The Sinocism China Newsletter For 10.08.12

The best way to see this daily post is to subscribe by email, especially if you are in China, as Sinocism is blocked by the GFW. You can also follow me on Twitter @niubi or Sina Weibo @billbishop

Back from vacation, just links today, commentary should be back Tuesday:

BUSINESS AND ECONOMY

State-owned enterprises: The state advances | The Economist - it wont be foreign pressure// The state’s grip on the economy has been tightening. Could foreign pressure persuade the new leadership to reverse course?

FT Alphaville » Chinese property is baaaaack!  really? // the slowdown in building of new apartments has dramatically curtailed the problem of huge excess inventories, write Green, Lan and So. In fact, they say, sales are picking up so much — and unit completion has been so slow — that inventory depletion could be a problem in the second half of 2013, at least in the top-tiered cities. Meanwhile, land sales are holding steady and possibly rising (the local governments will be relieved), and financing appears to be easier

楼市“金九银十”几成镜花水月 新华社——经济参考网 - very weak home sales so far in “golden september, silver october” peak real estate sales season.

China’s tourism industry reaps golden harvest – Xinhua | English.news.cn - China’s “Golden Week” holiday justified its title with a rise in tourism revenue, National Tourism Administration (NTA) statistics showed Sunday. The country’s 119 major scenic spots received a total of 34.25 million visitors during the eight-day holiday, up 20.96 percent from the corresponding period last year. Tourism income surged by nearly a quarter from 2011 to 1.77 billion yuan (278.39 million U.S. dollars), the NTA said.//what you would expect from an economy on the brink of “collapse”, as some Western pundits would have you believe? a last hurrah for those who don’t understand what is coming, as some observers might suggest? or are things bad but not actually that bad, and the binary hyperbole about China has distorted understanding about what is going on in the economy?

Congestion dogs travelers |Society |chinadaily.com.cn - The country’s 119 major scenic spots received 34.25 million visitors over the eight-day holiday, up 21 percent from the same period last year. Tourist spending surged by nearly a quarter from last year, up to 1.77 billion yuan ($278 million), the National Tourism Administration said on Sunday…As many as 81 million road journeys were made on Saturday, a 7.6 percent increase from the same day last year.

中秋、国庆长假到景区去看人-财经网 - pictures of some of the crazy crowds over the recent holidays

Foxconn Labor Disputes Disrupt IPhone Output for 2nd Time – Bloomberg - so scratching on the casings is a quality problem, contrary to what apple has said publicly?// One of the company’s factories in Zhengzhou, China, lost two shifts on Oct. 5 after workers became frustrated trying to prevent scratching on the casings of the iPhone 5, according to two people familiar with the matter. A dispute occurred between the production and quality teams at the factory, the company said.

China’s renminbi story will stay intact – FT.com  The appreciation of the renminbi will not be linear, but we see it continuing over the next five to 10 years. The renminbi remains one of the world’s most undervalued currencies as measured by the Economist’s Big Mac index. Long-term investors in advanced economies, subject to financial repression in their home markets, could do well to gain exposure to renminbi over the coming years.

China Economic Watch | Leading Indicators of Economic Rebalancing in China - Overall: While several of the above indicators are positive, most are only slightly so. Except for loans to small enterprises, none of these leading indicators shows a dramatic shift towards rebalancing. If rebalancing is occurring, it is only at the very initial stages and transpiring much more slowly than is optimal. As of right now, the overall grade for rebalancing in China is a C (19/25).

Analysis: China slides faster into pensions black hole | Reuterstoo bad Reuters provides no comparison with pension shortfalls in US, Japan or Europe. China really worse off, or are we all in the same Ponzi boat?// Policy makers and economists have long been worried about the financial burden of China’s expanding patchwork of pension schemes, but those concerns have recently escalated as its rural pension scheme took off in the past three years.The funding shortage is daunting: economists say it could blow out to a whopping $10.8 trillion in the next 20 years from $2.6 trillion in 2010

Korean Automakers Thrive in China as Japanese Car Sales Plummet – Bloomberg - South Korea’s automakers reported record sales in China last month while Japanese manufacturers posted declines after anti-Japan protests over disputed islands escalated in the world’s largest vehicle market.

Glut of Solar Panels Is a New Test for China – NYTimes.com- but won’t world benefit as solar power is now affordable? how many new industries ever develop with perfect efficiency? boom and bust, with Chinese cheap-capital characteristics// The result is a looming financial disaster, not only for manufacturers but for state-owned banks that financed factories with approximately $18 billion in low-rate loans and for municipal and provincial governments that provided loan guarantees and sold manufacturers valuable land at deeply discounted prices.China’s biggest solar panel makers are suffering losses of up to $1 for every $3 of sales this year, as panel prices have fallen by three-fourths since 2008

Cheapest Chinese Stocks Since 1997 Not Enough to Signal Rally – Bloomberg - Haitong Securities Co. strategist Chen Ruiming, who correctly predicted on Aug. 1 the index would fall below the 2,000 level, says the measure is poised to drop a further 14 percent to 1,800 this year.

Authoritarian Information Problems: Data Manipulation in China by Jeremy Wallace :: SSRN - Social scientists question the veracity of the statements of politicians, yet officially released economic statistics are rarely treated with similar skepticism. Are economic data systematically manipulated? Using cross-national and sub-national Chinese data, this paper leverages variation in the likelihood of manipulation over two dimensions, arguing that politically sensitive data are more likely to be manipulated at politically sensitive times. Cross-nationally, headline GDP differs from the highly correlated but less closely watched electricity consumption series across regime types in patterns consistent with dictatorships exaggerating GDP. At the sub-national level in China, the difference between GDP and electricity growth increases in years with leadership turnover, consistent with a reported political business cycle. The analysis points to the limits of non-electoral accountability mechanisms in dictatorships and suggests caution in the use of politically sensitive official economic statistics.

 

POLITICS AND LAW

Bo Xilai’s Former Wife Reveals Paranoid Side of a Once-Powerful Chinese Family – NYTimes.com  two recent interviews with Mr. Bo’s estranged first wife, Li Danyu, 62, deepens the Shakespearean dimension of a scandal that has gripped this nation and disrupted the party’s once-a-decade leadership transition.

China’s ‘New Left’ Grows Louder – WSJ.com - dead-enders, getting too much play in western press. more interesting story is how many of these folks were on bo xilai’s payroll, and how many of the participants in bo’s red rallies and events were actually compensated for their participation// The movement, known as the new left, remains relatively small and obscure, and is unlikely to have a major impact on the coming shuffle of party leadership positions. But criticism from Communist hard-liners in the era of online social media places China’s leaders in a tricky position as a debate over the direction of the party and China’s economic model is quickly spreading from universities and closed-door sessions into public view.

China’s naked truths reveal emperor’s garb – FT.com - as usual the foreigners the last to know? how many chinese think they are untainted?// One senior retired western diplomat who specialised in China for nearly 30 years recently confided to the FT that the Bo Xilai case had prompted an epiphany when he finally realised the top mandarins were just as tainted as officials at the lower levels.

China must reform or risk crisis, experts warn new leader | Reuters- Most party-linked proponents said in interviews with Reuters that political reform must start at the grassroots and be incremental; they called outright democracy a distant or unrealistic idea.”You can’t solve all of these problems in a decade, but you can address the reforms urgently needed by ordinary people and show that you’re heading in the right direction,” said Deng Yuwen, an editor at the Study Times, a newspaper published by the Central Party School which trains rising officials.

China’s Prospects on the Eve of the 18th Party Congress | Brookings Institution - interesting podcast// On September 20, the John L. Thornton China Center at Brookings hosted a discussion analyzing the major issues that will confront China’s new leadership, including tensions in U.S.-China relations, the China-Japan South China Sea dispute, and the country’s future economic and military development.

The Bo Xilai Crisis: Confidence Gained or Risk Increased? -Cheng Li optimistic// To publicly reveal some of the criminal conduct of this charismatic and demagogic CCP leader is a sign of commitment, not a sign of fear. It’s a testament to unity among the leadership, not an evidence of a split. Most importantly, it could potentially be an important step toward gaining public confidence about political reforms and the rule of law.

CHINASCOPE – China to Carry-Out Anti-Cult Propaganda and Education in the “Sixth Five-year” Law Publicity Plan - In discussing the importance of the education program, the notice admitted that “the tenacity and recurring nature of the cult, particularly the support and utilization by the overseas Western hostile forces, (have determined) that the struggle is still very serious, complex and labile. ‘Falun Gong’ has frequently been adjusting its strategies and changing the means it uses to confront us and compete for the masses with us in collaboration with domestic ‘Falun Gong’ members.”

 

FOREIGN AND DEFENSE AFFAIRS

Huawei probed for security, espionage risk – 60 Minutes – CBS News - US government gives Huawei the highway. Burson Marsteller has a sisyphean PR task. But irresponsible of CBS to not even mention US government use of American telco firms for surveillance. US knows best how this works, of course it is worried about Huawei, as I wrote earlier this year in a post that should have been titled “US to Huawei: It’s Us, not You”

Huawei Is Security Threat, U.S. Lawmakers Say After Probe – Bloomberg - U.S. companies considering purchases from Huawei should “find another vendor if you care about your intellectual property, if you care about your consumers’ privacy, and you care about the national security of the United States of America,” Representative Mike Rogers, the panel’s chairman, told CBS News’s “60 Minutes,” according to a CBS release about an interview set to air Oct. 7.

人民日报-中国需要这样的坚守(国际论坛) 钟 声 - People’s Daily Zhong Sheng returns from vacation to declare that Chinese ship patrols around Diaoyu Islands are something that Japan better get used to it

China continues fishery patrols near Diaoyu Islands – Xinhua | English.news.cn - China’s fishery authorities said Saturday that five fishery patrol ships were in the waters off the Diaoyu Islands during the National Day holiday to continue their patrol and protection missions.

Commentary: Japanese gov’t must stop conniving at rightist provocations – Xinhua | English.news.cn - At a time when the two sides should step up negotiations, the Japanese government’s connivance in domestic rightist extremism is further complicating the already serious situation.

Japan deleted from list of countries on Chinese video-sharing sites – AJW by The Asahi Shimbun mature// The websites, including Youku, Tudou and PPS, recently removed the “Japan” category from their list of countries, making it harder for users to find Japanese content.

Nationalism in Japan: Beware the populists | The Economist -Genron’s latest poll of influential Japanese, issued on October 3rd, says most oppose nationalising the Senkakus, do not think it will lead to military conflict, and hope the issue will be shelved. Mr Kingston says Japanese nationalism has “all the power of one-hand clapping”. Abroad, though, the clapping is amplified as loudly as those blaring black trucks in Tokyo.

Big U.S. Fleet Nears Disputed Islands, But What For? | U.S. | TIME.com - Two Navy aircraft carrier battle groups and a Marine Corps air-ground task force have begun operating in the Western Pacific, within easy reach of the Senkaku Islands. That’s where Japanese and Chinese patrol boats are engaged in an increasingly tense standoff.

INTERVIEW/ Wang Jisi: China deserves more respect as a first-class power – AJW by The Asahi Shimbun- The distrust over the mutual long-term strategic intentions between the United States and China is worsening, said Wang Jisi, a top expert of American studies in China.In a recent interview with The Asahi Shimbun, the dean of the School of International Studies of Peking University pointed out that the recent U.S. policy decision of “rebalancing” to the Asia-Pacific region has further complicated the situation by deepening the concern and the suspicion of U.S. intentions among the Chinese general population.

South Korea to Extend Range of Missiles – WSJ.com - In announcing the move Sunday, Mr. Lee’s national-security aide Chun Yong-woo said South Korea would extend the range of its ballistic missiles to 500 miles, a distance that would mean it could hit the northeast corner of North Korea from launch sites in central South Korea. It also puts part of China’s northeast and a large area of Japan within range of South Korea’s missiles.

CHINASCOPE – Military Professor: “Corruption is the #1 Enemy of the People’s Liberation Army” - On October 2, 2012, BBC Chinese published an article titled “Military Professor: Corruption is the #1 Enemy of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA).” Professor Liu Mingfu of China’s National Defense University of the PLA, recently published his new book called “Why the PLA Will Win.”

Southeast Asia splashes out on defense, mostly maritime | Reuters- fat years ahead in Asia for defense firms. US pivot to Asia can/should be funded in part by Allies weapons systems acquisitions?// High on the list are warships, patrol boats, radar systems and combat planes, along with submarines and anti-ship missiles that are particularly effective in denying access to sea lanes.”Submarines are a big thing,” said Tim Huxley, executive director for Asia at the International Institute for Strategic Studies.

Relations with Myanmar: Less thunder out of China | The Economist- The result is that what the Chinese took to be a solid, mutually beneficial relationship with the Burmese has exploded in their faces—with long-term consequences for Myanmar, the balance of power in South-East Asia and the whole way that China does business with poorer countries.

China, International Law, and Cyberspace – China Power- The most important driver may be that Beijing could soon find itself isolated. Russia has been much more receptive to discussing how LOAC applies to cyber, and has been less adamant about the International Code of Conduct in multilateral meetings recently. The United States needs to keep engaging Beijing on this issue, but, as with so many issues, it is likely to get better traction with China by scheduling more meetings in other countries’ capitals.Adam Segal

China’s Latest Export: Journalists – Businessweek - Guan is one of 100 journalists who CCTV has put to work in Washington, D.C., this year. He and a few dozen colleagues send dispatches in Mandarin to 42 channels back home, while 60 others produce business and news-magazine shows for a new English-language channel. Dubbed CCTV America, it airs on cable and satellite and is meant to burnish China’s image in the U.S

China and the Northern Rivalry – NYTimes.com - And for those who may question the geographical justification of China’s interest in the Arctic, consider this: Within Chinese territory (as well as Indian territory, of course) is an area known as the Third Pole – the Himalayas. Calling it a “new concept,” Mr. Degeorges said, the Third Pole notion gave Asian countries like China and India “more legitimacy when it comes to dealing with polar regions.”

The Jamestown Foundation: Zhou Yongkang’s Trip Highlights Security Diplomacy - The choice of a security-heavy delegation bolstered by the head of the CCP’s diplomatic arm to meet with Ashgabat and Kabul shows the close relationship between diplomacy, resources and the growing need for Beijing to export security assistance. Chinese interests abroad probably have expanded more than Beijing’s ability to track, manage and protect them. In the last five years, Zhou and State Councilor Meng Jianzhu, who covers political-legal affairs and leads the Ministry of Public Security, seem to have been more involved in diplomacy than their predecessors, suggesting Beijing is using their domestic security experiences and law enforcement expertise to support a positive development environment.

Afghan hospital in coma for poor workmanship – Features – Al Jazeera English   Built by China, Jumhoriat hospital has been closed over safety concerns since a day after Karzai inaugurated it in 2009.

China’s Afghan Moment – By Andrew Small | Foreign Policy As the United States dials down its goal of defeating the Taliban, China could become Afghanistan’s most important mediator and investor.

 

TECH AND MEDIA

WeChat’s Quest to Become China’s First Global Internet Product | TechRice - June. Indonesia in September. Tencent’s marketing effort includes Starbucks, Facebook, celebrities, and, yes, cute Taiwanese girls in wechatapp.com tank tops all across Taipei.

陌陌科技唐岩:我们不愁没钱赚 谈盈利还太早_互联网_科技时代_新浪网 - MoMo, another Chinese App that is getting huge usage. Momo is great for finding people nearby, and especially for hooking up. They just raised 40m USD at 100m valuation

 

SOCIETY, ART AND CULTURE

Women in China Face Rising University Entry Barriers – NYTimes.com - On the last day of August, Xiong Jing and two friends shaved their heads in Beijing to protest a growing trend in Chinese universities in which women increasingly must score higher than men to get in and face unofficial but widespread gender quotas that favor men.

Study: Corporate Women Get Little Love at China’s State Firms – China Real Time Report – WSJ Chinese women continue to make strides in corporate settings, but they’re still a rare sight at the helm of Chinese companies – particularly at state-owned enterprises (SOEs) — according to a new study by Yan Zhang, a management professor at China Europe International Business School.

Open Courses From America Find Ea­ger Au­di­ences in Chi­na – Online Learning – The Chronicle of Higher Education - As more and more courses are offered free to anyone with an Internet connection, some American professors have developed a huge following abroad, particularly in China. Another such scholar is Mi­chael J. San­del, a Harvard University professor whose highly popular po­lit­i­cal-phi­los­o­phy course “Justice” was the first Harvard course to be offered free online.

Oh, to be Jewish in China – NYTimes.com  But such ready-made ethnic and racial formulas tread on dangerous territory. Some Chinese believe ‘‘Jews rule the world or play a bigger role than they actually have done,” Professor Xu explains. “Sometimes they over-exaggerate the power of the Jews.”

Why China Lacks Gangnam Style : The New Yorker  For now, China’s Gangnam moment seems far off. “In China, culture and the arts develop under the watchful eye of the government, and anything too hip or interesting gets either shut down or bought up

 

ENERGY, ENVIRONMENT AND HEALTH

Air monitoring system comes under fire |Society |chinadaily.com.cn - “Many regions, including Hong Kong and Taiwan as well as cities in the United States and Europe, provide a download service for air-quality data, so the public can access information at any time and for any location,” she said. “It is not necessary for the government to keep the data secret as it has already been released to the public.”

Beijing’s PM2.5 monitoring network releases complete data – Xinhua | English.news.cn - A network to monitor PM2.5 in the air in the Chinese capital was completed Saturday as another 15 monitoring stations began releasing real-time data.

Public health: Where there’s smoke : Nature : Nature Publishing Group - These airborne toxicants — many of which are by-products of China’s economic boom — are risk factors for chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), an incurable respiratory disorder that can cause severe breathing difficulties. And they have public-health officials worldwide worried about a coming epidemic. “We’re just seeing the tip of the iceberg on COPD in China,” says Don Sin, a respiratory medicine specialist at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada, who researches COPD. “In 30 years, [the number of cases] is going to explode.”

Impacts and Implications of Major Changes Caused by the Three Gorges Dam in the Middle Reaches of the Yangtze River, China – Springer - The impoundment of the Three Gorges Dam (TGD) has disturbed the hydrological regime downstream and has directly affected the relationship between the Yangtze River and Dongting Lake.

人民日报-三峡铸就中国骄傲(科学发展 成就辉煌) - People’s Daily Page 1 on the glorious achievement of the Three Gorges Damn and the pride it brings to China

China to invest billions in sandstorm controls – Xinhua | English.news.cn - China will invest a total of 87.79 billion yuan (13.72 billion U.S. dollars) to help control the sources of sandstorms that affect Beijing and its neighboring Tianjin Municipality, according to the country’s top economic planner

China close to entering WHO-approved global vaccine market | Reuters a relative has worked on this// The vaccine is against Japanese encephalitis, a debilitating mosquito-borne disease prevalent in Southeast Asia and the Far East that can be fatal, especially in children. Made by Chengdu Institute, part of China’s top vaccine maker China National Biotech Group (CNBG), the vaccine is likely to win so-called prequalification status from the World Health Organization (WHO), Seth Berkley, chief executive of the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI), said.

CHINASCOPE – Abortions in China Reach 13 Million a Year - China’s National Population and Family Planning Commission recently released statistics showing that there are over 13 million abortions in China every year, the highest in the world. Over 50 percent of the abortions are performed on women under 25 years old.

 

BOOKS AND LITERATURE

Will Chinese writer Mo Yan get this year’s Nobel Prize for Literature? Chinese netizens vote no | Offbeat China - The Nobel Prize, in the hearts of many Chinese, is a permanent scar, just like the World Cup – they want it so badly but can never get it. This year, popular Chinese writer Mo Yan has been reported to be in top places for the literature prize, with odds on him at 8/1. It seems like a dream finally becoming true, but many Chinese netizens are saying: “He doesn’t deserve it.”

The best way to see this daily post is to subscribe by email, especially if you are in China, as Sinocism is blocked by the GFW. You can also follow me on Twitter @niubi or Sina Weibo @billbishop

 

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