This “war” is a protracted war. It not only requires strength but also patience. From the first severe punishment to the sudden change in the attitude of the United States, it will not be so important whether it will eventually bring about the rebirth of ZTE. What is important is that this move of the United States completely awakens the Chinese scientific and technological community. Due to the economic take-off and some achievements in the field of science and technology, many people in China have indeed forgotten that there is still a huge gap remaining with the United States. The issue of “China Chip” has exposed China’s problem of independent research and development. It has become a catalyst for China’s scientific and technological research and development.

After the ZTE incident, not only did China’s official media People’s Daily surprisingly express that China had to “increase chip investments at all cost.” Xi Jinping also emphasized in the inspection tour in Hubei at the end of April that “we must speed up major breakthroughs in chip technology.” We must “climb to the peak of semiconductor storage technology in the world.” In his newly published book, “Xi Jinping’s excerpt on the overall national security concept,” he recorded “winning the battle of science and technology” as one of the most important issues.

If Trump thinks that “hitting a slap, then giving a sweet date” is a way to make Chinese companies give in, then he may be wrong. Even if the ZTE problem can be resolved with his help, Chinese companies will certainly continue with the sense of crisis and urgency at this moment. They will no longer be willing to have others control them in the area of core technology because the ZTE event allows them to understand that this can determine the company’s life or death.

Source: Duowei News, May 14, 2018