The Sinocism China Newsletter 01.08.17

The Donald Trump administration may show the world that America can do princelings profiting from political connections at least as well as China can.

The New York Times broke the story (Jared Kushner, a Trump In-Law and Adviser, Chases a Chinese Deal) that Jared Kushner, real estate mogul and son-in-law of President-elect Trump, has been working for several months on a Manhattan real estate deal with Anbang Insurance, and met with the Anbang Chairman after the presidential election:

On the night of Nov. 16, a group of executives gathered in a private dining room of the restaurant La Chine at the Waldorf Astoria hotel in Midtown Manhattan. The table was laden with Chinese delicacies and $2,100 bottles of Château Lafite Rothschild. At one end sat Wu Xiaohui, the chairman of the Waldorf’s owner, Anbang Insurance Group, a Chinese financial behemoth with estimated assets of $285 billion and an ownership structure shrouded in mystery. Close by sat Jared Kushner, a major New York real estate investor whose father-in-law, Donald J. Trump, had just been elected president of the United States.

It was a mutually auspicious moment.

Mr. Wu and Mr. Kushner — who is married to Mr. Trump’s daughter Ivanka and is one of his closest advisers — were nearing agreement on a joint venture in Manhattan: the redevelopment of 666 Fifth Avenue, the fading crown jewel of the Kushner family real-estate empire. Anbang, which has close ties to the Chinese state, has seen its aggressive efforts to buy up hotels in the United States slowed amid concerns raised by Obama administration officials who review foreign investments for national security risk.

Now, according to two people with knowledge of the get-together, Mr. Wu toasted Mr. Trump and declared his desire to meet the president-elect, whose ascension, he was sure, would be good for global business.

It is worse than a simple business conflict of interest. The report also reveals that Mr. Kushner is acting as the foreign policy gatekeeper to his father-in-law:

Indeed, despite a lack of foreign policy experience, Mr. Kushner is emerging as an important figure at a crucial moment for some of America’s most complicated diplomatic relationships. Such is his influence in the geopolitical realm that transition officials have told the Obama White House that foreign policy matters that need to be brought to Mr. Trump’s attention should be relayed through his son-in-law, according to a person close to the transition and a government official with direct knowledge of the arrangement.

So when the Chinese ambassador to the United States called the White House in early December to express what one official called China’s “deep displeasure” at Mr. Trump’s break with longstanding diplomatic tradition by speaking by phone with the president of Taiwan, the White House did not call the president-elect’s national security team. Instead, it relayed that information through Mr. Kushner, whose company was not only in the midst of discussions with Anbang but also has Chinese investors.

Beijing must be confused by the mixed signals coming from Trump world. On the one hand there are threats of sanctions and a trade war, and several personnel appointments to make those threats look real. On the other hand his son-in-law and top advisor is reliant on Chinese investors and still negotiating deals with them since the election.

I will chuckle the next time there is an American media report about princeling corruption in the PRC. Apologies if I sound cynical, but keep in mind I picked the name for this newsletter in part because it rhymes with cynicism.

Today’s Links:

AnchorTHE ESSENTIAL EIGHT *

1. [中国共产党第十八届中央纪律检查委员会第七次全体会议公报_CCTV Comment: Communique of the recent CCDI Plenary session, CCTV Evening News reads it out, also provides full text, nearly the first 17 minutes of the broadcast

Related: Top anti-graft body approves punishment of two former officials – Xinhua The plenum deliberated and passed a CCDI report on “serious disciplinary violations” of Wang Zhongtian and “disciplinary violations” of Li Jianbo, according to the communique. Wang, a former CCDI member, has been removed from Party posts, while Li, also a former CCDI member, has been given punishment of serious warning and ordered to resign from the post in CCDI. The communique also announced the election of Li Shulei as deputy secretary of the CCDI.

Related: “北大神童”再进阶 李书磊任中央纪委副书记政经频道财新网 中共十八大以来,李书磊不仅从学界转向政界,且已三次履新,仕途足迹走过福建、北京。 同时,中央纪委副职领导层已经历“四出三进”,王伟、李玉赋、陈文清、黄树贤四位副书记先后调离纪检监察系统,并增选杨晓渡、刘金国、李书磊三人。这种情况在以往数届中央纪委领导班子中极为罕见。//  Comment: Caixin on Li Shulei

Related: January 2016–Close aide to China’s President Xi Jinping named Beijing’s anti-graft chief | South China Morning Post Appointment of former child prodigy, who wrote many of the president’s speeches, may signal an intensification of the campaign, analysts say

Related: China to set up national supervisory commission – Xinhua | hina will establish a national supervisory commission and push the stipulation of a law on national supervision, as part of efforts to reform the state supervisory system, according to an official communique.

Related: Xi: Strict discipline required – China Daily The 19th CPC National Congress is scheduled for the second half of this year, during which the next top leadership will be elected. Before and after the congress, a large number of personnel reshuffles are expected at various levels across the country. An editorial published on Friday by People’s Daily, the CPC’s official newspaper, also called for “zero tolerance” in handling election fraud, warning Party members to learn from past political scandals.

Related: Rules to keep disciplinary teams honest – China Daily Experts said the regulation, passed at the annual plenary meeting of the top anti-corruption watchdog — the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection of the Communist Party of China — can help ensure an unsullied disciplinary team, after some corrupt investigators were exposed. The regulation, details of which were not released, sets clear standards on how to handle corruption tips, how to check and review cases and how to manage ill-gotten money and assets, according to a report published on the commission’s website on Sunday.

Related: 一图读懂十八届中央纪委七次全会公报——中央纪委监察部网站 Comment: CCDI provides an infographic summarizing the recent Plenum

2. China Ready to Step Up Scrutiny of U.S. Firms If Trump Starts Feud: Sources – Bloomberg China is prepared to retaliate should President-elect Donald Trump take punitive measures against Chinese goods and trigger a trade war between the world’s two biggest economies, according to people familiar with the matter. Options include subjecting well-known U.S. companies or ones with large Chinese operations to tax or antitrust probes, said the people, asking not to be identified because the matter isn’t public. Other possible measures include anti-dumping investigations and scaling back government purchases of American products, the people said.

Related: President-Elect Donald J. Trump Transition Builds Out White House Policy Team Alexander Gray, Deputy Director of the National Trade Council for the Defense Industrial Base — Alexander Gray is currently a member of the U.S. Department of State Landing Team for the Presidential Transition, focusing on Asia-Pacific issues. Previously, he served as Senior Defense Advisor to the Trump-Pence campaign, on Stephen Miller’s policy staff and working with Peter Navarro, helping to craft the campaign’s plan to rebuild the U.S. military and the defense industrial base. Mr. Gray has also served as Senior Advisor to U.S. Congressman J. Randy Forbes, a senior member of the House Armed Services Committee, focusing on defense industrial base issues and Asia-Pacific security. Mr. Gray’s writings on defense and national security topics have appeared in Foreign Policy, Naval War College Review, Strategic Studies Quarterly and the U.S. Naval Institute’s Proceedings. He was educated at the Elliott School of International Affairs at George Washington University and the War Studies Department of King’s College London. // Comment: Peter Navarro, head of the NTC, and Gray wrote Donald Trump’s Peace Through Strength Vision for the Asia-Pacific on November 7

Related: China Chip Policy Poses Risk to U.S. Firms, White House Says – Bloomberg China’s goal to achieve a leadership position in semiconductor design and manufacturing, in part by spending $150 billion over a 10-year period, requires an effective response to maintain U.S. competitiveness in the industry, according to the report released Friday. “We found that Chinese policies are distorting markets in ways that undermine innovation, subtract from U.S. market share, and put U.S. national security at risk,” the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology said in the report. // Comment: the PDF of the report

3. Stop making our children sick: Beijing parents force government action over smog – The Washington Post A campaign by angry, largely middle-class parents about the lack of an air filtration system in Beijing’s schools spread like wildfire across social media this week, especially on a messaging app called WeChat. In just over 24 hours, the city government reacted — by promising to equip Beijing’s schools with air cleaning systems.

Related: Intense smog is a global problem, says China’s environment minister | South China Morning Post In a meeting on Saturday, acting Beijing mayor Cai Qi said the city government would step up use of clean energy, phase out vehicles using dirty fuels and crack down on polluting factories. Chen Jining, the Minister of Environmental Protection, told state media on Friday that winter heating, industrial emissions and automobile exhausts were major contributers to smog, but the low air quality was also caused by unfavourable weather conditions linked to a very strong El Nino over the Pacific from 2015 to last year.

Related: China Deletes Online Criticism of Toxic Smog Choking Its Cities Calls have been growing on social media to pin down the government departments responsible for the various factors contributing the toxic brown soup that hundreds of millions of people are forced to breathe in many Chinese cities. “The State Council must make a formal statement to the 1.4 Chinese people explaining itself,” one commentator wrote, calling for “formal plans” to tackle the problem within the next decade. “People understand that the water can support the boat, but that it can also sink it,” the article warned, in a metaphor referring to the ruling party and the people. The post was rapidly deleted from social media sites and the popular smartphone chat app WeChat. // Comment: This post was in the Essential Eight of the last issue of the newsletter, now deleted from the ChiComNet (I am sick of saying the “China Internet” or “Chinternet”, or “behind the GFW”) but available here 面對霧霾鎖國,国务院必须给14亿人民一个正式回应!

Related: A new police beat in China: Smog – CNN Officials in Beijing are taking steps toward tackling the city’s long-standing smog problem with the creation of an environmental police force, according to state media. Spearheaded by Beijing’s acting mayor Mayor Cai Qi, the political crackdown on burning fossil fuels comes amid a flurry of concern over the country’s choking air pollution.

Related: Minitrue: Pollution Lawsuit, Smog Classification – China Digital Times (CDT) Regarding lawyers suing the governments of Beijing, Tianjin, and Hebei Province for not fulfilling their pollution management responsibilities, without exception do not report and do not forward online information.

Related: China’s Airpocalypse Paves a Path for New Cancer Medicines – Bloomberg China logged more than 700,000 new cases of the disease in 2015, the product of a surge in air pollution, high smoking rates and unhealthy lifestyles as China has prospered in recent decades. Lung cancer is now the most common type of cancer in the country and its spread has spawned new listings as well as billion-dollar market values for Chinese companies like Betta Pharmaceuticals Co. and Hutchison China MediTech Ltd., which are attempting to build blockbuster treatments.

4. China Aims to Spend at Least $360 Billion on Renewable Energy by 2020 – The New York Times The country’s National Energy Administration laid out a plan to dominate one of the world’s fastest-growing industries, just at a time when the United States is set to take the opposite tack as Donald J. Trump, a climate-change doubter, prepares to assume the presidency. The agency said in a statement that China would create more than 13 million jobs in the renewable energy sector by 2020, curb the growth of greenhouse gasses that contribute to global warming and reduce the amount of soot that in recent days has blanketed Beijing and other Chinese cities in a noxious cloud of smog.

Related: China raises its low carbon ambitions in new 2020 targets | China Dialogue China’s 13th Five-Year-Plan on Energy Development (Energy 13FYP) might be one of the most anticipated energy blueprints in the world for its far-reaching implications for the carbon trajectory of the planet’s largest emitter. On Jan 5, 2017, the National Energy Administration finally unveiled the plan to reporters, with a set of 2020 targets covering everything from total energy consumption to installed wind energy capacity. Before we delve into details of the plan, one thing is worth noting: with the Energy 13FYP, China might have once again raised ambitions for its low-carbon future, highlighting the urgency that this smog-ridden country attaches to moving away from fossil fuels.

Related: 能源局发布《能源发展“十三五”规划》等新闻发布中国政府网 Comment: The NEA Plan announcement

5. China’s growth breathes new life into old ghost towns – The Globe and Mail A half-decade ago, China counted perhaps three dozen ghost towns like Tianducheng, places author Wade Shepard called “the stillborn carcasses of cities that never knew life” in his book, Ghost Cities of China. Littered across the landscape, they were warning signs pointing to the excesses in China’s building boom, an era of unconstrained growth that was the biggest the world has ever seen. But today, they are looking less like epic mistakes and more like temporary disasters. “There’s not a single one in the country that isn’t in the process of filling up,” said Mr. Shepard.

6. Ted Cruz meets Taiwan president and fires his own broadside at China | US news | The Guardian “The People’s Republic of China needs to understand that in America we make decisions about meeting with visitors for ourselves,” Cruz said in a statement on Sunday. “This is not about the PRC. This is about the US relationship with Taiwan, an ally we are legally bound to defend. The Chinese do not give us veto power over those with whom they meet. We will continue to meet with anyone, including the Taiwanese, as we see fit.” Cruz added that he and Tsai discussed “arms sales, diplomatic exchanges and economic relations”, and that he hoped to increase trade between Texas and Taiwanese markets.

7. China Is Planning a New, Relaxed Approach to Growth – Bloomberg As China’s top leaders tallied the cost of another year of debt-fueled growth at a December meeting, the imperative for stability as a leadership reshuffle loomed later this year prompted an unexpected conclusion. The price was too high, the leaders agreed, according to a person familiar with the situation. The buildup of debt used to fuel smokestack industries from steel to cement had helped win the short-term battle for growth, but the triumph itself undermined the foundations of long-term expansion, the leaders decided, according to the person, who asked not to be named because the meeting was private. What followed was an order to central and local government officials that if they are forced to choose this year, stability must be the priority while everything else, including the growth target and economic reform, is secondary, said another four people familiar with the situation.

8. The Couple Who Saved China’s Ancient Architectural Treasures Before They Were Lost Forever | History | Smithsonian The two leaders of this small but dedicated group have taken on a mythic status in China today: the architect Liang Sicheng and his brilliant poet wife, Lin Huiyin. This prodigiously talented couple, who are now revered in much the same way as Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo in Mexico, were part of a new generation of Western-educated thinkers who came of age in the 1920s. Born into aristocratic, progressive families, they had both studied at the University of Pennsylvania and other Ivy League schools in the United States, and had traveled widely in Europe. Overseas, they were made immediately aware of the dearth of studies on China’s rich architectural tradition. So on their return to Beijing, the cosmopolitan pair became pioneers of the discipline, espousing the Western idea that historic structures are best studied by firsthand observation on field trips.

AnchorBUSINESS, ECONOMY AND TRADE *

China Reserves Slumped $320 Billion Last Year as Yuan Tumbled – Bloomberg Reserves decreased $41.1 billion to a fresh five-year low of $3.01 trillion, the People’s Bank of China said Saturday. That was in line with estimates in Bloomberg’s survey of economists. The central bank’s effort to stabilize the yuan was the main reason for the drop last year, the State Administration of Foreign Exchange said in a statement. The world’s largest stockpile has fallen for 10 straight quarters from a record $4 trillion in June 2014, while eroding confidence in the yuan has pushed the currency to the lowest levels in eight years.

Follow the Money » China’s Q3 Balance of Payments Data Helps Explain Why Q3 Reserves Fell So Much – Brad Setser Share Tweet Post Email I want to step back a bit from the rather extraordinary moves in the offshore yuan market over the past few days. It seems quite clear that China’s authorities felt the need to signal that the yuan isn’t currently a one way bet against the dollar. And stepping back in this case means taking a deep dive into the details of the balance of payments data — details that come out with a quarter lag, and thus provide information that is stale from the point of view of a forward-looking market. A lot, and I mean a lot, changed in the fourth quarter.

China to Restrict Bitcoin Marketing, But Blockchain Firms Unaffected – CoinDesk According to a new report by Caixin, the PBoC sought to restrict how the exchanges could seek to acquire potential new users, with the central bank indicating that the startups aren’t able to mention the depreciation of the yuan in connection with marketing or otherwise promote their services offline. Some of the involved exchanges were said to have cancelled planned activities that would have potentially utilized such a strategy. The article further states that exchanges were advised to comply with know-your-customer (KYC) and anti-money laundering (AML) laws, and to refrain from using automated trading bots to boost volume

曹德旺:我捐款超过80亿,交税127亿;我爱我的国家、我妈跟我讲,子不嫌母丑-虎嗅网  Comment: After complaining about taxes and the cost of doing business in China when explaining why he was investing in a US factory, Fuyao’s Cao Dewang is now making sure everyone knows he loves his country, has made 8B RMB of charitable contributions and paid 12.7B RMB in taxes over the years…

The Chinafornia Newsletter 1.2.17 — The Inspiring Chinafornian Who Created “Bambi” | Revue Comment: big fan of this weekly newsletter by Matt Sheehan, formerly Huffington Post correspondent in Beijing now working on a book about China and California back in the Bay Area

Kyle Bass’s Hayman Capital Rides Bond-Rout Bet to 24.8% Gain for 2016 – WSJ Hayman’s China Opportunities Fund, launched in July to bet against the yuan, is up 5.97% so far.

China Clears Last Hurdle for Foreign Private Funds to Invest Onshore – Caixin China has published rules allowing foreign private fund companies to sell products in the country and invest funds received in the A-share market. This paves the way for foreign fund companies to tap China’s growing demand for wealth management services by broadening the scope of securities they can buy for clients to include those issued and traded on the Shanghai and Shenzhen stock exchanges.

AnchorPOLITICS AND LAW *

University Party committee makes professor retire after controversial Mao comments – Global Times Deng Xiangchao, deputy head of the School of Art at Shangdong Jianzhu University, was made to retire by the university’s Party committee on Thursday and stop any teaching-related activities both on and off campus, news portal thepaper.cn reported on Saturday. Deng was also fired from his jobs as a member of the Standing Committee of the Shandong Provincial Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference and as counselor to the provincial government, the Shandong government announced Thursday.  // Comment: There was a video going around of the protesters, looks to have been deleted. Watching that video you could get the impression that there is still a latent Cultural Revolution bubbling along under the surface, and that if it were to happen again this time it would be televised

China’s cybersecurity chiefs pledge total loyalty to leadership under Xi | South China Morning Post At a national meeting of directors at the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) on Tuesday and Wednesday, the officials said one of their priorities was to cultivate an online environment that was “conducive to a successful 19th party congress”. In a statement, the directors agreed that the level of urgency and the frequency that Xi had spoken about cybersecurity last year were both “rare” in history. They also pledged their absolute loyalty to Xi.

习近平勾勒网信工作大战略:没有网络安全就没有国家安全–专题报道-人民网 中国共产党新闻网北京1月6日电 (记者景玥)全国网信办主任会议1月3日至4日在京召开。会议强调,要深入学习贯彻习近平总书记系列重要讲话精神和治国理政新理念新思想新战略,牢固树立政治意识、大局意识、核心意识、看齐意识,扎实做好2017年网信工作,营造良好网上舆论氛围,提供有力网络安全保障和信息化支撑。十八大以来,习近平总书记非常重视“网络”,重视“网络安全和信息化工作”。在多个场合发表有关我国网信工作发展的重要论述,为中国构建 “网络强国”指明方向。

China battles to control growing online nationalism – FT Veteran opinion makers on China’s nationalist left counter that they see signs of maturing confidence amid the sea of “red” rhetoric online. “People say ‘Oh, it’s nationalism’ but actually some of it is just Chinese developing our own thought,” says Wang Wen, a fiery former editorial writer who is now executive dean at the Chongyang Institute, a think-tank affiliated with Renmin University in Beijing. “We’ve had 20 years of superstitious worship of the west, now there’s a lot less. It is more balanced. We need to find our own path.”  //  Comment: Wang Wen is a man to pay attention to. 

Q. and A.: Jessica Chen Weiss on Nationalism in Chinese Politics – The New York Times For the past three decades, China’s leaders have selectively tolerated grass-roots protests, allowing nationalist demonstrations to bolster a tough diplomatic stance and repressing such protests to show flexibility and reassurance. But stage-managed protests are often suspected of being puppet shows rather than genuine popular movements. Chinese officials thus face a Catch-22 in managing popular nationalism. For the “feelings of the Chinese people” to be credible with outside observers, citizens must also be free to air their views online and in the streets.

China to reform profession rank evaluation system-Xinhua China will soon begin reform of professional rankings with more focus on contribution and ethical conduct to assist career development and to make the evaluation process more open and transparent. According to a circular issued by the general offices of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and the State Council, the reform will begin in engineering, hygiene, agriculture, accounting, institutes of higher education, and scientific research within three years. // 受权发布:中共中央办公厅 国务院办公厅印发《关于深化职称制度改革的意见》

AnchorFOREIGN AND DEFENSE AFFAIRS *

Trump, Kelly, & The Coast Guard: Exclusive Interview With Adm. Zukunft « Breaking Defense The Coast Guard’s jurisdiction can extend even to the South China Sea. While our interview occurred before a Chinese warship seized a US Navy drone off the coast of the Philippines — essentially an act of piracy — Zunkunft told even then that he had requested sending enhanced USCG presence to the region. “I have discussed with the CNO (Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson, the senior officer in the Navy) the concept that we would create a permanent USCG presence in the South China Sea and related areas,” Zukunft said. “This would allow us to expand our working relationship with Vietnam, the Philippines, and Japan. We can spearhead work with allies on freedom of navigation exercises as well.”

Chinese National Admits to Stealing Sensitive Military Program Documents From United Technologies | Department of Justice Comment: Jet engines still a weak link in PLA modernization, wonder how much damage Yu Long did  //  According to court documents and statements made in court, from approximately May 2008 to May 2014, Long worked as a Senior Engineer/Scientist at United Technologies Research Center (UTRC) in Connecticut. Long’s employment at UTRC included work on F119 and F135 engines. The F119 engine is employed by the U.S. Air Force F-22 Raptor fighter aircraft, and the F135 engine is employed by the U.S. Air Force F-35 Lightning II fighter aircraft. Beginning in 2013, Long expressed his intent to individuals outside UTRC to return to China to work on research projects at certain state-run universities in China using knowledge and materials he had acquired while employed at the UTRC. To that end, Long interacted with several state-run institutions in China, including the Chinese Academy of Science (CAS) and the Shenyang Institute of Automation (SIA), a state-run university in China affiliated with CAS.

Beijing signals end of China-UK ‘golden age’ “In some areas of our engagement, the Chinese side is taking a more wait-and-see attitude following the Brexit vote,” said a second Chinese official who requested anonymity. “We do not feel the same level of enthusiasm from this government as from the Cameron-Osborne team.”  //  Comment: What the official means is that the current UK government has not perfected proper pandering as its predecessor did

US Navy deploys anti-stealth reconnaissance aircraft to Japan- Nikkei Asian Review the U.S. Navy announced on Thursday that it will deploy to Japan its newest airborne early warning and control aircraft, the E-2D Advanced Hawkeye. Equipped with state-of-the-art radar, the Hawkeye will act as the eyes and ears of U.S. Navy Carrier Strike Group Five, centered around Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan.

PLA’s media volley seeks young recruits – People’s Daily Online To build a modern military, the People’s Liberation Army is making full use of the 21st-century tools in its arsenal to attract new recruits. Action-packed advertisements, hit reality shows and flash mobs, as well as a greater social media presence, have gone a long way in helping the military soften its image and reach young audiences. The most effective weapon has arguably been Takes a Real Man, a reality show that puts celebrities through the rigors of military training. The show is made by Hunan TV in cooperation with August 1st Film Studio, the PLA’s film production arm, and the Air Force.

Cambodia Wants China as Its Neighborhood Bully | Foreign Policy Cambodia is a small country tucked between its historical enemies. The grip anti-Vietnamese sentiment has on the Cambodian masses only strengthens this geopolitical anxiety. As long as Cambodian nationalism defines itself in opposition to the Vietnamese, Cambodian politicians will never stop searching for a great power that can stand as a bulwark against Vietnam. For the foreseeable future, that country will be China. Next to this, the perceived balance of power between China and the United States will never be anything more than a sideshow.

Govt to devise China defense strategy – The Japan News The government plans to formulate by this summer an integrated defense strategy, which outlines how the Self-Defense Forces would respond in the event of a contingency involving China over the Senkaku Islands in Okinawa Prefecture, according to government sources. The measure is aimed at devising scenarios for a possible clash between Japan and China.

Sri Lanka protest over Chinese investment turns ugly – BBC News Several people have been injured in southern Sri Lanka during a protest against allowing China to build a port and industrial zone. The plan envisages the eviction of thousands of villagers around Hambantota port, 240km (150 miles) south-east of the capital Colombo. Police used tear gas as the protest delayed a ceremony being attended by Prime Minister Ranil Wickeremesinghe.

China’s Relentless Media Expansion Creates Challenge of Global Proportions – Taiwan Sentinel As many Western media organizations battle with decreasing revenues, the Chinese government sees an opportunity to promote its political values abroad. That is done by buying space in foreign newspapers, as well as expanding the global presence of the Chinese state media.

Japan Coast Guard to set up liaison body to help Southeast Asian counterparts deal with China | The Japan Times The Japan Coast Guard plans to establish an organization dedicated to helping Southeast Asian countries improve maritime safety, coast guard officials said, as Tokyo continues to respond to China’s growing assertiveness at sea.

A Closer Look at the Growing US-China Rivalry in the South China Sea | The Diplomat With Chinese challenges to U.S. military FON increasingly migrating to the South China Sea (SCS), last week I received a new report from the Hainan Island-based National Institute of South China Sea (NISCSS), the “Report on the Military Presence of the United States of America In the Asia-Pacific Region 2016.” The booklet purports to offer a “systematic review of the United States’ military presence in the Asia Pacific region” and it’s largely successful in that endeavor, brimming with detailed charts, data, and infographics drawn mostly from official U.S. sources. I was more interested in whether the report offered any new insights or perspectives on the increasingly volatile geopolitical situation in the SCS. And here too it succeeded.

China opens busy year for space with launch of experimental comms sat | gbtimes.com A similarly secretive Long March 3B launch in September 2015 carried a satellite that Chinese state media stated would be mainly used to test Ka frequency broadband communication. However, other sources note rumours surrounding the mission, unofficially referred to as TJS-1, that suggested it could be part of an experimental early warning satellite program.

中共中央党校 – 学习时报网_向深地深海深空和土地科技进军 国土资源部党组书记、部长姜大明答本报记者问

AnchorHONG KONG, MACAO AND TAIWAN *

Hong Kong democracy activist Joshua Wong under police protection in Taiwan after assault attempt | South China Morning Post Hong Kong student activist Joshua Wong Chi-fung was under Taiwan police protection on Saturday afternoon, after a failed attempt by a pro-China protester to assault him as he arrived in the country in the early hours. Wong had been set to attend a seminar organised by a local political party over the weekend.

Taiwanese Media Reform – BACS Ming-yeh Rawnsley, James Smyth and Jonathan Sullivan Abstract: Alongside a consolidated liberal democracy and dynamic civil society, Taiwan boasts one of Asia’s most liberal and competitive media environments. With cable TV and internet penetration rates among the highest in the world, and twelve 24/7 local TV news channels serving a population of 23 million, media liberalisation in Taiwan is, like democratisation, a success story. However, the pressures of intense commercial competition have created issues around professional ethics and the effects of sensationalism. Longstanding regulatory and ownership issues remain unresolved, including political partisanship across the media-sphere.

Famed HK, Taiwan artists pulled from numerous mainland music platforms – Global Times Works of some pop artists from Hong Kong and Taiwan were found to be missing from the majority of mainland streaming music platforms on Friday, triggering off speculations that they have been banned due to their political leanings, but some believe the trend is most likely the result of music licensing infringements.  Mandopop mega artists such as Vivian Xu from Taiwan and Hong Kong’s Bobby Chen and Anthony Wong were missing on NetEase Cloud Music as of Friday evening.  By Saturday, many of Taiwan and Hong Kong artists were pulled from major streaming platforms such as QQ Music, NetEase Cloud Music, Kugou Music and Baidu Music.

To Conscript or Volunteer: What’s Best to Ensure Taiwan’s Defense Readiness? – Taiwan Sentinel In Taiwan, there is a popular Mandarin saying, “Good men do not serve as soldiers.” There are strong economic costs that come with conscription in Taiwan. Pay for a conscript is very low, despite Taiwan having one of the highest percentages of college degree holders per capita in the developed world. Many young Taiwanese men would rather go to China or Southeast Asia as businessmen to make money instead of serving as conscripts. Additionally, the ROC Armed Forces lack up-to-date equipment, focus too much on rules and regulations instead of realistic combat training, and lack a strong bond of trust between Non-Commissioned and Commissioned Officers. These factors mixed together have created a perfect storm of resentment among young Taiwanese toward conscription.

AnchorTECH AND MEDIA *

NYT should reflect on its app removal – Global Times Meanwhile, the newspaper lashed out at China regarding freedom of the press. Since 2012, The New York Times has been one of the Western media outlets that has taken the lead in doing so-called investigative reports and churning out sensational stories about sensitive topics in China, trying to wield influence in China’s internal affairs and play a special political role. Managing information in the Internet era is a challenge that all the countries need to face. In late December, outgoing US President Barack Obama signed an anti-propaganda act into law. The State Department will also establish an anti-propaganda center later this year which is designed to help the US “counter foreign government propaganda from Russia, China, and other nations.” Greater China contributed nearly one-fifth of Apple’s revenue in the fourth quarter of 2016, while Apple faces tough competition from local Chinese smartphone brands. It cares most about business, so it is willing to respect Chinese laws.

Stanley Rosen : The dangerous double game of Dalian Wanda’s Wang Jianlin- Nikkei Asian Review It is vital to realize that Wang is not sending a consistent message in China and the U.S. with regard to his intentions. When he speaks in the U.S., he emphasizes the number of American jobs he is creating and the market access his theater chain and production studios in China offer to the U.S. film industry. In China, Wang talks about the importance of his company for the promotion of Chinese soft power “in a way that is welcomed by foreigners” as he put it in a speech to other leading entrepreneurs last month. His speeches in China seem intended as much for the Chinese government as they are for his immediate audience. While American critics label Wanda as a virtual state-owned enterprise, Wang’s remarks at home highlight private enterprises’ advantage in promoting Chinese influence abroad because they face less government regulation and “less resentment while spreading culture.”

LeEco Creditor Seeks Arbitration to Collect Unpaid Bills – Caixin LeEco’s cellphone business is severely short on liquidity, and production is not on schedule, sources within the company told Caixin. “Should LeEco be unable to raise funds to pay back suppliers, Haosheng will be the first of many to follow. If a liquidity crisis turns into a crisis of confidence, that is when real trouble will begin,” one source said.// Comment: If you are doing business with any company in the LeEco family you might want to ask for all the money you are promised upfront

DJI acquires majority stake in Hasselblad, the iconic Swedish camera company | TechCrunch Last year DJI took a minority stake in Hasselblad, the iconic Swedish camera company. The companies also announced a partnership to work together on high-end camera drones that would combine DJI’s drone aerial technology with Hasselblad’s cameras. Now Luminous Landscape has reported, and multiple industry insiders have told TechCrunch, that DJI has acquired Hasselblad, not outright, but taking a majority stake in the camera company

AnchorSOCIETY, ART, SPORTS, CULTURE AND HISTORY *

How stoves and lamps led to a turning point in China’s reforms | Andrew Batson’s Blog Here is a nice little piece of oral history covering some important episodes in the early history of China’s economic reforms. The translation below is an excerpt from a longer interview with Yang Qixian, a scholar who participated in the reform process in the 1980s (Chinese original here). I like it because it includes both some vivid practical experiences and some theoretical insights

Sinica Podcast: Talking ’bout my generation: Alec Ash and Chinese millennials He talks about contemporary youth culture in China, the concerns of Chinese millennials, how he met the six characters in the book and what we can understand about China’s changing culture from their stories.

Giving credit-China Law Translate From this brief overview and a consideration of the relevant documents, you can see that China’s social credit system is very much a work in progress but moving forward quickly. You can also see that it reflects deliberate and unapologetic choices about how data should be used and protected. The government wants to mobilize data to facilitate the transition from a cash to electronic and credit economy, to prevent pervasive fraud and ‘disruption of social order’, and generally make everyone behave well or be shamed. Specifics will continue to be refined in future laws and regulations, but the overall direction of the balance between privacy and discovery of misconduct is already clear. China may be able to more fully consolidate and act on it, but the data involved in Social Credit exists everywhere. Choices on its use are being made- by governments, by corporations, by consumers- both actively and through passive evolution.

“Where is the Law?” – Heartbreaking Video of Girl Holding Killed Dog Raises Questions | What’s on Weibo A heartbreaking video showing a weeping girl holding her killed dog has gone viral on Chinese social media, where netizens cry out for a rapid implementation of animal welfare legislation in China.

AnchorENERGY, ENVIRONMENT, SCIENCE AND HEALTH *

Big Pharmaceuticals Seek New Prescription for China Sales – Caixin Multinational drugmakers are pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into new production and research operations in China to expand their foothold in the world’s fastest-growing health care market, even as the government demands sharply lower prices.

After One-Child Policy, Outrage at China’s Offer to Remove IUDs – The New York Times “We shouldn’t even have had this in the first place, and now the government wants to use it as a form of state benefit for people,” Ms. Lu, 36, scoffed in a phone interview from her home in the eastern city of Linyi. “It’s like they are slapping themselves in the face.” While IUDs elsewhere can often be removed with the tug of their strings in a doctor’s office, surgery is usually needed in China because most devices here are designed or altered to be more difficult to extract, some with shortened strings and others with no strings at all.

A Poem Praises Smog, and Why Not? It’s From Cancer’s Perspective – The New York Times The author, Dr. Zhao Xiaogang, 40, who is deputy chief of thoracic surgery at Shanghai Pulmonary Hospital of Tongji University, opens with a “ground-glass opacity,” an image of a CT scan of fluid in the lungs that can indicate a range of disorders, but in this case is the first indication of what will develop into a triumphantly lethal cancer. It is abetted by its host’s unhealthy habits, but also the host’s smoggy environment: I long to be king, With my fellows swimming in every vessel. My people crawl in your organs and body, Holding the rights for life or death, I tremble with excitement.

China to set up gravitational wave telescopes in Tibet – China Daily Construction has started for the first telescope, code-named Ngari No.1, 30 km south of Shiquanhe Town in Ngari Prefecture, said Yao Yongqiang, chief researcher with the National Astronomical Observatories of the Chinese Academy of Sciences. The telescope, located 5,250 meters above sea level, will detect and gather precise data on primordial gravitational waves in the Northern Hemisphere. It is expected to be operational by 2021.

Air China bans shark fin cargo, reflecting dramatic shift in attitudes – The Washington Post Air China has become the first airline in mainland China to ban shark fin cargo, marking a dramatic shift in attitudes toward trade in endangered wildlife here and throwing a lifeline to shark populations threatened with imminent extinction. The news, released late Friday, came just a week after China also announced plans to ban its domestic ivory trade

AnchorFOOD AND TRAVEL *

You can now travel from Shanghai to Kunming in under 11 hours via high-speed rail: Shanghaiist The new trains will whisk travelers from Shanghai to Kunming, traveling 2,252 kilometers in just 10 hours and 36 minutes. Previously, the only way to get between the cities by rail was to hop on a hellishly slow train that took 35-40 hours to make the journey.

AnchorBOOKS AND LITERATURE *

To Speak Is to Blunder – The New Yorker – Yiyun Li Years ago, when I started writing in English, my husband asked if I understood the implication of the decision. What he meant was not the practical concerns, though there were plenty: the nebulous hope of getting published; the lack of a career path as had been laid out in science, my first field of postgraduate study in America; the harsher immigration regulation I would face as a fiction writer. Many of my college classmates from China, as scientists, acquired their green cards under a National Interest Waiver. An artist is not of much importance to any nation’s interest.

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  • Jones Nimby

    Prince-lings: I think the Bush family, the Clinton family, and perhaps the Obama’s vis the Chicago Machine (Michelle was a lawyer handing out legal graft for the machine, that’s how she met Barry via Valarie Jarrett). The Kennedy family didn’t do too bad handing out patronage for their family either, only Carter and Reagan seem to have not dished it out, and that has more to do with the children than the system.