If you thought the People’s Daily ‘Xi Jinping Thought’ mind-map wasn’t busy enough, try David Webb’s chart of the relationships surrounding Huarong Asset Management – the ‘bad bank’ that looks like it needs a ‘bad bank’ – plus China Minsheng Bank, the one-time reform-era token-private-sector-bank pinup star. Huarong’s boss is the guy (sorry, one of those many, many guys) found with several tons of cash stuffed away at home and it gets mildew and has to be taken away in trucks.
Unless you’re going to be busy studying for your diploma in ‘Xi Jinping Thought’, I declare the weekend open with the usual round-up of reading.
On Hong Kong matters… An exhibition by cartoonist Badiucao is coming to town. RTHK, perhaps sensing that its days of editorial independence and public-service broadcasting are numbered, does a docudrama on the bookseller abductions. Reuters looks at the rise of police surveillance amid Hong Kong’s political clampdown. And your regular update on Hong Kong’s political prosecutions, with some big/absurd ones on the way, guaranteed to keep the foreign correspondents interested. A US-based analyst proposes that the West impose sanctions on Hong Kong ‘for its own sake’. (Best not try this at home unless you seriously want to play into Beijing’s hands.)
On China affairs… Economics types might like this animated presentation of debt-to-GDP in China and the US since 2001. Watch how, since around 2010, the Chinese policymakers put their foot down on the pedal (middle red bar) yet get less and less GDP growth out of it (top red bar). Politico looks at the US-China trade conflict in the context of this credit-pumping and Xi Jinping’s Leninist impulses.
In the warm-and-cuddly hearts-and-minds department… David Bandursky examines China’s ‘broken porcelain’ diplomacy – a euphemism for what most of us refer to as Panty-Wetting Panda Freak-Out Tantrums. The latest Party Watch Report features David Shambaugh’s introduction to China’s external propaganda and Anne-Marie Brady on the recent development of the system (“the … Belt and Road Initiative is a classic united front activity”). At the sharp end is plucky little New Zealand, which perhaps Beijing sees as small and exposed enough to become a soft-power vassal state. Background here. The ongoing CCP infiltration leads an NZ-Chinese to say: “We deserve better than to be trapped between knee-jerk racists and Xi Jinping Thought. Abandoning us to this fate is racism too.”
On a more cheerful note, the South China Morning Post graphics people produce a vivid visual on the staggering safety of flying. And for pure weekend aesthetics – stunning illustrations from a 1902 Japanese design magazine (if I ever order my own custom wallpaper, this is where I’ll start).