Last Week in China (Sep 14-20, 2015)

Trying to keep up with what’s happening in China? Here’s an overview of some of the most important headlines and developments last week!

Politics: US-China Relations

China and the US are preparing for Xi Jinping’s visit to the US this Thursday. After Obama put the option of sanctions against China back on the table, the NYT is reporting that China and the US are working on a cyberwarfare deal to be announced during Xi Jinping’s visit. The US had been complaining about massive cyber attacks originating from China for the past few months.

Earlier this week, China released scholar Guo Yushan 郭玉闪, who had helped Chen Guangchen escape to the US embassy in 2012 and who had been detained (more: South China Morning Post). While Guo is not under house arrest, the release does not mean that the Chinese government has dropped the investigation against him. In another move that is seen as in preparation for the state visit, the US has extradited a key corruption suspect to China (more: Asia Times).

Politics: Asia-Pacific Security

China has condemned Japan’s move to expand the role of its military overseas. Among others, the security bill, which was passed in the Japanese Diet on Saturday (Sep 19) allows Japanese soldiers to be deployed abroad for purposes of “collective self-defense”, i.e. in support of the military operation of an ally such as the United States (more: BBC). Meanwhile, China and the US have had some heated verbal exchanges over the contested Spratly Islands also claimed by the Philippines, where China has been reclaiming land for what US officials fear will become military bases in the South China Sea (more: The Independent).

Media

China Media Capital and Warner Bros. have announced a new joint venture ahead of Xi’s US visit. Its purpose will be to create Chinese-language films for distribution in China and worldwide (more: Businesswire). Meanwhile, Rupert Murdoch, who self-reportedly “hit a brick wall” in China ten years ago is also taking another look at the Chinese media market (more: The Guardian). The Chinese government is clearly interested in cooperation with foreign media in order to be able to shape global China coverage more proactively and create a more positive image. As Xi Jinping put it, China welcomes foreign media “to cover China stories, introducing China’s development to the world, and helping the world grasp the opportunities [afforded by] China’s development.” Transnational media corporations have held a long-standing interest in entering the potentially lucrative China market, but relations between foreign media and the CCP have been notoriously tense as foreign media’s websites are still often blocked and the number of correspondents’ visas rejected has increased.

Culture and Society

The Beijing Municipal government has gone into the car-hailing business with a new app competing against Uber and Didi kuaidi. The move appears at least partially to be aimed at solving the current crisis of licensed taxi drivers who have found themselves out of work and out of prospects as fewer people take traditional taxis in Beijing (more: SCMP).

Taiwan’s North Coast: Baisha Bay 白沙灣

Baisha Bay 白沙灣, a popular beach in New Taipei City’s Shimen District 新北市石門區, can get a bit crowded during the summer, but on a nice winter day, chances are you’ll have it almost to yourself. And it’s beautiful! Don’t confuse it with Baisha Bay in Kenting 墾丁 on the southern tip of Taiwan though. I’ll cover that beach in a different post.

If you’re based in Taipei, Baisha Bay is a great and easy get-away for the weekend or a day off. There is a bus, no. 862, which runs the full coastal tour from Tamsui 淡水 at the end of Taipei MRT’s red line to Keelung and which stops at various landmarks. The 862 runs every hour during the week and every half hour on the weekends, but if you don’t want to go all the way to Keelung, you can also take some of the other buses (863, 865, 867, etc.) which stop at Baisha Bay. It’s easiest to pay with your Easycard 悠游卡 if you have one. You’ll have to swipe it twice, when getting on and when getting off the bus.

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Baisha Bay in late February 2015: A few people were surfing or simply enjoying the great weather at Baisha Bay. Still, it wasn’t very busy at all.

10411102_10205594915259469_3910524579205121117_nShallow waves and clear water at Baisha Bay

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Directions on the coastal trail near Baisha Bay showing the way to various landmarks

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Along the coastal trail, you can see “windkanter”, volcanic rocks shaped by wind and sand.

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I didn’t see any snakes, but it’s probably a wise decision not to wander off into the thicket…

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The coastal trail is lined with beautiful trees.

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Finally, at the end of this part of the coastal trail, you reach a small harbor.

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From there, you can continue on to Qianshui Bay on the bike trail.

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This part of the coastline is famous for its coral reefs.

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Eventually, a tidal creek on the beach cut off my way. Even though you can’t see this in the picture, the creek was already a meter deep and with a fairly strong current, so I turned around and walked back.

All in all, I think it took me a bit over two hours to walk the trail from Baisha Bay to the coral reefs and back. Highly recommended!