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After the Confucius Institute, the CCP Switched to Promoting the Lu Ban Workshop

The Chinese Communist Party has been promoting the “Lu Ban Workshop (鲁班工坊)” in countries along the path of its Belt & Road Initiative (BRI).

Launched by the Tianjin Municipal Government, the Lu Ban Workshops are named after Lu Ban, a famous Chinese craftsman. They provide vocational education, from mechatronics to applied electronics, and from automation to robotics, to residents of hosting countries, with a focus on local needs.

Xi Jinping has personally promoted the Lu Ban Workshop on several occasions, including at his meetings with presidents from the target countries.

The first workshop was established in Thailand in 2016. There are now 25 Lu Ban Workshops in 19 countries, including Egypt, Ethiopia, India, Pakistan, Thailand, Portugal, and in Central Asian countries.

The Lu Ban Workshop has essentially the same export model as the Confucius Institute: Chinese vocational and technical schools seek local partners in targeted countries and offer courses in those local schools to teach skills related to Chinese standards.

There has been growing concern over the Confucius Institutes as they promote the CCP ideology and impose CCP policy at the local partner school. In the past few years, there has been a wave of interest in closing Confucius Institutes and 104 of the 118 Confucius Institutes at U.S. universities have been closed.

Source: VOA, November 6, 2022


Newcastle Ends Sister-City Relationship with Chinese City

Newcastle will end its long-standing twin city relationship with Taiyuan, the capital of China’s Shanxi Province, due to allegations that the government has mistreated Uyghurs.

China has been accused of detaining over one million Uyghur Muslims in what has been called “re-education” camps.

Lib Dem Wendy Taylor, who proposed the motion that was passed unanimously on Wednesday, felt that, given the allegations of “horrific abuses,” Newcastle could not have ties with China.

Since 1985, there has been a partnership with the industrial city of Taiyuan, and delegations have frequently visited Taiyuanside. Regarding the Uyghur people, Ms. Taylor stated, “There is talk of rape, forced sterilization, and even organ harvesting.”

As of 2022, In addition to Newcastle,  Taiyuan has a sister city relationships with 12 international cities, including Nashville in the United States .

Source: Radio Free Asia, November 4, 2022

Joint Venture between China’s State-owned and Private Enterprises

The state-owned telecom giant China Unicom has set up a new joint venture with private Internet giant Tencent, while China Mobile has joined hands with China Telecom has also partnered with Alibaba. Scholars analyze that the joint venture program is continuing to expand, and that, next year, more large private companies will be included in the wave of creating joint ventures .

On October 27, the country’s State Administration of Market Regulation released a list of approved businesses, which include the new joint venture between China Unicom and Tencent.

Radio Free Asia quotes a Beijing-based political commentator Wu Qiang who states that the “public-private partnership” that people have been concerned about in the past five years has now entered a substantive stage of implementation. Also, the “strategic cooperation” between three large state-owned telecom companies and three private giants indicates the dawn of an era of full governmental control of the economy.

Source: Central News Agency (Taiwan), November 3, 2022

State-owned Companies Hold Shares of Kuaishou and Douyin

Following the cooperation between state-owned telecom companies and Chinese internet giants, state-owned media companies have recently taken stakes in two short video platforms, namely, Kuaishou and Douyin.

According to mainland China’s newspaper reports, on October 26th, Kuaishou, a short video-sharing mobile app with a worldwide user base of over 200 million, initiated strategic financing as the investor with the Beijing Radio & Television Station (BRTV), a subsidiary of Beijing municipal government. At present, the two largest shareholders of Kuaishou are Beijing Huayi Huilong Network Technology Co, holding 99 percent of the shares, and BRTV with 1 percent of the shares.

Another short video-sharing platform giant Douyin, the Chinese version of TikTok, also received an investment from Netinvest Chinese (Beijing) Technology Co. (网投中文北京科技有限公司). At present, Douyin is jointly owned by Douyin Ltd. (99 percent) and Netinvest (1percent).

Netinvest is jointly owned by China Net Investment (Beijing) Technology Co., Beijing Cultural Investment Development Group Co., and China Media Group Mobile. The latter two are both state owned companies, with China Media Group Mobile taking 30 percent of the shares.

There are rumors that the 1 percent of the shares held either by BRTV in Kuaishou or by Netinvest in Douyin is a special management stake with a veto right.

Source: Central News Agency (Taiwan), November 6, 2022

Hong Kong’s Third Quarter GDP Continued to Decline

Well-known Chinese news site Sina (NASDAQ: SINA) recently reported that the Census and Statistics Department of the Hong Kong Government just released the advance estimate of GDP for the third quarter of 2022. Compared with the same period last year, the real decline was 4.5 percent, while the decline in the second quarter was 1.3 percent. The Hong Kong government spokesman said that the decline in GDP was mainly due to the weak performance of external demand during the third quarter. For a year-over-year comparison, the total value of exports of goods recorded a real decline of 15.5 percent, which was worse than the 8.4 percent decline in the second quarter. Imports of goods fell by 16 percent in real terms in the third quarter after a 5.9 percent drop in the second quarter of this year. The seasonally adjusted GDP for consecutive quarters fell by 2.6 percent in real terms in the third quarter compared to the second quarter. The deterioration of the external environment and the continued obstruction of cross-border land freight traffic have dealt a serious blow to Hong Kong’s exports. Significant interest rate hikes by major central banks tightened financial conditions and weighed heavily on local demand. Looking ahead, the government spokesman said that a marked deterioration in the external environment will continue to put significant pressure on Hong Kong’s export performance for the rest of the year. Geopolitical tensions and the Covid development will also increase downside risks.

Source: Sina, October 31, 2022

BBC Chinese: A Large Number of Zhengzhou Foxconn Workers Fled on Foot

BBC Chinese recently reported that, at the Foxconn factory in Zhengzhou, the capital city of Henan province, there are many workers who have been fleeing this largest Apple iPhone assembly plant in China amid reports that the Covid outbreak has forced a lockdown. It has not been possible to verify how many confirmed cases of Covid-19 were found at the plant. Parts of this big city of about 10 million are now on lockdown as China continues to impose strict government Covid control measures. Taiwan’s Foxconn Group, a top supplier for Apple, has hundreds of thousands of workers at its Zhengzhou factory, but the company has yet to provide official figures on the number of infections. Due to the outbreak at the Zhengzhou factory, iPhone shipments in November may be reduced by as much as 30 percent. Footage shared online, including Chinese social media, showed workers leaving the factory and starting a long walk back home so they could avoid arrest on public transportation. A 22-year-old Foxconn worker surnamed Xia said that the dormitory where he and his colleagues were kept was “chaotic,” so he jumped over the fence and escaped. Under China’s strict Zero Covid policy, local governments have the power to act quickly to contain any outbreak of the virus. This includes anything from total lockdowns to regular testing and restrictions on travel . According to online reports, these workers did not in fact flee at first. After the outbreak came, they were helpless and could only obey orders. If it wasn’t for the unbearable situation, they would have been willing to cooperate. Some reports indicated that, after ten days of not having food and water, many workers broke through the interception of the security guards and managed what can be called, “a great escape.”

Source: BBC Chinese, October 31, 2022

Xinhua: In October, Chinese Manufacturing’ PMI Fell

Xinhua recently reported that, according to official numbers released by the National Bureau of Statistics, China’s October manufacturing PMI fell to 49.2 percent. Affected by the frequent domestic spread of Covid, China’s purchasing manager index has declined and the foundation for the economic recovery and development needs to be further strengthened. Statistics show that both production and demand have slowed down. The production index and the new order index were 49.6 percent and 48.1 percent respectively, down 1.9 and 1.7 percentage points from the previous month. The prosperity of manufacturing production and of market demand both declined as well. Large corporations have kept expanding, while the pressure on small and medium-sized enterprises has increased.

At the same time, Caixin released its official Chinese Manufacturing PMI numbers for October. Caixin‘s PMI is a well-respected economic indicator monitored globally by financial institutions. Caixin’s China Manufacturing PMI recorded at 49.2 for October. It was thus in contraction territory for the third consecutive month, indicating that manufacturing figures continued to decline. The demand side of consumer goods and investment goods has been particularly insufficient. International demand also continued to decline. Some companies reported that foreign trade transportation has been encountering difficulties. Employment continues to shrink, and the purchasing price index of manufacturing companies has risen by more than three percent since September. Due to the sluggish market demand, companies have shown a strong willingness to reduce prices to promote better sales. Most companies reported that the government’s Covid control policies have caused transportation delays.

(1) Xinhua, October 31, 2022
(2) Caixin, November 1, 2022

Two Hundred Million Chinese Face the Risk of Being Locked Down

Nomura Securities estimated that by October 24, 28 cities in China, including Guangzhou, Wuhan, and others had various levels of lock down control, impacting a possible 200 million people living in these cities.

Instead of locking down an entire city, China has been locking down sub-regions inside the city based on where the COVID patients live and where they have been. About 1 million people in Wuhan were locked in at home. After reporting 73 cases on October 27, Guangzhou intensified its lockdown. Fuzhou City, Fujian Province locked down 36 colleges and universities.

Xinjiang and Tibet continue to be the major disaster areas. Many hotels have refused to take visitors coming from Xinjiang, Tibet, and Inner Mongolia as hotel guests.

Source: Radio Free Asia, October 28, 2022