China Readings for January 29th

  • Special Report: In Mekong, Chinese murders and bloody diplomacy | Reuters – A thin line divides tourism, trade and terror in the Golden Triangle, where the lawless borders of Thailand, Myanmar and Laos meet.
    In Myanmar, where the jungly banks of the Mekong River vanish into the mist, lies an anarchic realm of drug smugglers, militiamen and pirates on speedboats. "I'm scared to go any further," says Kan, a 46-year-old boatman, cutting his engine as he drifts just inside Myanmar waters from Thailand. "It's too dangerous."

    It was here, according to the Thai military, that 13 Chinese sailors on two cargo ships laden with narcotics were murdered in early October. It was the deadliest assault on Chinese nationals overseas in modern times. But a Reuters investigation casts serious doubts on the official account of the attack.

  • A portrait of the collector|Holiday Business|chinadaily.com.cn – At Zhang Rui's recently opened hotel, new-media art reigns supreme. The entire ground floor and lobby is so cluttered that Rui had to navigate around sculptures, video and light installations, a large, smashed electronic signpost, and a scale model of a traditional Chinese building with dead crickets scattered around just to get to this interview (not to mention the small crowd of businessmen eager to butter him up). In short, it's the stuff the art collector had in mind for his hotel, the aptly named Gallery.
  • Letter to Twitter Executive Chairman Jack Dorsey urging him not to cooperate with censors – Reporters Without Borders – Reporters Without Borders has written to Twitter Executive Chairman Jack Dorsey voicing deep concern about yesterday’s announcement that Twitter will introduce geolocated censorship – censorship varying according to the social network user’s country location – and urging him to reverse a policy that violates freedom of expression.
  • 中国电信确认引进iPhone4S 打破联通垄断 – 消费·传媒 – 21世纪网 – 21cbh says China Telecom deal for iphone 4s is signed, will launch q1 $aapl
  • Obama officials back bill to hit China subsidies | Reuters – President Barack Obama's administration is pressing Congress to restore an important weapon in the U.S. arsenal against subsidized imports from China by quickly passing legislation to undo a recent federal appellate court ruling.
  • News International offices searched as four more men are arrested | Media | guardian.co.uk – Four men, including a serving police officer, have been arrested in connection with Scotland Yard's investigation into payments to police officers by journalists.

    Police are also carrying out searches of the News International offices in Wapping, east London, and the homes of the four people.

  • Recriminations Over Chinese Reverse Merger Deals – Barrons.com – Hundreds of Chinese businesses that became U.S.-listed stocks through a maneuver called a "reverse merger" now languish at penny-stock levels, down from tens of billions of dollars in aggregate market value a few years ago. Who's to blame? Ugly accusations abound.

    The wind-power vendor CleanTech Innovations (ticker: CTEK.Pink Sheets) went to court in December complaining that Nasdaq delisted the company after CleanTech's financial advisor was mentioned in a purportedly "anti-China" story in Barron's ("Beware This Chinese Export," Aug. 28, 2010). A LiaoNing Province agency wrote the U.S. Commerce Department early this month and said CleanTech's delisting was "racially motivated," a charge Nasdaq has denied. Then, on Wednesday, Federal Bureau of Investigation agents raided the home and Wall Street office of CleanTech's advisor, Benjamin Wey, and carted away boxes of evidence for an investigation that federal prosecutors won't discuss. Barron's couldn't reach Wey or his firm, New York Global Group.

  • Will Israel Attack Iran? – NYTimes.com – After speaking with many senior Israeli leaders and chiefs of the military and the intelligence, I have come to believe that Israel will indeed strike Iran in 2012. Perhaps in the small and ever-diminishing window that is left, the United States will choose to intervene after all, but here, from the Israeli perspective, there is not much hope for that. Instead there is that peculiar Israeli mixture of fear — rooted in the sense that Israel is dependent on the tacit support of other nations to survive — and tenacity, the fierce conviction, right or wrong, that only the Israelis can ultimately defend themselves.
  • Come On, China, Buy Our Stuff! – NYTimes.com – don't look to NPR Planet Money for intelligent discussion of economic issues

    Now is a particularly good time to put pressure on China’s economic planners. Many market analysts fear that China’s economy is slowing down considerably, a prospect that suggests the country will keep the renminbi weak for years to come. Given this, it may seem odd that China’s currency policy isn’t the beginning and end of every single political stump speech. After all, it’s probably the one thing that, if changed, could instantly bring both jobs and more equality to this country. I can’t think of any other economic agenda that would receive the support of unions and big business, free traders and protectionists, Wall Street Occupiers and Tea Partiers.

  • Three heads, two wheels fill meals gap|People|chinadaily.com.cn – Michael Lewis, John Klee and Sophia Wang liken themselves to the three good friends in the book series Harry Potter. They talk and joke happily with each other when hanging out together, and use each other's strengths to accomplish tasks. Their friendship is the foundation of their business in Beijing.
    In May, the trio founded Jinshisong, which they describe in English as best food delivery. The company, based in the prosperous Sanlitun area of Beijing, started with three employees and it now employs about 20 Chinese and foreigners, all under the age of 30. Lewis says the company's revenue grew dramatically by 250 percent for two consecutive months in July and August after it started the business in mid-May, but will not reveal figures.
  • 柳江上游河段镉超标5倍 武警运物料降低镉浓度_新闻_腾讯网
  • Ainicoffee_about – Aini Group was established in March 2006, which composed of Aini Agriculture and Animal Husbandry (Group) Co., Ltd., Blue Mountain coffee company in Xishuangbanna, Pu’er Sonlight Coffee Co., Ltd. Ai’er animal husbandry Co., Ltd. Aini Coffee Co., Ltd. in Ning Er, Aini ShanZhuang Restaurant chains. Mainly engaged in the livestock industry, the coffee industry and catering business totaled 70 million yuan registered capital, total assets of 302 million yuan. Aini Group is the leading enterprise group, innovative enterprises in Yunnan Province, and vice president of beef cattle branch unit of China Animal Husbandry Association, vice president of animal units in Yunnan, vice-chairman of Yunnan Coffee Association, selected as the first CCTV example of three agricultural wealth of the top ten companies.
  • 院士称北京核反应堆事故属于造谣-搜狐IT
  • 北京多家大型超市买刀实名制 顾客须出示身份证-《财经网》 – real name registration to buy knives in Beijing; required 2 show id now
  • The Inevitability of Chinese Political Reform. Wait, What? | China Hearsay – For me, I find The Economist article to be excellent and thought provoking but sadly incomplete — the final 1/3 seems to be missing. I just wish some evidence could have been presented as to why China might not be successful in reordering its economy without fundamental political reform. The Economist falls into the same trap as many other Western analysts who have deep-rooted beliefs as to the “rightness” of democracy, religion and other aspects of modern Western nations. As I’ve said many times in the past, just because we happen to firmly believe in the wisdom of a particular ideology or structure, that doesn’t make it universally applicable or inevitable.
  • Internet Criticism Pushes China to Act on Pollution – NYTimes.com – Nine of 13 major cities failed more than half the time to meet even the initial annual mean target for developing countries set by the World Health Organization. Environmental advocates here expect China to adopt that target as its PM 2.5 standard.

    Wang Yuesi, the chief air-pollution scientist at the Institute of Atmospheric Physics of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, estimated this month that Beijing needed at least 20 years to reach that goal. The embassy’s monitor showed that fine particulate concentrations over the past two years averaged nearly three times that level, and 10 times the World Health Organization’s guideline, said Steven Q. Andrews, an environmental consultant based in Beijing.

    In fact, Mr. Wang told Outlook Weekly, a magazine owned by China’s official news agency, Xinhua, that Beijing’s PM 2.5 concentrations have been increasing by 3 to 4 percent annually since 1998. He said the finer particulates absorbed more light, explaining why Beijing so often is enveloped in a haze thick enough to obscure even nearby buildings. Air pollution in the city and in nearby Tianjin is so severe that “something must be done to control it,” he wrote on his blog.

  • Teaching Tibetan Ways, School in China Is Unlikely Wonder – NYTimes.com – the Chinese government allowed Rinpoche Tserin Lhagyal, 48, the school’s spiritual guide and soft-spoken founder, to set up an autonomous institution dedicated to promoting Tibetan culture and language. Although Tibetan areas of China are flecked with Buddhist monasteries, their mandate is to teach religious devotion through ancient texts and long hours of prayer. Nonreligious schooling is typically controlled by the state, most often anchored in Mandarin, although poverty and geographic isolation deprive many children of any formal education.
  • Pentagon wants commando “mothership” – The Washington Post – The Pentagon is rushing to send a large floating base for commando teams to the Middle East as tensions rise with Iran, al-Qaeda in Yemen and Somali pirates, among other threats.

    In response to requests from U.S. Central Command, which oversees military operations in the Middle East, the Navy is converting an aging warship it had planned to decommission into a makeshift staging base for the commandos. Unofficially dubbed a “mothership,” the floating base could accommodate smaller high-speed boats and helicopters commonly used by Navy SEALs, procurement documents show.

  • Livingston, Moffett, Podesta Egyptian lobbying contact ended – John Bresnahan – POLITICO.com – Three top U.S. lobbyists have ended their lucrative contract representing the Egyptian government, the latest fallout from a Dec. 29 Egyptian raid on U.S and European-backed groups monitoring parliamentary elections there.

    Former Reps. Bob Livingston (R-La.) and Toby Moffett (D-Conn.), as well as high-powered Democratic lobbyist Tony Podesta, have terminated their lobbying contract with the Egyptian government.

  • BBC News – River pollution sparks panic water buying in China city – Residents in Liuzhou city in southern China have been emptying supermarket shelves of bottled water in panic buying sparked by river pollutants.
  • Bribes, Chinese Mob Ties Alleged at Casino of Gingrich Money Man – Yahoo! News – The casino company run by the principal financial backer of Newt Gingrich's presidential bid, Sheldon Adelson, has been under criminal investigation for the last year by the Department of Justice and the Securities Exchange Commission for alleged bribery of foreign officials, according to corporate documents.
    In a separate civil lawsuit, a former executive of the company has alleged that Adelson ordered him to keep quiet about sensitive issues at the Sands casinos on the Chinese island of Macau, including the casinos' alleged "involvement with Chinese organized crime groups, known as Triads, connected to the junket business." The triads — Chinese organized crime syndicates — are allegedly involved in organizing high stakes gambling junkets for wealthy Chinese travelers.
  • Is Democracy Chinese? An Interview with Journalist Chang Ping by Ian Johnson | NYRblog | The New York Review of Books
  • China Luxury Network – China Luxury Network is an "expert network" division of Affinity China that focuses on prestige brand entry and expansion into China. Membership is by invitation.
  • Luxury brands long to bond with China’s elite – FT.com – Diamond earrings glistened, stiletto heels tapped and the sequins on a mermaid gown shimmered as Miss China sashayed down a New York catwalk, passing within a perfume waft of a compatriot named Lina Li.
    Ms Li was among a group of wealthy Chinese who had paid for a behind-the-scenes glimpse of western luxury at Bergdorf Goodman, a genteel department store for the affluently elegant, which put on a fashion show in their honour this week.
  • What China’s super rich want… | beyondbrics | News and views on emerging markets from the Financial Times – FT.com – The growing presence of Chinese travellers on the luxury shopping circuit of the US and Europe is well known, but catering to ordinary Chinese and the country’s growing band of super rich are two different things, as the FT reports.

    The wealthy don’t want bus tours and showy logos. Instead they are looking for VIP treatment and knowledge about the history and manufacturing of luxury brands. But China experts say there is also a dark side.

    Some of the wealth in China is the result of corruption or other illicit behaviour – and luxury shopping away from the mainland is one way to launder it, according to the Economist.

  • Think Progress Scrubs Troubling Rhetoric from Website | The Weekly Standard – So the good news is that there seems to be at least one grown up at the Center for American Progress. Whoever he is, he can control what the bloggers are saying that might be interpreted as being borderline anti-Semitic. He can clean things up for outsiders—and make it look a little more mainstream than perhaps the institution really is.

    The bad news is that the grown-up is not always in the room (even if he corrects things when he returns!) and that the stable of bloggers over there have some biases that must be cleaned up by some unknown shady figure.

    But given the fact the content had to be scrubbed in the first place, it is clear the problem still remains: A think tank that is allied with the Democratic party and the president of the United States—in other words, an organization in American politics and in policy discussions—is pushing troubling rhetoric.

  • ‘Center for American Progress’ censors references to Israel from piece on Islamophobic film – chinese government would be proud
  • The predictable aftermath of the anti-CAP smear – Glenn Greenwald – Salon.com – I’ve written several times about the coordinated smear campaign to brand writers at the Center for American Progress as “anti-Semites” in order to punish them for defying mandated orthodoxies on Israel and to deter others from doing so. While that smear campaign, having done its job, is now winding down, the predictable effects of it are only beginning: CAP is now censoring those targeted writers, and those who defended them are now being similarly smeared.

    First, the self-censorship at CAP: both The Weekly Standard‘s Daniel Halper and Philip Weiss document how a post written by two of the targeted CAP writers, Ali Gharib and Eli Clifton, was censored in important, substantive ways. That post concerned a rabidly anti-Islam film, “The Third Jihad,” that was continuously shown to NYPD officials. Gharib and Clifton sought to investigate the donors behind the film, and wrote the following (emphasis added):

  • Chinese Internet Companies Jump on WSJ Report of Facebook Initial Offering – Bloomberg
  • F.B.I. Searches Offices of N.Y. Adviser on Chinese Reverse Mergers – NYTimes.com – New York Global Group is partly controlled by Benjamin Wey, who also spells his last name Wei. He helped some large Chinese companies list in the U.S. and promoted himself as an expert in U.S.-China relations and “on how to best invest in China based US-listed companies.”
  • China State-Led System a Threat to Global Trading System – Davos Live – WSJ – U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner said Friday that China’s state-led economic system poses a challenge to the global trading system.
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