Caixin On Sun Zhengcai's Mistress; Rural Revitalization; US-PRC Contest In Latin America; New Era For Weibo; More Warnings Of PRC Influence Operations

Happy Monday...this is the first issue of the newsletter from the new Sinocism global headquarters. We are still in the middle of moving so things may be a little rough today. Thanks for your patience.

The Essential Eight

1. Caixin Looks At A Businesswoman And Her "Special Relationship" With Sun Zhengcai

Caixin's latest cover story is on Liu Fengzhou, whom the magazine says was Sun Zhengcai's longest tenured mistress. She was detained in May 2017 to “assist an investigation”. Art buffs may know her as she founded the Beijing Sishang Art Museum (寺上美术馆}, now shuttered.

They met when Sun was chief of the Shunyi district of Beijing.

There may fit the pattern of PRC media outlets, especially Caixin, doing big "exposes" as the prosecution of a tiger nears.

Keep in mind that Wen Jiabao’s family is believed to have significant financial interests in Shunyi, stemming from Sun’s days in Beijing. There have been consistent rumors that Wen and family are actually the real tiger target above Sun.

And it looks like Caixin still has very good CCDI sources even after Wang Qishan moved on...

The article is behind the Caixin paywall and not yet translated. Here are some choice excerpts from 孙政才“特定关系人”刘凤洲重庆沉浮录_财新网

刘凤洲最后一次在公众面前露面,也是在2017年5月。当月6日,她出席了北京奥加美术馆的一场“中国釉”展览。多名独立消息源向财新记者证实,刘凤洲已于2017年5月被协助调查,至今与外界失去联系。

少为人所知的是,55岁的刘凤洲还有另一个身份——中共中央政治局前委员、重庆市委前书记孙政才的特定关系人。与财新之前报道的亿赞普(北京)科技有限公司法人代表黄苏支相比,刘凤洲是孙政才最早且关系最长久的情妇。孙政才已于2017年7月14日落马,是中共十八大后首位被查的在任政治局委员.

刘凤洲与孙政才同年,比孙政才还大两个月,早在1998年孙政才担任北京市顺义区区长期间两人就相识。刘凤洲在顺义区创办果蔬饮品公司,随着孙政才仕途升迁,她的生意越做越大,从北京、吉林、重庆一路追随孙政才,组建起商业王国。财新记者调查发现,刘凤洲染指重庆多个重大市政和通信工程项目:由重庆市经信委牵头的“融信通”项目、总投资约46亿元的红岩村桥隧PPP(政府和社会资本合作)项目、总投资约211亿元的重庆轨道九号线PPP项目,均有刘凤洲的痕迹..

在与刘凤洲有过接触的人士印象中,刘凤洲穿着朴实,对身边的人很友善,但并不是一位好的商人,“无论对通信技术还是做市政工程她都不在行,没有主见,办事没有条理,今天通知下属要这么做,下一次谈话完全忘记上一次谈话的内容,又交代了一套新的方案,让人无所适从。”这或许是刘凤洲拥有“非凡”的政商资源却没在“融信通”等项目中暴富的原因。

刘凤洲和孙政才认识已有20年,她并不避讳身边人知道自己和孙政才的特殊关系。她信佛拜佛,身上经常挂着佛珠,每年春节会带着亲戚朋友去山西五台山,六七月份则是到西藏去拜佛。据刘凤洲身边人透露,刘凤洲很迷信,喜欢算命。她曾经拿着孙政才的生辰八字找道士算命,算命的人告诉她,该生辰八字的主人是封疆大吏的命,还可能更进一步。刘凤洲信以为真,为孙政才请了一套龙袍送给他。


2. Rural Revitalization

Policies released on China's rural vitalization - Xinhua

The timetable decided by the CPC at a rural conference in December remains unchanged. But the objectives for different stages have become more specific.

By 2020, the strategy should have established an institutional framework and policy system. By then, no Chinese people will live under the existing poverty line, and rural productivity and agricultural supply will improve substantially.

By 2035, "decisive" progress shall be made, with basic modernization of agriculture and rural areas. All Chinese, either in cities or rural areas, will have equal access to basic public services. Urban and rural integration will improve.

By 2050, rural areas should have strong agriculture, a beautiful countryside and well-off farmers..

In villages with harsh living conditions and a fragile natural environment, more efforts shall be taken in relocation.

The full text-(受权发布)中共中央 国务院关于实施乡村振兴战略的意见-新华网

An "authoritative" interpretation- 中央一号文件全文公布 农办主任权威解读两大特点|

More Flexibility Coming for Rural Land-Use Rights, Government Document Says - Caixin Global:

The government will “moderately relax” controls on rights for rural land allocated for villagers to build homes and houses left vacant by city-bound migrant workers, according to the government’s No. 1 document (link in Chinese) of this year, which has traditionally focused on issues about farmers, the agricultural industry and rural areas.

The document, jointly issued Sunday by the State Council — China’s cabinet — and the Central Committee of the Communist Party, came after Land and Resources Minister Jiang Daming said last month that authorities will work on plans to let non-real estate companies build residential housing on land for which they have obtained use rights. The government will also allow rental housing on rural land to increase rental options, he added.

China to make more polluted land safe for agriculture by 2020 - minister - Reuters:

China will try to make around 90 percent of its contaminated farmland safe for crops by the end of 2020, and will also restrict development on a quarter of the country’s territory, environment minister Li Ganjie said.

Li said China would conduct a detailed investigation into soil pollution and launch pilot zones that would be used to test soil pollution prevention and treatment technologies, according to an account of a weekend meeting published by the Ministry of Environmental Protection on its official website

The Beijing News in its coverage of the policy document posts a useful flow chart of all the important measures, including of course strengthening Party control at the grassroots level, but its headline focuses on the fact that urban residents will not be able to buy rights to rural land to build villas. I have several PRC friends who did that outside of Beijing; it was easy and cheap in the late 90s early 2000s.--城里人严禁下乡买地建别墅 - 国内 - 新京报网


3. US Secretary of State Praises Monroe Doctrine While Criticizing PRC Efforts In Latin America

Tillerson extols 19th-century US foreign policy in Latin America - FT $$:

Rex Tillerson waded into controversy as he began his first Latin American tour by touting a return to a 200-year-old foreign policy doctrine used to justify armed US intervention in its backyard. The US secretary of state also slammed China’s growing “imperial power” in the region.

The speech-U.S. Engagement in the Western Hemisphere 

China – as it does in emerging markets throughout the world – offers the appearance of an attractive path to development. But in reality, this often involves trading short-term gains for long-term dependency.

Just think about the difference between the China model of economic development and the United States version.

China’s offer always come at a price – usually in the form of state-led investments, carried out by imported Chinese labor, onerous loans, and unsustainable debt. The China model extracts precious resources to feed its own economy, often with disregard for the laws of the land or human rights.

Today, China is gaining a foothold in Latin America. It is using economic statecraft to pull the region into its orbit. The question is: At what price?

China is now the largest trading partner of Chile, Argentina, Brazil, and Peru. While this trade has brought benefits, the unfair trading practices used by many Chinese have also harmed these countries’ manufacturing sectors, generating unemployment and lowering wages for workers.

Latin American – Latin America does not need new imperial powers that seek only to benefit their own people. China’s state-led model of development is reminiscent of the past. It doesn’t have to be this hemisphere’s future.

Commentary: Blaming Beijing not to help Washington's image in LatAm - Xinhua:

Ahead of his visit to five Latin American nations, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Thursday let off steam against Beijing, accusing it of "using economic statecraft to pull the region into its orbit."

Defaming China can not help change the bad image of the United States in Latin America or stop countries in the region from seeking cooperation elsewhere to spur economic growth.

China hits back at US criticism of oil-for-loan investments in Venezuela | South China Morning Post:

In a Friday speech at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies, the US Treasury’s top economic diplomat, David Malpass, said China’s focus on commodities and opaque financing deals had hurt, not helped, countries in the region.

His attack on China’s role in aiding the Venezuelan government came a day after US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, ahead of a five-day tour of Latin America, raised the prospect of a military coup in the oil-rich country…

“What the United States said is baseless and extremely irresponsible,” Geng said.


4. Western Focus On PRC Influence Operations Increasing 

Authoritarian Advance: Responding to China's Growing Political Influence in Europe | Mercator Institute for China Studies

In cooperation with the Global Public Policy Institute (GPPi), MERICS researchers have compiled a report on CCP-driven engagement in Europe titled have compiled a report on CCP-driven engagement in Europe titled “Authoritarian Advance: Responding to China’s Growing Political Influence in Europe.” The researchers included Thorsten Benner of GPPi and Jan Gaspers, Mareike Ohlberg, Lucrezia Poggetti and Kristin Shi-Kupfer of MERICS.

The report argues that European states need to act swiftly and decisively to inhibit the momentum of the CCP’s influence operations. Several steps are recommended, including: a stronger focus on leveraging the collective weight of EU member states, investing more resources into independent China expertise and providing alternatives to Chinese investments in Europe. The authors also call upon Europe to develop a flexible set of investment screening tools and to strengthen national and European security regimes, including cybersecurity and counter-intelligence.

Meanwhile, in Australia the Parliament may publish Clive Hamilton's book about PRC influence operations-Controversial China book may get parliamentary protection - Sydney Morning Herald:

Key members of Federal Parliament’s national security committee are backing a move to use the committee’s powers to publish an explosive book on Chinese Communist Party influence in Australia...Two major publishers ditched the manuscript, by a professor of public ethics at Charles Sturt University, Professor Clive Hamilton, citing fears Beijing or its proxies would launch legal action.

And in the US Senator Marco Rubio, who is very concerned about PRC influence operations, sent letters Monday morning to Miami Dade College, the University of North Florida, the University of South Florida, the University of West Florida, and Cypress Bay High School urging them to terminate their agreements with Chinese government-run programs known as Confucius Institutes. 

Excerpts from Sen Rubio's letter:

I write with regards to growing foreign influence operations of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) in the United States, particularly in our academic institutions. There is mounting concern about the Chinese government’s increasingly aggressive attempts to use “Confucius Institutes” and other means to influence foreign academic institutions and critical analysis of China’s past history and present policies. Additionally, the PRC continues its efforts to interfere in multilateral institutions, threaten and intimidate rights defenders and their families, and impose censorship mechanisms on foreign publishers and social media companies. For reasons outlined below, I respectfully urge you to consider terminating your Confucius Institute agreement.

Confucius Institutes are Chinese government-run programs that use the teaching of Chinese language and culture as a tool to expand the political influence of the PRC...

I remain deeply concerned by the proliferation of Confucius Institutes and Confucius Classrooms in the United States. Given China’s aggressive campaign to “infiltrate” American classrooms, stifle free inquiry, and subvert free expression both at home and abroad, I respectfully urge you to consider terminating your Confucius Institute agreement

London’s Royal Court theatre in row over shelving of Tibet play | UK news | The Guardian

His play deals with life in contemporary Tibet and draws on personal stories of Tibetans he worked with in India, which is home to a substantial community of exiles, including the Dalai Lama.

The play was in development for three years and rehearsals had been fixed, according to Majumdar, who claimed that the British Council had “pressurised” the theatre to withdraw it because of sensitivities relating to the writing programme. A team from the Royal Court has been working with 16 writers in Beijing on their plays, according to its website.


5. China Unhappy With US Nuclear Posture Review

2018 Nuclear Posture Review: Full Text PDF & Key China-Related Excerpts | Andrew S. Erickson

The United States is prepared to respond decisively to Chinese non-nuclear or nuclear aggression. U.S. exercises in the Asia-Pacific region, among other objectives, demonstrate this preparedness, as will increasing the range of graduated nuclear response options available to the President. Both steps will strengthen the credibility of our deterrence strategy and improve our capability to respond effectively to Chinese limited nuclear use if deterrence were to fail. The United States will also continue to seek a meaningful dialogue with China on our respective nuclear policies, doctrine, and capabilities in pursuit of a peaceful security environment and stable relations.

Pentagon mistakenly labels Taiwan as part of China in key nuclear policy document | The Japan Times

The U.S. Department of Defense temporarily removed and reposted its new Nuclear Posture Review report from its website after mistakenly labeling Taiwan as part of mainland China — the latest lapse by the Trump administration involving the sensitive issue.

China hits back at US, says nuclear arsenal is minimum needed | South China Morning Post:

Meanwhile, in a brief editor’s note last week, China’s military mouthpiece PLA Daily called for an expanded nuclear stockpile so that the country could better deter and hit back at enemy strikes at a time of geopolitical uncertainty, and as the US appeared bent on a nuclear build-up.

China and Trump’s Nuclear Posture Review - Union of Concerned Scientists

China is making steady incremental improvements to its nuclear arsenal. But the gap between China and the United States is too wide to argue the United States is lagging behind in any meaningful way. We’ve laid out the details in a new white paper


 6. Will Trump Move Closer To Taiwan As US-PRC Relations Deteriorate?

GOP pressures Trump on Taiwan as China issues threats - POLITICO:

A year after a newly elected Donald Trump enraged China by taking a congratulatory phone call from the president of Taiwan, the pro-American island nation is pleading for Trump’s protection against Beijing’s bullying.

At the same time, Republicans in Congress are pressuring Trump with pro-Taiwan legislation that could strain his delicate relationship with China...

In exclusive interviews here with POLITICO, Taiwanese officials urged Trump to stand firm, saying Beijing has stepped up a campaign of political and military intimidation during the president’s first year in office.

“Mainland China has a big strategy to exercise more political pressure toward Taiwan,” said Chang Hsiao-Yueh, Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council Minister. Chang and other officials here urged the Trump administration to step up its support for Taipei.


7. Weibo Gets Into The "New Era" Swing Of Things

Weibo Raises Patriotic Flag After Crackdown - Caixin Global:

Weibo Corp. has introduced a “New Era” section that promotes pro-government news stories into the web portal’s “trending” function — a move that follows government criticism of the search feature.

Beginning Saturday night, Weibo users were again able to access the trending function, which lists the most popular search terms. One week earlier, Weibo was ordered by the internet regulator, the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC), to suspend it due to “obscene” and “wrongly oriented” content.

The “New Era” section — a reference to President Xi Jinping’s “Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era” slogan, unveiled at last year’s 19th National Party Congress — is now one of the four kinds of trending searches users can browse. The section includes searches about government policies and news about the country’s achievements

China Law Translate-Provisions on Management of Microblog Information Services 


8. Caixin Interviews Owner Of All Sages Bookstore

An Indie Bookstore Owner’s Read on Surviving Online Competition - Caixin Global:

Founded in 1993, Liu Sili’s All Sages Bookstore (“Wansheng” bookstore) — a stone’s throw away from Peking University — has become an oasis for intellectual debate and cultural expression.

Liu, 57, is a high-school dropout from the northeastern province of Heilongjiang. He said he has “fought and sampled the taste of death” during the Cultural Revolution (1966-76), without elaborating. He entered Peking University once the national college entrance exam was resumed after a decade-long hiatus, when young people were sent to villages to work on collective farms and access to books, other than party-approved volumes, was limited.

“We were a generation starving for books,” Liu said. “I have no regrets other than not being able to read what I wanted, and this made me dream of opening a bookstore.”


Business, Economy, Finance And Trade

People's Daily Puts Financial Watchdogs in Hot Seat - Caixin Global a commentary (人民日报金海观潮:金融监管者要当好“守护人” ) in The People's Daily, the mouthpiece of the ruling Communist Party, has highlighted a series of shortcomings that have often aligned officials' interests with those of the regulated rather than the regulator, and weakened the integrity and effectiveness of the watchdogs in carrying out their mission. The author of the article, which appeared on the commentary page, was named as Ouyang Jie although he was not further identified. The article, titled “Financial Regulators Should Be Good Guardians,” is another sign that Chinese authorities are stepping up their efforts to control risk and stamp out corruption in the financial industry.

China Opens Inquiry Into U.S. Sorghum as Trade Tensions Worsen - The New York Times The decision, announced by China’s Commerce Ministry on Sunday, could result in China imposing steep tariffs on sorghum. It came less than two weeks after the United States said it was imposing tariffs on solar panels and washing machines that were aimed at curbing cheap imports from China and South Korea...The United States exported about 4.8 million tons of sorghum to China in 2017, worth about $1 billion, accounting for nearly all of China’s imports of the grain last year, according to Chinese customs data.

China to stamp out cryptocurrency trading completely with ban on foreign platforms | South China Morning Post “To prevent financial risks, China will step up measures to remove any onshore or offshore platforms related to virtual currency trading or ICOs,” said an article published on Sunday night by Financial News, a publication affiliated to the People’s Bank of China (PBOC). 监管加码!中国将对虚拟货币境外交易平台网站采取监管措施

China cracks down on tech credit scoring - FT $$ A PBoC official said Tencent’s beta system was taken down because it was seen as jumping the gun on the launch of the government’s own credit-scoring system, which will be licensed in a few months. Beijing plans to roll out a nationwide system by 2020. The PBoC is concerned the credit scores built by Tencent and Alibaba will be used as marketing tools to sell products, including risky investments, he added. The depth of the data being compiled also raises fears about the security of consumer data.

Former Founder Group Chairman Fined for Violating Disclosure Rules - Caixin Global Former Chairman of conglomerate Peking University Founder Group Co., Wei Xin, was fined 300,000 yuan ($47,631) for violating information disclosure rules, a statement published Friday on the China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC) website said. The case dates back to August 2011 when Founder Group’s subsidiary Founder Securities Co. Ltd. went public in Shanghai.

As Beijing Focuses On Risk, Banks Fix Bad Loans the Old-Fashioned Way - MacroPolo Banks’ nonperforming loan (NPL) disposals have been aggressively building over the last few years. As recently as 2012, China’s banks hardly made any write-offs at all. In that year, based on calculations by MacroPolo, banks with more than 700 billion yuan ($110 billion) worth of total assets—a category that has consistently accounted for slightly more than 80% of total commercial bank assets since 2011—disposed of 32 billion yuan ($5 billion) worth of NPLs. By 2016—only four years later—disposals for the group had increased more than 16 times to 546 billion yuan ($86 billion). The incomplete data we have from 2017 bears out Guo’s observation that disposals continued apace. In the first half of the year Bank of China disposed of 38% more bad loans than it did a year earlier, and China Construction Bank disposed 31% more.

Stocks Suffer Worst Week in 14 Months - Caixin Global The Shanghai Composite Index, which closed higher on Friday, fell 2.7% to 3,462.08 this week, notching the index’s largest weekly loss since Dec. 16, 2016. The Shenzhen Component Index, the home of many small to midsize high-tech firms, slid 5.74% over the week, while its start-up board ChiNext plunged 6.3%. 

Beijing Inches Closer to Becoming the World's Busiest Airport - Bloomberg As the ranks of the Chinese middle class swell and more people take to the skies, passenger traffic at Beijing’s international airport rose to a new record of 95.8 million last year. This increase at the world’s second-busiest air hub -- at least the fifth straight year of gains -- has allowed Beijing Capital International Airport to narrow the gap with top placed Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, whose passenger numbers fell in 2017.

With sorghum warning shot, Beijing targets Trump's core farm base - Reuters In launching a probe into U.S. sorghum imports, China has fired a warning shot across its top trading partner's bow that shows farmers in states that voted for U.S. President Donald Trump may be Beijing's top retaliatory target in the event of a trade war. On Sunday, the Ministry of Commerce launched an anti-dumping and anti-subsidy investigation, potentially leading to hefty tariffs on imports of the ingredient used in livestock feed and the fiery Chinese liquor baijiu.

19 Banks Fined for Alleged $3 Billion Pledged Loan Fraud - Caixin Global China’s top banking regulator handed out another big fine of 52.5 million (about $8.4 million) this year to industry players linked to a loan fraud case, as it tightens up scrutiny over institutions’ business practices to fend off risks. Nineteen banks in the northwest province of Shaanxi and central province Henan were fined for their misconduct in a 19 billion yuan pledged loan fraud, the China Banking Regulatory Commission said on Friday.  // Comment: the fine was 0.27% of the fraud total, does not seem like that is much of a deterrent

 

Politics, Law And Ideology

CPC to launch new round of discipline inspection - Xinhua | Party organizations of 30 provincial-level regions, ministry-level agencies and state-owned enterprises will be covered in a new round of discipline inspections// 十九届中央第一轮巡视将对30个地方和单位党组织开展常规巡视--经党中央批准,十九届中央第一轮巡视将对河北、山西、辽宁、黑龙江、江苏、福建、山东、河南、湖南、广东、海南、四川、贵州、宁夏、住房和城乡建设部、商务部、文化部、海关总署、国家体育总局、国家食品药品监督管理总局、国家统计局、新华社、中国核工业集团有限公司、中国华电集团有限公司、中国远洋海运集团有限公司、中粮集团有限公司、中国通用技术(集团)控股有限责任公司、中国储备粮管理集团有限公司、中国旅游集团公司、中国邮政集团公司等30个地方、单位党组织开展常规巡视。根据《中国共产党巡视工作条例》规定,对第一轮巡视省区涉及的沈阳、大连、哈尔滨、南京、厦门、济南、青岛、广州、深圳、成都等10个副省级城市党委和人大常委会、政府、政协党组主要负责人,一并纳入巡视范围

China Focus: 12 graft-busting "weapons" to arm national supervision commission - Xinhua | Seizing assets is one of the 12 major weapons used to effectively crack down on corruption. The others include talking, interrogation, questioning, inquiries, freezes, acquisitions, closing down, seizures, searches, inspections, examination and detention. Some of the weapons have proved effective for supervisory commissions in Beijing, Shanxi and the eastern Zhejiang Province, the three pilots for the ongoing reform, where supervision commissions were granted more power to use the new methods.

Leaders: Use rule of law in gang fight - Chiina Daily Police across the country have put up public notices asking people to come forward with leads in gang activities, such as exposing corrupt village chiefs and people who use their family connections to control village affairs, such as rigging elections. On Wednesday, Shen Deyong, vice-president of the Supreme People's Court, said at a conference that courts nationwide should attach greater attention to cases involving gangs that threaten political security and political power at the grassroots level, dominate certain markets and trade, run gambling, prostitution and drug business as well as take part in transnational crimes.  //  Comment: Will this crackdown on organized crime lead to a purge of politics and law system at lower levels?

Sudden Change at the Top of CCTV | China Media Project Chinese state media reported today that Shen Haixiong (慎海雄), chief of Guangdong’s provincial propaganda department, has been appointed as the new director of China Central Television, the state-run television network. Shen replaces Nie Chenxi (聂辰席), a former deputy director of China’s broadcast regulator, the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television, and vice minister in the Central Propaganda Department.

Upholding Xi's core status focus of China's cultural-ethical work - Xinhua The focus of cultural-ethical development in 2018 should be guiding officials and the public in consciously safeguarding the core status of General Secretary Xi Jinping in the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and the whole Party, a senior Party official said Monday. Wang Huning, a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee, made the remarks while addressing a plenary session of the Central Commission for Guiding Cultural and Ethical Progress.

China Xinjiang police state: Fear and resentment - BBC News John Sudworth reports from Xinjiang

Gerry Shih on China’s Uyghur Muslims, under pressure at home and abroad - Sinica Podcast Associated Press (AP) reporter Gerry Shih was hard at work in 2017 writing a remarkable series of articles on China’s Uyghur Muslim minority. By traveling not just to China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, where 10 to 15 million Uyghurs live, but also to Syria, where some have fled and taken up arms with militant groups, he sought to answer the most politicized and consequential questions about the ethnic group.

Are Prosecutors Concealing Firefighter, Property Management Negligence in Nanny Arson Case? - Caixin Global When Mo Huanjing deliberately lit a fire in her employer’s home, the domestic helper thought she could extinguish it quickly and get her boss to lend her more money out of gratitude.But the blaze went out of control, killing her employer Zhu Xiaozhen and Zhu’s three children — two boys aged 10 and 4 and a 7-year-old girl.

China up close: Downfall of a diva mirrors Beijing's backstage politics- Nikkei Asian Review The name of Song Zuying, a female military singer close to Jiang Zemin, the 91-year old former Chinese President, has disappeared from the list of members of the 13th National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference. It was released late last month; the committee is to meet in March. ..The 51-year-old diva is a member of the Chinese military. Her rank is said to be major general-level. She is too young to retire.  //  Comment: The rumor mill has been churning for a while that she was in some kind of trouble. This does not confirm she is but it certainly feeds the rumors

One year on, it is time China delivered on Xi’s Davos speech | South China Morning Post The Chinese president’s championing of globalisation in 2017 loomed large over the appearances of Liu He and Donald Trump at this year’s World Economic Forum. But China must deliver soon – or his words will ring hollow--Wang Xiangwei

Podcast #27: One Month in Chinese Jail - Chengdu Living On this episode of the podcast I’m joined by Doug, who just emerged from nearly one month in a Chinese jail due to a visa law violation. As is the case with many China expats who’ve been in this situation, Doug believed himself to be acting in accordance with China’s regulations, until the PSB begun investigating details surrounding his Chinese study in Chengdu

  

Foreign and Military Affairs

In the clear? Retired general’s return to the public eye quells rumours of graft investigation | South China Morning Post Fan Changlong, 70, a former vice-chairman of the powerful Central Military Commission, was seen with Chinese President Xi Jinping in footage aired on state broadcaster China Central Television’s main evening news bulletin on Friday. Xi, who chairs the CMC, was attending a Lunar New Year event in Beijing for military veterans, including Fan.

U.N. Report Faults China, Russia for Subverting North Korea Sanctions - WSJ $$ The U.N. investigators criticized China, Russia, Malaysia and other countries for failing to do enough to curb illicit finance and trade being conducted in their countries. Roughly $200 million in North Korean coal and other commodities was exported in violation of U.N. bans, the panel said. Much of North Korea’s coal and fuel shipments went through Chinese, Malaysian, Vietnamese or Russian ports. More than 30 representatives of North Korean financial institutions have been operating abroad, including in China and Russia, the investigators say.

Xi Jinping: Xi Jinping says improving China-Lanka ties has his 'high attention' - Times of India Chinese President Xi Jinping on Sunday said he pays "high attention" to strengthening strategic ties with Sri Lanka+ , as Beijing beefed up plans to build a Maritime Silk Road project in India's backyard -- the Indian Ocean. In a message to congratulate Sri Lanka on its 70th anniversary of Independence from British rule, Xi told his counterpart Maithripala Sirisena that China is willing to work with it for better development of strategic cooperative partnership between the two countries.

Chinese shipping employee shot dead in Pakistan's city of Karachi - Reuters A Chinese man working with a shipping company in Pakistan was shot dead on Monday in what police described as a targeted attack in Karachi, police and hospital officials said.

Icy Xi-speak and northerly exoprop: the Arctic White Paper | jichang lulu: The Arctic White Paper released last week (中国的北极政策, China’s Arctic Policy) is perhaps the first unified presentation of the PRC’s Arctic activities for foreign audiences. A product of the Party-state’s foreign propaganda (外宣, ‘exoprop’) apparatus, the document does not set policy guidelines or announce new plans. More than for what it says, largely confirming well-known policies, the paper is interesting for what it doesn’t. Some key themes of PRC Arctic strategy (natural-resource acquisition, alternative trade routes, state support for investment, tourism development, participation in Arctic governance) are there, while the national-security motivation and the Arctic’s integration within larger polar and maritime policy, both present in Chinese-language materials, are left out of this document. Xi-speak tropes and slogans (the Arctic version of the New Era’s New China Newspeak) are selectively translated based on their international adequacy, diluting two China-as-a-power items and mixing them with regionally and globally fashionable vocabulary. While the Paper, a straight-forward text supplied with an authoritative translation, doesn’t require a deep analysis, the way its presentational aspects have become the focus of much Western coverage of the document can help assess its effectiveness as a PR product. Western commentary’s lingering passiveness and dependency on English-language input leave a vacuum that exoprop is eager to fill. After a brief overview of the Paper’s vocabulary, assertions and omissions, based on the Chinese original with reference to the official translation, this post will turn to its function as a ‘discourse power’ (话语权) tool.

YouTube Takes Aim at Conspiracies, Propaganda - WSJ YouTube said starting Friday it would label all videos coming from what it identifies as state-funded broadcasters, a category that would include even the U.S.’s Public Broadcasting Service, or PBS. The step is significant in part because YouTube has been a major conduit for RT, the Russian state news organization that U.S. intelligence officials called “the Kremlin’s principal international propaganda outlet.”

National Security Council official behind 5G memo leaves White House - The Washington Post A senior administration official confirmed to me that Air Force Brig. Gen. Robert Spalding is no longer serving as NSC senior director for strategic planning. Spalding was not fired, according to the official, who said his detail had ended and was not renewed. His last day as a White House staffer was Jan. 31. Spalding was not implicated in the leak of the memo, but officials said his advocacy for the plan had gone beyond his role, contributing to the NSC leadership’s decision to send him back to the Air Force. Spalding was informed that his White House tenure was ending last week, the senior administration official said, before his memo and PowerPoint proposal was leaked. The Jan. 28 Axios story sparked alarm, drawing opposition from major telecom companies and catching the White House off guard.

China’s plan to use artificial intelligence to boost the thinking skills of nuclear submarine commanders | South China Morning Post China is working to update the rugged old computer systems on nuclear submarines with artificial intelligence to enhance the potential thinking skills of commanding officers, a senior scientist involved with the programme told the South China Morning Post... “What the military cares most about is not fancy features. What they care most is the thing does not screw up amid the heat of a battle.” The military currently has no plan to reduce the size of submarine crews when the AI technology is ready for deployment. “There must be a human hand on every critical post. This is for safety redundancy,” the researcher said.

 

Hong Kong, Macao

Hong Kong’s Courts Have Defended Its Freedoms. Is Beijing Changing That? - The New York Times The biggest concerns have centered around the legal battles of three young activists who were imprisoned for their roles in leading the 2014 Umbrella Movement protests, when thousands of people flooded the streets to demand freer elections. Supporters call the three — Joshua Wong, Nathan Law and Alex Chow — prisoners of conscience. Hong Kong’s highest court, the Court of Final Appeal, is expected Tuesday to rule on an appeal from Mr. Wong and the two others of prison sentences of six to eight months that were handed down in August. Those stiffer punishments had been sought by Hong Kong’s Beijing-backed government, which was unhappy with more lenient sentences by a lower court two years ago of community service for Mr. Wong and Mr. Law and a suspended jail term for Mr. Chow.

 

Tech And Media

China’s ‘Rupert Murdoch’ takes full control of animation studio behind Kung Fu Panda 3 | South China Morning Post The Shanghai-based Oriental DreamWorks – the first major tie-up between Hollywood and China – was behind the global box office hit Kung Fu Panda 3, one of the highest grossing animation films in China, raking in about US$143.5 million at home and US$377.6 million worldwide in 2016. NBCUniversal, a subsidiary of Comcast, inherited a 45 per cent stake in the studio when it bought Jeffery Katzenberg’s DreamWorks Animation for US$3.8 billion in 2016.

Xiaomi Surges, Huawei Stumbles in Latest Smartphone Sales Rankings - Caixin Global Xiaomi Inc. sold 31 million smartphones in the final three months of 2017, up 83% from a year earlier, giving it 7.5% of the global market, according to research firm Counterpoint. Its sharp gains contrasted with hometown rival Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd., whose sales slumped 9%, marking the biggest decline in the top five. The decline gave Huawei 9.9% of the global market, making it third behind leaders Apple Inc., with an 18.6% share, and Samsung, with 17.9%. Both of those leaders also posted sales declines during the quarter.

Video: Click farms of phantom users flood China’s US$50 billion online advertising market | South China Morning Post Click farms are capable of creating as many as 10,000 fake views for video sites for prices ranging from US$0.47 to US$11, according to investigations by the South China Morning Post . The mathematics show how this works: Each of the country’s top 10 television shows garnered 10 billion online views in 2017, with two shows receiving more than 1 billion views on one day, in a country with 750 million internet users.

 

Society, Art, Sports, Culture And History

ChinaSource | Why Christians in China Must Prepare Themselves for the New Regulations on Religious Affairs This week we are publishing an analysis of the regulations from Pastor Wang Yi of Early Rain Church in Chengdu, Sichuan Province. In this post, Wang Yi writes a critique of the regulations and warns Christians in China of the coming pressure that will result from the new regulations. He dissects why the new regulations are a violation of religious freedom and should therefore be resisted by Christians in China.

Youth Exodus Threatens Future of Henan’s Ancient Underground Courtyards - Caixin Global Although they’ve been named as one of the four ancient forms of Chinese architecture by the national government, these unique settlements have turned into ghost villages as inhabitants migrate to cities amid China’s rapid urbanization drive. There were over 12,000 dikengyuan in Shanzhou in 2013, according to district government data. But the number of inhabitants has dropped sharply in the past five years. Nowhere is this decline more apparent than in Donggou village.

Portrait of a Beijinger: Beneath the Makeup – China Channel A Peking Opera singer takes off his mask

Three Minutes - Shot on iPhone X - Apple (SG) For this Chinese New Year, we partnered with award-winning director Peter Chan to create a touching film about family reunions based on a true story.

 

Energy, Environment, Science And Health

Tomorrow Edition - Interview With Biomedical China Specialist Michael Donovan Michael J. Donovan, a member of the Weihong Tan Research Group, received his B.S. in biochemistry from the University of Florida and his M.Sci. in biomedical engineering from Hunan University. He has the distinction of being the first American to receive a degree in the life sciences from Hunan University.

Leading ivory trade investigator found dead in Kenya - Reuters A prominent American investigator of the illegal ivory and rhino horn trade has been found dead in his Nairobi home with a stab wound in his neck, media reported. Esmond Bradley-Martin, 75, had spent decades tracking the movement of animal products, mostly from Africa to markets in Asia...He had been about to publish a report exposing how the ivory trade had shifted from China to neighbouring countries, Kahumbu added.