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China’s “Aluminum and Iron Ally” Guinea

Since the military coup in Guinea, its relationship with China has received increased attention. Guinea has long maintained good relations with China. During the Presidency of Alpha Condé, Guinea became an important ally of China’s “Belt and Road” project.

China is the main importer of bauxite ore from Guinea, accounting for nearly half of the country’s total imports. Chalco’s (Aluminum Corporation of China Limited) bauxite project in Boffa, Guinea started operation in April 2020. As a result of exploration, the project sees resources of about 1.75 billion tons which will allow mining for up to 60 years. The total investment in the first phase of the project is about US$585 million and the designed capacity is 12 million tons of high-quality bauxite per year.

Simandou in southern Guinea is one of the world’s largest undeveloped high-quality open-pit hematite mines, with proven reserves of 2.4 billion tons and an estimated annual production of 150 million tons at full capacity, although its exploitation has been delayed by legal disputes and corruption allegations.

In November 2019, the Winning Consortium, a consortium led by a Chinese company, obtained 85 percent of the ownership of blocks 1 and 2 in the north of Simandou. In the south, Chinese companies control 40 percent of Blocks 3 and 4.

China imports more than 1 billion tons of iron ore each year. About 60 percent of it comes from Australia and 20 percent from Brazil. Although Simandou’s production seems small, analysts believe China can use it to reduce its dependence on Australia at a time when Sino-Australian relations have hit a freezing point.

The close ties between the two countries made Guinea one of the first countries to receive Chinese vaccine aid this year. Earlier, China was quick to congratulate President Condé after he amended the constitution and was re-elected president in October 2020, despite the opposition’s accusations of electoral fraud.

Source: BBC Chinese, September 7, 2021

Pandemic – Many Learned of the COVID-19 Virus in China Weeks before the CCP’s Report

The Daily Mail, a British newspaper, reported that Ian Lipkin, one of the world’s top epidemiologists and a professor at Columbia University, said on numerous occasions that he learned about the COVID-19 outbreak in Wuhan, China on December 15, 2019. He repeated the date in a documentary film by the director Spike Lee. He also told Columbia University Medical Center that he first heard about the outbreak “in the middle of December 2019” from his friends at the China’s Center for Disease Control.

Beijing hid the outbreak news for quite a while. Dr. Li Wenliang revealed the information in a Wechat discussion group on December 27, after which the police admonished him. That was the first occurrence in which the Chinese talked about the virus.

The report also listed other sources that indicated the outbreak was earlier:

The academic in charge of collating official data told a Chinese health journal of a suspected fatality of a patient who fell ill in late September in 2019, followed by two more cases on November 14 and 21.

Connor Reed, a 25-year-old Briton teaching in Wuhan, said he fell ill on November 25.  Two months later, a hospital confirmed that his debilitating sickness was  the new coronavirus.

Lawrence Gostin, a professor of global health law in Washington, said he learned of the disease in mid-December, telling the Los Angeles Times he heard “from a friend in Wuhan that there is a novel coronavirus and it looks very serious.”

Dutch virologist Ron Fouchier told a documentary that he discussed the outbreak in the first week of December with his colleague Marion Koopmans, a member of the WHO inquiry team.

Source: Daily Mail, September 4, 2021

China Set up the Beijing Stock Exchange

On September 2, at the Global Trade in Services Summit of the 2021 China International Fair for Trade in Services , Xi Jinping gave a video speech and announced that China would set up its third national stock exchange: The Beijing Stock Exchange.

The exchange was then registered on September 3, with registered capital of 1 billion yuan (US $150 million) and a location on the Financial Street in Beijing. The official position is that while the Shanghai Stock Exchange focuses on established companies and the Shenzhen Stock Exchange focuses on high-tech companies, the Beijing Stock Exchange will serve the small companies.

China started a National Small and Medium Enterprise Stock Transfer System (NSMESTS) in 2013, to let investors trade different small companies. The system enlisted over 7,000 companies in three classifications: basic, innovative, and selective. The selective class is the elite class, with 66 companies and 3.8 billion yuan in trading volume – 65 percent of the total NSMESTS trading volume. China’s Securities and Futures Commission stated that the selective class companies will serve as the foundation for the Beijing Stock Exchange.

An Epoch Times report stated that though the majority of companies on the NSMESTS are privately owned, many of the elite companies (those in the selective class) have state money. One report indicated that out of what was then 52 selective class companies, 33 had state-owned investments among their top ten shareholders. So it is yet to be seen whether the Beijing Stock Exchange is to help raise money for the privately owned small companies or the state-invested small companies.

The article also suggested that Beijing’s current policy is to squeeze money out of its already-too-dangerous real estate bubble and channel it into other capital investments. The Beijing Stock Exchange serves as one option. Beijing wants to make this capital move before the U.S. ends its quantitative easing policy. Afterward, if the Federal Reserve increases the interest rate, money may flow back to the U.S.

1. SINA, September 5, 2021
2. Epoch Times, September 7, 2021

CCP Watchdog: Cut off the Money Line behind the Entertainment Industry

In the headline news on its official website for August 31, 2021, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) stated that the entertainment industry must not harm the state’s interest.  The CCDI article reported on its interview with the State Council Development Research Center. The CCDI is the CCP’s disciplinary watchdog.

The CCP crackdown on the entertainment industry echoes its recent broader clampdown on the private sector. Increasingly Xi Jinping has emphasized the CCP’s dominant role in every aspect of China’s economy and society. The CCP has targeted high-tech, education, and other businesses using fines and restrictions. Private capital has been blamed for contributing to the risks of data breaches, education inequality, the disintegration of the Chinese culture, threatening social stability, harming state security, among other deep seated concerns.

According to the State Council Information Office in 2019, the value-added of China’s entertainment industry reached 4,436.3 billion yuan, accounting for 4.5 percent of China’s GDP.

The CCDI article states that money has been driving the growth and the chaos in the entertainment industry. Investment, entertainment stars, and fans’ consumption culture are part of one chain all led by money. In this chain, investment is the dominant force. It promotes entertainment stars to induce and influence fans’ consumption habits (particularly young people), ultimately eroding the socialist ideology.

“Entertainment is by no means mere singing, dancing, and playing music, but an important battlefield for ideological and cultural work. It is an important part of the superstructure [a Marxist term referring to culture, political power, and the state], and it is critical to Party [CCP] work. If capital is allowed to expand unfettered, entertainment will fail its role of serving the people and socialism, and it will disintegrate the spiritual homeland of the Chinese nation.”

“There are limits to capital expansion. The CCP dominant system has unique advantages so it can fully utilize capital in entertainment while effectively restricting disorderly expansion in the industry. The bottom line is that it cannot interfere with the development direction of socialism with Chinese characteristics;  it cannot manipulate the national economy and the people’s livelihood; it cannot harm state interests; and it cannot corrupt Party members and leading cadres, let alone seek improper political gains.”

Source: The Central Commission for Discipline Inspection of the Chinese Communist Party, August 31, 2021

China to Regulate Fees for Off-campus Training

After recent moves to crack down on private education companies that engage in off-campus training, Beijing further issued regulations on fees to be collected for these services.

The central government recently issued a directive on “reducing the burden of homework and off-campus training” for elementary and junior middle school students, which had a significant impact on out-of-school training courses in China’s compulsory education system. In addition to limiting the amount of time students have to spend after class, the authorities have also regulated the off-campus training fees.

According to the National Development and Reform Commission, a government commission on macroeconomic management, China will implement government-guided price management of the training fees. The government will set the benchmark fees and fluctuation ranges and incorporate them into the price management of local authorities.

The benchmark fees and fluctuation range for off-line out-of-school training will be set by the provincial government. The fees and range for on-line training are set by the local authorities where the training institutions are licensed to operate. Local governments are allowed to set the range of fluctuations to be no more than 10 percent above the benchmark, and without a lower limit.

The regulation emphasizes the need to “implement government-guided price management,” and “adhere to the public welfare attribute of out-of-school training,” with the goal of “reducing the burden of education expenses on students’ families.”

Source: National Development and Reform Commission, September 6, 2021

One Chinese Real Estate Company Goes Belly-up Every Day

According to Chinese media, as of September 5, the year 2021 has seen bankruptcy applications from a total of 274 real estate companies. That’s an average of one bankruptcy per day.

The Chinese government recently made it clear that “houses are for living, not for speculation.” Since the second half of last year, the regulatory authorities implemented strict standards to limit real estate companies’ ability to borrow. As a result, the housing market has lost its steam.

On August 31, Sun Hongbin, chairman of the board of directors of Sunac China, a major property developer headquartered in Tianjin, expressed concerns about the pressure on sales in the second half of this year. The concerns are partly due to the “resolute government policy.” As the impact of the sluggish economy on people’s purchasing power continues, he expected that the market would be “more miserable” in the coming months.

Data from the China Index Academy, an influential property research institute, the real estate sector is facing a peak in debt repayment, with a total of 83.85 billion yuan (US $13 billion) in bonds to mature in September. The next peak will occur in March and April of 2022, with a monthly bond payment of 103.94 billion yuan (US $16 billion) and 94.06 billion yuan (US $14.5 billion) respectively.

Source: Central News Agency, September 7, 2021

Airbnb-Style Online Listings In Beijing Ordered to be Removed

According to Chinese media reports, in Beijing, most listings have been removed from Airbnb-style short-term rental platforms . A notice from the Beijing Municipal Commission of Housing and Urban-Rural Development stated that the city-wide short-term rentals will not be open for business for the time being. On August 22, short-term rental platforms were to remove “non-compliant properties” within seven days. As of August 29, most of the listings were removed from the rental platforms. An estimated 100,000 rentals were affected.

According to the notice, short-term rental listings may be restored after the rental operators provide documentation showing agreements among property management, homeowners associations, and other owners in the neighborhood and agreements with the public security authorities, among other requirements. It is more than challenging to meet these requirements. As a result, it is unlikely that most short-term rental units will be able to continue operating.

Analysts believe the authorities are tightening the control over people visiting Beijing. After the short-term rental industry collapse, people visiting Beijing will have to stay in hotels, where guests must register. Also, the higher cost of staying at hotels may make it harder for grievance petitioners and rights defenders to come to Beijing.

The statistics released by a short-term rental platform, Tujia, show that the total number of short-term rentals exceeded 630,000 in the first half of 2021, an increase of over 16 percent compared with 2020 (540,000 units), and a year-on-year increase of 2.9 times that of 2019 (160,000 units).


1.) Netease, September 4, 2021

2.) Radio Free Asia, September 1, 2021

DW Chinese: Most Germans Support a Tougher Position against China

Deutsche Welle Chinese Edition recently reported that Internationale Politik (IP) magazine under the German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP) commissioned a survey conducted by Forsa, a polling agency. The survey showed that 58 percent of Germans believe that, even if economic and trade relations with China will be affected, Germany should adopt a tougher policy toward China and pay more attention to defending Germany’s own interests. Around 17 percent of the interviewees supported a tougher position if economic and trade relations are not affected. Another 19 percent of the respondents opposed any form of hardline in principle. China is often criticized by the international community for its bad human rights record, especially on its suppression of Uyghur Muslims. However, Germany has strong economic and trade ties with China. In Germany’s current federal election, the China issue clearly occupies a more important role than in the past. The campaign strategy papers of all major German political parties have all covered their China policies in great length.

Source: DW Chinese, August 30, 2021