Few details on US-China trade progress; Xi may visit North Korea; More bad economic data

Hi everyone, apologies but I had some tech issues this morning so there is no commentary up top and some of the formatting may look off. All will be back to normal in the next issue

Thanks for reading.

Essential Eight

1. US-China

China, U.S. hold vice-ministerial level talk on economic, trade issues in Beijing - Xinhua

China and the United States held a talk at the vice-ministerial level on economic and trade issues in Beijing from Monday to Wednesday, said a statement from the Ministry of Commerce. 

Both sides have actively implemented the significant consensus reached by the leaders of the two countries and conducted extensive, in-depth and detailed exchanges on trade and structural issues of common concern, said the statement. 

The talk has enhanced mutual understanding and laid a foundation for addressing each other's concerns, it said. 

Both sides have agreed to continuously keep in close contact.

U.S. and China Make Progress on Trade, but Major Hurdles Remain - WSJ $$

During three days of talks between midlevel trade officials from Washington and Beijing in the Chinese capital that ended Wednesday, the two sides made progress on issues such as additional Chinese purchases of U.S. goods and services, as well as opening China’s markets further to American capital, the people said. But they cautioned that the two teams hadn’t yet made a breakthrough and more discussions are needed to resolve a trade fight that has unnerved global markets. 

The two sides remain divided on knottier issues including a reduction of Chinese subsidies to domestic firms and protection of intellectual property, the people said, and that means a resolution still needs to be hammered out.

China's Vice President Urges Deeper U.S. Cooperation After Talks - Bloomberg:

“As Chinese-U.S. relations stand at a new starting line, it must stay committed to our original aspiration and focus on coordination, cooperation and stability,” Wang Qishan said at a reception in Beijing on Thursday to commemorate the 40th anniversary of China and the U.S. establishing diplomatic ties. "We must adapt to the new reality, keep looking for and expanding our common interests, deepening and promoting practical cooperation."...

Today’s event was attended by members of the U.S. diplomatic and business community in China, including U.S. Ambassador Terry Branstad and head of the American Chamber of Commerce Tim Stratford. Former U.S. President Richard Nixon’s grandson Christopher Nixon Cox and Chinese diplomat Fu Ying were also at the lunch reception.

Question: Whatever happened to Trump admin hiring Nixon Cox to work on China issues?

Thursday CCTV Evening News had a 2 minute segment on the lunch 王岐山出席纪念中美建交40周年招待会并致辞, see some subscribers in the report looking a little bored… 

Three details indicate positive progress for China-U.S. trade talks - People's Daily Online:

More than 200 officials from over 10 departments from both sides took part in the talks. An insider disclosed that there was so much to be discussed that both sides agreed to continue discussions on Jan. 9 after talking on Jan. 7 and 8. It sent out a positive message that the two sides are willing to sit down, negotiate and reach a consensus.


2. More on Kim’s visit to China

Xi Jinping accepts offer to visit Pyongyang, says North Korea state media | South China Morning Post:

“Xi accepted the offer,” the KCNA reported, without elaborating on details of the plans. 

The report came as Kim returned to Pyongyang after a four-day trip to China, where he held talks with Xi and visited an economic development area in Beijing. 

North Korea has repeatedly invited Xi to visit Pyongyang. In September, it invited Xi for its national day, with relations between the two countries gaining pace. South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in said in October that Xi was expected to visit North Korea “soon”.

Xi Jinping, Kim Jong Un hold talks, reaching important consensus - Xinhua

In a cordial and friendly atmosphere, the two leaders had an in-depth exchange of views on China-DPRK relations and issues of common concern, and reached important consensus. 

The two sides agreed to make joint efforts to push for continuous new development of China-DPRK relations in the new era, constantly advance the political settlement process of the Korean Peninsula issue, bring more benefits to people of the two countries, and make positive contribution to peace, stability, prosperity and development of the region and the world.

习近平同朝鲜劳动党委员长金正恩举行会谈_CCTV  Kim's visit to Beijing gets top 11 minutes on the Thursday CCTV Evening News

U.S.-North Korea Summit Looks Imminent, South Korean Leader Says - The New York Times

Mr. Moon said he believed that North Korea and the United States had narrowed their differences considerably in recent months. If Mr. Kim and Mr. Trump meet again, they will try to forge a deal on what actions North Korea must take toward denuclearization in order to encourage Washington to ease sanctions and what corresponding measures the United States must offer to expedite the North’s nuclear disarmament, he said. 

“If they agree to hold a second North Korea-U.S. summit in a not-too-distant future, we can see this as a rather optimistic sign that both sides have narrowed their differences on this issue,” Mr. Moon said. 

When Mr. Xi met with Mr. Kim on Tuesday, the Chinese leader also urged North Korea and the United States to meet each other “in the middle,” Xinhua, China’s state-run news agency, reported Thursday.


3. More troubles for Huawei

U.S. Blocks Some Exports From Huawei’s Silicon Valley Unit - WSJ $$:

The Chinese telecommunications giant has been unable to send home certain technologies from its Silicon Valley research-and-development unit, Futurewei Technologies Inc., after the Commerce Department signaled it wouldn’t renew a Futurewei export license, according to people familiar with the matter and documents reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.

The department said in a June letter to Futurewei that it intends to deny its application to renew the license, citing national security concerns, according to the documents. Futurewei has contested the Commerce Department’s move, but in the meantime the export of the technologies in question has been prohibited, the people said.

The license covered the export of telecommunications technology and software, including high-speed data-transfer technology, according to the documents. The technology had an operating budget of more than $16 million and involved more than 40 full-time-equivalent personnel.

Question: What about other PRC tech firms that have R&D centers in the US? For example, should Baidu be able to develop AI tech in the US and export it back to China for uses that may include military and surveillance?

Norway is considering whether to exclude Huawei from building 5G network, justice minister says, citing espionage fears | Reuters:

“We share the same concerns as the United States and Britain and that is espionage on private and state actors in Norway,” Justice Minister Tor Mikkel Wara said in an interview on the sidelines of a business conference.

Sinopsis: Huawei’s Battle for Central Europe – China Digital Times (CDT) 

An unusually blunt warning by Czech intelligence against the use of Huawei and ZTE products in telecommunications infrastructure was met with similar bluntness from the PRC. The embattled Babiš government, whose survival depends on the support of the country’s most CCP-friendly figures, was subjected to a pre-Christmas diplomatic ritual hyped by the state-media as “correcting” the spooks’ “mistaken” advice. After an outrage in the Czech Republic, the PM backpedalled and reiterated the NÚKIB warning was being treated “seriously”.

U.S., Israel air concerns over China telecom companies: U.S. official | Reuters

The administration does not want any obstacles to being able to share sensitive information with the Israelis, the senior official told reporters ahead of the meeting, referring to the concerns about Chinese technology and investment at the port of Haifa. “We specifically put it on the agenda,” the official said.


4. PRC Ambassador to Canada on racism and “self-defense”

The ambassador plays the race card and says that detaining the two Canadians was a “self-defense” response to the detention of the Huawei CFO detention. So he is not even pretending there is rule of law…This is not helping Beijing’s case

China's ambassador: why the double standard on justice for Canadians, Chinese? - The Hill Times

I have recently heard a word repeatedly pronounced by some Canadians: bullying. They said that by arresting two Canadian citizens as retaliation for Canada’s detention of Meng, China was bullying Canada. To those people, China’s self-defence is an offence to Canada. If someone slaps you on your left cheek, give him your right cheek, they told us. But I have never seen them doing as they said. 

The reason why some people are used to arrogantly adopting double standards is due to Western egotism and white supremacy. In such a context, the rule of law is nothing but a tool for their political ends and a fig leaf for their practising hegemony in the international arena. What they have been doing is not showing respect for the rule of law, but mocking and trampling the rule of law. 

Lu Shaye is the Chinese ambassador to Canada. 

China ambassador accuses Canada and allies of racism - AP

Lu also writes that Meng was arrested without violating any Canadian law, suggesting that Canada should never detain someone for extradition. 

“It seems that, to some people, only Canadian citizens shall be treated in a humanitarian manner and their freedom deemed valuable, while Chinese people do not deserve that,” he writes. 

Roland Paris, a former foreign policy adviser to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, called Lu’s claims “hogwash.” 

“I don’t know what the ambassador was trying to accomplish but his article won’t help China’s cause. The reference to white supremacy was bizarre and unfortunate,” Paris said. 

“There is false equivalency in this article. Canada is a rule of law country. China is a rule by law country and the distinction is important. Meng was not illegally detained as the ambassador claims.”

Schellenberg will be tried on Jan 14, now potentially faces the death penalty. - 加拿大人走私毒品案将于14日公开审理_被告人:

新京报快讯 据辽宁省大连市中级人民法院消息,本院刑事审判第二庭定于2019年1月14日8时在本院第六法庭公开开庭审理辽宁省大连市人民检察院指控加拿大籍被告人罗伯特·劳埃德·谢伦伯格(英文名ROBERT LLOYD SCHELLENBERG)犯走私毒品罪一案


5. Hard diplomacy in Myanmar

China is a big country and it thinks it can bully every other nation but the US?

Analysis: Behind the Threats and Warnings of Chinese Ambassador’s Kachin Visit - The Irawaddy

When an invitation for meetings with Chinese Ambassador to Myanmar Hong Liang “to discuss the current situation in Kachin State” arrived at their offices in the Kachin capital of Myitkyina in early December, the last thing both Gumgrawng Awng Hkam and Rev. Hkalam Samson expected was warnings and threats. 

The president of the Kachin Democratic Party and the president of the Kachin Baptist Convention had thought they would have a proper discussion on pressing issues which their homeland is facing, including the peace process and displacement of refugees due to fighting between a Kachin ethnic armed group and the Myanmar military. 

However, when the Chinese ambassador met Gumgrawng Awng Hkam and Rev. Hkalam Samson on Dec. 28 and 29 respectively at Palm Spring Hotel in Myitkyina, he warned them not to make close friendships with western diplomats, that they otherwise “would face serious consequences.” Both invitees claimed the ambassador briefed them in a bossy manner, warning them not to oppose Chinese projects in Kachin State, including the controversial Myitsone hydropower project.


6. 60 Minutes on a US spy for China

Interesting video, includes a picture of his MSS handler, noteworthy that DOJ and FBI want to be so transparent for a 60 minutes story. Mallory looks like a real loser, wonder how he passed initial vetting.

Chinese Spy: How a former CIA officer was caught betraying his country - 60 Minutes - CBS News:

The officials who investigated and convicted Kevin Mallory for conspiracy to commit espionage tell 60 Minutes how their case came together..

Prosecutors say some of the information Mallory sent could have revealed the identity of a couple who had secretly spied on China for the U.S.. It was a very personal betrayal. Mallory had supervised the couple years before.

Anderson Cooper: He was betraying people. This is people's lives at stake.

Jennifer Gellie: Correct. These were documents that specifically talked about human beings. Whose lives could be in danger.

Anderson Cooper: If they had traveled to China they could have been arrested.

John Demers: At the time he gave the information to the Chinese intelligence officer, he knew they were planning on traveling to China...

We currently have three pending cases against former intelligence officers and they're alleged to have been spying on behalf of the Chinese...

John Demers, of the Justice Department's National Security Division, says since 2011, more than 90 percent of the economic espionage cases they have charged have involved China, which has stolen secrets about everything from genetically modified rice seeds to wind-turbine technology.


7. China’s Internet management model has political and price attraction

China’s Digital Silk Road Is Looking More Like an Iron Curtain - Bloomberg

What’s playing out in Zambia is part of a larger contest between the U.S. and China for dominance over the future of technology and global influence. Companies from both countries sell tech products around the world, but Chinese businesses are offering a wide range of gear and relatively cheap financing in countries from Zimbabwe to Vietnam. They have an advantage in developing nations such as Zambia, which are looking to modernize their technology infrastructure... 

China is exporting to at least 18 countries sophisticated surveillance systems capable of identifying threats to public order and has made it easier to repress free speech in 36 others, according to an October report published by Washington watchdog Freedom House. “They are passing on their norms for how technology should govern society,” says Adrian Shahbaz, the author of the report, which found that Zambia had slipped in the group’s ranking of national internet and media freedoms for the past two years... 

The 44-year-old minister has invoked the “China way” of dealing with the internet when threatening to ban Google and Facebook, which has provided a platform for disinformation campaigns in Myanmar and other countries. He’s called “fake news” a threat to national security and urged self-censorship, saying the government has the ability to monitor all digital devices in the country. A draft cyberlaw scheduled for debate in the National Assembly this year would create an agency with the power to determine whether information published online threatens national security, punishable by jail time, something free-press advocates say could be applied to news organizations that expose corruption


8. Foreign junk food giants corrupting PRC nutrition policy

Research Details How Junk Food Companies Influence China’s Nutrition Policy - The New York Times 

China’s fitness-is-best message, as it happens, has largely been the handiwork of Coca-Cola and other Western food and beverage giants, according to a pair of new studies that document how those companies have helped shape decades of Chinese science and public policy on obesity and diet-related illnesses like Type 2 diabetes and hypertension. 

The findings, published Wednesday in The BMJ and The Journal of Public Health Policy, show how Coca-Cola and other multinational food companies, operating through a group called the International Life Sciences Institute, cultivated key Chinese officials in an effort to stave off the growing movement for food regulation and soda taxes that has been sweeping the west... 

in China, ILSI is so well-placed that it runs its operations from inside the government’s Centre for Disease Control and Prevention in Beijing. In fact, when asked to comment on the studies, the ministry emailed a statement not from a government official but from ILSI’s China director. 

Comment: True hostile foreign forces. Evil


Business, Economy, Finance And Trade

China's December CPI falls short of forecasts due to lower oil prices, slack consumer demand: analysts - Global Times The CPI growth rate for the whole of 2018 was 2.1 percent, up from 1.6 percent for 2017 but squarely lower than the annual government target of 3 percent. "The sharp decline in oil prices may be the main cause for the lower-than-expected CPI figure," Dong Dengxin, director of the Financial Securities Institute at Wuhan University of Science and Technology, told the Global Times on Thursday. "Normally, the CPI should be rising at this time because vegetable prices tend to go up in freezing winter season. There's also the impact of the New Year holidays," Dong said, adding that the full-year figure of 2.1 percent growth was still strong. Sheng Guoqing, a senior statistician with NBS, also cited the drop in oil prices as a reason for slower CPI growth.

China's Rekindled Deflation Fears Add to Global Growth Concerns - Bloomberg Economists now see the threat of deflation in the manufacturing nation after producer price inflation slowed sharply in December, to the slowest pace since 2016. Nomura Holdings Inc. said "the nightmare of PPI deflation is imminent," China International Capital Corp. said "deflation pressures are on the rise," and Haitong Securities Co. projected the turning point could come as early as this month.

Further Rally Seen for China's Yuan as It Breaks Key Level - Bloomberg Buying momentum is the strongest in almost a year and bearish bets have fallen to 12-month lows in the options market. A rising currency makes China’s financial markets more attractive to overseas investors -- foreign flows into the country’s debt surged in December -- which may further buttress gains.

Yuan Jumps to 24-Week High on Trade Hopes, Dollar Weakness - Caixin The People’s Bank of China (PBOC) set the yuan’s daily reference rate at 6.8160 per dollar on Thursday morning, the strongest since Aug. 30 and 0.54% stronger than Wednesday’s fixing, The yuan, which is allowed to fluctuate as much as 2% either side of the reference rate, continued to rise throughout the day, breaking through the key level of 6.8 per dollar for the first time since July and closing at 6.7825.

China to cut taxes, fees for manufacturers in 2019: minister | Reuters China will cut taxes and fees for manufacturers in 2019 to support their sector, state television quoted the industry minister as saying on Thursday

German industry demands tougher EU line on China | Reuters  Germany’s influential BDI industry association has called on the European Union to adopt a tougher policy towards China and urged companies to reduce their dependence on the Chinese market as concerns mount over price dumping and technology transfer.

Alibaba Buys German Data Analytics Startup - Caixin Data Artisans’ signature open-source platform is called Apache Flink. The platform provides data processing and streaming solutions for businesses including Dutch financial firm ING Group, Netflix Inc., and Uber Technologies Inc. Alibaba said it has been working with Data Artisans, and supporting the open-source community built around the platform, since 2016

Trump Tower: China's Biggest Bank to Reduce Office Space - Bloomberg China’s biggest bank, Industrial & Commercial Bank of China Ltd., plans to reduce its space in Trump Tower when its lease runs out in October, people with knowledge of the matter said, creating a potential headache for the Trump Organization.

人民要论:政府与市场形成发展合力--理论-人民网 Liu Wei, President of Renmin University, on the Theory 理论 page of the Thursday People's Daily, main theme about how to combine the government and market approaches to avoid the middle income trap. Has the People's Daily moved the Theory page from page 7 to 9 in the New Year?// 内容提要:党的十八届三中全会提出,“使市场在资源配置中起决定性作用和更好发挥政府作用”。这是我们党对政府和市场关系认识的又一重大突破。5年多来,政府和市场作用的协同发挥,为我国经济结构优化升级、科技创新能力提升和现代化经济体系建设提供了体制基础,保障我国经济在实现高质量发展上不断取得新进展;为推进供给侧结构性改革创造了良好环境,保障“三去一降一补”取得阶段性成果,“破”“立”“降”成效持续显现;为跨越“中等收入陷阱”提供了内生动力,必将保障我国在未来顺利实现从上中等收入阶段向高收入阶段跨越。

Tesla boss Elon Musk says he loves China, so Premier Li Keqiang offers him a green card | South China Morning Post  The pair met on Wednesday at Zhongnanhai – the former imperial garden in Beijing that is now home to the headquarters of the Communist Party and the government – two days after Tesla broke ground at its Gigafactory 3 project in Shanghai, its first production base outside the United States. “I love China and want to come here more often,” Musk was quoted as saying in a report on Gov.cn. “If you do, we can issue you a Chinese green card,” the premier replied. // The meeting was the 3rd item on the Thursday CCTV Evening News 李克强会见美国客人

VW, China spearhead $300 billion global drive to electrify cars | Reuters 

“The future of Volkswagen will be decided in the Chinese market,” said Herbert Diess, chief executive of VW, which has decades-old joint ventures with two of China’s largest automakers, SAIC Motor and FAW Car. Speaking earlier this week to a small group of reporters in Beijing, Diess said China “will become one of the automotive powerhouses in the world.”

US apparel firm cuts off Chinese factory in internment camp - AP  Last month an Associated Press investigation found the Chinese government had also started forcing some detainees to work in manufacturing and food industries. The investigation tracked recent shipments from one such factory, the privately-owned Hetian Taida Apparel, located inside an internment camp, to Badger Sportswear, a leading supplier in Statesville, North Carolina. In a statement posted to its website, Badger said Wednesday it will no longer do business with Hetian Taida, nor import any goods from the same region “given the controversy around doing business” there.

Summers Sees `Lot of Grounds for Concern' About China Economy - Bloomberg “You’re probably seeing as difficult a moment for the Chinese economy as any they’ve had in the last 10 or 20 years,’’ said Summers, who is now a professor at Harvard University.


Politics, Law And Ideology

China Focus: China's anti-graft campaign keeps crushing the corrupt - Xinhua A TV documentary, broadcast by the China Central Television Wednesday, revealed a case showing the challenges in rooting out corruption at the local level. The documentary featured villas illegally built in northwest China's Qinling Mountains, which undermined local environment. Despite repeated instructions from the central authorities, the governments in Shaanxi Province had acted slowly to curb the unlawful construction in the past four years. Due to persistent follow-up from the central level and disciplinary inspection agencies, the 1,000 villas have been demolished and a number of local officials investigated since July last year, under the supervision of a special team from the CPC Central Committee headed by a deputy chief of CCDI.

评秦岭违建整治:将“两个维护”真正落实到行动上——中央纪委国家监委网站 /CCDI Newspaper on the lessons from the Shaanxi Qinling villa scandal...looks increasingly clear someone senior needs to take the fall for this, beyong a Xian official. But how senior?// 事实证明,政治纪律作为最重要、最根本、最关键的纪律,如果不能立起来、严起来、执行到位,必然会导致其他纪律全面失守,产生形式主义、官僚主义等诸多问题,最终对党和国家事业造成重大损害。秦岭北麓西安境内违建别墅问题,看似拆除违建别墅工作不作为、不到位,实质是有关党组织和党员领导干部对贯彻落实习近平总书记重要指示批示精神和党中央重大决策部署不作为、不到位,归根结底是,没有把“两个维护”作为最根本的政治纪律和政治规矩,不严肃、不认真、不担当,对党中央的要求只传达不研究、只学习不落实、只表态不行动,讲政治停留在口头上会议上表面文章上,没有真正落实到实际工作中,导致“整而未治、阳奉阴违、禁而不绝”的严重后果

中国纪检监察报 - 编者按 本版今日刊载三位纪检监察系统领导干部就学习贯彻习近平总书记重要讲话精神、落实中央纪委常委会要求所撰写的署名文章,以供学习交流。

电视专题片《红色通缉》 第一集 《引领》——中纪委视频页面——中央纪委国家监委网站  The first episode of the CCTV-CCDI "Red Notice”

CPC issues new work rules on rural primary-level organizations - Xinhua The General Office of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee has issued revised regulations on primary-level Party organizations in rural areas. The original document issued in 1999 could no longer adapt to new requirements and practical needs as rural areas are advancing reform and development and facing new situations and tasks, said the general office in a statement. The revised regulation is of great significance in upholding and strengthening the overall Party leadership over rural work, winning the fight against poverty, implementing the rural vitalization strategy, exercising strict governance over the Party at the primary levels and consolidating the foundation of the Party's governance in rural areas, it noted. Party committees at all levels are ordered to conduct group studies, symposiums or training to help Party members gain a good command of the new regulation. 中共中央印发《中国共产党农村基层组织工作条例》

在为民办事中提升城市基层党建整体效应_人民出版社_中国理论网  A report by the Central Organization Department that summarizes a survey conducted by the Organization Department on the Beijing government’s “innovative” methods to monitor grassroots society and mediate people’s disputes etc. Xi complimented Beijing’s methods in November last year, and it got front page People's Daily love soon after. It seems the Central Organization Department is pushing it to be replicated by other places. This series of methods is dubbed “吹哨报到” (blow the whistle and report" reform. This article is particularly worth reading not only because of the amount of details it includes but also because of the recent discussion on grassroots management. In line with the the renewed focus on the "Fengqiao Experience" there has been a lot of reports on state press about exploring new methods or replicating the idea of Fengqiao Experience to deal with various problems in the grassroots society. Xi has also repeatedly emphasized the importance of this issue.


Foreign and Military Affairs

China's reaction to US Navy operation: We have missiles - CNN China claims to have deployed missiles "capable of targeting medium and large ships" days after the latest US Navy "freedom of navigation" operation near contested islands in the South China Sea, state media announced.  The deployment of the DF-26 ballistic missiles in China's remote northwest plateau, originally announced Tuesday on China Central Television, follows a mission from the US guided-missile destroyer USS McCampbell, which steamed close to the Paracel Islands, the previous day. 

China's military major force in maintaining world peace, stability: expert - Global Times 

Zhang Junshe, a researcher from the Naval Research Academy of the PLA, echoed He, saying "the Pacific Ocean is vast enough to accommodate both China and the United States." Calling freedom of navigation in the South China Sea a “pseudo-proposition, Zhang said over 100,000 ships passed through the water every year, including those from countries that have disputes with China.  "It is China's consistent stance to respect all countries' navigation freedom in accordance with the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea," Zhang said.

Additional overseas PLA bases 'possible' - China Daily Lieutenant General He Lei, former vice-president of the PLA Academy of Military Science, said at a Beijing news conference hosted by the State Council Information Office that whether China establishes new overseas military bases will depend on two factors.  "This matter is primarily determined by whether a new base is needed to help China better fulfill missions given by the United Nations," he explained. "Second, it depends on the approval of the nation where a new base should be located."  Given these two preconditions, "it is possible for China to build new overseas support bases", said the officer.  He emphasized that the main role of a Chinese overseas base is to provide logistical support to Chinese units operating overseas, and not to field Chinese military forces in other countries, so people should not overinterpret this matter.

Colleges move to close Chinese government-funded Confucius Institutes amid increasing scrutiny - Inside Higher Ed The tide may be turning for the Chinese government-funded centers of Chinese language and cultural education as universities grapple with calls from Washington to close the institutes down. Over past year at least 10 have closed or announced plans to close

China hushes up scheme to recruit overseas scientists | Financial Times $$  One academic at a top Chinese university was told to remove the “Thousand Talents” awards from the websites of some faculty members, in order to “protect them from suspicion”. Others have warned against US government concerns turning into a broad-brush, racial attack against Chinese scholars, following a shortlived White House proposal to halt student visas for Chinese nationals. “The US is trying to suppress China all-round, the Thousand Talents plan is not the problem,” said Rao Yi, a professor of neurobiology at Peking University who gave up his US citizenship after 22 years of living there in order to return to China. Mr Rao said he had been denied visas to the US several times.

China, no longer a poor nation, still borrows billions from World Bank - CNBC China is borrowing billions of dollars each year from the World Bank, despite its position as the world's second-largest economy, according to a study released Thursday.  The Center for Global Development found that the World Bank's International Bank for Reconstruction and Development loaned China an average of $2 billion a year, totaling more than $7.8 billion, since the country surpassed the bank's income threshold for lending in 2016.

Kenya plans to introduce Mandarin in schools in 2020 - Xinhua Kenya plans to introduce teaching of Mandarin Chinese in primary schools in 2020, a government official said on Monday. Julius Jwan, CEO Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD), told Xinhua in Nairobi that the design, scope and sequence of the mandarin syllabus have already being completed.

Crown mistakenly exposed police informant, killing massive B.C. money laundering probe | Globalnews.ca  Initial investigations by the RCMP estimated that Silver allegedly laundered about $500 million in two years. But according to new information in a case study of the E-Pirate investigation by the Financial Action Task Force — an international government body that sets anti-money laundering standards — it is now estimated the alleged “professional” laundering network washed over $1 billion per year. One component of the network’s alleged operations was using legal and illegal casinos to help gamblers from China move money to and from Canada, and in some cases cash out chips for a “B.C. casino cheque” to deposit into Canadian banks and buy Vancouver real estate, the FATF report says.

How dominant is China in the global arms trade? | ChinaPower Project For years, Beijing imported several times more conventional weapons than it sold overseas, but since 2013 the value of Chinese arms exports has surpassed that of its foreign acquisitions. Between 2008 and 2017, China exported some $14.4 billion worth of conventional weapons across the globe, making it the 5th largest arms supplier in the world – behind the United States, Russia, France, and Germany.

Afghan adviser in China amid push for 'long-term stability' - AP Afghanistan’s national security adviser was in Beijing on Thursday as part of a push by his beleaguered nation for help in ending its 17-year-old war with the Taliban. Hamdullah Mohib met with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, telling him Afghanistan is seeking to “bring some long-term stability to our region.”

PM ‘doesn’t know much’ about condition of Uighurs in China | The Express Tribune Prime Minister Imran Khan has said that he doesn’t know much about the conditions of Uighur Muslims in China’s far western Xinjiang province amid reports in the western media about alleged persecution of the religious minority. Premier Imran was speaking in an interview with Turkey’s state broadcaster TRT World where he was asked, “You’re doing business with China does it mean you cannot criticise them when it comes to what they are doing with Uighurs.”

China Is Taking Over India's Tech Space. Should We Worry? - The Wire  Chinese tech companies have over the past two years also launched ambitious tailor-made products for the Indian market. As of last year, of the 100 most popular Android apps used in India, 44 were Chinese, including five in the top ten, such as the now popular video-sharing platform Tiktok and UC Browser, said one recent report, describing it as “a Chinese takeover of the Indian app ecosystem”. India is by no means unique in this wave of Chinese tech acquisitions and plays. But what is rather curious about the Indian context is the absence of any robust debate on the implications, particularly of Chinese financing, which has now taken centre stage in the west.


Hong Kong, Macao 

Hong Kong’s Cargo Terminal Operators Team Up to Turn the Tide - Caixin One of the world’s busiest ports, Hong Kong has long thrived thanks to its position as a conduit for goods moving in and out of China, particularly when much of the mainland was closed to foreign trade before it began to open its markets in 1978. While still a key port, Hong Kong’s position has eroded in recent years, slipping to seventh globally in terms of throughput in the first half of 2018, down two places from the year earlier.

Hong Kong’s office landlords raise creditworthiness requirements as more commercial tenants walk away from leases | South China Morning Post  Commercial landlords in Hong Kong, who own some of the world’s most expensive offices, are doubling or tripling the money that tenants must put down as deposit, as a downturn in business sentiment and tightening liquidity in China have led to several cases of renters reneging on leases. Tenants of businesses related to cryptocurrencies, and those who hail from mainland China – especially those who are less-known to Hong Kong’s landlords – have been placed under scrutiny, according to several office owners and consultants in the city.


Tech And Media

China imposes blockchain rules to enable 'orderly development' | Reuters Chinese blockchain platforms will have to censor content, allow authorities access to stored data and check the identity of users under rules set out on Thursday by Beijing.  The Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) said that the regulations, which will come into force next month, will “advance the industry’s healthy and orderly development.”

Venture capitalist: AI will displace 40 percent of world's jobs in as soon as 15 years - 60 Minutes - CBS News Kai Fu Lee, a pioneer in artificial intelligence and venture capitalist based in China, tells 60 Minutes it won't just be blue collar jobs that are displaced by AI.

Mobike removed from WeChat Pay, increasing barriers for users · TechNode  Super messaging app WeChat has removed bike-rental firm Mobike from its in-app wallet feature, a significant source of users for the mobility firm, reports Chinese media. “Riders can still access to Mobike’s services using WeChat’s QR code scanning function or by searching for the mini-program within the messaging platform,” a Mobike spokesperson told TechNode. The company said the removal is due to the expiry of a partnership between the two firms. The move increases barriers for WeChat users who want to access the mobility platform’s services.

China’s top AI scientist drives development of ethical guidelines | South China Morning Post  Chen Xiaoping – inventor of Jia Jia, the realistic humanoid “Robot Goddess”, and KeJia, an intelligent home service robot – is leading the committee, which held its first conference last year and is due to meet again in May. Chen, professor and director of the Robotics Laboratory at the University of Science and Technology of China, said AI in China had developed to a point where ethical guidelines were now necessary to address potential risks in large-scale applications

Li Yuan - To Cover China, There’s No Substitute for WeChat - The New York Times My biggest tech wish is for Google, Facebook, Apple or another company to build a technology that can break the Great Firewall, the system of filters and blocks that prevents Chinese from visiting thousands of foreign websites. Instead of kowtowing to the Chinese government’s demands in order to gain access to the market, American tech giants could do something heroic: Liberate hundreds of millions of people from information darkness.

World's Largest AI Startup SenseTime Readies $2 Billion Fundraising - Caixin Global The Beijing-based firm raised more than $1.2 billion last year including a round announced in May that valued it at more than $4.5 billion. The funding from firms including Fidelity International, Silver Lake Partners and Hopu Capital followed a deal to sell a stake to Qualcomm Inc. in 2017 that valued SenseTime at a more than $1.5 billion.

Did Xiaomi Lose a Billion-Yuan Bet With Gree? - Caixin Global  In five years — by 2018 — Xiaomi would post revenue higher than Gree’s. He offered a symbolic 1 yuan wager, but Dong — often called China’s most successful businesswomen — surprised viewers by raising the amount to 1 billion yuan. Lei accepted. The companies’ numbers for all of 2018 aren’t yet public, but things don't look good for Lei. As of Sep. 30, Gree's gross corporate revenues were 150 billion yuan. Xiaomi’s? Only 130 billion yuan.

How to Make a 56,823% Return With Hong Kong's Worst Ever IPO - Bloomberg  For those who snapped up stock in Xiaomi’s earliest funding round, offloading the shares this week still proved to be hugely profitable. They paid as little as 1.95 Hong Kong cents for a slice between September 2010 and May 2011, according to the Beijing-based company’s prospectus. Almost 4 billion shares were sold at that price. Early holders could have pocketed a 56,823 percent profit if they sold at Tuesday’s close of HK$11.10, without adjusting for stock splits.

Bitmain’s two founders to step aside as Chinese cryptocurrency giant taps software coder as new CEO | South China Morning Post  In September Bitmain filed an application to publicly list in Hong Kong, following a similar move by smaller Chinese rivals Canaan Creative and Ebang International. However, the city’s market regulator and stock exchange operator are unlikely to approve initial public offerings for any cryptocurrency-related business, citing the lack of regulation in the industry, people familiar with the situation told the Post previously.

Moody's: China is pushing 'untested' policies amid slowing growth - CNBC "We see growth in China slowing to 6 percent," Christian Fang, an assistant vice president-analyst at Moody's, told CNBC's "Squawk Box" on Thursday. "I think the bigger issue for us is that policy trade-offs have increased in China. On the one hand, there is this broader campaign of de-risking, deleveraging, but policy also seems to be shifting slightly towards growth — supporting growth."  "Some of the tools in the policy response they have meted out are untested," he added. "Tax cuts, for instance, we don't know what the businesses and the consumers — how they would respond to the tax cuts."

China’s Tencent again left off list of approved video game titles | Financial Times $$ 

Tencent has again failed to win approval for new video games after China’s top media regulator issued a list of 84 titles that omitted the industry leader for the second time in a fortnight.

A wacky video game about throwing people off the roof is a hit in China thanks to viral videos on Douyin | South China Morning Post A little-known smartphone game called Party.io has become a sudden hit in China after videos of users playing the game gained prominence on Douyin, the short-video app that is known as TikTok overseas. The indie title is now the most-downloaded free game in China for Apple users, surpassing previous leaders like PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds.


Energy, Environment, Science And Health

3 health officials fired over use of expired polio vaccines - China Daily Three health officials responsible for 145 babies being given expired oral vaccines were dismissed from their posts in Jinhu county, Jiangsu province, on Wednesday, according to the county's health commission. From Dec 11 to Jan 7, the babies received expired polio vaccines at a local health center in Licheng township, the commission confirmed.

Ebola-like virus found in Chinese bats | South China Morning Post A new Ebola-related bat-borne virus with the potential to infect humans and animals has been found by a team of Chinese and Singaporean scientists in southwestern China. The Mengla virus – discovered in a fruit bat caught in Mengla county, Yunnan province – is closely related to the Ebola and Marburg viruses which are capable of causing severe and often fatal bleeding and organ failure in humans, according to the scientists. Their study, published in the January edition of the online journal Nature Microbiology, confirmed that the new virus could infect cells from monkeys, hamsters, dogs and humans.

China launches subsidy-free solar, wind power after project costs fall | Reuters  Last year, the government was forced to suspend all new subsidized solar capacity approvals after a record 53-gigawatt capacity increase in 2017 left it with a backlog of at least 120 billion yuan ($18 billion) in subsidy payments. The new subsidy-free projects will generate renewable power for sale at the same prices as non-subsidised coal-fired power plants, and will not have to comply with capacity quota restrictions, the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) announced on Wednesday. It added that the projects would, however, receive support on land and financing.

Illuminating the South China Sea’s Dark Fishing Fleets | Stephenson Ocean Security Project  As they race to pull the last fish from the South China Sea, fishers stand at least as much chance of triggering a violent clash as do the region’s armed forces. And that has become even more likely as a significant number of fishing vessels in the area forgo fishing full-time to serve as a direct arm of the state through official maritime militia. 

How China’s Big Overseas Initiative Threatens Global Climate Progress - Yale E360 China’s Belt and Road Initiative is a colossal infrastructure plan that could transform the economies of nations around the world. But with its focus on coal-fired power plants, the effort could obliterate any chance of reducing emissions and tip the world into catastrophic climate change.