Huawei's lawsuit; A shares; US-China trade; Dalai Lama interview

Huawei held a launch event at its headquarters for its lawsuit against the US government challenging the constitutionality of aspects of Section 889 of the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act.

At first glance the case seems like a lost cause but perhaps the real goal is to defend its reputation and damage US credibility just enough to help its business in Europe and other US ally nations:

The Chinese saying is 死马当成活马医, used figuratively to describe trying everything when desperate.

The US government could end this show quickly by providing evidence beyond simply assertions about intent, PRC legal obligations and Huawei’s relationship with the PRC Party-State.

The fact that Huawei has made such huge news on day three of the NPC seems to say something about its relationship with Beijing. Normally the PRC Party-State keeps the information environment during this period heavily scripted and controlled. For some reason Huawei does not seem to be worried about drawing Beijing’s ire, or else they are quite reckless.

There are risks in Huawei’s strategy, as James M. Zimmerman, partner in the Beijing office of law firm Perkins Coie, tweeted earlier today:

Chatter is rising again that President Trump may finally sign the oft-reported, never signed Executive Order targeted at Huawei and ZTE. I am wary of the chatter given this has been reported to be imminent so many times since last year, but it is worth noting it is back, and given Huawei’s lawsuit perhaps the President will decide to sign it, finally.

I am probably too cynical for my own good, and I even named my newsletter to rhyme with cynicism, but I do think it is always good to follow the money, and Huawei’s hiring of the Jones Day law firm is an inspired move, given that it is probably the best connected law firm in DC in the Trump Era (more below in the Essential Eight).

No matter the outcome, Huawei’s legal and public relations offensive is a massive gravy train for foreign law, lobbying and PR firms. If you are one of the foreign services providers benefiting just reminder to push for upfront payments. If Huawei does not prevail, and probably even if they do, the renegotiations over the outstanding bills could be brutal.

Feel free to forward this newsletter to friends and colleagues you think would find it interesting. You my dear readers are always my best source of new subscriptions.

Thanks


The Essential Eight

1. Huawei sues the US

Huawei Sues U.S. Government Over What It Calls an Unfair Ban - The New York Times:

“The U.S. Congress has repeatedly failed to produce any evidence to support its restrictions on Huawei products,” Guo Ping, Huawei’s rotating chairman, said in a statement announcing the filing of the lawsuit. “We are compelled to take this legal action as a proper and last resort.”

The lawsuit, which was filed in a United States District Court in Plano, Tex., where Huawei has its American headquarters, argues that part of the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act is unconstitutional because it singles out Huawei. The act bans government agencies from contracting with Huawei or companies that use the company’s equipment.

The suit is part of a legal and public relations offensive that Huawei has recently mounted to push back against spying accusations. The company, China’s biggest maker of telecommunications gear, has been under pressure for months by the United States authorities.

Huawei sues U.S. government in growing counteroffensive against purchasing ban - The Washington Post

Julian Ku, a professor of constitutional law at Hofstra University, said U.S. courts may not be swayed by the argument that Congress was targeting Huawei for punishment. Huawei’s suit echoes that of the Russian cybersecurity firm Kaspersky Labs, which was similarly banned by Congress on fears it would help Moscow spy on the United States — and sought to overturn the ban with similar arguments.

Kaspersky has lost in both district and appellate court in the District of Columbia, with judges ruling that the bans were defense-minded and not punitive in nature.

Federal judges will also have to consider whether the ban violates Huawei’s fundamental rights, Ku said, but “doing business with the U.S. government doesn’t seem to be a fundamental right, and there are reasonable grounds for Congress to act against Huawei.”

Senator Ted Cruz’s tweet Wednesday about Huawei is a sign of the mood in DC. Could he be called to testify to provide evidence for this assertion?:

Huawei Sues the U.S. Government for Unconstitutional Sales Restrictions Imposed by Congress - Huawei Lawsuit Launch Event

Beijing: Huawei suing U.S. government is 'absolutely appropriate' - CGTN:

It is "absolutely appropriate and reasonable" for companies to take legal actions to protect their legitimate rights, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said Tuesday when asked for comments on Huawei suing the U.S. authorities.

No Evidence Huawei Poses Any Threat to Other Countries, Says Chief Legal Officer – Bloomberg Video:

The company announced the lawsuit at their headquarters today in Shenzhen, China. Bloomberg's Tom Mackenzie sat down for an exclusive interview with Huawei's Chief Legal Officer Song Liuping to discuss China's biggest smartphone maker's legal battle against the U.S.

Huawei sues US govt over tech ban, slams it as a ‘hacker, e-mail thief’ - Global Times:

"The fact that Huawei dares to stand up and sue the US government shows that it has a clear conscience and that accusations about Huawei's security risks are utter nonsense," Xiang Ligang told the Global Times on Thursday morning.

"If the US government can't provide evidence to prove Huawei's problems and the case leads nowhere, it will also help dissolve other countries' doubts about Huawei equipment," Xiang said.

Huawei asks Japan suppliers to ship more parts amid US pressure - Nikkei Asian Review:

The move is believed to be partly aimed at preventing supply-chain disruptions as the U.S. steps up pressure on Chinese tech companies over security concerns.

The sources said Huawei has requested supply increases by early summer, when production of its latest smartphone model is scheduled to go into full swing.

Long before Trump’s trade war with China, Huawei’s activities were secretly tracked | Reuters:

The U.S. focus on Huawei intensified after years of investigation into smaller Chinese rival ZTE Corp, and relied in part on information collected from devices of company employees traveling through airports...

For example, Meng arrived in the United States via John F. Kennedy International Airport in early 2014. The indictment says investigators found “suggested talking points” on one of her electronic devices, stating among other things that Huawei’s relationship with Skycom was “normal business cooperation.”..

Another border search, this time on September 12, 2014, of executives from rival ZTE also supported U.S. investigators long-held suspicions of how Huawei might have been doing illicit business in countries subject to U.S. sanctions, one of the sources told Reuters.


2. Huawei picked a connected US law firm

Glen D. Nager’s Statement at the Huawei Press Conference on March 7, 2019 - Huawei:

Good Morning Everyone, I am Glen Nager, the lead counsel of this action, partner at Jones Day.

The lawsuit that Huawei Technologies Co., Ltd., and its subsidiary, Huawei Technologies USA, Inc., have filed in the Eastern District of Texas challenges the constitutionality of aspects of Section 889 of the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act. Specifically, the lawsuit is based on three distinct—but highly related—aspects of the U.S. Constitution: the Bill of Attainder Clause, the Due Process Clause, and the separation of powers embodied in the Vesting Clauses.

Glen D. Nager | Jones Day:

Glen Nager has argued 13 cases before the U.S. Supreme Court, as well as other appeals in subject areas such as antitrust, civil rights, employment, environmental law, government contracts, and intellectual property. He also defends employers in class action discrimination and employee benefits cases and conducts mediations and neutral case evaluations. In addition, Glen is the Client Affairs Partner for the Firm.

Glen Nager | The Federalist Society:

From 2012 to 2014, he served as President of the United States Golf Association. He served on the USGA's board from 2009 to 2014 and served as its general counsel from 2006 to 2008.

Jones Day Again Tops Trump Campaign's Legal Billing, New FEC Filings Show | National Law Journal:

With 2020 drawing near, the Trump campaign’s spending at its go-to law firm, Jones Day, rose sharply in the three months ending Sept. 30, climbing to about $1.3 million. The amount eclipsed the more than $525,000 the firm received in the previous six months, according to new disclosures filed late Monday with the Federal Election Commission.

The Jones Day billing accounted for nearly all of the campaign’s more than $1.5 million in expenditures categorized as “legal consulting” in the finance disclosure for the third quarter of 2018

Where Have All the Jones Day Trump Lawyers Gone? | The American Lawyer:

Jones Day’s connection to President Donald Trump’s administration remains strong, even with Donald McGahn returning to Jones Day after his nearly two-year stint as White House Counsel.

At least a dozen former Jones Day lawyers who received government jobs during the Trump administration are still working in the federal government, according to a search of White House records, public databases and LinkedIn.

Jones Day, which represented Trump’s presidential campaign, sent 12 lawyers into the administration in its earliest days in January 2016. At least five more Jones Day lawyers have since taken various federal government roles. All except five of the 17 Jones Day alumni remain in government positions, according to ALM’s count.

And Huawei is trying to build out its PR force - Huawei set to announce lawsuit against U.S. as it seeks to strike back | Reuters:

Close to 10 senior Reuters journalists have been approached recently by Huawei recruiters for public relations director roles, with some offered annual pay packages of $200,000. Such appointments would beef up its international media team just as it restructures a 300-strong corporate affairs department.


3. Threats, tantrums and "Win-win" diplomacy

Diplomatic Outbursts Mar Xi's Plan to Raise China on World Stage - Bloomberg:

foreign diplomats in Beijing say that the behavior of Chinese officials has become far more aggressive and assertive in private meetings in recent years. Their discussions have become more ideological, according to one senior foreign envoy, who described the behavior as a strong sense of grievance combined with increasing entitlement about China’s international role and rights...

Foreign diplomats said the outbursts have increased in both frequency and intensity since Xi took power in 2012. ..

“Chinese ambassadors always feel they have to speak to the leaders in Beijing more than to the local public. Their promotions depend on it,” said Susan Shirk, a former U.S. deputy assistant Secretary of State for East Asia. “If today what they say is more overtly anti-American or anti-Western then that reflects the changing foreign policy line.”

Comment: Still hoping for a video to leak of one of the red-faced, spittle-shooting tirades of a certain senior diplomat...


4. US-China trade

Possible China-U.S. Gas Deal Said to Predate Trade War Talks - Bloomberg:

A new gas supply deal between the U.S. and China that’s expected to be part of a broader trade agreement has been in the works since before the trade war began and was put on ice after tensions flared, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

A deal between Cheniere Energy Inc. and China’s Sinopec, expected to be worth $18 billion, has been cited as a new concession China would make to help end the eight-month spat. But the two had been in talks for about a year only to see progress stall when the Trump administration intensified trade issues in August, according to the people, who asked not to be identified as the information is private.

Question: What is the status of all the deals announced during Trump' s 2017 state visit to China? Will there be any double-counting of them and what is announced in any possible trade deal?

China’s tech strategy all talk, no action and a waste of taxpayers’ money, says its former finance minister Lou Jiwei | South China Morning Post:

“Made in China 2025” has been a waste of taxpayers’ money, China’s former finance minister Lou Jiwei has said, as Beijing tones down its tech development strategy and nears reaching a trade deal with Washington.

“[Made in China] 2025 has been a lot of talking but very little was done,” Lou, chairman of the National Council for Social Security Fund, said on Wednesday on the sidelines of Beijing’s annual meeting of its policymaking bodies, or “two sessions”.


5. Finance minister's NPC press conference

China says higher 2019 budget deficit will spur growth, won't open floodgates | Reuters:

China’s decision to increase its budget deficit ratio to 2.8 percent this year from 2.6 percent in 2018 is appropriate for the economy, and leaves room for policymakers to maneuver, Finance Minister Liu Kun said on Thursday.

But a proactive fiscal policy does not mean China will open the floodgates for stimulus, Liu said at a news conference on the sidelines of the annual parliamentary meeting in Beijing, reiterating past government pledges of restraint.

Risk of China's local govt debt controllable: official - Xinhua:

The local debt ratio was 76.6 percent last year, significantly lower than the international warning line of 100 percent to 120 percent, while the total government debt ratio, taking into account the debts of central government, came in at 37 percent, also far from the alert level of 60 percent set by the European Union, Liu said.

"Given the figures, the government debt risks China faces are very low," he said.

China is "very serious" about hidden debts, and prohibits the debt-raising practices of local governments that disregard solvency, Liu said.

Finance Minister Again Warns About Hidden Local Government Debt - Caixin:

A few local governments have continued to illegally borrow money off-the-books through local government financing vehicles (LGFVs), Liu said at a press conference (link in Chinese) during the country’s annual legislative session.

The ministry has been monitoring LGFVs across the country, and will hold local authorities accountable for any new hidden debt they take on, he said...

The ratio of local governments’ outstanding debt to their combined public revenue stood at 76.6% at the end of last year, lower than warning lines between 100% and 120% widely adopted by other countries, Liu said. Meanwhile, the ratio of overall government debt to gross domestic product was 37%, well below the 60% warning line set by the European Union.

When calculating these two ratios, however, China only takes officially reported debt into account. Hidden, off-the-books local government debt amounted to around 40 trillion yuan as of end of last year, and the interest payments alone could reach 600 billion yuan in 2019, economists from investment bank Nomura International (Hong Kong) Ltd. estimate.


6. Xi at the NPC

Culture, Environment, Poverty alleviation the themes of Xi's first three delegation visits at the Two meetings. Looking forward to the ones with the PLA and politics and law bureaucracy.

Xi stresses perseverance in fight against poverty - Xinhua:

"There should be no retreat until a complete victory is won," said Xi, also general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission. He made the remarks when joining deliberation with deputies from Gansu Province at the second session of the 13th National People's Congress, China's national legislature.

CCTV evening News on Xi's visit with the Gansu delegation - 习近平参加甘肃代表团审议 

It looks like the "Fengqiao Experience" got its first mention in an NPC work report since 1979 at least, tweets Holly Snape (bio), a foreign expert in the Central Government Documents Center at the Chinese Communist Party Central Committee’s Compilation and Translation Bureau:

China Media Project wrote about the "Fengqiao Experience 枫桥经验" last December - A Rock Star’s “Fengqiao Experience” | China Media Project:

These groups point to an emerging, and already quite developed, new model of community management in China that is being linked quite explicitly to a Mao-era experiment in social management known as the “Fengqiao experience,” or fengqiao jingyan (枫桥经验) — an experiment President Xi Jinping has voiced enthusiastic support for since he was the top leader of Zhejiang province 15 years ago, and which now seems to be a core idea for social and public security management in the Xi Era.


7. Retail and foreign buyers driving China's stock market surge?

Caixin says large shareholders are selling shares as retail investors rush back in the Chinese stock market - 散户跑步入场 大股东扎堆减持_金融频道_财新网:

自2月25日A股跳空高开,已有六个交易日两市成交量破万亿。与散户跑步进场形成鲜明对比的是,上市公司股东正在加快步伐退场。

据财新记者统计,2019年3月以来,上市公司减持之势丝毫没有刹车的意思,甚至呈现加速的状态。截至3月7日,3月沪深两市已发布161则减持相关公告,涉及155家上市公司,每天新增三四十家上市公司加入减持大营,减持参考市值83.68亿元。2019年以来,更是多达698份减持进展公告,涉及超过350家上市公司。

China's equity rally: powering on | FT Alphaville:

Today's 26 per cent gains pale in comparison to the 520 per cent gain minted just prior to a stock market peak around 2006-2007 and the 160 per cent gain that came between 2014 and 2015...

On Wednesday the Shanghai Composite gained another 1 per cent, leading Justin Walters of Bespoke Investment Group to call the index overbought. Despite this claim, Walters makes the case that Chinese equities, now well within bull market territory, are likely to keep climbing higher. The average bull market, he writes in a recent note, historically gains 112.6 per cent over 205 calendar days. And given the momentum-based nature of China's stock market more broadly, "the Shanghai really could be just starting to pick up steam".

Yicai Global - IMF Gets Nod to Invest in Chinese Equities:

The China Securities Regulatory Commission today welcomed the Washington, D.C.-based IMF into the RMB Qualified Foreign Institutional Investor scheme, the regulator said in a statement posted on its website.

MSCI Says China Stocks Approaching Overseas Stake Limit Will Be Cut From Indexes - Caixin:

Global index compiler MSCI Inc. said listed companies approaching the overseas ownership limit would have their A-shares removed from its China indexes or have their weighting cut, citing “investability” issues.

The announcement came one day after Shenzhen-listed Han's Laser Technology Industry Group Co. Ltd., a manufacturer of laser products, was cut off from foreign investors as it approached the 30% upper limit for overseas ownership of listed companies set up by the Chinese regulators.


8. Interview with Dalai Lama

The Dalai Lama on Donald Trump, China and His Search for Joy | Time:

Around 300 people brave the February chill to offer white khata scarves and receive the Dalai Lama’s blessing. There’s a group from Bhutan in traditional checkered dress. A man from Thailand has brought his Liverpool F.C. scarf, seeking divine benediction for the U.K. soccer team’s title bid. Two women lose all control as they approach the Dalai Lama’s throne and are carried away shaking in rapture, clutching prayer beads and muttering incantations.

The Dalai Lama engages each visitor like a big kid: slapping bald pates, grabbing onto one devotee’s single braid, waggling another’s nose. Every conversation is peppered with giggles and guffaws. “We 7 billion human beings — emotionally, mentally, physically — are the same,” he tells TIME in a 90-minute interview. “Everyone wants a joyful life.”

Meanwhile in Beijing - Profile: From serf's son to political advisor - Xinhua:

Thubten Khedrup was among over 2,000 political advisors attending the second session of the 13th National Committee of the CPPCC...

Born in a herdsman's family in Jomda County in the city of Qamdo, Thubten Khedrup has always remained grateful that he has lived up to his dream to become a teacher, now a professor at Tibet University in Lhasa, capital of southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region.

"I am the son of one of the 1 million serfs who were emancipated with the help of the Communist Party of China 60 years ago," Tubten Khedrup said. "Thanks to the CPC, I can be what I am today."


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Business, Economy, Finance And Trade

China reports solid rise in bond issuance - Xinhua The value of bonds issued in China last year totaled 43.1 trillion yuan (about 6.4 trillion U.S. dollars), up 7.5 percent year on year, according to data from the country's central bank...By the end of 2018, China's outstanding bonds amounted to 86 trillion yuan, surging 15.1 percent year on year.

Top Province Warns Banks Face Tough Year as Bad Debts Soar - Caixin: China’s third-biggest province has warned that its financial institutions face significant challenges this year to control bad debts, citing a cooling economy, an increasing likelihood of bond defaults, growing liquidity pressure on companies, and higher risks stemming from illegal financing activities. Banks in Shandong, an industrial powerhouse in eastern China, offloaded more than 220 billion yuan ($32.8 billion) of soured assets from their balance sheets over the course of 2018, 18% more than in 2017, the provincial government noted in a report published earlier this week.

JD.com founder Richard Liu a no-show at China’s biggest political event despite being elected a delegate last year | South China Morning Post In a statement late on Wednesday, Nasdaq-listed JD.com said Liu had applied for a leave of absence from the Two Sessions meetings. It declined to provide the reason for Liu’s absence. “He submitted written applications in advance and was granted leave,” the company said.

NBA and Alibaba Expand China Partnership | NBA.com NBA China and Alibaba Group today announced an expansion of their partnership that will bring NBA content to Alibaba’s platforms for the first time, along with an enhanced online shopping experience for consumers in China

A forensic examination of China’s national accounts - Brookings Papers on Economic Activity Local statistics increasingly misrepresent the true numbers after 2008, but there was no corresponding change in the adjustment made by the NBS. We provide revised estimates of local and national GDP by re-estimating output of industrial, wholesale, and retail firms using data on value-added taxes. We also use several local economic indicators that are less likely to be manipulated by local governments to estimate local and aggregate GDP. The estimates also suggest that the adjustments by the NBS were insufficient after 2008. Relative to the official numbers, we estimate that GDP growth from 2008-2016 is 1.7 percentage points lower and the investment and savings rate in 2016 is 7 percentage points lower.

China Said to Mull Tougher Rules on Private Equity, Hedge Funds - Bloomberg The proposed new Asset Management Association of China rules would require hedge funds and venture capital funds to raise at least 10 million yuan before registering a product, ending the popular practice of starting with smaller amounts, the people said, declining to be identified because the draft hasn’t been publicized. Private equity and asset allocation funds would have to raise higher amounts under the plan.

China's Hebei province to cut steel capacity in bid to boost air quality: party official | Reuters Speaking at a meeting of Hebei delegates at the National People’s Congress in Beijing, Wang Dongfeng also said the province would reduce its concentration of PM2.5 - lung-damaging particulate matter of less than 2.5 microns in diameter - by at least 5 percent this year from 2018 levels. “We would rather sacrifice GDP in order to guard blue sky in Beijing. That’s a political task,” Wang said.

China February forex reserves rise to six-month high, eases outflow worry | Reuters Chinese foreign exchange reserves, the world’s largest rose by $2.26 billion in February to $3.090 trillion, central bank data showed on Thursday, marking the highest level since August 2018. Economists polled by Reuters had expected reserves would fall $920 million to $3.087 trillion. The yuan gained 0.09 percent against dollar in February, and is up more than 2 percent so far this year. The dollar index against other major currencies rose 0.6 percent in February.

China's Agriculture, Mining and Services Sectors on Track for Further Opening in 2019: NDRC - China Banking News Ning Jizhe (宁吉喆), NDRC vice-chair, said that in 2019 China will “uphold the concept of open development, uphold the basic state policy of external opening, and comprehensively implement an administrative system of ‘equal treatment with citizens prior to entry + the negative list,’ while at the same time driving positive encouragement and equal treatment with citizens following entry, in order to provide a better commercial environment for foreign capital.”...According to Ning the agriculture, mining and services sectors will be subject to further opening measures this year, with foreign capital permitted to engage in shoe investment and operation in a greater number of areas....The foreign investment negative list is also on track for further reduction in 2019.

UK freezes bank accounts of students from China - Global Times The Chinese Embassy in the UK said they are investigating into reports that the bank accounts of some Chinese students in the UK had been frozen over suspected money laundering.  The embassy said on its website on Friday that several Chinese students had asked them for help as their bank accounts were frozen after they privately exchanged money through WeChat, which could violate both UK and Chinese laws.


Politics, Law And Ideology

Chinese police detain 83,668 suspects in cybercrime crackdown - Xinhua Chinese police detained 83,668 suspects and cracked 57,519 cases during a 10-month crackdown on cybercrime launched in February 2018, the Ministry of Public Security said Thursday. More than 13,000 people were seized for stealing and trading personal information, and more than 2,000 others were arrested for hack attacks, said the ministry at a press conference.

Ep. 13: Rights Lawyering in China – Teng Biao | Center for the Study of Contemporary China In this episode, scholar and activist Teng Biao, one of China’s earliest and most famous weiquan lawyers, discusses with Neysun Mahboubi the history and current predicament of “rights defense” lawyering in China, and charts possible future directions for this work.  The episode was recorded on April 11, 2018

China Leadership Monitor - March 1 issue This publication has seen big changes since Minxin Pei took it over and replaced all the original contributors. The essays I have read so far:

Minxin Pei's A Tale of Three Speeches: How Xi’s Speech Marking the 40th Anniversary of Reform and Opening Differs from those of Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao;

Sheena Chestnut Greitens' Domestic Security in China under Xi Jinping

James Leibold's The Spectre of Insecurity: The CCP’s Mass Internment Strategy in Xinjiang 

Meanwhile. Alice Miller, previous editor of CLM and Joseph Fewsmith and Robert Sutter, longtime CLM contributors, have joined the board of The Center for Advanced China Research. I hope that means they will keep writing for that venue.


Foreign and Military Affairs

Malaysia’s Mahathir: green light for China-backed East Coast Rail Link – if price is right | South China Morning Post Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad said on Thursday he would give the green light to the China-backed East Coast Rail Link project he had previously wanted to dump – but only if the Chinese contractor agreed to a significant price reduction. Doing so could be cheaper than cancelling the project, which would incur a hefty penalty, the prime minister told the South China Morning Post in his first interview with foreign media this year.

Mahathir warns Philippines about China loans - Nikkei Asian Review Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad on Thursday warned Philippines about becoming too indebted to China as Manila draws down Chinese funds to build much-needed infrastructure. Earlier this week, the Philippine Senate conducted an inquiry into the interest rates and questionable terms offered by China that had been lapped up by the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte

Mahathir: China should define claims in South China Sea - AP Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad says China should define its “so-called ownership” in the disputed South China Sea so other claimant countries can start to gain benefits from the resource-rich waters. Mahathir stressed in an interview with ABS-CBN network in Manila on Thursday the importance of freedom of navigation in the busy sea lanes, saying if there were no restrictions “the claims made by China will not affect us very much.”

White House's criticism of Italy's plan to join BRI ridiculous: Chinese FM - Global Times Lu Kang, spokesperson of China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, made the comment at a routine press conference on Wednesday.  "Italy, as a major country and economy in the world, is clear about its interests. It could make its own policies and decisions," Lu said.

China’s Belt and Road plan adds to divisions in Italian coalition | Financial Times $$ A final decision on the project is expected to be made on Friday by the Italian government. “I will make my decision based on the technical data that you gave me and on what is best from a political point of view,” said Giuseppe Conte, Italian prime minister and the main mediator between the two coalition partners.  //  Comment: Are Italian politicians susceptible to under the table Chinese financial inducements?

Foreign leaders, including from Saudi Arabia and China, lavish Trump with $140,000 in gifts According to the State Department's annual accounting of such gifts, Chinese President Xi Jinping gave Trump and first lady Melania Trump the two most expensive presents in 2017: an ornate calligraphy display and presentation box worth $14,400 and a porcelain dinnerware set that includes plates imprinted with the pink house at Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort worth $16,250. Like all of the other gifts to Trump, his wife, daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared Kushner, those were turned over to the National Archives.

The great China debate: Clive Hamilton v Hugh White | The Interpreter White: “I do not share his confidence that America is going to get its act together.” Hamilton: “The great ship of state, even if the captain at the moment is bonkers, isn’t turned around so easily.”

Why Trump Has Two Different Names in Chinese | What's on Weibo Donald Trump has two most commonly used different names in Chinese. In Mandarin*, they are Tèlǎngpǔ (特朗普) and Chuānpǔ (川普). Both names have been used by Chinese mainstream media and netizens for years...In the Chinese translation of Donald Trump’s autobiography The Art of the Deal (1987), the ‘Tèlǎngpǔ’ transliteration is used, whereas the translation of the George Ross book Trump-Style Negotiations (2008) uses ‘Chuānpǔ’ as the Chinese name for Trump

让红色基因在强军征程中代代相传 - 中国军网 "Let the red genes be passed down from generation to generation in the journey of strengthening the army." Page 1 PLA Daily on the PLA and PAP delegates at the NPC...Sogou rough translation here

In conversation: Kori Schake on America vs the West | Lowy Institute The latest Lowy Institute Paper published by Penguin Random House, America vs the West: Can the liberal world order be preserved? by Dr Kori Schake, was launched in Canberra on 5 March. Schake, one of America’s most respected foreign policy practitioners, argues that the success of the liberal order is not preordained. It will have to be fought for, compromised for, and rejuvenated. Whether it can be done without American leadership will depend on the strengths of the major challengers — Russia and China — but above all on whether the West’s middle powers are prepared to band together.


Taiwan

Taipei Travel: A Guide to Restaurants in Taiwan’s Capital - Eater Each night, hallmarks of Taiwanese cuisine are devoured throughout Taipei’s humming night markets, hot pot restaurants, and beef noodle soup shops. The basil-flecked melange of sugar, spices, and deep umami that we’ve come to know as Taiwanese food is an edible scrapbook of its past several hundred years, from the Japanese-derived bentos that are a beloved train station staple to the so-called “Taiwanese hamburger,” a sticky-sweet pork belly bun that originated in China’s Fujian province.


Tech And Media

China’s ByteDance Plans Slack Rival Even As Losses Mount — The Information $$ Last year, after the costly launch of its video app TikTok outside of China, the company lost $1.2 billion, The Information has learned. Results of the expansion were mixed: TikTok has become widely used in India but not in the U.S., according to previously unreported data. Despite the heavy loss, ByteDance is planning an even more ambitious expansion. It is quietly laying the groundwork to launch a work collaboration and productivity app in the U.S. and other overseas markets, people familiar with the matter said.  //  Comment: Seriously? What western firm is going to trust a Chinese firm with its internal communications, especially in this environment?

Highly organized and well-trained fandom in China becomes an industry - Global Times Every morning, Huang Yi (pseudonym) receives a notification in her chat group about her pop idol. The message, sent from an administrator, tells every member to complete "eight tasks" to lift their idol's popularity, such as posting tweets tagged with her name and buying her "flowers" on social media platforms. Her idol, 24-year-old singer Li Zixuan, was a participant in Produce 101, one of the most popular reality talent shows in China in 2018, produced by Tencent.

Chinese Online Celebrity Incubator Sets Sights on Nasdaq Listing - Bloomberg Ruhnn Holding, which counts Alibaba’s Taobao China Holding Ltd. among backers, operates like an talent agency, spotting emerging online personalities on platforms such as Weibo and WeChat and offering training and monetization services. It had signed 113 personalities as of the end of 2018, ranging from fashionistas to gaming stars, with the vast majority of influencer fans millennial and female.

Would-be WeChat rival Bullet Messenger dismantles team · TechNode 36kr reported Wednesday that smartphone maker Smartisan’s competition with WeChat may soon be over. Bullet Messenger, developed by Beijing-based Kuairu Technology and launched by Smartisan in August, was marketed as an alternative to WeChat. On Tuesday, as many as 200 Bullet workers were reportedly dismissed, leaving behind only a small team that may be transferred to Smartisan

Briefing: Game live-streaming platform Panda TV may file for bankruptcy · TechNode Livestreaming platform Panda TV will reportedly shut down its server on Mar. 18 and file for bankruptcy within the month, The Beijing News reported, quoting a celebrity livestreamer’s Weibo post. Another widely circulated screenshot shows that a Panda TV human resource staff member was helping employees find positions at other companies such as Jinri Toutiao and Kuaishou.


Society, Art, Sports, Culture And History

Investors Are Losing Millions by Buying and Leasing Chinese Art - Bloomberg The company making the pitch, Art Futures Group, said a client had already been signed up to lease the painting, but she would need to act quickly as several other potential buyers were also looking at the work...Frustrated by AFG’s failure to respond to her further queries, she tried to place her works with several Hong Kong auction houses. "Not one of them wanted anything to do with these paintings," she said. The best she could get was an offer from Sotheby’s to sell a Shen Jingdong painting online with a reserve price of HK$10,000 ($1,274), about 3.5 percent of the HK$288,000 she had paid for it. ..AFG’s website says it has served more than 1,000 clients. In an e-mail exchange, AFG initially said the company’s founder, Jeremy Kasler, would give an interview, but then said he would respond to written questions instead. On receiving the questions, the company said he was too busy to respond.


Energy, Environment, Science And Health

China nets 11 people for smuggling US$119 million worth of rare totoaba fish for traditional medicine market | AFP Authorities in China are prosecuting 11 people for smuggling 800 million yuan (US$119 million) worth of Mexican totoaba fish swim bladders, one of China’s biggest hauls of a trafficked endangered species used in traditional medicine. Mexico has for years urged China to tackle totoaba smuggling, as fears grew that illegal fishing in the Gulf of California was also killing off the world’s smallest porpoise, the near-extinct Vaquita marina.

Big data helps illegal wildlife fight - Global Times China's internet giants helped law enforcement departments seize illegal wildlife and their products worth more than 40 million yuan ($5.9 million) in over a year by using big data and artificial intelligence technology.  After the coalition to combat wildlife trafficking online was initiated by Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent in November 2017 in Beijing, they have become leading players in the wildlife trafficking crackdown in the country.

China establishes special committee for national nutrition plan - Xinhua China has created a special committee to implement the country's national nutrition plan, according to the National Health Commission (NHC). Jointly established by NHC and 17 other government departments to coordinate and advance nutrition and health related work, the national nutrition and health committee held its inaugural meeting on Feb. 28 in Beijing, said a source of the NHC.

China’s Health Insurance to Cover More Lifesaving Drugs - Sixth Tone Chinse people with rare medical conditions may soon have access to more affordable medicine, according to a Thursday report by China Youth Daily. At the high-profile “two sessions” political meetings that kicked off in Beijing this weekend, the head of the State Medical Insurance Administration, Hu Jinglin, vowed that more lifesaving medications would be included under China’s national health plan later this year.


Agriculture And Rural Issues

China reports new African swine fever outbreak in Guangxi region | Reuters The outbreak in the city of Guigang killed 20 animals on a farm of 3,172 pigs, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs said in a statement on its website. China has reported 111 outbreaks of the disease in 28 of its provinces and regions since August 2018.


Jobs And Events

CSIS Careers - Program Coordinator - Freeman Chair in China Studies good opportunity in DC