People's Daily "Manifesto" Calls For Grasping The "Historic Opportunity"; CCDI Second Plenum; PRC Influence Concerns Kill University Donation; US Government Worried Wendi Deng May Be PRC Agent; A 70 Billion RMB Ponzi Scheme

Hello everyone, this week's publishing schedule is a bit different. I will not publish on Tuesday DC time because we are finally taking delivery of our stuff we shipped from Beijing in August 2015. We are moving in to a new house (and Sinocism HQ) over the next few weeks and tomorrow I will spend the day starting to unpack. I am curious to see what of our stuff has survived the three month PRC customs impoundment and inspection, the journey to Baltimore, and the nearly two years in storage there.

I will be back to the normal schedule Wednesday, assuming this cold/flu thing that has ruined my weekend doesn't do me in.

Thanks for reading.

The Essential Eight

1. People's Daily "Manifesto" Calls For Grasping The "Historic Opportunity" To Build A "Great Modern Socialist Country" And Expand The PRC's Global Influence

The long page 1 article was signed by "宣言 (manifesto or declaration)", a pseudonym I have not seen before. It is a striking expansion on the ideas of the 19th Party Congress report about the PRC's global ambitions. Marxists certainly like their historical determinism and this article is full of it.

CPC newspaper says China should "grasp historic opportunity" - Xinhua:

The People's Daily, the Communist Party of China (CPC) flagship newspaper, published an article Monday calling for efforts to grasp the historic opportunity facing China.

The article under the byline of Xuan Yan said China was facing a period in which the timeframes of the two centenary goals converged, and both dreams and hard work were needed to achieve the country's goals of creating a moderately prosperous society, modernization and building China into a "great modern socialist country."

The article said socialism with Chinese characteristics had blazed the trail for China's prosperity and the people's happiness, which had allowed scientific socialism to prosper.

Noting the problems facing the world, such as a "democratic deficit," "governance deficit," "development trap," wealth gap, terrorism and climate change, the article said "the drawbacks of capitalism-led political and economic systems are emerging; the global governance system is experiencing profound changes and a new international order is taking shape."

"The world needs China, as all humans are living in a community with a shared future," the article said. "That creates broad strategic room for our efforts to uphold peace and development and gain an advantage."

The article said China was at a historic period for the cause of socialism with Chinese characteristics to leap forward, for the system of socialism with Chinese characteristics to mature and for the world pattern to reshape.

The original - 紧紧抓住大有可为的历史机遇期--宣言:






2. More From The CCDI Second Plenum

This Plenum was a reminder that the CCDI's mission is not only fighting corruption but also enforcing ideological, political and policy discipline among officials. 

Safeguarding Xi's core position is the key: communique - Xinhua:

The key to implementing the spirit of the 19th CPC National Congress is to safeguard Xi's position at the core of the CPC Central Committee and the whole Party, and to safeguard the authority of the CPC Central Committee and its centralized, unified leadership, said a communique adopted at the second plenary session of the 19th CPC Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) which was held from Thursday to Saturday.

Watchdog vows strong enforcement - People's Daily Online:

The most important task in 2018 is to tighten the Party's political rules and disciplines, the statement said, calling for better supervision over the political life of the Party and how its policies are being implemented.

Those who are two-faced, disloyal and dishonest to the Party, who comply in public but oppose in private, should be firmly excluded, it said.

In the statement, the CCDI pledged to enhance monitoring of political life within the Party and inspect how key principles and policies are carried out.

"We'll place political disciplines of the Party as a top priority, and firmly put the major decisions and deployments made by the CPC Central Committee into practice," said Liu Xuexin, head of Fujian Provincial Discipline Inspection Commission.

China’s graft-busters told to zero in on political loyalty and discipline | South China Morning Post

It will also focus on cases involving “interest groups” with political and economic ties, and there will be tighter scrutiny of the financial sector and poverty alleviation efforts in a bid to stamp out corruption.

But “political building” – loyalty and discipline – was top of the agenda, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection said in a communiqué released after its second plenary session since its new membership was elected in October.

The communique 中国共产党第十九届中央纪律检查委员会第二次全体会议公报

People's Daily App looks at what is different about this CCDI Second Plenum communique-工作任务部署比五年前翻一番!中纪委今年反腐要这么干

3. Will President Trump Finally Move On His China Trade Threats?

Axios Sneak Peek - Inside the real trade fight:

In the meantime, some of Trump's advisers hope the administration can take sufficiently aggressive actions against China — using a trade law known as Section 301 — to satiate the president’s protectionist impulses.

Given Trump’s unpredictability, it’s impossible to guess whether that strategy will work. But here's what might help: according to sources familiar with his thinking, Trump's top trade negotiator, Robert Lighthizer, isn't as committed to the 232 strategy as most believe. He's much more focused on targeted actions against China, which he views as the ultimate economic threat to the U.S.

Potential punitive steps against China could include wide-ranging tariffs on Chinese-made products (especially consumer electronics) or new legal limits on China’s ability to invest in American companies in order to steal sensitive IP.

A CNBC interview with Myron Brilliant of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce after he led a delegation of retired US officials to Beijing to meet with CCP leaders and tell them that they need to take the risk of a trade war with the US very seriously. - The US Chamber wants 'fairness; in trade and opportunity in China

4. Financial Regulators Continue To Make Crackdown Noises

Is this just another replay of efforts that will peter out, or is it different this time? Almost everything I see makes me think this time is much more real.

Banking Overseer Vows Enforcement With ‘Iron Fist’ - Caixin Global:

The China Banking Regulatory Commission (CBRC) will prioritize the regulation of interbank, wealth management, off-balance-sheet and shadow banking businesses this year as it deepens the financial deleveraging campaign, the regulator said in a statement.

It will also strengthen supervision over banks’ shareholders and scrutinize lending to prevent funds from being used in ways that go against the government’s macroeconomic policies, according to the statement, which was issued on Saturday.

“The situation remains so complicated and severe that financial risks remain highly possible and there could be multiple outbreaks,” it said...

The regulatory body will target mainly eight types of banking misconduct this year. They include granting loans to industries such as real estate in violation of government policies; conducting illicit interbank, wealth management, or off-balance-sheet businesses; transferring benefits to shareholders or other stakeholders; and breaking rules to cover up or dispose of nonperforming assets, according to the statement.

银行业进一步整治市场乱象 聚焦公司治理不健全、违反宏观调控政策等八方面问题 

Graft-Buster Targets Banks Over Corrupt Lending - Caixin Global $$ :

China’s top graft-buster is now targeting banks as it vows to wipe out corruption linked to high-risk loans.

Corruption linked to “financial credit,” usually loans given to fund loosely regulated trust, insurance or other asset management products, was among four key areas targeted for an immediate crackdown. The other priorities are eliminating bribery linked to official appointments; government supervision and approvals; and resource allocation, according to a communiqué released by Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) after its second plenary session on Saturday

China Further Tightens Screws on Entrusted Loans - Caixin Global:

The China Securities Regulatory Commission has ordered a ban on investing collective asset management plans — investment pools managed by brokerages for as much as 200 retail investors — into entrusted loans, trust loans and other non-standard credit assets, separate sources told Caixn. Non-standard credit assets refer to debt-financing instruments that are not traded in either stock exchanges or the interbank market.

Xi Jinping’s Debt Clampdown Has Left a Trail of Dead Projects - Bloomberg:

"As financial regulation gets stricter and credit supplies tighten, it will be more and more difficult for local governments to borrow for infrastructure and industrial park development, or to borrow for repaying old debts," said Qian Wan, a Bloomberg economist in Beijing who analyzes China’s regional economies. "Deleveraging is always painful, but will be more painful for inland provinces where growth is not as robust."

5. University Of Texas Rejects Donation From China United States Exchange Foundation (CUSEF) And The US Government Thinks Wendi Deng May Be A PRC Spy

University rejects Chinese Communist Party-linked influence efforts on campus - The Washington Post

As part of a broad effort to interfere in U.S. institutions, China tries to shape the discussion at American universities, stifle criticism and influence academic activity by offering funding, often through front organizations closely linked to Beijing.

Now that aspect of Beijing’s foreign influence campaign is beginning to face resistance from academics and lawmakers. A major battle in this nascent campus war played out over the past six months at the University of Texas in Austin.

After a long internal dispute, a high-level investigation and an intervention by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.), the university last week rejected a proposal by the leader of its new China center to accept money from the China United States Exchange Foundation (CUSEF). The Hong Kong-based foundation and its leader, Tung Chee-hwa, are closely linked to the branch of the Chinese Communist Party that manages influence operations abroad.

The Johns Hopkins University’s School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS recently accepted a donation from Tung to fund a professorship and a new research project, as Foreign Policy reported in November

The Wall Street Journal reported Monday that Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump were warned to be careful of contacts with her.

U.S. Warned Jared Kushner About Wendi Deng Murdoch - WSJ $$:

U.S. counterintelligence officials in early 2017 warned Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, that Wendi Deng Murdoch, a prominent Chinese-American businesswoman, could be using her close friendship with Mr. Kushner and his wife, Ivanka Trump, to further the interests of the Chinese government, according to people familiar with the matter.

U.S. officials have also had concerns about a counterintelligence assessment that Ms. Murdoch was lobbying for a high-profile construction project funded by the Chinese government in Washington, D.C., one of these people said.

The project, a planned $100 million Chinese garden at the National Arboretum, was deemed a national-security risk because it included a 70-foot-tall white tower that could potentially be used for surveillance, according to people familiar with the intelligence community’s deliberations over the garden. The garden was planned on one of the higher patches of land near downtown Washington, less than 5 miles from both the Capitol and the White House.

And the Chinese garden project, a symbol of US-China friendship, is on hold.

6. A 70 Billion RMB Ponzi Scheme Has Collapsed

Qbao Founder in the Clink After Rags-to-Riches Promises - Caixin Global:

When the founder of Qbao turned himself over to police in Nanjing shortly before the New Year’s holiday, it sent shockwaves through China and spotlighted illegal investment schemes on the internet where rags-to-riches promises have outpaced the ability of authorities to shut them down.

Zhang Xiaolei, who dangled tales of returns of up to 80% to potential investors, launched in 2012. A source close to authorities told Caixin that he is accused of illegally raising 70 billion yuan ($11 billion), in what, if proven true, would be the largest online investment fraud in China’s history...

Qbao’s business model was simple – and lucrative. It offered as high as 80% of annualized investment return to investors after they placed required amounts of deposit with the company and took part in product promotional activities, such as watching advertisements, sharing information about products on social media or simply signing into their account every day for a required period. The higher deposits investors paid, the more return they were promised.,,

A 26-year-old investor told Caixin that he had applied for seven credit cards to withdraw money for investments in Qbao. With Qbao’s collapse, he is now defaulting on his bank loans.

7. #MeToo Gaining Traction On PRC College Campuses

But do not expect the Party to allow it to spiral out of control.

The #MeToo Campaign Spreading Across China’s College Campuses - Sixth Tone:

Sixth Tone has reported on a raft of allegations aired on social media in recent weeks. On Jan. 1, Luo Xixi, a former doctoral student, accused Chen Xiaowu, her supervisor at Beihang University, of indecent behavior, while Nanchang University, Hebei Institute of Communications, and Beijing Film Academy were all implicated in similar or more serious allegations last year.

Beihang University announced on its official Weibo account on Thursday that it had removed Chen from his post and revoked his teaching qualification. On Sunday, the Ministry of Education also revoked Chen’s title of Changjiang Scholar — a prestigious academic honor — and ordered him to pay back previously awarded funds.

Another school in Beijing, the University of International Business and Economics, has also begun an investigation after an anonymous online post on Thursday accused associate professor Xue Yuan of long-term sexual harassment. The post gained tremendous attention, with hundreds of users commenting and many sharing similar experiences with the professor. On Friday afternoon, the school said it had asked the professor to return from his overseas program early to face investigation.

MOE targets college sexual harassment - Global Times:

"The Ministry of Education is responding to the appeal from students as reports of sexual harassment appeared in recent years," Xiong Jing, managing director of Beijing-based NGO Media Monitor for Women Network, told the Global Times.

"Teachers who sexually harass students should not be regarded as individual cases of ethics violations and there should be a prevention mechanism that weighs the teachers' influence over a student's life at college," Xiong said.

Nearly 70 percent of 6,592 respondents said they experienced sexual harassment, according to a 2017 survey by a Guangzhou-based gender education center and a Beijing-based law firm.

Chinese students use #MeToo to take fight against sexual harassment to elite universities | South China Morning Post:

After a slow take-up of the global #MeToo movement in China, activists are now battling strict censorship to take the campaign to university campuses and push for action to combat sexual harassment following a series of high-profile allegations. Over the past two weeks, students and alumni from dozens of Chinese universities have launched online petitions calling on their schools to draw up policies to prevent sexual harassment on campus.

8. Reforms To Supply Of Residential Land

Comment: I am not sure how big a deal this will be in implementation is but it is getting a ton of play across PRC media Tuesday AM.

China to diversify sources of residential land supply - Xinhua

China will seek new sources of residential land supply to improve housing, and gradually the government will no longer be the sole provider of residential land.

Authorities will work on plans to let non-real estate companies build residential housing on land of which they have obtained use rights, said Minister of Land and Resources Jiang Daming at a national conference.

The government will also allow rental housing on rural land to increase rental options, the minister said.

政府将不再垄断住房供地 这些影响你要知道-腾讯网:




Business, Economy, Finance And Trade

ALIBABA’S RESPONSE TO USTR REPORT | In light of all this, it’s clear that no matter how much action we take and progress we make, the USTR is not actually interested in seeing tangible results. Therefore, our inclusion on its list is not an accurate representation of Alibaba’s results in protecting brands and IP, and we have no other choice but to conclude that this is a deeply flawed, biased and politicized process.

Found on Instagram, sold on Alibaba: Even the smallest brands are now the victims of counterfeiting - LA Times If they want, those penny pinchers can seek a knockoff Ornot jersey. They’ve been available on AliExpress for at least two years for about $30, a quarter the cost of authentic versions made of Italian fabric, the company said. Ornot filed an initial report with AliExpress in 2015, but the complaint stalled. Chinese e-commerce platforms are required by their country’s laws to respond to reports of infringement in a timely manner. Alibaba is notorious for fakes, but has in recent years enhanced its reporting system, resulting in a faster response. Its Taobao service deactivated the accounts of 230,000 sellers between September 2016 and August 2017 for violating intellectual property.

China Escalates Crackdown on Cryptocurrency Trading - Bloomberg While authorities banned cryptocurrency exchanges last year, they’ve recently noted an uptick in activity on alternative venues. The government plans to block domestic access to homegrown and offshore platforms that enable centralized trading, the people said, without being more specific about how policy makers define such platforms.

HNA's problems mount as airlines delay payments, bank sets up team to handle debt: sources - Reuters Comment: If you do business with HNA get paid upfront or stop providing all services/goods if the company is even 1 day past due. Do not expect it to get better in this environment  //  Some airlines affiliated with China’s HNA Group Co Ltd are delaying aircraft lease payments to lessors, and Export-Import Bank of China, which is a long-term financer of the group, has formed a team to handle the conglomerate’s liquidity issues, several banking and leasing sources said.

China demands audit of foreign airlines and hotel websites - People's Daily Online China's lead civil aviation and tourism authorities have asked foreign airlines and hotels operating in the country to audit their websites and mobile apps to ensure they have not listed Chinese territories as separate countries, reports Xinhua News Agency. This move follows recent media coverage of instances where American companies Delta Airlines and Marriott Hotels International incorrectly listed the Chinese territories of Hong Kong, Macao, Taiwan, and Tibet as separate countries in their information to customers.

Senior official to attend WEF annual meeting - Xinhua Liu He, member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and director of the General Office of the Central Leading Group for Financial and Economic Affairs, will attend the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting from Jan. 22 to 25 in Davos, Switzerland, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson said on Monday.

Marriott sacks employee who ‘liked’ Twitter post from Tibet independence group | South China Morning Post US hotel giant Marriott said it is in the process of sacking an employee for “wrongfully liking” a Twitter post by a group that supports independence for Tibet in its latest effort to calm a storm of criticism sparked by a company survey that referred to the Chinese region, and self-ruled Taiwan, as countries, Chinese state media reported.

China gives preference to poor areas on financial support - Xinhua Abject poverty areas should have priority in new financial capital and services, according to a guideline by the People's Bank of China (PBOC), the banking, securities and insurance regulatory commissions. Annual credit growth in those areas should be higher than the provincial average by 2020, according to the PBOC statement.

China's central bank sees net forex sales in December - Xinhua The People's Bank of China sold 36.3 billion yuan (about 4.6 billion U.S. dollars) worth of foreign exchange last month, the first net sales since the central bank recorded a net purchase for the first time in nearly two years in September.

China's Yunnan to inject capital in firm that missed shadow loan payments - Reuters On Dec 15, Yunnan Capital missed payments of more than 900 million yuan, representing principal and interest, that it had borrowed through two trust products issued by the Harbin-based Zhongrong International Trust, the two sources said on Monday.


Politics, Law And Ideology

Party leaders reiterate authority, leadership of CPC Central Committee - Xinhua The Standing Committee heard reports from leading Party members' groups of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC), the State Council, the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), the Supreme People's Court (SPC) and Supreme People's Procuratorate (SPP) as well as a report from the Secretariat of the CPC Central Committee. Xi Jinping, general secretary of the CPC Central Committee, presided over the meeting and delivered a speech. For the whole Party, it should be "a primary political principle and essential political rule" to safeguard the authority of CPC Central Committee and its unified and centralized leadership, said a statement issued after the meeting. The committee urged all Party members to strengthen their consciousness of the need to maintain political integrity, think in big-picture terms, follow the leadership core and keep in alignment. "The committee has heard reports from these organs for three years, which is a necessary and significant mechanism and should be carried on," the statement said.-[视频]中共中央政治局常务委员会召开会议 听取全国人大常委会、国务院、全国政协、最高人民法院、最高人民检察院党组工作汇报 听取中央书记处工作报告 中共中央总书记习近平主持会议_CCTV

Studying, implementing Xi thought high priority for Party theoretical work: official - Xinhua Huang Kunming, head of the Publicity Department of the CPC Central Committee, made the remarks at a workshop on Xi thought in Beijing. Huang asked officials to grasp the political, historical, theoretical and practical significance of Xi thought and strengthen the consciousness of studying, publicizing and implementing Xi thought. We should continue to deepen the studying and illustrating of Xi thought and turn the result into abilities to understand, study and resolve problems, Huang said. He said that Xi thought reflected the "political will, stance and doctrine of the CPC in a centralized manner and made China's original contributions to the development of Marxism." "It is also a powerful weapon to guide the CPC to advance social revolutions and self-renewal," he said.

Senior official requires mass organizations to improve services to public - Xinhua Mass organizations should reform themselves and better serve the public, senior leader of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Wang Huning said here Saturday. Wang, a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee, made the remarks at a meeting attended by leaders of five mass organizations, namely the All-China Federation of Trade Unions, the Communist Youth League Central Committee, All-China Women's Federation, China Association for Science and Technology, and All-China Federation of Returned Overseas Chinese.

China Focus: State Council to report management of state asset to top legislature - Xinhua The State Council will submit two types of reports to the top legislature, according to a guideline issued by the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee. One will be a general report on basic conditions of all sorts of state asset, which the State Council will hand in a written one annually and send an official to explain to the lawmakers in the last year of their tenure. The other will be a report on specific aspects of state asset, such as state-owned enterprises, state-owned financial institutions, state-run non-commercial institutions and state-owned natural resources. Every year, except for the last of the legislature's tenure, the State Council is required to dispatch an official to explain one of the specific reports to lawmakers....The move to establish such a mechanism is "a vital decision by the CPC Central Committee to enhance supervision by the NPC over state asset and an essential system for the Party and state to tighten management of state asset," said the guideline.

Chinese Authorities Arrest Xinjiang Intellectual Amid Crackdown on Prominent Uyghurs - RFA Authorities in northwest China’s Xinjiang region have arrested a prominent Uyghur intellectual for exhibiting “nationalistic tendencies,” according to a source in exile, amid an intensifying crackdown on notable members of the ethnic group. Halmurat Ghopur, president of the Xinjiang Food and Drug Administration’s Department of Inspection and Supervision in the regional capital Urumqi, was taken into custody in November last year and is being held in an unknown location amid an investigation into his alleged “acts against the state,” according to Zumret Tursun, a Norway-based Uyghur activist.

Comrade, meet Cupid: China’s Communist Party plays matchmaker to millennials - The Washington Post Concerned the gender imbalance could create instability, the ruling party first tried to shame single women into marriage, calling them “leftover” and comparing them to yellowed pearls.  Now it has settled on a more robust market intervention: mass matchmaking.  In Zhejiang, a prosperous province in southern China, an estimated 100,000 young people attended Communist Youth League dating events last year, the group says.

Giving Credit 3: Inputs and Outputs - China Law Translate Each of the four local social credit Regulations defines Social Credit Information as information useful for understanding a subject’s (ie a person or organization’s) compliance with laws, regulations, and contractual obligations. This definition might seem like an empty bit of legalese, but it contains a critical point. It tells us that the focus of Social Credit is compliance with legal obligations, which roots the system in existing laws. The 2014-2020 social credit plan, and some of the local Regulations, also contain broad language discussing the construction of a ‘culture of creditworthiness’ and ‘moral education’, which has led many to fear that social credit will regulate and restrict behavior beyond the requirements of law. Here the rules show that when it comes to actual function, Social Credit’s core concern is strictly with legal obligations.

Tencent-Assisted Public Security Guardian Plan Uncovers USD498 Mln Cybercrime Cases | Yicai Global "In 2017, Tencent helped the police crackdown the largest domestic platform that decoded verification codes through artificial intelligence, and further uncovered the entire underground illegal industrial chain, from database hacking and decoding verification codes to illegally selling citizens’ information and conducting online internet fraud,” Tencent co-founder added.

Govt to remove borders of Shenzhen Special Economic Zone - Boundary administration between Hong Kong and Guangdong should be enhanced after revoking the management line, the circular said.

共产主义的坚强战士--时政--人民网 ——纪念陶铸同志诞辰110周年 中共中央党史研究室  //  Page 7 1.16 People's Daily piece by the Central Party History Research Office About Tao Zhu on the 110th anniversary of his death--"A Strong Soldier of Communism"

健全党和国家监督体系(认真学习宣传贯彻党的十九大精神)--时政--人民网 Xiao Pei, deputy secretary of the CCDI, on page 7 of the 1.16 People's Daily on building a robust Party and State supervisory system...all preparing for the new National Supervisory Commission


Foreign and Military Affairs

China absence looms over Canada meeting on how to pressure North Korea - Reuters “There is growing evidence that our maximum pressure campaign is being felt in North Korea. They are feeling the strain,” said Brian Hook, the State Department’s director of policy planning. Hook told a briefing in Washington that participants, including U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, would examine how to boost maritime security around North Korea to intercept ships trying to defy sanctions as well as “disrupting funding and disrupting resources.”

Vancouver meet may achieve little in addressing North Korea nuclear crisis - Global Times The US and Canada are bringing together foreign ministers from around 20 nations on Tuesday in Vancouver to discuss security and stability on the Korean Peninsula. It's strange that many of the countries invited are not stakeholders in the situation, but those who participated under UN Command during the Korean War (1950-53). Washington seems to be reviving the long-forgotten multinational military alliance.

China's modern Silk Road hits political, financial hurdles - AP From Pakistan to Tanzania to Hungary, projects under President Xi Jinping’s signature “Belt and Road Initiative” are being canceled, renegotiated or delayed due to disputes about costs or complaints host countries get too little out of projects built by Chinese companies and financed by loans from Beijing that must be repaid. In some places, Beijing is suffering a political backlash due to fears of domination by Asia’s biggest economy.

Can the Chinese government now get access to your Grindr profile? - The Washington Post This week, the Kunlun Group completed a full buyout of Grindr, a gay, bi, trans, and queer dating app that claims 3.3 million daily users. The Chinese firm bought 60 percent of the company in Jan. 2016 for $93 million and has now acquired the remaining stake for $152 million, according to stock filings. Grindr announced that Kunlun executives will take over leadership of the company. That announcement set off alarms among officials and experts that track Chinese intelligence and foreign influence operations in the United States. The Chinese government is sweeping up massive amounts of data on not only its own citizens, but also Americans and others, as part of a unique and well-planned effort to build files on foreigners for intelligence purposes. 

Chinese nuclear attack submarine that raised flag in international waters may have been testing Japan’s patrol capabilities | Kyodo The 110-metre-long Shang-class submarine was detected on Thursday while submerged just outside Japanese territorial waters near the Senkaku Islands, also known as the Diaoyu Islands. Tokyo filed a protest with Beijing, which also claims the islands, saying the submarine’s presence raised bilateral tensions.

Chinese Trade With North Korea Plunged by 50% Last Month - Bloomberg The value of Chinese goods exported to North Korea last month fell 23 percent year on year, according to data released Friday by China’s General Administration of Customs. Imports from the country also plunged 82 percent in December. All told, trade between the two sides fell almost 51 percent during the month.

US defence chief Jim Mattis set to visit China in spring, Pentagon spokeswoman says | South China Morning Post US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis plans to pay his first official visit to China in the spring to seek further cooperation from Beijing amid rising challenges from North Korea’s nuclear threat, according to the Pentagon.

China in talks for sale of jet engine technology to Germany | South China Morning Post The machinery produced turbine blades capable of withstanding temperatures several hundred degrees Celsius higher than the melting point of metallic alloys, the scientist said. The scientist, who is involved in the negotiations, asked not to be named because of the sensitivity of the matter.

Philippine brass up in arms on the South China Sea | Asia Times In contrast to the presidential palace’s statements, which have consistently tried to downplay or deny reports of China’s reclamation activities on Philippine-claimed land features, Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana has taken a more strident stance on the issue. On January 8, Lorenzana announced that the Philippines will lodge a diplomatic protest if reports of Chinese reclamation activities on the Fiery Cross reef, which is also claimed by the Philippines, are verified.

China's building a 36-km long road in strategic J&K valley near Siachen - ThePrint In new construction activity that is expected to be seen by India as a fresh provocation, China has begun building a road and military posts in the strategic Shaksgam Valley, located north of the Siachen Glacier in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir, satellite images accessed by ThePrint show.

Alejano warns vs DFA’s approval of China exploration in Benham Rise | Magdalo Rep. Gary Alejano has expressed concern over the Department of Foreign Affairs’ (DFA) approval of China’s request to conduct a marine scientific research in Benham Rise. In a statement late Thursday, Alejano revealed that he has received information that the DFA granted the request of the Institute of Oceanology of Chinese Academy of Sciences (IO-CAS) for a marine scientific research (MSR) in Philippine waters.


Tech And Media

Father of WeChat announces independent apps for Official Accounts · TechNode Another exciting news for the feature is that WeChat will bring back its in-app tipping feature for iOS versions after negotiation with Apple. “The negotiations with Apple also give us a lot of thinking. The previous tipping system is based on Official Accounts, which may feature the contribution from several writers. The new one will shift to a writer-based structure,” Zhang added.

China's indigenously-developed CPU enters mass production - Xinhua | The ZX-C series, developed by Shanghai Zhaoxin Semiconductor Co. Ltd., adopt the same X86 architecture as Intel processors and are compatible with Windows operating system and software, which previous Chinese processors failed to do, said Ye Jun, chairman of Zhaoxin. "Computers equipped with our processor have passed the test to run smoothly for 100,000 hours, meaning it is qualified for mass production," Ye said. According to Ye, computers installed with ZX-C CPUs are now qualified for government procurement in Shanghai, Jiangsu, Anhui and other Chinese regions.

Alibaba and Microsoft AI beat humans in Stanford reading test - FT $$ In the test administered last week, companies subjected their artificial intelligence systems to queries from the Stanford Question Answering Dataset, which assessed reading comprehension. The computers’ answers were compared against average human responses and ranked. Tying in top place were Microsoft, the US software giant, and Alibaba, the Chinese tech group that began with ecommerce and is — like its peers at home and abroad — ploughing more funds into AI, much of it via its research arm.

Baidu, Ant Financial And Toutiao Summoned By Chinese Government Over User Privacy Issues – China Money Network Chinese tech giant Baidu Inc., Alibaba’s financial affiliate Ant Financial and Beijing Bytedance Telecommunications Co., Ltd., the operator of Chinese personalized news app Toutiao, have been summoned to answer question by China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology as they have failed to fully disclose the collection of personal data from users of their mobile apps, according to the government’s website.

Google to Relaunch Map Service in China: Nikkei | Reuters Alphabet Inc's Google will relaunch its map service in China after an eight-year absence, Nikkei reported on Monday. The company has set up a China-specific version of the Google Maps website and introduced a map app for Chinese iPhones, Nikkei said.

Hunan TV Mogul Arrested for Alleged Corruption - Caixin Global Prosecutors in central China’s Hunan province have arrested Long Qiuyun, the former chairman of China’s state-owned film and TV powerhouse Hunan TV & Broadcast Intermediary Co., for alleged corruption. Long, 55, headed the Shenzhen-listed Hunan TV for nearly two decades. He was behind Hunan TV’s $1.5 billion investment in the U.S. film studio Lionsgate in 2015 for a three-year co-production partnership, which was the biggest overseas deal made by a Chinese film company at that time. Under the partnership, Hunan TV became financial partner in about a dozen Lionsgate releases, including the multi-Oscar Award winner ‘La La Land.’

揭秘“紫光阁地沟油上热搜”背后的“刷榜”交易 The Beijing News looks into the dirty business of buying top placements in Weibo search rankings, in the wake of the "viral" and mistaken allegations of gutter oil at a popular restaurant thought to have attacked rapper PG One, when in fact the attack on the rapper came from a Party magazine with the same name as the restaurant...

Baidu COO says China's government will help the country dominate AI | VentureBeat When Baidu COO Qi Lu took the stage at his company’s first CES press conference yesterday, he had a clear message for the audience in Las Vegas: China is coming to dominate the AI market around the world. In his view, the country’s population, regulatory environment, and wealth of data means that China is poised to lead the world in AI innovation. “What will give an edge to China is a much larger population and a fast growing market,” he said. “And a favorable policy environment designed to nurture and enable more data harnessing and AI technology.”


Society, Art, Sports, Culture And History

Dallas Mavericks announce new official Chinese name - Official Website of the Dallas Mavericks After nearly two decades of the name “Mavericks” being translated into Chinese as “Little Cows,” the Dallas Mavericks have selected a new Chinese team name with much help from Chinese basketball fans. Announced tonight during Tencent’s live broadcast of the Dallas Mavericks home game against the Golden State Warriors, the official Chinese name of the Mavericks has been changed to 独行侠 (DúXíngXiá), which translates roughly in English to “Lone Ranger Heroes.”

‘Witches’ are banding together after rural Chinese communities ostracise them - AP In one rural farming community in southwestern China, 13.7 per cent of the population have been labelled “zhu,” or “witches,” by their neighbours, according to a new paper published on January 8 in Nature Human Behaviour. “Zhu households are believed to raise snakes, and poison people by providing them polluted food or simply by eye contact,” said Ting Ji, an anthropologist at the Chinese Academy of Sciences who worked on the study.


Energy, Environment, Science And Health

China punishes officials for tampering with smog monitoring - Reuters The Ministry of Environmental Protection (MEP) said officials in the cities of Xinyu in Jiangxi and Xinyang in Henan, sought to reduce emissions readings by spraying water on their air quality sensors.

China recyclers grind to halt amid crackdown on imported waste - FT $$ The ban on imports and the closure of small plastic processors in places such as Luwang is a reflection of Beijing’s harder line on pollution, and the fact China is generating more plastic waste itself, reducing the need for imports. But domestic waste comprises only a quarter of recycled inputs to China’s domestic plastic industry, meaning companies will face a shortfall in supply, potentially pushing up prices, according to the CSPA. As a result China’s larger recycling companies are in the process of moving production to Southeast Asia.

China races to tackle expanding oil spill after tanker sinks | AFP China's maritime authority warned late Monday that the oil spill was expanding, with "several" oil slicks observed that "were much bigger than the previous day". Three separate slicks were easily visible from surveillance planes, up to 11.3 miles in length, China's State Oceanic Administration (SOA) said in a statement cited by Xinhua.

China is opening a new quantum research supercenter | Popular Science The $10 billion National Laboratory for Quantum Information Sciences in Hefei will be the center of China's attempt to take the global lead in quantum computing and sensing.

The Rise and Fall of China’s Science Superstar - Sixth Tone: Han Chunyu retracted disputed ‘breakthrough’ research but still enjoys support from university and local government... Just a year and a half ago, Han was basking in the spotlight. In May 2016, scientific journal Nature Biotechnology published his research on NgAgo, an enzyme he claimed was capable of snipping DNA sequences like scissors to modify genomes. Several years earlier, the scientific community had started using another enzyme, Cas9, to cut sequences of a genome, which would in theory make it possible to create designer babies or identify cancer-causing genes.


Food And Travel

Facing Danger for a Delicacy, Sea Cucumber Harversters - Caixin Global Li Xuewen, a doctor specializing in diving injuries at a Dalian-based military hospital, said he has treated more than 1,000 patients who were working as divers. He mainly sees two kinds of injuries. The first are lung injuries caused by compressed air expanding quickly as divers rise to the surface too fast, which can tear apart lung tissue. The other most common injury is bone damage caused by nitrogen blocking blood flow, according to Li. “It’s all because of the money,” Li told Caixin. “These people are both pitiable and hopeless — some of them turn back to the water soon after they undergo emergency treatment.”

In 2018, China’s seeing its most powerful passport in years, according to the Henley Passport Index — Quartz China has climbed 10 spots to rank at 75th place in the latest Henley Passport Index, an annual passport ranking by citizenship planning firm Henley and Partners. Published on Jan. 9, the research is based on data from the International Air Transport Association and its own research. According to the index, the ranking is China’s highest since 2008. Its lowest rank in the last 10 years was in 2015, when China ranked in 94th place. Chinese tourists can now travel to 60 countries without a visa, according to Henley.