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September 26, 2020

  • ​Virtual Diplomacy

    During the United Nations General Assembly this week, held almost entirely online due to the ongoing pandemic, President Trump criticized China for "unleashing" the coronavirus onto the world, and the World Health Organization for being "virtually controlled" by Beijing. China's Ambassador to the UN Zhang Jun condemned Trump's words, saying that Washington's handling of the coronavirus was a "complete failure," and said that the U.S. "may wish to be great, but to be great you have to behave like a leader." In President Xi's own pre-recorded speech to the Assembly, he called on global solidarity against the virus and said that "any attempt of politicizing the issue or stigmatization must be rejected." Xi cast China as a defender of free trade and multilateralism, in contrast to President Trump's increasingly isolationist rhetoric.

    China also made waves in the climate world this week via teleconference at the UNGA, pledging it will be carbon neutral by 2060. China is currently the world's top producer of greenhouse gas emissions and the world's largest consumer of coal, but also the world's largest producer of solar panels and wind turbines. In contrast, President Trump removed the United States from the Paris Climate Accords in 2017.

  • ​TikTok Confusion

    Oracle and Walmart seem to have won the bid to buy part of TikTok, however conflicting statements from ByteDance, TikTok's parent company, and the U.S. government are still causing confusion over the deal. The deal is supposed to give Oracle and Walmart a 12.5% and 7.5% stake respectively in a US-based company called TikTok Global, with Oracle becoming the cloud provider for the video-sharing app. But this configuration would still leave ByteDance with 80% of the company, conflicting with the Trump administration's expectations. 

    But ByteDance says it's still waiting on approval from Chinese authorities, leaving the ultimate decision in Beijing's hands, and Oracle claims that the Chinese company won't have any stake at all. TikTok appealed to a federal judge in DC to stop the Trump administration from going through with the download ban on its app, which is supposed to begin Sunday evening, citing TikTok's lack of due process. For more, read "Why Trump is Banning TikTok" from Sun Chenghao, Assistant Research Fellow at the  Institute of American Studies, on China-US Focus.

  • ​Water Wealth

    Zhong Shanshan, founder of bottled water company Nongfu Spring, became China's wealthiest person, according to Bloomberg Billionaires Index, dethroning Alibaba founder Alibaba Jack Ma as the country's richest person. Nongfu Spring, one of China's most ubiquitous bottled water brands, went public earlier this month and saw huge gains in Hong Kong; Zhong allegedly increased his wealth by more than $50 billion in 2020 alone. 

    Previously ranked China's third richest person, the water magnate now also ranks ahead of Tencent founder Pony Ma. Around half of the world's billionaires are currently citizens of the United States or China, with the United States holding the record for the world's most billionaires. 

About China This Week

Prepared by China-US Focus editorial teams in Hong Kong and New York, this weekly newsletter offers you snap shots of latest trends and developments emerging from China every week, while adding a dose of historical perspective.

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