Outbreak; United States Strategic Framework for the Indo-Pacific; Tesla; PBoC signals
Commentary today is embedded in several of the essential eight items below. I also have included a couple of pages from a China-related draft presidential order in item 3 that may be of interest, even if I do not expect it will be signed in these chaotic remaining days of the Trump Administration.
Today’s Essential Eight items:
“United States Strategic Framework for the Indo-Pacific” declassified
Another signal the PBoC trying to thread the monetary policy needle
Sinovac’s confusing efficacy data
Looking for Uighur faces
Thanks for reading.
The Essential Eight
1. The Outbreak
The National Health Commission said on Wednesday that a total of 115 new confirmed cases were reported in the Chinese mainland compared with 55 a day earlier. This was the highest daily increase since July 30.
The commission said 107 of the new cases were local infections and eight are from overseas. The domestic cases were reported in northern and northeastern China: 90 in Hebei Province, 16 in Heilongjiang Province and one in Shanxi Province.
According to the Jilin government, a total of five confirmed COVID cases took the same train that went from Heilongjiang to Beijing earlier this month. The five were in the same cabinet and they got off the train in Changchun, Jilin.
Evidence showed that the virus spread silently among locals for some time in Hebei before being detected, demonstrating the great challenges posed by silent carriers, experts reached by the Global Times warned.
China has seen multiple areas report both sporadic cases and clusters of infections, said Mi Feng, spokesperson for the National Health Commission, noting that the latest resurgence of the virus is characterized by its long duration and its spread to a wide range of regions.
Mi said at a press conference that there are more rural cases and affected elderly people during this wave. Community and intergenerational transmission have also been observed in some areas.
With the 2021 Spring Festival travel rush, or "chunyun" drawing near, China is expected to see increasing numbers of international and inter-provincial travellers.
At present, all patients in Shijiazhuang are concentrated in Hebei Chest Hospital and Shijiazhuang People's Hospital, with a total of 2400 beds. All patients in Xingtai were concentrated in Xingtai Second Hospital, with 510 beds. The confirmed cases in Langfang have been transferred to the Third People's Hospital of Langfang for centralized treatment.
"The National Health and Health Commission and relevant departments have established a county and village three-level command system to compact the territorial responsibility for epidemic prevention and control, strictly implement various epidemic prevention and control measures, do a good job in following up with people returning home and grid management of key personnel, and improve the awareness of township hospitals, village clinics and individual clinics on the discovery and reporting of COVID-19 epidemic"
The official outlined the epidemiological investigation results of a case discovered in late December, revealing that the patient was likely infected after touching the contaminated outer package of steamed buns.
The first case on the infection chain was a person returning from Hong Kong, who showed symptoms and was confirmed to be infected after completing quarantine on December 12.
The person, after leaving the quarantine center, stayed in a hotel in Chaoyang district and infected two employees, cases 2 and 3, at a steamed bun shop in the same building.
Case 4 did not show direct contact with them, but his father had been to the shop and bought some steamed buns. The patient had touched the packages.
Northeast China’s Heilongjiang Province reported 40 new confirmed COVID-19 cases and 50 asymptomatic infections as of 7 pm Wednesday and the locked-down Wangkui county in the city of Suihua was adjusted as a medium-risk area, with a township being adjusted to a high-risk area, the local health authority announced on Wednesday night.
The virus strain in Suihua is the same as the strain in the latest outbreak in Dalian, Northeast China’s Liaoning Province, local official said at a press conference.
The outbreak in Dalian was likely caused by coronavirus-contaminated imported frozen products, a Dalian official said at Monday’s press conference
After health authorities announced that a COVID19 carrier in Hebei once travelled to the Moutai factory in Zunyi earlier this month, the Moutai company told all its employees to stay where they are and not to leave the town
NDRC said during the spring festival this year travelers will use a nation-wide uniformed QR code to show their travel history and their eligibility for travel. Multiple local governments have developed their own QR codes in the past year. Travelers have complained about the inconvenience of jumping from one app to the other.
2. “United States Strategic Framework for the Indo-Pacific” declassified
The decision by the US National Security Advisor to declassify the “United States Strategic Framework for the Indo-Pacific” 21 years ahead of the scheduled date is interesting.
There has been a strategy since late 2017. You can disagree with aspects of it, and question some of the implementation, but with this transparency we get to see what has been driving the US government’s approach to China and the region.
My understanding is that one purpose of the release was to reassure allies in the region nervous about the incoming administration’s China and Indo-Pacific policies.
Making it public may also make it harder for the incoming administration to make sudden shifts, though given how the massive bureaucracy reoriented to this strategy it is going to be hard to change course regardless until is replaced with a new one, and new sets of implementation documents. Expect a lot of pushback from Congress if the new administration tries to change the fundamental thrust of this strategy.
Today, the White House is publishing the recently declassified United States Strategic Framework for the Indo-Pacific. For the last 3 years, this document has provided overarching strategic guidance for implementing the 2017 National Security Strategy within the world’s most populous and economically dynamic region. Approved in February 2018 for implementation across Executive Branch departments and agencies, the document is being released to communicate to the American people and to our allies and partners, the enduring commitment of the United States to keeping the Indo-Pacific region free and open long into the future.
Here is the "US Strategic Framework for the Indo-Pacific" (PDF) Some highlights:
Australia's experience with China strongly influenced the drafting of the 2018 Indo-Pacific strategy.
"In many ways they were ahead of the curve in understanding influence operations and interference in domestic systems," one senior U.S. official told me. "They were pioneers and we have to give a lot of credit to Australia."
The official singled out former Australian senior intelligence advisor John Garnaut for praise, and said a 2017 report on Chinese influence operations by New Zealand-based scholar Anne-Marie Brady had also influenced the U.S. strategy.
The American framework bears the fingerprints not only of Washington’s December 2017 National security strategy but Tokyo’s 2016 ‘free and open Indo-Pacific’ policy and Canberra’s 2017 initiatives, notably the Turnbull government’s foreign policy white paper and its early action against Chinese interference and espionage...
Sceptical observers may well say that publishing the strategy now, amid a troubled transition, is an obvious play for policy continuity. This is in light of concerns that a Biden administration may not yet be committed to challenging China’s bid for dominance—or indeed to the idea of the Indo-Pacific, at least in its ‘free and open’ variant, as a rallying cry for regional solidarity against coercive Chinese power.
But it’s surely no bad thing to salvage the few achievements of an otherwise grim era in American foreign policy, while laying down some markers for the incoming administration.
Indeed, if the intent all along was to amplify American effectiveness by respecting and uniting allies, then a rounded 2020s evolution of the 2018 Indo-Pacific strategy will stand a significantly better chance of success under Biden than it would have under a second Trump term.
Xinhua News Agency: The U.S. government reportedly declassified 30 years earlier than normal an Indo-Pacific strategy, which contains elements including defending Taiwan, accelerating India’s rise as a counterbalance to China and maintain U.S. dominance in the region. Do you have any comment?
Zhao Lijian: Some U.S. politicians want to leave behind a “legacy” by declassifying the document, but its content only serves to expose the malign intention of the United States to use its Indo-Pacific strategy to suppress and contain China and undermine regional peace and stability. In essence, this is a strategy of hegemony. I can point out at least three major mistakes in it.
First, it highlights the Cold War mentality and military confrontation, which goes against the mutually-beneficial spirit of regional cooperation, runs counter to regional people’s aspiration for peace, stability and development, and threatens regional prospects of peace and development. As such, it should rightly be thrown into the dustbin of history. The U.S. side is obsessed with ganging up, forming small cliques and resorting to despicable means such as wedge-driving, which fully exposed its true face as a trouble-maker undermining regional peace, stability, solidarity and cooperation. We believe countries in the region are clear-headed and vigilant enough not to be hijacked onto the U.S. chariot or be used as a tool to maintain U.S. hegemony.
Second, it is a serious breach of the U.S. government’s solemn commitment on Taiwan to China. There is but one China in the world, and the Taiwan region is an inalienable part of the Chinese territory. China has the determination, confidence and capability to foil any foreign interference and “Taiwan independence” separatist plots. We will resolutely defend our sovereignty and territorial integrity. All U.S. attempts to contain China with Taiwan are futile. We urge the United States to fully recognize the highly sensitive nature of the Taiwan question, strictly observe the one-China principle and the three China-U.S. joint communiqués, prudently and properly handle Taiwan-related matters, not to send wrong signals to "Taiwan independence" separatist forces and not to go further down the dangerous and wrong path to avoid seriously undermining peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait and China-U.S. relations.
Third, it maliciously distorts China’s neighborhood diplomacy and hypes up the so-called “China threat”. However, lies will always be lies and justice will prevail. China is committed to the path of peaceful development and a defense policy that is defensive in nature. We are a builder of world peace, contributor to global development and guardian of international order. As a responsible member of the Asia-Pacific, China actively practices a neighborhood diplomacy of amity, sincerity, mutual benefit and inclusiveness, making important contributions to regional peace, stability and prosperity. Regional countries all bear witness to this.
The US Treasury has blocked an attempt by the Pentagon and state department to put some of China’s largest tech companies on a blacklist that would have banned US investors from holding their stock.
The Pentagon and state department had pushed hard to add Alibaba, Tencent, and Baidu to a list of Chinese companies that the defence department alleges has links to the Chinese military.
But according to three people familiar with the situation, Steven Mnuchin, the Treasury secretary, won a fight that pitted him against Mike Pompeo, the hawkish secretary of state, and Chris Miller, the defence secretary.
Comment: I have obtained a draft of a Presidential order that has been under consideration but that now looks unlikely to be signed. It is interesting I for what it shows about how people in the US government are trying to redefine the thresholds for PRC government control and influence over PRC commercial and non-commercial entities.
It underscores the massive difficulties the Biden team is inheriting—more what China has become under Xi than what Trump has done.
I would not be surprised if the Congress decides to institutionalize some or all of the redefinitions in this draft into US law, which would require adjustments to CFIUS, FARA and other regimes. Here are the first couple of pages:
This piece last year does a good job of examining how state capitalism has evolved - Jude Blanchette | From “China Inc.” to “CCP Inc.”: A New Paradigm for Chinese State Capitalism - China Leadership Monitor
CCP General Secretary Xi Jinping has overseen a significant transformation of China’s domestic economic system, undergirded by important new reforms that have drastically expanded the reach of the Chinese state into the economy and Chinese firms. This has included the integration of CCP organizations into public and private firms, the regulatory shift of SASAC from “managing enterprises” to “managing capital,” and the role of government guidance funds in driving industrial policy. The overall change in China’s economic and regulatory structure – and the political control wielded by the CCP – combined with the Xi era blending of the public and private, and market and planning, is of such a proportion that it marks a new paradigm in China’s development trajectory.
Joe Biden is poised to name Kurt Campbell, a veteran foreign policy expert, to serve in the newly created role of Asia tsar...
One person familiar with the decision said it was partly taken because of the need to better integrate China policy across different government agencies with a veteran Asia expert at the helm. The person said Mr Biden recognised that China was an issue that every government agency — not just the traditional foreign policy, defence and economic-related departments — would have to grapple with more than in the past...
“Donald Trump himself strained virtually every element of the region’s operating system,” Mr Campbell wrote with Rush Doshi, a China expert who is expected to be named a China director at the National Security Council.
Campbell will join the administration with the title of “Indo-Pacific coordinator,” a job that will give him broad management over the NSC directorates that cover various parts of Asia and China-related issues, several Biden transition officials told me. Early reports called this position an “Asia czar,” but the Biden team doesn’t like that term. Campbell will report directly to incoming national security adviser Jake Sullivan, officials said. The Biden NSC will have several of these “coordinators,” who will have more authority than the “senior directors” below them.
From yesterday’s Sinocism: “There is talk that Mr. Campbell will join Biden's National Security Council as "Asia Czar", and I would not be surprised if Mr. Doshi also joins the NSC. So this article is worth reading for more clues as to what Biden's Asia and China policies may look like” - How America Can Shore Up Asian Order | Foreign Affairs - Kurt Campbell and Rush Doshi “
The move, another step by the Trump Administration in its final days to impose stiff economic penalties on China, applies to raw fibers, apparel and textiles made from Xinjiang-grown cotton, as well as tomato-based food products and seeds from the region. The ban, knows as a withhold release order, also applies to products processed or manufactured in third countries, CBP officials told a news briefing.
A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson on Wednesday lambasted Britain and Canada for imposing restrictions on Xinjiang imports, urging them to immediately rectify their wrong decisions and stop interfering in China's internal affairs.
Spokesperson Zhao Lijian's remarks came after the two countries have reportedly decided to ban the import of goods from Xinjiang citing the so-called use of "forced labor."
Li Yunlong of central party school wrote on page 3 of the People’s Daily saying that the riot in DC last week “ends the myth of American democracy”. He wrote that the chaos suggests the US political system fails to secure a peaceful power transition, fails to bring political stability, fails to effectively govern, fails to ensure political participation, and fails to give equal political rights to the American people.
4. Another signal the PBoC trying to thread the monetary policy needle
In a lengthy essay this week, Sun Guofeng, a central bank official responsible for its monetary policies, has warned against excessively expansive monetary measures that could lead to an overheating economy and inflation. Noting that the Chinese economy has increasingly relied on new engines such as innovation, he says the country must refrain from “implementing the kind of ‘overflooding’ (policies) to prevent a distorted structure and asset bubbles, as well as avoid severe inflation and currency depreciation, but risks stemming from a shrunken credit lending should also be avoided.”
On the evening of January 13, the official account of the central bank published an article entitled "Improving the Framework of Modern Monetary Policy" by Sun Guofeng, Director of the Monetary Policy Department of the Central Bank....As our country shifts to a high-quality development stage, the potential growth rate is on a downward trend. If we continue to set the numeric target for the growth rate of M2 and social financing based on the actual value of the past, it may lead to a deviation between money and credit and economic operations, resulting in excessive easing and a situation not conducive to stabilizing the macro leverage ratio.
5. Hong Kong
Beijing is mulling whether to ban British National (Overseas) passport holders in Hong Kong from public office in retaliation over London’s decision to offer them a visa path to the right of abode, the Post has learned.
Officials were divided, however, on whether they should also call for the more drastic step of denying Hongkongers with such BN(O) status the right to vote in the city.
These proposals are believed to be in a suite of Hong Kong issues to be discussed when China’s top legislative body meets next week. But a final decision may not be made or announced even after the session, sources said.
Comment: An interesting story on how Ted Hui got to Denmark. He got out, but will likely be much harder for anyone in a similar situation to leave - A Hong Kong Dissident’s Daring Escape - WSJ $$
‘We say the Chinese Communist Party got cheated by two Danish boys,” says Thomas Rohden, 25. Last month, he and his friend Anders Storgaard, 26, masterminded a plan to sneak a dissident out of Hong Kong. For pulling off a daring feat, they may face consequences that reveal much about Beijing’s global ambitions.
Messrs. Rohden and Storgaard belong to opposing political parties, but both are members of the Danish China Critical Society, a group focused on the Communist Party’s human-rights abuses...
Messrs. Rohden and Storgaard contacted their friend after he was released on bail. Mr. Hui responded with a strange suggestion. As a former member of the Legislative Council’s Environmental Affairs Panel, he wanted to come to Denmark to talk about climate change. Beijing purports to care about the environment, and Mr. Storgaard and Mr. Rohden intuited this might be a chance for Mr. Hui to escape. So they made an audacious plan: to stage a fake climate conference in Copenhagen in early December, invite their friend, and get him to safety.
6. Sinovac’s confusing efficacy data
Let’s hope this works, the world needs it. It looks possible that it works better than the headline suggests but that Sinovac has done a horrible job communicating.
In the third in a series of conflicting announcements about a Chinese-made COVID-19 vaccine candidate, Brazilian researchers reported today that the results of their efficacy trial were less impressive than they claimed last week. When analyzed by stricter criteria than used earlier, the vaccine’s efficacy against all forms of COVID-19, including mild cases, dropped from about 78% to 50%.
The vaccine still appeared to give nearly 100% protection against disease severe enough to require hospitalization, although the trial amassed too few of those cases for that result to reach statistical significance. Commenting at the press conference today, microbiologist Natália Pasternak Taschner, president of the Question of Science Institute, a Brazilian nonprofit that aims to support public policy based on scientific evidence, said it was a “clear and clean study” and stressed that she wants the vaccine for herself and her parents. “We do not need to say this is the best vaccine in the world,” said Pasternak, who was not involved with the trial. “We have to say that this is our vaccine and it is a good vaccine to start the process of pandemic control.”
The vaccine was just 50.4% effective at preventing symptomatic infections in the Brazilian trial, including data on “very mild” cases, researchers said on Tuesday.
Last week, they said the vaccine, called CoronaVac, showed 78% efficacy against “mild-to-severe” cases.
The news prompted Malaysia and Singapore, which have purchase agreements with Sinovac, to say on Wednesday that they would seek more data from the Chinese firm on efficacy rates before they approved and bought supplies.
“These Phase III clinical trial results are sufficient to prove that CoronaVac vaccine’s safety and effectiveness are good around the world,” Sinovac Biotech Chairman Yin Weidong told a news conference.
Chinese vaccine developer Sinovac Biotech Ltd. said that the low efficacy rate of 50.38% from its final-stage trial in Brazil is due to trial participants being medical workers facing a high risk of contracting Covid-19.
In contrast, western vaccines like that developed by Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE were tested among volunteers including people from the general population, some of whom were less exposed to the virus in their daily lives compared to medical workers.
A unit of Sinovac Biotech could double annual production capacity of its CoronaVac COVID-19 vaccine to 1 billion doses by February, the group’s chairman said on Wednesday
7. Tesla China
Tesla’s rapid return to normal was consistent with the relationship the electric vehicle maker has enjoyed with the Chinese state since 2018, when it announced plans to build the Shanghai plant. Again and again, it has extracted perks other international companies have struggled to obtain, including tax breaks, cheap loans, permission to wholly own its domestic operations, and assistance constructing a vast facility at astonishing speed. Support from the government has helped Tesla turn China into its most important market outside the U.S. The Model 3 is now among the bestselling EVs in the world’s most populous country, and in Tesla’s most recent earnings report, China accounted for about a fifth of revenue—a performance that helped make Elon Musk the world’s richest man this month. Perhaps most crucially, the company is moving closer to the heart of the frenetic Chinese technology sector than almost any foreign rival. Tesla China is more than a branch plant; it’s intended to do original research and development work, allowing it to hire some of the country’s brightest technical minds and keep them away from potential competitors...
In mid-2019 the company had begun an overhaul of its Chinese business, previously part of an operating unit for the Asia-Pacific region. Now, Tesla China would be an independent division reporting directly to the U.S. headquarters. Tom Zhu, a Chinese-born executive who’d been overseeing construction in Shanghai, was put in charge, and he set about making the unit more autonomous and distinct from the rest of Tesla...
The reorganization also increased the power of Grace Tao, a former correspondent for state-controlled China Central Television who leads communications and government affairs. Tao made little secret, the employees say, that her priority was to ensure Tesla retained support from the top echelon of the Chinese state...
Veterans of the Chinese car industry, who’ve watched world-leading companies such as Volkswagen and Toyota struggle for decades to achieve what Musk has managed in only a few years, are impressed with how skillfully he’s navigated the mainland system. Their praise is qualified by a key caveat, though. “Elon’s played the game very well,” says Bill Russo, a former Chrysler executive who’s now the CEO of Automobility Ltd., a Shanghai-based consultant. “But Tesla got this because it was in China’s interest for Tesla to have it.”
Tesla sold 114,000 of its earlier domestic Model 3 cars in the first 11 months of 2020, according to the China Passenger Car Association. That was far more than its nearest Chinese competitors...
It has had a disruptive impact on the whole supply chain, buoying companies that are vital to the firm’s dramatic growth. The market value of electric car battery-maker Contemporary Amperex Technology Co. Ltd. (CATL) is now close to 950 billion yuan, eclipsing even state oil and gas behemoth PetroChina Co. Ltd...
Tesla has made Chinese NEV-makers nervous. Sources in the industry, who Caixin granted anonymity because they were criticizing government policy, grumbled that subsidies had been withdrawn too quickly and that Tesla was given full cry too early, allowing the firm to reap the benefits of the shakeup.
PingWest has found that the insanely high production volume has not been the direct result of the technological advancement that Tesla is known for, but rather the same old high-intensity manual labor that still plagues many industries inside China. Such high-intensity production soon wore out the vision that many workers in Tesla's Shanghai factory once had towards their jobs and the company. Simultaneously, the rapidly shrinking benefits and increasingly harsh working conditions eventually made many had enough.
8. Looking for Uighur faces
IPVM also discovered references to Uighur people in patents filed by the Chinese artificial-intelligence company Sensetime and image-recognition specialist Megvii.
Sensetime's filing, from July 2019, discusses ways facial-recognition software could be used for more efficient "security protection", such as searching for "a middle-aged Uighur with sunglasses and a beard" or a Uighur person wearing a mask.
A Sensetime spokeswoman said the references were "regrettable".
"We understand the importance of our responsibilities, which is why we began to develop our AI Code of Ethics in mid-2019," she said, adding the patent had predated this code.
IPVM has found that Huawei, Megvii, and several other PRC tech companies have filed patents in China for various devices and systems that include Uyghur and ethnic minority detection...
In a July 2018 patent application jointly authored by Huawei and the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) for the "identification of pedestrian attributes", Uyghurs are referenced as one "race" that "can be" detected in the "target" pedestrian:
Megvii filed for an initial public offering in Hong Kong in August 2019, but reportedly allowed the application to lapse after the US Department of Commerce added the firm in October 2019 to its so-called Entity List of firms it claims pose a threat to US national security.
Last June the company said it had not withdrawn its Hong Kong IPO plan, but added that it was also considering Shanghai’s Star Market because the board supports core technology companies to go public and offers great opportunities for such firms to grow.
"My intent in agreeing to provide strategic advice to the company was based on my desire to help make them better in every way and preserve American jobs," Boxer said in a statement to Axios. "However, due to the intense response to my registration, I have determined that my continued involvement has become a negative distraction for the effort so I will be deregistering."
Business, Economy and Trade
China Tightens Oversight of Personal Data Collection as Privacy Concerns Mount-Caixin Amid growing concern in China over the use and abuse of personal data, the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) has proposed new regulations to tighten oversight of businesses that collect personal and corporate credit information, vowing to improve data privacy protection as demand for such services surges. A draft of the rules (link in Chinese) published on Monday, builds on a decision by the State Council at a Nov. 25 meeting to encourage the credit reporting system and crack down on malpractice as part of a broader policy to promote the development of the system. The draft will be open for public feedback until Feb. 10.
We won’t take your coal, says Beijing - The Australian Beijing has instructed the owners of more than $1bn of banned Australian coal to find new buyers outside China, as President Xi Jinping’s administration scuttles the $14bn export trade and ramps up pressure on the Morrison government. The Australian has learned that Beijing authorities have recently made clear to the owners of nearly 8 million tonnes of Australian coal floating on 73 ships that their cargo will not be unloaded in China. Beijing’s decision will worsen the humanitarian crisis for the 1500 sailors on board, most of whom have been stranded off the Chinese coast since June.
Wolf culture“: How Huawei controls its employees in Europe Former employees accuse Huawei of discrimination. How massively the company interferes in their private lives and how it keeps its staff in line is revealed by internal documents and covert audio recordings that netzpolitik.org and the media partners of The Signals Network have analysed.
Lenovo Stock Finally Comes Home After Two Decades Abroad - Caixin Leading global PC-maker Lenovo Group Ltd. announced a plan to list on Shanghai’s Nasdaq-style STAR Market, fulfilling a longtime wish to make its shares available on the Chinese mainland, where the company first started out more than three decades ago.
State Street-managed Hong Kong fund to resume investment in banned shares | Reuters A spokeswoman from the State Street Corp unit that manages the Tracker Fund of Hong Kong (TraHK) said the ETF, which tracks the benchmark Hang Seng Index, is able to invest in the securities because neither it nor manager State Street Global Advisors Asia are “U.S. persons”. In an exchange filing on Wednesday TraHK said it would resume buying the shares on Thursday
Yicai - Chinese Sportswear Brand Changes Name After Legal Battle With Michael Jordan Chinese sportswear maker Qiaodan Sports has changed its name after a court last year banned it from using the Qiao Dan trademark, bringing an eight-year legal dispute with US basketball superstar Michael Jordan to an end. The company is now called Zhongqiao Sports, according to business information platform Tianyancha.
USPTO report examines the impact of Chinese government subsidies and other non-market factors on the recent rise in patent and trademark filings in China | USPTO A new report published by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), “Trademarks and Patents in China: The Impact of Non-Market Factors on Filing Trends and IP Systems,” discusses how the high rate of Chinese patent and trademark filings may be influenced by government subsidies and other non-market factors. Evidence of this includes the low rate at which domestic inventors file for patent protection overseas, the low rate in which inventors commercialize patented inventions, and the high rate of bad-faith trademark filings and fraudulent trademark specimens.
Tencent Ramps Up Consumer Lending as Rival Ant Group Struggles — The Information $$ Tencent, already a force in payments through its hugely popular WeChat messaging app, is working with a consortium of investors to form a consumer finance company, a person familiar with the matter said. The previously unreported plans call for Tencent to invest nearly $230 million in the venture, the person said...The license the Tencent venture is seeking would allow it to tap additional sources such as the bond market and interbank loans to fund its consumer lending business and allow it to hold on to less registered capital. However, maximum loan sizes and interest rates would be lower than what Tencent could offer through microlending, analysts say. Tencent would become one of only about 30 licensed consumer finance companies in China
涉嫌严重违纪违法！中国进出口银行业务条线风险巡回工作组组长冯增兵被查 — 每日经济新闻 Feng Zengbin, an official charged with risk management at the Export-Import Bank of China, has been placed under investigation.
Politics and Law
中共中央党校：20年来，在中央党校举办的省部级主要领导干部研讨班都学了啥？ The central party school wrote an introduction on its WeChat about the school’s annual study session for “provincial and ministerial-level main cadres”. It said the study session is held every year since 1999 except in 2001, 2009 and 2020. The first session in 1999 was to study the financial crisis in Southeast Asia and the implication for China. Since then, the cadres would gather in the school every year to study the party central’s new policy or guideline.
A recent documentary made by the anti-corruption watchdog reveals more details on the downfall of Qin Guangrong, the former party boss of Yunnan province. It said Qin’s son was once an executive in China Huarong, and the son took bribes from a businessman who seek political favors from the father.
Rules issued on China's top disciplinary body's probes into major production accidents - Xinhua China's top disciplinary and supervisory body on Wednesday issued rules regarding investigations into officials' accountability in workplace accidents classified as "particularly serious.".."Particularly serious production accidents" refer to those that lead to the deaths of over 30 people, leave over 100 seriously injured, or result in direct economic losses of more than 100 million yuan (around 15.48 million U.S. dollars), according to a 2007 regulation on production safety.
China: Global Resistance to Deepening Repression | Human Rights Watch The Chinese government’s heightened repression in Hong Kong and Xinjiang are emblematic of the worsening human rights situation under President Xi Jinping, Human Rights Watch said today in its World Report 2021. These crackdowns, along with the authorities’ initial coverup of Covid-19, which contributed to the global pandemic, have generated growing international mobilization against Beijing’s rights record.
刘世锦：改革再突围_爱思想 Liu Shijin: Reform and Breakthrough.." At the beginning of 2020, the relevant decision-making department of the central government commissioned the China Economic 50 Forum to carry out a study on the reform of my country's economic and social key areas during the "14th Five-Year Plan" period and 2035. The forum secretariat asked me to organize it. Therefore, I invited including but not limited to forum members and scholars who have a certain research foundation on reform issues to form a research group."
RFA: Outspoken Chinese Rights Lawyer Who Defended One of Hong Kong 12 Loses License Authorities in the southwestern Chinese province of Sichuan on Wednesday suspended the license of rights attorney Lu Siwei at a disciplinary hearing, citing his public comments on the case of the 12 Hong Kong activists detained at sea in August 2020.
文化工作必须坚持正确政治方向--党史频道-中国共产党新闻网 Study Times - "Cultural work must adhere to the correct political direction-reading Deng Xiaoping's  "policy, task and direction of cultural work of the 129th division" 文化工作必须坚持正确政治方向
Foreign and Defense Affairs
China: Senior Conservatives call for reset of UK policy - BBC News The Conservative Human Rights Commission demanded a rethink in relations after hearing evidence of abuses from torture to slavery. It urged the UK to work with allies to respond to China's behaviour. Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has said the UK plays a "leading role" in highlighting abuses. The Commission made the recommendations in a new report endorsed by two former Conservative foreign secretaries, Lord Hague and Sir Malcolm Rifkind.
China’s high-speed, armed reconnaissance drone completes maiden flight | South China Morning Post WJ-700 takes to the skies at an undisclosed location two years after appearing as a prototype at Airshow China With a top speed of 700km/h, the unmanned aircraft is capable of carrying out a range of missions, including strikes on land and sea targets
China broadens influence as Fudan University opens a branch in EU | The Times Hungary is to host the first Chinese university campus in the European Union as the government of Viktor Orban seeks closer ties with Beijing. The move to host a European arm of the Fudan University, based in Shanghai, comes amid concerns about China’s influence over parts of central and eastern Europe via investment and academia
China demanded Meng Wanzhou’s return after bullets were sent to her Vancouver home, says security chief | South China Morning Post China’s consulate demanded the immediate return of Huawei Technologies executive Meng Wanzhou after “threatening letters” containing bullets were delivered to the home where she has been living in Vancouver under partial house arrest, the head of the private security team guarding her said in court on Wednesday.
Chinese Covid-19 Tests Were Pushed by Federal Agencies Despite Security Warnings - WSJ $$ BGI, China’s leading genetics company, enlisted a foundation tied to a former U.S. president and used a company linked to the United Arab Emirates’ top spy to promote its efforts. A prominent New York real-estate lawyer threatened to complain to California’s governor if state health officials there didn’t use BGI’s tests...While U.S. intelligence officials tried to keep BGI’s products out of the country, other parts of the government were doing the opposite. The FDA granted emergency-use authorization to BGI Americas, the company’s U.S. subsidiary, for its Covid-19 test.
EU will not ask China to sign forced labor ban before ratifying investment deal, says French minister – POLITICO The European Union will not wait for Beijing to adopt a ban on forced labor before ratifying its investment agreement with China, France's junior minister for trade Franck Riester said Tuesday. “We will sign, the European Union will sign [the investment agreement] with the provision noted in the text, which is to make sustained and continuous efforts for ratification” of an International Labour Organisation convention banning forced labor, Riester said. Asked by POLITICO whether France would insist on China banning forced labor before voting in the Council to approve the deal, Riester said it would not, but would instead insist on a “calendar” for Beijing’s reforms.
Hong Kong and Macao
外交部驻港公署：谢锋特派员离任回京 Xie Feng, the commissioner of the foreign ministry HK office, has finished his term and returned Beijing, the office said in a statement Wednesday.
葛珮帆：用 WeChat 處理保密資訊 棄用 WhatsApp 香港政界紛轉會 - 香港 unwire.hk Pro-Beijing HK lawmaker Elizabeth Quat told Mingpao that she worried about the security of WhatsApp, so she moved to use more of WeChat when communicating classified information'
Tech and Media
Huawei ramps up chip investment in fight for survival - Nikkei Asia Huawei, the world's largest telecom equipment provider and No. 2 smartphone maker, is engaging with several Chinese chipmakers for possible investment while also working to maintain its own chip design development, two people with knowledge of the matter told Nikkei Asia.
财新：拼多多删除用户手机相册内容，回应称系删除缓存 Pinduoduo is in hot water again after a user accused the company of accessing his cellphone album and deleting a picture there without his approval.
Yicai: Pinduoduo Expands Cache Terms After User Exposes Stingy Referral Program Pinduoduo has widened its data storage rules after a user revealed that the e-commerce platform changed its refer-a-friend program policy. Pinduoduo will no longer delete users' original photos once they are edited, the Shanghai-based firm said in a statement on Weibo yesterday.
Society, Arts, Sports, Culture and History
Kimchi wars: new China vs Korea row sparked by internet star Li Ziqi’s vegetable pickling video | South China Morning Post The vlogger posted a video in which she pickles vegetables, using a method similar to kimchi making, and added the hashtags ChineseCuisine and ChineseFood The video prompted a backlash, with critics insisting kimchi is Korean and accusing Li of stealing from Korean culture. A similar row over kimchi flared earlier
Uncle Roger comedian deletes video with China critic - BBC News Nigel Ng has three million subscribers on YouTube where he plays the character Uncle Roger and gives a running commentary on Asian recipe videos. On Tuesday, Mr Ng apologised on Chinese social media for including Mike Chen, a popular YouTuber, in one of his videos. Mr Chen has previously spoken out about the treatment of Uighurs in Xinjiang.
Energy, Environment, Science and Health
Hunt for Italy’s coronavirus patient zero finds a case in November 2019 | South China Morning Post Peer-reviewed research shows the virus was present in a stored skin sample taken from a Milan woman with a mysterious illness
人民日报：意研究发现该国一名女性2019年11月已感染新冠病毒 Citing a new journal article, People’s Daily page 3 said a woman in Italy contracted the coronavirus back in November of 2019.
China pushes technical solutions in race to meet climate goals | Reuters In new policy guidelines, China’s Ministry of Ecology and Environment (MEE) vowed to make climate action a performance indicator for government officials. It also said controlling carbon emissions would be at the heart of a coordinated programme to protect and restore the country’s environment, which has been damaged by decades of breakneck industrial growth.
Global Times: State-owned companies face challenges in achieving China’s carbon neutrality goal Observers told the Global Times under such circumstances, many state-owned enterprises are still "watching," - some of them are still learning how to set their goals, where to start and how to implement them.
China unveils prototype superfast maglev train - Xinhua The domestically developed maglev train boasts a designed speed of 620 kph, according to Southwest Jiaotong University, one of the train's designers. A 165-meter line to test the new technology was launched on the same day
Chinese plunder Kavango trees - The Namibian JACOBUS Oma looked sadly at the stockpile of several hundred ancient rosewood logs he had just helped to load onto a Chinese-owned truck in north-eastern Namibia. Some were centuries old, and so large they dwarfed his small frame. “The children will never see trees like this in their lives again,” he said, recalling how the rosewood's seed pods were traditionally a vital source of food for indigenous San people like himself during the dry season.
Rural and Agricultural Issues
China to boost rural vitalization through four key tasks: official - Xinhua The country will improve its supply of grain and other important agricultural products, focusing on the seed industry and arable land, he said. More should be done to improve rural industries, such as the agricultural product processing industry, to provide more jobs in rural regions, he continued. Water supply, logistics, power grid and transport infrastructure will be upgraded and rural public education, hospital and culture services will be enhanced, he said. The fourth task is boosting rural governance, as this is crucial for rural vitalization, he noted.
Yicai - China’s Grain Reserves Are at Historic High, Enough to Feed Population for 1 Year, Gov’t Says China’s grain reserves are at a record high at a time when many countries are suspending food exports amid the Covid-19 pandemic, Xinhua News Agency reported today, citing the director of the National Food and Strategic Reserves Administration. The country has enough rice and wheat to feed all its 1.4 billion people for one year, said Zhang Wufeng