Get ready for a really surreal Olympics
The China Letter: January 25, 2022
We’ve got a full deck of China stories this week, starting with the latest related to the Olympics, which begin February 4 after the Chinese New Year. Also, stories about the coronavirus blame game turning to Canada—and hamsters in Hong Kong. Plus, the latest political showdowns and a backlash against a toy promotion from KFC.
Looking inside this app
An analysis of the app that all attendees of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing are being mandated to use was found to have multiple cybersecurity flaws. It also includes a censorship keyword list and allows users to report “politically sensitive” content. In response, the Games’ technology director said the main function is to monitor health.
The torch getting burned
A briefing hosted by Human Rights Watch sounded the alarm on how athletes who express critical opinions while in Beijing are unlikely to escape repercussions based on the vague laws of China. Australia’s sports minister is backing the right to speak out. But the International Olympic Committee would rather participants remain apolitical.
Sportscasters stay home
NBC will be covering the news aspects on-site at the Winter Olympics but the sports announcers will be doing their jobs from home. The decision to limit the teams sent to Beijing followed calls to demonstrate condemnation for human rights abuses by China. France’s parliament also newly denounced the treatment of Uyghurs.
Gone postal with Omicron
China claimed that the first Omicron case in the country was transmitted through a piece of mail from Canada, which was promptly debunked as improbable. The tensions between the two countries will be in the air during the Olympics. Also, the Chinese takeover of a Canadian lithium mining company is being debated in Ottawa.
Pandemic hamster dance
Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam warned that pet hamsters were contributing to an exponential growth of COVID-19 cases in one part of the city as Delta cases were tied to one pet shop worker. Thousands of residents were put under lockdown while 77 hamster buyers surrendered their pets, of which only one tested positive for the virus.
Beaming back to Davos
“Common prosperity” policy was defended by Xi Jinping during a virtual address to the World Economic Forum in Davos, which also found China’s president warning against “hegemony and bullying” by other nations. During his own press conference, Joe Biden claimed he’s been privately pressuring Xi to reveal the origins of COVID-19.
D.C.’s battles with Beijing
The son of the U.S. president was found to have invested in a Chinese company with Communist Party ties, as did a former aide to Joe Biden. Recently, the White House has been trying to get America ahead of China in areas like microchip production. Washington has also been suspending flights in retaliation to measures by Beijing.
Free this fried chicken
Kentucky Fried Chicken in China offering one of seven valuable “blind box” figurines made by Pop Mart was initially considered state-media news due to families reportedly needing help to eat all the food they ordered. But the popularity of the promotion promoted a different Chinese media outlet to blast the waste of chicken due to the giveaway.
The China Letter is produced by the Canadian Freedom Institute, a think tank based in Canada. We produce the China Letter every week to keep you informed and to press the ideas of free markets and free people not only in China but around the world. Please consider donating to keep this newsletter running!