Fourth Plenum convenes; US-China trade progress; Xi and the blockchain; UK truck victims not Chinese?

The Fourth Plenum has started, we know nothing more than the brief official statement, but there are of course lots of rumors and speculation.

Last Thursday’s newsletter noted some of the rumors without giving specifics, but clearly based on reader feedback you want to hear what some of them are. The ones getting the most circulation are about the possible promotion of Chen Min’er to the Politburo Standing Committee (PBSC) and his designation as Xi’s successor. A variant of that rumor also includes the promotion of Hu Chunhua to the PBSC and the expansion of the body to nine members from seven.

I am very skeptical, for lots of reasons including the sources, but you just never know with CCP elite politics. I would be more dismissive but for something a senior western official with access to their government’s information on China told me recently, that Xi seemed to have been restrained, perhaps by elders, over Hong Kong and the trade talks. They could be wrong, which would be worrisome for other reasons, or something really could be up.

We may know in a few days, or we may not and the speculation about Xi’s power or weakness will continue. The opacity and guesswork would be kind of entertaining if the stakes were not so high, and if the CCP really is serious about “the modernization of China's system and capacity for governance” then it should increase its transparency. Wishful thinking I know.

Thanks for reading.


The Essential Eight

1. The Fourth Plenum

This is all we get for the opening of the Plenum - 19th CPC Central Committee holds fourth plenary session - Xinhua

Xi Jinping, general secretary of the CPC Central Committee, delivered a work report on behalf of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and explained a draft document of the CPC Central Committee's decision on some major issues concerning how to uphold and improve the system of socialism with Chinese characteristics and advance the modernization of China's system and capacity for governance.

As China’s Troubles Simmer, Xi Reinforces His Political Firewall - The New York Times - Chris Buckley

Mr. Xi has warned this year that China must prepare for “struggle,” an ominous term for domestic and external challenges, and has described his goal as building an authoritarian fortress against any shocks. The meeting this week, also called the plenum, will push efforts to sharpen China’s political defenses, likely including greater use of advanced technology to monitor and manage officials and citizens.

Mr. Xi laid out his proposals on the first day, according to Xinhua, China’s official news agency, but no details were released.

“He’s looking at this from the viewpoint of the next 30 years,” said Tian Feilong, a professor of law at Beihang University in Beijing. “The system still isn’t strong enough for this struggle against all kinds of external forces, because it still has many holes.”

Beijing Woos U.S. and Other Foreign Companies as Trade War Takes Toll - WSJ $$

The pursuit of foreign investors comes as the Communist party elite sits down Monday for its first top policy-setting meeting, or plenum, since early last year, during which leaders will discuss their next five-year economic blueprint, according to Chinese officials involved in policy making...

At the heart of that is expected to be a revamped industrial policy to supplant their “Made in China 2025” plan, which the Trump administration has criticized as relying heavily on government subsidies and forced technology transfers from Western companies to transform China into a global technology leader.

Beijing last year began looking into a new plan that would offer foreign companies greater market access, such as by dropping existing numerical targets for market share by domestic companies.

Soul-searching for China’s Communist Party elite as they consider way ahead | South China Morning Post

While the theme is about “modernising” China’s governance, the word “modernisation” should not be taken at face value, said Deng Yuwen, former deputy editor of Study Times, a propaganda mouthpiece affiliated with the Central Party School, the party’s top academy.

“‘Modernisation’ looks like it is about closing the gaps with the West, but it actually means doing it in the China way,” said Deng, now a political scholar. “It is a combination of bringing more effective ways of governing and upholding what it calls ‘socialism.’”

Xi’s in Charge: What the Fourth Plenum Tells Us about Xi Jinping’s Hold on Power | Center for Strategic and International Studies

Specific plenums have general themes, and since 1954, the Fourth Plenum has focused primarily on strengthening CCP capacity, organizational integrity, and political discipline. True to form, the upcoming meeting will focus on “upholding and improving the system of socialism with Chinese characteristics and the modernization of China's system and capacity for governance,” which was the title of a document reviewed by the Politburo at its recent session and which will be submitted to the full Central Committee at the upcoming plenum. This phrase appeared in the communique of the Third Plenum of the Eighteenth Party Congress in November 2013 and then more prominently in Xi’s report at the Nineteenth Party Congress in late 2017.

Amid crises, Xi seems set to uphold Party's rule at secretive China conclave - Reuters

“The fourth plenum will implement reform plans, and they will talk about how to improve governance, which is pressing,” one Chinese policy insider told Reuters on condition of anonymity, because of the sensitivity of the matter.

“They need to transform the overall state governance capacity and adapt to changes in global rules and withstand stress tests from external risks,” the insider said, adding that the trade war is exacerbating such pressures.

Will Chongqing party chief and Xi ally Chen Min'er be promoted at major Communist Party meeting?,- The Straits Times - Benjamin Lim

"There could be major personnel changes," one source, requesting anonymity, told The Straits Times, adding that if Mr Xi had his way, Mr Chen will join the Standing Committee.

"If Chen Min'er becomes 'crown prince', the Standing Committee could be expanded to eight members," the source said. The Standing Committee now has seven members, headed by President Xi.

Just in time for the Plenum - Book of Xi's discourses on Party's leadership published - Xinhua

The book contains 70 key discourses, extracted from speeches and other documents by Xi between November 2012 and July 2019, some of which are published for the first time.

Ensuring the Party's leadership over all work is an important part of Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era.

The book, compiled by the Institute of Party History and Literature of the CPC Central Committee, is available nationwide from Sunday.

The book - 习近平同志《论坚持党对一切工作的领导》出版发行-新华网

Comrade Xi Jinping: On maintaining the Communist Party's leadership over all forms of work

A Tianjin Daily report (天津日报数字报刊平台-强化军地协作 推动国防动员和后备力量建设) on a meeting chaired by Tianjin Party Secretary Li Hongzhong on strengthening coordination between the local government and the PLA, uses the term "People's Leader 人民领袖", specifically "from the bottom of one's heart firmly trust and love general secretary Xi Jinping as the core of the Party, People's Leader, and commander-in-chief of the army 内心深处坚定对习近平总书记作为党的核心、人民领袖、军队统帅的信赖和爱戴".

That seems like a well thought out formulization, and it is worth remembering that Li Hongzhong was one of the first senior officials to push the “core” appellation for Xi. I may be beating a dead horse with too much fascination on “People’s Leader”, but something seems to be up with this. However, would making Xi also “People’s Leader” be a sign of modernizing governance?


2. US-China trade

Trump says phase one of China trade deal is ‘ahead of schedule’ - POLITICO

“We are looking probably to be ahead of schedule to sign a very big portion of the China deal, and we’ll call it Phase One but it’s a very big portion,” Trump said. “That would take care of the farmers. It would take care of some of the other things. It will also take care of a lot of the banking needs.”

China Says Part of Phase 1 Trade Deal Text ‘Basically Completed’ - Bloomberg

The Saturday comments followed a call Friday with Chinese Vice Premier Liu He, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. The trade negotiators “agreed to properly resolve their core concerns and confirmed that the technical consultations of some of the text agreement were basically completed,” China’s Ministry of Commerce said in a statement on Saturday.

Trump advisor Navarro fighting 'Phase One' of China trade deal: sources - CNBC

So far, Navarro’s effort has been unsuccessful. “He’s been agitating to drive a harder line” since the partial deal was announced, said one former administration official. “But he’s alone on this one.”

On Friday, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin continued talks in a principal-level call with Chinese vice premier Liu He. “They made headway on specific issues and the two sides are close to finalizing some sections of the agreement,” according to a readout provided by USTR. “Discussions will go on continuously at the deputy level, and the principals will have another call in the near future.”

The statement: US-China Trade Relations-A Way Forward

锁定磋商成果 中美向阶段性协议再近一步|中美_新浪财经_新浪网

Sunday Taoran Notes also echoes the positive view towards progress in the phase one trade talks

Remarks by Vice President Pence at the Frederic V. Malek Memorial Lecture | The White House

VP Pence's China speech last week, nothing jumped out as surprising or more hardline than his prior China speech, perhaps tempered by the trade talks...the condemnation from Beijing was more ritualistic rhetoric than substance, frankly I think they were pleased it was not much worse.

China’s Response to Pence Speech: ‘Sheer Arrogance’ - The New York Times

Mr. Pence’s speech “exuded sheer arrogance and hypocrisy, and was packed with political prejudice and lies,” Ms. Hua said. “China expresses its strong indignation and adamant disapproval.”

U.S. rejects sanctions sought by China in tariffs case, going to arbitration: trade official - Reuters

The United States rejected China’s request on Monday for $2.4 billion in compensatory sanctions for alleged U.S. failure to comply with a World Trade Organization (WTO) ruling, sending it to arbitration, Geneva trade official said

Economists Call for Alternative Path to U.S.-China Trade Wars - Bloomberg

In a joint statement issued in China on Sunday, 37 economists -- including Joseph Stiglitz, Michael Spence and three other Nobel winners -- bemoaned what they said has been a descent of the trade conflict into a binary debate where the only emerging solutions are either wholesale economic reforms by China leading to a converging of economic models or an economically-damaging “decoupling.”


3. No “phase one” deal in sight for the “tech war”

Pentagon, With an Eye on China, Pushes for Help From American Tech - The New York Times

Pentagon officials have been holding private discussions with tech industry executives to wrestle with a key question: how to ensure future supplies of the advanced computer chips needed to retain America’s military edge.

The talks, some of which predate the Trump administration, recently took on an increased urgency, according to people who were involved or briefed on the discussions. Pentagon officials encouraged chip executives to consider new production lines for semiconductors in the United States, said the people, who declined to be identified because the talks were confidential...

At a recent panel of semiconductor industry veterans in Silicon Valley, the concern about an overreliance on TSMC was evident.

“What will happen when China makes its drive toward Taiwan? What will happen to TSMC?” asked Diane Bryant, a former Intel executive who is now a technology investor. “What is our way out of this pickle?”

Comment: A few months ago a couple of very seasoned China investors asked me if I thought Xi would invade Taiwan in part to gain control of TSMC. I doubt it, as there might not be much left of the firm after an invasion, but it was an interesting reminder of just how important TSMC is in the global technology chain.

China Sets Up New $29 Billion Semiconductor Fund - WSJ

The government-backed fund is bigger by some $9 billion compared with a similar fund launched in 2014 that had raised 139 billion yuan, according to corporate registration information, which showed the fund was established on Tuesday...

Backers of the new fund include central and local government-supported enterprises including the state-run tobacco monopoly and China Development Bank Corp.

Johnson set to grant Huawei access to UK’s 5G network — and open rift with Trump | The Sunday Times $$

Senior sources in Whitehall and the security services say the government is moving towards a decision that will see Huawei allowed access to the “non-contentious” parts of the network — a move that would put the UK on collision course with America, which has banned Huawei over fears that it is to close to Chinese intelligence agencies.

One source near the top of government said: “There have been further meetings about Huawei in recent days and the view that is forming is the same as the Theresa May view of the world, which was to allow them into the non-contentious parts of the network.”

Russia and Huawei team up as tech cold war deepens - Nikkei Asian Review

Huawei announced in August that it would triple the size of its R&D staff in Russia over the next six years and open three new R&D centers there by the end of 2019, which would make the country home to the third largest R&D operation it has outside of China.

Huawei is also strengthening its collaboration with leading Russian technical universities and other research institutions, including by inviting them to participate in joint projects and providing financial support for research related to areas of interest for the Chinese company, reported the local newspaper Izvestia.


4. Xi leads Politburo study session on the blockchain

Using the blockchain could do wonders for solving China’s food safety and vaccine safety issues, for example, but Xi has a much bigger vision than that, and of course it includes a global role in standards setting and “international discourse power and rule-making power”.

Xi stresses development, application of blockchain technology - Xinhua

Xi made the remarks Thursday while presiding over a group study session of the CPC Central Committee Political Bureau on the development and trend of blockchain technology...

More efforts should be made to strengthen basic research and boost innovation capacity to help China gain an edge in theories, innovation and industries of the emerging field, according to Xi.

Coordinated key-task tackling should be advanced and breakthroughs in key technologies should be accelerated to provide safe and controllable technological support for blockchain development and its application, said Xi, stressing the importance of stepping up research on the standardization of blockchain to increase China's influence and rule-making power in the global arena.

习近平在中央政治局第十八次集体学习时强调 把区块链作为核心技术自主创新重要突破口 加快推动区块链技术和产业创新发展-新华网

CCTV report on the Politburo study session on blockchain, Professor Chen Chun was the discussant

习近平强调,要强化基础研究,提升原始创新能力,努力让我国在区块链这个新兴领域走在理论最前沿、占据创新制高点、取得产业新优势。要推动协同攻关,加快推进核心技术突破,为区块链应用发展提供安全可控的技术支撑。要加强区块链标准化研究,提升国际话语权和规则制定权。要加快产业发展,发挥好市场优势,进一步打通创新链、应用链、价值链。要构建区块链产业生态,加快区块链和人工智能、大数据、物联网等前沿信息技术的深度融合,推动集成创新和融合应用。要加强人才队伍建设,建立完善人才培养体系,打造多种形式的高层次人才培养平台,培育一批领军人物和高水平创新团队。

[Rough translation via Youdao] Xi stressed the need to strengthen basic research, enhance the original innovation ability, and strive to make China at the forefront of theory, occupy the commanding heights of innovation and gain new industrial advantages in the emerging field of blockchain. We should promote collaborative research, accelerate breakthroughs in core technologies, and provide secure and controllable technical support for the development of blockchain applications. It is necessary to strengthen the research on block chain standardization and enhance the international discourse power and rule-making power. We should accelerate industrial development, give full play to our market advantages, and further open up innovation, application and value chains. We need to build the ecosystem of blockchain industry, accelerate the deep integration of blockchain with cutting-edge information technologies such as artificial intelligence, big data and the Internet of things, and promote integrated innovation and integrated applications. We should strengthen the building of a talent team, establish a sound talent training system, build a platform for training high-level talents in various forms, and cultivate a number of leading figures and high-level innovation teams.

Experts Weigh In on Blockchain After Xi Expresses Support - Caixin

On Saturday, a slew of financiers appeared on a popular economics show aired by state broadcaster CCTV to offer their takes on blockchain.

Among them was Liu Xiaolei, a professor at Peking University’s Guanghua School of Management, who spoke highly of the role blockchain technology could play in facilitating data sharing between government agencies...

Also on the program, Ma Guangyuan, a CCTV financial commentator, labeled blockchain as a key technology for “building the smart internet of things.” “Mastery of this key technology and related standards will help China gain a greater say (in the sector),” added Ma.

The CCTV program 《央视财经评论》 20191026 区块链:要提升什么?该规避什么?

Chinese President Xi Jinping calls for more research, investment into blockchain technology | South China Morning Post

Meng Yan, deputy head of the of Chinese Institute of Digital Assets, said Xi’s remarks could spark a race to become the global leader in the digital economy.

“We are in the middle of a digital arms race,” he said in a recent article.

China rushes to embrace blockchain with Facebook’s Libra just around the corner | South China Morning Post

China is looking to apply blockchain and artificial intelligence technologies in cross-border financing and settlement as part of a broad strategy to remain competitive in the era of digital finance, a senior Chinese foreign exchange regulator said on Sunday.

Lu Lei, a deputy head of the State Administration of Foreign Exchange (Safe), the capital flows watchdog, told a forum in Shanghai that Facebook’s plan to launch Libra, a potential “global currency”, had stirred huge interest in future monetary policy, financial stability and the international monetary system, and his agency was trying to keep up...

Huang Yiping, a professor at Peking University and a former academic member of China’s monetary policy committee, said on the sidelines of the forum on Sunday that Beijing was, for now, mainly looking at controlling the risks of capital flows in applying blockchain.

Bitcoin and Chinese Tech Stocks Surge After Xi Jinping Touts Blockchain - WSJ $$

An index that tracks 53 blockchain-linked stocks in mainland China rose nearly 9% on Monday. The index, with a combined market capitalization of 822.6 billion yuan ($116.4 billion), has gained more than 60% this year, according to Wind.

Bitcoin surges to over $10,000 in biggest single day move since April - MarketWatch

The rise from lows below $7,400 to highs above $10,300 is reportedly the third-largest 24-hour price gain in bitcoin’s history.

Many bitcoin and cryptocurrency market analysts pointed to comments made by China’s president President Xi Jinping that the country should “seize the opportunity” of bitcoin’s blockchain technology as the reason behind bitcoin’s sudden rally


5. Hong Kong

Hong Kong enters recession as protests again erupt in flames - Reuters

Black-clad and masked demonstrators set fire to shops and hurled petrol bombs at police on Sunday following a now-familiar pattern, with police responding with tear gas, water cannon and rubber bullets...

“The blow (from the protests) to our economy is comprehensive,” Paul Chan said in a blog post, adding that a preliminary estimate for third-quarter GDP on Thursday would show two successive quarters of contraction - the technical definition of a recession.

He also said it would be “extremely difficult” to achieve the government’s pre-protest forecast of 0-1 % annual economic growth.

Video: Reporter stages protest at Hong Kong police press conference over treatment of journalists | Hong Kong Free Press HKFP

Ip told HKFP that she protested with other journalists because of the severity of how media staff were treated on Sunday, adding that she had the least burden because she was a freelance journalist.

She said she was beaten with a police baton on Sunday: “They forcefully removed the gas mask of an RTHK journalist. They fired rubber bullets at journalists… It is completely unacceptable,” she said.

Bargain Hunters Revel as Hong Kong Businesses See Life or Death - Bloomberg

Total arrivals fell 39% to about 3.56 million visitors in August from a year earlier, according to the latest data from the Hong Kong Tourism Board. Hotel room occupancy also plummeted by almost a third to 66% in August, the data show.

Hong Kong Protests Spread to U.S. Colleges, and a Rift Grows - The New York Times

As the protests in Hong Kong enter their 21st week, the conflict is spilling onto campuses across the United States and highlighting rising tensions between Hong Kong-born students and their classmates from mainland China. College officials face the challenging task of supporting free expression without alienating the largest demographic of international students on American campuses.

Hong Kong students told to remove protest display at University of York | News | The Times

Students from Hong Kong were ordered to take down a display on the democracy protests at a freshers fair after mainland Chinese students said they found them offensive.

The students said that members of the University of York’s Chinese Society had complained about a “Lennon wall” on their stand, which showed images and newspaper cuttings about the demonstrations in Hong Kong.

Watson director discusses Hong Kong protests, elicits criticism - The Brown Daily Herald

During the period, a Hong Kong-born alum accused Steinfeld of being biased because he felt that Steinfeld’s presentation included talking points of the Chinese Communist Party. For example, the alum said Steinfeld’s focus on economic factors as a reason behind the protests distracts from other motivating factors, such as a potential loss of democratic freedoms — a tactic used by the party. The alum also suggested that Steinfeld might be receiving funding from the United Front

Comment: A sad statement on the current discourse about Hong Kong, it seems if you say anything that is not 100% in line with the protestors you risk accusations of being a Communist sympathizer.


6. Can Western educational institutions handle PRC money?

London School of Economics academics outraged by proposed China programme | Financial Times $$

The university outlined the proposal to LSE scholars focused on China at a meeting last month, according to Chris Hughes, a professor of international relations at the school, and another academic who did not wish to be identified.

It named Eric Li as the backer of the programme, said Prof Hughes and the other academic, both of whom attended the briefing. Mr Li is a Shanghai businessman who has regularly praised the authoritarian government of Chinese president Xi Jinping and previously justified the 1989 crackdown on the Tiananmen Square protests.

Question: Eric X. Li has funded guancha.cn and the Chunqiu Institute. Where else do his donations flow?

Security services fear the march on universities of Beijing’s spies | The Sunday Times $$

MI5 and GCHQ have warned universities to put national security before commercial interest as fears grow over state theft of research and intellectual property from campuses.

The agencies are concerned that a reliance on Chinese money and students, particularly postgraduates paying up to £50,000 a year in fees, makes some universities particularly vulnerable...

At Nottingham, one of two British universities with a branch in China, it is understood that managers put pressure on academics to drop events after complaints from state officials. One was a talk by an academic working on Tibet at the campus in China, the other a speaker from Taiwan at the Nottingham campus. It is believed that the first speaker was cancelled and the second was taken off campus for a private meeting.

The Wesleyan Argus | Wesleyan Stops Pursuing Joint-Venture Campus in China - The Wesleyan Argus

“It became clear that they were less interested in a liberal arts approach than we initially thought,” Rubenstein wrote in an email to The Argus.

Director of the Fries Center for Global Studies Stephen Angle said that Hengdian Group was looking to fund more of a film institute than a liberal arts campus.

The proposed joint venture campus would have constituted a partnership between Wesleyan, Hengdian Group, and the Shanghai Theatre Academy. Hengdian proposed the venture to Wesleyan in February 2019. The focus of the campus, according to administrators, would have been a liberal arts education centered on Wesleyan’s film program.

The public response from students was largely negative. About 70 students participated in a rally on Friday, Oct. 11, in support of Hong Kong and to protest the joint venture, and the Wesleyan Student Assembly (WSA) passed a resolution asking for more transparency from the administration.

Can controversial entrepreneur Chris Whittle create a new model for private schools? - The Washington Post

Two days before the scene in Washington, he was in Shenzhen, China, at the opening of the sister inaugural campus there. Rain came down in sheets like a monsoon, “but in China,” Whittle says, “it’s auspicious for it to rain.”..

Kelly also had a connection to Hony Capital, a Beijing-based private equity firm, which also invested.

Comment: One of at least two Washington DC-area private with PRC investment


7. Xi Jinping endorses traditional Chinese medicine

Xi stresses role of traditional Chinese medicine for "Healthy China" - Xinhua

The country should carry on fine elements in TCM and innovate them, Xi said in a recent instruction, stressing that traditional medicine is a treasure of Chinese civilization embodying the wisdom of the nation and its people.

Xi's instruction was delivered at a national conference of TCM held Friday in Beijing.

Xi said that equal importance should be placed on traditional Chinese and Western medicines and efforts be made to enable them to supplement each other and prosper together.

He also underlined the efforts to promote TCM internationally and fully develop its unique strength in preventing and treating diseases.

China issues guideline for promoting traditional Chinese medicine - Xinhua

Boosting the development of TCM is of great significance to uphold the principle of placing equal emphasis on traditional Chinese and Western medicines, and to develop a model of health with Chinese characteristics, featuring the complementary and coordinated development of TCM and Western medicine, according to the guideline released by the Communist Party of China Central Committee and the State Council.

The guideline - 中共中央 国务院关于促进中医药传承创新发展的意见_中央有关文件_中国政府网

One area where TCM may help? - Retired doctor, 67, gives birth in China after getting 'pregnant naturally' - CNN

The woman, surnamed Tian, gave birth to a girl on Friday at Zaozhuang Maternity and Child Health Hospital, where she had worked as a doctor before retiring, in the country's northeastern Shandong province.

A hospital spokeswoman told CNN that Tian fell pregnant naturally after using her medical knowledge to self-administer traditional Chinese fertility treatments.

Comment: For the record I am a believer in acupuncture at least. It cured my lifelong asthma and, in addition to some changes in my diet, regular acupuncture sessions from 2010-2015 gave me the 5 best respiratory years of my life, even while living in the Beijing smog. Call me crazy if you like, I am just happy that something helped…


8. UK truck tragedy victims may not have been Chinese

And now there is anger online and in official media about the initial foreign media coverage

Three bailed as UK truck deaths probe focuses on Vietnam | Financial Times $$

Essex Police made efforts at the weekend to gain the confidence of the Vietnamese community both in the UK and people in Vietnam as evidence mounted that the 31 men and eight women were from a concentrated area in the centre of the country.

英国“夺命货柜车案”遇难者持假中国证件?外交部回应-中国长安网

One of the mysteries about the victims of the truck tragedy is were they carrying PRC identification documents, and if so were those fake? Geng Shuang, MFA spokesman, calls that a conjecture

FM slams CNN reporter on Essex truck deaths - Global Times

Chinese Foreign Ministry  slammed a CNN reporter's question on the Essex truck deaths as "inappropriate" on Friday after the reporter asked why "Chinese citizens left China" in such a dangerous way when China had just celebrated PRC's 70th founding anniversary.

Hua Chunying, spokesperson of Foreign Ministry, made the remarks at Friday's regular press briefing...

"You just assumed they were Chinese and linked this case with the celebration of the 70th anniversary of People's Republic of China, which was wrong from the start. What kind of answers do you want to get?" Hua asked the reporter.


Business, Economy and Trade

China's slowdown rolls on into October, early indicators show | Bloomberg Bloomberg Economics’ gauge aggregating the earliest available indicators from financial markets and businesses showed the economy cooling for a sixth month, with indicators for trade, factory prices, iron ore and copper all worsening.

China's industrial profits fall 5.3% in Sept as trade war toll mounts - Reuters Industrial profits fell 5.3% in September from a year earlier to 575.6 billion yuan ($81.48 billion), data released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) on Sunday showed. That compared with a 2% decline in August.

Soaring Chinese meat prices from swine fever threaten retail crisis | Financial Times $$ Pork prices were nearly 159 per cent higher in October than a year earlier, more than double the retail price rise of nearly 73 per cent, hitting restaurants, butchers and other food retail outlets. The trend has been reflected in other meats and sources of protein, including beef, chicken and eggs

Anbang Asset Sales Continue With Disposal of Stake in China Merchants Bank - Caixin Over the past two months, Dajia Insurance Group has sold off Anbang Property & Casualty Insurance Co. Ltd.’s entire stake in Shanghai- and Hong Kong-listed China Merchants Bank Co. Ltd., according to a statement the bank released Friday. Based on the bank’s average Shanghai share price from Aug. 28 to Friday — 35.3 yuan — the Anbang subsidiary’s 1.65% stake would be worth 14.7 billion yuan. Dajia retains control of several other Anbang units.

Corn and Steel Giant Defaults on $467 Million in Debt - Caixin Xiwang Group Co. Ltd. announced a default on 1 billion yuan in short-term commercial paper due last Thursday, the company said in a filing (link in Chinese) to the National Interbank Funding Center. The debt, issued on Oct. 23, 2018, with an interest rate of 7.7%, was to fund Xiwang’s business operations and pay other debts.

Chinese demand drives billionaires' fight for luxury goods brands | The Guardian LVMH bid for jeweller Tiffany is latest attempt to target China’s new wealthy generation

China Differs With Peers on Steel Capacity Forum Extension - Bloomberg While a majority of members wanted to extend the forum beyond next month, China said that the organization has achieved its goal and should expire, Japan’s Industry Minister Hiroshi Kajiyama, who chairs the meeting of the Global Forum on Steel Excess Capacity, told reporters in Tokyo

China’s MLPS 2.0: Data grab or legitimate attempt to improve domestic cybersecurity? | CSO Online Now there is a new version of China’s Multi-Level Protection Scheme law, known as MLPS 2.0, which for years has governed IT security standards for what the government broadly deems critical infrastructure. Under the new version, what constitutes “critical” is widened, and the threshold for requiring government inspection and monitoring is lowered, potentially having repercussions for global companies with Chinese operations.

Alizila.com | Taylor Swift Confirmed for 11.11 Countdown Gala | Alizila.com The dead were initially reported to be Chinese nationals but police moved their focus to Vietnam after Vietnamese families - at least 24 as of press time - reported their relatives missing and suspected among the dead.

In Depth: Cheers and Fears in $283 Billion Bank-Tech Lending Tie-Up - Caixin The lending market backed by partnerships of banks and tech companies has surged to 2 trillion yuan ($283 billion), Caixin learned from regulatory sources. Hundreds of banks and other financial institutions have joined a game led by Alibaba’s Ant Financial Services Group, Tencent-backed online bank WeBank and Pingan Easy Money, a unit of China’s largest insurer, Ping An Insurance...Unlike conventional syndicated loans in which banks join each other to provide credit, the new partnerships tie lenders with fintech companies, which often hold microlending licenses. The fintech partner contributes a small portion of the loan or just acts as a middleman between banks and borrowers without providing funds...According to a Zhejiang regulatory official, Ant Financial usually puts 10% to 20% of its own funds into loans. But as the business grows, its funding share has declined dramatically, indicating a shift to pure middleman. In some loan packages, Ant Financial provides only 1% of the funds, said the official.

China’s Online Lenders See Opportunity in Southeast Asia — The Information $$ “There isn’t much freedom in China anymore. Southeast Asia is the next frontier,” said Roger Yang, who moved to the Philippines two years ago after working for PPDai, a major Chinese consumer finance company. In the Philippines, Yang last year launched LoanChamp, which borrows money from investors at low interest rates and lends it to consumers and small businesses at higher rates. “There are huge opportunities in consumer finance here,” he said.

Exclusive: China's WeWork equivalent Ucommune files for U.S. IPO - sources - Reuters valued at $2.6 billion about a year ago

Politics and Law

中共中央 国务院印发《新时代公民道德建设实施纲要》_中央有关文件_中国政府网 Central Committee and State Council issue updated guideline on implementing citizen morality construction in the New Era

Top Beijing think tank The Counsellor’s Office reveals the secrets of the Chinese Communist Party’s policymaking | South China Morning Post Beijing has offered a rare glimpse into the operation of a government think tank that has played an influential role in shaping policies for decades. The Counsellors’ Office, based in the former Dutch embassy, recently held its first “open door” session for the media and foreign envoys.

Some thank Zhou Enlai for saving China from Mao’s excesses - Chaguan - The Economist Alas, “Zhou Enlai” the opera, which premiered on October 15th in the former Red Army base of Yan’an, fails to capture the sweep of that life. This shrill, empty work—which Chaguan watched on October 20th at a gala performance in Nanjing, the capital of Jiangsu province—says more about the state of public art in today’s China. Composed by a professor at the Central Conservatory of Music and sponsored by Jiangsu, where Zhou was born, the opera turns its tragic hero into a cypher—a primly perfect model worker, albeit one whose work is running the government.

Top legislature clarifies supervisory commission's power to formulate supervisory regulations - Xinhua The NSC formulates supervisory regulations in accordance with the Constitution and laws, according to the decision which will go into effect from Oct. 27. Meanwhile, the decision specifies the scope of supervisory regulations formulated by the NSC, stipulating that supervisory regulations can be made to enforce the provisions of the laws or to fulfill the responsibility of leading local supervisory commissions.

China Focus: China adopts law on cryptography - Xinhua The law classifies cryptography into core, common and commercial cryptography. Strictly managed by authorities in cryptography, core and common cryptography are used to protect the country's confidential information, and are state secrets...Commercial cryptography is for the protection of information that is not state secrets, and can be used by citizens, legal persons and organizations in accordance with law to ensure the security of cyberspace and information.

New regional CPC chiefs appointed for Inner Mongolia, Ningxia - Xinhua Shi Taifeng has been appointed secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Inner Mongolia Autonomous Regional Committee, replacing Li Jiheng, according to a decision from the CPC Central Committee. Li will be given another appointment. Chen Run'er replaced Shi as secretary of the CPC Ningxia Hui Autonomous Regional Committee.

中国书协原副主席赵长青被查 曾被举报借书法敛财_政经频道_财新网 Zhao Changqing, former deputy chair of the China Calligraphy Association, is under investigation for corruption

中联部部长上抖音,这位“资深网民”跟大家说了什么 Song Tao, head of the CCP's International Liaison Department, took to Douyin to issue an appeal to test-takers to consider joining the ILD.

1.44 mln vie for 24,000 civil service vacancies in China - Xinhua Qualified applicants are expected to sit a national written exam set for Nov. 24 in major cities across the country. In 2019, there were a total of nearly 1.38 million qualified applications for around 14,500 civil servant vacancies

Senior CPC official urges learning from Party founder Li Dazhao - Xinhua A senior official of the Communist Party of China (CPC) on Sunday called for efforts to learn from and pass on the noble spirit of Li Dazhao, a founder of the CPC, and other veterans of the revolution. Wang Huning, a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and a member of the Secretariat of the CPC Central Committee, made the remarks at a symposium marking the 130th anniversary of the birth of Li at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.

NPCSC Passes Cryptography Law, Grants State Supervision Commission Rulemaking Power & Approves New Free Trade Zone Pilots – NPC Observer

Xi ally Wang Qishan behind Beijing's selection of young leaders - Nikkei Asian Review The Politburo Standing Committee appointed nearly 20 individuals to vice governor-level posts, including the vice mayor of Chongqing and vice governor of Fujian Province. Many of them formerly belonged to the Communist Party's Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, which oversees the financial sector and is in charge of exposing corruption.

全国党建研究会特邀研究员研讨班在昌举办-江西-手机江西网 10月24日至25日,全国党建研究会特邀研究员研讨班在南昌举办。全国党建研究会会长李景田出席开班式并讲话,省委常委、省委组织部部长刘强致辞。// Li Jingtian is someone to pay attention too, Party Construction dear to Xi, Li is playing a key role

Foreign and Defense Affairs

Seminar on Xi Jinping Thought on Diplomacy and CPC's foreign relations work held in Beijing- China.org.cn The International Department of the Communist Party of China (IDCPC) held a seminar in Beijing on Friday to discuss Xi Jinping Thought on Diplomacy as well as the CPC's foreign relations work, bringing together around 70 experts from think tanks, universities and research institutes to share ideas.

Chinese diplomats add their voices to Twitter - Global Times More Chinese ambassadors and diplomats have created personal Twitter accounts to interact with the international public opinion, a trend, Chinese analysts believe will lend voice to the Chinese people's mainstream position, showcase the country's confidence and reduce Western misunderstandings. // I have started a twitter list of these accounts, please suggest any that are missing

Solomons' government vetoes Chinese attempt to lease an island | The Guardian The deal between the Solomons’ Central Province and the state-owned China Sam Group was “unlawful, unenforceable and must be terminated with immediate effect”, prime minister Manasseh Sogavare’s office said in a statement. It said the provincial government did not have the power to negotiate the agreement for Tulagi island, which has the type of deep-water harbour coveted by the military.

Fatal crash highlights Chinese air force’s flaws, with drill and equipment problems implicated in deaths of three, including pilot who flew in National Day military parade | South China Morning Post Media reports said that Gong had flown in this year’s National Day parade in Beijing, while Wen had been decorated for his participation in the 2015 parade in Beijing to mark the 70th anniversary of victory over Japan in World War II. The three dead airmen have been designated as martyrs, the reports added.

Bolsonaro Meets China’s Xi in Bid to Balance Ties With U.S. - Bloomberg At a forum in Beijing on Friday, Bolsonaro said that China and Brazil “were born to walk together” and the two governments are “completely aligned in a way that reaches beyond our commercial and business relationship.” At the same event, Vice Premier Hu Chunhua said that China was willing to increase its imports of agricultural and industrial goods from Brazil, and the two nations can also deepen cooperation in areas such as infrastructure.

Montreal-based UN aviation agency tried to cover up 2016 cyberattack, documents show | CBC News As the United Nations body that sets standards for civil aviation around the world, ICAO is the gateway to everyone in the aviation industry, so an uncontained cyberattack left not just ICAO vulnerable, but made sitting ducks of its partners worldwide. The documents obtained by CBC suggest the hacker was most likely a member of Emissary Panda, a sophisticated and stealthy espionage group with ties to the Chinese government.

Interview: Can Chinese NGOs help companies obtain “social licenses” along the Belt and Road? – Panda Paw Dragon Claw What is unbeknownst to many international observers of China’s Belt & Road Initiative is that a few Chinese civil society groups have already ventured out, albeit slowly and quietly, and have set up a presence in a handful of key Belt and Road countries. In this space, there are government-backed NGOs such as China Foundation for Poverty Alleviation, which has already set up development programs in 5 countries including Myanmar, Nepal and Ethiopia; professional environmental NGOs such as the Global Environmental Institute, and grassroots community development groups such as Social Resources Institute (SRI), the organization of focus in this interview.

Yue Jinfei, a young development worker had spent a few year in the Chinese countryside before joining SRI in 2014, was, in 2015, tasked with a project untried before in the organization’s history: with a few team members, he was to map the complicated web of interests around the controversial Letpadaung copper mine project in Myanmar. SRI had never had any experience working in another country.

Scholars hail China's economic globalization efforts pinned down in Xi's message to Understanding China Conference - Xinhua Xi sent a congratulatory letter to the Understanding China Conference that opened Saturday in Guangzhou, south China's Guangdong Province, stressing that economic globalization is an irreversible trend, and the interests and future of different countries are becoming increasingly interconnected. "During my visit this time to Guangzhou to attend the conference, I feel that Chinese leaders have both attached great importance to and well understood overseas research and analysis on China," said Cheng Li, director of the John L. Thornton China Center at the Brookings Institution, a U.S. think tank. "They have an open, pragmatic and inclusive attitude towards international exchanges on 'understanding China.' The Chinese government is pragmatic and is engaged in very fast and dynamic economic reform. Like the name of this conference, the world should understand China," said Li.

CIA turned our celebrities into ‘sissy pants’, says Chinese Academy of Social Sciences | World | The Times The Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (Cass), one of the country’s leading research institutions, studied China’s booming entertainment industry and its demand for androgynous, coiffed male celebrities, derided in state media as “xiao xian rou” which means “little fresh meat”. A Cass report accuses the CIA of beginning its campaign to “brainwash” Asian men in Japan in 1962 with the foundation of the Johnny & Associates talent agency.

Taiwan

Taiwan holds first pride parade after legalizing gay marriage - Inkstone Hundreds of thousands of people in Taipei took to the streets over the weekend to support gay rights in the first pride parade in Taiwan since it became the first place in Asia to legalize same-sex unions. Crowds of people waved rainbow flags and rode on flamboyant floats from City Hall for the 3.5 mile walk, whose theme this year was: “Together, make Taiwan better.”

As Taiwan’s allies dwindle, St Lucia stands firm against China pressure | South China Morning Post Edwin Laurent, the St Lucia ambassador to Taiwan, said on Monday from his Taipei office that ties between the two were unlikely to change in the near future, despite recent diplomatic switches by the Solomon Islands and Kiribati to recognise Beijing.

Taiwan Set for First Drop in Tourists Since 2003 After China Ban - Bloomberg The number of mainlanders traveling to the island plunged 46% in September, according to data from Taiwan’s Tourism Bureau. China banned individual travelers from heading to Taiwan in July, although tourists are still allowed to visit in tour groups.

Maserati ditches Taiwan film awards after China boycott - The Straits Times Maserati said on its official account on Weibo, China's Twitter-like online platform, that it had pulled out of sponsoring the upcoming Golden Horse Awards, often dubbed the "Chinese Oscars". The car company directly linked its decision to Beijing's stance on Taiwan

Tech and Media

China Telecom Posts Flat Revenue, Moves Ahead With Shared 5G Network - Caixin China Telecom’s report makes it the last of the nation’s three major carriers to announce their latest results, with all reporting anemic revenue growth. All three are being hit by slowing subscriber additions, as most of the people in China old enough to have service have now signed up for plans. China Telecom, China Mobile and China Unicom have also taken a hit from the recent elimination of domestic roaming fees, which were once a lucrative revenue source

Bytedance's music streaming product is taking shape · TechNode Bytedance has been building an online music platform named “Yinyuebang” as it advances further into the Chinese digital music market dominated by Tencent, media outlet TechPlanet reported.

Online Payment Services, Games and Livestreamers Can Be Criminally Liable for Data Breaches: Supreme Court - Caixin China’s Supreme Court is showing that leaking data is serious business for gaming operators and even individual web surfers, with the potential to land offenders in jail. The nation’s highest court has just expanded the scope of “web service providers” that can be held criminally liable for data leaks to include online payment services, games, livestreaming platforms, and even individual internet users.

U.S. senators call for intelligence probe into Chinese-owned app TikTok - Reuters U.S. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and Senator Tom Cotton on Wednesday asked intelligence officials to investigate whether the popular Chinese-owned app TikTok poses national security risks.

Society, Arts, Sports, Culture and History

For a conservative city, Beijing has a remarkable gay nightlife - Destination’s journey - The Economist By day edmund yang is an accountant at a multinational firm. At night he can sometimes be found quietly sipping a cocktail at Destination, his club-cum-cultural centre. On China’s most popular navigation app, Baidu Maps, the venue is listed as a “comrade bar”. That does not mean it is a watering hole for Marxists. Comrade is Chinese slang for gay. Since Mr Yang opened the club in 2004, just three years after China ceased to classify homosexuality as a mental disorder, the venue has become a beacon for gay Chinese across the country.

Who deserves the Nobel for China’s economic development? | Andrew Batson's Blog Pieter Bottelier’s recent book, Economic Policy Making in China (1949-2016): The Role of Economists, introduces many of these Chinese economic thinkers, few of whom are widely known abroad. One figure particularly stands out: Xue Muqiao. Bottelier writes: I agree with Wu Jinglian that Xue (who died in 2005, when he was almost 101) was the most important Chinese economist of the 20th century. He was already involved in economic policy and management before the establishment of the PRC in 1949, and after 1949 under Mao. He then became one of the principal architects of market reform under Deng Xiaoping. The evolution of Xue’s thinking on how to develop a “socialist economy” mirrors Deng’s.

Energy, Environment, Science and Health

China’s Big Cities Get Cleaner Air, But at What Cost? - Caixin But behind the newly blue skies in megacities like Beijing and Shanghai is a much more nuanced picture of China’s hinterland. In places like Shanxi province to Beijing’s west and poorer provinces to the south, pollution levels have stalled at higher concentrations or even started backsliding as those regions take on some of the dirtier business booted out of big cities.

Alibaba Deepens Health Care Interest With Stake in Private Clinic Operator - Caixin Founded in 2004, Meinian is one of China’s two largest private clinic operators and has specialized in medical-checks since acquiring the country’s biggest medical-check chain CiMing Health Checkup Management Group Co. Ltd. in 2017.

Mining Ghana’s bauxite would bring in billions from China. But it could also taint the water for 5 million people. - The Washington Post Ghana is looking to mine bauxite to uphold what it calls a barter deal with China’s Sinohydro Corp. Limited. Sinohydro delivers $2 billion worth of infrastructure projects across the country, which Ghana would pay back with proceeds from the sale of the refined bauxite. (The Ghanaian government’s plans include building a refinery to process the raw bauxite.)