China Anti-Espionage Laws Threaten Pharma Supply Chains and Multinational Manufacture in China

As the US has been seeking to check China in the chip and related tech arena by restricting exports of our purportedly security/defense related products, the Chinese have not been idle. The Western press has not reported much on a series of Chinese new restrictions, under the umbrella of anti-espionage laws.

Needless to say, espionage is a show-stopper as far as threats go, as the treatment of Julian Assange, Gonzalo Lira, and detailed Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich illustrate. No one with an operating brain cell wants to fall into the hall of mirrors of its notions of abuses and due process.

Yet despite the severity of potential punishments, and the worry among the many affected parties, there has been perilous little reporting. Reader Dr. Kevin sent a couple of links but a search on Twitter came up empty. This is particularly surprising, as we’ll discuss soon, due to the existing and soon to get worse situation for drug exports, where the US is heavily dependent on China. We long thought this was a prime leverage point for China against the US, and it looks like China is starting to make use of it.

It is not clear whether the near silence by non-Chinese media on this topic is due to press reluctance to report on what sure looks like retaliation, and pretty bloody-minded at that, and potentially also some self-censorship among affected companies. Remember that during Brexit, businesses were stunningly silent about the many negative consequences of Brexit, particularly the super-hard version the Tories increasingly favored.

The limited recognition of these new Chinese policies, which have the potential to limit trade, not just various forms of regulatory and contractual compliance, is striking given that the US is continuing to escalate against China. As reported yesterday:

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken will head to Beijing this week, with a warning for China to curb its technical support for Russia’s military — or else…

“We’re prepared to take steps when we believe necessary against firms that … severely undermine security in both Ukraine and Europe,” a State Department official told reporters ahead of Blinken’s trip. “We’ve demonstrated our willingness to do so regarding firms from a number of countries, not just China.”

An account below reports that China is expected to further tighten its anti-espionage laws this week. That may be a coincidence of timing, but it could be a warning to the US about what might happen were the US to try to deliver on Anthony Blinken’s threat mongering. But the Anglosphere media has barely registered that this is happening. Is the State Department so clueless as to be missing a potentially pretty serious message?

Due to the spotty English-language reporting, yours truly is very much in blind man and the elephant mode. So any reader corrections and fillings-in of gaps are very much welcome.

Par for the course, one of the best short-form versions of what is happening came in the comments section of one of these new stories, Pharma groups warn of supply crunch over China spying law in the Financial Times:

Martin Berg

The new data protection laws in China effectively declare company data to be of national interest, if not national property. By doing so, it has effectively taken a further step in weaponising the economy, and turning economic competition into a battle between states, rather than private enterprises.

This might answer the question that many of you likely had: what could outsourced drug manufacture have that would even rise to the level of being protectable intellectual property, let alone a state secret? As we will see soon, these compounds are either patented (nearly always in the US or EU) or off patent. Perhaps the Chinese companies have developed some better mousetraps in the form of better or faster manufacturing processes. But again, abuses in that arena would seem to fall in the realm of intellectual property theft, and not a threat to the Chinese state.

Wellie, as we are now seeing, it can be if the government takes an expansive view of what state interest amounts to.

A story today in Nikkei warns that China is tightening its espionage laws. Key sections:

China is preparing to restrict transfers of any information related to national security under an updated counterespionage law, raising fears of a stepped-up crackdown on foreign individuals and companies here.

The Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress began deliberating the changes Monday. The legislation, which will broaden the definition of espionage, is expected to pass Wednesday.

This will mark the first time since 2014 that the law has been amended.

The measure will expand the scope of the law — now limited to state secrets — to cover all documents, data, materials or items related to national security and interests. It does not provide further details on what constitutes national security and interests.

A greater focus will also be put on cybersecurity. Discussions of a system’s vulnerabilities to cyberattacks could run afoul of the new rules.

Security authorities will be granted more power, including in inspecting baggage and electronic devices of those suspected of espionage.

Notice that this plan sounds much less than what pink paper reader Martin Berg reported. Perhaps practice is already more aggressive than current law? It would seem so. Nikkei says later:

In March, a Japanese employee of drugmaker Astellas Pharma was detained for allegedly violating the existing counterespionage law. The man is believed to have had interactions with Chinese government and industry officials as part of his job.

Relevant authorities have solid evidence that the man engaged in espionage and will handle the matter in accordance with Chinese law, said Wu Jianghao, the Chinese ambassador to Japan, on April 7…

Foreign workers in China are on edge, given ambiguities about what would be considered illegal under the updated law. Activities that are part of regular business operations are seen potentially becoming an issue, and some Japanese companies have warned expatriate workers in China to be especially cautious when entering into new business deals in the technology sector, which Beijing considers a national security priority….

The proposed changes are seen giving Chinese authorities justification to monitor foreign companies involved in artificial intelligence, semiconductors and other key fields in the name of national security. This could extend to their communications with their headquarters back home.

The Nikkei story does not give a clear idea of when and how the the crackdown began, although it does say that President Xi increased his “focus” on security in recent months.

In fact, the pink paper pointed out last July that China was putting informational screws on foreign companies operating there:

Global companies are accelerating their push to decouple China data in response to the country’s increasingly stringent data and anti-espionage laws, as relations between Washington and Beijing deteriorate.

The drive for full localisation of data in China and separation of information technology systems from the rest of the world has accelerated over recent months as Beijing strengthens its control and regulation of data….

On July 1, Beijing put into effect an expanded anti-espionage law to strengthen national security. A series of raids and sanctions on US consultancies such as Bain & Company and Mintz Group, along with semiconductor giant Micron Technology, have put more pressure on companies operating in China.

Roberts said the wording in the updated anti-espionage law unveiled in April introduced the possibility of criminal sanctions and being policed by the country’s state security agency for sharing information deemed sensitive.

The revised law and the raids “have businesses scrambling to understand their current compliance footing”, he said.

In the past, western companies were concerned about taking electronic devices into the country over fears that China could access their data. Now they are equally concerned about sensitive data leaving China for fear of violating Beijing’s rules.

Now let us circle back to the new account at the Financial Times, Pharma groups warn of supply crunch over China spying law:

Western pharmaceutical groups are warning of worsening disruption to supply chains because of problems certifying manufacturing sites in China, with some factory inspectors refusing to visit the country over fears of arrest for spying and others denied entry to facilities.

China is one of the world’s largest makers of active pharmaceutical ingredients and antibiotics and a major supplier of drugs to the EU and US. However, a tightening of anti-espionage laws by Beijing has led to concerns that foreign citizens gathering data on Chinese sites could be deemed spies.

Let’s pause here. “One of the world’s largest makers of active pharmaceutical ingredients and antibiotics and a major supplier of drugs to the EU and US” understates the stranglehold China has as a meds supplier to the US. Even though the particular percentages may have shifted in the intervening years, the general picture from these archival pieces remains the same: the US is massively dependent on China for finished drugs and pharma components. The first, a 2018 post, also shows China has long been playing hide and seek with the FDA:

A recent book, China RX: Exposing the Risks of America’s Dependence on China for Medicine by Rosemary Gibson and Janardan Prasad Singh, appears not to have gotten the attention it warrants…

The big message of Gibon’s and Singh’s book is that the US relies on China for the production of active ingredients in drugs and in many cases, of the medications themselves, to the degree that we would have a public health crisis if supplies were interrupted. As Gibson said on C-SPAN:

Many people that we spoke to, both former government officials and some in industry said that if China shut the door on exports, within months, pharmacy shelves in the United States to be empty, and hospitals would cease to function.

And don’t assume generics king India would step into the breach. India gets many of the active ingredients for its pharmaceuticals from China. Gibson forecasts that China will overtake India in generics manufacture within a decade.

As Gibson explains, the US no longer makes its own penicillin, in part because China dumped penicillin in 2004, driving the last US plant out of business.

The medications where the US relies on China include heparin, a blood thinner that among other things is used for IV drips. No heparin, no IV treatments. Due to the difficulty in tracing the source of drug company ingredients, the authors could make only case by case investigations, but they China production to be critical for treatments for Alzheimer’s HIV, depression, schizophrenia, cancer, epilepsy, and high blood pressure.

Dependency is not the only risk. US drug companies shifted production to China not just to save cost but to escape regulation. The FDA has only limited access to Chinese factories, with the Chinese having well over 700, yet the FDA able to inspect only 15 a year on average. As Gibson said on C-SPAN:

The FDA is trying to get inspection on site in China. The Chinese have severely restricted the number of inspections that they will allow and the whole program has become completely ineffective.

And the Chinese are often less than cooperative. Gibson describes even then how the agency has been directed to a Potemkin facility, as in the goods were made somewhere else…and the FDA was not able to figure out where. Similarly, reports presented by the health authorities to the FDA is understood to be as reliable as Chinese economic data….Gibson again:

In 2015, the FDA inspected a plant in China. It did that because it was getting a lot of customer complaints, presumably industry complaints, about the active ingredients that they were getting from this plant. There was bacterial contamination, some of the products. They did not have full therapeutic value. If that’s an antibiotic or chemotherapy, that could be devastating.

So the FDA went in and they found what they called systemic data manipulation. This is a plant that had passed muster by the FDA, the Chinese FDA and other inspections over many years. So the FDA banned 29 different products from coming into the United States. But because the United States is so dependent, the FDA had to exempt 14 of those products from its own ban. Some of those included antibiotics or ingredients for antibiotics and ingredients for chemotherapies, because the FDA was concerned about drug shortages in the United States. That is how dependent we are as a country.

And from a 2019 post from SafeHaven that we republished:

Just like the rare earths dilemma, the U.S. healthcare industry is finding itself in a Catch 22 situation since it cannot easily cut off all drug supplies from China.

The Trade Agreements Act of 1979 requires the Defense Health Agency and other federal agencies to only use pre-approved drugs that are made in the U.S. or from a compliant country.

As you might imagine, China is not on the approved list; however, the agency has waivers for nearly 150 drugs from the country because it would not be able to procure them from anywhere else. Moreover, the TAA only covers finished products and not their components–though that’s more of a legislative issue that can probably be fixed.

Yet, quality is just one of the concerns here. China can potentially cut off actual drug supplies to the U.S. thus crippling the industry.

The article concluded by saying it would take a long time to solve this problem, as in reshore.

Now back to the Financial Times report:

…official data seen by the Financial Times shows some US Food and Drug Administration inspectors have been refused entry to Chinese production sites since the pandemic.

This has led to western pharmaceutical regulators struggling to enforce oversight of Chinese manufacturers. Drugs made in third countries and imported into the EU or US require certification by government inspectors and audits of production sites…

During the pandemic, some audits of Chinese sites were carried out online or certification was prolonged without inspection — meaning there is a large inspection backlog with many certifications due “to expire by the end of this year”, according to Fatima Bicane, manager of pharmaceutical technology at BAH.

Disruption to inspections increases the risk of Chinese production sites losing their certification for western markets, exacerbating an already strained supply chain for generic pharmaceuticals…

“Adrian van den Hoven, director-general of Medicines for Europe, an industry body representing European pharmaceutical companies, said that ambiguity around the new anti-espionage law had led to concerns that “an inspector . . . in China could be accused of espionage”….

“When you talk about antibiotics, the Chinese are in a very critical position as most of the starting materials for antibiotics are made in China,” said Jim Miller, an industry consultant who advises on pharma manufacturing in the US. “The world is very dependent on China for antibiotic ingredients and active ingredients.”

Now admittedly, the number of FDA inspections in China was more than two times higher in 2023 than 2022. But the new espionage crackdown and the detention and espionage accusation against the Japanese drug company employee has had a chilling effect on the willingness of drug industry foreign inspectors and business partners to visit China. And it’s easy to see if the final law is vague that it will allow Chinese officials to greatly toughen enforcement at any time. And that could translated into a crippling reduction of essential medicine supplies.

But the US lets its multinationals sell out our own interests and did nothing to stop them. So if worst case scenarios come to pass, we have no one but ourselves to blame.

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  1. PlutoniumKun

    I can’t claim any great insight into current Chinese thinking on retaliating against the US for its chip policies, but this clamp down to me seems more in line with ongoing domestic security policy rather than a deliberate shot across the bows of the US. In the past, when China has wanted to send a message on trade, its usually been much more direct – either using domestic consumer pressure (for example, in hyping up domestic boycotts of South Korean owned businesses), or in simply stopping the export of particular products on security grounds (as they’ve done with rare earths).

    The anti-espionage policies sound to me more like part of the long term ongoing throttling of foreign influence on domestic industry that has been policy since Xi came to power. A little like the US, China is so large and self absorbed that domestic policies are often pursued without any consideration for how it is seen externally. An example would be when Fujianese police set up offices around Europe to keep tabs on Chinese ex pats, apparently entirely oblivious to what an enormous breach of international law this represented.

    China is engaging in a very delicate balancing act now with trade. Beijing has failed to inject any life into the domestic economy and are now pursuing a massive growth in exports to maintain the growth targets. This will only work if every trading partner is happy to see its domestic economy swamped with cheap imports. The reality is that China has far more to lose in a trade war than the US, or for that matter, other Asian economies and Europe – at present, China is uniquely dependent on maintaining its huge and growing surplus and will remain so until it gets its domestic economic policy right. If China does use its hold over pharmaceuticals as a trade weapon, this could potentially play right into the hands of countries such as India, Vietnam and Indonesia, who are all watching to see how they can benefit (or at least, not get run over) in a China/US trade war. And of course, if China does restrict flows of key pharm chemicals, the big loser will not be the US, but poorer countries across the globe, who will find prices rising rapidly even if they are not the direct target.

  2. CA

    “Beijing has failed to inject any life into the domestic economy and are now pursuing a massive growth in exports to maintain the growth targets…”

    China grew at 5.3% from January through March of this year, while Chinese foreign trade increased by 5.0%. So Chinese economic growth is excellent, while domestic economic growth is and has been faster than foreign trade growth. The largest trade surplus among the 15 largest world economies is Germany, while China has the fifth largest surplus.

    As for life in China, life is splendid.

  3. CA

    As for life in China, life is splendid:

    April 20, 2024

    Roaring consumption engine powers China’s economy ahead

    BEIJING — China’s consumption played a vital role in bolstering economic growth in the first quarter of the year, underscoring the country’s steady transformation toward a domestic consumption-driven economy.

    China’s GDP expanded 5.3 percent year on year in the first quarter (Q1), with domestic consumption contributing 73.7 percent to economic growth, data from the National Bureau of Statistics showed earlier this week.

    Booming service consumption, especially festival-related consumption, and the continuing structural upgrading of household consumption were among the major highlights of the consumption sector.


    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Those three months include the Chinese New Year. I don’t think you can generalize from that, since on top of that, 1Q is weak for finished and semi-finished goods trade (sales weaker after 4Q demand and possible inventory overhang).

    2. CA

      Arnaud Bertrand @RnaudBertrand

      Yup, this really puts all the China collapse or “peak China” stories into perspective: *

      According to the latest International Monetary Fund projections, China will be the world’s top contributor to global growth over the next 5 years, “with its share bigger than all G7 countries COMBINED”! Its contribution to global growth will also be 61% bigger than India’s.

      * China Outweighs G-7 as Leading Driver of Global Economic Growth

      9:27 PM · Apr 19, 2024

    3. CA

      Brad DeLong of Berkeley has been waiting for China’s collapse since 1980, and since 2016 has been writing that the coming collapse will come all the sooner and be worse because of the coming to the presidency of Xi Jinping. The problem for DeLong is that China has no supporting “North Atlantic” institutions.

      The problem from my perspective is DeLong refusing to consider why Chinese development has been so dramatically successful, so remarkably beneficial to so many these 45 years:

      August 4, 2014

      Real per capita Gross Domestic Product for China, European Union, India, Japan and United States, 1977-2022

      (Percent change)

      August 4, 2014

      Real per capita Gross Domestic Product for China, European Union, India, Japan and United States, 1977-2022

      (Indexed to 1977)

  4. The Rev Kev

    With China, it is probably a case of wheels within wheels. But certainly the Chinese political establishment knows that as the Ukraine winds down, that they are next. So this would be an ideal time to tighten up on security laws as well as forming ones that can be weaponized against the west. It may be the case that with pharmaceuticals, it is that old Chinese idiom ‘Kill the chicken to scare the monkey’ at work here. There has been news of shortages of certain drugs in the media for months now though I doubt that it was the Chinese doing this. Ordinary Neoliberalism would be enough to explain these shortages. But the thought that there might be disruptions to drugs coming from China might concentrate some minds. The logical course of action for the US would be to re-establish drug manufacturing facilities at home but I seriously doubt that Big Pharma would ever allow that. They would be afraid of future competition here.

    1. CA

      “But certainly the Chinese political establishment knows that as the Ukraine winds down, that they are next…”

      Virtually each day this is made clear to the Chinese. Almost no day passes without a threat to China by America first and Britain second. China is asked about the threats at daily foreign affairs ministry news conferences and responds diplomatically but with determination, but the pattern continues.

      I have no sense of why the open fierceness by America and Britain continues, but there must be a renewable calculation that the threats will prevail however foolish the policy seems to me.

      1. jrkrideau

        I think since the fall of Soviet Union, the USA has forgotten how to conduct diplomacy and has been bossing everyone in the world with the threat of big stick.

        People like Blinken, Biden, and probably lots of other people in Washington have failed to realize that the rules have changed.

        The amazingly rude and embarrassing behaviour of Blinken at the Anchorage meeting with the Chinese foreign minister was mind-boggling. The USA had actually sanctioned two, I think, or three Chinese officials 2 days before the meeting. This may work if it if you’re a mafia boss and  you just shoot a couple of the opposing side’s men but it’s not exactly diplomacy in action.

        The USA has failed to adapt a to the fact that it is not the biggest bully in town. Thinking that you can go to the largest economy in the world and just tell them that you they can’t do this when they can’t do that is not the brightest move.

        I think the Chinese are finally decided that they’ve had enough. The US attack on TikTok  is something that I’m sure the establishment in Beijing is taking as a personal insult.

        I am waiting to see which American businesses or American politicians are going to be put under sanctions by China. Actually it probably won’t do that since only the UN is supposed to actually put on sanctions on people but still the effects of Chinese actions maybe pretty much the same.

  5. Jana C

    Two missing t’s due to speedy typing.
    We long though this was a prime leverage point for China against the US, and it looks like China is staring to make use of it.

    Sorry, my financial/fraud audit skills extend to grammar and spelling. Blame it on the nuns (who I adored)!
    Content fantastic!!!

    Between the supply chain and the FDA banning all sorts of supplements and peptides and only recently caving to the horse paste saga, time to stock up!

    1. ambrit

      I’m wondering, is “Horse Paste” another ‘product’ only made in China?
      I’m on Bing lately, and it is probably the worst experience with looking for “solid” information I have ever experienced. Pages and pages of ads and stealth ads, masquerading as “information.”
      I typed in “Where is I—- manufactured?” and got nothing but ads and “Official Propaganda” in return. I stopped looking after Page Ten.
      I ‘earned’ my skepticism concerning the “Official Narrative, Medical Division” after I learned that Tryptophane was banned in response to one bad batch from the only factory that made it, said factory in Japan. It had nothing to do with Tryptophan cutting into pharma “sleep aids” sales, no siree. (Sarc???)

  6. DG

    “But the US lets its multinationals sell out our own interests and did nothing to stop them. So if worst case scenarios come to pass, we have no one but ourselves to blame.”

    Exactly right. I would add rich individuals.

    I recently drove through Virginia and Washington D.C. Again I was impressed by the most prosperous area in all of the USA. Our elite is incapable of governance. But, they are richly rewarded for their affected “incompetence.”

  7. ISL

    The article clearly labels a problem with lack of inspections of Chinese drug manufacturers by the FDA, but I wonder if the problem is actually with the FDA, I recall reading somewhere (not easily found) that the FDA inspected only a few percent of meat packing plants per year as congress refuses to fund enough inspectors. My quick search of “FDA meat inspection plant per year” on google news found lots of problems with the food supply which the FDA seems unable to fix (but not the articles I remember). And google tried to direct me to the FDA website.

    And I am reminded of the 4200 (now 4500!) safe and effective drugs and medical devices recalled every year as not safe and effective. So is the biggest problem really FDA inspections of Chinese facilities?

  8. David in Friday Harbor

    The U.S. has been “governed” by children for many decades, beginning with that dim-bulb Ronnie Reagan.

    The American penchant for juvenile selfishness was accelerated during the race-to-the-bottom between those rapacious deviants Slick Willie and Newt Gingrich/Dick Armey, who dismantled the New Deal during the ‘90’s while trying to “out-Reagan” each other. Shrub (the little Bush), Barry O (parental abandonment), and Teflon Don (ditto abandonment) never matured into adulthood; Biden acts like a cranky adolescent and his SoS Blinken’s development seems to have been arrested as a 9-year old when mommy moved him to Paris.

    Meanwhile, China’s development of “Socialism With Chinese Characteristics” appears to be run by adults. I’m too much of a Free-Thinker to have survived in the cadre system, but I have the utmost respect for the way that Xi Jinping and his colleagues have improved the lives of the Chinese people.

    America has become utterly incapable of manufacturing anything but retains its childish gluttony for “cheap stuff.” The Chinese leadership are wise not to cut off trade entirely, but they do appear to be directing it in ways that will destabilize American society.

  9. Jamie

    Thank you for looking at recent developments.

    Patented pharmaceutical brand drugs seem curiously consistent. Generics are the crap shoot.

    7 years ago, I switched, when the patented brand became unbelievably expensive. Made me sick, so I took pills back to the pharmacy. Pharmacist insisted I had the right medicine.

    I looked up the manufacturer online. Made in China.

    The whole situation is utterly absurd.

    Why would drug regulators have to travel to China to test the bioequivalence of generic drugs? If imported lead toys are tested, then yanked of the shelf why not crap generics?

    Anyone can find a Spectrophotometer on Amazon. And Kindle’s, “Clinical Applications of Mass Spectrometry in Drug Analysis: Methods and Protocols” is ~$50.

    With advances in synthetic biochem, the cost of production is a lame excuse for Chinese monopoly.

    And Blinken’s huff and puff seems stupid, considering the size of China’s Thumb.

  10. gp

    A US-China pharma drug war in the making
    US Congress has China’s biotech research and drug manufacturing firms in its decoupling sights

    APRIL 29, 2024

    It can credibly be argued that while China’s economy does have a substantial private sector, ultimately state intervention is never far behind. This makes China, for all practical purposes, a state-controlled economy with on its periphery a private sector operating within limits often undefined but limits nonetheless.

    Thus when a private sector firm becomes too visible or powerful, it is reined in. Alternatively, when it needs support, this is often forthcoming in the form of credits, subsidies or more complex means or mechanisms. The end result is that every Chinese economic enterprise is potentially a state entity.

    For the international economic order, this would not be a major concern were it not for the fact that with 18% of the world’s population, China produces as much as 35% of the world’s industrial output making it, for all practical purposes, the world’s factory floor.

    And this, in turn, has a major impact on China’s political and economic relations with the industrialized West in general and more specifically with the United States.

    China’s manufacturing hub has essentially three components. The first is composed of basically simple consumer products and intermediate technologies, many of which are now migrating to neighboring countries with lower labor costs.

    The second includes the likes of solar panels or advanced batteries which are not only more efficient than their Western counterparts but enjoy a lower production cost of some 45%, albeit leaving unanswered the question if and to what extent this is due to disguised state subsidies.

    The third results from the part of China’s industrial establishment that has transited from manufacturing to innovation.

    It was a given that over the years China would transit from “conceived in California, assembled in China” to “conceived in China, manufactured wherever appropriate.” While telecom giant Huawei was the first to break the mold and expand worldwide, Chinese biotech firms such as WuXi Biologics have become global giants in their own right.

    Operating outside the limelight they have revolutionized modern medicine by identifying treatments for the likes of cystic fibrosis and the manufacture of high-quality drugs. By current estimates, WuXi is involved in the development of a quarter of all the drugs used in the United States.

    Currently, the Biden administration’s policy of decoupling America’s semiconductor production from China has filtered down to the US Congress, which is now trying to decouple China’s biotech research and drug manufacturing capacity from the American market.

    And while the rationale for the move is based on the claim that WuXi sponsors military-civilian events, it is increasingly felt that the move reflects an anti-Chinese bias that is currently spilling into the realm of the irrational.

    While the issue is still under debate and the corresponding legislation has not yet been adopted, it has created considerable concern within the US healthcare community where many see it as political interference in the advancement of biomedical research, which could ultimately cost hundreds of thousands of American patient’s lives.

    But looking beyond Washington’s current drug war with China, what is at issue is the United States’ inability to deal comprehensively and rationally with an Imperial China where the state reigns supreme whatever the label its products come under.

    Alexander Casella PhD has taught and worked as a journalist for the likes of Le Monde, The Times, The New York Times, Die Zeit, The Guardian, and Swiss radio and TV, writing primarily on China and Vietnam. In 1973 he joined the UNHCR, serving, among others, as head of the East Asia Section and director for Asia and Oceania. He then served 18 years as representative in Geneva of the International Center for Migration Policy Development.

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