Maybe May for trade deal; Visa denials; Wang Yang on religion; PRC firms and the global Internet

No commentary up top today, back to normal Monday.

If you are in DC next Wednesday you might want to attend the free 37th annual John Fisher Zeidman ’79 Memorial Lecture at 8PM. This year it will be a panel discussion on reporting about China with Charles Hutzler, Ed Wong and Christina Larson, moderated by Susie Jakes. You can register here.

Thanks for reading.


The Essential Eight

1. US-China trade

U.S., China Said to Aim for Early-May Announcement on Trade Deal - Bloomberg

Senior U.S. and Chinese officials are scheduling more face-to-face trade talks in an effort to reach a deal by early-May that President Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping could sign later that month, two people familiar with the plans said.

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin plan to travel to Beijing the week of April 29, according to the people, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations. The next week Chinese Vice Premier Liu He will come to Washington for negotiations. During his visit, officials want to announce the sides have struck a deal and details of a signing summit, probably set for late May, they said...

One option under consideration is to hold the leaders’ signing summit in Japan where Trump is due to travel in May to meet the country’s new emperor, Crown Prince Naruhito, according to one of the people.

Comment: Japan would seem to be a problematic locale for Xi if the Chinese are making significant concessions.

U.S., China Set Tentative Timeline for Next Round of Trade Talks - WSJ $$

The talks continue, and the negotiators have a history of missed deadlines, but the provisional plan for face-to-face meetings suggests optimism; recent talks have been conducted via videoconference.

If U.S. and Chinese officials come to a deal in early May, officials then likely would spend a couple of weeks wrapping up the agreement’s text and legal language before a hoped-for presidential signing ceremony as soon as Memorial Day, according to one person.

Sino-U.S. trade deal negotiation makes new progress: China's commerce ministry - Reuters

There has been new progress in negotiating the text of a Sino-U.S. trade deal, but work remains to be done, China’s commerce ministry spokesman, Gao Feng, told a regular news briefing on Thursday.

U.S. and Chinese companies fear Trump’s coming trade war on car industry - POLITICO

The U.S.-China trade war directly affects 3 percent of global trade, but the automotive industry accounts for 8 percent, according to World Trade Organization figures...

Trump is sitting on an explosive report from the U.S. Commerce Department that is expected to recommend tariffs as high as 25 percent on vehicles and car parts..

For the U.S., attacking car exports would be an effective way of pummeling China, which is at the heart of an elaborate and intricate car industry supply chain. But it would also penalize U.S. companies reliant on Chinese parts, which are often difficult to source at home and find their way into America via third nations.

US soyabean exports to China rise for first time in 9 months | Financial Times $$

US trade data released Wednesday showed that the 2.1m tonnes of soyabeans the US shipped to China in February was 5,900 more than in February 2018. The last time exports rose on an annual basis was in May 2018, the data showed.

Soyabeans were traditionally the largest US agricultural export to China, with sales of more than 30m tonnes per year. The shipments dropped to 8.3m tonnes in 2018 after China imposed a 25 per cent tariff last July.


2. No PRC visa for America’s “leading authority on China”

Chinese block visit of Trump confidant - Axios

China recently declined to issue a visa to Michael Pillsbury, an informal adviser to President Trump on China policy, in an unusual move that comes as the Trump administration steps up its scrutiny of Chinese experts attempting to travel to the U.S.

Why it matters: Trump has praised Pillsbury, a hawkish former Pentagon official and author, as "the leading authority on China." Pillsbury regularly discusses China with Trump, including during an Oval Office meeting about a month ago. Pillsbury told Axios he has visited China over 50 times since the 1970s and this is the first time his visa request hasn't been approved.

How it happened: Pillsbury was due to participate in a conference in Beijing last Sunday hosted by the Center for China and Globalization. He was also invited to an event at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing hosted by Ambassador Terry Branstad....

Pillsbury said China had also declined to issue a visa to Wendy Cutler, a China expert who served as a top trade negotiator in the Obama administration and was scheduled to take part in the same conference.

Comment: If the Chinese believe that Trump likes Pillsbury and talks to him a lot this is a risky snub of Trump during the trade talks. Or are the Chinese confident that Trump won’t actually care?

U.S. Scholar Who Advises Trump Says China Blocked His Visa Application - The New York Times

Mr. Pillsbury said American officials told him earlier on Wednesday that they thought China had begun retaliating against the Trump administration’s visa crackdown. He used a Chinese idiom to characterize the move: killing a chicken to scare the monkeys, which means sending a warning by making someone an example.

“In other words, if even Trump’s adviser Pillsbury can be subtly delayed and miss a trade conference, what does that mean to other scholars without a personal relationship with the president?” he said...

Hu Xijin, chief editor of Global Times, wrote on Twitter on Thursday that it was logical that Mr. Pillsbury’s visa problems were tied to the F.B.I.’s visa campaign. Mr. Hu said he believed that “there will be other American scholars who could be denied Chinese visa.”


3. Economy

Auto Stocks Surge as NDRC Weighs Easing Restrictions - Caixin

The NDRC distributed the document to government and industry departments on April 11 to collect opinions, Caixin learned. Proposed measures include stopping local authorities from issuing restrictions on new car licenses and to gradually ease existing rules. Some of China’s largest cities have limited access to the auto market as a way of fighting congestion and air pollution...

The chance for residents to obtain new licenses has become rare in the biggest cities. In Beijing, where a car plate lottery system has been in place since 2010, only 1.23% of applicants can win one. The rate in Shenzhen is 3.14%, while an average ratio for other cities is 6%, according to China Passenger Car Association (CPCA).

The NDRC also listed various measures to encourage auto replacement, electric car purchases and vehicle sales in rural areas, as well as rule changes to encourage used-car trading, according to the document.

New measures to ensure meaningful reduction in MSEs' financing costs - Xinhua

China will work to further reduce financing cost of micro and small enterprises (MSEs), with an aim to increase outstanding loans offered by five large state-owned commercial banks to MSEs by more than 30 percent this year comparing with 2018, the State Council executive meeting chaired by Premier Li Keqiang decided on Wednesday...

The scale of re-lending and re-discount will be expanded and more targeted cuts in the required reserve ratio (RRR) for small and medium-sized banks will be made. A policy framework for applying a fairly low RRR for small and medium-sized banks will be established, as was urged at the meeting. Funds that are newly freed up from these measures will be used for lending to private companies and MSEs.

李克强主持召开国务院常务会议 听取2019年全国两会建议提案承办情况汇报等_总理_中国政府网

In Depth: China Grapples With How to Let Market Steer Interest Rates - Caixin

The central bank said that it will prudently advance its goal of unifying China’s two interest rate “tracks.” One of those tracks is the interest rates set largely by the market, such as the seven-day interbank pledged repo rate. The other refers to benchmark deposit and lending interest rates, which are set by the central bank.

However, eliminating benchmark deposit rates will probably lead to a fiercer deposit competition among commercial banks, in turn forcing them to raise interest rates on loans to companies.

Fiscal Revenue Growth Slowed in March Amid Tax Cuts - Caixin:

China’s March fiscal revenue expansion slowed with sharp declines in individual tax collections and land sales, signaling greater pressure on government coffers amid massive tax cuts to shore up economic growth.

Central government fiscal revenue rose 4% year-on-year in March, 4.4 percentage points lower than in the same month last year, according to data released Tuesday by the Ministry of Finance.

Government tax revenue rose 1.9% in March, down from growth of 14.3% a year ago, reflecting greater efforts to cut costs for businesses and individuals as the economy cools.

China Becomes the New Hot Trade for Wall Street - Bloomberg

After saying Wednesday that gross domestic product expanded 6.4 percent in the first quarter from a year earlier, which was better than the 6.3 percent forecast by economists, both UBS and Morgan Stanley raised their growth forecasts for this year. The latter said it expected a growth upturn through 2019 “as fiscal easing fully kicks in, trade tensions ease, and consumer confidence normalizes.” Earlier this week, Goldman Sachs recommended some trades for those banking on a China rebound.


4. Wang Yang on religion 

Senior CPC official stresses harmony, stability in religious affairs - Xinhua

Wang [Yang], a member of the Standing Committee of the CPC Central Committee Political Bureau and chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), made the remarks during an inspection and research tour to central China's Henan Province...

He called for greater efforts to help the public solve practical difficulties, enrich their spiritual and cultural life, guide them to view religious beliefs in a rational way and enable them to consciously resist all kinds of illegal activities under the guise of religions.

It is also necessary to actively explore effective ways of localizing religions and guide religions to better adapt to China's social system, morality and culture, said Wang, adding that various measures should be taken to support the healthy and orderly development of religions.

汪洋:全面提高宗教工作水平 切实维护宗教领域和谐稳定

During his inspection tour Wang also paid homage at the memorial hall of Xi's favorite grassroots official, the late Jiao Yulu.

Vatican officials on goodwill mission to China to build on bishops deal with Beijing after detention of underground Catholic priest | South China Morning Post

The Vatican confirmed on Tuesday that Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture, and council secretary Paul Tighe would inaugurate the Holy See Pavilion at the Beijing International Horticultural Exhibition on April 29.

The confirmation comes just days after a third priest from an underground Catholic diocese in northern China was detained without explanation.


5. PRC firms on the global Internet

Mapping China's Tech Giants | Australian Strategic Policy Institute | ASPI

ASPI’s International Cyber Policy Centre has created a public database to map the global expansion of 12 key Chinese technology companies. The aim is to promote a more informed debate about the growth of China’s tech giants and to highlight areas where this expansion is leading to political and geostrategic dilemmas...

China’s internet model gaining overseas acceptance - Global Times

The so-called internet freedom, advocated by the US, has stirred up enough trouble not only for itself, but also for many developing countries, especially in those societies which were already facing sharp ethnic conflicts and social division. Social media has failed to consolidate or promote their democracy, but has facilitated the spread of misinformation and rumors. Take the Arab Spring. It showed the potential of internet freedom at the very beginning and seemed to have temporarily boosted local democracy, but in the end, it tore the society apart and caused long-lasting turmoil.

Popular Apps In Google's Play Store Are Abusing Permissions And Committing Ad Fraud - Buzzfeed

DU Group is a Chinese app developer that claims more than 1 billion users worldwide, and was spun off from Baidu, one of China’s largest tech companies, last year. At least six of DU Group’s apps, which together have more than 90 million downloads from the Google Play store, have been fraudulently clicking on ads to generate revenue, and at least two of them contain code that could be used to engage in a different form of ad fraud, according to findings from security and ad fraud researchers Check Point and Method Media Intelligence.


6. Bytedance on the march globally as Amazon retrenches in China

TikTok Brings Chinese-Style Censorship to America’s Tweens - Bloomberg

Bytedance has had more success outside of China than any previous Chinese internet company, including Baidu and Tencent. The TikTok app and its Chinese version have been installed more than a billion times. Late last year, executives told investors that they expect $18 billion in revenue this year and $29 billion in 2020, according to people familiar with its finances who aren’t authorized to discuss the company publicly. Bytedance will “become a global player,” says Hans Tung, managing partner of GGV Capital, one of the company’s backers. “It’s just a matter of when.”..

The company’s long-term goal is to eliminate objectionable content entirely, to be “controversy free,” as Tung, the investor, puts it. It’s a uniquely Chinese censorship strategy—distinct from the hands-off approach of Bytedance’s American counterparts, who tend to express support for almost unrestricted free speech.

Comment: We do not allow our kids to use the cesspool that is TikTok

Amazon to Shutter China Platform for Domestic Third-Party Sellers - Caixin

A spokesperson told Caixin that Amazon China President Elaine Chang will be reassigned to a new position, without elaborating on her new position or replacement as president. The company declined to answer questions about whether any lay-offs are planned.

In 2018, the company’s share of China’s e-commerce industry was 0.7%, compared to market leader Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.’s 58.2% share, a report from market information provider eMarketer showed. In 2008, Amazon’s share of the market was 15.4%, eMarketer said.

Amazon, facing entrenched rivals, says to shut China online store - Reuters

The sources said that Amazon shoppers in China will no longer be able to buy goods from third-party merchants in the country, but they still will be able to order from the United States, Britain, Germany and Japan via the firm’s global store.

Amazon will wind down support for domestic-selling merchants in China in the next 90 days and review the impact on its fulfilment centers in the country, some of which it may close, one of the people said.


7. Social credit

The Messy Truth About Social Credit - Logic

the social credit system as it currently exists is not aimed at Orwellian social control. Rather, the cluster of policy initiatives designated by the term are intended to promote greater trust—namely, trust between companies and their customers, and between citizens and the government. This trust-building can serve both economic and political ends. While many of the problems that the government uses to justify the need for a social credit system have economic considerations at their core—improving food safety, punishing debtors, cracking down on counterfeit goods sold online—others fit a broader theme of promoting institutional trust, such as by penalizing those who produce misleading or forged academic research...

The social credit system is often compared to the dang’an (档案) system, a set of government dossiers on Chinese citizens recording the minutiae of their lives, from expressions of political thought to their performance at school, compiled from accounts by peers and local authorities. But a closer point of comparison is the government blacklisting that predates the development of the social credit system. Blacklists provided more concise judgments about alleged misdeeds, but they have long been considered ineffective at changing people’s behavior.

Comment: Interesting piece, though I think it underestimates the Party's ambition...I am still very much in the "digital dang'an" is the logical outcome group, though will be happy if I turn out to be wrong

China Bureaucrats Increasingly Judged on What They Do After Work - Bloomberg

The advances made by Wenzhou to monitor government workers parallels others in social credit pilot programs across China. The city’s authorities said in August public servants who defied or obstructed local court orders would face disciplinary action and have their wages withheld. In February, the courts teamed up with 41 government departments to share government employees’ social credit information.


8. Huawei

Nokia, the 1990s Cellphone Pioneer, Wants to Topple Huawei - WSJ $$

Its sales staff has cold-called wireless carriers in countries where the U.S. has stepped up its anti-China rhetoric, pushing its gear as an alternative.

Without secure 5G systems, “essential trade secrets will fall with those networks: airplane innovations, pharmaceutical formulas, electric-car schematics,” Nokia Chief Executive Rajeev Suri said in a February speech.

At the same time, while helping the U.S. wage its campaign against Huawei, Nokia is seeking to build its presence in China…

“We want to be a friend of China,” Mr. Suri said in an interview at Nokia headquarters in Espoo, a forested city across the bay from Helsinki. He serves on the Chinese premier’s overseas CEO council, which advises the government on business.

The U.S. Wants to Ban Huawei. But in Some Places, AT&T Relies On It. - WSJ $$

While AT&T has kept Chinese equipment out of its domestic networks, industry executives say the U.S. company uses Huawei’s gear to run a large part of the wireless network in Mexico, where the electronics giant is as welcome as any other supplier.

Huawei boxes sit atop cellphone towers across Mexico, where AT&T is the No. 3 provider in terms of wireless subscribers. The Dallas company inherited much of its Mexican gear through acquisitions, though executives say it also has used the Chinese supplier to upgrade its 4G network in recent years.

Huawei piles pressure on Govt with ads and sponsorship, security experts say | Stuff.co.nz

In addition to paying multiple media organisations - including Stuff - for its advertising campaigns, Huawei sponsors political and media organisations in New Zealand. 

Private companies are fully within their rights to take out advertising and sponsorship deals, and there is not necessarily anything untoward about this activity. 

But given political sensitivities, China expert Anne-Marie Brady questions the appropriateness of Huawei handing over money to New Zealand media.

Not directly Huawei related but - FCC Chief Moves to Deny China Mobile's Bid to Enter U.S. Market -Bloomberg

“Safeguarding our communications networks is critical to our national security,” Pai said in an emailed statement. “After reviewing the evidence in this proceeding, including the input provided by other federal agencies, it is clear that China Mobile’s application to provide telecommunications services in our country raises substantial and serious national security and law enforcement risks.”


Business, Economy and Trade

Beijing takes control of rating agency Dagong, following last year’s licence suspension in China | South China Morning Post China Reform Holdings, a central government-owned enterprise, said in a statement on Thursday that it has acquired a controlling stake in Dagong and will put it under a strategic restructuring. “It’s not simply a nationalisation of the credit rating firm,” the Beijing headquartered company said. “The state control has changed Dagong’s ownership structure from a single shareholder to a mixed structure and will improve its corporate governance.

In Depth: How a Bungled British Deal Left Everbright on the Hook for $522 Million Broken deal for MPS, which held significant sports broadcasting rights // “Baofeng and its CEO had promised Everbright Capital and other priority investors it would honor the deal, but seeing MPS was in a bad situation, it decided not to do the buyback, and the mess fell to Everbright Capital,” an insider told Caixin. This caused Everbright major losses. As senior tranche partners, China Merchants Bank and Shanghai Huarui Bank had put around 3.2 billion yuan into the initial purchase. To support the deal, Everbright Capital, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Everbright Securities, had given them a ‘Letter of Makeup of Shortfall,’ which meant that when the partners failed to exit the investment as planned, Everbright was liable to pay the pair 3.5 billion yuan, covering the principal investment and accrued interest

China remains largest foreign holder of U.S. Treasuries - Xinhua Remaining the largest foreign holder of U.S. Treasuries, China held 1.126 trillion dollars of U.S. Treasuries in January, a slight increase from a month earlier.

China’s Luckin coffee raises $150m in push to overtake Starbucks | Financial Times $$ A private equity fund managed by BlackRock led the funding with $125 million, Luckin said. The company said last year it plans to open 200 to 300 outlets a month, putting it on track to overtake Starbucks, which has over 3,300 locations in China, by the end of this year.

Yicai Global - Alipay to Spend USD448 Million Plugging New Face Scanner Ant Financial's ubiquitous mobile payment platform Alipay has launched its latest facial recognition tool and said it plans to spend CNY3 billion (USD448 million) promoting the new system across China.

How do I love thee, Hua Hong? Let me count the ways - Youshu Hua Hong currently has the world’s second largest 8-inch (200mm) wafer capacity. Wafers are what you etch your semiconductor circuits onto – and the leading players work on bigger wafers (12 inch/300mm). More on that later too. Thankfully, Hua Hong, as a listed entity publishes its accounts, so there is some transparency about its financials. Business as usual involves a number of subsidies which run through its income sheet. For the budding forensic accountants out there, here are the details…

P2P Platforms Ordered to Prepare Data Disclosures - Caixin The monitoring system is part of China’s response to abuses as the burgeoning online P2P phenomenon got ahead of regulators. Since 2016, the P2P industry has been the focus of a crackdown on internet financial risks after lax supervision and fraud led to a string of scandals and resulted in the collapse of hundreds of platforms.

Hui Ka Yan of China Evergrande Group Has $35 Billion Fortune - Bloomberg As investors debate how long the good times will last, Evergrande has emerged as an extreme example of the tug-of-war between bulls and bears. The company’s stock, the main source of Hui’s wealth, has trounced the market in recent years while at the same time becoming a favorite target of short sellers.

China Rolls Out Detailed Rule for Tech Board IPO Sponsors - Caixin Sponsors of an IPO on the new Shanghai Science and Technology Innovation board must buy 2%-5% of the new shares they help to sell, according to a guideline published Tuesday night by the Shanghai Stock Exchange, where the new board will be launched.


Politics and Law

陈一新:加快推进社会治理现代化 努力建设更高水平的平安中国-中国长安网 Chen Yixin: Accelerating the modernization of social governance, striving to build a higher level of "Safe China" on Chen Yixin's comments at a discussion meeting with Politics and Law cadres

New rules on inspecting, assessing government websites and new media outlets - Gov.vn Operations of nationwide government websites and new media outlets should be inspected semi-annually, and supervision of them be assessed annually, according to a circular released by the general office of the State Council on April 18.

China’s Propaganda Quiz App Is Hiring Hundreds - Bloomberg State-run CCTV is recruiting 300 people to work in its so-called new media division, half of whom will be tasked with managing the “Study the Powerful Country” app. Basic requirements include “maintaining a high degree of unity with the ideological and political actions” of the Party and Xi, and “practicing the core values of socialism,” according to an ad published on the company’s WeChat account this month.

China kills nine messaging apps for peddling pornography as internet crackdown gathers pace | South China Morning Post The new campaign is aimed at instant messaging services for spreading illegal information, anonymous registration, fraud and facilitating offline malpractice, according to an announcement on the website of the Cyberspace Administration of China on Tuesday. It said some of the services posed a “severe threat to public security”. The nine messaging tools affected in the first batch of clean-up are lesser known services

Sina suspends apps for a month after reprimand by Beijing regulator for failure to moderate content | South China Morning Post The regulator, citing an unnamed Sina executive, said the company would suspend its desktop-based Sina blog platform and remove its Sina News app and Sina Blog app for a month to make rectifications, effective from 3pm on Wednesday. The suspension would be one of the longest in China’s internet history for rectification purposes.

Weibo censorship of LGBTQ hashtag #les creates outcry — Quartz Over this past weekend, many of China’s queer activists were dismayed to find that the #les “super topic”— a special hashtag used to build online communities by creating specialized “megathreads”—appeared to have been censored on widely used social media platform Weibo....To protest the apparent censorship, topic participants and allies shared selfies of themselves with their mouths covered with a cross of black tape (in Chinese) using new hashtags like “i am les” and “les.” The latter “les” hashtag had attracted 550 million views on Weibo as of Wednesday night (April 17) Beijing time

Senior CPC official stresses intellectuals' role in patriotic united front - Xinhua 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 remarks during an inspection and research tour to central Hubei Province, which ended on Wednesday. At universities, scientific research institutes and companies, he asked for targeted and meticulous ideological and political work on intellectuals who are not Party members in the new era. 尤权:切实把党外知识分子工作作为统一战线 基础性战略性工作


Foreign and Defense Affairs

Switzerland applauded for joining BRI - Global Times A decision by Switzerland to join the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) has garnered much praise in China, where analysts call the move a crucial step that will open up massive possibilities for cooperation and strengthen bilateral trade and economic ties.

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan to visit China on April 25 - Gulf News Imran will deliver a keynote speech in the opening ceremony of the Belt and Road Forum

PM to meet China leaders Xi and Li during visit - Nation | The Star Online Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad will be meeting with China’s President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang separately when he visits Beijing next week, says China's Ambassador to Malaysia Bai Tian on Thursday (April 18). Dr Mahathir has accepted Xi’s invitation to attend the second International Belt and Road Summit, to be hosted by President Xi.

Chinese illegal marriage operators exploit young Pakistani women - Nikkei Asian Review The targets of the scheme, initially, were Christian women from northern Punjab Province, particularly Lahore, Pakistan's second-largest city. Sources told Nikkei that Chinese men pursued women from underprivileged sections of society, luring them with financial incentives.

Chinese shipyard launches Malaysia’s first Littoral Mission Ship | Jane's 360 Under the original deal, Malaysia’s Boustead Naval Shipyard (BNS) was supposed to have constructed two vessels in Lumut, Perak as part of a technology transfer arrangement. However, the contract amount has since been renegotiated down by the new administration in Putrajaya to MYR1.05 billion, and all four ships will now be built in China.

In Australia, Muslims Call for Pressure on China Over Missing Relatives - The New York Times About 3,000 Uighurs have found sanctuary in Australia. But as some of them draw attention to China’s camps, they are putting their adopted homeland in an awkward position, pressing it to speak out against its largest trading partner.

The Army has a plan for China, and it’s bad news for JLTV and the Chinook - Defense News Asked which capabilities he sees as vital to the Pacific, [Army Secretary Mark] Esper identified long range precision fires as “front and center,” which would be used to “hold at bay” Chinese ships. He then added future vertical lift, air and missile defense, and modernized networks as other key areas they briefed INDOPACOM on.

Russia Completes Delivery of Su-35 Fighter Jets to China for $2.5Bln - Moscow Times Russia and China signed a $2.5 billion deal on the delivery of 24 Sukhoi Su-35s in 2015, making it the first foreign buyer of the fourth-generation multirole air superiority fighter. The United States imposed sanctions on the Chinese military last September for buying 10 Su-35s in 2017 and missile systems in 2018 from Russia.

Former Manager for International Airline Pleads Guilty to Acting As an Agent of the Chinese Government | USAO-EDNY | Department of Justice During her employment with the Air Carrier, Lin accepted packages from PRC military officers, and placed those packages aboard Air Carrier flights to the PRC as unaccompanied luggage or checked the packages under the names of other passengers on those flights. Because the PRC military officers did not travel on those flights, Lin’s actions violated TSA regulations that required that checked baggage be accepted only from ticketed passengers. In addition, Lin encouraged other Air Carrier employees to assist the PRC military officers, instructing them that because the Air Carrier was a PRC company, their primary loyalty should be to the PRC.

China to further enhance ties with Dominican Republic: top legislator - Xinhua  The second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation will be held in Beijing next week.


Hong Kong and Macao

Crackdown on Hong Kong independence will continue, city’s leader Carrie Lam vows in report to Beijing on banning of separatist party | South China Morning Post The 12-page document, submitted to the central government on Tuesday and revealed on Thursday, was the result of an unprecedented state letter issued weeks ago requesting a report from the chief executive on the outlawing of the Hong Kong National Party (HKNP) while backing the move. In the report’s conclusion, Lam said the city government had a responsibility to safeguard national security and its stance on Hong Kong independence was “very clear and unambiguous”.


Taiwan

Foxconn’s Gou raises questions over China with Taiwan political bid | Financial Times $$  “Terry Gou is China’s preferred candidate,” said Chiu Tai-san, a former cabinet member in two administrations led by the pro-independence DPP. “His company, despite having grown to more than T$5tn ($162bn) in revenue, is dependent on China, so he can be controlled.”.. According to several KMT politicians, Mr Gou already has the backing of heavyweights in the party including Ma Ying-jeou, Ms Tsai’s predecessor as president. He oversaw a thaw in cross-Strait relations by agreeing to call Taiwan a part of China — a move Ms Tsai has refused to make. “With Terry Gou, we have the chance to go back to the Ma Ying-jeou formula, and secure peace in the Taiwan Strait,” said one senior KMT politician who served in Mr Ma’s administration. // Comment: Does Gou dislike America?

Commentary: U.S. arms sales to Taiwan a dangerous move to aggravate cross-Strait situation - Xinhua On April 17, 124 years ago, the Treaty of Shimonoseki was signed, securing foreigner's occupation of Taiwan for half a century. It left lasting, painful memories for all Chinese. Today's China will never allow the historical tragedy of national division to repeat itself. No one and no force should underestimate the determination and capability of the Chinese in safeguarding national sovereignty and territorial integrity.


Tech and Media

Tencent wins key approval to sell Nintendo's Switch in China - Reuters Authorities in the southern Chinese province of Guangdong gave the green light on Thursday to Tencent Holdings to distribute the Nintendo Switch console with a test version of the “New Super Mario Bros. U Deluxe” game, a statement on the government’s website showed.

Beijing to support 100 AI talents each year - Xinhua Beijing Academy of Artificial Intelligence (BAAI) has announced it will support 100 outstanding AI scientists each year till 2021 to serve the city's AI development, Beijing Daily reported on Thursday. Each scholar will receive more than 500,000 yuan (about 74,800 U.S. dollars) each year, said the newspaper.


Society, Arts, Sports, Culture and History

For China’s Abandoned Children, Acrobatics Is a Harsh Last Hope - Sixth Tone After Zhengyang’s great-grandmother passed away three years later, his father entrusted him to a friend, the then 21-year-old acrobat Li Xiaogao, to be trained as his first acrobatic apprentice at his home in the rural outskirts of Anhui’s Bozhou City.

Broken Bones, Broken Home: The Life of a Child Con Artist - Sixth Tone Luo’s parents would hail a taxi, intentionally cause a traffic incident in which Luo feigned serious injury, and then loudly and hysterically accuse the driver of dangerous driving. The goal: Force the driver to pay the family “compensation,” ostensibly to cover Luo’s medical bills.