Covid and reopening; Xi's Russia meetings; Wang Yi, Qin Gang and diplomacy; Bytedance/TikTok spying
Happy New Year!
The PRC is back to work Tuesday from the New Year’s holiday. Today’s newsletter is a bit of a catchup from the last couple of weeks, no doubt there are some gaps.
While official public data on the number of Covid infections since the government switched to its “dynamic let it rip” policy are useless, there is little doubt that hundreds of millions have been infected, and tragically many thousands have died, and many more are going to. Infections appear, emphasis on “appear”, to have peaked in some of the larger cities but there is always a lag between infections and serious illness and death, and cases appear to be just beginning to surge in rural areas.
So while there were lots of scenes of New Year’s Eve revelers and people returning to normal activities in cities like Beijing and Shanghai, which were a jarring juxtaposition to the videos going around of bodies stacked up in makeshift morgues, it is hard to see how the reopening will not be very rocky over the next several months, especially as the annual Lunar New Year migration is reaching its peak and starting January 8 some of the other variants circulating globally will have an easier time entering the country as the borders fully reopen and Covid quarantines will be a relic of history.
I do not think Xi and the leadership had a choice, as dynamic zero-Covid was destroying the economy and causing increasingly problematic social tensions, but this chaotic reopening may drive different kinds of economic and political volatility.
Just before Christmas I joined Chris Hayes on his podcast to talk about how the shift might unfold. You can listen to it here; I think it holds up reasonably well.
Summary of today’s Essential Eight:
Annual Politburo democratic life meeting - Since the 19th Party Congress, Politburo members give speeches in which they lay out their self-examination and self-criticism and then Xi comments on the remarks “one by one”. Xi is a Politburo member but it is not clear if he also makes a self examination and self-criticism; certainly from the readout at least no one dares do anything but praise Xi. The readout does mention the epidemic control and coordination, but the purpose of this meeting is primarily political.
Xi’s New Year’s greetings - He acknowledges the challenges of Covid “With extraordinary efforts, we have prevailed over unprecedented difficulties and challenges, and it has not been an easy journey for anyone. We have now entered a new phase of COVID response where tough challenges remain. Everyone is holding on with great fortitude, and the light of hope is right in front of us. Let's make an extra effort to pull through, as perseverance and solidarity mean victory.” He sounded and looked tired and low energy.
Xi’s Russia meetings - Xi had a series of high-level interactions with Russia since the last newsletter. On December 21 he met in person in Beijing with Chairman of the United Russia Party of Russia Dmitry Medvedev, who delivered a letter from Putin to Xi, contents unknown. On December 30 he had a video call with Putin in which he said that “China stands ready to join hands with Russia and all other progressive forces around the world who oppose hegemony and power politics, to reject any unilateralism, protectionism and bullying, firmly safeguard the sovereignty, security and development interests of the two countries and uphold international fairness and justice”. So Xi thinks indiscriminate missile attacks on Ukraine civilians and civilian infrastructure are part of being a “progressive force”? And when will Xi have a call with Ukraine President Zelensky? I keep seeing hopeful claims that somehow Xi is shifting its stance on Russia and Ukraine, but best I can tell that is wishful thinking, especially among some European politicians.
Wang Yi on PRC diplomacy in 2023 - Wang Yi is now officially the director of the general office of the Central Foreign Affairs Commission 央外办主任 and Qin Gang is the new foreign minister. I have seen some commentary in the wake of Qin Gang's appointment as foreign minister and Xi's recent meetings that somehow the PRC is shifting to more pragmatic and softer diplomacy. Count me as skeptical. It is certainly possible that given all the domestic challenges Xi faces, especially from the roaring Covid outbreak and the deeply damaged economy, the PRC will seek to make tactical shifts to gain some breathing space and buy time, but nothing looks to me like there are any fundamental changes underway. But I know hope springs eternal, especially at the start of a New Year.
US-China - As expected (11.8 Sinocism), Ambassador to the US Qin Gang is the new PRC foreign minister. We do not yet know who will replace him in DC, so far I am hearing Xie Feng is a likely candidate but personally I am hoping for Hua Chunying. Hope in the early days of the New Year aside, there is little evidence that Qin’s elevation will mean a material change in the trajectory of US-China relations, unless of course the US side sees the errors of its ways and changes course...Just after Christmas the US military, in an interesting shift in information warfare tactics, released a video of a close encounter between a US surveillance plane and a PRC fighter jet, in international waters. The PLA quickly countered with its own video and said it was the US aircraft, not the PRC one, that was flying dangerously. We are just a few feet away from a major crisis.
Bytedance/TikTok caught spying, and lying - This is a story from just before Christmas. The company admits that they accessed US journalists' data from China to see if they could place any Bytedance/TikTok employees in proximity to the reporters who had written stories based on internal leaks. Bytedance/Tiktok has repeatedly lied about its ability to access US user data. It may now be impossible for the Biden Administration to cut any sort of a “compromise” deal with Bytedance for TikTok’s US operations.
Jimmy Lai won’t have a foreign lawyer - And though the NPC Standing Committee decision to kick the decision back to Hong Kong looks less bad than what it might have decided, it is still another sign of the erosion of the rule of law in Hong Kong, no matter how the powers that be try to spin it.
Thanks for reading.
The Essential Eight
1. Covid and reopening
In several of China's metropolitan cities including Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou, the COVID-19 infection peak is expected to end around New Year's Day, according to a latest study by a leading Chinese research team.
The outbreaks are expected to mainly affect rural areas and small and medium-sized cities between New Year's Day and the Spring Festival, which falls on January 22, the study also showed.
According to the mathematical model constructed by the research team, the current round of the COVID-19 epidemic peak is expected to be nearing its end in metropolitan cities. The research team's predictions about the progress of the outbreak in major cities are in line with the relevant data released on Sunday in Guangzhou...
The study highlighted that of particular concern is the lack of health care resources in rural areas and small and medium-sized cities in China, as well as the large number of the elderly and people with underlying diseases. The flow of urban and rural populations during chunyun will also greatly influence the course of the epidemic.
“What we’re most worried about is that it’s been three years and people haven’t gone home to spend the New Year,” Jiao Yahui, head of the National Health Commission’s medical administration bureau, told a program on state broadcaster China Central Television. “There could be a retaliatory rush of people from the cities to the countryside,” she said...
In a Dec. 29 article published in Frontiers of Medicine, a medical journal sponsored by China’s Ministry of Education, a team of researchers warned that some provinces in central and western China and in rural areas would be hit by a wave of infections in mid- to late-January. The duration and magnitude of the coming outbreak “could be dramatically enhanced by the extensive travels” during the Lunar New Year, the researchers wrote.
The plan [国务院应对新型冠状病毒感染疫情联防联控机制 中央农村工作领导小组关于印发加强当前农村地区新型冠状病毒感染疫情防控工作方案的通知] was issued by the State Council joint prevention and control mechanism against COVID-19 and the Central Rural Work Leading Group...
Guarantee on medical supply in rural areas is stressed in the circular, as it urged producing pharmaceuticals, preparing medical supplies, stabilizing the drug market and clearing channels for drug purchasing.
the quality of health care in rural China pales in comparison to that of urban areas. First of all, many places already suffer from a serious shortage of drugs, blood oxygen tests, and antigen tests, not to mention respirators and other crucial equipment.
According to a report on a township of more than 30,000 people in the central Henan province, when cases reached their peak with more than 300 people seeking medical assistance per day, the health center only had five boxes of ibuprofen, several boxes of TCM cold-relief granules, and one box of cephalosporin injections.
China calls on the full use of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) decoctions in COVID-19 treatment in urban and rural grass-roots regions as TCM has played an important role in medical treatment since the beginning of the epidemic, according to the national health authorities on Thursday. TCM prescription examples are also issued based on the different climate characteristics of the southern and northern regions across the country and other factors.
Responding to people's fear of spreading new strains, Yuan Zheng'an, a member of the city's pandemic control expert team, said the BQ.1 and XBB sublineages are only found in imported cases in Shanghai, and there are no community infections so far.
A team at the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention has started making preparations to assess the measure of deaths, according to chief epidemiologist Wu Zunyou. Excess mortality, which gauges the difference between the number of deaths caused during the current Covid wave and the number of fatalities expected had the pandemic not occurred, has been used around the world as it’s meant to provide a more comprehensive snapshot of Covid’s impact.
Long Xinhua wrap up of the Party Center with Xi as the core governing the country in 2022 if full of praise for Xi, even referring to him as "People's Leader" when discussing putting people and life first in the response to the pandemic 始终坚持人民至上、生命至上，始终把人民群众生命安全和身体健康放在第一位；因时因势、科学决策，准确把握疫情形势变化，及时作出更好统筹疫情防控和经济社会发展的重大决策……习近平总书记高瞻远瞩、科学果断，彰显着人民领袖的责任担当。
the management of COVID-19 will be downgraded from Class A to Class B from January 8. This means there will be no more quarantine for people entering the country, and there will be no sealed control of COVID-19 cases and designation of high-risk areas.
The country will also gradually resume entry and exit of passenger transport through water and land ports as well as outbound tourism in an orderly manner in light of the international pandemic situation and support capacity of all sectors. International passengers coming into the country should also take nucleic acid tests 48 hours before departure.
Caixin has learned that teams of medical workers, including senior doctors, have been dispatched from Shandong, Hubei and Jiangsu provinces to Beijing to treat seriously ill patients. Of the teams, the one from Jiangsu in eastern China consists of about 160 workers...
“The number of seriously ill patients in other parts of the country will not be proportionally less than that in Beijing,” a former longtime emergency department physician told Caixin. “Even if all medical personnel in the country are transferred to Beijing, will it solve the problem?”
Comment: Beijing always gets preference, and until very recently has been spared the worst of Covid and lockdowns. But not this time, it has been killing a fair number of retired officials, famous academics and people in the arts.
China’s abrupt end last month to the “zero-Covid” policy that the government had doggedly stuck to for three years and lauded as the reason it had thus far avoided the mass infections and death toll seen overseas caught most by surprise.
Far more predictably, however, has been the outcome: the rapid spread of the virus across the country, causing untold numbers of infections and deaths and an acute shortage of everyday medicines used to treat the symptoms of the virus like fever, cough and potentially fatal secondary bacterial infections...
In early December, shelves in pharmacies across China quickly emptied as people scrambled to stock up medicines, according to media reports, social media posts and interviews with ordinary citizens conducted by Caixin. Many have had to wait hours in line to get strictly rationed amounts of medicines, while orders placed online are taking weeks to deliver...
China had imposed strict controls on purchases of medicines for fever, cough, viral and bacterial infections over the past three years, requiring people to present personal information and take nucleic acid tests in a bid to screen for possible infections. This discouraged purchases. It wasn’t until late November, that the restrictions were scrapped across the country.
The result was that pharmacies only kept little of the medicines on hand, with one manager of an outlet in Henan telling Caixin that most pharmacies only kept three to four boxes of Ibuprofen in stock during this period...
Because of the purchase restrictions, drug makers didn’t produce more due to concerns about stock expiring, according to Huang Xiuxiang, chairman of a pharmaceutical industry association in Hunan.
A notice recently circulated widely online, but originally intended for medical personnel, claimed distribution would begin soon and that community doctors would be trained on Monday how to instruct Covid patients to take the antiviral drug. A doctor from a community health center in Chaoyang district confirmed to Caixin the notice was authentic.
Comment: But there is not enough, a black market has developed, and prices have gone nuts
The drug molnupiravir, marketed as Lagevrio, was granted conditional emergency approval for treating mild and moderate infections among adults at risk of progressing to severe disease, China’s National Medical Products Administration said Friday. It was the second foreign Covid pill cleared for use in China after Pfizer Inc.’s Paxlovid won approval early in 2022.
China’s production of ibuprofen and paracetamol, two fever and pain-reducing drugs, has increased more than five times since the start of the month to 190 million tablets a day, according to the minister for industry and information technology.
The Shanghai municipal government announced on Sunday that the city's funeral system insisted on upholding the dignity of the deceased and the rights and interests of families, debunking rumors circulating online which claimed funeral parlors in the city were cremating two or more corpses in one incinerator.
Zeng Guang, a former chief epidemiologist from the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, told an online forum that although we still lack accurate statistics, probably over 80 percent of the population in Beijing had been infected with COVID and the percentage could be higher.
The cure rate for COVID-19 in China has remained above 90 percent, even when the outbreak began in Wuhan, Jiao Yahui, director of the Medical Administration Bureau of the NHC, said to the CCTV News, adding that the increase in mortality and severe illness perceived by the public is based on China's huge population, rather an overall increase in proportions...
Many medicine manufacturers also face the problem of understaffing due to the epidemic. Moreover, China has a large number of elderly people with underlying diseases who hope to be treated in a relatively small number of top-tier hospitals, so the contradiction between supply and demand became acute, she added.
All employees of the Third Municipal Hospital of Qinhuangdao in North China's Hebei Province cancel their vacations during the New Year's Day holidays in 2023 to fully meet the needs of patients for medical treatment, according to a notice published on the WeChat account of the hospital on Thursday.
More similar notices were issued by hospitals in Chinese provinces at least including Shanxi, Hebei, Hunan, Jiangsu, Shaanxi and Heilongjiang, Chinese news site the paper.cn reported on Sunday.
Head of the emergency department at Peking Union Medical College Hospital told CCTV last week that this is the most difficult times in his 30 years of practicing medicine
Currently, several online pharmacies and e-commerce platforms have run out of Montmorillonite powder, while norfloxacin, Zhengchangsheng, or live bacillus licheniformis capsules, probiotics products and electrolyte drinks have also seen hot sales.
The mass buying came after a screenshot was spread on social media platforms, which said that "XBB1.5 strain has topped other variants in the US, and people should stock up on montmorillonite powder and norfloxacin," according to an online snapshot seen by the Global Times over the weekend.
In recent days, Chinese researchers and officials have begun uploading genome sequence data from hundreds of coronavirus samples to Gisaid, a global online database that allows scientists to track mutations of the virus.
The data, while limited, show that the primary Omicron sub-variants spreading in China are similar to those that have already been identified in Europe and North America, where they were mostly outcompeted by more virulent strains.
Lots of countries are now worried about travelers from the PRC, because of the lack of transparency from the PRC side. I think these restrictions and testing requirements, including by the US, are more performative than substantive, more for domestic political reasons, and neither constructive or effective.
"This will be an additional monitoring objective to verify that the data we receive from China is accurate," Steven Van Gucht of the Sciensano national public health institute told Reuters.
Morocco will impose a ban on people arriving from China, whatever their nationality, from Jan. 3 to avert any new wave of coronavirus infections, the foreign ministry said on Saturday.
ustralia said on Sunday that travellers from China will have to provide negative COVID-19 test results from Jan. 5
Air travelers to Canada from China must test negative for COVID-19 no more than two days before departure, Ottawa said on Saturday, joining other nations that have implemented such restrictions.
Pharmacies in Tokyo are imposing a purchase limit on cold medicines as customers from China have snapped up supplies amid a shortage of drugs following a spike in Covid-19 infections there.
Dispensaries in the Japanese capital say they are running low on cold antidotes, including the popular variety Pabron Gold A, because of depleting stocks.
2. Annual Politburo democratic life meeting
Since the 19th Party Congress, Politburo members give speeches in which they lay out their self-examination and self-criticism and then Xi comments on the remarks “one by one”. Xi is a Politburo member but it is not clear if he also makes a self examination and self-criticism; certainly from the readout at least no one dares do anything but praise Xi. The readout does mention the epidemic control and coordination, but the purpose of this meeting is primarily political.
The Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee held a meeting of criticism and self-criticism from December 26 to 27. The meeting was themed on fully implementing Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era; developing a deep understanding of the decisive significance of establishing Comrade Xi Jinping's core position on the Party Central Committee and in the Party as a whole and establishing the guiding role of the thought; strengthening the consciousness of the need to maintain political integrity, think in big-picture terms, follow the leadership core, and keep in alignment with the central Party leadership; staying confident in the path, theory, system and culture of socialism with Chinese characteristics; upholding Comrade Xi Jinping's core position on the Party Central Committee and in the Party as a whole and upholding the Party Central Committee's authority and its centralized, unified leadership; and uniting and leading Party officials in implementing with great effort and determination the major decisions and plans made at the 20th CPC National Congress.
At the meeting, the Political Bureau summarized achievements and examined inadequacies in the work of the Political Bureau; in taking the lead in upholding Comrade Xi Jinping's core position on the Party Central Committee and in the Party as a whole and upholding the Party Central Committee's authority and its centralized, unified leadership; in taking the lead in enhancing cohesion and forging the Party's soul with Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era; in taking the lead in upholding and strengthening the Party's overall leadership; in taking the lead in upholding the people-centered development philosophy; in taking the lead in carrying forward the fighting spirit; and in taking the lead in implementing the political responsibility of full and rigorous Party self-governance. The Political Bureau conducted analysis according to Party spirit, and carried out criticism and self-criticism at the meeting...
In the face of an international environment featuring high winds and choppy waters and the challenging and arduous tasks of reform, development and ensuring stability at home, the CPC Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping at its core has united and led the whole Party and the Chinese people to tackle the challenges head on, having fully implemented the requirements of containing the epidemic, stabilizing the economy, and ensuring safe development, coordinated both domestic and international situations, the epidemic prevention and control with economic and social development, as well as coordinated development with security, strengthened macro-control, and responded to the impact of factors exceeding expectations, thus ensured overall economic and social stability, according to the meeting. The economy has maintained positive growth over the year, with overall stability in employment, stable prices and good performance on the balance of international payments, said the meeting.
CCTV report on the meeting - [视频]中共中央政治局召开民主生活会强调 坚持团结奋斗 贯彻落实好党的二十大重大决策部署 中共中央总书记习近平主持会议并发表重要讲话
In terms of the shifting Covid policies, they are “completely correct” according to comments by Chen Wenqing, Politburo member and Secretary of the Central Political and Legal Affairs Commission, at a meeting of the commission on 12.29…in case anyone had doubts or an inclination to complain the Covid policies have not been "completely correct" - 陈文清主持召开中央政法委员会全体会议强调 全面学习全面把握全面落实党的二十大精神 奋力推进政法工作现代化--时政--人民网
Per the readout:
The meeting emphasized that in the past three years, China's epidemic prevention and control policies have been scientific, effective and completely correct; Now, the prevention and control policies are optimized and adjusted according to the situation, seeking truth from facts and being completely correct. In the next step, political and legal organs should persist in taking the people as the center, do a good job in service guarantee, do everything possible to safeguard the rights and interests of the people, and do everything possible to help solve practical difficulties and problems. We must earnestly safeguard national security and social stability, and resolutely deal with in accordance with the law those who use the epidemic to infiltrate, sabotage, spread rumors and disrupt social order.
3. Xi’s New Year’s greetings
He acknowledges the challenges of Covid “With extraordinary efforts, we have prevailed over unprecedented difficulties and challenges, and it has not been an easy journey for anyone. We have now entered a new phase of COVID response where tough challenges remain. Everyone is holding on with great fortitude, and the light of hope is right in front of us. Let's make an extra effort to pull through, as perseverance and solidarity mean victory.” He sounded and looked tired and low energy.
Since COVID-19 struck, we have put the people first and put life first all along. Following a science-based and targeted approach, we have adapted our COVID response in light of the evolving situation to protect the life and health of the people to the greatest extent possible. Officials and the general public, particularly medical professionals and community workers, have bravely stuck to their posts through it all. With extraordinary efforts, we have prevailed over unprecedented difficulties and challenges, and it has not been an easy journey for anyone. We have now entered a new phase of COVID response where tough challenges remain. Everyone is holding on with great fortitude, and the light of hope is right in front of us. Let's make an extra effort to pull through, as perseverance and solidarity mean victory.
Comrade Jiang Zemin passed away in 2022. We pay high tribute to his towering achievements and noble demeanor, and cherish the great legacy he left behind. We will honor his last wishes and advance the cause of socialism with Chinese characteristics in the new era.
Wave upon wave, the mighty river of history surges forward. With the persistent efforts of one generation after another, we have taken China to where it is today...
Going forward, China will be a country that performs miracles through hard work. Here I want to quote Su Shi, a renowned Chinese poet, "Charge at the toughest and aim at the farthest." It means to take on the biggest challenges and go after the most ambitious goals. Long as the journey is, we will reach our destination if we stay the course; difficult as the task is, we will get the job done if we keep working at it. As long as we have the resolve to move mountains and the perseverance to plod on, as long as we keep our feet on the ground and forge ahead with our journey by making steady progress, we will turn our grand goals into reality.
Going forward, China will be a country that draws its strength from unity. Ours is a big country. It is only natural for different people to have different concerns or hold different views on the same issue. What matters is that we build consensus through communication and consultation. When the 1.4 billion Chinese work with one heart and one mind, and stand in unity with a strong will, no task will be impossible and no difficulty insurmountable. The people on both sides of the Taiwan Strait are members of one and the same family. I sincerely hope that our compatriots on both sides of the Strait will work together with a unity of purpose to jointly foster lasting prosperity of the Chinese nation.
Going forward, China will be a country that has great expectations of its younger generation. A nation will prosper only when its young people thrive. For China to develop further, our young people must step forward and take on their responsibilities. Youth is full of vigor and is a source of hope. Youngsters should keep their country in mind, cultivate keen enterprise, and live youth to the fullest with great drive, to prove worthy of the times and the splendor of youth.
CCTV broadcast of his speech on Youtube. He is not a great teleprompter reader 国家主席习近平发表二〇二三年新年贺词
On the photos on Xi Jinping's bookshelves behind him as he gave the New Year's speech. There are two of Jiang Zemin, one of Jiang and Xi's father Xi Zhongxun, and one of Xi, Jiang and Hu Jintao together
Netease News made of video of moments to remember in 2022, it went massively viral before being banned. - 【404视频】【CDTV】网易新闻2022年度事件盘点：幻想星辰大海不如活在当下 - YouTube
4. Xi’s Russia meetings
Xi had a series of high-level interactions with Russia since the last newsletter. On December 21 he met in person in Beijing with Chairman of the United Russia Party of Russia Dmitry Medvedev, who delivered a letter from Putin to Xi, contents unknown. On December 30 he had a video call with Putin in which he said that “China stands ready to join hands with Russia and all other progressive forces around the world who oppose hegemony and power politics, to reject any unilateralism, protectionism and bullying, firmly safeguard the sovereignty, security and development interests of the two countries and uphold international fairness and justice”. So Xi thinks indiscriminate missile attacks on Ukraine civilians and civilian infrastructure are part of being a “progressive force”? And when will Xi have a call with Ukraine President Zelensky? I keep seeing hopeful claims that somehow Xi is shifting its stance on Russia and Ukraine, but best I can tell that is wishful thinking, especially among some European politicians.
On the afternoon of 30 December, President Xi Jinping had a virtual meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Beijing.
President Xi expressed his pleasure in meeting President Putin virtually at the year-end, which he said has become a good tradition between them. President Xi noted that under the guidance of both President Putin and himself, the China-Russia comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination for a new era has grown more mature and resilient, with the internal impetus and special value of bilateral cooperation further brought out. In the first 11 months of this year, two-way trade volume reached a record high. Investment cooperation has been improved and integrated. Energy cooperation continues to serve as an anchor. And cooperation projects in key areas are moving forward steadily. The two sides also enjoy growing sub-national cooperation and closer people-to-people and cultural exchange. Activities of the Year of Sports Exchange have been carried out smoothly. The social and popular support for China-Russia friendship becomes stronger. In a changing and turbulent international environment, it is important that China and Russia remain true to the original aspiration of cooperation, maintain strategic focus, enhance strategic coordination, continue to be each other’s development opportunity and global partner, and strive to bring more benefits to the two peoples and greater stability to the world...
President Xi emphasized that the world has now come to another historical crossroads. To revert to a Cold War mentality, provoke division and antagonism, and stoke confrontation between blocs, or to act out of the common good of humanity to promote equality, mutual respect and win-win cooperation — the tug of war between these two trends is testing the wisdom of statesmen in major countries as well as the reason of the entire humanity. Facts have repeatedly proven that containment and suppression is unpopular, and sanction and interference is doomed to fail. China stands ready to join hands with Russia and all other progressive forces around the world who oppose hegemony and power politics, to reject any unilateralism, protectionism and bullying, firmly safeguard the sovereignty, security and development interests of the two countries and uphold international fairness and justice. The two sides need to maintain close coordination and collaboration in international affairs, uphold the authority of the United Nations and the status of international law, stand for true multilateralism, and fulfill their responsibilities as major countries and lead by example on such issues as protecting global food and energy security. The two sides need to continue encouraging parties of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) to enhance solidarity and mutual trust, show greater mutual support on issues concerning one another’s core interests, and jointly resist interference and sabotage by external forces. BRICS cooperation has seen multiple highlights, which speaks volumes about the appeal and bright prospect of BRICS. China will work with Russia to actively advance BRICS membership expansion to bolster the strength of BRICS countries, and uphold the common interests of emerging market countries and developing countries...
The two presidents exchanged views on the Ukraine crisis. President Xi stressed that China has noted Russia’s statement that it has never refused to resolve the conflict through diplomatic negotiations and China commends that. The path of peace talks will not be a smooth one, but as long as parties do not give up, there will always be prospect for peace. China will continue to hold an objective and impartial position, work to build synergy in the international community and play a constructive role toward peaceful resolution of the Ukraine crisis.
Comment: For those hoping they see signs of Xi pressuring or distancing himself from Putin:
Xi Jinping extended, on behalf of the Chinese government and people, sincere greetings and best wishes to President Vladimir Putin and the Russian people. Xi noted that the year 2022 has been an extraordinary one, and that facing the rapidly evolving international situation and the continued spread of the global pandemic, China-Russia relations have always maintained sound momentum of development. In 2022, China-Russia economic and trade cooperation has made steady progress, with new achievements made in energy, investment, connectivity and other fields, providing impetus to the common development of the two countries. The two sides officially launched the China-Russia Year of Sports Exchange, further deepening mutual understanding and traditional friendship between the two peoples.
Xi Jinping pointed out that the upcoming year of 2023 marks the beginning of China's full implementation of the guiding principles laid down at the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, and China-Russia relations will also embrace new development opportunities. Xi said that he is ready to maintain close exchanges with President Putin to guide the two countries to deepen their comprehensive strategic coordination and practical cooperation in various fields, so as to benefit the two countries and peoples.
On December 21, 2022, General Secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and President Xi Jinping met with Chairman of the United Russia Party of Russia Dmitry Medvedev, who visited China at the invitation of the CPC, at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse...
Xi Jinping noted that over the past decade, China-Russia relations have stood the test of changes in the international landscape and maintained sound, steady and high-level development. Developing a China-Russia comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination for a new era is a long-term strategic choice made by both sides based on their respective national conditions. China is ready to work with Russia to constantly push forward China-Russia relations in the new era and make global governance more just and equitable...
Medvedev first passed on President Putin's signed letter to President Xi Jinping and conveyed Putin's friendly greetings and best wishes to President Xi.
Question: What was in the letter and why did Medvedev deliver it personally?
A bilateral agreement signed July 2021 makes clear that cooperating on news coverage and narratives is a big goal for both governments. At a virtual summit that month, leading Russian and Chinese government and media figures discussed dozens of news products and cooperative ventures, including exchanging news content, trading digital media strategies, and co-producing television shows. The effort was led by Russia’s Ministry of Digital Development, Communication and Mass Media, and by China’s National Radio and Television Administration.
In the propaganda agreement, the two sides pledged to “further cooperate in the field of information exchange, promoting objective, comprehensive and accurate coverage of the most important world events.” They also laid out plans to cooperate on online and social media, a space that both countries have used to seed disinformation, pledging to strengthen “mutually beneficial cooperation in such issues as integration, the application of new technologies, and industry regulation.”
5. Wang Yi on PRC diplomacy in 2023
Wang Yi is now officially the director of the general office of the Central Foreign Affairs Commission 央外办主任 and qin Gang is the new foreign minister. I have seen some commentary in the wake of Qin Gang's appointment as foreign minister and Xi's recent meetings that somehow the PRC is shifting to more pragmatic and softer diplomacy. Count me as skeptical. It is certainly possible that given all the domestic challenges Xi faces, especially from the roaring Covid outbreak and the deeply damaged economy, the PRC will seek to make tactical shifts to gain some breathing space and buy time, but nothing looks to me like there are any fundamental changes underway. But I know hope springs eternal, especially at the start of a New Year.
Wang Yi has an essay in the first Qiushi issue of 2023 - "Committed to national rejuvenation, forging ahead with the destiny of mankind, a new journey of major country diplomacy with China characteristics".
This article has mostly the same content as the 12.25 speech below that he gave at the Symposium on the International Situation and China’s Foreign Relations, though some of the sections are moved around. Consider this and the 12.25 speech the clearest blueprint we have so far for PRC diplomacy in 2023
The Qiushi essay - 矢志民族复兴，胸怀人类命运 奋进中国特色大国外交新征程 — 中华人民共和国外交部
"At the Symposium on the International Situation and
China’s Foreign Relations. Beijing, 25 December 2022". Some excerpts:
Around the world, the trends of transformation and turbulence are both evolving continuously and the tendencies toward unity and division are both surging and contending with each other.
Like a giant ship, human society sailed through the raging waves of the once-in-a-century pandemic. It also had to brave for the hurricanes of geopolitical conflicts, whirlpools of bloc confrontation, undercurrents of surging inflation, and cold waves of energy crunch. The journey has been choppy and tumultuous.
That said, crisis begets change, giving birth to hopes. Most of the developing countries have acted with greater purpose in standing together in solidarity and strengthening mutual cooperation, and they have responded to the many unprecedented changes with greater confidence.
In the new global context, any attempt of conflict, confrontation, containment and decoupling runs against the prevailing trend of our times and is doomed to fail; peace, development, cooperation and win-win represent the popular will of the people and are an international trend...
we have continued to reject bloc confrontation and zero-sum competition, and maintained strategic stability in relations with other major countries. Major countries need to lead by example in making the world a better place. How they engage one another bears on the future of humanity. Taking on its responsibilities for the world and for history, China has worked relentlessly for a major-country relationship that features peaceful coexistence, overall stability and balanced development.
We have firmly rejected the United States’ erroneous China policy and have been exploring the right way for the two countries to get along with each other. As the United States has stubbornly continued to see China as its primary competitor and engage in blatant blockade, suppression and provocation against China, China-US relations were plunged into serious difficulties. In response, China has taken resolute actions to counter such power politics and bullying while pointing the right way forward through open and candid communication...
We call on the US side to change its course, establish an objective and sensible perception of China, follow a positive and pragmatic China policy, and work with us to put in place the pillars and a solid foundation for the healthy and stable growth of China-US relations.
We have deepened good-neighborliness, friendship and cooperation with Russia, and made China-Russia comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination more mature and resilient. President Xi Jinping and President Vladimir Putin met in Beijing for a “rendezvous with Winter Olympics”, and held an important meeting in Samarkand, providing strategic guidance for China-Russia relations to move ahead under new circumstances...
As some country is seeking to revive the Cold War mentality and fabricating the false narrative of democracy versus authoritarianism, China and Russia have stood in solidarity with other countries to steadfastly push for multipolarity and greater democracy in international relations, and steadfastly oppose hegemony and reject a new Cold War.
The China-Russia relationship, which is based on non-alliance, non-confrontation and non-targeting of any third party, remains rock-solid. Such relationship is free from interference or any attempt to sow discord between the two countries, and is immune from changes in the international environment...
We will stay committed to dialogue between civilizations, respect the diversity and equality of civilizations, and advocate exchanges and mutual learning among civilizations. We will promote the common values of humanity, and turn democracy and freedom from the political tools manipulated by a few people into the values shared by all mankind.
We will stay committed to our fighting spirit, which is for the purpose of upholding principles and promoting justice. China’s core interests must not be undermined, its sovereignty and territorial integrity must not be infringed upon, and the cause of national reunification and rejuvenation must not be disrupted — this is a matter of pride and confidence for us as Chinese and is also a great sense of integrity of the Chinese nation...
Fifth, we will build a stronger line of defense to protect our national interests. We will unequivocally oppose all acts of hegemony, bullying and highhandedness, reject all unilateral protectionist moves, firmly safeguard national sovereignty, security and development interests, resolutely fight all forces that attempt to hold back and even halt the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation, and hold the strategic initiative of national development and security firmly in our own hands.
Sixth, we will focus on strengthening our international communication capacity and make our voice heard loud and clear. We will communicate the guiding principles of the 20th CPC National Congress to the world, and tell engaging stories of the CPC, of Chinese modernization, and of building a community with a shared future for mankind, so as to steadily increase the world’s understanding and recognition of the Chinese path, visions and system. We will adapt to the new developments in digitalization and omnimedia, to spread truth to more places and leave no room for lies.
As expected (11.8 Sinocism), Ambassador the the US Qin Gang is the new PRC foreign minister. We do not yet know who will replace him in DC, so far I am hearing Xie Feng is a likely candidate but personally I am hoping for Hua Chunying. Hope in the early days of the New Year aside, there is little evidence that Qin’s elevation will mean a material change in the trajectory of US-China relations, unless of course the US side sees the errors of its ways and changes course…Just after Christmas the US military, in an interesting shift in information warfare tactics, released a video of a close encounter between a US surveillance plane and a PRC fighter jet, in international waters. The PLA quickly countered with its own video and said it was the US aircraft, not the PRC one, that was flying dangerously. We are just a few feet away from a major crisis.
On January 1, 2023 local time, Ambassador Qin Gang, China's Foreign Minister, called US Secretary of State Antony Blinken to bid farewell. Qin Gang recalled a number of candid, in-depth and constructive meetings with Secretary Blinken during his tenure as Chinese Ambassador to the United States. Qin expressed his hope to continue close working relations with Blinken for a better China-US relationship. They also exchanged New Year's greetings in the call.
Qin, 56, is the third Chinese ambassador to the U.S. to lead the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, following Li Zhaoxing and Yang Jiechi, who assumed the ambassadorial post in Washington in 1998 and 2001, respectively.
Looking at the world as a community with a shared future naturally leads to the path of peaceful development. China’s development means a stronger force for peace, not a growing power poised to “break the status quo,” as some call it. The tension across the Taiwan Strait was not created by the Chinese mainland breaking the status quo, but by “Taiwan independence” separatists and external forces continually challenging the status quo of “one China.” In the case of the East China Sea, it was Japan who attempted to “nationalize” Diaoyu Dao ten years ago, altering the “status quo” between China and Japan of agreeing to put aside differences. In the South China Sea, the status quo is that regional countries are consulting on a code of conduct that will lead to meaningful and effective rules for the region. As to the border issues between China and India, the status quo is that both sides are willing to ease the situation and jointly protect peace along their borders.
China is highly concerned about the situation in Ukraine. Though deeply saddening, what has been happening there reveals some important lessons: conflicts and wars produce no winner; there is no simple solution to a complex issue; confrontation between major countries must be avoided. The most urgent task for the moment is to promote peace talks between Russia and Ukraine as well as dialogue between the United States, the EU, NATO, and Russia. In the long term, people must realize that grounding one’s own security on other countries’ insecurity won’t work; it is necessary to establish a balanced, effective, and sustainable European security framework. There is no choice other than this...
The differences between China and the United States—in history, culture, social system, and development path—will most probably remain in 100 years. But as residents of the same world, we should and can listen to each other, narrow our gap in perceptions of the world, and explore a way to get along based on mutual respect, peaceful coexistence, and win-win cooperation.
The Chinese people are looking to the American people to make the right choice.
On Dec. 21 (China Standard Time), a People’s Liberation Army - Navy J-11 fighter pilot performed an unsafe maneuver during an intercept of a U.S. Air Force RC-135 aircraft, which was lawfully conducting routine operations over the South China Sea in international airspace. The PLAN pilot flew an unsafe maneuver by flying in front of and within 20 feet of the nose of the RC-135, forcing the RC-135 to take evasive maneuvers to avoid a collision.
In June, Australia said a Chinese fighter flew close to a reconnaissance aircraft the previous month and released metal chaff, which was sucked into the plane’s engine. Canada also accused Chinese fighters of harassing its aircraft monitoring evasions of sanctions against North Korea.
PLA says the US claims are BS, that the US was the one operating in an unsafe mannerPLA Southern Theater Command just released a video of the encounter on Dec 21, accusing that, "The RC-135V ignored repeated warnings from the Chinese, and suddenly changed its flight attitude and squeezed the CN surveillance aircraft to the left and made dangerous approaches." https://t.co/4pkM5BQ4MoWhen China and the US talk about military encounters and exchange criticism, we should know where these encounters occurred. Most confrontational encounters between two militaries happen in the following four situations: https://t.co/EezwWZMkPu via @YouTubeSCS Probing Initiative @SCS_PI
Thornton said that the United States and China should become strategic partners that can cooperate with each other. He expressed readiness to continue to play his role in promoting economic and trade exchanges between the two sides, enhancing Americans' overall understanding of China, and promoting the steady development of US-China relations.
Comment: The PRC side keeps trying to find the right backchannel to DC who can somehow "fix" things with the US. Thornton would no doubt love to play that role, like a Kissinger 2.0.
7. Bytedance/TikTok caught spying, and lying
This is a story from just before Christmas. The company admits that they accessed US journalists' data from China to see if they could place any Bytedance/TikTok employees in proximity to the reporters who had written stories based on internal leaks. Bytedance/Tiktok has repeatedly lied about its ability to access US user data. It may now be impossible for the Biden Administration to cut any sort of a “compromise” deal with Bytedance for TikTok’s US operations.
According to materials reviewed by Forbes, ByteDance tracked multiple Forbes journalists as part of this covert surveillance campaign, which was designed to unearth the source of leaks inside the company following a drumbeat of stories exposing the company’s ongoing links to China. As a result of the investigation into the surveillance tactics, ByteDance fired Chris Lepitak, its chief internal auditor who led the team responsible for them. The China-based executive Song Ye, who Lepitak reported to and who reports directly to ByteDance CEO Rubo Liang, resigned...
Forbes first reported the surveillance tactics, which were overseen by a China-based team at ByteDance, in October. Asked for comment on that story, ByteDance and TikTok did not deny the surveillance, but took to Twitter after the story was published to say that “TikTok has never been used to ‘target’ any members of the U.S. government, activists, public figures or journalists,” and that “TikTok could not monitor U.S. users in the way the article suggested.” In the internal email, Liang acknowledged that TikTok had been used in exactly this way, as Forbes had reported.
Over the summer, a few employees on a ByteDance team responsible for monitoring employee conduct tried to find the sources of suspected leaks of internal conversations and business documents to journalists. In doing so, the employees gained access to the IP addresses and other data of two reporters and a small number of people connected to the reporters via their TikTok accounts. They were trying to determine if those individuals were within proximity of ByteDance employees, according to the company, which added that the efforts failed to find any leaks.
TikTok user data from the two journalists, who worked for the Financial Times and BuzzFeed, was accessed while ByteDance employees were investigating potential employee leaks to the press, according to the company. The employees involved, two based in the United States and two in China, were fired following an investigation conducted on behalf of the company by an outside law firm, the CEOs of TikTok and ByteDance revealed to employees in two separate emails Thursday...
In response to the incident, TikTok said it has restructured its internal audit and risk teams, and removed access to US user data for those teams, according to the spokesperson. “We take data security incredibly seriously, and we will continue to enhance our access protocols, which have already been significantly improved and hardened since this incident took place,”
8. Jimmy Lai won’t have a foreign lawyer
And though the NPC Standing Committee decision to kick the decision back to Hong Kong looks less bad than what it might have decided, it is still another sign of the erosion of the rule of law in Hong Kong, no matter how the powers that be try to spin it.
In clarifying two clauses of the law after Hong Kong’s top court upheld an earlier ruling that allowed jailed media tycoon Jimmy Lai Chee-ying to hire a British barrister for his pending national security trial, the National People’s Congress (NPC) Standing Committee on Friday did not ban foreign lawyers as widely expected.
Instead, it decided the city’s courts would need the approval of the chief executive or the committee on safeguarding national security to allow the participation of foreign lawyers, while also concluding that those without full credentials in Hong Kong might well pose a risk to national security in relevant cases.
4. What are the Interpretation’s implications for Lai’s case and in general?
Because litigation over Owen’s ad hoc admission has ended, point (c) of the Interpretation suggests that the Chief Executive certification process is no longer available. Instead, the Committee must decide whether to bar Owen’s participation in Lai’s case. Because the Interpretation has retroactive effect, the Committee is deemed to have always had such authority.
While the Committee’s power to bar foreign lawyers in individual cases is clear, the Interpretation is silent on whether it may impose a blanket ban on overseas counsel in all national security cases. Regardless, the Hong Kong government signaled (as some national lawmakers have recommended) that it would pursue an across-the-board solution to the problem by proposing amendments to the Legal Practitioners Ordnance, the local law that authorized Owen’s ad hoc admission.
Beyond the confines of Lai’s case and the specific issue it raised, the Committee’s seemingly broad and unreviewable power to “make [enforceable] judgments and decisions” on whether an issue of national security is involved, regardless of setting, could be cause for concern. It awaits to be seen whether and to what extent it would invoke this newly declared authority to deal with other situations in the future.
"The NPC's law interpretation actually allows the Committee for Safeguarding National Security of the HKSAR to take the ultimate responsibility in Hong Kong to ensure that the lawyers involved in the trial of national security cases are people who can loyally safeguard national security and keep state secrets," Lau Siu-kai, a consultant from the Chinese Association of Hong Kong and Macao Studies who is also a senior policy advisor, told the Global Times on Friday.
The law interpretation once again shows that the central government actively exercised its overall governance to fully and accurately implement the One Country, Two Systems principle, Lau added.
nonymous threats sent by text message and email. GPS tracking devices placed under a car, and Chinese “funeral money” sent to an office. Ambushes by reporters working for state-controlled media. Accusations of disloyalty in the press.
These are some of the methods deployed in a campaign of intimidation being waged against lawyers in Hong Kong who take on human rights cases, have criticized a China-imposed national security law or raised alarms about threats to the rule of law. While some of Hong Kong’s leading rights lawyers have been detained in the past two-and-a-half years, many others have become the target of a more insidious effort to cleanse the city of dissent – part of a wider crackdown by the ruling Communist Party on lawyers across China, say activists, legal scholars and diplomats.
Beijing is unlikely to interpret Hong Kong’s national security law again after its unprecedented intervention to end the foreign lawyer controversy triggered by media mogul Jimmy Lai Chee-ying, the Post has learned.
Sources earlier told the Post the city’s leader and oversight body the Committee for Safeguarding National Security had already been given enough power to resolve any future disputes.
But some legal experts warned the unchallengeable decision by China’s top legislative body could still have repercussions for the city’s implementation of the rule of law, as the ruling could be seen as an avenue for the local government to “dictate outcomes on critical issues before the court”.
Business, Economy and Trade
China sees 52.7 mln domestic tourist trips over New Year holiday-Xinhua China has seen about 52.7 million domestic tourist visits during the three-day New Year holiday, up 0.44 percent year on year, according to the Ministry of Culture and Tourism on Monday. The tourism revenue generated over the holiday has reached over 26.5 billion yuan (about 3.8 billion U.S. dollars), up 4 percent from the same period last year, according to the ministry.
China’s Economy Reels as Beijing Lifts ‘Zero-Covid’ Measures - WSJ China’s official manufacturing purchasing managers index fell to 47.0 in December, the lowest level since February 2020, when the country was first seized by the virus in the central Chinese city of Wuhan. Far worse was the official nonmanufacturing PMI, which covers service-sector and construction activity, which plunged to 41.6 from 46.7 in November, China’s National Bureau of Statistics said Saturday. That level also marks the worst showing since the historic lows of February 2020.
China’s Economy Likely Contracted Last Quarter, Beige Book Says - Bloomberg China’s manufacturing, services and property sectors all weakened sharply in the fourth quarter due to Covid disruptions, resulting in a potential contraction in the economy in the final months of the year, a private survey shows.
China Tightens Reins on Education Tech in New Blow to Private Tutors - Bloomberg Edtech companies plunged after the Ministry of Education published a new set of restrictions that limit the fees and operating times of private tutoring services for primary and middle school students. Firms offering non-curricular tutoring will be required to end physical classes by 8:30pm and online sessions by 9pm, while limiting one-time charges to 5,000 yuan ($720) and mandating a special trust account with state-designated banks for pre-paid fees. // Comment: At least for edtech firms there is no sign of nicer treatment for the private sector
Regulators Crack Down on Tiger Brokers and Tencent-Backed Futu - Caixin Tencent Holdings Ltd.-backed Futu Holdings Ltd. and UP Fintech Holding Ltd., which operates Tiger Brokers, for years conducted cross-border securities trading without approval, amounting to illegal securities operations, according to the Securities Law and related regulations, the China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC) said Friday. The CSRC said it will dispatch inspectors to conduct on-site inspections and supervise the corrections at Futu and Tiger and may take further regulatory actions depending on the rectification progress.
China home prices fall at faster pace in December, private survey shows | Reuters Home prices in 100 cities fell for the sixth month in a row in December, declining 0.08% from a month earlier after falling 0.06% in November, according to the survey by China Index Academy (CIA), one of the country's largest independent real estate research firms.
Interview: Minister stresses stabilizing industrial economy, boosting advantages-Xinhua China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) has urged all-out efforts to stabilize industrial growth, calling for more steps to accelerate the building of a modern industrial system, strengthen the weak links in industrial chains, and promote the digital economy. Over the past year, the ministry has rolled out multiple supportive measures to cope with the shock of factors beyond expectations, Jin Zhuanglong, minister of the MIIT, said in an interview with Xinhua.
China to boost spending in 2023 economic revival drive, top planner says | South China Morning Post In a People’s Daily interview published on Sunday, Zhao Chenxin, deputy chairman of the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), said authorities would align fiscal, monetary, industrial, technology and social policies to promote growth. The government would also give support to previously tightly regulated sectors such as property and internet companies as part of a wider push to increase consumer spending.
Now for the Hard Part: China’s Growth in 2023 and Beyond | Rhodium Group the official data and our observations of fourth quarter performance suggest full-year 2022 GDP growth of about 2.5%, with numerous reasons to suspect that the real performance was even weaker. In Q1, Beijing’s statisticians reported accelerating growth from the prior quarter, despite a deepening property sector slowdown and lockdowns in numerous cities. The property sector continued to decline throughout the year, with completed floor space down nearly 20% in the first eleven months of 2022 compared to the same period last year, and new starts down nearly 40%. Yet Beijing continued to report growth in fixed asset investment of over 5%—roughly the same pace of growth as in 2018, long before the slowdown in the property sector took hold. Given China’s preoccupation with delivering strong results, we expect official 2022 growth to come in as high as 3%. In reality, the economy is likely to have grown by less than 2%, and possibly not grown at all.
Tom Zhu Steps Down As Legal Representative of Tesla China Subsidiary - Pandaily Tesla’s China chief Tom Zhu stepped down as legal representative ofTesla (Shanghai) Co., Ltd., but will remain its chairman, according to updated information on Chinese business inquiry platforms. Wang Hao, the general manager of Tesla China in charge of sales, has taken over as the legal representative. An analysis report by Chinese media outlet PingWest shows that this is another signal that Zhu is fading out of Tesla’s business in China.
Xi calls on Economic Daily to better tell China's economic development stories-Xinhua Xi...made the remarks in a congratulatory letter on the 40th anniversary of the launch of the newspaper... Xi's letter was read out by Li Shulei, a member of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and head of the Publicity Department of the CPC Central Committee, at a meeting to mark the anniversary on Sunday afternoon in Beijing. The gist of Xi's important instructions should be earnestly studied and implemented, Li said, stressing that the newspaper should focus on its unique strength in economic reporting, improve the quality of its news reports and shore up confidence in development. Li called for efforts to establish the systems for communications across all forms of media and run the newspaper even better.
Evergrande Misses Overhaul Proposal Deadline Amid Creditor Talks - Bloomberg The world’s most indebted developer has yet to announce its offshore debt-restructuring plans, falling short on its promise to do so by the end of 2022.
Politics and Law
Xi Jinping delivers important speech at New Year gathering of CPPCC National Committee-Xinhua The National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) held a New Year gathering in its auditorium in Beijing on the morning of Dec. 30. Party and state leaders Xi Jinping, Li Keqiang, Li Zhanshu, Wang Yang, Li Qiang, Zhao Leji, Wang Huning, Cai Qi, Ding Xuexiang, Li Xi and Wang Qishan attended the gathering to welcome the year 2023. Also present at the gathering were leading officials of China's non-Communist parties' central committees and the All-China Federation of Industry and Commerce, representatives of personages without party affiliation, leading officials of central Party and government departments, and individuals from various ethnic groups and sectors of society in Beijing.
[视频]全国政协举行新年茶话会 习近平发表重要讲话 Curious why Han Zheng missed this 12.30 CPPCC new year's event. all current and last pbsc members + Wang Qishan were there, except Han // 中国人民政治协商会议全国委员会12月30日上午在全国政协礼堂举行新年茶话会。党和国家领导人习近平、李克强、栗战书、汪洋、李强、赵乐际、王沪宁、蔡奇、丁薛祥、李希、王岐山等同各民主党派中央、全国工商联负责人和无党派人士代表、中央和国家机关有关方面负责人以及首都各族各界人士代表欢聚一堂，共迎2023年元旦。
Party chiefs for Shandong, Shanxi adjusted-Xinhua Lin Wu has been appointed secretary, standing committee member and member of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Shandong Provincial Committee, according to a decision of the CPC Central Committee. Li Ganjie no longer concurrently holds the posts, and Lin no longer serves as secretary, standing committee member and member of the CPC Shanxi Provincial Committee, read the decision. Lan Fo'an has been appointed secretary of the CPC Shanxi Provincial Committee // Will Li Ganjie replace Chen Xi as head of the Organization Department?
Xi's speech at 1st plenum of 20th CPC Central Committee to be published-Xinhua He called for efforts to continue advancing the Party's theoretical innovation, and grasp the characteristics and essential requirements of Chinese modernization. Solid efforts should be made to implement various plans designed to build China into a modern socialist country in all respects, realize high-quality development, and promote common prosperity, Xi said, adding that further progress should be achieved in the exercise of full and rigorous Party self-governance.
The speech - 为实现党的二十大确定的目标任务而团结奋斗 - 求是网 The section on common prosperity, it has not gone away, even though it was not mentioned in the readout of the Central Economic Work Conference (CEWC). It did have its own section in the guideline aimed at further expanding domestic demand released just before the CEWC:
Fifth, we should fully implement the vision of people-centered development and make solid progress in achieving common prosperity. To achieve common prosperity for all the people is a fundamental manifestation of the Party's original mission, nature and purpose, and the superiority of our socialist system. It helps stimulate the enthusiasm, initiative and creativity of all the people, and enhances the Party's cohesion, centriveness and appeal. We must be fully aware that achieving common prosperity for all our people is a long historical process that cannot be achieved overnight. We must maintain historical patience and make unremitting efforts. In accordance with the Plan of the Party's 20 National Congresses, the whole Party should further implement the philosophy of people-centered development, give greater priority to promoting common prosperity for all the people, do as much as possible, make gradual and sustained efforts, and achieve more tangible progress in promoting common prosperity through high-quality development. We need to fully implement the strategy for coordinated development between regions, major regional strategies, and rural revitalization, narrow the development and income gap between urban and rural areas and between regions, and make development more balanced, coordinated, and inclusive. We should work hard to ensure and improve people's wellbeing, firmly grasp the most immediate and realistic interests of the people, build a coordinated system for primary distribution, redistribution, and third distribution, improve a multi-level social security system that covers the entire population, coordinates urban and rural areas, is fair, unified, safe, standardized, and sustainable, and promote equal access to basic public services. We will ensure that the fruits of development benefit all people in a more equitable manner. We should encourage people to become rich through hard work, improve their employability and ability to get rich. We should promote a society in which a happy life is achieved through hard work and common prosperity is achieved through hard work and wisdom, and prevent people from falling into the "middle-income trap" and "welfarism trap". We should improve the systems and mechanisms for promoting equal opportunities and safeguarding social fairness and justice, unblock the channels for upward social mobility, break down barriers of entrenched interests, create a sound environment for fair competition, ensure equal participation and equal development rights of the people, and ensure that everyone has the opportunity to develop themselves and contribute to society, enjoy the opportunity to live a brilliant life and enjoy the opportunity to realize their dreams.
Qing dynasty expert Gao Xiang named head of China’s leading policy think tank | South China Morning Post Beijing has appointed historian Gao Xiang, a specialist on the Qing dynasty, to head the influential Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) think tank. Gao, 59, replaces Shi Taifeng, whose short seven-month tenure ended with his appointment after the 20th party congress to lead the United Front Work Department...In June this year, an article written by a panel led by Gao and published in a Chinese Academy of History journal sparked an internet storm when it was interpreted by online commenters as a defence of the “closed door” policy of the Ming and Qing dynasties.
For China’s intellectuals, restrictions started long before the pandemic and will continue after Covid is over | South China Morning Post According to scholars who spoke to the South China Morning Post, at universities the evaluation of professors in the social sciences has become more focused on their contribution to the party’s ideology, and people who dare to deviate from it must constantly look over their shoulder for student informants and surprise inspectors sent from high authorities...A literature teacher at a Guangzhou-based university surnamed Liu – who did not wish to give her full name due to the sensitivity of the subject – said at each faculty meeting she was reminded she was not supposed to talk to students about seven subjects. They include universal values, press freedom and civil rights.
Tedium Continued — Mao more than ever – China Heritage The 26 December 2023, one year from today, will mark the 130th anniversary of Mao Zedong’s birth. A little over a month prior to that, on the 22 November 2023, Xi Jinping will celebrate an important milestone in Maoist history — the Chairman’s 22 November 1963 directive on The Maple Bridge Experience 楓橋經驗. As China confronts the murderous Covid chaos resulting from the most egregious Mao-like act of Xi Jinping’s baleful decade in power, we acknowledge Mao Zedong’s birth and note the significance of Maple Bridge. In this addition to Xi Jinping’s Empire of Tedium, we are also announcing that the present series will continue into 2023 thus making this issue of China Heritage Annual into a double issue covering the years 2022 and 2023.
Foreign and Defense Affairs
Japan says it scrambled jets to monitor Chinese aircraft carrier operations | Reuters Japan said on Monday it scrambled jet fighters and dispatched aircraft and warships over the past two weeks to keep tabs on China's Liaoning aircraft carrier and five warships that conducted naval manoeuvres and flight operations in the Pacific. Japan monitored the operations after the Chinese naval group, which included missile destroyers, sailed between the main Okinawa island and Miyakojima island into the Western Pacific from the East China Sea on Dec. 16, Japan's Ministry of Defence said in a press release.
Chinese military drone flies near Japanese islands, prompting Tokyo to scramble fighter jets | South China Morning Post Unmanned aerial vehicle, thought to be a WZ-7 Soaring Dragon, circles past Okinawa and Miyakojima, according to Japan’s defence ministry PLA drone operations likely a response to Tokyo’s new defence strategy and closer ties with Washington, observers say
Wang Yi Holds China-Australia Foreign and Strategic Dialogue with Foreign Minister of Australia Penny Wong Wang Yi welcomed Penny Wong to China for her first visit as Foreign Minister of the new Australian Labor Party government, and for holding a new round of China-Australia Foreign and Strategic Dialogue. He noted that this visit, which coincides with the 50th anniversary of the signing of the joint communiqué on the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Australia, is of great symbolic significance. Wang said that China-Australia relations have long been at the forefront of China's relations with developed countries, bringing tangible benefits to the two countries and peoples. In the past few years, China-Australia relations have encountered difficulties and setbacks. This is the last thing China wants to see, and lessons must be learnt from it. China and Australia, having neither historical grievances nor fundamental conflicts of interests, should and can become mutually needed cooperative partners. Maintaining sound and stable development of the China-Australia comprehensive strategic partnership fully serves the fundamental interests of the two peoples, and is also conducive to promoting peace and development in the Asia-Pacific and the world at large. // Comment: Held the same day Xi met with Medvedev. Xi did not meet with Wong
Australia Minister Raises Hopes for Trade Thaw With China at WTO - Bloomberg Australia would be willing to reconsider its case against China at the World Trade Organization if Beijing’s sanctions against its exports were lifted, as Trade Minister Don Farrell flagged a potential thaw in the trade tensions between the two countries. China and Australia have been discussing the possibility of a visit to Beijing by Trade Minister Farrell to meet with his Chinese counterpart in the first half of 2023,
Ambassador to the United States | Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs 20 December 2022 Today we announce the Government’s intention to appoint the Hon Dr Kevin Rudd AC as Australia’s next Ambassador to the United States. Dr Rudd brings unmatched experience to the role. Formerly Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Australia, he is now the global President and Chief Executive of leading international relations institute, the Asia Society. // Comment: An interesting appointment, I wonder if part of his mandate is to try act as a "mediator" between the US and China?
Philippine President Ferdinand Romualdez Marcos Jr. to Visit China At the invitation of President Xi Jinping, President of the Republic of the Philippines Ferdinand Romualdez Marcos Jr. will pay a state visit to China from January 3 to 5, 2023.
Canada Shifts on China to Build Credibility With Allies - WSJ The hardened stance, former officials and policy analysts say, reflects the gradual collapse of trust in Beijing, accelerated after China captured and detained two Canadians for nearly three years, in what Canada saw as retribution for the arrest of a senior Huawei executive. Analysts say Canada also wants to demonstrate to allies, especially the U.S., that it is prepared to do its part to deter China.
‘We better watch out’: NASA boss sounds alarm on Chinese moon ambitions - POLITICO “It is a fact: we’re in a space race,” the former Florida senator and astronaut said in an interview. “And it is true that we better watch out that they don’t get to a place on the moon under the guise of scientific research. And it is not beyond the realm of possibility that they say, ‘Keep out, we’re here, this is our territory.’” He cited an Earthly example in the South China Sea, where the Chinese military has established bases on contested islands. “If you doubt that, look at what they did with the Spratly Islands.”
Pilot Daniel Duggan paid $116,000 to train Chinese aviators, US claims | The Australian A former US military pilot arrested in Australia was paid more than $116,000 to train People’s Republic of China pilots to take off and land on aircraft carriers, the US government alleges. New details from the indictment lodged against Daniel Edmund Duggan, 54, have emerged alleging Mr Duggan received 12 payments from a Chinese-based business which was responsible for acquiring military training, equipment and technical data for China’s government and military.
Solomon Islands ambassador to China dies | The Straits Times Solomon Islands’ ambassador to China John Moffat Fugui has died in Beijing, diplomats said on Friday, the fifth top foreign envoy to China to pass away in less than two years. He was 61.
Interesting move to pull Song Tao out of seeming retirement; Xi trusts him -China Appoints New Taiwan Affairs Office Head - Caixin
Song Tao, former head of the International Department of the Communist Party’s Central Committee, has been appointed the new director of the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council, the office’s website showed Wednesday.
Song, 67, has replaced Liu Jieyi, who held the post since March 2018. He will also serve as director of the Taiwan Work Office of the Central Committee...
Song was a member of the 19th Central Committee after being elected in 2017 for a five-year term. But the seasoned diplomat did not make it to the top decision-making body at the party’s National Congress in October.
Mainland official calls for joint efforts for national reunification across Taiwan Strait Song Tao, head of both the Taiwan Work Office of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council, made the remarks in a New Year's message carried in the first issue of the "Relations Across Taiwan Strait" magazine in 2023.
On some of the signals from Song’s message - 新任中央台办、国台办主任宋涛新年发文，透露重要信号|两岸关系_网易订阅
Tech and Media
China gaming ban: Beijing issues licences to 44 imported games, first time in 18 months for approvals, with Tencent and NetEase included | South China Morning Post Internet giant Tencent, which runs the world’s largest video gaming business by revenue, received licences for tactical shooter game Valorant from US developer Riot Games as well as for multiplayer online battle arena game Pokémon Unite published by The Pokémon Company.
Facebook’s hardware ambitions are undercut by its anti-China strategy - The Washington Post Internal concerns about the hardware push intensified last year, when some executives worried that the anti-China strategy — crafted by executives in Washington and Menlo Park during the latter years of President Donald Trump’s administration — would hurt its business ambitions and be viewed by the public and regulators as hypocritical, given the company’s growing reliance on China for its plans.
Dahua's Custom China Army VMS, Deletes Evidence - IPVM In an investigation of Dahua's PRC military partnerships, IPVM exposed a customized Dahua solution called the DSS-A700: the Dahua Military Visualization Information Comprehensive Processing Platform (大华军工可视化信息综合处理平台). IPVM found a public Dahua PowerPoint presentation of the system in a detailed "platform overview" (平台概況):
Society, Arts, Sports, Culture and History
Jian Xianfo - Wikipedia Jian Xianfo (Chinese: 蹇先佛; pinyin: Jiǎn Xiānfó; July 1915 – 30 December 2022) was a Chinese communist politician. She joined the Chinese Red Army in 1934 and married one of its generals, Xiao Ke. Jian accompanied Xiao on the Long March, giving birth to their son en route. After the communist victory in the Chinese Civil War, she served in the Ministry of the Electric Industry [zh] as cadre and then vice minister. She was also an assistant to senior party member Qiao Shi.
《实践是检验真理的唯一标准》主要作者胡福明去世-新华网 Hu Fuming, primary author of the May 11 1978 Guangming Daily commentary "Practice is the sole criterion of truth" dies at 87.
Janaki Ballabh, veteran Indian translator and writer, dies in Beijing - The Hindu Janaki Ballabh, a veteran Indian translator and writer who was among few Indians who lived and worked in China during some of its most turbulent moments, from the late 1950s to the years right after the Cultural Revolution, passed away in Beijing on Friday. He was 94.
Interview: Yao Ming’s Vision for China’s National Basketball Team - Caixin Speaking with Caixin, Yao shared CBA’s plans to boost the national team’s competitiveness on the international stage, with goals set around the 2024 Paris Olympics. The association will also renew its pursuit of “rational and science-based approach” to fulfilling its broader vision to serve as a platform to promote the sport in China, he added.
Energy, Environment, Science and Health
New Coal-Fired Electricity Plant Approvals Triple From 2021 - Caixin China approved more than three times as much new coal-fired power generating capacity in the first 11 months this year as during all of 2021, according to Peking University. Between January and November, more than 65 million kilowatts of coal-fired electric generating capacity won government clearance, compared with 21.36 million kilowatts in 2021, data from a power industry transition study by the Institute of Energy of Peking University showed Tuesday.