Not just pandas! News from China 6-12 August 2017

News stories about China from the last week.

Life in China

Army Takes Shot at Popular Tencent Mobile Game (Caixin, 8 August)

School-age teens aren’t the only ones getting hooked on “Honour of Kings,” the wildly popular mobile game from internet titan Tencent. Young officers in China’s military are also falling prey to the game, leading the influential PLA Daily to publish a critical editorial in the health section of its Monday edition. The criticism came less than a month after the even-more influential People’s Daily, considered the voice of the Communist Party, leveled similar harsh words against the mobile game, which has become a huge breadwinner for Tencent Holdings Ltd.

China Now Has 751 Million Internet Users, Equivalent to Entire Population of Europe (Caixin, 7 August)

China’s population of internet users rose 2.7% over the first six months of the year to 751 million, exceeding the population of Europe, a new report showed. The rising figure, reported Friday by the China Internet Network Information Center (CINIC), indicates how the rise of mobile internet services such as online food delivery has driven growth in China’s online population and its internet penetration.

Beijing censors tell satellite TV to avoid entertainment in prime time (The Times, 7 August)

China’s entertainment industry is taking another hit from the country’s censors, who are asking satellite TV stations not to show “entertaining” programmes during prime time. The latest decree, reported by state media over the weekend, seeks to further tighten control over the country’s market-oriented television stations, which enjoy strong followings for their entertainment programmes. Beijing, through a series of mandates, is trying to make those stations promote values approved by the ruling Communist Party.

China lung cancer on rise, smog suspected (Reuters, 11 August)

China has seen a sharp rise in the incidence of lung cancer in the past 10-15 years, with long-term exposure to air pollution a possible culprit, the official China Daily reported on Friday, citing health officials. Experts with the China Academy of Medical Sciences said lung cancer was rising rapidly in groups not normally susceptible to the disease, including women and non-smokers, suggesting that smoking was not responsible for the increase, China Daily said.

Cracking down on China’s dangerous fake food sector (The Independent, 7 August)

World’s biggest producer and consumer a hotbed of industry fraud and malpractice and represents a danger to public health, says supply chain investigator Mitchell Weinberg. While adulteration has been a bugbear of consumers since prehistoric wine was first diluted with saltwater, scandals in China over the past decade — from melamine-laced baby formula, to rat-meat dressed as lamb — have seen the planet’s largest food-producing and consuming nation become a hotbed of corrupted, counterfeit, and contaminated food.

Chinese people have lots of faith in China, but not so much in their fellow Chinese (Quartz, 7 August)

China, more than any other country, feels it’s heading in the right direction. That same confidence, however, doesn’t extend to other Chinese people. A recent survey released by research firm Ipsos ranks China as the country most confident about its future. When asked, “Generally speaking, would you say things in this country are heading in the right direction, or are they off on the wrong track?” 87% of respondents in China said they believe their country is headed in the right direction. That’s more than 10 percentage points above India, the second-most optimistic country on earth, and over 40 percentage points above the global average.

Chinese people have lots of faith in China, but not so much in their fellow Chinese

Chinese blogger highlights generational tensions over marriage (The Independent, 4 August)

Some singles resort to hiring fake girlfriends and boyfriends through date-for-hire apps. A Chinese female blogger who posed as a man’s Lunar New Year girlfriend says her experience illustrates the generational tensions over finding a marriage partner in China.

Culture and history

Architecture under threat in China’s Yunnan province (BBC, 8 August)

Traditional hand-crafted homes are being destroyed in China’s Yunnan province due to expensive renovation costs.

China & Britain

What Chinese tourists really want: Harry Potter, Pot Noodles and Manchester United (The Times, 11 August)

The number of visitors travelling to the UK from China is expected to soar from fewer than 500 in 1996 to almost 500,000 by 2026, a report from VisitBritain states. It gives advice on how best to capitalise on the emergence of a travel-hungry super-rich elite, as well as affluent middle classes, in the world’s last communist superpower.


Cooking the News: Xi’s Digital Future (The Little Red Podcast, 7 August)

The Chairman of Everything is tightening his grip over the media, pushing control into new spheres ahead of the 19th Party Congress. As the state-run media – traditionally the tongue and throat of the party – moves onto digital platforms, innovations in control include a welter of new regulations and theoretical concepts like the idea of cyber-sovereignty. Louisa and Graeme are joined by David Bandurski and Qian Gang of the China Media Project to discuss innovations in news production and control in China. Also the question of Xi: he’s no longer Xi Dada, but will President be Xi be defined by a Theory, a Thought or an Ism?

Also see Louisa Lim’s LA Review of Books blog

WeChat, Weibo and Baidu under investigation (BBC, 11 August)

China’s largest social media platforms – Weibo, WeChat and Baidu Tieba – are under investigation for alleged violations of cyber security laws. The Office for Cyberspace Administration said the three platforms had failed to police content on their sites.

See also this article on What’s on Weibo

Flag-waving Chinese blockbuster Wolf Warriors 2 smashes cinema records (Guardian, 8 September)

Tale of special forces in African war zone has ridden a wave of patriotic fervour with its stunts, soldiers and western baddies. The wildly popular Wolf Warriors 2 boasts the ominous tagline “whoever offends China will be hunted down no matter how far away they are”, and millions of Chinese cinemagoers have lapped it up since the movie’s release less than two weeks ago.


Taking the measure of China’s Asian Dream (China Dialogue, 4 August)

China has expended enormous financial and political capital in recent years on its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI); a strategy to expand its overseas investments and engagement through new financial institutions, infrastructure routes and trading relationships. China’s Asian Dream: Empire Building along the New Silk Road, sees economic analyst Tom Miller travel around China’s Asian neighbours to better understand the impacts of BRI from the ground up, from the Mekong Basin to the Central Asian Steppe, in a vivid and useful guide to China’s unfolding strategy and its economic and diplomatic ramifications.

China Dialogue’s Sam Geall interviewed Tom and asked what he learned.

Weibo Profit Triples in Second Quarter on Strong Growth in Advertising, Users (Caixin, 9 August)

Weibo Corp., China’s Twitter-like social media platform, reported that second-quarter profit nearly tripled to a record $73.5 million, reflecting strong growth in the country’s social media-based advertising and marketing businesses. Unaudited revenue for the second quarter rose 72% from a year earlier to $253.4 million, Weibo said Wednesday. Net profit jumped 184%, exceeding analysts’ estimates.

Foreign affairs

China and India on brink of armed conflict over border dispute (SCMP, 11 August)

Chinese and Indian troops are readying themselves for a possible armed conflict in the event they fail in their efforts to achieve a peaceful resolution to their border dispute on the Doklam plateau in the Himalayas, observers said.

ASEAN, China adopt framework for crafting code on South China Sea (Reuters, 7 August)

Foreign ministers of Southeast Asia and China adopted on Sunday a negotiating framework for a code of conduct in the South China Sea, a move they hailed as progress but seen by critics as tactic to buy China time to consolidate its maritime power. All parties say the framework is only an outline for how the code will be established but critics say the failure to outline as an initial objective the need to make the code legally binding and enforceable, or have a dispute resolution mechanism, raises doubts about how effective the pact will be.

Also see: Australia, Japan, U.S. call for South China Sea code to be legally binding

And finally…

A walk on China’s steepest mountain (SupChina, 11 August)

Several brave tourists climb along a path made of steel planks attached to the cliff face of Mount Hua in Shaanxi Province. (Video)


News items selected by Paul Gardner

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