Xi and Tillerson Trade Phrases
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was in Beijing on Sunday, and China Daily, Xinhua, and Global Times trumpeted a positive outcome. U.S. journalists and analysts were more weary of Tillerson's choice to repeat President Xi's anodyne phraseology introduced in 2013: "non-confrontation, no conflict, mutual respect, and win-win cooperation." The New York Times reported that the conversation behind the scenes was likely more substantive, stating that "Tillerson had pressed China to enforce sanctions against North Korea and raised the possibility that the United States would bolster its missile defense in Asia if China did not rein in Mr. Kim." However, information has been opaque on the outcomes, especially as only one U.S. reporter traveled with Tillerson on his five day trip to Asia, writing a short profile on Tillerson, who was quoted as saying "I didn't even want the job,..but my wife forced me."
In the past year, Chinese cities have been swept up in a tide of competing and colorful bike-sharing apps. BigData Research says that the number of people riding these bikes will reach 50 million this year. Bikes-sharing apps have become the new billion dollar battle between rival Chinese tech companies, but have also been hard to regulate, or turn into profit. This week Shanghai finally hit breaks, banning additional bikes.
Meanwhile, the Chinese railway company CRRC Corp. Ltd is massively expanding its operations in the United States. It has just begun breaking ground on a plant in Chicago, a year after winning the $1.3 billion contract to supply 846 rail cars over a decade to the Chicago Transit Authority. In January, the company won a deal in Boston to sell $270 million worth of train cars, and a consortium led by CRRC Corp. Ltd. and Canada's Bombardier is the lead candidate to win a major subway contract in New York City.
Reports from a closed-door meeting between Lawrence Summers and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang indicate that the auto industry could become the major point of conversation between Trump and Xi in April, first reported by Axios. The New York Times takes a closer look at the Chinese taxes on imported vehicles that could be Trump's opening for negotiation in exchange for more Chinese auto plants in the U.S. An op-ed in the Global Times stressed Premier Li's remarks that Chinese auto markets are "open enough" considering 90% of premium cars in China are foreign brands.
Beijing's Middle East Diplomacy is Business as Usual
On Netanyahu's trip to Beijing this week, Shannon Tiezzi of the Diplomat observed that though security cooperation remains limited, the two sides are pushing forward on trade and technology. The Chinese media highlighted Netanyahu's March 21st meeting with President Xi where the two agreed on the term of "innovative comprehensive partnership" to define the bilateral ties. In an interview with Xinhua, Netanyahu elaborated that the cooperation in innovation between the two countries is "a marriage made in heaven." The Israeli Prime Minister followed the footstep of King Salman of Saudi Arabia, who was in Beijing last week and concluded business deals worth $65 billion with China. The Global Times commented that economics were the hallmark of both visits.
China Social Media Watch
In case you are curious about where Chinese internet users get their world news, a casual study of sources of popular international news items on Sina.com has revealed that Global Times, a Chinese newspaper with a populist slant, beat other news outlets. From March 15 to 21, nine out of the 10 most read international news articles are attributed to the newspaper. Previously, Global Times reports normally took up 5 to 6 spots on the top 10 list of world news.
Leading up to the crucial 19th Chinese Communist Party Congress this fall, major Chinese media outlets have drummed up efforts in portraying President Xi as the country's "core leader," churning out campaign-style videos created with social media audiences in mind. The videos released in the past week alone include one by China's state television CCTV documenting Xi's earlier political career, another by People's Daily that took a look at Xi's calendar of events at the recent Two Sessions meetings, as well as one titled " Xi leads China for greater opening up" produced by Xinhua News Agency.
This Week in China...in 1900
On March 20th, 1900, US Secretary of State John Hay announced that European nations "essentially accepted" his 'open door policy' with proposed keeping trade with China open to all countries on an equal basis. The note was sent to France, Germany, Britain, Italy, Japan, and Russia, asking them to declare formally that they would uphold China's territorial integrity and not interfere in the free use of treaty ports. The policy was never adopted by international law, however, and the U.S. used it to protest Russian and Japanese encroachment on Manchuria at the beginning of the century after the Boxer Rebellion.