Fourth Plenum; China pushing for all tariffs to be removed before phase one deal?; Business environment
|Bill Bishop||Oct 24, 2019||16|
The Politburo met today and the official readout informed us that the Fourth Plenum will start next Monday and run four days until October 31.
There are some interesting (crazy?) rumors about possible personnel changes at the Plenum next week. I am not convinced by any of them, and so will not repeat them here. I expect more of a boring meeting, with the focus on approving “a document on the CPC Central Committee's decision concerning how to uphold and improve the system of socialism with Chinese characteristics and modernize China's system and capacity for governance.” I would be happy to be wrong and have some public excitement thrust back in CCP elite politics.
I will go out on a limb and make the assumption that key to upholding and improving the system will be a bigger role for the Party and even more focus on Party construction.
As I wrote Monday, in spite of the twenty month gap between the Third and Fourth Plenums I am skeptical of claims it was “delayed:
I am not seeing any public evidence that is the case. The Party is required to hold a plenum once every calendar year, and with the Fourth scheduled for this Fall the schedule is back on track. Since the Third Plenum Xi has convened two extraordinary meetings of all the top Party, State and Military leaders [the one on risks in January and the one in July to go over progress in the reforms pushed through at the Third Plenum]. That convening ability, along with the early the Third Plenum last year, sure look like signs of the power and authority of the “People’s Leader”.
One thing I am very curious about is whether or not Xi will be called “People’s Leader 人民领袖” after the Plenum. That title was first use for Xi in early 2018, sparking all sorts of concerns and speculations. Then it disappeared for over a year. The “core” appellation” for Xi went through a similar cycle of appearing then disappearing, though for a shorter period, then re-emerging as an official formulation used today.
“People’s Leader 人民领袖” reappeared in page 1 People’s Daily article 人民领袖爱人民 on August 25th this year, and discussed in the August 26th newsletter. But then it mostly disappeared again, as discussed in the September 30 newsletter. If Xi does not get it we may have to wonder what is going on in the background. The things we have to get excited about when trying to figure out CCP elite politics…
US Vice President Pence’s long-awaited speech on China is live streaming here, starting just about as this newsletter goes out to you.
Thanks for reading.
The Essential Eight
1. Fourth Plenum
The fourth plenary session of the 19th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) will be held from Oct. 28 to 31 in Beijing, according to a decision made at a CPC Central Committee Political Bureau meeting on Thursday...
At Thursday's meeting, members of the CPC Central Committee Political Bureau discussed important issues concerning how to uphold and improve the system of socialism with Chinese characteristics and modernize China's system and capacity for governance, according to a statement issued after the meeting.
They were briefed about the opinions solicited from in and outside the CPC about a document on the CPC Central Committee's decision concerning how to uphold and improve the system of socialism with Chinese characteristics and modernize China's system and capacity for governance, the statement said.
They decided that the document will be revised based on the discussion at Thursday's meeting and submitted to the fourth plenary session...
The meeting underscored upholding and improving the major institutions that underpin the system of socialism with Chinese characteristics.
It called for developing a set of institutions that are well-conceived, fully built, procedure-based and efficiently functioning...
Calling upholding and improving the system of socialism with Chinese characteristics and modernizing China's system and capacity for governance a major strategic mission for the CPC, the meeting stressed that the efforts must be carried out under the unified leadership of the CPC Central Committee.
It is the first full meeting of the Central Committee in nearly 20 months, the longest interval between two plenums – as they are officially called – in recent decades...
The main agenda is to “discuss important issues concerning how to uphold and improve the socialist system with Chinese characteristics and how to make progress in modernising the country’s governance system and capacity” – a mouthful even by the party’s standards. But analysts say it ultimately translates into the party’s determination to further strengthen its rule at all levels and in all aspects of governance, in the face of challenges at home and abroad.
“The point of this plenum is to institutionalise the party’s effort to strengthen its absolute and comprehensive leadership of the country and society since the 19th party congress,” said independent political analyst Chen Daoyin, referring to a key party meeting in October 2017 that kick-started Xi’s second term in power.
for those who want to dig deeper into the main theme of the upcoming 4th Plenum, here is a "study guide compilation" on modernizing governance system and capacity, courtesy of People's Daily
China aims to buy at least $20 billion of agricultural products in a year if it signs a partial trade deal with the U.S., and would consider boosting purchases further in future rounds of talks, people familiar with the matter said...
The $20 billion would take its imports of U.S. farm goods back to around the level in 2017, before the U.S. began imposing tariffs. In the second year of a potential final deal when all punitive tariffs are removed, those purchases could rise to $40-$50 billion, said the people, who asked not to be named discussing the private talks.
Comment: Huh, that does not seem to be in line with what President Trump said Tuesday. This is likely part of China's attempt to get all the tariffs removed before signing the Phase One deal, something I and others expect they will at least make a play for. Whether they will overplay their hand is the real question, and I would not rule it out. Here is what Trump said Tuesday:
THE PRESIDENT: Well, one little example is the farmers. So they were told and I was told, if we could get $20 billion a year in purchase — the biggest they’ve ever done is $16 [billion], is what I’ve heard and what they’ve said. If we could get $20 billion a year from China — that China purchases $20 billion a year of agricultural product — that would be a great thing. So my people had $20 billion done. And I said, “I want more.” They said, “The farmers can’t handle it.” I said, “Tell them to buy larger tractors. It’s very simple.” (Laughter.) “They’ll buy more land and they’ll buy larger tractors. But I want more.”
And I said, “We want $60 billion to $70 billion.” And we agreed to $40 [billion] to $50 billion. So they wanted $20 billion, and I got $40 [billion] to $50 billion. And they’ve already started buying. And that’s just the way it goes. So I want to thank China for that.
And they have started the buying. So while we’re papering the deal — and that’s going well — we hope to sign it probably in Chile, when we have a summit in Chile, or wherever that may be.
“The good news about this phase one ... is it adopted virtually the entire chapter in the deal last May that they reneged on for IP,” Navarro told Fox Business Network in an interview. “Practically it means, if they steal our IP we’ll be able to take retaliatory action without them retaliating.”
China has passed a new law that it says will protect the intellectual property rights of foreign businesses operating in the country.
taking a hard line on China has emerged as one of the few areas of clear bipartisan consensus. Lawmakers from both parties have introduced more than 150 bills in the current Congress aimed at pushing back against the Chinese government.
While Trump has appeared tough on China’s trade policies after imposing tariffs on roughly $350 billion worth of goods, he has been accused of turning a blind eye to Beijing’s human rights abuses while offering praise to the country’s communist regime and its leader, Xi Jinping. The escalating tensions over Hong Kong protests have led to a sense of urgency among lawmakers to step in where the administration won‘t.
President Trump and many of his top advisers have identified China’s technological ambitions as a national security threat and want to limit the type of American technology that can be sold overseas. But a plan to do just that has encountered stiff resistance from some in the administration, who argue that imposing too many constraints could backfire and undermine American industry...
Some analysts say the fight goes beyond any specific technology and encompasses a broader debate echoing from the halls of Congress to the White House about how to revise American policy to confront a rising China. While many in Washington see Beijing as its biggest long-term rival, China is also the United States’ largest trading partner and crucial to industries like agriculture and manufacturing.
“It’s more than just a battle in the Commerce Department,” said Derek M. Scissors, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. “This is industry pushing back against the Congress.”
Allen Wu, chief executive of ARM China, said the company would keep licensing its technologies and providing service support to Chinese customers after an assessment by its legal department concluded that both its v8 and v9 architecture – blueprints that phone companies and chip makers use to design processors to power smartphones and other devices – are UK-origin technologies.
He stressed that ARM is the only non-US platform, with all the other computing architectures available on the market being of US-origin, according to a sina.com report. ARM China did not immediately respond to a request to confirm the report.
"M&A has been one of the areas hit hardest by the trade war, with deal value for North American target companies with a Chinese acquirer on pace to fall by over 90% since peaking in 2016," a new report from PitchBook finds.
Mr. Brown in 2017 co-authored a Defense Department paper that cautioned Chinese investment in private tech startups gave China access to the “crown jewels” of the U.S. and opportunities to spy or steal that technology. The paper was followed by new policies restricting Chinese investments in startups and was also criticized as stereotyping Chinese investors as potential spies...
“The concern I have is that [the paper] is used too much as a justification for protectionist ideas and not enough for stimulus for further investment,” he said.
Chinese-born American physicist Xiaoxing Xi was awarded the American Physical Society’s Andrei Sakharov Prize on Tuesday for “steadfast advocacy in support of the U.S. scientific community and open scientific exchange.”
In May 2015, Xi, a professor and then chair of the physics department at Temple University in Philadelphia, was arrested by the U.S. Department of Justice on espionage charges
The secretary of the US Navy said on Wednesday that for the US to meet the challenge of countering the threat of China, it would need to take a page from China’s playbook and employ an “all of government” approach.
Additionally, Richard Spencer said, that approach required a larger reliance on US allies in the Indo-Pacific region.
Imagine retiring after a long career serving in uniform, only to learn that your savings all those years had helped fund advanced weapons systems for America’s adversaries. This tragedy will soon become reality unless a decision by the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board is immediately reversed...
Set to take effect next year, the transition will force the FRTIB to invest about $3.3 billion of federal employees’ savings in state-owned and state-directed firms in China, and hundreds of millions more in Russian firms.
Appearing at the Wall Street Journal’s Tech Live conference on Tuesday, Iger was asked about his stance on pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong, but subtly referenced the turmoil that the NBA has faced in recent weeks as a reason to refrain from offering an answer.
“What we learned in the last week -- we’ve learned how complicated this is,” Iger said. “The biggest learning from that is that caution is imperative. To take a position that could harm our company in some form would be a big mistake. I just don’t believe it’s something we should engage in in a public manner.”
Across all categories on Tmall, three-quarters of brands incorporated the phrase “Made in China” on their product pages, up from less than half in 2017, according to research firm Gartner L2. Another study from researcher Nielsen in August showed that 68% of Chinese consumers preferred homegrown brands.
MacRitchie, of the Australian talent agency, has learned that to appease his Chinese clients he has to stay away from American spokespeople
3. Improving China’s business environment
The propaganda is in full force around the legislation to improve the business environment. It may make things much better, and the World Bank says it is easier to do business in China than 159 other countries, but as always what is in the law and what is actually implemented may be entirely different. That said, China more than ever needs to improves the business environment so perhaps this time there will be a smaller gap between the law and implementation?
The law on optimising China’s business environment, which will come into effect on January 1, 2020, was provided in draft form to US trade negotiators in Washington earlier this month and received a warm response, Ning Jizhe, who was a member of China’s delegation at the talks, said at a press conference in Beijing...
The draft regulation, which was released for feedback in July, was among a number of policy documents China exchanged with US negotiators to show Beijing was taking steps to streamline its business environment and become more friendly to foreign firms, Ning said...
But by taking steps to enhance intellectual property rights and become more business friendly, China is expecting Washington to reciprocate by improving its treatment of Chinese businesses in the US, Ning said.
China has leapfrogged France, the Netherlands and Switzerland as a place to do business according to a flagship annual ranking produced by the World Bank, after slashing red tape by expanding the use of technology by its bureaucracy.
Its advances, which propelled it from 46th place last year to 31st place out of 190 countries, are part of a broader trend of convergence in regulatory and administrative practices between emerging markets and advanced economies.
"It's a systematic project to optimize the business environment, and providing legal and institutional safeguards is a significant part," said Zhang Yaobo, an official with the Ministry of Justice.
According to Zhang, the regulation shows China highly values the improvement of the business environment and is determined to continue its efforts, which will stabilize market expectations and reinforce the confidence of market entities.
“Because there is a strong government and a centralised system in China, [the government] controls key resources for production and allocation,” said professor Li Jianwei from the Civil, Commercial and Economic Law School at the China University of Political Science and Law.
In reality it was not possible for there to be fair play among state-owned, foreign and private companies in China, he said at a forum on state sector reform in Beijing on Wednesday.
“If private businesses want to flourish, they will always have to depend on political will.”
Before you get too excited about the improving policy environment check out this article and the accompanying video explainer that appeared on People's Daily Online on October 15 explaining the benefits of private enterprises strengthening Party Construction within their organizations
Among the entrepreneurs appearing in the video are the secretary of the Party committee at US-listed online travel firm Tuniu, the deputy editor in chief of US-listed online video firm iQiyi, a manager from US-listed TAL Education Group.
4. Hong Kong
This year’s demonstrations are the latest outbreak of a fundamental clash that will keep flaring in different forms, shaping the lives and possibilities of Wong’s generation into old age. Wong is the child of past spasms of unrest and a likely architect of those to come.
“As long as Xi”—Jinping—“rules China, we don’t see the endgame. We don’t see the end of Xi,” Wong told me this summer. “It seems to be an infinity war. It’s our infinity war.”..
When I asked Wong about this fall’s growing violence, he bristled. “That’s the incentive of self-defense and self-protection,” he said. “I think how the Hong Kong police attempt to murder people and to attack journalists and first-aid workers, and the arbitrary arrest, search, and crackdown on people, is far worse than anything done by protesters.”
A tweet from one of Jimmy Lai's top executive after a visit to Congress in DC cautions about the impact of the violence on Congressional perceptions:
Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said U.S. politicians like Pelosi publicly condoning violence in Hong Kong is emboldening rioters and illegal violence.
"It's 100-percent street violence and illegal actions in Hong Kong, that's common facts, crystal clear," Hua pointed out at Thursday's daily briefing after Pelosi called what happened in Hong Kong "non-violent protest."
Opposition lawmakers in Hong Kong have been “using filibustering ways to hijack the Legislative Council since its reopening, trying to paralyse the governance” of the city, Communist Party mouthpiece People’s Daily said in a commentary published on its website.
“They and the radical protesters shouted slogans like ‘liberate Hong Kong, revolution of our times’, demanded the dissolution of the Legislative Council, the disbandment the police force, and even the setting up an interim government, to keep putting pressure on Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor to resign,” it said.
“All these have exposed their real intention, and that is they want to mess up Hong Kong, overthrow the special administrative region government and seize power.”
Hong Kong’s police associations on Wednesday slammed the head of Chinese University for his “biased” statement that spelt out the alleged assaults and mistreatments some students claimed to have faced upon arrest for taking part in anti-government protests...
“[You] have said nothing about the serious crimes the arrested students were suspected of committing,” said the statement by the Superintendents’ Association, the Police Inspectors’ Association, the Overseas Inspectors’ Association and the Junior Police Officers’ Association.
Police have been able to use the technology from Sydney-based iOmniscient for at least three years, and engineers from the company have trained dozens of officers on how to use it, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the information isn’t public. The software can scan footage including from closed-circuit television to automatically match faces and license plates to a police database and pick out suspects in a crowd.
Since late August, eight well-known dissidents have been beaten by unknown assailants as fear swirls that some “triad” crime networks have flocked to Beijing’s cause after five months of pro-democracy protests...
In recent weeks, crowds of pro-democracy supporters have savagely beaten people who vocally disagree with them – although those fights tend to be spontaneous outbursts of mob anger during protests.
Pro-democracy figures, however, have been attacked in a noticeably more targeted way.
This article is written by a former Royal Hong Kong Police officer whose service included Special Branch engaged in counter-terrorism intelligence, and who is currently resident in Hong Kong. It offers a detailed chronological overview of the development of the 2019 protests in Hong Kong; analyses the problems with the political response on the part of the Hong Kong and Beijing governments; it also looks at the tactics employed by the protesters, and critically examines the tactical and strategic response to the protests by the Hong Kong police. It also discusses the broader social and economic causes of the protests, and how the Hong Kong government might best respond to these challenges
For over 100 days now, protesters in Hong Kong have taken to the streets every weekend. What it’s like to live through that.
7. Inside the campaign to win the election of the UN FAO head
China’s bid to place one of its own top officials at the head of the Rome-based U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), which helps direct agricultural and food security policies worldwide, offered an early test, Moley noted. The election was still some five months away. But Moley, the U.S. assistant secretary of state for international organization affairs, made clear that defeating China would become a key U.S. foreign-policy goal.
“It was all China, China, China,” recalled a source familiar with the exchange. “‘We have to do anything to beat the Chinese,’” the source recalled Moley as saying.
Five months later, the race ended in a stinging defeat for the United States. Beijing’s candidate, Qu Dongyu, the vice minister of agriculture and rural affairs, overwhelmingly won the June 23 election with 108 out of 191 votes from the organization’s 194 member countries. U.S. diplomats initially anticipated their favored candidate, a former Georgian agriculture minister, receiving at least 60 votes. He ended up getting 12.
Qu does seem qualified:
The son of a rice farmer, and an agricultural scientist by background, he had worked his way up the career ladder in Chinese academic and government circles to become vice minister of agriculture and rural affairs, overseeing agricultural initiatives under the Belt and Road Initiative and Beijing’s agricultural modernization plans in Africa.
China wanted to make sure countries that said if would support Qu actually did:
Before the vote, U.S. and European delegations picked up rumors that China had instructed its supporters to take a screenshot of their ballots to prove they had voted for Qu. They proposed imposing a ban on the use of cell phones in the voting booth and having U.N. security enforce it. But China, backed by Iran and other supporters, opposed the rule. In the end, they reached a compromise. Cell phones would be barred, but there would be no measures to enforce the ban.
Still, on the day of the vote, FAO security had to “shoo away” Chinese representatives who were trying to peer over the top of the voting booths and take photos, according to two diplomatic sources. And some delegates divulged having taken screen shots of their ballots, according to diplomatic sources.
6. How will the PRC try to influence the 2020 Taiwan election?
After decades of China’s veiled threats to invade and a long-running campaign to get Taiwan’s allies to shift their diplomatic allegiance to Beijing, researchers, government officials, and lawmakers in Taipei all say that China is pursuing a new tactic in the runup to Taiwan’s Jan. 11 presidential vote: election meddling. “China is following the steps from Russia,” says Tzeng Yi-suo, head of cyberwarfare at the Institute for National Defense and Security Research, which is advising Taiwan’s government on ways to counteract the interference. “In our election campaign periods, there is a most striking influence campaign coming from the Chinese Communist Party.”..
Puma Shen, an assistant professor at National Taipei University, has spent months analyzing the spread of disinformation from China with a team of researchers at DoubleThink Labs..
At a presentation to government officials and foreign diplomats in Taipei in September, Shen said that while China lacks Russia’s sophistication, it’s rapidly advancing.
Co-authored by American Enterprise Institute Resident Scholar Gary Schmitt and GTI Senior Non-Resident Fellow Michael Mazza, the report provides a detailed overview of how the People’s Republic of China (PRC) is interfering in Taiwan’s democracy and provides recommendations for ways to counter Chinese Communist Party (CCP) influence operations on the island.
Nearly 90% of Taiwan’s public opposes unification with China under the “one country, two systems“ model adopted by Hong Kong when it returned to Beijing’s rule in 1997, according to a survey published by Taiwan’s Mainland Affairs Council Thursday. That’s an increase of 13.9% percentage points since January to 89.3%.
7. 39 Chinese dead in UK truck
The trailer had arrived in the UK from Zeebrugge early on Wednesday morning and Belgian authorities released details about the trailer’s journey as UK police pressed ahead with a murder investigation.
The Belgian federal prosecutor announced on Thursday it had opened an inquiry into the deaths of the 39 people, to focus on all parties involved in the transport.
Essex police confirmed they are Chinese.
Of these, 38 are believed to be adults, and one is a young adult woman. We previously reported that she may have been a teenager. We have since confirmed that eight of the deceased are women and 31 are men and all are believed to be Chinese nationals. We arrested a man on suspicion of murder, who remains in custody, according to the police website.
The 39 people found dead in a refrigerated trailer in Essex were Chinese nationals, it is understood...
Essex Police said it was the largest murder investigation in the force's history and the victims were all "believed to be Chinese nationals".
It said formal identification of the 39 people, one of whom is a young adult woman, "could be a lengthy process".
An awful, tragic reminder that as big and powerful China is there are still people desperate to leave, however they can
But Hu Xijin of the Global Times blames the UK:
The news garnered more than 250 million views and 950,000 comments within one hour on China's Twitter-like Sina Weibo social media platform.
Net users expressed condolences for the victims and called for a comprehensive investigation. Many wondered where the victims were from and why they were on the truck.
610 million views, 149 thousand comments so far on the Weibo topic about the truck tragedy
8. Huang Wenxiu, Lei Feng for the New Era?
Earlier this month, Xi Jinping issued “important comments,” or zhongyao zhishi (重要指示), declaring that Huang Wenxiu (黄文秀), a young village leader in rural Guangxi who died in a flash flood on June 16, had been designated a “national outstanding CCP member” (全国优秀共产党员) by the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party — a figure to be celebrated as an exemplar for China’s younger generation.
Like Lei Feng before her, Huang Wenxiu represents the loftiest goal of life: sacrifice for the Chinese Communist Party. After earning her graduate degree in Beijing, said Xi, Huang had “given up work opportunities in the big city and resolved to return to her hometown, joining the front lines of the attack against poverty, sacrificing herself, dedicating her beautiful youth to the original mission of the Chinese Communist Party, composing a spring song of youth for the New Era.”..
Finally, on July 1, the Central Propaganda Department officially designated Huang Wenxiu as a “Model of the Era” (时代楷模) in a ceremony on national television, bringing her father and sister out on stage...
The emergence of the myth of Huang Wenxiu offers a fascinating modern-day glimpse into the process of manufacturing political mythology in China — a process not greatly changed from the days of Lei Feng.
Business, Economy and Trade
Huawei Defies Trade War Angst with Strong Yuan Bond Debut - Bloomberg The parent of tech giant Huawei Technologies Co. priced a 3 billion yuan ($425 million) three-year bond at 3.48% on Wednesday, according to people familiar with the matter who aren’t authorized to speak publicly and asked not to be identified. It’s the lowest coupon for three-year domestic bonds issued by privately-owned companies this year, Bloomberg data show.
Yicai Global - Overfull Trucks Toppled Bridge in Wuxi, China's Transport Ministry Says Severely overloaded vehicles likely caused the collapse of a section of bridge in the eastern Chinese city of Wuxi two weeks ago, according to the initial findings of an investigation by the transport ministry
国资委酝酿深化混改政策指引 _ 经济参考网 _ 新华社《经济参考报》官方网站 Economic Information Daily says SASAC will soon release more guidance on mixed ownership reform, based on the experience of current pilots 临近年底，地方国企混改明显提速。《经济参考报》记者获悉，国资委正在加紧对于前期双百行动和混改试点中好的改革经验进行归纳总结，将出台一些比较有针对性的政策指引，更好地推动和促进改革。
More Property Developers Cut Prices to Raise Cash as Demand Flags - Caixin Sunac China Holdings Ltd., the country’s fourth-biggest real estate group in terms of sales, has reduced prices for properties in a development in Tianjin, a coastal city some 100 kilometers southeast of Beijing, by 30% in the past two months, according to one homeowner who bought his apartment in September. The resident, who declined to be named, said he paid 16,000 yuan ($2,260) a square meter for his property, but the price for apartments in a newly released block has been reduced to 12,000 yuan. Prices for parking spaces have fallen by as much as 50%. Homeowners are furious and nearly 100 have protested to the company about the cuts. They have refused to accept the developer’s explanation that it had to make the move due to poor sales and feedback from buyers that the layout of apartments was poor, the resident said.
State-Owned Oil Giant Gets New Chairman - Caixin China National Offshore Oil Corp. (CNOOC), announced the news on Thursday afternoon. Wang is to replace Yang Hua, who resigned as CNOOC’s chairman in early September when he was made chairman at another state-owned giant, chemical manufacturer Sinochem Group.
Financial Giant Ping An Appoints First New President in Eight Years Hong Kong- and Shanghai-listed Ping An Insurance (Group) Co. of China Ltd. promoted Senior Vice President Xie Yonglin to president at a board meeting on Thursday, according to its filings to the Hong Kong and Shanghai stock exchanges. Xie will officially replace Ren Huichuan upon approval from the country’s top insurance regulator, the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission, the conglomerate said in the filings, adding that Ren has been appointed its vice chairman.
Charles Barkley on NBA-China standoff: ‘I hope it goes away’ - The Washington Post Morey has the right to freedom of speech, but he also has to understand that he works for the Houston Rockets. That’s the No. 1 brand in China for the NBA because of their affiliation with Yao Ming. You can’t insult a foreign country and go make money there. If he believes that [tweet] so much, he should not work for the Rockets. Everybody in this country does business in China. All of a sudden, these people want to get on LeBron and Adam Silver for trying to protect their money. Why should [James] sacrifice his money because of some tweet this fool put out? Why should [the NBA] sacrifice their billions?
25 million Chinese fans streamed the NBA's opening game on Tencent | South China Morning Post While state broadcaster CCTV has continued its ban on airing NBA games, Tencent seems to be reaping the benefits of showing the games for the regular season
More comedic skewering of PRC influence over US institutions, this from the Late Show with Stephen Colbert:
China’s STAR Market Is Falling to Earth - WSJ $$ So far, the new board is following a familiar pattern for China’s efforts to launch a domestic capital market to rival the U.S.’s Nasdaq. Like the Shenzhen Stock Exchange’s SME Board and ChiNext, STAR Market was launched to fanfare, booming volumes and hopeful commentary about the development of China’s capital markets. But so far, none of the Chinese alternatives have produced the goods.
China Bonds Sell at Record 97% Discount in Anonymous Auction - Bloomberg The sale is a sign of investors’ increasing tolerance of risk in China’s nascent distressed debt market amid a broader boom in onshore high yield trading. Policymakers have been encouraging a market-oriented approach in the country’s credit markets since 2014 when authorities first started allowing companies to default. The total number of defaults in 2019 is on track to eclipse last year’s record.
The quiet failure of a Chinese developer’s ‘Manhattan in Africa’ | The Guardian Despite announcing the start of construction, and with some infrastructure being built, the project stalled. Dai announced he was leaving property development and moving into the art market. He later set up a 10bn-yuan (£1.1bn) peer-to-peer lending business, handing himself in last month to Chinese police investigating accusations of illegal fundraising. Zendai Group sold Modderfontein to China Orient Asset Management Corporation, which manages non-performing assets. They in turn sold the site to Pretoria-based developer M&T.
Returns on Chinese Bank Wealth Management Products Decline for 19th Consecutive Month in September - China Banking News A report from Securities Daily indicates that the rate of return on bank WMP’s in China posted a 2 basis point month-on-month decline in September to 3.84%.
Tencent Says Libra Would Pose Serious Threat to Alipay, WeChat Pay - CoinDesk In a blockchain whitepaper published in Chinese this week, Tencent said Facebook’s Libra initiative seems “bold and radical” but is actually a “prudent and rational” move for the Silicon Valley giant. The Libra coin could quickly win market share in countries that do not have a credible local currency of their own, or in places where people do not have access to basic financial infrastructure, it continued. But that would be direct competition the Chinese companies could not replicate. “Any internet company that has a relatively mature digital payment system, such as WeChat Pay and Alipay, would be threatened by the stablecoin if it is ever launched,” the whitepaper reads. // Tencent's white paper 2019 腾讯区块链白皮书
Outsourcing to Debt Collection Agencies Behind 51 Credit Card Police Raids - China Banking News According to an official police circular Chinese authorities received a large volume of complaints about 51 Credit Card’s business practices, which include “entrusting debt collection companies with pretending to be government authorities, and the use of soft violent methods for the collection of debts, including intimidation and harassment.”
China’s Official GDP Growth Rate Does Not Agree With Reality « China Change - Xiang Songzuo According to official data, China’s GDP growth rate in the third quarter fell to 6 percent, and will likely fall below that in the fourth. Next year, it is sure to enter the era of 5 percent. If you look at corporate profits, fiscal revenue and other indicators, things don’t add up and the official GDP growth rate is clearly inflated. In the areas of fiscal revenue and corporate profits, it’s most negative growth. National tax revenues also experienced negative growth in the first three quarters. How can it be possible that GDP grew by 6 percent? When I went to places to observe, research, and talk to people, the local government officials are much more frank about the fact that their regions are experiencing negative growth. And the government even claimed that there’s “progress in stability” and that “things are getting better as they remain stable.” But this doesn’t agree with reality. //Comment: Xiang has fans in the White House
Politics and Law
Former general manager of China's state-owned power company investigated - China daily Yun Gongmin, former general manager of China Huadian Corporation Ltd., is being investigated for suspected serious violations of discipline and law, the top anti-graft body said Thursday.
China to set up leading group on poverty relief inspections - Gov.cn Vice-Premier Hu Chunhua will assume leadership of the group. Set at the National Bureau of Statistics, the group’s office will be headed by Li Xiaochao, NBS deputy chief, and Ou Qingping, deputy director of the State Council Leading Group Office of Poverty Alleviation and Development.
Readings | Getting China Right: China in the World We asked conference participants to recommend one or two works—a book, journal article, book chapter, or unpublished paper—that they consider a “must read” for a graduate seminar on Chinese politics. We also asked them to explain in a few sentences the reason for their choice or choices. Here are results to date.
Dui Hua Human Rights Journal: Leftist Dissent Under Xi: The Old Leftists, Part I despite this leftist revival, many adherents of Mao who are nostalgic for his egalitarian ideals continue to find themselves disillusioned with Xi’s “new era of socialism with Chinese characteristics,” largely due to pervasive corruption and social inequality. They make up a large pool of leftist dissenters who refuse to acknowledge the achievements made by the CCP over the 40 years of economic reform. Leftist dissent, however, is far from being monolithic. The dissenters are from diverse backgrounds, have assorted motives, and use different means to channel discontent. There is also a generational divide within this group.
Police detain Chinese #MeToo activist Sophia Huang Xueqin on public order charge | South China Morning Post Two sources said Sophia Huang Xueqin, a key figure in the #MeToo movement in China, was formally arrested a week ago on charges of “picking quarrels and provoking trouble” – an offence often used by police to detain dissidents and social activists, and that can attract a prison sentence of up to five years.
Foreign and Defense Affairs
Ilham Tohti wins 2019 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought | | European Parliament Ilham Tohti, an Uyghur economist fighting for the rights of China’s Uyghur minority, is the winner of the European Parliament's Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought in 2019...Tohti is a proponent of dialogue and advocate for the implementation of regional autonomy laws in China. In 2014, he was sentenced to life imprisonment on separatism-related charges. Despite this, he remains a voice of moderation and reconciliation. Since 2017, more than one million Uyghurs have been detained in a network of internment camps. // Comment: In retrospect his detention will likely be seen as the clearest signal of the start of the ongoing cultural and ethnic genocide of the Uyghurs
China’s attacks on Uighur women are crimes against humanity - The Washington Post Even if the camps are disbanded, China’s gendered policies would remain. In addition to demanding that the Chinese government close the internment camps, the U.S. government — and the rest of the world — must insist that the government end the abuse of Uighur women as well.
Fears Australian toddler caught up in Beijing's 'hostage diplomacy' - Australian Broadcasting Corporation Lutfy is an Australian citizen with an Australian passport and his mother Nadila Wumaier has a valid Australian visa but the Chinese Communist Party has banned them from leaving. They are trapped in Xinjiang
Chinese private investment leading Beijing's push into the Pacific - Australian Broadcasting Corporation Australia and the United States have been worried about the growing level of Chinese government interest in Vanuatu and the Pacific more broadly, but private investments from China like Rainbow City are booming. And for locals, it is the most direct source of disquiet and discomfort about the future of their island homes.
Roger Uren, former ASIO official, arrested by AFP for breaching secrecy laws - Sydney Morning Herald The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald can reveal that Roger Uren was arrested and charged last week with multiple counts of engaging in the unauthorised handling of classified material in breach of the intelligence services act...It’s understood Mr Uren’s charges were authorised by Attorney-General Christian Porter, according to sources familiar with the matter. Mr Uren, who was released on bail last week, is married to Chinese-Australian lobbyist and suspected intelligence operative Sheri Yan.
Roger Uren's wife defends former intelligence officer, says he is loyal to his country - Sydney Morning Herald Uren had been planning for his wife, Sheri Yan, and her elderly parents to move to Canberra from Beijing when he was arrested last week. "All his life - he joined DFAT when he was young - he has been very loyal to his country. He cares about Australia," Yan told The Sydney Morning Herald andThe Age in Beijing, where she has been living in an apartment with her parents, aged 90 and 88, and caring for them.
China Routs the United States at the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization China’s bid to place one of its own top officials at the head of the Rome-based U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), which helps direct agricultural and food security policies worldwide, offered an early test, Moley noted. The election was still some five months away. But Moley, the U.S. assistant secretary of state for international organization affairs, made clear that defeating China would become a key U.S. foreign-policy goal…Five months later, the race ended in a stinging defeat for the United States. Beijing’s candidate, Qu Dongyu, the vice minister of agriculture and rural affairs, overwhelmingly won the June 23 election with 108 out of 191 votes from the organization’s 194 member countries. U.S. diplomats initially anticipated their favored candidate, a former Georgian agriculture minister, receiving at least 60 votes. He ended up getting 12.
China's new rifle to help create future ‘super soldiers’ - Global Times China's recently revealed new service rifle is reliable and comfortable, and "super soldiers" are in the making when paired with an advanced individual soldier combat system, said a senior Chinese light arms developer...Accompanying the new rifle is an individual soldier combat system, which integrates dozens of advanced devices, including an information exchange interface packed up on the chest of a soldier, the CCTV report said.
China could tap North Korea rare earth mine in exchange for solar investment: report - Reuters North Korea plans to grant China access to a rare earth mine in exchange for investment in solar energy that could ease its chronic power shortages, a Chinese industry association website reported on Thursday.// Or not? See next item-
China unlikely to trade with North Korea for rare mine: insider - Global Times A reported deal under which China could tap a North Korea rare-earth mine in exchange for solar investment appears unlikely, as the deal is not "an optimal one" for China in terms of business aspects, industry insiders told the Global Times on Thursday. Insiders also pointed out that even if the deal materialized, it would not mean that China has violated UN sanctions on North Korea, and an industry insider stressed that China will invest and trade with North Korea within the scope of UN regulations
Japan and China hold first joint maritime drills in eight years in sign of warming ties | South China Morning Post The Japan Maritime Self-Defence Force (MSDF) destroyer Samidare carried out a series of radio communication and coordination exercises with the Chinese guided-missile destroyer Taiyuan in waters south of Japan on October 16, Japanese national broadcaster NHK reported on Tuesday.
China-basher or bridge builder? What can we expect when Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro visits Beijing? | South China Morning Post The right-wing populist frequently attacked China on the campaign trail, accusing it of “buying up the country” and angered Beijing by visiting Taiwan in February last year. But he has since changed tack, saying he welcomed Chinese investment and trade just before taking office at the start of the year.
On Russia’s Vast Frontier, Lots of Free Land and Few Takers - WSJ $$ Three years ago, Russia set out a bold plan to revive its vast Far East, handing out free land to reverse depopulation in an area rich in timber, minerals and oil that has drawn interest from Chinese investors and businesses. But the ambitious program to arrest the decadeslong outflow of residents to the bright lights of big cities, including Moscow and St. Petersburg, hasn’t lived up to expectations. Pioneers of this five-year pilot program now in its third year have been stymied by poor transportation, meager power links and unexpected costs, leaving some locals worried they will be unable to keep up with the Chinese economic juggernaut.
Vladimir Putin opens first ever Russia-Africa Summit | DW The Russian president has welcomed thousands of African leaders to discuss politics and business "worth billions of dollars." Unlike China, Putin has promised to refrain from "political or other" influence.
Chinese orienteering team disqualified at World Military Games for cheating – shanghaiist Orienteering involves using a topographical map and a compass to navigate from point to point as fast as you can in diverse and typically unfamiliar terrain. In the Middle Distance competition on Sunday, Chinese runners finished in first, second, and fourth place among women and second among men. This impressive result was quickly thrown into question, however, when a protest was filed by the national teams from Austria, Belgium, France, Poland, Switzerland, and Russia. According to the International Orienteering Federation (IOF), it was discovered and proven that Chinese runners had “received illegal assistance both by spectators in the terrain, markings and small paths prepared for them and which only they were aware of.”
Chinese ship heads away from Vietnam after disputed surveys in South China Sea - CNA A Chinese oil survey vessel that has been embroiled in a tense standoff with Vietnamese vessels in the South China Sea left Vietnamese-controlled waters on Thursday (Oct 24) after more than three months, marine data showed.
Malaysia bans controversial belt and road comic for cultural insensitivity, promoting communism | South China Morning Post A comic book championing China’s Belt and Road Initiative and written by a controversial Malaysian activist was on Wednesday banned by the Home Ministry for cultural insensitivity and promoting communism after a week of widespread criticism. “This publication tries to, among other things, promote the ideology of communism and socialism and has spread incorrect, confusing facts about communists while trying to raise support and sympathy for the communist struggle,” the ministry said in a statement.
Explain how Hew’s comic ended up in Chinese president’s hands - MCA MCA has questioned how a copy of controversial Belt and Road Initiative for Win-Winism comic, which Putrajaya has since banned, was handed to Chinese President Xi Jinping. MCA president Wee Ka Siong said he wanted Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah and Malaysian Special Envoy to China Tan Kok Wai to explain the matter.
Xi's leadership helps reach agreement on common concerns among nations - China Daily Editor's note: Xi Jinping Thought on Diplomacy is the fundamental guideline for China's diplomatic work in the new era. China Daily is publishing a series of stories to examine how Xi's proposals have become internationally accepted and made great contributions to world peace and human progress—Dedication to peaceful dialogue, evolving approaches for guarding rights and interests, sincerity for win-win cooperation and improved publicity worldwide have contributed to China's progressing diplomacy aimed at handling thorny territorial issues, senior diplomats and experts said.
Assistant Secretary David R. Stilwell Travels to Japan, Burma, Malaysia, Thailand, Seoul and China - United States Department of State Assistant Secretary Stilwell will stop in Beijing on November 7, where he will meet with U.S. Embassy staff and Chinese government officials
Tech and Media
E-Commerce Power Couple Untying the Knot? - Caixin Li Guoqing announced the split from wife Peggy Yu on his Weibo microblog on Wednesday. He revealed he submitted a divorce petition to a court in July. But he said that earlier this month Yu declined the request by saying the relationship wasn’t broken. In a more recent post on Thursday, Li said that Yu told him that she would agree to the divorce only if she is allowed to keep 75% of their shares as part of their divorce settlement. Li’s post didn’t specify shares in what, but it may refer to splitting up the Dangdang e-commerce company the two co-founded
Long-Delayed Film ‘Better Days’ Gets Surprise Release in China - SixthTone The highly anticipated teen drama “Better Days” is set to hit theaters on the Chinese mainland Friday after having its previously planned premiere canceled in June. // Comment: Approvals loosening up now that the 10.1 celebration has passed?
Onmyoji server shut down in Vietnam for violating local sovereignty laws | GamesIndustry.biz NetEase-developed RPG Onmyoji appears to have been shut down in Vietnam, following an update to the game that introduced a map change violating Vietnamese sovereignty laws.
Chinese-Owned Teen Sensation TikTok’s Appeal Waning - Bloomberg Because they cut ad spending? // According to Sensor Tower, TikTok was the top app-install advertiser on Facebook in the U.S. for four quarters in a row -- until it dropped out of the Top 10 in the second quarter. That coincided with a sharp plunge in new user growth in the country -- from the first quarter’s 182% year on year to just 16% in the second quarter.
China Drafts Cyber Regulations to Revise Laws Protecting Minors - Caixin Online product and service providers should avoid offering content that may lead to addiction among minors and should limit usage time, privileges and the ability to spend money, according to an article on the draft law posted on the official website of the National People's Congress (NPC). However, citing online games, China’s top legislative body said that concrete regulatory measures were up to the State Council, China’s cabinet. 未成年人保护法修订草案增设“网络保护”，哪些看点值得关注？
Society, Arts, Sports, Culture and History
Fifa under fire after announcing China will host 24-team Club World Cup | The Guardian Human rights organisations have condemned Fifa’s decision to stage a revamped version of the Club World Cup in China. World football’s governing body has confirmed that an expanded version of its showpiece event, featuring 24 teams, will take place there in June and July 2021
The Artist Snapping China’s Alienated Young Clubbers - SixthTone The haunting scene is part of photography series “Noon Club” by Chen Wei, a Chinese artist who has spent much of his career trying to capture the restlessness of life in modern Beijing. For Chen, China’s contradictory capital — oppressive and alienating, yet a magnet for young creatives — creates a subconscious tension in the minds of those who flock there, which comes to light after dark.
Energy, Environment, Science and Health
Stable demand, supplies expected for natural gas seen for ’19 winter - Global Times Following a 2017 winter gas shortage that left some households in freezing cold, China's three state-owned majors are describing supplying sufficient gas supplies for the region a "political task." Jin Lei, an associate professor at the China University of Petroleum, said overall gas consumption during the upcoming winter will still increase but growth will be subdued, due to slower economic expansion and what's forecast to be a relatively warm winter.
Chinese marine research vessel returns after deep-sea exploration - Xinhua According to the GMGS, the mission has carried out a comprehensive geological and geophysical survey in some areas of the Northwest Pacific Ocean and obtained sediment samples rich in rare earth elements, laying a foundation for the scientific research on deep-sea ecosystems and evaluation of new resources.
China winter smog targets not enough to offset last year's surge: data - Reuters In an action plan for October 2019 to March 2020, China said 28 smog-prone northern cities, including the capital Beijing, would have to curb emissions of lung-damaging small particles known as PM2.5 by an average of 4% from a year ago...However, the targeted decrease is 1.5 percentage points lower than an earlier draft, and would not be enough to reverse a 6.5% surge throughout the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region over the same period last year.