Today’s China Readings May 22, 2012

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Today’s must read article is Ed Wong and Jon Ansfield’s Bo Xilai’s Fall in China Put Allies in Peril in the New York Times. They detail Bo’s relationship with three men–Xu Ming, Yu Junshi and Ma Biao–and their detentions after an ill-advised return to China following a February flight to Australia. One is a former spy with killer dogs, one is a fat former banker, and one is an ex-seafood salesman who rose to become one of the richest men in China. It is a great read.

Last week Shai Oster of Bloomberg reported on a German in Beijing being Held on Art Smuggling in China as Buyers Dodge Tax. Recently I heard from a friend in the business that there may be a bigger crackdown underway against the rampant tax evasion in the China art world. This investigation is rumored to include not just foreign firms and foreigners like Sotheby’s, Christies and Indonesian-Chinese farming tycoon Budi Tek but also Minsheng Bank and renowned artist Liu Ye. Ai Wewei of course is in the middle of a tax case. I wonder if during the investigation the authorities found evidence of tax evasion in much of the China art world?

The Wall Street Journal heard from Yang Rui–China State TV Host Yang Rui Responds to Controversy Over ‘Foreign Trash’ Comments. It turns out that Yang just meant to call Melissa Chan a shrew, not a bitch. According to this 2011 essay, Yang Rui may have a history of using foul language– 薛涌:论“大国主持人”杨锐的粗口–南方报业网. With soft power representatives like Yang…

The US government has launched its own crackdown against illegal Chinese teachers, issuing a Directive that Could Disrupt Confucius Institutes on Campuses. Beijing’s reaction will be interesting and many US schools will be very upset as they have to come to rely on Chinese government money for their Chinese language programs. From the Chronicle of Higher Eduction story:

A policy directive sent by the U.S. Department of State to universities that sponsor Confucius Institutes suggests that the language and cultural centers that are a key piece of the Chinese government’s diplomatic outreach will have to change how they operate or fall afoul of American visa laws.

The memorandum, dated May 17, states that any academics at university-based institutes who are teaching at the elementary- and secondary-school levels are violating the terms of their visas and must leave at the end of this academic year, in June. And it says that, after a “preliminary review,” the State Department has determined that the institutes must obtain American accreditation in order to continue to accept foreign scholars and professors as teachers

Global Entrepreneur Magazine has a very interesting article on why Chinese companies need to get on to Facebook to interact with overseas clients Facebook, and the challenges they face–Facebook 和它的中国客户. Non-Chinese firms face a similar issue in reverse, as they need to use Weibo and maybe Qzone or Renren to talk to Chinese consumers. One world, two Internets is creating a headache for a lot of companies, though there may also be opportunities for consultants and social media marketing firms to help bridge the two Internets.

Wu Ying, convicted of running an illegal lending business among other crimes, has had her death penalty sentence reduced to death with reprieve. Public outrage over her initial sentence played a key role in the reduction, as Xinhua tells us in Death-sentenced businesswoman receives lighter penalty following heated debates. A few months ago in China Entrepreneur Magazine Examines Private Lending And The Wu Ying Death Penalty Case I discussed the case and a long expose that appeared in Chinese media.

The toxic food du jour has been found to be something grandma likes to buy my kids, against my protests. Beijing Ruihua Popsicles production and sales were halted after after tests found batches containing massive amounts of bacteria. But at least the disposable cups we have been using should no longer be unsafe after July 1, as the government is raising standards raised for disposable cups.

On Saturday I wrote that “Baidu and Sina are also joining in the anti-foreigner fun. People’s Daily Online tells us that a new Weibo campaign targets misbehaving foreigners.” People’s Daily was the source for this comment, but it apparently got the story wrong and Baidu is actually not involved in any online hunt for illegal foreigners.

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