MSS dragged into Saudi feud; Team Trump signaling trade hope? ; Ningxia to learn from Xinjiang; Didi in deep doodoo
Hi everyone, no commentary up top, apologies but not feeling particularly insightful today.
Thanks for reading.
The Essential Eight
1. MSS dragged into Saudi dispute on Beijing Airport tarmac
This story by David Ignatius of the Washington Post is just gonzo. There is a China angle that involves John Thornton, one of his former Goldman Sachs colleagues, Chen Yuan and a false terrorism accusation that led to a detention by dozens of MSS officers in the private jet area of the Beijing Airport...
Obaid was Turki’s emissary on an important business venture. Turki had agreed to invest at least $10 million in a development fund called the Silk Road Finance Corp., or SRFC, headed by an MIT-educated chief executive named Shan Li, according to the organization’s website. The Chinese eminence behind the Silk Road initiative was Chen Yuan...
When Obaid traveled to Beijing in early August 2016 to negotiate the terms of Turki’s investment, he had a perhaps significant encounter at the sumptuous Park Hyatt hotel. He had been invited by John Thornton, the chairman of Silk Road Finance, to meet for dinner with him and Li. Thornton also invited Michael Klein, a New York investment banker...
On the afternoon of Aug 25, Obaid flew from Shanghai to Beijing on a private jet. When the plane landed, it taxied to a remote area of the airport. Parked nearby was a plane with the tail marking “HZ-ATR.” The “HZ” prefix designated it as a Saudi plane. What happened next was described by knowledgeable Saudi and Swiss sources who were briefed on the case.
As Obaid left his plane, he was stopped by more than 40 plainclothes Chinese security men. The leader of the group, speaking in Arabic, is said to have told Obaid: “We are the Ministry of State Security. Are you going to cooperate?” Obaid surrendered; his head and body were covered in a bag so tight that he couldn’t see or move unassisted; he was taken to an interrogation facility somewhere in Beijing and handcuffed to a chair.
A Chinese intelligence officer asserted that Obaid was a terrorist financier who was organizing a plot by Pakistani militants to disrupt the G-20 summit scheduled for the next month, a source briefed on the case said. “Where are you hiding the terrorists? Where are you hiding the Pakistani militiamen?” demanded the interrogator. Obaid protested that he had no idea what they were talking about; they had the wrong man. He was subjected to a lengthy and painful interrogation ordeal.
Fortunately, Ministry of State Security technicians were examining Obaid’s iPad and cellphone and checking the information against their own sources. Quickly, the Chinese concluded that an error had indeed been made: Saudi officials had given them false information about Obaid to arrest him as a terrorist and extradite him back to the kingdom.
Ignatius also writes very entertaining fiction, his most recent and enjoyable novel The Qauntum Spy is about Chinese spies trying to steal Quantum computing secrets from the US.
Saudi Arabia, the biggest global oil exporter, has been surpassed by Russia as top crude supplier to China the past two years as private “teapot” refiners and a new pipeline drove up demand for Russian oil.
Now fresh demand from new refineries starting up in 2019 could increase China’s Saudi oil imports by between 300,000 barrels per day (bpd) and 700,000 bpd, nudging the OPEC kingpin back towards the top, analysts say.
2. Countdown to the Trump-Xi dinner
The New York Times has a report today giving some hope that Trump may be more willing to compromise than his bluster would indicate. We'll see, best I can tell is you get very different answers depending on who you ask around the President...
Mr. Navarro, a favorite of Mr. Trump’s, had initially been excluded from the trip to Argentina, which led some to conclude that the hard-liners had lost ground. Mr. Trump also sided against Mr. Navarro after Mr. Kudlow took a shot at him on television. But the United States trade representative, Robert Lighthizer, has since authorized Mr. Navarro’s travel, raising the prospect that he will be on hand to encourage Mr. Trump to play hardball...
For Mr. Lighthizer, a veteran trade lawyer who has sued China for flooding the American market with cheap steel, the negotiations present an opportunity to drive a hard bargain.
But he also sees the meeting between Mr. Trump and Mr. Xi as a potential danger, especially if Mr. Trump opts for a quick handshake deal that would delay or scrap the new tariffs in hopes of buoying jittery markets, according to people familiar with his thinking.
Mr. Lighthizer also faces a challenge from Mr. Mnuchin, who has made it clear that he views himself as the nation’s chief negotiator, according to administration officials...
Another American official said the major internal debate now was over the scope of a compromise Mr. Trump could offer Mr. Xi: postponing the increase in tariffs to 25 percent, plus the $267 billion in new tariffs — or only the new tariffs.
Chinese President Xi Jinping is expected to promise greater market access and fewer subsidies to state firms when he meets his US counterpart this weekend, with Beijing seeing external stability as key to coping with economic headwinds at home, sources said...
As well as offering better protection for intellectual property, Xi is likely to address China’s imbalance in trade with the US. That could include the easiest commitment China could make – offering to further open its markets, according to a source familiar with government discussions.
“It is an issue with the least pressure for the government,” the source said, adding that it was an “overdue payment”.
“We don’t want to cause any financial instability in global markets. This is very dangerous, this is like playing with fire,” Ambassador Cui Tiankai told Reuters in an interview when asked if China would consider selling Treasuries or reducing purchases should trade tensions worsen.
Comment: Of course they are not because they would hurt themselves more than they would hurt the US. Multiple sources have told me the leadership looked at ways to harm the US bond and stock markets to push Trump to make concessions but the conclusion was that China would hurt itself even more since they have so much money in and so many linkages to US financial markets.
Kudlow said Trump had told advisers that "in his view, there is a good possibility that a deal can be made, and that he is open to that," but he was also ready to hike tariffs on Chinese imports if no breakthrough were achieved, Reuters reported.
"Kudlow's remarks reflected the contradictions of China-US trade negotiations," Jin Canrong, associate dean of Renmin University of China's School of International Studies, told the Global Times on Wednesday. "It could be seen as either positive or negative. As Trump's stance has always been changing, China could hold a normal mind-set toward Kudlow's words."
If China and the US cannot reach a deal, it may affect the Chinese economy, Jin said, but China could handle that and "give a full play of local governments' strength for the next step."
Yang Xiyu, a senior research fellow at the China Institute of International Studies in Beijing, said that Trump's open attitude toward reaching a deal was laudable.
The threat from Trump could be seen as a strategy, Yang told the Global Times.
Q Ambassador Bolton, you tweeted earlier today about a case involving an American family that’s being held in China. Is the President -- have you talked to the President about this case? What is he -- if so, what has he told you? And will he bring this up directly at his meeting with Xi Jinping and expect the family to be allowed to leave before any trade deal is done?
AMBASSADOR BOLTON: Well, I’ve discussed the question of American hostages and people wrongfully held with him on a whole range of subjects. I don’t want to get into what his reaction was, because I don’t think those conversations should be public. But this is a matter of real concern to us. And I think, given that the range of issues that President Xi and President Trump will be covering, it’s entirely possible that that would come up.
Comment: It would be easy for the Chinese authorities to release the kids and maybe generate some good will with the US administration. They are probably less likely to release their mom, as from the NY Times article sounds like she worked with her husband to plan for the new lives post-flight in the US.
3. Liu He making friends in Germany
Chinese Vice Premier Liu He, who is visiting Germany from Sunday to Wednesday, has said that China is willing to work with Germany to promote bilateral cooperation in finance, trade and investment.
Liu made the remarks during the visit, in which he met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and delivered a keynote speech at the closing ceremony of the 8th Hamburg Summit themed "China meets Europe."
Liu conveyed to Merkel a message from Chinese President Xi Jinping, in which Xi noted that China and Germany are all-around strategic partners and bilateral cooperation in various fields has enjoyed a sound momentum of development.
China's Vice Premier Liu He told an economic conference in Hamburg on Tuesday that protectionist and unilateral approaches to trade will only deepen economic uncertainty, and that no country can emerge as a winner in a trade war.
"We believe that protectionist and unilateral approaches do not offer solutions to problems on trade. On the contrary, they will only bring about more economic uncertainty to the world," Liu said....
In an opening speech on Monday, former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder said the opportunities created by the BRI will bring people and businesses in Asia and Europe closer together.
Known for his close ties to Russia, Schroeder is also a long-time advocate of a closer relationship with China. He visited Beijing frequently as chancellor, championed its entry into the WTO and controversially pressed the EU to lift an arms embargo it imposed after China’s Tiananmen Square crackdown...
“We need to think about who our allies are, who has similar interests. And of course I think about China,” said Schroeder, whose staunch opposition to the looming U.S. invasion of Iraq helped secure his re-election in 2002.
4. Another gene-edited baby due soon?
A Chinese scientist said he is “proud” of a controversial experiment in which he claimed to have tinkered with the DNA of twin girls before they were born earlier this month to give them HIV resistance. Speaking at an international genetics conference in Hong Kong, He Jiankui defended his work and told the audience that there may be another pregnancy to follow with an implanted, gene-edited embryo.
The last speaker at a midday session at the International Human Genome Editing Summit at the University of Hong Kong on Wednesday, He took the podium in silence a few tense moments after the moderator introduced him. Standing tall with a confident smile, he thanked the audience and apologized for the “unexpected leak” of news about his controversial experiment — though not for the experiment itself
The world's first twins born in China after their genes were reportedly edited have clearly violated the country's regulation, a senior official said Tuesday amid growing criticism over the ethicality of the experiment.
Xu Nanping, vice minister of science and technology, said a 2003 regulation permits gene-editing experiments on embryos which are only allowed to remain viable for 14 days, China Central Television reported Tuesday night. The ministry will process the case according to law, Xu said...
Comment: The twins didn't actually violate the regulation, He did. So how do these kids have a normal life?
No individual or institutes should conduct any clinical application of embryo gene editing if they are not certain of the theory or techniques, when risks are uncontainable and when regulations clearly ban such experiments, said a statement released by China's Academy of Sciences on Tuesday.
The academy said it is willing to cooperate with any investigation into the experiment.
China's National Health Commission on Monday demanded local authorities fully investigate the experiment.
An overall investigation into the experiment's impact on China's biotechnology development will be conducted by China's Science and Technology Ministry, Southern Weekend reported, citing an insider.
It has emerged that the scientist at the center of the controversy, He Jiankui, used an AIDS support network to recruit couples with fertility issues for his experiment. Under Chinese law, people with “sexual diseases,” including HIV, are banned from undergoing in vitro fertilization treatment.
According to the founder of the network, who spoke to Caixin, the trial was advertised as both a fertility fix and a way to prevent children with HIV-positive fathers from being born with the infection — despite the increasingly small chance of HIV being passed from father to child in normal circumstances.
The China-born, U.S.-trained scientist once confided to his former Stanford University adviser his interest in gene-edited babies. He told The Associated Press last month that he had been working on the experiment for more than two years — a period in which, by his own account, he concealed information from some medical staff involved in the research, as well as apparently from his own bosses.
He took advantage of the loosely worded and irregularly enforced regulations and generous funding available today in China, in some cases skirting even local protocols and possibly laws...
On Monday, China’s National Health Commission ordered local officials in Guangdong province — which includes He’s laboratory in Shenzhen — to investigate his actions. It was not clear if he could face criminal charges.
A year before He Jiankui shocked the world with claims that he had created gene-edited babies, the Chinese scientist confided his plans in a researcher at the University of California, Berkeley.
The researcher, Mark DeWitt, told no one. But his response at the time was unmistakable: Don’t do it.
5. New Zealand won't use Huawei for 5G
Hard for New Zealand could stay a member of Five Eyes if they did allow Huawei?
Spark said this afternoon it had been notified by GCSB Director-General Andrew Hampton that it cannot use Huawei gear for its pending 5G mobile network upgrade.
The telco's announcement preempted any official statement from the government, though the GCSB and its minister, Andrew Little, later confirmed the development.
The decision represents a stark change in direction. For years while he was in power, former Prime Minister and GCSB Minister John Key actively encouraged our phone companies to use gear made by the Chinese company, founded by former People's Liberation Army officer turned billionaire entrepreneur Ren Zhengfei.
Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters has issued a new warning over alleged Chinese spying in New Zealand.
It comes after a University of Canterbury professor had her home and office broken into a number of times after claiming China has been "undermining the integrity of the New Zealand political system ".
Does Ningxia have a terrorism problem? Is this a sign the Xinjiang practices will spread to the Hui in Ningxia?
Northwest China's Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region has signed a cooperation anti-terrorism agreement with Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region to learn from the latter's experiences in promoting social stability.
Zhang Yunsheng, a Communist Party of China chief from Ningxia, went to Xinjiang to study and investigate how Xinjiang fights terrorism and legally manages religious affairs, Ningxia Daily reported on Tuesday.
During his trip, Zhang visited Xinjiang's stability maintenance and counter-terrorism center and local public security bureaus where new technologies like big data have been deployed in the fight against terrorism. The two autonomous regions signed cooperation agreements against terrorism.
Mihrigul Tursun, a Uyghur woman who claimed she came from the Xinjiang vocational education and training centers, which the West calls "re-education camps," cried out to reporters in the National Press Club of the US. She said she was locked in a 37-square-meter cell with 67 others, nine of whom were tortured to death in three months. It's easy to tell the woman was lying and there must be someone who taught her to speak like this. She might want to obtain asylum in the US.
Global Times reporters recently visited two vocational education and training centers in Xinjiang. What they saw was totally different from the woman's depiction. Rather than prisons, the centers are schools that help trainees rid themselves of extreme thoughts and master vocational skills needed to return to society. Even a real prison in China is not like Tursun portrayed. ..
Most of the Western accusations of Chinese mainland violations of human rights concentrate on dissidents in China, governance of ethnic minorities in border areas, a few people who illegally possess Chinese and other nationalities or Chinese who hold a foreign passport but still live in China. But the mainland is pursuing its own justified goals: safeguarding social order and stability, preventing national split and terrorism activities and securing national security.
Xinjiang authorities hold a a "Fengqiao Experience" meeting, says their efforts have a lot to add to the FE - 结合新疆实际践行新时代“枫桥经验”---A01要闻--2018-11-28--新疆日报
When applied in Xinjiang, Tibet or other borderlands, ganhua seems to amount to a “civilizing project,” as the anthropologist Stevan Harrell has said, which aims to create a uniform populace under the banner of a single “Chinese nation” (中华民族). But it is more than that. In the 1960s, the psychiatrist Robert Jay Lifton called Chinese-style thought control — with its dogmatic belief in absolute truth and compulsion to mend the incorrigible — “ideological totalism.”
Australian permanent residents have disappeared into China’s internment camps and others are being made to report to Chinese authorities from Sydney
Muslim groups in China privately report a growing number of attacks by groups labeling themselves as “anti-halal,” including the smashing of windows and the reporting of minorities to the police.
Abroad, much of the Islamophobia among Chinese immigrants appears to be driven by conspiracy theories and false stories that begin on the Western far-right but are being transferred into Chinese popular consciousness through WeChat, the most popular messaging app in China. Although many other WeChat accounts with political content have been shut down in the last year, the censors appear to be ignoring—if not encouraging—this poisonous vector.
The State Council approved three high-tech industrial development zones in Xinjiang to establish national independent innovation demonstration zones, according to a circular issued on Nov 28. The new innovation demonstration zones, in Urumqi city, Changji Hui autonomous prefecture, and Shihezi city, should be built within regions that have been approved by related departments under the State Council, the document said.
7. Didi in deep doodoo
Didi has violated multiple safety rules, presenting a “major safety hazard”, including failing to properly flag high-risk drivers and improperly handling deposits, China’s Ministry of Transport said in a notice on an official social media account.
“The driver’s qualifications and background checks are not in place. The company’s management of people and vehicles is out of control,” the ministry said, referring to Didi that accounts for around 90 percent of China’s ride-hailing market.
The ministry said it would “severely crack down” on ride-hailing firms hiring illegal drivers and fine Didi’s executives and legal representatives an undisclosed amount of money.
Even as a new CEO at Uber has calmed the waters at that company, Didi has been plunged into its own drama that has squeezed its business. The murders of two female passengers in May and August sparked an intense regulatory onslaught, forcing Didi to change how it operates, including tightening its licensing of drivers—culling drivers who failed the background check or didn’t have enough experience.
With fewer drivers, Didi’s business has taken a hit. The number of average daily trips has dropped to about 20 million from 25 million a year ago, according to a person with direct knowledge of the matter. Didi also has scrapped its earlier profit target for its ride-hailing business.
Meanwhile, discussions about an initial public offering this year quickly ended. As recently as April—before the murders—Didi and bankers were reportedly discussing a 2018 IPO at a valuation of as much as $80 billion, which would have made it more valuable than Uber at the time. There is no longer a clear timetable for an IPO, investors and bankers say.
A number of Didi drivers who TechCrunch recently spoke to said they were considering quitting because the cost of compliance outweighs the return. Drivers need to, for instance, study and pass an exam to attain the desired papers. They must also register their car as a commercial vehicle and scrap it after eight years.
To attract drivers, Didi plans to offer training sessions and help them legalize, according to Cheng.
“We look forward to helping tens of millions of drivers to reach compliance goals and continue to work with us to meet the mobility demands of users and achieve sustainable long-term growth of the industry,” the CEO says in a statement.
8. Retirement worries for migrant workers
Sad but good story by SixthTone
China’s first-generation migrant workers are edging closer to retirement age, defined as 60 for men and 50 for most women. (Female civil servants retire at 55.) Government statistics show that the number of migrant workers over 50 is growing rapidly, from around 40 million in 2012 to more than 61 million last year. However, less than a quarter of Chinese migrant workers pay into so-called social insurance schemes — Chinese pension plans — and few have enough in private savings to live comfortably after retirement. As a result, millions of migrants face futures that seem unnervingly similar to their impoverished pasts...
Yang and her husband, a security guard who also hails from Hubei, managed to put aside 140,000 yuan in personal savings over the course of their decadeslong careers. But like Tan, they were reluctant to use that money on themselves. A few years ago, the couple spent all the money on the down payment for an apartment in Zaoyang, a city near their family home in Hubei where their son — a seller of automobile components with a variable income — lives. Yang and her husband hope the apartment will one day help their son find a wife. The mortgage is 3,000 yuan a month; the couple pays 2,000 yuan of it, and the son pays the remainder. A further 500 yuan goes toward the rent in Shenzhen, a city with high living costs. Yang’s husband currently earns around 7,000 yuan a month, meaning the family barely saves any money. So, although Yang is officially retired, she is considering taking on informal work just to keep the family afloat. “Realistically, we probably need to keep working for 20 more years,” Yang says.
Business, Economy, Finance And Trade
Pollution Curbs Decimate Production at China’s Biggest Aluminum Smelter - Caixin The world’s biggest aluminum smelting company has been told to shut down one-tenth of its production as northern China tries to keep pollution in check while also keeping warm as the winter bites. Shandong Weiqiao Pioneering Group Co. Ltd., the parent of aluminum giant China Hongqiao Group Ltd., has been told shut down the cells used for smelting aluminum in what would amount to the equivalent of a 650,000-metric ton reduction in output. The order came from the Binzhou city government in eastern China’s Shandong province, where the company’s operation is based, according to a document released on Monday.
Nation raises foreign banks' debt quota - China Daily "The NDRC will further enlarge the quota of offshore financing for foreign banks in China through foreign debt, based on the country's needs for economic growth and its financial situation ... Meanwhile, the commission will guide foreign banks to optimize the structure of their foreign debt, make their directions of investment more rational and improve their return on investment," said the commission in a statement posted on its website.
Chinese Titan Tencent Plays an Aggressive New Game: Luxury | Jing Daily Luxury brands account for a significant portion of this advertising growth. Though no specific revenue figures were released, nearly 90 percent of companies placing ads on WeChat over the past year marked their business as “luxury,” Tencent told Jing Daily. Tencent is not alone betting on the Chinese luxury appetite. Its major rival Alibaba Group has also ramped up its efforts to lure brands to sell on their platform, including setting up an exclusive online platform Luxury Pavilion. Alibaba’s platform has hosted a list of high-profile players like Loewe, Valentino, and Tiffany.
Leaping Backward and Reforming Forward: China’s Transformation into a Steel Superpower - MacroPolo Steel, then, offers an important illustration of China’s industrial development and the nature of its growth over the decades of Reform and Opening. But, more importantly, an analysis of how the steel industry has evolved and stagnated also offers perspectives on China’s past reforms and its prospective future growth.
Jack Ma’s classmate says Alibaba chairman has been a Communist Party member since his college days | South China Morning Post Back then, Ma was in his early 20s and was chairman of the student union at Hangzhou Normal University. He became a Party member in his sophomore or junior year, according to a social media post by one of Ma’s classmates that was widely circulated by news outlets including People’s Daily and Xinhua late on Tuesday. “At that time, joining the Party not only required hard study, but also integrity, organisational ability, enthusiasm and idealism,” said Ma’s classmate in the post, adding that Ma was “really one in a hundred”.
China's Cash Crunch Brings a Dead Funding Tool Back to Life - Bloomberg The two firms are planning public placements, a type of share sale unused in China since 2014. Their attempted reboot follows last year’s tightening of restrictions on private placements, the hitherto most popular method for listed Chinese companies to sell additional shares. Policy makers clamped down on such deals in part because they were worried a flood of new stock would weigh on the $5.5 trillion market.
Fund investing: Breyer sees change in China venture capital returns - CNBC "There are segments that are extremely healthy. There are many more which are undergoing very significant valuation downdrafts as well as consolidation," he told CNBC's Geoff Cutmore at the East West Tech conference in the Nansha district of Guangzhou, China. "We are no longer, I believe, in a market where people by expectation will consider 8, 10, 12 percent or more per year, many times after tax, to be a ballpark estimate of what they're trying to do for their funds," said Breyer, founder and CEO of global venture capital firm Breyer Capital.
China to carry out business environment assessment - Xinhua The Chinese government on Wednesday decided to carry out an assessment of its business environment, according to a statement released after a State Council executive meeting presided over by Premier Li Keqiang. The assessment will focus on areas closely related to market participants, including starting a business, getting a construction permit, obtaining a loan, paying taxes, going through bankruptcy procedures and protecting intellectual property rights.
Our common prosperity demands co-operation on trade | Financial Times OpEd by Zhang Jun China’s G20 sherpa: we are committed to trade and investment liberalisation
Yicai Global - China to Double Duty-Free Shopping Quota in Hainan - Yicai China will lift the individual tax-free shopping cap almost twofold in its southern resort island of Hainan to CNY30,000 per year from its current CNY16,000, three state agencies have announced.
国资纾困模式升级：异地接盘悄然流行_中国经济网——国家经济门户 Since November 1 there have been 22 cases in which private firms sold their ownership to others due to bankruptcy or inability to pay debt. 12 of these cases involve ownership being sold to either governments or SOEs. 7 of these 12 firms are listed company sold to the public sector in other provinces.
当前我国民营企业发展面临的机遇与挑战（人民要论） Renmin University's Li Yiping writes on page 7 of the 11.28 People's Daily about the opportunities and challenges for private businesses, part of the push to give private businesses more confidence
Politics, Law And Ideology
The Dui Hua Foundation-American Citizen Wendell Brown’s Sentence Reduced on Appeal On November 13, 2018 the Chongqing Number One Intermediate Court rendered its judgment in the appeal of American citizen Wendell Brown against his June 28 conviction by the Chongqing Yubei District Court for the crime of assault with intent. The Chongqing Court reduced Mr. Brown’s sentence from four years to three years in prison, the lowest sentence for the crime of intentional assault under Chinese law. Dui Hua estimates that fewer than 15 percent of appeals in criminal cases result in a reduction of the prison sentence.
China’s ‘most beautiful criminal’ turns herself in, police say | South China Morning Post Suspect whose mugshot went viral on social media surrenders along with four other members of alleged gang Police investigating reports of money being scammed out of customers in bars and tea-houses
Officials in Chinese online fraud blackspots spray-paint suspects’ homes to shame them into surrendering | South China Morning Post The authorities in Binyang county in the southwestern region of Guangxi have started spraying the characters for “home of suspected fraudsters” onto people’s doorways and in some cases cutting power and water supplies to their homes. The action has proved controversial, possibly because of its echoes of the Cultural Revolution.
CPC issues regulation on management of officials' personnel files - Xinhua The General Office of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee has issued a document regulating the management of officials' personnel files. The document specified departments in charge of personnel files and their content, as well as the rules for regular management, examination and overseeing of officials' personnel files. （受权发布）中共中央办公厅印发《干部人事档案工作条例》
China allocates 90.98 bln yuan for poverty alleviation - Xinhua China's central government has dispensed in advance part of its 2019 poverty alleviation fund to local governments, the Ministry of Finance (MOF) said Tuesday. The poverty alleviation fund already allocated to 28 provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities totaled 90.98 billion yuan (about 13 billion U.S. dollars), accounting for 86 percent recorded last year, according to the MOF.
Six Minors Arrested on Suspicion of Killing Shaanxi Teen - Sixth Tone A statement from the Shenmu municipal government said that six suspects — all under 18 years of age — were taken into police custody on Nov. 19 following the death of a female middle school student. Vowing to “strengthen the supervision and education of minors” in the city, local authorities say the case is currently under further investigation.
南方周末 - 首批市县机构改革方案出炉：川湘禁辅助人员执法 Several provincial governments have begun to restructure their prefecture and county level government departments in accordance with the central government’s department reform. Sichuan and Hunan have banned the notorious auxiliary forces from enforcing the law according to their restructure plans. Perhaps we will see a decrease of the number of cases in which law enforcers beat up people after these plans take effect...
Foreign and Military Affairs
Japan eyes stealth fighters, vessel upgrades amid concerns over China’s growing clout | South China Morning Post Japan is expected to announce the purchase of 100 F-35 stealth fighters and the conversion of existing ships into full aircraft carriers in a move widely seen as a response to China’s growing military clout. The planned purchase of the state-of-the-art Lockheed Martin aircraft and upgrade of two Izumo-class warships would mark a significant advance of Japan’s military capabilities.
F-35B makes stealth fighter’s inaugural landing at Okinawa Marine base -- Stripes An F-35B Lighting II has landed at Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, marking the advanced stealth jet’s first visit to the Okinawa base.
The End of U.S. Naval Dominance in Asia - Lawfare Although the Trump administration has made much of China's rise when it comes to trade, the president should be focused more on the security implications. Robert Ross of Boston College points to the decline in U.S. naval strength in East Asia as a game-changer for the regional order. Ross argues that the Navy's forward presence is strained, while China's capabilities are growing steadily. U.S. allies are aware of this painful reality, and their willingness to trust America to protect them will decline
China’s plan to develop Samoan port a regional security concern - The Australian China is negotiating to fund the redevelopment of a coral-choked port in Samoa, in a move seen to have major economic and strategic implications for Australia and the US in the South Pacific. Samoa’s Agriculture Minister confirmed that discussions were under way with China to bankroll the redevelopment and expansion of the Asau Port, which already boasts a concrete wharf and is sited next to an airstrip on Savai’i, the nation’s largest island.
The Right to Speak: Discourse and Chinese Power | Center for Advanced China Research This focus on discourse power highlights that the CCP and PLA recognize the power of narrative as a means to achieve advantage relative to a rival or adversary through reshaping the information environment in ways that have real-world impact. China’s efforts to advance soft power, and by extension discourse power may confront significant limitations, even provoking backlash in some cases. However, it is clear that the potential impact of such attempts to reshape the narrative and change the conversation should not be discounted, given the apparent impacts from seemingly constraining discussion on Xinjiang, to reshaping narratives on human rights, and even the popularization of "One Belt, One Road" with international audiences. At times, this contestation of discourse is also undertaken in conjunction with more material approaches to influence.
Fake Signals and Illegal Flags: How North Korea Uses Clandestine Shipping to Fund Regime - WSJ $$ U.N. and other authorities are investigating at least 40 ships and 130 companies, registered in places ranging from Taiwan to Togo, for North Korea-related fuel transfers at sea. The ships and dozens of other cargo vessels are behind nearly 200 alleged illicit shipments of petroleum products and coal. Officials involved in monitoring North Korea say they don’t know how many incidents they are missing. Even though countries including China have clamped down on some North Korean trade, the shipping schemes have severely weakened a U.S.-led “maximum pressure” campaign
China’s soft power influence and hegemony building – a new way for South Africa? - Oscar Van Heerden The feedback from the 20 November opinion piece “Socialism with Chinese characteristics” was so overwhelming that I thought it important to write a take two. One of the first things I noticed on our study tour was that every policy objective the Communist Party of China (CPC) agreed upon was embedded within a theoretical framework. Whether it be a Marxist or a developmental framework, each policy trajectory finds expression through one or other theory — something I think would stand us in good stead here in Mzansi and elsewhere in the world, perhaps
President Xi receives Golden Key of Madrid, vows to open up doors of communication further - CGTN Chinese President Xi Jinping received the Golden Key of the City of Madrid on Wednesday at Madrid City Hall from the city mayor Manuela Carmena. Xi thanked Carmena for presenting the Golden Key, saying it is his honor to receive it and the key represents the friendly feelings of the Spanish people toward the Chinese people.
朱日和基地首任司令员谢勇逝世 终年67岁_凤凰资讯 澎湃新闻记者从谢勇司令员亲友处获悉，朱日和合同战术训练基地原司令员谢勇因病医治无效于2018年11月25日在北京逝世，享年67岁。谢勇司令员的送别仪式已于27日在北京八宝山菊厅举行。
Hong Kong, Macao
Lawyer for Snowden in Hong Kong Says He Left City Under Pressure - The New York Times A human rights lawyer who represented the former N.S.A. contractor Edward J. Snowden when he fled to Hong Kong says pressure from the local authorities, the bar association and legal aid groups have made it impossible for him to keep working in the semiautonomous Chinese city. The lawyer, Robert Tibbo, is a Canadian national who left Hong Kong last year and is currently living in France. He did not disclose his move for nearly a year, fearing it would harm the cases of his clients in Hong Kong, particularly asylum seekers who sheltered Mr. Snowden during his 2013 stay.
Trump's Escalating Trade War Brings Renaissance to One City - Bloomberg One of the biggest beneficiaries of the clash between the U.S. and China may turn out to be a gritty Taiwanese town called Taoyuan. The former Japanese enclave west of Taipei had long suffered as local companies shifted factories to the mainland to benefit from lower wages and globalizing trade. But with tensions escalating between the world’s two largest economies, Taiwan’s biggest tech firms are now moving some production back home and many are turning to this city of 2 million on the northwestern coast. The trend may have gained a boost after Donald Trump signaled he’ll likely push ahead with increased tariffs.
Tech And Media
Chinese singer and girlfriend arrested for drug use and possession in Beijing - AFP The police statement identified the singer only by his surname, Chen. But Sina Entertainment reported that the singer is Chen Yufan, whose real name is Chen Tao, citing a post on microblogging site Weibo that has since been removed.The 43-year-old is one half of popular Chinese rock duo Yu Quan, who are best known for their 1999 song The Most Beautiful. Yu Quan’s 20th anniversary concert, which had been scheduled for December 25 in Beijing, has also been cancelled...Police said they found 7.96 grams of methamphetamine and 2.14 grams of marijuana at Chen’s house in Beijing. Chen tested positive for both drugs while his girlfriend tested positive for marijuana, according to the statement.
Briefing: iFlytek removes politically sensitive terms on Android translation app · TechNode Chinese artificial intelligence company iFlytek has removed political sensitive terms such as “Tiananmen” and “independence” from showing up as results in the Android version of its popular translation app. The results on iOS version of the iFlyTranslate app were not affected.
China's online streaming users exceed 600 mln - Xinhua The number of online streaming service users in China had reached 609 million as of June this year, according to an industry report released Wednesday. China's online video market is estimated to exceed 201.6 billion yuan (29 billion U.S. dollars) in 2018, up 39.1 percent year on year, according to the 2018 China Online Streaming Development Study Report.
Apple removes hundreds of apps in Chinese store without explanation - Global Times A report on Chinese news website toutiao.com said that a total of 718 apps were removed from the Chinese app store on Tuesday, including Sogou Inc's map and navigation apps. Apple did not offer a comment to the Global Times as of press time. "It's likely more than just a technical problem. If that was all, it should be relatively easy to fix and the apps shouldn't have been removed for long," said Liu Dingding, a Beijing-based internet analyst.
Society, Art, Sports, Culture And History
China's Lum medicinal bathing of Sowa Rigpa listed as Intangible Cultural Heritage - Xinhua The decision was announced during the 13th session of the UNESCO Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage held from Nov. 26 to Dec. 1 in Port Louis, Mauritius. The Lum medicinal bathing of Sowa Rigpa is knowledge and practices concerning life, health and illness prevention and treatment among the Tibetan people in China.
WEAI Author Q&A: Emily Baum’s “The Invention of Madness” Throughout most of history, in China the insane were kept within the home and treated by healers who claimed no specialized knowledge of their condition. In the first decade of the twentieth century, however, psychiatric ideas and institutions began to influence longstanding beliefs about the proper treatment for the mentally ill. In The Invention of Madness, Emily Baum traces a genealogy of insanity from the turn of the century to the onset of war with Japan in 1937, revealing the complex and convoluted ways in which “madness” was transformed in the Chinese imagination into “mental illness.”
Energy, Environment, Science And Health
Blast kills 23 outside China factory in Olympic city - AFP A truck carrying combustible chemicals exploded at the entrance of a chemical factory in a northern Chinese city that will host the 2022 Winter Olympics Wednesday, leaving 23 people dead and 22 others injured, state media and authorities said.
Agriculture And Rural Issues
How Deadly African Swine Fever Spread Across China - Caixin Ticks have also been blamed as a possible transmission route. But Zhang Fengtian, the deputy dean of the School of Agricultural Economics and Rural Development at Beijing’s Renmin University, said humans were more likely the carriers of the disease. “The virus can live on people’s clothes for half a month. If they go to an affected pig farm, the possibility of pig infection exists,” Zhang told Caixin. The disease’s hydra-like ability to spread through multiple paths makes it extremely difficult to fight. “As long as one aspect (of transmission) isn’t dealt with well, the epidemic will become widespread and all previous containment efforts will be wasted. It’s like a balloon,” Hu Yonghao, deputy dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine at Gansu Agricultural University, told Caixin. “The moment a small hole appears, it explodes.”
China to rectify preschool education problems - Xinhua China's Ministry of Education has vowed to rectify problems of preschool education including community kindergartens, unlicensed kindergartens, or those driven by excessive profit-seeking or putting too much study pressure on kids. "Kindergartens established by communities will be transformed into public ones or affordable private ones," Lyu Yugang, an elementary education official with the ministry, said Wednesday.