Chinese Premier Li Keqiang took a dig at President Xi Jinping and the comments were censored on WeChat. Beijing displayed nuclear-capable missiles during Nancy Pelosi’s visit. Heatwaves and power shortages were observed across China. New unemployment data for July paints a grim picture for the Chinese economy. Chinascope gives you a deep dive into current affairs from China —and the world.
China over the week
After almost two weeks of disappearing from the public, Communist Party chairman Xi Jinping reemerged during a trip to Liaoning. The two-week disappearance suggests that Xi Jinping was in the seaside resort at Beidaihe for the annual conclave where bargaining for power goes on behind the scenes.
The visitors and residents in Beidaihe suggested tight security over the last weeks, indicating the meeting was held and concluded without any public attention – as is always the case with the secretive Beidaihe conclave.
Liaoning, where Xi reappeared, is just four hours north of Beidaihe. While he was there, Xi called for the revitalisation of China’s northeastern regions — often described as the country’s rustbelt.
“The Party Central Committee attaches great importance to the revitalisation of the Northeast. Since the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, the CPC Central Committee has implemented the strategy of in-depth promotion of the revitalisation of the Northeast,” Xi said during his inspection tour.
As Xi toured (Shenyang city), Premier Li Keqiang visited Shanghai and Shenzhen. In Shanghai, Li paid respect to the statue of Deng Xiaoping at the Lianhuashan Park in Shenzhen.
Li’s remarks in Shenzhen appeared to be taking a dig at Xi’s economic policies.
China’s opening will continue. The Yellow River and the Yangtze River will not flow backwards,” said Li Keqiang while visiting Yantian Port. The Premier’s comments were loaded with the allegory of China’s success story and the challenges the country faces now. The comment about the two rivers not turning back was censored on WeChat.
“It is necessary to continue to play a leading role in reform and opening up and play a leading role in the economy and make greater contributions to national development,” Li had added.
The symbolism of visiting Lianhuashan Park and the remarks in Shenzhen have started a debate within the China watchers’ community. Some read Li’s comments as suggesting a contest for power with Xi, but others weren’t so convinced.
“The fact Li’s actions and words were either treated cursorily by Party-state media or censored altogether is an indication of the power dynamics and foreshadows Li’s future,” wrote Adam Ni in a Twitter thread.
Li is likely to retire, as many have suggested, and a new premier may have been picked during the Beidaihe meeting. “Contrary to what some may want to believe, there is no contest between Xi and Li. Xi will get his third term, and Li will retire,” Ni added.
Fewer jobs, higher temperatures
In July, the unemployment rate for youth aged between 16-24 was 19.9 per cent, according to China’s National Bureau of Statistics. It means that 1 in 5 youth between the age of 16-24 is unemployed. The statistic tells another story about recent Chinese university graduates. The year 2022 will see the biggest number of graduates enter the job market, which is on shaky ground.
“Graduates can’t find their desired jobs,” said Xiaodong Gong, associate professor and labour specialist at the University of Canberra.
As economic prospects turned sour, China’s smartest youth are hunting for stable jobs in the Chinese Communist Party’s vast bureaucracy. Harry Wang, a recent graduate from Tianjin Foreign Studies University, decided to turn down job offers from leading companies such as AstraZeneca and ByteDance to pursue his ambition of becoming a civil servant.
If the alarming unemployment rate wasn’t enough, China experienced the strongest heatwave since 1961.
“As of August 15, this high temperature event has lasted for 64 days, the longest duration since 1961 (more than 62 days in 2013); 1680 stations were covered above 35°C, and 1426 stations were covered above 37°C, both of which were the first in history,” reported State-owned CCTV.
The heatwave has had an impact on the energy supply in some of China’s provincial cities, including Chengdu. Businesses and factories had to halt work because of power cuts in Chengdu as temperatures rose above 40°C.
Anti-US commentator has house in US
China’s popular pro-CCP nationalist commentator, Sima Nan, has come under attack for revealing that he owns a house in the US. Sima Nan, whose original name is Yu Li, has built a reputation in China by attacking the US on TV panels hosted by the national broadcast. Sima is one of the “BigV” commentator with over three million followers on Weibo.
According to a reporter from New Yellow River, Yu has been banned from posting on multiple social media platforms for now.