New Year's banquet; Biden-Xi call imminent?; WHO investigation; "Evil wolves"; Happy Year of the Ox

President Biden and General Secretary Xi may have a call in the next few hours, per Bloomberg journalists:

I am not surprised, as I mentioned in Monday’s newsletter the long Blinken-Yang call likely paved the way for a call in the near future.

Today's Essential Eight items:

  1. New Year’s banquet

  2. WHO investigation

  3. US-China

  4. Xinjiang

  5. “Evil wolves”

  6. Winter calm on the India-China border?

  7. Trust crackdown to continue

  8. The Year of the Ox will be better

This is the last issue of the Year of the Rat. Barring something big occurring I will return late next week.

Happy New Year!


The Essential Eight

1. New Year’s banquet

Xi extends Spring Festival greetings to all Chinese - Xinhua

Xi...delivered a speech at the gathering at the Great Hall of the People, greeting Chinese people of all ethnic groups, compatriots in Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan, and overseas Chinese...

Xi summarized the nation's major achievements in 2020 under the Party's leadership, including emerging as one of the first countries that brought the COVID-19 epidemic under control, taking the lead among major economies in achieving positive economic growth, making historic progress in building a moderately prosperous society in all respects and accomplishing the poverty eradication tasks on time.

The country also saw the success of a number of key science and technology innovation projects, solid progress in pushing forward the Belt and Road Initiative and the successful conclusion of implementing the 13th Five-Year Plan, as well as growing global support for building a community with a shared future for humanity, Xi said.

Facts have once again proved that the system of socialism with Chinese characteristics has incomparable vitality and creativity, Xi noted...

The Party will remain invincible as long as it stands at the forefront of the times, leads the charge in overcoming difficulties and challenges, and takes root among the people, Xi said

中共中央国务院举行春节团拜会 习近平发表讲话_CCTV

Top ten minutes of the Wednesday CCTV Evening News on the event. Among the attendees shown in the report were three who have been subject to various rumors of impending downfall over the last few years - Wu Shengli. Li Yuanchao and Meng Jianzhu

In his speech Xi brought up the “Three Ox Spirit:

(受权发布)习近平:在2021年春节团拜会上的讲话

在中华文化里,牛是勤劳、奉献、奋进、力量的象征。人们把为民服务、无私奉献比喻为孺子牛,把创新发展、攻坚克难比喻为拓荒牛,把艰苦奋斗、吃苦耐劳比喻为老黄牛。前进道路上,我们要大力发扬孺子牛、拓荒牛、老黄牛精神,以不怕苦、能吃苦的牛劲牛力,不用扬鞭自奋蹄,继续为中华民族伟大复兴辛勤耕耘、勇往直前,在新时代创造新的历史辉煌!

In Chinese culture, Ox are the symbol of diligence, dedication, endeavor and strength. People compare serving the people and selfless dedication to a willing ox, innovation and development to overcome difficulties to a trailblazing ox, and tough and striving as a diligent and hard-working ox. On the way forward, we should vigorously carry forward the spirit of willing ox, trailblazing ox and diligent and hard-working ox, and continue to work hard and forge ahead for the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation, and create new historical glory in the new era, with the strength of ox that are not afraid of hardships and can endure hardships.

The first time I remember seeing the “Three Ox Spirit” was in the readout last week of Chen Yixin’s comments at the Central Political and Legal Affairs Commission annual work summary and deployment meeting.

2.11.2021 Update: There is now an official translation for the "Three Ox Spirit” - Xinhua Commentary: "Three cattle spirit" steers China to bullish Year of the Ox:

By using the "three cattle spirit," Xi has endowed the household cultural image with new connotations in the new era and set the tone for all CPC members to carry forward the spirit of serving the people as willing steers, blazing new trails in development as pioneering bulls and engaging in an arduous struggle as hardworking oxen.


2. WHO investigation

As WHO mission leaves Wuhan, China claims propaganda win on coronavirus origins - The Washington Post

The WHO statement Tuesday "put an American conspiracy theory to rest," China's Global Times newspaper said. The official Reference News called the visit by the U.N. health agency a showcase of China's "positive, scientific, cooperative attitude."

Zeng Guang, the chief epidemiologist at the Chinese Center for Disease Control, even tried to turn the tables. Other locations in the world, particularly U.S. labs, must be investigated next, said Zeng, because "historically the United States … launched biological and chemical warfare."

"China was the big winner," said Yanzhong Huang, a senior fellow for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations. "We understand that they are doing their work within the parameters of the government. But you don't want to jump to a conclusion based on several hours of conversation with Chinese scientists."..

Jesse Bloom, a virologist at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, was "surprised to see some members of the team dismiss the accidental lab leak theory while seeming to suggest, without any specific evidence, the possibility that frozen food might have played a role."

"I remain agnostic about the origins of SARS-CoV-2," said Bloom, referring to the official name of the virus. "But it's important to have a careful independent accounting of the research into SARS-related coronaviruses that was being done in labs in Wuhan before the emergence of this pandemic, and it doesn't appear that this team accomplished that," Bloom said.

US will not accept World Health Organization findings out of Wuhan without independently verifying | South China Morning Post

Spokesman Ned Price added that a full and complete accounting by the WHO and China detailing how the pandemic started and spread is essential given the stakes and the disease’s devastating global impact.

“Clearly, the Chinese, at least heretofore, has not offered the requisite transparency that we need and that, just as importantly, the international community needs so that we can prevent these sorts of pandemics from ever happening again,” he told reporters during a daily briefing.

“We will work with our partners, and also draw on information collected and analysed by our own intelligence community … rather than rush to conclusions that may be motivated by anything other than science,” he said.

Comment: Two WHO team members tweeted their displeasure at the US statement:

Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin's Regular Press Conference on February 10, 2021

AFP: The U.S. Department of State said that the U.S. side will verify the findings of the WHO mission in China. They say that they will analyze the conclusions with their own intelligence services. Do you have a reaction to that comment?..

As Professor Liang Wannian, the head of the Chinese side, pointed out, this origin-tracing cooperation is the China part of WHO-convened global origin-tracing study. The global origin-tracing work may evolve geographically as factual evidence is generated and science-based hypotheses evolve. We hope that relevant countries will also adopt a scientific attitude, actively take part in global origin-tracing efforts, share and exchange study results, and jointly make positive efforts to protect the life and health of people of all countries...

There are also a number of clues, reports, and studies that suggest the outbreaks began in multiple locations around the world as early as the second half of 2019, and some reports say the coronavirus may have been present in the United States before the first confirmed case of Covid-19 was officially reported in the country. We hope that the U.S. side will adopt the same open and transparent attitude as China and invite WHO experts to carry out origin-tracing studies in the United States.

Coronavirus: Australian scientist on WHO mission confident COVID-19 originated in China - Sydney Morning Herald

Professor Dominic Dwyer, a microbiologist and infectious diseases expert with NSW Health, was the sole Australian among a 14-strong WHO team in Wuhan that worked to identify the source of the coronavirus pandemic.

“I think it started in China,” Professor Dwyer told Nine News. “I think the evidence for it starting elsewhere in the world is actually very limited. There is some evidence but it’s not really very good.”

Coronavirus: China’s Covid-19 origin theory includes pig heads and frozen fish | South China Morning Post

Daniel Lucey, an infectious disease specialist at Georgetown University Medical Centre in the US, said the frozen food route did not seem like a “very likely legitimate explanation” and would warrant comparative studies.

“Why Wuhan first? Of all the seafood markets in China and Asia and around the world how did the cold-chain packaging end up causing an outbreak in Wuhan first?” he said.

顺水推舟 | 李文亮在烈士陵园名录中被遮盖惹众怒 - 中国数字时代

Pictures circulated on WeChat suggested the local authorities covered the name of doctor Li Wenliang at a martyr monument dedicated to those who died on duty fighting COVID19, apparently worried it may attract too many people who want to pay tribute to the whistleblower.


3. US-China

Biden expected to announce Pentagon review of China strategy: official | Reuters

U.S. President Joe Biden is expected to announce on Wednesday a Pentagon review of its strategy towards China, looking at key areas including intelligence, technology and the military footprint in the region, a U.S. official said.

The official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said a new 15-person task force would be created at the Pentagon to review the strategy and present its recommendations within four months.

TikTok Sale to Oracle, Walmart Is Shelved as Biden Reviews Security - WSJ $$

no imminent decision on how to resolve the issues surrounding TikTok is expected as the Biden administration determines its own response to the potential security risk posed by Chinese tech companies’ collection of data...

“We plan to develop a comprehensive approach to securing U.S. data that addresses the full range of threats we face,” National Security Council spokeswoman Emily Horne said. “This includes the risk posed by Chinese apps and other software that operate in the U.S. In the coming months, we expect to review specific cases in light of a comprehensive understanding of the risks we face.”...

Talks between the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S. and TikTok to resolve the situation have continued, according to the people familiar with the matter, one of whom said possible solutions include use of a trusted third party to manage TikTok’s data, which wouldn’t require an outright sale.

TikTok Sale Remains in Trump-Triggered Review, White House Says - Bloomberg

President Joe Biden’s administration is “comprehensively evaluating” risks to U.S. data from companies such as ByteDance Ltd.’s TikTok “and will address them in a decisive and effective fashion,” Press Secretary Jen Psaki said Wednesday during a briefing at the White House...

“It’s a broad review that’s expanded beyond TikTok,” Psaki said Wednesday. But she said that “it’s not accurate that there is a new proactive step by the Biden White House.”

Comment: It is far more than just a "data" issue. How will they address the black box algorithms and the potential for the misuse of them by hostile state actors?

US admiral says Chinese military activity is rising in S China Sea | Financial Times $$

Rear Admiral James Kirk said the US navy had seen an expansion of Chinese capabilities during the period that the Nimitz spent sailing through the South China Sea on an almost 10-month deployment. This included a rare joint aircraft carrier exercise with the USS Theodore Roosevelt.

“We’re seeing larger number of aircraft, larger number of ships available to the Chinese military being utilised on a daily basis. So the capacity has clearly increased,” Kirk told a small group of reporters via phone from aboard the Nimitz as the carrier was returning to the US west coast.

Readout of Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III's Phone Call With Philippines Secretary of National Defense Delfin Lorenzana > U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE > Release

Secretary Austin affirmed the U.S. commitment to the U.S.-Philippines alliance and our bilateral Mutual Defense Treaty and Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA), highlighting the value the VFA brings to both countries. The Secretaries discussed the importance of enhancing the Armed Forces of the Philippines’ capabilities and increasing interoperability between our two militaries through a variety of bilateral security cooperation activities.

The Secretaries also discussed regional security challenges, to include the South China Sea, counterterrorism, and maritime security, and affirmed the importance of upholding international rules and norms, to include the 2016 Arbitral Tribunal ruling.


4. Xinjiang

Dahua facial recognition touts 'real-time Uighur warnings' - Los Angeles Times

Dahua was added to the U.S. entity list in 2019, along with 27 other companies including the tech giant Huawei, for its ties to the “human rights violations and abuses in the implementation of China’s campaign of repression,” according to the Department of Commerce. Being on the list doesn’t restrict U.S. companies or agencies from buying Dahua products — it urges caution when doing so — but blocks those companies from buying American products.

New details shared with The Times show Dahua developed capabilities that could further China’s campaign against Uighur Muslims. Screenshots provided by IPVM show product support documents for Dahua’s police surveillance platform that include several references to “real-time warning for Uighurs.”

Screenshots show that the real-time warning feature requires specific equipment that “support reporting Uighur attributes.”

The documents also reference “real-time warning for non-local Uighurs.”

Dahua Provides "Uyghur Warnings" To China Police - IPVM

Dahua provides "real-time Uyghur Warnings" to China police, as Dahua's own technical documents reveal, discovered by IPVM. This video explains what Dahua is doing:

Comment: Noteworthy how so many tech firms seem to have similar “Uighur-detection” features. Some have tried to explain it away as just for internal testing or the like, but if so many are developing it sure seems like they are responding to some sort of key customer demand.

The Roots of Cultural Genocide in Xinjiang | Foreign Affairs - Sean Roberts

In the last four years, Chinese authorities have incarcerated or placed in mass internment camps over a tenth of the local indigenous population. They have subjected the remainder of the population to unprecedented surveillance, tracking their behavior, associations, and communications for any sign of disloyalty that could lead to their incarceration...

This strategy does not seek to counter a real or perceived terrorist threat. Beijing’s true aim is cultural genocide. It hopes to scrub this territory of its Uyghur character, to crush the ethnic solidarity of the Uyghur people, and to turn their homeland into a Chinese commercial hub, another spoke in the wheel of the Belt and Road Initiative. China wants Xinjiang to resemble just another Han-dominated province of the country.

Anti-China tactics on BBC bust 'objective media' facade - Global Times

Aside from untenable interviewees, the BBC has also been found playing as a platform to spread lies of Xinjiang made by other Western media. For example, after putting "Xinjiang" as key words in BBC's search engine on its website, the Global Times has found at least 41 English-language articles over the past six months since last August, which babbles about lies from "forced labor" to the latest "systematical rape."

Graduated Xinjiang trainees who gave birth slam ‘forced sterilization’ lies - Global Times

Former trainees of vocational education and training centers in Northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region lambasted an overseas Uygur and sensational Western media reports, especially those from the BBC, for telling and spreading lies of "mass rape" and "forced sterilization" of Xinjiang women.

"This is sheer nonsense," said a Xinjiang official at a press conference on Xinjiang-related issues on Wednesday, echoed by the trainees at the scene, who provided solid facts and clarifying the issues with their personal experience at the former training centers.


5. “Evil wolves”

Vice Foreign Minister Qin Gang pushes back on the term “wolf warrior”. Qin should be considered a serious candidate to replace Wang Yi as Foreign Minister when the time comes, and the dynamic right now is that the leadership of the diplomatic system has been seen as too soft so there is only upside for rising officials to out “wolf warrior” each other, though as I have written on several occasions I think “wolf warrior” is a term that understates what is going on. The external manifestations we term “wolf warrior” are actual core components of Xi Jinping Thought on Diplomacy.

Vice-FM: Smearing China without evidence work of 'evil wolves' - China Daily

Certain countries and individuals that smear China unscrupulously without any evidence are nothing less than "evil wolves", Vice-Foreign Minister Qin Gang said on Tuesday.

Qin made the remark at a press briefing on the China-CEEC Summit while responding to a question of China conducting wolf warrior diplomacy.

Facing crazy attacks against China, Chinese diplomats must of course stand out and say no, which is different from showing a tough attitude, he said.

It is unreasonable to slander China while preempting the country from fighting back, he added.

China has never spread lies or disinformation and on the contrary, is a victim of various rumors and disinformation, he said.

秦刚回应“战狼外交”-新华网

At the briefing of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs held on the evening of February 9th, a German reporter said that some people in Europe questioned whether China was trustworthy, because some Chinese media and officials had mentioned the death caused by Pfizer vaccine, and thought that China's doing so was a manifestation of "Wolf Warrior diplomacy".

In this regard, Qin Gang, Vice Foreign Minister, said, first of all, I want to clarify that the Chinese media's report on the problem of vaccine in Europe was not compiled by the Chinese media itself, but quoted foreign media reports. China has never spread rumors or false information. On the contrary, China is the victim of all kinds of rumors and false information.

As for some people who say that China engages in "Wolf Warrior diplomacy", if we look at the groundless and bottomless smear and slander of China by some countries and some people, I'm afraid they can't describe it as "Wolf Warriors", they are nothing less than "evil wolves".

Qin Gang said that like any other country in the world, the primary duty of China's diplomacy is to defend its sovereignty, security, development interests and dignity. In the face of all kinds of crazy attacks against China, Chinese diplomats have to stand up and say no, which is totally different from blindly showing strength. It's outrageous that some people call names without reason and don't let others talk back. !

在2月9日晚上举行的外交部吹风会上,有德国记者表示,当前欧洲方面有人质疑中国是否值得信任,因为中方有媒体和官员曾提到辉瑞疫苗致人死亡事件,认为中方这样做是“战狼外交”的表现。

对此,外交部副部长秦刚表示,首先我要澄清,中方媒体关于欧洲疫苗出现问题的报道,不是中方媒体自己编的,而是引用了外媒报道。中国从未散布谣言或者虚假信息。恰恰相反,中国是各种谣言和虚假信息的受害者。

至于有人说中国搞“战狼外交”,如果我们看一看当前有的国家和有的人对中国进行的毫无根据、毫无底线的抹黑诋毁,他们恐怕都不能用“战狼”来形容,那简直就是“恶狼”。

秦刚表示,同世界任何其他国家一样,中国外交的首要职责是捍卫自己国家的主权、安全、发展利益,捍卫自己国家的尊严。面对针对中国的各种疯狂攻击,中国外交官当然要站出来说不,这和一味示强完全是两码事。有人无故无理骂人,还不让别人还嘴,岂有此理?!

China's vaccine diplomacy fails to win ASEAN support: survey - Nikkei Asia

In a poll of 1,032 people, including academics, government officials and business people across the 10-nation Association of South East Asian Nations conducted from Nov. 18 to Jan. 10, 44.2% of respondents said China had provided the most help to the region during the pandemic, ahead of Japan at 18.2%, the European Union at 10.3%, and the 9.6% who named the U.S.,,

But despite these efforts, 61.5% of respondents said they would choose the U.S. over China if they were forced to pick sides in the ongoing U.S.-China rivalry. Support for the U.S. rose 7.9 percentage points from last year's survey.


6. Winter calm on the India-China border?

China, India armies disengage, ‘breakthrough in returning to peace’ - Global Times 

Frontline troops of the Chinese and Indian armies stationed at the southern and northern banks of the Pangong Tso began simultaneous, scheduled disengagement on Wednesday, in accordance to a consensus reached during the ninth round of corps commander-level meeting, Wu Qian, a spokesperson at China’s Ministry of National Defense, announced in a statement on the same day.

Question: For real, and for more than just the remaining winter months? And will these helicopters no longer patrol? Because the stirring video makes it sound like they are not going anywhere:


7. Trust crackdown to continue

Regulator Warns China’s Trust Firms That Crackdown Isn’t Over - Caixin

At a meeting on Sunday, the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission (CBIRC) outlined a target of cutting the total outstanding value of trust-financing products by another 1 trillion yuan ($155 billion) this year and effectively shutting the business down completely over the next five years, several trust firm executives who attended the annual regulatory work conference told Caixin...

For years, the trust industry has played an important role in shadow banking by providing loans to higher-risk companies and those with difficulty obtaining credit from banks. But the authorities have become increasingly concerned about the potential risks in the once-freewheeling and lightly regulated sector following a series of scandals and defaults involving billions of yuan. Among the most high profile are Sichuan Trust Co. Ltd., which failed to repay investors more than 20 billion yuan, and Shanghai-listed Anxin Trust Co. Ltd., which was found to have a 50 billion yuan black hole in its books…

A number of trust companies were called to account by the regulator for their poor performance last year, multiple sources close to the matter told Caixin. Among them were four companies that had expanded their trust financing business: Jiangsu International Trust Corp. Ltd., China Jingu International Trust Co. Ltd., Guolian Trust Co. Ltd. and National Trust Ltd., the sources said. Six failed to meet the annual goal, including Citic Trust Co. Ltd., one of China’s largest trust firms, and troubled Jilin Province Trust Co. Ltd. These firms are being required by the regulator to make up the shortfall for 2020 and complete their target for 2021, the sources said.


8. The Year of the Ox will be better

Lucky break? Chinese astrologers say the ‘year of doom’ is ending and relief will come in the Year of the Ox | The Star

Astrologers have pointed out that the first Opium War, the American Revolution and a famine in India that killed as many as 10 million people all happened during the so-called “Year of the Gengzi,” which occurs once every 60 years and brings with it natural disasters, wars and general calamity.

“One month has passed in the year 2020 … and our country is plagued by epidemics; since ancient times, it has been said that there must be chaos in the Gengzi Year,” read a widely shared article last year from Bazi, a website about Chinese traditional culture...

Last year, a combination of factors meant the Year of the Rat brought about an environment of “negativity … a lack of excitement and happiness,” said Jerry King, a Vancouver-based astrologist and Feng Shui master.

The Year of the Ox, which starts Friday, will bring release from the air of depression, King told the Star.


Business, Economy and Trade

China's consumer inflation eases, factory-gate prices rise - Xinhua The country's consumer price index (CPI), a main gauge of inflation, declined 0.3 percent year on year in January, compared with a 0.2-percent increase in December last year, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said. Food prices increased 1.6 percent year on year last month, up 0.4 percentage points from December and contributing about 0.3 percentage points to the CPI increase, said Dong Lijuan, a senior statistician with the NBS. China saw a CPI hike in January 2020, which was mainly driven by the effect of the Spring Festival holiday. Dong said the relatively high base was the main factor that dragged the country's CPI into negative territory last month.

Chinese premier signs decree unveiling rule against illegal fundraising - Xinhua The new regulation will strengthen oversight in key areas. It will also prevent and defuse risks and protect the legitimate rights and interests of the people...A State Council executive meeting on Dec. 21, 2020 adopted the draft regulation. It stipulates the administrative and criminal responsibilities for illegal fundraising, the return of funds, and the consequences participants should bear.

防范和处置非法集资条例(国令第737号)_政府信息公开专栏 Premier Li Keqiang has signed a state council decree — slated to take effect on May 1 — that intends to curb illegal fundraising as part of a broader move to stabilize the financial system. Most notably, without official approval, companies and individual businesses will be barred from using the words like “金融“finance, “交易所” exchange, “理财“wealth management, “股权众筹“ equites and crowdfunding to describe their products. To minimize risks, local governments are encouraged to leverage big data to set up early warning systems. Meanwhile, an inter-ministerial joint conference system will be led by the State Council and the banking regulator to tackle “major problems” should they arise.

财政部约谈德勤华永会计师事务所 The Chinese Ministry of Finance has summoned Deloitte and urged it to examine its practices. The ministry also said it will launch an investigation into the alleged violations by the accounting firm.

Jack Ma’s China Crackdown Preceded by Alibaba Exec’s Weibo Scandal The scale and speed with which the website removed posts rankled government officials, who saw it as crossing a line, a person familiar with the matter said, asking not to be identified discussing sensitive topics. The episode drew the attention of authorities not just to Weibo, but also to the influence its most powerful backer, Ma, and his companies had in the media, the person said.

Where Is Jack Ma? Alibaba Chief Seen Golfing at Sun Valley Golf Resort, Hainan - Bloomberg The co-founder of Ant Group Co. and Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. teed off in recent weeks at the Sun Valley Golf Resort, a secluded 27-hole course on the Chinese island of Hainan, people familiar with the matter said, asking not to be identified discussing private information

India tariff hikes target mainly China in protectionist drive - Nikkei Asia The changes hike import duties on roughly 30 products at the beginning of the month. The levies on solar lamps and cells are now between 15 and 20% from a previous 5%. Cellphone charging devices, which were tariff free, were slapped with a 10% levy.

Beijing to invest 1.3 trillion yuan in key projects - Xinhua Beijing unveiled a plan of 300 key projects with a total investment value of 1.3 trillion yuan (about 201.89 billion U.S. dollars) on Wednesday, according to local authorities. The projects include 100 major infrastructure projects and 100 major livelihood improvement projects. They also involve 100 projects for sci-tech innovation and high-tech industries. So said the Beijing Municipal Commission of Development and Reform.

Indebted HNA's Units Plan to Recoup $17 Billion in Misused Funds - Bloomberg Flagship Hainan Airlines Holding Co. will ask its parent to repay part of its debt while two other group firms are paring the stake held by their controlling shareholders. The carrier will transfer interest-bearing debts of at least 72.5 billion yuan to HNA and HNA Aviation Group Co., holding them responsible for the wrongdoings, according to a Feb. 9 exchange filing. The plan has been endorsed by the majority of its creditors, the filing said.

New Zealand Seeks Clarification After China Blocks Some Seafood - Bloomberg Shipments from a Sanford Ltd. facility that processes mussels and a Sealord Group fish processing plant have been suspended due to “issues around the interpretation of the World Health Organization’s Covid guidance, and food safety management,” the Ministry for Primary Industries said on Wednesday. The move followed live video audits by Chinese Customs at both premises in late January, it said.


Politics and Law

China’s corruption busters warn ‘poisonous elements’ are still part of domestic security apparatus | South China Morning Post A series of reports published on Monday by the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI), the country’s top anti-corruption body, said that not enough had been done to root out “poisonous elements” in organisations such as the Ministry of Public Security, where a string of senior leaders have fallen as a result of corruption investigations...But the inspectors offered rare praise for Chongqing, a city now led by Xi’s protégé Chen Miner. It said the city has “resolutely eliminated the poisonous influence” left by a string of sensational corruption scandals.

The readout for Chongqing. They still found problems - 中央第十二巡视组向重庆市委反馈巡视情况--反腐倡廉-中国共产党新闻网 武在平在反馈时指出,重庆市委坚持以习近平新时代中国特色社会主义思想为指导,统筹推进疫情防控和经济社会发展,坚决肃清孙政才恶劣影响和薄熙来、王立军流毒,在坚持“两点”定位、“两地”“两高”目标等方面取得了积极成效;市委领导作用明显增强,落实全面从严治党战略部署,进一步加大正风肃纪反腐力度,全市政治生态持续向好。巡视也发现了一些问题,主要是:学习贯彻习近平总书记关于重庆工作的重要讲话和指示批示精神还不够有效,有的专项整治举一反三不够;统筹落实新发展理念、推动供给侧结构性改革还有差距,城乡区域发展不够平衡;落实全面从严治党“两个责任”还有不足,净化政治生态仍需持续用力,压力层层传导还不够到位,一些重点领域廉洁风险防控存在短板,形式主义、官僚主义和违反中央八项规定精神问题仍有发生;落实新时代党的组织路线不够深入,干部队伍建设还有短板,农村基层党组织建设还不够扎实;对中央巡视和审计发现问题有的整改还不够到位。同时,巡视组还收到反映一些领导干部的问题线索,已按有关规定转中央纪委国家监委、中央组织部等有关方面处理。

参与党内团团伙伙 上海公安局原局长龚道安被“双开”_政经频道_财新网 Former Shanghai police chief Gong Daoan is officially sacked by the party for corruption. Among his alleged misdeeds: "Losing political principles, having no "four consciousnesses", deviating from "two upholds", and participating in 'factionalism' within the party have caused serious political harm and bad political influence 丧失政治原则,毫无“四个意识”,背离“两个维护”,参与在党内搞团团伙伙,造成严重政治危害和恶劣政治影响 "

人事观察|“70后”王建新任中央纪委国家监委宣传部长_政经频道_财新网 49-year-old Wang Jianxin becomes the new propaganda chief at the central commission of disciplinary and inspection. That makes him a vice-minister level official. He held a master’s degree in journalism from Renmin University and started his career at the People's Daily.

China Financial Regulator Raps Staff in Dragnet Targeting Prohibited Investments, Loans - Caixin Global The China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission (CBIRC) has collated reports from 27,000 of its staff detailing their investment and financing activities and subsequently found 429 people had engaged in forbidden financial activities involving 160 million yuan ($24.8 million), said an official statement released Tuesday. Subsequently, it has undertaken 106 disciplinary actions against those who violated the regulations, it said.

人事观察|吴桂英任长沙一把手 湖南12名常委四名女性_政经频道_财新网 Wu Guiying, 55, is now party Secretary of Changsha, Hunan. She is the 4th woman in the 12 member Hunan Provincial Party Commitee

State Council urges sound implementation of regulation on government inspection - State Council As a systematic summary of the long-term practice in government inspection, the regulation is an important legislation result to optimize the administrative supervision system and improve the supervision system of the Party and nation, the circular, stressing its implementation, noted on Feb 10. It is also a significant move to enhance Party leadership, implement law-based governance and promote modernization of the State governance system and ability. // 国务院办公厅关于贯彻实施《政府督查工作条例》进一步加强和规范政府督查工作的通知(国办发〔2021〕5号)_政府信息公开专栏


Foreign and Defense Affairs

Chinese, Nigerian presidents exchange congratulations on 50th anniversary of ties - Xinhua Xi stressed that he attaches great importance to the development of China-Nigeria relations, and stands ready to work with Buhari to take the 50th anniversary as an opportunity to make positive contributions to the building of a closer China-Africa community with a shared future. He suggested that the two sides carry forward their traditional friendship and deepen cooperation in various fields within the frameworks of the Belt and Road Initiative as well as the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC).

China poses serious strategic threat to Canada, says Canadian spy agency head | Reuters “The government of China ... is pursuing a strategy for geopolitical advantage on all fronts – economic, technological, political, and military – and using all elements of state power to carry out activities that are a direct threat to our national security and sovereignty,” he said.

China urges Canadian politicians to stop unprovoked smear - Xinhua Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin on Wednesday said certain Canadian politicians should stop launching unprovoked smear and attacks on China and spreading sensational claims. Wang made the remarks in response to reports that Canadian Security Intelligence Service Director David Vigneault accused China of threatening Canada's national security and sovereignty, as well as its citizens..."We urge certain Canadian politicians to abandon the Cold War mentality and ideological prejudice, and do more things that are conducive to China-Canada relations to enhance mutual trust between the two countries," Wang said.

UK ministers accused of cynically blocking clear vote on genocide | Law | The Guardian Ministers have been accused of making a “mockery of democracy” by blocking a clear vote on giving the UK courts a role in determining whether a genocide is taking place. The issue, wrapped up in the trade bill, will now return to the Lords where the proposal for a role for the UK courts – driven by allegations that Uighur Muslims are suffering a genocide at the hands of the Chinese government – is likely to be inserted for a third time.

China's first lady Peng Liyuan writes letter to German students - CGTN Peng Liyuan, wife of Chinese President Xi Jinping, wrote a letter on Tuesday to students and teachers at Burggymnasium, a public secondary school in Essen, Germany, encouraging them to make a new contribution to strengthening the friendship between peoples of China and Germany. In the letter, Peng wrote that she carefully watched the recorded video of four students from the school's Chinese choir singing the Chinese song titled "After the Pandemic," and she felt the students expressed the good wishes of supporting people of all countries to win the victory against the COVID-19 pandemic early.

Policy Brief February 2021 - Why should Australia be concerned about… rising tensions in the Taiwan Straits? -China Matters Some dismiss persuading Beijing to change tack as impossible. Persuasion and pressure – for example, a warning that recognition of ‘one China’ is in danger – are only possible if there is solidarity, ideally among European, North American and most Indo-Pacific nations. That is a tall order. Australia should consult with others about ways to jointly push back against Beijing if it intensifies pressure on Taiwan. First of all, the term ‘use of force’ must be redefined to include ‘all means short of war’. What a collective effort would entail must be agreed upon. Whatever is decided needs to be communicated to Beijing by those nations who have a better chance of being listened to than Canberra.

Great Canadian Gaming tried to tap Chinese capital fleeing Xi Jinping’s corruption probe, inquiry hears | Globalnews.ca Great Canadian Gaming management expanded its high-limit “VIP” gambling business in 2015 following a plan to increase revenue from Mainland Chinese criminal suspects fleeing Macau casinos and a corruption crackdown from Chinese president Xi Jinping, B.C.’s inquiry into money laundering heard Monday.


Hong Kong and Macao

China Removes Another Shred of Hong Kong Identity - Asia Sentinel What is blatantly discriminatory is that all persons of Chinese ethnicity born in Hong Kong, the mainland and Macau are automatically deemed to be Chinese citizens, whether they like it or not. The same does not apply to the tens of thousands of Indians, Pakistanis, Nepalis, Filipinos and others who were born in the territory, whether or not they have the passport of another country. Indeed, the corollary to requiring locally-born ethnic Chinese to be Chinese citizens may be that non-Chinese without other nationality claims become stateless.


Taiwan

China’s largest maritime patrol ship in Taiwan Straits launched - Global Times The ship, Haixun 06, is a 5,000-ton large patrol rescue ship tailored by CSIC's 701 Institute for the Maritime Safety Administration in East China's Fujian Province. It is the largest investment since the establishment of the administration and uses the most advanced technology. It will be used for regulating Taiwan Straits' waters, preventing pollution, dealing with maritime incidents, cross-strait exchanges and maintaining national maritime sovereignty, among other things, according to the institute.

Taiwan eases Covid-19 vaccine fears with confirmation of doses from Moderna | South China Morning Post Island to receive 5 million doses from the US firm by June, following concerns over supply amid global competition for vaccines Moderna’s vaccine has yet to be approved in Taiwan, but company says it will work with regulators to get approval before distribution


Tech and Media

Steam stays global in China, for now - Protocol — The people, power and politics of tech After years of operating in a legal grey zone in China, Steam finally released a local version on Tuesday. Chinese Steam users had nervously awaited it since Jan. 16, after local partner Perfect World Games confirmed rumors of the launch. Gamers feared it would mean they'd be banned from the global store and lose the games they had already purchased. But those fears haven't (yet) come true.

Baidu in talks to raise money for a stand-alone A.I. chip company - CNBC Currently, Baidu has an in-house chip unit that has helped to develop its Kunlun semiconductors, designed to process huge amounts of data for artificial intelligence applications. But a stand-alone chip company is seen helping Baidu to better commercialize its technology, the source said.

国家七部门:应对网络直播单次打赏额度合理设置上限-新华网 Seven Chinese ministries have instructed live-streaming platforms to consider capping the rewards ( online tips) online influencers can receive.


Energy, Environment, Science and Health

In Depth: Scam Surgeries Expose Ills at China’s For-Profit Hospitals - Caixin 

Liu didn’t want to pay for extra surgery, even though his doctor insisted it was essential. But he’d been lying on the operating table for an hour, and the anesthetic in his genitals was beginning to wear off.

The doctor, meanwhile, had Liu right where he wanted him, refusing to complete the circumcision unless he agreed to shell out thousands of dollars for additional procedures.

Mid-operation shakedowns were just one way that medical staff at Ouya Men’s Health Hospital, a private clinic in Northwest China, convinced hundreds of patients to buy expensive and unnecessary treatments, racking up millions of dollars in illegal revenue.

China’s Emissions of Ozone-Harming Gas Are Declining, Studies Find - The New York Times Emissions from China of a banned gas that harms Earth’s ozone layer have sharply declined after increasing for several years, two teams of scientists said Wednesday, a sign that the Beijing government had made good on vows to crack down on illegal production of the industrial chemical. The findings ease concerns that increased emissions of the gas, CFC-11, would slow progress in the decades-long environmental struggle to repair the ozone layer, which filters ultraviolet radiation from the sun that can cause skin cancer and damage crops.

China's first Mars mission Tianwen-1 successfully enters orbit around Red Planet | Space today's achievement sets the stage for something even more epic a few months from now — the touchdown of Tianwen-1's lander-rover pair on a large plain in Mars' northern hemisphere called Utopia Planitia, which is expected to take place this May.

China plans to raise minimum renewable power purchase to 40% by 2030: government document | Reuters Grid companies will steadily increase the amount of power purchased from clean generation sources from 28.2% in 2020 to 40% by 2030, according to a draft policy from the National Energy Administration (NEA), verified by a person with direct knowledge of the matter.