Expert says skyrocketing price of Bitcoin likely to undergo ‘Tulip Mania’

The skyrocketing price of Bitcoin in recent years is likely to undergo the economic bubble like Tulip mania in the Netherlands at the beginning of the 17th century, says expert Zhou Wuying, Economic Information Daily reported on Aug. 14.

The price of Bitcoin rose from $956.18 to $4,045.89 from the beginning of 2017 to Aug. 13, up by factor of 3.23, skyrocketing by more than 5 million times since its first appearance eight years ago.

Bitcoin is currently seen as a good investment by many speculators, as it possesses advantages, including decentralization, non-duplication, and low processing fees.

However, many countries hold different attitudes toward Bitcoin. Only a small number of countries consider Bitcoin as currency, while many including China regard it as a virtual commodity.

The creation, transaction, or use of Bitcoin all lack support by national credit agencies and adequate credit assessments, as the coin was not created by the monetary authority of a sovereign state.

The expert noted that, although decentralization is an advantage of Bitcoin, it will be an obstacle for its further development. In the absence of oversight and safety, Bitcoin will be hard to withstand shocks if faced with problems.

As for practical use, only a small number of retail outlets around the world use Bitcoin. Some criminals even use it as a tool for their illegal acts, for example, the WannaCry ransomware, which attacked computers around the globe in May 2017, used Bitcoin as its means of payment.

The expert pointed out that, with increasing transactions of encrypted digital virtual currencies including Bitcoin, it is more urgent than ever to strengthen supervision of the virtual currency.

In addition, the rise and fall in prices is one of the features of Bitcoin. Bank of America said Bitcoin cannot be explained or predicted, as it is not tied to any country or subject to regulation, and the huge number of transactions does not reflect real demand.

Like the Tulip Mania, a period in the Dutch Golden Age during which contract prices for bulbs of the introduced tulip reached extraordinarily high levels and then dramatically collapsed in 1637, the expert said that Bitcoin is inevitably to undergo the same fate once regulation is tightened or demand drops.

China’s economy not expected to V-shape rebound soon, expert warns

Judging from current GDP growth and the change of manufacturing purchasing managers’ index (PMI), China’s economic growth will not see a V-shape rebound though it has stopped falling, said Cai Fang, deputy director of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

The country’s economic growth is declining as a result of rising labor cost, insufficient human capital and decrease in capital returns in the 21st century, especially in the first decade, Cai said at the 2017 Netease Annual Economist Conference held recently.

“The real growth of a healthy economy should conform to potential growth, just like a person’s running speed is determined by their physical condition,” Cai said. Based on downward potential growth, China’s economy in the long term will slow down, he warned.

China’s economic growth is expected to present L-shaped trajectories in the long term, the economist said.

Identity crisis

Foreign visitors and job seekers encouraged to be vigilant about who they share their private information with and protect themselves from identity thieves. Photo: IC

Two years ago, Davis from Canada used an agent from China to help him find a teaching job in Beijing and secure a work visa. Instead of finding his dream job, his identity and credit card information were stolen, and the thief ran up a bill of over $7,000 on his card.

“I had just come to China at that time. I didn’t know anyone, and I didn’t understand a word of Chinese, so I found an agent online to help me to find work and get a proper Z visa,” Davis said. “I came to China on a business visa, and I was trying to find a job and get a Z visa.”

China is attracting more foreigners from around the world in recent years. They come for work opportunities, study or pleasure.

More than 200,000 foreigners work in China legally, and 400,000 family members came with them, a July report published by Chinese newspaper Cankao Xiaoxi cited the 2010 national demographic census survey as saying. The report also said the number of foreigners seeking employment in China is increasing.

With the increasing number of foreign visitors, many fraudulent agencies have started to target foreigners for identity theft. They sell the stolen information to criminals, and many foreigners fall victim to their tricks.

Protect your identity

Davis sent his resume to several agencies for teaching positions. A woman, who called herself Tiffany Tang and said she was from a company called East-West Education, contacted him.

Tang said she had a good position teaching English at an international school for him. She set up a phone interview with Davis in which she asked about his educational background and credentials.

“She told me that I was the perfect candidate for the position and asked me to go to her office for a person-to-person interview at Galaxy SOHO in Dongcheng district, where her office was located,” Davis said.

“When the day came, she suddenly called me, saying that she is out for a meeting that day and can meet me at a coffee shop in the Guomao area in Chaoyang district for convenience. I didn’t give it a second thought and agreed.”

The meeting was pleasant. When it was over, Tiffany said that as the head of HR at the company, she was confident that Davis is the right person for the job. She told Davis that he could start work in about two weeks after he emailed her the papers she needed to start entry formalities.

“Her English was perfect, and her dress and manners were all very professional, so [it did not occur to me that] she could be a crook,” he said.

Davis emailed her his passport scans, a copy of his diplomas and taxpayer ID number according to her request.

After submitting the papers, Davis started counting down the days until he would start his new job. However, Tiffany kept postponing his start date. She told Davis that the director of the teaching department was on vacation, so his schedule could not be arranged. Then, a month later, she called saying that the home office filled the position, but she would keep his resume on file in case of an opening.

“I was very frustrated, but I didn’t suspect anything yet,” Davis said.

Afterward, several recruiters called Davis even though he didn’t submit his resume to their organizations.

“[That was when] I realized my personal information could have been stolen and sold. But I didn’t think anything serious would happen, so I just kept on with the job hunting process,” he said.

However, four months after he finally landed a teaching job in Beijing, things started to go off the rails. When a bank in the US called, saying that he owed over $7,000 on his credit card and that his credit rating will be lowered if he doesn’t pay it back, Davis called the local Chinese police.

After the investigation, the police said Tiffany stole his personal information. But Davis still ended up spending $5,000 in legal fees to unfreeze his account and restore his credit rating.

“It has taught me a hard lesson about trusting my information and papers to a stranger,” Davis said.

The police still haven’t found Tiffany Tang yet, according to Davis.

How to spot fake agents

According to Chinascamwatch.org, a website founded by foreign anti-scam volunteers to help expats in China, ID thieves in China are posing as various headhunters, HR managers, and ESL School recruiters. After they steal a foreigner’s information, they tend to sell it to criminals for things such as credit card fraud, IRS tax refund fraud and automobile financing fraud.

Sawyer Bao, a lawyer who has helped a few foreigners with their identity theft cases, gave a few tips on how to spot fraudsters.

Bao said the swindlers often have something in common. For example, all the employees use English names like David Liu, which are virtually untraceable.

Also, their website is often less than a year old, or they don’t have one at all. If they have a website, it will have no verifiable office address, no landline telephone number, and use free email addresses like Gmail.com, Hotmail.com, Sina.com, 163.com, QQ.com, 126.com, and Yahoo.com, he said.

They also do not have a color scan copy of their State Administration for Industry and Commerce (SAIC) Chinese business license, which can be verified online.

According to Bao, swindlers often request copies of foreigners’ passports and taxpayer ID (SSN) before giving them any written job offer or contract. He said they often claim that there is someone else with the same name as the job seeker in their computer system and that they need his or her personal information to clarify the matter with the Chinese visa bureau.

“They tell you that you don’t need a Z visa right away and to just come to China on an L, F, or M visa, and they offer to sell you a fake diploma, a Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) certificate, or a Foreign Expert Certificate (FEC),” Bao said.

“They will also tell you that you must use a visa agent because the application process is very complicated and confusing, and all the forms are in Chinese, which is not true. Also, they will tell you that you must give your passport to your Chinese employer for a three to six months probationary period, which is also not true.”

Other tricks include making foreigners fill out their visa application in Chinese so that they cannot understand if they are being lied to or not, never giving email confirmations only verbal promises, pushing job seekers to sign a contract in a short time frame, and asking for money up front or a deposit of any kind.

“The key is not to give anyone crucial information such as passport and taxpayer numbers until you have been issued a valid contract,” Bao said.

“Job hunters should also check the agency information and that of the company that contacted them to see if they are on any scam blacklist.”

Source: Global Times

Chinese desserts, drinks and soups to help cool off during hot summer days

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A bowl of Guiling Jelly Photo: IC

A girl scoops soup from a pot. Photo: IC

As many Chinese cities have been experiencing yet another wave of high late summer temperatures over the past few days, locals have been turning to special food recipes to fight off the heat. Among them, many of the most popular summer recipes have links to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM).

While those who happen to know a bit about Chinese cuisine might be able to name a few of the more famous summer snacks, such as mung bean soup, plum syrup (which contains dark plums and dried oranges) and herbal tea, even they may not be familiar with the exotic snacks listed below:

Grass jelly

Also known as Immortal’s Jelly in southern China, this traditional Chinese summer dessert is especially popular in southern Chinese cities and provinces including Guangdong, Fujian and Taiwan. Mixing black-colored jelly made from xiancao (lit. Immortal’s Grass) – a type of local h erbal plant that is believed to be effective in preventing sunstroke – with peanuts, taro, pinto beans and glutinous rice cubes, grass jelly tastes sweet and cool and is even better served cold. Similar snacks like Guiling Jelly, which is made from tortoise plastron (in TCM this is generally believed to be good for the heart and can help treat insomnia) and a series of TCM herbal medicines, are also said to be able to help improve one’s health and expel heat from the body.

Qingbuliang

Qingbuliang refers to two things: a type of soup and a dessert often seen in the tropical and subtropical areas of South China.

The dessert Qingbuliang is a mixture of coconut juice, milk, mung beans, red beans, pearl barley and tropical fruits that are especially popular in South China’s Hainan Province such as watermelon and mango.

The soup is a summer must-have that is extremely popular in Hong Kong, Macao and South China’s Guangdong and Guangxi provinces, where the weather tends to be humid and stifling hot in the summer. The ingredients used in the soup can differ, but often include pearl barley, lotus seeds, Chinese yams and fox nuts – all ingredients considered effective in reducing heat and driving away “dampness” (a TCM term referring to a condition that easily leads to extreme fatigue, poor appetite and constipation and is often believed by TCM practitioners to be caused by humid and hot weather) from the body.

It often takes two to three hours to boil the soup as local people believe cooking over a low fire helps the soup absorb the best nutrients from the ingredients. This is why the soup is also known as laohuo liangtang (Well-cooked Soup).

Sweet fermented rice soup

Made of jiuniang, a kind of alcohol produced from glutinous rice fermented with a starter called jiuqu, sweet fermented rice soup is quite popular throughout China during the summer. It is often mixed with small glutinous rice balls and goji berries. Some people also like to add dried Osmanthus petals to the mix. With the added taste of alcohol, sweet fermented rice soup is considered by Chinese food lovers to be one of the best summer snacks.

Apricot rind drink

Originated from Dunhuang, Northwest China’s Gansu Province, the drink is made from boiling dried apricot rind, dried oranges (in TCM this is generally considered to help treat abdominal distension), hawthorn and rock candy. It tastes both sweet and sour and is quite similar to the flavor of the renowned plum syrup, another highly popular summer drink in China.

Source: Global Times

 

China will reap benefits from supporting solar power

In the past five years, China’s solar photovoltaic (PV) power generation has seen extremely rapid development, and the country’s installed capacity and solar power generation now ranks top in the world. China’s large-scale PV development is inseparable from the government’s subsidies and support. Like most countries in Europe, China has adopted a feed-in tariff subsidy policy for renewable energy. This policy can encourage industry pioneers when the costs and market change drastically, and it has been internationally proven as one of the most effective renewable energy support policies.

At present, China and Germany adopt similar feed-in tariff subsidy policies, so they are suitable counterparts. But we also need to consider certain differences. For instance, the PV sector has both centralized and distributed patterns and different installation sites and sizes affect the amount of the subsidy.

In 2013, when China PV subsidies were just introduced, China’s PV subsidies were 35 percent higher than in Germany, but in 2017 the subsidy amount is basically the same.

With the PV industry becoming mature, China and Germany tend to be consistent with each other in terms of the actual subsidy money. However, the policy subsidy is only part of the PV subsidies. To comprehensively analyze the level of subsidies, national conditions and the market development stage should also be considered.

First, the current electricity price in Germany is the equivalent of three yuan ($45 cents) per kilowatt-hour. In China, the additional charge for renewable energy is usually less than 0.02 yuan per kilowatt-hour. German consumers pay a large amount to fund the PV subsidy, while the Chinese PV subsidies are mainly paid by the government.

Second, the impression that PV subsidies in China are very high is because of the comparison with the on-grid electricity price of thermal power. China is rich in coal resources, offering an advantage in terms of thermal power. Moreover, as the country’s power generation facilities are very advanced, the price of thermal power is much lower than that from PV in China. Germany has less coal resources than China, so the generation costs for thermal power are higher and the price difference between various kinds of power generation is not as significant. Therefore, it is more appropriate to say China’s thermal power prices are relatively low than to say that China’s PV price is high.

Third, it is reasonable to give a higher subsidy at the initial stage for any new energy. China’s PV industry started by producing the equipment for European markets, so development of the domestic market came relatively late and explosive growth only happened in the past five years. As well as getting national subsidies, China’s PV industry also gets local subsidies and project subsidies, an inevitable requirement in the early stages of industrial development.

In the development of China’s PV industry, there have been issues like emphasis on installation instead of power generation and excessively high subsidies in some regions. But to look at it from the perspective of development, these issues are generally inevitable at the starting point of any industry. China’s PV subsidy level is generally reasonable and increasingly market-oriented.

To some extent, it is precisely the strong support and subsidies from all levels of government that has made the rapid technological development and cost reductions in China’s PV industry possible. Due to the flexibility of PV, it will occupy an increasingly large share in renewable power generation, and will make an outstanding contribution to China’s renewable energy development goals in the 13th Five-Year Plan and the overall strategic transformation of China’s energy structure by 2030.

Source: Global Times

 

China needs new plan for Silicon Valley partnerships

The once-sizzling romance between China and Silicon Valley has cooled rather dramatically. This has some potentially serious consequences for both sides, but especially for China, which desires to invest in and gain access to some of the hottest new ideas from this cradle of innovation. A new strategy is needed.

Until recently, Chinese investment funds and companies were investing hundreds of millions of dollars every year into promising Silicon Valley start-ups, as part of a strategy to forge closer ties between the US high-technology sector and the large Chinese market. But the flow of funds has largely dried up.

There are two main reasons. First, Chinese regulators imposed new restrictions on large overseas investments. Second, the US government began to take a less friendly attitude toward Chinese technology investment in the US, killing several proposed deals and holding up approval on many others.

There is every sign that things in the US are going to get more restrictive rather than less. As someone convinced of mutual benefits from Chinese investment in US technology, it all seems highly counterproductive. The world needs more deep and extensive ties between the Chinese and the US high-technology world, not just in start-up investing but also in university research and scientific conferences, shared research and development (R&D) labs, and partnerships among large companies working in hot fields like semiconductors, robotics, artificial intelligence and clean energy.

What can China do? Rather than sending money out, it can encourage more US high-technology start-ups to relocate to China. There is a huge amount to be gained, both for China’s continuing industrial upgrading and for innovative US technology companies looking to grow into giants.

China has in abundance the most vital ingredients for technology start-up success: capital, a market and talented managers and engineers. In many industries, for example advanced manufacturing, robotics and new battery technologies, China often has more to offer technology companies than the US.

China already has lured a lot of Chinese-born scientists and technologists back from Silicon Valley to open start-ups. The next step is to lure some of the best early-stage US technology companies to China. This addresses a big weakness in the US high-technology scene: companies there tend to view the China market as an after-thought. In reality, it is often the market most worth prioritizing.

I’m seeing how well all this can work on the ground. We’re helping a promising US robotics company build its future in China. It is establishing a Chinese company as its main asset and moving some of its core team to China. It expects to add many more staff in China. The breakthrough product it’s now perfecting has a huge potential market in China’s manufacturing industry.

Originally, this company was aiming to find investors in China to help it grow in Ohio. We helped explain why bringing the company to China would make a lot more sense. The company is applying for R&D grants as well as venture capital in China. Within a 100-kilometer radius of its future base in Shenzhen, South China’s Guangdong Province is the largest concentration of potential customers and partners in the world.

We foresee big mutual gains if China can attract many more exciting early-stage technology companies. They will create jobs, pay taxes and invest in local R&D. The benefits to China should be far larger than just buying some shares in a technology company based in Silicon Valley.

The objective isn’t to evade US rules but to bring start-ups early in their growth stage to the market where the demand is greatest. Technology companies do best when they sit close to the biggest concentration of customers.

The Chinese government has already said it wants to make the country more of a magnet for global technology talent. Shenzhen is a great city for US start-ups to grow big.

The steep drop in Chinese investment in Silicon Valley may actually prove a blessing in disguise. It’s smart to keep more of that capital at home to invest in great technology companies in China. Many US technology start-ups will achieve far more, and far more quickly, if they make China their future home.

Source: Global Times

Heilongjiang opens up to Russia

Source: Department of Commerce of Heilongjiang Graphic: GT

Russia has been facing increased isolation from the West, which has slapped harsh economic sanctions on the country, but it has found an eager recipient for its exports in Northeast China’s Heilongjiang Province.

Traders and consumers in Heilongjiang said they have seen what they describe as a “honeymoon” period of robust Sino-Russian trade recently, partly because officials there have opened up the local market to Russian goods and political ties between China and Russia have been growing stronger. However, vicious competition as well as a trade deficit will continue to exist, they noted.

The bilateral trade boom of recent months is evident in stores in Harbin, the provincial capital. In one grocery store, shelves were filled with hundreds of Russian products, including chocolate, flour and other food goods.

Wang Liang, manager of the store, told the Global Times on Sunday that more and more Chinese consumers prefer buying Russian products because they are eco-friendly and of good quality, adding that trade will be boosted by closer Sino-Russian ties.

“Russia and China will become even closer after the recent sanctions imposed on Russia by the US, and we’ll see more business opportunities on both sides,” Wang said, referring to the latest round of sanctions from the US on Russia’s energy sector.

Sun Jialiang, who runs another imported product store in the city center, even hired a Russian baker from Russia’s Far Eastern city of Ussuriysk to attract more customers when the store was opened last September.

Most of the products in Sun’s store are imported from Russia through Suifenhe, a major land port and gateway to the Russian port city of Vladivostok.

“Some businesses in the city have been increasing their orders from Russia, which shows how high confidence has become,” Sun noted.

These stores were just two examples that highlighted the recent rebound in trade with Russia after steep declines a few years ago, and local businesses are now focusing more on importing Russian goods, according to You Xu, director of the grocery store managed by Wang. The store used to export shoes and clothes to Russia, but You recently decided to adjust his business strategy to focus on importing Russian goods.

“It is obvious that we are enjoying a Sino-Russian honeymoon today,” You declared.

Growing interest

Efforts are continuing to further open up and boost trade volume between China and Russia.

In the first six months, the trade volume between Heilongjiang and Russia grew 25.4 percent year-on-year to $5.25 billion, Qiu Rui, an official from the local department of commerce, told the Global Times on Monday.

“The local government has encouraged diversified imports from Russia by setting up 11 border trading areas last year, eight of which have already become operational,” Qiu noted.

Local authorities approved imports of frozen fish from Sakha Republic at the beginning of this year, and more Russian seafood is expected to enter the Chinese market in the coming months, according to You.

The authorities unveiled guidelines for border trade in the province in July 2016, capping the number of traders and lifting tariffs on more than 8,000 yuan worth of goods each day. The move is intended to facilitate border trading activities, according to a document on the website of the local government.

“This gives more room for the growth of imported consumer goods from Russia,” Qiu noted.

Trade issues

While trade is booming, there are still some challenges.

After authorities in the province opened up local markets to Russian products, business representatives in Heilongjiang raised concerns over the quality of some of the imports and the risk of vicious competition.

“Some daigou [traveling shopping agents] still exist in border towns, and it is hard to ensure the authenticity of some so-called Russian products that are shipped through non-official channels and that are sold at much lower prices,” Sun noted.

With more Russian imports expected to pour into the Chinese market, local authorities should come up with related regulations to crack down on fake goods, according to business representatives.

Furthermore, the boom in trade of consumer products only accounts for a small portion of the overall bilateral trade and might not help with Heilongjiang’s trade deficit with Russia, according to officials.

“The trade deficit is likely to remain, at least for the short term, because the province is not export-driven and imports make up over 80 percent of the total trade,” Qiu noted.

Source: Global Times

Potential visitors to Guam intimidated by N.Korea missile rhetoric

The tourist authorities of the US territory of Guam, at which North Korea has threatened to shoot missiles, have reassured potential visitors that the region is safe, well-protected and open for business.

“Guam has enjoyed record numbers of visitors traveling to our shores this year and is on track to have the best year in the history of tourism. We invite you to continue your plans for travel to Guam, the safe and satisfying world-class destination,” read the statement sent by the Guam Visitors Bureau to the Global Times Monday.

The Governor of Guam, the Honorable Eddie Baza Calvo, assured the public recently that there is no threat to the island or any of the US-administered Marianas Islands, an archipelago of which Guam is the southernmost island.

Danger on the horizon

The North Korean military said that its plan to strike the area around Guam with intermediate missiles will be ready by mid-August and its implementation will depend on a decision by top leader Kim Jong-un, the country’s Korean Central News Agency said Thursday.

The military said it is “seriously examining the plan for an enveloping strike at Guam through simultaneous fire of four Hwasong-12 intermediate-range strategic ballistic rockets in order to interdict the enemy forces on major military bases on Guam and to signal a crucial warning to the US.”

In a recent poll conducted by the Pacific Daily News on its official Twitter account, almost half of Guam’s residents are “very concerned” about the threat. It gave readers three levels to assess their attitudes toward the issue, including “very concerned,” “concerned” and “not concerned,” the Xinhua News Agency reported.

Local resident Kate Quiambo was quoted as saying that she was so scared that she has plans to leave the island with her family. Meanwhile, resident Kenneth Leon Guerrero told the reporter that the threat was nothing more than sabre-rattling.

An employee from China CYTS Tours Holding Ltd told the Global Times that the company has not received any notice about the suspension of trips to Guam.

Ma Ding, director of overseas affairs at BTG International Travel & Tours, said that as few Chinese tourists choose to travel to Guam and prices are very high, few trips to the island are provided by the company. But Ma said that a lot of tourists have already booked trips to Saipan, another island in the Marianas archipelago, during the upcoming October National Day Holiday. He revealed some have expressed their concerns over its safety and may cancel their trips.

A spokesperson surnamed Wang from online travel platform lvmama told the Global Times that the company has received some worried messages from its clients and has already given them information. “As the number of Chinese visitors who go to Guam is small, the rising tension involving the island has limited influence on the domestic tourism industry,” said Wang. The spokesperson said that the company will closely follow the situation and any government notices, making any necessary adjustments to ensure tourists’ safety.

Most of the Chinese tourists interviewed by the Global Times said that they will not consider going to Guam now as they think it is too dangerous.

Guam received over 132,000 visitors in July, breaking a 20-year-old record, Xinhua reported. South Korean arrivals recorded a 25 percent increase, while US mainland visitor arrivals were up 14.9 percent over the last year.

Currently, the China National Tourism Administration and the Chinese embassy in the US have not released warnings on their websites.

Lü Chao, an expert on Korean studies at the Liaoning Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times that tensions between North Korea and the US escalated this week amid increasingly bellicose rhetoric between Washington and Pyongyang, and he suggested Chinese tourists not risk venturing to Guam anytime soon.

Situated between Asia and the Americas, Guam is prime real estate for those looking to traverse the Pacific, for military or commercial purposes.

More than 160,000 people live there and 13,000 are either in the military or are family of service members, CNN reported.

Source: Global Times

Campus halal canteens trigger controversy about affirmative action policies

It began with a few online posts complaining about a school dining hall, but over the weeks, it snowballed into a national controversy that once again ignited a debate whether the country treats its Muslim citizens too favorably.

The controversy began when a Sina Weibo user who claimed to be a former student of Ningxia University in Yinchuan, Northwest China’s Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, complained online that the school doesn’t offer enough non-halal dining halls. His post said there’s only one non-halal dining hall on the school’s campus in district A, and in district C, where most of the students are of Han ethnicity, there’s only a small non-halal dining hall and a much larger halal dining hall.

The controversy escalated when another person claiming to be a student posted a screenshot of an online chat, apparently revealing a conversation between a few Ningxia University freshmen. In the screenshot, an apparently Han student says he will eat pork in his dormitory in the presence of Hui students, and an apparently ethnic Hui student allegedly responded, “If you do that, I will definitely slash you with a knife.”

Those of the Hui ethnicity are mostly Muslims.

After being forwarded by some famous Sina Weibo bloggers, the campus conflict went viral, with Islamophobic reactions common.

“This kind of university will sooner or later be a home base for terrorism,” one comment read.

“This is religious extremism and terrorism under the disguise of ethnic unity,” another read. “You require respect from others, but do not give the same in return.”

Students line up to buy lunch at a halal canteen at a Shanghai middle school. Photo: CFP

Everything is halal

Relevant Ningxia University personnel couldn’t be reached for comment as of press time. However, last week the university’s official Weibo account published a short response to the recent incidents, saying that in order to “satisfy the teachers’ and student body’s diverse dining requirements, the school has gradually made arrangements,” including renovating the dining halls this summer to include more non-halal options.

The statement also said the new Hui student who said inappropriate things in the online chat has been contacted by the police and school authorities, adding that the student has apologized for his words.

Students at the school reached by the Global Times said they understand why people are upset about having limited food choices, but they think the furor over this friction has been overblown and that too many people are making illogical, bigoted arguments.

A recent ethnic Han graduate of Ningxia University surnamed Pan told the Global Times he doesn’t agree with what Ningxia University’s online detractors say about it, as he thinks many people can’t distinguish between terrorists and everyday Muslims. While in school, his relationship with Hui students has always been harmonious and he never encountered extremism. He thinks there needs to be mutual respect between Han and Hui, he personally avoided deliberately offending their sensitivities, for courtesy’s sake.

A Hui Muslim living in Yinchuan, who wishes to remain anonymous, told the Global Times she understands the Han students’ demands and thinks the school is at fault for having poor dining arrangements.

“I used to think it’s fine (to not have as many non-halal food venues), because Han people can eat both, but now I think this is kind of selfish. It doesn’t matter where they like to eat, the facilities need to be in place,” she said.

She admits there might be some extreme Muslims who have pan-halal tendencies, such as not allowing others to eat pork in their presence, but she has never had such demands. Her Han dormitory roommates even ate pig blood tofu in front of her once, she said.

When she was growing up, she was taught not to eat pork but was not taught to place these restrictions on others’ actions.

However, she still feels hurt by the extreme anti-Muslim comments online.

Fear of the ‘green’

There are many examples that show the increase in Islamophobia on Chinese social media. Netizens have even invented a new phrase, “Green Religion,” to refer to Islam, because of the association between the color and the religion. In recent years, the term has been used more and more frequently on the Internet.

Every time there’s news of Islamist terror attacks in the West, netizens will say that Europe has been “greenized” or has been occupied by the “greens.” Many refer to Europe as “Europestan” and Paris as “Paristan.” The sentiment is fueled by Europe’s policy on refugees, especially the decision to accept refugees by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, as well as the recent attacks.

In China, specifically, much of the concern is focused on “pan-halal” tendencies, seen by many as an example of religious rules seeping into secular life.

Last month, Meituan, a food delivery company, opened up a “halal channel” on its app. The company said in its online advertisements that halal and non-halal foods will be stored in different boxes on deliverymen’s bikes, which aroused fierce public criticism.

Xiong Kunxin, a professor at Beijing’s Minzu University of China, told the Global Times that there’s a pan-halal tendency in China, in which some Muslims are demanding things be halal which cannot really be halal, such as water, roads and toilets. This abuse of the concept only alienates different religious groups and will lead to greater misunderstanding, Xiong stressed.

Xi Wuyi, an expert on Marxism at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences who has been a staunch critic of the pan-halal tendency, has been closely following the Ningxia University dining hall controversy. She received a Weibo message from a student complaining about the dining hall situation in the past few weeks and has been posting screenshots and analyses of the situation.

“We should respect an ethnic group’s dietary customs, but such customs should not be forced onto other ethnic groups … if a secular, State college’s dietary customs only advocates halal customs, then it’s a phenomenon of the pal-halal tendency. When Han students, which make up the majority of the student body, cannot choose non-halal diets, it erodes the school’s secular culture and harms the foundation of the unity of the Chinese people,” she told the Global Times.

Domestic policies

China’s domestic policy of ethnic cohesion, expressed through favorable policies toward minority ethnic groups, is being interpreted by some as unjust and is used to fuel the fire of online Islamophobia. For example, China is building large numbers of mosques in western provinces and it has been reported that some Muslim communities in these regions have started learning Arabic in government-run schools.

Almost all Chinese Muslims are members of ethnic minority groups. China usually applies favorable policies to ethnic minorities to achieve the goal of national unity, though the fairness of such “affirmative action” has been questioned by members of the Han majority.

In some areas, ethnic minorities can get extra points on the gaokao college entrance exam, and local governments often reserve a certain ratio of positions for non-Han applicants.

Some question if these policies go too far and constitute discrimination against Han people. There have been protests every year by parents of high-school students against what they say is an unfair situation, especially the fact that certain minority-only high-schools have more college places reserved for their graduates than there are for students from other schools.

There have also been complaints online about conflicts involving both Muslims and non-Muslims, in which people claim that the police and courts give preferential treatment to Muslims for the sake of ethnic unity. The Muslim community is more able to mobilize itself to defend its interests, some claim.

Marshall Ma, a Hui Muslim living in Xi’an, Northwest China’s Shaanxi Province, said his family has been living in Xi’an for more than five generations and are assimilated into the local culture. He thinks the extreme Islamophobic comments exist because these issues are blown out of proportion online to create division between Muslims and non-Muslims.

He has encountered online violence against Muslims before, at first he argued with the commenters, but gradually he’s lost the will to do so, seeing he can never convince these people.

“Don’t always talk about how the country has been ‘greenized,'” Marshall Ma said. “Islam has been in China for more than 1,000 years; the Chinese people are used to living with Muslims and the cohesion will continue. Those who claim to be anti-Muslims are only against the thieves, idiots, liars and extremists in the group.”

Source: Global Times

Doklam standoff has fundamentally changed China’s perception of India: expert

India’s attempt to blackmail China into concessions is destined to fail and the Doklam standoff has fundamentally changed how the country is viewed by China, from a friend to a rival, experts interviewed by the Global Times said Tuesday.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said Tuesday that “Our armed forces always proved their mettle in handling both extremism and during war. Even the world acknowledged our power after the surgical strikes. National security is our priority,” the Economic Times reported.

“Modi’s speech shows he wants to divert public attention from domestic problems to foreign affairs, especially security issues. India has a lot of domestic problems, including a horrible incident at a hospital which killed dozens of children, as well as massive protests in several places. He hasn’t been able to effectively deal with these issues, so he might consider that making problems with China will minimize the domestic impact on his administration,” said Hu Zhiyong, a research fellow at the Institute of International Relations of the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences.

“China will not show tolerance toward India, but the timing is very important. From 1959 to 1962, China gave India three years to change its mind,” said Chu Yin, an associate professor at the University of International Relations.

The border frictions in 1959 started when India crossed the Line of Actual Control in South Tibet to support a Tibetan independence rebellion. In October 1962, China pushed back and gained an overwhelming victory against India in just a month.

Chu said the current situation is different from 1962 as the incident is happening in a non-disputed area within Chinese territory, so military measures this time may be touch and go.

“The BRICS Summit will provide a chance for both countries’ top leaders to talk, and it’s very likely this will be the last opportunity for peace,” Chu added.

The upcoming BRICS summit will be held in China’s southeastern coastal city of Xiamen, Fujian Province, in September. It will be an important event in China’s “domestic diplomacy” this year.

A major reason why India refuses to withdraw its troops from Chinese territory is that it believes China has more important issues to deal with this year than border issues, said Ye Hailin, director of the National Institute of International Strategy, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. These include the BRICS summit and the 19th National Congress of the CPC, so India believes China will not punish it in the end.

“So this act of trespass in Doklam is typical ‘blackmail.’ There are some voices in China suggesting that the government should stay calm and avoid using violence, but showing tolerance toward blackmail only reinforces the feeling that it would work again. I believe China’s policymakers understand this perfectly, and that peace or war is a choice for India, not China,” Ye stressed

The only “achievement” that India gets from the Doklam incident so far is that it has successfully changed China’s view of India from that of a friend to a rival. Once China identifies anyone as a rival, its policy toward this country will change fundamentally, Ye said.

Russia not picking sides

In the midst of the evolving security situation in the region, India and Russia will hold mega war games in October, involving their armies, navies and air forces for the first time to further ramp up military ties. The drills will be held in Russia from October 19 to 29 and will focus on achieving coordination between the forces of the two countries in a tri-services integrated theater command scenario, an Indian military source told the Indian Express.

“The joint exercise is a routine military exchange between India and Russia and it was planned much earlier than the Doklam incident, so there is no need to link this to the border standoff between China and India. The Russian government isn’t picking sides on this issue,” Hu said.

Just like Russia, the US also refuses to choose sides between China and India, and I would like to remind Indian politicians, that even in 1962, the US didn’t provide any help to India during the conflict, and the US has a bad track record on betraying allies, especially semi-allies, Ye said.

The 1962 border conflict occurred at the same time as the Cuban missile crisis.

Source: Global Times