Chinese-Australian writer Yang Hengjun detained, China at Davos; BRI; Xi's Beijing

Sorry the newsletter is a bit on the late side but the China-related news is just increasingly depressing:

  • The security services have detained Chinese-Australian writer Yang Hengjun on a visit back to China. We do not know why, it could be related to Australian policies towards Huawei for example, it could also be a case of the authorities long wanting him due to his overseas writings and this was a seizure of opportunity as he visited China for the first time in a while. Regardless, it only heightens the feeling that visiting China is unsafe and that the security services may increasingly be going after people for what they say outside of China;

  • The official statements around the Meng Wanzhou case and the recent letter to Xi Jinping are increasingly shrill and nasty;

  • Wang Qishan and the PRC delegation to Davos are trying to spread positive energy to the global elite but the detentions and denunciations are making it hard. Either the PRC government is uncoordinated or they just do not care and/or think the Davos audience does not care as long as there are economic and business opportunities?

  • The markets got worked up Tuesday about a report that the US had cancelled vice-ministerial talks with China this week. I am not sure they were ever scheduled (see below); regardless the next meeting that actually matters is next week when Liu He visits DC.

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The Essential Eight

1. Chinese-Australian writer Yang Hengjun detained

Australian writer Yang Hengjun detained by secret police in China, according to witness-Sydney Morning Herald:

Chinese-Australian writer Yang Hengjun was detained by a squad of 10 security agents shortly after arriving at an airport in China, according to a source who witnessed the incident, confirming the worst fears of those close to him...

Mr Yang, an Australian citizen since 2002, has emerged as a popular fiction writer and vocal backer of democratisation and reform in China.

He travelled to China despite warning from friends that it was too dangerous. He assured one, Sydney academic and prominent Chinese community figure Feng Chongyi, that he would not be on the authorities' radar.

The confirmation that Mr Yang, a democracy activist and former Chinese diplomat, was taken by secret police on Saturday comes after days of silence, with friends and family increasingly concerned for his safety.

Chinese-Australian Writer Yang Hengjun Disappears in China - The New York Times:

Mr. Yang, 53, a novelist and commentator who worked for the Chinese foreign ministry before moving to Australia and becoming a citizen in 2000, has spent the past two years with his family in New York, where he works as a visiting scholar at Columbia University.

In his writing, he has been critical of the Chinese government. But in recent years he has eschewed interviews with the news media and avoided outright opposition to the Communist Party.

My friend, the writer who 'disappeared' - John Garnaut:

You might think it gets easier to stomach news of a good friend or terrific individual ''disappearing'' in China, given the rate at which it has been happening. But Yang Hengjun vanishing from Guangzhou's Baiyun Airport hits deeper into the abdomen and rises further up the throat, I think, because it comes with an added feeling that the ground for everyone in China is shifting fast beneath our feet..

Yang is a former Chinese diplomat and his classmates from Fudan University's department of international relations are now spread through the bureaucracy and business. His most influential teacher was Wang Huning, who now accompanies President Hu Jintao on every overseas trip. These connections provided fodder for his fiction and informed his views. And they partly explain how he has been allowed to survive long enough to attract the phenomenal following he has on the Chinese-language internet.


2. US-China

US turns down China offer of preparatory trade talks | Financial Times $$:

This week’s planned trip by Wang Shouwen and Liao Min was intended to pave the way for a higher-level meeting in Washington on January 30 and 31 by Liu He, China vice-premier, and Robert Lighthizer, US trade representative. 

But, according to people briefed on the negotiations, US officials cancelled this week’s face-to-face meetings with Mr Wang, a vice-minister of commerce, and Mr Liao, a vice-minister of finance, because of a lack of progress on “forced” technology transfers and potentially far-reaching “structural” reforms to China’s economy.

I am not convinced these talks were set in stone, and as the newsletter noted Monday the author of the WSJ report last week saying these talks were happening wrote on Twitter on January 20 that the talks would now be over the phone:

I have not heard that phone calls have been cancelled.

Kudlow Says China Deal Hinges on Enforcement, Structural Issues - Bloomberg:

Larry Kudlow, head of the National Economic Council, said in an interview with CNBC Tuesday that “enforcement is absolutely crucial to the success of these talks.”

“Promises are great but enforcement is what we want -- things like deadlines and timetables and full coverage of the various structural issues,” he said. “Will this all be solved at the end of the month? I don’t know. I wouldn’t dare to predict.”

Kudlow acknowledged “the degree of difficulty” and said that it was up to the president to decide “what he can accept or cannot accept.”

A Chinese delegation led by Vice Premier Liu He is scheduled to meet with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer from Jan. 30 to 31. That meeting will be “very, very important” and “determinative,” Kudlow said.

Comment: Here is the "Priority Recommendations for U.S.-China Trade Negotiations from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and American Chamber of Commerce in China January 16, 2019" that made news yesterday

White House adviser Hassett confident U.S., China can reach trade deal by March | Reuters:

“Yes, I am confident that it can happen, that the talks are moving forward,” Hassett said in an interviw with CNN. “There’s a lot of progress to be made but it’s a very strong situation right now. And I think the Chinese recognize that they’ve got a big potential gain for coming up with a deal because as you mentioned their growth has really fallen off the cliff.”

China Won't Slash U.S. Treasury Holdings, CSRC Official Says - Bloomberg:

That’s the message from Fang Xinghai, vice chairman of the China Securities Regulatory Commission, who said at a World Economic Forum panel in Davos, Switzerland that he doesn’t think his country “will in any way significantly reduce its investment into the U.S. government bond market...

“China will continue to be a savings surplus country for some time, though the saving is declining,” Fang Xinghai said. “We have to invest abroad, and the U.S. government bond market turns out to be a good place to invest.” 

Comment: Because doing so would be the financial equivalent of China holding a gun to its own head and saying "don't move or I will shoot myself"?

Huawei fight could make China cut off Silicon Valley investment - CNBC:

China could completely cut investment into the Silicon Valley, according to the former deputy governor of the People’s Bank of China, following intense scrutiny of the world’s largest telecom equipment maker...

“The psychology has really changed, because technical war is a most interconnected war, (with) U.S. capital moving everywhere and Chinese capital moving everywhere,” Zhu Min told CNBC on Tuesday.

But “I can tell you, after the Huawei events, all the Chinese money into Silicon Valley stops. And no U.S. money will want to invest into China either,” he added.

Question: What about the China R&D labs in Silicon Valley and Seattle, for example?

‘I suggest that we must pick our battles’: celebrated Chinese state banker warned Beijing against trade war | South China Morning Post:

The former head of a Chinese policy bank pleaded for China not to engage in a tit-for-tat trade war with the United States, a newly-published speech from last September shows.

The speech by Li Ruogu, the former president of the Export and Import Bank of China (China Exim), a giant state-owned lender that gives loans to foreign companies to purchase Chinese goods or services, sheds new light on the internal struggle in Beijing over how to manage the trade dispute with Washington.


3. Canada-China

U.S. Will Ask Canada to Extradite Huawei Executive - The New York Times:

A spokesman for Canada’s Justice Department said Tuesday night that the British Columbia Supreme Court had scheduled a hearing for Feb. 6 to confirm that the United States had made a formal extradition request by the deadline.

The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs indicated Tuesday that Ms. Meng’s fate would be taken into consideration as the trade talks proceed. Asked directly if the extradition would affect the negotiations, Hua Chunying, a spokeswoman for the Foreign Ministry, said, “This case is a serious mistake and we urge the U.S. to immediately correct its mistake.”

Canada Hasn’t Asked U.S. to Drop Huawei CFO Extradition Request - Bloomberg:

Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland, speaking to Bloomberg Television in Davos, Switzerland, said Meng Wanzhou will have full access to Canada’s legal system and that it would be “absolutely wrong” for the case to be politicized.

Canada’s China envoy John McCallum says Huawei executive has good chance of avoiding U.S. extradition - The Globe and Mail:

Speaking at a news conference for Chinese-language media in Markham, Ont., on Tuesday, Mr. McCallum took the extraordinary step of effectively offering legal advice to Huawei’s chief financial officer, who Canada arrested early last month at the request of U.S. law-enforcement authorities.

Mr. McCallum, who last year stated that Canada has more in common with China than the United States under Donald Trump, told reporters Tuesday that the extradition request has two serious flaws, including the U.S. President’s suggestion last month that he could intervene in the Meng case if it helped trade talks with Beijing.

Canada must not extradite Meng Wanzhou - Global Times:

even if the US requests Meng's extradition, Meng can file a plea which may drag out the case for years. Moreover, will Canada be kept out of the affair if it extradites Meng to the US? If the ambassador and some members of the Canadian elite think so, they are being too arrogant.

Meng was arrested by the Canadian side without violating any Canadian law. Canada, being a henchman for the US and abiding by the so-called extradition treaty between the US and Canada, persecutes senior executives of Chinese companies regardless of international law and friendly ties with China. How can Canada be detached from the case if Meng is extradited? ...

The Meng Wanzhou case is an assault on China's high-tech enterprises under the guise of law. It serves the US' China strategy which views China as a strategic rival. It is nothing but geopolitical persecution. While the Canadian side insists that this is a legal issue, it is smearing people's understanding of the legal spirit.

Didn't those academics and former ambassadors realize how malicious Meng's case is and how much damage it will exert on the international business order? Why didn't they appeal to the governments of the US and Canada to set Meng free?...

Why are they silent as the US exploits its alliance system to suppress Huawei? Their letter to Chinese leaders only showcases the prejudice of the Western elite and is valueless on moral grounds. We expect the awareness of the Western world toward China to awaken.

Comment: Awaken, indeed

Hua Chunying is really outdoing herself..sorry for the long excerpt but sometimes you just have to read things in their own words - Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying's Regular Press Conference on January 22, 2019 

Q: Today former diplomats and scholars from a dozen of countries sent an open letter to the Chinese side, requiring China to release the two Canadian citizens recently detained in China. What is your comment?

A: I have noted the letter you mentioned. It was sent by Canada and some of its allies. The former diplomats from seven countries and scholars of several countries have committed at least two mistakes.

First, they equated those who undertake research and normal exchanges between China and other countries with the two Canadians who were taken compulsory measures by the Chinese national security agencies for activities endangering China's national security. This is disrespect for people who are committed to promoting normal and friendly exchanges between China and the rest of the world.

Second, they interfered in China's judicial sovereignty. They attempted to mount pressure on China by publicly making their request to release the two Canadians who are under investigation in accordance with the law by the relevant Chinese departments. This is disrespect for China's judicial sovereignty and the spirit of the rule of law.

Irony is dead and shamelessness lives, as China has mounted an intense pressure campaign to interfere in Canada’s judicial sovereignty and is showing nothing but contempt and disrespect for Canada's judicial sovereignty and the spirit of the rule of law.

I want to stress once again that China welcomes all foreign citizens, including former diplomats, scholars and ordinary people, to conduct normal and friendly exchanges in China. As long as they abide by Chinese laws and regulations, there is nothing to worry about at all....

Q: One of the things that open letter contained was a concern that constructive academic and foreign policy work is unwelcome and even risky in China. You said again today that China welcomes foreign citizens to conduct friendly exchanges in China as long as they abide by Chinese laws and regulations. But are you concerned that just does not appear to be the message that people are hearing?

A: Do you know that how many scholars, diplomats and former diplomats are now shuttling between China and other countries to promote research and mutual understanding and cooperation? I believe the answer is more than the two Canadians Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, and more than these former diplomats from the seven countries and scholars of a few countries. So, they are in no position to speak for those who remain committed to promoting normal and friendly exchanges between China and the rest of the world.

Attempt to split the activist “few” from the “many”, classic

China is the safest country on earth. Safety and freedom in China are guaranteed as long as no violations of Chinese laws and regulations are committed. These people are deliberately creating a sense of panic. Have they been threatened in China? Do they want to be grouped with those that are being investigated by China's national security departments on suspicion of engaging in activities that endangered China's national security? If the answer is no, then they attempted to confuse the public by purposefully equating the two groups of people.

Is this a threat that by signing the letter they may now be seen as “engaging in activities that endangered China's national security”

They issued this letter to pile pressure on the Chinese side. Do they wish to see an open letter undersigned by the 1.4 billion Chinese people addressed to the Canadian leader? I believe that the voice for justice from the Chinese people must be much louder than the sound made by just over one hundred people...

I would love to see a letter signed by 1.4 billion Chinese people

Q: There seems to be increasing amount of pressure against China due to the arrest of the two Canadians. Is China prepared to bear the consequences if other nations increase diplomatic concerns against China?

A: On this issue, I already said several days ago that there is no such a thing of China facing increasing pressure. Even with the open letter mentioned by Canada's Globe and Mail, there are just some former diplomats of seven countries--Canada and its six allies, and scholars from several countries. They can in no way represent the mainstream of the international community. How many countries and people do we have around the world? China alone has 1.4 billion people. Justice is on the Chinese side.

I hope that these former diplomats and scholars can have some basic sense and respect the spirit of the rule of law, which is the minimum requirement for them. If they don't have this minimum level of truthfulness, how do they carry out their duties in research? Can we trust that their research results will be factual?


4. Economy "not collapsing"

China’s Economy Is Not Collapsing, Regulatory Official Says - Caixin:

Growth will moderate to around 6% in 2019 from 6.6% last year but the slowdown is not a “collapse” and the government can and will use fiscal and monetary policy to support the economy, Fang Xinghai, a vice chairman of the China Securities Regulatory Commission, said at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

“The bottom line is that China is slowing down but it’s not going to be a disaster,” Fang said during a panel discussion on global financial risks. “The Chinese macro policy is very responsive and also is data dependent so as things unfold we will respond accordingly. The capacity of the Chinese government to respond to the economic slowdown is still very high. If anything we should not overreact.”

Eight Local Governments Forecast Economic Slowdowns - Caixin:

As of Wednesday, 12 regions had released growth targets for this year at their annual legislative sessions, including eight that forecast slowdowns from projections for 2018, according to Caixin’s calculation based on government documents...

One of the steepest decline predictions came from the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region. It forecast growth of around 5.5% in its regional GDP this year, down from a projection of around 7% for 2018.

Of the eight regions predicting slowdowns, Tianjin set the lowest target for growth this year. The government in the northern port city bordering Beijing forecast its economy would grow around 4.5% this year, down from a 5% projection for 2018.

Sinology by Andy Rothman - Has the China Collapse Finally Arrived?

China has been on the verge of a hard landing for many years, according to some analysts. Will they finally be right in 2019? In this issue of Sinology, I explain that in the fourth quarter of 2018, China's economic deceleration was not significantly sharper than I expected, and several policy changes should lead to stronger activity and market sentiment in the second half of this year. A hard landing is still not on the horizon..

What has worried many observers, however, is the perception that in the last quarter (4Q18), China's growth rate slowed much more sharply than expected. With final data for 2018 now in hand, let me explain why that perception is not accurate

China says will step up fiscal spending this year to support economy | Reuters:

Policy insiders also expect Beijing to cut the value-added tax, which ranges from 6 percent for the services sector to 16 percent for manufacturers.

Policymakers’ pledge of more aggressive tax reductions in 2019 has fanned expectations that the annual budget deficit ratio could be lifted to 3 percent of gross domestic product.

The government had lowered the 2018 deficit target to 2.6 percent of GDP from 3 percent the previous year - the first cut since 2012...

China will “appropriately” step up fiscal spending in 2019, said ministry official Hao Lei.

China bad debt disposals hit levels not seen for 20 years | Financial Times $$:

“The deleveraging campaign is now no longer as focused on credit tightening and more fixated on addressing problems in the existing stock of debt,” said Jason Bedford, a UBS analyst, in a new report on China’s distressed debt market that cites the figures.

With an estimated Rmb1.75tn in non-performing loans disposed of by banks last year, Mr Bedford noted that such sales have “reached highs unseen since the early 2000s”.

Prices, on the other hand, have plummeted to a near decade low, as a glut of debt hits the market. One reason for the drop in prices is that more debt is coming from regional banks with poor-quality loans.


5. China at Davos

Wang Qishan: Only Working Together Can Solve World’s Problems - Caixin:

China’s growth has been achieved through its own hard work, not through having it presented on a plate, Wang said, taking a sideswipe at the view that China owes its prosperity to accommodation by the West in the hope of assimilating it into the Western-dominated political and economic order.

China has travelled down the correct path, Wang said. It will focus on tackling its own problems by deepening reform and further opening its markets, he added...

Globalization was mainly driven by multinational corporations and financial institutions seeking to maximize their own gains by shifting their supply chains to low-cost locations and China did benefit from the process, Wang said. China is now ready to contribute to world growth with its vast market and increasingly affluent consumers, and is willing to work with other countries to handle problems arising from globalization, he said.

The nation is seeking to create a “community of shared future for mankind” and promote international cooperation through the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), Wang said, referring to the signature foreign policy of President Xi Jinping unveiled in 2013. The BRI aims to strengthen ties with countries in Asia, Africa and Europe, primarily through infrastructure investment and construction.

The detentions of foreigners and sophistry and threats from official spokespeople and propaganda outlets like the Global Times do not help with China’s Davos messaging. The dissonance is increasingly impossible to ignore.

Chinese VP calls for shaping global architecture for better future of mankind - Xinhua:

Chinese Vice President Wang Qishan here on Wednesday called on countries to work together to shape the global architecture in the age of the fourth industrial revolution with the vision to create a better future for all mankind.

While addressing the 2019 annual meeting of the World Economic Forum, Wang said it is imperative to respect national sovereignty and refrain from seeking technological hegemony and interfering in other countries' domestic affairs.

He called for efforts to uphold multilateralism and jointly build a system of rules for technology and new international cooperation framework featuring peace, security, democracy, transparency, inclusiveness and mutual benefit, so that all people can gain from technological innovation.

Top Business Leaders Use Davos Dinner to Air China Grievances - Bloomberg:

At a dinner Tuesday on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Xiao Yaqing, chairman of the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission, met with chief executives of prominent Chinese and international companies. The move was part of a broader Chinese charm offensive this year in Davos, the highlight of which will be a speech on Wednesday by Vice President Wang Qishan.

With another top Chinese official, Liu He, due to visit Washington for trade talks next week, the efforts are aimed at securing the backing of the international business community for ending the U.S.-China trade war

Pompeo Remarks to the World Economic Forum [via video conference from DC] - Transcript:

As you all know, we face many new threats, some of them not so new. They range from North Korea’s nuclear program, to Iran’s foreign adventurism, to China’s state-centered economic model, its belligerence toward its neighbors, and its embraces of a totalitarian state at home. Radical Islamic terrorism remains a persistent threat that we will continue to fight together...

And we’re rebalancing the relationship with China, alongside partner nations in Asia and all around the world...

We want to find places where we can work together. You talked about the trade delegation coming. I am optimistic that we’ll receive them well and that we’ll have a good outcome from those conversations. But remember, the course of the relationship will be determined by the principles that America standbys – stands by: free and open seas, the capacity for nations to take their goods around the world, fair and reciprocal trade arrangements where every country has the opportunity to compete on a fair, transparent, and open basis. These principles of democracy, these things that have created so much wealth for the whole globe, will drive the relationship between the United States and China in the years ahead, and we hope that China will adopt policies that are consistent with that. If they do, I am very confident that our two nations can thrive and prosper together.


6. Belt and Road

Remember, the BRI was incorporated into the CPC Constitution at the 19th Party Congress, so China may tweak it but it is not going to back away from it. It is a core element of China's vision for its role in the world and how it wants to reshape the global system in its favor. 

China Proceeds With Belt and Road Push, but Does It More Quietly - The New York Times

China has turned down the volume on its plan, even though it still appears to be moving forward. Spending on the initiative also fell somewhat last year, as the broader Chinese economy slowed...China has been rethinking two aspects of the initiative: how it decides on overseas spending, and how the initiative is presented to overseas audiences...

Various senior Chinese government officials are at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, including Vice President Wang Qishan, who is to speak on Wednesday. None of them, though, participated in a panel during one of the forum’s most prominent time slots Tuesday that was focused on the Belt and Road Initiative and billed as a review of “China’s trillion-dollar vision.”..

The Belt and Road discussion was moderated by Tian Wei, a well-known anchor for the state-run China Global Television Network, making the absence of Chinese government officials, who typically shun panels with foreign moderators known to have criticized China, somewhat surprising.

Comment: This article by the Central Literature Research Center 中共中央文献研究室 in the 12.20 People's Daily (right before Christmas so did not get much attention outside of China) recounts the timeline of how Xi put forward the Belt and Road and explains why the initiative matters.- 打造国际合作新平台 增添共同发展新动力--观点--人民网 

总之,习近平同志关于“一带一路”建设的重要论述,高屋建瓴、统揽全局,思想深刻、内涵丰富,为推进“一带一路”建设提供了根本遵循。过去几年共建“一带一路”完成了总体布局,绘就了一幅“大写意”,今后要聚焦重点、精雕细琢,共同绘制好精谨细腻的“工笔画”。

Google translate: In short, Comrade Xi Jinping’s important exposition on the construction of the “Belt and Road” has built a high-rise and unified overall situation, with profound ideas and rich connotations, and provided fundamental follow-up for promoting the construction of the “Belt and Road”.  In the past few years, the “One Belt and One Road” has been built to complete the overall layout, and a “big freehand brushwork” has been drawn. In the future, we will focus on the key points and carefully crafted the “fine brushwork”. 

China’s Belt and Road Initiative will add US$117 billion to global trade this year, a new study shows | South China Morning Post:

Merchandise trade between China and the countries targeted by its “Belt and Road Initiative” is predicted to grow by US$117 billion this year, according to new analysis.

For China, this will mean US$56 billion in additional exports, while it will import an extra US$61 billion worth of goods from the 80 countries named in the Chinese government’s official manifesto, research from trade credit insurer Euler Hermes shows.

The report estimates that this will add 0.3 per cent to global trade and 0.1 per cent to global growth, at a time when fears are mounting about a slowdown across the world economy, but most notably in China.


7. Brookings report on China's foreign policy

Revolution or evolution? Xi Jinping and the future of China’s foreign policy:

The prevailing narrative in the United States is that President Xi is determined to take China in a new direction, a direction that many experts on China describe as increasingly illiberal at home and aggressive abroad.

To critically assess this narrative—which could have profound policy consequences—Tarun Chhabra of the Brookings Project on International Order and Strategy and Ryan Hass of the Brookings John L. Thornton China Center have assembled nine experts who are compelling, new voices in the field of China studies in both academia and the policy world.

On some questions, such as whether domestic political pressure is likely to cause Xi to pursue diversionary conflict, the contributors disagree. They generally converge, however, on the conclusion that Chinese foreign policy reflects more continuity than change under Xi’s leadership, and that, as a consequence, significant changes to current policy will be needed to ensure the United States can compete vigorously against an ambitious and aggressive China.

The experts: Ryan Hass, Tarun Chhabra, Rush Doshi, Joseph Torigian, George Yin, Erin Baggott Carter, Andrew Chubb, David Shullman, Audrye Wong


8. Xi's vision for Beijing

He wants it remade into a sanitized, modern imperial capital, and it is happening. Xiong'an, the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei integration are all part of this vision. So far though no one seems to have figured out where all the water will come from. Pipeline from Siberia maybe?

Beijing’s Population Falls Further - Caixin:

In 2017, Beijing’s population declined for the first time in 20 years. New data show it fell even further last year.

The city’s permanent population — people who live there for more than six months — fell by 165,000 from 2017 to 2018, hitting 21.5 million, according to new data from the National Bureau of Statistics.

The fall from 2016 to 2017 was smaller — 22,000 people — but marked the first decline since 1997.

Beijing is going to move some people out of homes in "historical, cultural" areas in the city core, offers rewards to Beijing hukou holders who voluntarily move. And if they don't will the government forcibly kick out as they kicked out the "low-quality" population from some of Beijing's areas last winter?--北京自愿将户口迁出中心城区的居民可获奖励-新华网 

昨日,市住建委相关负责人就日前下发的《关于做好核心区历史文化街区平房直管公房申请式退租、恢复性修建和经营管理有关工作的通知》(下称《通知》)进行了政策解读。东西城平房直管公房,承租人可自愿申请退租,自愿腾退的直管公房承租人领取货币补偿后,可申请区政府提供的共有产权房源和公租房房源。对自愿将户口迁出中心城区的,还可给予适当奖励

Beijing's permanent resident population continues to drop - Xinhua:

The urban population in Beijing is about 18.6 million, about 86.5 percent of the capital's total permanent population...

Beijing plans to cap its population as it seeks to address "big city diseases" such as traffic congestion and pollution.

China embraces a greener capital - Xinhua:

Beijing has made great efforts to expand its green spaces, with 17,933 hectares of forest and 710 hectares of urban green space added last year, the municipal greening authorities said Wednesday.

The Beijing Gardening and Greening Bureau said that by the end of 2018, the forest coverage rate of the capital reached 43.5 percent, and the green space rate in the urban areas reached 48.4 percent, with the per capita public green space in the city reaching 16.3 square meters.

Beijing top choice for Chinese graduates even as other cities offer new options - CGTN:

Beijing's increasing cost of living is pushing a large number of young graduates to leave for other first-tier cities such as Shanghai and Guangzhou despite the Chinese capital retaining its position as the most attractive city for Chinese graduates, the National Business Daily reported citing the the annual graduate employment report from the C9 League, an alliance of nine top universities in Chinese mainland.

While Shenzhen and Shanghai ranked second and third among the top destination for Chinese graduates; new first-tier cities such as Wuhan and Chengdu have emerged as magnetic hubs in attracting talents, according to the report. The C9 League report showed that 40.18 percent of college graduates chose to work in new first-tier cities, an increase of 2.68 percent over the previous year.


Business, Economy, Finance And Trade

China Companies Suspected of Buying Own Bonds to Prime Market - Bloomberg One of the least transparent mechanisms to emerge so far is a tactic where bond issuers are indirectly buying their own bond offerings, according to investors and bond and credit-rating analysts. The idea is to inflate issuance sizes, creating the image of greater access to capital than might otherwise be true -- and leading to lower coupons in subsequent sales.

Chinese Banks Pushed to Comply With International Rules Against Money Laundering - Caixin Banks should “sort out, update and optimize” their systems for preventing tax evasion, compliance with sanctions, consumer protection, internet security and environmental risks, as well as those for countering money laundering and terrorist financing, according to guidelines released by the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission on Tuesday.

China approves plan for new tech exchange in Shanghai: Xinhua | Reuters China has approved a plan to set up a Nasdaq-style board for tech companies in Shanghai aimed at improving their ability to raise funds, the official Xinhua news agency reported on Wednesday. President Xi Jinping presided over a meeting of a commission on deepening reforms during which plans for Shanghai’s “technology innovation board” were approved, the news agency said.

China Meat Giant Surges as Founder Returns After Vanishing - Bloomberg China Yurun Food Group Ltd. jumped in Hong Kong as its founder and largest shareholder Zhu Yicai returned home after mysteriously disappearing three years ago...Zhu, who also controls Shanghai-listed shopping center operator Nanjing Central Emporium Co. had been placed under surveillance at an unspecified location in China since 2015.

Local Government Bond Issuance to Exceed 250 Billion Yuan in January - China Banking News Debt-raising at the local government level in China is off to a roaring start in 2019, with bond issuance expected to exceed 250 billion yuan in the opening month of the year. A report from Securities Daily pegs puts local bond issuance in January at 250.469 billion yuan based on data made public as of 22 January.

No mass layoffs at China’s internet firms - Xinhua China’s internet firms have generally stable recruitment and employment without mass layoffs, the country’s top economic planner said on Jan 22. The conclusion was made after the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) conducted research in a variety of ways recently, including meeting with a number of enterprises, NDRC spokesperson Meng Wei told a conference in response to some media reports.

E-Commerce Powers China to World’s Top Retail Spot: eMarketer Report - Caixin China’s retail sales are expected to grow 7.5% this year, which will take it past the U.S., a new report predicts *Much of this growth has been driven by e-commerce, which by the end of this year will make up over a third of all retail sales in China, compared to around a tenth in the U.S.


Politics, Law And Ideology

China detains students, labor activists in deepening crackdown | Reuters About a dozen Chinese labor activists and university students have either gone missing or been detained by police this week, sources told Reuters, amid a deepening crackdown on activists seeking improved rights for factory workers.

Chief of China’s Largest Bank Likely Heading for High-Level Government Position - Caixin Global The current chairman of state-owned Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC), Yi Huiman, will likely be promoted to a key position at a government body, Caixin has learned. Yi recently received a personnel evaluation by a Communist Party department that oversees the selection and appointment of central government officials, including those of financial regulators, according to multiple sources within ICBC who are familiar with the matter.

示范引领推动建设学习型政党--党建-人民网 summary of the 9 2018 Politburo group study sessions

First Case of an Administrative Detention Linked to the Foreign NGO Law? | ChinaFile As reported by HK01, a Hong Kong-based news outlet focused on civil society and advocacy work, local public security authorities picked up Hong Kong resident Cheung Kam Hung on January 11 in Shenzhen, Guangdong province for violations of the Foreign NGO Law and administratively detained him for three days. As head of the Hong Kong-registered Rainbow China (彩虹中國), a non-profit focused on LGBT rights and HIV/AIDS prevention and support in China, Cheung had planned to travel to Fujian province on January 12 to conduct activities related to his NGO work. HK01 included a photo of his signed deportation notice, which references China’s Foreign NGO Law. The notice was issued by police in Wuhan, a city hundreds of miles away from both Shenzhen and Fujian and apparently not on Cheung’s itinerary.

Xi presides over 6th meeting of central committee for deepening overall reform - Xinhua Xi, also Chinese president, chairman of the Central Military Commission, and head of the central committee for deepening overall reform, called for "decisive results" in reforms in crucial areas and key links by 2020. The country should continue to fight the tough battles and "crack hard nuts," ensure each undertaking is successful, and lay a decisive foundation for fulfilling the reform tasks mapped out by the third plenary session of the 18th CPC Central Committee, he said. // CCTV Evening News report 习近平主持召开中央全面深化改革委员会第六次会议强调 对标重要领域和关键环节改革 继续啃硬骨头 确保干一件成一件_CCTV 

Former senior disciplinary inspector gets 14-year jail term for accepting bribes - Xinhua | English.news.cn Mo Jiancheng...From 2000 to 2017, Mo held several positions in Tongliao, a city in Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, later served as a member on the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Regional Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) and the Party chief for the city of Baotou, also in Inner Mongolia, and moved on to Jiangxi Province to serve several more posts there before he was appointed as the chief of the disciplinary inspection team sent by the CPC Central Commission for Discipline Inspection to the Ministry of Finance and sat in the ministry's leading Party members' group.

Pushing women’s issues at the Supreme People’s Court | Supreme People's Court Monitor …the Women’s Federation hopes to further strengthen exchanges and cooperation with the Supreme People’s Court. 

A Death Sentence For a Life of Service • art of life in chinese central asia Sometime after he disappeared in 2017,  Tashpolat Tiyip, the president of Xinjiang University, was sentenced to death in a secret trial.  The Chinese state has provided no justification for this horrifying violation of human rights. Like hundreds of other Uyghur intellectuals, it has simply taken his life away. Drawing on interviews with Tiyip’s students and relatives, this article tells the story of his life and demonstrates the grotesque absurdity of the Chinese totalitarian state. A man who has dedicated his life to furthering the vision of the state and his people appears to have been sentenced to death for this effort.

Judging a book by its Cover: The influence of physical attractiveness on the promotion of regional leaders - ScienceDirect We investigate the determinants of the promotion of Chinese municipal leaders and find that leaders with greater perceived attractiveness have a higher probability of promotion. Further exploration shows no correlation between a leader's facial traits and local economic growth under his jurisdiction. Essentially, a senior government official's look significantly affects his chance of promotion but says very little about his ability to advance the local economy. Our findings suggest that appearance-based discrimination exists when Chinese political hierarchy screens political elites.


Foreign and Military Affairs

U.S. Intelligence Warns Russia, China Seizing on Global Turmoil - Bloomberg “Russian efforts to increase its influence and authority are likely to continue and may conflict with U.S. goals and priorities in multiple regions,” according to the strategy released by Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats. “Chinese military modernization and continued pursuit of economic and territorial predominance in the Pacific region and beyond remain a concern, though opportunities exist to work with Beijing on issues of mutual concern” including North Korea’s nuclear arsenal. // 2019 National Intelligence Strategy 

'I'm being watched': Anne-Marie Brady, the China critic living in fear of Beijing | The Guardian ince the publication of her 2017 paper Magic Weapons, which details the extent of Chinese influence in New Zealand, Brady’s life has been turned upside down, becoming the target of a campaign of intimidation and “psy-ops” she believes is directed by Beijing towards her and her family. The Chinese government has not responded to requests for comment. Beginning in late 2017, Brady has had her home burgled and her office broken into twice. Her family car has been tampered with, she has received a threatening letter (“You are the next”) and answered numerous, anonymous phone calls in the middle of the night, despite having an unlisted number. The latest came at 3am on the day her family returned home after a Christmas break. “I’m being watched”, she says

‘I strongly declare I am innocent’: Huawei executive ‘Weijing W’, arrested in Poland, says he is not a Chinese spy | Reuters Weijing W. also said that the charges against him are “completely groundless and terribly hurtful”. “I have never consciously had contact with and I certainly did not cooperate with any kind of intelligence, especially Chinese intelligence,” the man said.

China Focus: China introduces more supportive measures for veterans - Xinhua China's Ministry of Veterans Affairs said Wednesday it had carried out multiple measures to help military veterans find jobs and support them in other fields. Local governments provided more than 80,000 former military officers with civilian jobs and helped over 400,000 retired soldiers resettle in 2018, said Wang Zhiming, a spokesman for the ministry at a press conference. The ministry was unveiled in April 2018 to provide better services to veterans.

KL scraps ECRL deal with China firm, seeks replacement - The Straits Times Malaysia is seeking a new contractor to build the East Coast Rail Link (ECRL), after terminating the original contract awarded to China Communications Construction Company (CCCC) yesterday, a source told The Straits Times. It is understood that the government is seeking to halve the estimated project cost of RM81 billion (S$27 billion) to RM40 billion.

Let us into 5G and we could pay millions for NZ cyber lab, says Huawei | Stuff.co.nz China's Huawei says it could invest millions of dollars in a "cybersecurity evaluation centre" that would be under the control of the Government Communications Security Bureau. The lab could vet 5G and other equipment that Huawei and potentially other companies supplied to the country's telcos, Huawei NZ deputy managing director Andrew Bowater said.

How the U.S. Could Lose a Tech Cold War - Bloomberg Above all, the U.S. should focus on its own industrial competitiveness. “For every dollar we spend on containing China, we should be spending on our labs and innovation centers,” says Gary Rieschel, the founder of Qiming Venture Partners and a pioneer U.S. investor in the Chinese tech sector. He adds: “The U.S. does not do defense well.”

India navy set to open third base in strategic islands to counter China | Reuters India’s navy will open a third air base in the far-off Andaman and Nicobar islands on Thursday to beef up surveillance of Chinese ships and submarines entering the Indian Ocean through the nearby Malacca Straits, military officials and experts said.

China's Rocket Force conducts mock ICBM strike exercise - Global Times The People's Liberation Army (PLA) Rocket Force conducted a simulated intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) strike mission from an underground bunker against an imaginary enemy, the country's national television reported Monday.  China Central Television (CCTV) did not disclose details on the location and time of the exercise. Long-term survival training in closed environments has become routine for the troops to ensure counterattack capability in case a war breaks out, the report said.


Hong Kong, Macao

Hong Kong moves to make disrespecting Chinese national anthem a crime | Reuters Hong Kong on Wednesday presented a controversial bill to lawmakers that prescribes jail terms of up to three years for disrespecting the Chinese national anthem, a move critics say raises fresh fears over freedom of expression in the city.


Taiwan

Gigi Wu, ‘bikini climber,’ dies after falling into ravine at Yushan National Park - The Washington Post Wu’s latest endeavor, however, ended in tragedy. The 36-year-old woman was in the middle of a solo hiking trip in Yushan National Park when she fell more than 65 feet into a ravine on Saturday, Apple Daily News reported. Even after she fell, Wu was able to use a satellite phone to call friends and give her coordinates, Nantou County fire official Lin Cheng-yi told reporters. However, the situation was dire: Wu reportedly also told her friends that she couldn’t move the lower half of her body.

Top political advisor stresses peaceful development of cross-Strait ties - Xinhua | English.news.cn Wang [Yang]...reviewed the progress in handling Taiwan affairs for 2018. Saying that the cross-Strait situation would be more complicated and severe in 2019, Wang stressed upholding the 1992 Consensus that embodies the one-China principle to promote the peaceful development of cross-Strait relations....He noted that the integrated development across the Strait should be deepened, with exchanges and cooperation to be expanded and preferential policies for Taiwan compatriots to be fully implemented.


Tech And Media

China deletes 7 million pieces of online information, thousands of apps | Reuters The Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) said in a statement on its website the action was part of a clean-up of unacceptable and harmful information that started this month, adding that it had also shut down 733 websites. The administration singled out Tencent’s Tiantian Kuaibao news app, saying the platform had been ordered to make changes as it had been spreading “vulgar and low-brow information that was harmful and damaging to the internet ecosystem”.

China's Baidu pledges to improve search service after complaint | Reuters Baidu was placing low-quality pieces from its Baijiahao service, which selects articles from both legacy and independent media outlets for display on Baidu’s own webpages, and other Baidu properties toward the top of its search results, journalist Fang Kecheng wrote in an article on Tuesday. “Baidu no longer plans on being a good search engine. It only wants to be a marketing platform, and hopes to turn users searching for content into traffic for itself,” he wrote.

Mobike to rebrand as Meituan Bike, fully integrate into Meituan's app · TechNode The Chinese bike-rental firm will also become a distinct business group within the lifestyle services company. Wang Huiwen, Meituan’s senior vice president and co-founder, made the announcement in an internal memo to employees on Wednesday morning. A company spokesperson later confirmed the news to TechNode.

Charts of the Day: The IPhone’s Shrinking China Shipments - Caixin Global According to industry tracker IDC, iPhone shipments in China shrunk to 41 million units in 2017, from 45 million the year before and 58 million in 2015. Shipments in the first three quarters of 2018 amounted to 24 million units, down from 26.4 million in the same period the year before. Shipments of Huawei’s handsets, however, hit 75 million units in the first three quarters of 2018, up from 66.6 million over the same period in 2017. Shipments of Xiaomi Corp. handsets reached 42 million in the first three quarters last year, the equivalent of the 2016’s total shipment volume and up from 39.2 million in the same period of 2017.


Society, Art, Sports, Culture And History

Chinese bishops' chief vows to press ahead with Sinicization- ucanews.com The president of China's state-sanctioned bishops' conference has pledged to work with the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association (CCPA) to develop the Sinicization of religion in the communist nation. Bishop Joseph Ma Yinglin of Kunming was speaking after Wang Zuoan, deputy minister of the United Front Work Department (UFWD), visited the CCPA and the Bishops' Conference of the Catholic Church in China (BCCCC) in Beijing. Bishop Ma said the CCPA and BCCCC would live up to the trust of the Communist Party and the government.


Energy, Environment, Science And Health

Inside China's leading 'sponge city': Wuhan's war with water | Cities | The Guardian Under the sponge city scheme, Wuhan and the other participating areas must ensure that 20% of their urban land includes sponge features by 2020, with a target of being able to retain 70% of storm water. For Wuhan that equates to just over 170 sq km of a total urban area of 860 sq km, and last year the sponge projects were rolled out to a further nine districts. The nationwide programme has been expanded to cover 30 cities. By 2030, participants must ensure that 80% of their urban land includes sponge features.


Agriculture And Rural Issues

Dim Sums: Rural China Economics and Policy: China Grain and Pork Output Fell in 2018 China's 3.5-percent primary industry GDP growth was a little more than half the reported overall GDP growth of 6.6 percent. The primary industry share of China's GDP fell to 7.2 percent. The rural population of 564 million represented 40.4 percent of the national population. China's grain output fell -0.6 percent to reach 657.89 million metric tons (mmt) in 2018. Fall grain (including corn, fall-harvested rice, soybeans) output was up slightly by 0.1 percent, but summer grain (mainly wheat) was down -2.1 percent and early rice was down -4.3 percent. Cotton output rose 7.8 percent.

Dim Sums: Rural China Economics and Policy: Rural Food Fraud Campaign in Pictures A 3-month rural food fraud crackdown is underway in China. Food safety regulation, inspection and enforcement tends to be especially lax in rural communities. This campaign, apparently timed for the peak shopping season leading up the Spring Festival holiday, is intended to reassure rural residents that authorities care about them and to improve the quality of life in the countryside