NPC; Trade talks; Sinicizing religion; China and Europe

Day two of the NPC was less exciting than day one.

I have to say I miss the NPC meetings of the Hu-Wen Go-Go Era. I had some Beijing “fixer” friends who always got busy these two weeks entertaining NPC delegates, taking them golfing when weather permitted, looking at apartments and gorging at banquets that ended in Moutai-induced “bliss”.

It certainly seems like it is a lot less fun being an NPC delegate or a cadre in the Xi Era.

The Wall Street Journal has posted searchable PDFs of the Premier’s NPC work report, outside their paywall:



Simon Rabinovitch of the Economist tweeted a chart noting the increase in mentions of “risk” in NPC work reports in the Xi Era:

The risks are real but so is the political value of focusing the Party on risk. As I wrote yesterday, the message that either we hang together or we will hang separately is a powerful power consolidation tool for Xi.

The conventional wisdom seems to be that a US-China trade deal will be done this March, but folks betting on the mooted late-March Trump-Xi summit may want to consider what happens if it is pushed into April at least.

Housekeeping note: I will be in Hawaii for the last two weeks of March, the newsletter will be on a normal schedule for most of that period though the daily timing may be a bit off. If any readers in Maui or Oahu would like to get together please get in touch.

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The Essential Eight

1. US-China

US trade gap jumped to 10-year high; record gap with China - AP:

The U.S. trade deficit jumped nearly 19 percent in December, pushing the trade imbalance for all of 2018 to widen to a decade-long high of $621 billion. The gap with China on goods widened to an all-time record of $419.2 billion.

The Commerce Department figures released Wednesday undermined a key commitment by President Donald Trump, who promised to cut the trade imbalance on the belief that it would bring back overseas factory jobs and bolster the broader U.S. economy.

Trump Is Said to Push for China Deal With Market Gains in Mind - Bloomberg:

President Donald Trump is pressuring U.S. trade negotiators to cut a deal with China soon in hope of fueling a market rally, as he grows increasingly concerned that the lack of an agreement could drag down stocks, according to people familiar with the matter.

As trade talks with China advance, Trump has noticed the market gains that followed each sign of progress, said the people, who requested anonymity to discuss internal deliberations. He watched U.S. and Asian stocks rise on his decision to delay an increase in tariffs on Chinese goods scheduled for March 1, one of the people said...

Trump’s economic team has told him an agreement will unleash a market rally, the people said. Advocates of a compromise with China have also told Trump it is crucial to cut a deal soon to reap the full boost ahead of the election because benefits such as more Chinese purchases of U.S. soybeans and other products will have a delayed impact and take time to reverberate through the economy, they said.

Trump, who met with his trade team Monday, has expressed interest in hosting Chinese President Xi Jinping for a signing ceremony on a deal as soon as this month.

Comment: If you are Xi would you come to the US without a deal fully baked except for signatures, given what happened in Hanoi?

China Won't Make Big Concessions on Trade Deal, Ex-Minister Says - Bloomberg:

China won’t make big concessions to the U.S. in order to seal a trade deal, former finance minister Lou Jiwei said in Beijing on Wednesday, calling some U.S. demands for change "unreasonable."

“China’s concessions probably won’t be very big because a lot of their demands are what we already plan to reform,” Lou, who was finance minister until 2016 and now runs the social security fund, said in an interview on the sidelines of the National People’s Congress. Some U.S. demands are “just nitpicking," he said.

China says new law will bar demands for technology handover - AP:

The provision is contained in a foreign investment law to be debated at the current annual session of the National People’s Congress, Ning Jizhe, vice chairman of the Cabinet’s economic planning agency told reporters at a news conference.

The law will “clarify the system for advancement and protection of foreign investment,” Ning said. The legal system will ensure that foreign businesses “cannot be required to transfer technology by administrative means, providing a more encompassing and beneficial legal guarantee,” he said.

Comment: Interesting that Ning says China will bar something that other officials says has never happened

Taking Managed Trade Seriously—What Would a Deal that Tries to Close the Bilateral Deficit Need to Look Like? | Council on Foreign Relations - Brad Setser

If Trump wants to set targets for China’s imports, he should focus on its imports of manufactures—not on getting tweetable deliverables out of the soybeans and oil that China will import (from someone) no matter what…

US Department of State - Ambassador Brownback Travels to Hong Kong and Taiwan:

Ambassador Brownback [Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom] will then travel to Taiwan to deliver keynote remarks at the 2019 Regional Religious Freedom Forum: A Civil Society Dialogue on Securing Religious Freedom in the Indo-Pacific Region. This forum will convene a wide range of participants, including government officials, civil society representatives, and experts to discuss efforts to improve the religious freedom climate in the region.

Comment: Beijing will not react well to this.

U.S. sends B-52s for missions over disputed South and East China seas and around Japan | The Japan Times:

A U.S. B-52 bomber was sent near disputed islands in the South China Sea and another circumnavigated Japan, conducting joint military exercises with the Air Self-Defense Force, the U.S. Pacific Air Forces said Wednesday.

Monday’s mission in the contested South China Sea was the first reported flight in the area by a B-52 since November.

2. SOEs to pay out greater share of profits to cover tax cuts?

Redistribution from SOEs would be a positive, though even more positive would be reducing their power and role in the economy..

State Firm Profits Will Pay for China’s Tax Cuts, Sinochem Chief Says - Caixin:

Commenting on the report, Sinochem boss and China People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) member Frank Ning said that the government will have to offset lost revenue from taxes from other areas, such as by increasing the share of SOE profits making their way into government coffers. The state sector will need to make sufficient profit for the tax cuts to take place, and to be able to stimulate economic development while they drive through industrial restructuring and upgrades, he said...

“How do we build a better society? In a better society, we all become more efficient,” he said. But SOEs are largely the opposite of this, he added, pointing out that while the state sector has around 180 trillion yuan ($26.8 trillion) in total assets, and net assets of around 50 trillion yuan, returns on capital tend to be a withering 4-5% — much lower than in the private sector. The state sector’s average asset-to-liability ratio hovers around 65-70%, much higher than the private sector.

宁高宁:落实减税降费 国企要多做贡献|政府工作报告解读

China Allows Private Sector to Own Majority Stake in Some State Firms - Caixin:

Private sector entities are allowed to hold a controlling interest in state-owned enterprises (SOEs) in certain highly competitive industries as a part of mixed-ownership reform, and they are also welcomed to invest in SOEs in certain “key” industries, according to an official at China’s top economic planner...

It was not clear which industries the plan views as “highly competitive” or “key.”

PBOC Chen: Cut Leverage of SOEs and Local Govts | MNI:

Leverage ratios of state-owned companies and local governments should be reduced further and increased paring back of debt levels is not incompatible with economic stability, People's Bank of China Deputy Governor Chen Yulu said Tuesday.

Although the aims of deleveraging have basically been achieved, further cuts were needed to reduce leverage ratios further, said Chen, who is also deputy head of the economic committee of Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference

"Structural deleveraging and stabilizing economic growth have many aspects that allow them to coordinate, they are not against each other," Chen told a press conference in Beijing.

3. Huawei

Meng Wanzhou scheduled to appear in B.C. court for extradition hearing date | CBC News:

Meng Wanzhou is set to appear in a Vancouver courtroom Wednesday...

The B.C. Supreme Court proceeding is expected to be fairly short, centred around the timing for an extradition hearing

German Spies Are Fighting to Keep Huawei Out of 5G - Bloomberg:

While the cabinet has decided that an outright ban on the Chinese equipment maker would be legally impossible, officials across the administration are demanding tools that would allow them to block Huawei equipment from being used all the same, the people said.

The interior ministry, the foreign ministry and German intelligence are all pushing back against the economy ministry and industry lobby groups, which have said that sidelining Huawei would delay the roll-out of 5G by years and cost the country billions. Economy Minister Peter Altmaier has said any restrictions can’t involve targeting specific companies, but will have to involve security standards for all potential service providers.

Malcolm Turnbull warns Brits about letting Huawei build 5G network:

"It's why in one of the final decisions made while I was prime minister, as a decision of the government of course, the Cabinet, was to ban telecommunications companies which could not meet our security requirements, and that included Huawei and ZTE from providing equipment to our new 5G telecom networks on national security grounds," he said

"We were the first nation formally to do so, and we decided not because another country told us to do so, let alone for protectionist reasons, but to defend our own sovereignty and to hedge against changing times."

"It's important to remember that the threat is a combination of capability and intent. Capability can take years or decades to develop ... but intent can change in a heartbeat.

Turnbull’s full Address to the Henry Jackson Society, London

Czech billionaire Petr Kellner Could Be Caught in Huawei Scandal - Bloomberg:

Kellner, the richest person in the ex-communist wing of the European Union and owner of PPF Group NV, could find that his Chinese consumer lending business, now with more than $13 billion in assets, will inadvertently become caught up in the spying scandal over Huawei Technologies Co. That’s because PPF’s Czech phone companies are under growing pressure to avoid using the Chinese tech giant to develop its 5G network, making the Home Credit Chinese business a potential target of retaliation.

China says customs found 'hazardous pests' in Canadian canola import samples | Reuters:

Canada’s agriculture minister said on Tuesday that Canada’s food inspection agency had carried out checks and had not identified any pests or bacteria of concern.

Comment: "hazardous pests 危险性的有害生物"...perhaps they are in the bureaucracy back in Canada in the US? 

China’s informal curbs unnerve trading partners | Financial Times $$:

This week, following Ottawa’s move to proceed with Meng Wanzhou’s extradition to the US, Beijing blocked shipments of canola, an oilseed that is one of Canada’s largest exports. The block was calibrated: it applies to the largest Canadian-owned exporter, but not to American companies that also ship the Canadian crop.

Across the Pacific, businesses in Australia and New Zealand are also grappling with concerns over economic retaliation for the country’s policies towards Huawei. Canberra has blocked the company from selling 5G equipment and New Zealand has raised security concerns over its role, raising concerns that Beijing is deploying a more subtle form of economic coercion.

Australian government to spend millions attracting Chinese tourists - Sydney Morning Herald:

Chinese tourists are worth $11.5 billion a year to the economy.

China believes Canada's Huawei case is political. Trump does nothing but confirm it. - The Washington Post Editorial:

Canada’s government has, to its credit, refused to yield to China’s hardball tactics. When its ambassador to China suggested that it would be “great for Canada” if the United States dropped the charges against Ms. Weng, he was fired. Unfortunately, President Trump has undermined that principled position. Twice, including late last month, he has suggested that he might include Ms. Weng’s case in a trade bargain he is trying to conclude with Chinese President Xi Jinping. That would be a gross violation of U.S. legal norms that we hope his new attorney general, William P. Barr, would resist. But the damage is done: No doubt Mr. Trump confirmed the Chinese belief that the case against Ms. Meng is political, and that hostage-taking is an appropriate response.

4. Intel says China chip advances could catch up within 5 years

Question: Really only five years, or is this Intel leveraging the "China threat" for US government goodies?

Axios Future - Intel’s Recommendations for the U.S. National Strategy on Artificial Intelligence:

For decades, U.S. companies have held the lead in chips. But now, they are losing ground.

What's happening: America's biggest chipmaker says Chinese companies could catch up with U.S. chip advances within 5 years.

Driving the news: In a new policy paper shared first with Axios, Intel today called on the government to implement a national AI strategy that will position the U.S. to beat upstarts in China and elsewhere. Leading Chinese chipmakers include HiSilicon, Tsinghua Unigroup and Shenzhen Huiding Technology...

Intel's recommendations include boosting federal investment in AI R&D and reskilling programs.

Their priority request: The government should unlock its vast stores of data — a move that, while raising thorny privacy questions, is meant to erase China's massive data advantage.

Rao and David Hoffman, Intel's associate general counsel and top privacy officer, both say the government should open up its health data, such as from the Veterans Administration.

The policy paper - Intel’s Recommendations for the U.S. National Strategy on Artificial Intelligence

5. China in Europe

Chinese FDI in Europe: 2018 trends and impact of new screening policies | Mercator Institute for China Studies:

Chinese foreign direct investment (FDI) in the European Union continued to decline in 2018. Chinese firms completed FDI transactions worth EUR 17.3 billion, a decline of over 50 percent from the 2016 peak of EUR 37 billion. This development was due mainly to continuing capital controls and lower liquidity in China’s financial system. Another contributing factor, however, is the growing political and regulatory backlash against Chinese commercial presence in advanced economies, including new and updated investment screening mechanisms in various EU member states. These are the findings of the joint report “Chinese FDI in Europe: 2018 Trends and impact of new screening policies” by Thilo Hanemann, Agatha Kratz (Rhodium Group) and Mikko Huotari (MERICS).

Italy looking to sign non-binding Belt and Road MOU with China: Geraci | Reuters:

Italy is negotiating to sign a memorandum of understanding to become a part of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) when Chinese President Xi Jinping visits later this month, a government official said on Wednesday.

Junior industry minister Michele Geraci said that if Italy did sign a deal it would be non-binding and just “an initial framework”. He also dismissed reports that the United States is annoyed at the prospect of Italy joining the BRI.

Brussels says EU has ‘underestimated’ China’s reach in Balkans | Financial Times $$:

The EU has “overestimated Russia and underestimated China” in responding to rival foreign influence in the Balkans, a senior Brussels official has suggested, in a sign of the bloc’s unease at Beijing’s overtures to the region.

Johannes Hahn, the EU commissioner responsible for negotiating with countries wanting to join the bloc, said he was concerned that some countries were borrowing heavily from China to pay for infrastructure and raising the risk of long-term damage to their fragile economies.

6. Details about the arrest of Yanjun Xu of the MSS

I-Team: How the Cincinnati FBI cracked the Chinese spy case at GE Aviation-WCPO:

On May 25, 2017, the 41-year-old engineer loaded five GE Aviation documents to the hard drive of his personal laptop, then drove from Cincinnati to Detroit, where he boarded a flight to China...

It also opened the door to arrest Yanjun Xu, an accused senior level Chinese spy, who is in a federal prison facing charges for attempting to steal trade secrets from GE Aviation. Xu is the first Chinese spy extradited to the U.S., according to Ben Glassman, the United States Attorney for the southern district of Ohio.

WCPO is not naming the engineer because he has not been charged with a crime. He has not responded to our requests for comment...

What follows is the most detailed public chronology of the events leading to Xu's arrest, events that shed new light on how brazenly China shops for America's corporate secrets and the kind of effort required to keep these alleged spies from ringing up a sale.

Comment: Interesting too that this is a local media outlet in Cincinnati...this kind of coverage will increase awareness of the "China threat" far beyond the Beltway.

The Cybersecurity 202: U.S. officials: It’s China hacking that keeps us up at night - The Washington Post

China’s eating our lunch in cyberspace. 

That’s the unified message NSA, FBI and Homeland Security Department officials brought to the RSA cybersecurity conference this week. 

During keynote addresses, panel discussions and press conferences Tuesday, they were laser-focused on the digital security threat China poses to the U.S., describing it as more complex and damaging than any posed by other digital adversaries.

7. Sinicizing religion

More like Party-icizing?

Beijing plans to continue tightening grip on Christianity and Islam as China pushes ahead with the ‘Sinicisation of religion’ | South China Morning Post:

Delivering his annual government work report on Tuesday, Premier Li Keqiang told the national legislature that “we must fully implement the [Communist] Party’s fundamental policy on religious affairs and uphold the Sinicisation of religion in China”.

The push to “Sinicise religion” – introduced by President Xi Jinping in 2015 – is an attempt by the officially atheist party to bring religions under its absolute control and into line with Chinese culture.

The campaign has coincided with an intensified clampdown on religious freedom across the country, especially on Protestants, Catholics and Muslims who the party fears could become tools of foreign influence or ethnic separatism.

Ningxia creatively manages religious affairs, establishing democratic system to select imams - Global Times:

Deputies from Ningxia to the 13th National People's Congress (NPC) held a sideline group meeting on Wednesday morning to discuss the Government Work Report...

From the meeting, the Global Times learned that in 2018 Ningxia boosted curbs on extremism and infiltration and cracked down on crimes to safeguard the region's religious stability. ..

For example, it established a transparent and democratic system for selecting imams and asked mosque personnel to set up financial supervision teams.

The regional government also formulated mid- and long-term plans for religious personnel's education and training, especially their high education. Graduate classes for Islamic personnel were held to promote their skills.

The classes were co-hosted by the Ningxia Institute of Socialism and the Ningxia Islamic Institute, with the aim of cultivating a group of talents who have mastered basic theoretical knowledge of ethnic religion, understand the Hui nationality and the history and current status of Islam, are able to adhere to the direction of religious Chinese, and resist the penetration of overseas religious thoughts.

Vatican will improve bishop agreement with Beijing to help reunite mainland China’s underground Catholic churches, envoy of Pope Francis says:

Cardinal Fernando Filoni, the prefect of the church’s Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples, said on a visit to Hong Kong the world must be patient and positive about the reintegration of the churches.

“The agreement is provisional only and we will improve it in the future,” Filoni said, after celebrating mass at a new chapel at the Caritas Institute of Higher Education in Tiu Keng Leng.

The cardinal’s remark came two days after Bishop Paul Meng Qinglu, the deputy chairman of Beijing-loyalist group the Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association, said the agreement reached by China and the Vatican in September would be reviewed in two years.

Interview: ‘I Have Never Cried so Much in my Life’ - RFA:

Recently, a video portraying a Uyghur child being quizzed on propaganda points about the Chinese “fatherland” in Mandarin Chinese surfaced on social media and, upon viewing it, Abdurahman immediately recognized the boy as his four-year-old son Abduleziz. He recently spoke to RFA’s Uyghur Service about the difficulties he has endured living in exile without knowing what has become of his family.

Chinese official insists no love for Dalai Lama in Tibet - AP:

The Dalai Lama hasn’t done a “single good thing” for Tibet since he left, Tibet Party Secretary Wu Yingjie said during a meeting of China’s ceremonial legislature.

The people of Tibet are instead “extremely grateful for the prosperity that the Communist Party has brought them,” he said.

Zhaxi Jiangcun, a Tibetan grass-roots delegate whom Wu called upon to speak, said as far as he knows “there is no such thing” as adoration for the Dalai Lama among Tibetans.

8. Progress in tough battle against pollution

Latest air pollution data ranks world’s cities worst to best - Greenpeace International:

In China: average concentrations in the cities in China fell by 12% from 2017 to 2018. Beijing ranks now as the 122nd most polluted city in the world in 2018.

But, as Lauri Myllyvirta of Greenpeace tweeted this morning:

Xi Jinping says revival of Chinese economy must not be bought at expense of the environment | South China Morning Post:

“Do not ever think about launching environmentally damaging projects for growth, or any attempt to breach the red line of ecological protection, even when we meet some difficulties in economic development,” state news agency Xinhua quoted Xi as saying.

“As the Chinese economy goes from high-speed growth to high-quality development, pollution prevention and environmental governance are important barriers to cross … We must grit our teeth, climb over this slope and pass this ridge,” the president said.

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Business, Economy, Finance And Trade

Chinese Stock Rally Triggers Short-Term Exhaustion Signal - Bloomberg More than 70 percent of Shanghai Composite Index members are now trading above their 200-day moving average, up from below 20 percent at the end of January, which has often marked an exhaustion point in past rallies, according to an analysis from Sundial founder Jason Goepfert. All six times this has happened in the last 17 years, the benchmark gauge has shown a negative return either one or two months later, he said.

Chinese stock surge fails to ignite broader markets rally | Reuters Benchmark indexes in China rose between 1-2 percent after China’s state planner said the government would implement measures to further boost domestic consumption to counter the impact of a slowing economy. Taking into account Wednesday’s gains, Shanghai Composite Index has now gained a quarter so far this year but is still down more than 13 percent from January 2018 as fears of a wider slowdown in the economy have dogged sentiment.

Even the dogs of the stock market are surging, according to Hao Hong, Head of Research and Strategy at BOCOM International Securities:

China’s Most-Indebted City in Hot Water Over Loan Plan - Caixin Proposals to help resolve the financial problems of Zhenjiang, a city in Jiangsu province that’s one of the most indebted in China, has aroused the ire of the Ministry of Finance as it risks running foul of regulatory efforts to clean up the mountain of on- and off-the-books borrowing by local governments. The furor was triggered by a March 4 website statement from the Jiangsu branch of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection that implied the Ministry of Finance had approved a debt disposal plan to defuse the growing risks stemming from the Zhenjiang local government’s massive debts.

Chart of the Day: Wave of Bond Defaults Continues in 2019 - Caixin So far this year, at least 15 privately owned companies — five of which are listed and one that has delisted — have defaulted on 19 bond payments worth tens of billions of yuan, according to Caixin’s calculations based on data from financial data provider Hithink RoyalFlush Info.

Chinese Tesla rival Nio abandons plans to build its own factory · TechNode Electric vehicle (EV) manufacturer Nio has abandoned plans to build a manufacturing plant in Shanghai, while reporting losses of $1.4 billion in 2018. The company said on Tuesday that it would focus on the “joint manufacturing model in the long-term.”

Chinese online retailers slash iPhone prices for second time this year | Reuters Several electronics vendors announced discounts on iPhone devices this week, following mass discounts in January just before Apple reported sinking sales in China. Gadget retailer Suning.Com Co Ltd said it would slash the price of the iPhone XS by as much as 1,000 yuan ($148.95) from its official price. Suning had lowered the prices of other iPhone models in January along with other retailers, but those cuts excluded the iPhone XS.

HNA Plans to Drop Defamation Suit Against Exiled Businessman Guo Wengui - WSJ $$ Mr. Guo had said that HNA’s shareholders included Yao Qing, a nephew of Wang Qishan, then the party’s top anticorruption official, and said that Mr. Wang was the true holder of his nephew’s stake...HNA’s lawyers said in a filing in New York state court on Monday that Mr. Guo’s comments “are no longer of public concern” and the company “has concluded that this action unnecessarily distracts from its key business priorities,” which include selling noncore assets and lowering its debt burden. The lawyers asked a judge to approve a motion to drop the complaint, which was filed in August 2017.

China’s property developers binge on record dollar debt | Financial Times $$ Chinese property developers have rushed back to the market for US dollar debt in the first two months of the year, more than doubling issuance to a record $19bn while stoking unease over rising leverage.

Entrepreneur Chu Shijian, China’s ‘tobacco king’, dies at 91 | South China Morning Post Chu, who made his name by turning a small, local cigarette factory into a thriving national tobacco giant in the 1980s and 1990s, ended his days as the head of an orange-growing empire in a remote, mountainous area of Yunnan province, southwest China. Chu Oranges are famous throughout the country and still today sell at a premium over competitors’ fruit. In between his two successful business enterprises, Chu’s life was turbulent. His career as a star manager of a state-owned tobacco company ended in disgrace when he was sentenced to life imprisonment in 1999 for corruption. His wife and only daughter were also jailed, and his daughter died shortly afterwards in prison.

China's growth could plummet to 2%: Capital Economics - CNBC Growth in China could plummet to 2 percent over the next decade — from the expected 6.0 to 6.5 percent target this year, predicted Capital's Chief Asia Economist Mark Williams. "China's time as an emerging markets outperformer is ending," said Williams, at the Capital Economics annual conference in Singapore on Tuesday. He added that the estimated 2 percent growth is a "long way" from the 5 to 6 percent expected by the International Monetary Fund for the next decade.

Tesla's Shanghai assembly plant to be completed in May: government official | Reuters Chen Mingbo made the comments on the sidelines of an annual parliamentary meeting in Beijing, adding that part of the facility’s production line would be put into operation by the end of the year.

Administrative approval items further canceled or delegated - Approvals of overall plans for developing petroleum and natural gas with foreign companies, and those of transmission network construction projects, as well as 23 other kinds of administrative permits, will be scrapped. Six approval items will be delegated to authorities at lower levels. For example, the issuance of permits for passenger vessel business and shipping of dangerous bulk liquid cargo between the mainland and Hong Kong and Macao will be delegated from the Ministry of Transport to provincial transport departments.

Politics, Law And Ideology

Suspect Confessions | China Media Project In March 2018, with the merger of three broadcast networks, China National Radio (中央人民广播电台), China Central Television (中央电视台) and China Radio International (中国国际广播电台), China had its total number of central-level news units (中央媒体单位) — meaning those directly under the leadership of the Central Propaganda Department of the Chinese Communist Party — reduced from 18 to 16. In May 2018, the upgrade of the People’s Consultative News (人民政协报) brought the number of central-level news units back up to 17. With the elevation of Study Times, China has returned to a new era of (18 central media).

Lhasa uses facial recognition, big data analysis in new taxies - Global Times The technology is a combination of biological recognition, big data analysis and other technologies, which can accurately process the drivers' information and bio information...Drivers scan their face towards the camera to sign up before starting the car and the system would recognize if the drivers match the car; if not, the alarm in the back-stage department would sound off.

微视频《人民代表习近平履职记》_全国两会_环球网 CCTV has put out a short video on "People's Representative" Xi Jinping, leading just about every major news site

Foreign and Military Affairs

China 'threatens' Turkey, shuts down consulate, over Uighur criticism - TheNewArab China has threatened Turkey with 'economic' consequences if it keeps criticising Beijing’s treatment of Uighur Muslims in its far western Xinjiang region, days after the Chinese government shut down its general consulate in Turkey’s third biggest city in an apparent punitive move.

Bachelet presses China for U.N. access to Xinjiang's Uighurs | Reuters United Nations human rights chief Michelle Bachelet said on Wednesday that she is seeking access to China to verify continuing reports of disappearances and arbitrary detentions, particularly in the Xinjiang Uighur autonomous region.

China fishing ‘milita’ moves on Philippines’ Thitu Island sandbars There’s a new name in the South China Sea’s growing list of flashpoints: Thitu Island. While nowhere near the scale of Fiery Cross or Mischief Reefs, this island and bundle of low-lying sandbars off the Philippines coast is just as significant. It’s a prosperous fishing spot. And it’s another potential territorial marker in the hotly contested international waterway. Now, China has physically staked its claim over the sandbars that surround it. Filipino fishermen say they are being driven away from their traditional fishing grounds, by Chinese boats.

Bolton warns North Korea of more sanctions if it doesn’t budge on nuclear program - U.S. - Stripes “If they’re not willing to do it, President Trump has been very clear they’re not getting relief from the crushing economic sanctions that have been imposed on them,” Bolton told the Fox Business Network on Tuesday evening. “And we’ll look at ramping those sanctions up, in fact.”

Japan and Taiwan meet for annual bilateral fishery talks in Tokyo | Taiwan News At the seventh annual meeting in March 2018, the two sides agreed to some revisions concerning the 2013 pact, which detailed a shared usage agreement for waters surrounding the contested Dioayutai Islands (called the Senkaku Islands in Japan.) China, which also claims the Diaoyutai Islands, reportedly sent a Coast Guard vessel to survey the largest feature of the island chain, Uotsurijima, on Saturday morning, as a warning message to both Taiwan and Japan ahead of the talks

China sends Vice Foreign Minister to Pak to discuss Indo-Pak tensions | The Week China said Wednesday that it has despatched Vice Foreign Minister Kong Xuanyou to Islamabad to discuss the Indo-Pak tensions following the Pulwama terrorist attack. "He (Kong) is now visiting Pakistan. He is in communication with Pakistan on the India-Pakistan situation," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang told a media briefing here

Opinion | How Australia Became the Defamation Capital of the World - The New York Times reporters working on China-related stories feel the chill more deeply. One reporter described “unbelievable” levels of vetting to me, while another admitted to fearing being seen as a “troublemaker” in the newsroom because of the level of legal attention their China stories receive. And many of the best and most experienced Australian reporters on China are effectively muzzled from speaking out about the effect of the defamation laws because they are already involved in such lawsuits.

Chinese aircraft carriers are back home after sea trials and ship-shape for PLA Navy anniversary review, photos show | South China Morning Post Military analysts expected the two warships to take part in a review on April 23 in the Yellow Sea off Qingdao to mark the PLA Navy’s 70th anniversary and show off China’s growing naval power. On Sunday, Israeli satellite image company ISI released a photo, taken on March 1, that showed the Liaoning at Qingdao naval base.

US-China trade war suspicions have had chilling effect on Beijing’s Thousand Talents Plan | South China Morning Post Liu Yi, a delegate at the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, said the Thousand Talents Plan no longer held the appeal for Beijing it once did. “We do not talk much about the TTP now,” said Liu, a University of Wisconsin-Madison graduate who was a participant in the plan, said on Wednesday in Beijing.

Can We Live with China? 2019 Neuhauser Memorial Lecture with Susan Thornton by Harvard Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies | Free Listening on SoundCloud Susan Thornton was Acting Assistant Secretary for East Asian and Pacific Affairs at the Department of State during the first 18 months of the Trump administration

Step Up or Be Overrun: China’s Challenge for the Pacific - The Little Red Podcast - Graeme and Louisa are joined by Vanuatu’s Foreign Minister Ralph Regenvanu, Secretary-General of the Pacific Islands Forum Dame Meg Taylor, as well as Pacific academics Patrick Matbob and Transform Aquora and former Chinese diplomat, Denghua Zhang.

China arrests its chief of submarine research because he ‘obtained Canadian nationality’ | Ottawa Citizen Adding another strange wrinkle to Canada-China relations, a Chinese official who oversaw research on his country’s burgeoning naval-submarine fleet has been placed under arrest in China and accused of illegally obtaining Canadian citizenship. Bu Jianjie, who reportedly spent time as a visiting scholar at two Ontario universities in the mid-1990s, has also been charged with various corruption-related crimes and expelled from the Communist party

S. Korea proposes rain project with China to clean Seoul air - AP Seoul has been struggling to tackle the rise in air pollution that experts have linked to China’s massive industrial activity and emissions from South Korean cars. Fine dust levels in South Korea have hit new highs over the past week, prompting people to wear masks while commuting under thick-gray skies that online users have compared to scenes from the movie “Wall-E.”

China's foreign aid to contribute to building a community with shared future for mankind - People's Daily Online China will take new responsibilities and make new accomplishments in its foreign aid in the new era, making contributions to the building of a community with shared future for mankind, said Wang Xiaotao, head of China International Development Cooperation Agency (CIDCA).


Defense bureau to tackle propaganda from China - Taipei Times In the past, videos published by the military were handled by the Military News Agency and the Youth Daily News, which also handled interviews and provided source material to the Presidential Office and the National Security Council, the bureau said. However, with the establishment of the new team, those responsibilities will all be amalgamated under one group, which would fall under the administration of the bureau’s psychological warfare division, it said.

What Happened to Taiwan’s Support for Same-Sex Marriage? – Asia Dialogue Taiwan garnered international attention in May 2017 when the Constitutional Court declared that it was unconstitutional for the Civil Code to limit marriage to heterosexual couples. In the same ruling, the Court then imposed a two-year deadline for the Legislative Yuan to amend the Civil Code. Despite expectations that Taiwan would be the first country in Asia to legalize same-sex marriage, remarkably little progress has been made.

Premier favors tighter screening of visits by Chinese officials | CNA NEWS Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) said Tuesday that he is in favor of imposing tighter screening for officials from China who apply to visit Taiwan. In addition, Chinese officials going beyond the stated reason for their visits, such as those caught engaging in pro-Beijing propaganda that infringes upon Taiwan's interests, "will not be allowed into the country again," Su said at a legislative hearing in Taipei.

Tech And Media

Bytedance launches external search in Jinri Toutiao, creeps into Baidu territory · TechNode The new search feature puts parent company Bytedance in direct competition with Baidu, which dominated the Chinese search engine landscape since Google’s exit in 2010. 

China Mobile to improve internet speed, cut fees - Xinhua The telecom giant will upgrade its broadband network to 1,000 Mbps in 70 percent of the urban areas of the country and precisely expand its 4G network to enhance its indoor coverage and improve the user experience, said a source of the company. For small and medium-sized enterprises, the average broadband service cost will be further cut by an extra 15 percent this year, while the average mobile internet service charge will see a decrease of at least 20 percent, said the source.

How to Use TikTok: Tips for New Users | WIRED 

Society, Art, Sports, Culture And History

Aussie Violinists Say Chinese Celebs Fiddled With the Truth - Sixth Tone Self-described “classical music detectives” Brett Yang and Eddy Chen, who perform together as TwoSet Violin, have accused Chinese stars Ju Jingyi and Ma Xueyang of giving a “fake performance” during a television show last year. 

Energy, Environment, Science And Health

In China First, Hainan Vows to Ban Oil-Fueled Vehicles - Sixth Tone According to a development plan released Tuesday by the provincial government, Hainan will ensure that all private vehicles are running on clean energy by the end of 2030. 


Chinese student's 17-hour study schedule goes viral | South China Morning Post 

Food And Travel

Beijing by Foot Beijing by Foot leads historical walking tours and educational programs exploring the famous sites and hidden byways of Beijing.