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The NBA's poisoned China chalice

The NBA has fallen into the whirlpool of hurt Chinese feelings, global discourse control, separatism and the risks from and to free speech to and from any business with PRC interests.

Daryl Morey, General Manager of the Houston Rockets, the team that brought Yao Ming to the NBA and one that is wildly popular in China, tweeted his support for the Hong Kong protests. Then the gates of commercial hell opened for him, the Rockets and the NBA.

The NBA issued different statements in English here and in Chinese on Weibo, with the Chinese one much heavier on the pandering. Then Joe Tsai, Executive Vice-Chairman of Alibaba and owner of the Brooklyn Nets, issued a statement:

As a Governor of one of the 30 NBA teams, and a Chinese having spent a good part of my professional life in China, I need to speak up.

What is the problem with people freely expressing their opinion? This freedom is an inherent American value and the NBA has been very progressive in allowing players and other constituents a platform to speak out on issues.

The problem is, there are certain topics that are third-rail issues in certain countries, societies and communities.

Supporting a separatist movement in a Chinese territory is one of those third-rail issues, not only for the Chinese government, but also for all citizens in China…

I will continue to be an outspoken NBA Governor on issues that are important to China. 

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver addressed the mess in Tokyo earlier today. He is in a very difficult spot and I am sympathetic to his comments, as reported here by Kyodo News:

"There is no doubt, the economic impact is already clear," he said. "There have already been fairly dramatic consequences from that tweet, and I have read some of the media suggesting that we are not supporting Daryl Morey, but in fact we have."

"I think as a values-based organization that I want to make it clear...that Daryl Morey is supported in terms of his ability to exercise his freedom of expression."..

"What I am supporting is his freedom of political expression in this situation," he said.

"I am also supporting Joe Tsai. I realize, as I said again, these are complex issues they don't lend themselves easily to social media. I can't ultimately run the NBA based on trying to satisfy everyone on Twitter."

"For those who choose also to engage, they'll see that we are dealing with a complex set of issues. And I will just add that the fact that we have apologized to fans in China is not inconsistent with supporting someone's right to have a point of view."

The NBA has leverage in China, if it works as a united front. PRC fans, sponsors, web sites and broadcasters can shun one team, but they can not and will not shun an entire league. Do you really think those fans are going to be satisfied watching CBA games? There would be a social stability cost to banning the NBA in China. I am serious.

This NBA episode may backfire on Beijing here in the US as there is bipartisan outrage. That said, given the DC news cycle Commissioner Silver will likely remain much more worried about CCP Commissars than the US Congress.

The broader context for this crisis is that the CCP has long pushed to increase its “international discourse power 国际话语权“, and as with many things its efforts have intensified under Xi. The idea is that China’s share of international voice is not commensurate with its growing economic, military and cultural power and that the Party should have much more control over the global discussion of all things Chinese, in any language, anywhere.

The Party is taking at least a two-track approach to rectifying this problem. On the one hand it is launching, buying, co-opting and coercing overseas media outlets. On the other it uses the power of the Chinese market to co-opt and coerce global businesses, their executives and other elite voices. The Global Times summed up the second track nicely:

The biggest lesson which can be drawn from the matter is that entities that value commercial interests must make their members speak cautiously. Chinese consumers are not overly sensitive. Wherever it is, touching a raw political nerve is extremely risky. Morey has neither the IQ nor the EQ to talk about political topics. He will become an example of clumsiness on some MBA courses.

In an interesting bit of timing, the latest episode of the US comedy show “South Park” is called “Band in China”. The punch line, on Twitter:

The full episode is available for free on the Comedy Central web site here.

The reaction from the CCP? South Park is now banned in China.

James Palmer at Foreign Policy sums up the challenge:

It will take political power in the United States to counter political power wielded by China. For U.S. companies to stop appeasing Chinese censorship, corporate decision-makers are going to have to believe that the reputational and political costs of doing so outweigh the damage done to their interests in China. That’s going to take concerted action from members of the public elsewhere in the world—boycotts, protests, public anger—and a shift in mood that makes giving in to China seem shameful or weak for CEOs among their corporate peers instead of forward-looking and pragmatic. The Communist Party’s political power can be checked, in part, by open democratic discussion of the power of Chinese money.

But it will also need targeted effort from politicians who say they care. That may mean dragging executives to testify about their decision, forcing more public embarrassment. It may mean threatening the government contracts and cozy tax breaks that firms often rely on. And ultimately, it may mean forcing tough decisions on firms about whether they can be in China at all.

I am not optimistic. Are you?

Thanks for reading.


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Excerpt from "China's New Red Guards: The Return of Radicalism and the Rebirth of Mao Zedong" by Jude Blanchette

This week’s free issue of the newsletter is an excerpt from Jude Blanchette’s book China's New Red Guards: The Return of Radicalism and the Rebirth of Mao Zedong.

As of August 2019 Jude is the Freeman Chair in China Studies at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). He spent more than a decade in China, where he advised companies on political risk and the workings of the CCP. 

Jude’s book is interesting for lots of reasons, including the historical perspective it gives to the current debate in the US about whether or not the engagement policy failed. As his work shows, there were plenty of people inside the PRC who were very concerned it was working in ways that threatened to corrode the Party’s hold on power by spurring the dreaded “peaceful evolution”.

I hope you enjoy the excerpt, and you can buy the book here on Amazon.


Edited excerpt from China’s New Red Guards: The Return of Radicalism and the Rebirth of Mao Zedong, by Jude Blanchette

As a child, the neo-Maoist economist Han Deqiang idolized Lei Feng, the model People’s Liberation Army soldier celebrated for his unquestioning devotion to Mao and the “masses.” In 1984, however, when Han was seventeen, he read the CCP’s “Decision of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China on Reform of the Economic Structure,” which redefined China’s economy as a “planned socialist commodity economy,” with “commodity” being a thinly disguised euphemism for “market.” Han later said the document left him devastated. If this was true, he thought, and if China’s economy was governed by material incentives, “Why the heck would [China’s revolutionary leaders] have been tramping through the mountains and valleys conducting guerrilla warfare?”

At school, Han dreamed of a career studying particle physics—“I wanted to explore new sources of energy for the nation”—but with the dramatic changes of the 1980s brought about by Deng Xiaoping’s “reform and opening,” he found himself increasingly drawn to social issues. After graduating from university in 1989 with a degree in management engineering, he became a full-time political supervisor and deputy party secretary at Beihang University in Beijing.

In 1991, Han took his first step toward a career as an intellectual-activist, writing a lengthy article entitled “Where Is China Going?,” which he mailed to all of the country’s provincial party leaders. He wanted them to understand that China was in the midst of a crisis of values brought on by its market reforms and its dismantling of the planned economy. The following year, Deng Xiaoping embarked on his famed Southern Tour to revive the economic reforms, during which he declared, “China should maintain vigilance against the Right but primarily against the ‘Left.’” Han said he was disillusioned with such utterances, “even to the point of despair,” he later said. 

He was not alone. Beginning in the mid-1990s, a series of anonymous critiques of the market reforms began circulating within domestic intellectual and Party circles and in overseas publications. They were dubbed “10,000-word manifestos” (wanyanshu), a nod to Wang Anshi, a Song dynasty–era mandarin who delivered his reformist dissent to the emperor in the form of a lengthy political tract. These modern-day incarnations lamented the erosion of the socialist social contract with Chinese workers, the privatization of China’s state-owned assets, and the breakdown of traditional socialist morality.

The first manifesto was published in late 1995 under the title “Several Factors Affecting China’s State Security” and was rumored to be the work of Deng Liqun, an early reform proponent turned arch opponent, or his close associate Li Yanming of the CASS Institute of Political Science. Since being passed over for a seat on the CCP Central Committee in 1987, Deng had grown increasingly caustic as his influence in elite political circles waned. With his wanyanshu, if it was indeed his, he was not only questioning a specific policy but also attempting to undermine the socialist credentials of the party’s leadership, including General Secretary Jiang Zemin. He argued that China’s national security was imperiled by the hollowing out of state-owned enterprises, which, he argued, formed the core of China’s economic stability. Under Jiang, he claimed public wealth in the form of the SOEs was being siphoned off to corrupt cadres and capitalists. The piece concluded with a direct challenge to party leadership: 

If these things are not rectified now, the number of people supporting the party and government will probably fall, while the number in opposition or taking a neutral stand will be bound to rise. When a political storm comes, and we find ourselves in an unfavorable position, it may be too late to reverse the situation.

Reformers blasted the tract. Writing in Economic Work Monthly, reformist lawyer Cao Siyuan claimed the piece “completely negates China’s ten years of reform and opening.” Cao also accused Deng Liqun of seeking to “turn back the clock to the Cultural Revolution.”

Six months after Deng’s article was released, another wanyanshu appeared, this one reportedly the work of Wu Yifeng, a Marxist economist at People’s University in Beijing. Entitled “A Preliminary Inquiry into the Major Threats to the National Security of Our Country in the Next One to Two Decades,” it warned of “peaceful evolution” (i.e., regime change) smuggled into China through economic, ideological, and cultural integration with Western economies, particularly the United States. Further, opening the domestic economy to foreign capital and investment in strategically sensitive industries, such as finance and telecommunications, was an existential threat to China’s sovereignty. Only with “real Marxists” in power could China combat “bourgeois liberalism” and stave off a Soviet Union–style collapse.

This burgeoning intellectual pluralism, albeit anti-reformist in nature, was set against the backdrop of growing uncertainty in the external environment, with not only the disintegration of the global communist movement to contend with, but an increasingly fractious relationship with the United States.  This deteriorated rapidly in 1996, when the USS Nimitz sailed through the Taiwan Strait, and reached its nadir in May 1999 with the NATO bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade, which many Chinese saw as a deliberate attack, despite US insistence that it was accidental and President Clinton’s apology to Jiang Zemin.

But perhaps the most wrenching and consequential shift during this period was the Chinese government’s 1996 announcement of a deep restructuring to China’s sprawling state-owned sector, which would result in the decimation of entire local economies and tens of millions of workers losing their livelihoods.  The plan to “grasp the large and release the small” would consolidate and support those firms believed to have strategic significance, while those seen as nonessential—roughly a thousand small- and medium-sized firms—would be left to fend for themselves. The advocates for the plan argued that China could no longer afford subsidies for loss-making, unprofitable, and highly indebted SOEs. But to the plan’s opponents, the party was hollowing out its industrial core, and in furthering a policy that would eventually lead to millions more layoffs, it was also tearing up the socialist social contract on which its legitimacy rested.

In response, the editorial board of the conservative Contemporary Currents of Thought (what one academic called the “bimonthly of frustration”) released a third and fourth wanyanshu immediately prior to and following Deng Xiaoping’s death in early 1997. The first piece warned, “if public ownership loses its dominant position, there will be serious class polarization, the entire working class will be reduced to mere wage labor, the CCP will lose the economic basis of its rule . . . and the country as a whole will change its socialist character and become an appendage of international capitalism.” The fourth piece, entitled “The Trend and Characteristics of Bourgeois Liberalization Since 1992,” was a collection of thirty-nine remarks made by public figures deemed to be ideologically suspect, including those who had made disparaging remarks about the party’s revolutionary history, had “negated” socialism, or who had called for the abandonment of Marxism.

 Like the authors of the wanyanshu, Han Deqiang was convinced the CCP was taking China down the road of capitalism, and in response, his intellectual focus shifted to economics. In particular, he was increasingly concerned about China’s planned accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO), which he worried would leave the country’s private and state-owned firms exposed to unfair competition by stronger multinational corporations. It was also, he believed, a Trojan Horse for smuggling capitalism into China for the benefit of the country’s economic elite. “We are told ‘Join the WTO, so that reform and the opening up policy won’t be reversed,’” he said in a speech to the European Parliament. “This could be translated as ‘Join the WTO, so that the wallets of the rich won’t be under threat.’”

In January 2000, he published Collision: The Globalization Trap and China’s Real Choice, a broadside against the WTO and what he believed was China’s submission to a US-dominated global trading system. “The belief that globalization is irreversible and must be welcomed by humanity is a belief forced by the minority onto the majority,” Han wrote. “The truth is, with the intensification of globalization, more and more people are being pushed into an abyss of unemployment and poverty.” The book was heavily influenced by the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis, which Han believed demonstrated the risks of opening China’s capital markets to the global economy. Han was also outraged by the 1999 NATO bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade, proof, he thought, of the West’s contempt for China.  The Chinese government’s own admission that the WTO would necessitate deep structural changes to China’s economy also worried Han. As China’s lead trade negotiator declared, “China’s economy must become a market economy in order to become part of the global economic system.”

Statements like these, which in many ways were intended to convince foreign audiences that China was indeed becoming a country they could do business with, also had the effect of galvanizing anti-reform voices back in China. Just before the release of Han’s book, several young nationalists published China’s Path Under the Shadow of Globalization, which argued, “It is time to wake up. For the third world, economic globalization offers more risks than opportunities and greater costs than benefits.” In May 2000, CASS researcher Yang Bin had published The Covert War Threatening China, which framed the WTO as part of a “soft war” waged by Western powers, particularly the United States and the United Kingdom, to pry open China’s markets for the benefit of Western corporations, and ultimately, to “advance neo-colonialism and to control the entire world.”

In the end, these protests were not enough to block China’s accession to the WTO, which was formally completed in late 2001. But the sense of powerlessness felt by many leftist intellectuals by the end of the 1990s had the unintended effect of creating a sense of unity, born of marginalization. 

These sentiments were further enflamed by Jiang Zemin’s  controversial “Three Represents” proposal, which called for allowing capitalists to join the Communist Party, a proposal he first raised while touring Guangdong in February 2000 and then formally announced on July 1, 2001, during a speech celebrating the eightieth anniversary of the CCP’s founding. Jiang argued that as China’s private sector expanded, the party had to ensure it was assimilating “productive elements” into the political system. Private entrepreneurs, he argued, should join workers, farmers, intellectuals, cadres, and PLA soldiers as “worthy people . . . who are loyal to the motherland and [to] socialism.”

Even throughout the heady days of “reform and opening” in the early 1980s, the party had viewed the private sector and entrepreneurs with a mix of political and ideological skepticism. While select individuals were lauded for their contribution to China’s modernization efforts, as a class, capitalists were blamed for the “evil winds” blowing into China, including crime, corruption, and the deterioration of socialist values. Official recognition of the private sector was hemmed in by a long ideological tradition of treating the private sector as “exploitative.” Through 1988, private firms had been prohibited from hiring more than eight workers, a limit which purportedly came from a passage in Marx’s Das Kapital. That year, the National People’s Congress amended the constitution to include language that read, “The private sector of the economy is a complement to the socialist public economy.” After the Tiananmen Square protests, conservatives blamed the private sector for its role in inciting social instability, and a ban on recruiting capitalists into the party was put in place.

The period after Deng’s Southern Tour saw a renewal of official support for the private sector, this time under the increasingly enthusiastic leadership of Jiang Zemin. On May 29, 1997, Jiang gave a speech at the Central Party School in which he declared China to still be in the “primary stage of socialism,” a phrase the purged Zhao Ziyang had used in 1987 to justify the increasing prevalence of capitalist activity. In 1999, the constitution was again amended to further elevate the private sector as an important component of the “socialist market economy.”

While conservatives were largely sidelined from power, they were not entirely helpless as the party moved to embrace the market economy. As with the wanyanshu, they published a series of scathing critiques of Jiang’s plan to welcome private entrepreneurs, primarily in two official journals: Pursuit of Truth (Zhenli de Zhuiqiu) and Midstream (Zhongliu). While their circulation was small, they were highly influential in official circles and were two of the only remaining publications willing to publish conservative attacks on the reform agenda. Both publications had powerful backers (called “houtai”), including former Premier Li Peng, Wang Zhen, a former general and one of the Eight Immortals of the CCP (elite party cadres who played a substantial role in the founding of the PRC), and most importantly, Deng Liqun.

In article after article, the two journals savaged Jiang’s capitalist amnesty plan when it was still being formulated.

Among those writing articles protesting the decision to bring capitalists into the party was Zhang Dejiang, who served with Xi Jinping on the Politburo Standing Committee between 2013 and 2018. In a 2000 article for Party Building Research which was excerpted in Pursuit of Truth, Zhang declared, “We must be clear that private entrepreneurs cannot join the Party.” As a vanguard political organization, Zhang said, the party must not allow individuals who would alienate the party from the masses, or weaken the party’s ideological convictions.

Yu Quanyu, a longtime party propagandist who was appointed editor-in-chief of Pursuit of Truth’s in 1999, called Jiang’s proposal an “international joke.” He added: 

Over the past few years, owing to the selling-off of SOEs, the shrinking of the collective economy, the huge development of the private sector, and corrupt elements in the Party and government, the masses of this country, especially those who are unemployed, have been laid-off, and those public officials who do not receive their wages on time, are brimming with dissent, complaints, and emotion.

More controversially, in the spring of 2002, Deng Liqun and sixteen other former high-ranking officials addressed an open letter to the Central Committee, nominally Jiang Zemin’s boss, accusing the General Secretary of “political misconduct unprecedented in the history of our Party.” The letter argued that his proposal to allow capitalists into the party was a violation of Marxist theory, violated the basic statutes of the party, and was in opposition to the will of the people. As punishment, “Comrade Jiang Zemin needs to carry out serious self-criticism within the Party regarding his misconduct in order to remove ideological confusions that have been caused by his misconduct and to undo its negative consequences.”

The wanyanshu of the mid-1990s had always been careful to avoid direct attacks on specific leaders and had framed their criticisms as differences over ideology, not politics. Now, however, conservatives felt their old tactics weren’t working, and the pace with which the CCP was “changing its colors” necessitated new methods of dissent. “The open challenge to the party leader by a group of senior party members acting as a group appears unprecedented,” observed Boston University’s Joseph Fewsmith in early 2002.

Jiang’s reaction was swift and severe. He shuttered Midstream and Pursuit of Truth, ordering future leftist opposition to be “exterminated at the budding stage.” Conservatives fiercely protested the closing of these two remaining vehicles for voicing disagreements on official policy, but there was too much at stake for Jiang to back down. The next year was a leadership transition year, always the most sensitive period for China’s political system. “The decisions have already been made, and opposition is futile,” an editor at one party magazine said of Jiang’s actions.

As China approached the Sixteenth Party Congress in late 2002, the prospects for socialism in China appeared dim. After two decades of harassing the reform agenda, it seemed as though the strong-arm tactics of Deng Xiaoping and Jiang Zemin had finally broken the back of leftists and conservatives. The small number publications willing to print their reform critiques had largely been decimated by government censors. Opposition to Jiang’s plan for capitalists to join the party had failed. Under the leadership of Premier Zhu Rongji, painful reforms were being made to China’s state-owned sector, leaving tens of millions of workers unemployed and billions of dollars in state assets in the hands of private investors. In late 2001, China joined the World Trade Organization, a move that seemed to many to portend a fundamental political transformation for the country. 

After decades of challenging the reform agenda, the “moral left,” in the words of scholar Michael Schoenhals, “does not pose a threat to stability—and by extension the current Party leadership—in organizational terms, as it lacks even a semblance of cohesion.” Yet by the early 2000s, an embryonic pan-leftist backlash was taking root, and for all its ideological differences (and they were many), it was held together by a common lament—that the Communist Party was abandoning socialism for capitalism, and embracing economic growth at all costs. END


This week’s issues of Sinocism:

More bad economic data; US-China talks; Another Xi inspection tour and speech-9.16

Trade talks; US DoJ announces two new China-related cases; Sports industry gets more policy support -9.17

Xi’s Henan inspection tour; US-China struggle at the UN; National Day preparations-9.18

Trade talks; People's Daily and PropagandAI; Major changes unseen in a century-9.19


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Trade talks; People's Daily and PropagandAI; Major changes unseen in a century

I am strangely and probably incorrectly optimistic that there really may be an interim US-China trade deal by October. Maybe it is the nice weather in DC today?

Seriously, I am hearing a few things that make me think this round may be different. Then again, if the Chinese don’t buy US agricultural goods in size and do something more muscular about Fentanyl soon then I think President Trump would kill even an interim deal.

Tentatively mark your calendars for October 10 and 11, when I hear Liu He is penciled in to visit DC. That obviously could change, but the earlier he comes the better.

Thanks for reading.


The Essential Eight

1. US-China

U.S., Chinese trade deputies face off in Washington amid deep differences - Reuters

A delegation of about 30 Chinese officials, led by Vice Finance Minister Liao Min, arrived at the U.S. Trade Representative’s (USTR) office near the White House for the talks scheduled to start at 9 a.m. (1300 GMT). Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Jeffrey Gerrish also arrived to represent the United States.

The discussions are likely to focus heavily on agriculture, including U.S. demands that China substantially increase purchases of American soybeans and other farm commodities, a person with knowledge of the planned discussions told Reuters.

Two negotiating sessions over the two days will cover agricultural issues, while just one will be devoted to the strengthening of China’s intellectual property protections and the forced transfer of U.S. technology to Chinese firms

Comment: Plus Fentanyl. I hear Wang Shouwen is part of the delegation but not named, interesting. The Ministry of Finance can coordinate/finance purchases, so I see Liao Min's leading of the delegation as a positive sign on the purchasing front

It is worth paying attention again to this item from former Australia Prime Minister Kevin Rudd last week - Critical window is about to close for U.S.-China trade deal - Axios

Where it stands: Bad blood has accumulated on both sides. While some parts of the agreement — such as provisions on intellectual property protection and prohibitions on forced technology transfer — can be preserved from the previous draft, new areas of flexibility are needed to get a deal across the line.

The U.S. could yield to Chinese redlines that object to America retaining tariffs post-agreement and remove clauses that enable the U.S. to reimpose punitive tariffs unilaterally if it judges China out of compliance. Under those circumstances, the U.S. would take action regardless;

China could improve its offer of a $200 billion reduction in the bilateral trade deficit — a personal and political priority for Trump;

State industrial subsidies remain a problem, but could be dealt with in an accompanying communiqué including a Chinese policy declaration that limits subsidies through enforcement of domestic competition laws and relevant World Trade Organization rules.

Chinese trade negotiators plan to visit US farm country after Washington talks

After trade talks with Chinese negotiators wrap in Washington this week, a small group of those officials are planning a trip to farm country to meet face-to-face with the producers whose finances have been deteriorating as the trade war drags on.

The delegation, led by Vice Minister for Agriculture Qu Dongyu, is currently planning follow-on visits to Bozeman, Montana and Omaha, Nebraska, according to two people with knowledge of the visits. The Montana Farm Bureau on Thursday confirmed a Chinese delegation would be visiting with farmers in the state early next week.

US agricultural sector ‘engaging with China as much as ever’ in hope of trade war breakthrough | South China Morning Post

Throughout the protracted trade war between Washington and Beijing, state governments and regional trade groups in the United States have continued building and maintaining ties with Chinese buyers and local governments, despite being hit hard by tariffs on their farm goods.

坚决扛稳粮食安全重任(声音)

Zhang Wufeng, head of the National Food and Strategic Reserves Administration, wrote in the 9.19.19 People’s Daily stressing the importance of having a state food stockpile and ensuring self-reliance in the food supply. “It is impossible to rely on others on the issue of food. A country will be able to control and safeguard its economic social development only when it becomes self-sufficient on food.” 

靠别人解决吃饭问题是靠不住的,一个国家只有实现粮食基本自给,才有能力掌控和维护好经济社会发展大局。

Hundreds of Chinese goods exempted from Trump's tariffs - POLITICO

The Trump administration has excluded Christmas tree lights, a series of pet supplies, plastic drinking straws and hundreds of other products from a 25 percent duty President Donald Trump imposed on $250 billion worth of Chinese goods, according to three notices set to be published in the Federal Register on Friday.

U.S. arms sales to Taiwan justified, declassified Reagan memo reveals - CNA

The declassified memo, dated Aug. 17, 1982, was sent by then U.S. President Ronald Reagan to his Secretary of State George P. Shultz and Defense Minister Caspar Weinberger, detailing the president's interpretation of the communiqué, which was signed the same day.

In the memo, Reagan said he had agreed to "the issuance of a joint communique with the People's Republic of China (PRC) in which we express United States policy toward the matter of continuing arms sales to Taiwan.

"The talks leading up to the signing of the communique were premised on the clear understanding that any reduction of such arms sales depends upon peace in the Taiwan Straits and the continuity of China's declared 'fundamental policy' of seeking a peaceful resolution of the Taiwan issue," according to the memo, which was published on the AIT website.

Question: A parting gift from John Bolton?

Blackstone CEO Stephen Schwarzman China economic 'miracle' hurt US economy

“China in the last 40 years had more growth, I think, than any country in history. It’s an astonishing miracle what they did. But they did it behind tariff walls. They did it behind markets that are not accessible. They did it with other approaches to intellectual property than are shared in the developed world,” said Schwarzman. “So their desire to give all that up and their growth rate is obviously low.”

Schwarzman, whose business interests and philanthropic efforts forged strong relationships in China, said he believes Beijing “recognizes that everybody going their own ways, U.S. and China decoupling,” their massive economies is not good for them. “It’s going to slow the whole world. So it’s time to get together,” he added.

New US bill demands China grant consulate in Tibet and stay away from Dalai Lama succession | South China Morning Post

Lawmakers would prohibit Beijing from opening any new consulates on American soil until the US is permitted to establish its own diplomatic office in Lhasa

The bill introduced in the House of Representatives also lays out a path for punishing Chinese officials who interfere with the Dalai Lama’s succession plans

Cotton, Colleagues Introduce Bill to Prohibit U.S. Government from Purchasing Drones From Adversaries | Tom Cotton | U.S. Senator for Arkansas

"China has stolen sensitive drone technology from America's businesses and military for years, and now sells it back to us from a dominant position in the commercial drone market. Relying on drones made by our adversaries is a clear risk to our national security. This bill will ensure that all drones purchased by the U.S. government are made right here in America, or else by friendly nations that don't wish us harm," said Cotton.


2. Hong Kong

US House speaker Nancy Pelosi backs congressional legislation on Hong Kong | South China Morning Post

US House speaker Nancy Pelosi on Wednesday threw her support behind legislation meant to back Hong Kong’s anti-government protesters.

Speaking at a news conference featuring Hong Kong activists Joshua Wong Chi-fung and Denise Ho, who testified before the Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC) on Tuesday, Pelosi said she would bring the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act of 2019 to a vote “as soon as possible”.

国际锐评:美国政客为“反中乱港”分子站台的图谋绝不会得逞_CCTV

Thursday CCTV “sharp commentary” threatens US politicians “to take back their black hands trying to create chaos in Hong Kong, or they will definitely pay a price!”

China urges U.S. to immediately stop interfering in Hong Kong affairs - Xinhua

Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Geng Shuang made the remarks in response to reports that U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi held a news conference on Wednesday with House members as well as Joshua Wong Chi-fung and Denise Ho to back the so-called Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act of 2019.

"China is strongly dissatisfied with and firmly opposes this move," Geng said at a press briefing, accusing Pelosi and other U.S. politicians of confusing right from wrong, engaging with Hong Kong separatists and grossly interfering in China's internal affairs.

US Congress, secessionists deceive HK - Global Times

Traitors like Jimmy Lai Chee-ying, Martin Lee Chu-ming and Wong have already linked their interests to anti-China forces in the US and the West. If such traitors are in charge of Hong Kong's constitutional authority, the city will be out of the central government's control and will be part of the sphere of Washington's influence, becoming a "new Guam."

There must be a political bottom line for Hong Kong's high degree of autonomy. Some US elites and Hong Kong extremists try to use the so-called US democracy and freedom to disturb people's understanding of the bottom line and to deceive Hong Kong people. Their plot must be frustrated.

Obviously, universal interests do not exist in the US, or any other country and region

信号很明确:驻港部队也去了!

PLA troops in Hong Kong visited the war heroes’ monument that was vandalized by protesters, vowing to carry on the “red genes” and keep alive the heroes’ combat spirit.

人民锐评|烈士纪念碑修复了,人心何时修复?

People’s Daily wechat account denounced protesters who vandalized the war hero monument in Hong Kong and blamed the problems in the city to the lack of national identify education in schools. It urged for a “de-colonization” in Hong Kong’s education and “rectify” the HKers perception toward China and Chinese history. 

驻港公署发言人正告美政客:止暴制乱、恢复秩序才是香港的自由和正义

The foreign ministry office in Hong Kong again lambasted Joshua Wong and other “separatists” that testified at the congress hearing. The statement said “Any anti-China elements who want to destabilize Hong Kong will be condemned to everlasting infamy as national scum.”

Hong Kong: Arbitrary arrests, brutal beatings and torture in police detention revealed | Amnesty International

A new Amnesty International field investigation has documented an alarming pattern of the Hong Kong Police Force deploying reckless and indiscriminate tactics, including while arresting people at protests, as well as exclusive evidence of torture and other ill-treatment in detention.

After interviewing nearly two dozen arrested persons and gathering corroborating evidence and testimonies from lawyers, health workers and others, the organization is demanding a prompt and independent investigation into the violations, which appear to have escalated in severity since the mass protests began in June.

Hong Kong pro-democracy district councillors slam meeting with Chief Exec. Carrie Lam as 'political show' | Hong Kong Free Press HKFP

At the meeting, 38 district councillors were chosen to speak via a lucky draw, with each of them able to speak for three minutes. The meeting did not allow for any recordings to be made, but two pro-democracy district councillors tried to publish Facebook live streams, before staff intervened.

HK$10m crowdfunding campaign aims to help victims sue Hong Kong police over alleged mistreatment | Hong Kong Free Press HKFP

The funds will be used for hiring expert witnesses and lawyers, and also for legal fees if plaintiffs lose. Donations will be temporarily held in an account belonging to the pro-democracy League of Social Democrats party, and any unused funds will be donated to groups with similar goals.


3. PropagandAI

The People's Daily has established the "People's Daily Intelligent Media Research Institute" and rolled out version 7.0 of the People's Daily APP. The new app includes algorithmic recommendations, using AI they say, as well as short videos. Kuaishou is assisting with the short video piece.

The new app is quite slick.

The launch event was today. In addition to Tou Zhen, editor in chief of People's Daily, deputy director of the State Council Information office Guo Weidong and deputy head of CCTV Yan Xiaoming, luminaries from all the big internet and telco firms attended, and Robin Li of Baidu and Kuaishou founder and CEO Su Hua spoke. Kuaishou is planning a US IPO, and Bytedance, which had a presence at the event, is a pioneer in algorithmic news and runs TikTok, which is taking the US and other Western countries by storm.

Xu Zhengzhong, deputy editor in chief of People's Daily, is the head of the new institute. As he said in his speech, the new institute and the updated app are in response to Xi’s call to improve "efforts to boost integrated media development and amplify mainstream tone in public communication so as to consolidate the common theoretical foundation for all Party members and all the people to unite and work hard" at the January 25, 2019 Politburo study session he chaired at People's Daily headquarters.

Per the January 2019 Xinhua report Xi stresses integrated media development:

The integrated development of the media should be accelerated to make the penetration, guidance, influence, and credibility of the mainstream media more powerful, said Xi, urging for building of competitive, strongly influential new types of mainstream media.

"Priority should be given to mobile platforms," he said, calling for the exploration of using artificial intelligence in news gathering, generation, distribution, receiving and feedback.

"We should strengthen the management of new media in accordance with the law to ensure a cleaner cyberspace," Xi stressed.

今天,人民日报成立的这个研究院不一般!

这是人民日报社贯彻落实习近平总书记重要指示精神的战略举措,是推进媒体深度融合、加快构建全媒体传播格局的积极探索。以研究院成立为契机,人民日报将把人工智能等新技术运用在新闻采集、生产、分发、接收、反馈各环节,实现内容传播与先进技术的融通共享;探索催化融为一体、合而为一的体制机制,并通过与企业、机构合作,加快资源整合、技术融合、项目联合、人才聚合,形成化学反应,催化融合质变。

研究院由人民日报社注册成立,由人民日报社新媒体中心负责日常运营。首批推出的重点项目中,协同国内一流人工智能技术团队开发的主流算法,在满足人民日报客户端算法需求的同时,将面向媒体行业提供。短视频聚合平台“人民日报+”,由专业用户和专家生产内容,以“人民问政”为主要特点,将通过对产品、技术、内容、运营全方位把控,构建兼具主流价值和创新活力的短视频内容生态。

快手助力人民日报融媒体发展 共同率先打造央媒段视频平台“人民日报+” - 经济观察网 - 专业财经新闻网站

Xu Zhengzhong's speech - 许正中:人民日报为什么要办智慧媒体研究院_传播

PSC Converges for Media Convergence | China Media Project on the January Politburo study session

the focus at this session was on leveraging the digital transformation of the media space, both in China and globally, to consolidate the Party dominance Xi underscored three years ago. The crux was the need — as the traditional print vehicles of Party fade into obsolescence — to remake the entire state-dominated media system, creating a whole new generation of digital products by which the leadership can dominate the ideological sphere. “[Promoting] the development of media convergence and building convergence media has become a pressing task facing us,” Xi said.

In his speech, Xi Jinping emphasized that Party newspapers, periodicals, broadcast stations, websites “and other mainstream media must catch up with the times, bravely utilizing new technologies, new mechanisms and new modes, accelerating the pace of convergence and achieving more expansive and optimized propaganda results.”

That this should happen under strict political controls was of course a given: “[We] must with a clear banner adhere to the correct political direction, to [correct] guidance of public opinion, and [a correct] value orientation, ensuring that there is a clear elevation of the quality and level of positive propaganda through the innovation of concepts, content, styles, forms and methods.”

Question: What was not reported in the media at the time? How else might they be looking at AI and content and propaganda creation and dissemination, and what about deep fakes?

Journalists in Chinese state media to be tested on loyalty to President Xi Jinping | South China Morning Post

Thousands of reporters and editors working in Chinese state media will have to sit a nationwide exam to test their loyalty to President Xi Jinping.

Some will be asked to take part in “pilot tests” in early October, before the exams are held nationwide, according to a notice late last month from the media oversight office of the Communist Party’s propaganda department. It did not say when the nationwide exams would be held.

About 10,000 reporters and editors from 14 state-run online media outlets in Beijing are expected to sit the “pilot tests” using the Xuexi Qiangguo mobile app, a media source who requested anonymity said on Wednesday.


4. Taiwan-PRC Struggles in the South Pacific

Solomons leader may miss U.N. general assembly amid 'switch' decision fallout - sources - Reuters

The prime minister’s office said in a statement to Reuters that it could not confirm who would represent the Solomon Islands in New York.

Sogavare’s grip on power could also be tested if he left the country, due to a parliamentary system that relies on maintaining alliances to retain power...

“The government is not stable enough for him to leave,” the source said, referring to the prime minister...

The United States retains strong support in the Malaita province, which provides a large voting bloc in parliament.

Pro-Taiwan residents in Malaita this week asked the Solomon Islands government to grant the province independence, according to a letter of demand seen by Reuters.

U.S. reassessing aid to Solomon Islands after Taiwan ties cut - Reuters

Asked at a budget hearing in the House of Representatives Committee on Foreign Affairs whether any funds would be directed to the Solomon Islands in fiscal 2020, Gloria Steele, acting assistant administrator of USAID’s Asia bureau, replied: “We are reassessing our assistance to the Solomon Islands at this point.”

中国中铁中标57.8亿所罗门群岛金岭金矿项目工程|所罗门群岛|中国中铁_新浪新闻

China Railway Engineering Corporation announces a subsidiary has won a $825m contract for the Solomon Islands gold ridge mine, both strip and underground mining

Background - 2017 - Can the Solomon Islands' Gold Ridge Mine serve as a new model for resource extraction in the South Pacific?

The incident was the first major test for the new landowner-led company, Gold Ridge Community Investment, which had taken ownership of the mine only the year before. After 17 years of foreign ownership and a checkered environmental history, the Gold Ridge mine is now being led by a local landowner-driven joint venture that is emerging as a potential new mine management model in the Pacific Islands region.

Tuvalu parliament picks new PM in potential blow for Taiwan | Taiwan News | Al Jazeera

Former Tuvalu Prime Minister Enele Sopoaga, a strong supporter of Taiwan, had been expected to hold onto power after he retained his seat at a general election earlier this month.

But the country's 16-person parliament instead selected Kausea Natano as Tuvalu's new leader, Silafaga Lalua, a spokeswoman for the government told Reuters news agency.

Could Kiribati be next?


5. Not sharing credit data

Alibaba and Tencent refuse to hand loans data to Beijing | Financial Times $$

The People’s Bank of China launched Baihang, a private credit scoring company, in March 2018...

Tencent’s Tencent Credit and Alibaba’s Sesame Credit, part of its Ant Financial payments affiliate, were forced to abandon their own attempts at building credit-scoring schemes after the PBoC revoked their permissions to do so in February 2018...

If it had been the [PBoC] itself asking for data, rather than this arm’s-length lower-level body, then perhaps they would have given it,” the former employee added. Sesame Credit declined to comment. Baihang and Tencent did not respond to requests for comment.

Comment: Interesting story but the headline seems misleading. Ignoring requests from Baihang is not the same as ignoring requests from the government or the Party.


6. CFR report on Innovation and National Security

Not solely about China but of course it figures prominently-— Innovation and National Security: Keeping Our Edge | Council on Foreign Relations Task Force Report

China is investing significant resources in developing new technologies, and after 2030 it will likely be the world’s largest spender on research and development. Although Beijing’s efforts to become a scientific power could help drive global growth and prosperity, and both the United States and China have benefited from bilateral investment and trade, Chinese theft of intellectual property (IP) and its market-manipulating industrial policies threaten U.S. economic competitiveness and national security.

China is closing the technological gap with the United States, and though it may not match U.S. capabilities across the board, it will soon be one of the leading powers in technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, energy storage, fifth-generation cellular networks (5G), quantum information systems, and possibly biotechnology...

Beijing has often exploited the openness of the American system. Efforts to protect U.S. intellectual property are a necessary complement to, but not a substitute for, innovating faster than China. The administration is over-weaponizing trade and investment policy, with costs to U.S. innovation.

SEAL McRaven: China's military buildup a "holy s---" moment for US - Business Insider

The legendary former Navy SEAL Adm. William McRaven said at an event on Wednesday that China's technical and defense capabilities were quickly approaching — and sometimes surpassing — those of the US, representing what he called a "holy s---" moment for the US.

McRaven, who was the head of Joint Special Operations Command during the 2011 operation on the Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden's Pakistan compound, said at the Council on Foreign Relations event that "we need to make sure that the American public knows that now is the time to do something" about China's rapid developments in research and technology that threaten US national security.

Trump is serious about US divorce from China | Financial Times $$

That line was obliterated at a conference in Paris this week with the misleadingly dull title “International cooperation on artificial intelligence”. In reality the gathering — co-hosted by the Washington-based Atlantic Council — was the first effort to stimulate talks between the US and China on the future of AI, which covers pretty much the future of everything, including warfare.

A Trump administration official, whom I cannot name under the gathering’s “Chatham House rule”, opened by declaring that the US would not co-operate with China on AI while it remained authoritarian. Companies around the world had to choose between two AI systems, said the official. One, led by the US, was based on trust and openness. The other, China, was closed and “malicious”. The latter was exporting “authoritarian software” to every continent.

A Chinese official responded by saying that the US killed innocent civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan. “Nobody is perfect in human rights,” he said. The exchange almost ended the conference before it began.

Question: Who were the US and PRC officials?

Alibaba Recruits Big-Hitters for AI Research Labs - Caixin Global

Chen Ying, a former principal engineer at U.S. telecoms company Qualcomm and researcher at Finnish firm Nokia, has joined Alibaba AI Labs as its chief scientist specializing in AI and edge computing, the statement said.

In addition, Tan Ping, an associate professor of computer science at Canada’s Simon Fraser University who specializes in realistic 3D reconstruction technology and previously worked in AI for Beijing-based internet security firm Qihoo 360, will head the labs’ computer vision section, according to the statement.


7. White paper on “woman’s cause” in the PRC

China Focus: China publishes white paper on progress of women's cause in 70 years - Xinhua

"The great achievements China has made in the development of women's cause is attributed to the leadership of the Communist Party of China (CPC)," said Huang Xiaowei, vice president of the All-China Women's Federation, at a press conference.

The progress made by Chinese women led by the CPC is not only of considerable significance to China's national rejuvenation but also a notable contribution to human civilization progress, Huang said.

As China's development has entered a new era, promoting gender equality and women's overall development at a higher level not only meets opportunities but also has a long way to go, the white paper said.

Under the guidance of Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era, China will always adhere to safeguarding and improving women's livelihoods, promote women's all-round development, and lead hundreds of millions of women in working for national rejuvenation, it said.

Full Text: Equality, Development and Sharing: Progress of Women's Cause in 70 Years Since New China's Founding


8. The world today is undergoing major changes unseen in a century

张宇燕:理解百年未有之大变局-察网

Economist Zhang Yuyan from the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences wrote about his understanding of Xi Jinping’s concept of “the world today is undergoing major changes unseen in a century 当今世界正处于百年未有之大变局”. Zhang said these changes include:

Profound changes in the power ration between major countries, as evidenced by the rapid rise of China;

Uncertainties brought by new technological advances;

people's increasing awareness of their power and populism;

the population explosion in developing countries and the aging of developed countries;

the post WWII US dollar led international monetary system is approaching a crossroads;

the international multilateral system has entered a process of disintegration and reconstruction;

Superpower America's system is in visible decline, in part because it is trapped by outdated institutions controlled by the rich;

the increasing containment/anti-containment dynamics between China and the US.

Agree with it or not, but it would be a mistake to ignore this concept, or its importance to Xi and the Party's approach to so many things globally, and the opportunities Xi and the Party see for China.


I decided to make today’s issue of the newsletter free. If you like what you see please sign up for the Sinocism China Newsletter here. Group and education discounts are available.


Business, Economy and Trade

国家统计局有大动作!地方GDP将由国家统一核算 The national statistics bureau said it will take over the job from provincial governments to measure the GDP in provinces. It has been years that the add up of GDP reported by different provinces, would surpass the national GDP. The bureau blamed it to the overlapping of calculations instead of exaggeration of the local governments. But it said this new move would allow the government to get more accurate data.

Stimulus-Hooked China Traders Shift Focus to Loan Prime Rate - Bloomberg Market watchers are hoping to see a lower Loan Prime Rate released by the People’s Bank of China Friday. Stocks, bonds and the currency tumbled in tandem Tuesday, following the decision to keep the costs on medium-term loans to banks steady despite slower economic growth across the board. The central bank also held money market rates unchanged on Thursday

State Council promotes experience of optimizing business environment - Gov.cn The State Council released a circular on Sept 19 to promote Beijing and Shanghai’s experience of optimizing the business environment across the country.Their experience falls under seven categories: starting a business, getting planning permission, acquiring electricity, property registration, paying taxes, cross-border trade, and contract enforcement.

Noose Tightens Over Consumer Lending in East China - Caixin Financial regulators in eastern China’s Zhejiang province have doubled down on efforts to enforce a ban on consumers using loans and credit cards to invest in other assets such as stocks, property and wealth management products amid continued concerns that individuals are borrowing money under false pretenses to speculate in the financial and real-estate markets.

China’s banks surge into ‘perps’ market to bolster capital | Financial Times $$ China’s banks are racing to issue domestic perpetual bonds as they seek to top up capital levels to meet tighter regulations, with about Rmb810bn ($114bn) worth of debt issued or in the pipeline

肖钢公开反思2015年股灾, 提出“纠正父爱监管”“终结牛市情结” Former CSRC head Xiao Gang reflected on China’s stocks regulations and the market meltdown in 2015. He said the government must return to its role of regulator and stop acting as a father figure that see it his job to create and protect a bullish market. “Our evaluation standards [evaluation of officials] at that time were certainly wrong,” he said.

Tsai completes purchase of Nets, arena, hires Levy as CEO - AP Alibaba co-founder Joe Tsai completed his purchase of the team and Barclays Center on Wednesday, then announced that he had hired former Turner Broadcasting President David Levy to oversee both...“In addition to being a passionate basketball fan, Joe is one of China’s pre-eminent internet, media and e-commerce pioneers and his expertise will be invaluable in the league’s efforts to grow the game in China and other global markets,” NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement.

FedEx Pilot Detained by Police in Southern China - WSJ $$ When he was detained, Mr. Hohn was carrying nonmetallic pellets used in low-power replica air guns in a checked bag, according to the people familiar with the matter. Chinese authorities have alleged that Mr. Hohn was illegally transporting ammunition and have begun a criminal investigation, according to the people.

Chinese Property Giants Could Regret Milking the Country’s Middle Class - WSJ $$ Unearned revenue—the line on developers’ balance sheets that accounts for presales or contracted sales—now makes up a greater share of the 10 largest property developers’ liabilities than total debt. Their combined unearned revenue rose to just over $400 billion in June, according to financial results covering the first half of 2019. The practice of selling homes once construction has started—but often years before completion—now makes up more than 85% of total sales in China.

China Phone Maker Shenzhen Transsion Holdings Prices IPO - Bloomberg Transsion, whose mobile handsets outsell iPhone and Galaxy smartphones in Africa, is going public on Shanghai’s Nasdaq-style Star Board, setting its IPO at 35.15 yuan a share, implying a trailing earnings multiple of 42.8 times, according to a filing published on Wednesday.

World Bank announces three new debarments - The FCPA Blog - The FCPA Blog Chinese state-owned construction company China Railway First Group Co. Ltd. (CRFG) was debarred for two years because of "fraudulent practices" related to the Dasu Hydropower Stage I Project in Pakistan.

Chinese VC Money Pours Into India — The Information $$ Shunwei is one of an increasing number of Chinese and China-focused venture capitalists and entrepreneurs turning to India, lured by the country’s market of nearly a half-billion internet users, second in size only to China. Chinese VC firms invested $5.9 billion in India in 2018, compared to $3.4 billion in 2017 and just $665 million the year before, according to data firm Tracxn. In the first three quarters of 2019, Chinese firms have invested $2.2 billion in India, the data shows.

Politics and Law

[视频]习近平在河南考察时强调 坚定信心埋头苦干奋勇争先 谱写新时代中原更加出彩的绚丽篇章_CCTV节目官网-CCTV-1_央视网(cctv.com) 22 minute CCTV Evening News report on Xi's Henan inspection tour

Xi Focus: Xi stresses ecological protection and high-quality development of Yellow River - Xinhua Chinese President Xi Jinping called for concerted efforts to promote ecological protection and high-quality development of the Yellow River. Xi...made the remarks while chairing a symposium Wednesday during his inspection tour to Henan Province..The 5,464-km-long waterway feeds about 12 percent of China's population, irrigates about 15 percent of arable land, supports 14 percent of national GDP, and supplies water to more than 60 cities.

[视频]习近平在河南主持召开黄河流域生态保护和高质量发展座谈会时强调 共同抓好大保护协同推进大治理 让黄河成为造福人民的幸福河_CCTV节目官网-CCTV-1_央视网(cctv.com) Xi's Yellow River forum got the top 11 minutes of the Thursday CCTv Evening News

Another Finance Veteran Gets Senior Provincial-Level Job - Caixin Global Another financial industry veteran has been given a role in provincial-level leadership, the third since the start of August, as the trend of financiers being moved to government positions continues.Li Bo, a former director of the central bank’s monetary policy department, has been given a senior position in the leading Communist Party body of the government of Southwest China’s Chongqing municipality. The Chongqing-born official is likely to get a job as vice mayor.

斯坦福、哈佛大学双料博士“空降”重庆,首次露面有深意 - 政知圈 Li Bo, a former lawyer at Davis & Polk in New York with a Phd in economics from Stanford and a law degree from Harvard, has been transferred to Chongqing after working more than a decade in the central bank. He is expected to become a deputy mayor to lead the initiative in building Chongqing into a financial hub. It is rare for a Chinese official to have a background like this.

In Depth: Reporter Faces Controversial Criminal Charge for Articles Based on Phony Documents Li Xiaogen, also known as Li Gen, has been accused of offenses including disorderly conduct and “provoking trouble” for articles he wrote for the Hunan Contemporary Business Daily in 2018. Li published stories about the seizure of a village-owned coal mine based on documents provided by villagers in Northwest China’s Shaanxi province. Those documents were forged, but Li claims he didn’t know this when he published his stories.

Map of the Guiding Opinion on Credit-based Regulation Map of the Guiding Opinion on Credit-based Regulation : China Law Translate Recently a new phase of China’s Social Credit System has begun with the release of several documents on credit-based administrative regulation. The Social Credit system has focused primarily on business regulation since it’s start, and while there are some significant new mechanisms being introduced, the general focus and principles remain the same.

Special edition of "Twenty-Four Histories" collected by national library - Xinhua A special edition of the "Twenty-Four Histories," an authoritative ancient book collection recounting the country's 4,000-plus-year history, has been launched to celebrate the 70th founding anniversary of the People's Republic of China (PRC).

一份创历史金额的法院执行裁定书 Was the verdict of former Chairman of Anbang Wu Xiaohui leaked online? According the purported verdict dated July, a court in Shanghai ruled to confiscate more than $12 billions of his assets.

王长江:中国共产党执政七十年党建经验再思考 Very thoughtful and bold journal article by Wang Changjiang from Central Party School reflecting on the party’s governance experience and problems in the past seven decades: the mistake of following the Soviet model, the party’s struggling with political reforms and the two conflicting goals of effectiveness and legitimacy, interest groups’ obstruction to intra-party democracy, the party-building works that led to tension between with the public, and the party’s lack of external supervision and bottom-up supervision and so on. Wang concluded by saying the party should set limit for its power although the process could painful.

Foreign and Defense Affairs

Canada’s new ambassador to China was already facing questions for his business ties. His marriage is raising more | The Star Canada’s new ambassador to China recently married the head of Asia Pacific operations for BlackRock, the world’s largest asset-management firm, raising concerns among former ambassadors and a democracy watchdog that Dominic Barton will encounter conflicts between his personal interests and public role.

As China’s anniversary events loom, Canadian leaders face dilemma: attend or not? | National Post The events present a dilemma for Canadian political leaders: amidst an ongoing diplomatic row sparked by the arrest last December of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou, the continued detention in China of Canadians Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig, and ever-present concerns about China’s human rights record, do they attend or not? For Charles Burton, who once served as a Canadian diplomat in Beijing, the answer should be a simple — and unequivocal — “no.”

UN chief rejects claim he didn't condemn China over Muslims - AP Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has strongly rejected claims by five human rights groups that he hasn’t condemned the Chinese government’s detention of more than a million Muslims in the Xinjiang region, saying he has spoken out forcefully.

Spotlight: China, Russia to forge stronger ties with expanding cooperation, joint voice on global issues - Xinhua "We need to firmly uphold the UN-centered international system anchored by international law, and jointly build a new type of international relations and a community with a shared future for mankind to safeguard world peace, stability, fairness and justice," Li said in a written interview with Russian News Agency TASS ahead of the visit.

Chinese Bombers Conduct Air Strikes During Military Exercise in Russia | The Diplomat “Chinese Air Force crews will fulfill tasks of using air-delivered ordnance against ground targets, flying J-11 fighters, JH-7A fighter-bombers, H-6K strategic bombers, Z-10 helicopters. Besides, they will also carry out cargo airdropping missions from the Y-9 and Il-76 aircraft,” the MoD was quoted as saying on September 19 by TASS news agency

Russia, China fail to get enough votes for rival U.N. demand for Syria truce - Reuters A Russian and Chinese drafted U.N. Security Council resolution demanding truce in northwest Syria with an exemption for military offensives against U.N. blacklisted militant groups failed to get the minimum nine votes needed on Thursday.

Testimony Before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee - United States - Department of State - David R. Stilwell. Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs As the President’s National Security Strategy makes clear, we are especially concerned by Beijing’s use of market-distorting economic inducements and penalties, influence operations, and intimidation to persuade other states to heed its political and security agenda. Beijing’s pursuit of a repressive alternative vision for the Indo-Pacific seeks to reorder the region in its favor and has put China in a position of strategic competition with all who seek to preserve a free and open order of sovereign, diverse nations. Since early July, Chinese vessels have conducted maritime surveys near Vanguard Bank with armed Coast Guard escorts and maritime militia in order to intimidate Vietnam and other ASEAN states away from developing oil and gas resources in the South China Sea. Through repeated illegal actions and militarization of disputed features, Beijing has and continues to take actions to prevent ASEAN members from accessing over $2.5 trillion in recoverable energy reserves.

Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Geng Shuang's Remarks on September 18, 2019 Since May this year, the Vietnamese side has been conducting unilateral oil and gas drilling in China's Wan'an Tan waters, which seriously infringes on Chinese rights and interests. It is also a violation of bilateral agreements including the Agreement on Basic Principles Guiding the Settlement of Sea-related Issues between China and Viet Nam, Article Five of the Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC), and relevant UNCLOS provisions. The Vietnamese side should immediately stop its unilateral infringement activities to restore tranquility to the waters concerned. Chinese operations in waters under Chinese jurisdiction in the South China Sea are lawful, justifiable and beyond rebuke. We would like to continue to work with the Vietnamese side to properly settle relevant issues through friendly consultations.

Yinson’s US$1b Vietnam charter contract terminated amid China-Vietnam dispute | The Edge Markets KUALA LUMPUR (Sept 17): Yinson Holdings Bhd’s 49%-owned joint venture in Vietnam for a charter contract worth US$1 billion over a 15-year period has been terminated due to a “prolonged force majeure event”, which is widely understood to be the overlapping claims in South China Sea between Vietnam and China.

Huang Xiangmo pulls nearly $50m out of Australia as tax office chases $140m | Australia news | The Guardian The controversial political donor Huang Xiangmo has pulled nearly $50m out of Australia since his permanent residency was cancelled in December, as the Australian tax office chases him over a $140m tax bill.

China, Maldives to enhance Belt and Road cooperation - CGTN Chinese Vice President Wang Qishan met visiting Maldives' Foreign Minister Abdulla Shahid in Beijing on Thursday, and the pair vowed to enhance cooperation under the Belt and Road Initiative.  Wang said inclusiveness is in the DNA of Chinese civilization and China has always believed that countries with different systems, no matter the size, should treat each other equally and with respect.

Tech and Media

Huawei debuts phone without Google apps as US sanctions bite - AP The Chinese tech giant’s Mate 30 phone series, including one for new 5G networks, runs on an open source version of Google’s Android operating system, which by default doesn’t come preinstalled with the U.S. company’s suite of popular apps and services that licensed versions have.

Tencent Music and WeSing: No hurry to take karaoke app to more markets WeSing lets people upload their performances online and interact with others on the platform. Tencent Music claims its users create 10 million recordings per day. An artificial intelligence program parses those files to find talented amateur performers.

How esports, mobile, and women are shaping the future of China's games market [Niko Partners] | GameDaily.biz “Niko Partners did a big study for a client regarding the depiction of women in games, and in China all of the developers still portray women as chesty and scantily clad,” Hanson said. “In fact, when we presented three alternate body types and clothing types, the respondents were totally surprised that a female avatar could actually be conservatively dressed and sporty rather than sexy. Our premise for the study was that if developers would depict a wider range of more natural female body images and conservative clothing, then more young girls would start to play and female gamers would be more comfortable.”

Pop Singer Jay Chou’s New Song Gets Purchased More Than 8 Million Times in Two Days Chou, from Taiwan, released his new song “Won’t Cry” on Tencent Music late Monday.

Energy, Environment, Science and Health

Fans of China's own 'Loch Ness monster' deflated as beast turns out to be airbag | The Guardian A mysterious long, black object that was captured on video in the Yangtze river, and ended up captivating China with theories of its own Loch Ness monster, has been revealed as 20 metre-long industrial airbag.

World’s Highest Grid Project Takes Shape on ‘Roof of the World’ - Caixin Global Towers along the 1,700-kilometer route between Xigazê, in the southern part of the region, and the far western prefecture of Ngari stand at an average altitude of more than 4,000 meters, the report said. The project, which spans tricky terrains like swamps and permafrost, is part of a 7.4 billion yuan ($1 billion) project that aims to bring more reliable electricity to 380,000 people along the line. At present, Ngari’s power grid is separate from the rest of Tibet.

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