On the evening of 28 July, President Xi Jinping spoke with US President Joe Biden on the phone at the request of the latter. The two Presidents had a candid communication and exchange on China-US relations and issues of interest.
President Xi pointed out that in the world today, the trends of turbulence and transformation are evolving, and deficits in development and security are looming large. Faced with a world of change and disorder, the international community and the people around the world expect China and the US to take the lead in upholding world peace and security and in promoting global development and prosperity. This is the responsibility of China and the US as two major countries.
President Xi underscored that to approach and define China-US relations in terms of strategic competition and view China as the primary rival and the most serious long-term challenge would be misperceiving China-US relations and misreading China’s development, and would mislead the people of the two countries and the international community. The two sides need to maintain communication at all levels and make good use of existing channels to promote bilateral cooperation. Recognizing the many challenges facing the global economy, President Xi underscored the need for China and the US to maintain communication on such important issues as coordinating macroeconomic policies, keeping global industrial and supply chains stable, and protecting global energy and food security. Attempts at decoupling or severing supply chains in defiance of underlying laws would not help boost the US economy. They would only make the world economy more vulnerable. The two sides need to work for deescalation of regional hotspots, help rid the world of COVID-19 as early as possible, reduce the risk of stagflation and recession, and uphold the international system centering on the UN and the international order underpinned by international law.
President Xi elaborated on China’s principled position on the Taiwan question. President Xi highlighted that the historical ins and outs of the Taiwan question are crystal clear, and so are the fact and status quo that both sides of the Taiwan Strait belong to one and the same China. The three Sino-US joint communiqués embody the political commitments made by the two sides, and the one-China principle is the political foundation for China-US relations. China firmly opposes separatist moves toward “Taiwan independence” and interference by external forces, and never allows any room for “Taiwan independence” forces in whatever form. The position of the Chinese government and people on the Taiwan question is consistent, and resolutely safeguarding China’s national sovereignty and territorial integrity is the firm will of the more than 1.4 billion Chinese people. The public opinion cannot be defied. Those who play with fire will perish by it. It is hoped that the US will be clear-eyed about this. The US should honor the one-China principle and implement the three joint communiqués both in word and in deed.
President Biden said that the world is at a critical moment. US-China cooperation benefits not only the two peoples but also people of all countries. The US hopes to keep an open line of communication with China to enhance mutual understanding and avoid misperception and miscalculation, and will work with China where the interests of the two countries align and, at the same time, properly manage differences. He reiterated that the one-China policy of the US has not changed and will not change, and that the US does not support “Taiwan independence”.
The two Presidents exchanged views on issues including the Ukraine crisis. President Xi reiterated China’s principled position.
Both Presidents viewed their call as candid and in-depth. They agreed to stay in touch and instructed the two teams to keep up communication and cooperation.
This part in particular strikes me as nuts:
>In China, property developers can start collecting mortgage payments before apartments are completed — which, like in many other countries, has been taking a longer time than expected due to the pandemic.
>However, Beijing started clamping down on excessive borrowing in 2020, leading to last year's Evergrande debt crisis. The industry-wide cash crunch has since spilled over to other developers and led to even more stalled projects, spurring concerns that buyers may never see apartments they have been paying for.
Microfinance was supposed to mean economic empowerment for the poorest of the poor, many of them female villagers living in India's southeastern state of Andhra Pradesh. Instead, the sector has spiralled into crisis in recent weeks, where the state is blaming 57 recent suicides on aggressive loan collectors.
Television clips show weeping family members gathered around the latest victim, a 23-year-old father who hanged himself because his family was unable to pay back a 540-rupee ($12) weekly instalment. "They said you will face dire consequences if you don't repay on time," his widow says.
The state government alleges customers are being exploited by the sector through "usurious interest rates and coercive means." It has slapped on restrictions that have effectively frozen the sector. The institutions say stringent laws will force borrowers back into the hands of less scrupulous loan sharks.
The ripple effects have spread beyond Andhra Pradesh. Microlending activity across India is slowing as banks get nervous about lending and new loans dry up. This week, Bangladesh cracked down on the sector, imposing interest-rate caps on microfinance institutions - a move some experts worry will curb service for its poorest clients.
Microfinance has long been the darling of development circles. Big names including Bill Gates and George Soros have got religion on microfinance, and its popularity has soared since its top pioneer, Muhammad Yunus, won the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize.
A debate is raging between those like Dr. Yunus, who say the sector should remain non-profit with its focus fixed firmly on the very poorest of the poor (those living on less than $1 a day), and entrepreneurs who favour a faster-expanding, for-profit approach backed by investors who want to do good - and see returns.
>Executions resumed in 2010. According to polls, more than 80% of Taiwanese people support the continued use of capital punishment.
>Executions are carried out by shooting using a handgun aimed at the heart from the back, or aimed at the brain stem under the ear if the prisoner consents to organ donation before death row organ donation was outlawed. The execution time used to be 5:00 a.m., but was changed to 9:00 p.m. in 1995 to reduce officials' workload. It was changed again to 7:30 p.m. in 2010. Executions are performed in secret: nobody is informed beforehand, including the condemned. The condemned is brought to the execution range and the officers may pay respect to the statue of Ksitigarbha located outside the range before entering. Before the execution, the prisoner is brought to a special court next to the execution range to have their identity confirmed and any last words recorded. The prisoner is then brought to the execution range and served a last meal (which usually includes a bottle of kaoliang wine). The condemned prisoner is then injected with strong anaesthetic to render them completely senseless, laid flat on the ground, face down, and shot. The executioner then burns votive bank notes for the deceased before carrying away the corpse. It is tradition for the condemned to place a NT$500 or 1000 banknote in their leg irons as a tip for the executioners.
>In Taiwan, there have been cases of executes being sent to hospitals for organ collection without legal confirmation of brain death, leading to accusations that human vivisection for organ collection and transplantation is in practice in Taiwan. There was a case in 1991 in which an executes was found to be still breathing unaided when being prepared for organ collection in the Taipei Veterans General Hospital. The executed was sent back to the execution ground to complete the execution. This case caused the Taipei Veterans General Hospital to refuse organ collection of executes for eight years.
>“There are so many K-pop fans in China,” Lee said, choosing his words carefully. “They’ve been very active. But we cannot say more than that because there’s a Chinese government regulation about Korean culture.”
>Even in the dazzlingly energetic and bright world of South Korean pop music, Beijing’s growing assertiveness under the rule of Xi Jinping is becoming inescapable. And interviews across South Korea’s government, its business community and its colossal entertainment sector reveal a clear trend: people are becoming increasingly wary of China.
>South Korea’s pop music industry is still reeling from a Chinese government blockade five years ago – retaliation for Seoul’s decision to install an American anti-missile system to defend against a potential North Korean attack.
>The booming South Korean tech sector is now talking about an overreliance on China in its supply chains, and a need to back away and diversify elsewhere.
This is going to be an interesting fight going forward - especially when we consider that *Western economic power is generally waning and we now face an energy & food crisis.*
>Government officials see Beijing as provocative, destabilising, even disrespectful to Korean culture – and the new South Korean president, Yoon Suk-yeol, has vowed to more firmly stand up to China, insisting on reciprocity and mutual respect in their relations.
>Public opinion has also plummeted, with multiple recent surveys showing that South Koreans view China even more negatively than Japan, which colonised the Korean peninsula for 35 years until the end of World War II.
>In many respects, these sentiments mirror the bipartisan trend in the US and many other democracies in the world.
>But there is a key difference. Unlike in Washington, Seoul still seems reluctant to push back against Beijing too hard, making it unclear just how much the sharply negative shift in public opinion towards China will translate to policy.
>Most of the industry and government officials interviewed for this article asked that their names not be used so they could speak freely about the highly sensitive topic of relations with China.
>They made clear that the distrust towards Beijing is real, but it is fused with another feeling: worry. Specifically, concern about Chinese retaliatory punishment, which is something Beijing has already shown a willingness to impose on smaller countries, including South Korea, that try to challenge its line in almost any way.
Absolutely rightfully concerned.
The best bet in the long-run may be to begin integrating themselves more closely with the PRC and turning down the affections they have with the Western powers who can't really help them and also who have a less bright future.