Death sentence for a corrupt official; Jack Ma; WHO's China visa problem; United Front

There has been a bit of frenzy over the last day about the whereabouts of Jack Ma, with many reports saying that he is “missing” and some speculating he may have been detained. CNBC reported this morning that he is not “missing”, just laying low. That was my understanding, and why I ignored the reports yesterday, but at some point I imagine there will be calls for “proof of life”. And is he lying low not only from the regulators but also from the investors in and employees of Ant who are livid over the failed IPO, and now realize Ant will likely never get back to its mooted valuation?

Unsurprisingly, the final days of the Trump Administration are a mess, with its China policy looking like a driverless clown car careening into a ditch. The New York Stock Exchange reversed its decision to delist China Mobile Ltd., China Telecom Corp. and China Unicom Hong Kong Ltd, to the surprise of US officials -Mnuchin Told NYSE He Disagrees With Reversal on Chinese Stocks - Bloomberg:

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin called NYSE Group Inc. President Stacey Cunningham Tuesday to express his disapproval with the exchange’s surprise decision to spare three major Chinese telecommunications companies [China Mobile Ltd., China Telecom Corp. and China Unicom Hong Kong Ltd] from being delisted, according to two people familiar with the matter.

The exchange’s reversal caught some officials at the White House, Treasury and State departments off guard. It also sowed confusion among the regulators who had helped craft the order signed by President Donald Trump in November that requires American investors to unload Chinese businesses deemed as posing a threat to U.S. national security.

And outgoing Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tweeted about a pangolin’s nose in the Arctic:

A year after the COVID-19 outbreak the WHO was somehow still unable to arrange for visas for all the participants in the official WHO investigation into the origins. The mission was supposed to depart today but their visas are not yet approved, sparking grumbling from even WHO director general Tedros. Do PRC officials not understand that many of their actions look like they have something to hide, or do they just not care?

Lai Xiaomin, a fallen official who found time to run Huarong Asset Management while managing 100 or so mistresses and stashing three tons of cash, is the most senior official in years to be sentenced to death. Lai is a poster child for the pre-Xi Era of egregious and ostentatious corruption, and his biggest mistake appears to be not pulling back once the Xi Era began.

There is no word on the fate of his mistresses.

Today’s Essential Eight items:

  1. Death sentence for Lai Xiaomin

  2. Revised United Front rules

  3. WHO mission has visa issues

  4. Outbreak in Hebei

  5. EU-China

  6. Where are the senior female officials?

  7. New performance criteria for banks

  8. Overworked and underpaid

Thanks for reading.


The Essential Eight

1. Death sentence for Lai Xiaomin

Ex-chairman of China Huarong Asset Management sentenced to death for bribery | South China Morning Post

The former chairman of one of China’s top four state asset managers was sentenced to death on Tuesday for accepting 1.79 billion yuan (US$277 million) in bribes.

Lai Xiaomin, 58, was sentenced by the Tianjin No 2 Intermediate People’s Court after he was found guilty of taking bribes, corruption and bigamy, according to official news agency Xinhua.

“Although Lai had provided information about crimes committed by his subordinates … the court ruled that [he] did not deserve leniency after taking into account the serious damage his crimes have inflicted on society,” the court statement quoted by Xinhua said...

Lai is now the second former senior official facing the death penalty for corruption in China. Zhang Zhongsheng, former deputy mayor of Luliang in Shanxi province, was handed a death sentence in March 2018 for accepting 1.17 billion yuan in bribes. The verdict was confirmed in May 2019 but the execution is awaiting final approval from the Supreme People’s Court.

赖小民受贿、贪污、重婚案一审宣判————要闻——中央纪委国家监委网站

The official release on the Lai Xiaomin verdict

Tianjin No.2 Intermediate People's Court held that the defendant Lai Xiaomin's behavior constituted the crime of accepting bribes, corruption and bigamy. The amount of bribery crime in Lai Xiaomin is extremely large, the circumstances are particularly serious, and the subjective malignancy is extremely deep. Among the 22 cases of bribery crimes, there are three cases in which the amount of bribery crimes is above 200 million yuan, 400 million yuan and 600 million yuan respectively, and six cases in which the amount of bribery crimes is above 40 million yuan. At the same time, Lai Xiaomin has taken the initiative to ask for bribes from others, and provided help for the adjustment and promotion of other people's positions, and accepted other people's property and other circumstances with heavier punishment. In the criminal activities, Lai Xiaomin took advantage of the authority of the person in charge of the state-owned financial enterprise, decided the major projects of the company illegally, and intervened in specific projects to seek illegitimate interests for others, which endangered the national financial security and stability and had extremely bad social impact. Lai Xiaomin was lawless and extremely greedy. Most of the criminal acts occurred after the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China...They caused great losses to the interests of the country and the people, and caused great social harm and serious crimes, which should be severely punished according to law.

天津市第二中级人民法院认为,被告人赖小民的行为构成受贿罪、贪污罪、重婚罪。赖小民受贿犯罪数额特别巨大,情节特别严重,主观恶性极深。在二十二起受贿犯罪事实中,有三起受贿犯罪数额分别在2亿元、4亿元、6亿元以上,另有六起受贿犯罪数额均在4000万元以上。同时,赖小民具有主动向他人索取贿赂和为他人职务调整、提拔提供帮助收受他人财物等从重处罚情节。赖小民在犯罪活动中,利用国有金融企业负责人的职权,违规决定公司重大项目,越级插手具体项目,为他人谋取不正当利益,危害国家金融安全和金融稳定,社会影响极其恶劣。赖小民目无法纪,极其贪婪,大部分犯罪行为均发生在党的十八大之后,属于典型的不收敛、不收手、顶风作案,并使国家和人民利益遭受特别重大损失,社会危害极大,罪行极其严重,依法应予严惩。

Caixin 2018 - Exclusive: Fallen Chief of Bad-Asset Manager Had Tons of Cash — Literally

Three tons of cash stashed at home.

A 300 million yuan ($43.4 million) bank account under his mother’s name...

A real estate subsidiary of Huarong once developed 120 properties in the city of Zhuhai, Guangdong province, 100 of which Lai gave to his ex-wife and many mistresses, sources told Caixin.

Many of his mistresses also received management positions at Huarong subsidiaries. There was a rule of sorts: The longer a woman’s relationship with Lai, the higher the position they could get, Caixin has learned.

Lai, according to people close to him, has a special love for cash. Authorities have discovered 3 tons of cash worth of 270 million yuan in different currencies at his properties in Beijing, Caixin has learned.

More than 100 mistresses.

The fallen Lai Xiaomin once said that he would have preferred a career in politics to running China Huarong Asset Management Co. Ltd., but since he had the job, he would “stay and enjoy it.”

Comment: And this is what Caixin was allowed to report…


2. Revised United Front regulations

CPC publishes revised regulations on united front work - Xinhua

The CPC Central Committee issued the previous version of the regulations in May 2015 for trial implementation, which has played important roles in consolidating and developing the united front, said the circular.

The revision was made at a meeting of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee in November 2020.

It was a significant move to strengthen the construction of the united front system and reflects the requirements put forward by the new situation and new tasks, according to the United Front Work Department of the CPC Central Committee.

The revised regulations are of great importance as they bring together the will and strength of the people to fully build a modern socialist country and realize the Chinese Dream of national rejuvenation, the department said.

中共中央印发《中国共产党统一战线工作条例》--新闻报道-人民网

Full text of the new regulations

Compared with the previous one published in 2015, the new regulation has two separate new chapters specifically on united front work for “new social class” and overseas Chinese (新的社会阶层人士统一战线工作 and 海外统一战线工作和侨务工作).

中共中央印发《中国共产党统一战线工作条例》_CCTV

Tuesday CCTV Evening News on the new United Front regulations

The "Regulations" are divided into general rules, organizational leadership and responsibilities, work of democratic parties and personages without party affiliation, work of non-party intellectuals, ethnic work, religious work, United front work in the non-public sector of the economy, United front work of new social strata, United front work in Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan, overseas United front work and overseas Chinese affairs work, team building of non-party representatives, self-construction, guarantee and supervision of United front departments, and supplementary provisions, with a total of 14 chapters and 61 articles.

《条例》分总则、组织领导和职责、民主党派和无党派人士工作、党外知识分子工作、民族工作、宗教工作、非公有制经济领域统一战线工作、新的社会阶层人士统一战线工作、港澳台统一战线工作、海外统一战线工作和侨务工作、党外代表人士队伍建设、统战部门自身建设、保障和监督、附则,共14章61条。

【权威解读】六问《中国共产党统一战线工作条例》

The United Front Work department said in a statement that the revision is to centralize the Party’s leadership on united front work and said:

"Added a chapter on "United front work of new social strata", emphasizing the need to adhere to the ideas of trust and respect, unity and guidance, organization and play a role, and give play to the important role of new social strata in building socialism with Chinese characteristics; A chapter on "Overseas United Front Work and Overseas Chinese Affairs Work" has been added, emphasizing that we should devote ourselves to maintaining and promoting China's reunification, realizing the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation, enhancing the friendly cooperation and exchanges between the Chinese people and the people of the world, and promoting the building of a community of human destiny."

增加了“新的社会阶层人士统一战线工作”一章,强调要坚持信任尊重、团结引导、组织起来、发挥作用的思路,发挥新的社会阶层人士在建设中国特色社会主义事业中的重要作用;增加了“海外统一战线工作和侨务工作”一章,强调要致力于维护和促进中国统一,实现中华民族伟大复兴,增进中国人民与世界人民的友好合作交流,推动构建人类命运共同体。

Background - Magic Weapons: China's political influence activities under Xi Jinping | Wilson Center - Anne-Marie Brady 2017

In September 2014 Xi Jinping gave a speech on the importance of united front work—political influence activities—calling it one of the CCP’s “magic weapons”.

December 26 - 中央统战部新闻发言人就美国某些政客污名化统一战线发表谈话--中国统一战线新闻网--人民网

A spokesperson of the Central United Front Work Department made a speech on the stigmatization of the United front by some American politicians

We attach importance to the role of overseas Chinese and international students as a bridge between China and foreign countries, aiming at promoting normal non-governmental cultural exchanges, developing friendly relations, enhancing mutual understanding and friendship, never interfering in other countries' internal affairs, and never exporting ideology or social system.

The spokesman said that lies will eventually be exposed, and justice is in the hearts of the people. The activities of the United Front Work Department of the Central Committee are carried out openly in the sun. No matter how many absurd arguments such as "conspiracy theory" and "infiltration theory" are thrown by anti-China politicians such as Pompeo, the goal of the Chinese Communist Party to unite all forces that can be United and commit itself to the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation will not change; The efforts of the Chinese Party and government to enhance friendly exchanges with people from all over the world, to safeguard world peace and development, and to jointly build a community of human destiny will not change.

我们重视发挥广大海外侨胞和留学生融通中外的桥梁纽带作用,旨在促进中国与世界各国开展正常民间人文交流、发展友好关系,增进相互理解和友谊,从不干涉别国内政,从不输出意识形态或社会制度

发言人说,谎言终将揭穿,公道自在人心。中央统战部的活动都是在阳光下堂堂正正开展的。无论蓬佩奥等反华政客抛出多少所谓“阴谋论”“渗透论”等荒谬论调,中国共产党团结一切可以团结的力量致力于中华民族伟大复兴的目标都不会改变;中国党和政府增进与世界各国人民的友好交往,致力于维护世界和平与发展,共同构建人类命运共同体的努力都不会改变。


3. WHO mission has visa issues

China blocks entry to WHO team studying Covid's origins |The Guardian

China has blocked the arrival of a team from the World Health Organization investigating the origins of the coronavirus pandemic, claiming that their visas had not yet been approved even as some members of the group were on their way.

The WHO’s director general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, expressed his dismay and said he had called on China to allow the team in. “I’m very disappointed with this news, given that two members have already begun their journeys, and others were not able to travel at the last minute,” he said.

“But I have been in contact with senior Chinese officials. And I have once again made made it clear that the mission is a priority for WHO and the international team.”

China doubles down on COVID narrative as WHO investigation looms | Reuters

political issues mean they are unlikely to be given much leeway to investigate one hypothesis, that the outbreak was caused by a leak at the Wuhan Institute of Virology, said MacIntyre.

“I think it is unlikely all viruses in the lab at the time will be made available to the team,” she said. “So I do not think we will ever know the truth.”

WHO ‘very disappointed’ China has not finalized visas for team investigating origins of coronavirus - The Washington Post

“We were all operating on the understanding that the team would begin deployment today,” WHO expert Mike Ryan said during Tuesday’s briefing, adding, “In the meantime, it became clear that the necessary approvals had not been gotten, particularly, specifically, in regards to visa clearances.”


4. Outbreak in Hebei

Hebei enters 'wartime' mode for COVID-19 prevention after 19 confirmed cases - Global Times

North China's Hebei Province, which is adjacent to Beijing, announced entering "wartime" mode on Tuesday night after the province revealed 19 confirmed coronavirus cases and 40 asymptomatic ones since Saturday. It has started nucleic acid testing for all personnel and inspection of the cold-chain food industry.

Hebei authorities vow to control COVID-19 outbreak as soon as possible, prevent the export of cases and become moat of capital Beijing at a press conference on Tuesday.

Hebei village becomes only COVID-19 high-risk area in China - Global Times

Health authorities on Tuesday raised the COVID-19 emergency level to “high risk” for a village in the Hebei Province capital of Shijiazhuang. The North China village of Xiaoguozhuang is currently the only high-risk area in China.

Xiaoguozhuang Village reported eight new locally transmitted cases on Tuesday. The first COVID-19 case found in Hebei Province on Sunday was from the village

Dalian punishes 5 officials for violating epidemic prevention rules - Global Times

Despite the recent spike in COVID-19 cases and "fake negatives" looming over the city of Dalian in Northeast China's Liaoning Province, several government officials were still found to be neglecting their duties and even breaking epidemic prevention and control regulations. On Tuesday, two cases reportedly saw five officials punished for organizing private gatherings while in quarantine and disobeying anti-virus rules.

全国多地建议春节非必要不返乡 钟南山、张伯礼、曾光这样说 _中国经济网——国家经济门户

More cities and officials are suggesting that migrant workers not return home over Spring Festival unless they have to, to reduce the risk of COVID spread

Beijing Institutes 21-Day Quarantine Policy Over Coronavirus Scare - SixthTone

At a press conference Tuesday, city officials said people entering the Chinese capital from abroad must quarantine for 21 days — seven days longer than the city’s previous policy. While the first 14 days must be spent at a government-designated facility, the remaining week can be completed at a private residence with approval from local authorities.

China vaccinates up to thousands every day as winter spurs COVID-19 spread - Global Times

Given the goal of vaccinating 50 million people ahead of the 2021 Spring Festival holidays, cities including Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen in South China's Guangdong Province, Lüliang in North China's Shanxi Province, and Linyi in East China's Shandong Province have already started mass inoculations of vaccines, covering nine key groups of people. Beijing has vaccinated in total 73,537 people across 220 inoculation venues since the mass vaccinations began on Friday.

Related venues in other cities vaccinate on average 100 to 2,000 people each day, some local medics in Shandong and Shanxi told the Global Times on Monday...

Compared to some chaotic and disorderly vaccine distribution scenarios in certain cities and states across the US, such as Florida, Chinese cities have been rolling out large-scale vaccinations in an orderly fashion

Beijing to complete COVID-19 inoculation for key groups before Spring Festival - Xinhua

"I'm glad to receive the vaccine for I'm in charge of cold-chain food transportation. I feel much safer now," said a vaccinee surnamed Tong at a temporary vaccination site in Beijing's Chaoyang District.

Shanghai medical workers can raise alarms - China Daily

Medical workers are entitled to report suspected cases of new types of contagions to the local health authority, and those who raise false alarms due to errors of judgment will be exempted from legal liability, according to new measures rolled out in Shanghai...

"But they need to make sure that they report suspected cases to the health authorities rather than disseminate information to the public before the government has the chance to investigate and reach a conclusion"


5. EU-China

A must read from Noah Barkin on the China-EU CAI deal -Watching China in Europe Newsletter | January 2021

China seems to be the only country that is crystal clear about what just happened. After a year in which it showed a disturbing face to the world with its COVID-19 cover-up, its security crackdown in Hong Kong, its Xinjiang denial, and the bullying of too many countries to count, it has been given the biggest Christmas gift of all. There is a Santa Claus after all. He resides in Europe, and he doesn’t seem to care whether you’ve been naughty or nice. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, whose late-summer European charm offensive ended in disaster after he threatened a Czech politician for visiting Taiwan, was jubilant at the outcome. “China and the EU are comprehensive strategic partners, not systemic rivals,” he declared..

This deal exposes the transatlantic divide in three ways. First, it shows that the EU, with Germany leading the way, still believes that economic and broader strategic interests can be neatly separated—an idea that is no longer accepted in Washington..

Second, the deal shows that European capitals still see value in Chinese promises, despite evidence in recent years—Hong Kong, the South China Sea, Xi in Davos—that they are often tactical and empty. This belief is what allows the EU to hail China’s language on SOEs, subsidies and forced labor (“continued and sustained efforts”!) as victories...

With Germany, France, and the European Commission firmly behind the agreement, it is difficult to see it unravelling in 2021. Having embraced strategic autonomy, the EU will be determined not to bow to inevitable pressure from the Biden administration. But one thing is certain: China’s behavior over the course of the year will be seen through the prism of this agreement. If Beijing continues down its current path, opposition to the deal in the European Parliament is likely to harden

黄平:中国对欧洲让步太多?与世界融合符合中国发展利益

Guancha interview Huang Ping, of the Institute of European Studies, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, on the CAI:

Our 14th Five-Year Plan proposes high-quality development, dual-circulation development and new energy, science and technology innovation and other strategies, and many of the contents of the China-EU investment agreement are highly cross-cutting and highly compatible. China's market access to Europe is clearer and more open, and European investment in China is also more open, more transparent and more relaxed, which is actually consistent with our basic goal of high-quality, dual-circulation.

So, some people worry that China is giving up too much, I do not think so. The China-EU investment agreement negotiations have made China's entire economic development more integrated with the outside world, more open and more regulated at the same time, and at the same time help our high-quality development, enhance our competitiveness and make us more dynamic. The more uncertain and competitive the external world is, the more open we should be, not closed to competition.

Our first 40 years were spent on high speed development, the next stage is high quality development. The new EU team is also going to do a lot on climate change and new energy, which is precisely what we want to do, in line with our current development interests and development goals. There are many areas where China can cooperate with the European market and technology, and through this cooperation there is a greater possibility of win-win and multi-win.

‘We need a real policy for China’: Germany ponders post-Merkel shift | Financial Times $$

Trump-style “decoupling” of economic links was never going to be an option for Germany. Ms Merkel has strongly resisted any tendency to see China as an adversary, in a replay of the old cold war between the west and the USSR. “If we have this continental drifting apart of our nations, populations, and public opinion and so forth, that is a concern,” says Jörg Wuttke, a German businessman and head of the EU Chamber of Commerce in China. “[This] is not the Soviet Union, where you basically had a common border but no other interest. We have no border with China, but we have huge global supply chains and economic interests.”

Yet the hope of some of Merkel’s camp — that economic engagement would open China up politically — has failed to pay off.

POLITICO Brussels Playbook: China hawks prey — Third time, not that charming — 2021 in cyberspace – POLITICO

Parliament still needs to ratify the deal, but as the deal stands, that’s a tall order. The Commission may have underestimated “how deep the mistrust of Chinese authorities is in the Parliament,” Glucksmann said.

Not everyone’s (such) a critic: “The deal contains some of the most ambitious provisions China has ever agreed to, particularly on market access and level playing field … The real issue on the table is that of the ILO core conventions,” said Iuliu Winkler, another vice chair of the trade committee, from the European People’s Party. Winkler added that EU negotiators had “secured more than any other international actor” on sustainable development.

Wang Yi Meets with Cypriot Foreign Minister Nicos Christodoulides

On January 4, 2021 local time, State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi made a stopover in Cyprus on his official trip to Africa and met with Cypriot Foreign Minister Nicos Christodoulides at the latter's request...

Wang Yi said Cyprus is an important member of the European Union (EU). China regards the EU as a major force for a multi-polar world. Consensuses between China and the EU outweigh differences, as the two sides are cooperative partners, rather than systemic rivals. China and the EU should understand each other, respect the choice made by the people of the other side, expand common interests and enhance mutual trust. Last year, important progress has been made in the China-EU relations as the two sides signed the Agreement on Geographical Indications, agreed to build green and digital partnerships, and declared the completion of the negotiations for the China-EU Comprehensive Agreement on Investment, which has injected new impetus for deepening the China-EU comprehensive strategic partnership and promoting world economic recovery. The China-EU relations should not be affected by external interference, but continue to advance towards win-win cooperation. He hopes the Cypriot side will play an active role in pushing forward the China-EU relations...

The Cypriot side strictly adheres to the one-China policy, supports international cooperation under the Belt and Road Initiative, and supports the EU in advancing its relations with China. Cyprus and China both advocate multilateralism and oppose unilateral acts. The Cypriot side always believes China's participation and support are needed to tackle global challenges. It appreciates China's impartial position with regard to the Cyprus issue.


6. Where are the senior female officials?

Pretty Lady Cadres | ChinaFile - Shen Lu

According to the state-sponsored All-China Women’s Federation, women comprise 37.5 percent of the 4 million members of the Party’s neighborhood and village committees, which enforce Party mandates and maintain social order. But, the higher women move up the rungs of government hierarchy, the fewer their female peers. Less than 9 percent of Party secretaries and heads of local governments at the provincial, municipal, and county levels are women. At the county level, women make up 9.33 percent of leadership, 5.29 percent at the city-level, and 3.23 percent at the provincial level. ChinaFile calculated these numbers by aggregating biographical information on Chinese government personnel from a database maintained by The People’s Daily. This data was last updated in 2017...

Currently, out of China’s 31 provincial governors, only two are women. In November, Shen Yiqin was promoted to Party secretary of Guizhou province, becoming China’s sole female provincial Party secretary, a position that is “the most important stepping stone to a Politburo seat,” according to Cheng Li, director of The Brookings Institution’s China Center. The two female provincial governors and one Party secretary make 4.84 percent of all governors and secretaries, an improvement from just the two governors, or 3.23 percent, in 2017.


7. New performance criteria for banks

China Moves Performance Goal Posts for Banks - Caixin

China’s state-owned commercial banks face new performance benchmarks as the government encourages them to support the economic and development policies set by leadership of the ruling Communist Party.

Lenders will now be evaluated using four broad criteria: serving national development goals and the real economy, achieving high-quality development, controlling and preventing risks, and improving operational efficiency, according to the document Measures for the Performance Evaluation of Commercial Banks released Monday by the Ministry of Finance. The new indicators replace the categories of profitability, business growth, asset quality and solvency, the ministry said.

“As China’s economic development enters a new normal, limitations in the current performance evaluation methods for commercial banks have become more prominent,” the ministry said in a statement explaining the new rules. “This requires the further improvement of the current evaluation system to focus on the new concepts that finance should serve the real economy and the country’s innovation-oriented development.” The measures took effect Jan. 1...

Banks included in the new appraisal system are state-owned and state-controlled commercial lenders, although other commercial banks can also refer to the guidelines, the ministry said in its statement. Lenders will be evaluated on an annual basis and the results will be factored into the annual reviews of top bank executives, helping to determine their salaries as well as overall salary levels at the banks they lead.

The rules - 关于印发《商业银行绩效评价办法》的通知


8. Overworked and underpaid

Overtime Culture Back in Spotlight After Pinduoduo Employee’s Death - SixthTone

Pinduoduo faced a wave of online backlash after an image appearing to be a screenshot from the company’s official account on Q&A platform Zhihu went viral for reasons that were not intended. “Look at those in the underclass: Who isn’t exchanging life for money? I’ve never thought of this as a problem of capital, but rather as a problem of this society. We live in an era where we spend our whole lives working hard.”

A Pinduoduo spokesperson told Sixth Tone on Monday that the post was fake. Zhihu, however, said Pinduoduo’s account had indeed published the post before later deleting it. This in turn prompted an apology from Pinduoduo, which explained that an employee at the third-party firm that manages Pinduoduo’s social media accounts had mistakenly posted the comment from Pinduoduo’s official account rather than his personal account...

A former Pinduoduo employee who left the company a year ago told Sixth Tone under condition of anonymity that excessive work hours were common practice. Around eight months after he joined Pinduoduo in early 2019, he said employees were told they needed to work at least 300 hours per month — amounting to nearly 12 hours per day, six days a week.

Trending in China: Tired of 996? Get Ready for 715 and the Return of China’s ‘Evil Capitalists’ - Caixin Global

The sad story of the death of a 22-year-old Pinduoduo employee has honed online attention on “996” work culture in China, which entails people working from 9am to 9pm 6 days a week. Now, a screenshot from the Weibo account of Jia Guolong, CEO of Xibei Canyin (西贝餐饮), has got people talking about a different set of numbers, referring to “715” work culture. In the screenshot Jia wrote that people should work 15 hours 7 days a week, a sentiment that has since gone viral on Chinese social media.

Death of Chinese tech worker at Pinduoduo sparks anger over brutal hours - The Washington Post

Rui Ma, a San Francisco-based tech analyst, said there has been discontent for years over harsh work schedules in China’s high-tech industry, but the anger has deepened as the so-called “996” schedule — short for 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., six days a week — has remained entrenched, despite the industry’s growing stature and resources.

“The outrage only reached a crescendo in the last few years,” she said. “If you want to work in this industry, it does not feel like there are many options to opt out of 996.”

China state news agency urges end to long work hours in tech - AP

Last month’s tragedy refocused attention on “the pain of an abnormal culture of overtime,” Xinhua said in a brief editorial posted Tuesday on its Twitter-like Weibo account.

Dreams should be pursued through striving, but workers’ legitimate rights and interests should not be sacrificed and employers may be breaking the law in encouraging health-sapping overwork, Xinhua said.


Business, Economy and Trade

Alibaba founder Jack Ma is lying low for the time being, but he's not missing - CNBC After reports speculating about Alibaba founder Jack Ma’s whereabouts, CNBC’s David Faber reported Tuesday that the billionaire is not missing, according to a person familiar with the matter. Instead, Ma has been lying low for the time being, Faber reported.

金融支持小微加码:两项直达货币政策工具延期至3月底|贷款_新浪财经_新浪网 As of Dec 31, 2020, Chinese banks had agreed to postpone repayment of 6 trillion RMB in loans from firms and issued 3 trillion RMB in “micro loans” to prop finances of struggling companies. The 21st Century Business Herald learned exclusively that the two policies - loan repayment postponement and micro loan policy - would continue into the end of March.

政府过“紧日子”,让人民过上好日子——财政部部长刘昆详解2021年积极的财政政策-新华网 The government will “tighten its belt” so that people can live well, finance minister Liu Kun said in an interview with Xinhua. Liu said that a “proactive” fiscal policy would continue in 2021, so would tax reduction and central government subsidies. Meanwhile, Liu expressed concerns over rising debt, saying he would “pay close attention and remain highly vigilant”

12部门发文促消费 汽车消费等再迎政策支持 _ 证券时报网 On January 5, the Ministry of Commerce and other 12 departments jointly issued the "Notice on Several Measures to Boost Key Consumption and Promote the Release of Rural Consumption Potential." The "Notice" starts from stabilizing and expanding auto consumption, promoting consumption of home appliances, furniture, and home decoration, boosting catering consumption, making up for shortcomings in rural consumption, and strengthening policy guarantees

China Stock Index Tops 2015 Bubble Peak, Closes at 13-Year High - Bloomberg The CSI 300 Index rose 1.9% at the close on Tuesday, surpassing the 5,353.75-point mark from June 8, 2015. That is its highest since 2008. The gauge has surged more than 50% since a low in March last year, a rally that accelerated after Beijing made it easier to buy stocks using borrowed money. That advance helped push the value of China’s domestic equities to a record $11 trillion.

China lifts yuan midpoint by most since revaluation in 2005 | Reuters The People’s Bank of China (PBOC) set the midpoint rate at 6.4760 per dollar prior to the market open, 648 pips, or 1.0%, firmer than the previous fix of 6.5408.

China's tweaks to CFETS index basket could drive yuan higher - analysts | Reuters The basket adjustment was largely in line with trade volume, traders said, ensuring China isn’t disadvantaged on exchange rates versus its trading partners. China has adjusted the CFETS basket three times since it introduced the trade-weighted yuan exchange-rate index in December 2015 to better reflect external trade conditions.

China Loosens Capital Account Restrictions for Renminbi Revenue Usage - China Banking News On 4 January the Chinese central bank in tandem with the Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM), the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission (CBIRC), the State Administration of Foreign Exchange (SAFE) and the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) jointly issued the “Notice on Further Optimising Cross-border Renminbi Policy and Supporting the Stabilisation of Foreign Trade and Foreign Investment” // 六部门:联合发布《关于进一步优化跨境人民币政策 支持稳外贸稳外资的通知》_中国经济网——国家经济门户

Covid has bolstered China’s global dominance of steel | Financial Times $$ In the period to the end of November, China’s share of global production was 57.5 per cent, according to a MySteel analysis of data from the World Steel Association. That compares with 53.3 per cent in all of 2019...And while steel output in China is expected to remain high, it may not necessarily surpass last year’s level. The country’s official news agency Xinhua reported in late December that Xiao Yaqing, minister of industry and information technology, said that China would “resolutely cut the output of crude steel and ensure it falls year on year in 2021”.

Is China Big? Does That Matter? - Syncretica China has very little in the way of high quality iron deposits and is the only game in town in imports, Australia in turn is the only game in town in exports. Brazil has been, at least for the decade I have covered companies in this space, the once and future supply expansion that never arrives. Australia and China are stuck with each other for now. There are longer term questions for Australia to ask like “how realistic is it that China will continue to consume steel at three times the rate of Japan and Korea on a per capita basis while its population shrinks” but I will leave that for another day.

China increases import quota for Australian wool - Global Times According to China's free trade agreements with Australia and New Zealand, China has set the import quota for wool and wool top from the two countries in 2021, China's Ministry of Commerce and Chinese Customs said in a joint statement. According to the statement, the import quota for New Zealand wool and wool top is 36,936 tons and 665 tons, respectively, while the quota for Australian wool is 38,288 tons.

Regulator Punishes Local Bank for Unfair Competition in Bond Underwriting - Caixin Shenzhen-listed Bank of Ningbo Co. Ltd. has been suspended from doing interbank bond-related business for two months as the National Association of Financial Market Institutional Investors (NAFMII) accused the local lender of underwriting a number of bond issues with coupon rates well below reasonable valuations since 2020

China Makes Rating Firm Pay for Debt Defaults for First Time - Bloomberg Dagong Global Credit Rating Co. is responsible for repaying up to 10% of at least 494 million yuan of combined debt claims to more than 400 individual bondholders of Wuyang Construction Group Co., according to a ruling by Hangzhou Intermediate People’s Court dated Thursday and seen by Bloomberg News.

海外人才加速回流:归国求职数量暴增七成,新一线城市“花式”揽才 - 21财经 21CBH - Accelerating the return of overseas talents: the number of returnees seeking jobs soars by 70%


Politics and Law

Chinese Communist Party introduces new rules on what members can say as it ‘boosts internal democracy’ | South China Morning Post The revised rule book says cadres can make complaints about their superiors but are prohibited from airing them in public They are also banned from expressing opinions that are ‘not consistent’ with the decisions of the central leadership

CPC ensures proper exercising of Party members' rights - Xinhua In accordance with the Party Constitution, the regulations listed the rights enjoyed by Party members in 13 aspects, including their rights to know, benefit from Party education and training, participate in discussions, offer suggestions and proposals, oversee Party affairs, call for dismissal or replacement, participate in voting, stand for election, plead their cases, voice disagreements, and submit requests, appeals and accusations.

在线访谈丨中央纪委国家监委法规室主任邹开红解读新修订的《中国共产党党员权利保障条例》——中纪委视频页面——中央纪委国家监委网站 For those who want a deeper look at the new "Regulations on Safeguarding the Rights of CPC Members", the director of the CCDINSC legislative office discusses the changes in this 28 minute video

李书磊任中央党校(国家行政学院)副校(院)长 分管日常工作-新华网 57 year old Li Shulei, who is said to be an author of the 19th party congress report, is now executive Vice President of the central party school, replacing the 68-year-old He Yiting 何毅亭 who will retire. Li worked long time in the central party school, briefly in Fujian and Beijing government, and three years in the corruption watchdog CCDI

人事观察|北京两女常委交接 齐静、孙梅君分管政法委、统战部_政经频道_财新网 Two female members of the Standing Committee of the Beijing Municipal Committee handed over their positions, Qi Jing was transferred from the Minister of United Front Work of the Municipal Committee to the Secretary of the Political and Legal Committee, and Sun Meijun, the new member of the Standing Committee of the Municipal Committee, took over as the Minister of United Front Work

陈全国:深入学习贯彻习近平总书记重要讲话精神 以新疆工作的优异成绩庆祝建党100周年--新闻报道-人民网 Chen Quanguo: In-depth study and implementation of General Secretary Xi Jinping’s important speech to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the founding of the party with outstanding achievements in Xinjiang // Comment: Making sure the 100th anniversary year goes well is clearly a top political task

陈敏尔:牢固树立大抓基层的鲜明导向 以实干实绩庆祝建党100周年--新闻报道-人民网 Chen Miner: Establish a clear direction to firmly grasp the grassroots level and celebrate the 100th anniversary of the founding of the party with practical achievements

陈一新:发挥“六大作用” 深入推进扫黑除恶 1月4日,中央政法委秘书长、全国扫黑办主任陈一新主持召开第12次全国扫黑办主任会议...会议强调,为期三年的扫黑除恶专项斗争即将收官,常态化扫黑除恶即将展开。今后对涉黑恶违法犯罪要打早打小、露头就打,持续改善社会治安环境,确保城乡更安宁、群众更安乐。// On January 4, Chen Yixin, Secretary-General of the Central Political and Legal Affairs Commission and Director of the National Anti-gang Office, presided over the 12th National Anti-gang Office Directors' Meeting... The meeting emphasized that the three-year special campaign for anti-gang crimes is coming to an end and will be normalized. Sweeping the black and evil is about to begin. In the future, we will fight against criminals involving gangs as early as possible. We will continue to improve the public security environment to ensure more tranquility in urban and rural areas and greater happiness for the people.

2020 in Review: A Norm-Breaking Year at the NPC - NPC Observer the NPCSC’s transparency in 2020 suffered a serious blow. It held nine sessions this year—a record high in recent memory. But for none of the multiday sessions did it release a complete agenda and daily schedule at the start of the session, contrary to its usual practice. The public thus could only rely on news reports citing anonymous resources—which are oftentimes vague and not always accurate—to get a sense of what was going on inside the Great Hall of the People. In 2020, the NPCSC also stopped holding post-session press conferences, at which it used to invite senior legislators and government officials to discuss important new bills. Even the pandemic is not a good excuse for canceling the press conferences after the virus had been largely under control in China.

"China Maritime Report No. 12: Sansha City in China's South China Sea S" by Zachary Haver Since 2012, each level of the Chinese party-state system has worked to develop Sansha, improving the city’s physical infrastructure and transportation, communications, corporate ecosystem, party-state institutions, and rights defense system. In effect, the city’s development has produced a system of normalized administrative control. This system ultimately allows China to govern contested areas of the South China Sea as if they were Chinese territory.

Year in Review: Drive to Overturn Wrongful Convictions Gains Momentum - Caixin This year, multiple provincial high courts overturned wrongful imprisonments. Some acquittals came just days after initial verdicts and other victims only saw their names cleared after being behind bars for decades.

Duowei - 被指是浙江前书记车俊胞弟 安徽政法系高官车建军被免职|多维新闻|中国 Che Jianjun, former deputy party secretary of the commission of political and legal affairs in Anhui province, is put under investigation for corruption. He is said to be the brother of Che Jun, an ally of Xi and former party boss of Zhejiang.

Gao Zhisheng's Sister Dies 'in Despair' Over Treatment of Family — Radio Free Asia The sister of "disappeared" Chinese rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng has committed suicide, out of despair at her family's treatment at the hands of the ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP), RFA has learned.

Duowei - 中共将军李继耐之子李磊被查 母亲系航天军事专家[图]|多维新闻|中国 The Supervision Committee of Yunnan Provincial Commission for Discipline Inspection released a notice on December 25, Beijing time, saying that Li Lei, assistant to the former governor of Yunnan Province, was under investigation for serious duty violations. Some Hong Kong media said that Li Lei is the son of Li Jinai, former member of the Central Military Commission of the Communist Party of China and former director of the General Political Department of the People's Liberation Army

【中国之治@文化解码】网格化社会治理方式的历史性及本质--理论-人民网 Historicity and essence of grid-based social governance - Wang Zhuo, Professor, School of Public Administration, Sichuan University // Grid-based social governance is a vivid practice of the mass line in the new era. The mass line is the fundamental working line of "all for the masses, all relying on the masses, coming from the masses, going to the masses" formed by the Chinese Communists, mainly represented by Mao Zedong, during the long-term revolution and construction. In the new historical period, the innovation of the masses' line and leading the masses to develop and get rich are the inevitable requirements to realize the modernization of the national governance system and governance capacity. With the economic transition and social transformation, many problems and contradictions have led to poor contact between the party and the people or even "obstruction", and the mass line has also become detached from the masses. For this reason, grid-based social governance was born, which is dedicated to strengthening the communication between Party and government organs at all levels and the people, readjusting and optimizing the ways and means of the mass line, transforming the correct proposition of the Party into the conscious action of the masses and the advantages of the new mass line into the effectiveness of grid-based social governance through building and sharing a social governance community together.

NPCSC Passes New Criminal Law Amendment, Revises National Defense Law & Juvenile Delinquency Prevention Law & Establishes Hainan IP Court - NPC Observer The 13th NPC Standing Committee (NPCSC) concluded its 24th session on Saturday, December 26, 2020 and adopted six bills. Below, we will summarize them in varying levels of detail. Contrary to previous Hong Kong media reports, the NPCSC did not take any Hong Kong-related action at its session last week

Is the CCP guilty of crimes against humanity? - Standpoint - Charles Parton Moreover Xi’s vision of a new Zhonghua minzu (usually translated as “Chinese nation”, but “Chinese race” is closer) is central to his “China Dream” and ideology—and ideology is central to his mission. At the 2014 Central Ethnic Work Conference and two months ago at the 7th Tibet Work Forum, Xi declared that “cultural identity is the foundation and long-term basis for strengthening the great unity of the Chinese nation”. “Other” is anathema to Xi, who called for enhancing “the recognition of Chinese culture by the people of all ethnic groups, better inheriting Chinese cultural genes in the  new era, nourishing Chinese cultural blood”. And “culture” is a highly political term, closely linked to “Socialism with Chinese characteristics”. “Culture” requires you to align with the Party. Its importance to Xi can be seen from his addition of “cultural confidence” to the “4 Confidences”, a crucial part of the CCP canon. If all that seems abstruse in London or Liverpool, it isn’t in Lanzhou or Lhasa.

In Legal First, Chinese Court Grants Annulment Over Concealed HIV Status - SixthTone A Shanghai court on Monday annulled a marriage because a man had not told his partner that he was HIV-positive beforehand, becoming the first such case based on laws in China’s newly enacted civil code.


Foreign and Defense Affairs

Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying's Regular Press Conference on January 5, 2021 Global Times:US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo tweeted on January 3 that if the Arctic region is to thrive, we've got to focus above all on Russian and Chinese threats, and that it is a communist fiction for China to be a "near-Arctic nation" when China is 900 miles from the Arctic. What is your response? Hua Chunying: Mr. Pompeo is not bad at calculating distance. Since he has figured out that China is 900 miles from the Arctic Circle, has he ever measured the distance between the continental United States and the South China Sea? The South China Sea is more than 8,300 miles away from the continental United States, or 5,800 miles away from Hawaii. Despite such distance, the U.S. side has repeatedly sent warships and aircraft to the South China Sea for all kinds of military drills and close-in reconnaissance, without a break all year round. What's on its mind? The US Marine unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) has carried out at least 9 recon missions over the South China Sea and East China Sea in December only in 2020. What fiction is the U.S. side weaving on the South China Sea issue?

China opposes US’ insidious attack on civilian-military integration: FM - Global Times Hua pointed out that the US' civil-military integration has a long history that dates back to World War One. She said that that the US is a major advocate of the policy which has accelerated its pace over recent years and was commonplace practice in the world.  A good number of US multinational companies are examples of civil-military integration, Hua said.

Xi Jinping orders China’s military to be ready for war ‘at any second’ | South China Morning Post Hong Kong-based military commentator Song Zhongping said Xi’s 2021 order showed the leadership was intending to take all measures to upgrade the PLA’s capability of winning a war. “China is indeed facing a great risk of war, which has been seriously implied in this order,” he said.

China's DF-17 hypersonic missile seen to get stealth upgrade, reports show - Global Times One of China's most advanced weapons, the DF-17 hypersonic missile, was seen in media reports to have received an upgrade that experts said on Monday can improve the weapon's capability to disguise itself from hostile reconnaissance and protect itself from complicated battlefield environments. A previously unknown type of transporter erector launcher (TEL) of a missile was spotted by military observers in a video celebrating the fifth founding anniversary of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) Rocket Force on Thursday, released on 81.cn, the website of the PLA.

China’s advanced DF-17 hypersonic missile likely to have been part of recent military drill | South China Morning Post China’s military has carried out training that may have involved its most advanced hypersonic missile, the DF-17, which analysts say is capable of striking US bases in the region. Footage aired on Chinese state television last week shows a new and unidentified type of missile vehicle being used to transport a weapon in a recent assault exercise conducted by a People’s Liberation Army Rocket Force missile brigade.

China urges calm and restraint after Iran enrichment announcement | Reuters “China urges all sides to exercise calm and restraint, to stick to the commitments of the agreement and to refrain from taking actions that might escalate tensions, so as to make space for diplomatic efforts and a change in the situation,” she told a daily news briefing in Beijing. “The urgent task at hand is for all sides to push the United States to return unconditionally to the agreement and remove all relevant sanctions,” Hua said.

Sanctioning Companies Supporting Iran’s Metal Industry - United States Department of State The Department of State is designating China-based Kaifeng Pingmei New Carbon Materials Technology Co., LTD (KFCC)...China-based World Mining Industry Co., Ltd. were designated pursuant to Section 1(a)(v) of E.O. 13871 for being owned or controlled by Middle East Mines and Mineral Industries Development Holding Company

China aims for 40-plus space launch missions in 2021, space station construction to be top priority: CASC - ECNS China's biggest rocket contractor China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC) has outlined its aim to conduct more than 40 space launch missions in 2021, and the construction of the country's first ever space station will be its top priority, according to a CASC official press release on Monday. The CASC held its annual work meeting on Monday.

Chinese military releases CPC regulations for armed forces - Xinhua he Central Military Commission has issued a set of regulations regarding the work of the Communist Party of China (CPC) committees in the armed forces. Upholding the Party's absolute leadership over the armed forces and focusing on combat capabilities, the regulations stipulated the guiding principles, leadership, responsibilities and structures of the committees in detail. At the same time, it sets requirements for its members. The regulations will enhance the role of Party organizations in the armed forces and help with the Party's goal of strengthening the military in the new era and building world-class armed forces // 中央军委印发《中国共产党军队委员会(支部)工作规定》--新闻报道-人民网

China issues revised military personnel marriage regulations - Xinhua Consistent with the country's newly passed Civil Code and related state and military laws and regulations, the regulations aim to improve and strengthen the administration of military personnel's marriages in a people-centered approach. It stipulates that the minimum age of first marriages for servicemen and servicewomen is 22 and 20, respectively. It also clarifies the marriage and divorce procedure applications by military personnel, which is differentiated for servicemen, servicewomen, civilian personnel, and retirees 中央军委办公厅印发新修订的《军队人员婚姻管理若干规定》 - 中国军网

China's top warship maker builds new shipyard, phase I project to complete by 2023 - Global Times China's major manufacturer of amphibious assault ships, amphibious landing ships and frigates on Monday started constructing an advanced new shipyard in Shanghai, a move analysts said on Tuesday would boost China's technical level and efficiency in building such vessels. The commencement ceremony for the construction of the second phase of the Changxing Shipbuilding Base Project under the China State Shipbuilding Corporation Limited (CSSC) was held on Changxing Island, Shanghai on Monday

China speeds up building aircraft carriers but will PLA sailors be trained for hi-tech ships in time? | South China Morning Post Two independent military sources told the South China Morning Post that the keel laying would start early this year for its fourth aircraft carrier. Work on its sister ship, the Type 002, has already started, and both ships will be equipped with the most advanced electromagnetic catapult launchers. Construction work on the fourth giant ship had been postponed because of the Covid-19 pandemic, the associated economic slowdown and some technical problems, the sources said.

Caixin - 人事观察|石正露、郑璇任北部战区陆军领导_政经频道_财新网 In the routine adjustment of the generals in the winter of 2020, Lieutenant General Shi Zhenglu, deputy commander and chief of staff of the northern theater, and Lieutenant General Zheng Wei, deputy political commissar and director of the political work department of the central theater, have been transferred to the leadership of the northern theater army

Huawei wants in on Australian 6G network - Sydney Morning Herald Chinese telco Huawei is calling on the Australian government to begin talking to the company about how to roll out a new generation of mobile technology called 6G, to avoid a repeat of the ban on its equipment in 5G mobile networks.

An analysis of American interference in Xinjiang affairs under the context of human rights protection - ECNS By Zuliyati Simayi and Zhang Yaxi,School of Marxism Xinjiang University...In the Editor's Note of the report, Dr.Adrian Zenz is described as "one of the world's leading scholars on People's Republic of China (PRC) government policies towards the country's western regions of Tibet and Xinjiang."(Quoted from Adrian Zenz's report.) If that were true, Dr.Adrian Zenz should be a scholar of extraordinary academic influence. However, in recent years, he has produced several "research reports" on Xinjiang and drawn the absurd conclusion that Xinjiang's total re-education internment figure is estimated at just over one million. Also, we can know more about him through the information given by other foreign media. According to an article published on the independent news website "The Grayzone",Adrian Zenz is actually a far-right fundamentalist Christian and evangelical zealot. He is a senior fellow in China studies at the far-right organization named Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, which was established by the U.S. government in 1983. He is also the backbone of the Research Group on Xinjiang's Education and Training Centers, an academic body allegedly set up and controlled by U.S. intelligence agencies. Based on the above analysis, we can say Adrian Zenz is a "scholar" supported by the United States to make anti-China remarks.The opinion that Adrian Zenz is one of the world's leading scholars on China policies towards Tibet and Xinjiang is obviously untenable.

How to quit the Chinese Communist Party – Rest of World In early September, a post appeared on 1point3acres’ immigration section chronicling the green card interview of an applicant in Hartford, Connecticut. The poster said his immigration officer told him that his case would likely be denied because of his past “party affiliation.” According to the post, the immigration officer told him a personal statement by applicants affirming they were no longer attached to the party wouldn’t suffice. With more than 30,000 views, the post sent Chinese applicants on the forum into a flurry of comments as they anxiously inquired about and debated the issue.

Indonesian Navy Probes 'Sea Glider' Drone Found in National Waters — Radio Free Asia Jatosint, a Twitter account that says it provides open-source information on Indonesian security and defense, said the drone sounded similar to a Chinese UUV called Sea Wing. If the drone is proven to be Chinese, it “[r]aises many questions, especially how it managed to be found deep inside our territory,” Jatosint tweeted.

Not aure about the source but a crazy story if true - 10 Chinese spies caught in Kabul get a quiet pardon, fly home in chartered aircraft - world news - Hindustan Times Afghanistan has let off the 10 Chinese nationals caught on 10 December for operating a terror cell in the capital city of Kabul and allowed them to leave the country, people familiar with the matter said on Monday. The 10 members of the module were flown out of the country in a plane arranged by the Chinese government...The Afghan security establishment believes the 10 detainees were creating a fake East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM) module in Afghanistan to entrap ETIM operatives in Afghanistan.

PLA Navy develops new submarine escape immersion equipment - China Military The new individual Submarine Escape Immersion Equipment (SEIE) has completed the combat performance test in the waters of a sea area of the East China Sea recently, indicating that the PLA Navy submariners' self-rescue and escape capabilities have reached the advanced international level. This new outfit is developed by the Special Medical Center of the PLA Naval Medical University. It comprises four components, including a fast floating escape suit, hood inflation system, escape suit detection device, and hood inflation detection device

Mekong Mainstream at Chiang Saen, Thailand (Golden Triangle) drops >1 meter in 48 hours as Jinghong Dam upstream fills - Planet Stories On January 4 2021, locals in Thailand's side of the Golden Triangle near Chiang Saen shared photos on social media of a sudden and unexpected drop in river level along the Mekong mainstream. Stimson's Mekong Dam Monitor estimates the drop at more than 1 meter and China's upstream river gauge at Yunjinghong also shows a similar drop starting late in the evening on December 31, 2020. The Jinghong dam (located just upstream from China's Yunjinghong gauge) filled during the last week of December causing the sudden drop downstream. China sent no notification to downstream countries.

Defense Bill Orders Study of Illicit Finance Risks Posed by China - WSJ $$ The study would look into the extent and effect of illicit finance risk related to the Chinese government and Chinese companies, including financial institutions; illicit finance risks emanating from China; whether such risks have been enabled directly or indirectly by the Chinese government through weak regulatory oversight or administrative controls; and the ways increased global trade and investment from the Chinese government and Chinese companies expose the international financial system to illicit finance risks.

Secretary Michael R. Pompeo With Jan Jekielek of The Epoch Times’ American Thought Leaders Program - United States Department of State QUESTION:  — about the approach to China, you mentioned that Chinese dissidents had been warning for decades about the nature of the Chinese Communist Party but were largely ignored.  And you’ve – you’ve changed this to some extent.  You’ve welcomed a range of dissidents to basically speak with you and then learn about these things.  And on International Human Rights Day, you actually sanctioned a Chinese official for gross human rights violations against Falun Gong practitioners, which actually marks the first in 21 years of persecution of this group in China.  We actually wrote an editorial about it.  We’ve been covering this issue extensively.  So why do you think it took so long? SECRETARY POMPEO:  Goodness.  That’s a complicated question.  You go back all the way to Tiananmen Square.  We’ve known the nature of this regime.  And frankly freedom loving people across the world have known the nature of authoritarian regimes throughout history and yet we ignored it.  We ignored it in part because we had a foreign policy establishment that believed deeply that if we traded enough stuff with them, if we engaged with them, that the – some of the Chinese Communist Party would engage at least externally in the world on a fair and reciprocal basis.  And that was – that was patently false all the way through. And yet the resistance from lots of quarters was enormous for a host of reasons, some of the economic; some of them just – truly people who thought they could get to a better place.  It’s clear not true.  President Trump recognized that when he began his campaign and then when he took office.  We’ve now changed fundamentally how I think the West looks at China, not just the United States.  Even when you look at Europe, Australia, and South East Asia, they know too.  They know that the Chinese Communist Party is up to no good.

Secretary Michael R. Pompeo With David Rubenstein of Bloomberg News - United States Department of State QUESTION:  So as you look back on your tenure as Secretary of State, what would you say has been the most frustrating thing for you?  Is there something you wish you had achieved and you hadn’t – haven’t yet achieved, or some other frustration you’d like to discuss? SECRETARY POMPEO:  Well, there’s certainly lots of unfinished business in lots of places in the world.  The work that we’ve done to change how America thinks about the Chinese Communist Party and how we respond to it is incredibly important work, but it is a long-term project, something that America neglected for five decades.  We turned the page.  We put American foreign policy with respect to the Chinese Communist Party in a new direction.  But there’s still an awful lot of work to be done.

Chinese president appoints new ambassadors - Xinhua Malaysia, Jordan, Tunisia, Turkmenistan, Malta, Netherlands, Grenada

US-China Relations: Past, Present and Future | edX Kishore Mahbubani online course

China’s foreign aid agency is all set to make foray into Nepal’s northern region For the first time, China’s external aid and development agency, China International Development Cooperation Agency (CIDCA) is making a foray into Nepal, pledging to finance 15 pilot development projects in 13 northern districts of the country.


Taiwan

Taiwan’s economy boosted by status as coronavirus haven | Financial Times $$ Although it is difficult to confirm exactly how many Taiwanese have returned at least temporarily, government statistics provide a clue. According to the National Immigration Agency, 251,640 more Taiwanese entered the country this year than exited — a net inflow almost four times the size registered last year.


Tech and Media

Guo Jingming's 'The Yin-Yang Master: Dream of Eternity' Pulled from Theaters | What's on Weibo On December 31, Guo finally apologized for the plagiarism controversy. Fellow screenwriter Yu Zheng also apologized on the same day, leading to state media reports on turning December 31st in to “Anti-plagiarism Day.” But plagiarism does not seem to be a thing of the past for Guo. In December 2020, Chinese media reported that his latest movie included scenes similar to Marvel’s Doctor Strange (2016).

Yicai - Chinese AI Chip Startup Enflame Wraps Up USD278.5 Million Fundraiser CITIC Private Equity Funds Management, China Capital Investment Group’s funds and Primavera Capital Group led this round, followed by many current and new shareholders, including Tencent Holdings, SummitView Capital and Redpoint China Ventures. The cumulative financing amount Enflame announced will reach CNY3.14 billion after this funding.

Yicai - Zuoyebang Lands USD1.6 Billion Funding After Live Streaming Courses Students Reach a Record High of 10 Million in Last Autumn Both existing and new shareholders participated in the Beijing-based company’s E+ round of fundraising, including Alibaba, Tiger Global, Softbank Vision Fund, Sequoia Capital China, Fountainvest Partners etc. As of today, five of the top ten "Hurun Best Unicorn Investors in the world 2020” have invested in Zuoyebang.

Alibaba shuts down 12-year-old music streaming app Xiami | TechCrunch Using Xiami was once synonymous with having good music taste in China. The music app, which debuted around 2008 and was acquired by Alibaba in 2013, is discontinuing its streaming service today, Xiami said in a notice to users.

潘建伟:科大南迁五十年,量子启航二十年_爱思想 Pan Jianwei: The University of Science and Technology moved south for 50 years, and Quantum set sail for 20 years

Amazon Banned From Using AWS Logo in China Trademark Ruling - WSJ $$ The Beijing Municipal High People’s Court ruled that the trademark for the term “AWS” belonged to ActionSoft Science & Technology Development Co., a Chinese software and data services company, according to a court verdict published Dec. 30. The court ordered Amazon to stop using the term AWS or any similar logos in China and pay compensation of 76.5 million yuan, equivalent to $11.8 million, to ActionSoft

李鸿忠廖国勋与科大讯飞董事长刘庆峰会谈--新闻报道-人民网 Tianjin Party Secretary Li Hongzhong meets with iFlytek chairman

新京报 - 王凯:“少拍戏,拍好戏”是我对自己的要求 Interview with Wang Kai, star of "Like a Flowing River", which just launched its second season. I watched the first one, just started the second one, an interesting look back at that Era. // From the late 1980s to the early 1990s, China's economic reform and social life changes slowly unfolded. A few days ago, Wang Kai, who played the role of "reform pioneer" Song Yunhui, was interviewed by the media. He believed that this drama can resonate with audiences of different ages: "People who have experienced that era can evoke memories, and young people can be afraid of hardships and risks. The spirit of the times is moved."

The show is on Youtube:


Society, Arts, Sports, Culture and History

Chinese Rapper’s Viral Post Sheds Light on ‘Workplace PUA’ - SixthTone After Yamy called out the head of her agency for constantly manipulating and belittling her, thousands have come forward with stories about their own horrible bosses.

The Men Who Lost Their Wives to ‘Eastern Lightning’ - SixthTone Long’s wife had gone to live with Quannengshen, or the Church of Almighty God, one of 14 religious groups that the Chinese government has banned and designated as cults. More widely known as Eastern Lightning, it was founded by a physics teacher and part-time preacher named Zhao Weishan in the early 1990s in northeastern China. The group claims that Jesus reincarnated as a Chinese woman reportedly known as Yang Xiangbin, Zhao’s alleged mistress. In the years after, Eastern Lightning spread from rural areas to cities, gathering thousands of followers across China. In 1995, Chinese authorities banned the group. Six years later, Zhao and Yang received asylum in the United States, where the group is now headquartered. In May 2014, the organization gained widespread attention both in China and abroad when six of its members killed a woman in a McDonald’s in eastern China after she refused to give them her phone number.

Chinese Esports Teams Banned Over Dota 2 Match Fixing - SixthTone One of China’s most renowned esports organizations has received a lifetime ban from competing in the online battle arena game Dota 2 following a high-profile match-fixing scandal. In a post Saturday on microblogging platform Weibo, Dota 2 said the team, Newbee, and five of its players are now banned from future competitions organized by the game’s U.S. owner, Valve Corporation, and Chinese partner, Perfect World Entertainment.


Energy, Environment, Science and Health

Duowei - 中共“红色特工”之女 熊蕾指新冠病毒与美国有关|多维新闻|中国 Princeling and long time Xinhua reporter Xiong Lei played up the conspiracy theory and wrote in a viral WeChat article accusing the US for spreading SARS and the coronavirus in China. She claimed that the Americans and Harvard University had been taking gene samples of Chinese farmers back in the 1990s. Xiong is the daughter of Xiong Xianghui, a long time CCP mole in the KMT leadership during the war. Xiong later became vice minister of the Investigation Department of the Central Committee, the predecessor of MSS.

FAST radio telescope to open for global research - Global Times Starting on April 1, scientists from around the world can submit their research proposals online to use the Five-hundred-meter Aperture Spherical Radio Telescope in Pingtang county, Guizhou province, and observation periods will be distributed across various research projects starting from Aug 1. There is currently no restriction on the proposals, but the telescope is prioritized to study topics including the interstellar medium composed of neutral atomic hydrogen, the polarization of spiral galaxies, and fast radio bursts-transient radio pulses caused by some high-energy astrophysical process not fully understood...Since the collapse of the 305-meter-diameter Arecibo telescope in Puerto Rico in December, FAST has become the world's sole megasized single-dish radio telescope.


Rural and Agricultural Issues

China Signals More Support for Genetically Modified Crops to Ensure Food Supplies Don’t Run Short - Caixin China should pursue innovative seed technologies to guarantee food security, a high-level agriculture official has said, another indication that the world’s second-largest seed market is priming to increase its reliance on genetically modified (GM) crops. New technologies are “the basic way” to ensure that the world’s most populous nation has enough food to eat while “raising the quality, efficiency and competitiveness of agricultural products,” said Zhang Wen, an inspector in the science and technology education office of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs. His comments come after Chinese leaders agreed at a key economic conference last month to “resolve seed and arable land issues” this year through “respect for science, strict regulation and the orderly promotion of industrial applications for biological breeding,” a statement widely seen as tacit support for GM strains.

Boar cloning base in Hubei aims to achieve independent supply of pork for nation - Global Times Central China's Hubei Province will be home to the country's first high-end boar selection and breeding demonstration base, where cloning technologies will be applied to protect endangered local boar species. This base is intended to break the foreign monopoly of some top breeds and make China's pork industry independent.