China Tariffs; Censored Caixin Story On Businesswoman Connected To Sun Zhengcai; People's Daily "Manifesto" On Party and State Institutional Reform

China goes on vacation Thursday and Friday for the Qingming Festival, so the news may be a bit light over the rest of the week. 

Three items stand out for me. 

The Chinese announced tariffs on certain US imports, in a follow through of their threats from two weeks ago. It looks like the communications between Liu He and Lighthizer/Mnuchin are not making making much progress.

The pseudonymous "Manifesto 宣言" is back in the People's Daily with an article on the importance the Party and State institutional reform, and says that in the 40th anniversary year of the "Reform and Opening" policy China is entering a "Reform Spring". 

Caixin published and then quickly deleted a long story on Duan Weihong 段伟红, the businesswoman linked to the Wen Jiabao family and Sun Zhengcai. The Caixin article focused on her ties to Sun and her Beijing business success thanks to his support, but mention certain transactions that look to be related to the Wen family. The Chinese version only lasted a few hours, the English version made it through most of the weekend.

The Caixin censorship is interesting as it is unlikely they would have published such a sensitive article without feeling confident the "relevant organs" approved. Perhaps the implication of a connection to the Wen family is still too sensitive, but I would imagine the Wens do not find much comfort in the harmonization. 

Much of the commentary has seen the takedown of Sun Zhengcai as part of Xi's plan to eliminate a potential successor and rule for life. I certainly won't argue there is not a significant and obvious political element to his case, but what if Sun really was egregiously corrupt? Given Xi's vision of China's Great Rejuvenation perhaps he decided that the top of the entire next generation of leaders had become so corrupt and dissolute during the late Ming-like Hu-Wen era that some need to be eliminated while others, perhaps like Hu Chunhua, will be given a chance during the ongoing cadre Cultural Revolution to prove that they have gotten with the Xi program over the next several years?

In a housekeeping note, I am on the cusp of hiring some help for the newsletter. So far it is just me, and with some assistance I can make it much better. But I need a few more subscribers to make the numbers work, so please consider recommending Sinocism to friends and colleagues.

Thanks for reading.


The Essential Eight

1. China Announces Tariffs On Some US Goods

Defying Trump, China Slaps Tariffs on 128 U.S. Products - The New York Times:

The Chinese retaliation was no surprise. But Beijing appeared to go a step beyond its initial threat last month to counter the United States’ tariffs on steel and aluminum.

The Ministry of Commerce said then that it could impose tariffs in two stages: first, a 15 percent duty on 120 products, including fruit and wine, and then, after further assessing the impact of the United States’ tariffs, a 25 percent tariff on eight other products, including pork, an important moneymaker, especially in farming regions in states that voted for Mr. Trump.

The official announcement and list, notes in response to the Section 232 action 国务院关税税则委员会对原产于美国的部分进口商品中止关税减让义务的通知

There is a link at the bottom of the official announcement to download a .xlsx file if you so desire...

A glance at US products affected by Chinese tariff hikes - AP

And more to come later this week--Trump to unveil China tariff list this week, targeting tech goods - Reuters:

U.S. tariffs on $50 billion to $60 billion worth of annual imports is expected to be levied on products benefiting from Beijing’s “Made in China 2025” industrial development program, but it may be more than two months before the import curbs take effect, administration officials have said.

The U.S. Trade Representative’s office needs to unveil the list of products by Friday under President Donald Trump’s China tariff proclamation signed on March 22.

China Urges More Trade Talks as Tariffs on U.S. Goods Begin - Bloomberg:

The U.S. didn’t respond to China’s March 26 request for consultation on Washington’s steel and aluminum tariffs, the Commerce Ministry said in a statement Monday, adding that officials have widespread public support for tougher measures and repeating Beijing’s stance that disputes should be resolved with dialogue. China previously planned to seek compensation for trade lost because of the U.S. metals actions.

China urges U.S. to revoke protectionist measures - Xinhua:

"People expressed widespread support via telephone and e-mail for the counter-measures, with some even suggesting stronger measures," said the statement.

Based on that domestic support, the measures have been put into effect. The Chinese Ministry of Finance on Monday announced a 15-percent tariff on 120 items from the United States including fruit, and a 25-percent tariff on eight items including pork.

China has acted in restraint to avoid confrontation with the United States, with measures to increase imports and widen market access, but to no avail.

The two sides have failed to reach a consensus as the United States declined to respond to China's requests through the WTO for consultation, the MOC said. "As a WTO member, China has the right not to meet some former obligations to the United States."

China metals group eyeing new counter-measures in U.S. trade row - Reuters:

“We are doing research and looking if there is anything else we can do to respond,” Wen Xianjun, vice president of the China Nonferrous Metals Industry Association (CNIA), told Reuters.

The carrot:

China to import $8 trillion of goods in next five years: foreign minister - Reuters:

China’s overseas investment will reach $750 billion in the next five years, the foreign ministry said in a statement on its website, citing Wang at a conference in Vietnam.

Wang's comments at the GMS Business Summit in Hanoi:

In the coming five years, China is expected to import US$8 trillion worth of goods, attract US$600 billion worth of foreign investment and make a total of US$750 billion outbound investment.

China opens up to all parts of the world, but first of all, to our neighbors. You will be the first to hear the steps of China’s opening and share its dividends. In November, China will host in Shanghai the first International Import Expo, a new platform for sharing development opportunities among all participants. Next year, China will host the second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation. We look forward to the active participation of the GMS countries and your business communities to enhance our all-round cooperation and share the benefits under the Belt and Road framework.

When Senator Warren and President Trump agree...There are no significant forces to moderate a much tougher approach to China on either side of the partisan divide in US politics— Senator Warren, in Beijing, says U.S. is waking up to Chinese abuses - Reuters:

After years of mistakenly assuming economic engagement would lead to a more open China, the U.S. government was waking up to Chinese demands for U.S. companies to give up their know-how in exchange for access to its market, Warren said.

“The whole policy was misdirected. We told ourselves a happy-face story that never fit with the facts,” Warren told reporters on Saturday, during a three-day visit to China that began on Friday.

“Now U.S. policymakers are starting to look more aggressively at pushing China to open up the markets without demanding a hostage price of access to U.S. technology,” she said.


2. People's Daily "Manifesto 宣言" Is Back

The "Xuanyan 宣言" aka "Manifesto" is pseudonym is back with a signed article on the front page of the April 2 People's Daily. The previous article under this name appeared in January, about China’s global ambitions [CORRECTION: The January was the first, there was a second one in People's Daily on 23 February, on socialism with Chinese characteristics as social revolution]. This one is about the meaning and importance of the Party and State institutional reform kicked off at the recent Third Plenum, the one I call the "Party Eats The State" Plenum. It says the country is now in the "Spring of Reform".

为有源头活水来--人民网

The title of the article comes from the last line of Song Dynasty scholar and philosopher Zhu Xi's poem "觀書有感 Reflections on Reading"--為有源頭活水來 from its source comes an endless flow of water. (The full poem and translation are here)

The Sunday CCTV Evening News summarized the article in—人民日报将刊发“宣言”署名文章:为有源头活水来 :

文章指出,一场凝结着人民希望、民族梦想的党和国家机构改革,帷幕已经拉开,全面深化改革进入新阶段。打基础、立支柱、定架构,聚人民创造伟力,固人民千秋基业。这场具有重大历史意义的深刻变革,以鲜明的人民立场、深沉的为民情怀,以其系统性、整体性、重构性,必将成为新时代中国政治体制改革的重大标志,成为焕发社会主义中国活力创造力的强大引擎。

文章最后指出,历史将铭记这个新的改革春天,为国家繁荣昌盛,为人民美好生活,为民族伟大复兴,注入的源头活水、带来的无穷力量、催生的无限希望。

So who is "Xuan Yan"? Is it Wang Huning, who appears to be the intellectual mastermind behind the ideological efforts to fuse China's past philosophy with Marxism-Leninism? And why is the title taken from a Zhu Xi poem? According to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy entry on Zhu Xi he was:

...the preeminent Neo-Confucian (daoxue) master of the Southern Song (1126–1271), is generally ranked as second only to Confucius (551–479 BCE) in influence and as rivaling Zhuangzi (fourth century BCE) in philosophic acumen in the Chinese philosophical tradition

China to complete formation of new government departments by mid-April: media - Reuters:

China will complete by mid-April the formation of new government departments announced as part of a sweeping restructuring plan ratified by parliament, state television reported late on Saturday citing comments from Vice Premier Han Zheng.


3. Caixin Publishes And The Deletes Expose Of Duan Weihong

This story has been deleted from the Caixin site. You can see screenshots of it here  and here on my Twitter feed.

段姓神秘女商人失联 涉孙政才案_财新周刊频道_财新网:

34岁低价接手上市前夜的平安保险股份,两年后抢下首都国际机场货运大通关基地,后又坐拥北京市黄金宝地写字楼、酒店,天津女商人段伟红涉孙政才案失联..

Mike Forsythe who along with David Barboza reported on Duan's detention back in February in Corruption Inquiry Draws Nearer to Former Chinese Prime Minister wrote in Twitter in response to the Caixin story:

Mike Forsythe 傅才德@PekingMike

Wow. Caixin shining light on Ping An, COSCO and New World Development in Whitney Duan article. Seems more focused on Wen family.
2002年8月,招商局把所持17.09%的平安保险股份转让给了宝华投资、源信行投资和上海银峰投资,这三家公司背后的控制人为香港富商郑裕彤,转让价格约每股6.4元。

March 31, 2018
The two English-language articles lasted longer on the Caixin site but are now deleted as well, and I only saved one... 

Duan Weihong’s Philanthropy Included Close Ties to Top Science School - Caixin Global:

Apart from her high-profile investments, Duan Weihong was also known for her philanthropy, much of it connected to Tsinghua University, China’s leading sciences school. In 2007, she founded the Kai Feng Foundation and served as its chairman. The foundation became the first philanthropic foundation in China initiated by private sector, with authorization from China’s Ministry of Civil Affairs.

Kai Feng’s website describes its mission as encouraging research on traditional Chinese culture, as well as on political, economic, social and cultural issues. At the time of its founding, the foundation set up a program to award annual scholarships to students at Tsinghua.

In 2014, Duan set up the Desmond and Whitney Shum research scholarship at the Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies at Harvard University, supporting doctoral candidates to conduct field research in China.


4. First Meeting Of Upgraded Central Committee for Financial and Economic Affairs

Xi stresses efforts to win "three tough battles" - Xinhua:

Chinese President Xi Jinping Monday urged solid efforts to win the "three tough battles" of preventing financial risks, reducing poverty and tackling pollution.

Xi, also general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission, made the remarks at the first meeting of the Central Committee for Financial and Economic Affairs

The meeting also approved rules for the committee's work and emphasized the need to strengthen Party Center's centralized and unified leadership over economic work

Li Keqiang is vice chair, PBSC members Wang Huning and Han Zheng are members of the commission, Wang Yang also attended. Liu He is not mentioned but I believe he is head of the committee's general office?

CCTV Evening News on the meeting has more details- 习近平主持召开中央财经委员会第一次会议强调 加强党中央对经济工作的集中统一领导 打好决胜全面建成小康社会三大攻坚战:

中共中央政治局常委、国务院总理、中央财经委员会副主任李克强,中共中央政治局常委、中央书记处书记、中央财经委员会委员王沪宁,中共中央政治局常委、国务院副总理、中央财经委员会委员韩正出席会议。中共中央政治局常委、全国政协主席汪洋参加会议。

China to gradually cut macro-economic leverage ratio: state media - Reuters:

“Local governments and enterprises, especially state-owned enterprises, must reduce their leverage as soon as possible and we will strive to achieve a stable and gradual decline in the macro leverage ratio,” state radio quoted Xi as saying.

“We should give priority to issues that may threaten economic and social stability and trigger systemic risks.”

State-owned Enterprises Banned From Financing Chinese Local Government - China Banking News:

The Ministry of Finance has just released its “Notice Concerning Problems in Relation to Standardising the Financing and Investment Conduct of Financial Enterprises in Relation to Local Government and State-owned Financial Enterprises” (关于规范金融企业对地方政府和国有企业投融资行为有关问题的通知).The Notice stipulates that state-owned financial enterprises are banned from providing any form of financing to local governments and their departments, whether directly or via indirect means such as local state-owned enterprise and institutions, with the exception of the purchase of local government bonds.The Notices also prohibits state-owned financial enterprises from making “illegal increases in local government financing platform loans, demanding that local governments illegally or illicitly provide guarantees or undertake repayment liabilities, or providing debt-based funds as capital for local government construction projects, government investment funds, or public private partnerships.

The notice—关于规范金融企业对地方政府和国有企业投融资行为有关问题的通知 


5. Politburo Meeting On Poverty Relief

Challenges remain for China's poverty relief fight: CPC Politburo - Xinhua 

China still faces arduous tasks and challenges in its poverty alleviation campaign, and more hard endeavors should be made to fight this battle, according to a Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee Political Bureau statement.

The statement was issued after Friday's meeting of the political bureau on China's poverty reduction work, which was presided over by Xi Jinping, general secretary of the CPC Central Committee.

Participants at the meeting agreed that decisive progress had been made in China's poverty relief work in the past five years, and China must eliminate absolute poverty in the next three years.

China aims to eradicate absolute poverty by 2020. As of the end of 2017, the country had 30.46 million poor residents, compared with 98.99 million in 2012, according to the National Bureau of Statistics.

习近平主持中共中央政治局会议 听取2017年省级党委和政府脱贫攻坚工作成效考核情况汇报 

Gansu looks to become a poster child in the crackdown on poor poverty alleviation work. CCTV investigated a substandard tunnel built in a poor area, found a mess of corruption, indolence and lack of accountability.

The original CCTV report 甘肃投资16亿扶贫路刷层涂料就算整改 记者调查四处碰壁 is a fun look at local government dysfunction…

And the Gansu government has promised to fix it and hold people accountable—甘肃对折达公路考勒隧道暴露问题启动问责 

China policy bank plans to lend $64 billion for poverty relief projects in 2018 - Reuters:

CDB, a major policy bank, will fund projects such as infrastructure construction, relocation of poor residents, local industries development, health-care and education in poverty-stricken areas, Xinhua said.


6. Can America Keep Huawei's Global 5G Plans Down?

I wouldn't bet on it, at least outside of the 5 eyes countries and maybe Japan. 

America is hanging up on China’s telecom industry - The Washington Post:

One senior White House official told me the Trump administration is preparing a series of actions to respond to what it sees as unfair collusion between the Chinese government and Chinese companies to take over the industries of the future and then use that influence to promote China’s political agenda.

“The influence follows their national champions, and they use their national champions in both benign and nefarious ways,” the official said. “The FCC is the example of how we can begin to fight back against this influence.”

In U.S. Brawl With Huawei, Rural Cable Firms Are an Unlikely Loser - WSJ $$:

Large wireless providers including AT&T Inc. have long steered clear of Huawei, which has been effectively barred from big U.S. business since a 2012 congressional report alleged the Chinese government could force the company to exploit knowledge of how its equipment is designed to spy or launch cyberattacks—a charge Huawei has denied.

But many regional American providers of wireless, TV and internet services have flocked to Huawei, attracted by what they say are Huawei’s cheaper prices, quality products and attentive customer service.

On Monday, the Federal Communications Commission proposed making it harder for these smaller carriers to pay for future purchases of telecom equipment from Huawei and Chinese peers. The rule would restrict companies from drawing on an $8.5 billion government-run fund that, among other goals, helps connect rural America to the internet. The agency is now seeking public comment on the proposal.

China’s Huawei Is Determined to Lead the Way on 5G Despite U.S. Concerns - WSJ $$:

Far from Washington, where the government has called Huawei a national security threat, the world’s largest maker of cellular-tower equipment is trying to guide the development and design of the next generation of mobile networks, dubbed 5G.

Huawei is sending large teams to industry-sponsored meetings—including one held recently in this south India port city. Just as the home-movie industry agreed years ago on specifications for DVD players, wireless-technology companies are now meeting to establish 5G standards.

Huawei representatives are swamping such conferences with recommendations for how the new system should work, leveraging the company’s large research-and-development budget and its growing workforce of skilled engineers, according to meeting attendees and outside analysts.


7. Profile of the South China Morning Post

The New York Times takes a long look at the SCMP. The most interesting thing to me is what really happened with the short story about Li Zhanshu's daughter and son-in-law right before the 19th Party Congress. It was quickly deleted and the respected reporter who wrote it is no longer at the paper. I am skeptical of the SCMP's official line on the story; the timing and the target--Xi's top consigliere--were just too coincidental with the Party Congress. 

A Hong Kong Newspaper on a Mission to Promote China’s Soft Power - The New York Times:

The revival began with The Post's acquisition two years ago by the Alibaba Group, the Chinese technology and retail giant. But if Alibaba is breathing new life into the paper, it has also given it a new mission: improving China’s image overseas and combating what it sees as anti-Chinese bias in the foreign media.

In effect, Alibaba has taken Hong Kong’s English-language paper of record since the days of British rule and put it on the leading edge of China’s efforts to project soft power abroad. Every day, The Post churns out dozens of articles about China, many of which seek to present a more positive view of the country. As it does, critics say it is moving away from independent journalism and pioneering a new form of propaganda.

Alibaba, which has been open from the start about its ambitions for the newspaper, envisions a day when The Post is the dominant news organization in the world, riding the momentum of China’s rise as a superpower.


8. Sea Trials Coming For China's Next Aircraft Carrier

China’s first home-grown aircraft carrier set to carry out maiden sea trial | South China Morning Post:

“Beijing will arrange a celebration for the first sea trial because the Type 001A was the first aircraft carrier fully designed and produced by Chinese shipbuilders,” one of the sources told the South China Morning Post, adding the maiden trial was likely to be carried out just before the 69th anniversary of the founding of the PLA Navy on April 23...

“The maiden trial may just involve turning a circle in Bohai bay, making sure every deck under the water does not suffer leaks,” the naval source, who requested anonymity, told the Post.

He said the navy was concerned it could suffer similar problems to the ones experienced by Britain’s £3.1 billion (US$4.3 billion) carrier the HMS Queen Elizabeth, where a faulty seal was blamed for leaks on a trial late last year.

“Unlike China’s first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, which was refurbished from a Russian-made steel hull, the Type 001A was made using a special Chinese steel, which is a new cutting-edge shipbuilding technology that needs to be tested.


Business, Economy, Finance And Trade

Losing Money No Longer Barrier to China IPO - Caixin Global: Companies eligible for the pilot program include those in high-tech or strategic emerging industries, such as the internet, big data, cloud computing, artificial intelligence, software and integrated circuits, high-end equipment manufacturing and biotechnology, the CSRC said. In addition to wooing unlisted tech startups and so-called unicorns, which are startups valued at more than $1 billion, regulators are also targeting big tech giants including Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. and JD.com Inc., which are listed on the Nasdaq in New York.

Caixin China PMI: March manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index - CNBC A survey focused on small and mid-size manufacturing in China fell short of expectations for March. The Caixin/Markit manufacturing Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI) for March came in at 51.0, hitting a four-month low. Economists polled by Reuters expected the private Caixin/Markit PMI to edge slightly higher to 51.7 in March versus 51.6 in February.

Fifth Round of Housing Controls Kicks off, Shenzhen Targets Yin-Yang Contracts - China Banking News At least 15 cities around China have launched a fifth set of housing market controls, with the latest policies including stricter home purchase restrictions. According to analysts the new policies are primarily concentrated in China’s more popular urban centres. “Cities that have recently unveiled housing market control policies are mainly concentrated in hot-spot first-tier and second-tier cities,” said Zhang Bo, chief real estate analyst with 58 Anjuke, to Securities Daily.

KPMG hit by Hong Kong High Court in $400 million China Medical fraud - Reuters The China Medical case is the most high-profile and closely watched contest in years over the production of Chinese audit work papers, an issue that has put Hong Kong and U.S. regulators at loggerheads with China - and at one point threatened to leave U.S.-listed Chinese firms unaudited and in danger of delisting. In a previously unreported ruling made last week, Hong Kong’s High Court rejected a KPMG procedural request that would limit the time in which China Medical liquidators can pursue claims against KPMG for losses and damages for its audits of the now-defunct company.// Related: China Accounting Blog-KPMG in deep trouble in HK 

China Plans Merger of Shipbuilders to Create Behemoth - Bloomberg The state council, China’s cabinet, has given its preliminary approval to merge China State Shipbuilding Corp. with China Shipbuilding Industry Corp., the people said, asking not to be identified as the information isn’t public. The two companies have combined revenue of at least 508 billion yuan ($81 billion) making products ranging from aircraft carriers for China’s navy to vessels to carry containers, oil and gas for commercial companies.

China to Trial CDRs, Startup Listings to Lure Tech Firms Home - Bloomberg In order to be able to take part in the trial of Chinese Depositary Receipts, or CDRs, Chinese companies listed elsewhere will need a market value of more than 200 billion yuan ($32 billion), according to the statement.//国务院办公厅转发证监会关于开展创新企业境内发行股票或存托凭证试点若干意见的通知 

China’s P2P lenders brace for renewed regulatory crackdown - FT $$ Thousands of online lenders could be facing extinction as China rolls out a new licensing framework, amid complaints about a lack of clarity on how the regime will work. The peer-to-peer, or P2P, lending sector is braced for a second regulatory crackdown as a new “record filing” system kicks off in April. But with the first batch of approvals expected by the end of the month, lenders say they are still in the dark on the filing process itself.

Rail Operator to Unload Nearly 50% of Wi-Fi Business - Caixin Global State-owned CRC set up Bullet Train Networks in December 2017 with 50 million yuan in capital. It’s the sole operator of Wi-Fi services on select bullet trains. The proposed sale marks CRC’s latest move to bring in private investors as part of structural reforms to reduce its immense debt. As of June, CRC had accumulated 4.77 trillion yuan in debt after years of frenzied development to build up the country’s ever-expanding railway network. 

Politics, Law And Ideology

 Xi stresses people-centered approach in land greening programs - Xinhua Xi, also general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission, made the call when joining a voluntary tree planting activity in Beijing. Leading officials at various levels should lead other officials and the public to plant trees voluntarily and treat the ecological environment as important as their lives, Xi said. Other Chinese leaders including Li Keqiang, Li Zhanshu, Wang Yang, Wang Huning, Zhao Leji, Han Zheng, and Wang Qishan also attended the event held at a large green area in the eastern suburbs of Beijing.  //  Comment: So Xi was joined by the other 7 members of the Standing Committee...

Princelings put their political views aside to remember Chen Xiaolu | South China Morning Post Hundreds gather at a private club in Beijing to commemorate outspoken soldier and businessman ‘respected for his personality and pursuit of freedom’

China Aims For Near-Total Surveillance, Including in People's Homes - RFA Authorities in the southwestern province of Sichuan reported in December that they had completed the installation of more than 40,000 surveillance cameras across more than 14,000 villages as part of the "Sharp Eyes" nationwide surveillance network, the paper said. Guangdong-based Bell New Vision Co. is developing the nationwide "Sharp Eyes" platform that can link up public surveillance cameras and those installed in smart devices in the home, to a nationwide network for viewing in real time by anyone who is given access.

Villages gain public security systems - Global Times Citizens in some Chinese villages are able to access public surveillance systems through phones and TVs as part of the country's vast surveillance network, a Guangzhou-based company said on Monday. Using an app, citizens can access the surveillance system surrounding their neighborhood through their phones or televisions. They can report to police any suspicious activities, Zhang Jun, deputy director of product management of the Guangzhou AEBELL Electrical Technology, told the Global Times on Monday.

Recording & Review – Pt. 2: The Demise of “Conditional Arrest” – NPC Observer In July 2017, the Southern Metropolis reported that the Supreme People’s Procuratorate (SPP) had recently discontinued a controversial type of arrest after the NPCSC—more specifically its Legislative Affairs Commission (LAC)—reviewed its constitutionality and legality at the request of Mr. Miao Yongjun, an Inner Mongolian lawyer. Before recounting Mr. Miao’s encounter with the R&R system, we will first briefly introduce the now-abolished type of arrest invented by the SPP.

Former Guizhou vice governor under probe - Xinhua Wang Xiaoguang, former vice governor of southwest China's Guizhou Province, is under investigation for suspected disciplinary and law violations, the anti-graft authorities said Sunday.

 

Foreign and Military Affairs

Two Chinese militants among seven killed in anti-terrorism operation in Afghanistan | South China Morning Post The operation took place in Afghanistan’s remote Badakhshan province, a volatile area close to the border with China that is known for anti-government insurgency activities, the Kabul-based agency Pajhwok Afghan News reported. The Afghan National Army’s 209th Shaheen Corps confirmed the casualties, and identified one of those killed as a man named Mustafa, who was the deputy leader of a Chinese militant group, the report said. It did not name the group or the other Chinese national.

China saw 16-fold increase in returning jihadists in 2017, analyst says | South China Morning Post The size of the increase was revealed by Ji Zhiye, head of the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, though he did not provide absolute figures. The steep rise in the number of people apprehended might have been a result of China tightening its border controls, but the complicated geopolitical situation in neighbouring countries had heightened the risk, he said.

Are Chinese-funded dams on the Mekong River washing away Cambodian livelihoods? | South China Morning Post Beijing’s spending on hydropower projects is welcomed by many poorer Southeast Asian countries, but it comes with a huge environmental and social cost, experts say

Beijing and Hanoi promise to keep the peace in South China Sea, where Vietnam has emerged as most vocal claimant | AFP “Both sides should abide by the basic governing principles on resolving maritime issues. Both sides should not apply unilateral measures that would complicate the situation,” China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi told reporters in Hanoi during an official visit to Vietnam. His Vietnamese counterpart echoed calls to peacefully resolve disputes. “We are ready to work with China to resolve arising issues,” Vietnamese Foreign Minister Pham Binh Minh told reporters.

China, Mekong River countries cooperate for brighter future: MRC official - Xinhua He said the sixth summit of the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) Economic Cooperation, which took place in Vietnam, defined the Hanoi Action Plan and the Regional Investment Framework with nearly 230 projects with a cost of 66 billion U.S. dollars. In 2017, the trade volume between China and the five Mekong countries - Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam - reached 220 billion U.S. dollars, up 16 percent from 2016. China's total investment in the five countries exceeded 42 billion U.S. dollars, with a growth rate of more than 20 percent in 2017.

China, Vietnam vow to dovetail development strategies, create new prospects for partnership - Xinhua | The relations between the two parties and two countries have enjoyed positive development, said Tran. The successful state visit by General Secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and Chinese President Xi Jinping to Vietnam in November last year further boosted the political mutual trust and mutually beneficial cooperation between the two countries, making Vietnam-China relationship a highlight in the complicated and turbulent international situation, he said. Vietnam attaches great importance to developing the traditional friendship between the two sides and is willing to earnestly implement the consensus reached by the leaders of the two parties, promote exchanges on governance experiences, better dovetail China's Belt and Road Initiative with Vietnam's "Two Corridors and One Economic Circle" plan and push forward trade and subnational cooperation between the two countries, the Vietnamese president added.

What's on Mnangagwa's agenda for his visit to China? - CGTN Zimbabwe's President Emmerson Mnangagwa is set to start his five-day state visit to China from Monday at the invitation of Chinese President Xi Jinping. This is Mnangagwa's first state visit outside of Africa since he took over from former president Robert Mugabe in November.

Namibia president says China not colonizing Africa -China state media - Reuters Namibia President Hage Geingob said China is not colonizing Africa and that growing cooperation between the world’s No. 2 economy and Africa benefits both sides, China’s official Xinhua News Agency reported on Saturday.. The report said Geingob, currently on a state visit to China, said “comments smearing bilateral cooperation” between China and Namibia are “doomed to fail.”

Dalai Lama calls on Tibetans to remain united as India drifts toward China - Reuters The Dalai Lama called on his people to remain united as the Tibetan community gathered on Saturday in a small hill town to mark 60 years of political asylum in India - although just one federal minister appeared at the event.

H-6K bomber video showcases PLA Air Force capability - Global Times The People's Liberation Army Air Force released "China's H-6K bomber spreads its wings," a 3-minute-and- 12-second promotional video displaying the development of the newly commissioned bomber in the last three years, the PLA Daily reported on Saturday. "Confidence to fight and win battles," "Courage to accept and fulfill tasks" and "Will to gain and show greater strength" read the English subtitles for the video.// here is the video on Youtube:

After his Beijing summit, could Kim Jong Un meet with Vladimir Putin? | NK News - North Korea News // Comment: I am hearing Kim will go to Russia before his South Korea summit at the end of April

In China, Kim Jong-un was an astute player on his international debut | South China Morning Post - Wang Xiangwei By some accounts, Xi executed a masterstroke in pulling off the meeting at a time of tense ties with the United States, helping burnish Xi’s status as world leader. But Kim – still in his mid 30s – looks like an equal winner, if not the bigger one, out of the meeting, and more importantly, has proved to be a manipulator much more skilful than the outside world gives him credit for. According to official North Korean media reports, Kim disclosed that North Korea first put forward the proposal for him to visit China and expressed appreciation that Beijing had acted quickly to make the trip possible.

Governments worldwide explore internet management - Global Times Reining in social media appears to be the trend of governments. The US State Department proposed last week that nearly all visa applicants to the US be required to submit personal details about the usage of their social media accounts in the past five years, as an attempt to prevent terrorism.

Dalai Lama calls on Tibetans to remain united as India drifts toward China - Reuters The Dalai Lama called on his people to remain united as the Tibetan community gathered on Saturday in a small hill town to mark 60 years of political asylum in India - although just one federal minister appeared at the event.

 

Hong Kong, Macao

Hong Kong Court Rejects Bid to Unseat Pro-Democracy Lawmaker - RFA A court in Hong Kong on Thursday rejected a bid to unseat a seventh pan-democratic lawmaker in the city, saying that any alleged problems with his election victory should have been dealt with through other channels. Hong Kong businessman Wong Tai-hoi applied for a judicial review in a bid to prevent newly elected lawmaker Au Nok-hin from taking up his seat in the city's Legislative Council following a by-election on Mar. 11, on the grounds that he had once burned a copy of the city's mini-constitution, the Basic Law

Can Benny Tai be prosecuted for independence remarks under Hong Kong law? ‘No’, experts say | South China Morning Post Occupy organiser complains he is being used to stifle free speech as Beijing mouthpiece calls for his prosecution under city’s Crimes Ordinance

 

Tech And Media

Alibaba Fully Acquires Ele.me, Boosting New Retail Efforts | Alizila.com Alibaba Group on Monday said it would acquire all of the outstanding shares that it does not already own in Ele.me, a leading online delivery service in China, to deepen the platform’s integration into Alibaba’s ecosystem and further expand the technology company’s New Retail strategy for local services. The transaction implies an enterprise value of $9.5 billion for Ele.me.

A Surge of High-Priced Closings, Including a Sale by Harvey Weinstein - The New York Times Comment: Chen Tianqiao, Shanda founder, just bought a $39m mansion in New York  // Ms. Johnson, who was known as Libet, bought the house in a private sale from Sloan Lindemann Barnett, the author and socialite, and her husband, Roger Barnett, the chief executive of the Shaklee Corporation, a purveyor of nutrition and cleaning products. She paid $48 million, which was $9 million more than what it just sold for. The home was put back on the market for $55 million in 2016. The buyer was identified as Chen Tianqiao, a Chinese billionaire and a founder of the Shanda Investment Group, whose interests include online game development.

Alibaba props up its gaming unit by acquiring rights to Travel Frog · TechNode Alibaba is serious about challenging Tencent and NetEase in the gaming arena and Travel Frog is another step in that direction. The company formally established its video games division after it bought online games firm EJoy founded by former NetEase COO Zhan Zhonghui. Zhang joined Alibaba’s new gaming unit along with Chen Wei’an, EJoy’s product operation manager for World of Warcraft and Starcraft 2, and Wu Yunyang, who led development on Journey to the West 2 and Fantasy Westward Journey.

 

Society, Art, Sports, Culture And History

Alan D. Romberg, China expert at State Department and think tanks, dies at 79 - The Washington Post “He was centrally involved in negotiations with the Chinese in 1997-1998 to plan the exchange of visits by U.S. President Bill Clinton and Chinese President Jiang Zemin that restored normalcy to U.S.-China relations eight years after the Tiananmen massacre,” Jeffrey A. Bader, who was the National Security Council’s senior director for Asian affairs under President Obama, wrote in an email. Mr. Romberg also was one of the leading U.S. authorities on the special status of Taiwan, which the United States treated as a self-governing island even as Beijing insisted that it should be recognized as an integral part of China. It was, Mr. Romberg later wrote, a “sensitive triangular relationship” and parsing words was crucial to keeping the Taiwan issue from upsetting ties between Beijing and Washington.

Chinese taxi driver finally reunited with missing daughter after 24-year search | South China Morning Post Two weeks ago a 27-year-old woman in Jilin province contacted the Wangs via social media after reading about his search and realising she might be the girl in question. The woman had been told she was adopted as a child and grew up under the name Kang Ying in a town only 20 kilometres (12 miles) away from her birth parents.

Chinese ‘underground’ bishop returns for Easter service - FT $$ Guo Xijin, a bishop in the eastern province of Fujian, denied reports in Catholic media that he had been “kidnapped”, but confirmed he was taken to the nearby city of Xiamen for three days last week under the supervision of Communist party officials, before returning on Saturday.

A Madman’s End – China Channel Geremie Barmé and Liu Xiaobo remember Li Ao

Latest government interference in Chinese football: a ban on tattoos - China Sports Insider The further down the path you go, the more ridiculous it becomes, though sadly this is nothing new to Chinese football. The CFA is forced to enact top-down edicts on a fairly regular basis, such as when clubs were told of a reduction in the number of foreigners allowed in their match-day squad in the middle of the transfer window and after several clubs had already filled their international quotas. The CFA usually gets the blame for these badly managed policy changes, but in reality the message is coming from on high, reinforcing just how farcical a claim it is that there is now separation between the CFA and the state — something that world governing body FIFA expressly mandates in its statutes.

 

Energy, Environment, Science And Health

Pediatrician’s Life Isn’t Child’s Play - Caixin Global Li and the other 28 surgeons at the hospital’s general surgery unit each need to care for an average of 30 patients at a time, compared with six patients for pediatricians in developed countries. Their inpatient ward at the unit, designed for 45 beds, is now crammed with 100 patients, and the hospital has to turn away many more, Li said. Most hospitals in China, including pediatric facilities, are publicly run. Regulators keep a tight grip over headcounts, how much medical employees get paid, and how much patients are charged for most medications and services. Li, who has been with the children’s hospital — one of the top pediatric facilities in China — for more than three decades, said he often starts his shift at 7 a.m. and doesn’t finish until 8-9 p.m., with five operations in between.

First annual fishing ban on Yellow River begins - Xinhua The first annual fishing ban began on China's Yellow River on Sunday, in an effort to protect fishery resources and biodiversity in the second longest river in the country. The ban, which will be effective until June 30, covers the main stream, three major lakes, and 13 tributaries of the Yellow River, according to a previous statement from the Ministry of Agriculture.

China space lab mostly burns up on re-entry in south Pacific - AP Brad Tucker, an astrophysicist at Australian National University, said that Tiangong 1′s re-entry was “mostly successful” and that it would have been better if the space station had not been spinning toward Earth. “It could have been better, obviously, if it wasn’t tumbling, but it landed in the Southern Pacific Ocean, and that’s kind of where you hope it would land,” Tucker said.

Boao’s ‘Super Hospital’ Aims to Keep Globetrotting Patients at Home - Caixin Global *Hospital is the renovated and renamed Chengmei International Medical Center *National drug regulator will grant the Hainan provincial government the right to independently approve imports of medical devices

AZAD Weekend Edition (March 31st) Those of you who read our weekly bulletins will not fail to notice the rush of factories and plants restarting now that the winter cuts are behind us // Comment and that may have caused the surge in Beijing pollution in recent weeks. A Greenpeace employee in Beijing posted this chart:


Lauri Myllyvirta@laurimyllyvirta

Everyone tweeting 'what happened to the blue skies in Beijing' -- have a look at steel operating rates in Tangshan (the #1 steel city in Hebei and the world). I'm sure looks same for the rest of the region, we just don't have as detailed data. pic.twitter.com/W5vIhbXn1W

April 2, 2018

China 'environment census' reveals 50% rise in pollution sources | The Guardian Releasing preliminary results of an ongoing “environmental census”, China’s ministry of ecology and environment said the number of sources of pollution in the country stands at about 9m, compared to 5.9m in its first census, in 2010.

Chinese scientists discover large area of REE-rich sediment in SE Pacific Ocean - Global Times A Chinese research team has discovered a large area of rich sediment of rare earth elements (REE) in the southeast Pacific Ocean. The scientists have preliminarily zoned a 1.5-million-square-kilometer area of REE-rich sediment in deep sea basins of southeast Pacific Ocean.

 

Education

Research-oriented Westlake University gets green light - ECNS The current Westlake Institute for Advanced Study (WIAS) is the predecessor of Westlake University, of which Shi Yigong, a famed biophysicist and former vice-president of Tsinghua University, is expected to be first president. Shi Yigong and six other top scholars - Chen Shiyi, Pan Jianwei, Rao Yi, Qian Yingyi, Zhang Hui and Wang Jian - proposed establishing a new and advanced research-oriented university in March 2015. In July that year, Westlake Education Foundation was registered as a legal entity that serves as the main fundraising support for Westlake University. WIAS was established on Dec. 10, 2016.