This is not an original article. It is a collection of headlines and excerpts from the South China Morning Post (SCMP). I read the SCMP daily, get alerts from China Daily and read Global Times occasionally. The latter two are propaganda organs and give you the Communist version of PRC. They are part of their IW campaign to make us believe that China is like the fabled Shangri-La which exists on earth when it does not. The SCMP is more balanced and has good analysis. Till recently it was quite independent. However ever since Alibaba acquired it and Hong Kong lost its autonomy, even this platform has started playing mainland Chinese tunes. Notwithstanding this, the paper is as balanced as can be. It gives you an alternate view point from Indian and Western ideas. Many times it gives us a peek into the reality of China. When you read into the articles some significant issue comes out. Piece all these together and the China which emerges is interesting.
Very importantly in China two things matter the most – People and Politics. Most of us do not read about them and focus on economics, geopolitics, finances, diplomacy etc etc. This set of excerpts is an attempt to get to you the People as they are reported by a Chinese news portal and as written by their reporters on ground. The links for various articles are provided so that those interested can go into details.
All of us normally think that China is that great machine which produces goods, makes huge profits, has a booming economy, is building a most modern military on earth and is resolutely marching to dominate the world. Well. That is an ambition. That ambition masks the reality of China to all of us. The Corona has actually changed it. It is not apparent but there is a shift which is happening. You come to know that only when you know the everyday travails of the Chinaman. Hence this article in this format.
Headline. China population: tumbling regional births underline crisis, could force Beijing to ‘double down’ on policies @ https://www.scmp.com/economy/china-economy/article/3156246/china-population-tumbling-regional-births-underline-crisis
Consistent falls in the number of births in some regions in China of more than 10 per cent this year have prompted further concerns of a deepening population crisis, underlining suggestions that support measures to address the issue have been ineffective, with one city seeing number of new born plummet by 21 per cent….In Henan, the third most populated province in the country according to the 2020 census, births in the first nine months of the year tumbled by 18.8 per cent from the same period last year. Overall, the number of births in the province has declined for five consecutive years since 2016…The number of marriage registrations in the first three quarters of 2021 fell by 0.1 per cent from 2020 and by 17.5 per cent from the same period in 2019, according to the Ministry of Civil Affairs…The number of newly married couples in 2020 plunged by 40 per cent compared to a peak of 13.47 million in 2013…In addition to fewer women willing and eligible to give birth, the rising cost of raising children is also seen as a contributing factor to the shrinking number of newborns…The 18 per cent year on year drop in the number of births last year, which represented the fourth annual decline, led some demographers to warn that the number of newborns is likely to fall below 10 million in a few years and that the country’s fertility rate may become the lowest in the world in the absence of strong supportive measures.
My Comment. In my opinion this is China’s Achilles heel and they are aware of it. China’s demography puts it on a tight time line. Every one feels that China is attempting to grow rich before it gets old. In my view it is attempting to become a superpower before it gets old. Whichever way one looks at it. In 5 years the aging and population decline effects will start showing….
Headline. Covid-19 in China: Thousands of students quarantined as authorities fight to keep latest surge in cases under control@ https://www.scmp.com/news/china/science/article/3156016/covid-19-china-thousands-students-quarantined-authorities-fight?module=lead_hero_story&pgtype=homepage
Residents of two student halls in a university city in Liaoning province are ordered into quarantine, while thousands more have been isolated…the number of new cases has started rising again as the authorities in Dalian, the city at the centre of the outbreak, battle to stop the disease spreading.
Headline. Coronavirus in China: tolerance wanes for Chengdu’s track and test regime@ https://www.scmp.com/news/china/science/article/3155959/coronavirus-china-tolerance-wanes-chengdus-track-and-test-regime?module=storypackage&pgtype=homepage
People in the Sichuan capital find the local authority’s stringent measures to contain the latest Covid-19 outbreak harder to endure..Experts from West China College of Public Health publish an open letter urgently calling for protection of privacy and minimal disruption to daily lives.
Over the past two years, China has contained more than 30 sporadic outbreaks of the coronavirus, including ones caused by the more contagious Delta variant….latest outbreak started a month ago and involves more than 1,000 cases in 21 provinces and regions…China has taken pride in almost eliminating the virus within its borders, experts say its approach to containment is not sustainable, and Beijing needs to start looking to build public consensus on Covid-19 measures so that when it eventually has to implement an exit strategy, the change in policy will be more widely accepted….One of the rationales to pursue the [zero-tolerance] policy is to show China has done a better job than Western countries in its Covid-19 response and the superiority of the Chinese model…sporadic cases had become more frequent, affecting more provinces and more people and becoming more costly and difficult to contain those outbreaks…One of the big fears in China is that abandoning the elimination approach would push the health system to a breaking point not seen since the disease was first identified in the central city of Wuhan….Experts acknowledged that any switch of approach after the zero-tolerance strategy would take a while for the population to accept and it was important for the society to reach a consensus on possible burden.
My Comment. The Zero Covid policy of China is a political issue which has started affecting people and their economy adversely. These articles and excerpts give you an idead of the reality of the Covid effect in China. The CCP is in a dammed if it does and dammed if it does not kind of a situation. As long as the Virus lasts, China will suffer… the more it lasts the more china will suffer.
Headline. China food security: Beijing signals overhaul of GM crop rules in push for seed industry breakthrough @ https://www.scmp.com/economy/china-economy/article/3156141/china-food-security-beijing-signals-overhaul-gm-crop-rules?module=lead_hero_story&pgtype=homepage
China food security: Beijing signals overhaul of GM crop rules in push for seed industry breakthrough…The Ministry of Agriculture has proposed a series of regulatory changes to enhance competitiveness of China’s seed industry…Concerns about food supply have heightened over the past 18 months amid coronavirus disruptions and rivalry with the US…Some policymakers have gone so far as to dub seeds as the “chips” of agriculture, a reference to semiconductors that are at the centre of an increasingly heated tech war between the two powers…Xi said at the time the government must “advance the national seed industry” and boost self-reliance in seed technology
My Comment. The reality is that China’s food security is its weak link. Their fabled technological acumen has not been able to come up with GM seeds. Even Xi Jinping says so.
Headline. China’s internet police losing man-versus-machine duel on social media @ https://www.scmp.com/news/china/science/article/3155920/chinas-internet-police-losing-man-versus-machine-duel-social
Automated social media accounts engaging in political discussions are stretching China’s internet police to the limit…These social media bots are difficult to identify because they use artificial intelligence technology to mimic human language and online behaviour. Often working in groups, they are able to generate and spread a huge amount of information within a short time…these accounts are overpowering state censors…Hordes of bot accounts using clever dodging tactics are causing burnout among human censors, police investigative paper finds…Authorities may respond by raising a counter-army of automated accounts or even an AI-driven public opinion leader.
My Comment. Is the great information wall of China being breached? Appears so.
Headline. China’s crackdown on education, property leave wealthy in crisis mode, and some are looking for an escape route@https://www.scmp.com/economy/china-economy/article/3155726/chinas-crackdown-education-property-leave-wealthy-crisis-mode
Beijing’s ‘common prosperity’ movement calls for citizens to share the wealth, but attitudes towards recent dramatic changes have diverged among different social classes and ages…Studies suggest that investor sentiment is becoming more cautious in China, and the public’s willingness to give birth remains sluggish…At the forefront of those criteria are the ownership of a home – an asset that will continue to appreciate – and the means to provide their children with a better education than most of their peers receive, with an eye on being admitted to a prestigious university….But recently, cracks have appeared in the foundation that underpins those beliefs and goals. The year’s third quarter saw a broader decline in housing prices – spreading from third- and fourth-tier cities to the suburbs of first-tier cities – as well as a crackdown on off-campus education…
My Comment. Common prosperity, property crashes, wealth…all under threat. There are a lot of Chinese who are going to lose their life savings since many of them have invested in housing. The Chinese cocktail is getting heady.
Headline. Expat exodus is bad for China, bad for the US and bad for the world@https://www.scmp.com/comment/opinion/article/3156404/expat-exodus-bad-china-bad-us-and-bad-world?module=opinion&pgtype=homepage
In Shanghai, China’s international and commercial centre, the number of expatriates fell more than 20 per cent in the past decade from more than 208,000 to around 163,000…The numbers are even more extreme in Beijing. The number of foreigners has fallen by more than 40 per cent since 2010, to about 63,000. By comparison, Luxembourg has around 630,000 total residents, almost half of whom are foreign workers…The exodus is accelerating as stringent pandemic policies prompt foreigners to rethink their commitment to working in China. These departures are eroding important business and diplomatic pillars…For China, which has perhaps benefited more than almost any other country from the synergy of East and West, a more closed country would not be the best possible version of itself. China would lose the benefits it has enjoyed in the past four decades as the country has opened up…The number of foreigners is expected to drop even further when changes to China’s tax laws are implemented on January 1. While foreigners previously enjoyed a tax exemption for allowances such as school fees, this will now end…According to another AmCham survey, 36.1 per cent of companies with annual revenues of more than US$100 million said they would consider moving all or part of their facilities out of China if the new tax policy was implemented. What could prove a boon for countries such as Singapore will be a loss for China.
My Comment. China is self-isolating itself. This seems to be a slippery track with no bailouts. Slowly and steadily all expats will start getting out…
Headline. Chinese cryptocurrency media outlets suspend websites as Beijing shows zero tolerance on virtual assets@ https://www.scmp.com/tech/policy/article/3156361/chinese-cryptocurrency-media-outlets-suspend-websites-beijing-shows
Popular Chinese cryptocurrency news outlets ChainNews and Odaily have become inaccessible, as Beijing continues its crackdown on the trading and mining of virtual assets. Chinese authorities see cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin as a threat to China’s financial stability and capital account controls.
My Comment. A lot of Chinese have taken to crypto currencies to hide wealth or accumulate it outside CCP control. Interesting to see what happens…
Headline. Alibaba’s era of exceptional growth is over as Chinese consumer spending power weakens, say analysts @https://www.scmp.com/tech/big-tech/article/3156712/alibabas-era-exceptional-growth-over-chinese-consumer-spending-power
The Chinese e-commerce giant, owner of the South China Morning Post, reported an 87 per cent year-on-year decline in net income for the September quarter while its adjusted profit fell 39 per cent, marking the company’s first fall in adjusted profit in 22 quarters. The news triggered investor’s to dump its New York and Hong Kong-listed shares, which slumped 11 per cent…The key factor behind Alibaba’s weaker-than-expected performance was sluggish consumer sentiment and spending in China, where third-quarter GDP growth decelerated to 4.9 per cent year on year while retail sales, a broad gauge of consumer spending, rose only 4.9 per cent last month compared to the same period last year.
My Comment. The fact that Alibaba and Jack Ma have been taken to the cleaners is not an issue anymore. The interesting aspect is that consumer sentiment and spending is down. There is also another fact. China also comes out with reports that its consumer spending is actually up…might be right… however there is an inflation factor in China at present… spending might be up…over all sales of goods are low…manufacturing is under huge stress…make no mistake…
Overall Comment. The China story from inside does not look as good as it does when the Chinese Three Warfare strategy blows it up as if there is no tomorrow after Xi Jinping and China’s rejuvenation…Agreed or not? Your choice and your conclusions…
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