China Winners and Losers In 2021 – An Irreverent Examination Of The Past Year

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By Chris Devonshire-Ellis

RCEP / The Pitcairn Islands / SupChina / Gabrielius Landsbergis / Build Back Better World / Volocopter  / Sparks / Chinese Football / The Year Of The Tiger

2021 has been an odd year for China and for China investors, coming along with the battle against Covid, a new US President, and various other happenings both global and regional. There has been amazement and stupidity in apparently equal measures, not to mention plenty of outrageous claims. Here I highlight some of the most important, and downright ridiculous things that happened in 2021.

Best 2021 Deal

RCEP – the world’s first Quadrillion dollar trade deal.

The regional comprehensive economic partnership, which includes all ten ASEAN nations, as well as China, Australia, Japan, South Korea, and New Zealand, was signed off this year and comes into effect on 1st January. It creates a free trade area with a value equivalent to 30% of global GDP and includes 30% of the world’s population. By 2050 it is expected to be responsible for trade figures of $0.5 Quadrillion, or $5,000,000,000,000,000.

More here.

Weirdest 2021 Deal

The CPTPP – accepting the UK as a Pacific nation.

The CPTPP, or Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, which includes Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Singapore, Brunei, Malaysia, and Vietnam as well as Canada, Mexico, Chile, and Peru, agreed to accept a proposal to join the group from the United Kingdom, based on the UK’s ownership of the Pitcairn Islands. The Pitcairn’s have a population of 43 and a GDP of US$148,000. Can they become the new Hong Kong?

More here:

Worst 2021 Deal

A SupChina Coffee Mug. Yours for $10,000.

SupChina, whose investor prospectus valued the company at US$45 million, then advised the business was operating at a loss of about US$7 million and did ‘not anticipate paying any cash dividends after this offering or in the foreseeable future’ did not offer voting rights either, although staff including Jeremy Goldkorn and Anthony Tao were promised a 14.5% salary increase.

Anla Cheng, the CEO, who owns with husband Mark Kingdon a $30 million penthouse in New York and a fund with assets of some $27 million, let alone Kingdon’s five billion dollar hedge fund Kingdon Capital Management, later stated the prospectus had raised over one million dollars. So, what did investors receive in return? Apart from a subscription, investors were promised a coffee mug or a t-shirt. With Cheng alleging (although much of what SupChina says is pretty shonky) over 100 investors had taken up the offer, that’s an average of $10,000 per investor. Those are seriously expensive coffee mugs.

More on their offer investment prospectus here:

2021’s Most Anti-China Politician

Gabrielius Landsbergis, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania, ​who began the year by accusing China of Genocide in Xinjiang, followed that by accusing Beijing of bullying Taiwan, had Lithuania’s diplomatic status downgraded as a result and destroyed his countries China trade. Meanwhile, the Lithuanian military turned back Afghan and Syrian refugees on their border at gunpoint​ and refused restorative funding for Lithuania’s oldest Mosque. Double standards?

More here.

2021’s Worst Belt And Road Initiative Alternative

A lot of media time and political coverage was given to the United States ‘Build Back Better World’ and the EU’s ‘Global Gateway’ with Senior politicians from both making huge statements of intent. One problem – where’s the money coming from? The EU appears to have a vague plan, although much is expected from the Private Sector, while Joe Biden can’t get his bill through Congress. A look at recent US funding plans for Central America meanwhile tells much of the US intentions – to boost exports and prevent migration rather than invest in meaningful infrastructure. A comparison between El Salvador and China’s investments in Laos can be seen here.

Meanwhile, 2021 provided plenty of headlines about the Belt and Road Initiative slowing down and having significant problems. In fact, China’s outbound investment increased.

Analyzing the global media coverage of the BRI through our weekly China’s Belt And Road & Beyond column saw us feature over 2,000 media articles about BRI investments. Of those written by Western media journalists, 87% were negative, and of them, 78% were factually incorrect. Impartial? 😂

Worst 2021 Attempts At China Poetry

If SupChina weren’t bad enough, their culturally spastic China Managing Editor, Anthony Tao (also known for publishing descriptions of people such as ‘dishonest, lying, venial scumbag’, ‘drunk lying dumbshit’ and ‘fat pathetic old fuck’) has been passing himself off as a poet. Here’s an example:

”If you have ever
Thrown down this white-hot buckshot
A creature of pocked carapace
That hauls itself back up the esophagus
Perhaps you would agree
That it tastes like purple
Or something perched equally vertiginous
On the cliff of synesthesia…” 🤣

It can be heard, narrated by a very creepy sounding Tao, here.
The Vogons had nothing on this presumptuous plonker for awfulness.

2021’s Coolest New Innovation

Volocopter are originally a German company, but now have significant Chinese investment – and when ultimately listed, will see returns on that investment capital many times over. China will be building some of these for the domestic market in Chengdu in conjunction with Geely,  while the company has also partnered with the ride-hailing firm Grab to conduct a joint feasibility study on the prospect of offering airborne rides in Southeast Asia. The full story, together with that of the futuristic Lilium Jet – can be found in the current issue of Asia Investment Research.

2021’s Coolest Band

Sparks have been all over the music media this year with two films, the Edgar Wright (Baby Driver) documentary ‘The Sparks Brothers’, the Leos Carax directed ‘Annette’ and a lockdown album. What’s the China connection? They once recorded with Hong Kong director Tsui Hark. That track can be heard here.

2021’s Worst Chinese Football Teams

There are three winners here, the Chinese national side, who failed (again) to qualify for next year’s World Cup Finals in Qatar, and whose results included defeats to Syria, Thailand, and Uzbekistan, while it’s not been a good year in China’s Northeast either, with both Qingdao Huanghai and Dalian Pro finishing bottom of their Chinese Super League Groups. A compilation of the best own goals scored in China can be seen here.

2022 Predictions

Chinese New Year begins on 1st February and is the Year of the (Water) Tiger. A good year can be expected for Oxen and Goats and a bad year for Rats, Snakes, Monkeys, Dogs, Pigs, and SupChina.

You can read more about what the Year of the Tiger can be expected to bring you here.

All the very best for 2022!

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About Us

Chris Devonshire-Ellis is the Chairman of Dezan Shira & Associates. The firm assists British and Foreign Investment into Asia and has 28 offices throughout China, India, the ASEAN nations and Russia. For strategic and business intelligence concerning China’s Belt & Road Initiative please email or visit us at

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