China Seizes 300 Consignments Of Maps For Showing Arunachal Pradesh As A Part Of India

China on Friday seized a large consignment of locally-made world maps for showing Arunachal Pradesh as a part of India dubbing them as ‘problematic’. The Customs officials reportedly seized the 300 consignments of maps worth $600 marked for exports at the Shanghai Pudong airport. The maps reportedly did not include the north-eastern Indian state of Arunachal Pradesh and Aksai Chin as a part of Chinese territory. The communist country has claimed Arunachal Pradesh as part of South Tibet and Aksai Chin as part of the southwest Hotan county of Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region (XUAR), even as India asserts both regions as an integral part of the country.

According to ThePaper.com, the 300 packages to be exported as ‘bed covers’ were pulled out of the express channel for closer inspection during the check-up. The goods were seized for ‘violating provisions regulating how Chinese maps should be drawn.’

This development comes as India and China hold their 12th round of Corps Commander level talks amid the standoff at the LAC. The talks which are held at Moldo on Saturday on the Chinese side of the Line of Actual Control (LAC) and pertained to the disengagement of troops from friction points including Gogra Heights & Hot Springs area, according to Army sources.

China declares crackdown on maps

In 2019, China passed a new regulation making it mandatory for all maps (printed and sold in the country, as well as exported) to carry the ‘official version’ of Chinese maps. The ‘official map’ incorporates China’s claims on Arunachal Pradesh, Taiwan, and the South China Sea. According to the Chinese Government, “problematic” maps refer to those that do not portray China’s territory correctly, covering the inclusion of the island of Taiwan, the national boundary lines on Taiwan Island, clear delineation of the Diaoyu Island and islands in the South China Sea.

Last year, over 30,000 world maps were destroyed by Chinese customs authorities which referred to Taiwan as a country and ‘incorrectly’ depicted the Sino-Indian border. Departments were also set up in Beijing to investigate maps that ‘incorrectly’ portray China’s territory and ‘threaten’ its national security and interests. Thirteen Beijing municipal departments, including the Beijing cyberspace administration, launched 2020 annual campaigns inspecting problematic maps. If found problematic, map compilation companies, map publishers and map users, as well as online map service providers, will face criminal punishment, China announced.

(With Agency Inputs)

Why China Is Cracking Down on Private Tutoring

The highlights this week: Chinese regulators upend the $120 billion private education industry with new measures, Beijing issues an itemized list of grievances to U.S. diplomats, and a COVID-19 outbreak in Nanjing raises concerns over the delta variant.

Welcome to Foreign Policy’s China Brief.

The highlights this week: Chinese regulators upend the $120 billion private education industry with new measures, Beijing issues an itemized list of grievances to U.S. diplomats, and a COVID-19 outbreak in Nanjing raises concerns over the delta variant.

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Beijing’s War on Private Education

The Chinese government has issued stringent new regulations for the private education industry. The rules include requiring tutoring and education services firms to convert to nonprofit status, banning core-curriculum tutoring—aimed at passing exams—during weekends and vacations, and forbidding foreign curricula or hiring foreigners outside of China to teach remotely.

The regulatory moves, hinted at for months, have hammered stock prices in the $120 billion sector. New Oriental, a firm that dominates English-language learning, plunged from a high of $19.68 on the New York Stock Exchange in February to a low of $2.18 last Friday. Firms such as VIPKid, whose entire business model was built around offering relatively cheap access to Western teachers via digital learning, now have little choice but a desperate pivot.

It’s tempting to relate the regulations of private education to Beijing’s war on technology companies and monopolies—and regulators are certainly empowered by the government push against private business. But these new measures also reflect a widespread belief in China that the private tutoring sector has bad effects for urban upper-middle-class parents and children, both in costs for the parents and the psychological impact on children.

In China, education hinges on the gaokao, the all-important college entrance examination. Chinese parents can spend thousands of dollars a year on private tutoring just to keep their kids competitive; the stresses of parenthood were even turned into a hit video game. It’s important to remember that these costs were relegated to a relatively privileged stratum. Three in four Chinese children grow up in rural areas where the average annual disposable income is around $2,635 and access to education is severely limited.

The average government official is also a member of the upper-middle class and has experienced the effects of the education race on their own families and children. That’s likely why the measures, while limiting curriculum cramming, try to encourage hobbies and cultural interests after school. Unlike in the United States, where extracurriculars are a key part of college admissions, they play little role in the gaokao system.

If the new regulations work to lessen the cost burden on parents and the strain on children, the government hopes it can reverse demographic decline. The price of raising children in China is a powerful factor restricting family size, even after the government increased family-planning limits. Authorities are concerned not only about growth but also about so-called population quality—they want well-off families, not the rural poor, to have more children.

The measures are also part of growing xenophobia in China. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) spends a lot of time worrying about ideological education. Measures restricting the study of U.S. and world history, for example, were put in place years ago. As the CCP sees it, banning foreign curricula and foreign teachers could prevent the creeping influence of foreign ideas and discourage Chinese students from applying to overseas universities.

The regulations are not going to stop the very rich, who often have Ivy League ambitions for their children, from seeking out foreign tutoring anyway through discreet personal contacts and U.S. bank accounts. At the high end, the going price for one-on-one tutoring is already $200 an hour, and it may go up after these measures.

The question is whether the same market will emerge for private tutoring for the middle classes—driving up the necessary cost to stay in the race rather than reducing it. South Korea offers a relevant lesson: The dictator Chun Doo-hwan banned private teaching in 1980, but by the time the sector was relegalized in 1991, it was bigger than ever. A second South Korean attempt to crack down on high-cost private education, started in 2011, has had only limited success.

What We’re Following

China’s itemized list of grievances. During a contentious visit by U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman to Tianjin, China, on Monday, Beijing presented two sets of grievances with Washington. The first consisted of demands that the United States halt its sanctions programs, restrictions on CCP officials, and visa restrictions on Chinese students with military or state ties, and that it drop its extradition charge against Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou. The second list raised concerns about the targeting of Chinese businesses and anti-Asian racism.

Past presentations of similar grievances with Western countries have not gone well for China. A 14-point list given to Australia last September attracted widespread mockery and anger in the Australian media and hardened attitudes toward Beijing among government officials.

Cooler heads presumably understand the list is likely to produce a similar reaction from the U.S. government. But this kind of denunciation has been part of communist diplomacy since Soviet era. As Chinese President Xi Jinping’s rule deepens and the break with the West becomes more ingrained, it makes political sense within China even if it creates a diplomatic headache.

Flooding fallout. Xenophobia also resonates on the ground in China, as shown recently when foreign reporters attempting to cover the devastating floods in Zhengzhou faced angry mobs whipped up by local officials. The death toll in Zhengzhou, now at 71 and likely to rise, seems to have resulted in part from local businesses and public institutions ignoring flood warnings to keep staff at home. Chinese labor law is strict about working conditions and danger to workers in theory. In practice, it’s rarely enforced.

Delta variant outbreak. A major COVID-19 outbreak—by Chinese standards—in Nanjing is causing worries due to the rapid spread of the delta variant and the possibility that the city’s airport became a transmission zone. Citywide testing and isolation, a well-established routine in China, will probably contain the outbreak. But concerns about the delta variant are likely to constrain a domestic tourism sector that was slowly recovering.

Dissident entrepreneur sentenced. Sun Dawu, an agricultural entrepreneur and multimillionaire who became an outspoken critic of CCP policy, was sentenced to 18 years in prison on Wednesday. The sentence is identical that given to Ren Zhiqiang, a retired tycoon who criticized Xi, last year. Sun was a popular figure known for his local philanthropy; he had a sharp eye for the impact of policy on ordinary people, especially farmers.

Targeting dissident businesspeople is a boon for officials: Not only do they remove a potential political threat, but the individual’s financial assets can also be divvied up as rewards for the faithful. Sun’s son hinted at that, saying that an official had recommended several unrelated businesses to take over the Dawu Group.

Tech and Business

Evergrande in danger. The Chinese real estate giant Evergrande, whose shaky prospects and massive debts have been a serious concern for months, saw its stock fall by 13.4 percent on Tuesday after the board reversed course on a special dividend announced two weeks ago. Evergrande was the most valuable real estate company in the world in 2018, but its fortune was built atop a mountain of liabilities.

Beijing seems determined to keep it propped up for the moment, fearing that it could turn into Chinese real estate’s Lehman Brothers, with failure prompting a chain of collapse through a debt-laden industry that has been the one of the main drivers of economic growth in China.

Stock market panic. The Golden Dragon index, which tracks Chinese technology stocks, has fallen by 15 percent in the last couple of days amid the introduction of private education regulations and fears of further action against tech firms. Chinese stocks are now the worst-performing in Asia.

It seems like Beijing may have finally crossed the red line for analysts such as economist Stephen Roach, a self-described “congenital optimist” on China who warned this week of “disturbing actions” and the start of a cold war. “China is going after the core of its new entrepreneurial driven economy, and it’s going after their business models,” he said.

Beijing seems spooked by the reaction: The China Securities Regulatory Commission convened an emergency meeting on Wednesday in an attempt to reassure investment banks. As I argued recently, Western financial analysts have underestimated Chinese political risk for years. If that’s snapped, it means the loss of a major pro-China engagement faction in U.S. politics.

Huawei lobbying. The Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei, which has faced a barrage of restrictions in the West in the last few years, is attempting a concerted lobbying campaign in Washington, hoping that the Biden administration will prove receptive. That seems extremely unlikely: President Joe Biden’s team has continued most Trump-era restrictions, and technology remains at the forefront of the U.S.-China confrontation.

Nevertheless, the firm has recently hired a cluster of new lobbyists, including the once-influential Democratic figure Tony Podesta, whose lobbying group was dissolved in late 2017 after getting caught up in the investigation into the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia.

What We’re Reading

“China Is Using Tibetans as Agents of Empire in the Himalayas,” by Robert Barnett, Foreign Policy

This investigation into the nearly 250,000 Tibetans coerced into new border fortress-villages in the Himalayas follows on FP’s earlier revelation of Chinese annexations in Northern Bhutan. Tibetans, unlike Uyghurs, are seen as useful to the Chinese state rather than an obstacle to Himalayan expansionism. Their historical cross-border ties and cultural adaptation to mountain life make them ideal agents of empire—at the cost of their own choices and lives, as Barnett details.

The Party’s Party Is All About Xi

China’s tech-savvy commissars don’t really need real-life parades to celebrate the party’s centennial. With digital effects and 22,000 spectators filmed by drones, Beijing’s centennial extravaganza at the National Stadium on Monday evoked Chinese triumphs through elaborately choreographed scenes playing out onstage and onscreen: engineering marvels, space probes, precision fireworks, submarines, 2008 Olympics highlights, doctors battling COVID-19, and at one point real-life vintage cargo trucks. It was a dazzling socialist-realist-Fast and the Furious moment made for YouTube . (Except in China YouTube access is banned by internet censors.)

BEIJING—The dress rehearsals for the Chinese Communist Party’s 100th anniversary began two weeks ago, with the whup whup whup of helicopters above Beijing’s main boulevard, some of the world’s most tightly restricted airspace. Multiple helicopters in tight aerial formation—forming the numerals “100”—flitted past my window. Then came the jets trailing blue, yellow, and red smoke plumes, screeching toward Tiananmen Square. There was no military parade in this practice run. When Chinese military hardware is paraded down the main drag, people living nearby normally are told to shut their windows, draw the curtains—and don’t peek.

BEIJING—The dress rehearsals for the Chinese Communist Party’s 100th anniversary began two weeks ago, with the whup whup whup of helicopters above Beijing’s main boulevard, some of the world’s most tightly restricted airspace. Multiple helicopters in tight aerial formation—forming the numerals “100”—flitted past my window. Then came the jets trailing blue, yellow, and red smoke plumes, screeching toward Tiananmen Square. There was no military parade in this practice run. When Chinese military hardware is paraded down the main drag, people living nearby normally are told to shut their windows, draw the curtains—and don’t peek.

China’s tech-savvy commissars don’t really need real-life parades to celebrate the party’s centennial. With digital effects and 22,000 spectators filmed by drones, Beijing’s centennial extravaganza at the National Stadium on Monday evoked Chinese triumphs through elaborately choreographed scenes playing out onstage and onscreen: engineering marvels, space probes, precision fireworks, submarines, 2008 Olympics highlights, doctors battling COVID-19, and at one point real-life vintage cargo trucks. It was a dazzling socialist-realist-Fast and the Furious moment made for YouTube. (Except in China YouTube access is banned by internet censors.)

Much of the iconography feels very familiar. Beijing is used to such lockdowns; at least this one has no bird-hunting monkeys, such as those brought in a few years ago for the 70th anniversary of victory in World War II. Yet this birthday is different. While some anniversaries appear fixated on the past, this one is intensely focused on the future—not just the future of China and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) but the future of the party leader and president, Xi Jinping.

Indeed, it’s safe to say that the party’s birthday isn’t much of a group affair at all. For the first time in decades, ordinary Chinese are being shown that those futures all boil down to the same thing: Xi.

Not since Mao Zedong died in 1976 has the fate of the Chinese nation seemed to balance so intentionally on a single individual. This also means the party’s party isn’t just a few days of flag-waving and fireworks. While July 1 is the party’s official birthday, it’s also expected to mark the shifting into high gear of Xi’s campaign to jettison the final remnants of a “collective leadership” style and the self-imposed checks and balances on power that China’s post-Mao leaders had observed.

In Thursday’s glowing coverage of the centennial narrative—branded “The Great Journey”—the Global Times, which often reflects nationalistic voices, showed Xi on the front page, leading party stalwarts. Below him a headline declared, “Virtues, spirit to drive nation towards second 100 years.”

The party itself, with 92 million members, makes up just 6.6 percent of China’s population. Yet of the 2.1 million party members recruited in 2018, only 5,700 came from the army of rural-born migrant workers who represent a third of working-age Chinese, the Financial Times reports. The CCP has thus become a repository of technocrats and business elites. And in the absence of national elections, CCP cadres often equate legitimacy with economic performance. Centenary-linked achievements include the opening of a second airport in Chengdu, the inauguration of a high-altitude bullet train in Tibet, and the firing up of two of the world’s largest hydropower turbines in the Baihetan hydropower plant.

What is not getting much airtime is the online crackdown on hints of “historical nihilism,” meaning anything that fails to toe the party line. Ditto for international criticism of reported human rights abuses in Xinjiang and heavy-handed implementation of national security legislation in Hong Kong, including the recent closure of the pro-democracy Apple Daily, which U.S. President Joe Biden called a “sad day for media freedom.” (In fact local authorities may well have timed the paper’s shuttering precisely for the runup to July 1, which is also the anniversary of Hong Kong’s reversion to Chinese sovereignty in 1997, just as they introduced the National Security Law on June 30 last year.)

Since becoming party head in 2012, Xi has consolidated power with startling speed, rooting out political rivals, corruption, and political dissent. He’s positioned himself on par with Mao in the communist leadership pantheon. He’s expected to try to stay on for an unusual third term as head of the party, clinging to power as Mao had done. Today Xi is called “The People’s Leader,” a title previously bestowed on Mao alone.

The promotion of “Xi Jinping Thought,” moreover, has helped trigger a personality cult around Xi second only to that of the late Great Helmsman. “Ideology is back,” said Steve Tsang, director of SOAS University of London’s China Institute. “’Xi Jinping Thought’ is the guiding ideology for China. If we don’t get that, we could be missing what this anniversary is all about.”

The next year will feature intense political maneuvering and is expected to climax publicly at the 20th Communist Party Congress slated for the fall of 2022. Normally held every half-decade, this gathering is where the party’s succession strategy comes together (or ought to), and where changes to the all-important Politburo Standing Committee—China’s top decision-making group, currently with seven members—and the 25-person Politburo are revealed.

Under Xi, China’s constitution was changed in 2018 to abolish the two-term limit for the office of China’s president, a government post that Xi also holds. The big question now is: Can he hang on as leader of the CCP and head of the party’s Central Military Commission while still dragging his feet over the naming of an heir? For this reason, what some had assumed might be a sensitive few days during the centennial celebrations in fact seems slated to become an entire sensitive year or more of opacity, behind-the-scenes horse-trading, and speculation.

The dilemma for party strategists is their need to ensure iron-fisted control and stability—but at the same time to orchestrate an orderly succession. It requires good luck and good timing, as well as science. As recent years have shown, political transitions in Western democracies can be messy. Over the past 100 years, moreover, succession has been the Achilles’ heel of the CCP. In 1976, Mao’s death caused a tussle between the so-called Gang of Four—leftist leaders, including Mao’s wife, who had risen to power with Mao’s blessing during the Cultural Revolution—and his eventual successor, Hua Guofeng, which ended in the Gang’s arrest and trial. (Passing the baton proved tricky for imperial dynasties too; one Ming emperor died after less than a month on the throne.)

If he continues on his current trajectory, Xi will be concentrating power ever more tightly in his own hands, even as he must share some of it with a designated heir—or at least be seen as sharing it. “I don’t see a successor being named at the 20th party congress,” Tsang predicted. “A named successor would be in a vulnerable position, the one most likely to be taken down by Xi because he’s seen as a threat. He becomes the number one target.”

When an ailing Mao anointed Hua as his own heir apparent, he is said to have announced to Hua, “With you in charge, my heart is at ease.” But after Mao died, Hua’s hold on power lasted only a couple years before party rivals, including Deng Xiaoping, began diluting his authority—even while allowing him to retain key titles. (Hua was the only CCP leader who was party chairman, premier, and head of the central military commission at the same time.) Ultimately Deng won the power struggle, and Hua died in political obscurity in 2008. As the party enters the second century of its “Great Journey,” Mao’s legacy remains both a road map and a warning to those who would follow in his footsteps.

The Chinese Communist Party Has Followed Sun Yat-sen’s Road Map

But a century later, one of the striking accomplishments of the CCP is the degree to which it has fulfilled not Karl Marx’s dreams but those of Sun Yat-sen. Sun, a leader of the Revolution of 1911 who briefly became first president of the Republic of China in 1912, was no communist. But over his long career as a professional revolutionary, he sketched out many plans for how a strong government would develop China’s economy, achieve independence from the imperialist powers, and lead society toward democracy.

With a great deal of razzle-dazzle, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is celebrating its centenary this month. Looking back on a century of party history, Chinese and foreigners alike emphasize themes of success, competence, ideological agility (or adaptability), and ruthlessness—or resolve. A hundred years ago, meeting in a small house in Shanghai in July 1921, a tiny handful of men intrigued by the little bit of Marxism that they knew and impressed by the success of the Russian Revolution agreed that China needed a proletarian revolution. They faced long odds and several near-extinction events, but their heirs rode China’s revolutionary tides to power in 1949.

With a great deal of razzle-dazzle, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is celebrating its centenary this month. Looking back on a century of party history, Chinese and foreigners alike emphasize themes of success, competence, ideological agility (or adaptability), and ruthlessness—or resolve. A hundred years ago, meeting in a small house in Shanghai in July 1921, a tiny handful of men intrigued by the little bit of Marxism that they knew and impressed by the success of the Russian Revolution agreed that China needed a proletarian revolution. They faced long odds and several near-extinction events, but their heirs rode China’s revolutionary tides to power in 1949.

But a century later, one of the striking accomplishments of the CCP is the degree to which it has fulfilled not Karl Marx’s dreams but those of Sun Yat-sen. Sun, a leader of the Revolution of 1911 who briefly became first president of the Republic of China in 1912, was no communist. But over his long career as a professional revolutionary, he sketched out many plans for how a strong government would develop China’s economy, achieve independence from the imperialist powers, and lead society toward democracy.

For the CCP, Sun Yat-sen is a “Forerunner of the Revolution.” He was one of Mao Zedong’s first political heroes, while in the official historiography of the People’s Republic of China, Sun has long been remembered as a “bourgeois revolutionary” who helped set the stage for the Communist Revolution. In essence, a backward, feudal China at the beginning of the 20th century needed the kind of bourgeois revolution Marx saw in 19th-century Europe. Sun thus played a more or less progressive role in the unfolding of history in China, but a limited one. By the 1940s, Mao had concluded that China’s bourgeois revolution had failed because the bourgeoisie was weak and, worse, in cahoots with the imperialist powers occupying China.

In the early years of the 20th century, Sun envisioned a lively role for markets and entrepreneurs in China’s modernization, while he expected the state to control the economic heights, such as finance, heavy industry, and infrastructure. Reform-era China since the 1980s has, at least roughly speaking, headed in this direction. Sun thought poverty, not class exploitation, lay at the root of China’s problems. Today’s CCP cannot publicly renounce the Marxist-Maoist principle of class struggle, but it has made building a “prosperous society” (xiaokang shehui) a core goal and source of legitimacy.

Sun looked to foreign investment to build China’s infrastructure and export industries—the CCP’s recipe since at least the 1990s. But Sun only wanted foreign companies that agreed to train their Chinese employees and even to sell back their businesses to Chinese owners in the future. Western companies today complain about forced technology transfers, but the idea is hardly a new one. Nor are state-led boycotts of disfavored foreign companies—they began to be a popular political tactic just as Sun began his political career.

A remarkable example of the CCP’s fulfillment of a Sunist dream is today’s immense railway system (90,000 miles, including nearly 24,000 miles of high-speed rail). In 1912 Sun lamented China’s lack of a significant rail system, which he saw could unite geographically diverse regions and form the backbone of economic development. He even sketched out a future system of railway lines crisscrossing China—even while he was trying to find a protected base in a country divided by warlords, Sun found time to think about how train lines could follow rivers and go through or around mountains, and even how they could be paid for.

Another echo of Sunism in today’s China is its policies toward ethnic minorities. Sun achieved his first fame as an anti-Manchu Han Chinese nationalist, condemning the Qing dynasty as illegitimate first and foremost because it represented foreign Manchu control over the majority Ha” population. After the 1911 Revolution that overthrew the Qing, Sun accepted that the Manchus were a Chinese ethnic minority, along with Tibetans, Mongols, Hui, and others. But he never lost his belief that the core Chinese identity was that of the Han people—whether seen as a race, ethnicity, or even lineage. True, he thought the 1911 Revolution had created a new multiethnic nation—but he also believed these different ethnic groups were evolving into a single people that was, indeed, pretty much indistinguishable from its most civilized element: the Han, which would inevitably absorb and assimilate the others.

When it first came to power, the CCP’s approach was almost the opposite of Sun’s. Borrowing from Soviet minorities policy, it officially recognized ethnic groups—55 of them in addition to the Han. It proposed to govern certain minority-dominated frontier areas as autonomous regions and did not initially impose assimilationist policies on them, at least not many. (Fun fact: In the 1930s and into the 1940s, the CCP recognized Taiwan as a separate nation.) However, over the last decade, the CCP has adopted stringent assimilationist policies, from the relatively mundane, like restrictions on minority language schooling, to cultural destruction and mass internment amounting to state terrorism in places such as Tibet and Xinjiang.

It is not that the CCP consciously turned to Sunism but that much of what we associate with the CCP has deeper roots. Part of the CCP’s core identity stemmed from defining itself against Sun’s Nationalist Party (the Kuomintang, abbreviated KMT), though the two parties cooperated to overthrow China’s warlords in the early 1920s. After Sun’s death in 1925 the KMT under Chiang Kai-shek moved to destroy the CCP and build a KMT party-state. Chiang moved to build a cult of Sun Yat-sen, who became known not as a “forerunner” but as the “Father of the Nation.” He remains so in Taiwan today, where the KMT fled after losing the civil war to the Communists in 1949.

Where the CCP in its first 100 years has not followed Sun is in his ideas about democratization. Sun certainly had his doubts about the capacities of the Chinese people to practice democracy in the immediate future. He also had a certain faith in technocratic solutions that is echoed in today’s China. But Sun was always clear that China’s path of development must lead toward constitutional government and democratic institutions. He posited that in the wake of the revolution, a brief period of military government would be necessary to restore order and eliminate corruption. Then a period of “tutelage” would begin. Sun seems to have thought of tutelage in terms of limited local self-government under the final command of central authorities, which would teach the public their civic responsibilities and eventually produce an educated, modern populace capable of governing itself.

In many ways, the CCP has been engaged in tutelage projects since at least the 1940s. Its “rectification” campaigns centered on small groups of cadres, or merchants, or academics engaged in intense study of party documents, mutual criticism, and self-criticism for months at a time. The “new person” was to emerge utterly devoted to one ideal: “to serve the people.” Today, less ambitiously but still hopefully the government issues endless calls for “civilized behavior.” And of course the CCP’s punishments for unacceptable political views and behavior are nothing if not disciplinary. It seems to be tutelage all the way down—albeit with little sight of a democratic end goal.

In the period of “opening and reform” starting in the 1980s, China began experiments with local multicandidate elections (not multiparty elections), relaxing censorship (within limits), and promoting a new judicial system (subject to party discipline). Over the last 15 years, however, even these limited reforms have been curtailed. Recent CCP communiques explicitly condemn such notions as universal values, constitutionalism, human rights, civil society, and “historical nihilism” (that is, criticizing the party). And now, named for China’s current president, “Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era” is omnipresent, found across sites ranging from schoolrooms and street posters to computer games—the ultimate tutelage project.

In the 1930s, the KMT tried to legitimate its rule with the concept of “tutelage,” while Chiang believed much more in duties than in rights. But in Taiwan, though Chiang ruled through martial law, society slowly liberalized. It is possible to look at the democratization of Taiwan since the 1980s, achieved without wide-scale violence, and forget the years of the Taiwanese people’s struggle against oppression. Opposition to KMT authoritarianism focused on ideals of open elections, Taiwanization, and, to an extent, labor rights. In the wake of demonstrations held on Human Rights Day in 1979, police arrested dozens of opposition leaders in what became known as the Kaohsiung Incident. But in the long run, this strengthened the opposition just as the KMT—threated by the decision that year of the United States to finally formally recognize the Beijing government instead of Taipei—began step-by-step reforms. Another key moment came with the Wild Lily student movement of 1990 demanding new popular elections for the National Assembly and direct election of the president. This time, the protesters were not prosecuted.

The story of Taiwan’s democratization is a complex one, but Sunism played a role. In the pivotal year of 1990, some KMT and military elites opposed meeting the students’ demands and wanted the government to take a hard line. This so-called palace faction might have gotten its way but for the argument that Sun Yat-sen himself had said that the purpose of tutelage was democracy. Even if Sunism had lost most of its appeal in the larger Taiwanese society, these conservatives could not bring themselves to oppose the Sunism that they still believed in. Taiwan’s largely peaceful democratic revolution was completed over the course of the 1990s. Today, as the CCP celebrates its 100th anniversary, the world’s most successful communist party should be seen in the context of a longer and larger revolutionary tradition that is still ongoing.

The Undeniable Pessimism of Angela Merkel

This Thursday, Merkel comes to Washington in a very different role: as nemesis of President Joe Biden’s China policy. That the free world is in a decisive struggle against an authoritarian China is one of the few things Democrats and Republicans can agree on. Merkel has chosen not to abide by this bipartisan consensus. During the last year of her term, Merkel has invested all her energy into deepening Germany’s and Europe’s economic ties with China, pushing through an investment agreement with China late last year. This was the chancellor’s welcome present for the Biden administration, signaling her opposition to a united trans-Atlantic front against Beijing. Even more tellingly, Merkel chose to remain silent in March when Beijing, in an unprecedented move, slapped sanctions on German and European parliamentarians and researchers.

Ten years ago, in June 2011, U.S. President Barack Obama rolled out the red carpet for German Chancellor Angela Merkel. At a White House state dinner, he anointed Merkel as the European standard-bearer for freedom, presenting her with the Presidential Medal of Freedom and praising her as an “eloquent voice for human rights and dignity around the world.” A moved chancellor committed herself to standing up for freedom, intonating that “living in freedom and defending freedom are two sides of one and the same coin, for the precious gift of freedom doesn’t come naturally but has to be fought for, nurtured, and defended time and time again.”

Ten years ago, in June 2011, U.S. President Barack Obama rolled out the red carpet for German Chancellor Angela Merkel. At a White House state dinner, he anointed Merkel as the European standard-bearer for freedom, presenting her with the Presidential Medal of Freedom and praising her as an “eloquent voice for human rights and dignity around the world.” A moved chancellor committed herself to standing up for freedom, intonating that “living in freedom and defending freedom are two sides of one and the same coin, for the precious gift of freedom doesn’t come naturally but has to be fought for, nurtured, and defended time and time again.”

This Thursday, Merkel comes to Washington in a very different role: as nemesis of President Joe Biden’s China policy. That the free world is in a decisive struggle against an authoritarian China is one of the few things Democrats and Republicans can agree on. Merkel has chosen not to abide by this bipartisan consensus. During the last year of her term, Merkel has invested all her energy into deepening Germany’s and Europe’s economic ties with China, pushing through an investment agreement with China late last year. This was the chancellor’s welcome present for the Biden administration, signaling her opposition to a united trans-Atlantic front against Beijing. Even more tellingly, Merkel chose to remain silent in March when Beijing, in an unprecedented move, slapped sanctions on German and European parliamentarians and researchers.

It is not just “Merkantilism” that led Merkel to choose acquiescence when Beijing attacked the core institutions of European democracy. At the heart of Merkel’s approach to China is a deep-seated pessimism about Germany’s and Europe’s trajectory of power. In a world where the United States is no longer a reliable ally, she thinks a fragile Europe simply doesn’t have what it takes to stand up to Beijing. If her successor stands any chance of reversing Merkel’s China policy, it will have to start with a psychological shift—a conviction that Europe can develop what it takes to thrive in a more hostile and competitive international environment.

Merkel’s accommodationist China stance is the result of a remarkable evolution in her thinking. She started her chancellorship with self-confidence vis-à-vis Beijing. In 2007, Merkel received the Dalai Lama at the chancellery in Berlin. Targeted by Beijing’s fury and domestic critics, Merkel did not budge. “It’s me who decides whom I receive where as chancellor,” she shot back. And the chancellor had some biting advice for China’s rulers: “The best thing would be for Beijing to directly pursue talks with the Dalai Lama, who is concerned about cultural autonomy and safeguarding of human rights.”

During her yearly trips to China throughout her chancellorship, Merkel was one of the few European leaders to raise human rights concerns in a clear manner, presenting Beijing with lists of cases of concern. She also made a point of visiting human rights advocates and dissident lawyers. She does not have any illusions about the realities of Beijing’s repression apparatus and the tightening of the screws under Xi Jinping. Merkel seems to genuinely care about human rights, and she certainly does not seem to be eyeing any payoffs of her close ties to China during her post-chancellorship. Unlike her predecessor Gerhard Schröder, who now makes his money serving Russian President Vladimir Putin as chairman of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, Merkel is not at all driven by personal wealth, and it’s very unlikely that she will accept a cent from the Chinese or Russian government or companies after leaving office this fall.

It’s also not just concern about the short-term German business interests that drives her China policy. It is true that Merkel deeply cares about the fate of a few large German companies, such as Volkswagen and Daimler, that have become overly dependent on the Chinese market. The CEOs of these companies do have Merkel’s ear and do influence her China policy even when national security concerns are at stake. Fear of retaliation against German companies definitely motivated Merkel’s fight against any efforts to exclude Huawei from Germany’s 5G critical infrastructure.

But the fear goes deeper than that. Merkel has a deep pessimism about the trajectory of Germany and Europe, as well as of the United States, in their competition with Beijing. Merkel has not spoken about this much in public. As her biographer Stefan Kornelius details in Angela Merkel: The Chancellor and Her World, Merkel fears that open-society systems “might not survive, that democracy and the market economy might ultimately prove to be too weak.”

Sometimes the public gets a glimpse of Merkel’s gloom. After a meeting in Berlin during the eurozone crisis, then-Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov reported that Merkel had told him that “the Maya and many other civilizations have disappeared from the face of the earth.” She chose this dramatic example to emphasize her view of the fragility of Europe. While Merkel doesn’t fail to recognize China’s many domestic challenges, in her many trips to China she has come away deeply impressed with the speed and determination with which the country pursues its development goals. As the German magazine Der Spiegel reported, Merkel feels that “everything needs to move much faster, in Europe and in Germany.”

But in her view, internal blockades and a satisfaction with the status quo stop Germany and Europe from that. One of Merkel’s biggest failures is that after being elected chancellor she never fully shared her gloomy outlook with the German public, let alone tried to win political support for the unpopular measures that might change things for the better.

From Merkel’s view Germany’s and Europe’s inevitable decline in competitiveness and power is made worse by the trajectory of the United States. Merkel has long been concerned about domestic dysfunction in the United States. It was the Trump years that fundamentally shook her belief in the reliability of the United States as a partner for Europe. Very plausibly, she does not see Donald Trump as an accident and thinks another U.S. president turning away from or turning the fire on Europe may be just around the corner. In 2017, she expressed this during a campaign speech in a beer tent in Bavaria: “The era in which we could fully rely on others is over to some extent. … We Europeans truly have to take our fate into our own hands.”

Given her gloomy outlook about Europe’s future, taking “our fate into our own hands” does not amount to a call to arms to invest in European capabilities. It mostly amounts to trying to maximize breathing space and room for maneuver by pursuing a middle path between the United States and China, and avoiding confrontation with Beijing. When you don’t see yourself as a competitive player, all that is left at the core is little more than a “big Switzerland” approach of quasi-neutrality in the contest between great powers.

But that big Switzerland approach tends to only work well when surrounded by friendly powers. Otherwise, your fate risks being more like that of Switzerland during World War II, only left with what one Swiss opposition voice in 1940 called a “course of capitulation.” If, like Germany and Europe, you engage in preemptive self-dwarfication, guided by gloom, you might wake up and realize that you are left with no breathing space at all.

A better German China policy does not amount to chaining the country to Washington’s policies. Rather, the most important ingredients of a better post-Merkel China policy are ambition and self-confidence that Europe can be a successful power of its own. Germany and Europe need to believe that they can develop what it takes to outcompete China’s authoritarian state capitalism and, if possible together with allies, confront Beijing wherever political, economic, or security interests are at stake. That would be the true meaning of “taking our fate into our own hands.”

Contrary to the doomsayers, Germany and Europe are not yet too dependent on China to do just that. Both Germany and Europe as a whole run a trade deficit with China, making it clear that Europe also has leverage. There is no reason whatsoever to have such a deficit in ambition vis-à-vis Beijing. Germany and Europe may well fail, but we have to part ways with Merkelism and at least try.

China’s Diplomacy Is Limiting Its Own Ambitions

An expert’s point of view on a current event.

China’s Diplomacy Is Limiting Its Own Ambitions

U.S. policymakers consider China’s resurgence to be the greatest test yet posed by a rival nation-state to the United States’ security and prosperity. The White House’s Interim National Security Strategic Guidance concludes Beijing “is the only competitor potentially capable of combining its economic, diplomatic, military, and technological power to mount a sustained challenge to a stable and open international system.”

All four of those dimensions of power have grown in the last year. China is more central to the global economy than it was at the outset of the coronavirus pandemic in late 2019, and the International Monetary Fund projects it will grow 8.4 percent this year and 5.6 percent in 2022, compared to 6.4 percent and 3.5 percent respectively for the United States. By deepening its sway within core postwar institutions, such as the United Nations, and pursuing extra-system efforts, such as the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), it is increasingly shaping both the architecture and the norms of global governance.

Military frictions are intensifying in the Asia-Pacific, and U.S. officials are increasingly focused on redressing U.S. vulnerabilities in potential South China Sea and Taiwan Strait contingencies. Finally, as China works toward achieving greater technological self-sufficiency, backing its vision with billions of dollars in state-directed capital, the United States is contending with the implications of a potentially bifurcated, if not further fragmented, technology ecosystem.

Yet the growing gap between Beijing’s economic heft and its diplomatic aplomb will limit its potential influence. It is possible to imagine a scenario where China possesses the world’s largest economy, by a considerable margin, yet finds itself even more estranged from the advanced industrial democracies that will still collectively account for the preponderance of economic power and military capacity.

China had a promising window in which to consolidate medium- and perhaps even long-term strategic advantages during former U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration. Beyond undercutting views of the United States abroad, the administration’s “America First” foreign policy often caught U.S. allies and partners in its crosshairs. Beijing had an especially compelling opportunity to strengthen ties with major powers in and beyond its neighborhood last year, when a pandemic, a recession, and protests against racial injustice were concurrently roiling the United States.

China did, of course, make some progress in expanding its influence during the Trump years. It concluded the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, a trade pact that will deepen intra-Asian trade flows, and finalized the Comprehensive Agreement on Investment (CAI) with the European Union. It also continued adding countries to its roster of BRI partners and grew its technological footprint across the developing world; a recent study found Huawei has inked 70 agreements with governments or state-owned enterprises in 41 countries over the past 15 years, predominantly in sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, and Latin America.

These advances coincided with the emergence of China’s more assertively nationalistic diplomatic tone, often referred to as “Wolf Warrior diplomacy” after Rambo-like movies of the same name, which feature Chinese fighters defending their country’s honor. Particularly following initial international criticism of Beijing’s early response to the COVID-19 outbreak, many Chinese diplomats began pushing back strongly against critiques of China’s actions by highlighting other countries’ shortcomings and touting Beijing’s accomplishments. Chinese diplomats overseas have increasingly adopted this approach, including in interactions with journalists and on social media.

The Trump administration’s headline-grabbing diplomatic style often gave cover to China’s abrasive approach. In contrast, U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration’s steady, undramatic approach to repairing U.S. alliances and partnerships has shifted the diplomatic spotlight toward Beijing’s conduct. It is not only the United States’ disposition toward China that is hardening. The European Union is also taking a more skeptical look, having recently voted to freeze its review of the CAI until Beijing lifts sanctions on European parliamentarians and think tanks. Tensions with Canada, Australia, and the United Kingdom are elevated. Relations with India sharply deteriorated after bloody border clashes began last May. Japan and South Korea are reinvesting in strengthened alliances with the United States and are taking tentative steps to improve their own bilateral relationship. Finally, Taiwan’s international stature has grown while its wariness of the mainland has risen.

With many of China’s key bilateral relationships facing headwinds, democratic coalitions are mobilizing more actively. The Quadrilateral Security Dialogue arguably has more momentum than at any other point since its inception. NATO has grown more pointed in its criticisms of Beijing, with Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg calling it “a power that doesn’t share our values” in late March. G-7 foreign ministers issued a statement in early May expressing concern about China’s repression in Xinjiang and Tibet, its erosion of Hong Kong’s democracy, and its coercive economic practices. In an unprecedented step, Canada, the European Union, the United Kingdom, and the United States announced coordinated sanctions in March in response to China’s mass internment of Uyghur Muslims.

China has lashed out in return, casting itself as the object of a containment campaign. Such messages play well to the public at home. But as political scientist Jessica Chen Weiss explained, they do not travel well abroad. And as China’s leadership harnesses nationalistic sentiment, it simultaneously constrains its freedom of foreign-policy maneuvers. The kinds of recalibrations that might enable Beijing to stabilize ties with other major powers, after all, could be interpreted as the kinds of concessions to external pressure that Chinese President Xi Jinping has avowed a more confident and capable China no longer needs to make. That dilemma stands in contrast to the relative flexibility China’s leadership enjoyed in the 1980s, when it was able to rescind many past territorial claims to settle long-standing border disputes with Russia and other countries.

The Chinese Communist Party’s narratives feed growing Chinese nationalism. Xi stated in January “time and the situation are in our favor.” Chen Yixin, the powerful secretary-general of the body overseeing China’s domestic security, rendered a similar judgment that same month: “The rise of China is a major variable [of the world today] … while the rise of the East and the decline of the West has become [a global] trend, and changes of the international landscape are in our favor.”

China’s leadership is advancing two propositions: First, Beijing is inexorably moving to resume its rightful centrality within world affairs, rectifying an unjust strategic imbalance. Efforts to alter that trajectory will be futile and counterproductive. Second, a fading Washington is anxiously looking to maintain its present preeminence by obstructing China’s resurgence.

Not all Chinese analysts are as bullish about Beijing’s prospects, as one of us (Ryan Hass) concluded after conducting more than 50 hours of Zoom-based dialogues with Chinese interlocutors and completing a thorough review of recent speeches by Chinese officials and commentaries by Chinese scholars. According to Renmin University professor and government advisor Shi Yinhong, for example, “the appeal of China’s ‘soft power’ in the world, the resources and experiences available to China, are quite limited, and the domestic and international obstacles China will encounter, including the complexities created by the coronavirus pandemic, are considerable.”

There are many reasons for Chinese observers to interrogate the assumption China will be able to sustain its present momentum indefinitely. Beijing’s foreign-policy commitment to nonalignment limits its ability to form alliances and other trust-based relationships it can leverage to counter pressure from the United States and its friends. China’s productivity remains low compared to developed countries, and it must contend with serious demographic issues as well as significant obstacles to achieving self-sufficiency in targeted areas like semiconductors.

Beijing is still on course to overtake Washington in overall economic size—adding considerable weight to its threats, implied or otherwise, against countries that oppose it, especially in the developing world. But aggregate economic heft does not immediately yield commensurate diplomatic stature. Although the United States overtook the United Kingdom in overall economic size in the late 19th century, it did not emerge as the world’s preeminent power until the end of World War II. And the combined size of democratic economies will exceed China’s gross domestic product for many decades yet, even in Beijing’s most optimistic growth scenarios.

There are at least two clear policy implications. First, China’s self-limiting diplomacy gives the United States breathing room to pursue a foreign policy that is informed but not governed by Beijing’s resurgence. Washington should neither allow its response to Beijing’s behavior to override its pursuit of other important foreign-policy priorities nor convey the impression China’s decisions will determine how it renews itself at home and repositions itself abroad.

Second, even as it leverages China’s strategic errors to renew its relationships with allies and partners, the United States must take care not to view China too narrowly within the frame of “great-power competition.” Washington should primarily engage its friends not around a country they aim to contest but around the outcomes they seek to achieve—foremost among them a post-pandemic order that can more effectively manage both short-term crises, such as COVID-19, and longer-term challenges, such as climate change. There are and will continue to be, after all, significant divergences between advanced industrial democracies’ threat perceptions and policy priorities vis-à-vis China. Although shared concerns can impel coalitions, affirmative undertakings can more reliably sustain them.

One might counter the United States defined its foreign policy during the Cold War in oppositional terms, casting itself as the antithesis of the Soviet Union. Importantly, though, Washington challenged Moscow under the auspices of a broader, forward-looking effort: constructing an order to forestall the calamities that had made one necessary in the first place.

If, amid the triumphalism that attended the Soviet Union’s fall, the United States was too quick to dismiss China’s competitive potential, it may now be at risk of overstating it. Beijing is neither on the precipice of disintegration nor on a path to hegemony; it is an enduring yet constrained competitor.

U.S. efforts should proceed from both a clear-eyed recognition that strategic competition with China will persist over the long term and a dispassionate appraisal of Beijing’s competitive strengths and liabilities. The United States can afford to approach that competition with quiet confidence. The more it concentrates on advancing an open and equitable society, restoring its democratic institutions, and maintaining its initiative on the world stage by galvanizing efforts to address transnational challenges, the better it will be able to demonstrate the strength of its own system. Prestige ultimately derives from performance. Improving the United States’ performance at home and abroad should be the overarching focus of U.S. policy.

Beijing Plans a Slow Genocide in Xinjiang

An expert’s point of view on a current event.

Beijing Plans a Slow Genocide in Xinjiang

In January, the U.S. government determined China’s actions in its northwestern Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region constituted genocide against its Uyghur ethnic minority population. Four other national parliaments have since followed suit. These determinations were mainly based on evidence of systematic suppression of births, since the United Nations’ 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide stipulates the act of “imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group” constitutes an act of genocide if it is “committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group.”

Some legal experts have questioned whether Beijing’s atrocities against the Uyghurs meet the high threshold for a genocide determination. To date, evidence that Beijing’s campaign of preventing births is intended to destroy the Uyghur people at least substantially “in part” has remained somewhat inconclusive. Even though an intent to commit genocide can be inferred from a pattern of conduct, this is more complicated in the absence of mass murder. What is the Chinese government’s long-term intent behind sterilizing large numbers of Uyghur women?

The answers to these important questions can be found in the words of Chinese officials themselves. In an upcoming peer-reviewed publication in Central Asian Survey (available in preprint here), Adrian Zenz, a co-author of this piece, presents comprehensive and compelling new evidence based on published statements and reports from Chinese academics and officials. Their core message is straightforward: The Uyghur population as such is a threat that endangers China’s national security. Its size, concentration, and rapid growth constitute national security risks that must be mitigated if the region’s “terrorism” problem is to be solved.

Beijing has begun suppressing Uyghur birth rates to “optimize” ethnic population ratios for counterterrorism purposes. In southern Xinjiang alone, where Uyghurs are concentrated, this would reduce population growth by preventing between 2.6 and 4.5 million births by 2040, likely shrinking the number of Uyghurs as a whole.

Liao Zhaoyu, dean of the Institute of Frontier History and Geography at Xinjiang’s Tarim University, has argued the region’s terrorism problem is a direct result of high Uyghur population concentrations in southern Xinjiang. Due to a recent exodus of Han, “the imbalance of the ethnic minority and Han population composition in southern Xinjiang has reached an unbelievably serious degree.” Liao argues southern Xinjiang must “change the population structure and layout [to] end the dominance of the Uyghur ethnic group.”

Xinjiang’s most high-profile voice on this highly sensitive subject is Liu Yilei, deputy secretary-general of the party committee of Xinjiang’s Production and Construction Corps and a Xinjiang University dean. In 2020, Liu argued “the root of Xinjiang’s social stability problems has not been resolved.”

“The problem in southern Xinjiang is mainly the unbalanced population structure,” Liu added. “Population proportion and population security are important foundations for long-term peace and stability. The proportion of the Han population in southern Xinjiang is too low, less than 15 percent. The problem of demographic imbalance is southern Xinjiang’s core issue.”

In 2017, the year when the mass internment campaign began, Chinese President Xi Jinping himself issued instructions related to “Researching and Advancing the Optimization Work of the Ethnic Population Structure in Southern Xinjiang.” The related document has not been made public.

Other Chinese researchers have argued the “foundation for solving Xinjiang’s counterterrorism” is “to solve the human problem.” Specifically, this requires “diluting … the proportion of ethnic populations” by increasing the Han population share and reducing the shares of populations with “negative energy,” such as religious and traditionally minded Uyghurs. This process of targeted ethnic dilution, first proposed by Xi during his visit to Xinjiang in 2014, is referred to as “population embedding.” A consistent theme in the discourse around this “human problem” is the eugenics-based concept of “population quality” (or “renkou suzhi”), a long-standing concept in Chinese Communist Party thought where Uyghurs are considered to be inherently “low quality” as a minority ethnic group.

To boost Han population shares, Beijing has to induce millions of Han to move to southern Xinjiang. By 2022, it plans to settle 300,000 Han people there. However, the south is also Xinjiang’s most ecologically fragile region. Arable land and water are scarce. Urbanization and industrial development vastly increased per capita resource utilization. Chinese studies estimate Xinjiang as a whole was already overpopulated by 2.3 million persons in 2015, significantly exceeding its ecological population carrying capacity.

Boosting Han population shares without significantly exceeding carrying capacities requires drastic reductions in ethnic minority population growth. Calculations show the most ideal range for this growth is in fact negative: around negative 2.5 per mile. By 2040, the state could boost Han population shares in southern Xinjiang to nearly 25 percent by settling 1.9 million Han. This would dilute Uyghur population concentrations in line with counterterrorism targets. The ethnic minority population there would shrink from currently 9.5 million to 9 million by 2040, a decline that could pass unnoticed by outside observers. A smaller population is also easier to control and assimilate.

Based on adapted projections that were recently published by Chinese researchers in Sustainability, a peer-reviewed international journal, southern Xinjiang’s ethnic minority population could increase to an estimated 13.1 million people by 2040 without severe measures to prevent births.

The 4.1 million person discrepancy between 9 million and 13.1 million people can be understood to constitute the “destruction in part” caused by the state’s “optimization” of ethnic population ratios. This would reduce the projected ethnic minority population during the coming 20 years by nearly one third (31 percent).

How realistic is this plan? After a draconian campaign of suppressing births, natural population growth in southern Xinjiang is already trending toward zero. Some regions planned to push it below zero for 2020 and 2021. Recently, Xinjiang has told family planning offices to “optimize the population structure” and carry out “population monitoring and early warning.” The region has created all the necessary preconditions for “optimizing” its ethnic population structure. It also no longer reports birth rates or population counts by region or ethnic group.

These findings shed important new light on Beijing’s intent to physically destroy in part the Uyghur ethnic group by preventing births within the group. The new publication convincingly argues other measures aimed at achieving ethnic population changes since Han will not accomplish the overall goal due in part to ecological, economic, and other practical constraints. As such, the prevention of Uyghur births is a critical and necessary part of China’s overall “optimization” policy in Xinjiang—a policy considered to be a matter of national security. Importantly, understanding the role that birth prevention and long-term population reduction plays in this overall policy distinguishes China’s actions against the Uyghurs from its general national population control measures and from its treatment of other ethnic and religious minorities, such as Tibetans.

In its 2007 judgment in the Bosnia and Herzegovina v. Serbia and Montenegro case, the International Court of Justice (ICJ), the judicial body that has jurisdiction over disputes between states in relation to the Genocide Convention, held that “the intent must be to destroy at least a substantial part of the particular group.” The ICJ expanded on the criteria for assessing the “substantial part” threshold in its 2015 Croatia v. Serbia judgment, holding it is not merely a numerical assessment but also takes into account the intent to destroy “within a geographically limited area” and the “prominence of the allegedly targeted part within the group as a whole.” We argue that a long-term policy of preventing millions of Uyghur births meets this threshold.

Two additional factors are important to understanding the gravity of the current situation facing the Uyghurs. First is China’s systematic imprisonment of Uyghur religious, intellectual, and cultural elites, with the increased imposition of lengthy sentences as opposed to arbitrary detention. The systematic removal of persons central to maintaining and transmitting Uyghur culture and identity is accompanied by a policy of family separations, where Uyghur children are taught to adopt the majority Han culture. Second is the concern that China’s assumption of the needed “optimization” levels may change over time if the Uyghur population, even when reduced in number, does not assimilate as envisioned. Genocidal intent can develop and strengthen over time as it has done in past genocides. The perception of Uyghurs as a human threat to China’s national security suggests birth prevention targets could increase over time, increasing the threat to the continued existence of the group as a whole.

Much of the debate surrounding the classification of China’s actions against the Uyghurs in terms of states making a genocide “determination” focuses on the legal question of establishing “genocidal intent.” Specifically, debates have arisen regarding the burden of proof applicable to findings based on circumstantial evidence and inferences, based primarily on the legal framework of international criminal law. We question whether this framework and evidentiary inquiry is necessary for purposes of a state making a genocide determination. A state is not a judicial body nor is it reaching a determination that implicates the fundamental human rights of an individual (such as fair trial rights or the right to liberty). Most importantly, state genocide determinations are intended to inform policy responses, which are fundamentally different from the purpose of international criminal law or judicial proceedings generally. This point could not be more clearly made than by the fact that it is only this week that the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia has finally confirmed the conviction of Ratko Mladic for the Srebrenica genocide, a genocide that took place 26 years ago.

International criminal law is an important accountability tool, such as after a crime has been committed, but is not an appropriate tool for purposes of preventing or responding to an unfolding genocide. The new findings present compelling evidence of a genocidal policy that is only now beginning to unfold and which will take place over decades.

In our view, when states attempt to mimic international judicial proceedings and apply evidentiary standards that relate to individual criminal liability, this creates significant risks that they will not meet their obligations under international law as a state. The Genocide Convention obligates all state parties to the convention to prevent genocide. In its 2007 Bosnia and Herzegovina v. Serbia and Montenegro judgment, the ICJ held that this “obligation to prevent, and the corresponding duty to act, arise at the instant that the State learns of, or should normally have learned of, the existence of a serious risk that genocide will be committed.”

The U.N. Office on Genocide Prevention and the Responsibility to Protect has identified risk factors for “atrocity crimes” (meaning genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity) in its Framework of Analysis for Atrocity Crimes. Risk factor 10, which is specific to genocide, provides indicators for “signs of an intent to destroy in whole or in part a protected group.” Notably, this framework was used by the U.N. Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on Myanmar in its 2019 findings on the situation facing the Rohingya. We suggest this is the more appropriate framework that should guide state genocide determinations, bearing in mind their distinct policy response purpose. Applying this framework, many of the signs of genocidal intent outlined under risk factor 10 are present with respect to China’s actions against the Uyghurs.

In sum, the newly published research provides states and the international community with compelling evidence that a genocide is slowly being carried out. Of particular concern is China’s perception of concentrated Uyghur populations as a national security threat. Other signs of genocidal intent under the U.N. framework are also clearly present. However, even those states that may not share this conclusion cannot deny that, at a minimum, there is a serious risk of genocide occurring. We argue states are therefore obligated to act urgently on that knowledge.

Authoritarianism Doesn’t Stop at the Water’s Edge

An expert’s point of view on a current event.

Authoritarianism Doesn’t Stop at the Water’s Edge

The spectacle of a government using fighter jets to forcibly divert a commercial flight in order to snatch a dissident journalist has sent shockwaves around the globe. Belarus’s brazen violation of the norms of civil aviation to arrest the journalist Roman Protasevich has prompted a flurry of condemnations and countermeasures, including airlines avoiding Belarusian airspace and banning the country’s national airline. But while the tactic of faking a bomb threat to force down a plane flying over the country, orchestrated by Belarusian strongman Aleksandr Lukashenko, is novel, the strategy behind it is becoming alarmingly widespread.

In a globalized world, authoritarian regimes are increasingly seeking to consolidate their control by making it impossible for persecuted critics, writers, and dissidents to find safe refuge abroad. The long arm of state repression is increasingly unconstrained by international borders, respect for sovereignty, or international treaties that govern areas including commercial aviation.

With the rise of social media and other channels of communication and outreach, exiled and expatriate activists and thinkers have more tools available to sustain a high media profile, organize, and reach audiences even after being forced to flee their home countries. The influence these figures can wield has prompted authoritarian governments to adopt new techniques of surveillance, harassment, and even physical interdiction. They aim to send the message that those who dare challenge their authority are not safe anywhere.

Authoritarian governments aim to send the message that those who dare challenge their authority are not safe anywhere.

According to a 2021 report from Freedom House, there have been at least 608 cases of physical cross-border repression—including detentions, deportations, and assassinations—since 2014. Some of these cases involve politically motivated reprisals with human rights implications.

Freedom House reports that, in many instances, tyrannical governments lean on cooperative neighbors and partners to abet their abuses through renditions and illicit transfers that force dissidents back home without technically violating sovereign territory.

Targeted killings and other forms of extraterritorial buccaneering are not new. World War I was sparked after Austria-Hungary accused Serbia of masterminding the assassination of its heir to the throne, Archduke Franz Ferdinand, by a Bosnian Serb nationalist.

In 1982, South Africa’s apartheid government assassinated exiled activist Ruth First in Mozambique with a parcel bomb sent to her office. A spate of high-profile cases now indicate that similar tactics are becoming commonplace.

The goriest and most galling, of course, is that of the Saudi dissident Jamal Khashoggi, who was butchered into pieces in 2018 after being lured into the Saudi Consulate in Istanbul. Khashoggi wasn’t the first Saudi critic to be targeted abroad. In 2017, the activist Mohammed Abdullah al-Otaibi was apprehended by Qatari security forces at the Doha airport as he attempted to board a flight to Norway. He was sent to Saudi Arabia, where he is now serving a 17-year sentence. A year later, the poet Nawaf al-Rasheed was similarly nabbed and rendered from a Kuwaiti airport, and then held in Saudi Arabia for nearly a year.

Iran has been among the most brazen offenders when it comes to the menacing and murder of its antagonists, no matter where they may have fled.

China has long eschewed international borders when it comes to repression of ethnic minorities including Uyghurs and Tibetans living in exile communities. And in a notorious 2015 incident, two Hong Kong-based booksellers known for selling salacious volumes about Beijing’s leaders were abducted and taken to the Chinese mainland to be charged with subversion, including one who was kidnapped while vacationing in Thailand and is still being held incommunicado. They were detained along with three other colleagues who had ventured into the mainland on what were intended to be short visits.

In early 2016, China’s Ministry of Public Security announced the establishment of an “overseas fugitive affairs” department, with Li Gongjin, team leader of the Shanghai police’s economic crimes unit, saying, “A fugitive is like a kite. The body is overseas, but the thread is inside China. Through family and friends, [we] can always find them.”

Iran has been among the most brazen offenders when it comes to the menacing and murder of its antagonists, no matter where they may have fled. In October 2019, the activist and journalist Ruhollah Zam, who had found refuge in France, traveled to Iraq, where he was kidnapped, taken to Iran, tried, and executed by hanging late last year. The reach of Iranian repression has also extended to the United States. The prominent New York-based women’s rights advocate Masih Alinejad, founder of the “White Wednesdays” online campaign against the hijab, and other Iranian feminists in the United States have faced an ongoing campaign of retaliation by the Iranian government.

Iranian clerics have posted videos on social media targeting Alinejad and comparing her to the novelist Salman Rushdie, the subject of a 1989 fatwa that forced him into years of hiding. Iran has also gone after Alinejad’s family back home, arresting her brother and sentencing him to eight years in jail for collusion, apparently based on her activities.

Rwanda is another serial offender, targeting dissidents in more than half a dozen countries since 2014. The Rwandan government engages in surveillance and repression against those who contest the government’s account of the 1994 genocide and subsequent rebuilding of the country under President Paul Kagame; last year his government arrested Paul Rusesabagina, the hero of the film Hotel Rwanda, by luring him onto a flight from Dubai to Kigali, where he is now on trial as an alleged terrorist.

Russia has also gotten into the game. The Kremlin’s lethal transnational attacks on high-profile former government officials are well known and include a failed effort to kill former intelligence officer Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Britain with a nerve agent in 2018 and the deadly polonium poisoning of former FSB and KGB officer Alexander Litvinenko in 2006, also in Britain.

And in recent years agents have targeted independent critics of Chechen strongman Ramzan Kadyrov who have fled overseas. In January 2020, the Chechen blogger and regime critic Imran Aliyev was stabbed 135 times in a hotel room in Lille, France. A month later, another outspoken Chechen blogger, Tumso Abdurakhmanov, narrowly survived a hammer attack at his apartment in Sweden; at trial, his assailants confessed to acting on orders of the Chechen government. A third attack took place in Vienna in July of that year, killing the blogger Mamikhan Umarov.

The United States and its close allies have also adopted tactics that may have lowered the bar in terms of crossing borders to neutralize perceived threats to the state. Israel has targeted hostile militants globally and, since 9/11, the United States has mounted aggressive efforts to grab violent extremist plotters and target them with drone strikes. Both Israel and the United States have sought to justify such measures under domestic and international laws involving self-defense and the laws of war, rationales that have been staunchly contested by human rights groups.

For decades, a dissident’s decision to go into exile meant surrendering visibility and influence in return for safety. With the advent of social media and digital communications, that bargain has been upended: Critics can remain vocal and relevant from afar, but their movements can be tracked and traced, and governments are increasingly determined not to allow international borders or norms to stand in the way of silencing or eliminating their antagonists.

Exiles are uniquely situated to tell the stories of repression and survival that governments would rather keep untold, to provide lifelines of solidarity to the persecuted back home, and to envision new futures for beleaguered societies is under threat. For every abduction, attack, and murder, shockwaves reverberate among global exile communities. As with all acts of terrorism, the targets of these attacks are not just those who are apprehended or killed, but others whom regimes aim to intimidate into silent retreat. This includes fellow exiles but also those in country who dare challenge their governments and must reckon with the prospect that once they come into the crosshairs, there may be no escape, even overseas.

Unless it is useful, sovereignty means little to the despot.

Western countries voicing outrage at the seizure of Protasevich should consider not only how to punish Belarus but also how to address the broader trend of rising imperviousness to international borders and norms when it comes to the repression of dissent.

First, they should focus on deterrence and punishment. Governments should punish each instance of cross-border repression through targeted sanctions, diplomatic reprisals, restricting security sector assistance, and other countermeasures. Wherever possible, individuals involved in attacks or other unlawful activities should be brought to justice. If the perpetrators are based in the country where the hit occurred, they should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. When, as in the Khashoggi case, they reside within the country that ordered the attack, the hurdles to accountability are obvious. Either way, though, it is essential to recognize that these attacks are orchestrated from the highest levels of government.

The U.S. government’s decision to exempt Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman from punishment based on the Khashoggi murder sets a troubling precedent that must not mean that those ultimately responsible for cross-border attacks walk free because they are considered untouchable.

Second, Western countries must fortify protections for vulnerable exiles. Working with law enforcement and social services agencies, governments should assess the status of activist local refugees and asylum-seekers from countries known to engage in cross-border abuses to evaluate vulnerabilities and consider ways to provide enhanced safety and protection. This should be done not just within home countries but by diplomats stationed overseas in places with a track record or risk of violations within their territory. If governments recognize that exiled dissidents enjoy close ties to local diplomats, this can offer a measure of protection.

Third, governments should work to strengthen and elaborate norms against cross-border politically motivated reprisals. This could begin with a joint statement or resolution at the United Nations Human Rights Council spotlighting the abuses and calling on governments to augment respect for international law. The invocation of U.N. and regional human rights mechanisms can help to raise the political and diplomatic profile and price of these abuses. By demonstrating that the transnational repression of dissidents is not merely a concern of the West, a wider range of governments can be mobilized to protest these attacks and fortify themselves against violations within their borders.

Authoritarian regimes frequently argue that their perpetration of human rights violations is a domestic matter, shielded from external scrutiny or interventions by the strictures of sovereignty. But the rising pattern of assaults that puncture borders and defy norms in order to punish, silence, and bully reveal that, unless it is useful, sovereignty means little to the despot.

Southeast Asia Had COVID-19 Under Control. What Went Wrong?

Southeast Asia Had COVID-19 Under Control. What Went Wrong?

As the COVID-19 pandemic wreaked havoc around the world, life in Southeast Asia stayed normal. Worshippers thronged Buddhist temples, taxis and tuk-tuks jostled at traffic lights, and revelers crooned in late-night karaoke bars.

In February, however, disaster struck. Massive outbreaks have forced Thailand, Cambodia, and Laos into ongoing lockdowns.

Given the huge numbers of business and leisure travelers to Southeast Asia, it’s remarkable that the region managed to avoid a mass COVID-19 outbreak for as long as it did. It’s uncertain exactly how. People speculate it was due to swift border closures in early 2020, the hot, humid climate, and the fact that everyone masked up.

But through the cracks, the virus got in. On Feb. 7 in Cambodia, four Chinese nationals arrived in the capital of Phnom Penh from Dubai in a private jet, according to the local press. They went straight to the fancy Sokha Hotel for what were supposed to be 14 days of quarantine. But only a day after their arrival, on Feb. 8, they escaped the hotel by bribing at least one security guard. Two of the Chinese travelers tested positive for COVID-19; one carried the highly contagious British variant of the virus. The foursome partied in luxurious apartments and went clubbing.

Before February, daily new COVID-19 infections in Cambodia rarely surpassed 10 a day. On April 10 alone, the country registered 477 new cases. The government responded with a strict lockdown, including a law punishing violators of coronavirus-related rules with up to 20 years in prison. But given the fact that tens of thousands of a low-paid workers live in tiny apartments and shanties throughout Phnom Penh and other cities, social distancing is impossible. And the millions of people who live hand to mouth can’t afford to stay at home.

Vietnam is an outlier among its neighbors for shunning vaccines from China, likely due to hostility between the two countries.

For Cambodia and much of the region, therefore, the only solution is mass vaccination. Cambodia has been proactive in procuring and administering vaccines. Since the first crates of AstraZeneca’s vaccine arrived on March 2, about 22 percent of Cambodia’s 10 million adults have received at least one dose of vaccine, with 15 percent fully vaccinated, according to one estimate. China has also provided over a million doses of its Sinopharm vaccine. As for the four travelers suspected of starting this outbreak, their location is unknown.

Thailand, Cambodia’s wealthier neighbor, is lagging behind. Only 2 percent of its 69 million people have been fully vaccinated, and confidence in the government has hit rock bottom. “The rollout has been very slow,” said Panchana Vatanasathien, the chairperson of the Khao Yai Tourism Association and founder of Food for Fighters, which has helped Bangkok’s poorest residents through the epidemic. “The government lies [about the vaccine] rollout every day, and people everywhere are asking, ‘Where is my vaccine?’”

Panchana, who oversees about 4,000 food box deliveries a day, said COVID-19 is spreading rapidly in communities where up to nine people share a room. She said there have been “many deaths” in these neighborhoods due to COVID-19 and its complications, including a woman who took her own life after her son died.

Thailand’s own pharmaceutical companies are close to creating a vaccine, and a local company, Siam Bioscience, is manufacturing 200 million doses of AstraZeneca scheduled to begin distribution in July. “Siam Bioscience is one of 25 companies selected by AstraZeneca to license its COVID-19 viral vector vaccine,” Anthony Margetts, a compliance consultant at the Thai software firm Factorytalk, wrote in the Chemical Engineer. He added that Siam Bioscience will supply Thailand, other Southeast Asian countries, and the Maldives with vaccines.

Vitoon Danwiboon, the director of the Government Pharmaceutical Organization, said in a statement that Thailand has also imported 6 million doses of the Sinovac vaccine, with another 3 million expected in June.

Vietnam is an outlier among its neighbors for shunning vaccines from China, likely due to the current hostility between the two countries. Instead, Vietnam has imported about 1 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine through COVAX, the international network distributing vaccines to developing countries. Like Thailand, Vietnam is also developing its own vaccine. A clinical study of a promising candidate, Covivac, began on March 15, the local press reported.

As official cases in Thailand tripled through April and May, Laos—which shares a long land border with Thailand—was looking very vulnerable. It only took one small incident with parallels to what happened in Cambodia to seed a new outbreak. It came when two Thai men and a Lao woman illegally crossed the Mekong River marking the border to meet another Lao woman, with whom they attended Lao New Year celebrations. They visited several bars, a nightclub, a temple, and a massage parlor, according to local press. The three travelers from Thailand were treated for COVID-19 after their return and are facing charges. The Lao woman who helped them cross the river also contracted the virus; she was arrested after she recovered.

As the region continues its struggle to contain community transmission, it is now fighting more infectious strains of the virus.

In 2020, Laos recorded only 41 cases, all of whom recovered. Now, the total case count has reached 1,878 as the country enters its fifth week of lockdown. Vaccines are rolling out slowly, including Sinopharm, AstraZeneca, and the Russian Sputnik vaccine. To date, 8 percent of Laos’s 7.3 million people have received their first dose of AstraZeneca or Sinopharm, and another 2 percent have been fully vaccinated, according to a source who wished to remain anonymous because they are not authorized to speak publicly.

A second shipment of AstraZeneca to Laos has been delayed, according to the same source. The reason: India’s Serum Institute, which was tasked with fulfilling the order, is overwhelmed and appears to have deprioritized the shipment. Now Laos is planning to use its remaining AstraZeneca stash to give out second doses, even though the vaccines are set to expire before the recommended 12-week pause between shots.

But it is Myanmar that is most vulnerable among the Southeast Asian nations. The country is churning with violence following the return of the hated military government in a coup on Feb. 1. People are not getting tested or pushing for vaccines because, frankly, they have bigger problems to worry about.

Clashes between the military and protesters continue on a daily basis. “Security forces have killed over 820 people and detained an estimated 4,300 activists, journalists, civil servants, and politicians,” Human Rights Watch said in a May 25 statement. Myanmar was reporting between 300 and 500 new infections per day in January, among a population of 55 million. Since the coup, the data has dried up.

A Burmese journalist, speaking under condition of anonymity, said thousands of health care professionals, including doctors and nurses, stopped working as part of the mass protests. “There haven’t been enough technicians to test for COVID-19, [so] there is no accurate data,” he said.

In addition, trust in the military government is so low that it’s holding back the vaccination campaign. “In March, a van drove around my town announcing that vaccines were available for over 60s,” the journalist said. “But few people went because they have no trust in the government.”

While case numbers are still low compared with those of hot spots like India, Brazil, the United States, and much of Europe, the pandemic is now making inroads in Southeast Asia. As the region continues its struggle to contain community transmission, it is now fighting more infectious strains of the virus. Before, it seemed that the odd infection enabled by a bribed security guard or an illegal river crossing could quickly be contained. But the current, more virulent phase of the pandemic could be much less forgiving.

China Mourns Scientist Who Curbed Famine

A weekly digest of the stories you should be following in China this week, plus exclusive analysis. Delivered Wednesday.

China Mourns Scientist Who Curbed Famine

Welcome to Foreign Policy’s China Brief.

The highlights this week: China mourns the death of the agricultural scientist Yuan Longping, the debate over the origins of the coronavirus yields no new evidence, and official comments suggest a cryptocurrency crackdown looms.

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National Icon Yuan Longping Dies at 90

The Chinese scientist Yuan Longping, whose development of hybrid rice in the 1970s helped bring an end to famine for millions of people throughout Asia and Africa, died Saturday at the age of 90. In most of the world, his death was remarked in passing. In China, where Yuan was a national icon, it dominated the news.

Yuan’s early years were marked by war and hunger, as a child during the Japanese invasion and as a young man during the Great Leap Forward (1959-1961), when somewhere between 20 million and 45 million Chinese starved to death. As an agricultural scientist, Yuan crossbred a rice species to produce 20 to 30 percent greater yields than previous strains. His work was part of the Green Revolution that transformed global food supplies and staved off warnings of overpopulation and mass famine in the 1960s and 1970s.

Numerous factors make Yuan a particularly beloved figure in China. He was the first modern scientist working in the country to make a breakthrough with global recognition—without clashing with the politics of the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976), when he did his most significant work. Agricultural science was to some degree politically shielded from assaults on universities and scientific institutions. (Yuan’s initial genetic research was conducted in secrecy since Mendelian theory was politically anathema.)

Yuan was a personally modest man with a deep commitment to young scientists. He resisted being turned into a propaganda figure as best he could. His death sparked widespread mourning, especially in his home city of Changsha, Hunan province. It also prompted the authorities to arrest several people for posting insulting comments about him online.

China owes much to Yuan, whose work helped bring the country out of the persistent food insecurity that reached its nadir in the 19th and 20th centuries, thanks to overpopulation, political collapse, and ecological disaster. Malnutrition remained the norm in many parts of China throughout the 1970s, and food rationing only officially ended in 1993. Even today, the first central government document issued every year still concerns China’s food supply.

What We’re Following

Coronavirus origin debate. Proponents of the coronavirus lab leak theory have seized on a U.S. intelligence report that three employees at the Wuhan Institute of Virology sought “hospital care” in November 2019. There’s just one problem: Hospitals are the primary point of care in Chinese cities, and it is often necessary to get sick notes for paid time off, even for minor illnesses. Three people going to the doctor during China’s annual cold and flu season doesn’t prove anything.

The actual evidence for the origins of the coronavirus has not significantly changed since April 2020. A lab leak remains theoretically possible, but there is no evidence of it. The botched World Health Organization investigation only managed to raise more doubts among scientists about the official Chinese account. But Chinese obfuscation doesn’t mean Beijing is hiding evidence: The political system obfuscates everything, particularly when dealing with foreigners.

Calls for an independent, open investigation on the origins of the pandemic are fantasies. Even if the Wuhan authorities had a smoking gun, Beijing would stonewall any outside investigators—out of instinct and because of the official lies by local and likely national authorities about the extent and virulence of the initial outbreak. Former Trump administration officials have mounted a campaign to talk up supposed evidence without context.

Read Yangyang Cheng, who has significant knowledge of Chinese science and politics, on the topic.

Endless Frontier Act curtailed. The U.S. Senate Commerce Committee has limited the scope of the Endless Frontier Act, which aims to counter the rise of China’s technological power, as discussed last week. The committee cut the original $100 billion budget for a new technology directorate to less than $40 billion, with just $10 billion earmarked for research and development. The move prompted fierce complaint from the bill’s supporters.

The ChinaTalk podcast has a good discussion of how logrolling and lack of ambition neutered the legislation.

Europe freezes China deal. A major trade deal reached between the European Union and China in January—to much criticism from human rights advocates and the U.S. government—has been frozen by the EU parliament in a landslide vote. China shot itself in the foot by imposing sanctions on EU think tanks and researchers in March in response to sanctions over its ongoing human rights abuses in Xinjiang. Despite German leaders pushing the deal, the EU parliament has halted ratification until the sanctions are lifted, a politically tricky move for Beijing.

Meanwhile, Lithuania is the latest country to describe the state atrocities in Xinjiang as genocide, withdrawing from the Chinese-led 17+1 bloc in Eastern Europe and banning Chinese 5G products from its network at the same time. The move prompted a state media outburst. Eastern European skepticism about China has grown since the bloc was launched nine years ago, although Beijing still has strong allies in authoritarian leaders such as Hungary’s Viktor Orban.

Tech and Business

Crypto crackdown. Comments from Chinese Vice Premier Liu He that further restricting bitcoin mining was “necessary” sparked another sudden crash in the volatile cryptocurrency market, knocking bitcoin prices down from $42,000 to $32,000. A significant amount of Bitcoin remains controlled by Chinese traders, mostly because of its value for money laundering in a country with extremely tight currency laws. The cost of moving money illegally significantly increased after anti-corruption purges in 2013.

Inner Mongolia is a very popular region for bitcoin miners due to cheap electricity and cold temperatures, which help prevent overheating on the enormous computer rigs necessary for mining. The authorities there have discussed a specific provincial crackdown, which could limit mining even more than the national plan.

Another Hollywood apology. Actor and wrestler John Cena was forced into apologizing for violating Chinese political norms this week. In an interview, Cena described Taiwan as “the first country that can watch” his latest movie, Fast & Furious 9, inadvertently ignoring Beijing’s insistence that Taiwan should never be referred to as a country. After angry nationalists attacked Cena on social media, he made an awkward apology in Mandarin—the latest instance of a celebrity appeasing Chinese censors for the sake of the market.

With new attention from the U.S. public on the relationship between film studios and Beijing, however, that era may be changing.

Social media difficulties. The proliferation of social media accounts for official departments of all kinds—down to local police stations and traffic departments—is causing concern among the top levels of government, according to a report from the China Media Project. Officials use these accounts in part to curry favor with the leadership by posting ultranationalist memes, some of which have been picked up by foreign media—overshadowing official party messaging. More mundanely, poor response times are common. Finally, top officials may worry about the data such accounts provide foreign researchers, even as access to China becomes more difficult.

What We’re Reading

We Tibetans, by Rinchen Lhamo

This 1926 memoir, the first English-language book by a Tibetan about their homeland, is a fascinating—if somewhat rose-tinted—portrayal of Tibet decades before the Chinese invasion. Rinchen Lhamo was the wife of Louis Magrath King, a British diplomat who was kicked out of his job for marrying a woman of color. She dictated the book to him in Chinese, their shared language, before she died tragically young in 1929.

Lhamo has a sharp eye for the prejudices of foreigners writing about Tibet, as well as for the idiosyncrasies of Western life. “I got used to shaking people by the hand, to the evening gown, which makes a human being look like a stork, and after a toss or two, to high-heeled shoes,” she writes. To Lhamo, Tibet is not a “land of ice and snow” but one bathed in sunshine, even in the winter.