Outbreaks will ruin Spring Festival for many; Analysis of new Party regulations; Sanctions target DC's "revolving door 旋转门"

The Party recently released a revised version of the 2004 CCP Regulations on Safeguarding Party Member Rights 中共中央印发《中国共产党党员权利保障条例》. At the time I commented in the newsletter that:

They are long, and I have only scanned them and the comparison chart the CCDI released. They look to be yet another step towards strengthening Xi as the core and effectively limiting intra-Party Democracy.

I wanted to do a deeper dive and so I reached out to Holly Snape. She is a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Glasgow. Before moving to Scotland, she was a fellow at the Research Centre for Chinese Politics at Peking University’s School of Government where she studied Chinese domestic politics and political discourse under Prof. Yu Keping. Her current research focuses on the relationship between the Communist Party and its state, and you can follow her on Twitter here.

What follows is her detailed analysis of the revised rules and what they mean for the Party going forward. This is the first in what I hope will become a regular series of deep dives by academics for broader audiences. You all have gifted me a remarkable platform and I want to start spreading the wealth a bit. If there is topic you think the Sinocism community would be interested in please reach out and we can have a discussion. I will pay for your work.


Regulations on the Rights of Party Members: New-Era Obligations in the Name of Rights? by Holly Snape

“The entire document gives off a thick scent of democracy” (Study Companion, 2004) (1)

After revision, the whole document is threaded through with  the spirit of strictly enforcing rules on discipline”  (CCDI, 2021) (2)

In late December, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP or Party) issued a heavily amended version of its 2004 CCP Regulations on Safeguarding Party Member Rights. This in itself was unsurprising. For the Party, amending these Regulations was probably unavoidable, not least because of Xi Jinping’s aim to overhaul the entire system of intraparty regulations, a part of which has been to freshly issue or amend a raft of regulations on supervision and penalties. Scholars had begun noting the lag between regulations to penalize and supervise its members and the long untouched regulations on protecting their rights.(3) These Regulations were due for revision under the second of two overarching five-year programmes on rebuilding the Party’s internal regulatory system.(4) They were amended by the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) and the Party Organization Department and released in full earlier this month. 

While the amendment itself was expected, the sharp contrast between the new version and its former iteration merits attention. Here, I argue that the new document curtails certain rights and turns others into obligations, all while shifting power from the provinces to the Centre. It further uproots past understandings of democratic centralism and intraparty democracy and locks members into the task of constructing consensus-based compliance, compelling them to “struggle against any behaviour that might shake the Party’s foundations or obstruct the Party’s endeavours.”(5) Related propaganda, in the same vein, cites the Regulations’ aim of harnessing young members’ increasing awareness of rights and channelling it into correct and “regulated” forms. (6)

The amended version brings to mind historian Qin Hui’s analogy of an inchworm (7) —tucking itself up at one end and stretching out at the other—as the Party drags itself in one direction, curtailing some ‘rights’ and strengthening others, and all the while edging away from intraparty democracy and toward stricter self-regulation and dutiful observance of New-Era Party spirit.  

You can read the full piece on Sinocism here. It is a fascinating analysis of some of the fundamental official rules for Party members.

Today’s Essential Eight items:

  1. Latest outbreaks will ruin Spring Festival for many

  2. More on the sanctions on former US officials

  3. US-China

  4. Hong Kong

  5. Does Lai Xiaomin know too much?

  6. “Actively considering joining the CPTPP”

  7. Interactive project on China’s high speed rail

  8. Getting your child into a top Beijing school

Just for fun: The viral memes of Bernie Sanders after the photo of him at the Biden inaugurationincluded this shot of him at a famous Beijing market:

Thanks for reading, and I hope to see many of you in tomorrow’s weekly open discussion.


The Essential Eight

1. Latest outbreaks will ruin Spring Festival for many

Chinese mainland reports 144 new COVID-19 cases - CGTN

The Chinese mainland on Wednesday recorded 144 new COVID-19 cases – 126 local transmissions and 18 from overseas, the National Health Commission said on Thursday.

Of the locally transmitted cases, 68 were reported in Heilongjiang, 33 in Jilin, 20 in Hebei, one in Beijing, one in Shanxi, and one in Shandong, the Commission said in its daily report.

A total of 113 new asymptomatic COVID-19 cases were recorded, while 844 asymptomatic patients remain under medical observation

China beefs up COVID-19 defenses in rural areas during festival travel rush - Xinhua

People must produce a negative result on a COVID-19 test taken within seven days before returning to rural areas for family reunions, said an official document posted online on Wednesday by the National Health Commission.

Documentation or a health QR code that contains such a test result must be presented to the local village committee upon arrival, it added.

Such travelers then need to observe a 14-day home quarantine, monitoring their body temperature and guarding against any symptom of COVID-19. During the 14-day quarantine period, they need to take a COVID-19 test every seven days.

They are urged to avoid unnecessary gatherings or local travel during their stay in rural areas and take proper hygiene and self-protection measures when they have to venture out.

Holidays challenge villages' epidemic controls - Global Times

Chinese health authorities released on Wednesday an extra strict guideline especially for people returning to their hometowns in rural areas during the upcoming Spring Festival holidays, stipulating tough measures including a 14-day health monitoring period at home after arrivals. Many wonder, however, if such moves will fix existing local loopholes.

Many observers speculated that the highly complex and strict procedure listed in the guideline itself could dissuade a large part of those from returning to the rural areas in the first place.

21特写丨农村“硬核”防控:大喇叭日广播10小时,村干部发红包劝阻返乡 - 21财经

Rural "hard core" prevention and control: Loudspeakers broadcast for 10 hours a day, and village cadres issue red envelopes to discourage returning home

Chinese travellers chafe at tough rural Lunar New Year restrictions | South China Morning Post

By Thursday noon, the social media platform for Communist Party mouthpiece People’s Daily had more than 8,000 reposts of an article on the rural restrictions and 44,000 comments, many of which were complaints.

“I have three questions,” one user said in a popular post. “First, everyone has a health QR code as a proof of our health status. Why do we need a Covid-19 test result? Second, China categorises the country into three transmission risk zones: high, medium and low. Why should people from low-risk zones have a test? Last but not least, why does the policy only target people going to rural areas? Is it discrimination against migrant workers?”

China beefs up COVID-19 containment for Spring Festival holiday - CGTN

"We've called for people, including migrant workers, to stay in the cities where they work during Spring Festival holidays to reduce the chance of spreading the virus. And we, together with other five ministries, also called for companies and other institutes to provide more service to employees during the Spring Festival," said Chen Yongjia, deputy head of the Employment Promotion Department of the Ministry of Human Resources.

Authorities said that they've introduced detailed measures in nursing homes to protect elders.

"Visits to care homes have been suspended in the winter and spring seasons due to the epidemic," said Li Banghua, deputy head of the Elderly Care Department of Ministry of Civil Affairs.

Experts urge stronger measures to curb spread of new COVID-19 variant - Global Times

Beijing has become the fourth city in China to report confirmed COVID-19 cases that appear to be the same as the variant initially found in the UK.

Trending in China: Beijing Skating Now On Ice As Covid Restrictions Imposed - Caixin

Central Beijing’s Shichahai Ice Rink, one of the city’s most famous natural ice-skating venues, has been closed after just 12 days, following the emergence of a cluster of Covid-19 cases in the capital’s southwestern Daxing district. The rink, which attracts millions of locals and visitors each winter, was already restricted since last weekend to a cap of 7,000 a day. Last year, ice skating in Beijing was banned from Jan. 24 when the novel coronavirus first began peaking in China.

A picture of the rink I took 8 years ago. A different Era:

藁城“火线”换帅:区委书记来自省纪委、代区长来自唐山

Shijiazhuang replaces the party secretary and head of the Gaocheng district, epicenter of the new Hebei COVID outbreak. The new party boss worked at the provincial discplinary and inspection commission.

North China's Shijiazhuang sets up 458 quarantine centers to curb COVID-19 - Xinhua

The city's recent sporadic COVID-19 cases have gradually diminished and most of the new cases were detected in the centers, said Meng Xianghong, deputy mayor of Shijiazhuang, at a press conference.

All quarantined individuals undergo nucleic acid testing every two days, said Meng. A total of 34,029 people have been quarantined in the centers as of noon on Thursday.

哈尔滨新增10例确诊病例,均为黑龙江正大实业有限公司员工

Harbin reported 41 cases on Thursday. They all worked for the same company or are families of the workers.

China sets rules on test capacity, requires cities to cover 5m residents in two days - Global Times

Cities and provinces nationwide will have to reassess their nucleic acid testing capabilities and overcome shortcomings among testing professionals and facilities. Eventually, cities with less than 5 million residents must be able to complete testing in two days, and cities with more than 5 million residents must be able to complete testing in three to five days with provincial and national support, the State Council said in a newly released notice on Wednesday ahead of the Spring Festival...

For anti-epidemic controls in villages nationwide, the State Council said pharmacies in villages must register information of people suffering from fever and suggest that they receive nucleic acid tests as soon as possible. Any late reporting or concealment will incur punishment.

Two Shanghai hospitals suspend outpatient services after suspected COVID-19 cases reported - Global Times

Two top-tiered hospitals in Shanghai — Fudan University Shanghai Cancer Center and Renji Hospital affiliated to Shanghai Jiao Tong University School of Medicine — have suspended outpatient services in their downtown branches on Thursday for COVID-19 epidemic prevention and control reasons after two suspected COVID-19 cases were reported on Wednesday and Thursday at the two hospitals.

Shanghai reports three new confirmed COVID-19 cases - Xinhua

Shanghai reported three new locally transmitted confirmed cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, local authorities said.

The three cases have been sent to a designated hospital for medical treatment, according to a press briefing on epidemic prevention and control...

So far, 71 close contacts and 78 secondary close contacts of the three cases have been traced in Shanghai and put under centralized medical observation, of whom 62 have tested negative while the remaining 87 are waiting for their test results.


2. More on the sanctions on former US officials

Comment: They are making it clear the intent is to hold the threat of limiting future earnings over the heads of current officials, in the US and other countries, if those officials upset China too much. The possible ramifications are immense.

Beijing sanctions Pompeo, other anti-China hawks, sets 'bottom line' on bilateral ties - Global Times

Lü Xiang, an expert of US studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in Beijing, told the Global Times Thursday that in US politics, there was a revolving door for US politicians to be employed in private sector companies, financial institutes and think tanks after they leave office.

The sanctions would seriously affect "the politicians' road for gaining money," Lü said. "For instance, like Stilwell on the sanction list, we met in Washington when he was going to retire from the Joint Chiefs of Staff in 2015," Lü said. "At that time, the issues that most interested him were about doing business."

Lü noted that with the deeply intertwined economic ties between the two countries, most major US companies, financial institutes and think tanks would unavoidably need to develop ties with China, making them reluctant to hire the sanctioned people.

"This powerful sanction is also a warning to the officials who want to be the next Pompeo," Lü said.

侠客岛:中方制裁28名美国政客,干得漂亮!_新浪新闻

People's Daily Overseas WeChat account "Xiake dao on the sanctions":

Sun Chenghao, a scholar at the American Institute of China Institute of Contemporary International Relations, told Sister Dao that the Chinese sanctions against a group of outgoing US officials fully reflected the intention of reciprocal sanctions. During these people's tenure, China has left room, showing restraint and sincerity in hoping that the two countries will move in the opposite direction and stabilize Sino-US relations. However, anti-China politicians have repeatedly ignored the overall situation and undermined Sino-US relations on sensitive issues, and China must respond.

中国现代国际关系研究院美国研究所学者孙成昊告诉岛妹,此次中方制裁一批美离任官员,充分体现出对等制裁的用意。这些人在任期间,中方尚留有余地,显示出希望两国相向而行、稳定中美关系的克制与诚意。但反华政客一再罔顾大局,屡次在敏感问题上破坏中美关系,中方必须予以回应。

At the same time, this is also a precise sanction. We should know that there is a so-called "revolving door" mechanism in the American system, that is, politicians can change their roles between the public sector and the private sector, move from businessmen to politics, and then turn to business, think tanks and consultants after stepping down. For example, American journalists repeatedly exposed Pompeo's relationship with the far-right chaebol. This kind of mechanism can be called American characteristic, which helps interest groups to profit from it.

同时,这也是一次精准制裁。要知道,美国制度中有所谓“旋转门”机制,即政客个人可在公共部门和私人部门间转换角色、穿梭交叉,从商人摇身进入政坛,下台后又转身从商、入智库、当顾问等。比如蓬佩奥,美国记者就曾多次揭发他与极右翼财阀之间的关系。这种机制堪称美国特色,有助于利益集团从中牟利。

Sun Chenghao said that the Chinese sanctions statement mentioned that the families of the officials involved and related enterprises and institutions would be sanctioned and restricted from entering Hong Kong and Macao, which sent a signal: even if these officials stepped down, they would be punished for their perverse actions during their tenure, and their "sideline business" and access to the "revolving door" would be greatly restricted in the future, and they and their affiliated institutions would face great inconvenience when dealing with and doing business with China. This is a more lasting punishment and shock, and these sanctioned politicians should not try to gain any benefits from the development of Sino-US relations in the future.

孙成昊说,中方制裁声明中提到,涉事官员的家属及相关企业、机构都会被制裁,且限制入境港澳,传递出一个信号:即便这些官员下台了,也会因为在任期间的倒行逆施受到惩罚,日后“搞副业”、出入“旋转门”将大大受限,其自身及所属机构在与中国交往、同中国做生意时将面临巨大不便。这是一种更持久的惩罚和震慑,这些被制裁政客今后就别妄想从中美关系发展中捞取任何利益了。

In addition, the timing of this round of sanctions and the choice of targets have once again demonstrated the characteristics of "setting the agenda actively" in China's policy toward the United States in recent years, which has considerable warning significance.

此外,本轮制裁的时间点和被制裁对象选择,再次彰显了近年来中国对美政策“主动设定议程”的特点,具有相当的警示意义。

Sanctions on former cabinet members send powerful deterrent message - Global Times

Xin Qiang, a professor at Fudan University, said the sanctions are more substantive than symbolic. The 28 former officials on the sanctions list and companies and institutions associated with them are restricted from doing business with China. It will bring those sanctioned real pain, Xin emphasized.

Washington's "revolving door" is well-known - senior officials will be hired by companies, NGOs, or think tanks after they leave the government. China's sanctions, like a sword of Damocles hanging over their heads, will force those entities having businesses and cooperation with China to think twice whether they should develop relations with those former Trump administration officials.

报应来了!这28个伤害过中国的人,现在轮到他们疼了

Buyidao, a WeChat account run by Global Times reporters, also wrote that the Chinese meant to sanction these “former officials” so that it won’t affect the bilateral governmental relations. The article went on to list how the sanctions would cripple these individuals' ability to make money in private sector. It mentioned that for example, Pompeo’s wife may no longer receive funding from Kochs, given the sanctions; and Craft’s husband, who reportedly has business in China, will also get hurt badly. “More importantly, it sends a clear signal: those anti-China politicians in the West may eventually be sanctioned by China if they continue their anti-China behavior.

Question: This article mentions speaking fees. Could the sanctions be applied to any firm that hires the sanctioned to give a paid speech?

评论 | 反华政客必将为其疯狂行径付出代价————头条——中央纪委国家监委网站

The CCDI wrote a commentary of the Chinese sanctions on Pompeo, saying that it is a “totally legitimate and necessary” retaliation against the “former US administration” and “their crazy actions”. It added that the sanctions are also meant to set the tone for the bilateral ties under Biden, and show America China’s bottom line: “No one should have the illusion that China will swallow the bitter fruit of undermining its own interests.”

中方对蓬佩奥等28人实施制裁,既是对前任政府严重破坏中美关系者的有理、有力反制,也是为未来中美关系定下基调,亮明底线。这清晰地表明,中国人民不信邪也不怕邪,不惹事也不怕事,任何人都不要幻想让中国吞下损害自身利益的苦果。中方决定对美方有关人员实施制裁,是完全正当和必要的。这些反华政客必将为其疯狂行径付出代价。

Biden administration calls China sanctions on Trump officials 'unproductive and cynical' | Reuters

“Imposing these sanctions on Inauguration Day is seemingly an attempt to play to partisan divides,” Biden’s National Security Council spokeswoman Emily Horne said in a statement to Reuters.

“Americans of both parties should criticize this unproductive and cynical move. President Biden looks forward to working with leaders in both parties to position America to out-compete China,” Horne said.

Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying's Regular Press Conference on January 21, 2021

Bloomberg: The U.S. National Security Council spokeswoman called China's sanctions on Trump officials "unproductive". She said that President Biden is looking forward to working with leaders in both parties to position America to out-compete China. What is the foreign ministry's comment?

Hua Chunying: China's decision to impose sanctions on these U.S. individuals is a legitimate and necessary response to their erroneous behaviors that severely violated China's sovereignty, security and development interests on China-related issues. It fully demonstrates the Chinese government's determination to safeguard national interests.

Top DOJ official John Demers on the agency's China Initiative - Axios

"The piece where I still think we have work to do ... is on the foreign influence side. That’s where we need to start bringing some cases."

Specifically, that means bringing "FARA [Foreign Agents Registration Act] and 951 cases that involve individuals here in the U.S. who are promoting Chinese bullet points on behalf of China without saying that that’s what they are doing."

"We’ve been talking about Chinese foreign influence, but again, we lack some stories to tell on that to drive home to the public and to disrupt" those activities.


3. US-China

China calls for courage and wisdom to put Sino-U.S. relations back on the right track - Xinhua

"I believe that with joint efforts of both sides, the 'better angels' in China-U.S. relations will be able to overcome forces for evil," Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said at a routine press briefing...

"President Biden also mentioned that the United States has a lot of healing and recovery to do. I think the same also applies to China-U.S. relations," Hua said. "In the past few years, the Trump administration, especially Pompeo, has laid too many mines, burned too many bridges and destroyed too many roads in China-U.S. relations, which are waiting to be cleared, rebuilt and repaired."

新冠病毒来源于德特里克堡?新的证据来了!_哔哩哔哩 (゜-゜)つロ 干杯~-bilibili

Nathan Rich, an American Vlogger extremely popular on Chinese internet for this pro-Beijing propaganda, published a new video Wednesday claiming "new evidence" that the coronavirus may have originated from a US army base. The video has more than two million views already. He made a similar video pushing the conspiracy theory last year. That video has more than six million views.

Here are the top 20 most viewed videos on Bilibili for the search term "德特里克堡" [Ft. Detrick] . 11 are from the last few days, Rich has the first and third most viewed.

Cui Tiankai: China looks forward to working with Biden administration - CGTN

"Congratulations to President Biden on his inauguration! China looks forward to working with the new administration to promote sound & steady development of China-U.S. relations and jointly address global challenges in public health, climate change & growth," Cui tweeted.

Question: Did Cui not attend the Biden inauguration ceremony?

China Fails to Meet U.S. Trade Deal Target in 2020 Amid Pandemic - Bloomberg

By the end of December, China had purchased about 58.1% of the $172 billion worth of goods it pledged to buy last year under the “phase one” agreement with Washington, according to Bloomberg calculations based on data from the country’s customs agency. It bought 60.4% of targeted manufactured products and 64.4% of agricultural goods, but lagged behind on energy, importing just 39% of the target.

US-China phase one tracker: China’s purchases of US goods As of December 2020 | PIIE

Opinion - By Nury Turkel | I Grew Up Witnessing Forced Labor. U.S. Companies Must Step Up. - The New York Times

Otherwise, they risk complicity in the persecution of millions of Uighurs.

Biden Cabinet Picks Don’t Look Like Doves on China, Chinese Experts Say

Chinese experts including Caixin columnists have analyzed the new cabinet’s policy priorities, particularly in regard to China. They believe that the “elite” Team Biden will continue to be tough on China with a focus on “intense competition.”...

Tu Xinquan, a trade expert at the University of International Business and Economics in Beijing...predicted that the U.S will not hesitate to use its potential return to the CPTPP as a tool against China. Biden said at a Council on Foreign Relations event last year that although the CPTPP is not a perfect deal, it is a good way to “contain China’s excessive behavior.”

Wang Jisi: Even Under President Biden, China Faces Trumpism Without Trump - Caixin Global

American policy toward China will continue unchanged under Biden. American China policy includes two dimensions. On one hand, it is about competition or containment of China. On the other, it is about cooperation on a certain level. But the essence of competition as the main focus, and cooperation as a supplement will not change...

I believe that China, not the United States, can turn the tide of U.S.–China relations at historical junctures, although this position may be debatable. When the Communist Party of China led a successful revolution in 1949, the U.S. began taking a hostile attitude toward a nation that was an ally in the war against Japan. This dramatic change of relations resulted from China’s domestic change...

If Biden's rise to power offers to bring some changes to U.S.–China relations, then we have to seize the opportunity and do something about it. Although I don't think we are going to have major policy adjustments on issues such as Xinjiang, Tibet, Taiwan and the South China Sea, some of the reforms in the economic sphere may have an impact on bilateral ties. Our positive attitudes on the environment and climate change may also be important for improving the relationship between our two countries.

There might be very little room for compromise in terms of our territorial and political security, but economic and trade relations are still a fairly stabilizing force for U.S.–China relations. American entrepreneurs in particular still see China as an important market.

Twitter Locks Out Chinese Embassy in U.S. Over Post on Uighurs - Bloomberg

The tweet, which said Uighur women were no longer “baby-making machines,” was originally shared on Jan. 7, but wasn’t removed by Twitter until more than 24 hours later. It has been replaced by a label saying, “This tweet is no longer available.” Even though Twitter hides tweets that violate its rules, it still requires the account owner to manually delete the post in order to regain access to the account.

The account is still locked, a Twitter spokesman confirmed, meaning the Chinese Embassy has not deleted the tweet. The Chinese Embassy account, @ChineseEmbinUS, has not posted since Jan. 8, having published at least a dozen more tweets after the one breaking Twitter’s rules. The Chinese Embassy declined immediate comment. Chinese state media had earlier called Twitter’s decision to delete the tweet “hypocrisy.”

Comment: Interesting that the PRC Embassy did not make a public stink about this before Bloomberg broke this story?

Question: in the wake of the US designation of crimes against humanity and genocide in xinjiang, will twitter/facebook/youtube have to take any additional steps around genocide denial content on their platforms?


4. Hong Kong

Beijing mulling drastic overhaul of Election Committee deciding Hong Kong’s chief executive and Legislative Council to curb opposition’s influence: sources | South China Morning Post

Beijing is mulling a drastic overhaul of the Election Committee that chooses Hong Kong’s chief executive by scrapping all 117 seats likely to be controlled by opposition district councillors to quash their influence in the 2022 leadership race, the Post has learned.

As part of sweeping proposals that sources said were meant to disempower the district councillors – many of whom were protesters and activists who won their seats riding on a wave of public discontent in last year’s elections – the city’s pro-establishment members were also lobbying Beijing to get rid of five so-called super seats from the local electoral map. Again, the intent was to erode the relevance of the opposition councillors, the insiders said.

Sources said the proposals could be placed on the agenda of a meeting of China’s top legislative body, the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress (NPC), which was scheduled to run from Tuesday to Saturday

China's top legislature starts standing committee session - Xinhua

The session's agenda includes reviewing draft revisions to the Law on Animal Epidemic Prevention and the Administrative Penalty Law, as well as draft amendments to the Law on Workplace Safety and the Education Law.

During the three-day session, lawmakers will deliberate a draft coast guard law, a draft legal aid law, a draft physicians law, a draft wetlands protection law and a draft family education law.

They will also review a draft decision on establishing a Beijing financial court and multiple reports including one on the recording and review work of the Legislative Affairs Commission of the NPC Standing Committee in 2020

HK electoral reform inevitable, with policymakers suggesting a political scrutiny mechanism for candidacy - Global Times

Though the ongoing session of the 13th National People's Congress (NPC) Standing Committee has not included Hong Kong-related issues on its agenda, reform of the city's electoral process has been widely discussed among Hong Kong delegates to the NPC, policy advisors and experts on Hong Kong affairs, and some suggest the need to set up a political scrutiny mechanism to make sure 'those who rule Hong Kong are patriotic.'...

When some western media and politicians questioned the recent arrest of 53 activists over the so-called "35-plus" strategy for illegal primary elections, they failed to understand some radical forces in Hong Kong had tried to turn Hong Kong elections into a process of splitting Hong Kong society and paralyze the legal system and administrative functions of Hong Kong. And more experts and representatives from the political sphere called for drawing up and defending a bottom-line for the city's political system, where those who rule and govern the city should be patriots, and today's electoral system needs to be reformed.

Row between Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam and ex-chief CY Leung deepens as top adviser weighs in on issue of elections | South China Morning Post

Dispute erupted after former chief executive Leung Chun-ying told a media outlet it would still be lawful if leader was picked without an election Wading into the controversy

Executive Council convenor Bernard Chan pours scorn on suggestion, which Lam had also dismissed earlier

A 19th Procrastination: Strike Hard - A Procrastination

Hong Kong is in the midst of an ongoing, Mainland-style “Strike Hard” (严打) campaign, designed to root out all “enemies of the people”. This campaign, and the related arrests, will not end until all of the structural bases for the revolt of 2019 — and that includes, in Beijing’s mind, all of the pan-democrat politicians and other civil society actors who were sympathetic to, supportive of or involved in that revolt — are expunged, such that Beijing can be comfortable such defiance will never occur again.

Only then, will Hong Kong be considered “safe for democracy” from Beijing’s point of view

EU Parliament condemns China deal over Hong Kong crackdown | AFP

The EU has lost credibility on human rights by sealing an investment deal with China, a resolution in the European Parliament warned on Thursday.

MEPs meeting by video link in Brussels overwhelmingly passed the resolution which broadly condemned the crackdown on Hong Kong activists by the central government in China.

The resolution also called for “targeted sanctions” against Chinese and Hong Kong officials held responsible for the police action.


5. Does Lai Xiaomin know too much?

Court rejects death sentence appeal by corrupt former executive - Xinhua

The Higher People's Court of Tianjin upheld the death sentence for Lai Xiaomin, former board chairman of China Huarong Asset Management Co., Ltd...The capital sentence is awaiting review by the Supreme People's Court.

Lai was convicted of bribery, embezzlement, and bigamy by a local court in Tianjin earlier this month. The court sentenced Lai to death, deprived Lai of his political rights for life and confiscated all his assets.

According to the court, Lai took undue advantage of his various posts to seek illegitimate interests for others. In return, he illegally asked for and accepted money and gifts worth over 1.78 billion yuan (about 276 million U.S. dollars). Lai also took advantage of his positions to embezzle and extort public funds of more than 25.13 million yuan.

A Sinocism researcher wants to stay unnamed flags this - "Veteran Beijing-based journalist Li Weiao 李微敖 [Li has great sources within the government and has written major investigative stories including the shareholders of Anbang and Shandong Luneng. ​​​] wrote on Weibo two weeks ago that to avoid the death sentence, Lai must report all the dirts and crimes of his former bosses and the senior officials he had dealings with. The death sentence in the first trial is a clear message to Lai that it is not enough to save his life if he confesses only the crimes of his underlings, wrote Li. - 赖小民的二审放弃幻想吧,赖小民及其家... 来自李微敖 - 微博

"Give up your illusions, Lai Xiaomin and his family, change lawyers in the second trial, and then take the initiative to break the news to the media, and actively report and expose the major criminal clues of your bosses-especially those crimes that you have bribed them and worked for them for many years. The result of the first trial is very clear. You can't save your life just by telling your subordinates ...

放弃幻想吧,赖小民及其家属,二审换律师,然后主动向媒体爆料,积极检举揭发你的上司们的重大违法犯罪线索——尤其是这么多年来,你自己向他们行过贿、替他们办过事的那些违法犯罪的事情。一审结果很明确,你仅仅交待下属们的事情,并不能保你的命了啊……

赖小民案二审宣判维持死刑判决--法制网

The sentence Li highlights in his post:

Although Lai Xiaomin has a significant meritorious performance, but the comprehensive facts, nature, circumstances and the degree of harm to society of the crime of bribery, are not enough to be lenient punishment for him.

虽然赖小民具有重大立功表现,但综合其所犯受贿罪的事实、性质、情节和对于社会的危害程度,不足以对其从宽处罚。

Comment: The Fifth Plenary Session of the 19th Central Commission for Discipline Inspection of the Communist Party of China starts Friday.


6. “Actively considering joining the CPTPP”

China plans to expand free trade network, accelerate FTA talks - Global Times

China has planned to expand its network of free trade and is willing to sign more free trade agreements (FTAs) with its trade partners to jointly promote free and convenient trade and investment, Gao Feng, spokesperson of the Ministry of Commerce said at a regular press briefing on Thursday.

The country will boost China-Japan-South Korea FTA talks and free trade talks with Gulf Cooperation Council, Israel and Norway, while actively considering joining the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), Gao said.

Are these recent comments by Guo Shuqing part of an attempt to reshape the narrative around SOEs and the structure of the PRC economy to allow entry into certain trade deals without actually changing the current system? Or am I being too conspiratorial? -CBIRC - China's New Development Stage and Hong Kong SAR's New Opportunities Speech at the 14th Asian Financial Forum Mr. Guo Shuqing

Over the past decade, China contributed 30% on average to global growth. Yet internationally there were some negative remarks on China. Twenty years ago, it was said that China was not a market economy and needed a transition. More recently, they accused China of state capitalism. because China has a strong public sector and its industrial policies distort the market. This is a big misunderstanding. Here let's make five points of clarification.

First, the private sector now accounts for 60% of China’s economy, while before 1978 there was hardly any;

Second, China’s industrial policies have been consistent with the market-oriented reform;

Third, SOEs in general are subject to negative subsidies from the government budget;

Fourth, banks and SOEs are financially independent from each other;

Fifth, the strong competitiveness of Chinese products is not due to lack of labor protection


7. Interactive project on China’s high speed rail

China's High Speed Rail, Boon or Boondoggle? - MacroPolo

For the past 65 years, the United States has maintained the world’s largest interstate highway system. For the next 65 years, China is likely to maintain the world’s most extensive high-speed rail (HSR) network. That enormous investment, with a long time horizon, has caused consternation both within China and outside of it.

Detractors have called it a monumental white elephant. Proponents have touted the myriad economic benefits the network brings. Returns on mega infrastructure projects are notoriously difficult to specify, and China’s HSR network is no exception. But with the passage of time, we can now better assess whether HSR was a boon or a royal boondoggle to the Chinese economy.

This unique product provides not only the simple answer to that question, but it also takes you on a journey to get up to speed with China’s bullet trains and their impact on local economies...

So was it worth it? Our short answer: from an economic standpoint, it was worth it. Based on a careful cost and benefit analysis and using a framework similar to the World Bank’s, we estimate that the HSR network confers a net benefit of $378 billion to the Chinese economy and has an annual ROI of 6.5%.

Comment: That conclusion will be controversial to some.


8. Getting your child into a top Beijing school

New York private schools are famous for the craziness they elicit in parents trying to get their kids in but those efforts to get admitted are nothing compared to what parents and kids go through in Beijing.

From the Trenches of China’s School Admission Wars, a Bestseller - SixthTone

In Beijing’s Haidian District, it’s all about getting your child into an elite school.

“Haidian mothers don’t need a Birkin. We don’t use makeup; we wear flat shoes. Instead of packaging ourselves, we’d rather spend more on education,” Amber Jiang writes in “Getting Ashore.”

The title of the book refers to a popular term for passing China’s civil servant exams or getting into a top school, both seen as tickets to a good and stable life. In this metaphor, everyone else is struggling to stay afloat out at sea...

Jiang writes about how parents who are penny-pinchers in their own lives become generous spenders for their children’s education. “A year of your child’s tuition could buy 10 Birkins,” that chapter is titled.

In the last two years of the boy’s primary school life, Jiang signed him up for a weekly extracurricular diet of three math classes, several Chinese language cram courses, and five tutoring sessions with foreign, English-speaking teachers. Jiang herself, a graduate of the prestigious Peking University, retook math and English classes to make sure she could better assist her son...

Sixth Tone talks to Jiang — who prefers to use her pen name, Amber, instead of her given name — about “Getting Ashore,” her thoughts on navigating China’s education system, and how the experiences changed her.

This article talks about the astronomical prices for apartments zones to good school districts in Beijing, and how Beijing has revised the rules on entry, and why Haidian is the preferred district now - 北京学区房价格跳涨 家长转战海淀 Beijing school district housing price jumps, parents move to Haidian.

Our kids were born in Beijing and went to a local public school through third grade. We looked at getting them into one of the top Beijing schools, back then just about everything was possible with the right approach, but they looked too foreign we were told. They are at a good school in DC, one that has a fair number of PRC parents, several of whom have told us how shocked they are it has so far been so easy for their kids…


Business, Economy and Trade

刘鹤主持召开国务院促进中小企业发展工作领导小组第七次会议_国务院副总理刘鹤_中国政府网 Financial institutions should act more boldly in extending credit to small and medium-sized enterprises, Vice Premier Liu He said at a work meeting convened by the State Council. While noting the financial stress faced by many Chinese SMEs, Liu also extolled their role in sustaining the Chinese economy. “Financial institutions must constantly improve their abilities. They should dare to lend, be willing to lend, are capable of lending, and be skilled in lending,” he said.

Yicai - Jack Ma Did Not Give 10% of Alibaba to Social Security Fund, Ant Says Alibaba Group Holding founder Jack Ma did not gift his 10 percent stake in the e-commerce giant to the social security fund run by the government of China’s Zhejiang province, Alibaba affiliate Ant Group told Yicai Global today. The rumor circulating online is false, according to the fintech behemoth, which is also part of Ma’s business empire

Crackdown on Jack Ma’s empire gathers pace despite reappearance | Financial Times $$ Under the PBoC’s new rules, it can advise the State Administration of Market Regulation to break up any “non-bank payment company” that controls more than half of the market — or any two with a combined market share of more than 67 per cent. The latter provision suggests that internet group Tencent’s WeChat Pay, China’s second-largest payments service after Alipay, could also be targeted...A Chinese antitrust lawyer, who asked not to be identified, added that the new rules “indicate Ant could be torn apart”.

Beijing faces high food prices ahead of Lunar New Year due to lockdowns nearby | Reuters A large cabbage, ubiquitous in Beijing kitchens during winter months, now costs 2 yuan per half kilogram, twice as much as a year go. Prices for celery, eggplant and daikon radish are also roughly double what they were a year ago, according to data published this week by Beijing’s Xinfadi wholesale food market. Eggs and cooking oils are also more expensive than last year, while pork prices have risen in recent weeks to about 46 yuan per kg, the same level as a year ago, despite an increase in production.

China releases 30,000 tonnes of pork from state reserves - Xinhua Chinese authorities on Thursday released 30,000 tonnes of pork from its central reserves to increase meat supply for the upcoming Spring Festival holiday, the National Development and Reform Commission said. A total of 150,000 tonnes of reserve pork has been released into the market since Dec. 17, 2020 to ensure supply for the New Year and Spring Festival holidays, according to the commission

China’s Disputed Virus Theory Has Shoppers Shunning Foreign Food - Bloomberg The consumer distrust is being fueled at least partly by statements from the government, which has taken increasingly drastic steps to curb the risk of the virus spreading via food imports even though most international health authorities have downplayed the likelihood of such transmission. The World Health Organization has said there’s no evidence of people catching the virus via food and food packaging, while the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says the chances of getting Covid-19 from frozen foods is very low

Yicai - China’s Outbound Direct Investment Up 3.3% to USD132.94 Billion China’s outbound direct investment in 2020 totaled USD132.94 billion, an increase of 3.3 percent year-on-year, according to the Ministry of Commerce.

Yicai - Shanghai People Had Most Disposable Income in China Last Year at USD11,182 Each Shanghai residents had the biggest purchasing power in China last year at an average of CNY72,232 (USD11,182) per person, according to the latest official figures. Residents in the capital Beijing, by contrast, had just CNY69,434 (USD10,744) each to spend at their discretion, according to the National Bureau of Statistics. Those who lived in Zhejiang province had CNY52,397. Tianjin, near Beijing, came fourth with CNY43,854, and Guangdong province, the province with the largest economy, ranked sixth with CNY41,029.

China's BYD raises $4bn war chest to combat Tesla - Nikkei Asia Funds from BYD's stock sale will go toward working capital, and to research and development of new models. BYD suffered a 17.4% drop in new-energy vehicle sales for 2020, moving only 189,000 autos. But the company has begun tracing a path to recovery by selling 28,000 vehicles in December, more than double the volume from a year earlier.

从严调控!上海发布楼市新政,公证摇号选房优先满足“无房家庭”自住购房需求 Shanghai has released a draft regulation expected to benefit first-time home buyers, part of a broader government effort to regulate the housing market that remains out of reach for middle and lower income groups. Among other things it bans divorced couples from purchasing property for 3 years post-separation.

Millions of new investors piled into Chinese stock markets in 2020 - CNBC In December, the mainland stock market recorded 1.62 million new investors — double the 809,300 reported a year ago, according to China Securities Depository and Clearing. The organization handles trades for the Shanghai and Shenzhen stock exchanges. For all of 2020, new investors increased by 18.02 million to 177.77 million, the data showed. That’s about 1.5 million new accounts a month.

China’s Big Three State Telcos Seek Review of NYSE Delisting - Bloomberg In separate filings Thursday to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange -- where they’re also listed -- China Mobile Ltd., China Unicom Hong Kong Ltd. and China Telecom Corp. said that written requests had been filed with the NYSE and that they’d also asked for trading suspensions to be stayed while the review is undertaken. The review will be scheduled at least 25 business days from the date the request is filed, the statements said. There’s no assurance the review request will be successful, the companies added.

Chinese capital Beijing sets sights on building ‘trillion yuan’ hi-tech manufacturing clusters | South China Morning Post “By 2035, Beijing’s global science and technology innovation hub should be a global leader in terms of creativity, competitiveness and influence, with a concentration of international talent who can contribute to our country’s drive to become a global power in science and technology development,” vice-mayor Jin Wei said at a press conference on Wednesday, referring to the city’s longer term goals. Beijing would sharpen its capabilities in areas like artificial intelligence and quantum computing through strengthening basic research, he said, adding that the city would also invest in technologies like integrated circuits and new materials.

科研投入视同利润,央企业绩考核机制将有重大变化 The State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission is recalibrating the evaluation mechanisms for state firms by elevating the significance of R&D, which will be treated just as important as profitability, according to a SASAC official. The move will also likely to offer more financial rewards to R&D staff at state-owned companies.

“房住不炒”进一步明确 房贷利率今年难降 _ 经济参考网 _ 新华社《经济参考报》官方网站 The latest data shows China’s lending benchmark has remained steady for nine months, with the five-year loan prime rate (LPR) unchanged at 4.65%. The Economic Information Daily, overseen by Xinhua, interviewed experts who cited a moderate economic recovery as reasons for not further loosening monetary policy. Against this backdrop, experts also predicted that the mortgage rates are unlikely to drop this year as regulators move to rein in speculative investment in real estate.

Yicai - Small, Private Chinese Firms Struggled With High Borrowing Costs in 2020, Report Shows Some 77 percent of the respondents said that their financing costs remained unchanged in the first half of 2020 from a year earlier, the Chinese Academy of Fiscal Sciences wrote in a report published yesterday. About 13 percent of the total said that their costs had fallen.

瑞典将中国企业排除在5G网络建设之外 商务部回应_新浪财经_新浪网 China’s commerce ministry said Sweden’s exclusion of Chinese 5 G firms has violated WTO rules.

China to take counter-measure against Sweden over excluding Huawei, ZTE from 5G rollout - Global Times "We urge Sweden to immediately correct its approach, considering the overall position of economic and trade cooperation between the two countries, and meet China halfway to find a workable solution," Gao Feng, spokesperson of China's Ministry of Commerce, told a regular press conference in Beijing on Thursday.

Five Things to Know About China’s New National Security Review for Foreign Investment - Caixin any foreign investment in the following areas will be subject to a review: military, military support and other sectors related to national defense and security, as well as investments near military and military-industrial facilities. In addition, any investment that gives a foreign company de facto control over enterprises making certain products or offering certain services in nine specified major categories will also be subject to review. Many are the same as those included in the 2011 regulations such as “important” agricultural products and “important” energy and resources. But others are new including “important” information technology and internet/online products and services, “important” financial services and the catch-all “other important sectors/areas.”

China punishes 16 institutions, merchants for refusing cash payments - Xinhua The violators were issued with fines ranging from 500 yuan (77.28 U.S. dollars) to 500,000 yuan, for posting "no cash" signs or simply refusing to take cash as payments, the central bank said. The PBOC launched its campaign last year in order to protect consumers' legal rights, as a growing number of businesses have gone cashless amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Consumers who try to pay in cash but are prevented from doing so can lodge a complaint with the authorities, as such practices are illegal

国资委:央企要严控新增个人代持境外国有产权_中证网 The State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission of the State Council will step up scrutiny over individuals’ property ownership in foreign jurisdictions, saying that state-owned firms must “strictly control” new foreign property ownerships by Chinese individuals.

关于进一步加强中央企业境外国有产权管理有关事项的通知-国务院国有资产监督管理委员会 三、中央企业要加强对个人代持境外国有产权和特殊目的公司的管理,持续动态管控。严控新增个人代持境外国有产权,确有必要新增的,统一由中央企业批准并报送国资委备案。对于个人代持境外国有产权,要采取多种措施做好产权保护,并根据企业所在地法律和投资环境变化,及时予以调整规范。对于特殊目的公司,要逐一论证存续的必要性,依法依规及时注销已无存续必要的企业。确有困难的,要明确处置计划,并在年度境外产权管理状况报告中专项说明。// Third, central enterprises shall strengthen the management of overseas state-owned property rights and special purpose companies held on behalf of individuals, and continue dynamic control. Strictly control the addition of overseas state-owned property rights held by individuals, and if it is necessary to add new ones, the central enterprises shall approve them and submit them to SASAC for record. For overseas state-owned property rights held by individuals, various measures should be taken to protect property rights, and timely adjustments should be made in accordance with changes in the laws and investment environment of the enterprise's location. For special purpose companies, the necessity of continuation should be proven on a case-by-case basis, and enterprises that are no longer necessary for continuation should be cancelled in accordance with the law and regulations. If there are really difficulties, the disposal plan should be clearly stated and special instructions should be given in the annual overseas property rights management report.

继债券下跌、信用评级下调后 华夏幸福又有11亿信托计划逾期 Zhongrong says China Fortune Land Development doesn't pay 1.1B owed by January 15

China Property Watch - January 2021 Fitch believes outstanding mortgage growth could slip slightly below that of overall lending in 2021.


Politics and Law

人事观察|中央政法委副秘书长雷东生任宁夏政法委书记_政经频道_财新网 Lei Dongsheng, 51, former Deputy Secretary General of the Central Commission for political and legal affairs, and Chen Yixin’s right hand man at the commission, a member of the Central Coordination Group on Xinjiang Affairs and who also has long experience in the Ministry of Public Security, is appointed as the Party Secretary of the Political and Legal Affairs Commission in the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region. I can't imagine this is a good sign for the Huis

China Includes State Journalists' Social Media Posts in Vetting Process — Radio Free Asia As part of an annual vetting and review process targeting journalists in state-owned and approved media organizations, Chinese journalists will have their social media posts included in their press card renewal process. "In order to thoroughly implement General Secretary Xi Jinping’s important thoughts on propaganda and ideological work, and build a team of journalists who are politically strong, capable, realistic, and innovative, and capable of winning battles ... annual press card renewals are now under way," the General Administration of Press and Publications (GAPP) said in a statement on its website on Jan. 19. // Does this include their postings on overseas platforms?

Official accused of slapping another has been removed from his position in Henan - Global Times Party Chief Zhang Zhanwei of Jiyuan, Central China's Henan has been removed from his post for slapping the face of a subordinate who was eating in an officials' canteen, the provincial Party committee said on Thursday after investigating a tip-off letter.

评论——中央纪委国家监委网站 CCDI wrote a commentary on the removal of the official who slapped a subordinate in the face, warning that no official is allowed such arrogance toward colleagues.

欧美同学会(中国留学人员联谊会)第一次全国会员代表大会召开 尤权出席并讲话--新闻报道-中国共产党新闻网 the first national member representative meeting of the European and American Alumni Association (Chinese Scholars Association) was held in Beijing. You Quan, head of the United Front Work Department, attending the opening ceremony and gave a speech

Xi Focus: Xi's discourses on building China's strength in cyberspace published - Xinhua The book, compiled by the Institute of Party History and Literature of the CPC Central Committee, is available nationwide. Xi's discourses, along with a series of new ideas and viewpoints he has put forward on the subject of building China's strength in cyberspace, constitute a fundamental guideline for the development of China's cyber and information undertakings in the new era. The book contains excerpts from reports, speeches, instructions and letters Xi made or wrote between March 4, 2013 and Nov. 23, 2020. Some of its contents have been made public for the first time

《马克思恩格斯列宁论反腐败》出版发行————要闻——中央纪委国家监委网站 A book with quotes and excepts on corruption from Marx, Engels and Lenin is published by the party. The book is edited by CASS.

1,310 regulations filed with China's top legislature for review - Xinhua A total of 1,310 administrative regulations, local regulations and judicial interpretations were filed with China's top legislature for recording and review last year. The figure was made public during an ongoing bimonthly session of the National People's Congress (NPC) Standing Committee. The Legislative Affairs Commission of the NPC Standing Committee on Wednesday submitted a report on its recording and review work in 2020 to the session for deliberation.

Recording & Review Pt. 7: Constitutionally Mandated Mandarin-Medium Education - NPC Observer The Legislative Affairs Commission took issue with two sets of unidentified local regulations (legislation adopted by local legislatures) that govern the languages used in teaching at ethnic schools—schools principally educating students of minority ethnicities. One set of regulations provided that ethnic schools “shall” use ethnic languages in teaching, while the other prescribed the same requirement but allowed some classes at ethnic schools to be taught in Mandarin Chinese if the local education department approves. We found only two regulations that fit the Commission’s descriptions: Inner Mongolia’s 2016 Regulations on Ethnic Education [内蒙古自治区民族教育条例]1 in the former set, and Jilin Yanbian Korean Autonomous Prefecture’s 2004 Regulations on Education for Ethnic Koreans [延边朝鲜族自治州朝鲜族教育条例]2 in the latter.

爱国主义旗帜在青年心中高高飘扬(思想纵横)宋利彩 《 人民日报 》( 2021年01月21日 第 09 版) "The banner of patriotism flies high in the hearts of young people" - Song Licai People's Daily page 9, January 21, 2021  当代青年厚植爱国主义情怀,始终让爱国主义旗帜在心中高高飘扬,就要深知历史和人民为什么选择了马克思主义、选择了中国共产党、选择了社会主义道路、选择了改革开放;深知中国共产党是中国人民的主心骨、中华民族的中流砥柱、中国特色社会主义事业的领导核心,中国特色社会主义道路是实现国家富强的必由之路。听党话、跟党走,把爱党爱国之心转化为敢闯敢拼、锐意进取的行动,把忧国忧民之情转化为勤奋学习、努力工作的动力,在为全面建设社会主义现代化国家的砥砺奋斗中书写精彩人生。   (作者单位:中宣部宣传舆情研究中心)// // The youth of today's generation should cultivate patriotism and always let the patriotic banner fly high in their hearts, knowing why history and the people have chosen Marxism, the CPC, the socialist road and reform and opening up; knowing that the CPC is the backbone of the Chinese people, the mainstay of the Chinese nation, the leading core of the socialist cause with Chinese characteristics, and that the socialist road with Chinese characteristics is the path to national prosperity. The road of socialism with Chinese characteristics is the only way to achieve national prosperity and strength. Listen to the Party, follow the Party, turn your love for the Party and the country into bold and enterprising action, and turn your concern for the country and the people into the motivation to study hard and work hard, so that you can write a wonderful life in the struggle to build a modern socialist country.   (Author: Propaganda and Public Opinion Research Center of the Central Propaganda Department)


Foreign and Defense Affairs

Xi calls for closer exchanges with Laos - Xinhua Chinese President Xi Jinping said on Thursday that China is ready to work with Laos to further intensify high-level contact, cement strategic communication and deepen experience exchanges on party and state governance. Xi made the remarks in a telephone conversation with Thongloun Sisoulith, general secretary of the Lao People's Revolutionary Party (LPRP) Central Committee

Laos' new leader to play balancing act between China and Vietnam - Nikkei Asia As he steps into his role as the supremo of Laos' communist party, Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith faces a diplomatic brief with a twist: continuing to appear loyal to older ally Vietnam even as the economy of his impoverished, debt-ridden country is being underwritten by China, the increasingly assertive giant to its north. It is a delicate balancing act in Southeast Asia's communist-ruled backyard that Thongloun already had has a foretaste, say veteran political observers of Laos. After all, it was during his five-year term as the premier of the one-party state that China eclipsed Vietnam as landlocked Laos' leading lender, investor and builder. China also betters Vietnam as Laos' bilateral trading partner, coming second after Thailand.

China deal damages EU's human rights credibility, MEPs to say | The Guardian The most complete analysis of the agreement yet published by the Institut Montaigne finds the agreement could not have been negotiated at a worse time, provides minimal additional market access and contains currently “next to no means” to enforce Chinese assurances over the eradication of forced labour. The commission oversold the deal, largely due to pressure from Merkel, the report’s author, François Godement, told the Guardian.

China Should Adopt Softer Foreign Policy - Bloomberg - Zhang Taisu This will require the Chinese government to offer more market access, honor treaties and global institutions, play by international norms of friendly conduct, lower the temperature regionally over issues such as maritime boundaries, and contain the domestic rise of chauvinistic nationalism, at least enough to present a less threatening image abroad. “Wolf warrior” diplomacy, if it was ever a good idea, needs to be significantly toned down. China shouldn’t just be a “responsible global stakeholder” — it needs to project an image of one effectively.

Former chief commander of China's aircraft carrier program arrested, facing prosecution - Global Times The Supreme People's Procuratorate has decided to arrest Hu Wenming, former Party chief and chairman of China Shipbuilding Industry Corporation (CSIC), over suspicion of taking bribes and abuse of power.  Investigation on Hu was completed by China's top disciplinary authority and his case has been transferred to the Supreme People's Procuratorate for prosecution. // One of the cases rumored to really be about espionage but we will probably never know publicly

Japan weighs in on South China Sea dispute, adding to pressure on Beijing | South China Morning Post Japan has joined a battle of diplomatic notes over the South China Sea dispute, adding to pressure on Beijing over its expansive claims in the strategically important waterway. In a note verbale – a type of diplomatic communication – sent on Tuesday, Japan’s permanent mission to the United Nations said China’s “drawing of territorial sea baselines … on relevant islands and reefs in the South China Sea” failed to satisfy conditions set out in the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. // The note (PDF)

FC-31 stealth fighter, GJ-11 stealth drone star in poster for Chinese defense firm - Global Times The poster, released with reports on the 2021 work conference of the Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC) on Wednesday in Beijing, featured five of the company's key products, namely the J-20 stealth fighter jet, Y-20 large transport plane, Z-20 utility helicopter, FC-31 stealth fighter jet and GJ-11 stealth armed reconnaissance drone.

南沙首个军营超市建成使用--军事--人民网 驻岛礁官兵曾经心心念念的美好愿望,如今已成为现实——隆冬时节,永暑礁首个军营超市正式建成使用。据悉,这是南沙岛礁首个军营超市。The good wishes of the officers and men stationed on the island reef have now become a reality-the first military camp supermarket in Fiery Cross Reef was officially built and put into use in the middle of winter. It is reported that this is the first military camp supermarket on the Spratly Islands.

UN chief rejects claim he didn't condemn China over Muslims - AP Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has strongly rejected claims by five human rights groups that he hasn’t condemned the Chinese government’s detention of more than a million Muslims in the Xinjiang region, saying he has spoken out forcefully. “I don’t think anyone has been more persistent and more clear in talking to the Chinese authorities in relation to this issue than myself,” he told reporters Wednesday. “It is absolutely not true that I’ve only done discreet diplomacy.”

Speech by H.E. Ambassador Liu Xiaoming at the CBBC Farewell Roundtable: Shore up Confidence, Seize the Opportunities and Deepen Cooperation It is important that China and the UK always have in mind the big picture and long-term interests, view each other's development as opportunities, rather than challenges or threats, and respect each other's core interests and major concerns, so as to ensure the sustained and sound growth of China-UK relations and foster favourable conditions for deeper and productive cooperation between our two countries.

Street names around new Chinese embassy could be renamed in honour of persecuted Muslim population | Evening Standard A motion due to be heard at Tower Hamlets full council meeting  will ask the local authority to rename roads around the site as "Tiananmen Square",  "Uyghur Court", "Hong Kong Road" and “Xiaobo Road"

Chinese Amb. for Disarmament Affairs: It is imperative to strengthen dialogue and enhance mutual trust - China Military he first video plenary meeting of 2021 session of the Conference on Disarmament was held in Geneva on January 19. Chinese Ambassador for Disarmament Affairs Li Song expounded on China's views and proposals on international arms control at the meeting. The full text of Ambassador Li’s speech at the meeting is as follows

China gears up for 2021 military recruitment - China Military The recruitment will be held in two rounds, one slated to start on Feb. 20 and end on March 31, while the other scheduled between Aug. 15 and Sept. 30, according to a statement issued after the conference. The recruitment drive is mainly targeted at college students, while other youths including eligible vocational school graduates will also be recruited, the statement noted.

Netizens mock Indian state govt for renaming dragon fruit to avoid 'association with China' - Global Times "The state government has decided to rename the Dragon Fruit. As the outer shape of the fruit resembles a lotus, hence the Dragon Fruit shall be renamed as Kamalam," the Indian state of Gujarat's Chief Minister Vijay Rupani said on Tuesday, Indian news agency ANI reported. "The name Dragon Fruit is associated with China and we have changed it," he added. "There is nothing political about it."


Hong Kong and Macao

Foreign Native English Teachers at gov't schools could be made to swear loyalty to Hong Kong as oath requirement expands | Hong Kong Free Press HKFP Foreign Native-speaking English Teachers (NETs) at Hong Kong government schools could be required to swear allegiance to the city, as the authorities look to expand the civil servants’ loyalty pledge to cover all government employees. The Secretary for Civil Service Patrick Nip said on Monday that temporary and short-term contractors hired by the government will join over 177,000 public servants to declare allegiance to the HKSAR and vow to uphold the Basic Law.


Taiwan

EU passes resolutions containing pro-Taiwan clauses - Focus Taiwan The European Parliament on Wednesday passed two resolutions bearing content supporting Taiwan's democracy and for the first time encourage European Union (EU) members to "revisit their engagement policies with Taiwan," for which Taiwan's government expressed its gratitude.


Tech and Media

The Shutdown of Mitalk 米聊, Xiaomi's Legacy and China's First Mobile Im, Is Due Next Month- PingWest Chinese smartphone giant Xiaomi will pull the plugs off its messaging app MiTalk. According to Xiaomi, MiTalk will stop accepting new account registration on 1 February and send the server offline permanently on 19 February..MiTalk or Mi Liao came into being at the dawn of China's booming mobile era. Launched on 10 December 2010, MiTalk is the first batch of Chinese IMs that copied the Canadian mobile-first chat app Kik. 42 days after MiTalk's launch, Tencent released WeChat.

Taylor Swift Is a Winner at Chinese Awards Show | Billboard Taylor Swift is among the winners at China’s Tencent Music Entertainment Awards, which will air on Jan. 23. She will accept the award via pre-recorded video.

How Snowden shaped EU's approach to Huawei · TechNode Based on more than 10 interviews with industry insiders and regulators, TechNode tells the story of how Huawei established itself in the Greek market—and how the tables have turned for the Chinese telecom giant. In the first part of this three-part series, we explored how Huawei entrenched itself in Greek networks. This installment expands beyond Greece to the European Union, examining how the bloc’s and consequently Greece’s policy on telecommunications security changed over the years, thanks to espionage and a global anti-Huawei campaign from the US

Chipmaker MediaTek Launches New Chipsets as Smartphone-Makers Drive Demand Boom - Caixin MediaTek Inc. launched new flagship chipsets Wednesday amid record-high demand for its cheaper products from Chinese smartphone-makers scrapping for the market share left behind by besieged giant Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd.

ASML: China's $150 Billion Chip Push Has Hit A Dutch Snag - Bloomberg Chinese companies are buying the less advanced equipment that ASML supplies, and the share of business the company gets from China continues to grow. The country accounted for 18% of sales last year, up from 12% a year earlier, helping the company beat earnings expectations in the three months through December and predict 2021 earnings that also exceeded analyst expectations. The upshot is that Chinese customers are investing to catch up with current chipmaking technology, while rivals in Taiwan, South Korea and the U.S. are already racing ahead with the next generation.


Society, Arts, Sports, Culture and History

北京广播电视台:解除和郑爽的一切合作,不会再播出任何有关她的作品_风闻 BTV cuts all ties with actress Zheng Shuang over her surrogacy scandal

Experts: 15 more days to reach trapped China mine workers - AP It will take at least 15 more days to get through a massive amount of debris and reach miners already trapped for 11 days since an explosion in a gold mine in eastern China, authorities said Thursday.


Energy, Environment, Science and Health

China Breaks Record for New Wind Power Capacity, Just Before Subsidies Expire - Caixin China installed a record 71.67 million kilowatts of new wind power capacity in 2020, according to official figures, more than half of it in December, as developers rushed to get projects up and running before a subsidy program expired...there are reasons for taking the 2020 numbers with a grain of salt. The amount of newly installed wind power capacity is typically larger than amount that actually got connected to the power grid

China doubles new renewable capacity in 2020; still builds thermal plants | Reuters China more than doubled its construction of new wind and solar power plants in 2020 from a year earlier, government data showed, reflecting Beijing’s pledge to cut fossil fuel dependence and bring carbon emissions to a peak within a decade.

India's vaccine diplomacy in south Asia pushes back against China | Reuters India will give millions of doses of COVID-19 vaccine to South Asian countries in the next few weeks, government sources said on Thursday, drawing praise from its neighbours and pushing back against China’s dominating presence in the region.

科技部:有关论文涉嫌造假调查处理情况的通报 China’s ministry of technology said its investigations into prominent scientists including Cao Xuetao, Rao Yi and Li Hongliang found no problems of plagiarism. It said some of the scholars made mistakes in using the wrong graph for their papers but there is no plagiarism

The reaction of Elizabeth Bik to the Cao news. She was the first to report potential issues:

China's first solar probe to be lofted in 2022 - Xinhua The satellite will operate in a sun-synchronous orbit 720 km above Earth to keep a close tab on the sun 24 hours a day. Measuring about 1,000 kg in total mass, the satellite is expected to orbit the sun for at least four years, according to the Purple Mountain Observatory of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, a research institute based in Nanjing, east China's Jiangsu Province.

Recipients testing positive in Israel sparks concern over Pfizer vaccine efficacy - Global Times More than 12,400 in Israel were reportedly infected after accepting Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine, which led to doubts over the vaccine's efficacy, despite the reported 95 percent efficacy in Phase III clinical trials. This can be a sign that the vaccine's efficacy is not necessarily the same as data from experiments, which is affected by many elements such as the experiment environment and the population tested on, some experts said.

Sinovac increases vaccine production to ensure global supply - Xinhua Chinese pharmaceutical company Sinovac Biotech Ltd. is ramping up the production of CoronaVac, an inactivated COVID-19 vaccine, to ensure global supply, according to Yin Weidong, chairman and CEO of the company...Yin added that the company has constructed a second production line, which will start operation in February, increasing its annual production capacity to 1 billion doses.

Want to be Beijing cool? Try bird watching - Inkstone Despite Beijing being spread out across 6,500 square miles, a group called Birding Beijing recently calculated that the city has the second-highest number of bird species, at 510, of any capital city in the G20, after Brazil’s capital Brasilia.


Jobs and Events

A Conversation with Politburo Member Yang Jiechi | National Committee on United States - China Relations In his first speech to an American audience since the Biden administration took office, Politburo Member Yang Jiechi, director of the Office of the Central Committee for Foreign Affairs of the Politburo of the 19th CPC Central Committee, will speak on the state of U.S.-China relations and prospects for the future. The address will be in Chinese with simultaneous interpretation. Director Yang will be introduced by the National Committee’s new board chair, Secretary Jacob Lew. Join the National Committee on February 1 at 8:00 p.m. EST for a virtual address by Director Yang Jiechi.


Rural and Agricultural Issues

韩正主持召开农村乱占耕地建房问题专项整治工作会议--新闻报道-中国共产党新闻网 Han Zheng presided over a special rectification work meeting on the problem of rural land occupation and house construction