China says US agrees to remove some tariffs; Fentanyl case; TikTok a sideshow compared to WeChat

Gao Feng, spokesman for the PRC Ministry of Commerce, seemed to confirm that the US has agreed to proportionally remove existing tariffs as part of a phase one trade deal, as we discussed in the newsletter earlier this week. The markets got very excited about this statement, but so far I have not see any official confirmation from the US side. Perhaps it will come in a presidential tweet at some point.

We may also see presidential Twitter praise for the PRC’s public trial and sentencing of several fentanyl traffickers. Cracking down on fentanyl has been a core US demand, and this move by the Chinese government will be seen as a sign of good faith towards satisfying something President Trump has wanted very badly.

So overall the optimism for a phase one trade deal does not look unreasonable, but talk of that deal somehow putting a floor under the declining trajectory of the US-China relationship does.

Bytedance’s TikTok app has had a rough week in the US media and US legislature. As a parent of teenagers I dislike the app for the content cesspool it is, but the regulatory ire is about the safety of Americans’ data stored by a PRC firm, and the risk of that firm censoring or using its massive reach for CCP influence or interference operations.

I am not saying those are not risks, but when it comes influence and interference in the political processes of foreign governments I think TikTok is a sideshow compared to WeChat. WeChat’s overall user base in foreign countries may be small, but it is massive among the overseas Chinese diaspora, many of whom use WeChat as a key if not the primary information channel. Australia and Canada have already seen issues around elections from disinformation via WeChat.

Isabelle Niu has a good report on Quartz about this challenge from WeChat, with a focus on Australia-Is China’s messaging app WeChat a problem for democracies?:

In this latest episode of Because China, we go to Australia to understand how China’s “super app” could affect elections and democratic processes of another country. We break down how misinformation travels within the WeChat’s unique information ecosystem and why the app is a channel for Beijing to extend its censorship beyond China’s borders. 

We also talk to people who are pushing back against the norm, urging lawmakers in Australia and beyond to include WeChat in the ongoing conversation about how to regulate global tech companies, prevent the spread of misinformation, and protect citizens’ privacy online. 

The US government may be able to curb or kill TikTok in the US through the CFIU process. Ben Thompson explained how the US government might review the Bytedance acquisition of Musical.ly that drove the evolution of the TikTok product and its success in the US:

Those violations were actually committed by Musical.ly, the app TikTok acquired in November 2017; it is that acquisition that I suggested the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) review. Several folks wondered if that was even possible, given that Musical.ly was actually a Cayman Islands corporation with its principle place of business in Shanghai. In fact, though, CFIUS can block the acquisition of U.S. subsidiaries, or simply not allow acquired companies to operate in the U.S. (for example, late last year CFIUS blocked the Chinese acquisition of an Italian company from its Japanese owner; the Italian company derived a third of its revenue from the U.S.). In this case the Musical.ly app was operated by Musical.ly, Inc., a wholly-owned California corporation based in Santa Monica, and did a large portion of its business in the United States

What legal authorities could the US or other Western governments use to curb or block WeChat?

Thanks for reading, and remember you can always view this newsletter in a browser by clicking on the headline above.


The Essential Eight

1. US-China

U.S., China to Remove Tariffs Bit by Bit if Partial Deal Clinched, Says Beijing - WSJ $$

“If the phase-one deal is signed, China and the U.S. should remove the same proportion of tariffs simultaneously based on the content of the deal,” spokesman Gao Feng said at a regular press briefing Thursday. “This is what [the two sides] agreed on following careful and constructive negotiations over the past two weeks,” he said.

Beijing has typically declined to characterize the amount of progress on trade talks, but the officials on Thursday depicted a phasing out of tariffs as a hard-won result. What’s unclear is whether what the Chinese officials described can be considered a compliance mechanism, as the White House has said it demands.

As of Thursday evening Beijing time, the White House and U.S. Trade Representative had yet to respond to the Chinese side’s announcement.

Transcript of Gao Feng’s comments 商务部召开例行新闻发布会(2019年11月7日)

【高峰】:关于你的第一个问题,目前我没有信息可以透露。如果有进一步信息,我们会及时发布。

关于你的第二个问题,如果双方达成第一阶段协议,应当根据协议的内容同步、等比率取消已加征关税。这是达成协议的重要条件。谢谢...

【高峰】:过去两周,双方牵头人就妥善解决各自核心关切进行了认真、建设性的讨论,同意随协议进展分阶段取消加征关税。这么做有利于稳定市场预期,有利于中美两国经济和世界经济,有利于生产者,也有利于消费者。谢谢。...

【高峰】:中方对于关税问题的立场是一贯的、明确的。贸易战由加征关税而起,也应由取消加征关税而止。至于第一阶段取消多少,可以根据第一阶段协议的内容来商定。谢谢。

China sentences fentanyl smuggler to death in joint effort with US police - Global Times

Xingtai intermediate court in North China's Hebei Province sentenced one man to death for producing and selling fentanyl, and his two accomplices were given life sentences, which show China's "zero-tolerance" policy toward drug-related crimes.

The group manufactured fentanyl in China and then smuggled the drugs to the US to meet the demands of US buyers.

Chinese and US law enforcement agencies exchanged information frequently, and China successfully traced down the group thanks to the US tip-offs. After three months' hard work and tens of thousands miles of travel, China finally arrested more than 20 suspects and confiscated 11.9 kilograms of fentanyl, 19.1 kilograms of alprazolam and other drugs.

The US notified China when they got the information, which propelled China to take swift action, and China also provided information of suspicious parcels to the US so they checked those parcels at the customs.

中美两国联合成功破获首起芬太尼走私案件 全链条摧毁一犯罪团伙、缴获芬太尼11.9公斤--法治--人民网

Xinhua - China and the United States have successfully cracked the first smuggling case involving fentanyl, destroying a criminal gang and seizing 11.9 kilograms of fentanyl

]刘勇等九被告人贩卖 制造芬太尼等毒品案一审宣判_CCTV

Thursday CCTV Evening News has a 51 second report on the Fentanyl sentencing, says it is the first Fentanyl smuggling case cracked with US-China cooperation

Cramer: Trump sees China fentanyl sentencing as good for trade talks - CNBC

The collaboration of the U.S. and China on a fentanyl crackdown is a key step in trade negotiations between the world’s two largest economies, CNBC’s Jim Cramer said Thursday.

“This is what President Trump was waiting for,” Cramer said of China’s decision to send nine people to prison, one of whom received a suspended death sentence, for smuggling fentanyl into the United States.

China considers removing restrictions on U.S. poultry imports - CGTN

China is currently considering removing restrictions on poultry imports from United States, said the General Administration of Customs of China and Chinese Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs on Thursday.

China’s Currency Rallies on Trade Deal Optimism - Caixin

The onshore yuan appreciated to 6.9732 yuan to the U.S. dollar Thursday afternoon, according to Bloomberg data. The yuan has strengthened 2.9% against the greenback since hitting a recent weak point of 7.1789 per dollar on Sept. 3.


2. Hong Kong

China still counting on Hong Kong to enact its own national security law ‘or the city will face unbearable cost’, says Beijing adviser | South China Morning Post

Beijing is still counting on Hong Kong to enact a national security law by itself, a heavyweight adviser on Beijing policy for the city has said, amid fears that the central government could take more direct action on the controversial issue.

“For more than 20 years, Hong Kong still has not completed legislation and law enforcement on national security,” Wang Zhenmin, director of Tsinghua University’s Centre for Hong Kong and Macau Research, said on the sidelines of an event for business leaders hosted by Beijing think tank Centre for China and Globalisation.

“This is the constitutional responsibility of the special administrative region for all stakeholders.”

Beijing gives Greater Bay Area fresh push as Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam reveals 16 new measures including easing of restrictions on buying homes and school enrolment | South China Morning Post

Beijing has promised to make it easier for Hongkongers to buy a home and send their children to local schools in the nine Guangdong cities under the Greater Bay Area integration plan, as Hong Kong’s embattled leader announced a raft of measures on Wednesday to push forward the scheme.

Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, speaking in Beijing, also made it clear that Hong Kong’s role under the ambitious national development project had not lessened, even though the city has been plagued by almost five months of social unrest

Chen Zimou, mainland Chinese student, sentenced to six weeks prison for Hong Kong protest - The Washington Post

A 24-year-old mainland Chinese music student living in Hong Kong became on Thursday among the first to be convicted on a charge related to the months-long protests in the city, receiving six weeks in prison for carrying an expandable baton.

The student, Chen Zimou, is also the first mainland Chinese person to be charged with a protest-related offense — a reality that has put him and his family under intense pressure from Chinese authorities and Chinese nationalists online who have attacked him as a traitor.

【央视快评】凝聚起止暴制乱的强大力量_CCTV

Thursday CCTV Evening News weighs in on the Junius Ho stabbing with a commentary, calls on everyone who loves Hong Kong and the nation to unite to stop the violence and end the chaos

Concerns grow over election safety, fairness amid escalated violence in Hong Kong - Xinhua

An increasing number of candidates have suffered varying degrees of threats, doxxing and online bullying ahead of the polling day, highlighting the urgency of ensuring a safe, clean and peaceful election.

The Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) said last week that by the end of October, it has received 77 complaints in relation to the district council election, of which 28 cases involved use of force or duress against candidates.

Starry Lee, chairwoman of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong (DAB), said the fairness of the elections was seriously jeopardized as many candidates from the political group suffered from various degrees of harassment from besieging to setting fires.

'Heaven slays the Communist Party': Hong Kong university students protest at graduation ceremonies | Hong Kong Free Press HKFP

A group of Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) students have marched on the campus ahead of a graduation ceremony to support arrested students. Although the ceremony itself went ahead uninterrupted, the event was suddenly cut short after degrees were conferred.

Students also protested at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST)’s graduation ceremony on Thursday.

Hong Kong gov't bans dry goods, including satirical items, at Lunar New Year fairs | Hong Kong Free Press HKFP

In recent years, dry good stalls at Lunar New Year fairs have become known for selling items related to current affairs, such as decorations and t-shirts. Political parties and groups usually attend to fundraise through the sale of goods.

In Divided Hong Kong, Apps Help to Avoid Eating With the Enemy - WSJ $$

With apps and social-media groups, shoppers and diners can search color-coded maps to see if users think an establishment is yellow (supports the protests) or blue (is pro-government). A neutral stance, in some, is green.

Hong Kong protesters rack up 'enormous' vandalism repair bill incl. HK$10.5m in property maintenance costs, gov't says | Hong Kong Free Press HKFP

Responding to a question from pro-Beijing lawmaker Kenneth Lau, the Secretary for Security John Lee said on Wednesday that, up until October 29, 85 of 93 MTR stations and 60 of 68 Light Rail stops have been damaged to some degree. Meanwhile, the Highways Department had incurred a cost of over HK$10 million in maintenance and replacement work, while the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department (FEHD) spent HK$0.56 million to reinstall 670 damaged litter containers, typically used by protesters to form makeshift roadblocks.

Can Hong Kong’s Film Sector Stand Up to China? | Hollywood Reporter

"Studios don’t care about Hong Kong society," one veteran producer told THR when asked if Hong Kong studios and established filmmakers might consider making films for the local market. "They care about making money at the box office. Experienced writers are mostly in their 60s. If you tell them to make films for Hong Kong, they’d ask, 'Why not make movies for China instead?' Most Hong Kong filmmakers started their careers in commercial films; their values can’t be easily changed."


3. 20 measures to spur and safeguard foreign investment

China to further utilize foreign investment - Gov.cn

The State Council released the opinions on further improving the utilization of foreign investment on Nov 7, with the aim of promoting high-quality development and unlocking market vitality.

The document puts forward 20 opinions in four aspects to safeguard a more “fair, transparent and predictable” business environment for foreign-invested enterprises.

Among the highlights:

China will move faster to further open up the financial industry, eliminate all restrictions on the scope of business for foreign banks, securities companies and fund management companies, and remove requirements on total assets for the establishment of foreign-funded banks.

Quantitative entry conditions will be reduced for foreign investors in banking and insurance industries. The requirements for total assets and operation time will be removed for foreign insurance brokerage companies, enabling business expansion in China...

This does not mean the market is opening for foreign Internet and entertainment firms:

To build a fair business environment, more efforts will be taken to eliminate institutional obstacles. The business scope for domestic and foreign enterprises should be unified, and the regulations for foreign investors in offering internet and entertainment services should be perfected.

They really want/need foreign investment:

China will move faster to further open up the financial industry, eliminate all restrictions on the scope of business for foreign banks, securities companies and fund management companies, and remove requirements on total assets for the establishment of foreign-funded banks.

Quantitative entry conditions will be reduced for foreign investors in banking and insurance industries. The requirements for total assets and operation time will be removed for foreign insurance brokerage companies, enabling business expansion in China.

This should also help meet some of the US demands:

China will fully implement the foreign investment law, and establish and improve institutions for accepting complaints.

The country will also strengthen the standardization of the implementation of regulatory policies and make the formulation of regulatory documents more transparent. Forced transfer of technology will be strictly banned.

China will fully uphold the role of judicial protection of intellectual property rights (IPR), improve the IPR protection mechanism and establish a comprehensive and diversified resolution mechanism for intellectual property disputes.

The opinion - 国务院关于进一步做好利用外资工作的意见(国发〔2019〕23号)_政府信息公开专栏


4. Blockchain with Chinese characteristics

From Pigs to Party Fealty, China Harnesses Blockchain Power - Bloomberg

Call it blockchain with Chinese characteristics. Many of the applications have little reason to be decentralized -- a key merit, if not requisite for a blockchain to be tamper-proof. A flurry of gimmicks could just be the first-rush response to Xi’s call to no longer play second fiddle to the U.S., as Beijing stakes a claim on the technology -- but doing so in a way that’s a far cry from the vision of the technology’s creator Satoshi Nakamoto.

“I can’t see them doing much decentralization at this point, without the blockchain players being under the watchful eye of the government,” said Martin Chorzempa, research fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics. “If we have blockchain with these Chinese characteristics, we eschew the central ethos of cryptocurrency and blockchain and the technology that underlines it.”

Success for Shanghai's 'single window' blockchain application - SHINE News

At a press conference held on the third day of the second China International Import Expo, Shanghai promoted several achievements of the "blockchain plus" application at the city's "single window" service platform for international trade...

Experts from the World Bank spoke highly of Shanghai's single window platform, saying that it ranks among the best in the world in terms of diversity of functions and amount of business processing. They added that such platforms can be promoted to other countries.

Chinese Agency Scraps Plan to Eliminate Bitcoin Mining Industry - CoinDesk

The National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), a top-level economic planning agency under China’s State Council, published a finalized new Catalog for Guiding Industry Restructuring on Wednesday that will take effect from Jan 1, 2020.

In the final version, which will replace the current one published in 2011, the agency has removed bitcoin mining or other virtual currency mining activities from the initially proposed category of industries that should be eliminated from China. Description related to virtual currency or bitcoin mining can’t be found in the finalized catalog.

Chinese cryptomining giant Bitmain’s civil war breaks into open | Financial Times

“As Bitmain’s founder and largest shareholder, it’s embarrassing that I never knew a government registered legal representative of a firm could suddenly be changed when he was away on a business trip and without him knowing anything,” Mr Zhan wrote. 

Last week his co-founder Wu Jihan returned to the company after an absence and replaced Mr Zhan’s name on the company’s registration documents with his own. Mr Wu also threatened employees with punishment if they continued to meet or communicate with Mr Zhan or carry out any of his instructions. 

Mr Zhan told Bitmain staff and shareholders in his letter he would take all legal measures to come back to the company as soon as possible...

“Everyone is on Wu Jihan’s side except for Zhan’s assistant. People in the bitcoin circle believe in blockchain and cryptocurrency, not AI, and they blame last year’s mass lay-off on Zhan Ketuan,” said Liu Feng, editor-in-chief of Chinese crypto news outlet ChainNews. 


5. Another firm outed for censoring in China

Shutterstock Employees Fight Company’s New Chinese Search Blacklist-The Intercept

The publicly traded company built a $639 million-per-year business on the strength of its vast — sometimes comically vast — catalog of images depicting virtually anything a blogger or advertiser could imagine. The company now does business in more than 150 countries. But in China, there is now a very small, very significant gap in Shutterstock’s offerings. In early September, Shutterstock engineers were given a new goal: The creation of a search blacklist that would wipe from query results images associated with keywords forbidden by the Chinese government. Under the new system, which The Intercept is told went into effect last month, anyone with a mainland Chinese IP address searching Shutterstock for “President Xi,” “Chairman Mao,” “Taiwan flag,” “dictator,” “yellow umbrella,” or “Chinese flag” will receive no results at all. Variations of these terms, including “umbrella movement” — the precursor to the mass pro-democracy protests currently gripping Hong Kong — are also banned...

The photo company’s relationship with China dates back to at least 2014, when it struck a distribution deal with ZCool, a Chinese social network and portfolio site for visual artists. Last year Shutterstock announced a $15 million investment in ZCool, noting that owing to the partnership, “Shutterstock’s content now powers large technology platforms in China such as Tencent Social Ads,”..

Shutterstock’s founder and CEO Jon Oringer replied to the petition several days later...“Do we make the majority of our content available to China’s 1.3 billion citizens or do we take away their ability to access it entirely? We ultimately believe, consistent with our brand promise, it is more valuable for storytellers to have access to our collection to creatively and impactfully tell their stories.” Shutterstock with a bespoke censorship feature was “more empowering” and “will better serve the people of China than the alternative,” Oringer continued.

Comment: If you choose to launch your services in China then you have to do this. The only way to avoid making these compromises is to forgo the PRC market. Maybe I am too jaded but a Shutterstock tool that limits this censorship to PRC IP addresses sounds like a reasonable solution for a firm whose leadership has decided to move forward with the China compromise.

Apple TV+, Apple Arcade, Other Apple Services Blocked in China - Bloomberg

Apple services such as the App Store, digital books, news, video, podcasts and music, put the company in the more precarious position of information provider (or at least overseer), exposing it to a growing online crackdown by China’s authoritarian government.


6. Today in the US-China tech struggle

Exclusive: ASML chip tool delivery to China delayed amid US ire - Nikkei Asian Review

As the world's sole supplier of the so-called extreme ultraviolet lithography chip tool, or EUV, the delayed shipment is a blow to Beijing's aspirations to achieve self-sufficient, technological supremacy. However, ASML's use of the word "delay" suggests that eventual shipment has not been ruled out.

"ASML has decided for now to hold back delivery of the EUV equipment as it does not want to make the U.S. government upset that it ships the most advanced chip tool to China" right now, said one of the sources with knowledge of ASML's thinking.

"But at the same time it [ASML] does not want to make China and its Chinese customers feel bad [about the delay] as that is its fastest-growing [tech] market," the source added...

ASML also made clear that its near-unique EUV machine is subject to the so-called Wassenaar Arrangement -- a multinational export control protocol designed to stop the spread of advanced technologies that can be used for military ends -- but that it had an exemption from the Dutch and European authorities to sell the machine to Chinese customers. The permit appears to have now expired.

Securing Our 5G Future | Center for a New American Security - Elsa B. Kania

5G has emerged as a key front in U.S.-China rivalry. Although the advent of 5G could greatly benefit the global economy and produce positive-sum outcomes, and its realization will require international cooperation and coordination to sustain global interoperability, it is undeniable the stakes are high. The outcome of this competition could shift the global center of gravity for growth and innovation. As a rising power, China has prioritized efforts to challenge American leadership in innovation. If successful in realizing its 5G ambitions, China could be poised to reshape the international technological ecosystem and capture major strategic dividends that will enhance its global power and influence. To compete, the U.S. government can and must contribute to catalyzing American innovation.

US–China Strategic Competition: The Quest for Global Technological Leadership | Chatham House

The current dispute between the US and China goes far beyond trade tariffs and tit-for-tat reprisals: the underlying driver is a race for global technological supremacy. This paper examines the risks of greater strategic competition as well as potential solutions for mitigating the impacts of the US–China economic confrontation.

America’s War on Chinese Technology by Jeffrey D. Sachs - Project Syndicate - Jeffrey Sachs

The decision to invade Iraq followed the illogic of then-US Vice President Richard Cheney, who declared that even if the risk of WMDs falling into terrorist hands was tiny – say, 1% – we should act as if that scenario would certainly occur.

Such reasoning is guaranteed to lead to wrong decisions more often than not. Yet the US and some of its allies are now using the Cheney Doctrine to attack Chinese technology. The US government argues that because we can’t know with certainty that Chinese technologies are safe, we should act as if they are certainly dangerous and bar them...

That is what US leaders are doing again: creating a panic over Chinese technology companies by raising, and exaggerating, tiny risks. The most pertinent case (but not the only one) is the US government attack on the wireless broadband company Huawei.

Turmoil at China’s silicon chip champion rocks self-reliance plans | Financial Times $$

Tsinghua Unigroup, long thought to have ironclad backing from the government, went out of its way on Thursday to trumpet that support after market turmoil. Unigroup said it had not defaulted on any bonds and had ample cash “in and outside” the country in a statement issued by a listed subsidiary.

The share price of one of its Shenzhen-listed subsidiaries plunged by the 10 per cent limit on Wednesday while the price of its dollar-denominated bond due in 2021 fell sharply. The statement appeared to reassure investors and shares of its listed units nudged upwards while its dollar debt was also largely steady on Thursday.


7. National Livelihood Satisfaction Survey 

Chinese Journal Review: National Livelihood Satisfaction Survey Released, Rural Professional Associations and Farmer Incomes

In October, the State Council’s Development Research Center published the results of its 2018 annual Livelihood Satisfaction survey in Management World journal. Researchers surveyed 51,606 people, including 64.5 percent in urban areas and 35.5 percent in rural areas.

Some highlights:

Overall satisfaction declining. 49.6 percent of residents in urban and rural areas sampled said they were “very satisfied” or “satisfied” with their overall quality of life, down from 52.8 percent in 2017. Residents who said they were “relatively dissatisfied” or “very dissatisfied” with their quality of life increased to 13.4 percent, up from 12 percent in 2017.

Confidence in the future declining. 68.9 percent of respondents said they were “confident” or “very confident” in the future, which the authors reported was down from 2017, and 10.2 percent of respondents said they had “little” or “no” confidence in the future, an increase over 2017 levels. (Note: The authors did not report 2017 levels for this indicator).

75 percent of respondents saw no increase or a decrease in income...

Expenditures increasing...

High levels of satisfaction with government services

The Party pays a lot of attention to these surveys

This free newsletter, Chinese Journal Review, is very interesting.


8. Hong Kong booksellers

Swedish publisher detained in China to publish poems smuggled out of jail - Reuters

Chinese-born Gui Minhai, a Swedish citizen based in Hong Kong who has published books critical of China’s leaders, was abducted in Thailand in 2015 and later appeared in custody in mainland China.

The book, called “I draw a door on the wall with my finger”, will be released in May next year on Gui’s 56th birthday.

“We were contacted by his daughter Angela and she wondered if we wanted to publish the poems, which we very much wanted,” said Martin Kaunitz of Kaunitz & Olsson. “He had them smuggled out to Angela and he wrote the poems during his first stay in prison.”

Hong Kong bookseller Lam Wing-kee who fled to Taiwan says he’s ready to reopen in Taipei | South China Morning Post

Lam Wing-kee, the Hong Kong bookseller who moved to Taiwan in April – three years after claiming he had been kidnapped by Chinese agents for selling books banned across the border – says he plans to reopen his store, Causeway Bay Books, in Taipei early next year.

The shop would sell books about Taiwan, Hong Kong and mainland China, and cater to “free souls” so they could understand the increasingly complex situation facing the three territories, he said.


Business, Economy and Trade

China’s Foreign Reserves Post Small Increase on Weaker Dollar - Bloomberg The small rise in the holdings suggests capital outflows remain muted, even with some signs of hidden outbound cash. Fluctuations in the stockpile this year have been mainly driven by valuation effects caused by changes in the dollar index and Treasury yields.

China Reboots Plan to Attract Tech IPOs - WSJ $$ China is making a fresh attempt to attract technology listings, after previous plans to connect overseas-traded behemoths including Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. with mainland investors fizzled...Under the new system, foreign companies and Chinese businesses that are incorporated abroad will be able to list in mainland China, the people added. Many Chinese companies are incorporated in offshore locations such as the Cayman Islands. That allows them, for example, to obtain venture-capital funding from international investors, which would otherwise be restricted under Chinese laws on foreign ownership.

China Is Said to Mull Wave of Bank Mergers to Bolster Stability - Bloomberg Problematic banks with less than 100 billion yuan ($14 billion) of assets would be urged to merge or restructure under a plan being discussed by financial regulators, people familiar with the matter said. Local governments would be held responsible for dealing with troubled lenders, with the central bank providing liquidity support if necessary, the people said, asking not to be identified discussing private information.

China’s Gold Buying Spree Comes to a Halt After 10 Months - Bloomberg The People’s Bank of China kept holdings level 62.64 million ounces in October, unchanged from a month earlier, according to data on its website on Thursday. That holding pattern follows 10 straight months of accumulation that have boosted the nation’s stockpile by more than 100 tons

Foreign holdings of China equities at record - Reuters By end-Sept, Chinese equities held by foreigners were at a record of 1.77 trillion yuan ($253.14 billion) after having risen for four straight months, up nearly 40% in a year, the latest data from the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) shows.

Alibaba cuts fundraising target for delayed Hong Kong listing | Financial Times $$ Alibaba has slashed its fundraising target for a secondary listing in Hong Kong to as little as $10bn — half its original goal — as it tries to push through a deal by the end of the year.

China set to make new offer to EU as agriculture chief Phil Hogan admits there has been ‘limited progress’ on investment deal | South China Morning Post Phil Hogan, currently the EU Agriculture Commissioner, said on Thursday that both sides needed to redouble their efforts to reach a deal next year. “I got a sense during my visit that China wants to work with Europe closely and I will bring the message back to Brussels”, he told reporters at a press conference in Beijing.

刘强东因个人原因请辞全国政协委员 据《新闻联播》报道,11月7日, 政协第十三届全国委员会常务委员会第九次会议在京闭幕,会议接受刘强东因个人原因请辞第十三届全国政协委员 JD founder Liu Qiangdong (Richard Li) resigns as a CPPCC delegate, for "personal reasons"

Yicai Global - China's Trip.Com Forms JV With TripAdvisor, May Name Person to US Firm's Board Shanghai-based Trip will own 60 percent of TripAdvisor China, with its US partner holding the rest. The deal will give both access to each other's inventory, help Trip with its globalization plans and strengthen TripAdvisor's status as a global travel leader, they said in a joint statement yesterday.

Money-Losing Letting Agency Raises Only Half of What It Wanted in U.S. IPO - Caixin Money-losing letting agency Q&K International Group Ltd. has raised $45.9 million in its initial public offering (IPO) on the Nasdaq, less than half of its original fundraising target.

Industrial Giant Gets Stay of Execution on Debt Repayment - Caixin A private placement bond manager familiar with Xiwang Group told Caixin the company “is being proactive and investors have no better option than to agree with the extension as the commercial paper is already in default.”..The company, which is controlled by businessman Wang Yong, is based in the Shandong city of Zouping and speculation had grown that the local government would get involved in a bailout.

Tmall Global Wants to Build an Ecosystem of Global Influencers | Alizila.com Kim Kardashian West, the reality TV star, social media icon and businesswoman, sold out of her stock of 15,000 bottles of her name-brand KKW perfume in just a few minutes during a livestream with China’s top key opinion leader, Viya Huang, on Wednesday, drawing 13 million viewers to mark her entry into the China market via cross-border e-commerce site Tmall Global. To Tmall Global, Kardashian and Huang are wangzi, “mega-popular influencers” in Chinese.

Presale figures of “Double 11” reveal improved consumption power of Chinese - People's Daily Online According to statistics released by Tmall, an online shopping platform under e-commerce giant Alibaba, 64 brands had made it into the 100-million-yuan ($14.3 million) club for their presale performance by Oct. 31, double the number last year. For instance, Estee Lauder’s presale volume hit nearly 500 million yuan in the first 25 minutes, exceeding the 24-hour figure last year. In addition, the first half-hour presale figures of phone makers, including Huawei, OPPO, VIVO and Xiaomi also surpassed those made in a day in 2018.

Politics and Law

应知应会!十九届四中全会超全学习资料包--独家稿件-人民网 People's Daily page with links to all the resources a good cadre needs to study the Fourth Plenum

Senior CPC official urges publicizing spirit of key Party plenum - Xinhua Wang, a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and a member of the Secretariat of the CPC Central Committee, made the remarks at a meeting to rally morale for the lecturers to publicize the spirit of the plenary session, which was convened from Oct. 28 to 31 in Beijing. He asked the lecturers to develop an in-depth understanding of the plenary session spirit to better serve the publicity works. //CCTV Evening News report on the meeting 学习贯彻党的十九届四中全会精神中央宣讲团动员会在京召开 王沪宁出席并讲话

National religious groups vow to implement spirit of key CPC session - Xinhua China's national religious groups on Thursday gathered to study the spirit of the fourth plenary session of the 19th Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee. Calling the session a groundbreaking and milestone event, attendees of the meeting said the session showed the new requirements for the development of the country's causes in the new era and the new expectations of the people.

Foreign and Defense Affairs

Xi to visit Greece, attend BRICS summit in Brazil - Xinhua At the invitation of Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos and Brazilian President Jair Messias Bolsonaro, Chinese President Xi Jinping will pay a state visit to Greece and attend the 11th BRICS summit in Brasilia, the capital city of Brazil, from Nov. 10 to 15, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying announced in Beijing on Thursday.

Europeans look to China as global partner, shun Trump's US - AP Macron portrayed himself as an envoy for the whole European Union, conveying the message that the bloc has largely given up on Trump, who doesn’t hide his disdain for multilateralism. Just as the Trump administration formally launched the process of pulling out of the 2015 Paris climate agreement , France and China issued a “Beijing call” on Wednesday for increased global cooperation in fighting climate change and better protecting biodiversity. Both countries have deplored the U.S. withdrawal.

Chinese top legislator meets Czech parliament speaker - Xinhua Chinese top legislator Li Zhanshu met with Speaker of the Chamber of Deputies Radek Vondracek in Beijing on Thursday...Vondracek said the Czech Republic is willing to seize the important opportunity provided by China's development and further opening-up, enhance high-level exchanges, promote practical cooperation and explore the Chinese market. The Czech Republic will continue to uphold the one-China principle, he said.

SecDef: China Is Exporting Killer Robots to the Mideast - Defense One China is exporting drones that it advertises as having lethal autonomy to the Middle East, Defense Secretary Mark Esper said Tuesday. It’s the first time that a senior Defense official has acknowledged that China is selling drones capable of taking life with little or no human oversight.

President Xi calls to use Military World Games experience for national rejuvenation - Ministry of National Defense The success of the 7th Military World Games has not only shown the image of China in the new era to the world, but also demonstrated the country's stance of peaceful development, Xi noted. Xi urged all relevant parties to draw on the experiences from the successful hosting of the Military World Games and contribute to realizing the "Chinese Dream" of rejuvenating the nation. The 7th Military World Games, the biggest ever "Olympics for the military," was held from October 18 to 27 in the central Chinese city of Wuhan. China collected 239 medals including 133 golds, the first time in the history of the event that a country has won over 100 gold medals.

Chinese defense minister meets Bangladesh chief of army staff - China Military Chinese State Councilor and Defense Minister Wei Fenghe on Wednesday met with Chief of Bangladesh Army Staff Aziz Ahmed in Beijing

Illustrations showing ballistic missile on H-6N bomber not real: insider - Global Times Recent images in the Chinese magazine Modern Ships that show an H-6N bomber carrying an air-launched ballistic missile (ALBM) are not official confirmation of the H-6N's ALBM capability, a magazine insider said. The images are computer generated, merely conceptual and have no official background, the insider told the Global Times.

China starts UN tsunami warning center - Global Times A tsunami alert center established by China in the South China Sea area has begun operating, reflecting the nation's contributions to regional peace and the region's recognition of China's technologies.  The South China Sea Tsunami Advisory Center (SCSTAC),the latest addition to the UNESCO Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC), is hosted and funded by China's National Marine Environmental Forecasting Center in Beijing.

China and France to jointly repair Notre Dame de Paris - China Daily With President Xi Jinping and his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron's presence during the latter's state visit to China on Wednesday, the declaration was signed by Liu Yuzhu, director of the National Cultural Heritage Administration and Franck Riester, the French minister of culture, in the Great Hall of the People. "A loss of cultural heritage means the disappearance of a period of history and culture," Liu says in a written statement. "It also teaches us a lesson about ensuring the safety of cultural heritage, and prompted us to set red lines for the future that must not be crossed." // Did France offer to send experts to help repair churches and mosques damaged in China's crackdown on religion?

China space agency shares satellite data - ECNS China will share data from its Gaofen (GF) satellites free to the public on the website www.cnsageo.com, the China National Space Administration (CNSA) announced at a meeting of the Group on Earth Observations (GEO) in Canberra, Australia. The China High-resolution Earth Observation System aims to build up an observation system based on satellites, aircraft and ground systems. Several satellites including the GF-1 and GF-6 have been launched under the system’s framework. // CNSA GEO Home 

There may be a message behind the new Chinese ambassador's clothing choices | CBC News When former Chinese ambassador Lu Shaye presented his credentials to Governor-General David Johnson in March 2017, the dapper diplomat opted for a dark grey western business suit with a pink tie. On Friday, his replacement Cong Peiwu met Governor-General Julie Payette wearing an austere black Mao suit. It's an outfit similar to the one worn by China's supreme leader Xi Jinping recently to mark the 70th anniversary of Communist Party rule in China.

Taiwan

Taiwan warns of possible attack if China's slowdown 'becomes serious' - Reuters In an interview with Reuters, Taiwan’s Foreign Minister Joseph Wu drew attention to China’s slowing economy amid its bitter trade war with the United States. “If the internal stability is a very serious issue, or economic slowdown has become a very serious issue for the top leaders to deal with, that is the occasion that we need to be very careful,” Wu said on Wednesday. “We need to prepare ourselves for the worst situation to come...military conflict.”

Tech and Media

China’s State Administration of Press and Publication releases new notice on preventing addiction among minors in online games. – Niko Whilst spending limits for minors has been an option in past games via parental control apps for game publishers like Tencent and NetEase, we note that this is the first time there is an official policy on the subject. As per the notice, game publishers are required to block all payment options for players under the age of 8. For players between 8 and 16 years old, game publishers are required to implement a limit of RMB 50 on single transactions and RMB 200 each month. Players between 16 and 18 years old will have a limit of RMB 100 on single transactions and a limit of RMB 400 each month.

China officially launches 6G research and development - People's Daily Online While addressing a gathering on Sunday, vice-minister of science and technology Wang Xi said worldwide knowledge about the technology is still in an exploratory stage, without consensus over its definitions and applications. He said the ministry will work with relevant departments to roll out a plan for 6G development, and work towards breakthroughs regarding its basic theories, key technologies and standards.

The wonderful world of Chinese hi-fi - The Verge Online, the phenomenon is known as “Chi-fi” — a mashup of “Chinese” and “high-fidelity.” It’s usually used to refer to portable audio gear — they’re almost always earbuds, which sit outside the ear canal like AirPods, or in-ear monitors (IEMs), which have squishy tips and actually go inside the ear canal — that come from essentially anonymous Chinese companies.

China’s ‘Enter the Forbidden City’ to Get U.S. Release – Variety Directed by female filmmaker Hu Mei and written by Zou Jingzhi (Zhang Yimou’s “Coming Home,” Wong Kar Wai’s “The Grandmaster”), the historical epic won the Chinese American Film Festival’s top prizes for best director and best feature film Tuesday night at an awards ceremony in Los Angeles. Hu is one of China’s so-called Fifth Generation directors.

专访《我和我的祖国》总出品人傅若清:打造不一样的主旋律电影_周刊精选_经济网_国家一类新闻网站 China Economic Weekly interviews Fu Ruoqing, head producer of the film "Me and my Motherland", on why it was successful, and a different kind of propaganda film

Energy, Environment, Science and Health

Questions Swirl Around China’s New Alzheimer’s Drug - Caixin News that China’s medical regulator conditionally approved a novel, locally made drug to treat some symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease raised the hopes of many and prompted plenty of patriotic chest-thumping. But while the drug’s mechanism sounds promising and reflects current research trends, questions persist over the scant evidence provided for its effectiveness and safety, drawing skepticism from industry insiders and researchers alike.

China has 10 mln e-cigarette smokers: expert - Xinhua About 10 million Chinese aged 15 or above are using electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes), according to Xiao Lin, a researcher at the Tobacco Control Office at the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention. The vaping rate among young people was higher than other age groups, with those aged 15 to 24 the highest, said Xiao at an online discussion panel on the website of China's National Health Commission (NHC).

E-commerce marketplaces struggle to comply with e-cigarette sales ban · TechNode Nearly a week after the ban, related government authorities on Tuesday summoned executives from major e-commerce platforms, search engines, and social platforms to accelerate implementation of the ban.

Countdown starts for China’s big mutant crop space mission in race for food security | South China Morning Post China plans to launch a recoverable satellite that will carry half a tonne of life forms into space to see if better crops can be produced there, according to scientists involved. The “passengers” on the satellite, which could be launched early next year, will include more than 240kg (530lbs) of seeds and plants, as well as other forms of life such as bacteria.

The satellite images that help explain why Delhi’s air remains toxic and Beijing’s is getting better - The Washington Post In a study published last year, a team of researchers found that the number of burning spots during fall had plummeted across China between 2015 and 2017. Overall, crop burning remained a pollution factor, however, as some farmers appear to have resorted to burning cropland during other seasons. In comparison, India’s democratic government has struggled to confront the problem with the same efficiency as China’s authoritarian state. Farmers account for a significant share of Indian voters in some states, which has slowed the country’s response.

Study reveals how Tibetan people adapt to high altitude - Xinhua They also found that a gene named MKL1 shows large divergence between highland Tibetans and lowland Han Chinese. The difference is associated with lower systolic pulmonary arterial pressure, one of the key adaptive physiological traits in Tibetans.  Compared to other East Asian genomes, the researchers found that the Tibetan genome has more shared gene sequences with archaic humans like Neanderthal and Denisovan, noting that the unique genomic composition is associated with better lung function in Tibetans.

Food and Travel

北京城管查处胡同“自产”糖葫芦 黑枣发霉!山楂不洗!-中国长安网 inspections of tang hulu sellers in Beijing find dirty fruit, mold...i miss these, as do my kids ad spouse. Haw fruit brings back many happy memories

Rural and Agricultural Issues

Why Some Rural Families Have Stopped Trying for Sons - SixthTone Between 2004 and 2012, I spent a total of 17 months living in rural northeastern Liaoning province, conducting research into locals’ lives, childrearing practices, intergenerational relations, marital transactions, and traditions of ancestor worship in an effort to understand the socioeconomic and cultural forces driving this change in reproductive preferences. I found that significant transformations were taking place within Chinese families which, combined, were engendering a willingness to have only one daughter. To start, young couples in the village had adopted a new ideal of happiness, one defined by material consumption and leisure. A few young villagers used the phrase “life is to be enjoyed” to describe the new mindset. Thanks to a burgeoning market economy, villagers had access to a wide variety of consumer goods. To afford them, many took jobs in factories, restaurants, and construction sites outside their home villages, while devoting their limited free time to playing mahjong or visiting friends after work.—Shi Lihong is an associate professor in the department of anthropology at Case Western Reserve University.

China's soybean yield sets new record - Global Times Chinese researchers have set a new record in soybean yield, according to the Jiamusi Branch of the Heilongjiang Academy of Agricultural Sciences. The new record was set in test fields in northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, which achieved a yield of 447.47 kg of soybean per mu (about 0.07 hectares).