The Sinocism China Newsletter For 01.15.13

The air in Beijing is much better today. I can see CBD clearly (Twitter photo) and even inhale…

Does anyone know who in US government is responsible for the decision to install air quality monitoring equipment at the US embassy in Beijing, and then to release the data publicly? That decision changed the way the Chinese government communicates about pollution.

Xinhua’s brown skies obscure “beautiful China” ambitions is another example of the new transparency amidst the haze:

…people can not sincerely be happy about such “breath-taking” phenomena, as health experts have warned that the polluted air will cause increased risks of respiratory and cardiovascular troubles.

Also in jeopardy are the efforts of the Communist Party of China and government authorities to advance ecological progress and their new promise to build a “beautiful China.”

A country with a brown sky and hazardous air is obviously not beautiful.

This week’s China Insider column for Dealbook looks at Questions About China’s Growth, Censorship and Air Pollution :

The world had better hope China can fix its environmental problems, as pollution does not stop at China’s borders.

Nor does censorship, as we learned last week when Tencent was caught censoring certain keywords globally. A handful of overseas users of its wildly popular mobile SNS service WeChat reported they were blocked from sending some messages. Tencent blamed a technical glitch when it admitted that a small number of users outside China had experienced problems…

Chinese Internet firms going abroad are learning that international localization requires different standards for censorship.

Jeffrey Wasserstrom responds (ChinaFile) to Nick Kristof’s optimistic column about reform prospects under Xi Jinping, a column Sinocism discussed last week. Professor Wasserstrom pens a nice deconstruction of Kristof’s piece but nowhere does he clearly define what “reformer” means. He seems to be assuming that Xi will only be a true reformer if he makes significant changes to China’s political system. That certainly is the hope of many in China and the West, but is Western-style political reform required for Xi to actually be a “reformer”?

This week’s Economist has a good story sbout reform in China and the expectations Xi faces:

In both cases, officials were in breach of China’s constitution. There is nothing new in that. The officials were behaving as officials always have behaved. What has changed is the expectations of the people. Chinese citizens can no longer be pacified with economic growth and slogans. They want political change. How Xi Jinping, China’s new leader, manages this growing pressure for reform will determine his, and his country’s, future.

There is every reason to expect that Xi will be an aggressive economic reformer, just as there is every reason to believe he is committed to maintaining the Communist Party in power. He has said both these things repeatedly. Sometimes we should actually listen to what Chinese leaders say in their speeches and official Chinese media pronouncements. Xi may not succeed, but it seems very clear he is going to try.

The new issue of the China Leadership Monitor has an excellent essay by Barry Naughton about Xi Jinping and the prospects for economic reform. Professor Naughton writes in Signaling Change: New Leaders begin the Search for Economic Reform that:

Xi Jinping and Li Keqiang are now the two top leaders in China. Both have moved quickly to break with the Hu-Wen administration and signal their support for dramatic new economic reforms. The structure of the new Politburo Standing Committee appears to support their aspirations. Neither Xi nor Li has yet committed to specific reform measures, and the obstacles to reform are formidable. However, both Xi and Li have committed to a process that will lead to the creation of a reform program by late 2013.

The latest issue of the China Leadership Monitor also has two good articles about the selection of the new leadership at the 18th Party Congress.

Joseph Fewsmith argues that the 18th Party Congress tested the limits of institutionalization:

The recent 18th Party Congress, convened only after a year of extremely contentious politics, surprised by generating a leadership group that appeared lopsided in favor of supporters of former general secretary Jiang Zemin (江泽民), thereby raising questions about “politics by elders” (老人政治) and the limits of acceptable intervention. Ironically the apparent bias in favor of Jiang’s network may give new general secretary Xi Jinping (习近平) a relatively free hand in the next few years. Nevertheless, by generating the oldest Politburo Standing Committee (PBSC) in years, the congress set up a situation in which five of the seven members of the PBSC will have to retire in only five years and many contentious issues will have to be readdressed relatively soon. Sorting out succession politics issues appears to be getting more difficult over time, but such a judgment will have to wait at least another five years.

Alice Miller takes a more positive view of the institutionalization of leadership selection in the new Party Politburo leadership:

The processes of generational turnover of China’s leadership at the Chinese Communist Party’s 18th National Congress extended patterns of formal politics that trace their roots to Deng Xiaoping’s political reforms of the 1980s, that advanced in the Jiang Zemin era in the 1990s, and that matured under outgoing General Secretary Hu Jintao in the 2000s. As such, the transition in the party leadership at the 18th Congress marked another step forward in the institutionalization of Chinese leadership politics.

Professor Miller was my graduate school advisor so I tend to be partial to her analysis. Many may disagree with her conclusion, but she is one of the most experienced US analysts of Chinese politics and has an analytical framework developed over decades, a framework that can be very helpful when trying to filter out the noise of all the rumors that fly around Beijing and overseas media. Anyone predicting an imminent trial for Bo Xilai should familiarize themselves with her writings on the subject.

Please help grow Sinocism by forwarding this email to your friends, following me on Twitter @niubi or Sina Weibo @billbishop, and donating.

Today’s Links:

THE ESSENTIAL EIGHT

China Lets Media to Report on Air Pollution Crisis – NYTimes.com- People’s Daily, the official party mouthpiece, published a front-page signed editorial on Monday under the headline “Beautiful China Starts With Healthy Breathing.” “The seemingly never-ending haze and fog may blur our vision,” it said, “but makes us see extra clearly the urgency of pollution control and the urgency of the theory of building a socialist ecological civilization, revealed at the 18th Party Congress.” The 18th Party Congress, a meeting of party elites held in Beijing last November, was part of a once-a-decade leadership transition. In a political report delivered on the first day, Hu Jintao, the president and departing party chief, said China must address environmental problems worsened by rapid development. The inclusion of sections in the report on the need for “ecological progress” could be opening the door for greater dialogue on such issues under the watch of Xi Jinping

Beijing’s air pollution: Blackest day | The Economist   It is likely to be many more Januarys to come before China gets the upper hand on its air-pollution problems. Indeed, as we mentioned last January 12th, after nearly sixty years of trying and a vast amount of progress, the city of Los Angeles has yet to meet America’s federal air-quality standards. If there is any consolation to what Beijing had to endure this January 12th, it is that it should lend urgency to the public outcry, and help speed things in the right direction. The other consolation is that readings like the ones showing now on Monday midday (in the mid 300s, merely “hazardous” and “severely polluted”) feel fine by comparison.

Society needs fair call to clear heavy smog – Global Times   remarkable editorial I referenced in yesterday’s commentary// However, recent atmospheric pollution has really sounded a warning to us: if we continue this way of development instead of adjusting it, the long-term damage will be serious. How can we make adjustments? It is the most difficult challenge in China, because both development and clean environment are strong demands of the Chinese people. However, under China’s current technical conditions, these two needs are pitted against each other. On this issue, the government cannot afford to make decisions for the society. Previously, governments used to deal with the pollution information in a low-key way and made the choice between development and environmental protection for public. However, when public opinion didn’t go for this way of thinking, it led to some conflicts. In future, the government should publish truthful environmental data to the public. Let society participate in the process of solving the problem.

Alex Turnbull’s Blog — Peak Coal in China - As many of you may have noticed, Beijing’s air pollution has gone from crazy bad to something else entirely. It may be of little comfort at the moment to Beijing residents, but it looks like China has hit peak coal consumption. Latest data from the National Energy Administration shows energy consumption for the full year up 5.5% but heavy industry consumption up only 3.8%. Similarly, new construction of coal fired plant is down 10% and capacity utilization at coal plants is a pathetic 56.6%. With utilization rates like that, there is absolutely no incentive to build plants anymore unless they are replacement capex. In contrast hydro, nuclear and wind make up roughly 72% of capex in the industry. Similarly, the CHENTPWR Index on bloomberg of thermal coal plant output appears to have barely breached mid year levels despite one of the coldest winters on record.

China’s property tax trial expansion in doubt |Industries |chinadaily.com.cn- impossible to roll out until the issue of officials’ ownership of multiple properties they could not normally afford is worked out…there are of course other serious issues involved as well, but it is just a non-starter right now given the corruption..corruption really is at the core of so many problems here, as Xi Jinping knows very well and is trying address…too many analysts ignore the “political” part of China’s political economy// China may not expand experimental property taxes to more cities in the near future because of inadequate planning and law making, local media reported on Monday. The government is conducting “active research” on a plan to expand the property tax trials currently in place in Shanghai and Chongqing to other Chinese cities, but it has proved difficult to hammer out a scheme for doing so, the Economic Information Daily quoted a tax official as saying. ”Property taxes impact the national economy and people’s livelihood and an expansion needs to be discussed more widely,” Wang Kang, chief accountant of the State Administration of Taxation, was quoted as telling a forum on Saturday.

Sinocentrism for the Information Age: Comments on the 4th Xiangshan Forum « New Paradigms Forum - very important observations// China’s fixation upon shaping others’ accounts of China, then, is arguably not necessarily “just” the result of insecurity or narcissism. Some of it may in fact grow out of a deeply-rooted conception of social order in which narrative control is inherently a strategic objective because it is assumed that status or role ascriptions and moral characterizations play a critical role in shaping the world they describe. (It seems to be felt, for instance, that if the world understands China “properly,” it will tend to behave toward China as China’s rulers desire; controlling others’ conceptual frameworks may be felt at least as important as more traditionally tangible aspects of international dominion. How others view China and its role in the international system, moreover, may feed back into its regime’s own legitimacy narrative at home, and thus its continued monopolization of power.) Through this lens, my PLA counterparts’ emphasis upon demanding concurrence with Beijing’s characterization of the region’s politico-moral backstory, as it were, was not a self-indulgent distraction from the task at hand, but in fact the game itself.

China’s space activities raising U.S. satellite security concerns | Reuters- A classified U.S. intelligence assessment completed late last year analyzed China’s increasing activities in space and mapped out the growing vulnerability of U.S. satellites that provide secure military communications, warn about enemy missile launches and provide precise targeting coordinates, said the sources, who were not authorized to speak publicly. ”It was a very credible and sobering assessment that is now provoking a lot of activities in different quarters,” said one former government official who is familiar with U.S. national security satellite programs.

China – Heading into a more inflationary 2013-14 -Caijing - Standard Chartered Report// • We introduce our new CPI leading indicator, which predicts CPI out to six months • Pork, residential and service-sector prices will be key drivers of the 2013-14 inflation cycle • We forecast average CPI inflation of 4% in 2013 and 5% in 2014, higher than market consensus of 3.1% and 3.5% • We expect PBoC to hike interest rates once in Q4-2013, by 25bps, followed by four more hikes in 2014

 

BUSINESS AND ECONOMY

How Mystery Man Scared CDB from Billion-Dollar Deal -Caixin - When a high-profile, billion dollar deal for a stake in a Chinese insurer was inked in early December, officials at the country’s biggest policy bank were asking one question seemly unrelated to the transaction: Who is Xiao Jianhua? The answer to that question eventually sank China Development Bank’s (CDB) planned HK$ 44 billion loan to help Thailand’s Charoen Pokphand Group (CP) buy 15.57 percent of Ping An Insurance Co.

China Focus: China’s power consumption slows, rebound expected – Xinhua | English.news.cn- The National Energy Administration (NEA) said Monday in a statement on its website that electricity used last year grew 5.5 percent from 2011 to 4.96 trillion kilowatt hours (kWh). The growth rate was markedly lower than the 11.7-percent increase registered in 2011, echoing the slowdown in the country’s economy last year.

Yuan Matches 19-Year High as PBOC Raises Fixing for a Third Day – Bloomberg  when does US start talking about Japan as a currency manipulator again? probably not while islands dispute going on…// “The appreciation trend will continue,” said Suan Teck Kin, an economist at United Overseas Bank Ltd. in Singapore. “We have moved past the stage of the worst in terms of economic growth and the question is about how fast it could expand.” The yuan strengthened 0.05 percent to 6.2133 per dollar as of 9:44 a.m. in Shanghai, according to the China Foreign Exchange Trade System. It touched 6.2126 today and on Jan. 11, the highest level since the government unified official and market exchange rates at the end of 1993.

Chinese companies retreat from U.S. listings as scrutiny mounts | Reuters - good times for the bankers, lawyers and accountants ..delisting/relisting a fee bonanaza..but the idea the us market does not recognize quality chinese firms is bunk// About 300 China-based companies still have shares trading in the United States on exchanges or “over-the-counter” between individual dealers. Bankers are aggressively pitching the idea of companies pulling out of the United States and relisting elsewhere, saying they can get a better share price in Hong Kong or mainland China, according to lawyers who work on going-private deals. ”The idea is that the markets here understand the China story better and will therefore hopefully assign a higher valuation to the stocks,” said Mark Lehmkuhler, a partner at Davis Polk in Hong Kong.

Port In A Storm: An Interview With China Merchants Group – Forbes   A harbor view from a penthouse suite is de rigueur for Hong Kong‘s shipping magnates. In this respect China Merchants Group (CMG) Chairman Fu Yuning’s 40th-floor office in the Shun Tak Center doesn’t disappoint, even on a misty winter morning that obscures the Macau-bound ferries leaving the harbor. Fu’s view is unusual for the head of a major Chinese state-owned enterprise that answers directly to Beijing. Of this top tier of 117 companies, only CMG and two others–China Resources and China Travel Services–are headquartered outside the mainland

Zegna Says China Luxury Demand Returning After New Leaders Named – Bloomberg - While revenue growth is not yet back to where it was a few years ago, “people came back to buy” in the last three months of 2012, Zegna said, adding that smaller cities in China continued to outperform Beijing and Shanghai. “Overall, I hear good news from other brands too in China.” China’s leadership handover, which began in November and will be completed in March, should provide a more favorable backdrop for a recovery in gift-giving, even if it comes in a more temperate manner than in the past, Credit Suisse analyst Rogerio Fujimori wrote in a note last week.//

Like Beijing’s Air, China’s Anti-Pollution Stocks Display Grit – China Real Time Report – WSJ - On a day when the markets were up overall, Beijing SPC Environmental Protection, which produces equipment that removes sulfur from emissions of big thermal power plants, led the advance of the pollution-fighting brigade on the Shanghai and Shenzhen stock exchanges, climbing 5.8% on Monday. Anti-pollution comrade-in-arms Tianjin Capital Environmental Protection Group, a water treatment company, added 5.2%, while wastewater treatment firm Beijing Capital Co. advanced 3%.

Pollution may make economy splutter[1]|chinadaily.com.cn - As a number of cities try to clear the air, specialists in Beijing warn that the pollution and emergency responses to reduce it could damage the economy and tourism.

China Economic Data Reliable If Flawed, Stanford’s Lazear Says – Bloomberg - China’s export and gross-domestic- product data can be trusted even though they are not as reliable as U.S. numbers, said Stanford professor Ed Lazear. “If you look at their trade numbers, they are highly volatile, but they do follow a pretty consistent pattern,” Lazear, a former chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers for President George W. Bush, said on Bloomberg Television’s “In the Loop” with Betty Liu. “The trend is right.”// he a good judge of the quality of economic data?

China Focus: Office established to handle forex reserve loans – Xinhua | English.news.cn- The creation of the office means the nation’s 3.31 trillion U.S. dollars of forex reserves can be officially loaned to domestic enterprises as commercial loans to support their overseas business expansion. The office, named SAFE Co-Financing, will be important for creating new, innovative ways to use foreign exchange reserves that will prevent the funds from decreasing in value, according to the State Administration of Foreign Exchange (SAFE).

郭树清:建设更加开放包容的资本市场-中国金融新闻网 - 证监会主席郭树清近日在亚洲金融论坛上表示,依照国际货币基金组织(IMF)等国际机构目前使用的概念、定义和标准,我国资本市场的开放程度属于较低水平,但实际情况却并非如此。我们曾经作过一次认真的现状评估,发现资本账户七大类别的40个项目全部都不同程度实现了可兑换,不存在完全不可兑换的项目。

中信纠结刚性兑付 房地产信托集体“呛水”_财经频道_一财网 - good first financial piece on WMPs, and specifically real estate trust products, and the issues around repayment/default when the collateral is worthless…

海南急查楼市存量 海口七日未清者将遭关闭_财经频道_一财网 - great excuse for an enterprising business reporter to spend a few days in Hainan..hear it is nice this time of year..sounds like the aftermath real estate bubble on the island may be getting ugly..again//《第一财经日报》对海南房地产市场供需状况和运行情况进行了持续报道,引发业界对海南楼市的高度关注,海南省住建厅日前下发通知,要求各地紧急清理当前商品房市场存量。

人民日报-从“被推销”到“众人抢”,再到现在开工建设量不断萎缩 经适房正逐渐退出(深阅读)

 

POLITICS AND LAW

‘Real Progress’: Media Scholar Ying Zhu Parses China’s Anti-Censorship Protests – China Real Time Report – WSJ - That is the real story of the standoff— the popular support displayed in a very public manner against media censorship! The most exciting part of the entire episode is not about journalists vs. the censors but about the public backlash against censorship! I’m thrilled to see the light at the end of the tunnel. A baby step perhaps, but a milestone never the less, an earthshaking moment in the building of a civil society…Can you envision a scenario in which the Communist Party would significantly loosen its grip on the media? That day will come only when the party is willing to cede its monopolistic control of politics, economics, and culture.

成都建工建团董事长涉李春城案被查_政经频道_财新网 - another casualty in the Li Chungcheng Chengdu/Sichuan corruption case// 张俊接受调查的消息是2013年1月14日传出的,多家银行立即着手调查核实对成都建工集团的信贷情况

多地主管部门均称尚未收到劳教制度废止消息_网易新闻中心 - many local authorities say they have received no notifications about changes to the reform through education system// 核心提示:中央政法委书记孟建柱1月7日宣布,2013年将停止使用劳教制度。山东、浙江等多地劳教主管部门均称,尚未接收到来自系统内关于劳教制度变化的任何信息。此前有媒体称中国劳教人员目前有6万人左右,曾一度多达30万人。

许小年:改革的路线图与公信力-战略与改革网 - 十八大以后,北京吹来阵阵新风。当新一届的中央领导把目光从西柏坡转向深圳的时候,我们看到了重新启动改革的希望,虽然只是希望。当来自顶层的讲话重提 “摸着石头过河的时候”,有人感到失望,说我们已经摸了30年的石头了,怎么还在摸?但我觉得这是一个进步,至少没有说什么石头是不可以摸的。而在过去我 们知道,有几块石头不能摸,现在又都可以摸了,我觉得这是一个好的信号。当中国经济增长的动力被归功于改革红利的时候,我们感觉到扭转过去十年间国进民退 的趋势已经有了可能性。

 

FOREIGN AND DEFENSE AFFAIRS

日媒称中国战机近日跟踪纠缠美国军机行为过激_网易新闻中心 - Japanese media claims Chinese fighter planes aggressively followed 2 US military planes over the East China Sea on January 10

我国将对钓鱼岛进行清晰测绘_要闻_新京报电子报 - China’s next phase of surveying islands, including Diaoyu/Senkaku, are going to cause some issues// 海岛(礁)一期测绘数据6月前后公布,二期测绘将覆盖钓鱼岛整个海域

Japan’s former leader to visit Beijing |Asia-Pacific |chinadaily.com.cn- Former Japanese prime minister Yukio Hatoyama is scheduled to arrive in Beijing on Tuesday for a four-day visit, a move analysts said will build a communication channel amid tension over the Diaoyu Islands. The visit also comes against the backdrop of a diplomatic blitz by the government of Shinzo Abe, which observers said was aimed at isolating China. The visit by Hatoyama, a prominent opposition party figure, comes just a month after the Liberal Democratic Party’s landslide victory in December.

Japan boosts defence of disputed islands – Channel NewsAsianews of this exercise was all over Chinese media Monday// On Sunday, Japan’s Ground Self-Defense Force carried out the nation’s first military exercise designed to recapture “a remote island invaded by an enemy force,” officials said. Some 300 troops took part in the 40-minute drill with 20 warplanes and more than 30 military vehicles at the Narashino Garrison in Chiba, southeast of Tokyo.

Neighbors Grow More Wary of China – WSJ.com Foreign-policy experts say much of the goodwill Beijing generated over a decade has eroded in the past two years amid an increasingly assertive Chinese stance in territorial disputes. Some add that China’s diplomatic approach of working mainly with foreign government and business elites, while declining to engage with the political opposition in other countries, has left it out of step with popular sentiment in countries such as Myanmar. In Vietnam, friction over Chinese territorial claims has led to demonstrations such as one in July that featured cries of “Down with China!” The dispute flared again late last year when a Vietnamese oil company charged that a ship doing seismic work in the South China Sea had its cables cut by Chinese fishing vessels. China’s foreign ministry rejected the claim and accused Vietnam’s navy of disturbing Chinese fishing boats.

PLA to strengthen combat readiness |Politics |chinadaily.com.cn - The General Staff Headquarters of the People’s Liberation Army has pledged to stage more military drills that simulate real combat, urging commanders and soldiers to strengthen their readiness for possible war, the PLA Daily reported on Monday.

按实战要求组织训练检验成效 - 《指示》指出,2013年,全军和武警部队要紧紧围绕能打仗、打胜仗的目标,以军事斗争准备任务为牵引,大力加强实战化军事训练,实践创新信息化条件下训练模式,加紧培养高素质新型军事人才,进一步推动部队训练向实战靠拢、院校教育向部队靠拢。要强化打仗思想,增强忧患意识、危机意识、使命意识;做好打仗准备,从实战需要出发从难从严训练部队;提高打仗能力,解决影响实战化训练的重难点问题;坚持打仗标准,按照实战要求检验衡量训练成效。

解放军总参:全军做好打仗准备_多维新闻网 - 多维新闻】在中日钓鱼岛局势激烈角逐的时刻,中国人民解放军总参谋部公开《2013年全军军事训练指示》,要全军和武警部队强化打仗思想,做好打仗准备。外界认为中国军方此举意有所指,散发出与日本针锋相对的火药味。

习近平下令限期整饬军纪显决心_多维新闻网 - 【多维新闻】继中共政治局出台关于改进工作作风的“新八条”以及中央军委“加强自身作风建设十项规定”后,中共官媒1月13日报道称解放军总政治部、军委纪委日前下发两份文件,要求充分认清习近平和中央军委整肃风纪的坚定决心,立即开展教育活动。文件还罕见地限定时间要求四总部、部队团以上党委按时完成。

China, India agree to strengthen military ties – Xinhua | English.news.cn - Xu Qiliang, vice chairman of China’s Central Military Commission, met with Indian Defense Secretary Shashi Kant Sharma.

The 18th Party Congress and Foreign Policy: The Dog that Did Not Bark | Hoover Institution - Foreign policy issues have never played a major role in party congresses, at least during the reform era, for understandable reasons. A party congress is mainly about domestic political power and domestic policies, and even then is primarily an exercise in tedious sloganeering, pumping up the party faithful, and presenting the new leadership lineup. Nonetheless, congresses can be important as indicators of future policy direction and power structure, including in the foreign policy arena. This essay examines the foreign policy aspects of both the congress work report delivered by then Chinese Communist Party General Secretary Hu Jintao and the official membership roster of the new CCP Central Committee, Politburo, and Politburo Standing Committee.

 

HONG KONG AND TAIWAN

Housing Is Hong Kong’s Biggest Issue as Chief Sets Policy Goals – Bloomberg - Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying may address the city’s housing crunch when he gives his first policy address tomorrow, as he seeks to boost record- low popularity and move on from an opposition impeachment bid. With housing prices double what they were four years ago, the government must tackle the city’s crisis “without delay,” Leung wrote in a blog post ahead of his first policy speech since he became chief executive in July.

Ackman Won’t Realize Bet on Hong Kong’s Peg, K.C. Chan Says – Bloomberg  Hedge-fund investor William Ackman won’t realize his bet that Hong Kong will amend its 29-year-old peg to the dollar, said K.C. Chan, the city’s secretary for financial services and the treasury. The Hong Kong Monetary Authority has injected almost $14 billion since Oct. 19 as the local currency’s move to HK$7.75 obliged it to buy U.S. dollars in the foreign-exchange market. Ackman, the founder of New York-based Pershing Square Capital Management LP said Oct. 20 he was keeping his call contracts on the city’s currency and suggested Hong Kong revalue its dollar 30 percent higher versus the greenback to curb inflation.

 

TECH AND MEDIA

Google’s Eric Schmidt Woos Chinese Android Developers- Speaking at the Geek Park event to over 1,000 attendees, Schmidt said that developers need to realize that Android is now the top mobile OS and iOS comes second. He also worked to counter the myth that Android developers can’t make money off their products. Schmidt said that Chrome should become China’s number one browser as he reaffirmed Google’s investment in the software

Autonavi’s Maps Apps Guide Over 100 Million Users in China - i own shares of Autonavi// Regular readers will recall that Autonavi (NASDAQ:AMAP) makes the most popular mobile maps apps in China – way ahead of the rather lost Google Maps. Today Autonavi has announced that its maps apps have surpassed 100 million users. That’s just in China. The maps are available for three smartphone platforms: Android, iOS, and Windows Phone.

China’s Box Office 2012 Re-Cap: Another Stellar Year | chinafilmbiz 中国电影业务- 2012 was one of the most eventful years I can remember in my 20-plus years working in and following the Chinese film business. It was the year in which China surpassed Japan to become the world’s second largest movie territory.

Baidu’s Mobile Browser Steps Out Of Asia And Into Africa With Exclusive France Telecom Deal | TechCrunch Orange will also be using Baidu’s user interface — which opens with a page of icons linking to web apps — to promote a selection of services it endorses, such as Wikipedia and Facebook, along with its own homegrown media and communications apps. There will also be links through to download further web apps.

Baidu Invests in Kingsoft, Moves Into Web Security, Qihoo’s CEO Calls it a “Big Joke” - Google-Qihoo tie up? Dunno, Google DD pretty rigorous, can’t imagine Zhou Hongyi would enjoy it// It’s understandable that Zhou would be upset. Qihoo stock (NASDAQ:QIHU) dropped six points on the news of the Baidu-Kingsoft investment, and it has recovered only slightly since then. But Zhou may yet get a shot at revenge; rumor has it that Qihoo is working on a potential partnership with Google.

Kaiser Kuo | The Influence 100 - director of international communications at leading Chinese search engine Baidu.com//Kaiser is a friend, nice recognition for his work at Baidu

Tencent Eyes Growing Online Education Market in China -Caijing   Chinese Internet giant Tencent was reportedly considering investing in an online education platform, making an attempt at China’s booming online education market, according to Chinese media. Words of Tencent targeting online education started circulating last year when Donews quoted unnamed source as saying that Tencent had invested in C2C (Consumer to Consumer) education website Chuanke. If proved to be true, the move will give the website an access to hundreds of millions of users on Tencent’s QQ platform.

富士康江西工厂千名工人上街游行-财经网 - 1000 Foxconn workers hit the streets in Jiangxi to protest pay an working conditions// 1月11日8时左右,江西丰城,约1000名富士康的工人上街游行,抗议薪资问题和待遇问题。消息称此次游行的导火索源自1月10日的富士康工厂内的罢工,当时员工正在抗议工资太低、加薪不平衡、伙食差以及管理太过严苛。他们希望能通过罢工获得与公司管理层的对话机会,在诉求无法满足后便在第二天上街游行封路抗议。图为1月11日8时左右,江西丰城,大约1000名富士康的工人上街游行,抗议薪资问题和待遇问题。

Smartphones: China’s next great economic indicator – Fortune Tech - So what does it all mean? The world is about to witness a unique phenomenon this year. The largest single mobile consumer market is now emerging. New online and offline consumption patterns will rapidly take shape and brands that jump on this wave can change their market share in a dramatic way. By 2015, the number of smartphone users in China will exceed all mobile users in the US and Europe combined. There are no precedents for this kind of shift. As China turns its focus to domestic consumption, the largest mobile consumer base will no doubt play a large role as an economic driver. And that will have ripple effects around the world.

China firm buys naming rights to Grauman’s Chinese Theatre – Los Angeles Times  Chinese TV maker TCL has paid more than $5 million for the naming rights to the venerable Grauman’s Chinese Theatre opened in 1927 by showman Sid Grauman.

The Chinese Electronics Show: can China’s biggest brands buy their way into America? | The Verge   And the Chinese marketing is also a bit off — an elaborate music and dance routine at Hisense’s booth basically screamed “we’re foreign!” and the press materials for the Top Brands From China event were nigh-indecipherable. Still, the global creep of Chinese brands seems inevitable, if only because of sheer determination. “Confucius said, ‘when you turn 40, you better know your destiny,’” Dr. Weiping Huang, chief scientist at Chinese megabrand Hisense, told journalists at a press conference earlier this week. “Hisense has turned 40 just three years ago. We certainly know our destiny. We are prepared. We are ready. We will succeed.”

 

SOCIETY, ART, SPORTS, CULTURE AND HISTORY

China’s social trust index declines further – People’s Daily Online - China’s social trust index declined further last year, according to the Annual Report on Social Mentality of China 2012 released by the Institute of Sociology under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences on Jan. 7.

国家计生委:必须长期坚持计划生育 稳定低生育_新闻_腾讯网 - doesn’t sound like the one child policy ending any time soon//中新社北京1月14日电 (记者 欧阳开宇)“必须长期坚持计划生育基本国策不动摇,把稳定低生育水平作为工作的首要任务。”中国国家人口和计划生育委员会主任王侠14日在北京说。

Chinese Vase Resold for Less Than Half $83 Million Record – Bloomberg - A Chinese vase for which a bidder offered a record 51.6 million pounds ($83 million) at auction more than two years ago has been sold for less than half the price the original purchaser failed to pay….The bid was made by an agent in the room on behalf of the Beijing-based collector, Wang Yaohui, according to a person familiar with the transaction. The owners, a retired solicitor called Tony Johnson and his mother Gene, waited two years for a resolution. They have now sold the vase to another buyer for an undisclosed price between 20 million pounds and 25 million pounds

Loving China: Romance, Dating & Weddings - Attitudes towards love, dating and marriage have changed dramatically in China, where young women enjoy freedoms today that would shock their grandmothers. This week on “Thoughtful China,” we examine trends in China’s $80 billion wedding industry by talking with experts like Rebecca Ip at Tiffany & Co., Patrick Behrens at The Peninsula Shanghai, BBH China’s Christine Ng, Ijie.com Editor Jin Tingting and Chinese trend analyst Mary Bergstrom.

Kindergarten marries off students[1]|chinadaily.com.cn- More than a hundred preschoolers got “married” in a group wedding at a kindergarten in Zhengzhou, Central China’s Henan province on Jan 11, which was held as part of the kindergarten’s development education, according to Zhengzhou Evening News. During the ceremony, the “grooms” and “brides” were dressed in suites and wedding gowns. The “grooms” kneeled down and put rings on the fingers of the “brides”. After the “ceremony” the new couples hugged and some of them even kissed.

The new face of bling in China — bikes | Video | Reuters.com - Jan. 14 – Ultra high-end models are challenging the bicycle’s working-class image in China, and giving posh cars a run for their money as the latest status symbol for the country’s nouveau riche.

Casting the weakest aside – Globaltimes.cn   China has around 615,000 orphans, government figures show. Near to one-sixth of them live in government-funded child welfare facilities, leaving the majority to be taken care of by private orphanages. In the wake of the fire, the safety and situation of the orphans and abandoned children in such homes has become a real concern. The Ministry of Civil Affairs (MCA) immediately initiated a nationwide inspection into orphanages run by private parties. If these orphanages fail to meet the ministry’s standards, the children will be sent to State facilities, the ministry said.

 

ENERGY, ENVIRONMENT AND HEALTH

广东湛江发生原油泄漏 8000村民被疏散_网易新闻 - 8000 villagers evacuated in gaungdong oil pipeline leak// 1月13日下午3时40分许,茂名中石化湛江—茂名输油管529号管线位于麻章区一段发生原油泄漏事件,泄漏原油流入南溪河。泄漏原油总量约10吨。经查,泄漏轻质原油的出口位于湛江国防教育训练基地旁公路桥下,距饮用水备用水源地赤坎水库约350米。据悉,原油管道阀门已关闭,漏油已经得到控制,已组织挖掘机、铲车对受污染的河段进行两头封堵,防止污染面积扩散。此次事故共出动警力300多人,消防车18台,疏散周边村庄村民8000多人,疏导车辆约8000辆

China orders more air quality early warnings – Xinhua | English.news.cn - The Ministry of Environmental Protection issued a circular asking local authorities to step up analysis on air pollution trends and publicize information via mass media outlets in a timely manner.

人民日报-加强法制建设 减少交通污染 推广清洁能源 治理雾霾,多国有高招 - People’s Daily page 3 looks at how other countries have dealt with pollution, starting w USA

人民日报-雾霾天,怎么应对才科学?(服务台) 本报记者 王君平 - Page 1 People’s Daily recommends eating black “wood ear” fungus as one of the scientific measures to deal with the pollution…”wood ear” supposedly strengthens your lungs…

Subscribe to the Sinocism China Newsletter email. Free
  • MrChopstik

    Your point about the definition of “reformer” is spot on. In the West, there is a tendency to always put “reform” in political terms whereas it can have other connotations.