Once a ‘tea-leaves’ thing, China-watching in the age of Twitter comes down to what the signals intel folk call ‘traffic analysis’ – or as McLuhan might have put it, ‘the quantity of the medium is the message’. Today’s cascade of stuff includes: Mainland cities relaxing property market rules to get people speculating again; car sales falling; tech companies in Shenzhen and elsewhere laying off staff; road freight volume growth down; manufacturers eying Vietnam; the government banning publication of Guangdong PMI data because the issuers are suddenly ‘breaking statistics laws’ (slightly better than the old ‘not convenient’ excuse); a Renmin U professor forecasts 1.67% GDP growth (nothing if not precise). Global Times reports that China’s economy is not on a cliff edge.
In Hong Kong, HSBC and Standard Chartered face a terrible dilemma: do they enjoy a glorious win-win by shoe-shining Beijing through handling transactions for national tech-treasure/security-asset Huawei, or do they drop the company for fear of the extremely long and unforgiving arm of the US law? (Be prepared to faint with shock upon learning that after due consideration they hurriedly protect their backsides.)
And over in Discovery Bay, you will soon get the chance of buying a home in a development named after a little Italian town – in Tuscany – which (the town, this is) has a plaza named for Imre Nagy (rhymes with last syllable of the French ‘fromage’), Hungarian leader executed after the crushing of the 1956 anti-Soviet uprising: Poggibonsi. Maybe in the spirit of its namesake community, Disco Bay could name a square there after (say) Joshua Wong.
I declare the weekend – and probably the Christmas holiday – open with some stimulating reading. A nice infographic on mentions of top leaders in China’s state media (note how Hu’s mentions start to rise during Jiang’s reign, and Xi’s during Hu’s – and no-one is yet co-starring with Xi). What to expect if a Beijing-linked organization declares ‘lawfare’ on you. How China’s past experience with AIDS contributed to the genetically edited babies episode.; and how China got into ‘mental hygiene’, viewing mental health as an issue of national strength and social discipline. And the role of the Latin alphabet in Chinese (for serious fans of this sort of thing).
Today’s Panda-tantrum was brought to you by the word ‘slanderous’.