Death sentence for a Canadian; Another vaccine scandal; CCDI plenum; More bad data

Hi everyone, apologies the newsletter is arriving a bit later than usual. We got about a foot of snow here at Sinocism HQ and so the kids are out of school and I had to spend a good chunk of the morning shoveling while the snow was still light and fluffy…

Some of the things I am watching today:

  • As expected, the Chinese re-sentenced Canadian Robert Schellenberg to death for drug trafficking;

  • The latest trade data are out and both imports and exports disappointed. Clearly the economy is struggling but the data over the next two months probably will not give a great picture as the Lunar Year is February 5, the holiday starts imminently for many, and so March will likely be the next month with relatively useful data;

  • The CCDI plenum concluded with no announcement of new investigations, in spite of the speculation given the recent focus on Shaanxi misdeeds. I will wager something big is coming though;

  • There is another expired vaccine scandal and the video of the enraged parents taking to the streets and trying to beat the local Party secretary is quite something, and embedded below;

  • There is still nothing announced on the rumored 4th Plenum. It does appear that there will be some kind of central-level meeting around the 20th. Normally there would be a Politburo meeting, usually at the end of each month, and then the announcement of a Plenum. We will know soon if there is anything to the speculation, but I am not buying some of the claims out there that the 4th Plenum has been delayed due to dissension on the Central Committee.

Thanks for reading.

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The Essential Eight

1. Death sentence for a Canadian

China Sentences a Canadian, Robert Lloyd Schellenberg, to Death – The New York Times:

Between 2009 and 2015, China executed at least 19 foreigners for drug trafficking, according to John Kamm, chairman of the Dui Hua Foundation, a group based in San Francisco that monitors human rights in China.

Mr. Kamm said he was astonished by the speed and severity of the sentence against Mr. Schellenberg.

Mr. Kamm noted that Hu Xijin, the editor of the Global Times, a nationalist Chinese newspaper, had warned before the sentencing that if Canada went ahead with Ms. Meng’s extradition to the United States, “China’s revenge will be far worse than detaining a Canadian.”

Comment: I heard from someone I trust about a week before the announcement of his retrial that the Chinese had decided to end “leniency” for Canadian drug traffickers and sentence at least one much more harshly, possibly to death. If I heard it no doubt Hu Xijin did as well, and there can be no doubt Beijing is using the threat of death to a Canadian citizen to interfere in Canada’s internal judicial affairs to try to get the Huawei CFO Meng released…this is so stupid on so many levels by Beijing, but this is how the Party rolls inside China and it sees no reason to act differently outside the PRC borders…

Robert Lloyd Schellenberg sentenced to death in China, possible links to Huawei row – The Washington Post:

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Monday made his strongest-yet comment on the matter, expressing “extreme concern” over the case.

“It is of extreme concern to us as a government — as it should be to all our international friends and allies — that China has chosen to begin to arbitrarily apply a death penalty,” he told reporters in Ottawa.

Comment: Technically they have not applied the death penalty yet. Schellenberg can appeal, though he will lose, and then the Supreme Court has to uphold the case, but given the politics I assume Beijing will wait until the conclusion of the Meng extradition case. If Meng is sent to the US expect the Chinese to carry out the execution, if she is not then perhaps they will reduce his sentence, but best case he is likely going to be in a PRC jail for a long time. 

Schellenberg trial shows Canada’s arbitrary view of rule of law – Global Times:

Trudeau’s words suggested that Canada views the verdict from a value perspective, not a judicial one, and used Canadian law as reference. Canadian law doesn’t have the death penalty, while China’s Criminal Law clearly stipulates that drug smugglers could face the death sentence. Public opinion in Canada has claimed recently that China is “politicizing” Schellenberg’s case, but what Canada is doing is actually politicizing law.

Western centrism has been very obvious in recent disputes between China and Canada. Whatever Canada does, it is the rule of law, but whatever China does is not. Canadian elites are feeling so righteous with this double standard, and it is time for them to wake up from such cultural and value narcissism.

Comment: The shamelessness 无耻 and sophistry 强词夺理 of The Global Times on full display…

China’s Hostage Diplomacy – Lawfare - Donald Clarke:

Schellenberg’s original conviction and sentencing cannot be connected to the Meng case, having preceded it. And no doubt Canadians are among those who have in the past committed, and in the future will commit, crimes in China. Not every detention of a Canadian is necessarily connected with the Meng case.

But the Kovrig and Spavor detentions, together with the opacity about their cases and the recent extraordinary admission, even proclamation, by China’s ambassador to Canada that the two were in fact detained as part of China’s “self-defense” in the Meng case, mean that it is now legitimate for Canadians in China—along with any citizen of a country that might in the future offend China—to wonder whether all these unusual circumstances are really just a coincidence.


2. Yet another vaccine scandal

China Investigates Latest Vaccine Scandal After Violent Protests – The New York Times:

The government of Jinhu County in Jiangsu Province said on Friday that 145 children had received oral polio vaccines after their December expiration date. The children were between the ages of 3 months and 4 years, according to the state news media.

In a statement on its website, the Jinhu government said that the incident exposed “the negligence and supervision failure of the relevant departments.”…

Hundreds of angry parents gathered on Friday outside the county government office, some of them scuffling with police officers, according to the police in Jinhu and videos that went viral on WeChat, a popular social media tool.

Dozens of protesters surrounded the party secretary of Jinhu, chanting: “Beat him, beat him.”

VOA on the protests over the latest vaccine scandal…the video is on Youtube, people are angry, tried to beat up the local party secretary, the security services mobilized forces from all over the region, including Shanghai中国再爆疫苗丑闻 民众抗议遭警方暴力

Comment: Other reports say not just Polio vaccine and that thousands of kids affected over several years

A local official said “it’s no big deal if the vaccine is expired, and anyway no one will die from it” – 江苏每年约1500名幼儿接种问题疫苗 家长:甚至有过期6年的-凤凰网视频-最具媒体品质的综合视频门户-凤凰网


3. CCDI Plenum

No surprises, but important as it outlines the priorities for 2019. Not that any of you need reminding but the CCDI has never been just about corruption; enforcement of political correctness has always been part of its mandate, and that has only intensified under Xi. The Party and the CCDI continue to struggle with forcing local officials to execute central policy, a problem in China that long predates the establishment of the PRC. The latest vaccine case is just another example of the failure to control local officials.

China Focus: CCDI communique vows new progress in Party governance – Xinhua:

The communique listed eight priorities for 2019.

— CCDI will continue to study and implement Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era, and upgrade the education campaign with the theme “staying true to our founding mission.”

— It will take up resolute actions against the practice of formalities for formalities’ sake and bureaucratism.

— The institution of disciplinary inspection and supervision will be innovated to enhance the effectiveness of governance.

— It aims to make breakthroughs in regular and long-term supervision.

— Inspection on the implementation of political rules will be intensified, and the strategic structure of disciplinary inspections improved.

— CCDI will direct its anti-graft actions to key projects, fields and posts, particularly departments and sectors where power is centralized and money and resources are intensive.

— The efforts to address corruption and malpractices that occur on people’s doorsteps will be continued so the people will have a stronger sense of fulfillment, happiness and security.

— CCDI will develop an “iron army” of disciplinary inspection and supervision officials who are loyal, clean and have a strong sense of responsibility.

The communique – 中国共产党第十九届中央纪律检查委员会第三次全体会议公报 

Xinhua Headlines: Xi calls for “greater strategic achievements” in Party governance – Xinhua:

He laid out six tasks:

— The spirit of the 19th CPC National Congress needs to be further implemented.

— The Party’s political work must be strengthened to ensure unity of the whole Party and strict implementation of its orders.

— Excellent conduct must be encouraged to ensure joint efforts for building a moderately prosperous society.

— Fight corruption with strong resolve to consolidate and develop the “sweeping victory.”

— Improve the supervision systems and strengthen the sense of responsibility.

— Address corruption and malpractices that occur on people’s doorsteps to safeguard the people’s immediate interests.

Xi’s speech 习近平在十九届中央纪委三次全会上发表重要讲话强调 取得全面从严治党更大战略性成果 巩固发展反腐败斗争压倒性胜利 

Anti-graft efforts stepped up - China Daily:

China's top anti-graft watchdog will step up supervision efforts this year in larger departments and industries with more funding and resources, according to an official communique. It will also resolutely prevent officials from being enlisted and corrupted by interest groups, it said.

The communique was published after the third plenary session of the 19th Communist Party of China Central Commission for Discipline Inspection was concluded in Beijing on Sunday.

More importantly, the commission will focus its anti-graft efforts in areas that concern the public the most, such as education, healthcare, environmental protection and food and drug safety. Corrupt officials at the grassroots level will also be targeted, especially those who offer protection for mafia-like gangs and act like village tyrants, the communique said.


4. US-China

China’s Annual Trade Surplus With U.S. Hits Record Despite Trump’s Tariff Offensive – WSJ $$:

China recorded $323.32 billion in surplus with the U.S. in 2018, representing a 17% jump from the figure in the previous year, according to Chinese government trade data released Monday.

Trump predicts U.S. will reach trade deal with China | Reuters:

“We’re doing very well with China,” Trump told reporters at the White House. “I think that we are going to be able to do a deal with China.”

“China wants to negotiate,” he said.

Will the US government shutdown hurt the trade "hawks"? - Shutdown hits USTR - POLITICO:

USTR’s press shop still hadn’t responded as of Sunday to questions of whether it is entering shutdown mode. But numerous sources close to and within the agency have told Morning Trade that furlough decisions were being weighed over the past week and would take effect today.

The numbers: The Executive Office of the President, which USTR falls under, sent a memo to the Office of Management and Budget on Dec. 21 that said 191 of USTR’s 265 full-time staff members (or nearly 75 percent) would be furloughed during the lapse in appropriations.

China talks to go on: A delegation of Chinese officials is scheduled to travel to Washington Jan. 30-31. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told reporters last week that Chinese Vice Premier Liu He would “most likely” visit the U.S. at the end of the month and added that he expected the shutdown would have no impact.

About those concerns around implementation of agreed-upon deals--China’s central bank delays market entry for Visa and Mastercard | Financial Times $$;

China’s central bank has refused to acknowledge applications submitted by Visa and Mastercard to process renminbi payments, despite rules in 2017 that removed formal obstacles to foreign participation in the $124tn market following a decade-long struggle.

The application delays highlight complaints by overseas companies and White House trade negotiators that China uses informal barriers to block foreign competition in the domestic market, even where written rules ostensibly guarantee fair treatment.

You can’t contain China: Former US trade chief Robert Zoellick warns Donald Trump | South China Morning Post:

In this regard, he is aligned with his predecessor as USTR Mickey Kantor, who in an interview with the South China Morning Post last week, said there were “anti-China” elements in the White House.

“There are folks in the White House who are anti-China, literally and historically anti-China, which makes his [Lighthizer’s] job much more difficult,” Kantor said, commenting on last week’s trade negotiations in Beijing.

Zoellick struck a less conciliatory tone to other former officials who, while disagreeing with many of Trump’s policies, claimed the president’s hardline approach at least brought China to the negotiating table.

Comment: I always liked Zoellick's "responsible stakeholder" concept. Increasingly looks non-operative though…


5. More bad economic data

China’s foreign trade hits historic high in 2018 – Xinhua:

China’s foreign trade rose 9.7 percent year on year to a historic high of 30.51 trillion yuan (about 4.5 trillion U.S. dollars) in 2018, the General Administration of Customs (GAC) said Monday.

The value was 2.7 trillion yuan higher than that of 2017, according to the GAC.

“China effectively tackled changes of the external environment last year, and the foreign trade maintained stable and positive growth, reaching a historic high in import and export volume,” GAC spokesman Li Kuiwen told a press conference.

Exports rose 7.1 percent year on year to 16.42 trillion yuan last year, while imports grew 12.9 percent to 14.09 trillion yuan, resulting in a trade surplus of 2.33 trillion yuan, which narrowed by 18.3 percent.

China’s Slumping Trade Adds Pressure for Settlement With Trump – Bloomberg:

The worse than expected figures, with exports falling 4.4 percent in December from a year earlier, set a grim domestic backdrop for China’s negotiators as they seek a deal to end the stand-off with the Trump administration. The fall in exports was the worst result since 2016 in dollar terms while imports slumped 7.6 percent, also the worst reading since 2016 and hinting at softening demand at home.

China to set lower GDP growth target of 6-6.5 percent in 2019 – sources | Reuters:

China plans to set a lower economic growth target of 6-6.5 percent in 2019 compared with last year’s target of “around” 6.5 percent, policy sources told Reuters, as Beijing gears up to cope with higher U.S. tariffs and weakening domestic demand.

Chinese premier urges efforts to keep growth within reasonable range – Xinhua: 

Chairing a plenary meeting of the State Council, which discussed a draft version of the government work report and analyzed economic work in the first quarter of 2019, Li said the country faces a more complicated development environment this year, with growing challenges and downward pressure on the economy creating arduous tasks for the government.

6. More drips of stimulus

China to Roll Out Measures to Stabilize Job Market, Xinhua Reports – Caxin:

China will carry out a series of measures to stabilize employment this year, the Xinhua News Agency reported Sunday, citing one or more officials at the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security, underlining Beijing’s growing concern over employment amid a slowing economy.

China will reduce the burden on firms, Xinhua quoted the unnamed officials as saying. “Enterprises with few or zero layoffs can receive half of the previous year’s unemployment insurance premium back,” said a senior official.

This is in line with plans laid out at the annual Central Economic Work Conference

China to promote poverty alleviation through consumption – SCIO: 

According to the State Council circular released on Jan 14, poverty alleviation through consumption means consumption of goods and services provided by people in poor areas as a way to increase their income and help lift them out of poverty.

Government organs, State-owned enterprises and public institutions should take the lead in the campaign, relatively developed provinces and cities should build long-term supply and marketing relationships with their partners in underdeveloped areas, and private enterprises are encouraged to purchase goods and services from those areas, according to the circular.

Local Social Insurance Reform Delayed To Give Businesses a Break – Caixin:

In July, China required all local governments to transfer the responsibility for collecting social insurance fees from their social insurance departments to their tax authorities, in a bid to build a unified system for tax and fee collection. The change aims to make it harder for employers to avoid making contributions because tax authorities have more complete databases about companies and individuals than social security departments…

The nationwide reform had raised concerns about the financial stress it would place on businesses because a large number of companies, especially small ones, sidestep paying the entirety of their social insurance fees as a cost-saving measure. Worse still, some tax authorities required companies to pay off social insurance arrears.


7. Huawei's troubles mount

Huawei Fires Executive Charged in Poland With Espionage - WSJ $$:

Polish authorities said Friday they had arrested Wang Weijing, known locally as Stanislaw Wang, on charges of conducting espionage on behalf of China.

Huawei on Saturday said Mr. Wang’s employment had been terminated and his alleged actions “have no relation to the company.” Huawei also said Mr. Wang “has brought Huawei into disrepute.” Huawei said it complies with the law in all countries where it operates and requires all employees to do the same.

Huawei’s Poland spying case threatens China’s efforts to win over Eastern and Central Europe | South China Morning Post:

Last week’s detention of Wang Weijing, Huawei’s sales director in Poland, showed the US-China rivalry over technology pre-eminence has spilled over into Europe, according to Wang Yiwei, head of the Centre for EU Studies at Renmin University of China.

“Clearly, the United States is desperate to check China’s rapid economic and technological ascendancy and is trying to use its allies and partners in Europe to curb Huawei,” he said.

Poland calls for NATO, EU action on Huawei technology - Cyberscoop:

Polish government officials have asked the European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to decide whether both alliances should exclude Huawei’s technology from certain global markets.

Poland’s internal affairs minister, Joachim Brudziński, on Saturday told the Polish radio station RMF FM the EU and NATO should work together to form a joint position on whether to allow the continued use of equipment made by the Chinese telecommunication company. Brudziński’s recommendation came after Polish authorities arrested Huawei’s head of sales in Poland, Wang Weijing, and a former Polish intelligence agent on espionage charges.

Poland may consider Huawei ban amid 'spy' arrests – reports • The Register:

A Polish official has said he couldn’t rule out “legislative changes” to allow the nation to ban the use of a company’s products, following the local arrest of a Huawei staffer.

Poland becoming a US accomplice - Global Times:

Beijing should resolutely negotiate with Warsaw and conduct relative counter-measures, helping the world understand that Poland is an accomplice of the US.

China must not be soft at this point. Beijing will not bully Warsaw - and it is unworthy to do so - but the latter must pay for the offense.


8. Internet censors in overdrive

A censor for every 1,000 videos please | China Media Project:

One prominent aspect of media control in the Xi Jinping era has been its growing brazenness. No longer is censorship quite so shrouded in secrecy as it once was. Rather, it is announced openly as a matter of social and political necessity, and as the legal obligation of every company seeking to profit from the potentially lucrative digital space.

A pair of binding documents released this past week by the China Netcasting Services Association (中国网络视听节目服务协会) are a great case in point. They openly set out the “content review” standards expected of companies providing online video services, including the removal of content that “attacks on our country’s political or legal systems”, and “content that damages the national image.” One of the documents even specifies that companies expand their internal censorship teams as business grows and changes, and that they keep at least one “content review” employee on staff for every 1,000 new videos posted to their platform each day.


Business, Economy, Finance And Trade

China’s Yuan Plays Fed, Trump Roulette – WSJ $$ China’s currency, the yuan, which had a rough 2018, has started off 2019 rather well. It is up about 3% since early December, having gained 0.6% on Friday alone to hit 6.75 to the dollar. Part of that jump is related to signs of softening trade tensions with the U.S., with Chinese economics czar Liu He now expected to be in Washington at the end of the month for further talks. The real swing factor for China’s currency is probably the Fed, however, not the White House. Back in 2016, China’s economy—under pressure from big capital outflows and rising defaults—got a huge boost from the Fed’s decision to hold fire on rate increases for most of that year. It’s starting to look like China, and the yuan, might get lucky again in 2019.

Chinese First Home Loan Rates Fell for the First Time Last Year in December – China Banking News Average first home loan rates in China posted their first decline for 2018 in the month of December, as Beijing maintained tight property and credit controls throughout the course of the year. Rong360 released its home rates report for December 2018 on 10 January, which pointed to an average first home loan rate in China of 5.68% in December, equal to 1.159 times the benchmark rate, for a decline of 0.53% compared to November and the first decline of the year.

Use of Securities as Collateral Plunges amidst Chinese Capital Market Deleveraging – China Banking News According to figures from Securities Journal since the fourth quarter of 2018 over 200 listed companies in China have issued public announcements declaring the removal of all or some equity collateral by key shareholders, with some companies making recourse to innovative methods such as equity transfer or collateral transfers. The number of such announcements issued since the start of 2019 had risen to over 30 by January 10, with several companies including Shenzhen Jinxinnong (金新农), Shanghai Kangda New Materials (康达新材) and Yaxia Automobile Corp. (亚夏汽车) declaring that the controlling shareholders had reduced their number of pledged shares to zero.

Vehicle Sales to Be Flat in 2019, Industry Body Says – Caixin Growth in China’s automobile sales are expected to be flat in 2019, following a year in which sales fell for the first time in more than two decades, an industry association said Monday. A total of 28.1 million automobiles — including both commercial and passenger vehicles — were sold in 2018, down 2.8%, according to the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers (CAAM). It was the first decline since the 1990s.

Huawei Canada Exec Quits as Scandal Continues to Embroil CompanyScott Bradley, Huawei Canada’s senior vice president for corporate affairs, disclosed his move in a post on job networking site LinkedIn. He didn’t give a reason but wrote “as we start 2019, it is time for a change.” He said he would continue to advise Huawei as requested by the management.

China Should Drop IPO Price Cap to Aid Stocks, Regulatory Official Says – Caixin The speech by Fang Xinghai, vice chairman of the China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC), bolsters expectations that the government will take additional measures to bolster a stock market plagued by thin trading and downtrodden sentiment. Fang said at a forum in Beijing on Saturday that the stock market’s main issue at present is there just isn’t enough trading. It’s a problem that regulators ought to remedy

Apple Rattled Markets With Warning About China. Who’s Next? – WSJ $$China looms larger for some companies. Of the 25 companies in the S&P 500 that disclosed China-specific sales for the September quarter, eight of them said the country contributed at least 20% of revenues. Apple reported about 20% of its sales came from China in its most recent fiscal year, ended Sept. 29, while Nike sold $1.5 billion of goods in the country in the quarter ended Nov. 30, or about $1 in every $6 of its total revenue

Viacom Weighs Majority Stake Sale of China Operations – WSJ $$ The talks have involved the potential sale of a majority share in Viacom’s channel brands, such as MTV and Nickelodeon, in China, an arrangement similar to the company’s joint venture with Reliance Industries Ltd. in India. Viacom sold Reliance the majority stake in the venture last year.

Restaurants face higher costs as food-delivery platforms hike fees, again · TechNode A spokesperson from Ele.me told TechNode that the commission fee has increased over the past year, in part, due to the economic slowdown. However, the company said the increases will not continue and it would work to lower them in 2019. Chinese food-delivery service Meituan Waimai controlled nearly 60% of the food-delivery market in the first half of 2018, followed by rivals Ele.me at 36% and Baidu Waimai with 3%, according to data from analytics firm Trustdata.


Politics, Law And Ideology

Zhou Yongkang, Bo Xilai among elite prisoners in China’s ‘tigers’ cage’ Qincheng growing vegetables and wearing suits | South China Morning Post While many of its inmates are household names in China, little is known about the conditions within the walls of the heavily guarded prison. But details have emerged from former guards and prisoners and the families of inmates, who have told the South China Morning Post on condition of anonymity about the treatment of corrupt cadres in the jail. Bo [Xilai], for example, is said to enjoy practising his calligraphy in letters to the authorities seeking to get his case reopened, according to a source close to his family… Bo, who was known for his flamboyant style before his downfall, has also apparently been given permission to wear Western suits instead of a prison uniform

In China, they’re closing churches, jailing pastors – and even rewriting scripture | The Guardian Researchers say the current drive, fuelled by government unease over the growing number of Christians and their potential links to the west, is aimed not so much at destroying Christianity but bringing it to heel. “The government has orchestrated a campaign to ‘sinicise’ Christianity, to turn Christianity into a fully domesticated religion that would do the bidding of the party,” said Lian Xi, a professor at Duke University in North Carolina, who focuses on Christianity in modern China.

织牢社会治安防控网—平安中国建设系列报道之一人民网   编者按:今天的中国,出行越来越放心,居家越来越安心。党的十九大以来,随着全面依法治国实践的持续推进,扫黑除恶专项斗争深入开展,社会治理“枫桥经验”创新发展,司法体制综合配套改革不断深化,“平安中国”这张暖心的国家名片更加亮丽。 如何进一步加强平安中国建设,让人民群众安全感满意度进一步提升?本报记者赴各地进行了深入采访。

Ailing Activist Huang Qi Tried in Secret in China’s Sichuan – RFA Authorities in the southwestern Chinese province of Sichuan on Monday put on trial veteran rights activist Huang Qi on state secrets charges, while detaining dozens of his supporters who tried to travel to the court buildings in Mianyang city. Huang, 56, stood trial beginning at 8.30 a.m. on charges of “leaking state secrets,” and “leaking state secrets overseas” at the Mianyang Intermediate People’s Court behind closed doors, amid a strong police presence outside the building.

Beijing adopts registration system for fireworks sales – Global Times Beijing will launch a real-name registration system for fireworks sales for the upcoming 2019 Spring Festival, a latest move for the city to enhance firework management.  “Every fireworks store will be equipped with equipment to read the customers’ identification cards. We can trace the buyer in case of an accident,” Tang Mingming, deputy director of the Beijing Emergency Management Bureau, told The Beijing Youth Daily.

牢牢把握清史研究话语权(构建中国特色哲学社会科学) – 周 群 – 《 人民日报 》( 2019年01月14日 09 版 A reminder in the Monday’s People’s Daily on the need for Chinese historians to control the narrative about Qing history, to prevent the evil Western historical nihilists from controlling an incorrect historical narrative


Foreign and Military Affairs

Axios Sneak Peek – Congress to push Trump on Uyghurs- January 13, 2019 Democratic Sen. Bob Menendez and Republican Sen. Marco Rubio plan to introduce this week the Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act, according to sources with direct knowledge. (They introduced a similar version of the bill late in the last Congress but didn’t have time to get it onto the Senate floor.)..

China Intensifies Lobbying to Thwart Criticism of Muslim Detentions - WSJ $$  The discussions started ahead of a November meeting on China’s human-rights policies—a regular peer-review discussion at the council—with the U.K. and the European Union among those approached by China, diplomats said. Following that meeting, where more than a dozen Western countries raised concerns about China’s treatment of its Muslim minorities in Xinjiang, Chinese efforts accelerated. 

'China is after us': Uighurs in Pakistan report intimidation | Al Jazeera  Despite Pakistan frequently highlighting the plight of Muslim minorities across the globe, when it comes to Uighurs, Islamabad does not wish to anger its powerful neighbour. The Uighurs in Pakistan know too well what goes on in China since many have family members who still reside in Xinjiang. Most have not been able to talk to them for the past two years because they have been held in the camps. "From our family, 300 people are inside [the camps]," Abdul Hameed says. "Even my brother is inside."

Senior CPC official meets Afghan president’s national security adviser – Xinhua Guo Shengkun, a member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, met with Afghan president’s national security adviser Hamdullah Mohib Friday in Beijing. Guo, also head of the Commission for Political and Legal Affairs of the CPC Central Committee, called on China and Afghan to implement the consensus reached by the two heads of state and continue to advance the strategic cooperative partnership between the two countries. China’s law enforcement and security departments stand ready to enhance cooperation with Afghan in counter-terrorism, border security, institution and personnel security, so as to safeguard security and development interests of the two countries, and promote regional peace and stability.

Competing Against Chinese Loans, U.S. Companies Face Long Odds – The New York Times In Uganda, all major decisions end up before Mr. Museveni. Officials jockey for his ear, and the president is adept at playing them off one another. That gave the Americans an opening. Despite naysaying by energy officials, Mr. Museveni liked the idea of balancing the Americans and Chinese in the oil industry, and he was intrigued by G.E.’s involvement, Ugandan officials said. Last January, he called the meeting at Lake Victoria and forced energy officials to sit down with Ms. Jandhyala and her partners. He then got cabinet approval. The deal was signed in April.

China unveils follow-up lunar exploration missions – Xinhua China will launch the Chang’e-5 probe by the end of this year to bring moon samples back to Earth, a senior official of the China National Space Administration (CNSA) announced Monday. The Chang’e-4 mission realized the first-ever soft-landing on the far side of the moon, and its success has inaugurated the fourth phase of China’s lunar exploration program.

China Focus: China, Finland vow to write new chapter in bilateral ties – Xinhua Chinese President Xi Jinping and his visiting Finnish counterpart Sauli Niinisto agreed to work together to write a new chapter in bilateral ties during their talks on Monday. Hailing that China and Finland have been committed to forging a future-oriented new-type of cooperative partnership in recent years, Xi said it is not only in line with both countries’ and people’s interests but also conducive to world peace, stability and prosperity that China and Finland enhance dialogue and cooperatio

Revealed: Hidden traps in SGR deal with China – Daily Nation Kenya’s key strategic assets at home and abroad will not be protected by “sovereignty” and risk being seized by the Chinese government should there be a default in repaying the Standard Gauge Railway loan, a copy of the contract seen by the Sunday Nation reveals. The initial agreement for the Mombasa-Nairobi railway signed on May 11, 2014 also details how the pact will be governed by Chinese laws with all disputes being arbitrated in Beijing.

US admiral visit a chance for dialogue – Global Times US Chief of Naval Operations Admiral John Richardson began his visit to China on Sunday with a focus on a “results-oriented, risk reduction” dialogue between the two militaries, according to a US Navy statement…It is definitely wrong if the US thinks it has more rights than China in the South China Sea and the Taiwan Straits. If dialogue fails to help Washington understand this, Beijing needs to take practical action to help the US correct its vision. ..China must have the ability to make rivals pay unbearable costs when the country is forced into offshore combat and also the unquestionable capability of strategic nuclear counterattack. This is the basis for the US to respect China’s core interests in the latter’s offshore waters, and China should not ever vacillate.

China’s ‘Underground Steel Great Wall’ capable of defeating hypersonic weapon attacks – China Military China’s “Underground Steel Great Wall” could “guarantee the security of the country’s strategic arsenal” against potential attacks, including those from future hypersonic weapons, Qian Qihu, recipient of the country’s highest science and technology award, told the Global Times. Qian, 82, an academician of both the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the Chinese Academy of Engineering, received the 2018 State Preeminent Science and Technology Award during a conference at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Tuesday.

China eyes to double recruitment of aircraft carrier cadet pilots – China Military More than 4,500 people have passed initial selection in China’s annual recruitment of aircraft carrier cadet pilots, almost twice as many as last year. With China’s second aircraft carrier widely expected to join the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy this year, the recruitment campaign is designed to ensure personnel to meet the needs of the aircraft carrier-borne fighter jet J-15.

China intelligence law a ‘known concern’ in Huawei 5G ban – GCSB Minister Andrew Little | RNZ News China’s National Intelligence Law brought in last year was a “known concern” that would also apply to other Chinese companies and individuals. “Any Chinese corporate or Chinese citizen can be compelled to co-operate and collaborate with Chinese intelligence,” he said. “Yes, that’s a known concern, I’m certainly familiar with it – it’s arisen in briefings that I’ve had and it’s a matter of public record.

Chinese version of NZ Herald edited translated stories to be more China-friendly | Stuff.co.nz The Chinese edition of the NZ Herald edited translated articles from the NZ Herald to put a better light on the Chinese government. It has also omitted articles entirely that discuss the Chinese Government in a negative way, in one case taking a much more sanitised version from a Chinese wire service.

China pledges easier access to Tibet for foreign tourists after US pressure | Reuters Qizhala, chairman of the regional Tibetan government, said in an annual work report published by the official Tibet Daily on Friday that visitor numbers would be increased by 50 per cent and waiting times for permits would be halved.

Sharp fall in China’s trade with North Korea as UN sanctions bite | AFPThe sanctions on trade in North Korea’s most valuable commodities sent bilateral trade plunging 52.4 per cent last year compared with 2017. China’s imports from its neighbour dropped 88 per cent in 2018 year on year to 1.42 billion yuan (US$210 million), while its exports slumped 33.3 per cent to 14.7 billion yuan (US$2.18 billion), according to Chinese customs administration spokesman Li Kuiwen.

U.S. Probes Boeing Satellite Deal Backed By China – WSJ $$ The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and the Commerce Department are investigating Boeing Co.’s BA relationship with a satellite startup backed by a Chinese government-owned firm, following an article by The Wall Street Journal on the matter last month. In a letter to the Los Angeles-based startup Global IP, the SEC requested that the company retain all documents about its work with Boeing and a number of other individuals and entities, including state-owned Chinese lender China Orient Asset Management Co.

Swedish defence agency warns satellite station could be serving Chinese military | South China Morning Post The Swedish Defence Research Agency (FOI), under the Ministry of Defence, on Sunday told broadcaster SVT that the nominally civilian cooperation with China could ultimately be controlled by the military. FOI researchers alleged that China could be using the station – which relays images of the artic regions – to complement military intelligence or provide additional military satellite surveillance should Chinese military satellites be disabled in a time of war.


Hong Kong, Macao

Denise Ho Confronts Hong Kong’s New Political Reality | The New YorkerAs Beijing chips away at the territory’s freedoms, the Cantopop singer has become its emblematic figure—embattled, emboldened, and unbeholden. By Jiayang Fan


Taiwan

China opposes foreign participation in Taiwan submarine production – Xinhua China on Monday expressed stern opposition to participation by the United States and other countries in Taiwan’s submarine production project. Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying made the remarks when responding to media reports saying the United States has permitted some of its military enterprises to export technology to help Taiwan build submarines.


Tech And Media

200 million resumes of Chinese jobseekers leaked, cybersecurity researcher says | South China Morning Post Bob Diachenko, a Ukraine-based security researcher with HackenProof, on December 28 found an open, unprotected database server containing detailed CVs from over 202 million Chinese users, he said in a post published this week. The resumes included sensitive information, from names to mobile numbers to marriage status to political affiliation.

WeChat’s Star Founder Seeks Second Act for China’s Super-App – Bloomberg “Allen really spent a lot of time trying to explain the philosophy behind the WeChat product during that four-hour speech,” said John Choi, an analyst with Daiwa Securities Group Inc. in Hong Kong. “It’s clear that they need to further enhance user engagement, as user growth is not going to be the key growth driver in the future.” While WeChat has been the star of China’s internet for years, newcomers like Bytedance Ltd. are now making things harder. The owner of Toutiao, Douyin and Tik Tok has become the world’s most valuable startup.

Renowned Journalist Says WeChat Account Plagiarized Her Story On Saturday, Wang Heyan, a senior reporter at financial news outlet Caixin, posted to her social feed on messaging app WeChat accusing Huang Zhijie, the owner of a WeChat public account covering politics and current affairs, of stealing her content. In doing so, Wang wrote, Huang had trivialized the monetary cost, personal risk, and hours of interviews that had gone into her work.

Chinese E-Commerce Retailers Cut iPhone Prices – Caixin Global E-commerce giant JD.com says Apple has given it the green light to reduce the prices of the 64GB iPhone 8 and the 64GB iPhone 8 Plus by more than 1000 yuan ($148) from the prices listed on Apple’s official China site, according to China Securities Journal.


Energy, Environment, Science And Health

Ignoring climate change in the Himalayas | The Third PoleThe Third Polethethirdpole.net’s Nepal editor Ramesh Bhushal and photographer Nabin Baral travelled along the Karnali River, which originates in southwestern Tibet and flows through Nepal into India. They accompanied a team of scientists, covering about 1,100 kilometres along the river over six weeks.


Agriculture And Rural Issues

China’s corn supply gap expected to expand – Xinhua Corn output for the period is expected to shrink 0.7 percent year on year to 257 million tonnes, while consumption will rise 5.5 percent to 285 million tonnes, according to a report by the Chinese Agriculture Outlook Committee, an advisory body under the ministry. In breakdown, corn used as animal feed will expand 3.5 percent year on year to 178 million tonnes, while industrial consumption of corn will increase 12.7 percent year on year to 84.5 million tonnes.

Dim Sums: Rural China Economics and Policy: Marxists Who Fear Revolution and Class Struggle Chinese communist party officials are engaged in an adventurous–but mostly unnoticed–“deep reform” of rural institutions: ambitious projects to clean up the socioeconomic mess in the long-neglected countryside and engineer a hybrid merger of socialist and capitalist institutions. Socialist institutions–fuzzy “collective” ownership, State domination of land and banking, concentration of resources in urban areas and barriers to urban citizenship–created the problems in the first place, but the communist party’s solution is to double down on these institutions designed 60 years ago and fuse them with capitalist market mechanisms instead of allowing something new to take their place. The Farmers Daily writer’s bottom line is that the countryside must be “harmonious” and “orderly” under a governance system featuring a “complete communist party organization.”


Books And Literature

Interview: Yan Lianke, Author Of Chinese Sci-Fi Allegory ‘The Day The Sun Died’ : NPR The newest novel by celebrated Chinese novelist Yan Lianke is a poetic nightmare that’s being compared with James Joyce’s Ulysses. The Day the Sun Died is set in the course of a single, perpetual summer day and night in which the inhabitants of a small village in China rise from their slumber and sleepwalk through town. They continue to work — thieves roam and rob, murderers romp, people fall into ditches and meet with excruciating farm accidents. Some take their own lives. But the government has declared a ban on burials, and the man who owns the local crematorium has also cornered the market on “corpse oil.” // The book on Amazon