Reform and Opening Anniversary Party Week, Central Economic Work Conference; McKinsey parties in Xinjiang

Hi everyone, I am back, though still sucking wind. Thanks for the nice notes from many of you, there is clearly something really nasty going around, hope none of you get it.

The is Reform and Opening Anniversary Party week. Xi is giving a speech at 10 AM Beijing time Tuesday that will be broadcast on CCTV and major Internet portals. Beyond the propaganda push, including more attacks on “vested interests” blocking reform, there have been messaging efforts to convince observers that Xi will be making some major announcements in his speech, including of measures that may move China much closer to acceding to many of the US trade demands, steps that would be spun as due to domestic imperatives as opposed to US pressure, the whispers say.

That would be great, but we all know that talk is cheap and that Xi has made plenty of reform promises, between the 3rd Plenum of the 18th Party Congress to multiple “important” speeches, including at Davos in 2017.

Whatever new reforms Xi may promise, does anyone think they will include reducing the role of the Party, adding back some space for media, better respecting laws already on the books or improving human rights?

Maybe Xi will surprise everyone, but there is such a trust deficit and so much promise fatigue that there needs to be a lot more than another major speech with big pledges. I am trying to be hopeful but as Xi himself would say, seek truth from facts…

Rumors and a Question: The Party held a gala Friday night to celebrate the anniversary. Of course the Politburo Standing Committee attended, except Zhao Leji. Zhao did appear in the reports of the Politburo study sessions earlier that day. It seems quite strange that he would not be there, and his absence has spurred another round of rumors, from he is busy with preparations for another big tiger takedown to problems for him. I do not know, but his absence at such an important event seems noteworthy. Comments/thoughts are welcome.

Thanks for reading.

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The Essential Eight

1. Reform conference and propaganda push

Xi to attend conference celebrating 40th anniversary of reform, opening up - Xinhua:

President Xi Jinping will attend a conference celebrating the 40th anniversary of China's reform and opening up, scheduled for Tuesday morning in Beijing.

Xi, also general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission, will deliver a speech at the conference, to be held at the Great Hall of the People at 10 a.m. on Dec. 18.

The event will be broadcast live by China Media Group and on Xinhua News Agency's website (xinhuanet.com). The event will also be rebroadcast simultaneously on major news websites including people.com.cn, cctv.com and china.com.cn as well as on news apps run by the People's Daily, Xinhua News Agency and China Central Television.

CCTV report on the reform and opening gala on the 14th, quite the performances-庆祝改革开放40周年文艺晚会举行 习近平等出席观看|王沪宁|李克强|晚会_新浪新闻 

China holds gala for 40th anniversary of reform, opening up - Xinhua:

Xi Jinping, Li Keqiang, Li Zhanshu, Wang Yang, Wang Huning, Han Zheng and Wang Qishan were among the Communist Party of China (CPC) and state leaders who joined more than 3,000 people to watch the gala at the Great Hall of the People.

On the balcony of the 2nd floor of the hall hung a banner, which read "rally closely around the CPC Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping at the core, hold high the banner of socialism with Chinese characteristics, follow the guidance of Deng Xiaoping Theory, the Theory of Three Represents, the Scientific Outlook on Development and Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era, and unceasingly advance reform and opening up in the new era".

Massive article on the reforms led by Party Center with Xi as the core...several pages in the Monday People's Daily-高举新时代改革开放旗帜-——以习近平同志为核心的党中央引领改革开放纪实--人民网 

任仲平:亿万人民的共同事业--理论-人民网 ——纪念改革开放40周年(下)

新华社评论员:向着更加壮阔的航程——致敬改革开放40周年_国内新闻_环球网

Four Fates in a Changing China – China Channel - Yu Hua:

An exclusive new essay by Yu Hua...This latest essay can be read as a companion piece to his recent article that charted changing trends in Chinese society over the last 40 years. - Allan Barr, translator -

Chinese youth today are unlikely to have such complex lives as people of my generation. When I was younger, a shared interest in literature brought me into contact with a number of individuals, and over the years they moved in very different directions: some went into business and made fortunes; some went into government and now hold high positions; some ended up in prison; some are still writing; some, sadly, have died.

Here I have to exercise some discretion in deciding whose stories I can recount and whose I cannot yet share, whose names I can state plainly and whose I should withhold. At the same time, I need a common thread that will connect these individual histories. After weighing up various options, I have chosen incarceration as the unifying link, because quite a few people I know have experienced dramatic ups and downs and have found themselves in prison, although for quite different reasons. Of the four people I am going to write about, one I still see and two I have completely lost touch with; the last one is dead.


2. Central Economic Work Conference

Caixin View: Curb Your Enthusiasm Over Big China Meetings - Caixin:

Optimists are hoping for news of "structural changes" that will meet the U.S.'s demands outlined in the 90-day trade war truce announced on Dec. 1. These include a dismantling of non-tariff barriers, an end to forced technology transfers, cyber theft and intrusion, opening up of the services and agriculture industries, and better protection of intellectual property, according to the U.S. account of the Xi-Trump meeting. Other items on the wish list of the private sector, and foreign governments and companies include creating a level playing field between favored state-owned enterprises and everyone else.

While minor concessions are possible, we don't think major changes or announcements are likely, mainly because last week's Politburo meeting, usually a reliable indicator of what's to come at the CEWC, gave little sign of movement on these issues. We think the meeting added to evidence that the leadership is choosing to focus on previously stated targets and priorities.

Policymakers Face Tough Choices at Key Economic Meeting - Caixin:

Clues about what will be discussed at the meeting and what’s in store for 2019 came on Thursday in a statement (link in Chinese) after a meeting of the Politburo, a committee of the 25 most senior Communist Party members. The Politburo gathering is often held days before the CEWC.

The leadership stressed they aims to “keep economic growth at a reasonable level” next year and ensure social stability, which they did not mention in the statement (link in Chinese) on a similar meeting a year ago. Although they reiterated the need to continue to fight the “three tough battles” of controlling risks, reducing poverty and tackling pollution, they did not elaborate on detailed goals about the work to deleverage the economy or reduce pollution as they did last year, suggesting the downgrade of the subjects on the government’s to-do list.

Leaders also called on officials to “enhance preparation for potential adversities” linked to “changes in the international environment and domestic conditions,” a veiled reference to the trade dispute with the U.S.

As trade war bites, China advisers recommend lowering 2019 growth target | Reuters:

The economic conference is likely to convene on Wednesday, two policy insiders said, a day after an event marking the 40th anniversary of China’s reform and opening up, where President Xi Jinping is due to make what the official Xinhua news agency described as an “important” speech.

The meeting will not result in any public announcement of economic targets, which are usually reserved for the opening of the parliamentary session in early March...

Government advisers and think tanks, which are influential in the decision-making process but aren’t empowered to execute policies, have recommended a growth target of 6.0-6.5 percent for 2019, versus around 6.5 percent in 2018.

Potential Public Revenue Plateau Heralds More Tax Cuts for 2019 - Caixin Global:

China’s central government is considering keeping its general public budget revenue for 2019 the same as this year, local officials familiar with the matter told Caixin...

Each year, the central government sets a growth target for its general public budget revenue which enables it to pursue its economic and social goals. For 2018, the government projected it would grow to 8.5 trillion yuan ($1.2 trillion), up 5.2% from 2017 levels. Around 90% of this revenue has come from taxpayers in recent years, official data show.

A budget revenue growth rate of zero for 2019 would indicate policymakers were making efforts to collect less money from businesses in a bid to ease their financial stress.


3. Politburo meeting

Xi presides over meeting on economy, anti-corruption | Xinhua:

Efforts should also be continued to fight the "three tough battles" of controlling risks, reducing poverty and tackling pollution, stimulate the vitality of micro entities, and meanwhile innovate and improve macroeconomic regulation.

To raise market confidence, the country will keep economic growth at a reasonable level, further stabilize employment, the financial market, foreign trade, foreign investment, domestic investment, and expectations, the statement said.

By maintaining continuous and healthy economic growth and overall social stability, the country will "lay the decisive foundation for finishing the building of a moderately prosperous society in all respects, and celebrate the 70th anniversary of the founding of the PRC with excellent results," the statement said.

[Emphasis mine] The meeting stressed that changes in the international environment and domestic conditions should be looked at dialectically, urging the Party to be prepared for potential adversities.

The country should continue to seize the important period of strategic opportunity for development and manage its own affairs with firm confidence and initiative, according to the meeting.

It demanded strategic resolve, solid efforts, better coordination, a focus on major contradictions, and well-managed rhythm and intensity, to seek an optimal policy mix and maximum effects.

习近平主持中共中央政治局会议

会议强调,要辩证看待国际环境和国内条件的变化,增强忧患意识,继续抓住并用好我国发展的重要战略机遇期,坚定信心,把握主动,坚定不移办好自己的事。要保持战略定力,注重稳扎稳打,加强协调配合,聚焦主要矛盾,把握好节奏和力度,努力实现最优政策组合和最大整体效果。


4. McKinsey parties in Xinjiang

Right down the road from one of the camps...

How McKinsey Has Helped Raise the Stature of Authoritarian Governments - The New York Times - Walt Bogdanich and Michael Forsythe

This year’s McKinsey & Company retreat in China was one to remember...

Especially remarkable was the location: Kashgar, the ancient Silk Road city in China’s far west that is experiencing a major humanitarian crisis.

About four miles from where the McKinsey consultants discussed their work, which includes advising some of China’s most important state-owned companies, a sprawling internment camp had sprung up to hold thousands of ethnic Uighurs — part of a vast archipelago of indoctrination camps where the Chinese government has locked up as many as one million people.

One week before the McKinsey event, a United Nations committee had denounced the mass detentions and urged China to stop.

But the political backdrop did not appear to bother the McKinsey consultants, who posted pictures on Instagram chronicling their Disney-like adventures. In fact, McKinsey’s involvement with the Chinese government goes much deeper than its odd choice to showcase its presence in the country...

Always in search of top talent, McKinsey brought on a 27-year-old named Liu Chunhang as a full-time associate in 2002. He had just graduated near the top of his class at Harvard Business School, according to school records, and stayed at McKinsey for less than a year. But in that time, his in-laws took steps that would turn them into billionaires.

Mr. Liu was the son-in-law of Wen Jiabao, the country’s vice premier in charge of finance. Several months later, Mr. Wen became China’s premier, putting him in charge of running the government.

At the time, McKinsey’s client, Ping An, was preparing for an initial public offering in Hong Kong. The Wen family and its business associates became secret shareholders of Ping An, having acquired their stakes at low cost in late 2002. And as premier, Mr. Wen presided over China’s cabinet, which oversaw the insurance industry and signed off on big I.P.O.s.

Mike Forsythe followed up with more detail on Ping'an and Mr Liu in a Twitter thread:

The satirical Twitter account @relevantorgans nails it again:


5. It keeps getting worse in Xinjiang

Starting to sound more and more like a gulag archipelago with Chinese characteristics…

China’s Detention Camps for Muslims Turn to Forced Labor - The New York Times

Accounts from the region, satellite images and previously unreported official documents indicate that growing numbers of detainees are being sent to new factories, built inside or near the camps, where inmates have little choice but to accept jobs and follow orders.

“These people who are detained provide free or low-cost forced labor for these factories,” said Mehmet Volkan Kasikci, a researcher in Turkey who has collected accounts of inmates in the factories by interviewing relatives who have left China. “Stories continue to come to me,” he said.

Forced labour being used in China’s ‘re-education’ camps | Financial Times $$:

Before its abolition in 2013, China’s gulag-style laojiao system of re-education through work forced millions deemed to be political dissidents to perform hard labour. The emergence of a forced labour system within Xinjiang’s internment camps this year suggests Beijing is resurrecting elements of laojiao, with Mr Amantay becoming one of its latest victims.

“The similarities between what is happening to Uighurs and what happened to people with unwanted political backgrounds in the Maoist period are striking . . . except [this time] only members of particular minority ethnic groups are targeted for this extralegal form of forced labour,” said Darren Byler, an anthropologist at the University of Washington who specialises in Xinjiang.

Evidence Of Hikvision's Involvement With Xinjiang IJOP And Re-Education Camps:

IPVM reveals as-yet unreported details about Hikvision’s activities in Xinjiang - a region of China where massive human rights abuses are being alleged - including:

Contracts won by Hikvision to install surveillance systems in a re-education camp and mosques

Evidence of Hikvision’s direct involvement in IJOP, a large-scale integrated surveillance program

Forget Xinjiang’s re-education camps, China’s still a draw for Muslim tourists | This Week In Asia | South China Morning Post:

Muslim travellers spent US$8 billion in China in 2018, twice as much as in Malaysia and Singapore and even outpacing Thailand, according to market research and certification company Salam Standard, which predicts spending by Muslim travellers to China will grow by about US$1 billion annually.

Much of the current growth is from Asian Muslims, who tend to be less concerned by reports about Xinjiang than their counterparts from the United States and Europe, according to Amina Liu, owner of US-based Halal China Tours. “The Belt and Road Initiative helps people in Asia know China better. China is close to them, it makes them curious,” she says.

Change of Plans: Conducting Research in Xinjiang | #AsiaNow:

Over the course of two weeks, I came to the conclusion that not only was my proposed study unfeasible, but also that it would be ethically indefensible for me to continue pursuing ethnographic research in the XUAR for the foreseeable future. Minimizing risk is part of the code of ethics for anyone conducting research with human subjects, and to minimize risk is simply impossible in the current climate in the Uyghur Region, where merely expressing interest in traveling abroad or having contact with anyone outside the region is enough to condemn a Uyghur to disappearance into a camp.

Locked away, forgotten: Muslim Uighur wives of Pakistani men - AP:

political and economic factors, including concerns about losing out on vast Chinese investments, have kept Pakistan and other Muslim countries silent about the plight in China of fellow Muslims, the Uighurs.


6. Crackdown on religion seems like it is going nationwide

China shuts leading underground Christian church, third this winter | South China Morning Post:

According to Christian sources, the Rongguili Church in Guangzhou, widely known as the beacon of faith in southern China, was raided about 10am, making it the third prominent Protestant unregistered church to be shut down by Chinese authorities this winter.

The officials, who included representatives from the education and religious affairs departments, were said to have stayed until 8pm and confiscated church property, including more than 4,000 books...

The church, which attracts thousands of worshippers every week, was founded by the late pastor Samuel Lamb Xiangao, one of the leading figures of China’s independent house church movement over the past four decades.

Vatican group in China as ties warm up - Global Times:

A Vatican delegation's visit to China last week achieved progress and has brought both sides closer despite the absence of diplomatic ties, Chinese bishops said.

"The delegation's visit has made progress and the Vatican side said they will soon visit China again to further implement the details on bishop appointments," Bishop Fang Jianping, deputy head of the Bishops' Conference of the Catholic Church in China, told the Global Times on Sunday.

Holy See press office director Greg Burke told the Global Times in an email on Friday local time that the delegation was in China for talks with both "government and church officials."

Bishop from China's underground Catholic church steps down: state media - AFP:

An agreement struck in September on the appointment of bishops paved the way for a rapprochement between the Holy See and Beijing, establishing diplomatic ties for the first time since 1951.

Guo Xijin, bishop of the underground church in eastern Fujian province was appointed by the Pope, but his title was never recognised by Chinese authorities, who have detained and questioned him several times in the past.

His decision to step aside follows a rare visit this week by an official Vatican delegation to the Chinese capital, the state-run daily Global Times said on its website on Friday.

Gansu removes 4 halal-linked standards to curb religious extremism - Global Times:

Northwest China's Gansu Province recently abolished four halal-related local identification standards to fight the pan-halal tendency, which officials said would better protect the rights of minorities and curb religious extremism...

Abolishing the halal identification standards conforms with the requirements of the United Front Work Department of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee to fight the pan-halal tendency and protect the rights of China's minorities, an official at the Gansu Ethnic Affair Commission surnamed Wang told the Global Times.


7. Huawei

Canada’s ambassador to China meets with second detained Canadian | AFP:

The ministry said Ambassador John McCallum had met with Michael Spavor, a business consultant, two days after meeting with another detained Canadian, Michael Kovrig, a think tank employee.

Globe editorial: The end of the Trudeau government’s China delusion - The Globe and Mail:

The fact that Beijing does not get how counterproductive its response has been is troubling. It does not require a deep understanding of the rule of law to realize that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his cabinet have no power to order a judge in British Columbia to immediately release someone. But it’s how things work in China, where there is no rule of law. If the government says you’re guilty, you’re guilty. Those who rule make the rules...

Nobody likes to hear the truth: It’s upsetting and it can cause a loss of face. But the relationship between Canada and China needs to be renewed on more truth and honesty, and less wishful thinking.

Huawei continues global push despite setbacks in west | Financial Times $$:

As the furore raged over whether Huawei is a security risk to the west a few weeks ago, a senior executive from the Chinese telecoms supplier gave a speech in London.

“Actions speak louder than words,” said Ryan Ding, a Huawei board member, as he revealed that the company has signed 22 commercial contracts for 5G, the next generation of mobile internet, and is working with “over 50 carriers” on 5G trials.

A few days later, the company revealed another major deal: one with Altice for 5G in Portugal. Last week, T-Mobile launched a 5G network using Huawei equipment in Poland.

T-Mobile, Sprint see Huawei shun clinching U.S. deal - sources | Reuters:

T-Mobile US Inc and Sprint Corp believe their foreign owners’ offer to stop using Huawei Technologies equipment will help with the United States clearing their $26 billion merger deal, sources said, underscoring the lengths to which Washington has gone to shut out the Chinese company.

Game on for Chinese 5G firms - China Daily:

Billions, maybe, trillions of dollars are up for grabs globally-and Chinese technology companies are vying to scoop up as much of the fifth-generation or 5G mobile telecommunication technology pie as possible, as the D-Day of commercial launch around 2020 nears.

In doing so, they are also seeking the honor of being remembered as the first off the block, in the process generating mirth at times.

On Nov 30, about 10 engineers employed with smartphone maker Oppo and based in China, Japan and the United States made what they claimed is the world's first 5G-enabled cross-continent video call.

Eurasia Group | The Geopolitics of 5G:

This report by Eurasia Group's Geo-technology practice provides a comprehensive analysis of the political forces that will influence the creation of 5G standards and deployment in key markets. It addresses how the political struggle over 5G and the technologies and services that will be built on top of the new networks will shape the competition for 21st-century dominance between the world's leading technology superpowers, the US and China. It also assesses the difficult choices that third countries will face to determine their own 5G strategies amid an ongoing confrontation between Washington and Beijing over technology and trade.


8. WeChat key to Chinese-language censorship globally

Wechat may be the key tool in the PRC’s increasingly aggressive global agenda to censor Chinese language content, because it is where the consumers are...

How a red dot kept Chinese-Canadian readers from getting the full story on Huawei | The Star 

In Canada, media companies can write what they want, of course — but their stories can also be deleted from WeChat, which is subject to Chinese censorship rules, said Zhang Xiao Jun, editor of the Chinese-language Sing Tao Daily, which is owned by Torstar.

“They frequently block articles on our public account that are about Chinese government corruption or powerful people there,” said Zhang.

He said about 60 per cent of the newspaper’s readers are Canadians with Hong Kong roots and the rest are mostly from mainland China or Taiwan.

Zhang said many newcomers to Canada still prefer to read the news in their own language, and WeChat is a popular aggregator. The influence of the app is immense and can sway the opinions of Chinese-speaking Canadians by what it allows to be posted.

In order to reach this market, Zhang said, Sing Tao staff will post articles in up to 100 different WeChat groups; doing it this way helps controversial stories fly under the radar of the censors. Each chat group can contain up to 500 members.


Business, Economy, Finance And Trade

Germany Tightens Foreign Acquisition Rules Amid China’s Push for Technology Deals - WSJ $$ Germany’s cabinet is set to approve Wednesday rules stating that any non-European foreign company planning to buy more than 10% of a German company involved in defense, technology or media will see its deal probed by German authorities, according to people familiar with the plan. Since 2017, the threshold has been 25%, which has applied to strategically important companies if the investment puts public order or safety at risk.

Trump’s Tough China Tack Wins Over Skeptical CEOs - WSJ The dozens of CEOs gathered for the Journal’s meeting in the capital, however, suggest business leaders have shifted their view of Mr. Trump’s confrontational approach. They now say they are encouraged that the administration recognizes complex problems demand sophisticated solutions. National Security Adviser John Bolton outlined how negotiations could take a turn over a 90-day cease-fire China and the U.S. agreed to this past week. Speaking to the CEO Council, he proposed a rule that says there will be no imports into the U.S. of products or services based on the theft of American innovation. “That’s not a tariff question,” he said. “That’s a way of defending intellectual property from the United States.”

Deep in the red: Chinese county pays price for vanity-project binge | Reuters Rucheng is not alone - hundreds of other indebted counties in China are in the same boat. In a recent financial stability report, the central bank said that much of China’s hidden debt risk is held at lower-tier levels, meaning prefectures and counties like Rucheng.

The U.S. is not a riskier bet than China - Axios It's certainly a striking headline: "Markets Conclude the U.S. Is Riskier Than China." And the author should know whereof he speaks: Matthew Winkler, the editor-in-chief emeritus of Bloomberg News, literally wrote the book on how to report on markets. But Winkler is wrong. ..Winkler is comparing domestic-currency interest rates; he concludes that there's a "dichotomy between the U.S and China in the credit markets." But in doing so he ignores the fact that he's comparing two entirely different currencies.

China’s $856 Billion Startup Juggernaut Is Getting Stuck - Bloomberg For years, China relied on cash subsidies to encourage development of key industries. But since 2014, subsidies have been giving way to so-called “guidance funds”. As of the first half, various levels of the government had established 1,171 guidance funds, aiming to raise and deploy a staggering 5.9 trillion yuan ($856 billion) according to China Venture. Other estimates are even higher: Consultancy Zero2IPO puts the figure at more than 11 trillion yuan.

China Sees Bankruptcies Surge With Call to Resolve `Zombies' - Bloomberg Local courts have accepted or plan to accept at least five bankruptcy applications from firms that defaulted on publicly issued bonds since early November. That’s roughly on par with the number seen over the previous four years. The new pace may continue: China’s top planning body called on Dec. 4 for local officials to clean up the debt of firms with excess production capacity or insolvent balance sheets by 2020.

China's $20 Billion New Egypt Capital Project Talks Fall Through - Bloomberg Talks between Egypt and Chinese builder CFLD for a $20 billion development in the new administrative capital have fallen through over disagreements on how to share revenue from the project, Egyptian officials said. Two years of tough negotiations came to an end after Egyptian authorities sent a response to the final proposal by the Shanghai-listed China Fortune Land Development Co. on developing 15,000 acres (6,070 hectares) over 25 years in the new capital east of Cairo.

Wanda Curries Beijing Favor With ‘Red Tourism’ Project - Caixin Global Property-turned-entertainment conglomerate Wanda Group is getting more introspective, announcing a plan to invest 12 billion yuan ($1.74 billion) on a tourism project in the city at the terminus of the Communist Party’s well-known Long March of 1934 to 1935. The massive project will occupy 1,900 mu (1.3 square kilometers) in the Gaoxin district of the city of Yan’an, a city in central China’s Shaanxi province, according to a company announcement over the weekend. About a third of the total investment will go to entertainment, including educational elements and a tourism village themed on the Long March.

More prudence seen amid property price slump - China Daily Among China's 70 major cities, five-Tianjin, Xiamen, Shenzhen, Jinhua and Wenzhou-saw prices drop for new properties in November compared to October. Last month, 17 of the 70 cities saw a decline in secondhand property prices including Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen. "Prices for secondhand properties in 10 major cities have been decreasing for two consecutive months, and prices in the 70 cities have also seen significant change," said Zhang Dawei, chief analyst at Centaline Property Agency Ltd. "It was the first time seeing this in four years," he added.

U.S. and China trade barbs at WTO amid calls for reform | Reuters The heated words, in texts seen by Reuters, were exchanged at the start of a closed-door review of U.S. trade policies, held every two years at the WTO, which continues on Wednesday.


Politics, Law And Ideology

CPC issues regulation on punishment of Party members - Xinhua The General Office of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee has issued a trial regulation on how leading Party members groups discuss and decide the punishment of Party members. According to the regulation, leading Party members groups should fulfil the main responsibility of ensuring the strict and full governance over the Party. Discipline inspection groups, sent by the CPC Central Commission for Discipline Inspection and the National Supervisory Commission, have the responsibility of supervision.  中共中央办公厅印发 《党组讨论和决定党员处分事项工作程序规定(试行)》

NPCSC Session Watch: Foreign Investment, Patent, Resource Tax, Local Government Debt & More – NPC Observer The 13th NPC Standing Committee (NPCSC) will convene for its last session in 2018 from December 23 to 29, the Council of Chairmen decided on Friday...

中央网信办副主任高翔重返中国社科院 任副院长|澎湃新闻|高翔|副院长_新浪新闻 Gao Xiang leaves post as deputy head of the CAC to return to CASS as vice president  //  高翔早年在中国人民大学清史系任教,1996年进入中国社科院工作,2006年7月担任中国社科院《中国社会科学》杂志社总编辑,2012年7月出任中国社科院副秘书长,一年后出任该院秘书长职务(按中央国家机关副部长级待遇)。   2016年3月,高翔“空降”福建省委常委、宣传部部长,并兼福建省社会科学界联合会主席。2017年底前,高翔回京出任中央网信办副主任。   另外,中国社科院官网“院领导”栏目目前已无63岁的副院长、党组成员李培林的资料

China’s corruption watchdog takes down self-styled Mao-tai liquor mogul who went into business for himself | South China Morning Post A former vice-governor of Guizhou province accumulated so many bottles of Mao-tai liquor through his official duties that he became a wine seller and ran four trading companies to turn them into cash, anti-corruption officials said.

[视频]习近平在中共中央政治局第十一次集体学习时强调 持续深化国家监察体制改革 推进反腐败工作法治化规范化_CCTV节目官网-CCTV-1_央视网(cctv.com) Zhao Leji did appear at the 12.14 Politburo study session

赵乐际活动报道专页--领导人活动报道专页--人民网 The leadership activity page for Zhao Leji on the the official CPC News website lists that reform gala as an event Zhao attended, even though he was not there...huh


Foreign and Military Affairs

Top FBI official warns of strategic threat from China through economic and other forms of espionage - The Washington Post E.W. “Bill” Priestap, head of the bureau’s counterintelligence division, joined two other senior security officials in outlining what they described as Beijing’s long-term campaign to undermine the United States’ economic and technological dominance and the government’s efforts to counter it. China’s Communist Party “dominates every facet of Chinese life,” from religion to freedom of expression and business, Priestap said at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing. “It is therefore alarming that the Chinese government’s economic aggression, including its relentless theft of U.S. assets, is positioning China to supplant us as the world’s superpower.”

Xi sends congratulatory letter to Understanding China Conference - Xinhua Yang Jiechi, a member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, read the letter at the opening ceremony. The world today faces unprecedented changes in a century, peace and development is still the theme of the times, and meanwhile, the humanity is facing many common challenges, Xi said in the letter... Yang, also director of the Office of the Foreign Affairs Commission of the CPC Central Committee, delivered a speech at the opening ceremony...Nearly 600 people will attend the conference, including about 40 famous global politicians, strategists and entrepreneurs.

U.S. Navy may stop docking in Haifa after Chinese take over port - Jerusalem Post The US Navy has acknowledged that its longstanding operations in Haifa may change once a Chinese firm takes over the civilian port in 2021, prompting Israel’s national security cabinet to revisit the arrangement, The Jerusalem Post has learned.   Haifa, the nation’s largest port city, regularly hosts joint US-Israeli naval drills and visits from American vessels. But a 2015 agreement between Israel’s Transportation Ministry and Shanghai International Port Group (SIPG) – a company in which the Chinese government has a majority stake – has raised intelligence and security concerns that are only now prompting an interagency review.

Senate Bill Targets Chinese Economic Espionage – Foreign Policy new Senate bill would expand the ability of American prosecutors to go after hackers abroad who attempt to steal trade secrets from U.S. firms, in the latest effort in Washington to crack down on Chinese economic espionage.

China pledges to help Afghanistan and Pakistan bridge divisions | Reuters China, a close ally of Pakistan, has lately deepened its economic and political ties with Kabul and is using its influence to try to bring the two uneasy South Asian neighbors closer, at a time when the United States has sought Pakistan’s help with faltering Afghan peace talks. The Chinese government’s top diplomat, State Councillor Wang Yi, met the foreign ministers of Afghanistan and Pakistan in Kabul to put into effect a memorandum of understanding on security cooperation and support for Afghanistan’s efforts to open talks with the Taliban.

Spratly Islands military bases revealed - Spatial Source atellite images released by European Space Imagery show completed Chinese military installations on the contested Spratly Islands in the South China Sea.

China and Russia band together on controversial heating experiments to modify the atmosphere | South China Morning Post The High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program, or HAARP, was established in Gakona, Alaska, in the 1990s with funding from the US military and the Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency. The HAARP facility could generate a maximum 1 gigawatt of power, nearly four times that of Sura. China is now building an even larger and more advanced facility in Sanya, Hainan, with capability to manipulate the ionosphere over the entire South China Sea, according to an earlier report by the South China Morning Post.

China's Antarctic expedition team discovers site for blue ice airport - Global Times China recently discovered a huge blue ice area in the Antarctic suitable for the country's first large permanent airport on the continent, where China's strategic transport aircraft Y-20 can operate. The discovery was made by China's 35th Antarctic research expedition team about 10 kilometers away from their base, the Xinhua News Agency reported on Sunday.

J-10B fighter jets hone combat skills for night air refueling, extending range - Global Times China's armed forces successfully performed a complex mid-air refueling for its J-10B fighter jet at night. The mastery of the difficult task during training drills allows the planes to fly for days in a row, effectively improving the all-weather long-range combat capability of the army. The training has been successfully done on the single and double-seat versions of the J-10B jet fighter.

China aids an office and auditorium complex to Sri Lanka Military Academy - Ministry of National Defense The handover ceremony of the office and auditorium complex of the Sri Lankan Military Academy was held in Diyatalawa, a former garrison town in the central highlands of Sri Lanka on December 15,local time. Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena and Chinese Ambassador to Sri Lanka Cheng Xueyuan unveiled the new building in the presence of over 150 people, including Lieutenant General Mahesh Senanayake, commander of the Sri Lankan Army, members of a Chinese military delegation, and senior generals of the Sri Lankan military.

Report: China is driving use of armed drones in Middle East - AP The RUSI report , entitled “Armed Drones in the Middle East: Proliferation and Norms in the Region,” said that by capitalizing on the gap in the market over the past few years, Beijing has supplied armed drones to several countries that are not authorized to purchase them from the U.S., and at a dramatically cheaper price. “China, a no-questions-asked exporter of drones, has played and is likely to continue playing a key role as a supplier of armed UAVs to the Middle East,” it said.


Hong Kong, Macao

Hong Kong to Learn Identities of Stock Connect Investors on Mainland - Caixin Global Hong Kong’s securities regulator expects to be able to identify mainland investors behind stock connect transactions by the end of March, as part of authorities’ efforts to crack down on wrongdoing in the market. Securities watchdogs in Hong Kong and on the Chinese mainland have agreed to enhance the exchange of information under the Shanghai-Hong Kong and Shenzhen-Hong Kong Stock Connect programs to improve an initiative known as “the investor identification regime,” the Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) and the China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC) announced in separate statements.


Tech And Media

China watchdog works on online credit blacklist system to punish debt defaulters and trouble-makers | South China Morning Post The Cyberspace Administration of China is stepping up research on “building a credit blacklist system for the internet and a joint punitive mechanism” for misconduct online in an aim to boost cyberspace integrity via improved systems and regulations, said Liu Liehong, deputy director of the administration on Monday. Liu said at the China Internet Integrity Conference in Beijing that all websites should have “zero tolerance” on credit defaulters in cyberspace and should voluntarily clean up “locusts” who violate rules frequently or conduct activity with “lack of credit”, according to mainland media reports.

Ofo's Bike Sharing Services Spark Outrage on Chinese Social Media for "Giving Privileges to Foreigners" | What's on Weibo When one man dreaded waiting forever on the phone with Ofo’s customer service to get a deposit back, he decided the “foreigner reporting strategy,” and it allegedly worked. It is a story that is now going viral on Chinese social media, where netizens are outraged about the company’s “unfair treatment” of customers

Angry Shared-Bike Riders Line Up Outside Ofo’s Offices - Caixin A line of more than 100 people formed in Ofo’s office lobby and spilling outside of the company’s Beijing headquarters on Monday. So many people joined throughout the day that police arrived to maintain order, Caixin has learned. Ofo users across China have complained about not receiving refunds even after the company’s maximum wait of 15 days after applying. Users are seeking refunds on the deposits once needed to use the shared bikes, some 99 yuan ($14.30) and some 199 yuan

The World’s Most Googled Show Is a Chinese Period Drama | China Film Insider The Chinese period drama “Story of Yanxi Palace” is the most Googled TV show of 2018, according to the search giant’s rankings of the year’s trending topics, released Wednesday. The 70-episode series edged out Netflix’s sci-fi hit “Altered Carbon” and Thai romance “Love Destiny” to claim the top spot. Google’s by-region analysis shows that netizens in Singapore showed the most interest in “Story of Yanxi Palace,” followed by their counterparts in Malaysia, Brunei, Macao, and Hong Kong


Society, Art, Sports, Culture And History

Chinese city bans Christmas sales for ‘clean environment’ - Global Times A North China city near Beijing has banned Christmas sales and decorations. However, the city's urban management bureau said the move is not targeted at Christmas but to maintain a clean city environment for an upcoming awards competition. The Urban Management Bureau of Langfang, North China's Hebei Province issued a notice on Sunday that bans Christmas trees on streets. Stores are not allowed to put up posters, banners or light boxes about Christmas sales. Outdoor performances to celebrate the holiday or promote sales are also prohibited.


Energy, Environment, Science And Health

Scientist warns less water supply as glaciers retreat - China Daily The glaciers on the Qilian Mountains, which straddle the border between Gansu and Qinghai provinces in Northwest China, have shrunk by more than one-third since the 1960s, according to a newly published book on the geological history of Gansu province.

China's outcast steel machines find unwelcome home in Southeast Asia | Reuters The Philippines and Indonesia have seen an influx of these furnaces since China prohibited their use for steelmaking in June 2017, eliminating 140 million tonnes of capacity - or just over the combined output of the United States and Germany. The two Southeast Asian nations - big steel importers with fast-growing economies - are ideal markets for these induction furnaces, or IFs, that produce cheaper steel.


Education

Shandong Students Excluded From English Contest Watched by Millions - Caixin Global Children in East China’s Shandong province will not be allowed to join the local qualifying round of a “Star of Outlook” event because the organizers did not obtain government permission to hold it, Shandong education authorities announced Friday, without naming the organizers. “Star of Outlook” is an annual national competition sponsored and broadcast by state TV network CCTV where children perform and answer questions onstage in English. The panel of judges that assesses them has in recent years included representatives from universities in the U.S. and U.K.

Chinese sociology professor under fire for plagiarising academic papers | South China Morning Post Nanjing University sociologist Liang Ying has had more than 130 papers published, but at least 15 of them were fraudulent, reports say Academic also criticised for her lackadaisical attitude to teaching, including letting her father take her class


Books And Literature

Meng Lang, Poet Who Promoted Dissident Writers, Dies at 57 - The New York Times Meng Lang, a poet who promoted Liu Xiaobo, the Nobel Peace Prize laureate, along with other dissident Chinese writers, died on Dec. 12 in Hong Kong. He was 57. Mr. Meng’s death at Hong Kong’s Prince of Wales Hospital was confirmed on Monday by Tammy Ho, the vice president of PEN Hong Kong, and Yibing Huang, an associate professor of Chinese at Connecticut College. Mr. Huang, who met Mr. Meng in 1985, said he believed the cause of death was lung cancer, which local media had reported he was being treated for.

Famous Chinese writer Ling Jiefang dies at 73 - China Daily Chinese novelist and dean of the College of Liberal Arts at Zhengzhou University Ling Jiefang – known by his penname Eryuehe – died early this morning at the age of 73. Publishing his first work in 1986, Eryuehe was most famous for his Emperor Series, comprising The Great Emperor Kangxi, Emperor Yongzheng, and Emperor Qianlong. Due to widespread piracy, there are no accurate statistics of how many copies of the books have been sold, but it is said to have surpassed 10 million. The three novels were all adapted into popular TV series broadcast at the end of 1990s and start of the 2000s, starring famous Chinese actors and actresses such as Chen Daoming, Tang Guoqiang, and Siqin Gaowa.