Much of China is still breathing exceptionally toxic air. Chinese media is all over the story in a remarkably transparent contrast to today’s haze in Beijing.
The front page of Monday’s People’s Daily has two articles on the pollution crisis–美丽中国，从健康呼吸开始 (Beautiful China Starts With Healthy Breathing) and 雾霾还将持续几天 各地应对重点：尾气、燃煤、扬尘. The Saturday and Sunday CCTV Evening News, watched by hundred of millions of people, both devoted much of the broadcasts to the air pollution crisis. Today’s Global Times has a very interesting editorial on China’s environmental challenges–环保和发展如何取舍应由社会决定. When there is a translation I will post it. [UPDATE: The official English translation is here.]
China Daily covers the healthy debate over air:
Continuous, large-scale pollution in the form of smog will create panic among the public and cause people to question the government’s handling of environmental issues, according to the China Council for International Cooperation on Environment and Development.
The growth and severity of PM2.5 pollution in recent years is directly related to the rapid rise in coal consumption, allied to an increase in vehicle exhaust emissions. Although cities such as Beijing and Guangzhou are leading the way in the reduction of coal use in absolute terms, air pollution naturally moves with the air currents, meaning some cities share each other’s polluted air. The Ministry of Environmental Protection is encouraging places such as the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region, the Yangtze River Delta and the Pearl River Delta to unite to combat pollution.
Xinhua English reports that Beijing air pollution has reached dangerous levels:
“Beijing implemented its emergency response plan for hazardous pollution for the first time on Sunday,” said Yu Jianhua, director of the air quality department under the municipal environmental protection bureau.The plan, issued last year, includes multiple measures to combat and respond to hazardous levels of air pollution.
The plan calls for construction sites to limit construction activity that creates large amounts of dust, as well as asks industrial enterprises to reduce emissions, during hazardous pollution days.
The plan also requires municipal traffic authorities to limit government vehicle usage during smoggy days, with the goal of reducing such usage by 30 percent compared to normal days.
The plan also calls for education authorities to instruct schools to limit or completely stop outdoor activity during periods of heavy air pollution.
Media coverage of the crisis is remarkable. Clearly it is impossible to pretend that the air is not polluted or that the health risks are not significant, so are the propaganda authorities just recognizing reality in allowing coverage? Or is there something more going on here, as perhaps the new government wants to both demonstrate a commitment to transparency and accountability as well as use this crisis to further the difficult reforms towards a more sustainable development model?
The 18th Party Congress passed an amendment to the Party Constitution (Xinhua) that included a paragraph about “socialist ecological progress”:
With the revision, the overall planning for building socialism with Chinese characteristics now has five major parts: developing socialist market economy, promoting socialist democracy, developing advanced socialist culture, building harmonious socialist society and promoting ecological progress.
The report to the 18th CPC National Congress delivered by Hu Jintao said that the Party will “work hard to build a beautiful country, and achieve lasting and sustainable development of the Chinese nation.”
The spokesman said that promoting ecological progress is an important achievement by the Party in further understanding the nature and relations between human and the nature, as well as a requirement for realizing scientific development.
Is it really just empty talk? Given the risks to any government when many of its citizens believe they do not have clean air to breathe, safe food to eat or clean water to drink, expect there is more to this than just rhetoric.
If you like Chinese pop songs, check out this poignant “pollution version” music video of the popular song “Beijing, Beijing”–【优酷牛人】大雾版《北京北京》(Youku).
Pollution is good for some businesses. Taobao’s Tmall saw a huge surge in sales of mask over the weekend–淘宝天猫一天卖上万口罩 北京销量增130%|口罩|淘宝|北京_新浪网.
In Breathing in Beijing: Coping With China’s Smog Didi Kirsten Tatlow has written a nice article about dealing with the pollution when you have kids. I have to say, the last couple of days have me seriously questioning why I have chosen to force my kids to breathe this air.
THE ESSENTIAL EIGHT
China Export Surge Spurs Data Skepticism at Goldman, UBS – Bloomberg – The increase, which was the biggest since May, could indicate exporters’ rush to finish year-end orders and government pressure to report exports before the end of the year to reach the government’s 2012 target of 10 percent growth, Shen Jianguang, Mizuho’s Hong Kong-based chief Asia economist, said in a Jan. 10 note.“It is possible that local governments may have tried to boost exports data by either making round trips in special trade zones” or by exporting “earlier than otherwise in an attempt to improve the annual exports data,” Goldman Sachs’ Beijing- based economists Yu Song and Yin Zhang wrote the same day.
A Cycle of Contamination — and Cancer — That Won’t End – NYTimes.com- The people of Handan reacted to these disclosures the same way almost anyone else would. First, they panicked, mobbing stores for bottled water. Then, they were furious, demanding to know why no one had told them they were drinking water laced with a probable carcinogen. If history is any guide, they will never get a satisfactory answer.For me, reading about Handan prompted a sick feeling of déjà vu. For the last five years I have been writing a history of the chemical industry’s egregious 60-year involvement in the New Jersey shore town of Toms River, which gained unwanted notoriety in the late 1990s thanks to a remarkably well-documented cluster of childhood cancer cases and a long history of often hidden industrial pollution
London smog disaster, England – Thousands of tons of black soot, tar particles, and sulfur dioxide had accumulated in the air from the heavy coal combustion. Estimates of PM10 concentrations during December, 1952, range between 3,000 and 14,000 ?g/m³ with the high range being approximately 50 times higher than normal levels at the time. PM10 is particulate matter less than 10 micrometers in diameter. Conditions for Londoners today are much better with PM 10 concentrations around 30 ?g/m³. Estimates also suggest that sulfur dioxide levels during December of 1952 were 7 times greater than normal at 700 parts per billion (ppb).
Top Japan General Calls for Beefed-Up Defenses – WSJ.com- In addition to seeking more funds for defense next year, the new Japanese government is adding more for the current fiscal year by requesting ¥180.5 billion for weapons purchases and other defense purposes as part of an emergency economic stimulus package. On the new shopping list: a new submarine, a destroyer and surveillance planes for the navy; more aerial radar capabilities for the air force by upgrading such equipment as airborne warning and control system (Awacs), and early warning aircraft known as E-2C. The army will conduct more drills for island defense and prepare new bases in places such as Yonaguni, an island less than 100 miles from the disputed islands, known as Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China.
三四线城市楼市泡沫风险加剧 新华社——经济参考网 – risks of crash in 3-4th tier real estate increasing// 日前有媒体曝光，2012年年底几天，温州平阳县鳌江泰宇花苑的业主们几乎每天都出现在温州建行平阳支行门口，原因是泰宇花苑项目老板已经跑路。据了解，泰宇花苑2009年开盘，2011年已停工，其项目负债总额达13亿元。购房者表示，该楼盘无法按售房合同于2012年8月31日如期交房，购房梦想化为泡影。老板跑路、炒房者自杀、炒房团覆没只是温州房地产市场泡沫破灭的缩影。作为温州炒房团一员的李虎对记者表示，现在温州新建商品房比最高价时下跌百分之三四十，炒房者即便现在把房子卖出去，也已经资不抵债。温州楼市现象并非个案。多位业内人士表示，越来越多三四线城市呈现出房地产泡沫风险加剧的趋势。
人民日报-改革没有完成时(人民观点) ——深化改革方法论之七 本报评论部 – 7th and final installment in People’s Daily “discussion of methods for deepening reform” commentary series, this one on there being no end to reform..takes nice dig at Fukuyama and his now discredited “end of history” nonsense at end of piece//上世纪80年代末，冷战结束后，一位叫福山的日裔美国人，曾充满自信地宣告，“历史终结了”。现在看来，只有“历史终结论”终结了。发展永无止境，改革未有穷期。改革不停顿，开放不止步，以更大的政治勇气和智慧，不失时机深化重要领域改革，我们就能以新的奋斗、新的成就，无愧今天、不负明天。（本系列评论到此结束）
demystifying air quality numbers « livefrombeijing Summary:- Concentration is the most accurate way of describing air pollution, but isn’t good for public awareness and comparing multiple pollutants.- Both the US and China use AQI systems. Both systems go from 0-500, and are not technically defined above 500.- The US and Chinese systems are identical above an index value of 200 (PM2.5 concentration of 150), but slightly different below this level.- Because the systems aren’t identical and have different slopes, you have to be very careful when saying something like “PM2.5 is 150.” The meaning of this statement is different depending on if you mean concentration OR US AQI OR Chinese AQI.
An Oxford in Changzhou? International schools spread across China | Reuters- we have an Eton in our complex, never considered sending our kids there…no mention of teacher quality, do not believe background checks are done on foreign teachers..sadly expect pedophile problems…also expect more regulation of this sector // That international aura is key to persuading ambitious Chinese parents to pay steep tuition fees. Many schools feature foreign-looking children on their websites or name themselves after elite schools in Britain or North America.Oxford International is one example. Then there is EtonHouse, a Singaporean company that operates schools in eight Chinese provincial cities.Maple Leaf Educational Systems has expanded to seven cities in China from its original home in Dalian, a northeastern Chinese port city, by offering a curriculum endorsed by the British Columbia board of education in Canada.
BUSINESS AND ECONOMY
A股持仓账户占比现历史新低_股票频道_一财网 – retail investors are not buying into shanghai stock market rally// 12月份A股持仓账户减少了50多万户，而持仓账户数占比更是惊人地创下历史新低。投资者用脚投票能否换来长期回报提升？
China Speeds Stock-Market Opening, but Foreigners Want More – WSJ.com- but foreigners are// The QFII program is tiny in comparison with the size of China’s overall share market, which has a capitalization of about 24 trillion yuan ($3.9 trillion). But it has been greatly expanded, in part due to changes from the China Securities Regulatory Commission, headed up by Guo Shuqing, who has been chairman since late 2011. Mr. Guo was previously head of China’s foreign-exchange regulator, which is part of the central bank, and of China Construction Bank Corp., 601939.SH +0.22% one of the country’s four big banks. “Regulatory-wise, we have never seen anything like it before, and there is probably more to come in 2013,” said Winnie Deng, an analyst at Shanghai-based consultancy Z-Ben Advisors, referring to the expansion of the QFII program.
投资客高位接盘被套 海南个别楼盘均价跌三成_财经频道_一财网 - bit of a real estate crash may be underway in hainan..again// 虽然多数业内人士仍对此保持乐观，并坚信上世纪90年代海南楼市上演的“击鼓传花”游戏不会重演，但并没有人敢断言这批投资客何时才能解套。
Promise of China Fades for International Banks – WSJ.com-but several made billions on their investments in the big Chinese banks…if they had not been such bad actors and caused the 2008 financial crisis they might, might, have had a better shot in China..// Other banks have faced similar setbacks in China. From HSBC Holdings HSBA.LN +0.64% PLC to Goldman Sachs Group Inc., GS -0.17% some of the biggest names in global finance have been busy unwinding their investments amid tougher new capital rules and a general sense that the deals didn’t deliver what they promised: an entry into a lucrative and promising market.”Banks are stuck with investments that aren’t useful strategically,” said Derek Ovington, CLSA Asia Pacific’s regional head of bank research.
茅台五粮液销量被指断崖式滑坡 - Moutai, other high-end Bai Jiu firms seen sales fall of a cliff? this article says they have, blames sales channel chaos// 昨日 （1月13日），《每日经济新闻》记者从西南地区最大的酒水销售商1919酒类连锁超市（以下简称1919超市）方面得到的数据显示，据不完全统计，2012年12月，成都市区各大商场超市卖场内，茅台销售量同比下滑了40%，五粮液下滑60%，泸州老窖1573则下滑了近90%。
New capital airport cleared for takeoff |Economy |chinadaily.com.cn- Beijing’s new airport will greatly ease the burden on the current airport, but civilian and military use must be coordinated to ensure smooth operations, experts have said.Approval of the airport, to be located in the south of the capital, was announced on Sunday.
China Mulls Trial Program for Individuals Investing Overseas – Bloomberg – The People’s Bank of China will proactively prepare for the trial of its qualified domestic individual investor program, it said in a statement on its website yesterday, without giving further details. The central bank lists the so-called QDII2 initiative as one of its major goals for 2013.China is seeking to reduce its reliance on the dollar after accumulating $3.31 trillion of foreign-exchange reserves, the world’s largest stockpile. The country’s foreign-exchange regulator said in April that it will gradually open more channels for capital outflows and relax restrictions on residents’ overseas investments, as it seeks to make the yuan a fully convertible currency.
POLITICS AND LAW
郑州房妹之父涉嫌职务犯罪被批捕_网易新闻中心 – father of Zhengzhou “housing sister” has been arrested..huge case, symbol of all that is wrong with the subsidized housing proble, getting huge play in Chinese press (see next 2 links), not sure it has been covered in Western press
人民日报-“房妹”能否力促经适房反腐（人民时评） 李 拯 – and a commentary on the zhengzhou housing sister and whether this absurd case will spur a corruption crackdown in subsidized housing
人民日报-郑州“房妹”事件 阶段性调查公布(深阅读) 尚有不少疑问待解 - Zhengzhou “housing sister” gets 2 people’s daily pieces today. 1st this, on the results of the initial investigation..
Taiyuan police chief Li Yali on probation | South China Morning Post – Li Yali disciplined after probe into allegations he concealed son’s drink-driving, assault on officer, to be fired
Probe begins in official owning 16 properties — Shanghai Daily – CHINA’S securities regulator has launched an investigation into a senior official in Fujian Province after the official’s neighbor accused her of owning 16 improperly obtained real estate assets worth tens of millions of yuan, Xinhua news agency reported.
NPC official runs down senior in crosswalk, flashes government badge before taking off | Nanfang Insider- Yesterday it was reported by TV5 that around two weeks ago, a 64 year-old man was knocked over by a luxury car at a zebra crossing in Zhanjiang, Guangdong. The driver of the car did not help but stopped and flashed her I.D. showing that she was a deputy to the National People’s Congress before fleeing. The driver has since been identified as a woman surnamed Wang, a professor at Guangdong Marine University, according to Southern Metropolis Daily.
【舒立观察】劳教改革与限制警权_杂志频道_财新网 – 停止乃至废止劳教制度，一如十年前废除收容制度，都是对警权的直接限制。正因此，必须随时警惕警察权的另行扩张
Key suspect dead in NE China bus explosion – Xinhua | English.news.cn- The key suspect in a bus explosion that killed 11 people in northeast China’s Heilongjiang Province has been found dead in the blast, local government said Sunday. A police investigation showed, Gao Wanfeng is suspected of placing the explosives on a commuter bus that blasted around 6:30 a.m. Friday in the Lingdong district of the city of Shuangyashan, according to a city government statement.
FOREIGN AND DEFENSE AFFAIRS
人民日报-大国崛起需要“战略定力”（新论·中国机遇） 周方银- interesting commentary in today’s people’s daily on need for more long-term strategic planning to help China’s rise..this “China’s Opportunity” going to be a new commentary series? // 战略定力，要求我们认准长期战略目标，克服短期行为的诱惑和冲动，同时以相对超然的心态看待发展过程中的顺利与挫折。古人云，“知止而后有定，定而后能静，静而后能安，安而后能虑，虑而后能得。”有定力，才能静下心来，进行周详思考，做出稳妥应对。大的战略规划需要有大的战略定力。在中国崛起的关键时期，我们更需要战略定力，静下心来思考长期和重大的问题，拿出长期和有效的应对方略，最终实现中华民族的伟大复兴。（作者为中国社会科学院亚太与全球战略研究院研究员）
人民日报-安倍强硬举动挑战亚太和平 本报驻日本记者 田 泓 刘军国 本报驻澳大利亚记者 王佳可 – People’s Daily Page 3–Abe’s hard-line actions threaten peace in Asia Pacific
Review & Outlook: In Japan’s Defense – WSJ.com – The new Japanese government of Shinzo Abe has leaked to the press its intention to increase defense spending and rewrite the once-a-decade strategy review drawn up by the Democratic Party in 2010. While this is encouraging news, the trial-balloon rise in the Self Defense Forces’ budget is a paltry 2% (and probably some supplemental spending this year). With Chinese maritime forces trying to establish de facto control over Japan’s southern-most islands and North Korea firing off long-range ballistic missiles, Mr. Abe needs to get serious about defense, and fast
二炮导弹旅多枚导弹齐射打击同一目标现场_网易新闻中心 – 这是首支信息化导弹旅日前进行的一次集群火力突击演练。十多枚导弹在新型机动指挥系统控制下，首次运用自动“点火”功能实施导弹齐射，对同一目标发起精确打击。这标志着多项前沿信息技术成果已转化为战斗力，信息化导弹旅初具规模。
HONG KONG AND TAIWAN
Taiwan Opposition Draws Thousands to Protest Ma’s Administration – Bloomberg – “We demand that Premier Sean Chen be held accountable for the island’s weak economy,” Jason Lin, spokesman of the Democratic Progressive Party, said by phone.More than 54,000 protesters joined the rally, according to Liao Heng-yu, public order division chief at Taipei City Police Department, Lin said 150,000 demonstrators took part. Organizers had targeted participation by 100,000.Ma’s approval rating has fallen to 13 percent since his re- election last January with 52 percent of the popular vote
TECH AND MEDIA
风投热捧国内科技博客：不看重盈利为战略意义|科技|博客|意义_互联网_科技时代_新浪网 – nice overview of chinese tech blogs..some have even raised a rounds// 或许正是信息大爆炸时代，人们对于知识获取需求的改变，让科技博客这个早已在互联网上存在了十几年的元老级概念再度“逆袭上位”。从2010年至今，国内科技博客界已涌现出诸如36氪、雷锋网、虎嗅网、PingWest、钛媒体等多家新创网站，据南都记者了解，这几家科技博客网站均已获得天使轮或A轮融资，有的甚至已开始启动B轮融资计划。
SOCIETY, ART, SPORTS, CULTURE AND HISTORY
Chinese Player Breaks New Ground at Australian Open – NYTimes.com – The player in question is the quick and diminutive Wu Di, who is also the first Chinese man to play singles in any Grand Slam tournament in the 45-year-old Open era.
Liberal writer Li Chengpeng was punched and threatened with a knife at his Beijing book-signing event yesterday | South China Morning Post- Writer Li Chengpeng returned to his hometown Chengdu Saturday to sign copies of his new book, “The Whole World Knows”, a collection of essays, only to be told beforehand by domestic security police that he would not be allowed to address the crowd, speak with fans, or follow up with a Q&A session. In response, Li appeared wearing a mouth mask and a t-shirt on which he had written, “I love you all.” Yesterday, Li returned to Beijing for another book signing, this time greeted by a very long line of readers, a punch in the head, and a threat from one radical leftist in the form of a kitchen knife.
ENERGY, ENVIRONMENT AND HEALTH
Petrochemical leak pollutes Shanghai port – Xinhua | English.news.cn- Improper loading resulted in a petrochemical leak that has polluted a port in Shanghai, local authorities said Sunday. Workers at the Jueshi Port failed to fully shut down a valve while loading C9, a dangerous petrochemical, onto a cargo ship around 10 a.m. Thursday, resulting in the chemical spilling into the port’s waters, the municipal work safety administration said.
Shanghai probes illegal chemical waste dump – Globaltimes.cn- Residents in Songjiang district of Shanghai line up to get water supplies from a fire engine on Friday. Photo: CFP. The Shanghai government on Friday launched an investigation into a case of illegal dumping of chemical waste that caused severe air and river pollution in suburban Jinshan and Songjiang districts. Residents in Zhujing town, Jinshan district, and the adjacent Maogang town of Songjiang district reported a pungent odor to local authorities at 7:40 pm Thursday. “I realized there was a smell at around 7:30 pm that covered the whole town. You could smell it even with your windows shut,” a resident in Zhujing surnamed Jiang told the Global Times Friday. Local authorities later found chemicals including styrene in the waters of Jueshi Port. Authorities began to monitor air and water quality in the two districts every two hours, and tested water quality on an hourly basis, according to the Jinshan district government.
山西苯胺污染人祸_杂志频道_财新网 – Caixin on the Shanxi Aniline mess// 瞒报，是比事故本身更大的事故
广东湛江至茂名输油道泄漏 10余吨原油流入南溪河_资讯频道_凤凰网 – oil pipeline in guangdong leaks, 10 tons of oil flows into the nanxi river
环保部叫停深圳机场扩建工程_财经频道_一财网 - Ministry of Environmental Protection halts expansion of Shenzhen Airport…started work before approval of environmental impact assessment// 深圳市机场（集团）有限公司扩建工程因未获环评手续而擅自开工，日前被国家环境保部叫停。
环评报告猫腻多 环评报告“公众参与”部分易造假 新华社——经济参考网 – Guangming Daily says fraud not uncommon in environmental assessment reports..shocked, just shocked…//
JOBS AND EVENTS
PR Manager | Evernote – I know the hiring manager, ping me if you are qualified and interested// We are looking for an energetic, experienced individual to drive our public relations efforts in mainland China. The Regional Public Relations Manager is a management position that reports to the General Manager of Evernote/China. This person will work with other members of the marketing & PR teams our Californian headquarters and in China.
Yesterday’s newsletter included this item about Google: Google in China: Mr Kim, tear down that wall; Mr Xi, carry on | The Economist -In my comments I left out “not”. To clarify, I do not NOT think Google believes it can curry favor with the Chinese government. I corrected the item on Twitter and Sinocism.com immediately after sending the email.
Subscribe to the Sinocism China Newsletter email. Free