Dalai Lama; China bulls; Debt issues; Trouble at JD

If you are in DC today CSIS and the US China Business Council are holding the US-China Innovation Forum. I will be there late in the day and for dinner, if you are there please say hello.

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The Essential Eight

1. Dalai Lama in hospital

Dalai Lama, 83, hospitalized with chest infection - Reuters

“Today morning his holiness felt some discomfort and he was flown to Delhi for check-up,” Tenzin Taklha, his personal secretary, told Reuters...

“Doctors have diagnosed him with chest infection and he is being treated for that. His condition is stable now. He will be treated for two three days here.”

China Says Dalai Lama's Successor Must Have Its Approval - NDTC

Lu Kang: "As far as the reincarnation issue is concerned, it is clear that the reincarnation is a particular inheritance system of the Tibetan Buddhism. It has fixed rituals," he said.

"We have relevant regulations to respect and protect this heritage. The 14th Dalai Lama himself was recognised according to the fixed religious rituals and was approved by the then central government.

"So the reincarnations including that of the Dalai Lama should follow our national laws, regulations and religious rituals," Mr Kang said.

Monks at Tibet’s Sera Monastery Told to Show ‘Gratitude’ to China, Obey its Laws - RFA

Speaking on March 13 at a news conference in the Tibetan capital Lhasa, Monastery Management Committee director Lhakpa Tsering, a Tibetan official working for China’s government in Tibet, told participants that monks should now practice their faith “by standing against separatism.”

“Monks must feel grateful to the Chinese government and show their loyalty to the nation by obeying the country’s laws,” Tsering said, addressing an audience of 320 including monks, management staff, police officers, and security team members.


2. Exuberant China bulls

China Bulls Get a Spring in Their Step as Economy Gains Traction - Bloomberg

Analysts from banks including HSBC Holdings Plc, Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. are increasingly confident that the world’s second-biggest economy is finding its feet after a rocky start to the year. Corporate tax cuts, an upswing in manufacturing and expected progress on a U.S. trade deal are among the factors buoying optimism.

It’s not just bank analysts. The International Monetary Fund on Tuesday raised its forecast for Chinese growth by 0.1 point to 6.3 percent this year even as it cut its outlook for global growth to the lowest since the financial crisis.

The better tone is being reflected in China’s markets. Stocks are up 31 percent from a January low and the yuan has strengthened 2.4 percent against the dollar.

Question: Is the sell-side getting over-exuberant?

IMF raises growth forecast for China on policy support, trade outlook - CNBC

In the latest World Economic Outlook report released Tuesday, the International Monetary Fund said China is projected to grow by 6.3 percent this year — higher than the previous forecast of 6.2 percent.

The fund said the outlook for U.S.-China trade tensions has “improved” and Beijing’s effort to support its economy has helped “counter the negative effect of trade tariffs.”

China Home Sales Rebound as Property Market Shows Green Shoots - Bloomberg

After contracting in the first two months of 2019 -- including over the Lunar New Year holiday, a time when at least for the past three years residential purchases have typically been buoyant -- the project sales of nine major developers rose 20 percent in March from a year earlier...

Aiding the recovery has been stimulus from Beijing, which has helped stabilize the economy and re-ignite home buyers’ enthusiasm. Economists expect the central bank will cut reserve requirements at least three more times this year to funnel cash into a slowing economy. Additional so-called stealth easing measures that make it easier to buy property in China have also improved sentiment.

State Railway Builder Expects Rail Construction Boom in 2019 - Caixin

China Railway Group expects 2019 new orders to increase at least 6.5% to 1.8 trillion yuan ($268 billion), [CFO] Yang said. The group set an even higher goal of 10% growth...The government’s proactive fiscal policy and a series of tax cuts have created a better environment for construction, Yang said.

March mobile phone shipments to China fall 6 percent as economy slows - Reuters

The shipments dropped to 28.4 million units in March from 30.2 million units in March 2018, the China Academy of Information and Communications Technology (CAICT) said.

March’s 6 percent slide follows four consecutive months of double-digit declines.


3. More troubles for JD?

Deep Cuts Planned at China’s JD.com — The Information $$

In total, JD.com could cut up to 8% of its 150,000-plus workforce, or more than 12,000 jobs, according to investors in the Nasdaq-listed company...

Last week, a senior JD.com executive told several dozen managers in a meeting that there will be “adjustments” to the company’s workforce, and that “key business function teams” that currently employ about 5,000 people could see 50% cuts, according to people familiar with the matter.

Alibaba-Rival JD Is Said to Target Deep Job Cuts as Morale Sags - Bloomberg

Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.’s closest rival told managers that it’s looking to reduce headcount across the company, cutting some teams by as much as half, one of the people said, citing an internal email. JD is reneging on some work contracts and offering impacted college graduates token compensation of 5,000 yuan ($745), the people said, asking not to be identified discussing a private matter. The Information earlier reported that, all told, JD could be slashing its workforce by as much as 8 percent.

But JD.com denies allegations about massive layoffs - Global Times

On Wednesday, JD.com responded to the Global Times about the allegation, saying it was an exaggeration of the company's normal staff rearrangement. 

"The recent reports about JD.com's massive layoffs are a total exaggeration. As we have repeatedly stated, this year we aim to fill 15,000 new vacancies, and we are also expecting over 1,300 new college graduates to join us," JD.com told the Global Times.

JD.com's Layoffs, Removal of Minimum Wage Signal Desperation - Bloomberg

JD.com hasn’t posted a single annual net profit since its IPO in 2014 (or for at least five years prior), and has racked up an accumulated 24 billion yuan ($3.6 billion) in losses since its founding. This tells us that its e-commerce model isn’t the winner investors hoped for.

I will guess it is a combination of factors, from corporate bloat to poor hiring practices to broader pressures in the economy.


4. Debt problem not going away

In Depth: The Local Government Debt Crisis That Just Won’t Go Away (Part 1) - Caixin

Once famed for producing fragrant black vinegar, Zhenjiang is now at the center of a debate and a battle within government, policymaking and financial regulatory circles about how to clean up trillions of yuan of hidden local government debt accumulated by thousands of LGFVs, special purpose vehicles set up by local authorities to borrow money to fund infrastructure and public welfare spending...

“We often joke that every slab of pavement in Zhenjiang was laid with money borrowed from financial institutions,” an executive with the risk control department of a local bank, who declined to be named, told Caixin.

Zhenjiang, like many local authorities, managed to kick its debt can down the road for several years through various means including refinancing the borrowings of LGFVs as government policy on dealing with the liabilities became more accommodating in 2015. But 2019 could be the year of reckoning as maturing liabilities reach a peak and the city government’s coffers weaken amid slowing economic growth. GDP rose by just 3% in 2018, according to government data, less than half the 7.2% pace in 2017.

Zhenjiang, Trump and China's still-expanding local government debt problem- Youshu

The story of Zhenjiang is depressing. It’s a problem thats repeated around much of Tier 3/4 City China. And its illustrative of a problem that Beijing just cannot fix, however many times it tells itself it has. And, in likelihood, local government debt is going to get worse in 2019 as the infrastructure stimulus ramps up.

You have to feel some sympathy for Zhenjiang’s current hapless mayor. His predecessors loaded up the credit card and then usually, after hitting their kaohe zhibiao (performance points) (and never, ever paying off seniors’ with project skim), got helicoptered into the provincial leadership. He’s left holding the bill. In late 2018, the city cooked up a scheme with local CDB officials to combine the debts of a handful of LGFEs into one entity, and then get CDB to lend CNY 20bn, alongside some other banks’ CNY 20-30bn. Thus, some CNY 40-50bn (USD 6-7bn) of short-term, high-cost shadow debt could be refinanced at lower rates and at longer terms. A classic “buy some time” strategy, but magic nonetheless - postponing explosions is, after all, the job of every local official in China.

Comment: I am a big fan of this Youshu, not so comfortable with the anonymity, working on finding out who it is, though won’t disclose when I find out unless he/she allows it.

Slow, Steady, Cheap, and Painless – Making Sense of China’s Bad Loan Strategy - MacroPolo

Since 2016, China’s financial authorities have been quietly pushing the banks to dispose of their bad loans more aggressively. The process has been incremental, but cumulatively meaningful. The measured pace at which Beijing is pursuing its debt cleanup could easily be misconstrued as timidity, a sign that China’s political leaders remain either uncommitted to dealing with the risk or unconvinced of the need. But the pace is deliberate. It is part of a broader, unconventional strategy designed to reduce NPLs in a way that minimizes both disruption to the economy and cost to the central government.


5. Informants

Chinese Universities Ordered to Spy on Staff, Students in Ideological Crackdown - RFA

Student informants are continually being recruited at China's universities and typically report back to the authorities around once every two weeks, according to online documents.

At the Wuhan University of Science and Technology, such informants are usually recruited from among the highest-performing students, taking both academic grades and ideology into account, according to a document seen by RFA.

Their duties include: "Collecting and collating a wide variety of information on teaching and teaching management activities, promptly reflecting students' opinions and suggestions on teachers' attitudes, as well as class content, teaching methods, marking ... and extracurricular tutoring."

Question: Has Xi strengthened and expanded the informants system in the PRC, as he has done with many other things? Timothy Garton Ash's "The File: A Personal History" about what he learned reading his Stasi file on his time in East Germany is fascinating. Will ever get that chance with the PRC? It certainly would be illuminating to learn who our informants were.


6. Taiwan Relations Act turns 40

Taiwan ‘at the front line of threats’ from Beijing, Tsai Ing-wen tells US think tanks | South China Morning Post

Speaking during a video conference with three US think tanks in Washington [Centre for Strategic and International Studies, the Brookings Institution and the Woodrow Wilson International Centre for Scholars], Tsai said the self-ruled island had faced coercion from Beijing, and it had worsened since she became president in 2016.

“Because of the Taiwan Relations Act, the US has played a crucial role to help [Taiwan] reject coercion,” she said, referring to aggression – including military intimidation and diplomatic isolation – from Beijing since she took office and refused to accept the one-China principle.

Transcript of President Tsai's comments via video link - The Taiwan Relations Act at Forty and U.S.-Taiwan Relations | Center for Strategic and International Studies

Video of the conference at which Tsai spoke - The Taiwan Relations Act at Forty and U.S.-Taiwan Relations | Center for Strategic and International Studies

Mainland reiterates opposition to official, military ties between U.S., Taiwan - Xinhua

Ma Xiaoguang, the spokesperson for the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council, made the remarks at a press conference in response to media reports that the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) confirmed active military personnel have been stationed at the AIT since 2005.


7. Microsoft research benefits the CCP

Microsoft worked with Chinese military university on artificial intelligence | Financial Times $$

Microsoft has been working with a Chinese military-run university on artificial intelligence research that could be used for surveillance and censorship.

Three papers, published between March and November last year, were co-written by academics at Microsoft Research Asia in Beijing and researchers with affiliations to China’s National University of Defense Technology, which is controlled by China’s top military body, the Central Military Commission...

The papers underscore Microsoft Research’s long-running links to Chinese military-funded academia, including its operation of several “tech clubs” for students at Chinese universities known to have military links including NUDT, Beihang University and Harbin University of Technology. 

Comment: Microsoft Research Asia has done great work. It has also trained generations of technologists whose work benefits the PLA and PRC security services. Maybe that was ok in an earlier era, but in this New Era it looks increasingly problematic.

This 2018 report from ASPI "Picking flowers, making honey: The Chinese military’s collaboration with foreign universities" gives additional context

US fears of China’s AI-armed military are well-founded - Nikkei Asian Review

Andrew Marshall, a well-known American strategic thinker, died on March 26 at the age of 97. Marshall shaped long-term U.S. military strategy as director of the Office of Net Assessment at the Department of Defense...

One thing that troubled Marshall toward the end of his life was the possibility that an adversary might overcome hard-won U.S. technological superiority, due to the proliferation of high technology...

In an interview with Nikkei in 2006, Marshall lamented a lack of intellectual effort in the U.S. to understand China.


8. Russian forests logged for China

China’s Voracious Appetite for Timber Stokes Fury in Russia and Beyond - The New York Times

Since China began restricting commercial logging in its own natural forests two decades ago, it has increasingly turned to Russia, importing huge amounts of wood in 2017 to satisfy the voracious appetite of its construction companies and furniture manufacturers.

“In Siberia, people understand they need the forests to survive,” said Eugene Simonov, an environmentalist who has studied the impact of commercial logging in Russia’s Far East. “And they know their forests are now being stolen.”

Russia has been a witting collaborator, too, selling Chinese companies logging rights at low cost and, critics say, turning a blind eye to logging beyond what is legally allowed...

Protests against logging — and Chinese logging in particular — have erupted across Siberia and the Russian Far East. They have stoked ethnic tensions along a border that extends over 2,600 miles between Russians and Chinese who had long had mutual suspicions shaped by political and cultural differences.


Business, Economy and Trade

U.S., China Further Talks on Cloud Access in Trade Deal - Bloomberg Chinese officials called a meeting this week with representatives of companies including Microsoft Corp, Apple Inc and Amazon.com Inc to talk about the proposal in detail, said one of the people. The discussions include possibly scrapping the requirement that providers of remote computing services form joint ventures with local companies

Talks with China to cut ethanol tariffs 'positive': U.S. agriculture secretary - Reuters “There have been conversations with China on reducing that tariff on ethanol, which would obviously be good for our domestic corn industry,” he told reporters. “While things look positive, it’s never over till it’s over with the Chinese.”

Beijing and EU agree target of next year for investment access deal | Financial Times $$ China has agreed to try to reach a deal next year with the EU on opening its markets to foreign investors in what Donald Tusk, the president of the European Council, hailed as “a breakthrough” in relations with Beijing. China and the EU have set a 2020 target date to agree a long-planned investment treaty

EU scores at China summit with assist from Trump – POLITICO For the Americans, it was also a stark illustration of the opportunity Trump and his administration has missed to team up with the Europeans in pressing China for a swifter opening of its markets to the West, and quicker reforms to its legal and regulatory systems. "We have the same criticism of the situation in the Chinese market and we use different ways of addressing them," a senior EU diplomat said. "One is cooperative and in dialogue and negotiation, and the other one is with the use of unilateral measures outside of the WTO scheme, and we have never been shy about addressing these differences of method."

Appliance Tycoon Gu Chujun Gets Lighter Sentence After Contesting Charges - Caixin Global Gu was convicted in 2008 of falsifying financial reports, violating disclosure rules and illegal diversion of funds, amid tightened government scrutiny of public-private partnerships. Gu was sentenced to ten years in jail. The Supreme People's Court on Wednesday announced that it was overturning Gu’s convictions for falsely reporting registered capital and falsifying and withholding information. The court also shortened Gu's sentence for illegal diversion of funds to five years in prison.

财政部:今年我国将从“建筑许可、纳税、跨境贸易”三方面持续优化我国营商环境_央广网 Ministry of Finance: This year China will continue to optimize China's business environment from three aspects: “building permits, taxation, and cross-border trade”.

China Eastern seeks compensation from Boeing - SHINE News China Eastern has claimed losses from the US aircraft manufacturer, but the results of its claims depend on whether the aircraft has a serious design flaw, the spokesperson said. The carrier will also follow instructions from civil aviation authorities.

Chinese women enter property market - Global Times "A man can easily disappoint you, but a house will never let you down. It will, at least, hedge against economic risks and preserve your fortune," Zhou said...Last year, about 47.9 percent of homebuyers were female, according to a report issued recently by Beike, a Chinese real estate platform. In 2014, women only accounted for 30 percent of homebuyers.

TikTok Owner Bytedance Gets a $1.3 Billion Loan From Wall Street - Bloomberg The deal marks Bytedance’s debut in the syndicated loan market and underscores its growing clout in attracting some of the biggest international lenders. Late last year, the company got a $3 billion funding from SoftBank Group Corp. and other major investors at a valuation of $75 billion, cementing its position as the world’s biggest privately backed startup

Morgan Stanley to become top shareholder in China funds venture with stake increase - Reuters The Wall Street bank, which currently owns 37.4 percent in Shenzhen-based Morgan Stanley Huaxin, won the bid on March 30 to buy the additional stake for 25.04 million yuan ($3.73 million), according to the auction notice on Taobao.com.

China’s Giant Money-Market Fund Scraps Investment Caps - WSJ $$ Though the fund hasn’t disclosed its latest size, it continued to shrink during the first quarter of 2019, according to a person familiar with the matter. The decision to remove investment limits was approved by Chinese regulators after Tianhong Asset Management and its parent Ant Financial pointed to the fund’s continuing outflows, the person added.

Hotel Hotshot OYO's Shady (and Potentially Illegal) Expansion in China: An Investigation- PingWest As of today, OYO has raised $1.65 billion with a $5 billion valuation.  An investigation by PingWest has found out that beneath OYO's rapid expansion in China, the company's Chinese branch and its branded network of hotels are dragged into a game with no clear rules and laws

VW eyes buying big stake in China partner JAC, taps Goldman - sources - Reuters Rival German automaker BMW agreed in October to buy control of its main joint venture in the country for 3.6 billion euros ($4.05 billion). Daimler AG also plans to increase its stake in local partner BAIC Motor.

Yicai Global - Sunflower Pharma Stock Sinks on Claims That Controlling Shareholder Is a Killer The Beijing News speculates that the victim is Guan's ex-wife Zhang Xiaolan, who is currently in a persistent vegetative state -- though it is unclear when or how this happened.

Beijing Authorities Investigate Literal Pyramid Scheme | Sixth Tone he companies allegedly advertised their pyramid-shaped wares — priced between 5,000 and 100,000 yuan ($740 and $14,900) — as having “healing” and “energy-absorbing” properties and attempted to recruit salespeople into a multilevel marketing operation.

China's lottery sales down 8.8 pct in February - Xinhua Sales of welfare lottery tickets dropped by 13.9 percent from a year ago to 11.3 billion yuan, while sports lottery sales went down 3.4 percent to 12.1 billion yuan, the MOF said in a statement.

华融回应员工被妻子举报:正进行核查 一经查实严肃处理 Huarong investigating complaint about Huang Xin, senior manager of China Huarong Development Research Department, His wife Wan Lili made the complaint in real-name video that Huang Xin has more than 60 lovers and spends huge sums of money, many illegally acquired properties registered in his sisters’ names and has opened a number of companies in the name of relatives.


Politics and Law

China Stresses Investment, Invokes New Zealand Massacre in Defending Treatment of Muslims - WSJ $$ The Xinjiang government’s information office, in written comments to The Wall Street Journal, denied that the government is using redevelopment of neighborhoods in Urumqi inhabited by ethnic Uighurs to impose new controls. It justified the installation of digital cameras at Urumqi’s more than 300 mosques by evoking last month’s mass shootings in New Zealand, saying the killings were a reminder of the need for more security at religious venues.

Gangsters to face harsher punishments - China Daily Courts around China will hand down harsher sentences, up to and including the death penalty, for gang-related crimes, under a directive released on Tuesday by the country's leading group pursuing a national crackdown on gang crime. 扫黑除恶司法文件集中出台 重点打击“套路贷”“软暴力”_财新网 

Chinese officials sacked over leaflet listing doctors as top target in organised crime fight | South China Morning Post The leaflet – published by authorities in Weitang, Suzhou to promote the ongoing nationwide campaign – referred to doctors as the country’s No 1 profession with “a dark heart”, photos circulating on the internet showed. “This industry is beyond remedy,” the leaflet reads. “There is no patient who hasn’t had money swindled from them because they have no choice between life and money. This industry is top of the list – its unscrupulousness has been widely accepted but it affects everyone.”

Chinese Authorities Deny Rumors of GPS-Tracking ID Cards | Sixth Tone The Shanghai government has denied rumors that the next generation of China’s official IDs will come with GPS-tracking chips and integrate banking and social security information into a single card.

Propaganda Themes at the CPPCC Stress the “Sinicization” of Religion - Jamestown Most striking of all, the CPPCC was used as a forum to advocate the purging of foreign influences from Chinese religious practice. In a speech delivered before the CPPCC on March 11th, Xu Xiaohong, Chairman of the “Three Self Patriotic Movement” (San Zi Aiguo Yundong, 三自爱国运动)—the PRC’s official Protestant church—stated that the advent of Christianity in China was accompanied by “intense colonial aggression by the West.” Xu accused “anti-China forces in the West” of “trying to influence China’s social stability and even subvert China’s political power through the use of Christianity.” In light of this, Xu called for “continuous elimination of foreign imprints on China’s Christian churches,” and for China’s Christians to “continuously carry forward and practice the core values of socialism”

北京网信办原副主任陈华获刑9年 - 国内 - 新京报网 Chen Hua, former deputy director of the Beijing cyberspace administration, gets 9 years for corruption, He fiddled his expenses, took kickbacks from conference organizers, bribes from internet firms and individuals. This Beijing News article has a lot of details

Corrupt Chinese official who used spy movie tricks to hide bribes jailed for 18 years | South China Morning Post Yang Guowen, formerly party secretary of the Jining district of Ulanchabu city in Inner Mongolia was recently found guilty by Tongliao Intermediate People’s Court of accepting bribes and failing to explain his wealth, Proc uratorial Daily reported. The report said Yang had taken so much in bribes that he needed to find places to hide the proceeds, and was inspired by the movies to stash them in places such as chicken coops, coal sheds and disused water tanks.

文化兴国运兴(人民要论)--李忠杰--人民网 "When culture is flourishing the nation is flourishing" - 李忠杰 Li Zhongjie former Deputy Director, Research Office of the Central Party History -  The development of a country requires both a powerful material force and a strong spiritual power. For a country, culture is image and soft power; for a nation, culture is a soul and a banner.

“新中国从这里走来——西柏坡精神与共产党人初心使命”理论研讨会在石家庄举行 王东峰作出批示--新闻报道-人民网 On March 22nd, the seminar on "New China came from here - Xibaipo Spirit and the Communist Party's initial mission" was held in Shijiazhuang. Wang Dongfeng, secretary of the provincial party committee and director of the Standing Committee of the Provincial People's Congress, gave instructions. Li Jingtian, president of the National Party Building Research Association, attended and spoke.


Foreign and Defense Affairs

With Pressure and Persuasion, China Deflects Criticism of Its Camps for Muslims - The New York Times China has been fighting criticism that it has detained as many as one million members of Muslim ethnic minorities in indoctrination camps in its western Xinjiang region. But at the two-day conclave in early March, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation — a group of 57 nations that has been a vocal defender of the Rohingyas and Palestinians — handed Beijing a significant victory. In a resolution on protecting the rights of Muslim minorities around the world, the group praised China for “providing care to its Muslim citizens.”

US, China ‘at greater risk of military incidents’ in South China Sea, Chinese think tank warns | South China Morning Post “The US military will continue intensifying military operations in the South China Sea, constantly exploring the grey zones between peace and conflict, and probing China’s bottom line, which will inevitably push the threshold of small-scale armed conflict and war,” according to the report released by Peking University’s South China Sea Strategic Situation Probing Initiative.

Japan telcos' 5G go-ahead cements curbs on Chinese vendors - Reuters One of the conditions from the telecoms ministry was to “take sufficient cybersecurity measures including responding to supply chain risk”. The condition effectively prevents the telecom providers from using network equipment from China’s Huawei Technologies and ZTE Corp, and follows a de facto ban implemented last year on Japanese government purchases from the manufacturers.

Senior Obama cyber official lobbying for China | Fox News Samir Jain, former senior director for cybersecurity policy at the White House National Security Council, notified Congress March 27 that he is registering as a lobbyist for the Shenzhen-based Huawei Technologies Co., Ltd. Jain is now with the lobbying firm Jones Day.

Peter Dutton's lunch with Chinese Communist Party-linked billionaire Huang Xiangmo after visa denial - Sydney Morning Herald Former Liberal Party federal director Brian Loughnane asked Peter Dutton to consider a request from Chinese Communist Party-aligned billionaire Huang Xiangmo for special citizenship treatment just prior to Mr Dutton approving the request. The revelation that the former Liberal director was involved in the controversial citizenship process for Mr Huang's family in early 2015 comes as the scandal involving the Chinese property developer has widened to include defence minister Christopher Pyne.

U.S. firm's plan for Australia-China internet cable leaves Huawei trailing - Reuters The SubCom cable would likely stifle any commercial case for future Huawei cables in the region, according to Jonathan Pryke, director of Pacific Islands research at Sydney-based think-tank the Lowy Institute.

Myanmar Military Chief Thanks Beijing for Support on Rakhine Crisis - The Irawaddy Myanmar military chief Snr. Gen. Min Aung Hlaing praised China as an “eternal friend” and thanked it for countering international pressure on Myanmar over the Rohingya crisis during a visit to Beijing.

CMC Vice Chairman meets with Myanmar's senior military official - China Military General Xu Qiliang said that, linked and intertwined by mountains and rivers, China and Myanmar are close neighbors from generation to generation, share the “paukphaw” (brotherhood in Myanmese) friendship through thick and thin, and are good strategic partners for mutual development.

Peng Liyuan meets wife of Cuba's president - Xinhua Peng Liyuan, wife of Chinese President Xi Jinping, met here Tuesday with Lis Cuesta Peraza, wife of Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel. Peng asked Lis Cuesta Peraza to convey President Xi's sincere regards to Miguel Diaz-Canel

Free Michael Spavor Friends and family of Michael Spavor, detained 4 months ago in China in retaliation for the arrest in Canada of former Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou, launch a website

China in Africa: The Real Story: Chinese Lending to Africa for Military and Domestic Security Purposes China’s engagement with the African continent has until recently been interpreted primarily through an economic lens. However, China-Africa military ties are also deepening and becoming more complex. China’s first international military base opened in 2017 in Djibouti. The first China-Africa Defense and Security Forum was held in June of 2018 as representatives of 50 different African countries and the African Union met in Beijing to discuss defense and security cooperation efforts. Against this background, what role does Chinese lending play as the China-Africa security relationship evolves?

China's Red Army To Station Special Force In Zimbabwe » Spotlight Zimbabwe China is reportedly planning to station an elite special force from it’s red army in Zimbabwe, as Beijing moves to crystalize military cooperation with Harare, amid growing fears that the Asian powerhouse has formally approved plans to commence construction of an underground military base in the country, Spotlight Zimbabwe, can exclusively reveal. // Legit source? Big news if true

Was She a Spy? Probably Not | Center for Strategic and International Studies Taking all this into account, the factor most likely to explain what did or did not happen is protecting the trade talks. With an agreement so close, one that China reportedly will see as favorable, it is difficult to believe that China's leadership would risk this by a ham-handed stunt. It’s more likely that the detained individual was blundering about in pursuit of guanxi, the Chinese term for building important and beneficial personal connections and networks. If this woman was a spy, she was a remarkably bad one. - James Andrew Lewis

Senior Chinese official calls for parliamentary cooperation worldwide - Xinhua Shen Yueyue, vice chairwoman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress of China, made the remarks during the 140th Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) in Qatar's capital Doha on Monday.

Maldives ruling party pledges probe into Chinese deals after landslide win | Reuters "Some of the first bills that the new parliament must consider is the pending legislation to fully empower the presidential commission on stolen assets, and deaths and disappearances," MDP leader Nasheed told Reuters in the capital Male. "The government continues to scrutinise the deals signed by the previous government, many of which, we fear, were subject to large scale corruption. We must allow the government to examine these deals with forensic detail." //BRI probably should be renamed the BRGI - Belt, Road and Graft Initiative


Tech and Media

China Film Studios See Brutal First Quarter - Caixin Global Three of China's major independent film studios, Huayi Brothers, Enlight Media and Zhejiang Talent TV have all issued warnings saying their business deteriorated sharply in the first quarter.

The Personal over the Political – China Channel A review of Jia Zhangke's "Ash is the purest white"

Yicai Global - Tencent's Mobile Gamers Dwindle as China Users Seek Alternative Genres The proportion of Chinese users playing MOBA games fell to just over 14 percent annually in February…according to data from market researcher Analysys. Some 98 percent of China's MOBA gamers play Arena of Valor, Tencent's flagship title, indicating the entertainment giant is hemorrhaging users.


Society, Arts, Sports, Culture and History

Stephen Platt on Becoming a Historian of China – China Channel He is the author of three books of Chinese history: Provincial Patriots centred on the Hunanese, Autumn in the Heavenly Kingdom on the Taiping rebellion, and Imperial Twilight about the Opium Wars. Jonathan Chatwin talked to him about his path into Chinese history, his tips for researchers, and the challenges involved in bringing the past to life.


Education

China tops world in open online courses - Xinhua China has over 200 million people taking massive open online courses (MOOC), leading the world in both the number and the scale of application of such courses. This was announced at the China MOOC Conference held in Beijing on Tuesday


Rural and Agricultural Issues

流感致死的猪露天堆放 猪场:忘了 _凤凰网 Photo-Pigs dead from Asia Swine Fever are piled up in the open. Pig farm: We forgot--in Yulin,Shaanxi