October 1st Highlights


May and Xi share a phone call, we get ready for the 19th Party Congress, China sells more guns, rice farmers are sexier than wheat farmers, Trump’s record with China, Bannon takes on China, and happy National Day!

Weekly Highlights for Sunday, October 1st 2017

Monday – May Xi phone conversation

It’s not the most exciting news, nor the most beautifully written report, but this is a blog about China and the UK, so we can’t ignore Monday’s phone convo between President Xi and Prime Minister May.

Xinhua suggests that the phone call went well, Xi and May agreeing to continue their plan for a “golden era” of Sino-UK relations. The article also mentions that 2017 marks the 45th anniversary of ambassadorial level relations between the UK and China.

Apparently, the two leaders talked about North Korea. May said that Britain is committed to a ‘peaceful resolution of the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue and that Britain ‘appreciates the efforts China has made’ thus far on the issue.

However, only last month, May refused to rule out military action against North Korea and received criticism from the Global Times for her suggestion that China should step up its game.

Tuesday – Introduction to the 19th Party Congress

This is a succinct intro to the upcoming Party Congress, which kicks off on the 18th October. Presented by the wonderful SupChina, it includes a people to watch list, as well as listing further recommended reading. It’s a short yet info heavy piece, so we’ll leave the summary there.

Wednesday – ‘The end game of China’s arms export strategy’

Another short piece, this East Asia Forum article asserts that China’s arms exports are not only growing, but are encroaching into higher income markets (contrary to the cheap, but partially accurate image of the Chinese arms trade).

The main thrust of the article is that China doesn’t just sell weapons for money, but for political, geo-strategic influence. According to the article, arms exports form part China’s general ‘soft power framework’. Basically, Beijing likes leveraging client-state relationships and giving poorer countries the means to defend themselves, particularly if those states (Myanmar, Pakistan) indirectly act to contain India.

Thursday  – ‘Why rice growers are more sexually liberal than wheat growers’

There were lots of interesting/important articles on Thursday, but the award for best headline has to go to this article by Yang Hu, which is part of the China Policy Institute’s special issue on sex and China (all of which are worth reading).

Again a fairly short read, this article puts forward the ‘rice theory’ as a possible explanation for regional variation in sexual attitudes across China. In short, the greater degree of cooperation involved in rice farming leads to mutual understanding and tolerance of ‘non-conventional sexual behaviours’.

I’m still not convinced, but it’s an interesting idea.

Friday – What is Trump saying about China?

Although this interesting page wasn’t exactly published on Friday, it was last updated on 29th September, which is a good enough excuse to introduce it here.

‘Trump on China’ is China File’s ongoing report on what Trump is tweeting, saying, and shouting about China. It dates back to his pre-presidential days and is an essential tool for keeping track of what the US President thinks, or says he thinks, about China.

Saturday – Breitbart and Bannon

Next comes what is perhaps a surprising recommendation. Far-right US network Breitbart are not known for journalistic excellence or moral rigour, but it is interesting to keep an eye on what they’re up to.

This article introduces Steve Bannon’s new mission to raise the alarm over China’s economic threat to the US. The ex-Trumpian strategist and Breitbart chairman holds that ‘China and America are heading for a world war’. His alarmism follows on from curious reports last week, that Bannon met with Xi’s righthand man, Wang Qishan, in Beijing.

Sunday – National Day!

Today is China’s National Day and the beginning of ‘Golden Week’, a recently instituted seven day holiday (eight days this year), which usually sees record numbers moving across China. This year, 700 million Chinese are on the move, up from 589 million last year.

This South China Morning Post article looks at the young holiday’s floral traditions and includes a photo of a ridiculously huge flower arrangement.

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