Policy signals for the economy; Propaganda work; Studying May 4th; BRI; PLAN anniversary

Xi Jinping has had a busy few days. On Friday he chaired the monthly Politburo meeting that signaled a shift in the near-term policy mix for the economy as well as intensifying efforts in propaganda work. It looks like the message is “now that we have stabilized things we are going back to emphasizing structural reforms over stimuli”. We will have to wait and see how real that really is…

After the Politburo meeting Xi chaired a study session on the May 4th Movement to discuss how the Party needs to educate and propagandize the youth “to work tirelessly to secure a decisive victory in building a moderately prosperous society in all respects, strive for the great success of socialism with Chinese characteristics for a new era, and realize the Chinese Dream of national rejuvenation”.

Today Xi chaired the fourth meeting of the Central Committee for Financial and Economic Affairs.

This week China is celebrating the 70th anniversary of the PLA Navy in Qingdao and I believe Xi will attend on Tuesday.

The second Belt and Road Forum April 25 to April 27 in Beijing, Xi will give the opening speech.

So at the very least we may get a week without much US-China trade leaks and speculation…

Thanks for reading.

The Essential Eight

1. Policy signals for the economy

CPC holds meeting to discuss economy, poverty alleviation, Party publicity work - Xinhua

Bolder and more effective measures must be taken to implement the proactive fiscal policy, while prudent monetary policy should be kept "neither too tight nor too loose," the statement said.

Efforts should be made to push high-quality development in the manufacturing sector to shore up growth, while measures should be taken to support the development of the private companies as well as the small and medium-sized enterprises and ease their financing strain, it said.

The country should stick to the principle that "housing is for living in, not speculation," and implement the long-term mechanism on housing regulation.

China must promote the healthy development of the capital market through key institutional innovations, and implement the registration-based IPO system on the new science and technology innovation board, the statement said...

China Shifting Focus From Further Economic Support to Structural Reforms, Analysts Say - Caixin

An emphasis on stability that had dominated previous Politburo meetings was lessened in last week's, with the phrase to “stabilize employment, the financial sector, foreign trade, investment and market expectations” dropped. Such changes in wording are closely scrutinized for clues on policymakers' priorities. 

Research reports from Citibank and UBS both said that on the back of such positive indicators for quarterly economic activity, the need for further loosening measures has diminished significantly, and instead structural reforms could accelerate...

The meeting indicated policymakers are looking to deal with deep-seated reform issues, according to Zhu Zhenxin, executive president of the Reality Institute of Advanced Finance. The meeting said that “downward pressure” on the economy was caused less by cyclical factors and more by “structural” and “systemic” ones, points out Zhu, who says that this wording — which has not been used in previous Politburo meetings — may indicate the government is eyeing root and branch-style reforms.

Official readout of the Politburo meeting - 中共中央政治局召开会议 中共中央总书记习近平主持会议-新华网

Beijing Just Undermined China's $2.5 Trillion Stock Rally - Bloomberg

After the equity measure surged almost 40 percent this year, investors have grown increasingly sensitive to whether the authorities will maintain the massive scale of stimulus seen in the first quarter. A statement late Friday from a meeting of the Politburo was interpreted by traders as meaning the economy is on a stable enough footing that extended support isn’t needed. Instead there was a focus on deleveraging and avoiding speculation in the housing market.

Chinese govt meeting discusses new sci-tech board - Global Times

According to a report by the Xinhua News Agency Friday, the new board must be implemented well, phasing in a registration system with information disclosure as its core, according to a meeting convened by the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee Friday.

It was the first time that the new board was mentioned at the political bureau-level, some domestic media reports noted.

Xi stresses targeted efforts to improve weak links in building moderately prosperous society - Xinhua:

Xi…made the remarks at the fourth meeting of the Central Committee for Financial and Economic Affairs

Efforts should be made to expand supply-side structural reform, make micro-entities more dynamic, and upgrade the industrial chain. 

The meeting pointed out that it is necessary to strengthen regulation of countercyclical macro policy and strive to put tax cuts and fee reduction in place as soon as possible. 

Monetary policies should not be too loose or too tight, and should be pre-tuned and fine-tuned in a timely manner in accordance with economic growth and consumer price changes, so as to increase financial support for real economy. 

Greater efforts should be made to improve business environment, accelerate the upgrading of the economic structure, improve capabilities to innovate in science and technology, and speed up green development, said the meeting.

Xi Jinping tells Chinese officials they must ‘finish the journey’ and shifts focus back to fight against poverty as economy stabilises | South China Morning Post: 

President Xi Jinping has urged Chinese officials to redouble their efforts to fight poverty and pollution so that the Communist Party can deliver its promise of creating a “comprehensively well-off society” by the end of next year. 

Xi told the Central Commission for Financial and Economic Affairs, the Communist Party’s decision-making body on economic matters, on Monday that they must complete the “last mile” of a journey to eradicate absolute poverty in the world’s most populous country, according to statement published by the official Xinhua news agency.

Official readout of the meeting - 习近平主持召开中央财经委员会第四次会议强调 聚焦全面建成小康社会的短板弱项实施精准攻坚 勇于破题善于解题落实好中央经济工作会议精神

2. Propaganda work in focus too

CPC holds meeting to discuss economy, poverty alleviation, Party publicity work - Xinhua:

The meeting also reviewed a regulation on publicity work of the CPC.

In face of new situations, tasks and requirements, the Party needs better legal and institutional arrangements for publicity work, the statement said, explaining the purpose of drafting the regulation on publicity work.

The primary political task of the publicity and ideological work in the new era is to study, promote and implement Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era, the statement said

Comment: By "publicity" they really mean propaganda. The Chinese term is 宣传, a few years ago the official translation switched from "propaganda" to "publicity", though the underlying meaning and substance in Chinese never changed.

This is yet another signal that propaganda and ideological work are only going to intensify in the near-term. And there was no announcement of a 4th plenum so it doesn’t look it will happen in May. What is the longest period between Plenums in the post-Mao era? End of May will be 15 months since the 3rd

3. May 4th 

Xi stresses enhanced studies of May Fourth Movement, spirit - Xinhua

Xi made the remarks at a group study session of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee on Friday, as the 100th anniversary of the movement draws near, according to a press release issued on Saturday.

Presiding over the session on the historical significance and modern value of the May Fourth Movement, Xi underscored that studies of the movement and its spirit must be enhanced, to guide the youth to work tirelessly to secure a decisive victory in building a moderately prosperous society in all respects, strive for the great success of socialism with Chinese characteristics for a new era, and realize the Chinese Dream of national rejuvenation..

He asked for in-depth studies of the great significance of patriotism, progress, democracy and science advocated in the movement for realizing the Chinese Dream of national rejuvenation.

Research on the Chinese youth movement since the May Fourth Movement should be enhanced, Xi said, calling on young people to uphold the leadership of the Party.

Xi also underscored the importance of responding to why the theme of contemporary Chinese youth movement is to strive for achieving the Chinese Dream of national rejuvenation, requiring all aspects of society to care for and serve the youth, as well as create a sound environment for them to develop, innovate and do pioneering work.

Li Yuqi, a researcher with the China Youth and Children Research Center, gave a lecture on the topic and offered suggestions at Friday's meeting.

CCTV Evening News on the study session:习近平在中共中央政治局第十四次集体学习时强调 加强对五四运动和五四精神的研究 激励广大青年为民族复兴不懈奋斗

Comment: Xi is not wrong when he says, as he often does, that China is closer to its national rejuvenation than it has ever been. That message, with the right set of propaganda strategies, will increasingly resonate with nationalistic youth in the PRC, especially when set against what is happening in the US, UK and Europe. Propaganda works and so long as the economy is stabilizing, money-making opportunities return, China looks increasingly strong and successful on the world stage and the Party continues to harden and increase the efficiency and ruthlessness of the security services I still think the rest of the world needs to devote more energy into preparing for Xi and the Party to mostly succeed than for some sort of crisis/collapse scenario.

4. Belt and Road Forum

China releases report on progress, contributions and prospects of BRI - Xinhua

The document, prepared by the office of the leading group for promoting the BRI, was released ahead of the second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation to be held from April 25 to 27 in Beijing.

The Belt and Road Initiative is an initiative for peaceful development and economic cooperation, rather than a geopolitical or military alliance, said the report. "It is a process of open, inclusive and common development, not an exclusionary bloc or a 'China club'."

"It neither differentiates between countries by ideology nor plays the zero-sum game. Countries are welcome to join the initiative if they so will," according to the report.

Full text of report on progress, contributions and prospects of the Belt and Road Initiative  

The report in Chinese 共建“一带一路”倡议:进展、贡献与展望》报告

In nod to debt concerns, China Belt and Road summit to urge sustainable financing - Reuters

World leaders meeting in Beijing this week for a summit on China’s Belt and Road initiative will agree to project financing that respects global debt goals and promotes green growth, according to a draft communique seen by Reuters...

the communique reiterates promises reached at the last summit in 2017 for sustainable financing - but adds a line on debt, which was not included the last time.

“We support collaboration among national and international financial institutions to provide diversified and sustainable financial supports for projects,” the draft communique reads...

The number of foreign leaders at the April 25-27 summit is up from 29 last time

The Friday People's Daily Long had a long page one commentary from “国纪平” on the Belt & Road Initiative and the upcoming BRI Forum. Among other things this one reiterates the message we started seeing at the the end of 2018 that "the past few years, the “One Belt and One Road” has been built to complete the overall layout, and a “big freehand brushwork” has been drawn. In the future, we will focus on the key points and carefully crafted the “fine brushwork”." - 人民日报:共建一带一路 开创美好未来---人民网 - 国纪平:



Reports of the demise of BRI are premature…

Sri Lanka rejects fears of China’s ‘debt-trap diplomacy’ in belt and road projects | South China Morning Post

“If China forced us to obtain loans, you could call it a trap, but every cent we have from China, those were decisions made in Sri Lanka and every loan given to us was on our own request,” Kodituwakku told the Post.

“We made a request with the intention to accelerate our development agenda. With goodwill the Chinese authorities and relevant agencies provided the loans,” he said.

China Exim Bank's B&R loans surpasses 1 trln yuan | english.scio.gov.cn

Currently, more than 1,800 projects of the BRI are underway, according to Zhang Qingsong, chairman of the bank.

Philippines eyes 5 deals with China in upcoming Duterte trip | ABS-CBN News

Foreign Affairs Asec. Meynardo Montealegre said the agreements cover the areas of education, anti-corruption, official development assistance, and drug rehabilitation....

Duterte is set to visit China for the 4th time from April 25 to 27 for the second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation.

China adds new satellite to its Beidou network that aims to rival US global positioning system | South China Morning Post

eijing has been promoting BDS to countries taking part in the initiative by offering additional services and other incentives if they sign up for the system. According to a Chinese government white paper on Beidou from 2016, the system was intended to primarily serve the interests of belt and road countries.

Japan’s Silent Belt and Road Is Beating China’s - WSJ $$

Since the end of 2016, when Japanese and Chinese ownership of overseas assets reached almost identical levels, Japanese investment has outstripped China’s by tens of billions of dollars, International Monetary Fund data shows. Collectively, Japan owned $1.667 trillion in foreign assets in the third quarter of 2018, while China owned $1.542 trillion in the second quarter, the most recent available data for each country...

The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank—China’s competitor to the Asian Development Bank, which Japan and the U.S. dominate—has been thrifty since its launch in 2016, with just $6.4 billion in outstanding loans by September 2018. The same can’t be said of the ADB, which lent $35.8 billion in 2018 alone, up 40% over two years.

5. PLAN 70th anniversary party

Warships assemble in Qingdao - Global Times

A dozen or so countries will send about 20 naval vessels including destroyers, frigates and amphibious landing vessels to join the parade, and more than 60 countries from five continents will send naval delegations, with more than 30 of them featuring major naval leaders, Qiu said.

While the fleet review will be held on Tuesday, the whole celebration will last from Monday to Thursday. 

It includes high-level seminars, joint military musical performances, and cultural and sports exchanges...

"China has stepped into a new era which provides both unprecedented opportunities and challenges. Security conditions, especially at sea, are becoming more and more severe," said PLA Navy Rear Admiral Yang Yi, noting the US has increased its military presence around China and has been challenging China's sovereignty and territorial integrity in the name of so-called freedom of navigation.

Yang called for the development of a blue water navy that can mobilize to the high seas anywhere in the world and control waters where it matters to China's core interests.

China to show new warships as Beijing flexes military muscle on navy anniversary - Reuters

Deputy naval commander Qiu Yanpeng told reporters in the eastern city of Qingdao that Tuesday’s naval parade - likely to be overseen by Xi himself, though China has not confirmed that - will feature 32 vessels and 39 aircraft...

Zhang Junshe, a researcher at the PLA’s Naval Research Academy, told reporters after Qiu had spoken that inviting foreign navies to take part in the parade was a sign of China’s openness and self-confidence, noting China had also done this for the 60th anniversary in 2009.

“New nuclear submarines and new warships will be shown - this further goes to show that China’s navy is open and transparent,” said Zhang.

Commentary: Chinese navy anniversary to boost peace prospects - Xinhua

From 1840 to 1949, China suffered more than 470 assaults by foreign forces from the sea, which made the Chinese know too well the preciousness of peace.

The Chinese navy has never threatened or brought turmoil to any country. It brings confidence in peace and development in a world faced with uncertainties and unrest...

The anniversary events will set up platforms for inter-naval communication and further mutual trust, create more ground for stronger practical cooperation, and improve consensus to work together to face challenges and safeguard world peace.

Long Xinhua piece on the Party Center, CMC and Xi's efforts in building a strong PLAN - 向海图强春潮涌——党中央、中央军委和习主席关心人民海军建设发展纪实--时政--人民网

Why China letting Japan’s warship fly the rising sun flag is a sign of the ‘closer’ times | South China Morning Post

National broadcaster NHK reported that China made no request that the controversial flag be lowered when it invited Japan to take part in the review “to show its readiness for international cooperation amid growing wariness about the country’s naval capabilities”.

Navy Commander Eyes Closer Iran-China Military Cooperation - Politics news - Tasnim News Agency

The Navy commander went on to say that during his stay in China, he would hold talks with top military officials of the East Asian country, including his counterpart.

Rear Admiral Khanzadi is in China at the invitation of the Chinese Navy commander to attend the 70th anniversary of the founding of the country's navy.

军事报道》 人民海军成立70周年特别报道 保障打赢 后勤力量向远海大洋延伸

CCTV Military Affairs special report on the PLAN's 70th anniversary, on Youtube

Largest PH warship joins Chinese Navy anniversary celebration | ABS-CBN News

Manila's BRP Tarlac docked in Qingdao with a Malaysian frigate. 

The Philippines, Malaysia, and Vietnam have sparred with China over competing claims in the South China Sea. All 3 countries are participating in the PLA event.

6. New Era for scientific relations with China

Major U.S. cancer center ousts ‘Asian’ researchers after NIH flags their foreign ties | Science | AAAS

Cancer center officials have not named any of the five researchers. MD Anderson President Peter Pisters says all are “Asian”; Science has confirmed that three are ethnically Chinese. Several faced NIH inquiries about their ties to China, according to internal cancer center documents and NIH emails provided by MD Anderson to the Houston Chronicle and reviewed by Science. Those documents also show that MD Anderson has been working with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) for several years on undisclosed national security investigations, which included searches of faculty email accounts and in one instance, video surveillance…

Here in Houston, the Chinese American community is also concerned that FBI has not explained why it has been interviewing ethnically Chinese faculty at MD Anderson over the past 17 months. No scientist has been charged with a federal crime. One MD Anderson researcher was charged under state law with a crime unconnected to grant reporting or foreign ties; the charges were ultimately dropped. “We continue to witness several of our distinguished Chinese researchers or scientists accused of infractions without formal charges being levied,” says Rogene Gee Calvert, who co-chaired a panel here on economic espionage...

Three of the letters specifically mention a researcher’s potential involvement in China’s Thousand Talents Program, an effort started in 2008 to establish ties with ethnically Chinese scientists working outside of China by offering funding, salary, and other research support.

MD Anderson ousts 3 scientists over concerns about Chinese conflicts of interest - HoustonChronicle.com

he FBI first notified MD Anderson about such concerns in 2015 during the Barack Obama administration. The cancer center consented to give the FBI computer hard drives containing emails for several of its staff members in December 2017, some eight months before Collins sent academic institutions across the nation a letter alerting them to the threat and requesting help curbing “unacceptable breaches of trust and confidentiality.”

Academic block on China is a sleeping pill, not a US remedy - Global Times

This is what panic looks like when the world's only superpower is faced with real competition. The US has lost confidence in maintaining its high-tech leadership position along the track of globalization. In the act of childish naivete, they "slammed the glass door" to safeguard progress. The US felt threatened by the idea of Chinese and American scientists working together, and also thought Chinese students could "steal" core technology by attending university lectures.

Western AI researchers partnered with Chinese surveillance firms | Financial Times $$

At least nine academic papers on topics such as facial recognition and video surveillance have been co-written by academics at several prestigious US institutions, alongside researchers at Chinese companies that sell surveillance technology to the Chinese state or at institutions with military ties, such as China’s National University of Defense Technology, or NUDT…

Thomas Funkhouser, currently a senior staff research scientist at Google, worked with two visiting NUDT scientists while he was a professor at Princeton University last year on computer vision research with applications in unmanned drones, and autonomous underwater vehicles. He declined to provide comments for publication. 

Comment: Not just the US - Science body VKI reassesses its ties to Chinese developer of ‘Guam Killer’ hypersonic missile | South China Morning Post: 

An aerospace institute in Brussels is investigating exchanges and collaboration between its scientists and a major Chinese defence contractor, but management at the Belgium-based non-profit did not reveal details.

Professor Herman Deconinck, deputy director of the von Karman Institute for Fluid Dynamics (VKI), said it was looking into staff members’ relations with China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation (Casic), a state-owned developer of hypersonic weapons that include the DF-26 missile in service with the People’s Liberation Army.

How the U.S. Surrendered to China on Scientific Research - WSJ $$

46% of all federal civilian science money goes to just one agency: the National Institutes of Health. That is why the intelligence community can say that the U.S. remains dominant in biomedical science...

It is hard to maintain leadership in any field with five decades of shrinking budgets. Science is no different—especially when your competition is devoting hundreds of billions, year after year, to beating you.

7. Xu Zhangrun

A Specter Is Haunting Xi’s China: ‘Mr. Democracy’ | by Ian Johnson | The New York Review of Books:

Xu’s case is therefore about far more than another dissident’s being silenced or a few lonely voices speaking out in protest. Instead, it captures a sense that the government has overplayed its hand on many fronts and that opposition is building...

All of this might well be impossible to sustain. But over the past century, even during the darkest times, the underlying humanism of Chinese culture has never been extinguished and has even, at critical moments, reasserted itself. This might seem too romantically hopeful, but it reminds me of a saying from traditional Chinese thought: wu ji bi fan [物极必反]. When things reach an extreme, they must move in the opposite direction. We can only hope that this pendulum is now at its farthest extent, and that we are witnessing a slow but steady swing in the opposite direction.

Comment: Will Xu’s writings and punishment change anything? I am not nearly as hopeful as Ian Johnson and believe things still could have a long way to go before reaching an extreme. Every generation of intellectuals seems to need to get its turn under the CCP boot, and I just don’t see that most people in China care, and so long as the economy is stabilizing, money-making opportunities return, China looks increasingly strong and successful on the world stage and the Party continues to harden and increase the efficiency and ruthlessness of the security services there is unlikely to be any sort of a groundswell of pressure to change the current political trajectory. That said, I really hope I am wrong and too cynical.

The Professor, a University & the Rule of Law – 遺典

Zhang Qianfan (张千帆, 1964-), a professor of constitutional law at Peking University, first discusses the abuse of Xu Zhangrun 許章潤 by his employer, Tsinghua University, and then, in a lengthy interview granted to Initium 端傳媒, a leading independent Hong Kong media outlet, he expands the discussion in ways that hint at the importance of the ‘Xu Zhangrun Case’ not only for mainland China, but also for Hong Kong, and potentially for any group, body or nation that has dealings with the China of the Xi Jinping era...

Here is a voice of moderate reason, one of a kind that is all too readily silenced by the bumptious fury of official China, not to mention by the sonorous bleating of aggrieved advocates of extremism, be they on the left or the right. Zhang’s is also a voice of caution of a kind that is increasingly rare on the global stage itself. Should one take heed of Professor Zhang in a mood of wistful nostalgia for a future that never was, or as a prescient augury that tells of a more hopeful tomorrow?

8. Huawei

US intelligence accuses Huawei of being funded by Chinese state security, newspaper reports | South China Morning Post

US intelligence has accused Huawei Technologies of being funded by Chinese state security, The Times said on Saturday, adding to the list of allegations faced by the Chinese tech giant in the West.

The CIA accused Huawei of receiving funding from China’s National Security Commission, the People’s Liberation Army (China’s military) and a third branch of the state intelligence network, the British newspaper reported, citing a source.

Earlier this year, US intelligence shared its claims with the other members of the Five Eyes intelligence-sharing group – Britain, Australia, Canada and New Zealand, the report said.

Huawei dismissed the allegations in a statement cited by the newspaper.

Malicious claim for CIA to declare Huawei gets funds from PLA - Global Times

Claims that China's Huawei Technologies is funded by Chinese security agencies are groundless, morally malicious and show a lack of understanding about how the world's tech giant is operated and managed. The claims also reflect ongoing efforts of the US to crack down on the advanced global 5G player, which are in line with Washington's zero-sum game approach, industry insiders said Sunday.

US attempts to blacken Huawei will fail - Global Times

As China is labeled a strategic competitor by the US, Europe has become a card that the US is eager to play. We believe Europe will cherish its independence. Countries that follow the US on the Huawei case are merely buying Washington's favor, and will eventually lag behind and become a puppet. 

European countries should not be deceived by the US and must understand all the environmental factors of Huawei's case. 

If they believe such false information that alleges Huawei is funded by the PLA, they are just like a kindergarten child at the mercy of their US teacher.

Huawei first-quarter revenue grows 39 percent to $27 billion amid heightened U.S. pressure - Reuters

Huawei Technologies said on Monday its first-quarter revenue jumped 39 percent to 179.7 billion yuan ($26.81 billion), in the Chinese technology firm’s first-ever quarterly results...also said its net profit margin was around 8 percent for the quarter, which it added was slightly higher than the same period last year.

How Huawei beat America’s anti-China 5G propaganda war in Southeast Asia, years before it even began | South China Morning Post

In the Philippines, Huawei’s dominance stems from a US$700 million network modernisation deal it made with the domestic player Globe Telecom in 2010...

In Thailand, Huawei already provides 4G network equipment to major telecoms operators like AIS and True. Alongside its rivals Ericsson and Nokia, it has been invited to test 5G equipment in Chonburi, a region the Thai government hopes to develop into a leading economic zone under its Eastern Economic Corridor scheme...

In Malaysia, Huawei has signed memorandums of understanding with the companies Maxis and edotco that are aimed at accelerating the roll-out of 5G in the country. And at an industry summit in Shenzhen this week, Huawei said six of the 40 5G commercial contracts it had secured came from the Asia-Pacific.

Business, Economy and Trade

China Is Said to Lose Market-Economy Trade Case in EU, U.S. Win - Bloomberg The World Trade Organization decided that China didn’t automatically qualify for market-economy status in 2016 as Beijing has asserted, according to two people with knowledge of the case, handing a major victory to the European Union and U.S.

Trade Deal Alone Won’t Fix Strained U.S.-China Business Relations - WSJ $$ “There is no way any deal between China and the U.S. will cause everyone on both sides to say, ‘We were just kidding,’” said Dan Harris, managing partner at Harris Bricken, a law firm that specializes in investment with China. “The tariffs and the arrests and the threats and the heightened risk have impacted companies and that will not go away.”

Trade war with US delays China’s rules curbing data transfers | Financial Times $$ Beijing had planned to announce regulations restricting cross-border data transfers by the end of last year, but regulators have dragged their feet to avoid sparking another confrontation with US companies, according to two people familiar with the process.

China Further Relaxes Curbs on Tool for Betting Against Stocks - Caixin The daily trading limit on stock-index futures was raised Monday, while the commission charge was lowered, in a move to improve market liquidity and lower trading costs

NPC reviews Securities Law amendment - China Daily Unlike the second version, the latest one included rules on the new science and technology innovation board, which will pilot the registration-based IPO system, according to Xinhua.

Global automakers seek to make China electric vehicle export hub | Financial Times $$ Ford was forced to cancel plans to export its Focus model from China to the US due to the trade war. But it is “halfway through” developing a model in the eastern city of Hangzhou that will be “made in China for the world”, Tim Slatter, Ford China’s product development executive, told the Financial Times. “You are going to see Chinese design coming to the west,” he said, adding that US-China trade negotiations could “lead to an environment where we can more easily operate trade between China and other markets”.

Yicai Global - Chinese Market Supervisor Probes Hermes for Upselling Shanghai's market supervisor is investigating French luxury handbag maker Hermes due to many customer complaints regarding aggressive sales strategies in China that allegedly make potential clients buy more in order to be able to purchase the one item that they want.

Debt-Ridden Investment Firm Hit With $800 Million Cross Default - Caixin Debt-mired private investment conglomerate China Minsheng Investment Group Corp. Ltd. (CMIG) has found itself in trouble with creditors — this time with a cross default on $800 million in dollar bonds. CMIG said Thursday that cross-default clauses have been triggered on $300 million worth of Hong Kong-listed bonds due in 2020 and $500 million worth of Singapore-listed notes due in 2019

Toyota establishes research institute in China to study hydrogen, green technologies - Reuters The initiative, outlined by Toyota’s President and Chief Executive Akio Toyoda in a speech at Tsinghua University, is part of the Japanese carmaker’s efforts to share more technology with China as it seeks to expand its business in the country by beefing up manufacturing capacity and distribution channels, a source close to Toyota said.

Politics and Law

China’s central bank denies collecting utilities records in attempt to ease concerns over social credit system | South China Morning Post An individuals utility bill payment history will not be included as part of an upgrade to the credit monitoring system operated by China’s central bank, with The People’s Bank of China vowing to maintain the quality of data in an apparent attempt to ease concerns that the system is becoming too intrusive into the lives of the population.

China lifts 3 ethnic minorities out of poverty - Xinhua The ethnic minority groups of Dulong, Deang and Jino had a total population of more than 50,000, according to the last national population census in 2010. The proportion of residents living in poverty has been reduced from 24.25 percent a few years ago to 2.42 percent, well below the required 3 percent that removes them from the poverty list in western China.

Chinese workers demand release of labour rights activists -AFP Some 100 Chinese workers suffering from a work-related disease have signed a petition demanding the release of three prominent activists in southern China amid a crackdown on labour activism.

Police Travel 1,000 Miles to Detain Man Who Mocked His Hometown on WeChat Two Years Earlier - Caixin That WeChat content was an outpouring of the worker’s anger at what he called the “corruption,” “absence of rule of law,” and the general “dirtiness” of his Yunnan hometown, called Zhenxiong. The Zhenxiong police had traveled this great distance, two years after the man’s social media postings, to detain him for his "uncouth" behavior, and to bring him back to Zhenxiong.

Retired Chinese Doctor Incommunicado After Calling Tiananmen Massacre a 'Crime' - RFA Jiang Yanyong, 87, is believed to be under house arrest at an unknown location after he wrote to President Xi Jinping during the annual parliamentary sessions in Beijing last month, friends told RFA.

Xiao Yang, China’s Former Supreme Court President, Dies at 81 - Caixin In a legal and judiciary career commencing in 1983 when he was 45, Xiao pushed through judicial-system reforms at the provincial and national levels, initiated a movement that led to China’s adoption of rule of law as official policy in 1997 and reclaimed the right of review of capital cases for the Supreme Court, resulting in a dramatic reduction in executions in China.

Chinese Courts Hand Down Jail Terms to PLA Veterans After Protests - RFA Chinese authorities in the eastern provinces of Jiangsu and Shandong on Friday handed down sentences of up to six years' imprisonment to 18 People's Liberation Army (PLA) veterans following mass protests in two cities last October.

How China Defends Its Muslim Uighur Detention in Xinjiang - Bloomberg This week, I participated in a government-sponsored tour along with four other foreign media organizations through three cities in Xinjiang. The schedule was tightly controlled, with events planned from early morning to 11 p.m., and it included stops in many of the same places I visited on an unguided 10-day trip to the region in November...Each time we asked them what crimes they had committed, and each time we received similar answers with the same key phrases. They had been infected by “extremist thought” and sought to “infect” others before realizing the error of their ways in the camps. Many included the phrase: “I want to say that I am here voluntarily.”

CPC Central Committee issues regulation on evaluation of officials - Xinhua The regulation, with 11 sections, stresses that officials should be evaluated based on their morality, capability, work conduct, work performance and integrity. It also defines awards and punishments based on evaluation results. The regulation went into effect on April 7. 中共中央办公厅印发《党政领导干部考核工作条例》

Signals in the 2019 Supreme People’s Court work report to the NPC | Supreme People's Court Monitor What is different is greater emphasis on political study and Party leadership, although these are themes that found in many previous SPC court president reports.  The emphasis in this year’s report on political study is on Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era (习近平新时代中国特色社会主义思想) and Party leadership is on implementing the spirit of the 19th Party Congress  (党的十九大精神) and the January, 2019 Central Political-Legal Work Conference (全面贯…中央政法工作会议精神).

Foreign and Defense Affairs

重磅军改微视频:《到》(cctv.com) Quite the stirring new propaganda short video on the the PLA reforms...miss the days of pretending it was a peaceful rise....

Details of new Chinese aircraft carrier revealed in sea trial footage aired on state TV | South China Morning Post China’s state broadcaster has aired footage of the country’s new aircraft carrier, revealing details for the first time of the home-grown warship’s interior. While the new aircraft carrier is not expected to take part in a fleet review marking the PLA Navy’s 70th anniversary on Tuesday, a CCTV report has offered a rare glimpse of the vessel in footage taken during its most recent sea trial.

To help counter China, U.S. turns to the Coast Guard - The Washington Post “The Coast Guard brings some capacity to that equation,” Schultz said in an interview. “The Coast Guard brings some authorities below the threshold of war. We’re U.S. warships, but we look different, with a white hull and an orange stripe.” The deployment of the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Bertholf to the Asia-Pacific region from Alameda, Calif., in January marked an expansion of Coast Guard operations there.

Chinese journalist Kong Linlin faces arrest over 'Tory slap' claim - BBC News The case against Ms Kong, a London-based correspondent for China's official state broadcaster CCTV, was dropped by the Crown Prosecution Service in November but was later reinstated. After she failed to attend the hearing, a warrant for her arrest was issued by a deputy district judge.

Chinese surveillance near PNG expanding as Australia and US begin Manus Island naval upgrades - China power - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) Chinese ships deployed to waters near Manus Island as Australia and US announce naval base upgrades; The vessels are among a fleet increasing its surveys around the Philippines, Palau, Guam and Japan; Experts believe the information could be crucial in any future maritime conflict

Xi sends reply letter to US high school students - Global Times The group of over 40 students from Niles North High School in Illinois state, the United States, have written in Chinese to Xi, asking him about his work, life and hobbies. The students said in their letter that they are studying Chinese, that they love Chinese language and characters, as well as music and Chinese food, and that they would love to have the chance to visit China. In his reply letter to the students, Xi thanked them for their letter, saying he feels their love for the Chinese language and their interest in the Chinese culture. Studying Chinese helps better understand China, make more Chinese friends, and also make many friends who can speak Chinese across the world, Xi said.

'Uncharted territory': WeChat's new role in Australian public life raises difficult questions - China power - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) When it comes to WeChat news accounts aimed at Chinese-Australians, SBS Mandarin and the Australian are small players, and official accounts run by local Chinese-language outlets in Melbourne and Sydney have far larger readerships... //Comment: Wechat is a huge challenge in every country, as it is increasingly the primary source of information for the recent diaspora, and it is ultimately controllable from Beijing. I would not be surprised to see efforts in some Western countries to regulate if not outright block Wechat.

How China’s Canadian lobbyists blurred the lines of PR, journalism and political activism | South China Morning Post Lobbyists from Solstice Public Affairs, hired by China’s consulate, have been regular contributors to media discourse about China in Canada In a Toronto Star opinion piece, a Solstice employee warned of a ‘new wave of Sino-phobia’ without originally identifying China as a company client

Venezuela: U.S. seeks to blunt influence of Russia and China - The Washington Post China’s recent influence is even more stark when compared to that of Russia, Ellis said. Russian proliferation of arms and military hardware, most notably in Venezuela, has declined as nations look to China for more reliable systems. And Chinese mobilizations and invitations for young Latin American officers to train in China demonstrates a seriousness that Russia has not often shown

Hong Kong and Macao

Public see new low in Hong Kong’s press freedom; Beijing viewed as the major factor in decline - The Hong Kong Journalists Association Hong Kong press freedom has dropped to a new low in the eyes of the public. One out of five journalists interviewed said they have come under pressure from seniors not to report or to reduce reporting about Hong Kong independence.

Tech and Media

Thousands of Video Games Forced to Re-Apply for Approval - Caixin Thousands of video game studios whose titles have been queued up for government approval — some for more than a year — will be forced to apply all over again, Caixin understands. They could be waiting beyond October for their games to hit the market. Gaming companies have been told to submit additional material, including a demonstration video showing their titles include an “anti-addition mechanism,” after the General Administration of Press and Publications (GAPP) issued new guidelines (link in Chinese) on Friday. Other new requirements include publisher profile information and copyright documents.

China’s new gaming rules to ban poker, blood and imperial schemes | TechCrunch he number of games allowed onto the market annually will be capped, and some genres of games will no longer be eligible. Mahjong and poker games are taken off the approval list following a wave of earlier government crackdown over concerns that such titles may channel illegal gambling...China will also stop approving certain games inspired by its imperial past, including “gongdou”, which directly translates to harem scheming, as well as “guandou”, the word for palace official competition.

China’s Hottest New Song is a Rap About Noodles - Sixth Tone The latest hit song from Chinese Canadian pop idol Kris Wu is a self-deprecating — and incredibly catchy — riff on a previous impromptu rap he performed for noodle shop patrons that ended up being widely mocked by netizens. Since its release Friday, the music video for “Big Bowl, Thick Noodle” has been viewed over 90 million times on streaming site Miaopai. Here it is on Youtube

Transsion’s lead in African phone market under threat from fellow Chinese rivals · TechNode Transsion Holdings, which owns three phone brands—Tecno, Itel, and Infinix—held a combined 48.7% share of Africa’s mobile phone market last year, according to its prospectus, citing data from research firm IDC. But sluggish growth in China is pushing domestic smartphone companies to look elsewhere for growth, and as many are discovering, Africa holds promise.

Tencent Leads $100 Million Funding Round for ‘Dancing Granny’ App | Sixth Tone Tangdou, an app aimed at China’s so-called square dancers, has raised over $100 million in a new round of financing led by tech giant Tencent, industry outlet 36Kr reported Monday.

Chinese tech tycoon Zhou Hongyi joins ‘996’ debate, says happy work-life balance impossible | South China Morning Post Earlier in the week, Zhou, whose has a net worth of US$5.6 billion according to the latest Forbes rich list, suggested that the way for hi-tech companies to make their employees feel better about working long hours was to make them shareholders. “Make them feel like they are working for themselves,” he was quoted as saying on the website of Hong Kong’s Phoenix TV. “Then they won’t mind about the 996 schedule.”

Briefing: Qualcomm’s China Chip Joint Venture to Shut Down — The Information $$ A joint venture between Qualcomm and the government of a rural Chinese province to make server chips will wind down by the end of the month, according to 10 employees at the venture. Executives at Huaxintong Semiconductor, or HXT, which was formed in 2016 with the Guizhou provincial government, said in internal meetings on Thursday that the venture would shut down by April 30, according to the employees. A spokeswoman for HXT declined to comment.

Society, Arts, Sports, Culture and History

The Focused Generation comes of age: a definitive guide to China's Gen Z market - Trivium UB Gen-80 was popularly described as mensao 闷骚, which translates to something like “outwardly skeptical but inwardly passionate.” Gen-90 was termed satuo 洒脱, “free and unconstrained.” And Gen-00 was dubbed aijuebulei 爱觉不累, “you never feel tired when you’re doing something you love”, which might be better translated as the Focused Generation.

Chinese Immigrants Are Converting to Catholicism. Local Churches Have Adapted. - The New York Times The night before Easter is a traditional time to complete the sacraments of initiation. In New York, many Chinese immigrants are baptized into the church and experience religious freedom for the first time in their lives.

Energy, Environment, Science and Health

China urges local governments to shell out resources to treat soil pollution - Reuters China drew up an action plan to tackle the issue, and a new law came into effect at the start of this year. However, the government has struggled to figure out how to pay for a nation-wide treatment program that could cost hundreds of billions of dollars. The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs said while some regions had brought soil pollution under “initial control”, other regions were not taking the problem seriously or devoting enough resources to tackle it.

In Depth: China’s Health Insurance Dilemma - Caixin Zhu Kun, a researcher at the Chinese Academy of Fiscal Sciences (CAFS), said the state-run system can provide coverage only for basic services rather than universal coverage of all health-care costs and is unable to offer the high-percentage reimbursement of many welfare states in the West, given the country’s financial capacity. Government coffers are already under pressure to provide health coverage for the large number of relatively poor rural and unemployed residents, Zhu said.

China mulls tougher law on gene studies - Global Times n a latest move to tighten its regulation on studies of human genes and artificial intelligence (AI) technologies, China is mulling formulating a special section in its overarching law governing legal disputes following the scandal over gene-edited babies and the AI face-stitching technology controversy.

Secrets of the Ginkgo Seeds - Emory University Extracts from the seeds of the Ginkgo biloba tree show antibacterial activity on pathogens that can cause skin infections such as acne, psoriasis, dermatitis and eczema, a study at Emory University finds. Frontiers in Microbiology published the results of laboratory experiments showing that the extracts inhibit the growth of Cutibacterium acnes, Staphylococcus aureus and Streptococcus pyogenes. A nearly 200-year-old Emory copy of a 16th-century text on traditional Chinese medicine, the Ben Cao Gang Mu, guided the researchers in their experiments. “It was like blowing the dust off knowledge from the past and rediscovering something that had been there all along,” says Xinyi (Xena) Huang, co-first author of the paper.

China mulls tightening regulation over drug production, sale - Xinhua The draft requires individuals and entities who have become medicine marketing authorization holders (MAHs) to be responsible for the drugs' clinical and non-clinical trials, manufacturing, selling, and the analysis, report, and response of adverse reactions. The MAHs should sign agreements with manufacturers, sellers, transporters, and keepers of the drugs to make sure they are capable of maintaining the quality of drugs and managing risks, the draft says. "The draft makes it clear that MAHs must be responsible for the full 'life-cycle' of drugs," said Tang Minhao, head of the Shanghai Association of Food And Drug Safety. "The MAHs will become the primary target of drug supervision."

Rural and Agricultural Issues

African swine fever has now spread to all parts of China, posing threat to pork industry | South China Morning Post The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs on Sunday said 146 pigs had died from the highly contagious virus at six farms on the southernmost province of Hainan. The first confirmed cases on the tropical island were reported on Friday, when officials said 77 pigs had died from the disease at four farms.