The Sinocism China Newsletter For 04.10.13

This week’s Dealbook China Insider column looks at bird flu and North Korea fears. The New York Times also has a good Op-Ed from Andrei Lankov telling everyone to stay cool and call North Korea’s bluff:

A closer look at North Korean history reveals what Pyongyang’s leaders really want their near-farcical belligerence to achieve — a reminder to the world that North Korea exists, and an impression abroad that its leaders are irrational and unpredictable. The scary impressions are important to North Korea because for the last two decades its policy has been, above all, a brilliant exercise in diplomatic blackmail. And blackmail usually works better when the practitioners are seen as irrational and unpredictable.

Put bluntly, North Korea’s government hopes to squeeze more aid from the outside world. Of late, it has become very dependent on Chinese aid, and it wants other sponsors as well.

My conclusion in the Dealbook column:

China’s official position, as reiterated Monday by the Foreign Ministry spokesman is that “China opposes any action that would undermine peace and stability on the peninsula” and engagement and dialog through the six party talks is the only effective approach. Beijing wants neither a reunified Korea that is a U.S. ally or a failed state streaming refugees across its borders.

Expect it to work hard to return to the Korean Peninsula to the status quo. But a true provocation by North Korea that results in any armed response from South Korea or the U.S. might prompt the change towards Pyongyang that many hope Beijing is considering.

Investors should be concerned as the risks for miscalculations are increasing and costs of a Kim comedown increase every day he ratchets up the rhetoric. North Korea’s leader has invested much of his credibility in these recent threats; a retreat with nothing to show to his military and country could be very difficult.

However this current crisis resolves, it will provide yet another reason for countries around the reason to increase their defense budgets, and prove a boon for investors in defense firms with exposure to the region.

This morning Netease News has a slideshow (中国货车在中朝边境口岸通关正常_网易新闻) of “normal” freight traffic across a bridge in Dandong from China to North Korea, so it does not appear Beijing is turning the screws on the DPRK too hard.

Yesterday Fitch downgraded China’s local credit rating (beyondbrics):

So Fitch has brought down China’s local credit rating in the face of structural challenges and rebalancing. The question is what happens when the credit dries up – but this is a question that has been asked for a while. Fitch has had China’s local currency debt on negative for two years.

Given that this is still an A+ country in both local and foreign debt, sounding the alarm is either a little late, or a bit of an over-reaction.

Fitch’s downgrade comes just after George Soros’ warning (WSJ) that China has a “couple of years” to clean up its debt issues.

So far Wednesday morning the Hong Kong and PRC stock markets do not seem to care about what Fitch thinks.

This week’s issue of Caijing has two worrisome articles on China’s debt. 摸底中国负债 by a Chinese Academy of Social Sciences tries to calculate all the outstanding debt in China (Fitch’s numbers may be low) and 收紧银行“类信贷”理财 casts some doubt on the likely efficacy of the latest crackdown on wealth management products absent other reforms.

Daniel Drezner has a good post at Foreign Policy discussing the Fitch downgrade in Will China’s financial sector go boom? What about China’s government?:

…it’s worth remembering that the conventional wisdom about China’s government was that annual growth below eight percent a year would spell trouble for the government. The implicit contract over the past three decades was that the Chinese Communist Party would supply the growth in return for political quiescence. The end of high growth would imply that this social contract is in trouble.

Except that China’s growth has been below that rate for the last two years and running. During that time, Beijing has weathered one major political scandal, a raft of minor political scandals, and a leadership transition without a hint of regime collapse. So while China’s economy does seem to merit greater attention, I’m not sure that China’s political economy will trigger the kinds of instability that have been predicted for so long

Today’s Links:

THE ESSENTIAL EIGHT

9 dead of H7N9 bird flu in China – Xinhua | English.news.cn Two patients from east China’s Anhui and Jiangsu provinces who were confirmed as H7N9 cases days ago died of the avian influenza on Tuesday afternoon, said health authorities. This has brought the total number of deaths caused by the H7N9 bird flu in the country to nine, the National Health and Family Planning Commission announced in a daily update on H7N9 cases across China. // China Bird Flu Outbreak May Stem From Numerous Sources – Bloomberg China’s deadly avian flu outbreak is being driven by at least two closely-related viruses, a situation that may make it more difficult to contain in humans and birds, researchers said. // DNA points to poultry markets as H7N9 transmission route | South China Morning Post A Hong Kong professor who was among the first to crack the DNA code of the H7N9 virus suspects poultry farms are the direct transmission route of the current outbreak and it has little to do with wild birds. // Flu Genes Involve South Korean, Chinese Birds – Caixin A new type of bird flu that has killed seven people and made 24 sick in China is a genetic mix from South Korean migratory birds and ducks from Zhejiang Province, researchers at the Chinese Academy of Science say

Analysis: Public doubt on bird flu a ghost of China’s past | Reuters Even as global authorities have said the new H7N9 bird flu strain that has killed eight and infected 28 is no cause for panic, memories of past health scandals continue to undermine the government’s credibility at home in dealing with outbreaks…While skeptics in China have taken to social media to speak their minds, flu scientists and global public health experts are heaping praise on Beijing for its efforts so far. //  人民日报-用信息公开消除“禽流恐慌”(今日谈) 李 拯 People’s Daily 1 article on need for transparency to deal with H7N9 fears// H7N9病毒是否来自家禽传染?对人体有哪些危害?是否具有高传染性?对这些公众关心的敏感问题,政府部门理应及时公开相关信息、给予专业回应。即使不能短时间完全把握病毒特性,也应该动态跟踪、有一说一。如果害怕“敏感”而闪烁其词,导致信息不对称,谣言与恐慌就会获得传播土壤。日前,国家卫生和计划生育委员会要求在已报告确诊病例的省份启动疫情信息日报告制度,可谓正当其时,只有更及时、更准确地公开信息,以权威声音引导社会舆论,才能防止“无知之幕”制造“禽流恐慌”。抗击非典到今年恰好十年。如今,治理更完备、公众更成熟,我们有信心打好这场禽流感狙击战 // 多地共十余人因“散布H7N9疫情谣言”被拘_网易新闻中心 at least ten people arrested for spreading rumors about H7N9// 央视网 记者从西安市公安局了解到,日前西安市一男子为增加自己网络空间的人气,利用微博等编造散布虚假禽流感信息,被西安市公安局长安分局依法予以刑事拘留。 警方调查称,4月7日9时58分,家住长安区王莽街办的南某在自己的腾讯微博和QQ空间“说说”中发帖,谎称陕西发生禽流感事件,并编造十多人死亡的虚假信息。 鉴于目前国内部分省、市出现H7N9禽流感病例,为避免不实信息引起市民恐慌,针对南某所发内容,西安市公安局有关部门即介入调查。

U.S. warned government against buying Senkaku Islands: Campbell – The Japan Times The United States warned the government not to purchase the Senkaku Islands last fall, former U.S. Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Kurt Campbell said in an interview Monday. The Japanese government consulted with the State Department prior to the purchase, Campbell revealed, and was given “very strong advice not to go in this direction.” The U.S. government, in urging Japan not to follow through with the purchase, stressed the action could “trigger a crisis” with China, which claims the islands for itself. // really?

聂海芬面临政法调查 曾以不冤枉一个好人当座右铭_资讯频道_凤凰网 investigator who oversaw the mistaken prosecution of Zhang Hui and Zhang Gaoping now facing investigation…Nie Haifen once praised for her commitment to justice…The Zhangs, uncle and nephew, were recently released from jail after 10 years for a rape and murder in Hangzhou they did not commit…story has gotten national attention…potentially a big deal// 中新网杭州4月9日电 (吴佳蔚)近日,随着浙江省政法委针对张辉、张高平错案联合调查组的成立。9日,记者从浙江省政法委了解到,作为该案件的审核人,曾被冠以“女神探”之称的杭州市公安局刑侦支队预审大队大队长聂海芬将面临政法调查。

Catfight between Guo Meimei and Sports Car Club members revealed disturbing wealth gap in China. Chinese netizens shocked | Offbeat China In response, one SCC member showed off part of his bank account that has a balance of RMB 3,710,002,511.36 yuan (Yeah, many Chinese netizens had the same problem figuring out how much that was. It was over RMB 3.7 billion.) In a follow-up post, another SCC member showed off another account that had a balance of over RMB 9.9 billion.

半岛问题:给四国说四句话 – 新华国际 – 新华网– 人民日报海外版 People’s Daily Overseas Edition 4 messages on the Korean peninsula to four parties: North Korea, South Korea, US, Japan //  4月6日,中国外长王毅应约与联合国秘书长潘基文通电话,就朝鲜半岛当前的紧张事态表达了严重关切,并提到“不允许在中国的家门口生事”。这句话掷地有声,振聋发聩,舆论特别关注此言所指何者?对于这个问题,恐怕仁者见仁智者见智。但在朝鲜半岛局势日渐紧张之际,从地区和平稳定大局以及维护中国国家利益角度出发,有必要对一些半岛问题当事方当头断喝 // North Korea’s Step Too Far? by Zhu Feng – Project Syndicate After nearly a month of belligerent bluster from North Korea, China appears to have had enough, ending its silence about North Korea’s brinkmanship and suddenly roaring its disapproval of its ally’s reckless threats. China’s exceptional tough talk does not necessarily mean that it intends to abandon Kim Jong-un’s regime; but, at the very least, it does suggest that a radical shift in China’s policy toward North Korea might no longer be unthinkable….China’s warning that it will not allow North Korean “troublemaking on China’s doorstep” can be considered the equivalent of a “yellow card” in soccer. China has not decided to abandon North Korea. But the warning is a stern one for Kim Jong-un: China may send him to the sidelines if he does not change his behavior.

Poisoned Groundwater Creates Cancer Villages -Caijing Groundwater pollution is an even bigger public hazard than the surface water pollution that contaminates China’s rivers and streams. It is also more difficult to clean up. Underground water is the source of drinking water for 60 percent of China’s population. Currently, 360 million people in the countryside lack access to clean drinking water, while some people in rural regions drink untreated groundwater. In addition, underground water in nearly 20 percent of Chinese cities failed to reach Class III standards, which means it should not be used as a source of drinking water. // 污灌地下水-财经网  original of the very depressing story in latest caijing magazine about underground water pollution // 在中国,有六成人口是以地下水作为饮用水水源,农村一些地区甚至直接饮用地下水,而地下水一旦被污染,由于其流动缓慢且具有隐蔽性和延时性,没有技术能够彻底清污,生态破坏更是不可逆转 // 沈丘癌痛-财经网 Caijing on cancer epidemic, cancer villages//  据媒体不完全统计,中国“癌症村”的数量远超过200个,涵盖27个省份。对此,全国肿瘤登记中心副主任陈万青表示,这并非一个医学概念,“医学研究至少以县为一个单位。以村为单位样本量太小,即使癌症的发病率、死亡率出现高于平均值的情况,也不意味着当地属于癌症高发区。” 不过,研究人员多年调查确认,中国的确存在与环境污染密切相关的癌症高发区。淮河流域食道肿瘤与水体污染的关联性也被进一步明确。

Economists React: Chinese Inflation Falls Further Than Expected in March – China Real Time Report – WSJ The fall from 3.2% in February to 2.1% in March was largely a reflection of the disappearance of the Chinese New Year effect… Lower consumer inflation was also likely helped by the anti-corruption campaign which tends to lower the price of dining out and overall food prices via food saved. Lower-than-expected CPI and PPI inflation tend to leave policy makers with more room to maneuver should activity data, which is to be released next week, surprise on the downside. On the other hand should activity growth hold up well it is likely that policy makers will keep their policy stance largely stable. – Yu Song, Li Cui and MK Tang, Goldman Sachs

 

BUSINESS AND ECONOMY

China Export Gains Miss Forecasts for First Time in Four Months – Bloomberg  China’s exports rose less than forecast for the first time in four months, leaving the world’s second-largest economy with weaker global demand to support a recovery than previous figures indicated. Shipments abroad increased 10 percent from a year earlier, the customs administration said today in Beijing. That compares with 21.8 percent growth in February and the 11.7 percent median estimate in a Bloomberg News survey of 36 economists. Imports rose by an above-forecast 14.1 percent in March, leaving an unexpected trade deficit of $880 million.

媒体:一汽集团百亿资金不知去向 百名高管被带走_网易新闻中心 Chinese media reports 10B RMB unaccounted for at FAW automotive group , 100 executives detained for investigation // 各方关注的一汽窝案仍在进一步发酵。本报记者从权威渠道获悉,迄今为止,一汽集团已有超过100名高管层成员被专案组带走协助调查。 据知情人士透露,被带走协助调查的人员涉及一汽集团下属多个子公司和多个部门的相关负责人,人数众多,案情错综复杂,有的子公司高管层成员甚至被悉数带走。 随着案件查处的深入,调查范围还在不断扩大。

白领遭遇下岗潮 深度报道——经济参考网 wave of layoffs at MNCs in China? Economic Information takes a long look// 1.白领遭遇下岗潮 2.结构性失衡加剧 劳动市场再现普工荒 3.就业困窘源于劳动结构性错配

Pre-owned home deals slump by 70% in Beijing[1]|chinadaily.com.cn Pre-owned home transactions in Beijing tumbled by almost 70 percent in the first week after the municipal government announced detailed measures to cool the property market, industry statistics showed on Monday.”Most buyers and sellers have adopted a wait-and-see attitude after the local government announced its property rules, leading to a drop in property transactions,” said Hu Jinghui, the vice-president of 5i5j Real Estate.

Bubble Forming in Commercial Property Market, Expert Warns – Caixin Wang Yongping, secretary general of the China Commercial Real Estate Association, cited as examples Shenyang, Chengdu and Tianjin. “The supply is huge in these cities, but it is difficult for developers to find enough retailers and other businesses to lease to in the short term,” he said. Since 2010, curbs enacted by the central government to cool the residential real estate market have spurred local governments to put more plots of land for commercial development onto the market. This, in turn, attracted many developers and investors. Even when land is set aside for residential development, local governments normally ask the developers to allot up to 20 percent for commercial use. Developers also regard commercial property as a haven for dodging the curbs. //and structural shift to Internet retail is very damaging to shopping malls…and frugality and anti-corruption campaigns crimping profits at high-end restaurants, thought to be a safe-haven for retail as you can’t eat a nice meal online…

Weathering the Storm – Caixin The sluggish recovery of foreign markets and the slowdown in China’s economy have presented daunting challenges to Hony Capital, the private equity arm of Chinese investment conglomerate Legend Holdings. The PE firm’s investments in Zoomlion Heavy Industry Science & Technology Development Co. Ltd., China International Maritime Co. (CIMC) and Suning Commerce Group Co. Ltd. – each exceeding 1 billion yuan – have resulted in heavy paper losses mostly due to cyclical industrial weakness. Some analysts wondered whether Hony bet wisely. But the firm’s president, Zhao Linghuan, said in an interview with Caixin that the companies would be able to weather the storm and thrive when the economy recovers.

Puda Coal Investors Sue China’s Citic Over Unit Transfer – Bloomberg A Puda Coal Inc. (PUDA) investor sued Chinese private equity fund Citic Group Corp., claiming the firm conspired with Puda’s chairman to transfer control of the company’s most-important asset to insiders, leaving Puda an empty shell company without operations or revenue. After transferring the company, Shanxi Puda Coal Group Co., Puda sold shares to investors who lost hundreds of millions of dollars when the fraud became public, the investor, Thomas Tarsavage, said in a complaint filed yesterday in Manhattan federal court.//good luck

China Focus: Dining giants look to transform amid frugality campaign – Xinhua | English.news.cn To meet the government’s call and the changing market, Xiangeqing is altering its menu, by not providing expensive seafood, but creating and promoting fair-priced dishes, said Meng.

Railways Ministry Gone, Problems Remain-Caijing The CRC, a super monopoly which inherited all of MOR’s assets, debts, and personnel, has 2 million staff, 1.036 trillion yuan in registered capital, and over 4.3 trillion yuan in fixed assets. The wholly state-owned enterprise urgently needs to evolve into an efficient modern enterprise.
Statistics show that the MOR had an asset-liability ratio of 61.81 percent as of Sept. 2012, with total debt at 2.66 trillion yuan, including 2.12 trillion yuan in long-term debt. With debt of that magnitude, the MOR accrued 15 billion yuan in annual interest.

Wary of China, Companies Head to Cambodia – NYTimes.com Foreign companies are flocking to Cambodia for a simple reason. They want to limit their overwhelming reliance on factories in China. Problems are multiplying fast for foreign investors in China.

High-rollers from China make Singapore casinos see red | Reuters Three years after Singapore allowed casinos to open, Genting Singapore PLC’s Resorts World Sentosa and Las Vegas Sands Corp’s Marina Bay Sands have become the world’s most profitable. Chinese nationals account for around half of the VIP gaming volume at their tables. An examination of court documents by Reuters and a series of interviews with lawyers and industry executives reveal that several of the gamblers have run up millions of dollars in debt and then scampered back to China, where they are effectively untouchable.

 

POLITICS AND LAW

人民日报-踏石留印转作风 ——执行中央八项规定系列述评之一 本报记者 盛若蔚 not often Wall Street Journal China coverage mentioned positively in People’s Daily, but PD liked a 3.14 WSJ article about frugality during the two meetings, cites it in page one article today re-emphasizing changing work styles and frugality, implementing Xi’s 8 rules// 今年两会期间,一项媒体调查显示,87.5%的人感觉今年两会会风得到明显改进。 3月14日,美国《华尔街日报》则以“中国两会彰显节俭之风”为题刊文感叹:“来自全中国各地近3000名代表都在努力响应中共新一届领导人有关朴素和节俭的号召。” 两会会场的这股清风,恰是各地各部门严格执行中央八项规定的一个有力例证。事实上,自2012年末刮起的这阵阵清风,不仅让广大干部、更让亿万群众深切地感受到中央八项规定的强劲“威力”!

人民日报-来,一起分享你我的梦想 “中国道路中国梦”征文启事 People’s Daily asking for essay submissions about “Chinese Road Chinese Dream”, deadline June 30// 即日起至2013年6月底,本报将举办“中国道路中国梦”征文活动,欢迎广大读者踊跃参与,分享那些刻印在生命中的追梦之旅,畅谈对中国梦内涵、价值与意义的理解,展现蕴藏于每个中国人心中的光荣与梦想、自信与希望。

中央政法委新一届领导成员名单公布 – 新华时政 – 新华网 members of Politics & Law Committee announced, Meng Jianzhu is secretary, no surprise//  郭声琨、周强、曹建明、周本顺、耿恵昌、吴爱英、李东生、杜金才、王建平、陈训秋任中央政法委委员。周本顺任中央政法委秘书长,陈训秋、王其江、姜伟任中央政法委副秘书长。

上海兄弟18年前疑被错判杀人 3位承办者升职_网易新闻中心 Chinese media report on another mistaken prosecution…these reports seem to be a trend, part of nascent push towards more rule of law? // 核心提示:1995年,梅吉祥的妻子顾敏黎被发现“下身衣物不整,头面部多处受伤”。梅吉祥和梅吉杨随后被认定为凶手,分别被判死缓和12年徒刑。退休检察官称该案无作案动机、作案时间及任何物证。当年的公诉人称内部曾产生过分歧,最后经政法委协调定论,而3名承办者已升迁。

人民日报-“光盘”进校园,如何成常态?(走转改·一线调查·厉行节约 反对浪费) 本报记者 曹平 姚雪青 People’s daily looks at how to turn “operation empty plate” into the normal state in school campuses …behaviors are changing, wasting less food is a very good thing for China and the world// 在食堂就餐的学生里,不光盘的还有不少。“饭菜不合口味、难以下咽”“觉得能吃挺多的,但吃了一半就饱了”等等成为理由。看来“光盘”要从一时行动成为常态,除了要对学生进行长期的节俭教育、艰苦生活体验教育,学校食堂也得不懈提高餐饮质量、改进服务方式。

Wenzhou official dies after being disciplined |Society |chinadaily.com.cn some relieved people?// Yu Qiyi, born in 1971, the chief engineer and the Party member of Wenzhou Industry Investment Group was being investigated by the city’s commission for discipline inspection on Monday night and suffered an accident. He died after being sent to the hospital. //  温州一官员双规期间意外死亡 身上伤痕累累(图) – 新华法治 – 新华网 grim pictures, body covered with scars and bruises…

Local Intervention Hinders Procuratorial Authority -Caijing In an interview with Caijing, Luo Ji, the first director of the General Bureau of Anti-Embezzlement and Bribery established in 1995 under the Supreme People’s Procuratorate, discussed standard procedures procuratorial organs take when handling corruption cases, as well as the problems he perceives in the current anti-corruption mechanism.

 

FOREIGN AND DEFENSE AFFAIRS

Xi Jinping pledges to make seas safer for fishermen | South China Morning Post Xi’s visit to Tanmen, a fishing village in the city of Qionghai in Hainan, on Monday came a few days after the People’s Liberation Army Navy’s South Sea Fleet finished a 16-day drill and patrol mission in the South China Sea. The PLA Daily published an interview yesterday with fleet commander Rear Admiral Jiang Weilie who said naval training on the high seas would become routine for the navy

Gillard scores coup with China agreement–Sydney Morning Herald Prime Minister Julia Gillard has landed the foreign policy triumph of her leadership, agreeing to a strategic partnership with her Chinese counterpart, Premier and Prime Minister, Li Keqiang. Under the agreement, annual meetings will take place between the prime ministers of the governments, an arrangement that exists as a formal process between China and only three other countries – Britain, Germany and Russia – as well as with the European Union.

Bloomberg News Team Wins Asia Society Osborn Elliott Prize for Excellence in Journalism on Asia | Asia Society Asia Society is pleased to announce that a team from Bloomberg News has won the 2013 Osborn Elliott Prize for Excellence in Journalism on Asia. The $10,000 cash award, known as the Oz prize, will be  presented at a public program and discussion on May 23, 2013, at 6:00 pm, at Asia Society in New York. The winning entry, a series of investigative stories titled “Revolution to Riches,” exposed the vast wealth accumulated by the families of some of China’s leaders, and documented the interlocking business interests of the country’s elite or “princeling” class.

The Chosun Ilbo (English Edition): Daily News from Korea – Ultrafine Particle Pollution Reaches Dangerous Levels The Environment Ministry said Sunday that in six out of 11 cities the annual average of harmful particles exceeded the acceptable level under new regulations that will take effect in 2015. In Seoul, the concentration hovered between 25.2 and 29.3 ㎍ from 2010-12, much higher than New York (13.9 ㎍), Los Angeles (17.9 ㎍), London (16 ㎍) and Paris (15 ㎍)…A ministry official attributed the higher concentration to pollutants carried from China and emissions from factories and vehicles here. “As for sulfur and nitrogen oxide, 30 to 40 percent of the pollutants are estimated to have originated from China,” he added.

Tibet: The War We Cancelled by Jonathan Mirsky | NYRblog | The New York Review of Books For nearly two decades after the 1950 Chinese takeover of Tibet, the CIA ran a covert operation designed to train Tibetan insurgents and gather intelligence about the Chinese, as part of its efforts to contain the spread of communism around the world. Though little known today, the program produced at least one spectacular intelligence coup and provided a source of support for the Dalai Lama. On the eve of Richard Nixon’s historic 1972 meeting with Mao, the program was abruptly cancelled, thus returning the US to its traditional arms-length policy toward Tibet. But this did not end the long legacy of mistrust that continues to color Chinese-American relations.

Official urges China-U.S. trust on cyber security – Xinhua | English.news.cn A senior Chinese Internet affairs official has called for greater trust between China and the United States in jointly safeguarding cyber security. Qian Xiaoqian, deputy head of the State Internet Information Office, made the remarks while addressing the sixth U.S.-China Internet Industry Forum, which opened here on Tuesday. ”China and the United States have common interests and common responsibilities in promoting development of the Internet industry and guarding cyber security,” he said. // Chen’s speech– 钱小芊在第六届中美互联网论坛发表主旨演讲–时政–人民网 4月9日下午,第六届中美互联网论坛在北京开幕。国务院新闻办公室、国家互联网信息办公室副主任钱小芊在论坛开幕式上作了题为《加强对话增进互信 共同应对网络安全挑战》的主旨演讲。以下是演讲全文://  Cyber attacks hurt China’s credibility: U.S. official | Reuters The sheer scale of hacking attacks from China bred mistrust in the U.S. government as well as the business community, said Robert Hormats [at he sixth U.S.-China Internet Industry Forum] , U.S. under secretary of state for economic growth, energy and the environment. China has repeatedly dismissed the accusations as groundless and claims it is the victim of a vigorous cyber campaign by the United States.

Foreign media innovate to gain foothold with Weibo audiences – Frontpage – CHINA – Globaltimes.cn Many foreign media organizations are operating their Weibo accounts based on their Chinese websites, and tweet in Chinese. Some news agencies, such as the Associated Press, tweet in English only but many go bilingual such as the Agence France Presse (AFP) which has two Weibo accounts – one mainly in English, and re-tweets posts from its Twitter account, while another account for its Beijing Bureau posts in Chinese and which sometimes uses Weibo to find interview sources.

Confucius schools prep for new sites–China Daily  The opening of Confucius Institutes this week in New York and Washington brings a key part of China’s “soft power” initiative to the United States. On Tuesday, administrators at Columbia University will cut the ribbon to inaugurate the Confucius Institute at the Ivy League school in Manhattan. A day later, it will be George Washington University that does the honors, on a campus within walking distance of the US State Department and blocks away from the White House and Capitol Hill.

Running on Empty? A Missing Assistant Secretary of State | China Law & Policy Is anyone else confused as to why the position of Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia and Pacific Affairs remains empty?  Especially as North Korea all but prepares for war?  Two months after its former occupant – Kurt Campbell – stepped down on February 8, 2013, Secretary Kerry – who was sworn in on February 1 – has yet to fill the position.  True former Deputy Assistant Secretary Joseph Yun has capably stepped in, but the question remains – what signal are you giving to the region, especially North Korea, when you don’t officially fill the position? Hopefully Secretary Kerry is feeling the pressure.  But who will fill the spot?  Here are some names that have been mentioned by others // Kerry visting Beijing this weekend

East by Southeast–The Kachin Conflict and China: No More Non-Interference?  promising new blog on China’s relations with Southeast Asia// From my perspective, the latest round of negotiations has much more to do with China’s national security than any grand policy shift. China hosted these talks, which some might see as an involvement in Burmese domestic affairs, because they have a significant interest in seeing the Kachin conflict come to an end. China’s interests are intertwined in two ways.

 

TECH AND MEDIA

Tencent Lets WeChat’s Rapid Growth Do the Talking – Caixin Caixin learned that Tencent is also working on building a payment system on WeChat and has launched pilot to complete quick transactions through the platform. But many in the industry said Tencent has remained cautious about further opening the platform to business accounts. Guan said that Tencent closely monitored the accounts and has closed several because they disturbed users by frequently sending ads. Ma said earlier that the company was still exploring the rules for business account operations and would make the user experience a priority. WeChat was still at the stage of cultivating a user base and should not be in a hurry to commercialize, Du said. “If WeChat has more than 1 billion users, it will become a super platform on mobile devices, like Facebook.”

去哪儿遭遇下架门:因争夺客户资源和费用大涨|去哪儿|下架|费用_互联网_科技时代_新浪网 Baidu’s Qunar having an OTA crisis? if true can’t help whatever ipo plans there may or may not be// 去哪儿网似乎进入多事之秋。之前刚刚被淘宝指责向代理商发“封杀令”,现在又被诸多大型OTA(在线旅游代理商)集体“下架”。《第一财经日报》昨日从全球订房网HRS“2013年全球商务旅行论坛”上获悉,由于不满去哪儿收费涨价、改变交易模式等,艺龙、芒果、同程等已于近日暂停与去哪儿的合作。 业界指出,一旦停止与各大OTA合作,那作为搜索比价平台的去哪儿将损失大量资源,而去哪儿铤而走险大幅涨价,足见在线旅游业的利润争夺战已日趋白热化。

Authorities cancel indie film festival – China Media Project Cui Weiping (崔卫平), a well-known social critic and professor at the Beijing Film Academy, wrote on Sina Weibo today that the Yunnan Multi-Cultural Festival, one of the country’s most important platforms for independent documentary film, has been shuttered by authorities. The forum, known as “YunFest,” was founded in 2003 by the BAMA Mountain Culture Research Institute, an NGO supervised by the Yunnan Academy of Social Sciences. The idea of the forum was to “become a platform of discussion” between visual documentary filmmakers and artists from China and the Mekong region.

Microsoft Surface Warranty Criticized in China After Apple Woes – Bloomberg  Microsoft Corp. (MSFT)’s after-sales service of its Surface tablet has attracted criticism from China’s state-owned radio, following similar reports in the past month targeting Apple Inc. (AAPL). The Surface Pro should follow the nation’s law requiring notebook computers to have a one-year repair warranty for the whole device and a two-year warranty for main parts, as compared with the company’s one-year pledge for both, China National Radio reported yesterday. Joanna Li, a Beijing-based spokeswoman for Microsoft, said she couldn’t immediately comment on the report today.

揭秘中国地下互联网世界的冰山一角|黑客|地下互联网|色情_互联网_科技时代_新浪网 冯大辉(Fenng)曾在其微信公众帐号“小道消息”上分享了一则关于“黑客”的故事,文章颇具传奇小说的风格,不少人读过之后表示“无法相信”。Fenng对此评道:“质疑的人或许并非无知,只是事情超过了他们的认知范围。中国互联网的三个世界,在地下世界发生地事情,地面上的人永远不知道是怎么回事。”

Quentin Tarantino’s ‘Django Unchained’ to Be Less Bloody for China Release (Report) the DVDs that have been on sale for a month here are uncensored// Django Unchained will open in China in its full-length gory glory – but the vibrant hue and explosive splatter of the film’s bloodshed will be slightly muted for Chinese cinemas, according to the film’s mainland Chinese distributors.

 

SOCIETY, ART, SPORTS, CULTURE AND HISTORY

Chinese-French abstract painter Zao Wouki dies at 93 | South China Morning Post The Beijing-born Zao left China for Paris before the Communist Party took over the country and had been a French citizen since 1964. His works regularly sold at auction for US$1 million to US$2.5 million. // The Subtle Power of Zao Wou-Ki – NYTimes.com 2009 The abstract paintings of Zao Wou-ki, arguably China’s most important living artist, often do not translate well into other mediums. Photographs usually cannot capture the nuances of his inks, the layers and textures of his oils.

Xinhua Insight: Jackie Chan’s planned ancient buildings donation sparks controversy – Xinhua | English.news.cn Chan wrote on April 4 on his official website as well as his microblog that he bought ten antique buildings, including a main hall, theatre stage and a pavilion, from east China’s Anhui Province and transported them to Hong Kong where he initially wanted to refurbish them for his parents. Jackie Chan stored the buildings in a warehouse where they became a source of food for termites after his parents passed away.

Christie’s makes landmark deal to bring art to China’s fast-growing market | South China Morning Post On Tuesday, Christie’s said it planned to hold an auction in Shanghai this autumn after the Chinese government granted it a licence to open a wholly owned subsidiary in Shanghai. That makes the London-based auction house the first foreign company to win such an art business licence, which is highly sought after because China is already the world’s fastest growing art market, powered by newly affluent mainlanders.

 

ENERGY, ENVIRONMENT AND HEALTH

昆明“牛奶河”浇灌西瓜减产 官方称饮用没问题|西瓜|昆明|牛奶_新浪新闻 a “milk river” in kunming..official says water is up to standard…widely criticized in media and on weibo

Closer Look: Why the Public is Telling Officials to Jump in a Lake – Caixin Li Zuojun, deputy head of the State Council’s Development Research Center, said that “the fact that Internet users are asking mayors to swim in rivers reflects the seriousness of China’s pollution issue, but also shows the rising anxiety and discontent among the public. It was, he said, proof of “their expectation that the authorities take action to tackle the problem and improve the environment.”

PureLiving China | Indoor Environmental Solutions any Beijing readers used them?// With people spending more than 90 percent of their time indoors, Indoor Environmental Quality (IEQ) significantly affects our health, comfort, and productivity. Based in Shanghai, PureLiving China is China’s leading indoor environmental health and safety consulting firm focused on advising our clients on air and water quality, mold, and lead exposure issues. We are committed to helping you create a safe and healthy living spac

 

FOOD AND TRAVEL

食药监管改革重点:明确责任 新华社——经济参考网 one of key food safety reforms may be explicitly defining responsibility…// “如果食品安全是一个香饽饽,就不会被扔来扔去了,这恰恰说明了食品安全不好管理。”对于正在进行中的食品药品监管机构改革,一位地方食药系统的工作人员如是说。一直以来,由于多部门分段监管,职能不清、责任不明等问题突出,食品安全成为了“烫手的山芋”。 《经济参考报》记者获悉,在国务院机构改革方案和即将公布的国家食品药品监督管理总局“三定”方案中,进一步明确了食药总局和农业部、卫生部、国家质检总局、国家工商总局等部门的职责分工,并提出要推进落实企业主体责任和地方政府总负责机制。

 

BEIJING

Beijing plans to burn waste from landfills – People’s Daily Online Beijing plans to excavate waste buried in landfills, and to sort and incinerate it starting in 2015, in order to improve the sustainability of landfills, officials said at a conference held on Monday, Beijing News reported.The list of landfills involved in the waste incineration plan was not decided at the conference, held by the Beijing Commission of City Administration and Environment.

Stroll Toll: Beijing to Enforce Fine for Jaywalking | the Beijinger Blog According to the new policy, pedestrians who are in the middle of an intersection against a stop light will be fined RMB 10. It’s unclear as to where in the city the rules will be enforced. The Beijing Traffic Management Bureau has yet to put up any official announcement on their website, so we’ll need to wait and see what happens.

 

BOOKS AND LITERATURE

Yan Lianke: “Even a life without dignity can produce significant writing” – Asia @ BerkeleyBelow are long and short excerpts from Yan’s talk at the University of California, Berkeley on topics ranging from the government’s destruction of his home in Beijing to his feelings about Nobel-prize winning writer Mo Yan.   UC Berkeley Chinese literature professor Robert Ashmore translated Yan’s commentary from Mandarin Chinese to English on March 21st at the Institute of East Asian Studies

 

JOBS AND EVENTS

MELTDOWN Opening Party at Southern Barbarian in Beijing | SEAN GALLAGHER – Environmental Photojournalist the opening party for ‘MELTDOWN: Climate Change and Environmental Degradation on the Tibetan Plateau’, which will be taking place at Southern Barbarian in Beijing on Saturday 20th April from 3:00 until 6:00 p.m. The exhibition will feature a selection of images from my travels last year documenting how climate change is affecting communities on the roof of the world.

Beijing Energy Network – Events马军   Ma Jun Director, Institute of Public & Environmental Affairs 公众与环境研究中心  –Open Environmental Information – From Bottleneck to Breakthrough 环境信息公开    瓶颈 • 突破–10th April 2013     — Networking begins at 8:00pm; talk starts promptly at  8:30pm
** Location (地点) ** Talking Point 北京市朝阳区建外 SOHO15 号楼 B 1578-1579 Jianwai SOHO, Building 15 B, Room 1578-1579

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