Good morning from swampy DC…The UN passed harsher sanctions on North Korea though they were reportedly not as tough as the US wanted. The passage is a diplomatic success for President Trump and in perhaps a sign of the backroom US-China diplomacy that is working on the North Korea crisis I am hearing the State Councilor Yang Jiechi, China’s top diplomat, arrived in DC last night after a visit to Jamaica. Always better to be talking than not…
Steve Bannon gave a speech today in Hong Kong. According to tweets from Wei Du of Channel News Asia he said “there isn’t a world leader he [
@realDonaldTrump] respects more than the Pres of China.”” and “Xi extraordinary, man of wisdom. Downside of US/China at odds so huge, he gets it has to be worked out”.
That little circle top left is a possible logo for Sinocism. Comments welcome, thanks for reading.
The Essential Eight
1. New Round Of UN Sanctions On North Korea
Comment: Tough, unlikely to be tough enough, nor is it clear this round will prevent the US from imposing more unilateral sanctions on PRC banks and individuals. And still no solution to the underlying issue.
It will reduce oil imports by North Korea by 30%, placing an annual cap of 2 million barrels on refined petroleum products such as gasoline and diesel and capping crude oil at about 4 million barrels, U.S. officials said. The U.N. measure also completely bans natural gas imports.
North Korea now imports a total of 8.5 million barrels of oil a year, mostly from China, said a U.S. official.
The resolution also imposes an embargo on all textile trade and requires inspections and monitoring of North Korea’s sea vessels by member states. But it stops short of providing for the use of military force to gain access to the ships. The textile industry, the last big economic sector that hadn’t yet been targeted in North Korea, accounted for $760 million in 2016 revenue, U.S. officials said.
In reality, the Trump administration has relatively low expectations for the new sanctions, American officials say.
But it is discussing how to use them, the officials say, with a mix of overt military pressure, covert action, and steps to punish any Chinese banks that do business with North Korea, by banning them from also doing business with the United States.
He called on the DPRK to abide by the resolutions of the UN Security Council and stop the development of nuclear missiles, and urged the United States and the Republic of Korea (ROK) to avoid any actions that may further complicate the situation.
The “dual-track approach” and the “suspension for suspension” initiative proposed by China, Geng said, are practical methods to solve the Korean Peninsula issue.
“We called on the relevant parties to work with China to push for dialogue and negotiation and make joint efforts to realize peace and stability on the Peninsula,” he said.
Multiple bank branches, including those of the country’s top four lenders, told the Financial Times they had imposed a freeze on new accounts for North Korean people and companies. Some are going even further, saying they are “cleaning out” existing accounts held by North Koreans by forbidding new deposits.
The spike in Russian exports is occurring as China — by far North Korea’s biggest trading partner — is beginning to dramatically ratchet up the economic pressure on its troublesome neighbor in the face of provocative behavior such as last week’s test of a powerful nuclear bomb.
2. Foreign Bear Paws All Around For Beijing’s Economic Mandarins?
Comment: We have been here before, and it does not appear that the underlying issues are resolved. But what a turn in sentiment this year…
Speaking at a press briefing after a round-table meeting with the heads of six global agencies, including the World Bank, International Monetary Fund and the World Trade Organisation, Li said China’s economy was becoming healthier and more sustainable.
With things looking up across China’s economic dashboard, sentiment among consumers and households is the strongest in more than two decades. The consumer confidence index climbed to 114.6 in July. That’s up from last May, when it dipped below 100, the line separating optimism and pessimism.
Charlene Chu, a China analyst at Autonomous Research, a global company advising hedge funds and other international money managers, has long worried that China’s debt accumulation was becoming unsustainable. Now, she said, Beijing has the ability to postpone its problems.
“What I appreciate now is there are just no independent actors here,” Ms. Chu said. “There is no bank that is going to say in November that ‘our economic outlook is not good — we’re going to contract our loan book.’ They can muddle on for a while.”
But Ms. Chu and others see Beijing’s efforts as stopgaps: If it does not address its debt, China risks a long period of low growth, as in Japan.
Comment: Quite noteworthy if Charlene Chu has only just realized that the Party runs the show
China’s foreign exchange regulator has not modified rules on withdrawals of foreign exchange by individuals, the regulator said on Tuesday, following media reports that it had capped the frequency of U.S. dollar withdrawals at two each week.
How have bears responded? A few, like Crescat Capital’s Kevin Smith, are still holding out for a crash. But as a group, they’re less pessimistic now than they were in the wake of China’s 2015 market turmoil. Some, including Mark Hart of Corriente Advisors, have even turned bullish. Here’s what the managers are saying these days
3. Party Before God
Yu, chairman of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) National Committee, made the remarks at a session on implementing religious decisions and policies.
He stressed the importance of standardizing government management of religious affairs as well as the activities of religious groups with the law.
Yu emphasized the need to curb religious extremism.
贯彻落实中央关于宗教工作重大决策部署经验交流会在京召开 俞正声出席并讲话 —Official report of Yu’s speech
This is aimed at solving some of the problems which have cropped up in recent years, Liu Guopeng, an expert at the Institute of World Religion Studies of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS), told the Global Times on Monday. “China does have some problems like conflicts between different religions and the problem is getting serious.”
To avoid becoming targets in a ramped-up government campaign, many “house” congregations are meeting in smaller groups in person and online
4. The Situation In Xinjiang Does Not Sound Yakexi
Thousands of Uyghurs and other Muslim ethnic minorities are being held in re-education camps without contact with their families under a policy designed to counter extremism in the northwestern Chinese region of Xinjiang, local officials told RFA’s Uyghur Service.
The camps are now formally referred to as “Professional Education Schools,” after being called “Socialism Training Schools” and other names since their early 2017 inception as “Counter-extremism Training Schools,” the official said.
The family members interviewed said they believed their relatives were being detained for a number of reasons, including traveling abroad or having families who live abroad. Others may have been targeted for participating in unauthorized religious activities, such as wearing headscarves or other Muslim attire, or merely for having relatives who had been previously arrested by the government. State media reports also said that people who “are easily influenced by religious extremism” as well as “key personnel” – a term that refers to people perceived as threats by authorities – have also been detained in these facilities.
On June 12, 2017, the People’s Court of China website posted the judgment of a court in Xinjiang upheld a two year prison sentence for Huang Shike on the grounds that he violated Article 287-1 of China’s Criminal Law (“illegal use of information networks”) when he used two WeChat (Weixin) groups to “carry out discussion and instruction of religious texts.”
5. Latest Internet Crackdown Has Teeth
Regulations released Sept. 7 made creators of online groups responsible for managing information within their forums and the behavior of members. While they don’t take effect until October, authorities have jumped into action by disciplining 40 people in one group for spreading petition letters while arresting a man who complained about police raids, according to reports in official Chinese media.
The prospect of punishment for the actions of others has led many administrators to disband groups while others circulate self-imposed rules discouraging the spreading of rumors or unauthorized information about Hong Kong and Taiwan
The Weibo account of prominent Chinese historian Yuan Tengfei (袁腾飞) has suddenly been shut down.
As the Liberty Times reports, on September 11 Yuan’s account on Weibo, a Chinese microblogging website, suddenly disappeared. His last Weibo post was published on September 8 at 20:20. “Today is a great day, the weather is good, too, so happy! Life goes on, really good!” he wrote.
6. Academic Readings In Advance of the 19th Party Congress
Comment: The latest issue of the China Leadership Monitor is out, I have read these two interesting essays by Alice Miller and Barry Naughton.
Xi Jinping and the Party’s “Guiding Ideology” | Hoover Institution – Alice Miller As the 19th Party Congress approaches, there is widespread speculation that the party constitution will be revised to incorporate concepts associated with party General Secretary Xi Jinping as part of the party’s authoritative “guiding ideology.” Although such a revision is possible, analysis of changes in past constitutions and available evidence from PRC media suggest a more limited outcome.
The General Secretary’s Extended Reach: Xi Jinping Combines Economics and Politics | Hoover Institution – Barry Naughton Xi Jinping has seized the initiative in economic policy, making himself the dominant actor in financial regulation and environmental policy, among other areas. These precedent-breaking economic policy roles provide Xi clear political benefits. They strengthen the central government’s power over local actors, and confirm Xi’s personal dominance of the political process.
7. iPhone X And China
iPhone的大麻烦：中国买家嫌太贵、产量严重短缺 – IT家电 – 中国经营网_中国经营报 Comment: Will Chinese consumers think the iPhone X is too expensive? We’ll see, if it is as innovative and distinctive as the PR hype suggests then I would be wary of underestimating PRC demand. The “X” though may be hard to pronounce, perhaps for China it should be called the “iPhone Xi”.
Xiaomi Looks to Rekindle Buzz With ‘All Screen’ Smartphone – Caixin Global Smartphone-maker Xiaomi Inc. on Monday unveiled a second edition of its well-received model with a face that is nearly all screen, as the former highflier tries to continue clawing its way back from a series of major stumbles.
8. Will The FBI Examine CCP External Propaganda Organs In The US?
Background: The FBI is investigating RT and Sputnik for FARA violations. Can the CCP versions, and their employees in the US, be far behind? Xi in his 2015 visit to the big three propaganda organs made it very clear they are surnamed Party, a public declaration that does not help the argument that they are “press” deserving of First Amendment protections,
The FBI recently questioned a former White House correspondent for Sputnik, the Russian-government-funded news agency, as part of an investigation into whether it is acting as an undeclared propaganda arm of the Kremlin in violation of the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA).
Comment: The China Media Project on Xi’s 2016 visit to core Party media.
[We] must strengthen the building of our international communication capacity, increasing our international discourse power and focussing the proper telling of China’s story, at the same time optimising our strategic layout, working to build flagship external propaganda media that have rather strong reputations internationally.
Business, Economy And Trade
A “rogue” bikeshare company, Mobike, may be coming to DC – Greater Greater Washington DC could soon get a new kind of bike sharing from a Chinese company, Mobike, which has advertised for two job positions here. Would that be good or bad for bicycling and transportation?
Owner of China’s Biggest Ponzi Scheme Sentenced to Life in Jail – Bloomberg Ding Ning, the chairman of Yucheng Group, was also fined 100 million yuan ($15 million) for fundraising fraud, smuggling precious metals, and owning guns illegally, according to a judgment handed down by the Beijing First Intermediate People’s Court on Tuesday. Yucheng ultimately controls the Ezubo platform, which authorities allege had defrauded 900,000 people out of more than $7.6 billion. One other Yucheng executive was also jailed for life, while 24 were given jail terms of between three to 15 years
Quick Take: Chinese Buyers Flock to British Duck Breeder – Caixin Global A unit of conglomerate Citic Group and a major Chinese agricultural firm will pay 1.5 billion yuan ($227 million) for British fowl specialist Cherry Valley Farms Ltd., marking a homecoming of sorts for a European company whose specialty is its brand of Pekin ducks.
State Council supports Shanxi to promote economic transformation – Gov.cn The plan set goals on establishing a mechanism to bolster the economic transformation of Shanxi by 2020, with more coal mining and rough coal processing being slashed, while gradually increasing advanced coal capacity to account for two-thirds of the overall industrial value-added output.
Montana ranchers lasso China ties – China Daily On Friday morning, the backyard of his Morgan Ranch House hosted an agricultural forum co-chaired by Chinese Ambassador to the US Cui Tiankai and US Senator Steven Daines of Montana. Participants also included representatives of Montana ranches and farms, as well as a dozen commercial and agricultural officials from the Chinese embassy and US-based Chinese companies. // Comment: Worth the click just to see Ambassador Cui in cowboy hat and belt buckle
Politics And Law
Ex-aide to China’s personnel chief sacked for ‘corrupt political morals’ | South China Morning Post Correction: Yesterday’s issue said Wang Sanyun had ties with Zhao Lejij. I meant Wei Minzhou…sometimes the corrupt officials just become a blur…thanks to the alert reader for pointing out the mistake// Wei Minzhou, 60, was the secretary general of the northwest province’s party committee between 2007 and 2012 – a time when Zhao Leji was the Shaanxi party boss…Wei, 60, was the secretary general of the northwest province’s party committee between 2007 and 2012 – a time when Zhao Leji was the Shaanxi party boss.
PRC Court Recognizes a U.S. Court Judgment for First Time Based on Principle of Reciprocity | Publications | Morrison Foerster On June 30, 2017, the Wuhan Intermediate People’s Court (the “Wuhan Court”) issued a decision recognizing and enforcing a civil money judgment issued by the Los Angeles Superior Court arising out of a contractual dispute (the “Wuhan Decision”). Because there is no applicable treaty on the recognition and enforcement of judgments between the United States and the People’s Republic of China (PRC), the Wuhan Court based its decision on the principle of reciprocity. This decision represents the first time that a PRC court has recognized and enforced a U.S. court judgment, and it is significant that the Wuhan Court acknowledged the existence of reciprocity between the U.S. and the PRC in deciding to enforce the U.S. court judgment at issue.
北京十九大安保誓师 蔡奇要求动员“西城大妈”|蔡奇|安保|维稳_新浪新闻 Comment: As expected, Beijing Party Secretary mobilizes the “Xicheng Aunties” and “Chaoyang Masses” to help ensure security around the Party Congress
The stealth mission that brought down a Chinese police chief | South China Morning Post Their two-month mission three years ago had been well publicised but by the time it was over they had enough information to put the city’s notorious police chief, Wu Changshun, behind bars, according to a documentary aired on Friday on state broadcaster CCTV. The documentary detailed some of the cloak-and-dagger operations that Ren and his team from the Communist Party’s Central Commission for Discipline Inspection had to conduct before Wu was convicted in May of corruption and abuse of power.
Xi calls for more international judicial cooperation – Xinhua Xi made the remarks in a letter of congratulation to the 22nd annual conference and general meeting of the International Association of Prosecutors, which opened Monday morning in Beijing. “As representatives of the public interest, prosecutors shoulder important responsibilities,” Xi said.
Foreign And Defense Affairs
Is China leaping past us? – Politico – By DANIEL KLIMAN and HARRY KREJSA In recent months, China has quietly given the United States a series of new “Sputnik Moments”—not as dramatic as a radio beacon from overhead, but just as significant as a challenge to American technological leadership. And as U.S. debates have focused on trade deficits and recovering manufacturing jobs, Beijing has achieved the scientific and technological feats that herald its arrival as an innovation superpower. These “Sputnik Moments” extend across multiple industries, from communications technology to renewable energy. Collectively, they pose a risk to America’s future economic dynamism, as well as its military superiority.
China’s foreign minister to visit Panama to forge new ties | South China Morning Post The Central American nation’s foreign ministry said Wang would lead a delegation aimed at “advancing the bilateral agenda of Panama and China”, including on tourism exchanges, trade links and the maritime environment. He will meet Panamanian President Juan Carlos Varela on Saturday.// Comment: Will Yang Jiechi join him after his stopover in DC?
China’s Position on a Code of Conduct in Space | U.S.-China Economic And Security Commission As space becomes more “congested, contested, and competitive,” as termed in the 2011 U.S. National Security Space Strategy, efforts by spacefaring nations to establish norms of behavior in space have become increasingly important. This issue brief examines China’s views on the Code of Conduct for Outer Space Activities proposed by the European Union, finding that Beijing instead continues to support a binding treaty that would ban the deployment of weapons in space, which it has jointly proposed with Russia. This treaty would significantly limit U.S. activities in space while doing little to reduce actual threats to space assets. China’s actions in regards to codes of conduct in other areas indicate it sometimes uses negotiations to prolong the status quo, and does not always adhere to its agreements. Should China continue to place a high value on developing military counterspace capabilities, its position should be expected to remain unchanged.
China promises $90m in aid to Badakhshan | Pajhwok Afghan News “Implementation of this project is a good message for the Badakhshan people that would strengthen commercial, cultural and social relations between Afghanistan and China, which will also donate $20 million for the construction of healthcare centers, school buildings and roads in rural areas and Wakhan, Ashkasham, Zibak and Sheghnan districts,” he said. Bigzad said China also wanted to create a mountainous brigade unit of Afghan forces for the protection of the Badakhshan border. The security situation was good and development projects are under implementation, he added.
China Stands by Taliban Haven Pakistan While Reaping Benefits of U.S. Role in Afghanistan – Breitbart Beijing has indicated that it will continue to take advantage of America’s efforts to stabilize Afghanistan, supporting its ally Pakistan as it harbors the Afghan Taliban while mining Afghanistan’s resources.
Iceland Plans to Shut the Door on Chinese Investors, Again – Bloomberg With the North Atlantic nation fully reintegrated into the international community, its center-right government is now looking to tighten a law that limits foreign ownership of Icelandic land. The move comes amid a surge in foreign visitors and fresh attempts by an unidentified Chinese entrepreneur to acquire a 12 square-kilometer plot of real estate and build a holiday resort inside the island’s so-called Golden Circle, Iceland’s most popular tourist destination. A far more ambitious Chinese bid was blocked in 2012.
驻京部队持续加强军风军纪整治 取得阶段性成果 – 中国军网 Comment: The PLA Garrison in Beijing has been properly prepped and cleansed for the 19th Party Congress // 以树立军队新形象、正规军营新秩序、展示军人新风貌为抓手，以迎接党的十九大胜利召开为契机，从7月份开始，首都驻军持续开展“强化条令意识、正规四个秩序”活动，重点检查纠治军风军纪、人员管理、营院秩序等方面存在的问题，目前取得阶段性成果。请关注今日出版的《解放军报》报道
Hearing that the first United States China Social and Cultural Issues Dialogue is now scheduled for September 26 in DC…
Hong Kong, Macao And Taiwan
Pro-independence from China posters appearing on Hong Kong campuses stoke new tension Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam criticized the posters as a violation of China’s sovereignty, while urging university administrators to take “appropriate action”. Some colleges, including the prestigious Chinese University, described the posters as unconstitutional, but allowed some to remain. But late on Sunday, the 13 institutions issued a statement titled “Arming ourselves in our darkest hour”, criticizing Lam and university authorities for “an explicit effort to limit our freedom of expression”.
Tech And Media
Amazon’s China Hiring Signals Renewed Ambitions in Alibaba Battle – Bloomberg The online retail giant lists almost 400 Chinese-based openings on its careers website and more than 900 on LinkedIn. They include senior executives to manage and acquire content, a leader to expand its fledgling Amazon Lending program and a head for its storefront on Alibaba’s Tmall. And it’s hiring a hardware engineer to, among other things, evangelize for digital assistant Alexa, which works with third party products even though the Echo speaker isn’t available in China.
Toutiao cuts ties with Weibo over content ownership spat – FT $$ The two companies have been at loggerheads for nearly a month, after Sina raised the issue of content control with Toutiao in August. Sina argued it owns the content that users create on Sina Weibo, its Twitter-like social media site, and said Toutiao failed to obtain company permission to repost content.
WeChat for the Workplace: The Rising Popularity of Enterprise App Ding Ding | What’s on Weibo While some call it a wonder tool, others say it’s a nightmare for employees. Ding Ding, Alibaba’s mobile and desktop app for companies, is gaining popularity across China. With its GPS-based features and other nifty functions, companies can now monitor the whereabouts of their employees.
世纪佳缘一认证会员自杀调查发现多名会员曾受骗 – 财经 – 新京报网 著名相亲网站世纪佳缘，近日被卷入“程序员自杀”事件。上周末，iOS应用WePhone的创始人、开发者苏享茂自杀的消息引爆舆论，根据目前公开的信息，苏享茂通过世纪佳缘相亲结识其前妻翟某，翟某隐瞒婚史，并在婚后对苏享茂进行“勒索”，苏享茂无奈之下选择自杀。 // Comment: Suicide of an IT entrepreneur in Beijing after a qucik marriage then divorce with someone he met on an online dating site…story blowing up
腾讯99公益日现疑似机器“刷单”套捐 称已启动调查_政经频道_财新网 Comment: Tencent investigating the role of bots in the much hyped charity fundraising it recently held
Society, Art, Sports, Culture And History
NBA legend Kobe Bryant helps to set up basketball school in China | South China Morning Post Former LA Lakers great is lending his name to a partnership with Mission Hills in Hainan
US-China Competition in the Developing World, Then and Now | Wilson Center Charles Kraus of the Wilson Center’s History and Public Policy Program recently sat down with author Gregg Brazinsky to learn more about his new book, Winning the Third World: Sino-American Rivalry during the Cold War. Brazinsky, an associate professor at The George Washington University, argues that China’s desire for status drove its efforts to cultivate allies in the Third World. For much of the Cold War, the United States contested Chinese involvement in the Global South, in part because the PRC was a non-white, anticolonial power. The legacies of this Cold War-era competition, Brazinsky writes, are still with us today.
Change Brings Opportunity and Angst to the Tibetan Plateau – SixthTone Tagong — or Lhagang in Tibetan — is fast becoming a draw for domestic and international visitors. With an airport nearby and none of the travel restrictions that hamper access to neighboring Tibet Autonomous Region, Tagong attracts tourists eager to get a taste of Tibetan life or to enjoy the area’s majestic scenery. In 2016, the Kangding municipal government promoted Tagong from a village to a township and earmarked it as a key area for tourism development. Yet while tourism is bringing fresh economic opportunity to the area, it’s also stirring up a cloud of greed, envy, and conflict in the tiny town of just half a dozen streets.
Energy, Environment, Science And Health
Smog cuts 3 years off lives in northern China, international study finds | South China Morning Post A similar study in 2013, which he also co-authored, found the difference in life expectancy between the north and south was 5½ years. //Comment: Reducing the life expectancy “tax” from 5.5 years to 3 years seems like a big improvement no?
Editorial: To Win War Against Air Pollution, Give Factories Incentives to Grow Greener – Caixin Global The central government’s efforts to cut excess production capacity over the past few years have been progressing slowly due to the foot-dragging of local governments, as the capacity cuts could hurt their local economies, at least in the short term. As steel and coal prices perk up, resistance to the capacity cuts may strengthen because shutting down steel and coal plants would mean a greater loss of revenue. However, the capacity cuts mainly target out-of-date facilities that consume excessive resources or have low-energy efficiency. Keeping them alive will mean that the serious pollution will continue.
As southeast China prepares for Talim, a second storm is brewing | South China Morning Post Fujian and Zhejiang brace for what could be strongest typhoon to hit the region this year
Agriculture And Rural Issues
农地改革开启多策联动模式 _ 经济参考网 _ 新华社《经济参考报》官方网站 《经济参考报》记者从国土资源部和多个地区了解到，经中央批准，原定于今年年底结束的农村土地征收制度、农村集体经营性建设用地入市、农村宅基地制度等三项改革试点工作，将延期至2018年底。而为了实现多项改革联动，集体土地建租赁房等改革新试点也已启动。China extends rural land reform trial to end-2018-Reuters
Lawrence Kuok: The real Chinese student story — a response to John Pomfret – SupChina When SupChina editor-in-chief Jeremy Goldkorn asked me to write this article, I sent an email to the Chinese employees at Microsoft’s distribution list copying Pomfret’s article. If they didn’t know who Pomfret was then, they do now. I told the group that I would be writing an article to refute Pomfret’s claims and I needed their help in hearing their stories. I was swarmed with interview requests because they vehemently disagreed with Pomfret’s claims.
特稿|北京龙湖小区拆墙斗争背后的保障房“黑洞”_政经频道_财新网 Comment: residents of a fancy Beijing community not going along with plan to open up the walls and gates
Why People in China Are Faking Marriages to Get A License Plate – The Atlantic Since any driver who has resided in Beijing for more than a year can register, the drawing is fair in principle. But the license-plate system has a big loophole. While private sales of license plates are banned, the rules allow transfers between spouses. Thus one solution: sham marriages. In crowded forums and chat rooms, plate owners offer to tie the knot—for the right price.