Liu He still coming to DC; 20 years since US bombed Belgrade embassy; MSS got NSA hacking tools
Liu He is still coming to DC, a day later than expected and reportedly with a smaller delegation. He will be here for talks Thursday May 9 and Friday May 10. USTR head Robert Lighthizer said the increased tariffs will go into effect at 12:01 AM Friday unless there is a breakthrough.
That does not give the negotiators much time, so barring enough progress that President Trump and General Secretary Xi get on a call and agree to delay this round of tariffs again, the odds now seem markedly higher that US tariffs will increase Friday. And if they do China will have little choice but to retaliate.
The “backtracking” by the Chinese is at least as likely to have been standard PRC negotiating 101 (I think their playbook actually has a chapter on reinterpreting what was agreed to before it is fully papered) as something related to domestic politics. I am starting to see speculation that Xi was pressured to pullback on some concessions, but at this point I have not seen anything convincing to support that guess, and would Liu He really have gotten that far out over his skis?
CCP propaganda organs received their marching order and are messaging that the PRC economy is tough and resilient enough to handle a breakdown in the talks and that China will only make concessions that are in its interest.
Today is the 20th anniversary of the US bombing of the PRC embassy in Belgrade, an incident that set off a wave of protests in China against the US. When I am in Beijing it always strikes me how little you have to scratch to surface strong anti-American sentiments. I have not seen anything in official media today about this anniversary, but if these talks break down there is a real risk that a whole bunch of other issues come to the forefront quite quickly.
Thanks for reading.
The Essential Eight
1. Trade talks
The decision to up the ante came after Mr. Trump’s trade advisers made a short trip to Beijing last week. Mr. Lighthizer returned from that visit dismayed by China’s refusal to mention commitments it had made to update various Chinese laws in the final text of the trade agreement, people familiar with the situation said. Even Mr. Mnuchin, who has been more optimistic about the prospects of a deal, was dismayed that the Chinese were not doing more to reach an agreement.
Instead, Chinese negotiators had insisted that any concessions would need to be achieved through regulatory and administrative actions, not changes to Chinese law passed through its legislature. The provisions included the forced transfer of technology from American companies to Chinese firms, the people familiar with the negotiations said.
China’s leadership decided a full breakdown in the talks may be difficult to repair and would exact costs on the Chinese economy, according to Chinese officials. In doing so, Chinese leaders broke from a public position that Beijing wouldn’t negotiate under threat...
In previous rounds, Beijing has offered up broad language that it will pursue structural changes. But it has rejected U.S. demands for more details about implementation, including identifiable timelines, according to people close to the negotiations.
The specificity the U.S. demanded caused the latest impasse, particularly over the listing of particular laws and regulations to be changed, according to the people briefed on the negotiations. Beijing believes that the U.S. demand impinges on its sovereignty, limiting its discretion on implementation, and that changing laws would take time, according to one of the people.
According to White House officials, the dispute revolves in part around how a final deal would be presented to the public. The U.S. wants to publish full details of the pact, while China just wants to release a summary of the terms, one of the officials said.
According to another person following the talks, the full trade agreement as now envisioned would require China to change its laws to implement it, something Beijing is reluctant to do.
Along with the transparency and legal force of the deal, another sore spot continues to be China’s goal of seeing tariffs U.S. lifted, according to one of the White House officials.
China is preparing retaliatory tariffs on U.S. imports should Trump carry out his threat, according to people familiar on the matter...
“The fact that China sends a delegation to the U.S. shows it is still willing to solve the dispute by negotiations regardless of what the U.S. is saying,” said Lu Xiang at the state-run Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in Beijing. “If the Trump administration follows through with the tariffs threats on Friday, I think it means the talks fall apart. We then need to be prepared for worse than worst.”
Page 1 May 7 People's Daily has lead article on how tough and resilient China's economy is-中国经济发展韧性十足--财经--人民网
Tuesday CCTV Evening News also spent 5 minutes on why China's economy is tough and resilient 中国经济：韧性十足 潜力巨大_CCTV
“When things are unfavourable to us, no matter how you ask, we will not take any step back. Do not even think about it,” the commentary said.
The article was first published through Taoran Notes, a social media account used by Beijing to signal the leadership’s thinking and manage domestic expectations.
"Taoran Notes" Wechat account Monday on the trade talks, making the consistent point that China wants a fair deal but will not do anything that is not in its interest. This Wechat account, clearly one with official backing, was the first to be able to really discuss the latest developments in the trade talks Monday. The propaganda system moves slowly, Trump's tweets came late on a Sunday night Beijing time, after a holiday, so the reaction time for such a sensitive topic may have taken even longer than normal-磋商又生波澜，中方态度依旧--国际--人民网
People's Daily Zhong Sheng on the need for calm and focus in continuing the trade talks, says China still willing to do a fair "win-win" deal but they do not need and will not accept an unfair one-人民日报钟声：关键之处见从容_新浪财经_新浪网
A highlight from tonight's Frontline episode on the China policy battles in the early days of the Trump Administration - China Trade Talks Shaped By President Trump's Divided Advisers : NPR
"I think ultimate success is regime change [in China], and I realize in that regard I'm considered a radical," Bannon says. "I think the goal into China is quite simply ... to break the back of this totalitarian mercantilist economic society."
Getting tough with China to bring manufacturing jobs back to the United States was the linchpin of President Trump’s electoral march through the Rust Belt during his 2016 victory. Today, the goal of the radical cadre running China — the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) — is to be the global hegemonic power. The president’s threatened tariffs on Sunday demonstrate the severity of this threat. But as Washington and Beijing wrap up months of negotiations on a trade deal this month, whatever emerges won’t be a trade deal. It will be a temporary truce in a years-long economic and strategic war with China.
2. US-China competition in the Arctic
China has observer status in the Arctic Council, but that status is contingent upon its respect for the sovereign rights of Arctic states. The U.S. wants China to meet that condition and contribute responsibly in the region. But China’s words and actions raise doubts about its intentions.
Beijing claims to be a “Near-Arctic State,” yet the shortest distance between China and the Arctic is 900 miles. There are only Arctic States and Non-Arctic States. No third category exists, and claiming otherwise entitles China to exactly nothing...
Let’s just ask ourselves: Do we want Arctic nations broadly, or indigenous communities specifically, to go the way of former government in Sri Lanka or Malaysia, ensnared by debt and corruption? Do we want crucial Arctic infrastructure to end up like Chinese-constructed roads in Ethiopia, crumbling and dangerous after only a few years? Do we want the Arctic Ocean to transform into a new South China Sea, fraught with militarization and competing territorial claims? Do we want the fragile Arctic environment exposed to the same ecological devastation caused by China’s fishing fleet in the seas off its coast, or unregulated industrial activity in its own country? I think the answers are pretty clear.
China’s Arctic ambitions are expected to dominate the discussion later this week when U.S. military leaders convene with partners for security talks in Greenland, an economically vulnerable land where China is working to gain a foothold...
“China is not a military threat to Europe right now, but if we are not careful about how we look at where and how they are investing, they become a very significant national security threat in the future that we may not be able to combat,” a U.S. European Command official said on condition of anonymity
His remarks appeared to shock many diplomats and observers, because the Arctic Council’s mandate has nothing to do with security issues.
“Everything has been focused on constructive cooperation where you don’t bring outside problems in,” said Malgorzata Smieszek, a political scientist and a fellow at the International Arctic Science Committee, a nonprofit group. “All of a sudden, the speech today shifted everyone’s attention to, ‘Are we looking at next conflict in Arctic?’ when the real issue here is still climate change. No speech will change that.”
At the start of the 11th ministerial meeting, chair Finnish Foreign Minister Timo Soini announced a change to the planned agenda, saying the final joint declaration would be replaced by ministerial statements. He provided no explanation.
Several sources said it was because member states were unable to reach an agreement, with the United States alone refusing to mention climate change in the final text.
This is the first time the Arctic Council, which held its first meeting in 1996, failed to present a final declaration at the end of one of its ministerial meetings, which are held every two years.
A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson on Tuesday refuted U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's criticism over China's participation in Arctic affairs, stressing that China would not be absent on trans-regional and global issues concerning the Arctic.
China can, and is ready to, play a constructive role on such issues, spokesman Geng Shuang told a press briefing, noting that the Arctic issues not only involve Arctic countries but also have global significance.
This meeting offers an important opportunity for the U.S. to renew its commitment to the Arctic region, announce plans to re-establish the position of Special Representative for the Arctic Region, promote economic freedom, and raise awareness of China’s increasing and questionable role in the Arctic.
3. MSS got NSA hacking tools
Chinese intelligence agents acquired National Security Agency hacking tools and repurposed them in 2016 to attack American allies and private companies in Europe and Asia, a leading cybersecurity firm has discovered. The episode is the latest evidence that the United States has lost control of key parts of its cybersecurity arsenal.
Based on the timing of the attacks and clues in the computer code, researchers with the firm Symantec believe the Chinese did not steal the code but captured it from an N.S.A. attack on their own computers ..
Symantec did not explicitly name China in its research. Instead, it identified the attackers as the Buckeye group, Symantec’s own term for hackers that the Department of Justice and several other cybersecurity firms have identified as a Chinese Ministry of State Security contractor operating out of Guangzhou.
There are multiple possibilities as to how Buckeye obtained Equation Group tools before the Shadow Brokers leak. Based on the timing of the attacks and the features of the tools and how they are constructed, one possibility is that Buckeye may have engineered its own version of the tools from artefacts found in captured network traffic, possibly from observing an Equation Group attack. Other less supported scenarios, given the technical evidence available, include Buckeye obtaining the tools by gaining access to an unsecured or poorly secured Equation Group server, or that a rogue Equation group member or associate leaked the tools to Buckeye.
4. 20 years since US PRC embassy in Belgrade
May 7, 2019 marks the 20th anniversary of the US bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade, Serbia...
In the end, military accidents do not conform to the difference between negligent manslaughter and murder. A smart bomb targeting an incorrect facility detonates just the same, just as an intentionally hazardous act of navigation in the South China Sea between two warships can appear from the outside as flawed seamanship. The world’s two largest militaries – both of which are still growing – will abut one another for decades to come. And if the legacy of the 1999 Belgrade Embassy bombing remains just a case study, we might be missing a greater truth in Sino-American relations: that this 20th anniversary also marks the anniversary of the end of credible truth-telling in our bilateral relationship.
While the United States immediately claimed that the strike was an accident, the Chinese press denounced the “barbaric act” and claimed it was a violation of Chinese sovereignty, implying intentionality. In China, the incident is both vividly remembered and woven tightly into the broader historical narrative of national humiliation. To this day, it is largely regarded as a deliberate strike on sovereign Chinese territory, despite competing lines of argument for why the United States took such action. The U.S. government’s formal apologies and explanations satisfied neither Chinese leaders nor the Chinese people, a stalemate that holds true from the time of the incident until today.
This huge gap in the historical interpretations merits exploration because the five bombs that detonated 20 years ago still reverberate in today’s policy debates. While plenty of analysis is currently devoted to the 30th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square protests, the Belgrade bombing is arguably more relevant to understanding how current U.S.-China relations evolved. - Maj. Tom Fox is an Army aviation officer and instructor of international affairs and Chinese politics in the Department of Social Sciences at West Point.
And just over 18 years since the Hainan incident—Joseph Prueher - What happens when two military superpowers collide -- literally at 20,000 feet? - Podcast
On April 1, 2001 U.S. officials in Washington began receiving reports that a U.S. Navy surveillance plane made an emergency landing on the southern Chinese island of Hainan; a Chinese F-8 fighter plane also involved in the crash went missing. Fortunately, the U.S. ambassador at the time was a retired Navy admiral with thousands of hours of flight experience. Ambassador Joseph Prueher drew on a lifetime of experience and contacts to ensure this accident in the air did not become a spark to a wider military conflict.
Any similar incidents now would be much harder to manage and control.
5. Religious affairs work includes razing Mosques
Using satellite imagery, the Guardian and Bellingcat open-source analyst Nick Waters checked the locations of 100 mosques and shrines identified by former residents, researchers, and crowdsourced mapping tools.
Out of 91 sites analysed, 31 mosques and two major shrines, including the Imam Asim complex and another site, suffered significant structural damage between 2016 and 2018.
Of those, 15 mosques and both shrines appear to have been completely or almost completely razed. The rest of the damaged mosques had gatehouses, domes, and minarets removed.
You Quan, a member of the Secretariat of the CPC Central Committee and head of the United Front Work Department of the CPC Central Committee, made the statement at the opening of a workshop attended by provincial and ministerial-level officials on the work of ethnic and religious affairs in Beijing. - 省部级干部民族宗教工作专题研讨班开班--中国统一战线新闻网--人民网
6. Prepare for more bad loans
The China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission in recent weeks used so-called window guidance to inform banks with nationwide operations that they must classify corporate loans overdue for more than 60 days as nonperforming, down from 90 days previously, said the people, who asked not to be identified discussing private information...
“For listed banks, the move will increase their NPL balance by about 50 billion to 70 billion yuan,” Wang Yifeng, chief banking analyst at Everbright Securities Co. in Beijing, said by phone.
7. Wechat in foreign politics
Neither of these stories imply foreign interference, but any government should be very concerned over the growing role of Wechat as the primary communications and media consumption tool of the Diaspora. It is after all still controllable and censorable from Beijing.
Labor is losing the battle on influential Chinese social media site WeChat as a wave of fake news posts and doctored accounts target the Shorten campaign on issues such as Safe Schools, taxes and refugee policy.
With less than two weeks until the May 18 election, Chinese social media has become an increasingly powerful tool for all political parties, especially in seats with large numbers of Chinese-Australian voters...
But a high volume of misleading anti-Labor material, some of which can be traced back to Liberal Party members, is garnering concern. Conservative campaigns resonate strongly in some portions of the Chinese-Australian community.
The issue has prompted Labor to write to Tencent, the site's parent company in China, raising concerns about "malicious and misleading content" and "fake news".
University of Maryland professor Janelle Wong, who has studied Asian American political engagement, followed Qi’s campaign, impressed that she drew hundreds of people to conversations on WeChat.
She said Qi, who raised nearly $150,000, did what many candidates don’t do: contact not-registered and avowedly nonpartisan voters directly with an appeal to change their behavior.
8. Chinese bribes in Venezuela
The 2010 pact, with China CAMC Engineering Co Ltd , would develop rice paddies twice the size of Manhattan and create jobs for the area’s 110,000 residents, according to a copy of the contract seen by Reuters...
The thousands of pages of court papers, reviewed by Reuters, were filed in Andorra, the European principality where prosecutors allege Venezuelans involved in the project sought to launder kickbacks paid to them for helping secure the contract. The material on the China deal, reported here for the first time, includes confidential testimony, wiretap transcripts, bank records and other documents.
Last September, an Andorran high court judge alleged in an indictment that CAMC paid over $100 million in bribes to various Venezuelan intermediaries to secure the rice project and at least four other agricultural contracts.
Business, Economy and Trade
China forex reserves snap 5-month rising streak to fall in April - Xinhua Forex reserves fell to 3.094 trillion U.S. dollars at the end of April, compared with 3.098 trillion dollars at the end of March, according to the State Administration of Foreign Exchange (SAFE). SAFE spokesperson Wang Chunying attributed the fall to exchange rate fluctuations and changes in asset prices.
Photo Essay: The ‘As Seen on Livestream’ Life Ain’t What It Used to Be - Caixin “Before, you could sell the same hot item for five or six days,” he says. “Now, maybe one day and it’s over.” What’s more, due to streamers flooding into Beixiazhu, rent for a floor of commercial space has jumped from just under 30,000 yuan a year to 80,000 yuan. The cost of doing business is skyrocketing.
How Chinese Companies Facilitate Technology Transfer from the United States | U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission This report explores six methods used by Chinese companies to acquire U.S. technology and IP, including (1) foreign direct investment, (2) venture capital investment, (3) joint ventures, (4) licensing agreements, (5) cyber espionage, and (6) talent acquisition programs. It then examines the effectiveness of existing U.S. regulations to assess and address the risks of increased technology transfers to China.
Regulator Signals It Wants Ceasefire in Bond Underwriting Price War - Caixin Several industry players say that many securities firms have been offering extremely low prices — or even free services — partially in order to acquire clients for other, more profitable parts of their business. Large firms are the main culprits, especially when it comes to bidding on high-quality, low-risk projects.
UC Express Chief Found Dead in Accident, Company Says - Caixin Global Yu Lianbing, a veteran of China’s booming courier sector who founded UC Express 10 years ago, was found dead at his home in Shanghai May 2, the company said in a statement. Yu was also the company’s president. The company called Yu’s death an accident, without elaboration. Reports circulated online that neighbors found Yu and his wife both dead at their home after a quarrel between them. UC Express didn’t comment on the reports.
China Said to Plan Revamp of State Food Giants Cofco, Sinograin - Bloomberg The government plans to transfer the trading assets of stockpiler Sinograin to food giant Cofco Corp., according to people with knowledge of the plan. The restructuring would be implemented in several stages and also includes Cofco taking over oilseed crushing capacity from Sinograin, said the people, who asked not to be identified because they’re not authorized to speak publicly.
State Council presses for improvements in road freight sector - Gov.cn The development of Internet Plus emerging business modes should be further encouraged and regulated. And departments concerned should establish an interlinked information sharing mechanism for freight credit. Outdated diesel vehicles should be rendered obsolete soon, and advanced freight vehicles should be promoted nationwide. Meanwhile, departments concerned should stringently crack down on overload vehicles.
Top legislature inspects enforcement of employment promotion law - Xinhua NPC inspection teams will be sent to six provincial-level regions from May to June, in addition to inspections carried out by entrusted local legislative authorities in 10 other regions. The inspection will focus on key aspects including the promotion of the law, the implementation of employment-first policy, the promotion of employment through business creation, vocational education and training, and assistance provided for finding jobs, fair employment, as well as employment in the countryside.
China to enhance institutional innovation, cut certification requirements, refine procedures - Xinhua "These are crucial steps benefiting both companies and individuals," Li said. "At a time when the economy still faces uncertainties, removing these unjustified certification requirements will help boost market vitality and improve business environment."
State Council stresses policy implementation, optimizing business environment - Xinhua All expressway toll booths at provincial borders will be removed by the end of this year to facilitate improved traffic and boost logistics efficiency, according to a statement issued after the Sunday meeting chaired by Premier Li Keqiang. China will enhance modernizing its expressways and promote the popularization of the electronic toll collection system, according to the statement. The country will also optimize the tolling of freight vehicles without increasing their overall expenditure burdens and the reduction of transportation fees of fresh agricultural products, said the statement.
Politics and Law
China regulates inspection on building rule of law government - Xinhua The regulation was aimed at strengthening the Party's centralized and unified leadership over the building of a rule of law government and allowing full play of the inspection work in promoting the building and responsibility fulfillment of the rule of law government. It stressed upholding the unity of Party leadership, the running of the country by the people and law-based governance, as well as the adherence to exercising Constitution-based governance and law-based government administration. It urged efforts to form a liability system covering all Party and government officials, including principals of Party and government institutions, to ensure sound implementation of decisions and plans about building a rule of law government made by the CPC Central Committee and the State Council.
Xinhua Headlines: China's iconic revolutionary base Yan'an bids farewell to poverty - Xinhua An investment of 6.25 billion yuan (920 million U.S. dollars) from the central and local governments has been poured into Yan'an over the past four years. To ensure that every household could get rid of poverty, the city has sent a total of 1,784 Party chiefs, 1,546 working teams and 37,400 cadres to live in the villages to help with poverty alleviation.
'Rule of Trust': The Power and Perils of China's Social Credit Megaproject by Yu-Jie Chen, Ching-Fu Lin, Han-Wei Liu :: SSRN This Article contributes to legal scholarship by offering a distinctive critique of the perils of China’s SCS in terms of the party-state’s tightening social control and human rights violations. Further, we critically assess how the Chinese government uses information and communication technologies to facilitate data-gathering and data-sharing in the SCS with few meaningful legal constraints. The unbounded and uncertain notion of “trust” and the unrestrained employment of technology are a dangerous combination in the context of governance. We conclude with a caution that with considerable sophistication, the Chinese government is preparing a much more sweeping version of SCS reinforced by artificial intelligence tools such as facial-recognition and predictive policing. Those developments will further empower the government to enhance surveillance and perpetuate authoritarianism.
One of China’s most senior Uygur officials to face trial on corruption charges | South China Morning Post The investigation into Nur Bekri, a former chairman of Xinjiang region and head of the National Energy Administration (NEA), has been completed and prosecutors have decided that his case will soon be heard at Shenyang Intermediate People’s Court in the northeastern province of Liaoning
Foreign and Defense Affairs
China, Russia and the United States Contest a New World Order - Carnegie Moscow Center - Carnegie Endowment for International Peace Moscow and Beijing will continue to have their differences, and they are not entirely free from reciprocal phobias, but the chances of a China–Russia collision over those differences are being minimised by the US policy of dual containment. This policy, ironically, also relieves both countries’ elites of lingering suspicions that the United States might build a bond with either China or Russia at the expense of the other.
Strong Chinese navy guarantee of South China Sea peace - Global Times It reminds us Chinese of the necessity and urgency to strengthen Chinese naval forces. Only if the Chinese navy is sufficiently strong will US warships dare not willfully enter China's offshore waters to flex their muscles. A strong Chinese navy is the guarantee for peace and stability of the South China Sea and even the whole world.
Images show construction on China's third and largest aircraft carrier: analysts - Reuters The images from April, provided to Reuters by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington, reveal considerable recent activity during the last six months on a large vessel at the Jiangnan shipyard outside Shanghai. China has not formally confirmed it is building a third carrier, despite recent hints in state media, and the timing and extent of its carrier program remain state secrets. The Pentagon said last week that work had begun, but no images have emerged until now.
Warship names show Navy’s growth - Global Times China is running out of provincial capitals to name new destroyers, and it might have to turn to other big domestic cities, which reflects the country's rapid naval development in recent years, military experts said on Monday.
Another Chinese American Trump Donor Tried to Sell Mar-a-Lago Access to Overseas Clients – Mother Jones A Mother Jones investigation has discovered that another Chinese American Trump supporter and fundraiser also tried to sell access to Mar-a-Lago. This Trump funder, Xinyue “Daniel” Lou, says he ended up failing to pull off this venture, but he tells Mother Jones that he was trying to leverage his donations to Trump and his pro-Trump activism in 2016 by packaging a trip for Chinese businesspeople that would include a stop at Mar-a-Lago. “I wanted to develop a high-end business because of my political contributions and my involvement in 2016,” Lou says. He also notes that he has been instructed by the Republican National Committee to say nothing publicly about his fundraising work for the GOP and Trump, which included rounding up people he described as “Chinese” for a Trump fundraiser in 2017.
Beijing's Response To The Belt And Road Initiative's “Pushback”: A Story Of Assessment And Adaptation: Asian Affairs Since its launch in 2013, the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has sparked a renewed global interest in infrastructure construction. But after five years, it looks like the BRI has reached its culminating point of success. A mounting wave of domestic and international pushback against the BRI combines discontent about its effects and criticism about its nature. Far from failing to understand and address the gravity of the situation, Beijing is organised and geared for a fine-grained assessment. China's leaders are not only aware of the present grievances, they are also capable of adjustment and adaptation. The recalibration of the BRI's tactics has, in fact, already started.
China-Thai joint naval drill embarks on maritime training phase - China Military Zhang Boshuo, Chinese commander of the joint command center and deputy director of the Political Work Department of the navy under the PLA Southern Theater Command, said that the joint drill focused more on actual combat. Each training subject during the maritime exercise phase would be initiated according to the contingency scenario. Difficult and risky subjects such as live-firing at sea and amphibious assault landing operations will also be conducted for the first time, Zhang added.
The China ‘conflict’ Paul Keating has you ‘need to be aware of’ “I don’t doubt Paul Keating believes it, I don’t doubt he’s passionate, but there’s a conflict here you’ve got to understand,” Neil Mitchell explained on Monday morning. “The current website of the China Development Bank lists Paul Keating as a member of their international advisory board.
This is how China wants India to pay it back for listing Masood Azhar a terrorist - ThePrint China is trying to leverage Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) chief Masood Azhar’s listing as a global terrorist last week to bring India on board the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) bandwagon, ThePrint has learnt. China has increased pressure on India to bring the long-pending Bangladesh-China-India-Myanmar (BCIM) rail corridor under Beijing’s ambitious BRI, urging New Delhi to take a call before President Xi Jinping arrives for an “informal summit-level” visit in July-August, according to diplomatic sources.
Hong Kong and Macao
Three retired Hong Kong police officers reportedly travelled to Taiwan to monitor pro-independence activists | Hong Kong Free Press HKFP Activists advocating Hong Kong independence were reportedly shadowed by three retired local police officers during a trip to Taiwan in January.
Taiwan reworks mainland China travel ban and treason rules in run-up to 2020 presidential election | South China Morning Post The legislature amended two laws – one extending a travel ban on former senior officials from going to mainland China and the other to expand the scope of treason under the criminal procedures law to include collusion with the mainland, Hong Kong and Macau. Legislators from the ruling independence-leaning Democratic Progressive Party said the laws were to prevent everybody – not just KMT members – from leaking secrets to the mainland or spying for Beijing.
China fires up drills near Taiwan Strait in test of combat strength | South China Morning Post Beijing is conducting live-fire military drills at the northern end of the Taiwan Strait as it signals its resolve to thwart “pro-independence forces” in Taiwan. Authorities in the small city of Yuhuan, Zhejiang province, notified the public on Sunday that a “no-sail zone” and “no-fishing zone” would be in effect in the area until Friday night.
Tech and Media
The Chinese AI firm that helped police in a cold case - Technode Sequoia-backed DeepGlint specializes in the field of computer vision, which involves the automatic extraction, analysis, and understanding of useful information from a single image or sequence of images.
Society, Arts, Sports, Culture and History
China’s rail operator apologises for holiday travel chaos but says it will seek to punish unruly passengers | South China Morning Post CRC blamed the situation on passengers buying tickets for short trips but staying on the train beyond their stops...it would also consult the government and the public on whether people who abused the ticketing system should be punished under the social credit system, which could result in them being banned from travelling by train in the future, he said.
对恶俗婚闹说“不”！山东莘县明令禁止婚礼陋习-新华网 a county in shandong bans some traditional marriage customs, including taping a nearly naked new bride to a tree or telephone pole next to the road
Chinese Comedian’s Medical Crowdfunding Drive Sparks Backlash - Sixth Tone Wu Hechen’s family started an online fundraising drive after he suffered a brain hemorrhage, but some netizens have questioned why the successful cross-talk performer should require financial assistance.
China roots out its ‘gaokao migrants’ as university entrance exam nears | South China Morning Post With only a month to go until China’s gaokao university entrance exam, education authorities have vowed to crack down on cheating candidates. More than 10 million students had registered to take the notoriously competitive exam this year, state news agency Xinhua reported.
Rural and Agricultural Issues
Tyson Says Hog Disease Impact to Linger for Years - WSJ $$ African swine fever is typically fatal to hogs, though not harmful to humans. The rapid spread of the disease in China, where an estimated 150 million to 200 million hogs have been killed as a result, stands to alter the trajectory of U.S. meatpackers
Use of China animal feed in US raises concern amid swine fever in Asia - CNBC “Feedstuffs can carry it, and one of our concerns is we bring in vitamins and trace minerals for our pork industry from manufacturers in China,” said Steve Meyer, an industry expert with Kerns & Associates in Iowa. “If you get the virus in those things, they can survive for a while.”