Improving the environment for the private economy; Central rural work conference; Positive online ecosystem

The signs are still positive for an early January signing of the US-China trade deal. President Trump and Secretary General Xi Jinping held a phone call Friday, and while the Chinese readout says Xi criticized the US he also praised the deal. Earlier today the Chinese announced a new list of tariff reductions.

President Trump focused on the positives:

The Chinese side is still trying to keep trade and all the other tensions in the US-China relationship separate.

North Korea could strain those efforts to isolate trade, as if the DPRK restarts ICBM and/or nuclear weapons testing the US may again consider secondary sanctions on major PRC financial institutions and central SOEs.

On Sunday the central government issued a guideline on improving the environment for the private economy. The authorities clearly understand the importance of private business to the nation’s economic health, but it is not clear that they are willing to get out of the regulatory and policy way to allow them to flourish. The new guideline says lots of nice things, and it also emphasizes the importance of Party building in private enterprises.

Holiday schedule: I will be on vacation for the rest of this week. The week of December 30 there will likely 1 or 2 issues, depending on the news. China is also on holiday January 1 and so it should be a relatively slow week, and I know many of you will be on vacation as well. I will return to the regular schedule January 6.

As you think about gifts this holiday season please consider Sinocism for someone in your life who should get smarter about China. It is a gift that will keep giving throughout the year.

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Happy Holidays, and thanks for all your support throughout 2019.

1. US-China

Xi says phase-one China-U.S. trade deal benefits both sides, world - Xinhua

In a phone conversation with his U.S. counterpart, Donald Trump, Xi noted that the two countries have reached the phase-one agreement on the basis of the principle of equality and mutual respect.

Against the backdrop of an extremely complicated international environment, the agreement benefits China, the United States, as well as peace and prosperity of the whole world, Xi said...

As long as both sides keep holding the mainstream of China-U.S. economic and trade cooperation featuring mutual benefits and win-win outcomes, and always respect each other's national dignity, sovereignty and core interests, they will overcome difficulties on the way of progress, and push forward their economic and trade relations under the new historical conditions, so as to benefit the two countries and peoples, Xi said.

China expresses serious concerns over the U.S. side's recent negative words and actions on issues related to China's Taiwan, Hong Kong, Xinjiang and Tibet, Xi said.

He noted that the U.S. behaviors have interfered in China's internal affairs and harmed China's interests, which is detrimental to the mutual trust and bilateral cooperation.

China’s Xi to Skip Davos, Deflating Hopes for Trump Summit - Bloomberg

Chinese President Xi Jinping isn’t planning to attend the World Economic Forum in January, according to people familiar with the matter, taking one option for a face-to-face meeting with his U.S. counterpart Donald Trump off the table.

China to Cut Tariffs on Range of Goods Amid Push for Trade Deal - WSJ $$

The lower levies will apply to frozen pork, as China aims to shore up its meat supplies amid an outbreak of swine fever, as well as semiconductor products and medicines to treat asthma and diabetes. Tariffs on some of the products will go to zero.

The plan will also cut import levies for more than 8,000 products even lower for 23 countries and regions that have free-trade agreements with China, including Australia, South Korea, Iceland, New Zealand and Pakistan, from the beginning of next year. The statement said China would further cut tariffs on some information-technology products and services from July 1, 2020.

China to adjust import tariffs for some products starting Jan. 1 - Xinhua

To stimulate import potential and optimize the structure of imports, China will implement provisional import tax rates that are lower than the most-favored-nation (MFN) tariff rates for over 850 commodities.

The country will introduce or reduce the provisional import tax rates on products including frozen pork, frozen avocados and non-frozen orange juice amid efforts to moderately increase the import of daily consumer goods that are relatively scarce in the country or have foreign characteristics to better meet people's needs.

China’s Meat Imports Surge to Record to Meet Holiday Demand - Bloomberg

Pork imports jumped 151% from a year earlier to 229,707 tons last month, customs data showed. Shipments in the first 11 months increased almost 58% to 1.7 million tons.Beef purchases were 186,984 tons last month, up nearly 80% from a year earlier. Shipments rose 57% to 1.5 million tons in the January-November period.

U.S. 'smears' of China affecting global stability, top Beijing diplomat says - Reuters

In a year-end interview with state media, State Councillor Wang Yi said this year marking 40 years of ties between the People’s Republic of China and the United States should have been an important anniversary for both to mark.

“Regrettably, the United States has successively imposed restrictions and put pressure on China in various fields such as economy, trade, science and technology, and on a series of issues concerning China’s territorial sovereignty has interfered and smeared (us),” Wang said.

China voices strong dissatisfaction with U.S. defense act negative clauses regarding China: spokesperson - Xinhua

China urges the United States to discard its Cold War mentality and ideological bias, treat China's development and China-U.S. relations with an objective and rational manner, and not to implement the negative clauses against China to avoid damages to bilateral ties and cooperation in important areas, Geng said.

The Act also authorized the establishment of the United States Space Force. Geng said the U.S. has been pushing its space dominance strategy, going further down the path of weaponization of outer space and risking turning it into a new theater of warfare.

Such moves seriously violate the international consensus on the peaceful use of outer space, undermine the global strategic balance and stability, and pose a direct threat to peace and security of outer space.

2. Guideline on improving business conditions for private enterprises

China's private economy to thrive in better business environment - Xinhua

Under the guideline jointly released by the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China and the State Council, more sectors will be opened up to private firms….

To boost the development of private firms, the government will further ease the tax burden of private firms, and enhance the capability of financial institutions to serve private enterprises.

Private firms were also encouraged to go public or issue bonds, while the regional equity market targeting private firms will get support.

The guideline also mentioned the optimization of the legal environment, stressing the protection of private firms by law enforcement and justice departments as well as the protection of legal property of private enterprises and entrepreneurs.

The Guideline - 中共中央 国务院关于营造更好发展环境支持民营企业改革发展的意见_中央有关文件_中国政府网

The opening:

"Over the past 40-plus years of reform and opening up, private enterprises have played an irreplaceable role in promoting development, promoting innovation, increasing employment, improving people's livelihood and expanding opening-up. Private economy has become an important part of our country's multi-ownership economy with public ownership as the main body. In order to further stimulate the vitality and creativity of private enterprises and give full play to the important role of the private economy in promoting supply-side structural reform, promoting high-quality development and building a modern economic system, the following Suggestions are put forward on creating a better development environment to support the reform and development of private enterprises."


Clause 26 calls on private enterprises to improve Party Construction:

Establishing and improving the working mechanism for party building in private enterprises. We should adhere to the party's leadership in supporting the reform and development of private enterprises, enhance the "four awareness", strengthen the "four self-confidence", and safeguard the "two". We should educate and guide private enterprises and entrepreneurs to support the leadership of the party, and support the party building of enterprises.


"Policy interpretation: "seven efforts" to support the reform and development of private enterprises" - 政策解读:“七个着力”支持民营企业改革发展 _中国经济网

Economic Daily talks to an authoritative person to interpret the guideline

"Fully unleash the creativity of private enterprises" -让民营企业创造活力充分迸发

Monday People's Daily page 1 commentary on the guideline

Guideline unveiled to boost private enterprises - China Daily

"The biggest hope of private enterprise is to have a level playing field and an inclusive policy environment," said Pony Ma, chairman and CEO of internet giant Tencent. "The new guideline sets clear requirements for the governance of different departments, which will help foster a stable and comfortable environment and provide strong support for private companies to accelerate the push for high-quality development."

China Vows More Support for Private Sector to Stabilize Growth - Bloomberg

The steps announced Sunday by the State Council, China’s cabinet, aim to help private firms gain better market access and equal regulatory treatment as their state-owned peers. Among actions to be taken are the further opening of key industries to non-state investors, including energy and finance, and also facilitating equity and bond sales by private-sector businesses.

China’s entrepreneurs have had tough year, Alibaba founder Jack Ma says, and it is going to get worse | South China Morning Post

“The year 2019 has been tough. Those of us running businesses know that every year is tough … in past years only some entrepreneurs have found it hard, but in 2019 probably most entrepreneurs have found it difficult.”

3. Central rural work conference

China holds key conference to map out plans for 2020 rural work - Xinhua

The central rural work conference was held in Beijing from Dec. 20 to 21, outlining the roadmap for the country's work related to agriculture, rural areas and rural people in the coming year.

A speech by Xi Jinping...was studied at the conference.

Xi..delivered the speech at a recent meeting of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee, which was convened to specifically study issues concerning agriculture, rural areas and rural people...

The work on agriculture, rural areas and rural people in 2020 will largely decide the quality of China's anti-poverty campaign and success of its goal to become a moderately prosperous society in all respects, Xi said...

Grain production should be kept stable while hog production should be restored in a quickened manner. Modern agricultural facilities should be expanded, and cold chain logistics facilities for the storage and preservation of produce will be launched.

The CPC's comprehensive leadership on work regarding agriculture, rural areas and rural people should be increased, with grassroots Party organizations playing a major role, the conference stressed.

Land policies on the development of rural industries will be optimized, while the pilot reform of the rural collective property rights system will be promoted nationwide, according to the conference.

“三农”重磅政策利好将集中释放 _ 经济参考网 _ 新华社《经济参考报》官方网站

中央农村工作会议在京召开 习近平对做好“三农”工作作出重要指示_宏观_中国金融新闻网

4. Governance of the online information content ecosystem

Online content rules leave platforms holding the bag · TechNode

The regulations ban exaggerated, rumor-laden, sexually provocative, and dangerous content which may incite copycats. Also prohibited are acts which infringe on personal privacy, use of new tech to engage in illegal acts such as artificial intelligence-powered face swapping, buying traffic, and use of the Communist Party or state symbols in marketing campaigns.

The rules encourage “positive energy” content that promotes Xi Jinping Thought, highlights economic development, and shows the world “the real, three-dimensional China.”

Platforms using personalized recommendation algorithms must include controls for manual intervention and user choice.

网络信息内容生态治理规定 Provisions on the Governance of the Online Information Content Ecosystem : China Law Translate

"Governance of the online information content ecosystem', as used in these provisions, refers to activities carried out by entities such as government, enterprises, society, and netizens, related to promoting positive energy and addressing illegal and negative information, and having cultivation and practice of the Core Socialist Values as their foundation, online information content as the main target for governance, and having the goals of building and completing a comprehensive online governance system, creating a clear and bright online space, and establishing a positive online ecosystem.


China’s New Internet-Censorship Rules Highlight Role of Algorithms - WSJ $$

“One significant highlight of these new rules is that the era of algorithm regulation is officially coming,” said Zhu Wei, an associate professor at China University of Political Science and Law and deputy director of the university’s Research Center of Communication Law.

Mr. Zhu said it is broadly believed that algorithms, as a part of technology, are neutral. But “algorithms should have values, and they must have the right values. At the same time, algorithms should be rule- and law-abiding,” he said.

5. Hong Kong

Another blockbuster story from Reuters that says the renewed push for the extradition law came from Wang Qishan’s CCDI - Special Report: How murder, kidnappings and miscalculation set off Hong Kong's revolt - Reuters

A Reuters examination has found a far more complicated story. Officials in Beijing first began pushing for an extradition law two decades ago. This pressure to extend the arm of Chinese law into Hong Kong’s independent British-style legal system intensified in 2017, a year before the slaying and two years before Lam’s administration announced its extradition bill. The impetus came from the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI), the Communist Party’s powerful internal anti-corruption body, which has been spearheading Chinese President Xi Jinping’s mass anti-graft campaign.

Xi’s crackdown spilled over dramatically into the streets of Hong Kong in the early hours of January 27, 2017. Among the targets of CCDI investigators at the time, two mainland Chinese officials with knowledge of the probe told Reuters, was a Chinese billionaire living in the city named Xiao Jianhua.

6. Huawei

'This is not rule of law': detention of Huawei workers sparks backlash | The Guardian

Around this time last year, Zeng Meng, 39, was on holiday in Thailand, having dinner with his father. Suddenly he was surrounded by Chinese police. Plainclothes officers stood on each side of him, their hands on his shoulders, while another filmed the scene.

The officers showed their IDs and said they had been dispatched from Shenzhen, the headquarters of Zeng’s former employer Huawei, where he was wanted on suspicion of violating trade secrets. Having no other choice, Zeng went with them, accompanied by four Thai officers. Within a week, he had been extradited to China and formally arrested...

When the Guardian travelled to Shenzhen to report on Li and Zeng’s cases, plainclothes agents followed a reporter from their home in Beijing to the airport and throughout the two days spent in the city. The Communist Youth League of China later posted an article online claiming that protesters in Hong Kong had passed the Guardian information about Li’s case to destabilise China. No protesters or supporters of the protests have contacted the Guardian about Huawei.

“The US government thinks of Huawei as something affiliated with the Chinese government, and the Chinese sometimes seem to act that way in defence of it,” said Julian Ku, a professor at Hofstra University law school

Huawei should be allowed 5G role in Italy, industry minister Stefano Patuanelli says | South China Morning Post

“We have passed legislation that guarantees national security. With the right defences, the possibility of (Huawei’s) access is not up for debate,” minister Stefano Patuanelli, part of the ruling 5-Star Movement, told La Stampa daily.

Italy security committee urges tougher government stance on Huawei, ZTE Reuters

The committee also called for additional government steps to protect the domestic 5G network from companies with links to foreign government, such as ZTE and Huawei.

"The committee cannot help but consider that the concerns about the involvement of Chinese companies in the installation, configuration and maintenance of 5G network infrastructure are to a large extent founded," it said.

Greenland chooses Ericsson over Huawei for 5G rollout - Reuters

"5G is coming to Greenland, but no date has been set for this yet. We do not see Huawei as a possible supplier of (Tele Greenland's) 5G network," its Chief Executive Kristian Reinert Davidsen told broadcaster KNR.

At the Edge of the World, a New Battleground for the U.S. and China - The New York Times

The Faroe Islands have become perhaps the most unexpected place for the United States and China to tussle over the Chinese tech giant Huawei.

China says Justin Trudeau wasting time asking for Trump’s help on Canadian detainees | Bloomberg

The US should delay a trade deal with China until the matters of the two Canadians, Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig, are resolved, and until the extradition case of a Huawei Technologies executive being detained in Vancouver is also settled, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Thursday.

Speaking at a press briefing, China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said the two Canadians are facing national security-related charges, while the case of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou is entirely Canada’s fault.

7. More problems with Hebei’s plans to clean the air

In Depth: How ‘Clean Coal’ Might Be Poisoning Villagers in North China - Caixin 

Between Oct. 25 and Nov. 24, at least 24 people in Tangshan’s Yutian county, where the family lives, have been struck down with gas poisoning, five of whom died, according to Caixin research. And at a hospital in nearby Qing county, which is under the city of Cangzhou, staff treated 30 patients for carbon monoxide poisoning on Nov. 23 alone, according to the hospital’s official WeChat account.

While experts disagree on the exact cause of the deaths, Guo and others in Yutian suspect the true culprit is the “clean coal” that authorities have encouraged households and businesses to burn for heating this year...

the transition to smog-free heating in Hebei has been fraught since its inception. In 2017, the government abruptly reversed a blanket coal ban across 28 northern cities as natural gas shortages left many rural residents without heating in subzero temperatures.

Rural counties like Yutian, where more than 80% of the 692,000 residents live outside built-up areas, have lagged behind the rest of the province.

8.Yang Jiechi on China-Africa relations

Full text of Yang Jiechi's written interview with Xinhua News Agency on his visit to Uganda, the Republic of the Congo and Senegal: 

The world is undergoing profound changes unseen in a century. A large group of emerging markets and developing countries are growing rapidly. At the same time, unilateralism, protectionism and bullying practices are on the rise in international affairs, bringing more uncertainty and instability to the world. As it was underlined in the Beijing Declaration - Toward an Even Stronger China-Africa Community with a Shared Future issued at the FOCAC Beijing Summit, China, the world's largest developing country, and Africa, the continent with the largest number of developing countries, have supported and cooperated closely with each other in international affairs. Under the new circumstances, enhanced strategic coordination between China and Africa serves the common interests of both sides and contributes more to upholding multilateralism and equity and justice. Both China and Africa firmly safeguard the international system underpinned by the UN, the international order anchored on international law and the multilateral trading system centered on WTO rules. No matter how the international situation may evolve, China will stand firm with Africa to jointly uphold the legitimate rights and interests of developing countries, safeguard multilateralism and international equity and justice, and contribute to the building of a new type of international relations and a community with a shared future for mankind.

China's cooperation with Africa has been guided by Xi Jinping Thought on Diplomacy. Such cooperation has followed the principle of sincerity, real results, amity and good faith, the principle of pursuing the greater good and shared interests and an approach of no interference in African countries' internal affairs, no imposition of our will on African countries, no attachment of political strings to assistance to Africa, and no seeking of political interests in investment and financing cooperation with Africa.

Business, Economy and Trade

China to boost loan support to manufacturers, small bank reforms: regulator - Reuters The Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission (CBIRC) has encouraged banks not to pull loans to firms facing temporarily liquidity issues, notably in the textile, clothing and paper-making sectors, and is promoting the use of creditor committees to help borrowers resolve their troubles.

China considering more RRR cuts to lower financing costs: Premier Li - Reuters Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said on Monday the government will study taking more measures to lower financing costs for smaller companies, including broad-based and “targeted” cuts in the reserve requirement ratio (RRR), relending and rediscounting.

Alibaba Launches 10 Billion RMB Subsidy Campaign to Counterattack Pinduoduo- PingWest Pinduoduo first announced that it will offer 10 billion RMB in cash subsidies, back in May, one month before's anniversary and own shopping festival on June 18th. Its active customers reached 536.3 million in 2019, an increase of 39% compared to last year, putting the company well within reach of Alibaba, which has slightly less than 700 million shoppers.

Billion-Dollar Hanergy Plant Grinds to Halt, Leaving Local Government in the Lurch - Caixin Two years after inking the deal, the thin-film solar project in the provincial capital Guiyang has yet to start production, as former solar superstar Hanergy has failed to provide the necessary equipment. Hanergy is a minority backer, according to people close to the project.

Regulators Mull Move to Bolster Smaller Banks - Caixin China’s banking and insurance regulator is considering allowing smaller banks to sell perpetual bonds to insurance companies, as part of efforts to help them replenish capital and contain financial risk.

Yicai Global - China's Household Income Rose About 6% This Year in Line With GDP, Academician Says Household income has increased slightly more than or in line with growth in China's gross domestic product over the past five or six years, The Paper reported Li Peilin, a member of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, as saying today. Despite downward pressure on economic growth, the basic trend has not changed, Li said.

China’s new digital currency ‘isn’t bitcoin and is not for speculation’ | South China Morning Post Mu Changchun, head of the People’s Bank of China’s digital currency research institute, on Saturday said it would be “a digital form of the yuan”, there would be no speculation on its value, and it would not need the backing of a basket of currencies, according to the official Shanghai Securities News.

“The currency is not for speculation. It is different to bitcoin or stable tokens, which can be used for speculation or require the support of a basket of currencies,” Mu said.

China Should Step Up Regulation of Artificial Intelligence in Finance, Think Tank Says - Reuters "We should not deify artificial intelligence as it could go wrong just like any other technology," said the former chief of China's securities regulator, Xiao Gang, who is now a senior researcher at the China Finance 40 Forum.

In the Battles Over Trump’s Trade Wars, Hawkish Adviser Navarro Endures - WSJ $$ An advocate for a hard-line approach to China, Mr. Navarro was mounting a final stand against a trade deal with Beijing during a crucial meeting of President Trump’s advisers this month. Mr. Trump has often sided with the protectionist Mr. Navarro against advisers who advocate a more calibrated approach. This time, Mr. Trump waved him off, according to a witness, and agreed to a limited trade deal to ease the conflict.

Politics and Law

10m expected to escape poverty - People's Daily Online More than 10 million people are expected to be lifted from poverty this year, and some 340 counties will no longer be labeled as impoverished, poverty relief chief Liu Yongfu said at a recent gathering in Beijing. "This year's relief target has been completed, in an all-around way," Liu, director of the State Council Leading Group Office of Poverty Alleviation and Development, announced in a work report he delivered at the annual National Poverty Relief and Development Conference, which concluded on Saturday.

All counties and prefectures in Tibet shake off poverty - Global Times The regional government said 19 counties and prefectures can now delete the title "poverty-stricken" from their profiles, according to a document sent to the Global Times by the Tibetan government. This signals that all 74 counties and prefectures in the region have shaken off poverty

China Focus: China getting closer to long-expected civil code - Xinhua The draft civil code, consisting of general provisions and six sections on property, contracts, personality rights, marriage and family, inheritance, and torts, was submitted to the ongoing bimonthly session of the National People's Congress (NPC) Standing Committee, which runs from Monday to Saturday. According to work arrangements, the draft is expected to be submitted to the annual session of the NPC next year for deliberation.

Lawmakers urged to include gay marriage in civil code - Global Times Yue Zhongming, spokesperson of the Commission for Legislative Affairs of the National People's Congress Standing Committee, said that they have been advised to include the legalization of same-sex marriage in the civil code when the draft civil code solicited public opinions from October 31 to November 29.  The commission has received 237,057 online suggestions and 5,635 letters, and were mainly about further clarifying scope of close relatives, improving the common debt of spouses and legalizing same-sex marriage, Yue said. Yue did not elaborate on the same-sex marriage request.

Henan Court Denies Request for Info on Corrupt Officials - Sixth Tone The Shihe People’s Court in the city of Xinyang rejected the demand of plaintiff He Guangwei, who had sued the local public security bureau to identify those who had bribed the former police chief for promotions, according to the media report. The court said the names of the people involved in the corruption cases “aren’t government information.”

Li Rongrong, Who Battled to Reform China’s SOEs, Dies at 75 - Caixin Li Rongrong, who advocated separating business from government and led a sustained state sector consolidation as the first helmsman of the powerful State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission (SASAC), died in Beijing on Saturday. He was 75.

Chinese Celebs Are Taking Unruly Fans to Court for Defamation - SixthTone Of the 1,075 disputes on reputational rights filed at the Beijing Internet Court between January and November this year, 125 were initiated by celebrities, according to a new report released Thursday. This marks the first time the internet court has published such data since it was established in September 2018.

Chinese court decides to execute Sun Xiaoguo - Xinhua Over the past 20 years or so, Sun has committed multiple crimes but has not received due legal penalties. "Related criminal facts and judicial corruption involved are shocking, which seriously challenged the bottom line of the general public and the law," the court said in a statement. The thorough investigation into Sun's case and "protective umbrellas" that shelter his crimes shows the judicial organs' courage to face up to the problems, correct mistakes and safeguard the credibility of the judiciary, it added.

Opinion | China’s New Civil Religion - The New York Times - Ian Johnson it is fair to say that for the first time since China’s imperial order collapsed in 1911, a central government is embracing the ideas that made up the political-religious order that ran China for much of the past 2,500 years. Why? Not only to address China’s moral vacuum, but also as a populist measure. The country is entering a more uncertain era, of slower growth and rising inequality, and Beijing is draping itself in the mantle of tradition to broaden its appeal.

Translation: After Hong Kong Visit, Rights Lawyer Chen Qiushi Barred From Leaving China | China Digital Times (CDT)

Xinjiang security crackdown sparks Han Chinese exodus | Financial Times $$ In multiple interviews with the Financial Times, Korla businesspeople estimated that the city’s population has halved from about 500,000 after the government implemented harsh security measures over the past few years. The residents most able to leave voluntarily are migrant businesspeople from China’s dominant Han ethnic majority — the very people the Communist party had attracted to Xinjiang in the hope that they would “civilise” the region’s Turkic Uighur Muslim population and build the local economy.

Foreign and Defense Affairs

U.S., North Korea talks 'more important than anything', South Korea tells China - Reuters “It is more important than anything to keep up the momentum for dialogue between North Korea and the United States,” Moon said, according to his spokeswoman Ko Min-jung who was present at the meeting in Beijing’s Great Hall of the People.

Xi meets ROK president, calls for advancing bilateral ties - Xinhua As the world is undergoing profound changes rarely seen in a century, China and the ROK should deepen and develop their strategic cooperative partnership, and accommodate each other's core interests and major concerns, Xi said. Hailing bilateral ties as "maintaining the major direction of stability and development" over the past two years, the Chinese president said the two countries have always been friends and partners that cooperate closely.

China-Japan ties face important development opportunities: Xi - Xinhua Xi said China is willing to maintain close communication with Japan and strengthen political guidance to push the two countries' relations to a new level and better benefit the two peoples. Abe is in China to attend the 8th China-Japan-Republic of Korea leaders' meeting, which will be held in China's southwestern city of Chengdu on Tuesday.

Malaysia FM: China's 'nine-dash line' claim 'ridiculous' | News | Al Jazeera Malaysian Minister of Foreign Affairs Saifuddin Abdullah said late on Friday that Kuala Lumpur has the "sovereign right to claim whatever that is there that is within our waters"..."For China to claim that the whole of South China Sea belongs to China, I think that is ridiculous," Saifuddin said in response to an Al Jazeera question about Malaysia's decision last week to take its case to the United Nations.

A Jungle Airstrip Stirs Suspicions About China’s Plans for Cambodia - The New York Times The politically connected Chinese company building the airstrip and port says the facilities are for civilian use. But the scale of the land deal at Dara Sakor — which secures 20 percent of Cambodia’s coastline for 99 years — has raised eyebrows, especially since the portion of the project built so far is already moldering in malarial jungle.

China digs Laos in deeper with flurry of SEZs - Nikkei Asian Review With Beijing promoting SEZs as part of its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), the Boten Special Economic Zone on the border in northern Laos exemplifies the "quest for capital in exchange for land." Boten abuts the border with China's southern province of Yunnan, and Chinese developers are being given leases there of 90 years.

China slams EU parliament over Uighur sanctions resolution - France 24 Members of the European Parliament said on Thursday that China's human rights record had worsened in the past year, and called for the Chinese government to "immediately end the practice of arbitrary detentions without any charge, trial or conviction".

In Libya, cheap, powerful drones kill civilians and increasingly fuel the war - The Washington Post The Chinese and Turkish drones cost far less than manned warplanes or the roughly $15 million American MQ-9 Reaper drones that the U.S. military uses to target Islamic militants in Libya. That has allowed both sides to build up airborne arsenals that are less expensive than fighter jets to maintain and replace.

Sweden must bear consequences of the current severe difficulties in China-Sweden relations: Chinese envoy - Global Times The Swedish side which insisted on interfering in China's internal affairs and judicial sovereignty must take responsibility and bear the consequences of the current severe difficulties in China-Sweden relations, a Chinese envoy said after Sweden issued an award of "freedom of speech" to Gui Minhai, a criminal with a severe traffic offense and suspected of illegally providing Chinese state secrets to foreign entities. Chinese ambassador to Sweden Gui Congyou made the remarks in a recent exclusive interview with Swedish media Dagens industri, according to the website of the Chinese Embassy in Sweden.

U.S. Invites China for Talks on Nuclear Arms - WSJ $$ The invitation to begin a two-way “strategic security dialogue” was conveyed to the Chinese on Thursday by Christopher Ford, the State Department’s top official on arms control...Though China publicly has rejected the idea of joining a new agreement, a Chinese diplomat told his U.S. counterpart at a United Nations meeting in October that Beijing wasn’t clear on what arms-control proposals Mr. Trump had in mind and suggested that experts from the two sides get together, according to nuclear experts who have been informed about the session.

The lesson from my trip to China? Solomon Islands is not ready to deal with this giant | Dorothy Wickham | The Guardian After my nation switched allegiance to China, it took journalists on a ‘look and learn’ tour

Australia, China, and Bougainville’s Choices – The Diplomat Ahead of the referendum, rumors emerged that a Chinese delegation had offered $1 billion to fund the transition to independence along with offers to invest in mining, tourism, and agriculture.  Around the same time, Kauona hosted an event for ward councillors and MPs where he was filmed by Channel Nine unfurling a large map of Bougainville with Chinese script highlighting proposed bridges, highways, ports, airports, and luxury hotels.

China's 10,000 ton-class destroyer equipped with long-range land-attack missiles - China Military China's latest 10,000 ton-class guided missile destroyer, the Type 055, is capable of launching long-range land-attack cruise missiles, the People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy revealed as experts said on Sunday the new weapon could let the destroyer launch more precise attacks against land targets at greater range.

Sonny Bill Williams: Rugby star latest to criticise China over Uighurs - BBC News Williams, a Muslim convert from New Zealand, posted an image showing a hand painted with the Chinese flag twisting an arm painted with the flag of East Turkestan - the term used by separatists to refer to Xinjiang. The East Turkestan arm is dripping with blood.

EU ramps up human rights pressure over Xinjiang with legislative threat to China | South China Morning Post The EU’s new foreign policy chief has vowed to push the 28 member states to toughen their stance on China’s treatment of its Uygur minority population with legislation that would punish officials involved in human rights violations in Xinjiang, where an estimated 1 million Muslims are detained. “I will fight for it,” Josep Borrell said on Wednesday, as the European Parliament awarded a top human rights prize to Ilham Tohti, a Uygur intellectual serving a life sentence in China.

They Built a Homeland Far From China’s Grip. Now They’re Afraid - The New York Times China’s repressed Uighurs have long found sanctuary in Turkey. But as the country strengthens ties with China, the Uighurs feel their safe haven shrinking.

Christmas card 'cry for help': in the Chinese prison at the centre of forced labour claims | The Guardian Qingpu prison in Shanghai has come under scrutiny after a note was found in a Christmas card that read: “We are foreign prisoners in Shanghai Qinqpu prison China. Forced to work against our will. Please help us and notify human rights organisation.”

China attacks US Space Force as threat to outer space peace - AP Foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told reporters that China is “deeply concerned about it and resolutely opposed to it.” “The relevant U.S. actions are a serious violation of the international consensus on the peaceful use of outer space, undermine global strategic balance and stability, and pose a direct threat to outer space peace and security,” Geng said at a regular briefing.

China creates commercial space alliance, expands launch complex - The China Commercial Space Alliance was launched at a Dec. 11 ceremony in Beijing. The alliance was created by six groups including units under the state-owned defense and space contractors the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC) and China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation (CASIC). The China Space Foundation and the Chinese Academy of Sciences are also involved.

Caught in Trump’s Trade Crossfire, Israel Chases Deal With China - Bloomberg In what could be a test of how much leeway the U.S. president gives to close partners, Israel hopes to conclude a free-trade agreement with China as early as next year, according to a senior Israeli official, who requested anonymity because the discussions aren’t public.

Chinese researcher accused of trying to smuggle vials of ‘biological material’ out of US hidden in a sock | South China Morning Post According to the agent’s testimony, published with redactions on Universal Hub, a community news and information site for the Boston area, Zheng Zaosong, 29, was questioned at Logan International Airport on December 9. FBI Special Agent Kara Spice said 21 wrapped vials containing a “brown liquid” that appeared to be “biological material” were found in a sock during an inspection of his checked baggage.

U.S. Reaches Settlement on Undisclosed Chinese Funding of Scientists - WSJ $$ The U.S. escalated its efforts to counter Chinese government programs to draw on the skills of top scientists in the U.S., requiring a Michigan research institute to pay $5.5 million to resolve allegations it made false claims about the Chinese grants its researchers received...The Van Andel settlement covered the institute’s alleged violations of the False Claims Act, which bars fraud in taxpayer-funded programs. The Justice Department has previously focused its investigations on scientists themselves and has run into complications bringing charges.

Pompeo Slams Russia, China for Opposing Syrian Aid Resolution | Voice of America - English "The Russian Federation's and China's veto yesterday of a Security Council resolution that allows for humanitarian aid to reach millions of Syrians is shameful," Pompeo said in a statement.    "To Russia and China, who have chosen to make a political statement by opposing this resolution, you have blood on your hands," Pompeo said.

China asserts security and control of Hambantota Port in Sri Lanka's hands | MENAFN.COM China reiterated that it highly respects the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Sri Lanka and that the security and control of the Hambantota Port is entirely in the hands of the Sri Lankan Government and Navy, which is no any different from other ports in Sri Lanka.

Sri Lanka not to renegotiate Hambantota Port agreement with China: president - Xinhua Speaking to Colombo-based foreign correspondents at the Presidential Secretariat in the capital Colombo on Thursday, Rajapaksa said he would not renegotiate the commercial agreement of the project as that had already been signed, and he was studying to see if the entire security of the port was under Sri Lanka's control. Rajapaksa said if additional clauses are needed to be inserted to reassure the security deal, then the government would go ahead with it.

China’s $1.3tn global spending spree will collapse, says top US official | Financial Times $$ Adam Boehler, the chief executive of the US International Development Finance Corporation, told the Financial Times that China’s international investments were “100 per cent” like a house of cards because of “debt overload, poor infrastructure, bribes [and] lack of transparency”...As well as ensuring that US businesses pump more money into developing countries, the DFC is also much more explicitly tying its deals — including loans, loan guarantees and risk insurance — to the Trump administration’s national security priorities, including challenging China’s growing economic and strategic influence around the world. 

Hong Kong and Macao

Clashes erupt at Hong Kong rally to support China's Uighurs - AP Police arrested two protesters who were attempting to burn a Chinese flag at the rally, which was attended by several hundred people. Some were holding signs emblazoned with the blue and white flag of the independence movement in the northwestern Chinese territory of Xinjiang.

Central govt appointing young HK officials to UN a breakthrough: Lam - Global Times The central government of China has appointed five Hong Kong young civil servants to work in the United Nations (UN), which is a breakthrough for the city of Hong Kong, Carrie Lam, chief executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR), said on Monday. Analysts hailed the move as innovation within "one country, two systems" that is beneficial for the youth in the city and a balanced voice over the situation in Hong Kong.

Tech and Media

All major cities to get 5G network by end of 2020: MIIT statement - Global Times China, as a frontrunner of 5G technology, will strive to extend the next-generation network coverage to all prefecture-level cities by the end of 2020, according to a statement sent to the Global Times by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) on Monday.

U.S. Navy bans TikTok from government-issued mobile devices - Reuters A bulletin issued by the Navy on Tuesday showed up on a Facebook page serving military members, saying users of government issued mobile devices who had TikTok and did not remove the app would be blocked from the Navy Marine Corps Intranet. // Question: Is there a similar policy for WeChat?

TikTok Searches for Global Headquarters Outside of China - WSJ $$ Singapore is one city being considered, the people said. Other possible locations include London and Dublin, with no American cities on the shortlist, one person said. TikTok currently doesn’t have a headquarters, although its most-senior executive is based in Shanghai and its main office, which runs U.S. operations, is in Los Angeles.

It Seemed Like a Popular Chat App. It’s Secretly a Spy Tool. - The New York Times It appears to be a copy of a Chinese messaging app offering free video calls, YeeCall, slightly customized for English and Arabic audiences...One who listed his title as “data science team lead” said he had created a “message intelligence platform” that reads billions of messages to answer four questions: “who you are, what you do, how do you think, and what is your relationship with others.” “With the answers to these four questions, we know everything about one person,” wrote the data scientist, Jingyan Wang.

Highlights of the day: Chinese chipmakers developing AI-based ASICs - Digitimes Chinese IT firms have been stepping up efforts developing its own CPUs in line with the country's goal of replacing all foreign firms-made computers in use in government and military sectors with locally-made ones. Chinese chipmakers are also developing HPC chips for AI and deep learning applications with the goal of volume producing them in 2021. The development in China is promising big challenges to the US vendors, such as Intel

Ant Financial takes stake in Vietnam's eMonkey: sources - Reuters The move, negotiated over the summer, is not being announced due to concerns that anti-China sentiment in Vietnam could result in possible pushback, three people with knowledge of the situation said.

Shares of China's chipmakers drop as state-backed fund plans to cut stake · TechNode Analysts at China Merchants Securities, a broker, said (in Chinese) the move was a “routine operation” and won’t change the Chinese government’s strategy to support the technology sector.

Tencent's Investment Deals Plunge 33% YoY in 2019, Investment Sum Drops by over Half - China Banking News Ten­cen­t’s global in­vest­ment deals to­talled 108 in 2019, for a de­cline of 33% com­pared to the 162 deals it made in 2018, ac­cord­ing to data from Chi­nese re­search com­pany IT Juzi.  The in­vest­ment amount fell by over half, from 72.7 bil­lion yuan in 2018 to 34.3 bil­lion yuan in 2019.

Society, Arts, Sports, Culture and History

Keyboards of the world - How China made the piano its own | Christmas Specials | The Economist Once an instrument unheard of in much of the country, the piano has flourished in China over the past century

With 'tornado beer' and brick-breaking, Chinese villager becomes Twitter sensation - Reuters Hebei Pangzai’s real name is Liu Shichao. The odd job laborer hails from Zhengyuansi, a nondescript village where everyone knows everyone. Thanks to the internet, Liu now has over 130,000 followers on Twitter, drawn to his beer-drinking clips. This week, he even had three new American friends visit him in his village.

Unmarried Chinese woman sues hospital over refusal to freeze eggs - Reuters An unmarried Chinese woman filed a suit against a hospital on Monday for rejecting her request to undergo a medical procedure to freeze her eggs due to her marital status, in China’s first legal challenge of a woman fighting for her reproductive rights.

Stuck With an Ex-Husband’s Debt, a Journalist Fights for Divorced Women - The New York Times Over the past two years, the global #MeToo movement has inspired Chinese women to speak up against sexual harassment. Ms. Li wants to extend the debate to women’s economic rights. She and hundreds of other women, as well as some divorced men, say China’s law has unfairly entrapped them when courts ruled they were jointly liable for former spouses’ unpaid loans.


Beijing adds more forests, greenbelts - Xinhua Beijing planted about 11.6 million trees in 2019 and plans to add another 11,333 hectares of forests and greenbelts in 2020. The campaign aims at adding 66,700 hectares of forests, greenbelts and wetlands by 2022.

Books and Literature

To the Dogs | Jianan Qian | Granta Magazine A short story...on stray dogs, desperation and re-education in rural China during the Cultural Revolution, picked by Granta as one of its top 10 reads of 2019

Jobs and Events

Write for The Economist - We’re hiring a new China correspondent | The Economist Beijing bureau

Rural and Agricultural Issues

Pig Farm In Trouble for Defenses Against Swine Fever-Infected Drones - Caixin The incident, which occurred at the end of October, caused a number of flights in the vicinity of Harbin airport to lose GPS signals. Some even complained of failures in the satellite navigation technology used to pinpoint the position of an aircraft. Authorities eventually found the offending device and ordered the farm to hand it in. No further punishment was administered, reported.