• “One of the most vocal defenders of globalization and talks with North Korea is sitting out the world’s biggest gathering devoted to them. Chinese President Xi Jinping is not expected to attend the United Nations General Assembly this week, where heads of state will contemplate issues key to the nation — including how to respond to the reclusive state and the future of the Paris climate agreement. The absence is surprising for a leader who has pushed a more assertive, globally engaged China. Xi arrived at his first U.N. assembly in 2015 with a gift of 8,000 peacekeeping troops and a $1-billion pledge for peace and development. This time, Chinese officials said only that Wang Yi, the foreign minister, is leading a delegation. State media have barely mentioned the event… The answer to Xi’s nonappearance may lie with the country’s complex internal politics. The U.N. session comes a month before China’s twice-a-decade party congress. This year is especially important because it is expected to replace about half of the country’s top leadership and reveal the full extent of Xi’s influence. The Congress marks the halfway point of his term, and some analysts expect he will try to stay in power.”
  • The New Yorker:Why China Won’t Pressure North Korea as Much as Trump WantsThe New Yorker reports: “At the center of the North Korean nuclear crisis is a pivotal question: How much is China really willing to pressure and punish its longtime ally in Pyongyang? Recent conversations in Beijing and Washington suggest that Chinese leaders have decided to increase pressure substantially but are not—and probably never will be—willing to help President Trump strangle North Korea into submission. China doesn’t trust Kim Jong Un—but it trusts Trump even less. For decades, China backed North Korea in hostilities with the United States… In Chairman Mao’s analogy, the two nations were as close as ‘lips and teeth.’ But that is no longer true; since taking power, in 2011, Kim Jong Un, who is suspicious of China’s efforts to control North Korea or spur it to follow its model of economic reform, has openly antagonized the government in Beijing, including launching rockets that would embarrass the Chinese leadership… By several measures, Chinese leaders have become more willing to get tough with Kim. Until recently, Chinese intellectuals rarely questioned China’s commitment to North Korea. But, in March, Shen Zhihua, one of China’s best-known experts on the Korean War, said, in a speech, ‘We must see clearly that China and North Korea are no longer brothers-in-arms, and in the short term there’s no possibility of an improvement in Chinese-North Korean relations.’ The speech circulated widely, without much in the way of official censorship—a sign, to many Chinese analysts, that some of the country’s leaders agree.”
  • ChinaFile:The Unprecedented Reach of China’s Surveillance StateChinaFile comments: “The Chinese Party-state is building a social credit system for collecting information about all of its citizens by police, courts, and other institutions. This enables the government to reach into society to a degree unprecedented in history. According to recent reports, the system is already being used by police and other agencies to employ facial recognition as well as other data to locate criminal suspects and persons engaged in illegal conduct. As government intrusion into society deepens, worry is likely to arise about how data is collected, its reliability, and how it is used in conjunction with the legal system. In August, police in the city of Qingdao used facial recognition technology on 2.3 million people who attended an annual beer festival, which resulted in their identifying and arresting 25 criminal suspects, five persons previously convicted of theft, and 19 people with histories of drug addiction who ‘tested positive for drug use and were subsequently arrested… The Global Times published a criticism of those who argue that China ‘is stepping up its authoritarian rule.’ The article urges adoption of a ‘right path to set up a credit system’—but cautioned that ‘it needs more wisdom to do it well at low political and social risks.’ Can a ‘right path’ be found? One such path is consumer protection: The Chinese economy is beset by fraud and fake products, and in a print Wall Street Journal article, Andrew Browne, an experienced observer, has suggested that ‘better data will boost consumer trust.'”

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