China Readings for February 18th

  • Avon Names a New Head of China Operations Amid Bribery Probe – Bloomberg
  • china ecommerce firm vipshot files for us ipo
  • Iran-Drumbeat Watch: ‘A Scary Club of Warmongers’ – James Fallows – International – The Atlantic – Last week I mentioned Mike Lofgren's observations on the strange media-political history of the "Iran threat." The world is full of, ummm, imperfectly governed states, at least two of which actually have nuclear weapons: North Korea and Pakistan. But discussions of a potential nuclear weapon in Iran take on a ticking-time-bomb, apocalyptic tone usually missing when we talk about North Korea and Pakistan. All these countries pose serious problems, but on the editorial pages and in this year's campaign speeches we hear disproportionately, and with disproportionate shrillness, about Iran.
  • Erin Burnett: Worst of the worst – Glenn Greenwald – Salon.com – I just could not let go unnoted this commentary on The Iranian Threat by CNN’s Erin Burnett (“frightening,” she observed). I barely know what to say about it — the critiques of media fear-mongering I wrote the last two days apply in spades to this — but it really just mocks itself. It’s the sort of thing you would produce if you set out to create a mean-spirited parody of mindless, war-hungry, fear-mongering media stars, but you wouldn’t dare go this far because you’d want the parody to have a feel of realism to it, and this would be way too extreme to be believable. She really hauled it all out: WMDs! Terrorist sleeper cells in the U.S. controlled by Tehran! Iran’s long-range nuclear missiles reaching our homeland!!!! She almost made the anti-Muslim war-mongering fanatic she brought on to interview, Rep. Peter King, appear sober and reasonable by comparison.
  • Another March to War? | Matt Taibbi | Rolling Stone – Once upon a time, way back in the stone ages, when Noam Chomsky was first writing about these propaganda techniques in Manufacturing Consent, our leaders felt the need to conceal – or at least  sugar-coat – these Orwellian principles. It was assumed that the American people genuinely needed to feel like they were on the right side of things, and so the foreign powers we clashed with were always depicted as being the instigators and aggressors, while our role in provoking those responses was always disguised or at least played down.

    But now the public openly embraces circular thinking like, “Any country that squawks when we threaten to bomb it is a threat that needs to be wiped out.” Maybe I’m mistaken, but I have to believe that there was a time when ideas like that sounded weird to the American ear. Now they seem to make sense to almost everyone here at home, and that to me is just as a scary as Achmedinejad.

  • Billionaire Romney donor uses threats to silence critics – Glenn Greenwald – Salon.com – Anyone who is the national finance co-chair of Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign deserves probing, substantial scrutiny. That’s equally true of someone who continues to use their vast wealth to influence the outcome of our elections and our most inflammatory political debates. And it’s certainly true of someone who has made it a regular practice of threatening journalists, bloggers and activists who shine light on his political and business practices. Journalists like Jody May-Chang who focus their journalistic light on people like Frank VanderSloot provide all of us with a vital public service, and deserve our full-fledged support when they are targeted with threats and retribution.
  • Cable reference id: #07SHANGHAI771 – During a November 9 discussion, Carlyle Group Chief
    China Representative Luo Yi said that despite all of the
    pre-Party Congress rumors of personnel changes in the PBSC, the
    Party leadership opted for more institutionalization of power
    and power transfer. Luo said, for instance, that Vice President
    Zeng Qinghong could have stayed on the PBSC if he had opted to;
    that President Hu would have been unable to force him out if he
    had truly desired to stay. However, Zeng was interested in
    maintaining the stability of Party rule. At the 2002 16th Party
    Congress, then-President Jiang Zemin had arbitrarily set the
    so-called "Seven Up, Eight Down" rule to force rival Li Ruihuan
    from the body. The rule stipulated that PBSC members who had
    reached the age of 68 be forced to retire, while those who were
    67 could be reelected to another five-year PBSC term.
  • Chinese Students Three Years Ahead of Those in West – Report – China Real Time Report – WSJ – Back in 2009, a delegation from Singapore’s Ministry of Education was sent to Washington DC, to share the “Singapore model method” for learning mathematics. In the same year, President Obama gave a speech to the National Academy of Sciences, devoting an entire part of it to the importance of math and science education. In his comparison of math scores between US and foreign countries, the first country he mentioned was Singapore.

    “Our students are outperformed in math and science by their peers in Singapore, Japan, England, the Netherlands, Hong Kong, and Korea, among others. Another assessment shows American 15-year-olds ranked 25th in math and 21st in science when compared to nations around the world,” Mr. Obama said.

    At least in China, such rankings are not necessarily cause for celebration. Many Chinese see the country’s education system, in particular its failure to foster innovation, as one weakness preventing it moving further along the path to superpower status. The country’s students have increasingly flocked to the West for college, and even high school, in an effort to escape the rote memorization prevalent in Chinese schools and cultivate the sort of creativity seen as producing figures like late Apple founder Steve Jobs.

  • “洋文凭工厂”何以大行其道 – 新京报网 – 在狄克森州立大学事件之中,需要反思的是,其中哪些是制度上的问题,合作办学的外方滥发学位,如何监管?哪些又是监管的问题,现有监管机制是否充分发挥了作用?
  • “活熊取胆” 熊的痛苦谁说了算? – 新京报网
  • 广东韶关武江区委书记自缢身亡 其前任前年跳楼_新闻_腾讯网
  • 党报警醒官员勿丧德 血拆败家漠视百姓将失民心_新闻_腾讯网
  • Laundry shops under scrutiny after media report — Shanghai Daily | 上海日报 — English Window to China New – The CBN reporter spent about 20 days working as a clerk in the outlets of Fornet and Pride, two well-known brands, and found expensive clothes and fabrics requiring dry-clean were all washed, and the workshops were dirty and messy with workers walking on clothes.
  • SHANGHAI CALLING | Daniel Henney, Eliza Coupe, Bill Paxton, Zhu Zhu, Geng Le, Alan Ruck
  • SHANGHAI CALLING – U.S. Trailer 1 – YouTube – ShanghaiCalling.com | @shanghaicalling | facebook.com/shanghaicalling
    SHANGHAI CALLING is a romantic comedy about American "expats" living in the dynamic, eye-popping city of Shanghai, China. When ambitious New York attorney Sam (DANIEL HENNEY) is sent to Shanghai, he immediately stumbles into a legal mess that could end his career. With help from a beautiful relocation specialist (ELIZA COUPE), a well-connected old-timer (BILL PAXTON), a clever journalist (GENG LE), and a smart, sexy legal assistant (ZHU ZHU), Sam might save his job, find romance, and learn to appreciate the many wonders of Shanghai.
  • China’s Air Pollution Brings Snowfall to Sierra Nevada – NYTimes.com – A storm of yellow dust darkens the skies above Beijing, an increasingly familiar phenomenon blamed on the disappearance of Asian forests. A week later, in California’s Sierra Nevada mountain range, where annual precipitation levels are expected to decline as the climate changes, a snowstorm delights skiers.
  • China wants say in World Bank choice – FT.com – China has said that the next World Bank president should be chosen on merit, seeking to challenge a tradition that the bank’s chief be a US citizen, though it did not suggest a candidate.
    Robert Zoellick said on Wednesday that he would step down in June at the end of a five-year term as bank president. Speculation has focused on Hillary Clinton, US secretary of state, and Larry Summers, former White House chief economic adviser, as potential successors.
  • Kim Jong-il’s eldest son suffering from financial problems – Telegraph – The Argumenty i Fakty weekly said in its internet addition that Kim Jong-nam was recently kicked out of a luxury hotel in the Chinese gambling mecca of Macau over a $15,000 debt.
    It cited Macau administration sources as saying that the eldest Kim – seen as the likely successor until being caught entering Japan on a fake passport in 2001 – had lived a luxurious lifestyle that included gambling and dinners at exclusive restaurants.
    But a source at the prestigious Grand Lapa Hotel that Jong-nam reportedly frequented told the paper that the eldest Kim was recently expelled from his 17th-floor room because of a cancelled credit card.
  • Apple’s iPhone loses China market share | Reuters – Apple Inc's share of China's booming smartphone market slipped for a second straight quarter in October-December, as it lost ground to cheaper local brands and as some shoppers held off until after the iPhone 4S launch last month.
  • Review & Outlook: DreamWorks and Chinese Protectionism – WSJ.com – Not quite. This enterprise may well reward its investors. But the fact that a joint venture is the only way for a U.S. industry with a considerable competitive advantage to make further inroads into the Chinese market isn't fair to the U.S. or healthy for China. The battle for market access in the Middle Kingdom is proving to be more challenging than Po's quest to defeat Lord Shen in DreamWorks's "Kung Fu Panda 2."
  • Alibaba Said to Plan Privatizing Alibaba.com – Bloomberg
  • Santorum reports millions in income as Washington consultant – The Washington Post – Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum, whose humble coal-country biography is central to his political message, made more than $3.6 million in recent years as a Washington consultant and claimed a German luxury sedan as a business expense, according to tax returns released by his campaign.

    Santorum’s growing wealth after leaving Congress could complicate his attempt to focus on his history as the grandson of a hardscrabble coal miner, particularly as the GOP nomination race narrows to a contest between him and former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, a former private-equity manager.

  • President Obama’s Bilateral Meeting with Vice President Xi of China | The White House
  • Senior CPC official underscores Party purity – Xinhua | English.news.cn – A senior official of the Communist Party of China (CPC) has urged more efforts to maintain the Party's purity.

    All Party members should be fully aware of the importance and urgency of the "maintaining purity" initiative and take concrete measures to promote the Party's traditions, said He Guoqiang, a Standing Committee member of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee.

  • 中共將設黨組織 直接監管微博 | 兩岸要聞 | 兩岸台商 | 聯合新聞網 – 春節後,中共宣傳部門下令,將在大陸各微博成立共產黨組織,直接監管微博,包括新浪、騰訊、搜狐、網易等主要設有微博的網站都接到相關指令。這是繼網路實名制(登記本名)後,中共新一波加強對網路控制的措施,日後對微博內容的審查和過濾將更嚴格。

    大陸各大微博在春節後都接到成立黨組織的相關規定。消息稱,未來黨組織將負責各大微博的政策引導和決策,在政策、措施上,堅絕執行中宣部和國務院及省市網路管理辦公室的命令。..
    權威人士透露,微博不僅要審查上傳的消息內容,刪除「不良訊息」,及可能影響社會觀感的「敏感訊息」外,未來網路公安部門會對微博後台進行直接管理,並與微博系統對接。

    在進一步全面掌控微博的措施方面,一旦面臨社會重大事件,除了設立「字串」,大量進行刪帖,最嚴重的就直接斷網。例如,春節後藏區發生幾起自焚事件,西藏就曾短暫斷網;新疆在「七五事件」後網路也曾被封鎖一年多。

    外國社交網站「推特」為進入大陸市場,曾表示會做必要「讓步」。消息稱,這不太可能滿足大陸對微博等社交網站的要求。因外國網站不可能開放製作後台,提供給中共公安部門直接管理並讓系統對接。

  • How Google Tracked Safari Users – Digits – WSJ – people need 2 go 2 jail 4 this. otherwise it will just keep happening
  • China’s Xi Tours Port of Los Angeles – Bloomberg
  • Chinese VP meets with old friends in U.S. – Xinhua | English.news.cn – nice pic
  • Tang Refuses Calls to Quit H.K. Chief Bid – Bloomberg – cheats on wife, then blames her 4 illegal construction. a real putz
  • Baidu Sees Strong Growth in Mobile Search: CEO – Bloomberg – China’s mobile Internet market is growing at an “astonishing pace,” Chief Executive Officer Robin Li said on a conference call today. Baidu will step up efforts in generating sales from mobile services, which make up a small percentage of revenue at present, he said.
    Baidu’s stock rose in extended trading after the company yesterday reported net income climbed 77 percent, boosted by a surge in advertising sales. The Beijing-based company plans to generate more sales from social-media services and is seeking “long-term international opportunities,” Li said today.
    About 15 percent of the search queries handled by Baidu now come from mobile users, Li said. The chief executive didn’t provide targeted revenue figures for mobile services.
  • Obama, Eyeing China, to Boost Export Financing – NYTimes.com – President Barack Obama will stay focused on China on Friday with an announcement of streamlined financing for U.S. exporters that compete against foreign firms that are afforded "unfair advantages," White House officials said.
  • 唯冠:苹果曾用欺诈手段获取iPad商标权 未索赔百亿元-《财经网》 – 杨荣山表示,虽然唯冠现在处于财务危机,但目前还没有公开要求具体赔偿数字,只是根据中国法律维护权益。“我们要首先保证债权人的权益,网络上流传的索赔100亿元,并不是唯冠的要求,是专业人士的看法。”
  • Quelle Surprise! Taxpayers Will Be Paying for Part of Mortgage Settlement « naked capitalism – another bank bailout, all Obama this time//

    The whole purpose of a settlement is that a party pays damages to rid themselves of liability, and the amount they pay (and “pay” can include the cost of reforming their conduct) is less than what they expect to suffer if they were sued and lost the case (otherwise, it would make more sense for them to fight).

    But in the topsy-turvy world of cream for the banks, crumbs for the rest of us, we have, in the words of Scott Simon, head of the mortgage business at bond fund manager Pimco, in an interview with MoneyNews, lots of victims paying for banks’ misdeeds:

    “A lot of the principal reductions would have happened on their loans anyway, and they’re using other people’s money to pay for a ton of this. Pension funds, 401(k)s and mutual funds are going to pick up a lot of the load…

    “Think about this, you tell your kid, ‘You did something bad, I’m going to fine you $10, but if you can steal $22 from your mom, you can pay me with that.’”

    So not only is the settlement designed to shift the costs of the banks’ misdeeds onto already victimized investors, but taxpayers will also be picking up some of the widely touted $25 billion tab. Shahien Nasiripour tells us in the Financial Times that banks will be able to count future mods made under HAMP towards the total:

  • The Farce-Hole Gets Deeper: Obama’s "Robo-Settlement For Votes" Cost To Taxpayers: $40 Billion | ZeroHedge – How much longer are we going to tolerate this corruption and lawlessness? We get what we deserve if we don't start demanding real change//

    Plunging deeper into the farce-hole, the FT reports tonight that Obama's foreclosure settlement with the banks over their improper seizure of tax-paying US citizens' homes will in fact be subsidized by those very same US taxpayers. It is a hidden clause (that has not been made public yet) that allows the banks to count future loan modifications under the $30bn (taxpayer funded) HAMP initiative towards their $35bn agreement to restructure obligations under the new settlement. As the FT goes on to note, BofA will be able to use future mods made under HAMP towards the $7.6bn in borrower assistance it is committed to provide – which means, in a (as TARP inspector general Neil Barofsky describes) 'scandalous' turn of events the bank will receive payments for averting a borrower default and be reimbursed by the taxpayer for the principal write-down. We have much stronger words for how we are feeling about this but Barofsky sums it up calmly "It turns the notion that this is about justice and accountability on its head". Are the Big Five banks truly beyond the law?

  • Inside the Eastern Rise of Weibo, China’s Twitter | Culture | Vanity Fair – Weibo can be used for frivolous socializing and celebrity watching, but what has caught the world’s attention is the site’s powerful twin forces of subversion and surveillance. “Weibo is a magnifying glass for China’s social issues,” says Bill Bishop, a Beijing-based independent analyst who follows China’s Internet market. “It’s raising the pressure, adding some catalyst into an incredibly volatile mix.”

    Hung Huang, an outspoken writer and publisher with 3.9 million followers and the nickname “China’s Oprah,” puts it simply: “Freedom of speech was repressed for so long, Weibo is an outburst. People want to express themselves and before social media, they had no way to do it.”

  • Apple vs. Proview: The Assignment Agreement! | China Hearsay – Bottom line: looking at the Agreement doesn’t fundamentally change my mind on any of this. Proview still broke its promise and Apple still didn’t mandate the best closing procedures. The only surprising bit is the length of the agreement itself. Apple’s best shot here is still the Shenzhen appellate case that will begin on February 29.
  • Scandal May End Rise of Bo Xilai, Party Official in China – NYTimes.com – “What’s going on in Chongqing is a battle over the future course of China,” said Wang Kang, a local writer and commentator. “It is about how China should be run.”

    It also has implications for American politics. Despite denials from Washington, American diplomats and Chinese sources with ties to security services say that one of the chief figures in Chongqing sought asylum at a United States Consulate but was rebuffed partly because the United States did not want to create a diplomatic crisis ahead of Mr. Xi’s trip.

  • World Blog – China’s president-in-waiting Xi Jinping returns to Iowa – As Xi departed the Lande home in the evening rain, he peered through the window of his bullet-proof limousine, waving and waving to his “old friends” until his motorcade turned the corner.
    Clad in a red silk jacket emblazoned with Chinese characters, Lande waved after the polite young man who came over for that pork and corn dinner 27 years ago.
  • Jon Huntsman Criticizes Mitt Romney Over China Policy Despite Endorsement – Yahoo! News – Jon Huntsman, who served as ambassador to China prior to his presidential bid, was blunt when expressing his disapproval of how Mitt Romney would handle relations with China. Huntsman said Romney was "wrong-headed."
    That's unusual language considering Huntsman endorsed Romney's bid for president last month.
  • AFP: China ‘agrees’ to invest $3 bln in N.Korea trade zone – China has agreed to invest about $3 billion in developing North Korea's northeastern free trade zone as an export base, a report said on Wednesday.
    The deal was probably reached before or just after the North's long-time leader Kim Jong-Il died on December 17 of a heart attack, South Korea's Yonhap news agency said.
    China will build an airport, a power plant, a cross-border railway and piers in the North's Rason economic zone bordering China and Russia by 2020, it said.
  • GMO: Here’s A 3-Tiered Way To Short China – Tier 1 would be those names that are directly tied to China real estate, China development, China banks, China cement manufacturers, with an obvious link to China real estate.
    Tier 2 we would describe perhaps as less obvious, think Australian mining.
    Tier 3 even less obvious back to your global comment, everything is tied together. You can play a China short through European luxury goods, through BMW, through Burberry, those kinds of names, vast majority of incremental growth is coming from mainland China. And we think they are very very exposed right now to a potentially dangerous situation. So it's more of a China theme that goes well beyond China's borders."
  • Romney SMASH China!! | Daniel W. Drezner – It's ludicrous for Romney to claim he doesn't want a trade war in the same breath that he promises "day one" action against China.  No wonder conservatives are labeling Romney's China policy as "blaringly anti-trade." 

    To be blunt, this China policy reads like it was composed by the Hulk.  Maybe this will work in the GOP primary, but Romney and his China advisors should know better. 

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