1. Ah shoot, here we go again
2. Please turn off your appliances when not in use
Power rationing isn’t new for industrial players in China, but now it’s expanding to residential power.
In recent days, people across northeastern China have been affected by blackouts and power rationing.
That’s making life tough for residents:
- A pregnant woman in Liaoning province had to climb 24 flights of stairs to reach her apartment.
- Blackouts caused traffic jams in Shenyang city when traffic lights stopped working.
And things won’t get easier for a while:
- Liaoning authorities implemented power rationing to limit electricity demand, and asked residents to turn off home appliances when not being used.
- Officials in Jilin province restricted power use in several cities.
- Residents in parts of Heilongjiang province received schedules of upcoming power outages.
There are no easy solutions for the power shortages plaguing the northeast.
- Insufficient fuel supplies are driving up fuel prices.
- That’s forced some generators to produce power at a net loss. Some have stopped producing power altogether and got on with maintenance and repairs instead.
Get smart: The next logical step is for Beijing to step in more aggressively to contain fuel prices, which they’ve long attempted.
- So this is far from a solid solution.
Get smarter: The situation will only worsen over the coming winter months, as electricity and heating demand rise.
3. A late boat to China
Never let (the end of) a crisis go to waste.
On Friday, Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou was released from Canadian custody after nearly three years.
Some context: Meng was arrested by Canadian authorities in December 2018 at the behest of the US Justice Department, which sought her extradition for allegedly violating US sanctions on Iran.
More context: China subsequently detained Canadian nationals Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor in retaliation, sparking a major political standoff between Beijing and Ottawa.
This week, Meng struck a deal with the US Justice Department whereby she admitted violating US sanctions but did not enter a guilty plea and was subsequently released from custody, and flown home.
- Within hours, China released Kovrig and Spavor.
In China, Meng is being hailed as a national hero, who escaped the clutches of a politically motivated hitjob.
Here’s foreign ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying (MoFA):
- “[Meng’s detention was] an incident of political persecution against a Chinese citizen, an act designed to hobble Chinese high-tech companies.”
Get smart: The triumphalist coverage of Meng’s return glosses over her admission of wrongdoing and avoids mentioning the two Michaels.
- Beijing wants to spin the story as a total victory for China.
Get smarter: We suspect there was some major back-channeling ahead of Meng’s release.
- It’s likely the deal was set up by the US to spring Canada from its predicament, and throw China a bilateral bone.
4. Festivity fact check
Time to get into the (correct) festive spirit.
On Sunday, the Central Propaganda Department (CPD) published a “declaration” outlining China’s successes under the loving hand of the Party.
One awesome trifecta: The declaration explains why the Party’s leadership makes sense – in three distinct ways.
- “Our Party has won the choice of history with struggle, sacrifice, and achievements.”
- “This is the historical logic of adhering to the Party’s leadership.”
- “With our sincerity, blood and hard work, our vanguard and exemplary role, and our flesh and blood ties with the people – our Party has led the people to create a happy life.”
- “This is the theoretical logic of adhering to the Party’s leadership.”
- “Historical practice has constantly proved that our Party is the most reliable backbone and anchoring star of the Chinese people when a storm strikes.”
- “The Party can overcome all kinds of difficulties and obstacles and deal with all kinds of risks and challenges.”
- “This is the practical logic of adhering to the Party’s leadership.”
The (only slightly paraphrased) conclusion: The Party rocks.
Get smart: With the weeklong National Day Holiday kicking off on Friday, the CPD wants to remind everybody just what they’re celebrating, and who to thank.
5. A force for good
On Sunday, Vice Premier Liu He addressed the 2021 World Internet Conference Wuzhen Summit via videolink.
Some context: The old river town Wuzhen hosts this annual gathering to promote China’s approach to internet governance.
Liu’s speech had plenty of good words for internet technology (Xinhua):
- “The internet is now catapulted onto a new stage, with comprehensive diffusion and cross-field integration, while digital technology continuously creates new models of business, providing opportunities to countries around the globe.”
- “Digital technology deeply transforms the production function.”
Our translation: Technology is important for improving productivity.
But he reminded everybody that technology must be a force for good.
- Liu called for joint efforts to uphold the safety and reliability of digital infrastructure, crack down on illegal activities online, earnestly protect fair competition, and promote innovation.
He then once again expressed support for private companies:
- “The country will support the development of the private sector, innovation, and entrepreneurs.”
Get smart: Liu He sounds like a broken record these days on that last point.
The upshot: Internet companies will need to help transform traditional sectors, and drive productivity gains, in order to get government support.