Constitution Changes; Third Plenum; Liu He To DC; A More Disturbing CCTV Spring Gala Skit; Trump Trade Policies; North Korea

The Year of the Dog has certainly started with some bite, between the temporary government takeover of Anbang, the convening of a Third Plenum, and the release of the changes coming to the State Constitution, including the removal of term limits for the President and Vice President. In case you missed it I wrote a note yesterday on the term limit change-Term Limits Will Officially No Longer Apply To Xi Jinping.

The convening of a Third Plenum starting today is interesting as Third Plenums have in the reform era been held much later in the year. There is an apparent logic to holding the Third barely a month after the Second Plenum (January 18-19), as there needed to be at least month before the March 5th NPC meeting for review of any Constitution changes proposed by a party Plenum, and there is usually a Plenum right before the NPC to finalize any personnel and institutional changes.

According to the official announcement of the Third Plenum-CPC Central Committee to hold third plenary session/中共中央政治局召开会议决定召开十九届三中全会 the central committee will discuss:

a structural reform plan of the Party and state institutions, the country's economic and social development, as well as proposed candidates for state leadership positions and for the leadership of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) National Committee.

But, why couldn't they have taken care of everything at the Second Plenum? Were some of the big issues still unresolved in January? And will there be a Fourth Plenum later this year, perhaps timed with the 40th anniversary of the momentous Third Plenum of the 11th Party Congress?

The events of the last few days should finally end the debate over whether or not Xi respects "norms". He respects power and appears to have never met a norm he saw as binding. This is not an academic debate. The question of whether or not Xi respects norms matters because it goes to the fundamental nature of Xi and the CCP and if we don't understand that how can the West possibly craft a viable response to the growing challenge from the PRC?

Thanks for reading.


The Essential Eight

1. Changes To The State Constitution

There are other substantive changes beyond the scrapping of the two-term limit for President and Vice President.

Xinhua's highlights of the coming changes-Proposed constitutional amendment package unveiled - Xinhua:

The CPC Central Committee proposed writing building "a community with a shared future for humanity" into the Constitution.

The expression that China will "adhere to the peaceful development path and the mutually beneficial strategy of opening-up" should be added to the preamble, read the proposal...

A sentence stressing the Party's leadership was proposed to be added into the Constitution.

"The leadership of the Communist Party of China is the defining feature of socialism with Chinese characteristics," read the proposal...

The addition of core socialist values into a clause was also in the proposed package. [Comment: This will mean more censorship and content control, more discriminatory policies against foreign content and media.]

The proposal read that the State advocates core socialist values, and the civic virtues of love of the motherland, of the people, of labour, of science and of socialism...

The CPC Central Committee proposed to list ecological advancement as a new function and power of the State Council, or cabinet.

Apart from economic affairs and urban and rural development, the State Council also has the function and power of directing and administering ecological advancement, according to a proposed change to a clause under Article 89.

The full translation of 中国共产党中央委员会关于修改宪法部分内容的建议 -Translation: Communist Party’s Proposals for Amending the P.R.C. Constitution (2018) – NPC Observer

Xi set to tighten grip on China by scrapping limit on presidency-FT $$:

One person with close ties to China’s leadership says that people worried about Mr Xi’s authoritarian tendencies are “not just scared, they are desperate”.

The person adds that scrapping the two-term limit “has put us back 30 years”, by threatening painstaking efforts to institutionalise peaceful party and government leadership transitions every 10 years

Observers say China needs consistent leadership as CPC proposes removing presidential term limit - Global Times

"The decision has been made after careful consideration, and this is an adjustment to serve China's current situation and future development, which is consistent with Chinese political characteristics and goals," a Chinese scholar who requested anonymity told the Global Times on Sunday.

The trinity of the general secretary of the CPC Central Committee, Chinese president and chairman of the Central Military Commission has positive meaning, the expert said. "In order to achieve the great goal from 2020 to the middle of the 21st century, China needs a centralized and unified leadership; otherwise the decentralization of authority will impact realization of the great goal."

China Moves to Let Xi Stay in Power by Abolishing Term Limit - The New York Times:

“I don’t see any reasonable challenges for him,” Wu Qiang, a political analyst in Beijing who formerly taught at Tsinghua University, said of Mr. Xi. “He has removed any potential political competitors. So far, there is no organized political competition for him.”..

China is likely to enter another long period of severe dictatorship — Jerome A. Cohen | 孔傑榮(柯恩):

Xi decided to strike while the iron is hot rather than wait for later in his new term when increasing problems might have made the change more difficult. His brash step has undoubtedly aroused profound concern among the elite. Many high Party personnel, bureaucrats, judicial officials, lawyers, intellectuals, academics and business people, mindful of the past Maoist dictatorship and the increasingly repressive and arbitrary government under Xi, have seen this coming and now, in social media and other informal ways, are showing their anxieties and opposition.

The Politburo held a study session on the importance of the constitution and governing according to the law. CASS scholar-cadre Li Lin was the lecturer, as the CCTV Evening News reported-[视频]习近平在中共中央政治局第四次集体学习时强调 更加注重发挥宪法重要作用 把实施宪法提高到新的水平_CCTV

China’s Xi Jinping Lampooned on Social Media for Power Play - Bloomberg

What an Extension of Xi's Reign in China Means for Investors - Bloomberg

Deng Xiaoping would likely not be pleased with Xi's concentration of power, but he and his contemporaries are dead and we are in the Xi Era. This excerpt from a Deng speech is worth reading-On the Reform of the System of Party and State Leadership « The Selected Works of Deng Xiaoping - August 18, 1980 Speech:

First of all, it is not good to have an over-concentration of power. It hinders the practice of socialist democracy and of the Party’s democratic centralism, impedes the progress of socialist construction and prevents us from taking full advantage of collective wisdom...

Second, it is not good to have too many people holding two or more posts concurrently or to have too many deputy posts. There is a limit to anyone’s knowledge, experience and energy. If a person holds too many posts at the same time, he will find it difficult to come to grips with the problems in his work and, more important, he will block the way for other more suitable comrades to take up leading posts. Having too many deputy posts leads to low efficiency and contributes to bureaucracy and formalism.

Third, it is time for us to distinguish between the responsibilities of the Party and those of the government and to stop substituting the former for the latter...

Fourth, we must take the long-term interest into account and solve the problem of the succession in leadership. As precious assets of the Party and state, the older comrades shoulder heavy responsibilities. Their primary task now is to help the Party organizations find worthy successors to work for our cause.

So what else from the Deng Era will be undone in the Xi Era?


2. Lingxui 领袖 Xi Jinping

A CCTV commentary today on the people loving Xi the people’s leader “lingxiu”. Clearly there is a propaganda campaign coordinated from the top to push "lingxiu"-央视快评:人民领袖人民爱_新闻_央视网(cctv.com):

“黄土地的儿子”,这是总书记给自己的定位,更是对人民最朴素的告白。

人民领袖习近平心系人民

Sinocism from February 11--“人民领袖” -- The People's "Leader" Xi Jinping Gets A New Propaganda Title:

He looks to be now officially known as “领袖 lingxiu”. Mao Zedong was titled “伟大领袖 Great Leader” and Hua Guofeng was called “英明领袖 Wise Leader”, but I do not believe any leader since Hua has gotten the “lingxiu” title. Until Xi.

Friday was our first chance to see a People’s Daily and CCTV co-produced 5-minute video “人民领袖 renmin lingxiu” about Xi Jinping as the People’s “leader”.

Xi Jinping Thought Explained: A New Ideology for a New Era - The New York Times:

Central to the doctrine is the idea that for China to continue its global rise, and for the party to maintain its rule, a decisive leader is needed at the helm. And the man for the job is Mr. Xi.

Xi Jinping Thought was seen in action this week when the Communist Party announced it would abolish presidential term limits, allowing Mr. Xi to remain in power, perhaps indefinitely.

In propaganda, Mr. Xi is referred to as “lingxiu,” a reverent Chinese word for a leader that was also used for Mao Zedong. In official imagery he is portrayed as a visionary leader on a historic mission — brave, wise and decisive.

Chinese State Media Launch 'Hold Your Mother's Hand' Campaign with Xi Jinping at Forefront | What's on Weibo:

With the online ‘hold your mother’s hand’ campaign, various Chinese state media stress the idea of ‘homecoming’ and the importance of family ties. President Xi Jinping is represented as the perfect ‘family man’ leader.

Question: Is this the reason Gui Minhai is seen as such a threat?

And another in a line of weekly short videos on Xi and his leadership, from CCTV and Xinhua- 微视频《答卷》_新闻_腾讯网


3. National Supervision Commission Standing Up

China’s new super graft-buster will outrank courts and prosecutors | South China Morning Post:

Supervisory agencies at all levels will be listed along with the country’s administrative, judicial and procuratorial bodies – all of which are appointed by the people’s congresses to which they are responsible and by which they are supervised, according to the document released by the party’s Central Committee.

Throughout the revisions concerning the new agency, the graft-buster is placed after the State Council, or the cabinet, and the Central Military Commission, but before the courts and the procuratorates.

CPC proposes listing supervisory commissions as state organs in Constitution - Xinhua:

A supervisory commission will consist of one director, several deputy directors and a number of members. The director will serve the same term as that of the people's congress of the same level.

The director of the national supervisory commission shall serve no more than two consecutive terms...

Members of the standing committees of the NPC and local peoples' congresses at and above county level shall not hold office in supervisory organs.

In addition, supervision will no longer be a duty for the State Council and local governments at and above county level, according to the proposal.


4. Liu He In DC This Week

I broke the news last week that he was coming, am now trying to vet more details on his visit (tips are always welcome, +13012460858 on Signal). As of this weekend it was not clear what meetings he had set up. Perhaps he will also brief the Trump team on Xi's plans for reform, but there is zero appetite for more empty promises about "reform". Liu should not expect a nice visit, and frankly there may be some confusion about who is really running the US-China relationship given Yang Jiechi's visit earlier this month and the expected elevation of Wang Qishan in a week or so.

Senior economic official Liu He to visit U.S. - China Daily:

Liu He, a member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, will visit the United States from Feb 27 to March 3, the Foreign Ministry confirmed on Monday.

During the visit, the two sides will exchange views on China-U.S. ties and the economic and trade cooperation between the two countries, Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said at a daily news conference in Beijing.

Why it matters: Beijing is trying to figure out how to avoid a much more contentious phase of U.S.–China relations. If China is serious about difficult financial reforms, then it needs to avoid risking its cleanup with significant economic friction with the U.S. The U.S. has leverage but so far I am hearing that the Trump administration has been unable to craft and implement a coherent strategy to use that leverage.

Why China’s top economic adviser Liu He could be next central bank chief | South China Morning Post:

At the same time, Liu, 66, is also widely expected to become vice-premier in charge of economic and financial affairs in March. That would put him on a par with Zhu Rongji, known for his tough approach to tackling the economic chaos when he was vice-premier and central bank governor from 1993 to 1995.

“Liu He stands out from the other candidates because the top leadership has decided that only a highly trusted and resourceful figure can take the lead on increasingly complicated reforms,” one of the sources said.

Comment: If Liu does get all these big new titles, people may wonder what exactly Premier Li Keqiang will be doing. It is starting to look like Xi is planning to use Liu to marginalize Li — in a similar manner to how former Chinese paramount leader Deng Xiaoping marginalized Premier Li Peng with Zhu Rongji in the early 1990s.


5. US-China Trade Tensions

Axios Sneak Peek - Inside the White House trade fights:

an official with knowledge of the trade discussions told me the White House is preparing to impose tariffs on a "shit ton" — meaning, potentially hundreds — of Chinese products. They'll avoid going through the World Trade Organization — which Trump doesn't trust — and instead use Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974 to unilaterally retaliate against China for stealing Americans’ intellectual property

Timing: Two sources told me Trump has been impatient and wanted these 301 tariffs done yesterday, but the team still hasn't settled on which Chinese products to attack. The team hasn't presented its recommendations to Trump..

Promotion would give Navarro deeper influence over trade policy - POLITICO:

White House aides are strongly considering promoting Navarro to assistant to the president for trade policy, according to the people. The new title would ensure that he has a seat at the table at a pivotal moment for trade, and it would grant him access to the daily senior staff meeting.

One administration official said Trump, who likes Navarro and regularly inquires why he isn’t in key meetings, ordered the change. Another person familiar with the issue said the move hasn’t

I would love to be a fly on the wall in a Liu He-Peter Navarro meeting.

Trump’s protection plan to keep ‘competitor’ China at bay-FT $$:

The planned reforms fit with an international pattern. From Australia to the EU, jurisdictions are tightening their scrutiny of inbound investment largely in reaction to what many governments suspect has been a strategically driven Chinese buying spree that in the US alone has been worth $116.6bn in the past five years according to the Rhodium Group, a consultancy.

However, the US proposals go further. For the first time, the bill now under consideration would give Cfius broad jurisdiction over major outbound investment by US companies, that since 1990 has been worth some $250bn, and the overseas ventures of US-based multinationals. And for that reason it has provoked a growing revolt from blue-chip American companies such as General Electric and IBM and a debate in Congress over how best to curtail Chinese pressure on US companies.


6. Signs of South Korea-US Daylight Over North Korea As US Enacts More Sanctions

Seoul: US should lower threshold for talks with North Korea - AP:

South Korea’s president said Monday that the United States should lower the threshold for talks with North Korea and that the two countries should start a dialogue soon.

President Moon Jae-in made the remarks in a meeting with Chinese Vice Premier Liu Yandong one day after a senior North Korean official told Moon that his country is willing to open talks with the United States...

According to his office, Moon asked for China’s support for U.S.-North Korea talks, and Liu responded that China would help facilitate them. Moon also said that North Korea should show a commitment to denuclearization, something it has refused to do.

U.S. Sanctions Nine Chinese Firms for North Korea Ties - Caixin Global:

The nine Chinese firms sanctioned include two on the Chinese mainland, namely the Shandong province-based Weihai World-Shipping Freight Agency Co. Ltd., and the Shanghai-based Shanghai Dongfeng Shipping Co. Ltd.

Also included were five companies based in Hong Kong, namely Liberty Shipping Co. Ltd., Chang An Shipping & Technology Ltd., Hongxiang Marine (Hong Kong) Ltd., Shen Zhong International Shipping Ltd., and Huaxin Shipping (HongKong) Ltd.; as well as two based in Taiwan, namely Pro-Gain Group Corp., and Kingly Won International Co. Ltd.

Ministry raises objections to sanctions on DPRK, China - China Daily:

According to the U.S. Treasury Department, the new sanctions target one individual, 27 entities, and 28 vessels located, registered, or flagged in the DPRK, the Chinese mainland, Singapore, Taiwan, Hong Kong, the Marshall Islands, Tanzania, Panama and Comoros.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said on Saturday that China has lodged solemn representations to the U.S. and urges the country to immediately stop its mistaken actions to avoid harming bilateral cooperation.


7. A More Worrisome CCTV Spring Gala Skit

There has been a lot of media focus on the racist Africa skit with blackface but to me the most disturbing skit was this one the military gymnast and dancing soldiers backdropped by scenes of China’s top weapons systems, with both computer generated graphics and video of live fire exercises.

[2018央视春晚]杂技与舞蹈《沙场砺兵》 杂技:潘跃新 大兴东杂技团_CCTV

Here is it on Youtube:

African woman who auditioned for ‘racist’ Chinese TV gala show speaks out on blackface row | South China Morning Post:

The backlash was so big that China’s foreign ministry felt obliged to comment on the matter. Far from apologising for any offence that might have been caused, however, ministry spokesman Geng Shuang suggested that some groups were trying to use the row to drive “a wedge between China and African countries”. But any efforts to do so were “futile” he said, adding that relations between the two sides were “ironclad” and mutually beneficial.


8. Reform Doesn't Mean What You Think It Means?

Evan A. Feigenbaum looks at the Chinese definition of "reform" and why Xi and his team believe they are reformers. I agree that they are, just not in the way most people in the West want or understood them to want to be.

A Chinese Puzzle: Why Economic "Reform" in Xi's China Has More Meanings than Market Liberalization - MacroPolo:

To put it as directly as I can, “reform” simply does not have the same meaning in China today that it does to many of us, and especially to a lot of market observers. Unsurprisingly, we tend to focus on market liberalization, to the exclusion of most else. But economic “reform” in Xi Jinping’s China has at least two additional meanings—and these can actually contradict and undermine market goals.

To Beijing, “reform” means:

market liberalization;

administrative measures to increase bureaucratic and operational efficiencies; and
a rebalancing of authorities and decision powers among central and local levels of government.

Viewed in those broadened terms, there is actually quite a lot of “reform” happening in China today


Business, Economy, Finance And Trade

China steel and iron ore futures soar on new pollution curbs - FT $$ The local government in Tangshan, China’s biggest steelmaking city, said on Friday that it would maintain production limits scheduled to expire when the winter heating season ends in March. An extension of the cuts would reduce steel supplies just as construction demand picks up amid warmer weather.

Three Chinese Insurers Found to Have Violated Investment Rules - Bloomberg China Re Asset Management Co., China Life Insurance Co. and Ping An Insurance (Group) Co. violated regulations on investable countries and regions, the China Insurance Regulatory Commission said in three separate notices posted on its website on Saturday dated Feb. 11. The statements didn’t give details on the breaches.

Daimler’s New Chinese Investor to Embark on German Goodwill Tour - Bloomberg Chinese billionaire Li Shufu moved quickly to assuage officials from Stuttgart to Berlin after his surprise $9 billion investment in Daimler AG made him the biggest shareholder in the storied German automaker.

IPO Reform Deadline to Be Pushed Back Two Years - Caixin Global Liu Shiyu said the adjustment period should be extended because the time is not yet ripe for the introduction of a registration system, and there are currently still many issues that need to be resolved, including the establishment of a multilevel market system and the maturity level of traders. China still needs more time to “maintain the continuity of work, prevent misunderstandings and misgivings in the market, and to further accumulate practical experience in the revision of securities laws,” Liu said.

独家|已证实!阿里将收购饿了么,估值95亿美元,价格待定_第一财经 Alibaba has acquired food delivery service ele.me

Tech Giants Alibaba, Tencent Move Retailing Battle Offline - Caixin Global Leading Internet firms Alibaba and Tencent have moved their war for supremacy in cyberspace to the brick-and-mortar realm, taking aim at traditional shoppers in China’s $4.9 trillion retail market. That battle has sparked a recent buying binge by the pair, which have poured over 100 billion yuan ($15.8 billion) into deals to expand their reach to shoppers who prefer to make purchases in real-time at traditional stores.

After takeover by government, Anbang says committed to overseas subsidiaries - Reuters Anbang Insurance Group Co Ltd said on Monday it fully supported the Chinese insurance regulator’s decision to temporarily take control of the company, and remains committed to the development of its overseas subsidiaries.

China's urban unemployment rate at 3.9%, lowest since 2002 - ECNS China's registered unemployment rate in urban areas stood at 3.9 percent at the end of 2017, the lowest level since 2002, the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security (MHRSS) said on Monday. A total of 13.51 million new jobs were created in urban areas in 2017 with the unemployment rate below 4 percent for four consecutive quarters, You Jun, vice minister of the MHRSS, made the remarks at a press conference.

 

Politics, Law And Ideology

中央政策研究室领导有调整 Jiang Jinquan is now deputy director of central policy research office. Wang Huning still head, so far , but sounds like he will not keep the title now that he is on the PBSC //  最新一期《求是》杂志发表题为《全面从严治党必须持之以恒毫不动摇》,署名江金权,职务是中共中央政策研究室分管日常工作的副主任。江金权此前任职中央纪委驻国资委纪检组组长,再之前长期在中央政策研究室工作。“政事儿”注意到,春节前,江金权就在新闻联播中以中央政策研究室副主任的职务出镜。

Death of Chinese rights lawyer raises suspicions - Reuters Li Baiguang, a Christian human rights lawyer who had met regularly with high-level officials in the United States, died at the Number 81 People’s Liberation Army Hospital in Nanjing, eastern China, a source with direct knowledge of the case told Reuters.

Responsible media should not act as Beijing's pawns when reporting on staged, forced confessions | Hong Kong Free Press HKFP - Peter Dahlin Myself, and others I know who have been through these confessions, can testify that it’s not just about what lines you are to repeat, it’s about how you deliver them – style, delivery, tone, pitch, posture, the amount of smile or expressed sadness or remorse – it’s all directed and staged. Despite the fact that the words are not Gui’s, his latest forced TV confession shows the evolving nature of how these confessions are used, and how they have chosen to use a more ‘interactive’ form this time around, although the reality is of course the same. Adding the semi-independent South China Morning Post to the list of invited media posed no risk, as Gui was forced to simply read prepared statements, and SCMP has played along with the CCP before in its mysterious interview with Zhao Wei.

New round of disciplinary checks starts across country - China Daily The teams will inspect Party organizations in 14 provincial-level regions, including Hebei and Guangdong provinces; eight ministry-level entities, such as the Ministry of Commerce and the General Administration of Customs; and eight State-owned enterprises, including China National Nuclear Corp. // table from the CCDI listing all the targets and contact info for tips -  十九届中央第一轮巡视进驻一览表

Top Chinese cabinet official Yang Jing’s sacking ‘linked to missing billionaire Xiao Jianhua’ | South China Morning Post Yang Jing, who also holds the title of state councillor and is a top assistant to Premier Li Keqiang, has been removed from his administrative posts, which decide his perks, and demoted from deputy state to ministerial level, Xinhua reported on Saturday. // Comment: From the 12.11.17 Sinocism -"Comment: I hear Yang Jing ran into trouble, and has been demoted and taken back to Inner Mongolia."

中共中央印发《中央党内法规制定工作第二个五年规划(2018-2022年)》-新华网 Second Five-Year Plan (2018-2022) on the Central Committee’s Formulation of Intra-Party Regulations

"Full Employment" in Tibet: The Beginning and End of Chen Quanguo's Neo-Socialist Experiment - Jamestown To informed observers, this sudden adjustment marks a silent abrogation of the “full employment commitment” instituted by the region’s previous Party Secretary, Chen Quanguo. [1] After Chen was transferred to China’s northwestern Xinjiang region in August 2016, the TAR’s government apparently decided to abandon his popular yet unsustainably expensive employment policy. However, the abrupt nature of this policy shift and the resulting gap in public employment opportunities holds considerable risks for the future stability of this sensitive region. Importantly, the TAR’s termination of its “neo-socialist” stability experiment raises wider questions about the sustainability of China’s subsidy-driven approach for maintaining stability in restive minority regions.

穿越历史的真理之光(钟声)--国际--人民网 On the 170 anniversary of the Communist Manifesto People's Daily "Zhongsheng" weighs in the continued relevance of Marx, especially in light of all the problems in the West since 2008...I still find many people to quick to dismiss the idea that Xi may actually believe in much of Marxism

China to revise oath of alliegiance for officials - Xinhua  China plans to revise the oath of allegiance to the Constitution taken by people in public office to include adjectives of "great" and "modern" before "a socialist country."

 

Foreign and Military Affairs

USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier sails through South China Sea in defiance of China - Australian Broadcasting Corporation) The ship is moving between an old ally and a new one … and another nation concerned about China's island-building in these waters. The Carl Vinson began this leg of its journey in Manila and it'll drop anchor next off Danang, Vietnam. It'll be the first visit from a US aircraft carrier since the end of the Vietnam War.

Chinese expert: freedom of navigation ≠ freedom of military operations in South China Sea - Ministry of National Defense Senior Colonel Zhou Bo, director of the Security Cooperation Center of the International Military Cooperation Office of the Chinese Ministry of National Defense, explained how some countries’ have misinterpreted the international law.“First of all, we must abide by the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS)," Zhou said. "But the problem now is that some countries unilaterally and wrongly interpreted the 'freedom of navigation' of the UNCLOS as the ‘freedom of military operations’, which is not the principle set by the UNCLOS,” Zhou noted.

Here is Zhou Bo in the FT $$-The US risks making a strategic blunder over China “The question today is how the US will behave towards China, now that Mr Trump sees it as a strategic competitor. One American media outlet described the national security strategy as “dead on arrival”. But if this is a serious policy document, the whiff of a new cold war, it may well prove to be a watershed in America’s irreversible decline.”

China trying to enforce claim to South China Sea: Trump advisor It's not about finding 12 nautical miles more" territory for China around the edges of the controversial islands, "it's really about enforcing a very expansive sovereignty claim", said the top official for US military policy in the Asia-Pacific, Randy Schriver...Only the Chinese can decide whether they're going to pursue that more aggressively," Mr Schriver told Farfax Media in what is understood to be his first interview since taking his post last month.

Aussie PM accused of McCarthyist stance toward China - People's Daily Online: Former Australian PM Kevin Rudd accused the Turnbull government of failing to develop the right policies to deal with China.... Rudd goes on to accuse Turnbull of fostering “McCarthyism” towards China, points that were echoed by former Turnbull Trade Minister Andrew Robb, who called on the Prime Minister to tone down his anti-China rhetoric.// The article--Malcolm Turnbull’s new McCarthyism on China

Clive Hamilton's new book on CCP influence in Australia is now available in the US on kindle--Silent Invasion . The title seems to be an interesting play on the PRC documentary "Silent Contest" that leaked in 2013.  It described the West's attempts to support the PRC and the Communist Party, and looked like the work of deep state conspiracy theoritsts. Now in retrospect it looks like Xi Jinping's playbook

‘Reticent’ general Wei Fenghe could be China’s new defence minister, sources say | South China Morning Post Wei, the last commander of the Second Artillery Corps – before it became the People’s Liberation Army Rocket Force – is known as a strategist whose political nous and philosophy of “doing more but saying less” has helped him to climb the career ladder faster than others, according to military insiders.

China's ocean observatory in Maldives sparks fresh security concerns | India News - Times of India The observatory location in Makunudhoo, the westernmost atoll in the north (not far from India), will allow the Chinese a vantage point of an important Indian Ocean shipping route through which many merchant and other ships pass, said political sources in Male. It will be uncomfortably close to Indian waters and test red lines with regard to ties with Maldives.

VIDEO: Key Moments from CECC Hearing “Tibet ‘From All Angles’” | Congressional-Executive Commission on China Witnesses included filmmaker Dhondup Wangchen, a recently escaped former political prisoner; Tenzin Dorjee, a Commissioner on the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom; and Michael J. Green, Senior Vice President for Asia at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) and former Senior Director for Asian Affairs at the National Security Council. CECC Commissioners previously advocated for the release of Dhondup Wangchen, urging the Administration to seek his freedom and reunification with his family living in the U.S.

China upset as Interpol removes wanted alert for exiled Uighur leader | Reuters The London-based rights group Fair Trials said Interpol had confirmed it had deleted a wanted alert, known as a red notice, for Dolkun Isa, president of the Munich-based World Uyghur Congress. A red notice is an international alert for a wanted person but is not an international arrest warrant.

Entry denied: the identity crisis facing China’s covert dual passport holders | South China Morning Post The message was short but for one man in the southeast United States, it was chilling. Just before the Lunar New Year holiday, China’s embassy in London posted a “special reminder” on its website warning that China did not recognise dual nationality. “The embassy will invalidate the related documents of anybody who violates Chinese law and deny Chinese visas and entry to that person,” the notice said.

All but Banned in the U.S., Chinese Giant Huawei Is Welcomed in Britain - WSJ Britain’s adoption of Huawei technology is widening a gulf between the U.S. and allies over cybersecurity

Australia Defense Department Hangs Up on Huawei, ZTE - Caixin Global Australia’s military is phasing out use of Chinese smartphones from Huawei and ZTE, dealing the latest setback to the pair after similar actions in the U.S. and Australia toward their older networking equipment businesses due to security concerns.

Will China’s new foreign policy dream team be the key to achieving its global ambitions? | South China Morning Post On the likely role of Wang Qishan--"it remains to be seen how he would coordinate and work with other party leaders and top diplomats, especially Yang, Wang Yi and Song Tao, the head of the party’s international liaison department, which is in charge of ties with foreign political parties.

India’s Choice in the Maldives by Brahma Chellaney - Project Syndicate BRAHMA CHELLANEY--As the political situation in the Maldives deteriorates, peace and security in the Indian Ocean is increasingly in jeopardy. With China seeking to capitalize on its support for the authoritarian president, Abdulla Yameen, to expand its influence in the region, the crisis has become a defining moment for India. 

Driven by India into China’s arms, is Nepal the new Sri Lanka? | This Week In Asia | South China Morning Post As a new government takes power in Kathmandu, this widening rift puts it on the cusp of a geopolitical transformation as Nepal seeks a hedge in China to counterbalance India’s traditional dominance. Beijing, itself looking to tighten its toehold in a strategically important country bordering Tibet as its own relations with New Delhi spiral downwards, is equally happy to step in.

King of Tonga to visit China - Xinhua At the invitation of Chinese President Xi Jinping, Tonga's King Tupou VI will pay a state visit to China from Feb. 28 to March 8, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang said Monday. This year marks the 20th anniversary of diplomatic relations between China and Tonga, Lu told a regular press briefing.

 

Tech And Media

Beijing cracks down on unapproved Internet content - Xinhua The six websites included Sina Weibo, China's top microblogging site, iFeng, a news website, and Miaopai.com, a popular video sharing website. These sites were asked to remove video accounts from outlets that lack a license and tighten controls over content streamed the sites.

Apple moves to store iCloud keys in China, raising human rights fears - Reuters In a statement, Apple said it had to comply with recently introduced Chinese laws that require cloud services offered to Chinese citizens be operated by Chinese companies and that the data be stored in China. It said that while the company’s values don’t change in different parts of the world, it is subject to each country’s laws. “While we advocated against iCloud being subject to these laws, we were ultimately unsuccessful,” it said. Apple said it decided it was better to offer iCloud under the new system because discontinuing it would lead to a bad user experience and actually lead to less data privacy and security for its Chinese customers.

Apple’s China Lesson: Think Different, But Not Too Different - WSJ Apple Inc. Chief Executive Tim Cook will co-chair the Chinese government’s showcase global business forum next month, underscoring his increasingly high profile here as Apple and other companies wrestle with tough new government demands on cybersecurity. When he co-chairs the China Development Forum in March, Mr. Cook will be making his fifth appearance at a newsmaking event in China in little over a year.

Mobike updates credit score system, will charge RMB 100 per 30 minutes for low scorers · TechNode Bike rental firm Mobike has updated its credit score system. Renters who misuse their bike rental system will be charged up to RMB 100 for 30 minutes of cycling. The update comes as a response to Haidian District Court issuing Mobike with judicial advice and increased pressure on bike rental companies from local governments in China to tackle issues of widespread bike abandonment in public spaces.

China to open its first high-speed smart highway by 2022 with eyes on Germany’s limitless Autobahns · TechNode Hangzhou and Ningbo will be linked by China’s first smart high-speed highway in time for the 2022 Asian Games in Hangzhou. With six lanes in each direction, the 161km route through Zhejiang will use navigational and sensor technology to increase the speed of traffic to 120km/h. An underground charging system will effectively “nelectrify” the road for compatible electric vehicles, powered by the road’s photovoltaic surface.

 

Society, Art, Sports, Culture And History

Chinese Netizens Jeer at Beijing Expat Smoking on Subway, Told to "Put Out Your Cigarette or Leave China" | the Beijinger For other netizens, denigrating the expat or having him deported simply isn't enough. Several comments that advocate for violence include: "The group of you should beat him together"; "Just choke him from behind"; and "Aren't the police going to handle this? If not, he should be beaten to death."

 

Energy, Environment, Science And Health

China's Old Gas Allies Fail to Meet Demand Boom in Winter - Bloomberg Imports during January from Turkmenistan, China’s biggest overseas source of gas last year, dropped 14 percent from a year earlier, and 4 percent from December, data Saturday from the General Administration of Customs showed. Shipments from Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan dropped 42 percent and 24 percent from a month earlier, respectively. China National Petroleum Corp., the nation’s dominant pipeline gas importer, declined to comment.