More stimulus; Shaanxi tiger falls; Canada-China relations
Happy Tuesday. Here are the things I am watching today:
The government continues to roll out “targeted” stimulus measure while insisting there will be no massive free-for-all as in 2008. But will all these measures coalesce into something really big, and will they work? If they don’t achieve the desired result expect Beijing to roll out more; the government is not going to sit around and watch confidence and the economy go down the tubes, especially this year, the 30th anniversary of the Tiananmen protests. Somewhere there is a senior official having night sweats over the memories of the 1988-1989 economic problems and their role in sparking the mass protests;
Former Shaanxi Party Secretary Zhao Zhengyong is under investigation, as Sinocism last week noted some were speculating he would be in the wake of the documentary on the Qinling villa scandal. Does the Shaanxi mess stop with Zhao, or are there officials above him who are next?;
There has been no official announcement of what if any big meeting may be held in the next few days, it seems something is up though;
Canada and China are both warning their citizens of the dangers of traveling to the other country;
Huawei’s founder held a roundtable for international media and says Huawei would never share customer data with the Chinese government;
Wang Huning spoke at the national meeting on Party Construction and political thought work, and it is clear the ideological tightening at higher education institutions will continue.
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The Essential Eight
1. Stimulus drip drip
PBoC, NDRC and MoF officials talked up the economy and various supportive measures that are in the works - China signals more stimulus as economic slowdown deepens | Reuters:
The world’s second-largest economy will aim to achieve “a good start” in the first quarter, the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) said in a statement, indicating the government is ready to counter rising pressure. Central bank and finance ministry officials gave similar assurances...
Some analysts believe China could deliver 2 trillion yuan ($296.21 billion) worth of cuts in taxes and fees, and allow local governments to issue another 2 trillion yuan in special bonds largely used to fund key projects...
The central bank, in a separate statement issued at the press conference, said it will maintain prudent monetary policy with “appropriate tightness and looseness.”
China Vows Tax Cuts on Larger Scale to Support Economy - Bloomberg:
The government will continue to cut taxes, especially for small businesses and the manufacturing sector, according to a statement distributed to reporters before a press conference with Zhu Hexin, deputy governor of the People’s Bank of China, Xu Hongcai, assistant minister at the Ministry of Finance and Lian Weiliang, vice chairman of the National Development and Reform Commission on Tuesday.
Central Bank Official Leaves Interest Rate Cut on the Table - Caixin:
China’s central bank will conduct research on future monetary policy measures based on the assessment of existing ones, Zhu Hexin, a deputy governor of the People’s Bank of China (PBOC), said Tuesday when asked under what circumstances the monetary authority would cut its benchmark interest rates.
Zhu’s speech — which didn’t directly answer the question, but could imply an interest rate cut could happen if current policies are not enough to stop the economy worsening further — comes as economists and domestic companies have high hopes for more easing policies, as the world’s second-largest economy has been plagued by sluggish growth and a trade war with the U.S.
Chinese banks lend record amounts as government seeks to stop economic slowdown | South China Morning Post:
Outstanding yuan loans were up 13.5 per cent at the end of 2018 from a year earlier, according to the central bank data.
In addition, debt issued by private enterprises increased by 70 per cent year-on-year from November to December last year
China's Small and Midsize Businesses Continue to Struggle Despite Support:
The Small and Medium Enterprises Development Index (SMEDI) stood at 93.0 in the last three months of 2018, unchanged from the previous quarter, according to a report (link in Chinese) of the poll released by the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), China’s top economic planning agency, and the China Association of Small and Medium Enterprises (CASME). The index ranges from 0 to 200. A reading above 100 indicates expansion while figures below that point to contraction.
The October-December period of last year was the 30th straight quarter that the index was in contraction territory...
Although activity contraction extended at the companies in the October-December period, the pace of the shrinkage stabilized after accelerating mildly for two consecutive quarters from the first three months of 2018, the survey showed.
The NDRC attributed the improvement to recovering confidence of private firms due to President Xi Jinping’s speech at the start of November that reaffirmed support for the sector, and the slew of favorable policies introduced by the government
Guangzhou misses its growth target, as trade war and China’s economic slowdown begin to bite | South China Morning Post:
China’s fourth largest city by growth domestic product (GDP) grew by 6.5 per cent last year, short of the 7.5 per cent target set at the beginning of the year.
The shortfall was announced in the local government’s annual work report, delivered to the local parliamentary session on Tuesday by the city’s mayor, Wen Guohui.
Wen blamed Guangzhou’s weaker-than-expected economic performance on sluggish exports and private sector investment.
Beijing mayor calls for belt-tightening amid ‘external uncertainties’, revenue squeeze | South China Morning Post:
Beijing city will slash its general expenditure by at least 5 per cent for 2019, its mayor said on Monday, citing tough fiscal challenges from “growing external economic uncertainties”, tax cuts and commitments like the Winter Olympic..
Chen projected economic growth at 6 per cent to 6.5 per cent for the city this year, but said the government’s revenue was expected to grow by only 4 per cent – compared to a 6.5 per cent rise in 2018...
Aside from its dwindling revenues and big-ticket spending commitments, the city government also needs to implement the central government’s tax cut policy, which would mean losing another 30 billion yuan (US$4.4 billion) in 2019 – or more than 5 per cent of last year’s government revenues, according to the budget.
Meanwhile, the city’s spending increased by more than 8 per cent last year...
The government also vowed to go after unpaid debts owed by the state sector to private firms.
“We will launch special operations to make certain government departments and state-owned enterprises repay arrears to private businesses,” Chen said.
Question: Given the parlous state of the finances of so many local governments, how can all the promised tax cuts to stimulate the economy really be implemented?
This contradiction may warm the hearts of some real estate developers, as the pressure to revert to land sales may increase, but the land sale will only go well if the local governments relax some of the housing restrictions
Oh look, ten minutes after I wrote the above comments I found this article. It is almost like there is a playbook they keep going to over and over…
Beijing relaxes caps on home prices partially as unsold flats in the capital city rise | South China Morning Post:
Beijing, where property curbs are most stringent amid the central government’s drive to cool overheating in the sector, has put on sale another two land sites without a cap on selling prices in a policy shift that began late last year to generate demand for flats in the market slump.
The two plots in the capital city’s northeastern part of prime Chaoyang district were offered by the planning authority last week at starting prices of 2.45 billion yuan (US$362 million) and 2.39 billion yuan. A third site, put on offer since last October, has yet to be sold.
China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission Vice Governor Wang Zhaoxing tells a Hong Kong conference that mainland real estate policy will focus on maintaining stability and be neither hot nor cold... -银保监会副主席王兆星：房地产市场既不要过热也不要过冷|王兆星|保监会|房地产市场_新浪新闻:
Chinese workers may get 2½-day weekend to go shopping, but public services users aren’t buying it | South China Morning Post:
Hebei province in northern China has proposed a 2½-day weekend to stimulate consumption, but the proposal has sparked heated debate online as to whether the idea would benefit everyone...
The document, which was aimed at increasing consumption during 2019 and 2020, said employers should adopt more flexible working hours and encourage leave on non-public holidays.
China’s Vice-Premier Liu He accepts invitation to Washington this month for trade war talks | South China Morning Post:
Chinese Vice-Premier Liu He has accepted an invitation to lead a Chinese delegation to Washington at the end of this month with the purpose of reaching a deal to end the trade war, according to a source who has been briefed on the arrangement.
Liu, who is overseeing China’s trade negotiations with the United States, is expected to meet US Trade Representative (USTR) Robert Lighthizer and US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin during the two-day visit, the source added.
The trip will take place on January 30 and 31, dates previously reported by Bloomberg and The Wall Street Journal.
Why Trump’s America is rethinking engagement with China | Financial Times $$:
Support for this change in approach has a broad base in the US. Officials across the US government have become significantly more hawkish towards China— over everything from human rights, politics and business to national security. At the same time, US companies and academics who once acted as a buffer against the harshest views are now far less sanguine.
“China has for some time underestimated the extent to which the mood in the US has shifted,” says Hank Paulson, the former US Treasury secretary. “The attitude that they would implement reforms at a timetable that made sense to them missed the fact that this was no longer sustainable if they wanted the US to keep its markets open to them. And the US business community now supports a harder line.”..
“People I’ve known for decades have given up on China,” says Susan Shirk, chair of the 21st century China Center at the University of California San Diego. “There’s a widespread view in the academic community that the overreaching China has done both domestically and internationally is hard-baked into the system and that there’s no hope of getting them to adjust their behaviour to our interests and values.”
Cramer: Tech execs tell me they support Trump's trade policy on China - CNBC:
“When I went out to San Francisco last week, I heard the same thing from a surprising number of people in the tech industry who do not like President [Donald] Trump one bit, ” the “Mad Money” host said Monday.
“What they said was ‘If we’re going to take on China, now’s the time to do it,’” he said. “They may not be fans of the president, but they’re on board with the trade war.”
China Is a Dangerous Rival, and America Should Treat It Like One - The New York Times - OpEd - Derek Scissors and Daniel Blumenthal:
The administration has demonstrated some good instincts on China, but it must not be distracted by the next round of Beijing’s false economic promises. Protecting innovation from Chinese attack makes the United States stronger. Hindering the Chinese security apparatus makes external aggression and internal repression more costly for Beijing.
China is our only major trade partner that is also a strategic rival, and we should treat it differently from friendly countries with whom we have disputes. If Washington wants the global free market to work, it must intervene to blunt Beijing’s belligerence.
First U.S. crude cargoes head to China since trade breakthrough: sources | Reuters:
Three cargoes of U.S. crude are heading to China from the U.S. Gulf Coast, trade sources said on Monday, the first departures since late September and a 90-day pause in the two countries’ trade war that began last month.
China warns state firms to avoid travel to U.S.: Bloomberg | Reuters:
China has asked some of the country’s state-run companies to avoid business trips to the United States and its allies, and to take extra care to protect their devices if they need to travel, Bloomberg reported on Tuesday.
The State-Owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission (SASAC), which oversees about 100 government-run companies, has told some firms in recent weeks to only take secure, company-issued laptops meant for overseas use if traveling is necessary, according to the report, citing people familiar with the request.
Chinese FDI into North America and Europe in 2018 Falls 73% to Six-Year Low of $30 Billion | Newsroom | Baker McKenzie:
Drop driven by domestic Chinese policy shifts and new investment screening regulations;
Investment in US fell by 83% but in Canada grew by 80% compared to 2017;
Total investment in Europe down but grew in France, Germany, Luxembourg, Spain, Sweden and Central & Eastern Europe;
Automotive, Financial services and ICT top sectors for Chinese investment in Europe but among the most impacted in the US by regulatory tightening. Investment in North America concentrated in basic materials and healthcare.;
Investment screening rules hit hard, with at least 21 Chinese acquisitions cancelled by foreign regulators in 2018 (7 in Europe, 14 in North America);
Record $23 billion of divestitures by Chinese companies in the two regions, leading net Chinese FDI inflows to North America to turn negative by $5.5 billion
The report was done by Baker McKenzie in partnership with Rhodium Group
But sometimes the US and China can work together - Defense News - How the US and China collaborated to get nuclear material out of Nigeria — and away from terrorist groups:
Moving the nuclear material out of Nigeria has been a long-sought goal for the United States and nonproliferation advocates. But the goal has taken on increased importance in recent years with the rise of militant groups in the region, particularly Boko Haram, a group the Pentagon calls a major terrorist concern in the region.
Underscoring the importance of the operation: the key role China played in transporting and storing the plutonium, with the operation happening just hours after U.S. President Donald Trump made an explicit threat to China about growing America’s nuclear arsenal.
3. Canada-China relations
Analysis: China pulling out all stops in Canada tensions - AP:
Beijing’s dismissive attitude toward Canada seems very much in line with its binary view of the world as divided into “big” or powerful nations that need to be deferred to, and “small” ones which China can afford to push around, said Steve Tsang, director of the China Institute at London’s School of Oriental and African Studies.
China is picking on Canada “because they can,” said Tsang. “It will have lots of negative effects on China’s standing in the world and international perceptions of China.”
Comment: And I would not be surprised if the PRC authorities are very worried about what secrets Meng may know and what she might say if extradited to the US and facing a very long prison term for charges that likely go far beyond simple bank fraud
China criticizes Trudeau comments on death penalty case - AP:
Trudeau should “respect the rule of law, respect China’s judicial sovereignty, correct mistakes and stop making irresponsible remarks,” foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said.
“We express our strong dissatisfaction with this,” Hua told reporters at a daily briefing.
Comment: Just as China has shown its respect for Canada’s “judicial sovereignty”? The hypocrisy and shamelessness on display is jarring and should be a wakeup call for those who still need one about the contempt the Communist Party seems to have for the rest of the world.
Canada - Travel advice and advisories for China:
Exercise a high degree of caution in China due to the risk of arbitrary enforcement of local laws.
The Latest: China warns citizens about travel to Canada - AP:
China is urging its citizens to be cautious about going to Canada.
The foreign ministry’s consular affairs office published a notice Tuesday saying that Canada has recently “arbitrarily detained” a Chinese national — a reference to Canada’s arrest of Chinese executive Meng Wanzhou at the request of the United States
FUREY: China has now fully lost the PR game in Canada | Toronto Sun:
There have been warnings coming from experts and hawks for years about how China just doesn’t following the same rules as us. Now regular Canadians are seeing this up close.
One last word: Can we get the Huawei logo off Hockey Night In Canada? It just leaves a bitter taste.
China's death-threat diplomacy | The China Collection - Donald Clarke:
Schellenberg has ten days within which to lodge an appeal—to the same Liaoning High People’s Court that rejected his first appeal and sent his case back for retrial, with the suggestion that a heavier sentence would be appropriate. The appeal could be heard quickly; Schellenberg’s previous appeal was requested in November and heard in December. In this case, because the death penalty is involved, the High Court can take up to two months instead of the usual one month to finish the case, starting from the date it receives the appeal...
Assuming that the High Court upholds the death sentence, the next stage is mandatory review by the Supreme People’s Court. This review procedure carries no mandatory or even advisory time limits; the court can take as long as it wishes. It can decide to uphold the death penalty, to reduce the sentence, or to send the case back for retrial. Once it decides to uphold the death penalty, however, execution is supposed to take place within seven days of the lower court’s being notified of the decision.
My prediction is that the Supreme People’s Court will sit on the review decision for as long as Meng’s fate remains undetermined.
Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying's Regular Press Conference on January 14, 2019:
Q: According to reports, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on January 11 that China has arbitrarily and unfairly detained two Canadian citizens, and is not respecting diplomatic immunity in the arrest of former diplomat Michael Kovrig. This is something that they are engaged right now both with Chinese officials and with their partners around the world, and there is a need for all countries to do like Canada and to respect the rule of law and the independence of our judicial processes. What's your comment?
A: I have seen relevant reports. The relevant Chinese departments have handled the case in accordance with the law and the accusation of "arbitrarily" detaining Canadian citizens is totally unfounded. As for the issue of immunity, I would suggest relevant person in Canada to read and study the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations and international law first before making any comment, instead of making himself a laughingstock with specious statements.
Michael Kovrig is not entitled to diplomatic immunity under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations by any measure. He is not currently a diplomat. Michael Kovrig used an ordinary passport and a business visa to come to China, who has been taken compulsory measures by relevant Chinese state security organ on suspicion of involvement in activities endangering China's national security. He doesn't enjoy immunity in accordance with the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations and international law.
As to the Canadian side's claim that all countries should respect judicial independence, I believe this is quite right if only the Canadian side itself could first prove its judicial independence with concrete actions.
4. Former Shaanxi Party Secretary Zhao Zhengyong under investigation
Zhao first took up a senior post in Shaanxi in in 2005, was Party Secretary from the end of 2012 until March 2016 - 陕西省委原书记赵正永被查(图/简历)|赵正永|中央纪委_新浪新闻
Caixin weights in with more details on the Zhao Zhengyong case, says his case may be linked with Wei Minzhou (2017 SCMP report on his downfall; Wei was once aide to Zhao Leji), the Supreme Court missing documents scandal and/or the Qinling villa mess.
This is a long Caixin story, almost like they had it written ahead of time in preparation for the announcement...
5. Huawei founder woos international media
Huawei CEO: We would refuse a Chinese government request for user data - CNBC:
In a rare sit down with international media, Ren Zhengfei addressed concerns raised by the U.S. government, which has warned that the company’s equipment could allow the Chinese government to have a backdoor into a nation’s telecommunications network.
Ren, speaking Mandarin and using a company-provided translator, told the group that Huawei has never handed data to Beijing.
“When it comes to cybersecurity and privacy protection we are committed to be sided with our customers. We will never harm any nation or any individual,” Ren told the journalists assembled at Huawei’s headquarters in Shenzhen, China.
“China’s ministry of foreign affairs has officially clarified that no law in China requires any company to install mandatory back doors. Huawei and me personally have never received any request from any government to provide improper information,” Ren added.
Huawei’s founder Ren Zhengfei breaks years of silence amid continued US attacks on Chinese tech giant | South China Morning Post:
“Huawei is only a sesame seed in the trade conflict between China and the US,” Ren said from the company’s newest campus in the industrial city of Dongguan.
“Trump is a great president. He dares to massively cut tax, which will benefit the business. But you have to treat well the companies and countries so that they will be willing to invest in the US and the government will be able to collect enough tax.”
6. China and AI on 60 Minutes
60 Minutes: Facial and emotional recognition; how one man is advancing artificial intelligence - CBS News:
Scott Pelley reports on the developments in artificial intelligence brought about by venture capitalist Kai-Fu Lee’s investments and China's effort to dominate the AI field..
Kai-Fu Lee: I believe it's going to change the world more than anything in the history of mankind. More than electricity.
Lee believes the best place to be an AI capitalist is communist China. His Beijing venture capital firm manufactures billionaires...
Scott Pelley: You have written that Silicon Valley's edge is not all it's cracked up to be. What do you mean by that?
Kai-Fu Lee: Well, Silicon Valley has been the single epicenter of the world technology innovation when it comes to computers, internet, mobile and AI. But in the recent five years, we are seeing that Chinese AI is getting to be almost as good as Silicon Valley AI. And I think Silicon Valley is not quite aware of it yet.
7. United Work Front Department 40th Reform anniversary party for Overseas and returned Chinese
The event was held December 19. UFWD director You Quan and deputy Director Tan Tianxing met with foreign and local luminaries like Australian businessmen Chau Chak Wing and American Howard Li, a board member of the Committee of 100. Wang Huiyao, Founder and President of Center for China and Globalization (CCG) was also there.
中央统战部网站 - 尤权会见参加改革开放40周年庆祝活动的海外侨胞和归侨侨眷代表 12.19
Australian researcher Alex Joske has gone through the video in a very illuminating Twitter thread:
As John Garnaut commented:
I am always amazed by what the UFWD decides to make public, it's like they don't believe foreigners can understand, or they just don’t care.
8. National Higher Education Party Construction and Political Thought Work meeting
Wang Huning speaks at the 26th National Higher Education Party Construction and Political Thought Work meeting- [第二十六次全国高校党的建设工作会议在京召开 王沪宁出席会议并讲话_CCTV. And 2019 is an especially sensitive year given the May 4 and June 4 100th and 30th anniversaries, respectively.
People's Daily on Party Construction and Political Thought Work in higher education institutions- 让党的旗帜在高校高高飘扬--——高校党的建设与思想政治工作综述 - 党建-人民网:
Including some detail on the establishment of 4 Xi Thought research centers and the addition of pilot programs in Xi’s New Era Socialism at 21 key national Marxism Institutes:
Question: Do all the foreign schools that have PRC partnerships pay attention to this stuff? Someone should be translating this and sending it to all the board members of every institution that has a PRC relationship, and ask how they can guarantee academic freedom in their programs in the face of this?
Business, Economy, Finance And Trade
金融领域反腐力度 防范化解重大金融风险——中央纪委国家监委网站 CCDI says is has embedded inspectors in the Bank of China, Bank of Communications, Agricultural Bank of China, China Construction Bank, and the policy bank China Development Bank
PBOC reins in funds of payment platforms - China Daily China's central bank became the new custodian of all customer funds deposited by third-party payment groups starting from Monday, tightening control of mobile payment transactions and clearing. The central bank will pay no interest on the reserved money, the amount of which reached 1.24 trillion yuan ($183 billion) in November 2018. This marks the end of the era in which payment platforms invest customers' funds freely to earn interest returns, and the new policy could squeeze a large part of the profit of the payment groups, said analysts.
Seafarer Funds - Tracking China’s External Debt China is now the emerging market with the largest stock of external debt and this fact has attracted significant concern. However, a closer analysis reveals that China’s external debt is both less risky than it initially appears and not large relative to the size of the Chinese economy...
China doubles quota for foreign investors, paving way for global funds to get bigger bite of A-shares amid stock market slump | South China Morning Post The combined quota under the qualified foreign institutional investors (QFII) scheme, through which overseas funds can buy China’s A-shares, will be doubled to US$300 billion effective immediately, according to a statement by the State Administration of Foreign Exchange (SAFE).
Hainan must overtake Hong Kong on international trade in digital age, Alibaba’s Jack Ma Yun says | South China Morning Post A plan to transform “China’s Hawaii” into a digital economic leader could help set new global trade rules that would be more palatable to countries unhappy with free trade rules “set by the West”, Alibaba Group Holding executive chairman Jack Ma Yun said.
High-Tech Board May Provide No Path Home for Companies Like Alibaba The high-tech board, proposed by President Xi Jinping in November, will find it “almost impossible to accept” applications from red-chip companies or those with a VIE structure, at least in the early stages, according to an internal discussion organized by the Shanghai Stock Exchange’s offering and listing center Friday afternoon, a source with knowledge of the matter told Caixin.
But China Securities Daily says official refutes this report, says VIE structure will work- 接近监管人士：科创板接受红筹及VIE架构目前看是可行的_中证网 中证网讯（记者 赵中昊 陈健）近日市场有消息指出，目前科创板暂不接受红筹架构，也不接受VIE架构。中国证券报记者1月15日从接近监管层人士处获悉，关于科创板是否接受红筹架构和VIE架构还在讨论过程中，目前看是可行的。
Six People Arrested in Wake of Coal Mine Accident That Killed 21 - Caixin Six people have been arrested after an accident killed 21 coal miners in China’s Shaanxi province last week. A roof collapsed at the Lijiagou coal mine in Shenmu on Saturday, when 87 people were underground,
China denies delaying entry for Mastercard, Visa - Global Times Not accepting an application is indeed possible, if the PBOC determines that the application is missing materials or isn't in line with required forms, the procedure said, which stipulates that the PBOC will decide within 90 days after the formal notice. The procedure gives no timetable for the acceptance process. "It sounds more like the companies are trying to spin China's proper procedures and regulations," said Li Daxiao, chief economist at Shenzhen-based Yingda Securities. "As such big companies, they should know better than any that they will have to follow proper procedures and that China's promise to open up the market does not mean there won't be any regulation."
Annual bonuses may be less generous - China Daily Most Chinese employees are expected to receive a year-end bonus, but more companies are holding back on the amount, according to a report released last week by one of the country's leading human resources companies. The 2018 Corporate Annual Bonus Payment Plan Report, released by CIIC HR Management Consulting, was based on a nationwide survey of 674 enterprises in late November. Two-thirds of them were based in big cities - Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen.
Politics, Law And Ideology
[视频]《求是》杂志发表习近平总书记重要文章《努力造就一支忠诚干净担当的高素质干部队伍》_CCTV节目官网-CCTV-1_央视网(cctv.com) 1月16日出版的《求是》杂志第2期将发表中共中央总书记、国家主席、中央军委主席习近平的重要文章《努力造就一支忠诚干净担当的高素质干部队伍》。 文章强调，重视吸收历史经验是我们党的一个好传统，我们学习中国历史上的吏治，目的是了解我国历史上吏治的得失，为建设高素质干部队伍提供一些借鉴。正确的政治路线要靠正确的组织路线来保证。我们党要团结带领人民实现“两个一百年”奋斗目标、实现中华民族伟大复兴的中国梦，必须全面贯彻新时代党的组织路线，严把德才标准，坚持公正用人，拓宽用人视野，激励干部积极性，努力造就一支忠诚干净担当的高素质干部队伍。// CCTV Evening News report that the lead essay in the new issue of Qiushi is by Xi on building loyal, clean, responsible cadres. The full text: 努力造就一支忠诚干净担当的高素质干部队伍-新华网
Chinese rich kids caught in rock band drug bust | South China Morning Post Police in Taizhou, Zhejiang province, said men were all members of two rock bands in the city and tested positive for marijuana after a drug bust late last month, the Qianjiang Evening News reported. Police launched the investigation in September after a tip-off, the report said. Most of the suspects had studied abroad, had a similar family background and formed bands after returning from overseas, officers were quoted as saying. Police allege the men often kept marijuana at their studios and either possessed or sold the drug
China Jails Activist Over 'Down With The Communist Party!' Toilet Graffiti - RFA Authorities in Shanghai have jailed an activist who called on people to write "Down with the [ruling Chinese] Communist Party" in a public toilet in the city, and wrote his own satirical graffiti about indefinite rule by President Xi Jinping. Ji Xiaolong was sentenced to three-and-a-half years' imprisonment by the Shanghai's Pudong District People's Court on Monday, after it found him guilty of "picking quarrels and stirring up trouble" on the same day
推动新时代中国史学繁荣发展（名家笔谈） Gao Xiang, head of the new CASS Chinese History Institute, in People's Daily on the study of Chinese history in the New Era...nihilists not welcome...
Foreign and Military Affairs
Loaned relic to Japan museum sparks outrage among cross-Straits netizens - People's Daily Online The Taipei Palace Museum's loan of a nearly 1,400-year-old calligraphy, which is considered one of the most precious Chinese treasures, to a Japanese museum has sparked outrage among cross-Straits netizens who condemned the Taipei museum of "flattering Japan and causing severe damage to the precious antique." A Sina Weibo user posted a photo on Saturday of a poster of the exhibit of Japan's Tokyo National Museum, saying an unrivaled work of calligraphy by Yan Zhenqing (709-785), one of the most influential Chinese calligraphers during the Tang Dynasty (618-907), will be displayed from Wednesday to February 24.
Chinese lunar lander’s cotton seeds spring to life on far side of the moon | South China Morning Post Cotton seeds carried by China’s Chang’e 4 lunar lander have germinated on the far side of the moon, becoming the first plant shoots to grow there in what mission chiefs said was laying the foundation for a base on Earth’s only natural satellite
US military planning its first-ever missile test around Okinawa, report says - Stripes The U.S. military has informed the Japan Self-Defense Forces of plans to conduct a missile test around Okinawa later this year as a deterrent against an increasingly assertive China, according to Japan’s Sankei newspaper.
Pair of Chinese firms eye Subic Bay shipyard, causing alarm in the Philippines - Stripes The Chinese are seeking a commercial foothold in a strategic port that was once the United States’ largest naval facility in the Far East. A pair of Chinese firms are in the running to buy a massive shipyard in Subic Bay from South Korea’s Hanjin Group, local media reported Saturday.
Why China is determined to connect Southeast Asia by rail - Nikkei Asian Review Planned 3,000-km rail network raises debt, sovereignty concerns
Joe Lieberman Called Chinese Telecom Giant ZTE a National Security Threat. Now He’s a Lobbyist for It. Joseph Lieberman, the former Connecticut senator and Democratic vice presidential candidate, is working for a company he once called a national security threat. In November, Lieberman registered as a lobbyist for ZTE, a Chinese telecom giant with close links to the country’s government.
New Pentagon Report to Congress: U.S. Defense Implications of China’s Expanding Global Access | Andrew S. Erickson The report describes China’s expansion by a range of means, including military access and engagement; the One Belt, One Road (OBOR) and Digital Silk Road initiatives; technology acquisition; and a growing economic footprint; with a focus on areas of military expertise.
China launches maritime silk road satellite data service - Xinhua A maritime silk road satellite data service center has opened in Fuzhou, east China's Fujian Province, according to the website of State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense. The data service center, providing standard data products, value-added products and satellite remote sensing application system, will be widely used in areas including land, forestry, environmental protection, water resources, agriculture, disaster alleviation, weather and oceans.
Senior Chinese military official meets with chief of US Naval Operations - China Military General Li Zuocheng, Member of China’s Central Military Commission (CMC) and Chief of the CMC Joint Staff Department, met with Chief of US Naval Operations Admiral John Richards in Beijing on Tuesday.
China Lays Out Plans for Four More Moon Missions - Caixin Speaking at a press conference (link in Chinese) on Monday, deputy head of China’s National Space Administration Wu Yanhua announced that the Chang’e-5, the follow-up to Chang’e-4 which successfully landed on the moon’s far side earlier this month, would launch later in 2019. This will usher in the third phase of China’s original lunar exploration plan. But Wu announced that in the coming years there will be two additional Chang’e missions, expanding beyond the original three-phase plan to orbit, land on, and collect samples from the moon.
Minister defends appointment of his aide - Taipei Times Minister of Foreign Affairs Joseph Wu (吳釗燮) on Saturday defended appointing his aide Vincent Chao (趙怡翔) as head of the political division at the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in Washington amid accusations of nepotism.
Tech And Media
Bytedance takes on WeChat with new video messaging app · TechNode Chinese tech giant Bytedance on Tuesday launched a video-based messaging app focused on sharing content with friends and family, as it moves to take on WeChat’s newly launched short-video features. The app, dubbed Duoshan, allows users to share disappearing videos with their contacts. The company has also removed the public “like” and “comment” buttons on videos, in what appears to be a move to ease the stress that comes with chasing affirmation online, instead only including them in private messages.
New apps declare ‘war’ on WeChat, but analysts see defeat - Global Times
The False SCMP Story on Hikvision NYC AI - IPVM In the past week, one of Asia's largest publications, the South China Morning Post (SCMP), posted an article about "Chinese [facial recognition] technology" (i.e. Hikvision) being used by the NY city police department. The problem is - the story is false...SCMP has grossly misread a 5-year-old Hikvision case study, conflating a budget (non-AI / non-facial recognition) video surveillance system used by a low-income housing project that the NYPD was allowed to view with some form of advanced, cutting edge AI. // The original SCMP story - The Chinese technology helping New York police keep a closer eye on the United States’ biggest city
Society, Art, Sports, Culture And History
China's Muslims fear crackdown in ancient city of Xi'an | The Guardian The old bilingual signs in Arabic and Chinese at the entrances to the Muslim quarter have been replaced with new ones that only feature Chinese characters. A senior committee member at one of the city’s largest mosques – who also asked not to be named – says local party officials asked him to introduce a ceremony to raise the Chinese national flag. He refused, but agreed to display a flag at the mosque and put up several political posters. He was also asked to discontinue the Muslim summer school. The police warned him against “Xinjiang terrorists”, he says.
Energy, Environment, Science And Health
China approves large new upstream dam project on the Yangtze river - Times of India "Great importance must be attached to environmental protection and migrant resettlement work during the construction," the state planner, the National Development and Reform Commission, said in a notice. The reservoir of the Lawa hydroelectric project will submerge nearly 12 sq miles (31 sq km) of forest and farmland on the Jinsha branch of the Yangtze on the border between Sichuan and Tibet. The project is envisaged to eventually consist of four turbines with a total capacity of 2,000 megawatts (2 gigawatts