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One Third of U.S. Companies in China Postponing or Cancelling Investment Plans

Well-known online Chinese news site Sina recently reported on a study report that the American Chamber of Commerce in China just published. The report shows that the tariff war between China and the United States has impacted two thirds of the U.S. companies in China. The next wave affecting US$200 billion in tariffs on Chinese imports will bring the impact scope to above 70 percent. Most of the impacted areas involve cost increases (47.1 percent) and reduced demand (41.8 percent). Around one third of those surveyed U.S. companies plan to postpone or cancel investment plans. Also, around one third of the companies will adjust supply chains. The most popular countries for the new suppliers are Southeast Asian counties and Indian subcontinent countries. The survey was conducted around the beginning of September. Over 430 Chamber member companies responded. Around 61 percent of these companies are in the manufacturing industry.

Source: Sina, September 13, 2018

CNA: China Plans to Create New Regulations to Restrict Online Religious Information

The primary Taiwanese news agency CNA (The Central News Agency) recently reported that the China National Religious Affairs Bureau is introducing a draft proposal under the name of Administrative Regulations of Internet Religious Information Services. The draft was published on September 10 for general public comments. The full set of the Regulations contains 35 items. The essence of the new Regulations is to require that the provincial or above government must issue a permit before any individual or organization can publish religious information online. Another new restriction is to require the requester to have Chinese citizenship or the requesting organization must be a registered Chinese organization headed by a Chinese citizen. Foreign individuals and organizations are banned from providing any religious information services online. The permit will expire after three years. The new Regulations also restrict the allowed religious “services.” For example, the service cannot “incite” under-aged youth to participate in any religious activities. The service cannot feed live or recorded text, audio or video content about burning incense, ordination, chanting, worship, mass, and receiving baptism. All publishers must use their real names.

Source: CNA, September 11, 2018

Underground Church Frustration on the Rumored China–Vatican Deal

It has been reported that China and the Vatican will soon sign a bishop appointment agreement. Members of the underground church responded with dissatisfaction. Some question whether the government will need to approve the content of the future priest’s sermons; some priests expressed that if there is no underground church, they will quit being priests.

The expectation was that, with the deal inked at the end of the month, Beijing would recognize the Pope as head of China’s Catholics in return for the Vatican’s recognition of excommunicated Chinese bishops. In addition, the Pope also has a veto power over the appointment of Chinese bishops and China will promote the integration of the official church and the underground church.

Some Chinese underground churches believe that the appointment of bishops is one of the most important and sacred powers of the Holy See. The Pope sharing this power with an atheistic government is not in line with Catholic teachings. Moreover, the Vatican’s move may be seen as the acquiescence to Beijing’s increasingly austere religious policy.

One priest from an underground church in Shanghai said that, “It’s impossible that China and Vatican could reach an agreement” on the grounds that the Chinese Communists oppose foreign forces from interfering in religious affairs, but in the event of an agreement, “I don’t need to be a priest since there will be no underground church.”

A Beijing Catholic Church member questioned whether the content of the priest’s preaching would require government approval. He feared that this would lead to the splitting of the Catholic Church. At present, in the officially recognized churches in China, the content of the sermon of a pastor or a priest must be submitted for official approval beforehand.

Although the Vatican may wish to use this agreement to guarantee the religious rights of Catholic Church members in China, China’s ultimate goal is to establish diplomatic relations with the Vatican, digging away Taiwan’s last diplomatic ally in Europe.

Zhang Ming, a professor at Renmin University of China, said that the compromise between the mainland and the Vatican was “more importantly in consideration of Taiwan.” As long as the bishop’s appointment deal is negotiated, the establishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries “will have no major obstacles.”

Source: Central News Agency, September 16, 2018

Malaysia Formally Shut Down Three Chinese Oil and Gas Pipeline Projects

The Malaysian online Chinese news site Seehua recently reported that the China Petroleum Pipeline Engineering Company (CPP) officially announced that it received notification from the Malaysia government that three Chinese oil and gas pipeline projects (MPP, TSGP and Petronas) were formally closed. CPP respected the Malaysian decision, which is based on economic and financial reasons, and the two parties will discuss fair and reasonable compensation arrangements. These three projects all completed only less than 15 percent of the work but most of the payments had been made to China. Some projects are still under investigation. The Malaysian Ministry of Finance paused two of the three projects in July. The new Malaysian administration had delivered on over 20 campaign promises (around 35 percent) in its first 100 days in power.

Source: Seehua, September 12, 2018

China Chip Industry Uses High Pay and Benefits to Lure Taiwan Engineers

Deutsche Welle reported that the mainland chip industry uses high payments for labor and benefits to entice Taiwan engineers to work in the mainland. The engineers are promised double their current wages, eight free trips a year to visit Taiwan, subsidized tuition for their children to attend school, and a 40 percent housing allowance. Some engineers said that the amount of money they can make in the mainland would take ten years to make in Taiwan and that such an offer is hard to resist. A Taiwan recruiting firm estimated that, so far in 2018, over 300 senior Taiwan engineers accepted job offers from mainland chip manufacturers. Since 2014, after Beijing set up US$22 billion in funding for the chip industry, close to one thousand engineers from Taiwan have gone to work in the mainland. The number has increased as the U.S. China trade war escalated this year. Data that a research firm released projected that, by the end of 2017, China will have 400,000 professionals in the integrated circuit (IC) industry, which is still far short of the goal of 720,000 by the end of 2020. The mainland prefers engineers from Taiwan over Japan and Korea because there is no language barrier.

Source: Deutsche Welle, September 9, 2018

Nanjing Cancelled a Western Play and Instead Hosted a Revolutionary Opera

The City of Nanjing cancelled “An Enemy of the People,” an 1882 play that Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen wrote, which was originally scheduled to play on September 13 and 14. Instead Nanjing decided to host “The Legend of the Red Lantern” on October 4 and 5. It is one of the eight revolutionary operas created during the Cultural Revolution. The Central News Agency reported that the public questioned why the revolutionary opera was allowed but not Ibsen’s famous work and whether it was an indication of what the authorities wanted and what they are afraid of.

“The Legend of the Red Lantern” was created in the early 1960s. It is based on the period when China was fighting the Japanese invaders during the Second Sino-Japanese War. It describes the plot of three generations of anti-Japanese workers who are underground Chinese Communist Party members and it showcases the status of the party during the war. Many of the lines in the play such as “All have a bright heart,” “It is hard for the world to beat the Communists,” and “Blood debts and blood to pay” are familiar to many Chinese in the middle-aged and senior generations.

The official cancellation statement of “An Enemy of the People” cited technical issues, but, according to the New York Times, when the show was playing in Beijing, in one part, the cast asked the live audience to shout out their dissatisfaction. The exchange between the cast and the live audience included the audience members expressing their strong desire for free speech and their dissatisfaction with the government, with corruption, and with the financial scandals. The director of “An Enemy of the People” told the New York Times that he believed that the theater in Nanjing cancelled the show because they were afraid of a similar response and of potential liability.

1. Central News Agency, September 15, 2018
2. New York Times, September 14, 2018

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