Liu He to DC; Decent economic data; Xi and the final victory of socialism; Taiwan

Happy Monday, glad to be back at Sinocism HQ, and thanks again for your patience. Among the items on my radar today:

  • Liu He arrives in DC today for the next round of the trade talks. In advance of his visit China announced a new crackdown on Fentanyl and related chemicals, an extension of the suspension of additional tariffs on US vehicles and auto parts, and a new round of soybean purchases. So Beijing looks to be trying to make nice in advance of this week’s talks, though so far I have not heard of any big breakthrough in the talks last week;

  • Qiushi, the main theoretical journal of the Chinese Communist Party, has published from a speech Xi gave to new Central Committee full and alternate members on January 5, 2013. Xi’s talk clearly previewed many of the policies we have seen in the last six years. Why release it now? I am not sure and have not been convinced by the speculation I have seen so far. If you have any ideas please let me know;

  • We are starting to get the first bits of data from March, the first full month of activity since the Lunar New Year, and things do not look terrible. Maybe it is the numerous bits of stimuli the government is pushing as opposed to any sort of healthy recovery, but markets sure like this data;

  • Tensions over Taiwan look to be increasing given the recent incursion of two fighter jets across the line dividing the Taiwan Strait and reports that the US has decided to sell Taiwan dozens of F-16V fighter jets.

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The Essential Eight

1. Xi on upholding and developing socialism with Chinese characteristics

Xi's article on upholding, developing socialism with Chinese characteristics to be published - Xinhua:

An article by Xi Jinping, general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, on upholding and developing socialism with Chinese characteristics will be published Monday in the seventh issue of the Qiushi Journal this year.

Xi, also Chinese president and chairman of the Central Military Commission, stressed in the article that path is the top issue concerning the success or failure of the Party's cause. "Path is the life of the Party."

Socialism with Chinese characteristics is the only path to building a moderately prosperous society in all respects, speeding up socialist modernization and realizing national rejuvenation, the article said….

It also called on CPC members, particularly officials, to have a deep belief in and faithfully practice Communism and socialism with Chinese characteristics.

The piece - 关于坚持和发展中国特色社会主义的几个问题 - 求是网 and a Sogou translation of the full article “Several Issues on Adhering to and Developing Socialism with Chinese Characteristics”. Some highlights, apologies for the length of the excerpt but it is worth reading what Xi says to the tens of millions of Party members:

In recent years, some public opinions at home and abroad have raised the question of whether what China is doing is still socialism. Some people say it is " capitalist socialism", while others simply say it is " state capitalism" and " new bureaucratic capitalism". These are all completely wrong. We say that socialism with Chinese characteristics is socialism, that is, no matter how we reform and open up, we must always adhere to the road of socialism with Chinese characteristics, the theoretical system of socialism with Chinese characteristics, the socialist system with Chinese characteristics, and the basic requirements for winning new victories of socialism with Chinese characteristics set forth at the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China…

Second, the socialist construction carried out by our party's leaders and people has two historical periods before and after the reform and opening up. These are two interrelated and significantly different periods, but in essence they are all the practical explorations of socialist construction carried out by our party's leaders and people. [Comment: Previewing the later public demands to not negate the Mao era]…

Hostile forces at home and abroad often use the history of the Chinese revolution and the history of New China to make an issue of it and do their best to attack, defame and slander it. Their fundamental purpose is to confuse the people and incite the overthrow of the leadership of the Communist Party of China and the socialist system in our country. Why did the Soviet Union disintegrate? Why did the Soviet Communist Party fall? An important reason is that the struggle in the ideological field is very fierce. It totally negates the history of the Soviet Union, the history of the Soviet Communist Party, Lenin and Stalin. It engages in historical nihilism and confuses thoughts. Party organizations at all levels have almost no effect and the army is no longer under the leadership of the Party…[Comment: Lessons from the collapse of the USSR drive so many of the Party’s policies]

…our party has always adhered to the lofty ideals of communism. Communists, especially leading cadres, should be staunch believers and faithful practitioners of the lofty ideals of communism and the common ideals of socialism with Chinese characteristics. The belief in Marxism, socialism and communism is the political soul of the communists and the spiritual prop of the communists to withstand any test. The party constitution clearly stipulates that the highest ideal and ultimate goal of the party is to realize communism. At the same time, the party constitution clearly stipulates that the communist ideal pursued by the Chinese communists can only be realized on the basis of the full development and highly developed socialist society. It is unrealistic to expect to enter communism in one or two strokes. Comrade Deng Xiaoping said that the consolidation and development of the socialist system still needs a very long historical period and requires our generations, more than a dozen generations and even dozens of generations to make unremitting efforts…[Comment: I have long been convinced that Xi is a true believer in Marxism and Communism and remain unconvinced by the idea that he and the Party “don’t really mean it”.]

Facts have repeatedly told us that Marx and Engels' analysis of the basic contradictions in capitalist society is not out of date, nor is their historical materialism view that capitalism must die out and socialism must win. This is an irreversible general trend in social and historical development, but the road is tortuous. The final demise of capitalism and the final victory of socialism must be a long historical process. We should have a deep understanding of the self-regulation ability of capitalist society, fully estimate the objective reality of the long-term dominance of western developed countries in economic, scientific, technological and military aspects, and earnestly prepare for the long-term cooperation and struggle between the two social systems…[Comment: Xi said this before Brexit and the 2016 US election…those and other developments only give the CCP more confidence in the inevitable decline of the capitalist West.]

We must have strong strategic determination, resolutely resist all kinds of erroneous ideas of abandoning socialism, and consciously correct erroneous ideas beyond the stage. The most important thing is to concentrate on running our own affairs well, continuously strengthen our comprehensive national strength, continuously improve the life of our people, continuously build socialism with superiority over capitalism, and continuously lay a more solid foundation for us to win initiative, advantage and future.

My view: Xi is proud to call himself a Communist, and he and the Party see themselves in an existential ideological struggle with the West.


2. Decent economic data

Manufacturing Improves for First Time in Four Months: Caixin Survey - Caixin:

China’s manufacturing activity posted its first growth in four months since November, with employment expanding for the first time in over five years, a Caixin survey showed Monday.

The Caixin China General Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI), which gives an independent snapshot of operating conditions in the manufacturing sector, rose to 50.8 in March after contracting for three straight months. The reading hasn’t been this high since July.

Economic Watch: Robust factory, service activities show stable economic fundamentals - Xinhua:

NBS senior statistician Zhao Qinghe attributed the monthly increase in the manufacturing PMI to accelerated production activities and improved domestic demand boosted by government supporting policies, including tax and fee cuts...

The positive PMI data showed the government's pro-growth measures have taken effect, said Zhang Liqun, a researcher with the Development Research Center of the State Council.

China Stocks Rally on Upbeat Economic Outlook - Caixin:

Shanghai stocks posted a second strong day on Monday, bringing their combined gains to nearly 6% over the last two trading days, fueled by the latest surveys showing manufacturing activity in the country was recovering. 

The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index closed at 3170.36, up 2.58% from Friday. It hit 3176.62 during intraday trading, the strongest since the end of May. The Shenzhen Component Index also jumped 3.64% to close at 10267.7.


3. Ideology and thought work in Universities

What Does the Punishment of a Prominent Scholar Mean for Intellectual Freedom in China? | ChinaFile Conversation:

Teng Biao - Tightening restrictions on universities is only the tip of the iceberg of Xi Jinping’s repression of civil society. All the forces in favor of an open society, including rights lawyers, dissidents, the Internet, journalists, NGOs, and underground churches, have been severely suppressed. Xi’s efforts to build a cult of personality, establish a social credit system, adopt surveillance technology, and wage war against religion are coalescing into a new “high-tech totalitarianism.” So it’s no surprise that Xu was stifled after he courageously criticized Xi and his perverse policies.

The C.C.P.’s regime is essentially anti-intellectual. Whenever it senses a political, financial, or ideological crisis, it launches a war on thought, reproducing and updating its 1957 purge of intellectuals. We are in the midst of such a purge now.

Taisu Zhang - What the current regime is trying to accomplish in terms of academic control goes far beyond even Mao-era precedents: Mao’s relationship with academia was, especially in his later years, predominantly negative. He had relatively little interest in coopting academic energy for political use, and, ironically, his sweeping hostility actually helped preserve the intellectual autonomy and solidarity of the scholarly community, which swiftly recovered its vibrancy after 1978. By comparison, the current regime’s approach is much more institutionalized, implemented methodically through administrative and legal activity, rather than through bursts of frenetic political campaigning.

A second Tsinghua University professor is investigated — but this time, for not teaching Marxism ‘correctly’ - SupChina:

As a little-noticed case of two Chinese students denouncing a Marxist professor in the style of the Cultural Revolution shows, there is an increasingly larger — and louder — faction of politicized youth in Tsinghua and neighboring Peking University determined to enforce ideological conformity and political correctness on students and teachers alike.

Silence + Conformity = Complicity — reflections on university life in China today - China Heritage

Primarily addressed to student readers in China, Lao Dongyan 勞東燕 — a prominent young female professor of law at Tsinghua University and a specialist in criminal law — reflects on the increasing policing of university life not only by reinvigorated Party authorities but also by some teachers and ambitious students...

Lao: The 30th of March 2019 marks the fortieth anniversary to the day since Deng Xiaoping announced the Four Cardinal Principles 四項基本原則 that have frustrated China’s political evolution for these past forty years...

In the treatment of independent-minded intellectuals like Professor Xu Zhangrun, not to mention teachers, writers, publishers, media figures, rights lawyers, dissidents, religious leaders and groups, in 2019, we are reminded of those seminal moments in March 1979.

People's Daily has started a new column on political thought education work, in the wake of the recent symposium in Beijing last week for teachers of ideological and political theory - 思政课,也要系统集成(办好思想政治理论课):

今日起,本报推出“办好思想政治理论课”专栏,刊登一批思政课工作典型和优秀思政课教师典型,讲述他们推动思政课改革创新,不断增强思政课的思想性、理论性和亲和力、针对性的有效做法与成功经验。

The 11th in a series of People's Daily pieces on People's Daily on the recent symposium in Beijing last week for teachers of ideological and political theory - 高校思政课教师肩负立德树人使命须具备三大职业素养--理论-人民网


4. Chinese bonds

China's bonds debut on Bloomberg Barclays Global Aggregate Index - CNBC:

Starting Monday, 364 onshore Chinese bonds will be added to the Bloomberg Barclays Global Aggregate Index over the next 20 months.

Analysts estimate that the full inclusion will attract around $150 billion of foreign inflows into China's roughly $13 trillion bond market — the third-largest in the world after the U.S. and Japan.

The inflows will help support the Chinese yuan at a time when China's current account surplus is shrinking, said Khoon Goh, the head of Asia research at ANZ Bank.

China's bond markets still have a way to go | FT Alphaville:

For Hayden Briscoe, UBS Asset Management's head of fixed income in Asia Pacific, index inclusion of Chinese onshore bonds is “the biggest change in global capital markets in anyone's lifetime . . . there has never been a bond market this large in the history of the world that is not including in an index.” 

At $13tn, China's is the third-largest bond market behind the United States and Japan. With index inclusion, Briscoe tells Alphaville it won't be long before it takes second place.


5. US-China trade

China to include all fentanyl-related substances into control list since May 1 - Xinhua:

Including all fentanyl-like substances into the control list is believed to provide a solid legal basis for the crackdown on fentanyl-related crimes, said Liu Yuejin, deputy director of the China National Narcotic Control Commission and an official with the MPS, at a press conference on Monday....

"China holds a very clear-cut and firm position on the fight against drug crimes," Liu said, adding that China had included 25 fentanyl analogs and two precursors into its list of controlled substances earlier, though the country sees no fentanyl-abuse on a large scale.

China Bans All Types of Fentanyl, Fulfilling Pledge to Trump - The New York Times:

Liu Yuejin, vice commissioner of the National Narcotics Control Commission, said that accusations by American officials lacked evidence and that China cooperated closely with the United States on cases of illegal trafficking, which was “extremely limited.”

“We believe that the United States is the main cause of the problem of the abuse of fentanyl in the United States,” he said, citing weak enforcement and a culture of addiction. He noted that the United States consumed 80 percent of the world’s opioids while comprising only 5 percent of the world’s population.

China will continue to suspend extra tariffs on US vehicles, auto parts - China Daily:

The State Council said on Sunday that China would continue to suspend additional tariffs on US vehicles and auto parts after April 1, in a goodwill gesture following a US decision to delay tariff hikes on Chinese imports.

In December, China said it would suspend additional 25 percent tariffs on US-made vehicles and auto parts for three months, following a truce in a trade war between the world's two largest economies.

The State Council, or China's cabinet, said the move was aimed at "continuing to create a good atmosphere for the ongoing trade negotiations between both sides".

China books fresh deal for 828,000 tonnes of U.S. soybeans | Reuters:

U.S. exporters sold 828,000 tonnes of soybeans to China, the U.S. Agriculture Department said on Monday, the second sale announced since the two countries concluded their latest round of negotiations last week to end their trade war

China Purchases Could Undercut Trump’s Larger Trade Goal - The New York Times:

Negotiators are still working out deal terms, but any agreement seems certain to involve China’s promise to purchase hundreds of billions of dollars of American goods. For Mr. Trump, this is an essential element that will help reduce the United States’ record trade deficit with China and bolster farmers and other constituencies hurt by his trade war.

But those purchases will be ordered by the Chinese state, and most will be carried out by state-controlled Chinese businesses, further cementing Beijing’s role in managing its economy and potentially making United States industries even more beholden to the Chinese.


6. Taiwan

Taiwan fighter jets intercept Chinese war planes in Taiwan Strait | CNA:

The Chinese fighter planes entered Taiwan's southwestern airspace at 11 a.m. and retreated to the west side of the median line after they were issued a radio warning, according to a statement issued by the MND.

According to local media, the incident triggered a 10-minute standoff between Taiwan and China warplanes.

Taiwan will forcefully expel PLA warplanes next time: Tsai Ing-wen | South China Morning Post:

Tsai’s response to China’s decision on Sunday, to send two fighter jets across the tacitly understood line dividing the Taiwan Strait, confirmed concerns that the action had opened a new flashpoint in the increasingly complex relations between the US, Taiwan and China.

In a Facebook post on Monday, which included her signature, Tsai is pictured giving an order via telephone with captioned remarks reading “I have already ordered the military to stage a forceful expulsion in the first place against any provocation by incursion of the median line [into the Taiwanese side].”

Why Trump's Sale of Fighter Jets Designed in 1970s Spooks China - Bloomberg:

Trump administration officials have given tacit approval to Taipei’s request to buy more than 60 Lockheed Martin Corp. F-16s, according to people familiar with the matter, setting the stage for the first such deal since 1992...

“For Beijing, it would be a huge shock,” said Wu Shang-su, a research fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore. “But it would be more of a political shock than a military shock. It would be, ‘Oh, the U.S. doesn’t care how we feel.’ It would be more of a symbolic or emotional issue.”


7. Xinjiang

Donald Trump presses allies to confront China over Uighur rights | Financial Times $$:

According to people familiar with the matter, the US state department has intensified conversations with EU member states and several Asian nations in recent weeks, urging them to be more “vocal” in attacking Beijing over the mass detention of more than 1m Uighurs, the Muslim ethnic group native to the region.

An unclassified state department document distributed in March by US officials to foreign diplomats included accounts of abuse collected by advocacy groups and media organisations, satellite imagery showing the expansion of detention facilities in the region, and cited five main goals of Chinese policy in Xinjiang. These included Beijing’s desire to “block and divide global criticism” to “weaken Muslim/Turkic voices internationally” and the “sinicisation of Islam”, according to the document seen by the Financial Times.

The state department did not respond to requests for comment but Mike Pompeo, the US secretary of state, last week in Washington met representatives of the Uighur community, including Mihrigul Tursun, the survivor of a Chinese internment camp. Mr Pompeo called for the end of “repression” and the release of all those who had been “arbitrarily” detained.

Comment: Tough talk from the US Secretary of State, but so far I hear President Trump is unwilling to actually sanction China over Xinjiang.

‘I felt like a slave:’ Inside China’s complex system of incarceration and control of minorities - The Globe and Mail:

Before she was shocked with a stun gun to the head for spending more than the allotted two minutes in the toilet, and before she was handcuffed for 24 hours because guards accused her of letting another woman participate in religious washing, and before she was forced to make winter gloves for two pennies a piece − before all of that, Gulzira Auelhan remembers a Chinese police officer telling her she needed to be educated.

The classes would only last 15 days, the officer told her in mid-October, 2017. “You will be released very soon,” Ms. Auelhan, 38, remembers hearing. An ethnic Kazakh who was born in China but had been living in Kazakhstan, she had returned to China’s far western Xinjiang region to visit her father, who was ill.

Instead, over the course of 437 days, she was detained in five different facilities, including a factory and a middle school converted into a centre for political indoctrination and technical instruction, with several interludes of a form of house arrest with relatives.

Kyrgyz Students Vanish Into Xinjiang’s Maw – Foreign Policy:

At Kyrgyz National University’s Russian and Slavic Philology Department, where many of the Kyrgyz students from Xinjiang were enrolled as undergraduates and studied Russian as a foreign language, the main exodus seems to have taken place during the winter break of 2017 to 2018. Copies of expulsion orders provided by the department confirm that at least 20 ethnic Kyrgyz students from China were expelled in the following spring and summer for such official reasons as “failure to meet the requirements of the course of study” and “failure to pay tuition”—both resulting from their inability to return to Kyrgyzstan. When asked why the students chose to go to China given the political situation there, the dean of the department mentioned that some had their parents in Xinjiang who were threatened with punishment should their children remain abroad.

“Only the [Han] Chinese students returned [to Kyrgyzstan] that spring,” one of the department staff members told me, referring to China’s dominant ethnic majority.

China Has Also Been Targeting Foreigners In Its Brutal Crackdown On Muslims - Buzzfeed:

Turkey is one of the few Muslim-majority countries to call out China’s crackdown on Uighur Muslims. A BuzzFeed News investigation finds that several Turkish nationals have also disappeared, something that has never been publicly acknowledged by Turkey.

Xi sends congratulations on 30th Arab League Summit - Xinhua:

President Xi Jinping on Sunday sent a congratulatory message to Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi, the rotating president of the Council of the Arab League, on the 30th Arab League Summit in Tunis.

In his message, Xi praised the AL's efforts to promote peace, stability and development in the Middle East.

He also noted that the AL has been advocating political solutions to pressing issues and contributing to the unification and self-improvement of the Arab world.

Saudi Arabia, China pledge to strengthen economic, military cooperation - Xinhua:

Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud pledged to strengthen economic and military cooperation with China, to promote peace and stability in the region.

He made the remarks during a meeting with visiting Chinese State Councilor and Minister of National Defense Wei Fenghe on Tuesday in Riyadh.

Saudi Arabia and China have a long-lasting friendship and their strategic relationship is under continuous development, he said, adding that the two countries are important cooperative partners of the Belt and Road Initiative.


8. Corruption, growth and the Xiangshui blast

After China's deadly chemical blast, questions mount over safety and corruption - The Washington Post:

To the residents of Xiangshui county, about 200 miles north of Shanghai, the Tianjiayi explosion on March 21 wasn’t so much an accident as an inevitability. 

Over the past two decades, local officials have transformed this once-overlooked coastal expanse of wheat and rice farms into one of China’s major chemical-production centers, tripling the region’s economic output in the process...

While local officials, including Kong, were trailed by persistent allegations of cronyism and corruption for a decade, the chemical industry flourished. Business executives like Zhang Qinyue, the boss of Tianjiayi Chemical, seemed untouchable.

In 2017, Zhang was given a suspended prison sentence of 18 months and slapped with a $149,000 fine after being sued for dumping 120 tons of industrial waste. 

But soon he returned to work...

Zhang, who has been detained and placed under investigation in connection with the latest blast, could not be reached.


Business, Economy and Trade

China launches two-month probe into abuses of new tax rules | Reuters China’s tax authority has launched a two-month investigation into tax-related third-party service providers to ensure companies do not incur additional costs as Beijing presses for tax reforms and fee cuts.

Apple slashes iPhone prices in China - CNBC The price cuts can be seen on Apple's website. For example, the entry-level iPhone XR now costs 6199RMB, 4.6 percent lower than on March 29, when Apple listed 6499RMB as its price. Apple's high-end iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max models each got a 500RMB price cut.

JPMorgan, Nomura Cleared to Control China Brokerages - Caixin China’s securities regulator Friday flashed a green light for two new securities joint ventures — Nomura Oriental International Securities Co. Ltd. and JPMorgan Chase Securities (China) Co. Ltd. — each with 51% foreign ownership, according to China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC). Nomura and JPMorgan filed their applications in May, followed by a host of other foreign investment banks vying to enter China’s $40 trillion financial market.

In Depth: Souring Debt in China’s ‘Lemon Capital’ Warns of Looming Local Fiscal Crisis - Caixin Both Anyue and Yanjiang took emergency fiscal restructuring measures last year, according to official documents issued by each. Such restructuring is an international practice taken by governments in an attempt to return to financial health after their debt conditions worsen.

Secretive Founder Turns Dying Factory Into a China Tech Champion - Bloomberg A quarter-century ago, Beijing Electron teetered on the brink of collapse, a government behemoth brought to its knees by superior foreign technology. Decades later, fueled by billions in state funds, a re-christened BOE Technology Group Co. does business with Apple Inc. and has its sights on becoming the biggest supplier of next-generation screens

To Collect More State Sector Profit, China Has Just a Few Likely Options - Caixin The Ministry of Finance holds a majority share in, or outright owns, 23 financial institutions, including policy banks, commercial banks, insurers, asset management companies and financial holding groups. Most of these institutions are listed or have publicly issued bonds, making it harder for Beijing to increase the share of profits it takes from them. In light of that fact, experts have said that it is likely that the central government will tap CIC or even the PBOC for larger dividends.

China's top two steel producing cities to extend output curbs -sources | Reuters Mills in the two cities will have to cut back the operations at about 20 percent of their blast furnaces under the restrictions for the April to June period, down from 30 percent for the restrictions during the November to March period, according to the five sources who spoke to Reuters on Friday and Saturday.

Central Cyperspace Affairs Commission Unveils China's First Batch of Registered Blockchain Projects - China Banking News According to state-owned media the 197 registered projects hail from 18 provinces around China and involve leading tech companies and financial institutions including Alibaba, Tencent, JD.com, Lufax, WeBank, Ping An Insurance, China Zheshang Bank, Haier and Sichuan Hejia.

Censorship pays: China's state newspaper expands lucrative online scrubbing business | Reuters Demand for online censoring services provided by Shanghai-listed People.cn has soared since last year after China tightened its already strict online censorship rules. As a unit of the People’s Daily - the ruling Communist Party’s mouthpiece - it is seen by clients as the go-to online censor. Investors concur, lifting shares in People.cn by around 240 percent since the start of 2019. “The biggest advantage of People.cn is its precise grasp of policy trends,” said An Fushuang, an independent analyst based in Shenzhen.


Politics and Law

CPC stresses enhancing Party building in central, state organs - Xinhua The General Office of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee has issued a circular stressing efforts to enhance Party building in central and state organs... It urges central and state organs to put the Party's political building first, and take the lead in studying and implementing Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era. Efforts should be made to promote all-round progress of primary-level Party organizations, it says, while calling for perseverance in strengthening discipline and fighting against unfavorable work styles. 中共中央印发《关于加强和改进中央和国家机关党的建设的意见》

CPC examines work rules of leading Party members groups, education of Party members - Xinhua The Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee reviewed two work regulations, one on the work of leading Party members groups and the other on the education and management of Party members, at a meeting Friday. 习近平主持中共中央政治局会议 审议《中国共产党党组工作条例》和《中国共产党党员教育管理工作条例》

中石油管道建设项目经理部原总经理吴宏接受审查调查——中央纪委国家监委网站 Another China National Petroleum Corporation put under investigation, the third since March 19

人事观察|时隔两年返京 福建政法委书记王洪祥任中央政法委副秘书长_政经频道_财新网 Wang Hongxiang moves back from Fujian to Beijing to become a deputy secretary-general of the Central Politics and Law Commission

China tightens regulation on official vehicle use, office occupancy - Xinhua Chinese authorities have made various efforts in recent years to strengthen management and supervision over official vehicle use and office occupancy, according to a national conference on government affairs held in Beijing Friday. So far, 29 provincial-level regions have taken reforms on the use of official vehicles, which are sprayed or marked with specific logos to be easily identified, it was said at the conference

China's SOEs take lead in corporate poverty relief efforts - Xinhua A total of 96 centrally-administered SOEs have offered targeted support to 246 poverty-stricken counties, or 41.6 percent of the total key counties under the national poverty-relief program, according to the State Council Leading Group Office of Poverty Alleviation and Development. In addition, they have set up poverty alleviation funds up to 18.18 billion yuan (about 2.7 billion U.S. dollars) and invested 14 billion yuan in nearly 100 aid projects.


Foreign and Defense Affairs

PM in China: Jacinda Ardern meets Xi Jinping - NZ Herald On the issue Huawei failing to get the green light from the GCSB on 5G, she said she had raised it proactively with Xi. She had outlined the clear process in New Zealand's legislation which dictated how such decisions were made and she set out where the process was at. And she had also raised the issues of human rights "particularly as it relates to Xinjiang," - a reference to the mass detention of Uighur muslims.

China Pakistan: Baloch Liberation Army attacks Chinese assets for 3rd time since Aug 2018 - The Economic Times In yet another attack on Chinese nationals on Pakistani soil a convoy of 22 vehicles comprising Chinese engineers employed in the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) has been targeted in Balochistan resulting in number of casualties.

China slams U.S. for circulating draft on banning Masood Azhar in the UN Security Council - The Hindu “The U.S. has by-passed the 1267 committee and directly filed the draft of the resolution to the Security Council. This is not in line with the resolution of the issue through dialogue and negotiations,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said in response to a question on Washington’s move. The designation of Azhar as an international terrorist has so far been discussed in the 1267 committee of the UNSC. But China has repeatedly placed a “technical hold” on banning the JeM head, which has already been listed as a terrorist organisation.

India’s nationalistic media could disrupt China-India ties - Global Times India should consider carrying out an airstrike against China, "ramping up ties with Taiwan" and "renewing support to the Tibetan government-in-exile," said The Times of India in its article on Saturday, "Confront the dragon: Address the China factor in terror's ecosystem."  Can you imagine a newspaper editorial offered that suggestion to the Indian government? It is a declaration of war. Why is The Times of India so furious? Has China invaded Indian soil? No. It all started from India's bid to list Masood Azhar as a global terrorist in the UN, which was suspended by China.

Australia appoints top diplomat to China as Scott Morrison plans $44m to 'turbo charge' Beijing ties - China power - ABC News Foreign Affairs Minister Marise Payne said the new National Foundation for Australia-China Relations would harness efforts of the private sector, non-government and cultural organisations, state and federal agencies and the Chinese-Australian community "to turbo charge our national effort in engaging China". Australia's 'toxic' China ties Former trade minister Andrew Robb says his work on a project in China was "put in the bin" due to toxic relations with China. The newly appointed Australian ambassador to China, Graham Fletcher, is also a top China specialist who has served three postings in China as an Australian diplomat and is fluent in Mandarin.

Chinese boats deny Filipino fishermen access to sandbars | Inquirer Globalnation Mayor Roberto del Mundo of Kalayaan — a town in Palawan from which Pag-asa, internationally known as Thitu Island, is administered — said Filipino fishermen were being driven away by Chinese vessels whenever they came anywhere near the closest sandbar to Pag-asa, located about 3 kilometers from the island.

PH files diplomatic protest over presence of Chinese vessels near Pag-asa Island » Manila Bulletin News Presidential Spokesman Salvador Panelo said the military has monitored 275 Chinese vessels sailing near the island from January to March 2019, as he questioned the reason behind such deployment. He noted that foreign vessels were “stationary” staying between a day to a week as reported by the military.

Overreaction to China threat could turn into McCarthyite Red Scare, says former US official | South China Morning Post “Right now there is a herding instinct in the US that is taking us off the cliff with various forms of overreaction to China as a security threat, an intelligence threat, a spy threat, a technological threat, an influence threat,” Shirk said at the Yenching Global Symposium at Peking University in Beijing on Saturday.

Japan Says Name for New Era of Naruhito Will Be 'Reiwa' -AP It is believed to be the first time the era name, or "gengo" has been taken from a Japanese document, a break from more than 1,300 years of using Chinese classics.

Chinese Dissidents Feel Heat of Beijing’s Wrath. Even in Canada. - The New York Times This is a textbook destabilization of the exile movement,” said Nicholas Bequelin, Amnesty International’s regional director for East Asia. “Since the early 1990s,” Mr. Bequelin said, “China has understood the best way to neutralize this group and prevent them from essentially getting organized is to ensure they have no undisputed figurehead.” Sheng Xue is the pen name for 57-year-old Zang Xihong. The attacks have left her name — and health — in tatters.

Indonesia May Be Next Asian Country to Spurn China in Election - Bloomberg Those sentiments are shared by Prabowo Subianto, who is challenging Jokowi for the presidency. To make up ground in the polls, the former general known by his first name is in part tapping into anti-China sentiment that has a long and occasionally ugly history in Indonesia -- and has recently swept across Asia.

China launches new system to defend islands and reefs in South China Sea - Ministry of National Defense China Electronics Technology Group Corporation (CETC) launched a new type of offshore platform at the 2019 Langkawi International Maritime and Aerospace Exhibition (LIMA). The unattended all-weather information network node system, integrating multidimensional situational awareness and integrated information services, is important for island reef construction and protection, maritime research, and maritime public services. The system has two variants: a floating integrated information platform (IIFP) and a more powerful island reef-based integrated information system (IRBIS)

China’s foreign aid showcases responsibility of a major country - People's Daily Online However, China is still tarnished by some people in western countries who made groundless accusation that the country’s assistance has brought debt trap to the recipient countries. They even relate China’s assistance to the so-called “neo-colonialism”. In this regard, China must make a clear stand, and explain what it has done in its foreign assistance.

Xi calls for closer cultural exchanges between China, Pacific island countries - Xinhua Chinese President Xi Jinping on Monday extended congratulations on the launch ceremony of the 2019 Year of Tourism for China and Pacific Island Countries, calling for closer cultural and personnel exchanges. In a congratulatory message to the event, which was held in Apia, capital of Samoa, Xi noted that China and Pacific island countries have a time-honored tradition of friendly exchanges.

2019年中国军民融合白皮书 2019 civil military integration white paper


Hong Kong and Macao

Hong Kong will not drop China extradition law plan, says Chief Exec. Carrie Lam following mass protest | Hong Kong Free Press HKFP Chief Executive Carrie Lam has said the government will not drop the controversial amendment to Hong Kong’s extradition laws. Her remarks came after a protest against the legal update was attended by 12,000 people on Sunday, according to organisers. Marchers called on the government to withdraw the upcoming amendment which would allow China to extradite people from Hong Kong on a case-by-case basis.


Tech and Media

Google blocks China adverts for sites that help bypass censorship | Financial Times $$ Google said it had “longstanding policies prohibiting ads in our network for private servers, in countries where such servers are illegal”, adding that bans on VPN adverts in China had been in place for several years.

Huawei Teams up with Google Despite U.S.-China Trade War - Bloomberg Huawei Technologies Co. built Track AI using TensorFlow, a set of AI software tools from Alphabet Inc.’s Google. TensorFlow is also open-source, so anyone, anywhere can use it and Google can’t control access. However, a creative team that works with Google’s advertising clients also provided marketing help to Huawei

Alibaba’s Ad Shift Shows Path for Amazon — The Information $$ Alibaba is China’s biggest digital advertising platform, thanks to search ads it sells to merchants promoting their items on its Taobao marketplace. Now, Alibaba is testing new types of ads that are designed to appear among recommended items in Taobao’s feed. This project is internally called “chaoji tuijian,” or “super recommendation” in English, according to employees with knowledge of the matter. It’s as though Amazon’s “recommendations for you” postings on its homepage were ads.

Chinese colleges include AI major to boost research - People's Daily Online China officially adopted artificial intelligence (AI) into its college educational system following a guideline calling for promotion of AI education in elementary and high school, which enriches the country's overall AI education. Some private institutions have also started to provide basic AI instruction to kindergarten children.


Society, Arts, Sports, Culture and History

China says 30 killed fighting mountain forest fire - AP A fire high in the mountains of western China’s Sichuan province has killed 30 firefighters and others, the government said Monday. The deaths occurred after a change of wind Sunday as the firefighters were battling the blaze in a rugged area at an altitude of 3,800 meters (12,500 feet), according to the Ministry of Emergency Management and the military.

China requires naturalized players to learn party history - AP Want to play football as a naturalized Chinese citizen? Better brush up on your Communist Party history. New guidelines issued by the Chinese Football Association say naturalized players must learn the history and basic theories, in addition to China’s national anthem, flag, symbols, national conditions and Chinese culture.

China takes advantage of Beijing 2022 to push great leap of winter sports - Gov.cn The Chinese government issued the “Guidance on Taking the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics as an Opportunity to Develop Winter Sports” on March 31, trying to seize the opportunity of the Olympics to usher winter sports into a new level. The guidance lists main goals of China’s winter sports by 2022, including that the development of winter sports in China will be more balanced; popularity will be significantly improved; participation will increase by a large margin, and the influence will be more extensive. According to the guidance, China will compete in all events at the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympic Games, and will improve athletes’ competitiveness, thus ensuring breakthroughs in performance. 中共中央办公厅 国务院办公厅印发《关于以2022年北京冬奥会为契机大力发展冰雪运动的意见》

“Lulu,” by Te-Ping Chen | The New Yorker WSJ reporter Te-Ping Chen has a short story in the New Yorker about a fictionalized Chinese dissident and her family


Energy, Environment, Science and Health

Most northern China cities fail to meet winter smog targets - Reuters A majority of 39 northern Chinese cities have failed to meet anti-pollution targets over the six-months to end-March, a Reuters study of official data showed, adding to fears the war on smog has lost momentum.

China’s top science bodies may hand out honorary titles to private sector amid tech push | South China Morning Post China’s top scientific institutes are trying to get the private sector more involved in the country’s research and development push by awarding more honorary titles to its high achievers. At least seven private sector specialists have been nominated for such titles by the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) and the Chinese Academy of Engineering (CAE) since the start of the year, according to their websites.

State Councilor stresses resolute fight against wildlife crimes - Xinhua Chinese State Councilor and Minister of Public Security Zhao Kezhi on Friday urged resolute crackdown on wildlife crimes and strengthened protection of endangered wild animals. Zhao made the remarks at a teleconference. He demanded measures to efficiently strike on gangs and dens related to such crimes.


Education

School Probes Thesis ‘Copying’ Confidential Research Funding Bid - Sixth Tone In a post on microblogging platform Weibo, the graduate school of Hunan University wrote that a special working group had been established to verify claims of academic misconduct lodged against former graduate student Liu Mengjie. The announcement came just one day after a post from a Weibo user accused Liu’s 2018 graduate thesis of plagiarizing an earlier research proposal the user had written for national science funding.