Politburo Study Session On The Communist Manifesto; #MeToo PKU #Smackdown; Myanmar A PRC Client State Again?; European Selection Bias In the "Thucydides Trap"; Didi Under Siege

Xi proudly sees himself as a Marxist leading Communist China.

Tuesday he chaired a Politburo study session on Marx and Engel's "The Communist Manifesto".

Yes the contemporary PRC brand of Marxism and Communism is far removed from the original visions, but the CCP believes it has the right, the power and ability to evolve those ideas to fit the times, an effort led by a cadre of theoretical gymnasts who would put Nadia Comăneci to shame.

It matters little whether we foreigners think this talk of Marx and Communist is all just BS, and does not matter much more if most PRC citizens have tuned out. What matters is whether or not Xi believes it. For a long time I have thought he did and have only become more convinced of that over the last couple of years. Yes doubling down on Marxism is a means to an end for the Party, but that does not also mean that Xi himself is not an ardent Marxist whose fervor is only increasing as he sees a world evolving and fracturing in ways that would stir the loins of any sentient Chinese Marxist historical materialist. 

Strange times we live in, with the putative leader of globalization chairing Marxist study sessions that will lead to a campaign throughout the Party to bone up on Marxism and The Communist Manifesto.

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The Essential Eight

1. Politburo Study Session On The Communist Manifesto

The guest discussant was Central Compilation And Translation Bureau researcher Wang Xuedong.

Xi stresses importance to study Communist Manifesto - Xinhua:

Xi Jinping, general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, has stressed the importance to study the Communist Manifesto.

The purpose of reviewing the Communist Manifesto is to understand and grasp the power of the truth of Marxism and write a new chapter of socialism with Chinese characteristics in the new era, Xi said Monday when presiding over a group study session of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee.

It's also for the purpose of firming up Marxist belief and tracing back to the source of theory for a Marxist party to maintain the advanced nature and purity, Xi said.

The ability of the whole Party to solve the practical problems of contemporary China with the basic principles of Marxism should be enhanced.

It's necessary to "apply the scientific principles and the spirit of The Communist Manifesto to the overall planning of activities related to the great struggle, great project, great cause, and great dream," he said, calling The Communist Manifesto a monumental work that has a scientific perspective on the development of human society and was written to benefit the people and seek liberation for humanity.

The Communist Party of China is a loyal inheritor of the spirit of The Communist Manifesto, Xi said...

More efforts should be made to develop Marxism in the 21st century and in contemporary China, and write a new chapter of adapting Marxism to the Chinese context, Xi said.

Xi called for efforts to further study and interpret the works of Marxism, popularize them and have them embraced by hundreds of millions of people.

CCTV Evening News Tuesday report on the Politburo study meeting, video from inside the room..Xi looks animated, the others don't seem so excited, but then again they never do when getting lectured by the Boss. No sign of Wang Qishan in the video..--习近平在中共中央政治局第五次集体学习时强调 深刻感悟和把握马克思主义真理力量 谱写新时代中国特色社会主义新篇章

习近平在主持学习时发表了讲话。他强调,《共产党宣言》的问世是人类思想史上的一个伟大事件。《共产党宣言》是第一次全面阐述科学社会主义原理的伟大著作。《共产党宣言》深刻阐述了马克思主义的科学世界观,深刻阐述了马克思主义政党的先进品格,深刻阐述了马克思主义政党的政治立场,深刻阐述了马克思主义政党的崇高理想,深刻阐述了马克思主义的革命纲领,深刻阐述了马克思主义政党的国际主义精神。《共产党宣言》是一部科学洞见人类社会发展规律的经典著作,是一部充满斗争精神、批判精神、革命精神的经典著作,是一部秉持人民立场、为人民大众谋利益、为全人类谋解放的经典著作。马克思主义理论的科学性和革命性源于辩证唯物主义和历史唯物主义的科学世界观和方法论,为我们认识世界、改造世界提供了强大思想武器,为世界社会主义指明了正确前进方向。《共产党宣言》是一个内容丰富的理论宝库,值得我们反复学习、深入研究,不断从中汲取思想营养。

Some other choice bits from the official report--习近平:深刻感悟和把握马克思主义真理力量-新华网

新华社北京4月24日电 中共中央政治局4月23日下午就《共产党宣言》及其时代意义举行第五次集体学习。中共中央总书记习近平在主持学习时强调,学习马克思主义基本理论是共产党人的必修课。我们重温《共产党宣言》,就是要深刻感悟和把握马克思主义真理力量,坚定马克思主义信仰,追溯马克思主义政党保持先进性和纯洁性的理论源头,提高全党运用马克思主义基本原理解决当代中国实际问题的能力和水平,把《共产党宣言》蕴含的科学原理和科学精神运用到统揽伟大斗争、伟大工程、伟大事业、伟大梦想的实践中去,不断谱写新时代坚持和发展中国特色社会主义新篇章...

  习近平强调,《共产党宣言》揭示的人类社会最终走向共产主义的必然趋势,奠定了共产党人坚定理想信念、坚守精神家园的理论基础。我们要把共产主义远大理想同中国特色社会主义共同理想统一起来、同我们正在做的事情统一起来,坚定道路自信、理论自信、制度自信、文化自信,不为任何风险所惧,不为任何干扰所惑,始终坚守共产党人的理想信念,不负共产党人的光荣称号。..

习近平强调,与时代同步伐,与人民共命运,关注和回答时代和实践提出的重大课题,是马克思主义永葆生机活力的奥妙所在。我们要以科学的态度对待科学,以真理的精神追求真理,不断赋予马克思主义以新的时代内涵。要紧密联系亿万群众的创造性实践,尊重人民群众的主体地位和首创精神


2. Monday Politburo Meeting Excites Investors

I personally think those who think a new wave of stimulus is coming are misreading the Politburo statement, but clearly there is heightened concern about the state of economy, in part due to the growing risk of serious trade dislocations. If I am sitting somewhere in the Trump Administration I do read this as another point of leverage against Beijing, though I would not over-read it as a sign Beijing will do anything to avoid a trade war. They would prefer not to have one but they will also prepare for one in the event a reasonable deal can not be found. 

Xi Jinping seeks to boost domestic demand as trade war looms and figures suggest growth is slowing in large parts of China | South China Morning Post:

Among the 17 provinces that have published their first-quarter figures, 11 provinces saw growth rates falling compared with the same period last year, four were unchanged and only two posted higher rates.

The looming threat of a trade war with the United States is also casting a shadow over the prospects for future growth.

Tianjin, once a poster child for Chinese growth, reported a mere 1.9 per cent year-on-year GDP increase.

政治局会议解读:微调应对不确定性而非巨变_经济频道_财新网:

4月23日的中央政治局工作会议,对当前经济形势作出分析。其中“完成全年目标任务需要付出艰苦努力”“把加快调整结构与持续扩大内需结合起来”的表述,引发市场对政策放松的遐想。

国家信息中心经济预测部副主任牛犁对财新记者表示,三大攻坚战是未来三年的核心任务,货币政策回归正常化是全球性趋势,中国的政策基调并没有变,但要保持松紧适度的灵活性,以应对各种不确定性风险。


3. Communist Party's Response to #MeToo? #Smackdown

Translation: Open Letter on Peking University #MeToo Case – China Digital Times (CDT):

Gao Yan was a Chinese literature student at Peking University who killed herself in 1998 after her alleged rape by now former professor Shen Yang. Her case, The New York Times reported earlier this month, "has become a rallying cry for China’s fledgling #MeToo movement, inspiring calls for the government to do more to prevent sexual assault and harassment." In response, censors have cracked down on online discussion. On April 9, eight students at the university submitted a freedom of information request for the school’s official records on the case.

One of the students, Yue Xin, published an open letter on April 23 detailing her subsequent harassment and intimidation by school authorities including the Office of Student Affairs, which the University’s website describes as "an administrative function section office under the leadership of the Party Committee of the University, in joint office with People’s Armed Forces Department. The Office is responsible for the ideological and political education, management of behavior norms and providing opportunities for students’ personal development and growth." CDT has archived the open letter’s original text and translated both it and a separate essay by Yue on inequality and access to education, which will be posted separately.

Moves to silence a #MeToo campaigner spark creative resistance - Inkstone

The elite Peking University has come under fire for allegedly trying to press a student to drop her demand for information about a sexual misconduct case from 20 years ago.

In an open letter to the university on Monday, Yue Xin, an undergraduate, said school officials had tried to intimidate her into dropping a request for the university to release information about an investigation of a former professor.

Chinese #MeToo Student Activists Use Blockchain to Fight Censors - Bloomberg:

An anonymous user attached Yue’s letter to an ether transaction and posted it to the blockchain: the decentralized ledger that records all activity for the cryptocurrency. That transaction cost the poster all of 52 cents, according to the record. While that means anyone with access to an ethereum node can now see the memo, it won’t be easy for the general public to access -- unless someone copies the message from the ledger and reposts it on the web. Even then, Chinese authorities could easily block the site.

In Suppressing #MeToo Letter, China’s Censors Spark an Uproar - WSJ $$

Critics of the Communist Party have found themselves kicked off platforms such as YouTube and Twitter that are outside Chinese government control, typically after armies of users loyal to the party reported them for violations of community guidelines. Posting Ms. Yue’s letter on the Ethereum network negates that tactic, because data added to a blockchain, the decentralized ledgers used to track cryptocurrency transactions, can’t be altered or erased.

Student says Peking university trying to silence her over rape claim petition | The Guardian:

PKU’s school of foreign languages said on its website on Monday that Yue’s mother had been summoned out of concern because Yue could not be reached. “We always honour every student’s fundamental rights and make great effort to protect each and every student’s lawful rights”, the school said.

According to Yue, the school responded to the petition by saying there were no minutes of the meeting where Shen’s behaviour was discussed. Because of an error, the relevant department did not have Shen’s statement on the case.


4. Steps To Make Government More Open

And theoretically more accountable, so long as no one organizes and is seen as threat to Party rule, like young students at elite schools...Xi may have his hands full managing increasing contradictions...Does he keep a copy of Mao's "On Contradiction" by his bed, next to the "Communist Manifesto"? 

China releases highlights of 2018 government work disclosure - Gov.cn:

China will further publicize its governmental work in 2018 in four main aspects: responding to public concerns, improving government services, building platforms for information disclosure, and standardizing information openness, said a circular issued by the State Council on April 24.

The move is aimed at pushing forward restructuring governmental bodies, advancing administration streamlining and power delegating, facilitating the sustainability of economic and social development, and laying the groundwork for the construction of a service-oriented government.

According to the document, an all-around governmental work disclosure will be bound by legislative work, which means that all items and policies, unless legally subject to confidentiality, should be open to the public, in order to facilitate law-based administration and protect people’s right-to-know.

国务院办公厅关于印发 2018年政务公开工作要点的通知 国办发〔2018〕23号 


5. Belt And Road, Money And Influence

Episode 837: The Belt, The Road And The Money : Planet Money : NPR:

Patrick Ho runs a think tank, and one of his favorite subjects to think about is China's entry onto the global stage. In April of 2017, Ho made a speech about the world's need for a dramatic reorganization of power, and his mission to make it happen.

Seven months later, FBI agents arrested Patrick Ho, charging him with money laundering and bribery. Today on the show, we follow the money around the world, and get a rare look into how China is scrambling for resources.

India still seems wary--China fails to get Indian support for Belt and Road ahead of summit - Reuters:

Whether or not China will be able to bring India round to Belt and Road will likely be a key measure of the success of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s trip to China to meet Xi for an informal meeting on Friday and Saturday.


6. Beijing Back In the Driver's Seat With Myanmar?

How China gets what it wants in Myanmar | Asia Times - Bertil Lintner:

With all the Western outfits involved in Myanmar’s peace process effectively sidelined, China has emerged as the only outside force that matters due to its substantial leverage over both insurgents and the government.

Unlike Western interlocutors, however, China has engaged with the various players in Myanmar’s decades-long ethnic wars for strategic reasons other than peacemaking. And Beijing has recently shifted its strategy to pursue those interests in response to shifting diplomatic currents.

The ultimate aim of China’s Myanmar policy is to secure access to the deep sea port at Kyaukpyu in southern Rakhine state, defend the oil and gas pipelines it has built across the country and maintain Myanmar as a safe corridor for its landlocked southwestern provinces to the Indian Ocean...

Because China has not yet achieved everything in wants long-term in Myanmar, and in sight of its now much improved position in the country, Beijing is in no hurry to see a final, fast solution to the nation’s ethnic wars.

ASEAN summit to focus on Myanmar, South China Sea but little progress expected - Reuters:

The summit is being hosted by Singapore, an island state of 5.6 million people that is the smallest in the 10-member bloc, but the wealthiest and most westernized. The group also includes developing countries like Myanmar, Laos and Cambodia, as well as nations like the Philippines, Thailand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei and Vietnam.

Asked why ASEAN took so long to take action on regional challenges, Singapore Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan said: ”We can only do something if we get consensus. We need to do that because no other regional grouping has such diversity.


7. European Selection Bias In the "Thucydides Trap"?

Power Transitions: Thucydides Didn’t Live in East Asia | The Washington Quarterly

The empirical examples that international relations scholars use to derive their theories about power transitions are almost all European. Two pre-modern East Asian cases lead to three new insights about power transitions...

It is troubling, however, that the empirical examples that international relations scholars use to derive their theories are almost all European. This European selection bias has led to an overexpectation that power transitions and the rise and decline of great powers relative to each other are a prime factor for war. The rise and fall of Chinese dynasties, however, are all potential examples of power transitions, not to mention those in Vietnam, Korea, Japan, and elsewhere. If we widen the selection of cases, particularly to examine important cases from East Asian history, we would find very different implications for how widely applicable and universal the theory actually is, and to what extent it explains security relations today. Specifically, examining two pre-modern East Asian cases—the Imjin War (1592-1598) and the Ming-Qing transition (1644-1683)—as we will below, lead to three new insights about power transitions: First, power vacuums are often as dangerous as power  transitions. Second, internal decline is often more damaging to hegemons than are external challengers. Third, challenges often came from the smallest powers, not the largest powers

Graham Allison last week in the National Interest - How Trump Could Stumble from a Trade War Into a Real War with China

Having just returned from a week in China in which I had the opportunity to talk directly—and listen!—to all of its leaders beneath President Xi Jinping [Really, all of them?], I came away even more worried about the future of the relationship between the United States and China than I had been. While almost every day brings another tweet or announcement in the war of words, I see the current “phony war” as the proverbial calm before the storm. In one line, my bet is that things will soon get worse before they get worse.

If Thucydides were watching, he would say that China and the United States are right on script sleepwalking towards what could be the grandest collision in history. Thucydides, of course, was the historian of classical Greece who explained the driver that led Athens and Sparta to the war that destroyed both. Thucydides’s Trap is the term I coined to make vivid his insight about the dangerous dynamic that occurs when a rising power (like Athens or China) threatens to displace a ruling power (like Sparta or the United States). As Henry Kissinger has noted, this concept provides the best lens available for looking through the noise and news of the day to understand the underlying forces at work. The past five hundred years have seen sixteen cases in which a rising power threatened to topple a ruling power from its position of predominance. Twelve ended in war.


8. Didi's Domestic Dominance At Risk

Didi's China Dominance Hits the Skids - Caixin Global:

After a cutthroat price war with dozens of other domestic players and a merger with Uber’s China business in August 2016, Didi Chuxing Technology Co. was crowned China’s undisputed ride-hailing leader.

But the company’s monopoly — currently 90% of the market share — now looks increasingly uncertain as a slew of other competitors ramp up efforts to get into this business.

Investors and industry experts said the ride-hailing market still has low barriers to entry, where Didi has yet to work out a stable business model and those willing to burn cash can launch an attack...

A serious new Didi rival is Meituan Dianping, the country’s largest on-demand online service platform, which in March officially launched its ride-hailing service in Shanghai.

After a one-week rollout that waived its drivers’ commission fees, Meituan declared that it had acquired a third of the city’s market share with 300,000 daily transactions on its platform.

Huxiu on the "friendless" Didi-滴滴无朋友-虎嗅网

Why Meituan-Dianping’s Expansion Makes Sense - Hans Tung: 

For companies that only offer one service, such as ride sharing, reaching profitability requires either raising prices on consumers or paying drivers less. Whenever it lowers prices, it becomes capital intensive. But Meituan can rely on a new source of subsidy in the form of marketing dollars from its merchants to lower the price of ride-sharing services for consumers. The lesson is that companies offering a single service may offer clear value propositions to users but will have inherent limitations. “Super apps”, if thoughtfully designed, can offer superior value to the company, its merchants, and consumers...

As [Meituan CEO] Wang has said before, “It’s the same people who go to restaurants, order food delivery, and hail taxis. It looks like I’m doing everything. But I’m only doing one thing: an online platform that sells services.”


Business, Economy, Finance And Trade

How Capital Account Opening Would Strengthen the Central Bank - MacroPolo Still, with the Communist Party expanding its authority throughout the economy and across the landscape of government institutions under the State Council, directly shielding the PBOC from political meddling would seem like an exercise in futility, at least in the near term. Even so, the PBOC’s latest quest for less political interference is not hopeless. Reducing political meddling in monetary policy—and in particular reducing the Chinese government’s inclination to stimulate the economy through monetary expansion—can be achieved by making it less appealing. And that makes capital account liberalization the newest front.

China’s Carmakers Want to Dominate World’s Next Era of Driving - Bloomberg: For the first time, a Chinese-branded car will be made in Western Europe for sale there, with the ultimate goal of landing in U.S. showrooms. That’s the master plan of billionaire Li Shufu, who has catapulted from founding Geely Group as a refrigerator maker in the 1980s to owning Volvo Cars, British sports carmaker Lotus, London Black Cabs and the largest stake in Daimler AG—the inventor of the automobile. Li is spearheading China’s aspirations to wedge itself among the big three of the global car industry—the U.S., Germany and Japan—so they become the Big Four. “I want the whole world to hear the cacophony generated by Geely and other made-in-China cars,” Li told Bloomberg News. “Geely’s dream is to become a globalized company. To do that, we must get out of the country.”

Top legislature to inspect on statistics law implementation - Xinhua | China's top legislature will conduct a round of inspections on the implementation of the Statistics Law in 13 provincial-level regions. The National People's Congress (NPC) Standing Committee announced the inspections, which will run until the end of May, at a meeting in Beijing on Monday. The law was enacted in 1983 and revised in 2009.

U.S. Questions Cosco’s Takeover of Cargo Terminal in Long Beach - WSJ A U.S. national-security review has raised concerns about Chinese state-run conglomerate Cosco Shipping Holdings Co. taking control of a large container terminal in Long Beach, Calif., according to people familiar with the matter. The terminal is part of Cosco’s proposed $6.3 billion purchase of an Asian shipping rival, which holds a long-term concession to operate the facility at the Port of Long Beach, one of the biggest gateways for imports into the U.S.

How China and the U.S. Both Come Out Winners in Boost to World Bank - Real Time Economics - WSJ The deal struck over the weekend leaves the U.S. firmly atop the World Bank’s hierarchy. The U.S. is allowing its voting share to decrease slightly (which also reduces the amount the U.S. is obligated to contribute), but it will remain the largest shareholder in the bank’s key body, known as the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development. Major decisions there require an 85% vote and the U.S. voting share remains above 15%, which means Washington retains the World Bank’s only veto. But China’s economic power has been growing rapidly, as has its desire to play a larger role in the World Bank. It is the world’s second-largest economy, and under the new agreement it had by far the biggest boost to its voting power in the World Bank—rising to 5.71% from 4.45%. That’s a big boost to China, but leaves it in third place, still behind Japan’s 6.83%, and nowhere close to the critical veto power of the Americans.

PBOC Touts Risk Free Removal of ICO and Cryptocurrency Platforms - China Banking News Gong Yan (龚雁), the vice-head of the People’s Bank of China legal department, said that China has succeeded in the “risk free” removal of platforms for initial coin offerings (ICO) and the trading of cryptocurrencies such as bitcoins within the country. Gong made the remarks at a 2018 forum on laws and policies for the prevention and handling of illegal fund-raising.

Mainland Stock Buyers to Get Access to Hong Kong Research - Caixin Global The latest move will see three types of Hong Kong brokerages qualified to sell their local reports to mainland investors. Those will include local units of mainland securities firms, institutions providing research on Hong Kong-listed shares for more than three years and holding 20 licensed advisers, and asset managers that have operated for more than five years and held more than HK$10 billion ($1.3 billion) worth of securities or equivalent assets by the end of 2017, the China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC) said in a draft rule (link in Chinese) released on Friday.

China's Debt Emerges as Surprise Refuge in Global Bond Sell-Off - Bloomberg China’s debt challenges were so bad its economy was supposed to be on the infamous treadmill to hell. And many expected the country’s efforts to rein in financial leverage to undermine demand for bonds. So it may come as some surprise that Chinese bonds are the top performers so far this year, among 70 markets in the Bloomberg Barclays Global Aggregate + China index, calculated in dollars. Other measures show the gain for yuan government and corporate debt, at nearly 2 percent, is almost a mirror image of U.S. bonds’ 1.6 percent drop.

US developers feel pinch as visa-seeking Chinese pull back on investments - Inkstone But the heyday for the Chinese EB-5 market seems to be ending as new applicants appear wary of heightened uncertainties surrounding the program, as well as immigration laws in general under President Donald Trump. A growing backlog of Chinese applicants has further dampened interest in the program and led to a significant dip in available capital. “The $400 million deals we were doing regularly a couple of years ago have now become $10 million,” Clem Turner, an EB-5 immigration lawyer for New York-based Barst Mukamel & Kliener, said at the 2018 NYC Real Estate Expo last week. “Now a $20 million deal is considered big as a result of China’s retrogression.”

Developer Zhonghong Holdings Defaults on RMB 1.1B in Debt - Mingtiandi Wang Yonghong’s bank deposits and company stake were frozen after his companies failed to repay debts Less than one year after its offshore affiliate paid $449 million to buy a stake in Seaworld from Blackstone, and just nine months after that same unit failed in its $4 billion bid to buy out US senior living operator Brookdale, listed developer Zhonghong Holdings has announced to the Shenzhen exchange that it has defaulted on more than RMB 1.1 billion ($174 million) in debts in the last month.

Tibet Summit Resources Finalizes Deal to Buy Canadian Lithium Producer - Caixin Global As China’s rapidly developing new-energy vehicle sector demands ever-greater amounts of imported lithium, Tibet Summit Resources Co. Ltd. and its partner NextView have finalized a deal to acquire a Canadian producer of the metal. The deal to buy Lithium X for $206 million — which was announced in December — has been approved by Canadian regulators, who have also given the green light for Lithium X to delist from the TSX Venture Exchange, a Canadian bourse, Tibet Summit Resources said in a statement over the weekend.

How a fight over vitamin pills holds key to what Chinese law means to America | South China Morning Post In taking on the case – brought by Animal Science Products against Hebei Welcome Pharmaceutical Company – the Supreme Court will re-examine the legal principle that had shielded the Chinese defendants and ultimately determine how much latitude US courts will have to question representations by foreign governments about their own laws.

US ignored Beijing’s gains in intellectual property protection, Chinese watchdog says | South China Morning Post Shen Changyu, head of China’s revamped State Intellectual Property Office, made the remarks on Tuesday in response to a US investigation under section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974, which prompted Washington to propose a 25 per cent tariff on about 1,300 industrial technology, transport and medical imports from China. “We think that the outcomes of so-called 301 investigation by the US ignored the objective fact that China has strengthened its protection on intellectual property,” Shen said.

Oil settles higher; fears of Iran sanctions end early slide - Reuters The State Administration of Foreign Exchange (SAFE) said it would increase the quotas of the two schemes — Qualified Domestic Limited Partner (QDLP) and Qualified Domestic Investment Enterprise (QDIE) — to $5 billion each.

China's sorghum importers plead for help on tariff as trade tumult deepens - Reuters One sources said his company was asking Beijing to impose the new tariffs only on cargoes loaded at U.S. ports after April 18, in a bid to protect almost a dozen vessels carrying U.S. sorghum that have already started sailing. A second source at a private importer based in eastern China said a group of companies, including at least one state-owned firm met Commerce Ministry officials to discuss concessions for the new tariff, but did not disclose details of the meeting.

 

Politics, Law And Ideology

NPCSC Session Watch: Historical Nihilism Crackdown, People’s Assessor System Reform, State Council Reorganization & Shanghai Financial Court – NPC Observer The Council of Chairmen decided on Tuesday that the 13th NPC Standing Committee (NPCSC) will convene its second session from April 25 to 27. The three-day session will review draft laws and decisions involving increased protection for Communist “heroes and martyrs,” reform of China’s people’s assessor (or lay judge) system, implementation of the State Council reorganization plan, and the Shanghai Financial Court. The Council also approved the NPCSC’s 2018 legislative and oversight plans; we will publish our coverage and analysis after they are released in the coming weeks.

212 244-9392: Scammers are targeting Chinese speakers by spoofing the caller ID of China's consulate — Quartz A phone scam targeting Chinese speakers is reaching an increasing number of people in the US—even people who only speak English. In several cases examined by Quartz, a robocall alerts the recipient to a purported “emergency notice” from the Chinese Consulate. The caller ID is sometimes (212) 244-9392—the phone number of the Chinese consulate in New York. Diplomats there say the calls aren’t coming from them.  //  Comment: I have gotten three of these calls

Arson suspect arrested after KTV fire kills 18 - XInhua Liu Chunlu, 32, confessed when he was arrested at his home in Yingde City, according to the city government. "I was drunk last night and had had a fight with unknown people (before the fire)," Liu told police.

Xinjiang invests heavily on rural power grid upgrades - Xinhua Northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region will invest 618 million yuan (97.8 million U.S. dollars) this year to construct and upgrade the power grid in the most poverty-stricken rural areas. A total of 261 impoverished villages in southern Xinjiang will benefit from the investment, which is part of a grander poverty alleviation program that will earmark 2.65 billion yuan to upgrade the power grid in Xinjiang's rural areas, according to the Xinjiang branch of State Grid Corporation of China.

Dahua and Hikvision Win Over $1 Billion In Government-Backed Projects In Xinjiang Using data from bidding websites, the companies’ own disclosures, and Chinese trade publications, IPVM found 11 Hikvision and Dahua PPP (Public-Private Partnership) projects in Xinjiang worth a total of 7+ billion yuan / over $1 billion USD.

习近平总书记来到宜昌,深入长江沿岸考察-新华网 Xi Jinping visits Yichang, part of what looks to be an inspection tour along the Yangtze, expect a big propaganda rollout of the trip in the next 24 hours or so

纪念中共中央发布“五一口号”70周年 各民主党派中央负责人和无党派人士代表赴西柏坡、李家庄参观学习--中国统一战线新闻网--人民网 经中共中央批准,4月19日,中央统战部组织各民主党派中央负责人和无党派人士代表赴西柏坡、李家庄参观学习并举行座谈会,纪念中共中央发布“五一口号”70周年。

蔡奇主持会议传达全国网络安全和信息化工作会议精神-千龙网·中国首都网 Party Committee meetings held to "transmit the spirit" of the recent work conference on cybersecurity and informatization...this report about Beijing's meeting

The anti-foreign spy campaign now targeting returnees who may been turned while overseas:

Jeremiah Jenne@JeremiahJenne

Fun subway posters in Beijing reminding returnees that if you have been tricked or coerced by spies into betraying the motherland while overseas in Foreignland, all is not lost. Confess (with sincere repentance!) to relevant authorities and you MIGHT not be investigated further. pic.twitter.com/NiBHAyBCRS

April 23, 2018

Will this help or hurt Beijing's attempts to attract more talent to return from overseas to help the Motherland? 

Foreign and Military Affairs

North Korean leader visits China embassy, hospital after fatal bus crash - Reuters The North Korean leader was cited as saying the North’s party and government would take follow-up measures to the accident “with utmost sincerity in a mind to alleviate the pain of the bereaved families even a bit.” Chinese tourists make up about 80 percent of all foreign visitors to North Korea, says a South Korean think-tank, the Korea Maritime Institute, which estimates that tourism generates annual revenue of about $44 million for the isolated country.

China’s $6 Billion Propaganda Blitz Is a Snooze – Foreign Policy “The creation of Voice of China is about centralizing control and consolidating resources, [in the belief] that this will allow China to project its voice more effectively. But the challenge for China’s leadership will be how to project voices that somehow resonate with people around the world while maintaining a unity of voice,” says David Bandurski, co-director of the Hong Kong-based China Media Project and a fellow of the Robert Bosch Academy in Berlin. “This is an internal contradiction China has struggled with for years in its external propaganda. And it’s possible that this consolidation could only worsen the problem.”

Chinese smartphones cited by intelligence as security risk sold on US bases - Stripes Chinese-made smartphones that the heads of U.S. intelligence have urged Americans not to buy are being sold to servicemembers across Germany at on-base exchange facilities. The Huawei phones, which are being sold by TKS, an Army and Air Force Exchange Service concessionary and subsidiary of Vodaphone, could be used to gather sensitive information, according to U.S. intelligence agencies. They are banned for official government use in most cases.

China keeps fuel exports to North Korea low in March as sanctions bite - Reuters China kept fuel exports to North Korea to a trickle in March and exported no corn for a third straight month to its isolated neighbor, data showed on Tuesday, as sanctions over Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons and missile program continued to bite.

Xi urges SCO to expand cooperation - China Daily President Xi Jinping called on the Shanghai Cooperation Organization members on Monday to remain true to their original aspiration and push cooperation in all areas.
Xi made the remark while meeting with senior diplomats of the members of the SCO at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. After the meeting, Xi also met with defense ministers of those countries. It was the first formal meeting of SCO foreign ministers since the organization accepted Pakistan and India as its new members last year.

Climbing on China's Priority List: Views on Afghanistan from Beijing | Afghanistan Analysts Network AAN’s co-director Thomas Ruttig has found – after participating in a conference in Beijing, also appraising a public event with Chinese participation in Oslo, both in March 2018 – that, for economic and security reasons, Afghanistan is now higher up on China’s priority list but still far from being a top priority.

China conducts live fire combat drills in East China Sea - Reuters Xinhua said a Chinese aircraft formation, which included the Liaoning carrier and J-15 planes, conducted anti-aircraft and anti-submarine warfare training where they intercepted “enemy” jets, fired anti-air missiles from ships surrounding the carrier and dodged “enemy” submarines.

As Trump Baits China, Cyprus Lures Its Money - Bloomberg As U.S. President Donald Trump builds barriers to Chinese trade, Cyprus is throwing open the gates. The Mediterranean country’s stance is also at odds with those of some of the EU’s bigger economies, which, alarmed by China’s appetite for acquisitions, have become more assertive in vetting deals. It may be a case of too little, too late: China is already deeply embedded in Europe, owning everything from ports in Spain, Greece, and Belgium to a German airport, stakes in North Sea oil rigs, and soccer clubs in England and Italy.

China unveils monument to South China Sea island building - Reuters China has unveiled a monument to mark its construction work in the disputed South China Sea, which has included reclaiming land for artificial islands, the Chinese military’s official newspaper said on Tuesday.

军报评论:加速推动信息领域核心技术突破 - 中国军网 当前,网络信息技术已成为全球技术创新的竞争高地。信息领域核心技术,有钱买不来,化缘化不来,只能依靠自主创新、坚持自立自强。加速推动信息领域核心技术突破,才能自主掌控“命门”、实现“弯道超车”,避免陷入战略被动。

China says terrorism tops meeting of Central Asian states - AP China’s defense minister said Tuesday that fighting the threat of terrorism is a top concern to be discussed by a Beijing-led group of Central Asian states at a meeting this week that highlights Chinese ambitions to dominate the Asian security agenda. Wei Fenghe told fellow defense officials from the eight-member Shanghai Cooperation Organization in Beijing that the group stood as a force for peace.

 

Hong Kong, Macao

Free speech fears as Beijing attacks Hong Kong professor - FT $$ The powers that be have called law professor Benny Tai a threat to China’s national security who must be “crushed with a sledgehammer” and warned that his comments about Hong Kong’s independence risk igniting a Northern Ireland-like conflict. But the earnest scholar who opens the door to his book-lined cubbyhole office at the University of Hong Kong does not look like an enemy of the state. “Advocating independence is not against the law,” says Prof Tai. “But we’re moving from a semi-democratic to a semi-authoritarian system and the central government wants to limit our freedoms.”

Nothing wrong with school history textbooks reflecting Chinese view of Hong Kong handover, says Carrie Lam | South China Morning Post Chief executive says people overreacting to government-appointed panel’s opposition to description of Hong Kong’s 1997 shift from British to Chinese rule in school textb

Ringleaders of billion-dollar transpacific cocaine gang held in mainland China | South China Morning Post Two Hongkongers thought to be the leaders of a transpacific drug trafficking ring linked to the biggest cocaine seizure in recent Chinese history were sent back to the mainland after Interpol helped catch them overseas, authorities said on Tuesday...A Hong Kong government source said local agencies had been aware of the round-up since last year and given basic information on the suspects to their mainland counterparts. He said it made sense for the ringleaders to be sent back to the mainland, even though they were Hong Kong residents.

 

Taiwan

Taiwan to stage military exercises simulating invasion amid tensions with mainland China | Reuters Taiwan will simulate repelling an invading force, emergency repairs of a major airbase and using civilian operated drones as part of military exercises starting next week, the defence ministry said on Tuesday amid growing tensions with mainland China.

 

Tech And Media

The company behind Jinri Toutiao is creating its own AI chips · TechNode “Bytedance has the largest number of users in the world whose videos need to be analyzed and processed and uploaded, and we are purchasing a large number of chips. At present, we are actively seeking breakthroughs in the chip-related field,” Vice-President of Bytedance Yang Zhenyuan told 36Kr (in Chinese). He did not, however, provide any specifics on the products being developed.

SoftBank and Google Funds to Invest in Chinese Truck-Hailing Firm Manbang - WSJ $$ Japan’s SoftBank Group Corp. 9984 0.34% and Alphabet Inc.’s GOOGL -0.33% late-stage venture investment fund are among investors plowing close to $2 billion into a Chinese truck-hailing company, according to people familiar with the investments. Manbang Group, which runs a mobile app platform that matches truck drivers with shippers looking to transport cargo, is raising more money than it originally set out to fetch, according to these people. The Wall Street Journal previously reported the company was planning to raise between $500 million and $1 billion.

Film diplomacy: Using entertainment to foster stronger relations - Video - BNN BNN speaks with Chris Fenton, media strategist, dealmaker and a trustee at the US-Asia Institute, has produced and supervised a number of hit movies including 'Iron Man 3.' He's also been instrumental in building bridges between Hollywood and China, and has been a approached to take on a similar role in heading Saudi Arabia’s film-and-content initiative. Fenton currently has two movies showing in theatres: 'Chappaquiddick' and 'Blockers.'

【还原】4 年,魅族沉沦记 |  PingWest品玩 Good PingWest article on the downfall of smartphone brand Meizu

Tech Giants Admit Job Ads Sexist, But Deny Discrimination - Caixin Global “These job postings — which were identified and removed prior to release of the Human Rights Watch Report — were isolated instances that in no way reflect our company’s dedication to workplace equality,” a Baidu spokesperson told Caixin...Alibaba also stressed that six of its 18 founders and 12 of its 36 current partners are women...Tencent said it has investigated these incidents and is making immediate changes.“We are sorry they occurred and we will take swift action to ensure they do not happen again,” the company said

人民日报评论员:突破核心技术 建设数字中国 ——四论贯彻习近平总书记全国网信工作会议重要讲话-新华网 实现核心技术突破,必须走自主创新之路。习近平总书记多次强调,核心技术是我们最大的命门,核心技术受制于人是我们最大的隐患。不掌握核心技术,我们就会被卡脖子、牵鼻子,不得不看别人脸色行事。而真正的核心技术是花钱买不来的、市场换不到的。我们必须争这口气,下定决心、保持恒心、找准重心,增强抓核心技术突破的紧迫感和使命感。当然,我们强调自主创新,并不是要关起门来研发、一切从头开始,而是要分清哪些技术可以搞好引进消化吸收再创新,哪些必须靠自主研发、自主发展。贯彻落实好党中央的相关战略部署,遵循技术发展规律,咬定青山不放松,我们就能不断攻克难关,推动自主创新加快实现突破。//Fourth Commentary in the wake of the recent cybersecurity and informatization work conference, on the importance of developing indigenous core technologies. 

我国芯片怎么补短板?人才缺口40万 论文难发待遇低|计算机专业|人才|互联网公司_新浪科技_新浪网 根据工业和信息化部软件与集成电路促进中心(CSIP)2017年5月发布的《中国集成电路产业人才白皮书(2016-2017)》(以下简称白皮书),目前我国集成电路从业人员总数不足30万人,但是按总产值计算,需要70万人,人才培养总量严重不足。   40万芯片人才缺口该怎么补上?问题的答案不只藏在教育环节。 //  Comment: China needs at least 400,000 more semiconductor engineers to be able to fix its lagging semiconductor ambitions?

 

Society, Art, Sports, Culture And History

130 years on, Vancouver apologises for its racist treatment of Chinese citizens | South China Morning Post The apology, recognising the city government’s historic discrimination in legislation, regulation and policies against Canadian citizens of Chinese descent, was delivered at the city’s Chinese Cultural Centre on Sunday. It was translated and read in two dialects from Guangdong province, where most Chinese immigrants came from during the 1880s.

Big data update on contested divorces in China | Supreme People's Court Monitor Mostly couples sued for divorce on the basis that they no longer were compatible, and in about 15% of cases domestic violence was alleged...Domestic violence was alleged most often in Guangdong, Guizhou and Guangxi...In the first instance divorce cases, 91% of the domestic violence was committed by men on women.

 

Energy, Environment, Science And Health

Faster, cheaper, better: How China and AI are helping pharmaceutical development · TechNode The likes of Tencent and Sequoia China are now putting money into the sector; firms around the world are making their research tools available in Chinese. But there are also China-specific hurdles, both chronic and acute, facing AI drug development. Issues from intellectual property protection to talent acquisition explain why none of the companies interviewed for this piece are fully based in China.

China's Chang'e-4 relay satellite named 'Queqiao' - Xinhua The relay satellite for the Chang'e-4 lunar probe, which is expected to land on the far side of the Moon later this year, has been named "Queqiao" - magpie bridge. The name was announced by the China National Space Administration (CNSA)Tuesday, China's Space Day. In a Chinese folktale, magpies form a bridge with their wings on the seventh night of the seventh month of the lunar calendar to enable Zhi Nu, the seventh daughter of the Goddess of Heaven, to cross and meet her beloved husband, separated from her by the Milky Way.

China plans manned outpost on moon - China Daily China's space authority has announced plans to build a manned scientific research station on the moon. In a video shown at a ceremony in Harbin, the capital of Heilongjiang province, on Tuesday to mark China's Space Day, the China National Space Administration listed the construction and operation of a lunar scientific research station in its development road map for the space sector. It was China's third Space Day, with the date chosen because China launched its first satellite on April 24, 1970.

China to scrap import tariffs on 28 drugs - Xinhua China will exempt import tariffs on 28 drugs including all cancer drugs from May 1 to fulfill its pledge of wider opening of the Chinese market, the Ministry of Finance (MOF) announced Monday. The announcement followed a statement released after an executive meeting of the State Council on April 12 that import tariffs on all common drugs including cancer drugs, cancer alkaloid-based drugs, and imported traditional Chinese medicine will be exempt from May 1.

Asian elephants said at risk from Chinese demand for skin - AP The report’s authors say their research shows that the elephant’s skin is ground into powder and sold in China as a cure for stomach ailments, as well as being fashioned into beads for necklaces, bracelets and pendants. The products are sold in physical markets and increasingly over the internet, where the report says sellers post videos showing workers in backyards in Myanmar and Laos cutting up and carving elephant carcasses, to vouch for the authenticity of their wares.