China officially goes back to work Tuesday so there is not much news today. These long, official vacations create havoc with the calendar. To make up for the long holiday, next Saturday is a work and school day. Similar adjustments occurred for the Mid-Autumn Festival Holiday, so our second-graders will have only had one full weekend in the last four.
Beijing has once again been under a cloud of smog. This was the view from my window Sunday morning, contrasted with the same view on a clear day a few months ago:
Today is a bit better, as you can see via the Beijing CBD Cam.
Saturday’s newsletter had a very stupid typo in it. The sentence “sending Secretary of State John Kerry to attend the ASEAN meeting in his place” of course should have said APEC not ASEAN. I corrected the error almost immediately on the Sinocism.com web site, but once the email is sent there is no fixing it. Sorry about that.
Some readers wrote to complain about the “partisan tone”. No apologies, I am not buying in to the false equivalence propaganda, nor am I backing away from the belief that President Obama’s decision to skip APEC is bad for US interests.
THE ESSENTIAL EIGHT
1. A Smoggy Sunday in Beijing–USA Today As is generally the case with Beijing smog, it will only dissipate when the winds sweep down over the mountains to the north and west of the city, which according to the latest weather forecast will be Monday at the earliest.
Related: Heavy smog closes down expressways, airports – Xinhua In Beijing, heavy smog was into a second day. Visibility was under 1,000 meters downtown and even lower in the suburbs. Early on Sunday, Beijing traffic police closed six interprovincial expressways, including roads to Harbin in the northeast, Shanghai to the south, Tianjin and Hebei Province. Visibility at Beijing’s Capital International Airport on the northeastern outskirts was 250 to 500 meters. Nearly 44 percent of the departing flights were delayed or canceled, and dozens of incoming flights were forced to land in neighboring cities or return to where they came.
Related: [视频]华北黄淮雾霾持续发展_新闻频道_央视网 Sunday CCTV Evening News on the smog// 央视网消息(新闻联播)：今天清晨，华北、黄淮等地雾霾持续发展。雾霾笼罩中的京城空气污浊，大部分地方pm2.5浓度达到了300以上，为最高级别的六级严重污染。天津今晨发布大雾橙色预警，大部分地方能见度不足800米，有的还不到100米。受大雾影响，北京、天津、河北、山东境内的多条道路封闭，直到中午能见度好转，才陆续恢复通行。
Related: Smog Fouls China’s National Day in Beijing – China Real Time Report – WSJ The pollution also drew concern in the sports field. Bai Yansong, a prominent CCTV anchor, suggested the outdoor sports games in Beijing be suspended. “Are sports that hurt people’s health really worth it?” Mr. Bai asked in his online column a week ago, when the pollution level was already beginning to rise.
Related: Beijing smog hits LPGA Tour event, players take action [PHOTOS] | The Li-Ning Tower Here are some photos the LPGA won’t show you… Sandra Gal of Germany was among those wearing a face mask for Round 3 of the Reignwood LPGA Classic.
Related: In China, Golf Has a New Hazard: Killer Smog – Bloomberg “The smog that’s coming in right now, it’s making it heavy, and it’s harder to breathe out there,” American Jessica Korda said on Friday. “You cough a lot.” Players and caddies have been photographed wearing face-masks against a smoggy backdrop (notably, none of those images appear on the LPGA website). On Saturday, the LPGA delayed third-round tee-times for 90 minutes, but then allowed the tournament to go on — despite the fact that the U.S. embassy air-quality readings remained at “hazardous” levels for much of the day.
2. US scientists boycott Nasa conference over China ban | Science | The Guardian Nasa officials rejected applications from Chinese nationals who hoped to attend the meeting at the agency’s Ames research centre in California next month citing a law, passed in March, which prohibits anyone from China setting foot in a Nasa building. The law is part of a broad and aggressive move initiated by congressman Frank Wolf, chair of the House appropriations committee, which has jurisdiction over Nasa. It aims to restrict the foreign nationals’ access to Nasa facilities, ostensibly to counter espionage. But the ban has angered many US scientists who say Chinese students and researchers in their labs are being discriminated against.
Related: America, China and space science: Chinese? You’re not welcome | The Economist after rumours emerged earlier this year of Chinese espionage at NASA Dr Bolden imposed a blanket ban on visitors from China, as well as from Burma, Eritrea, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Uzbekistan. It is hard to fathom what secrets any supposed Chinese spies would have been able to pilfer at a conference devoted to alien planets. (The Economist tried to speak to both NASA and Mr Wolf’s office, but the government shutdown in America means there was no one to talk to.) The conference will be discussing data from NASA’s Kepler telescope, all of which is freely available to anyone, Chinese or otherwise, already. // Why Saudi Arabia?
Related: Does ‘Gravity’ Kowtow to Chinese Ticket Buyers? – Bloomberg ’Gravity,’ the new space-thriller starring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney, lives up, IMHO, to its, um, stellar reviews. It’s gripping. It’s beautiful. It takes pains to get some of the science right. In short, it’s the kind of movie that Hollywood needs more of to pack people into theaters and keep them paying $5 for 50 cents worth of popcorn. And especially Chinese viewers, who comprise an increasingly important segment of Hollywood’s audience. (China is the second biggest movie market after the U.S.) In fact, for all the brilliance of ‘Gravity,’ am I the only one who thinks some all-too-scrutable kowtowing went on when Alfonso Cuaron and his son were writing the script? // Russia blows up a satellite with a missile, China’s Space Station saves the day?
3. Trilateral statement on maritime disputes seen as targeting China | South China Morning Post A joint statement by the United States, Japan and Australia opposing “coercive unilateral actions” in East China Sea territorial disputes is being seen as aimed squarely at Beijing. The statement issued after a three-way meeting on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation forum summit was the fruit of Japan’s efforts to rally support in the dispute over the Diaoyu, or Senkaku, islands, analysts said.
Related: 中方回应美日澳涉东海南海联合声明_资讯频道_凤凰网 Foreign Ministry reaction // 有报道称，美日澳三国外长日前在巴厘岛APEC部长级会议间隙举行了第五次美日澳三边战略对话部长级会议，并发表含涉东海、南海问题内容的联合声明。华春莹表示，我们敦促有关国家尊重事实，明辨是非，谨言慎行，停止任何不利于问题妥善处理、有损地区稳定的言行
4. Zeng’s ‘Last Supper’ Sells for Record $23.3 Million at Sotheby’s Auction – Scene Asia – WSJ The winning bidder, who paid more than the presale estimate of 80 Hong Kong dollars (US$10.3 million) was not identified by the firm. The work, sold by Swiss collectors Guy and Mariam Ullens, broke the previous Asian contemporary record set by Japanese artist Takashi Murakami’s “My Lonesome Cowboy.” That work, a sculpture, sold for US$15.1 million at a Sotheby’s auction in 2008. “I’m speechless with that price,” said Nick Simunovic, managing director of Gagosian Gallery in Hong Kong, about the Zeng sale. Gagosian represents Zeng and has exhibited and sold his works at its galleries. “It was questionable to me if the market could absorb so much quality material, but clearly it did.” // any chance there is a fund or funds with significant holdings of Zeng’s work that pushed up the price as a way to set a new benchmark for Zeng’s art?
5. 【舒立观察】上海自贸区的改革深意_杂志频道_财新网 Hu Shuli’s editorial in last week’s Caixin on the Shanghai Free Trade Zone. She is more optimistic than most of the foreign commentariat. Perhaps that is in her nature, or perhaps it is still too early to tell? // 上海自贸区启动是未来更大范围改革的前奏。从此次自贸区筹划到挂牌期间，舆论之关切、市场之热情，可知在全国范围，期盼改革之情是何等强烈。改革者的幸运、荣光和艰辛不会仅仅属于上海
6. Xi Seeks Political Solutions on Taiwan After Closer Trade Ties – Bloomberg China and Taiwan should resolve their long-standing political disagreements, Chinese President Xi Jinping said yesterday, as he seeks to address a six-decade division after forging closer economic ties. China is willing to hold talks with Taiwan on an equal basis under the “One China” principle, Xi said in a meeting with Taiwanese envoy Vincent Siew while the two were attending the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Bali, Indonesia, according to the official Xinhua News Agency. “We cannot hand those problems down from generation to generation,” Xi said, according to Xinhua.
7. Laszlo Montgomery and the China History Podcast–Sinica Podcast As should be obvious from our title, this week on Sinica we are delighted to be joined by the one-and-only Laszlo Montgomery, the force behind the China History Podcast. We waylaid the creator of our favorite history podcast during his most recent trip to Beijing, and dragged him into the studio to hold him accountable for everything he says on his shows.
8. Many Indonesians falling out of love with Obama–USA Today Running parallel to Indonesia’s growing disillusionment with Obama’s presidency is a broader awareness of the U.S.’s declining economic influence in the increasingly China-dominated Asia-Pacific region. China’s President Xi Jinping did make the trip this week, and was talking trade and warm relations the entire time. “I think that the U.S. is important to Indonesia of course, but increasingly more so is China. Most Indonesian exports are going to China,” said Imanuel Reinaldo, a second year economics student at the University of Indonesia, where Obama gave a speech during his visit in 2010.
POLITICS AND LAW
村干部办婚宴豪车明星捧场 3天花费超160万(图)_新闻_腾讯网 A Beijing village official looks to be heading for trouble after reports of the lavish 3 day, 1.6m RMB wedding put on for his son over the October holiday // 国庆节期间，北京市朝阳区来广营乡清河营村的村委会副主任马林祥，从10月4日到6日为儿子连摆三天婚宴。其中于昨日举行的婚礼场所，为国家会议中心大宴会厅。 记者探访了解到，三天的婚宴，酒席共计约250桌，并邀请“刘老根大舞台”的丫蛋等明星进行演出。 据保守估算，这场婚礼3天的花费，约在160万以上。
FOREIGN AND DEFENSE AFFAIRS
Xi Jinping surprises with reference to Malaysian singer Fish Leong | South China Morning Post In a speech for the Chinese community in the Malaysian capital, Xi said: “Malaysian singer Fish Leong is well known in China and is thought by many Chinese fans to be Chinese.” The president’s surprising pop culture reference drew a flurry of discussion on the internet on Friday. Later that night, Leong publicly thanked the president, whom she referred to as “national leader”.
HONG KONG, MACAO AND TAIWAN
Xi Says Hong Kong Political Reforms Must Follow Constitution – Bloomberg Hong Kong must follow its constitution in implementing democratic reforms, Chinese President Xi Jinping told Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying, who leads the city while it moves toward universal suffrage. Political reforms must follow the Basic Law, Hong Kong’s mini-constitution, and the decisions of China’s National People’s Congress Standing Committee, Leung said Xi told him at a meeting the two had while attending the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Bali, Indonesia.
China gambles on theme park, whale sharks to lure punters from Macau casinos | Reuters Chimelong, which is set to partially open next month, is the linchpin of China’s ambitious plans to expand Hengqin into a leisure hub similar to the coastal U.S. city globally renowned for its natural attractions and theme-park resorts by Walt Disney Co (DIS.N) and Universal Studios. And while some extravagant infrastructure projects in China have turned into white elephants, the odds are on Hengqin’s side largely due to the support of the Beijing government and the island’s proximity to the millions of tourists who throng to Macau every year.
Taiwan in the world: Most distracted guest at the party | The Economist For the first time since Taiwan lost its seat at the UN in 1971, the island sent representatives to a meeting of its aviation agency, the ICAO assembly, which is being held in Montreal (and scheduled to conclude on October 4th). The Taiwanese delegation were described as guests attending at the invitation of the ICAO’s council president, Roberto Kobeh Gonzalez. Given that China would normally crush any attempt from Taiwan to join in any UN activities, this counted as a major coup.
TECH AND MEDIA
Tencent Statement on Rumors It Has Applied For A Banking License (PDF) The Company would like to clarify and confirm that the statements made by Mr Ma were: (i) the Company is a minority shareholder of a consortium formed for the purpose of seeking a PRC banking license in connection with the provision of banking services and certain financial services online, where the Company will supplement with its online platforms and user interface; and (ii) the Company has no current intention of directly applying for a banking license itself
Macy’s Rethinks Web Plans in China – WSJ.com there is no economic slowdown when it comes to online shopping // The company had planned to begin online sales of a private-label brand in China in the spring, after buying a minority stake last year in Chinese retail company VIPStore Co. Macy’s, one of the largest U.S.-based department-store operators, has put those plans on hold because it needs to learn more about Chinese shoppers, not because it is concerned about China’s slowing economy or appetite for luxury goods, said Macy’s spokesman Jim Sluzewski.
SOCIETY, ART, SPORTS, CULTURE AND HISTORY
Amazon.com: Poseidon: China’s Secret Salvage of Britain’s Lost Submarine eBook: Steven R. Schwankert: Kindle Store Royal Navy submarine HMS Poseidon sank in collision with a freighter during routine exercises in 1931 off the Chinese coast. Thirty of its fifty-six-man crew scrambled out of the hatches as it went down. Of the twenty-six who remained inside, eight attempted to surface using an early form of diving equipment: five of them made it safely to the surface in the first escape of this kind in submarine history and became heroes. The incident was then forgotten, eclipsed by the greater drama that followed in World War II, until news emerged that, for obscure reasons, the Chinese government had salvaged the wrecked submarine in 1972. This lively account of the Poseidon incident tells the story of the accident and its aftermath, and of the author’s own quest to discover the shipwreck and its hidden history.
Chinese Art Star Liu Xiaodong Portrays British Pubs – WSJ.com Chinese painter Liu Xiaodong built a reputation among Chinese collectors by using Soviet-style realist techniques to portray the effects of China’s industrialization on its citizenry, most notably in his 2006 “Three Gorges” series. But to win over Western collectors at his first solo show in the U.K., Mr. Liu opted for subtle depictions of two sometimes thorny topics: immigration and pub life.
China’s Growing Maker Movement – WSJ.com The Chinese government has taken an interest in the maker movement. Not long after Xinchejian opened its doors, Shanghai officials announced a plan to build 100 government-supported innovation houses. Last November, according to Mr. Li, the Communist Youth League of Shanghai helped to attract over 50,000 visitors to a Maker Carnival, where makers exhibited their creations to the public.
Robert Ford | The Economist Robert Ford, a British radio operator in free Tibet, died on September 20th, aged 90
ENERGY, ENVIRONMENT, SCIENCE AND HEALTH
China’s capital to replace some coal-fired heating plants | Reuters The report, citing the city’s Municipal Commission of Development and Reform, said the four plants and some 40 other related projects would cost around 48 billion yuan ($8 billion)and cut sulphur dioxide emissions by 10,000 metric tons. It did not detail the related projects. The plan is the latest step by authorities to deal with a persistent smog crisis in China’s big cities that is fuelling public anger. The capital has been shrouded in thick hazardous smog for several days during the ongoing seven-day national holiday.
China to build network to monitor smog impact on health – Xinhua | English.news.cn A total of 43 monitoring spots will be set up in 16 provinces and municipalities frequently engulfed by smog so as to facilitate research on air pollutants in different regions, the impact on the health of vulnerable groups and the study of related diseases, said Xu Dongqun, an official with the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
FOOD AND TRAVEL
香格里拉调离骂游客滚蛋执法者 被指敷衍了事_新闻_腾讯网 Careful hiring tour guides in Shangri-la. Threats, other bad behavior exposed by Chinese media
65 mln holidaymakers take Chinese trains – Xinhua Chinese railways carried 65 million passengers between Sept. 28 and Oct.5, a record high over the same period in history, the state-owned China Railway Corporation (CRC) said on Sunday.
BOOKS AND LITERATURE
Stumbling Giant: Timothy Beardson: Kindle While dozens of recent books and articles have predicted the near-certainty of China’s rise to global supremacy, this book boldly counters such widely-held assumptions. Timothy Beardson brings to light the daunting array of challenges that today confront China, as well as the inadequacy of the policy responses. Threats to China come on many fronts, Beardson shows, and by their number and sheer weight these problems will thwart any ambition to become the world’s “Number One power.”Drawing on extensive research and experience living and working in Asia over the last 35 years, the author spells out China’s situation: an inexorable demographic future of a shrinking labor force, relentless aging, extreme gender disparity, and even a falling population. Also, the nation faces social instability, a devastated environment, a predominantly low-tech economy with inadequate innovation, the absence of an effective welfare safety net, an ossified governance structure, and radical Islam lurking at the borders. Beardson’s nuanced, first-hand look at China acknowledges its historic achievements while tempering predictions of its imminent hegemony with a no-nonsense dose of reality.