Communists tear down "Pillar of Shame"
The China Letter: December 30, 2021
For the final 2021 edition of The China Letter, here’s a rundown of the stories making news in late December: Hong Kong is losing its pro-democracy memorials, Beijing Olympic drama keeps building, a microchip maker is sorry, new war games surrounding Saudi Arabia, and a famous live-streamer gets a big bill. More to come in 2022! Spread the word!
Forever June Fourth
“Of course, I could repair everything, but maybe it would be nice to have some damage on it,” said Danish sculptor Jens Galschiot about the University of Hong Kong dismantling and removing his “Pillar of Shame.” Two additional statues marking the Tiananmen Square massacre were torn down as part of new security law crackdowns.
New social distancing
The latest country to join the protest of the 2022 Beijing Olympics is Japan. But the government stopped short of calling the decision to not send officials a diplomatic boycott as other countries have, due to the economic ties between them. Meanwhile, the Games have a domestic challenge for China—in the form of persistent winter smog.
The northeastern city of Xi’an has 13 million residents confined to their homes—with only one resident per household allowed to leave to buy necessities every three days—to stamp out coronavirus infections. While located about 900 kilometres (or 560 miles) from the Olympic venues, the outbreak led to local officials being punished.
Inside regret by Intel
The statement issued by Intel about not using labour or goods from the Xianjang region was deleted from its corporate website. Threats of a Chinese boycott of the American microchip maker apparently led it to explain the statement as a compliance with U.S. law, but the state media Global Times implied future reprisals for the firm.
Kingdom coming closer
Saudi Arabia has been actively manufacturing its own ballistic missiles with the help of China, according to sources that include U.S. intelligence assessments and satellite images of a “burn pit.” Beijing says the Saudis are established as comprehensive strategic partners, but the revelation suggest new challenges ahead for Washington.
Streaming in big debt
The largest penalty ever imposed on a Chinese live-streamer is the 1.34 billion yuan ($210 million U.S.) that Viya has been ordered to pay due to tax evasion, accompanied by the suspension of her account. But she publicly promised to raise the funds to pay it off. Viya gained international attention for her ability to sell pretty much anything through social media.
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