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China Reduced Lower Mekong Water Level with No Notice until Six Days Later

Well-known Chinese news site NetEase (NASDAQ: NTES) recently reported that China issued notice to the lower Mekong River countries on January 6 that it reduced Mekong River water level via its dams on upper Mekong. Both Thailand and the Mekong River Committee (MRC, an organization jointly formed by Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam) confirmed the notification. The reason China provided was power transmission line maintenance. Water volume reduction was expected to be 47 percent from 1904 cubic meters per second to 1000 per second. China made an agreement last October with MRC to share water information. However, the Stimson Centre (sponsored by the United States) and another consulting firm, Eyes on Earth, both said, according to their monitoring data, China has been reducing the Mekong River water level since December 31. The MRC said the water volume reduction was observed on December 31 which was six days before China’s notification. This volume reduction could result in a lower water level of 1.2 meters. The drastic change could impact water transportation and fishing. China promised to restore the water volume “back to normal” without giving the actual cubic meter numbers.

Source: NetEase, January 8, 2021

Global Times: Count-down of Taiwan’s Final Days

On January 10, 2021, China’s State media Global Times published an editorial in response to the U.S. Secretary of State Pompeo’s announcement on January 9, 2021, that lifts self-imposed restrictions on the U.S.-Taiwan relationship in terms of interactions between diplomats, service members, and other officials of the United States and their Taiwanese counterparts. 

Entitled “Pompeo may have started the count-down of Taiwan’s final days,” the Global Times editorial stated, “Pompeo once again is frantically digging holes and placing mines for Sino-US relations and the Taiwan issue. This is a criminal, structural sabotage to cross-strait peace and the bottom-line stability of Sino-US relations. The extent of its severe consequences is unpredictable.”

The editorial believes Pompeo’s announcement indicates two uncertainties: whether Biden will implement this policy and whether Pompeo will make further big moves such as Pompeo’s surprise visit to Taiwan before stepping down.

“Whether [we should] push the Biden Administration to abolish the crazy decision of the last days of the current U.S. Administration or prevent Pompeo and others from taking actions beyond the bottom line at the last minute, Beijing must clearly and resolutely oppose the U.S. extreme provocations and be determined to fight head-on.” 

 “Beijing needs to send a strong signal that the United States must stop before it is too late. It must let the United States and Taiwan’s Democratic Progressive Party authorities know that if they dare to let Pompeo visit Taiwan before the end of his term, Beijing’s response will be overwhelming.”

The editorial continued with a threat to Taiwan saying, “The last few days of the current U.S. administration may also be the last few days of the existence of the Taiwan Democratic Progressive Party.”

The editorial stated that Biden is “worried that the Trump administration may do stupid things including the use of atomic bombs in the last few days.” “If they had a sudden showdown on the Taiwan issue, it would be equivalent to throwing an atomic bomb into world peace. We must give the most severe punishment to those that destroy peace.”

Source: Global Times, January 10, 2021


Chinese Pork Market Price Skyrocketed

Well-known Chinese news site Sohu (NASDAQ: SOHU) recently reported that, since the end of December, pork prices have seen a significant increase across China, especially in Eastern China, Southern China and Southwestern China. The daily pork price increase rate reached 0.43 Chinese Yuan. The Imported pork price reached 36.02 Chinese Yuan (per half kilogram). In Northeastern China, the daily price increase reached 0.6 Chinese Yuan and the domestic pork price was almost 20 Chinese Yuan (per half kilogram). With the new year’s price hike, it is widely expected that the upcoming Chinese New Year (early February) will have another major increase in the price of pork. Many retailers now refuse to sell pork in hand and hope to make much more money by waiting just a few days, even if this means the breach of a contract where a compensation deposit was received. China is currently suffering a decline in imported pork volume due to the pandemic. Pork holds two thirds of Chinese meat market and its price significantly impacts the CPI (Consumer Price Index), which is a major indicator of an economy.

Source: Sohu, January 4, 2021

RFA Chinese: Multiple HK Poll Indicators Reached Record Lows

Radio Free Asia (RFA) Chinese Edition recently reported on a poll sponsored by the Hong Kong government. The year-end poll showed that Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam once again scored lower than ever before. The record of the Public Sentiment Index recorded “extremely low.” Residents’ Happiness Level reached the lowest since 1992. In the past year of 2020, Hong Kong suffered a deepening antagonism between the government and the people; a greater division in its society, and the young generation’s growing distrust in the government. The researchers interviewed 250 middle school students during the pandemic. The result showed that 87 percent of the students lost confidence in the government. The same poll in 2019 showed an answer of 40 percent on the same question. The researchers called for the government to listen to the young people instead of seeing them as trouble. Analysts in the education field expressed their worry that Hong Kong seems to be entering Culture Revolution 2.0, which encouraged people to distrust each other under the new HK National Security Law. Some basic moral standards and social justice were also shaken. The Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam was given a score of zero by 44 percent of the people polled. Her approval rate is only 18 percent and her disapproval rate is 69 percent. Nearly all indicators of the poll reached record lows.

Source: RFA Chinese, January 5, 2021

Xi Jinping Orders PLA to Be Ready for War at Any Given Time

The recent military orders that Beijing introduced appear to suggest that China might be preparing to launch a war in the South China Sea or Taiwan or against U.S. military targets. On January 4, Xi Jinping signed the first Central Military Commission order of 2021. That order stressed that the PLA should use Xi’s thought as the guide while strengthening the party’s leadership in the military. It stated, “Focus on preparations for war.” “Comprehensively improve real time combat training and the ability to win,” and the PLA must practice combat training to ensure it is ready to fight at any time. Prior to this, there were two other orders that went into effect on January 1: “Regulations on Military Logistics” and the Amendment to the “National Defense Law.” In the Amendment to the “National Defense Law,” it gave legal grounds to launch a war if China feels that there is threat to its national interest.

Coincidentally, on January 4, the same day that Xi signed the first military order, U.S. Secretary of State Pompeo and Billingslea, the Special Presidential Envoy for Arms Control, published a joint opinion paper urging Beijing to come clean on the nuclear weapons threat and buildup. It warned that the U.S. has the knowledge of Beijing nuclear development despite Beijing’s secrecy about its activities. It called for China’s transparency and for it to join the U.S. and Russia in crafting a new arms control agreement. In the opinion paper, it stated that “over the past four years, the Trump administration has awakened the world to the China challenge. Beijing’s two-decades-long asymmetric arms race is a core part of that challenge. It endangers the American homeland, our strategic positions in the Indo-Pacific, and our allies and partners. It is of concern to all peace-loving nations. We’ve briefed allies, partners and even the highest levels of the Russian government on China’s nuclear buildup.”

1. Xinhua, January 4, 2021
2. Newsweek, January 4, 2021

354 Tested Positive and 11,708 Quarantined in Shijiazhuang

At a press conference on January 8, 2021, the Hebei Province authorities stated that, from January 6 to January 9, 2021, Shijiazhuang, the capital of Hebei Province, tested 10,251,875 residents for COVID-19. There were 354 positive results and 11,708 residents were quarantined.

Of the 354 positive cases, 298 were from in the Gaocheng District. Gaochen is one of eight districts of the prefecture-level city of Shijiazhuang, the capital of Hebei Province.

In Shijiazhuang, local stores are operating online exclusively to serve residents in the 537 residential communities. They include 90 produce wholesale markets, 59 medium to large supermarkets, 359 chain convenience stores, and 1,200 community convenience stores.

According to the local authorities, as of 8 am on January 9, 2021, Shijiazhuang had quarantined 11,708 people and has activated 120 quarantine facilities. The epidemic has not shown a clear turning point, and the risk of spreading still remains.

Source:, January 9, 2021

Sister of Imprisoned and Missing Human Rights Lawyer Committed Suicide

China’s famous human rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng has been missing for more than three years and the Chinese Communist authorities have yet to issue any notice to Gao’s family. At the beginning of 2021, it was learned that Gao’s elder sister was in despair and committed suicide. Gao Zhisheng’s wife Geng He, now living in exile in the U.S., said that his sister attempted suicide twice before, because of the terror and the pressure due to what happened to her brother.

Gao Zhisheng, one of China’s top lawyers, represented cases of Falun Gong practitioners persecuted in China. Between 2004 and 2005, Gao published three open letters to the then head of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao, exposing the stories of torture and mistreatment of Falun Gong practitioners in labor camps and asking the authorities to change their unlawful policy toward Falun Gong. In 2006, Gao had his lawyer’s license revoked for speaking out for the marginalized and persecuted groups. He was subsequently abducted from his sister’s house in Shandong and sentenced to three years in prison for “inciting subversion of state power.” In 2017, after serving his sentence, he disappeared .

Now Gao has been missing for more than 1,200 days. According to his wife, Geng He, that is the longest period of disappearance for Gao. She is worried that Gao has been tortured badly and is also deeply worried about his health.

On the first day of the new year, Geng He tweeted that in May 2020, Gao Zhisheng’s elder sister in Shandong committed suicide by jumping into the river due to prolonged and deep fear, depression and despair about her brother’s situation.

Source: Radio Free Asia, January 4, 2020