The Sinocism China Newsletter For 02.22.13

For the first time in about 18 months I participated in a Sinica Podcast. This week’s show is Death, Fraud and Corporate Skullduggery, about Caterpillar’s discovery of massive accounting fraud and subsequent $580 million write-down from a Chinese acquisition and the mysterious death of an American engineer in Singapore. Simon Montlake, the Beijing Bureau Chief for Forbes Magazine, and I joined host Kaiser Kuo. Most Sinocism readers are probably aware of the weekly Sinica Podcast (Facebook) but if you are not you should be.

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is in Washington today to meet with President Obama. As Reuters reports:

…Abe will be seeking to put a strong U.S.-Japan alliance on full display in the face of potential threats from a nuclear North Korea and an assertive China when he meets U.S. President Barack Obama on Friday. Abe, who has kept his ratings high since taking office in December, also needs Obama’s signoff on his economic revival recipe of big spending and hyper-easy monetary policy.

Foreign Policy’s The Cable reports on the agenda of Abe’s meeting with President Obama:

White House officials did say that Abe and Obama are likely to talk about tensions in the East China Sea, tensions in the South China Sea, Iran, Afghanistan, North Africa, North Korea, the Trans Pacific Partnership, climate change, and cyber security.

Abe’s recent comments to the Washington Post are not going over well (Xinhua) in China. He told the newspaper that the “Chinese need for conflict is ‘deeply ingrained’:

China has a “deeply ingrained” need to spar with Japan and other Asian neighbors over territory, because the ruling Communist Party uses the disputes to maintain strong domestic support, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said in an interview. Clashes with neighbors, notably Japan, play to popular opinion, Abe said, given a Chinese education system that emphasizes patriotism and “anti-Japanese sentiment.”

Meanwhile, three Chinese vessels pursued a Japanese fishing boat near Senkakus (The Asahi Shimbun):

The captain of a Japanese fishing boat said three Chinese government vessels chased it through Japanese territorial waters around the Senkaku Islands on Feb. 18.”I never dreamed they would do something so outrageous,” Zensho Naka, 54, captain of the No. 11 Zenko Maru, said.The Japan Coast Guard has confirmed that three Chinese vessels approached the fishing boat in the East China Sea, but it has not determined whether the approaches constituted pursuit.

There has been some talk recently that China has shifted to a more conciliatory stance towards the islands dispute. Perhaps, or perhaps Beijing just wanted a quiet holiday. We should watch what they do, not what they say. But between the Abe-Obama meeting and the US moves against hacking we should consider the risk of a spike in tensions.

As of Friday Xi Jinping has been General Secretary for 100 days. Today’s People’s Daily hails his first 100 days on page one in 人民日报-开局百日的世界印象. Xinhua’s English version is New CPC leadership’s first 100 days renew world’s expectation for China:

Friday marks the 100th day since the newly elected leadership of the ruling Communist Party of China (CPC) took the helm of the world’s second largest economy.

Throughout these past 100 days, whether it was the talk of the “Chinese dream,” or the determination to carry out reforms, fight corruption, and stick to the path of peaceful development, the world has watched closely for how the new Chinese leaders would steer the country’s ship of state to an even brighter future…

“There is no doubt that China’s new leaders face a different world than Hu Jintao did when he took over in 2002, but chances are good that Xi’s CPC will be able to adapt to and meet whatever new challenges the rapidly changing domestic and international environments pose,” said an article entitled “The Life of the Party: The Post-Democratic Future Begins in China“, carried by Foreign Affairs magazine.

Today is a very happy day for Eric X. Li. He is the author of the Foreign Affairs essay cited, both in the English version and the Chinese one. Li is not mentioned by name but this can only raise his profile and influence in China.

Duowei’s 新政“三板斧”直指民生问题 “三座大山” follows on Thursday’s People’s Daily piece 盼改善民生稳步推进 —— 一论以实干贯彻十八大精神 and notes that in his first 100 days Xi has pushed initiatives in property, health care and education, three core issues related to the people’s livelihood:

楼市调控“国五条”,基层诊疗10元搞定,中职教育有望全面免费,一天内三项善政相继出台。其涉及的住房、医疗、教育三方面,正是被坊间吐槽焦虑的“三座大山”。舆论普遍在观望中静候着新政“三板斧”的功力,其指向的“三座大山”能否被撼动甚至推倒,以惠民为出发点形成的顶层设计又是否会在执行过程中走形、虚蹈,不仅检验着新政,也为习时代的民意指向奠定了基础。

I will spare readers the panhandling today but do want to remind everyone that your support is both needed and appreciated.

Today’s Links:

THE ESSENTIAL EIGHT

After China’s multibillion-dollar cleanup, water still unfit to drink | Reuters- China is promising to invest 4 trillion yuan ($650 billion) – equal to its entire stimulus package during the global financial crisis – on rural water projects alone during the 2011-2020 period. What’s more, at least $200 billion in additional funds has been earmarked for a variety of cleanup projects nationwide, Reuters has learned after scouring a range of central and local government documents. That new cash injection will be vital, with rivers and lakes throughout China blighted by algae blooms caused by fertilizer run-off, bubbling chemical spills and untreated sewage discharges. Judging by Beijing’s cleanup record so far, however, the final tally could be many times higher.

Toxic Water: Across Much of China, Huge Harvests Irrigated with Industrial and Agricultural Runoff | Circle of Blue WaterNews - The farmer’s plight underlies a dirty truth about China’s fast development: the nation’s rivers, lakes, and falling water tables are enduring deficits of clean water that often force farmers to grow food using water that is tainted with heavy metals, organic pollutants, and nitrogen. Much of China’s water is so contaminated that it should not even be touched, yet tremendous amounts of the grains, vegetables, and fruits that are served in homes and restaurants, as well as textiles that are sold in markets, are irrigated with untreated industrial wastewater.

Fuel for Debate – Caixin - However, no consensus has been reached on the National V standard, and refiners, auto manufacturers and government agencies are debating key issues. Disagreements have arisen on the extent of cuts to sulfur and manganese levels, and how to share the inevitable cost increases. A committee under the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine held a meeting in December with representatives from refining companies, auto manufacturers and environmental protection organizations to discuss a draft of the National V standard. The hope was to finalize the standard this year, but debates over abandoning a manganese additive used at refineries and lowering octane ratings were intense.

Officials Admit “Cancer Villages” Exist in China-Caijing - China’s environment authority has for the first time admitted the existence of “cancer villages” in the country which it attributes to environment pollution, in its latest response to rising public awareness about air and water pollution.

奢侈品告别“中国盛宴” Gucci今年在华暂停开店_财经频道_一财网 - Winter for luxury brands in China, Gucci to stop new stores expansion in China this year, says First Financial..economy, frugality and anti-corruption campaigns, overseas buying some reasons//“放缓的中国经济对奢侈品消费会造成一定的影响,企业家和高管们相继暂停了出于礼物馈赠的奢侈品购买行为,因为公司不再支持他们大手大脚花钱了。”法国马赛商学院MBA、EMBA主任Michel Guats曾在接受本报采访时称。 此外,过去出台的限制政府在奢侈品方面花费的新政策也在一定程度上抑制了奢侈品的公款消费,以及政府对腐败的打击令以往盛行的奢侈品礼品馈赠消费萎缩。 这股寒流会蔓延多久?陆晓明并不乐观:“如果说2012年的中国奢侈品市场是寒冬的话,那么2013年的市场将进入严冬。并且严冬还会持续一阶段,之后回归到正常的、成熟的消费市场。” 陆晓明判断的理由如下:“中国奢侈品市场在毫不成熟的情况下拼命发展,一旦经济不好这里的消费者会一下子成熟,所以2013年、2014年那些太过虚无的好面子、炫耀性消费会减少,并且政府反腐会让公款、送礼消费越来越少。” 而境外消费热似乎还将持续一段时间。只是正如业内人士对本报记者指出的那般:“对于奢侈品牌而言,应该考虑中国消费者海外消费热潮究竟是否持续,并控制好其在中国的成本。”

BBC News – China’s ‘leftover women’, unmarried at 27- tate-run media started using the term “sheng nu” in 2007. The same year the government warned that China’s gender imbalance – caused by selective abortions because of the one-child policy – was a serious problem. The National Bureau of Statistics says there are now about 20 million more men under 30 than women under 30.

China’s Bo Xilai not cooperating on probe, been on hunger strike: sources | Reutersrumors about this in overseas Chinese press for months, wonder if really true…one rumor had him attempting suicide. sounds like no tiger bench for him// The recent lack of information about the case – Bo has not been seen in public since last March – harms the government’s credibility in the eyes of the people, said Bao Tong, the most senior official jailed over the 1989 Tiananmen protests. “It’s not normal, too much time has past,” Bao told Reuters, referring to the lack of information from the government about the case. “This is not good for the party’s image. They have not thought about this clearly. If they are able to properly deal with a big shot like Bo Xilai then they will increase people’s trust in the party,” he added.

New Chinese Leader, Xi Jinping, to Visit Moscow – NYTimes.com -  Mr. Xi’s predecessor, Hu Jintao, also chose Moscow as his first overseas stop after assuming office, but this time, Mr. Xi’s journey to Russia has a special significance, analysts say, coming as China tries to answer the Obama administration’s pivot to Asia. That American policy is viewed with suspicion in Beijing and is broadly interpreted unfavorably by the Chinese government as containment of China.

 

BUSINESS AND ECONOMY

China’s Stocks Fall Most in 14 Months on Property Concern – Bloomberg - PBOC moves didn’t help// The Shanghai Composite Index (SHCOMP) retreated 3 percent to 2,325.95 at the close. The CSI 300 (SHSZ300) tumbled 3.4 percent to 2,610.55, the most since August 2011. The Hang Seng China Enterprises Index (HSCEI) in Hong Kong slumped 3.2 percent. The Bloomberg China-US Equity Index (CH55BN) slipped 1.1 percent yesterday. “There are expectations of more details on property measures today or tomorrow,” Huang Cendong, an analyst at Tebon Securities Co., said by phone today from Shanghai. “If the property curbs extend to second- and third-tier cities, economic growth may be impacted.”

防影子银行拖银行下水 银监会首提输入型风险_财经频道_一财网 - CBRC issued new circular on managing risk monday, out of concerns of risk transmission from shadow banks to banking system// 昨日,《第一财经日报》独家获悉,春节假期后的第一个工作日(2月16日),银监会就向各银监局下发了《关于2013年非现场监管工作的意见》(下称《意见》),布控风险监管工作。 为守住风险底线,《意见》提出了“四关注”的要求,即关注重点机构风险、关注重点区域风险、关注重点行业客户风险以及关注输入型风险,其中,关注输入型风险是监管层首次提出。此处所谓的输入型风险重点不是风险的跨境传染,而是民间融资、融资担保、小贷公司、财富管理等外部风险向银行体系的传染渗透。

投顾涉嫌诈骗 天津信托一产品不足3月提前终止_财经频道_一财网 - 由于投资顾问涉嫌诈骗,天津信托一款证券投资产品提前终止,而该产品成立距今不到3个月。

房产税改革思路未明致市场预期混乱_经济频道_财新网 - 国研中心研究员提出,房地产税改革的顺序,首先应由中央制定出台房地产税法,然后要求全国按新税法在经营性房地产施行,最后由各地政府决定是否对个人住房征税

房地产又调控了-财经网 - 政府虽然加大所谓调控的频度,却无根本调控措施出台,除了限制购买外就是空洞喊话,也就只能坐视房价在空喊中节节攀升,你越喊它越升,自己公信力越下降,以致到了今日再喊已无人理会之地

1月SUV销量激增90% 欧美加速蚕食日系份额 - surge in SUV sales in January…haven’t we seen this movie before? US and euro brands took share again from japanese carmakers//  经历了多年的高速增长,SUV市场在2013年开年的表现仍是“一枝独秀”。中国汽车工业协会(以下简称中汽协)发布数据显示,今年1月我国SUV车型销售24.07万辆,环比增长16.21%,同比增长90.54%,可谓是“飞速”。SUV市场的持续高增长,让更多车企争相进入这一细分市场 “掘金”。业内人士分析,随着首次购车者对SUV车型的青睐度增强,低价位区间内的消费需求随之提升,小型SUV市场空间潜力巨大。

农产品集体涨价 物价又临“敏感期” 新华社——经济参考网 - food prices on the rise// 商务部20日通报称,今年以来食用农产品价格出现明显上涨,全国36个大中城市食用农产品价格整体回升。另有机构分析,这次食品价格上涨起始于去年10月末,该上涨周期是2010年初以来持续时间最长的一次。《经济参考报》记者采访到的专家表示,主要农产品价格将总体稳定,而肉蛋产品集体上涨可能成为今年影响整体农产品价格的重要因素。在物价形势面临更多不确定性的情况下,农产品价格仍然扮演着“关键先生”的角色。

Yukon Huang: Fixing China’s Harmful Inequality – WSJ.com - reforms to labor migration and dividend policies could go a long way toward eliminating “bad” inequalities. For instance, channeling one-third of the overall profits of state enterprises to the budget to fund social services for households would help provide the resources necessary to equalize the quality of such programs across regions. Combined with eliminating “hukou” restrictions, this might increase household consumption by several percentage points of GDP.Such reforms would dramatically affect the nature of global macro imbalances by increasing China’s imports. Thus dealing with the harmful sources of income inequality not only addresses a social concern, it also offers a way to reduce trade tensions between China and the West.

Plenty of Productivity Still in Store for China, Economist Says – China Real Time Report – WSJ- Louis Kuijs, a former World Bank and IMF economist now at RBS, lays out the case for a gentle moderation in the trend rate for China in a Feb. 21 report. He plumps for a figure of around 8.5% in the next few years, falling to 7% by 2020 and 5% or 5.5% by 2030. He isn’t too worried that the size of China’s workforce seems to be near or at its peak, and will soon start shrinking as the Mao-era baby boomers retire. China may have drawn the last of its demographic dividend, but productivity gains have a lot further to run, Mr. Kuijs says.

Lew Says He Would Push China on ‘Market-Determined’ Currency – Bloomberg - Jack Lew, President Barack Obama’s nominee for U.S. Treasury secretary, said he would press China to adopt a “market-determined” exchange rate. Lew, in written answers to questions from members of the Senate Finance Committee obtained today by Bloomberg News, said if he’s confirmed, “addressing China’s exchange rate would be a top priority.”

Companies Seek to Avoid China New Year Hangover – WSJ.com -will really know if people returning or not after the 15th of the chinese new year, so next week…and did this cause surge in dec and jan exports?// Last year, the company received its orders 45 days late because of the New Year holiday. The delay meant hundreds of thousands of dollars in missed revenue for the company, which had sales of $17 million last year, the CEO said. This year, Mr. Capriola didn’t risk it. He doubled his order ahead of the New Year so that his toys were on the water and headed to Florida before the holiday even started. “If you don’t do that,” he said, “you won’t see anything until late April or the middle of May, and you can miss part of a season.”

China Leading Index Rises at Faster Pace, Conference Board Says – Bloomberg - Today’s report adds to signs that economic growth may accelerate for a second quarter after exports rose more than estimated last month and a broad measure of credit increased to a record. The nation’s growth momentum is “relatively strong,” the central bank said in a report released Feb. 6. The pickup in the index “was driven primarily by consumer expectations and estimated real estate activity, both of which were likely positively affected by the Chinese New Year holiday,” Andrew Polk, an economist with the Conference Board in Beijing, said in today’s statement. At the same time, “ the current rebound in economic activity continues to look modest,” he said.

唐山多楼盘送车位变相降价 库存消化需要10年|唐山楼盘|变相降价|库存消化_新浪财经_新浪网 - on the housing bubble in tangshan, hebei. seeing a real bifurcation between 1st and 2nd tier city real estate markets and 3 rd and 4th tier ones…could see some dramatic crashes in 3/4 tier, 1/2 markets should be strong this year// 最近市场上流传,我国部分三、四线城市房地产行业存在巨大泡沫,在过去几年土地供给极度膨胀,房地产开发快马扬鞭,然而商品房销售速度却十分缓慢,严重供大于求。这样的城市包括唐山、扬州、中山、芜湖、连云港(3.58,0.02,0.56%)等,市场的真实情况到底如何,我们的记者到唐山市展开了调查。

人民日报海外版-热炒中国“老无所依” 推论属于“刻舟求剑” 养老金“缺口”风险被严重夸大(热点聚焦) - People’s Daily overseas edition says the retirement savings deficit issue has been seriously overstated …

 

POLITICS AND LAW

习近平“以史明今”论反腐 诗外有弦音 – 国内新闻 – 古汉台网- 席间有京城政策圈人士透露,中共总书记习近平上月在中纪委二次全会上的讲话颇有些别致之处,除已广泛见诸报道的“制度笼子”说、“老虎苍蝇”说等之外,还引用了大量古典诗文以史喻今,令人印象深刻。该位看通该篇训诫全党讲话的人士还评论说,其文风鲜明,反腐决心浓烈。 据知在习近平引用的诗文典句中,有不少与马上得天下的执政者亡道失政有关。譬如习先后列举秦二世而亡、唐中兴而衰的例子,引出杜牧《阿房宫赋》中的名句说,“秦人不暇自哀,而后人哀之;后人哀之而不鉴之,亦使后人而复哀后人也。” 谈及净化政治生态、廉洁从政,习近平引用李商隐《咏史》一诗道,“历览前贤国与家,成由勤俭破由奢。”细论奢侈之祸时,习提到陈后主陈叔宝的 《玉树后庭花》是“亡国之音”,并引刘禹锡的《金陵五题•台城》说,“台城六代竞豪华,结绮临春事最奢。万户千门成野草,只缘一曲后庭花。”

China Policy Institute Blog » Xi Jinping’s Personnel Style–Zhengxu Wang- Another striking feature of the line-up is the lack of a Xi Jinping faction. Observers had predicted that Xi would promote a large number of close allies to important positions, as Hu Jintao and Jiang Zemin had done. With Xi at the helm, overseas media predicted the arrival of a “Xi army” among the ruling elite, hailing from Fujian and Zhejiang , two provinces where Xi had long stints during his rise. It was also said that Xi had built a support network among cadres originating from Shaanxi, where his family was from and where he spent several years after being sent down during the Cultural Revolution. But the new provincial leadership line-up reveals no presence of a “Xi army”; none of the 31 regional party secretaries could be categorised as a protégé or close ally. In fact, two officials who enjoyed close early ties with Xi have been given less prominent roles. He Lifeng, Xi’s associate in the Fujian era (and reputedly best man at his wedding), emerged as head of Tianjin’s Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, instead of moving up to be mayor. And Chen Miner , who worked under Xi in Zhejiang, has become governor of Guizhou , instead of moving to serve as party secretary of Guangxi as had been rumoured.

观察站:汪洋李源潮何去何从?二中全会定调_多维新闻网 -should know assignments for Wang Yang and Li Yuanchao by 2nd plenum of 18th late february//  二中全会可视为中央政府换届的“预备会议”,是中共在十八大后规模最大的一次人事部署会议,将集中体现出新一届领导人选人、用人的标准和导向,具有重要的风向标意义。尤其是原中组部长李源潮和原广东省委书记、已经铁板钉钉调入中央的汪洋将会担任何种职务,将会在这次全会后逐渐水落石出。

Xingtai mayor resigns following online rumours | South China Morning Post - Government news outlets this week announced the resignation of the mayor of Xingtai – months after online rumours surfaced that he had been taking bribes and keeping a mistress.

Corrupt Chinese officials get time off for good behaviour | South China Morning Post- jailed officials seemed more likely to get parole than their cellmates, said an editorial by China Youth Daily on Thursday. The article questioned the legitimacy of the parole term granted to a former Shanxi deputy party chief last year after he was sentenced to 11 years in prison in 2006. After online rumours claimed the former official, Wu Houjie, had been released, Shanxi authorities promptly explained that Wu was on parole.

End of Baijiu Binge Means Party Is Over for Producers, Dealers – Caixin - Since the Communist Party’s 18th National Congress last year, the central government has campaigned against corruption and lavish spending. The Politburo said in December that local governments should not arrange banquets for visiting central government officials. As a chaser, that same month the Central Military Commission said military officials should not drink alcohol when they visit subordinate units. These policies echoed suggestions by Premier Wen Jiabao in March 2012 that the government should spend less on liquor. Speaking at a State Council conference on clean government, the outgoing premier proposed “prohibiting the use of public funds to buy cigarettes, high-end liquor and gifts.” Several industry insiders say all of this has dealt a blow to the baijiu industry, especially producers of the expensive versions. “The government agencies and the military can buy 30 percent to 50 percent of some high-end baijiu makers’ annual production,” an executive at a distillery in the southwestern province of Guizhou said.

Why Urbanization Is No Holiday for Migrant Workers – Caixin-Hu shuli - To end this Age of Migrant Workers, China must seek to raise the quality of its urbanization. This in turn will aid the much-needed transformation of the country’s economic model. Any change will be gradual; no one should have fantasies of utopia. But gradual must not mean slow. The heartbreakingly difficult journey of millions of migrants every year is a reminder of the urgency for change. People-centered urbanization is change we can see and feel. Next year, or in five or 10 years, the number of Spring Festival travelers will tell us how successful we have been.

官员花60万元公款买豪车 称出门面子上好看_网易新闻中心 - official w 600k car..it was for face// 核心提示:网曝江苏高淳商务局副局长魏某乘坐公车为奥迪A6L,售价60多万元,严重超标。魏某向记者坦言,车系用公款购买,因自己去外地开会弄辆破车形象不好,乘奥迪有面子。

Large luxury bed in official’s office makes waves online | South China Morning Post - Chinese politics brutal, sometimes an official may just need to hug things out…// A photo of a luxury queen-sized bed has been making waves online, as it was allegedly shot in a government office. A posting on tianya.cn one of the mainland’s most popular forums, features seven photos, including the bed, an LCD television and a set of leather sofas in a large room. It claims the photos were taken in the office of He Haichang , director of the food bureau in Luliang, Shanxi.

 

FOREIGN AND DEFENSE AFFAIRS

Stapleton Roy: U.S. and China Must Halt Drift Toward Strategic Rivalry | East-West Center | www.eastwestcenter.org - With China’s leadership in transition and incoming Secretary of State John Kerry heading a new foreign policy team in the second Obama administration, leaders in both countries must face a “frightening array of domestic and foreign policy problems” in managing their vital relationship, longtime senior U.S. diplomat J. Stapleton Roy said in a Feb. 13 address at the East-West Center in Hawai‘i.

What Shinzo Abe wants and fears most – People’s Daily Online - Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe most wants to take advantage of the United States to modify the Peace Constitution, accelerate Japan’s “normalization,” and obtain permission to exercise the right to collective self-defense. What Abe is worried about and fears most is that new U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry may think that China will bring more opportunities than challenges to the United States. ..In fact, Abe does not have to worry too much. In the foreseeable future, the United States still needs Japan to make trouble for China in a controllable range. Japan’s next step depends on the attitude of the United States…Read the Chinese version: 安倍访美所欲与所惧  , Source: Jiefang Daily; Author: Wang Yusheng

Chinese cyberspies have hacked most Washington institutions, experts say – The Washington PostChinese hackers discover that former Senator Pete Domenici had a son out of wedlock with the daughter of Paul Laxalt and kept it secret until now? why the sudden disclosure? (kidding, but needed a way to mention this crazy old-school DC story)…but seriously, so this mean chinese analysts have wrapped their heads around how DC works? Can they let us know then too?// Start asking security experts which powerful Washington institutions have been penetrated by Chinese cyberspies, and this is the usual answer: almost all of them. The list of those hacked in recent years includes law firms, think tanks, news organizations, human rights groups, contractors, congressional offices, embassies and federal agencies.

Regular cyber attacks from US: China – Globaltimes.cn- “The US is raising the profile of the ‘invisible’ cyber threat as a new weapon in order to balance its losses in the Asia-Pacific pivot strategy,” said Han Xudong, a professor with the PLA National Defense University. “The US controls the world’s main servers. This has been a threat to China’s  cyber security.” Earlier, the People’s Daily said that allegations from the US are an excuse for Washington to expand its cyber security forces and levy more technology restrictions on China as a containing measure. Geng said China has established bilateral law enforcement cooperation with over 30 nations and regions, including the US, Germany and Russia. “China should strive for a greater say in laying out international rules on cyber security,” Da told the Global Times on Wednesday, suggesting that in response to continuous accusations, China, also a big victim of cyber attacks, can “fight” back with concrete evidence.

Some Victims of Online Hacking Edge Into the Light – NYTimes.com- In October 2011, the Securities and Exchange Commission issued a new guidance that specifically outlined how publicly traded companies should disclose online attacks, but few disclosures have come because of it. “Quite frankly, since then, there hasn’t been an abundance of reporting on cyberevents despite the fact that they are clearly happening,” said Jacob Olcott, a specialist in online risks who managed a Senate investigation into the disclosure practices. The best hope, Mr. Olcott said, is that as investors start paying more attention to the threats, they will demand that companies disclose them. “I wouldn’t hold my breath,” Mr. Elefant said. “There are an awful lot of lawyers out there trying to keep companies from exposing that these breaches are happening. And they are happening.”

Cybercrime: Smoking gun | The Economist - Another reason to think this report marks a turning-point is its timing, which suggests American official blessing. ..The report is part of a new American “naming and shaming” effort designed to push China to rein in its hackers, reckons Bill Bishop, a Beijing-based technology expert [SEE MY LONGER COMMENT ON THIS]. It might work, but he worries that if America pushes too hard the new Chinese leadership will feel boxed in. Under pressure from the PLA and public opinion, it might choose to escalate things instead. Adam Segal of the Council on Foreign Relations, an American think-tank, argues that America must be willing to use trade penalties, visa restrictions and financial sanctions to raise the cost of stealing IP. “China must see it is vulnerable,” he insists. On February 20th America announced a strengthening of its efforts to prevent the theft of trade secrets, and China was mentioned prominently.

How Anonymous accidentally helped expose two Chinese hackers | Ars Technica- None of this amounts to proof; at best, these are good educated guesses (and some onlookers remain skeptical). But if true, they’re a reminder that even talented hackers slip up all the time in little ways that can eventually give them away. Indeed, this whole story is rife with slip-ups at HBGary Federal, atrootkit.com, and even among Anonymous. A year after the rootkit.com hack, nearly everyone involved had been arrested, with ringleader Sabu turned into a snitch by the FBI. By leaving traces in their code and on sites like rootkit.com, hackers like UglyGorilla and SuperHard_M may have slipped up as well. Or not—one theory making the rounds among some security researchers contends that the hackers simply work with impunity in China and thus don’t actually care that much about obscuring their identities.

China dispatches fleet to patrol South China Sea – Xinhua | English.news.cn - A fleet of Chinese marine surveillance ships departed from Guangzhou on Monday to carry out regular patrol missions in the South China Sea, according to the State Oceanic Administration (SOA).

Russia, China Unlikely To Approve Tough North Korea Sanctions | NK News – North Korea News -and the sun rises in the east//  Hopes that the United Nations will pass cutting financial sanctions against North Korea to punish it for the third nuclear test have been dashed today by comments made by Russian diplomats. Today Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov told a news conference, “Any additional measures of pressure on North Korea should be aimed exclusively at the sphere of non-proliferation of nuclear arms and rocket launches.” He added “We are against measures that would affect normal trade and economic relations with North Korea. We understand our Chinese colleagues have similar views.”

Post-Test Analysis of Punggye-Ri: What a Difference a Few Days Make | 38 North: Informed Analysis of North Korea - It remains unclear whether renewed activity at the site is normal for the days after a nuclear detonation or if it is an indication of Pyongyang’s intention to conduct another test in the near future. It is also unclear whether Pyongyang will be in a position to conduct such a test. If a second tunnel at the northern area (West Portal) was used to conduct the third nuclear detonation as some suspect, and this is not yet proven, then the southern tunnel would be readily available for a fourth test.

China Buys into Afghanistan | Brookings Institution–Erica Downs - This article examines three elements of the popular narrative of China’s involvement in the development of Afghanistan’s vast natural resource wealth. It argues that Chinese companies invested in Afghanistan’s minerals and energy in the pursuit of their own corporate interests rather than at the direction of a Chinese government concerned about resource security. To be sure, the Chinese firms did have a leg up on their Western competitors by virtue of their state ownership. However, the infrastructure packages they offered as part of their bids are consistent with a shift in the global mining industry away from enclave private sector developments and towards leveraging mineral development to benefit the broader economy, which is being driven largely by Chinese companies. Finally, while it is fair to say that China is free-riding on the U.S.-led stabilization efforts in Afghanistan because Chinese companies are benefitting from a public good to which China has not contributed, the mining and energy investments made by Chinese companies could well end up advancing U.S. goals.

 

HONG KONG, MACAO AND TAIWAN

Frank Hsieh’s Weibo blocked in China after gaining 10,000 fans–WantChinaTimes.com - might be the pro-independence stance?// Frank Hsieh, a former premier of Taiwan and a prominent figure in the main opposition Democratic Progressive Party, said Wednesday he has no idea why his microblog account with China’s Sina Weibo has been blocked.

In Face of Mainland Censorship, Taiwanese Revisit Reunification Question | Tea Leaf Nation- if there were a golden boot for own goals…// Within twenty-four hours of registration, Sina Weibo (China’s equivalent of Twitter) deleted the microblog account of Frank Hsieh, former premier of Taiwan’s pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party (DPP). Ironically, Hsieh’s last tweet before he lost the power to post on Weibo was: “Whether or not there is freedom of speech does not depend on how freely you speak when you criticize high officials or people in power, but whether you lose your freedom after you speak.” What followed was a wave of Chinese netizen attack: they criticized the Chinese government of for infringing on freedom of speech, expressing concerns that such display of intolerance would antagonize the fellow Taiwanese people and diminish prospects of cross-strait reunification.

Lien Chan to visit mainland on Sunday |Politics |chinadaily.com.cn - Honorary Kuomintang chairman Lien Chan will visit the Chinese mainland from Sunday, a move analysts said is expected to boost cross-Straits ties. Lien will lead a delegation of more than 30 politicians and businesspeople on the trip from Sunday to Wednesday, KMT Mainland Affairs Committee director Kao Hui confirmed on Thursday, according to the Taipei-based Central News Agency.

 

TECH AND MEDIA

Source: Qihoo in Talks with Jike on Joint Effort against Baidu-Caijing - Qihoo, a leading Internet company in China, is in talks with the state-run search engine Jike on a possible cooperation, the latest move to fight China’s search engine bellwether Baidu after launching its own online search service last year, according to an unnamed source. Qihoo had already nailed a deal with Jike as well as the country’s medicine watchdog, on an online search service based on information of medicines provided by the State Food and Drug Administration (SFDA), the insider told ifeng.com, a leading Chinese news portal website.

Suning to Spend $3.5 Billion in China Online Push – Bloomberg - Suning Appliance Co. (002004), China’s biggest electronics retailer, will spend 22 billion yuan ($3.52 billion) on logistics by the end of 2015 as it expands online operations and offers new products such as cosmetics. The retailer is making the investments to be less reliant on its traditional electronics business, Vice Chairman Sun Weimin said in an interview in Nanjing, in eastern China, yesterday.

 

SOCIETY, ART, SPORTS, CULTURE AND HISTORY

Hope on the Horizon for Gays in China – Chengdu Living - This is Part 5 of a series attempting to explore the mindset of young Chinese by focusing on themes found in essays written by Sichuan University students in a graduate writing course. Previous articles have addressed their attitudes toward the elderly, marriage, the wealth gap and America.

 

ENERGY, ENVIRONMENT AND HEALTH

人民日报-环保“最后防线”如何不失守(人民时评) 李 拯 -People’s Daily Commentary on need for Ministry of Environmental Protection to be able to do more, act as “safety valve”…environmental problems “unique”, real risks of social upheaval from them…Beijing not unaware of the risks  环保部门应以及时回应和专业担当,做环境焦虑的润滑剂、环境改善的导航仪,进而成为社会风险的安全阀…环境问题的独特性在于,它关系到每一个人的切身利益,因此容易上升为公共事件,甚至成为群体性事件的引爆点。为避免环境风险发酵为社会风险,环保部门应该以及时回应和专业担当,做环境焦虑的润滑剂、环境改善的导航仪,进而成为社会风险的安全阀。

人民日报-强制环境高风险企业投保 环境遭污染 保险来“买单” - p2 People’s Daily on forcing heavy polluting firms to buy environmental insurance. how will the risk be assessed, insurance priced and who would assess damages since so hard for people to sue these firms?// 本报北京2月21日电  (记者孙秀艳)环境保护部与中国保监会近日联合印发了《关于开展环境污染强制责任保险试点工作的指导意见》,指导各地在涉重金属企业和石油化工等高环境风险行业推进环境污染强制责任保险试点。据悉,目前我国已在十多个省(自治区、直辖市)开展了相关试点工作,投保企业达2000多家,承保金额近200亿元。运用保险工具,以社会化、市场化途径解决环境污染损害,有利于促使企业加强环境风险管理,减少污染事故发生;有利于迅速应对污染事故,及时补偿、有效保护污染受害者权益。

China to push compulsory insurance for polluting industries | Reuters- Companies that must participate in the scheme include mining and smelting industries, lead battery manufacturers, leather goods firms and chemical factories, the Environment Ministry and China Insurance Regulatory Commission said in a joint statement. Petrochemical companies and firms that make hazardous chemicals and hazardous waste would also be encouraged to participate, it added. Special environmental protection funds would be allocated to companies taking out the insurance, and they would be given priority for bank lending, the statement said.

[视频]【贯彻十八大·贵在落实】河北:治理大气污染 还百姓蓝天_新闻频道_央视网 - top story on thursday cctv evening news on how hebei is reducing pollution to help fight smog siege// 今天,我们走进工业大省河北,这里的钢铁、水泥等产量在全国都名列前茅。但这些高污染行业也使河北付出了沉重的环境代价。1月份,全国空气污染最严重的10个城市,河北占了七个。新春伊始,治理雾霾成为河北上下的一件大事。

铝业巨头信发被曝污染地下水 村民只能喝邻县水 新华社——经济参考网 - 山东省聊城市茌平县,鲁西平原上的一座明星县城,这里不仅是附近少有的经济“全国百强县”,还曾捧得“全省人居环境范例奖”以及“全省城乡环境综合整治先进县”等桂冠。然而,当地多名村民向媒体反映,在这个桂冠加身的县城周围,数十个村庄的地下水遭遇严重污染,成为缺“血”的村庄。

数据显示内地城市55%地下水为较差至极差水质 _资讯频道_凤凰网 - 河流、湖泊、近海水,面对多个地方出现的饮用水危机,面对个别地区甚至出现癌症村等严重的健康和社会问题,环保部发布《化学品环境风险防控“十二五”规划》,直面严峻形势。我们需要清澈的河流,我们需要洁净的空气,我们需要健康的身体。《新闻1+1》今日关注:中国环保,进行时!

China’s Water Reserves and World’s Warming Atmosphere Wait For Natural Gas Breakthrough | Circle of Blue WaterNews - But many of Sichuan’s field engineers, analysts, industry executives, and resource managers say there is convincing evidence that China’s shale gas industry is developing at a much slower rate than either Chinese or American leadership had anticipated — in other words, it is hard to see how China expects to even come close to meeting its 2015 production goal. China’s shale gas sector is buffeted by uncertainty about the quality of its shale reserves, concerns about scarce freshwater supplies, competition from other energy sources, the potential safety threats posed by a byproduct poison gas, and emerging civic distrust.

Map: China’s West-East Electricity Transfer Project | Wilson Center - The Wilson Center’s China Environment Forum is proud to announce that we are launching our first interactive infographic: a map of China’s West-East Electricity Transfer Project. The map underscores China’s energy and water imbalances and the looming choke point China faces in terms of water, food, and energy security. The map also illustrates how consumer goods made in China’s factories along its eastern coast are powered by coal and hydropower in the country’s western provinces.

CES 12 Preview: Sustainable Coffee Growing in Yunnan | Wilson Center - The Brewing Water-Energy-Food Challenges Beyond Yunnan Yunnan is a microcosm of the intertwined challenges facing China; climate change, strained water resources, and rising energy and food demand to meet the demands of the world’s largest country are together forming a Choke Point that cannot be ignored. And, with its vast range of topographies, Yunnan is especially vulnerable to these Choke Points and to the effects of climate change. But Starbucks’ C.A.F.E. Practices, if they can be implemented successfully, offer farmers the tools they need to adapt to and withstand these Choke Points, while simultaneously reducing their industry’s strain on the environment. The market incentives in Starbucks’ C.A.F.E Practices provide a possible model for sustainable agriculture reforms in China at large. China’s leaders have been masterful in using market incentives to reform agriculture in the past—let’s hope they can do it again

Your next ‘Made in China’ gadget – a nuclear reactor | Video | Reuters.com - Feb. 18 – China’s switched on its first new nuclear power plant since the Fukushima disaster, and is on track to displace the U.S. as the world’s top nuclear energy producer by 2030. Up next: exports.

Apple supplier fined over river pollution – Xinhua | English.news.cn- A company that supplies accessories for Apple was fined for intentionally discharging pollutants and damaging a river in Shanghai, environmental authorities said Thursday. RiTeng Computer Accessory Co., Ltd. was recently found to have dumped waste fluid into a drainage system, polluting a river in Shanghai’s Songjiang district.

 

FOOD AND TRAVEL

Feature: Is it ethical to travel to North Korea?: Shanghaiist - The consensus among our experts, with the notable exception of Ms Kirkpatrick, seems to come down in favour of visiting North Korea. This opinion was reflected by a number of other people I spoke to informally, who felt that the more exposure average North Koreans had to outsiders, the better. I don’t necessarily dispute this view, but it’s important to remember that, particularly in Pyongyang, tourists are not coming into contact with ‘average’ North Koreans. Residents of Pyongyang are typically chosen by the regime for their loyalty and belief in the Juche ’cause’. The sight of a foreigner is unlikely to sway such people, just as North Korean diplomats (the real hardcore believers) don’t go all dewey eyed about capitalism and democracy when they visit the west.

Rail journeys: Second-class camaraderie | The Economist- Kunming is end of the line, but that may soon change. The high-speed line connecting Kunming and Shanghai which is scheduled to open in two years is part of an even more ambitious plan to link south-west China with South-East Asia by rail. The plan to build a rail line between Kunming and Singapore was first proposed by colonial authorities over a century ago. As part of an effort to establish Kunming as a regional economic and transport hub for South-East Asia, a proposed high-speed line between Kunming and Singapore is scheduled to begin service in 2020. At that time, it would become possible to travel by high-speed rail from Singapore to Beijing and beyond. For now, the journey takes at least a few transfers and quite a bit longer. To passengers caught in the holiday rush, it can seem interminable. For others, it can be an enforced time-out from the bustle of an increasingly hectic and connected China—and a way to go home, too.

 

BEIJING

Capital to expand public transportation |Society |chinadaily.com.cn - Beijing is planning to further develop its public transportation network, and 46 percent of residents are expected to travel by subway and bus this year, authorities said. In 2012, more than 20 million daily journeys were made by public transport in the capital, and 44 percent of commuters used public transportation, according to the Beijing Commission of Transport. The proportion was the highest in the country in 2012, and it is expected to reach 50 percent in 2015, Beijing Daily reported on Dec 5.

 

BOOKS AND LITERATURE

Ensnared in the Trap of Memory – NYTimes.com - The fallibility of memory may partly explain the fracas surrounding “Bend, Not Break,” a recently published business-cum-personal memoir by Ping Fu, born in 1958, of growing up in China during the Cultural Revolution, moving to the United States and founding a successful software company called Geomagic.

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