Pollution blues and Paris highs

Pollution blues and Paris highs

New York Times: Amid China’s Smog Worries, One More: Counterfeit Masks.
  • As China’s first pollution “red alert” in Beijing resulted in a mass rush to buy pollution masks and air filters, it was inevitable that counterfeiters would see an opening. And sure enough, it has already begun: Just last week, Shanghai customs authorities seized 120,000 counterfeit pollution masks, allegedly for export. Authorities stated that the poor-quality materials used to make the mask not only fail to protect against pollution, but also may pose an additional health risk to the wearer.
New York Review of Books: Why Pollution is Good for China.
  • While perverse, China’s airpocalypse may actually be in its best interests. The clouds of pollution drifting through the capital make it difficult for Chinese negotiators to ignore the issue, and its potentially politically destabilizing ramifications. It also encourages these negotiators to cooperate with international actors in their efforts to reach an agreement in Paris, in order to be seen as “doing something” about such an obvious problem.

Alibaba acquires SCMP

The Observer: 阿里巴巴发表致《南华早报》读者公开信:世界将获得多元中国观点 (Alibaba publishes an open letter in SCMP: “The world will now have diverse perspectives on China.”)
  • Following the acquisition of the SCMP by the tech giant Alibaba, the company published an open letter to the readership attempting to assuage fears that the acquisition would compromise the paper’s journalistic integrity. The letter instead focused on the message that this marks the first time the Hong Kong-based publication will be under Chinese ownership in its over 100 years of history, and would provide a more diverse range of perspectives on China.
South China Morning Post: Alibaba buys the South China Morning Post: Full Q&A with executive vice chairman Joseph Tsai.
  • In a wide-ranging interview, Joseph Tsai, executive vice chairman of Alibaba Group, explains the thinking behind the e-commerce giant’s decision to buy the 112-year-old South China Morning Post newspaper, and all its other media assets. Removing the paper’s paywall and ensuring objective, balanced and fair reporting continues, as well as pouring more investment into the product.
Financial Times: Alibaba pays $266m for South China Morning Post.
  • Alibaba forked over USD $266 million to acquire SCMP and its related media outlets. Questions have arisen regarding what this may mean for the independence of the Hong Kong media giant.
New York Times: Alibaba Buying South China Morning Post, Aiming to Influence Media.
  • Alibaba executives, stating that they want to reclaim the “negative” portrayal of China in Western media, see the acquisition of SCMP as an important step in reshaping the nation’s image abroad.

China and the fight against IS

BBC: The Chinese man fighting Islamic State with the YPG.
  • A Chinese national has joined the ranks of the Kurdish forces fighting against IS. Following the loss of his job, Ba Si Pan, a 25-year-old Sichuan native, joined the Kurdish Popular Protection Units (YPG) “to help fight a common enemy of humanity.” According to him, IS has trained many Chinese and sent them back to China, a claim that has yet to be verified. Ba Si Pan has shared his exploits on Chinese social media. IS killed its first Chinese hostage earlier this year.

China surpasses Japan for high-tech exports

Bloomberg News: China surpoasses Japan as Asia’s top high-tech exporter, ADB says.
  • In an important milestone marking its success in moving up the manufacturing production chain, China has surpassed Japan as Asia’s leading exporter of high-tech manufactured goods. According to the ADB, China now accounts for 43.7% of Asia’s high-tech exports, in addition to a 55.4% share of low-tech exports.

China, Russia, and a multipolar world vision

Russia Beyond the Headlines: Russia, China align strategic interests at multilateral forums.
  • In 2015, Russia and China made progress in advancing their vision of a multipolar world at multilateral events such as the G20, BRICS, and APEC. Leaders of the two nations met four times throughout the course of the year, and while bilateral trade between China and Russia fell, they nevertheless were able to coordinate certain movements on the international stage, as evidenced by such events as the establishment of the New Development Bank and Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank.