• why Xi is cracking down on video gaming and private tutors
    Personal Tutoring

    why Xi is cracking down on video gaming and private tutors

    The additional lessons Wang Gang bought to help his only child prepare for China’s rigorous university exam, or gaokao, were not cheap. In addition to group courses from a private education company, he also paid Rmb6,000 (€790) for his daughter to take one-on-one maths and physics sessions with a retired teacher over the month-long winter school break.

    “We are just an ordinary family but we cannot have any regrets when it comes to our daughter’s education,” says Wang, who lives in Baoding, an industrial centre in central Hebei province. “Every point counts in the gaokao. It’s just too important. It will basically decide her life and career.”

    Late last month, however, the Chinese government declared that parents like Wang were piling too much work on their children. In a shock decree that rocked the country’s stock markets and the share prices of Chinese education companies listed in New York, President Xi Jinping’s administration announced strict new curbs on tutoring companies that drastically reshape an industry worth more than €80 billion a year in sales.

    Last week it appeared that Xi’s nanny state was targeting another lucrative industry – video gaming, which China’s president has previously criticised for increasing “the incidence of myopia among students”.

    On Tuesday last a state newspaper published a commentary that criticised online video games as “spiritual opium”. The term is a particularly loaded one for the Chinese Communist party, whose history emphasises the “century of humiliation” that began with China’s defeat by the British empire in the first Opium war of 1839-42 and ended with the party’s revolutionary victory in 1949.

    Even in the absence of any new regulations like those targeting education companies a week earlier, shares in Tencent, China’s largest online gaming provider, fell almost 11 per cent.

    The tutoring and video game controversies provide a window on to the mounting stresses and strains of middle-class life in China’s big cities. To outsiders, the world’s second largest economy can often seem relentless, immune to even the worst pandemic in a century and notching persistently large increases in consumer spending as prosperity spreads rapidly across society.

    But for many residents of its larger cities, their lives have become riddled with anxieties that belie the broader sense of progress – from seemingly unattainable home prices to the hothouse pressure of securing the best education for their children and coveted places at leading universities.

    Ambitious parent

    And in the background there is the fear that nags at almost every ambitious parent – the possibility that their children will grow tired of the race and seek refuge in the world of video games and the internet, which Xi has railed against for harbouring so many “dirty things”.

    Rattled by parental angst, the party’s response has been to adopt the tactics of a nanny state, potentially reversing elements of the compact it has established with urban residents over the past four decades to steadily reduce its interference in their private lives.

    “It is parents’ anxiety that is driving the proliferation of after-school tutoring,” says Christina Zhu, an economist at Moody’s Analytics in Singapore. “That anxiety stems from uneven school quality, intense competition and possibly even a lack of confidence in the social security system.”

    At stake, Xi appears to believe, is the party’s ability to maintain unchallenged political control, which ultimately depends on its capacity to meet what the president has termed “the people’s demand for a happier life”.

    In 2011, when he was still vice-president, Xi told his then US counterpart, Joe Biden, that the Arab spring that was rolling across north Africa and the Middle East had erupted because governments had lost touch with their people, according to two American diplomats familiar with the exchange.

    At the 18th party congress in November 2012 that marked the beginning of his first term in power, Xi acknowledged the people’s aspirations for “better education, more stable jobs, higher incomes, more reliable social security and higher standard healthcare, more comfortable living conditions and a cleaner environment”.

    Xi and the party have now demonstrated that in order to deliver they are willing to upend entire industries and intrude into deeply personal aspects of people’s lives, such as how to educate and raise their children. Shortly after Xi criticised video games in 2018 for harming kids’ eyesight, the education ministry recommended that children should have no more than one hour of non-educational screen time each day.

    “Xi has made it clear that he intends every policy area to be subject to the leadership of the party,” says Steve Tsang, director of the Soas China Institute in London.

    Investors

    Over recent weeks Xi’s administration has demonstrated that it is not too concerned about the collateral damage investors may suffer as the party extends its reach into new areas.

    “Beijing will not hesitate to completely overhaul an entire business environment if it deems it politically necessary,” says Chen Long at Plenum, a Beijing-based consultancy. “All sectors related to providing public goods traditionally viewed as not-for-profit will face greater risks.”

    Xi had foreshadowed the move against China’s booming tutoring industry in March when he told a group of educators that the sector was “a stubborn disease that is difficult to manage”.

    “Parents want their children to be physically and mentally healthy and have happy childhoods,” the president added. “On the other hand, they are afraid their children will lose before they even reach the starting line…This problem must be solved. Education should not be too focused on scores.”

    Ironically, says Zhu at Moody’s, some of the biggest economic victims of Xi’s crackdown on education will be recent university graduates, whose average monthly salary last year was just Rmb5,290 (€700), according to Zhilian Zhaopin, a Chinese online hiring platform.

    “The private tutoring sector provides millions of jobs,” she says. “The entire education sector accounted for 17 per cent of employment for recent graduates in 2020, the highest among all industries.”

    For most recent graduates, buying a flat in China’s most desirable cities is out of the question. According to EJ Real Estate, a property research institute, last year the average annual home price to income ratio was 40 in Shenzhen, the high-tech hub bordering Hong Kong, 26 in Shanghai and 24 in Beijing.

    Cities with ratios of 10 or lower are generally experiencing population outflows and offer little in the way of attractive employment opportunities.

    Lianjia Beike, a housing agency, estimates that new graduates now spend more than 40 per cent of their income on rent.

    Lie flat

    In addition to worrying that some children are doing too much as they prepare for the looming pressures of Chinese urban life, officials and parents also fret about an entirely different phenomenon whereby young people react to mounting social stresses by choosing to tang ping – or lie flat– and withdraw from the world.

    Another concept that has caught on this year in China is “involution”, an anthropological term used to describe a process by which some societies fail to realise their maximum economic potential. In Chinese the term is translated as nei juan, meaning to curl or turn inwards.

    Che Rui, a Beijing parent, signed his daughter up for supplemental Chinese maths and English classes offered by some of the country’s largest tutoring firms a few years ago, as she moved from kindergarten to elementary school. He welcomes the government’s crackdown on the sector – but also still worries about how to keep his daughter active and motivated outside school.

    “The tutoring companies were deliberately creating anxiety,” says Che, who noted that education providers were continuing to bombard him with sales messages even after the government’s broadside against the industry last month. “All discounts and benefits will expire at midnight,” one sales agent warned him over WeChat, the messaging app, if he didn’t rush to sign his daughter up for additional course offerings. “I hope you don’t regret it.”

    Che says he is considering signing up his daughter for swimming, music and other recreational lessons, which are still officially encouraged by the government. “I don’t want her to turn inward,” he adds.

    Many analysts and parents, however, believe that Xi is addressing the symptoms rather than the disease – the gaokao system itself.

    Wang, the father who arranged winter-break cram sessions for his teenage daughter in Baoding, says that “even if there had been a ban, I would still have gone around it by hiring a private tutor”.

    The Rmb6,000 he spent on a private tutor during that brief period is equivalent to about 40 per cent of his household’s monthly income, and almost one-quarter of the city’s average annual per capita disposable income of Rmb25,200.

    “If you don’t let your child study on holidays, other parents with more resources will and your child will be left behind. Imposing a simple solution on a complex problem doesn’t work,” he adds. “It just shuts the door for ordinary families.”

    Anxiety

    Another much wealthier Chinese father, who has two teenage children and asked not to be named, says “some parents may cheer the crackdown, but the problem lies with the gaokao and the university entrance system”.

    “The anxiety is not going away because it’s not like you’re not in the race any more,” says the father, who went to university in the US and is also educating his children outside China. “Are you rich enough and have connections to do one-on-one tutoring? Online education was the starting point for average people. Their anxiety will come back very soon unless the government completely reforms the education system.

    “Look at South Korea, Japan and Taiwan, ” he adds. “When is tutoring ever going to go away in Asian cultures?” – Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2021

  • China’s nanny state: why Xi is cracking down on gaming and private tutors
    Personal Tutoring

    China’s nanny state: why Xi is cracking down on gaming and private tutors

    The additional lessons Wang Gang bought to help his only child prepare for China’s rigorous university exam, or gaokao, were not cheap. In addition to group courses from a private education company, he also paid Rmb6,000 ($927) for his daughter to take one-on-one maths and physics sessions with a retired teacher over the month-long winter school break.

    “We are just an ordinary family but we cannot have any regrets when it comes to our daughter’s education,” says Wang, who lives in Baoding, an industrial centre in central Hebei province. “Every point counts in the gaokao. It’s just too important. It will basically decide her life and career.”

    Late last month, however, the Chinese government declared that parents like Wang were piling too much work on their children. In a shock decree that rocked the country’s stock markets and the share prices of Chinese education companies listed in New York, President Xi Jinping’s administration announced strict new curbs on tutoring companies that drastically reshape an industry worth more than $100bn a year in sales.

    The tutoring business in numbers

    16.6%

    Percentage of all educational expenses that is spent on tutoring by families in rural areas, according to a 2017 Peking University study

    44.2%

    Percentage of all educational expenses that is spent on tutors in China’s first-tier cities, according to the same study

    30%

    Average annual growth of the private tutoring market in 2017-19, reaching a total of Rmb800bn in sales

    This week it appeared that Xi’s nanny state was targeting another lucrative industry — video gaming, which China’s president has previously criticised for increasing “the incidence of myopia among students”.

    On Tuesday a state newspaper published a commentary that criticised online video games as “spiritual opium”. The term is a particularly loaded one for the Chinese Communist party, whose history emphasises the “century of humiliation” that began with China’s defeat by the British empire in the first Opium war of 1839-42 and ended with the party’s revolutionary victory in 1949. Even in the absence of any new regulations like those targeting education companies a week earlier, shares in Tencent, China’s largest online gaming provider, fell almost 11 per cent.

    The tutoring and video game controversies provide a window on to the mounting stresses and strains of middle-class life in China’s big cities. To outsiders, the world’s second-largest economy can often seem relentless, immune to even the worst pandemic in a century and notching persistently large increases in consumer spending as prosperity spreads rapidly across society.

    But for many residents of its larger cities, their lives have become riddled with anxieties that belie the broader sense of progress — from seemingly unattainable home prices to the hothouse pressure of securing the best education for their children and coveted places at leading universities.

    At stake in Xi Jinping’s crackdown, the president appears to believe, is the party’s ability to maintain unchallenged political control, which ultimately depends on its capacity to meet what the has termed ‘the people’s demand for a happier life’
    At stake in Xi Jinping’s crackdown, the president appears to believe, is the party’s ability to maintain unchallenged political control, which ultimately depends on its capacity to meet what the has termed ‘the people’s demand for a happier life’ © Naohiko Hatta/Getty Images

    And in the background there is the fear that nags at almost every ambitious parent — the possibility that their kids will grow tired of the race and seek refuge in the world of video games and the internet, which Xi has railed against for harbouring so many “dirty things”. 

    Rattled by parental angst, the party’s response has been to adopt the tactics of a nanny state, potentially reversing elements of the compact it has established with urban residents over the past four decades to steadily reduce its interference in their private lives.

    “It is parents’ anxiety that is driving the proliferation of after-school tutoring,” says Christina Zhu, an economist at Moody’s Analytics in Singapore. “That anxiety stems from uneven school quality, intense competition and possibly even a lack of confidence in the social security system.”

    At stake, Xi appears to believe, is the party’s ability to maintain unchallenged political control, which ultimately depends on its capacity to meet what the president has termed “the people’s demand for a happier life”.

    The property squeeze in numbers

    Apartment blocks in Shenzhen

    24

    Average annual home price to income ratio in Beijing. In the tech hub of Shenzhen it is 40; in Shanghai it is 26

    40%

    Percentage of salary that new graduates are paying in rent, according to China’s largest housing agency

    4.7%

    Average annual increase in price of new homes in China’s 70 biggest cities in June. In May it was 0.5%

    In 2011, when he was still vice-president, Xi told his then US counterpart, Joe Biden, that the Arab spring that was rolling across north Africa and the Middle East had erupted because governments had lost touch with their people, according to two American diplomats familiar with the exchange.

    At the 18th party congress in November 2012 that marked the beginning of his first term in power, Xi acknowledged the people’s aspirations for “better education, more stable jobs, higher incomes, more reliable social security and higher standard healthcare, more comfortable living conditions and a cleaner environment”.

    Xi and the party have now demonstrated that in order to deliver, they are willing to upend entire industries and intrude into deeply personal aspects of people’s lives, such as how to educate and raise their children. Shortly after Xi criticised video games in 2018 for harming kids’ eyesight, the education ministry recommended that children should have no more than one hour of non-educational screen time each day.

    “Xi has made it clear that he intends every policy area to be subject to the leadership of the party,” says Steve Tsang, director of the Soas China Institute in London.

    Students leave a private after-school class in Beijing. Private tutoring is a $100bn-a-year industry in China
    Students leave a private after-school class in Beijing. Private tutoring is a $100bn-a-year industry in China © Noel Celis/AFP via Getty Images

    ‘A stubborn disease’

    Over recent weeks, Xi’s administration has demonstrated that it is not too concerned about the collateral damage investors may suffer as the party extends its reach into new areas. “Beijing will not hesitate to completely overhaul an entire business environment if it deems it politically necessary,” says Chen Long at Plenum, a Beijing-based consultancy. “All sectors related to providing public goods traditionally viewed as not-for-profit will face greater risks.”

    Xi had foreshadowed the move against China’s booming tutoring industry in March when he told a group of educators that the sector was “a stubborn disease that is difficult to manage”. “Parents want their children to be physically and mentally healthy and have happy childhoods,” the president added. “On the other hand, they are afraid their children will lose before they even reach the starting line . . . This problem must be solved. Education should not be too focused on scores.”

    Ironically, says Zhu at Moody’s, some of the biggest economic victims of Xi’s crackdown on education will be recent university graduates, whose average monthly salary last year was just Rmb5,290, according to Zhilian Zhaopin, a Chinese online hiring platform. “The private tutoring sector provides millions of jobs,” she says. “The entire education sector accounted for 17 per cent of employment for recent graduates in 2020, the highest among all industries.”

    For most recent graduates, buying a flat in China’s most desirable cities is out of the question. According to EJ Real Estate, a property research institute, last year the average annual home price to income ratio was 40 in Shenzhen, the high-tech hub bordering Hong Kong, 26 in Shanghai and 24 in Beijing. Cities with ratios of 10 or lower are generally experiencing population outflows and offer little in the way of attractive employment opportunities.

    People play computer games at an internet café in Fuyang. President Xi Jinping is targeting the video gaming industry, which he has criticised for increasing ‘the incidence of myopia among students’
    People play computer games at an internet café in Fuyang. President Xi Jinping is targeting the video gaming industry, which he has criticised for increasing ‘the incidence of myopia among students’ © Lu Qijian/VCG/Getty Images

    Lianjia Beike, a housing agency, estimates that new graduates now spend more than 40 per cent of their income on rent.

    In addition to worrying that some children are doing too much as they prepare for the looming pressures of Chinese urban life, officials and parents also fret about an entirely different phenomenon whereby young people react to mounting social stresses by choosing to tang ping — or lie flat — and withdraw from the world.

    Another concept that has caught on this year in China is “involution”, an anthropological term used to describe a process by which some societies fail to realise their maximum economic potential. In Chinese the term is translated as nei juan, meaning to curl or turn inwards.

    Che Rui, a Beijing parent, signed his daughter up for supplemental Chinese, maths and English classes offered by some of the country’s largest tutoring companies a few years ago, as she moved from kindergarten to elementary school. He welcomes the government’s crackdown on the sector — but also worries about how to keep his daughter active and motivated outside school.

    “The tutoring companies were deliberately creating anxiety,” says Che, who noted that education providers were continuing to bombard him with sales messages even after the government’s broadside against the industry last month. “All discounts and benefits will expire at midnight,” one sales agent warned him over WeChat, the messaging app, if he didn’t rush to sign his daughter up for additional course offerings. “I hope you don’t regret it.”

    Pedestrians walk past apartment buildings in Beijing. Private tutoring is a large employer of recent graduates, who are estimated to spend more than 40% of their income on rent and for whom buying a flat in China’s most desirable cities is out of the question
    Pedestrians walk past apartment buildings in Beijing. Private tutoring is a large employer of recent graduates, who are estimated to spend more than 40% of their income on rent and for whom buying a flat in China’s most desirable cities is out of the question © Qilai Shen/Bloomberg

    Che says he is considering signing up his daughter for swimming, music and other recreational lessons, which are still officially encouraged by the government. “I don’t want her to turn inward,” he adds.

    University anxiety

    Many analysts and parents, however, believe that Xi is addressing the symptoms rather than the disease — the gaokao system itself.

    Wang, the father who arranged winter-break cram sessions for his teenage daughter in Baoding, says that “even if there had been a ban, I would still have gone around it by hiring a private tutor”. The Rmb6,000 he spent on a private tutor during that brief period is equivalent to about 40 per cent of his household’s monthly income, and almost one-quarter of the city’s average annual per capita disposable income of Rmb25,200.

    “If you don’t let your child study on holidays, other parents with more resources will and your child will be left behind. Imposing a simple solution on a complex problem doesn’t work,” he adds. “It just shuts the door for ordinary families.”

    Another much wealthier Chinese father, who has two teenage children and asked not to be named, says “some parents may cheer the crackdown, but the problem lies with the gaokao and the university entrance system”.

    “The anxiety is not going away because it’s not like you’re not in the race any more,” says the father, who went to university in the US and is also educating his children outside China. “Are you rich enough and have connections to do one-on-one tutoring? Online education was the starting point for average people. Their anxiety will come back very soon unless the government completely reforms the education system.

    “Look at South Korea, Japan and Taiwan,” he adds. “When is tutoring ever going to go away in Asian cultures?”

    Additional reporting by Xinning Liu, Xueqiao Wang and Edward White

  • Why China Is Cracking Down on Private Tutoring
    Personal Tutoring

    Why China Is Cracking Down on Private Tutoring

    Welcome to Foreign Policy’s China Brief.

    The highlights this week: Chinese regulators upend the $120 billion private education industry with new measures, Beijing issues an itemized list of grievances to U.S. diplomats, and a COVID-19 outbreak in Nanjing raises concerns over the delta variant.

    If you would like to receive China Brief in your inbox every Wednesday, please sign up here.


    Beijing’s War on Private Education

    The Chinese government has issued stringent new regulations for the private education industry. The rules include requiring tutoring and education services firms to convert to nonprofit status, banning core-curriculum tutoring—aimed at passing exams—during weekends and vacations, and forbidding foreign curricula or hiring foreigners outside of China to teach remotely.

    The regulatory moves, hinted at for months, have hammered stock prices in the $120 billion sector. New Oriental, a firm that dominates English-language learning, plunged from a high of $19.68 on the New York Stock Exchange in February to a low of $2.18 last Friday. Firms such as VIPKid, whose entire business model was built around offering relatively cheap access to Western teachers via digital learning, now have little choice but a desperate pivot.

    It’s tempting to relate the regulations of private education to Beijing’s war on technology companies and monopolies—and regulators are certainly empowered by the government push against private business. But these new measures also reflect a widespread belief in China that the private tutoring sector has bad effects for urban upper-middle-class parents and children, both in costs for the parents and the psychological impact on children.

    In China, education hinges on the gaokao, the all-important college entrance examination. Chinese parents can spend thousands of dollars a year on private tutoring just to keep their kids competitive; the stresses of parenthood were even turned into a hit video game. It’s important to remember that these costs were relegated to a relatively privileged stratum. Three in four Chinese children grow up in rural areas where the average annual disposable income is around $2,635 and access to education is severely limited.

    The average government official is also a member of the upper-middle class and has experienced the effects of the education race on their own families and children. That’s likely why the measures, while limiting curriculum cramming, try to encourage hobbies and cultural interests after school. Unlike in the United States, where extracurriculars are a key part of college admissions, they play little role in the gaokao system.

    If the new regulations work to lessen the cost burden on parents and the strain on children, the government hopes it can reverse demographic decline. The price of raising children in China is a powerful factor restricting family size, even after the government increased family-planning limits. Authorities are concerned not only about growth but also about so-called population quality—they want well-off families, not the rural poor, to have more children.

    The measures are also part of growing xenophobia in China. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) spends a lot of time worrying about ideological education. Measures restricting the study of U.S. and world history, for example, were put in place years ago. As the CCP sees it, banning foreign curricula and foreign teachers could prevent the creeping influence of foreign ideas and discourage Chinese students from applying to overseas universities.

    The regulations are not going to stop the very rich, who often have Ivy League ambitions for their children, from seeking out foreign tutoring anyway through discreet personal contacts and U.S. bank accounts. At the high end, the going price for one-on-one tutoring is already $200 an hour, and it may go up after these measures.

    The question is whether the same market will emerge for private tutoring for the middle classes—driving up the necessary cost to stay in the race rather than reducing it. South Korea offers a relevant lesson: The dictator Chun Doo-hwan banned private teaching in 1980, but by the time the sector was relegalized in 1991, it was bigger than ever. A second South Korean attempt to crack down on high-cost private education, started in 2011, has had only limited success.


    China’s itemized list of grievances. During a contentious visit by U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman to Tianjin, China, on Monday, Beijing presented two sets of grievances with Washington. The first consisted of demands that the United States halt its sanctions programs, restrictions on CCP officials, and visa restrictions on Chinese students with military or state ties, and that it drop its extradition charge against Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou. The second list raised concerns about the targeting of Chinese businesses and anti-Asian racism.

    Past presentations of similar grievances with Western countries have not gone well for China. A 14-point list given to Australia last September attracted widespread mockery and anger in the Australian media and hardened attitudes toward Beijing among government officials.

    Cooler heads presumably understand the list is likely to produce a similar reaction from the U.S. government. But this kind of denunciation has been part of communist diplomacy since Soviet era. As Chinese President Xi Jinping’s rule deepens and the break with the West becomes more ingrained, it makes political sense within China even if it creates a diplomatic headache.


    Rescue workers cross a flooded street following heavy rain that claimed the lives of at least 33 people in Zhengzhou, China, on July 23.

    Rescue workers cross a flooded street following heavy rain that claimed the lives of at least 33 people in Zhengzhou, China, on July 23.NOEL CELIS/AFP via Getty Images

    Flooding fallout. Xenophobia also resonates on the ground in China, as shown recently when foreign reporters attempting to cover the devastating floods in Zhengzhou faced angry mobs whipped up by local officials. The death toll in Zhengzhou, now at 71 and likely to rise, seems to have resulted in part from local businesses and public institutions ignoring flood warnings to keep staff at home. Chinese labor law is strict about working conditions and danger to workers in theory. In practice, it’s rarely enforced.

    Delta variant outbreak. A major COVID-19 outbreak—by Chinese standards—in Nanjing is causing worries due to the rapid spread of the delta variant and the possibility that the city’s airport became a transmission zone. Citywide testing and isolation, a well-established routine in China, will probably contain the outbreak. But concerns about the delta variant are likely to constrain a domestic tourism sector that was slowly recovering.

    Dissident entrepreneur sentenced. Sun Dawu, an agricultural entrepreneur and multimillionaire who became an outspoken critic of CCP policy, was sentenced to 18 years in prison on Wednesday. The sentence is identical that given to Ren Zhiqiang, a retired tycoon who criticized Xi, last year. Sun was a popular figure known for his local philanthropy; he had a sharp eye for the impact of policy on ordinary people, especially farmers.

    Targeting dissident businesspeople is a boon for officials: Not only do they remove a potential political threat, but the individual’s financial assets can also be divvied up as rewards for the faithful. Sun’s son hinted at that, saying that an official had recommended several unrelated businesses to take over the Dawu Group.


    Evergrande in danger. The Chinese real estate giant Evergrande, whose shaky prospects and massive debts have been a serious concern for months, saw its stock fall by 13.4 percent on Tuesday after the board reversed course on a special dividend announced two weeks ago. Evergrande was the most valuable real estate company in the world in 2018, but its fortune was built atop a mountain of liabilities.

    Beijing seems determined to keep it propped up for the moment, fearing that it could turn into Chinese real estate’s Lehman Brothers, with failure prompting a chain of collapse through a debt-laden industry that has been the one of the main drivers of economic growth in China.

    Stock market panic. The Golden Dragon index, which tracks Chinese technology stocks, has fallen by 15 percent in the last couple of days amid the introduction of private education regulations and fears of further action against tech firms. Chinese stocks are now the worst-performing in Asia.

    It seems like Beijing may have finally crossed the red line for analysts such as economist Stephen Roach, a self-described “congenital optimist” on China who warned this week of “disturbing actions” and the start of a cold war. “China is going after the core of its new entrepreneurial driven economy, and it’s going after their business models,” he said.

    Beijing seems spooked by the reaction: The China Securities Regulatory Commission convened an emergency meeting on Wednesday in an attempt to reassure investment banks. As I argued recently, Western financial analysts have underestimated Chinese political risk for years. If that’s snapped, it means the loss of a major pro-China engagement faction in U.S. politics.

    Huawei lobbying. The Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei, which has faced a barrage of restrictions in the West in the last few years, is attempting a concerted lobbying campaign in Washington, hoping that the Biden administration will prove receptive. That seems extremely unlikely: President Joe Biden’s team has continued most Trump-era restrictions, and technology remains at the forefront of the U.S.-China confrontation.

    Nevertheless, the firm has recently hired a cluster of new lobbyists, including the once-influential Democratic figure Tony Podesta, whose lobbying group was dissolved in late 2017 after getting caught up in the investigation into the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia.


    “China Is Using Tibetans as Agents of Empire in the Himalayas,” by Robert Barnett, Foreign Policy

    This investigation into the nearly 250,000 Tibetans coerced into new border fortress-villages in the Himalayas follows on FP’s earlier revelation of Chinese annexations in Northern Bhutan. Tibetans, unlike Uyghurs, are seen as useful to the Chinese state rather than an obstacle to Himalayan expansionism. Their historical cross-border ties and cultural adaptation to mountain life make them ideal agents of empire—at the cost of their own choices and lives, as Barnett details.