George Soros: Investors in Xi’s China face a rude awakening

[ARW readers could probably guess that I’m not a fan of George Soros–a man who for reasons of his own has financed most of the anti-artist front groups around the world. But when he’s right, he’s right and in this op-ed from the Financial Times, he’s definitely right and Blackrock is definitely wrong.]

The crackdown by the Chinese government is real. Unnoticed by the financial markets, the Chinese government quietly took a stake and a board seat in TikTok owner ByteDance in April. The move gives Beijing one seat on a three-person board of directors and first-hand access to the inner workings of a company that has one of the world’s largest troves of personal data. 

The market is more aware that the Chinese government is taking influential stakes in Alibaba and its subsidiaries.  Xi does not understand how markets operate. As a consequence, the sell-off was allowed to go too far. It began to hurt China’s objectives in the world.

Recognising this, Chinese financial authorities have gone out of their way to reassure foreign investors and markets have responded with a powerful rally. But that is a deception. Xi regards all Chinese companies as instruments of a one-party state. Investors buying into the rally are facing a rude awakening. That includes not only those investors who are conscious of what they are doing, but also a much larger number of people who have exposure via pension funds and other retirement savings. 

Read the post in the Financial Times

@julia_marnin: China [CCP] Orders Broadcasters to ‘Put An End’ to ‘Sissy Men,’ and ‘Other Abnormal Esthetics’

[Editor Charlie sez: Will TikTok be next?]

The Chinese government ordered its TV broadcasters to “put an end to sissy men and other abnormal esthetics,” its TV regulator said, as China’s Communist Party cracks down on its society for a “national rejuvenation” ordered by President Xi Jinping, the Associated Press reported.

China’s TV regulator insultingly addressed effeminate men with the slang term “niang pao” meaning “girlie guns.” The order to “put an end” to them demonstrates the Chinese government’s worries that male pop stars provide a lack of masculine influence for the nation’s men. Meanwhile, in nearby Japan and South Korea, many male pop stars are known for having a sleek and feminine image.

In addition, broadcasters were ordered to not promote “vulgar internet celebrities” alongside celebrity culture and that broadcasters should “vigorously promote excellent Chinese traditional culture, revolutionary culture and advanced socialist culture.”

Read the post on Newsweek

@nate_taplin: New Age of Chinese Nationalism Threatens Supply Chains

Relations between China and the West are off to a rocky start in 2021. Observers watching China and the U.S. trade accusations in Alaska, and Europe and China trade sanctions days later can be forgiven for a cold feeling in the pit of their stomach. Beijing’s tolerance for economic risk in the service of nationalism has rarely looked higher.

That could bode ill for many, not least Taiwan and the littoral states of the South China Sea. The trade conflict between the U.S. and China has metastasized into a broader geopolitical confrontation—while China’s armed forces are nearing parity with the U.S. in the former’s backyard. Chinese incursions into Taiwan’s air defense identification zone have at times become a near daily occurrence since late 2020, while the U.S. is busy rallying allies such as Japan to plan for contingencies.

A significant conflict between the U.S. and China in East Asia is still unlikely, but it can no longer be ruled out as an implausible tail risk. Companies need to start considering what that could mean. And governments need to find mutually acceptable ways to take the temperature down if they want regular business to remain possible.

Read the post on the Wall Street Journal

@bbcnews: Hong Kong pro-democracy tycoon Jimmy Lai denied bail under security law

[Editor Charlie sez: The publisher Jimmy Lai is being prosecuted by the Chinese Communist Party under the same National Security Law that covers TikTok employees.]

Hong Kong media tycoon Jimmy Lai has been denied bail while awaiting trial under a controversial new national security law. 

Mr Lai, 73, is accused of conspiring with foreign forces to endanger national security, and could face a lengthy jail term.

He is the most high-profile person charged under the law.

Mr Lai founded the Apple Daily newspaper and is a fierce critic of the authorities in mainland China.

The tycoon was originally arrested under the law in August 2020 after a police raid on Apple Daily’s head office. He was released on bail but then rearrested in December.

Read the post on BBC News

@bbc Hong Kong lawmakers barred by Beijing from office

Beijing has made an unprecedented intervention in Hong Kong politics to block two lawmakers from taking office.

Pro-independence elected lawmakers Sixtus Leung and Yau Wai-ching have refused to pledge allegiance to Beijing when being sworn in.

Beijing has now interpreted a section of Hong Kong law to mean any official who does not swear the oath properly cannot take office, said state media.

The move comes after weeks of chaos in the Hong Kong legislature.

There were also protests, and some scuffles, in Hong Kong on Sunday night, with at least four arrests.

Hong Kong’s Chief Executive CY Leung said his government would “fully implement” the ruling.

Read the post on BBC.