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China

China’s space success is ready to launch — with or without foreign partners

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A Long March-5B Y4 rocket, carrying the Mengtian lab module for China's under-construction space station Tiangong, takes off from Wenchang Spacecraft Launch Site in Hainan province, China, 31 October 31 2022 (Photo: Reuters/China Daily).

Author: Brian Waidelich, CNA

On 25 January 2023, Space News reported that the European Space Agency (ESA) no longer intends to send European astronauts to Tiangong, China’s newly completed space station. The report quoted the ESA Director General Josef Aschbacher saying that the agency was already ‘very busy’ with its International Space Station (ISS) commitments and that it currently lacked both the budgetary and political ‘green light’ to engage with China’s space station.

The Director General’s remarks come several years after the stall of efforts to prepare European astronauts for flights on China’s space station. This had been a major development following decades of cooperation between the two space agencies.

In 2016, a Chinese astronaut participated in an ESA astronaut training course. The next year, two European astronauts carried out sea survival training with their Chinese counterparts. But after 2017, the budding human spaceflight cooperation between the two sides hit a snag.

The assertion that budgetary constraints are holding the ESA back from participating in Tiangong’s mission has its merits. As pointed out by Eric Berger, the senior space editor at Ars Technica, ESA funding is less than one-third of NASA’s. The European agency must be choosier about how it uses its limited resources.

But politics undoubtedly exerted the greatest influence on the ESA’s decision. For years, European countries have been reconsidering the nature of their relations with China amid growing concerns over human rights, technology security and intensifying strategic competition between Washington and Beijing. The pace of those shifting views was quickened following the outbreak of Russia’s war in Ukraine.

China, while claiming to be impartial to the conflict, has consistently issued official statements and media reports with pro-Russian narratives and has expanded its economic ties with Russia amid Western countries’ economic sanctions on Moscow. Although Beijing has not yet provided lethal military aid to Russia, China’s companies have supported Russia with ‘nonlethal assistance,’ according to US officials. And China’s military has participated in large-scale exercises and patrols with Russian armed forces aimed at improving their interoperability and deterrence signalling. At a time when Europe and China are supporting opposite sides of a conflict that has been likened to a superpower proxy war, sending European astronauts to Tiangong would be awkward at best.

The ESA Director General’s remarks, while annoying to Beijing, were almost certainly not unexpected. During a press conference in April 2022, Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin dodged a direct answer when asked whether any foreign astronauts would enter China’s space station. In the vaguely worded reply, the spokesperson said that foreign astronauts are ‘welcome to visit’.

While it is likely an unwelcome development for Beijing, it is highly improbable that the absence of European astronauts on Tiangong will have any notable effect on the space station’s operations or on China’s expansion into space more broadly. China has invested enormous sums into its manned space program since the 1990s. Its reported space budget is second only to the United States. It is seeking to become the world’s pre-eminent space power by mid-century.

Unlike the ISS, China has built and managed Tiangong without depending on other countries for funds or personnel. According to China’s official news agency Xinhua, Chinese space station developers ‘have been adhering to self-reliance and independent innovation’, ‘developed a large number of core technologies’ and achieved complete localisation of ‘key components’.

Even if China’s space station does not host European astronauts any time soon, researchers from Europe and other countries may proceed with plans to use Tiangong as an alternative to the competitive spots for scientific experiments on the ISS.

In 2019, China — in collaboration with the ESA and the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs — selected nine projects from 17 countries to be implemented on Tiangong. Most of these projects were apparently designed to be conducted in space by Chinese astronauts, with ground support from other countries’ researchers. According to China Daily, there had only been requests from several of the 17 countries to send their own astronauts to run these experiments on the space station.

China understands the benefits of space cooperation as…

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Lingang New Area in Shanghai Introduces Whitelists for Data Export to Enhance Cross-Border Data Flows

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The Lingang New Area in Shanghai has introduced trial general data lists to simplify data export procedures for companies in automotive, biopharmaceuticals, and mutual funds sectors. This aims to reduce regulatory burdens and facilitate cross-border data flows, following efforts to improve business environment for foreign companies.


The Lingang New Area in Shanghai has introduced trial general data lists aimed at simplifying data export procedures for companies in the automotive, biopharmaceuticals, and mutual fund sectors. These lists outline specific scenarios where businesses can export data out of China with reduced regulatory burdens, bypassing more stringent compliance requirements.

The Lingang New Area of the Shanghai Pilot Free Trade Zone (FTZ) has released the first batch of trial lists of general data for three sectors, facilitating cross-border data flows for companies operating in the area. This announcement closely follows the release of the Tianjin FTZ’s Negative List, which similarly seeks to facilitate cross-border data flows for companies operating in the FTZ by specifying the types of data that are restricted from being exported without certain approval procedures.

The first batch of general data lists has been provided for the fields of intelligent connected vehicles, biopharmaceuticals, and mutual funds, three sectors with a significant presence in the Lingang New Area. The general data lists are scenario-based, meaning they outline various situations in which data export is required and freely permitted. These include scenarios, such as multinational production and manufacturing of intelligent connected vehicles, medical clinical trials and R&D, and information sharing for fund market research.

The general data lists will be implemented for a trial period of one year from their date of implementation, May 16, 2024.

In January 2024, the Lingang New Area announced a new system for data management and export in the area, which included the release of two data catalogs, one for “important” data and one for “general” data. This new system will help facilitate cross-border data transfer (CBDT) for key sectors in the area by delineating the types of data that are restricted or subject to additional compliance measures to be exported (through the important data lists) and data that can be more easily exported (through the general data lists).

In March, the area released the Measures for the Classification and Graded Management of Data Cross-border Flow in the China (Shanghai) Pilot Free Trade Zone Lingang Special Area (Trial) (the “Lingang CBDT Management Measures”), which outlined the rules and requirements for this new system, including how companies can use the general data lists.

These developments follow many months of efforts by the central Chinese government as well as local authorities to improve the business environment for foreign companies in particular, a core part of which has been resolving headaches surrounding data export.

This article is republished from China Briefing. Read the rest of the original article.

China Briefing is written and produced by Dezan Shira & Associates. The practice assists foreign investors into China and has done since 1992 through offices in Beijing, Tianjin, Dalian, Qingdao, Shanghai, Hangzhou, Ningbo, Suzhou, Guangzhou, Dongguan, Zhongshan, Shenzhen, and Hong Kong. Please contact the firm for assistance in China at china@dezshira.com.

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The New Company Law brings substantial changes with implications for new and existing foreign invested enterprises and stakeholders. Foreign investors must assess if adjustments to existing structures

Despite recent economic challenges, many organizations’ China operations provide unparalleled access to one of the world’s largest and most competitive global supply chains. Over the past 30 years, a significant number of foreign invested enterprises (FIEs) have been established in China. As of the end of 2022, the number of FIEs operating in China had exceeded 1.12 million.

Compared to their domestic counterparts, FIEs demonstrate greater caution regarding legal revisions and are diligent in making swift adjustments. This stems not only from the closer scrutiny FIEs face from regulatory authorities but also from their commitment to compliance and maintaining a competitive edge.

Clearly, there has been a shift in China’s corporate regulations—from merely encouraging an increase in the number of companies to focusing on attracting mature enterprises and higher-quality investments. While the transition from a broad approach to a more refined one may cause short-term challenges, it ultimately benefits the company’s long-term development. By returning to the original intent of setting registered capital, it not only protects the interests of creditors but also shields shareholders from the operational risks of the company.

In China’s foreign investment landscape, while most FIEs exercise commercial prudence in determining registered capital—factoring in capital expenditures, operational costs, and setting aside surplus funds—some opt for higher registered capital levels to avoid future capital increase procedures. This typically involves lengthy document signing and registration changes, lasting 1-2 months.

Joint ventures (JVs) often impose stricter payment deadlines for registered capital in their articles of association to ensure both parties’ simultaneous contributions align with operational needs. Conversely, wholly foreign-owned enterprises (WFOEs) tend to favor flexibility in payment deadlines, often allowing full payment before the company’s operational period expires.

Given these circumstances, despite the generally stronger capital adequacy among foreign companies compared to domestic entities, many FIEs could be affected by the new capital contribution rules.

This article is republished from China Briefing. Read the rest of the original article.

China Briefing is written and produced by Dezan Shira & Associates. The practice assists foreign investors into China and has done since 1992 through offices in Beijing, Tianjin, Dalian, Qingdao, Shanghai, Hangzhou, Ningbo, Suzhou, Guangzhou, Dongguan, Zhongshan, Shenzhen, and Hong Kong. Please contact the firm for assistance in China at china@dezshira.com.

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Foreign Tourist Groups on Cruise Ships Fully Permitted Visa-Free Entry in China

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China will allow visa-free entry for foreign tourist groups arriving by cruise ship at 13 ports along the coast, starting May 15, 2024. Visitors must stay with the same ship and in permitted areas for up to 15 days. This policy aims to boost tourism and facilitate high-quality development in the cruise industry.


China’s immigration agency announced that it will grant a visa-free policy for foreign tourist groups to enter China by cruise at all cruise ports along the coast of China, starting May 15, 2024. The tourist group must remain with the same cruise ship until its next port of call and stay within permitted areas for no more than 15 days.

Effective May 15, 2024, the National Immigration Administration (NIA) has officially implemented a visa-free policy for foreign tourist groups entering China via cruise ships. This progressive move aims to enhance personnel exchanges and foster cooperation between China and other nations, furthering the country’s commitment to high-level openness.

Under this policy, foreign tourist groups, comprising two or more individuals, who travel by cruise ship and are organized by Chinese domestic travel agencies, can now enjoy visa-free entry as a cohesive group at cruise ports in 13 cities along the Chinese coast.

The tourist group must remain with the same cruise ship until its next port of call and stay within China for no more than 15 days. The eligible areas for this policy are coastal provinces (autonomous regions and municipalities) and Beijing.

Furthermore, to support cruise tourism development, seven additional cruise ports—Dalian, Lianyungang, Wenzhou, Zhoushan, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, and Beihai—have been included as applicable ports for visa-free transit.

The recent implementation of the visa-free policy for foreign tourist groups entering China via cruise ships is poised to have several significant effects. The policy will provide crucial support for the cruise economy and the overall cruise industry. By facilitating smoother travel for foreign tourist groups, it acts as a catalyst for high-quality development in this sector.

Additionally, under this policy, international cruise companies can strategically plan their global routes by designating Chinese port cities, such as Shanghai, Xiamen, and Shenzhen, as docking destinations. This move is expected to attract more cruise ships to Chinese ports, ultimately bringing in a larger number of international visitors to the Chinese market.

This article is republished from China Briefing. Read the rest of the original article.

China Briefing is written and produced by Dezan Shira & Associates. The practice assists foreign investors into China and has done since 1992 through offices in Beijing, Tianjin, Dalian, Qingdao, Shanghai, Hangzhou, Ningbo, Suzhou, Guangzhou, Dongguan, Zhongshan, Shenzhen, and Hong Kong. Please contact the firm for assistance in China at china@dezshira.com.

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