Apprentice-like Infighting; US Leverage In Trade Talks; Xinjiang Re-education Camp Archipelago; Ant Financial Getting Too Big?; Facebook's China Billions; Risky Mekong Dam

Day 3 of the "China Trade Week" segment of "Trump Era" Season 2 veered into Apprentice loser territory with a puerile turf war between Trump administration advisors that first had Peter Navarro excluded from the meetings with the Chinese and then a few hours later had him brought back-Top Trump Adviser Peter Navarro to Take Part in China Talks After All - Bloomberg:

President Donald Trump’s trade adviser Peter Navarro will take part in talks this week with China’s top economic envoy aimed at defusing a brewing trade war with the U.S., a White House official said, indicating a shift from earlier plans.

Navarro had initially been excluded from the negotiations with Chinese Vice Premier Liu He over concerns about his behavior on a trip to Beijing two weeks ago as part of the trade delegation, two administration officials said. It isn’t clear why the administration decided to reinstate him in the talks or what role he’ll play.

Axios' Jonathan Swan has more detail:

What we're hearing: On the Trump delegation's trip to China two weeks ago, Navarro exchanged sharp words with Mnuchin over his decision to participate in one-on-one talks with his Chinese counterpart Liu He. Navarro — a hardliner against China — cursed at Mnuchin and fumed about being shut out of the talks, the sources said. "It stems from his belief that Mnuchin is steering them down the wrong path, policy-wise, with China," said a source familiar with their interactions.

I would love to know how Liu He explains the US dysfunction in his briefings back to Xi.

I have been told President Trump is scheduled to meet Liu Thursday afternoon, though I am not sure if it will be a formal meeting or a "drop in". If the meeting happens that may be a sign of progress, or at least Trump giving Xi and his special emissary Liu some face. The Chinese side thought Trump was going to meet Liu during his last visit to DC but the talks did not go well and the President snubbed him.

Thanks for reading, and stay tuned for today's plot twist!


The Essential Eight

1. US-China Trade Week

US team divided as trade talks with China begin - FT $$

According to a copy of China’s official schedule for Thursday’s meetings seen by the Financial Times, Mr Liu, who met congressional leaders on Wednesday, is due to hold additional one-on-one meetings with Mr Mnuchin and also join him for a private dinner.

A Treasury spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment. But Chinese officials complained before the Beijing talks that they did not know whom to engage with after Mr Trump decided to send seven senior officials.

China vows to defend its own interests in US trade talks - AP:

Spokesman Gao Feng also told reporters that China hopes the U.S. will take “concrete action” to resolve a case involving Chinese tech company ZTE, which Washington hit with a crippling ban on buying from U.S. suppliers after it violated U.S. sanctions.

Video of from Liu's Wednesday meetings-Xi's envoy Liu He meets Kissinger, lawmakers in US - CGTN

Liu, also a member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, congratulated Kissinger on his upcoming 95th birthday on May 27, and expressed his high appreciation for Kissinger's long-term dedication to China-US friendship...

Kissinger said the US-China relations are consequential for global peace and prosperity.

He said managing bilateral relations requires strategic thinking and vision, adding that the two sides should strengthen strategic communication, further expand shared interests, properly manage differences and demonstrate leadership in dealing with major global and regional issues.

Paulson last week in Beijing, Kissinger this week in DC, Liu is trying to work the braintrust...How much does Trump listen to them, and have Schwarzman and Thornton weighed in as well?

FBI chief says agency 'deeply concerned' about any company like China's ZTE | Reuters:

Wray also said he was not aware if President Donald Trump made any attempt to consult with the FBI for its views before he recently sent a note on Twitter promising to help ZTE restore jobs after U.S. sanctions prompted it to suspend its main business operations.

“We the FBI remain deeply concerned that any company beholden to foreign governments that don’t share our values are not companies that we want to be gaining positions of power inside our telecommunications network,” Wray told the panel. “That gives them the capacity to maliciously modify or steal information, that gives them the capacity to conduct undetected espionage.”


2. Does The US Understand Its Leverage Over China?

A long note from Chris Johnson, who is always worth the read. 

Rebooting U.S.-China Trade Ties: “Enter Ye Through the Narrow Gate” | CSIS - Christopher Johnson:

the fault in succeeding iterations of U.S. China policy has not been that we were misled, but rather that policymakers have struggled with the task of developing clear red lines for our relationship with China, and, absolutely critically, for failing to operationalize those red lines..

the Trump administration deserves some credit for its determination to avoid Einstein’s definition of insanity, or the practice of doing the same thing over and over again while expecting a different result. In many ways, the administration’s candor in calling out, and therefore popularizing, some of China’s most unfair or potentially anticompetitive trade practices has shone a necessary light on the problem areas..

But, although the diagnosis of the disease may be correct, the calculation of where U.S. leverage best lies is critical when operationalizing U.S. redlines. The demands presented in Beijing, for example, risk being interpreted by the CCP as the last gasp of an aging prize fighter who is trying to hold onto the championship title for at least a few more bouts. A better approach, perhaps, is to improve our understanding of what actually is happening in China, what President Xi’s priorities are for his economy, and how that may give us more effective leverage. For example, few U.S. commentators on the trade dispute have mentioned that President Xi, during his early April remarks to the first meeting of the newly-upgraded CCP Central Financial and Economic Affairs Commission, stressed that, as part of the government’s crackdown on financial risk, local governments and state firms should expect to feel the same deleveraging pressure that we saw in the interbank area throughout the second half of 2017. Similarly, few have commented on new central bank Governor Yi Gang’s series of remarks about wanting to loosen capital controls after China’s earlier (over) tightening of the capital account in response to massive capital outflows. What does this have to do with U.S.-China trade tensions, you might ask? A lot; for China cannot move ahead with confidence on these very pressing domestic priorities while such immense uncertainty remains with regard to its export picture resulting from the tensions with Washington. Understanding that point gives far more enduring leverage—one might call it “smart leverage”—to U.S. negotiators than threats that could backfire if China chose to truly test U.S. resolve.


3. Congress Targeting Chinese VC Investments In The US

Venture Capitalists Fret Over U.S. Bill Targeting Chinese Investors - Bloomberg:

Proponents of the legislation, known as the Foreign Investment Risk Review Modernization Act, say the government’s jurisdiction over foreign investment needs to be broadened because the current process doesn’t capture deals that pose national security threats. Foreign investors have been able to bypass the review process through joint ventures or minority investments...

VCs argue that their backers don’t pose a threat to America. Investors in venture funds generally receive information on the financial performance of their private stock holdings, not technology secrets. VCs say the bill overreaches and will make their case directly to lawmakers this week. Meetings are scheduled Thursday with members of the Senate Banking Committee and the House Financial Services Committee, including Senators Mike Crapo of Idaho, Brian Schatz of Hawaii, and Thom Tillis of North Carolina, as well as Representative Sean Duffy of Wisconsin.

In Silicon Valley, Chinese 'accelerators' aim to bring startups home | Reuters:

The surge in the number of China-focused accelerators - which support, mentor and invest in early-stage startups - is part of a larger wave of Chinese investment in Silicon Valley. At least 11 such programs have been created in the San Francisco Bay Area since 2013, according to the tech-sector data firm Crunchbase.

Some work directly with Chinese governments, which provide funding. Reuters interviews with the incubators showed that many were focused on bringing U.S. startups to China.

For U.S. government officials wary of China’s growing high-tech clout, the accelerator boom reaffirms fears that U.S. technological know-how is being transferred to China through investments, joint ventures or licensing agreements.


4. More On The Xinjiang Re-education Camp Archipelago

A masterpiece by the Associated Press' Gerry Shih  - Survivors of China's far west political camps detail ordeal - AP 

Chinese officials have largely avoided comment on the camps, but some are quoted in state media as saying that ideological changes are needed to fight separatism and Islamic extremism. Radical Muslim Uighurs have killed hundreds in recent years, and China considers the region a threat to peace in a country where the majority is Han Chinese.

The internment program aims to rewire the political thinking of detainees, erase their Islamic beliefs and reshape their very identities. The camps have expanded rapidly over the past year, with almost no judicial process or legal paperwork. Detainees who most vigorously criticize the people and things they love are rewarded, and those who refuse to do so are punished with solitary confinement, beatings and food deprivation.

The recollections of Bekali, a heavyset and quiet 42-year-old, offer what appears to be the most detailed account yet of life inside so-called re-education camps. The Associated Press also conducted rare interviews with three other former internees and a former instructor in other centers who corroborated Bekali’s depiction...

Asked to comment on the camps, China’s Foreign Ministry said it “had not heard” of the situation. When asked why non-Chinese had been detained, it said the Chinese government protects the rights of foreigners in China and they should also be law-abiding. Chinese officials in Xinjiang did not respond to requests for comment.

However, bits and pieces from state media and journals show the confidence Xinjiang officials hold in methods that they say work well to curb religious extremism. China’s top prosecutor, Zhang Jun, urged Xinjiang’s authorities this month to extensively expand what the government calls the “transformation through education” drive in an “all-out effort” to fight separatism and extremism.

Imagine if we could have watched the anti-rightist movement and its related camps develop in real time? The world has a another chance with the Xinjiang re-education camps. Given the Communist Party's aggression towards Islam, will the PRC become nearly as hated across the Muslim world as America is? Might drawing the anger of the Muslim world hurt BRI prospects?

It is interesting that this piece by Simon Denyer at the Washington Post also interviews Bekali-Former inmates of China’s Muslim ‘reeducation’ camps tell of brainwashing, torture - The Washington Post:

Inmates had to learn the national anthem and red songs, he said, as well as slogans condemning the “three evil forces” of separatism, extremism and terrorism.

“There were so many things to recite, and if you couldn’t recite them, they wouldn’t allow you to eat, sleep or sit,” he said. “They brainwash you, you must become like a robot. Listen to whatever the party says, listen to the party’s words, follow the party.”

Some inmates committed suicide, he said.

Central and Regional Leadership for Xinjiang Policy in Xi’s Second Term | China Leadership Monitor - Jessica Batke:

After the 19th Party Congress last fall and the recent “two meetings” in March, the party-state has now completed its quinquennial leadership turnover and announced a major restructuring of a number of party and state entities. This institutional restructuring will alter slightly the functional hierarchies involved in coordinating Xinjiang policy, but there is no indication that it—or the new leaders in place—will affect the content or tone of that policy. Whether regional Party Secretary Chen Quanguo himself is the progenitor of increasingly repressive measures now employed in Xinjiang, or whether he is simply the most ruthless tool by which to implement them, he is still the logical endpoint of the party’s broader policy trajectory.


5. Ant Financial Getting Too Big For Regulators?

The Financial Times obtained a copy of the Ant Financial fundraising pitch. If anyone has a copy of it and wants to share thanks in advance.

Ant Financial extends dominance in Chinese online finance - FT $$:

The document, seen by the Financial Times and confirmed by two investors, underscores the extent to which the fintech arm of Jack Ma’s internet group Alibaba dominates online finance in China, as well as the challenge it poses to the country’s banks.

In the memo, Ant claims a rise in user numbers to 622m. Alipay, Ant’s core payments arm, cites 520m users on its website, while an estimate from Barclays for the end of 2017 gave the number at 600m.

According to the document, the Ant Financial Services group’s wealth management business now has assets under management of Rmb2.2tn ($345bn) — a figure not previously disclosed that would make Ant the world’s largest consumer wealth management platform. Of that sum, Rmb1.5tn sits in Yu’E Bao, the world’s biggest money market fund.

No Ceasefire in China’s Mobile Payment Subsidy War - Caixin Global:

In a battle for the world's largest mobile payment and retail market, Tencent has splashed out billions forging alliances with new partners like Carrefour and subsidizing merchants to lure them onto its payment-to-messenger super app WeChat.

Bernstein analysts estimate Tencent's merchant subsidies will total around $1 billion in 2018 while subsidies by Alibaba's Ant Financial Services affiliate could be as high as $2 billion to $4 billion. WeChat had 1.04 billion users as of March, and WeChat Pay is more popular than Alibaba's Alipay in offline payments, though Alipay is bigger in overall transaction volume.


6. Tech Pioneers Not Safe From The Wrath Of Techno-jingoists

Lenovo founder in public backlash for ‘unpatriotic 5G standards vote’ · TechNode:

The founder of Lenovo, Liu Chuanzhi, has released a heartfelt public statement to put across his side of the story amid an increasingly tense public backlash against the Chinese computer manufacturer. The coming to light of Lenovo voting at a 5G standards setting meeting in 2016 for a technology led by US firm Qualcomm when a Huawei alternative was available, has triggered heated questioning of the firm’s allegiances. The vote in question was only for part of one standard and became viral after being posted on Chinese Q&A platform Zhihu on May 9...

Liu says he has spoken to Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei who confirmed he had no issues with Lenovo and thanked the country for its support. “We both agree that Chinese companies should be united and must not be provoked by outsiders,” writes Liu.

He lists the company’s travails over the past 30 years before stating zero tolerance for any questioning of the loyalty of the “national brand” (民族品牌). The letter ends with call on all employees to unite to win the battle for Lenovo’s honour.


7. Facebook Has Several Billion Reasons To Keep Beijing Happy

I am not sure if $5 Billion is the right number but it is plausible and Google harvests in the billions each year selling ads that run outside of the PRC to PRC firms. 

China is Facebook's second-largest ad spender, after the US — Quartz:

According to a new report by Pivotal Research analyst Brian Wieser, almost 10% of Facebook’s global ad revenue might come from China (paywall). Wieser estimates that Chinese advertisers will spend $5 billion in Facebook ad revenue over the course of 2018, if not more. If his projections prove right, this could make China, after the US, the second-largest country for Facebook ad revenue.

Wieser and his team were able to estimate Facebook’s regional breakdown of ad revenue because the company’s latest earnings report discloses the billing address of Facebook’s customers, which are primarily advertisers. Now, analysts like Wieser can trace the revenue coming out of four regions, including the Asia Pacific (APAC)...

Wieser estimates that ad revenue from China accounts for about 40% of the total ad revenue coming out of APAC, or about $1 billion in the first quarter of 2018. He forecasts Facebook will make $55 billion, overall, in advertising revenue in 2018.

Thanks in advance to anyone who sends me the original Pivotal Research report


8. Mekong At Risk From China-backed Dam?

Study says China-backed dam would destroy Mekong - AP:

A Chinese-backed plan for Cambodia to build the Mekong River’s biggest dam would destroy fisheries that feed millions and worsen tensions with Vietnam, the downstream country with most to lose from dams on the waterway, according to a three-year study commissioned by the Cambodian government.

The report (here in Google Drive), posted this month on the website of the U.S.-based organization that conducted the study, said the Sambor dam would “generate large power benefits to Cambodia, but at the probable cost of the destruction of the Mekong fishery, and the certain enmity of Vietnam.”..

The experts at the Natural Heritage Institute who authored the report, submitted to the Cambodian government late last year, recommended it defer the project while studying “better” alternatives such as using solar power to augment existing hydroelectric dams.


Business, Economy, Finance And Trade

Six Cities Summoned by Beijing to Discuss Real Estate Controls Ratchet up Policies - China Banking News Six of the twelve municipal governments that were recently summoned to Beijing by the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development for discussions have stepped up their controls on the real estate market. MOHURD recently met with representatives from the municipal governments of twelve Chinese cities, including Changchun, Chengdu, Dalian, Guiyang, Kunming, Foshan, Haikou, Harbin, Sanya, Taiyuan and Xi’an, in order to stress the need to maintain the real estate market controls that first kicked off in early 2017.

严守“房住不炒” 多地楼市调控再加码_财经时评_中国金融新闻网 in the wake of latest housing data more cities are rightening housing purchase restrictions, to adhere to the policy that house are for living not speculating

Structured Deposits See Soaring Growth Amongst Chinese Banks - China Banking News The “2018 Financial Institution Credit Balance of Payments and Receipts Statistics” (2018年金融机构信贷收支统计) just released by the People’s Bank of China indicate that as of the end of March the structured deposits of Chinese national banks had reached 8.8 trillion yuan, for an increase of 1.84 trillion yuan in the first quarter alone, as compared to growth of 1.8 trillion yuan in 2017. Wu Wen (武雯), a senior researcher from the Bank of Communications, said to Securities Daily that the surging growth in China’s structured deposits was due to a shift in internal demand from the off-balance sheet WMP’s of banks to structured deposits.

China sets new restrictions on companies' foreign debt to curb risks | Reuters Local firms can sell debt overseas if the proceeds are used to support China’s economy, but they must “effectively prevent risks in medium- and long-term foreign debt and local debt risks”, the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) and the Ministry of Finance said in a joint circular.

 

Politics, Law And Ideology

Only Socialism Can Save China; Only Xi Jinping Can Save Socialism | China Leadership Monitor - Alice Miller The abolition of constitutional term limits on the post of PRC president has attracted more attention than usually attends Chinese leadership politics, and sparked a flood of speculation about the purposes of Xi Jinping in engineering it.  Looked at closely in context, the step may not be as far-reaching in its implications as is often presumed.

Xi’s System, Xi’s Men: After the March 2018 National People’s Congress | China Leadership Monitor - Barry Naughton The National People’s Congress meeting in March launched a significant administrative reorganization and approved the appointment of a new generation of economic technocrats.  The technocrats are skilled and generally support market-oriented reforms.  The reorganization is generally market-friendly, but its main purpose is to create a more disciplined and accountable administration to serve as an instrument for Xi Jinping.

深刻领悟当代中国马克思主义的真理力量--《 人民日报 》( 2018年05月17日 07 版 中国社会科学院习近平新时代中国特色社会主义思想研究中心

Discovering love and purpose in rural China | english.scio.gov.cn A pair of fresh college graduates from Beijing took on leadership roles in a rural village, and found their lives' mission to contribute to China's poverty alleviation efforts.

王一飞:不为时代之落伍者(为了民族复兴·英雄烈士谱) when did the People's Daily start running a daily profile of a martyr who died in the cause of the great rejuvenation? Today's profile is of Wang Yifei, executed in 1928

《共产党宣言》的时代价值--理论-人民网 Tsinghua Party Secretary and of the school's Xi Thought research center discusses the value of the Communist Manifesto in the New Era

Book on Xi Jinping thought published - Xinhua A book to help the public understand Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era was released by Xuexi Publishing House on Thursday. The book, compiled by the Publicity Department of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, covers 30 topics highlighting the significance, system, connotation, and practical aspects of the thought.

加强党对深化党和国家机构改革的领导 - 李章泽 - 《求是》2018/10 Li Zhangze, newly promoted to deputy director of the office of the Central Institutional Organization Commission (中央机构编制委员会办公室副主任), has a long piece in the latest Qiushi on the strengthening Party leadership through the institutional and bureaucratic reforms announced at the recent Third Plenum

 

Foreign and Military Affairs

China tells Trump to stay calm over North Korea threat to cancel nuclear summit | South China Morning Post Wang Yi, who is on official visit to Paris, said on Wednesday “all parties, especially the United States, should cherish this opportunity for peace and should not work as a barrier”.  //  Comment: Wang YI will be in DC next week I hear, so he can deliver this message personally...

And Then There Were Seven: The New, Slimmed-Down Central Military Commission | China Leadership Monitor - James Mulvenon In October 2017 at the first plenary session of the 19th Central Committee, Chinese state media announced the lineup of the new Central Military Commission (CMC). While a smaller CMC had been rumored in the weeks prior, the new configuration shattered previous paradigms of military leadership. Not only was the number of members reduced from 11 to 7, but there was a wholesale change in the assignment of seats by office, reflecting the tectonic changes from the PLA’s massive reorganization discussed in CLM 49. This article examines the transition, analyzes the individuals chosen and the logic for their selection, and assesses the implications for party-Army relations.

China Tries to Bring Pakistan, Afghanistan Closer - VOA China has proposed hosting a new round of three-way talks with Pakistan and Afghanistan this month to continue with its diplomatic push in helping the two neighboring countries improve their strained bilateral ties.

Why is China expanding its air base 160 miles from Taiwan? - Defense News China is expanding an air base on the East China Sea coast, adding facilities that potentially allow it to permanently base combat aircraft closer to Taiwan and islands of which both China and Japan claim ownership. Satellite photos taken in April show that the construction of new 24 aircraft shelters, taxiways and additional buildings are on the verge of being completed at the air base near the town of Xiapu, in China’s coastal Fujian Province.

Vietnam unit of Russia's Rosneft fears Beijing backlash over South China Sea drilling - Reuters HANOI: Rosneft Vietnam BV, a unit of Russian state oil firm Rosneft, is concerned that its recent drilling in an area of the South China Sea that is claimed by China could upset Beijing, two sources with direct knowledge of the situation told Reuters on Wednesday (May 16)

Xi demands high-level research institutions for strong military - Xinhua After hearing a work report by the academy, Xi made an important speech, in which he said more importance should be attached to innovations, calling for innovations in military research, defense technology and the organization model of military research. "Researchers should work on an advanced theoretical framework for warfare, which fits the unique conditions of the Chinese armed forces and conforms to the rules of modern warfare, in a bid to bring the Marxist military theories in contemporary China to a new stage," he said. Xi called for accelerated implementation of the strategy of strengthening the armed forces through science and technology, consolidating and strengthening of the advantages in relevant fields, and greater innovation efforts in emerging fields.

Cooks opposition questions Chinese presence ahead of election | Radio New Zealand News The Cook Islands opposition is questioning the timing of a visit by the Chinese ambassador to open a school only weeks out from the general election. Members of the Democratic Party met with Chinese ambassador Wu Xi to raise concerns about the timing of her attendance, two weeks ago, at the hand over of the Chinese-funded $NZ14 million Apii Nikao school projec

SCO security council secretaries meeting to be held in Beijing - Xinhua The 13th meeting of Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) Security Council Secretaries will be held in Beijing on May 21-22, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang announced Wednesday.

New Zealand boosts aid to counter China’s influence in South Pacific - FT $$ New Zealand is boosting its foreign aid budget by almost a third as part of a “Pacific Reset” strategy aimed at bolstering its engagement in a region where western powers are wary about growing Chinese influence.  The announcement of an extra NZ$714m ($493m) in aid funding over four years was made in the first budget delivered on Thursday by the government of Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, which prioritised spending on health, education and tackling homelessness.

 

Hong Kong, Macao

Could a Colonial-Era Golf Club Solve Hong Kong’s Housing Woes? - The New York Times The Hong Kong Golf Club is a 129-year-old enclave of privilege whose quiet fairways once catered to the city’s British colonial rulers, but whose parking lot is now filled with the Teslas and Porsches of its wealthy Chinese elite. More recently, this sprawling golf club, with 54 holes, has become something else: the focal point of a raging, citywide debate about how to use Hong Kong’s scarcest and most valuable resource, land.

 

Taiwan

Military exercises clear warning against "Taiwan independence": spokesperson - Xinhua The recent military exercises performed by the People's Liberation Army (PLA) serve as a clear warning to "Taiwan independence" separatists, a Chinese mainland spokesperson said Wednesday. "'Taiwan independence' is a dead end, which brings nothing but disaster to the island," said An Fengshan, spokesperson for the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council, at a press conference. The PLA has in recent weeks conducted combat drills on the sea. The air force sent fleets of aircraft including bombers and fighter jets to fly around the Taiwan island.

The Trump administration’s chaotic Taiwan policy - Brookings Podcast Senior Fellow Richard C. Bush analyzes the Trump administration’s muddled foreign policy toward Taiwan and how it complicated U.S. regional interests

Taiwan slams global brands for siding with China - CNN Taiwan's Foreign Ministry on Wednesday berated Air Canada (ACDVF) and Gap (GPS) on Twitter, accusing the airline of buckling under pressure and the clothing retailer of sending the wrong message to the world.

 

Tech And Media

China's Toutiao Has A New Mission: To Shape Correct Public Opinion – China Money Network Toutiao has learnt its lesson. Stung by a harsh government crackdown earlier this year, the personalized news app has launched an overhaul of its content and messaging to "shape correct public opinion," according to reports. Most prominently, Toutiao ("Headlines" in English) changed its company slogan on Wednesday from "Headlines are news that you care about," emphasizing personalized news, to the more politically correct "Information creates value." Toutiao explained that the company’s primary goals are to connect information and people, to spread information efficiently and precisely, and to spread "correct public opinion orientation."

Bytedance goes on a lawsuit spree, sues both Tencent and Baidu on same day · TechNode The court in Beijing’s Haidian district has accepted a case brought by Bytedance-operated short video platform Douyin which is suing Tencent for defamation and requesting RMB 1 million in damages including an apology...On the same day, the Haidian court also announced it will accept another lawsuit from Bytedance, this time against tech giant Baidu. The lawsuit for copyright infringement was brought by Bytedance’s news aggregation platform Jinri Toutiao. Toutiao has accused Baidu of unauthorized streaming of a talk show called Yi Guo Hui (一郭汇) produced by Watermelon Video and Jinri Toutiao

Chinese netizens argue over whether a video violates a new law protecting martyrs - CGTN The video which was discovered by netizens on Toutiao, a news and information content platform, features Wang Nima, host and editor of Rage Comic, wearing a costume that likened him to Dong Cunrui, a soldier who blew himself up in order to destroy an enemy's bunker in China's civil war...It's not the first time Toutiao has been in the spotlight for what some call vulgar or inappropriate content. In April, Toutiao was ordered to remove its app from both Android and Apple app stores. Later, China's media regulator ordered the permanent removal of one of Toutiao's jokes apps. Toutiao CEO was forced to make an apology to the public.

Baidu Invests In US Microphone Maker Vesper As Part Of AI Strategy – China Money Network Other investors include Amazon’s Alexa Fund;  Bose Ventures, the venture arm of headphone and speaker maker Bose; microphone maker Shure; machine interface company Synaptics; Boston-area investment firms Accomplice and Hyperplane Venture Capital. The round brings Vesper’s total funding to date to $40M. Vesper said it will use the proceedings to expand the production of its MEMS (Microelectromechanical Systems) microphones, which are usually used for smart speakers, Internet of Things(IoT) devices and connected devices. The funds will also be used for research and development, hiring, and setting up sale offices in China and South Korea.

Amazon Brings Cross-Border Ambitions to Alibaba's Backyard - Bloomberg In the coming weeks, Amazon will host an event in the city of Hangzhou -- Alibaba’s hometown -- to connect online merchants with 400 Chinese manufacturers keen to sell electronics, car parts, home goods and more directly to American and European consumers. Amazon experts will provide insights into buying trends so merchants can stock up for the 2018 holiday season, according to an invitation reviewed by Bloomberg. Sponsored by Amazon Global Selling, the event is called “Coming Together For U.”

Some Prominent Hedge Funds Are Piling Into a Chinese Anime Website - Bloomberg Tiger Global Management, Point72 Asset Management and Millenium Management are among hedge funds who held stakes in Bilibili at the end of the first quarter, according to regulatory filings. Tiger is the biggest holder of Bilibili’s American depositary receipts with a 3 percent stake.

Tianjin to set up 100-bln-yuan AI funds - Xinhua North China's Tianjin Municipality has announced plans to set up funds worth 100 billion yuan (15.7 billion U.S. dollars) to support the artificial intelligence industry, and a 10-billion-yuan fund to promote intelligent manufacturing.

  

Society, Art, Sports, Culture And History

Climate change, crowding imperil iconic route to top of Mount Everest - The Washington Post Several veteran climbers and well-respected Western climbing companies have moved their expeditions to the northern side of the mountain in Tibet in recent years, saying rising temperatures and inexperienced climbers have made the icefall more vulnerable. Research by the International Center for Integrated Mountain Development shows that the Khumbu glacier is retreating at an average of 65 feet per year, raising the risk of avalanche.

Naked city: lost in Shanghai with Liu Tao – in pictures | Art and design | The Guardian The famed Chinese street photographer trains his lens on the bored and the dispossessed in his rambles through city streets challenged by the relentless march of progress

Big Teacher Is Watching You! Hangzhou High School Introduces Facial Recognition to Monitor Classroom Behavior | What's on Weibo" On May 16, Chinese state media Xinhua News posted a short video produced by Zhejiang Daily on Weibo. In the one-minute long video, school officials from Hangzhou No.11 High School introduce a recently developed classroom behavior management system that enables parents to monitor their kids’ performances at school. With the help of in-class cameras, students’ attendances and facial expressions are captured and recorded. The system can identify key classroom behaviors, such as standing, writing, reading, listening, raising hands, and sleeping in class.

 

Energy, Environment, Science And Health

Brave cuckoo returns home to China after long-distance adventure - People's Daily Online A cuckoo named Flappy, who holds the record of flying 6,500 kilometers in 6 days, is now predicted to be in the sky above Myanmar, before arriving in China to complete his annual roundtrip from China to Africa. Flappy’s movements have been tracked since May 2016 as part of the Beijing Cuckoo Project, in which he and four other cuckoos were tagged with sensors to show their route from northern China. // More on Flappy at the Beijing Cuckoo Project 

China Launches First Rocket Designed by Private Firm - Caixin Global The launch of the "Chongqing Liangjiang Star" rocket, developed by OneSpace Technology, a Beijing-based private firm, marks the first time a non-state Chinese rocket has successfully entered orbit, the official Xinhua news agency said.

China’s moon mission will probe cosmic dark ages | Science On 21 May, China plans to launch a satellite with a vital but unglamorous mission. From a vantage point beyond the moon, Queqiao, as the satellite is called, will relay data from Chang'e 4, a lander and rover that is supposed to touch down on the lunar far side before the end of the year. But a Dutch-made radio receiver aboard Queqiao will attempt something more visionary. In the quiet lunar environment, it will listen to the cosmos at low frequencies that carry clues to the time a few hundred million years after the big bang, when clouds of hydrogen gas were spawning the universe's first stars.

 

Beijing

Date announced for opening of new Beijing airport - People's Daily Online Beijing's new international airport will officially begin operations on Oct 1, 2019, authorities said on Wednesday