Sounding confident going into 2021; Politics in command; BRI not dead; 2021 foreign policy priorities; Tesla China

Happy New Year, I hope all of you had a wonderful holiday.

It is always hard to restart the newsletter after a break, I know I have missed some things from the last two weeks but will try to fill them in over the next few days if it looks like they still matter.

Today’s Essential Eight items:

  1. Sounding confident going into 2021

  2. Politically correct foreign journalists wanted

  3. Wang Yi lays out 2021 foreign policy priorities

  4. Politics in command

  5. EU-China investment deal

  6. Controlling the hunt for the origins of the coronavirus

  7. Is Tesla exploiting its Chinese workers while producing shoddy cars?

  8. BRI is not dead

Thanks for reading.

The Essential Eight

1. Sounding confident going into 2021

Full text of Xi Jinping's 2021 New Year address - CGTN

I am proud of our great motherland and people, as well as the unyielding national spirit. Only in hard times can courage and perseverance be manifested. Only after polishing can a piece of jade be finer. We overcame the impact of the pandemic, and made great achievements in coordinating prevention and control and in economic and social development...

I inspected 13 provincial-level regions and was glad to see people carefully implementing coronavirus prevention and control measures, racing against time to resume work and production, and sparing no efforts to advance innovation.

Everywhere were vibrant scenes of confident, resilient people making the most of every minute. In 2020, China made the historic achievement of establishing a moderately prosperous society in all respects and achieved decisive success in eradicating extreme poverty...

At the historic crossroad of the "Two Centenary Goals," the new journey of comprehensively building a modern socialist country is about to start. The road ahead is long; striving is the only way forward. We have strived, broken through brambles and thorns, and crossed ten thousand rivers and thousands of mountains.

We will continue to strive, march ahead with courage, and create brighter glory! At just this moment, the festive lanterns have been lit, and family members gather for reunion. The New Year is coming. I wish our land to be splendid, our country to be prosperous, and our people to live in peace. I wish you all a harmonious, smooth and auspicious year, full of happiness!

Full text in Chinese - 国家主席习近平发表二〇二一年新年贺词

Leading China to accomplish first centenary goal - Xinhua

The Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping at the core has led China to achieve solid progress in 2020, a year that marked the completion of the 13th Five-Year Plan period and the mission to end absolute poverty.

The country is poised to finish building a moderately prosperous society in all respects by the time the Party marks its centenary in 2021...

In 2020, China had to confront challenges on multiple fronts -- control the coronavirus outbreak, buck the declining trend of the economy, and cope with a deteriorating external environment.

Xi personally led the nation's fight against COVID-19 as well as the efforts to resume economic and social development. In 2020, he undertook 13 domestic inspection tours, visiting factories, rural areas, communities and markets to boost public confidence in overcoming difficulties.


Chronicle of the Party Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping as the core navigating China's struggle to achieve the first centenary goal

Xinhua Commentary: With Xiaokang victory in sight, China saddles up for socialist modernization - Xinhua

China has accomplished its poverty alleviation target for the new era on schedule, completing the foundational task and meeting the landmark target of building a Xiaokang society, rendered in English as a "moderately prosperous society in all respects," by the centenary of the Communist Party of China (CPC).

By achieving its first centenary goal within the set time frame, China will then turn to the second, entering a new stage of development to build a modern socialist country in an all-round way, as the CPC leadership has adopted proposals for formulating the 14th Five-Year Plan and long-range goals...

China's socialist system boasts an institutional advantage of working under a nationwide framework with concentrated efforts and resources pooled for major projects. The decisive victory in building a Xiaokang society in all respects, which still requires a systematic assessment and review in the first half of 2021 before the official announcement of the achievement of moderate prosperity can be made, has laid a solid material foundation and provided a strong guarantee for embarking on a new journey to fully build a modern socialist China.

CICIR head Yuan Peng, who was the discussant at the December Politburo session on National Security (see the December 21st issue of Sinocism), wrote a year-end piece on “Looking at the world in 2020 from the dimension of changes unseen in a century 从百年变局维度看2020年的世界风云”. In the conclusion he notes that “似乎是真相是谎言已不重要,重要的是谁掌握话语权,这正是所谓“后真相时代”的扭曲性 It seems that it is no longer important whether it is the truth or a lie, what matters is who holds the discourse power, which is exactly the distortion of the so-called "post-truth era".

2. Politically correct foreign journalists wanted

Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying's Regular Press Conference on January 4, 2021

The year 2021 will be of historic significance to China as we will celebrate the CPC's centenary. In the 1930s and 1940s, when the then Kuomintang government sealed off Yan'an and spared no efforts to "demonize" the CPC, foreign journalists like Americans Edgar Snow, Anna Louise Strong and Agnes Smedley, curious about who and what the CPC is, chose to blend in with the CPC members in Yan'an after going through various difficulties to get there, where they wrote many objective reports as well as works like the famous Red Star over China, giving the world its first glimpse of the CPC and its endeavor in uniting and leading the Chinese people in pursuing national independence and people's liberation. They were indeed a window for the world to understand the CPC and China. They will always be remembered by the Chinese people as our good and true friends.

We will celebrate the CPC's centenary and realize the first "centenary goal" in the year 2021, the first chapter of the Party's great cause and embark on the second "centenary goal" to build a new journey of fully building a modern socialist country. We sincerely hope that all of the foreign journalists will employ their pens and cameras to faithfully and objectively report on the CPC's state governance, the Chinese people's pursuit of their dreams and China's commitment to peaceful development. In promoting mutual understanding and cooperation, you will serve as the indispensable bridge and bond between China and the rest of the world.

Earlier today the Taiwan Presidential Office Spokesperson tweeted:

Comment: The PRC may want only pliant foreign journalists to better "tell China's story", but the information environment today is obviously a lot different than it was in the 1930s and 1940s. China is even more important now, across every dimension, so it is quite distressing to see the reversion to a much more constricted information and access. I think that is what Xi Jinping prefers, with the expectation that greater restrictions on foreign access buttress the CCP's "political security" and allow the Party-State to better pursue its goal of increasing China's international discourse power, aka "telling China's story well". So in some ways we are going back to the future, but now trying to understand a much more complicated country and society with increasingly narrow lenses.

Page 6 of the Monday People's Daily carries a long article by "闻言 Wenyan", pen name for the 中央文献研究室 Party Literature Research Center of the CPC Central Committee, titled "The Fundamental Guidelines for the Party's Propaganda and Thought Work in the New Era: - Study Xi Jinping's "On the Party's Propaganda and Thought Work", highlighting some of the key points from Xi's November 2020 book "On the Party's Propaganda and Thought Work" - 新时代党的宣传思想工作的根本遵循: ——学习习近平《论党的宣传思想工作》--人民网

The article lists 4 key points, including 四、提高国家文化软实力和中华文化影响力,讲好中国故事、传播好中国声音 Fourth, improve the national cultural soft power and Chinese cultural influence, tell the Chinese story well, and spread the Chinese voice well". An excerpt from that section:

Promote the construction of international communication capacity and strive to improve international discourse power. International discourse power is an important part of national cultural soft power. General Secretary Xi Jinping pointed out that backwardness means being beaten, poverty means going hungry, and aphasia means being scolded. For a long time, our party has led the people to solve the three major problems of "being beaten", "starving" and "being scolded". After generations of unremitting efforts, the first two problems have been basically solved, but the problem of "being scolded" has not been fundamentally solved. Striving for the right to speak internationally is a major issue that we must solve. General Secretary Xi Jinping pointed out that it is necessary to strengthen the construction of foreign discourse system, show Chinese thoughts more clearly and put forward China's proposition more loudly. Efforts will be made to build a new international first-class mainstream media with strong leading power, communication power and influence, to form an international discourse right that is compatible with China's comprehensive national strength, to better introduce China in the new era to the world, and to better show a true, three-dimensional and comprehensive China.


3. Wang Yi lays out 2021 foreign policy priorities

State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi Gives Interview To Xinhua News Agency and China Media Group On International Situation and China's Diplomacy in 2020

On the Pandemic:

More and more research suggests that the pandemic was likely to have been caused by separate outbreaks in multiple places in the world. When hit by an unknown coronavirus, China took immediate actions to carry out epidemiological investigation, identify the pathogen and publicize key information including the genome sequencing of the virus. All this sounded alarm bells across the world...

On China-Russia relations:

The year 2021 is a year of special importance for China-Russia relations, as both countries will enter a new development stage. In developing China-Russia strategic cooperation, we see no limit, no forbidden zone and no ceiling to how far this cooperation can go. Focusing on the central task of implementing the common understandings of the two Presidents, the two countries will use the opportunity of the 20th anniversary of the signing of the Treaty of Good-neighborliness and Friendly Cooperation to renew their shared commitment to ever-lasting peace and win-win cooperation. Being each other's strategic anchor, diplomatic priority, development opportunity and global partner, the two countries will expand and deepen cooperation from a higher starting point. Together, China and Russia will continue to be the example of good-neighborly and friendly relations between major countries, add impetus to global recovery, and underpin global strategic stability.

On US-China relations:

In recent years, China-US relations have run into unprecedented difficulties. Fundamentally, it all comes down to the serious misconceptions of US policymakers about China. Some see China as the so-called biggest threat and their China policy based on this misperception is simply wrong. What has happened proves that the US attempt to suppress China and start a new Cold War has not just seriously harmed the interests of the two peoples, but also caused severe disruptions to the world. Such a policy will find no support and is doomed to fail.

China-US relations have come to a new crossroads, and a new window of hope is opening. We hope that the next US administration will return to a sensible approach, resume dialogue with China, restore normalcy to the bilateral relations and restart cooperation.

China's policy toward the United States is consistent and stable.

On wolf warriors or as I prefer to call them Xi Jinping Thought on Diplomacy Warriors:

We accord friends with hospitality and partners with cooperation. But we also have to stand our ground when dealing with those who are not so friendly. We are happy to take well-intentioned criticism and go with helpful suggestions. But we have to respond to defamations and attacks. And more important, we are obliged to speak up for justice when faced with power politics and bullying This is the responsibility of China's diplomacy and the national character of the Chinese people.

Comment: Expect this trend to only intensify in 2021, externally and domestically. My understanding is that “wolf warriors” have recently been promoted in the Central Propaganda Department.

On tasks for 2021:

The year 2021 will be of historic significance to China's national rejuvenation. We will celebrate the CPC's centenary and embark on a new journey of fully building a modern socialist country. The centenary is just the first chapter of the Party's great cause. We in the foreign service will rally closely around the CPC Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping at its core and follow the guidance of Xi Jinping Thought on Diplomacy. We will continue to advance our major-country diplomacy with Chinese characteristics, safeguard China's sovereignty, security and development interests, and focus our work on the following six areas:

We will make our best efforts to serve China's development strategies

We will continue to build a new type of international relations

We will further upgrade opening-up and cooperation

We will proactively engage in the reform of global governance

We will actively facilitate mutual understanding between countries. We will better communicate to the world the CPC's strong record of governance, our people's extraordinary journey toward the Chinese dream and China's commitment to peaceful development;

We will continue to work for a community with a shared future for mankind. In this context, we will seek to realize a global community of health for all and a community with a shared future in the Asia-Pacific

The original Chinese of his comments - 王毅谈2021年中国外交工作重点 — 中华人民共和国外交部

4. Politics in command

The Politburo year-end Democratic Life meeting is now an annual event since the 19th Party Congress. The 2020 meeting was held on December 24 and 25. In this year’s readout there is no mention of “People’s Leader”, while there was one mention in the 2019 readout. There are six mentions of “讲政治 stress politics”, a term that did not appear.

The Central Committee also released the newest version of the “Regulations on Safeguarding the Rights of CPC Members”. They are long, and I have only scanned them and the comparison chart the CCDI released. They look to be yet another step towards strengthening Xi as the core and effectively limiting intra-Party Democracy.

In the year of the 100th anniversary of the founding of the CCP and with less than two years to go until the 20th Party Congress Xi is making sure everyone is politically correct.

The readout of the Democratic Life Meeting - 中共中央政治局召开民主生活会 习近平主持会议并发表重要讲话-新华网 

New version of “Regulations on Safeguarding the Rights of CPC Members” published - 中共中央印发《中国共产党党员权利保障条例》--新闻报道-人民网

CCTV Monday Evening News on the revised regulations - 中共中央印发《中国共产党党员权利保障条例》_ 

The circular requires that the majority of party members should correctly understand and handle the dialectical unity of obligations and rights, and exercise their rights on the premise of fulfilling obligations, taking responsibility and observing discipline. Party organizations at all levels should strengthen "four consciousnesses", strengthen "four self-confidences", achieve "two maintenance", strengthen the organization and leadership of the implementation of the "Regulations", do a good job in learning and propaganda, carry out regular education on party members' obligations and rights, conscientiously perform their duties of safeguarding party members' rights, improve institutional mechanisms, strengthen implementation, and encourage party members to consciously play a vanguard and exemplary role.


CCDI publishes a comparison of the new version of the Regulations on Safeguarding the Rights of CPC Members to the 2004 one. - 《中国共产党党员权利保障条例》修订前后对照表—=中央纪委国家监委网站

5. EU-China investment deal

EU-China Leaders' meeting - EU

China has committed to an unprecedented level of market access for EU investors, giving European businesses certainty and predictability for their operations. The Agreement will also significantly improve the level playing field for EU investors by laying down clear obligations on Chinese state-owned enterprises, prohibiting forced technology transfers and other distortive practices, and enhancing transparency of subsidies. EU companies will henceforth benefit from fairer treatment when competing in the Chinese market.

The Agreement also includes important commitments on environment and climate, including to effectively implement the Paris Agreement, and on labour standards. China has committed to effectively implement ILO Conventions it has ratified, and to work towards the ratification of the ILO fundamental Conventions, including on forced labour.

China sees EU investment deal as diplomatic coup after US battles | Financial Times $$

“On labour it’s impossible for China to agree,” said Shi Yinhong, an international relations professor at Renmin University in Beijing and an adviser to the State Council, China’s cabinet. “Can you imagine China with independent labour unions? Forced labour also relates to Xinjiang, so that’s another ‘no’ for China.”

China, EU complete investment agreement negotiations - Xinhua

Stressing China's commitment to fostering a new development paradigm will provide more market opportunities and cooperation potential for the EU and the world at large, Xi called on the EU to uphold free trade and multilateralism, and provide an open, fair and non-discriminatory business environment for Chinese investors.

Against the background of the COVID-19 pandemic and changes rarely seen in a century, Xi said, China and the EU, through tiding over difficulties and working hand-in-hand, have made fruitful achievements in advancing ties in 2020.

China and E.U. Leaders Strike Investment Deal, but Political Hurdles Await - The New York Times

A large faction in the European Parliament, which must ratify the agreement before it can take effect, opposes the accord on the grounds that it does not do enough to stop human rights abuses in China. In addition, a top aide to President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. has signaled that the incoming administration is not happy with the deal.

China-EU investment deal: who’s the real winner after seven years of negotiations? | South China Morning Post

Wu Xinbo, director of the Centre for American Studies at Fudan University in Shanghai, said securing the deal with the EU put China in an “invulnerable position” and help insulate it from America’s efforts to exclude it from global trade and investment.

“The deal will deepen the economic ties between China and the EU, with negotiating a free-trade agreement being the expected next step,” he said.

“And it will also thwart the US’ plan to join hands with Europe and isolate China from the future of globalisation.”

EU-China BIT adds more weight to multilateralism despite challenges - Global Times

The incoming Biden administration is promising to repair the US-EU relations. However, Europe is regaining its world role and dealing with China on its own terms - even if this inevitably displeases American political leadership and elites.

European political elites, particularly the Germans, are balancing this carefully. They maintain old frameworks for US security partnership but are also involved in open dialogues for business with China.

In other words, Europeans have always been very skillful with hedging their bets with both China and the US.

By Xin Hua, professor and executive director of the Center for European Union Studies, Shanghai International Studies University.

Caixin Editorial: EU Investment Deal Shows China’s Renewed Commitment to Building Institutions

For China, this agreement will not only help to introduce advanced European technology and management experience, but also help domestic countries to “go out” and expand their investments in Europe. In particular, it will reduce the risks of Chinese companies encountering national security reviews and other constraints when purchasing or merging with EU firms.

More importantly, the deal’s focus on institutional openness and high-level fair competition will provide a better business environment for bilateral investment and push China to further “promote reform through opening,” thereby helping us to build a high-level market economy...

Some commentators have said — with a healthy dose of paranoia — that the demands on China only seek to contain us. Although China needs to safeguard its own security and development interests in independent negotiations with foreign partners, the best practices of international trade are constantly improving, and countries that fail to follow the trend will get left behind. China made the necessary concessions and eventually secured a smooth conclusion to its talks with the EU. This reflects our sincerity, determination and confidence in reform and opening up.

Europe has handed China a strategic victory | Financial Times - Gideon Rachman

The Europeans are also kidding themselves if they think they can be blind to the increasingly authoritarian and aggressive nature of Xi Jinping’s China. For the past 70 years, Europeans have benefited from the fact that the world’s most powerful nation is a liberal democracy. If an authoritarian nation, such as China, displaces America as the dominant global power, then democracies all over the world will feel the consequences. 

Even in the current geopolitical order, China has repeatedly demonstrated its willingness to use its economic power as a strategic weapon. By deepening their economic reliance on China — without co-ordinating their policy with fellow democracies — European nations are increasing their vulnerability to pressure from Beijing. That is a remarkably shortsighted decision to make, for a “geopolitical commission”.

6. Controlling the hunt for the origins of the coronavirus

China clamps down in hidden hunt for coronavirus origins - AP

More than a year since the first known person was infected with the coronavirus, an AP investigation shows the Chinese government is strictly controlling all research into its origins, clamping down on some while actively promoting fringe theories that it could have come from outside China...

The government is handing out hundreds of thousands of dollars in grants to scientists researching the virus’ origins in southern China and affiliated with the military, the AP has found. But it is monitoring their findings and mandating that the publication of any data or research must be approved by a new task force managed by China’s cabinet, under direct orders from President Xi Jinping, according to internal documents obtained by the AP. A rare leak from within the government, the dozens of pages of unpublished documents confirm what many have long suspected: The clampdown comes from the top...

The AP investigation was based on dozens of interviews with Chinese and foreign scientists and officials, along with public notices, leaked emails, internal data and the documents from China’s cabinet and the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention. It reveals a pattern of government secrecy and top-down control that has been evident throughout the pandemic...

Among WHO’s aims for its upcoming visit to China are reviews of hospital records before December.

Coronavirus expert Peter Daszak, a member of the WHO team, said identifying the pandemic’s source should not be used to assign guilt.

Wuhan scientist would 'welcome' visit probing lab leak theory - BBC News

The remote district of Tongguan, in China's south-western province of Yunnan, is hard to reach at the best of times. But when a BBC team tried to visit recently, it was impossible.

Plain-clothes police officers and other officials in unmarked cars followed us for miles along the narrow, bumpy roads, stopping when we did, backtracking with us when we were forced to turn around...

At first sight, all of this might seem like a disproportionate effort given our intended destination, a nondescript, abandoned copper mine in which, back in 2012, six workers succumbed to a mystery illness that eventually claimed the lives of three of them.

But their tragedy, which would otherwise almost certainly have been largely forgotten, has been given new meaning by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Comment: This makes it look like China has something to hide.

25 Days That Changed the World: How Covid-19 Slipped China’s Grasp - The New York Times

Chinese scientists and private laboratories identified the coronavirus and mapped its genes weeks before Beijing acknowledged the severity of the problem. Scientists were talking to their peers, trying to raise alarms — and in some cases, they did, if at a price.

“We also spoke the truth,” said Prof. Zhang Yongzhen, a leading virologist in Shanghai. “But nobody listened to us, and that’s really tragic.”...

Professor Zhang, the Shanghai virologist, went unmentioned in the laudatory official reports. His research center in Shanghai underwent “rectification,” hindering his research.

Comment: Professor Zhang was the first to sequence the virus, and he released it publicly January 11

China demands evidence from US following adviser’s hype on ‘Wuhan lab coronavirus leak’ conspiracy theory - Global Times

China's foreign ministry has demanded that the US immediately offer evidence over reports that Deputy National Security Advisor Matthew Pottinger recently claimed that COVID-19 was likely to be leaked from a Chinese lab..

The US media already exposed the connection between Fort Detrick and the major flu outbreak in the fall of 2019 and COVID-19, Hua said, asking why the US has not invited WHO experts to visit the lab if it is really interested in looking into the origins of the virus.

"The US has also established more than 200 overseas biological labs. What on earth are they trying to achieve? And why can't they invite international journalists to visit and look at those sites?"

The report that sparked Hua's comment -Lab leak is the 'most credible' source of the coronavirus outbreak, says top US government official | Daily Mail Online

Matthew Pottinger, who is President Donald Trump's respected Deputy National Security Adviser, told politicians from around the world that even China's leaders now openly admit their previous claims that the virus originated in a Wuhan market are false.

Mr Pottinger said that the latest intelligence points to the virus leaking from the top-secret Wuhan Institute of Virology...

Iain Duncan Smith, the former Tory Party leader who attended the meeting, said Mr Pottinger's comments represented a 'stiffening' of the US position...

'I was told the US have an ex-scientist from the laboratory in America at the moment,' he said. 'That was what I heard a few weeks ago.

'I was led to believe this is how they have been able to stiffen up their position on how this outbreak originated.'

One Year After Li Wenliang's Death, Whistleblower, Relatives Still Feel The Heat — Radio Free Asia

An official working in the Hubei provincial health administration said both Li's widow, children, and elderly parents remain under "stability maintenance" measures, one year after the ophthalmologist's death from COVID-19, which came after he and seven colleagues were reprimanded and questioned by police for trying to warn the world about the newly emerging pandemic virus.

Faced with relentless pressure from the authorities, Li's widow has taken the couple's two children back to live in her hometown in provincial Hubei, the official, who gave only a surname Liu, told RFA.

The authorities have also put huge pressure on Li's elderly parents, who have been unable to get over their son's untimely death, to prevent them from talking to the media, Liu said.

7. Is Tesla exploiting its Chinese workers while producing shoddy cars?

Giga-Sweatshop Meets Corporate Overlords: an Exclusive Look Into How Tesla China Runs its Shanghai Gigafactory 3- PingWest

"Tesla's production volume is insanely high," said many Tesla China employees and automotive insiders who spoke to PingWest. The barely 1-year-old Gigafactory 3 produced 22,900 electric vehicles in October this year, crossing the 20,000 monthly production volume milestone that took Beijing Benz Automotive (Mercedes-Benz' Beijing J.V.) 10 years. It would also take the 2 strongest domestic E.V. competitors the entire year to match that number.

However, PingWest has found that the insanely high production volume has not been the direct result of the technological advancement that Tesla is known for, but rather the same old high-intensity manual labor that still plagues many industries inside China. Such high-intensity production soon wore out the vision that many workers in Tesla's Shanghai factory once had towards their jobs and the company. Simultaneously, the rapidly shrinking benefits and increasingly harsh working conditions eventually made many had enough.

品玩深度 | 特拉中国乱象揭蛊 第三季-品玩

Tesla to Sue Chinese Media Outlet Over Report on Shanghai Gigafactory - Caixin

On Dec. 25, PingWest reported that Tesla’s Shanghai factory lowered its quality standards by using defective parts as it strove to achieve its production targets in China. The report also said that Tesla’s China employees worked in increasingly harsh conditions, labeling the carmaker’s corporate culture as “high-handed”.

A day after the report’s publication, Tao Lin, Tesla China’s vice president for external affairs, responded with a Weibo post slamming it as “outrageous” and “going beyond their imagination.” “Our legal department is preparing to sue PingWest, which we believe will be held responsible for what it did,” Tao said.

Yicai - Tesla Prices Its China-Made Model Y Cars at 30% Less Than Imported Ones; Orders Pour in

Tesla’s China website was inundated with orders on New Year’s Day, even paralyzing it at one stage, as the US electric car giant’s much-anticipated China-made Model Y cars came on sale at a starting price 30 percent less than imported versions.

PingWest reporter Chen Du:

8. BRI is not dead

China's Belt and Road: Down but not Out | Rhodium Group

Recent Boston University (BU) research showing a sharp drop in Chinese overseas policy bank lending has fueled speculation that China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) may be fading away. The slowdown in BRI activity is real: in previous research, we showed that China’s outbound lending has been in decline since 2016 (see Booster or Brake). Beyond the BU numbers, weak economic conditions and debt pressure in several recipient states suggests that lending will have slowed to new lows in 2020. However, we suspect the 2019 slowdown was not as dramatic as the BU numbers indicate. And the numbers do not reflect the changes underway in China’s ambitious initiative...

Beyond the decision to filter out commercial bank loans, there are structural reasons to believe the BU dataset may underestimate China’s overseas lending activity in 2019. To their credit, the BU authors utilize a strict methodology whereby a loan commitment must be corroborated by both Chinese and host-country sources in order to be included. Yet for more recent lending cases (2018/2019), corroborating information may not be available—even as of late 2020. It is common for information to be publicly disclosed only years after an initial loan commitment, in subsequent reports, government audits or budget documents, by other researchers and databases, or after projects have already been constructed...

while the BRI has been a loan-focused project to date, 2020 may highlight the vital (and growing) role of other forms of interactions. Key among those is Chinese greenfield investment, whether for infrastructure or other sectors, which held up much better in 2020 than other forms of Chinese cross-border capital flows. In 2020 we could also see China’s Big Four banks and even SOEs playing a bigger role in China’s overseas lending mix—a trend we have observed over the past decade. In short, the BRI of the future may not be the policy-loan-financed infrastructure program of years past—but it is far from dead.

Scope and Findings: China’s Overseas Development Finance Database | Global Development Policy Center

Business, Economy and Trade

Jack Ma disappears from his own talent show | Financial Times $$ Mr Ma was replaced as a judge in the final of Africa’s Business Heroes, a television contest for budding entrepreneurs, his photograph was removed from the judging webpage, and he was conspicuously left out of a promotional video. The final took place in November, shortly after the Chinese tech billionaire made a candid speech criticising China’s regulators and its state-owned banks.

China Is Said to Weigh Requiring Ant to Sell Finance Investments - Bloomberg Chinese regulators are studying plans to force Ant Group Co. to divest equity investments in some financial companies, curbing the company’s influence over the sector, according to a person familiar with the matter. The plans, which would involve pushing Ant to sell some of its minority shares in operations such as banking-related businesses, are part of a push by watchdog agencies to regulate so-called financial holding companies, the person said, requesting not to be named because the matter is private

Overtime Culture Back in Spotlight After Pinduoduo Employee’s Death - SixthTone Pinduoduo faced a wave of online backlash after an image appearing to be a screenshot from the company’s official account on Q&A platform Zhihu went viral for reasons that were not intended. “Look at those in the underclass: Who isn’t exchanging life for money? I’ve never thought of this as a problem of capital, but rather as a problem of this society. We live in an era where we spend our whole lives working hard.”

Death of 22-year-old Pinduoduo employee renews controversy over China’s 996 overwork culture, sparking an investigation | South China Morning Post On microblogging platform Weibo, hashtags about the incident drew more than 190 million views by time of publication. Another trending hashtag #996 – referencing the notorious work schedule of 9am to 9pm, six days a week – was already taken down from the platform. Pinduoduo’s statement did not detail the reason for Zhang’s death or link it to her work, and there are no reports of a police investigation into the death. But by Monday evening, Shanghai’s local labour authority announced an investigation into Pinduoduo’s labour conditions without offering any additional details.

Renminbi rallies past 6.5 per dollar for first time since 2018 | Financial Times $$ China’s currency has rallied to its highest level in more than two years, wiping out most of the losses suffered since the start of the country’s trade war with the US.  The onshore-traded renminbi strengthened 1 per cent to Rmb6.4614 per greenback on Monday as it crossed the important 6.5 per dollar threshold for the first time since June 2018.

China's Dec factory activity growth slows, higher costs hit firms | Reuters The Caixin/Markit Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) fell to 53.0 from November’s 54.9 // Comment: And now we enter the annual period where the data is all skewed because of the Lunar New Year holiday. The year the Lunar New Year's day is February 12. If migrant workers act as they did in normal years past many will leave their jobs for home starting in the last ten days of January, to return starting after the 15th day of the New Year. Between this annual event and all the changed behaviors due to COVID-19 the data from this Q1 are going to be especially messy

China's securities regulator responds to U.S. delisting of Chinese companies - Xinhua The delisting of three Chinese companies by the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) under a U.S. government order disregarded related companies' actual conditions and global investors' legitimate rights and interests and severely disrupted market order, a spokesperson for the China Securities Regulatory Commission said Sunday. The spokesperson made the remarks in response to the NYSE's announcement Thursday to delist China Telecom Corporation Ltd., China Mobile Ltd. and China Unicom (Hong Kong) Ltd

China may ask US companies to reveal their military links after NYSE’s delisting of telco firms: expert - Global Times "The NYSE should compensate the loss of Chinese companies for its forced delisting for non-market reasons," said Dong Shaopeng, an advisor for the China Securities Regulatory Commission. "And the Chinese government could apply the principle of reciprocity to US financial institutions and companies seeking access to the Chinese market, requesting transparency and asking them to reveal their dealings and links with US military and defense sector," Dong told the Global Times on Monday..."Even amid anti-China momentum, a more reasonable Biden administration, soon to take office, could better manage difference in the economic and financial sphere via more dialogues and engagement," Dong said.

China Delistings Threaten $144 Billion U.S. Fundraising Boom - Bloomberg The worry for U.S. companies is that their access to China’s vast economy could be curtailed in any escalation of tit-for-tat sanctions. Wall Street banks are particularly keen to see a ratcheting down of tensions after gaining unprecedented scope to operate in China last year. China’s securities regulator responded to the delistings by calling them groundless and “not a wise move,” though it didn’t outline any plans to retaliate.

Goldman’s Big Bet - The Wire China $$ Derek Scissors, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, says Wall Street’s embrace of China at a time of rising tensions is also likely to complicate American policy decision-making, putting Wall Street firms in the position of lobbying for Beijing. “There’s money to be made there; there’s no argument about that. But the gain for Wall Street is at odds with broader American interests.”

China slashes eco-car subsidies 20% as sales rebound - Nikkei Asia The new policy for the program, covering electric cars, plug-in hybrids and fuel cell automobiles, took effect Friday. The subsidies will be reduced by a smaller 10% for commercial vehicles including buses, taxis, ride-sharing vehicles and waste collection trucks.

Ericsson CEO Lobbied to Overturn Sweden’s Huawei Ban, DN Reports - Bloomberg Ericsson’s Chief Executive Officer Borje Ekholm pressured a Swedish minister to reverse a ban on including Huawei Technologies Co. and ZTE Corp. in the country’s 5G roll-out, Dagens Nyheter reported.

New graduates of US-blacklisted Harbin Institute of Technology earn big in China - Global Times Fresh graduates from Northeast China's Harbin Institute of Technology (HIT) may have difficulties getting a US visa due to blatant sanctions by the US government, but they are extremely popular in China's job market, where they earn an average of 170,800 yuan ($26,425) per year, nearly three times the average salary of a fresh graduate.

Didi Prepares to Raise over $60B for 2021 Hong Kong IPO - Pandaily China’s top ride-hailing firm Didi plans to raise $60-$80 billion for its initial public offering in Hong Kong in 2021 and is currently in contact with investment banks, including Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase, according to LatePost.

China Taxi Industry Alliance Calls for Antitrust Probe Into Didi-Uber Merger- PingWest The China Taxi Industry Alliance calls for continued anti-monopoly investigation into Didi, including its monopolistic activities and the anti-competitive behavior in the Uber China-Didi merger. "We have informed the State Administration for Market Regulation (SAMR) and the Ministry of Transport," the alliance announced on Dec. 17.

No Growth in Residential Property Sales in 2021, Real Estate CEO Predicts - Caixin There will likely be no year-on-year growth in the amount of residential property sold in 2021 as new curbs on real estate companies’ financing affect their ability to invest in new developments, the head of a real estate service provider predicted. The total floor space sold may actually decline in the coming years, said Ding Zuyu, CEO of Hong Kong-listed E-House (China) Enterprise Holdings Ltd., at a press conference Thursday.

Chinese Credit Reporting Firm Punished for Operating Without a Proper License - Caixin The People’s Bank of China (PBOC) confiscated illegal gains of 19.2 million yuan ($3 million) by Pengyuan Credit Service Co. Ltd. and fined it a further 620,000 yuan partly for conducting an unlicensed personal credit reporting business, according to an announcement published on Wednesday.

Yicai - China's Byton Is Said to Delay Car Production Till June Amid Cash Crunch Byton's Nanjing factory may sit idle till June while the troubled Chinese new energy vehicle startup is scrambling for new funding, according to news reports. The conditions to resume production are still not met, financial news site Caijing.Com reported, citing the Nanjing-based company's internal document dated Dec. 31, 2020

Yicai - China's Priciest Firm Hits New Stock Price Milestone With Expected 10% Profit Surge Shares of Chinese distiller Kweichow Moutai have exceeded CNY2,000 (USD309) for the first time ever, making it the most valuable mainland-listed firm

China victim of U.S. "coercive diplomacy": FM spokesperson - Xinhua A Foreign Ministry spokesperson said Monday that it is the United States that is engaging in threats and coercion everywhere in the world and China is the victim of such "coercive diplomacy". A Swedish local newspaper recently reported that the United States pressured Sweden to exclude Huawei from participating in Sweden's 5G construction.

China moves to improve business environment by streamlining procedures - Xinhua A better business environment will further vitalize market entities, and play a crucial role in facilitating steady economic recovery amid complex situations, according to a statement issued Monday after a State Council executive meeting chaired by Premier Li Keqiang...A third-party assessment was conducted on the implementation of the guideline in nine provinces, according to the meeting, and the results showed that the implementation has yielded positive results. Last year, despite extremely difficult conditions, more than 20 million new market entities [市场主体] were established // More on the State Council executive meeting - 今天的国务院常务会定了这些大事

四川省投资集团党委委员刘晓杨接受审查调查————执纪审查——中央纪委国家监委网站 Liu Xiaoyang, member of the Party committee of the Sichuan Provincial Investment Group and chair of the worker's union, turns herself in to investigators

Iraq Picks Chinese Firm for $2 Billion Oil Prepayment Deal - Bloomberg SOMO, which oversees Iraq’s petroleum exports, picked a Chinese company after receiving bids from several traders, the official Iraqi News Agency reported, citing an interview with the head of SOMO, Alaa Al-Yasiri. While INA didn’t name the company or specify if Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi had signed off on the deal, Bloomberg reported last month that ZhenHua Oil Co., a subsidiary of China’s largest state-owned defense contractor, was the winner.

Exclusive: CCB Trust to Help Manage Embattled Sichuan Trust as New Chairman Appointed, Sources Say - Caixin Troubled Sichuan Trust Co. Ltd. has agreed to a management overhaul after financial regulators seized control of the local trust company for failing to make good on a pledge to repay many of its investors in a debt crisis that has dragged on since May. The southwestern province-based company has hired CCB Trust Co. Ltd., a state-owned trust company, to run “daily operations and management” until Dec. 25 of next year

Bank of China May Have to Eat Most of Losses From Crude Futures Carnage - Caixin Investors who were exposed to $1.4 billion of potential losses on a speculative Bank of China oil futures product may wind up eating significantly less than the total amount, based on a court ruling Thursday in Nanjing. In the first of a series of civil cases brought against the bank by investors, the court ordered that Bank of China (BOC) return 20% of the clients’ initial investments and shoulder all other losses related to the investment product, known as Yuan You Bao.

China Fines Tencent and 3 Others $2.76 Million in Crackdown - Caixin China’s central bank fined four financial institutions a total of 18.04 million yuan ($2.76 million) for failure to perform customer identification verification, report suspicious transactions and other violations that may enable criminal activity.

China to Establish Specialized Financial Court in Beijing - China Banking News A meeting of the Central Comprehensively Deepening Reforms Commission (CCDRC) convened on 30 December discussed and approved the “Plan Concerning the Establishment of the Beijing Financial Court” (关于设立北京金融法院的方案). According to the Commission the establishment of the Beijing Financial Court will be a “major move for servicing and ensuring the implementation of national financial strategy, operating an excellent legal environment for finance, and expediting the healthy development of the economy.”

China’s central bank faces tricky balance to support liquidity | Financial Times $$ Concerns over the creditworthiness of some borrowers compounded existing concerns about overall high levels of leverage in China. JPMorgan estimates that the country’s ratio of debt to economic output has risen 27 percentage points to 306 per cent in 2020, based on all government, corporate and household borrowing.

Chinese local government investment vehicles evade borrowing limits | Financial Times $$ Regional governments across China are evading borrowing limits by transferring assets on to the books of local investment companies to lower their official debt-to-asset ratios, according to executives and officials. The practice has allowed local government finance vehicles to raise more money for infrastructure and other construction projects.

经济发展取得新成效(“十四五”·经济社会发展主要目标) First in this series is this piece by Ning Jizhe -"New achievements have been made in economic development (the main goal of economic and social development during the 14th Five-Year Plan)" // The Proposal of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China on Formulating the Fourteenth Five-Year Plan for National Economic and Social Development and the Long-term Goals for 2035, which was adopted by the Fifth Plenary Session of the 19th CPC Central Committee, clearly defined the main objectives of economic and social development during the 14th Five-Year Plan period from six aspects: new achievements in economic development, new steps in reform and opening up, new improvement in social civilization, new progress in ecological civilization construction, a new level in people's livelihood and a new improvement in national governance efficiency, and showed the bright future of China's development. In order to help readers deepen their understanding, strengthen their confidence, and make a good start in building a socialist modernized country in an all-round way, this newspaper has published a series of special editions today to deeply interpret the rich connotations, realistic foundations and realization paths of these six major goals.

China confident it will sustain economic recovery in 2021: official - Xinhua The country is still in an important period of strategic opportunity for development, Ning Jizhe, deputy head of the National Development and Reform Commission, told Xinhua in a recent interview. Ning, also head of the National Bureau of Statistics, said that to foster a new development paradigm, efforts will be made to improve the quality of the supply system through work in areas including sci-tech innovation, industrial and supply chains, and grain security. In 2021, China will enhance demand-side management and expand domestic demand further by tapping the potential in new consumption models, increasing effective investment and implementing development strategies such as coordinated regional development and people-centered urbanization, he said.

Track-laying completed for Lhasa-Nyingchi railway in Tibet - People's Daily Online The track-laying work was completed on Thursday for a railway linking the cities of Lhasa and Nyingchi in southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region. With a designed speed of 160 km per hour, the 435-km rail line passes through 47 tunnels and 120 bridges, according to its constructor Tibet Railway Construction Co., Ltd., a subsidiary of China State Railway Group. Construction started in 2014 on the railway connecting Lhasa, the regional capital, and Nyingchi in eastern Tibet. It is the first electrified railroad in Tibet and is slated to begin operations in June 2021.

Online Tutor Xueba100’s Executives Go Truant as Company Collapses - Caixin Xueba is a relatively older company in the space, with history dating back to at least 2013. It had raised millions of dollars through six fundings over the years, including the last that raised $100 million at the end of 2016. Its backers over the years have included an A-list of venture capital companies, such as China Merchants Capital, Qiming Venture Partners, Trustbridge Partners, Temasek and Vertex Ventures.

Despite Détente, Hong Kong Tweet Still Haunts NBA in China - SixthTone On Tencent Sports, which streams the basketball league in China, past and future matchups featuring the Philadelphia 76ers and the Houston Rockets are the sole exceptions to what is otherwise a complete slate of game broadcasts. These are, respectively, the current and former teams of executive Daryl Morey...Li Shuangfu, a former NBA reporter and co-founder of Lanxiong Sports, a Chinese sports media startup, told Sixth Tone that because Morey’s situation is political, companies like Tencent are faced with tough decisions. “What I know is that CCTV, for now, won’t broadcast NBA games,” Li said. “But there’s no (official) ban against the 76ers or any other team.”

Politics and Law

Four Party ‘Tigers’ Punished Ahead of Corruption Watchdog’s Key Meeting - Caixin The Central Commission for Discipline Inspection said on its website that Deng Huilin (邓恢林), Wen Guodong (文国栋), Luo Jiamang (骆家駹) and Hu Wenming (胡问鸣) have been expelled from the Communist Party and the first three have been fired for serious violations of party discipline and law...The punishment came ahead of the 19th Central Commission for Discipline Inspection’s fifth plenary session, which is scheduled to take place from Jan. 22 to Jan. 24.

重庆市原副市长、公安局原局长邓恢林严重违纪违法被开除党籍和公职-新华网 Detained former Chongqing police chief and deputy mayor Deng Huilin is officially expelled from the Party, fired from his posts, removed as a delegate to the 19th Party Congress and turned over to prosecutors. Among his violations cited in the official announcement: "lost his ideals and beliefs, had no "four consciousnesses", deviated from "two upholds", participated in organizing groups and gangs within the party, gained political capital, was keen on political speculation, arbitrarily discussed the major policies of the CPC Central Committee, and engaged in superstitious activities 邓恢林丧失理想信念,毫无“四个意识”,背离“两个维护”,参与在党内搞团团伙伙,捞取政治资本,热衷政治投机,妄议党中央大政方针,搞迷信活动;

Book on poverty relief efforts in villages visited by Xi published - Xinhua Consisting of 17 research reports and QR codes directing readers to three episodes of special television features, the book depicts the remarkable achievements and valuable experience of poverty alleviation in these villages under Xi's guidance. The book is expected to inspire officials and the general public to study and grasp Xi's important thoughts on poverty alleviation, and to forge ahead in the new era

China’s Top Spy is a Working Class Hero - SpyTalk profiles MSS head Chen Wenqing despite his prominence, American intelligence officials are loath to say anything about Chen, for fear that revealing the slightest personal detail about him might betray their sources and methods.  “Can't help you on Chen, and because of who he is, I wouldn't even if I could,” said one former U.S. official, in a response typical of the nearly  dozen other experts on Chinese intelligence SpyTalk consulted.  “It's nothing personal,” the former official added. “Anything on him is going to be very tightly held, and for good reason. Even if the material seems innocuous, how it was obtained will be sensitive.”

Keeping Cool Over China’s New Divorce ‘Cool-Off Period’ - SixthTone The new rules, which mandate a 30-day waiting period for mutually agreed-upon divorces, are the most hotly debated element of China’s new civil code.

China's Camps Have Forced Labor And Growing US Market - Buzzfeed China has built more than 100 new facilities in Xinjiang where it can not only lock people up, but also force them to work in dedicated factory buildings right on site, BuzzFeed News can reveal based on government records, interviews, and hundreds of satellite images.

Hu Xijin - It's tragic how Western powers ruthlessly consumed and ruined Zhang Zhan - Global Times By hyping Zhang Zhan, Western public opinion is drawing the attention of Westerners to "Chinese rebels" in its anti-pandemic efforts. This is misleading.

脚踏实地 青春无悔!知青下乡是推动社会进步的伟大壮举!-Written on the anniversary of the launch of the policy-

WeChat Becomes a Powerful Surveillance Tool Everywhere in China - WSJ One Beijing-based user who didn’t want to be named said he was taken in for questioning several days after his WeChat account was blocked for criticizing China’s foreign policy. During the two-hour interrogation, police officers held printouts of his WeChat chat logs and read out parts that were critical of the Chinese leadership. He was released after signing a pledge that he wouldn’t criticize the government again.

Foreign and Defense Affairs

China’s military takes charge of war powers with new defence law | South China Morning Post Revisions to the National Defence Law, effective from January 1, weaken the role of the State Council – China’s cabinet – in formulating military policy, handing decision-making powers to the CMC. For the first time, “disruption” and protection of “development interests” have been added to the legislation as grounds for the mobilisation and deployment of troops and reserve forces. The legislation also specifically stresses the need to build a nationwide coordination mechanism for the mobilisation of state-owned and private enterprises to take part in research into new defence technologies covering conventional weapons, as well as the non-traditional domains of cybersecurity, space and electromagnetics...Zeng Zhiping, a military law expert at Soochow University, said one of the big changes of the law was the downgrading of the State Council’s role in formulating the principles of China’s national defence, and the right to direct and administer the mobilisation of its armed forces. “The CMC is now formally in charge of making national defence policy and principles, while the State Council becomes a mere implementing agency to provide support to the military,” said Zeng, who is also a retired PLA lieutenant colonel.

China-Africa relations: Chinese foreign minister’s New Year trip still on despite coronavirus | South China Morning Post Following China’s long-held tradition of foreign ministers making Africa their first trip of the year, Wang will spend this week on official visits to Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania, Botswana and Seychelles.

China-Mauritius free-trade deal creates model for Beijing’s trade with Africa, observers say | South China Morning Post The China-Mauritius free-trade agreement – Beijing’s first ever with an African country – took effect on Friday, opening up a market of 1.4 billion Chinese consumers to the tiny island nation in the Indian Ocean. As a result of the deal, within seven years, 96 per cent of the more than 8,500 products Mauritius sells to China will be duty-free, according to the island’s foreign affairs ministry.

On GPS: Biden's National Security Adviser on China - CNN Video

China to Face Tougher Challenges with Biden Administration, Foreign Policy Expert Says In an interview this month with Caixin, Yan Xuetong, dean of the Institute of International Relations at Tsinghua University in Beijing, said that “Biden’s diplomatic strategy will be largely different from Trump’s, but it doesn’t necessarily mean the China-U.S. relationship will be improved.”..Yan said that the primary goal for both countries should be to “reach a consensus on the nature of their relationship.” “If you don’t recognize that competition is a major part of the China-U.S. relationship before talking about cooperation, it’ll be meaningless and eventually no cooperation will be achieved,” he said.

崔立如:美国政治变局与对华政策的关联_爱思想 Cui Liru: The Connection between the Political Change in the United States and China Policy

Avoiding the climate canard in US-China relations - Ryan Haas First, Joe Biden will be president, not his climate czar John Kerry or anyone else. The incoming administration will be staffed by professionals who recognize the disciplining effect of a policy coordination process to set priorities, weigh trade-offs, and develop a sequence of actions to advance specific objectives. Under Biden, there will be a single, integrated China policy that addresses the totality of the relationship, rather than a singular focus on a specific issue, as often appeared to be the case under Trump. Second, much of the angst about America getting played by China on climate issues derives from misunderstandings of the recent past. The U.S.-China relationship on climate issues during the Obama administration did not involve concessions across issue areas. U.S. climate negotiators never were authorized to trade away other issues in pursuit of Chinese cooperation on climate.

Ambassador Liu Xiaoming to step down, replaced by Zheng Zeguang - Beijing to Britain China’s Ambassador to the United Kingdom, Ambassador Liu Xiaoming, is retiring. Liu is being replaced by Zheng Zeguang, Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs. // Zheng is an "Americanist", had been rumored at times to be in line to replace Cui Tiankai as ambassador to the US. Cui, he has served in DC far longer than expected, I imagine he would like to go home. I am kind of hoping Beijing sends Hua Chunying to DC

US yanks $480m aid to Sri Lanka with eye on China - Nikkei Asia The U.S. abruptly withdrew $480 million in infrastructure aid to Sri Lanka in an apparent rebuke against the island's growing economic ties with China, but the recent move will likely bring the two Asian countries even closer together. The grant was to be allocated over five years by Millennium Challenge Corp., a U.S. foreign aid agency, with a focus on tackling poor transportation and logistics infrastructure.

By air and sea: China’s two-pronged strategy to grind Japan down over disputed islands | South China Morning Post Timothy Heath, also from the Rand Corporation, said China’s strategy for the Senkakus depended on “wearing down” Japan’s resistance over time so that eventually Tokyo acquiesced without fighting.

Joint Statement – Call to Free Ekpar Asat and End Mass Atrocities Against the Uyghur Community in Xinjiang We, the Harvard Law School Advocates for Human Rights (“HLS Advocates”), and the undersigned student organizations of Harvard University, stand in solidarity with our alumna Ms. Rayhan Asat (HLS LLM ‘16) in calling for the immediate release of her brother, Mr. Ekpar Asat, a member of the persecuted Uyghur community who was forcibly disappeared by the Chinese government in 2016.

人事观察|武警党委常委调整 朱文祥等四名将领履新_政经频道_财新网 Four generals including Zhu Wenxiang, former dean of the Armed Police Command Academy, and Tian Yixiang, former Auditor of the Central Military Commission’s Audit Office, are among the members of the Standing Committee of the Armed Police Party Committee

网易视频-解放军西藏最高驻兵点首次公开 罕见曝光一线边防战士处突画面 Video released of PLA troops in Tibet at their encampment at 5592 meters altitude. I was briefly at 5630m when doing to Kora around Mt Kailash in 2014, the difficulties of functioning at that altitude are not to be underestimated.

South China Sea: why did the PLA land its massive Y-20 warplane on Fiery Cross Reef? | South China Morning Post Military source says PLA was probably testing the capabilities of its transport aircraft, which satellite images showed on the militarised reef in the Spratly Islands on Christmas Day

Xi calls for closer partnership with Argentina - Xinhua Chinese President Xi Jinping said that China stands ready to work with Argentina to promote high-quality Belt and Road cooperation and advance the building of a community with a shared future for mankind. China attaches great importance to bilateral ties, Xi said in a recent exchange of letters with Argentine President Alberto Fernandez, urging concerted efforts to sustain and deepen the development of the China-Argentina comprehensive strategic partnership.

External Security Commissioner of the Foreign Ministry Cheng Guoping Holds a Video Meeting of China-Tajikistan Inter-departmental and Inter-regional Security Cooperation Mechanism Leaders with First Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Ta On December 29, 2020, External Security Commissioner of the Foreign Ministry Cheng Guoping held a video meeting of China-Tajikistan Inter-departmental and Inter-regional Security Cooperation Mechanism Leaders with First Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Tajikistan Khusrav Nоziri. Both sides exchanged views on relevant issues about counter-terrorism and security cooperation between the two countries, the establishment of the inter-departmental and inter-regional mechanism and bilateral relations.

Xi Focus: Xi signs mobilization order for training of armed forces - Xinhua The order urged the armed forces to enhance training in real combat conditions to ensure combat readiness at all times. It called for efforts to be made for joint operations in combat and training, highlighting training under joint command, as well as training across the fields and services. It also urged efforts to largely improve the use of technology in training and guide the training in accordance with the law. // first order every year I believe // 习近平签署中央军委2021年1号命令 向全军发布开训动员令 - 中国军网 official readout of Xi's order

Xi signs order to release revised regulations on military equipment - Xinhua Focusing on war preparedness and combat capabilities, the regulations define the basic tasks, contents and management mechanisms for military equipment work under the new situation and system. Comprised of 100 stipulations under 14 chapters, the document adheres to the general principle of "the CMC exercising overall leadership, theater commands responsible for military operations and the services focusing on developing capabilities."

Philippine Troops and Cabinet Member Receive Chinese Vaccines Before Approval - Caixin Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte said during a televised meeting with health officials on Saturday that “almost all” soldiers have already been inoculated by a coronavirus vaccine developed by China’s state-owned vaccine maker, Sinopharm. The country’s army chief Lieutenant General Cirilito Sobejana also confirmed on Monday that some troops had been vaccinated although he added that the number was not large.

Xi eyes unwavering development of China-Russia partnership - Xinhua Chinese President Xi Jinping said Monday that China is ready to work with Russia to unswervingly develop the comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination for a new era between the two countries, realize their respective development and revitalization, and make greater contributions to building a new type of international relations and a community with a shared future for mankind.

ASIO red-flags Liberal Party donor Huifeng 'Haha' Liu over foreign interference risks - ABC News The businessman, Huifeng "Haha" Liu, is a Liberal Party donor and former soldier in China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) who developed links with federal Liberal MP Gladys Liu and Assistant Treasurer Michael Sukkar. Mr Liu is contesting the deportation order after the Federal Government rejected his application for permanent residency when security concerns were raised.

Introducing The India China Newsletter - The India China Newsletter - Ananth Krishnan The idea behind this daily newsletter is to present a fresh perspective on developments in China — though I’m calling it The India China Newsletter, it’s essentially a China newsletter, with a focus on how developments there impact India. I’ll also closely follow what’s unfolding on the India-China front, which, I think, for a relationship of such importance, remains strangely under-reported and not very well covered.

Falun Gong activist detained in Poland. China demands extradition, Polish courts are in favor - Polish News He is officially pursued by China for an economic crime. However, he argues that this is just a cover for the communist regime punishing him for supporting Falun Gong, a community brutally fought in China. Li – as a millionaire – not only was a member of it, but also financed the organization’s activities. Is this a line of defense to protect him from trial in his former homeland? We don’t know that. We know, however, that he is not alone in his narrative. The Embassy of Sweden, whose citizen for several years has been Zihui Li, in a letter sent to the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs emphasizes: “there is a high risk that our citizen, after handing him over to the Chinese side, may be sentenced to death.”

From 3rd aircraft carrier to fighter jets: weapons to expect in 2021 - Global Times China's third aircraft carrier, a newly developed frigate with integrated electric propulsion system, aircraft carrier-based stealth fighter jets and more could make their first appearances in 2021, military observers predict.

China’s Mission Nepal suffers a huge setback. PM Oli didn’t play ball - world news - Hindustan Times The first was to convince PM Oli to rescind the recommendation to dissolve the 275-member House of Representatives on an assurance from the NCP’s Prachanda-Madhav Nepal faction to let him continue. But PM Oli didn’t agree because there was no guarantee that the Prachanda-Madhav Nepal faction would try to pull down his government and come to power. PM Oli is, however, learnt to have told the Guo Yezhou-led delegation that fresh elections were the only solution to the stalemate between the two sides. Prachanda and Nepal hadn’t agreed to give any commitment to the Chinese team either, demanding that PM Oli should reverse the order to dissolve parliament first.

Ambassador Geng Shuang: Good riddance, Ambassador Heusgen On December 22, the United Nations Security Council held a virtual briefing on the Iranian nuclear issue. In his remarks, German Permanent Representative Ambassador Christoph Heusgen commented on the Michael Kovrig case. He claimed that Michael Kovrig was treated unfairly in China and that China should release him as soon as possible. Ambassador Geng Shuang, Deputy Permanent Representative of China requested the floor again and categorically rejected German Ambassador's remarks

Hong Kong and Macao

中央在港組建巨型「文化央企」 | 星島日報 Sing Tao Daily reports that Beijing is setting up a vice-ministerial level Central SOE cultural businesses in Hong Kong

Hong Kong not an ‘independent judicial kingdom’: pro-Beijing heavyweight doubles down on reform calls | South China Morning Post Pro-Beijing heavyweight Tam Yiu-chung has doubled down on calls to reform Hong Kong’s judiciary, expressing regret that “judicial independence” has been misinterpreted as “an independent judicial kingdom”. Tam, the city’s sole deputy to the country’s top legislative body, the National People’s Congress Standing Committee, also asked judges not to regard themselves as “elites”, adding they should make “down-to-earth” rulings that suited the prevailing situation in society.

Lawyers Hired to Defend Hong Kong Speedboat Detainees to Lose Licenses - RFA — Radio Free Asia Authorities in China are moving to strike off two lawyers who defended 12 Hong Kong protesters jailed last week for "illegally crossing a border" after they tried to flee to Taiwan by speedboat. Lu Siwei and Ren Quanniu received notification on Monday that their licenses were being reviewed by their local judicial affairs bureaus because they had "posted inappropriate remarks" online.

Sentences for ‘Hong Kong 12’ Spark Outrage From Pro-Democrats – The Diplomat The trial marked the end of a long saga that began when the protesters – known as the “Hong Kong 12” by supporters and “separatists” by authorities – were caught and arrested at sea in August while trying to escape by speedboat to Taiwan. After months of being detained without charges, Tang Kai-yin, 31, was sentenced to three years and fined 20,000 renminibi (RMB), roughly $3,100, while Quinn Moon, 33, was given two years and fined 15,000 RMB for organizing the crossing. Eight others on the boat received seven months and fines of 10,000 RMB each; two minors were released to Hong Kong police.

Hong Kong media tycoon Jimmy Lai jailed after bail revoked - AP Hong Kong’s highest court on Thursday revoked media tycoon Jimmy Lai’s bail after prosecutors succeeded in asking the judges to send him back to detention. Lai had been granted bail on Dec. 23 after three weeks in custody on charges of fraud and endangering national security. His appeal hearing is slated for Feb. 1.

Special Report-Nuns arrested as Beijing turns up heat on Church in Hong Kong | Reuters In a high-walled Art Deco villa in the Hong Kong suburbs of Kowloon, the Vatican operates an unofficial diplomatic mission, its only political outpost of any kind in China...In May, two Chinese nuns who work at the mission were arrested by mainland authorities during a visit home to Hebei province, according to three Catholic clerics with knowledge of the matter...The arrests, which haven’t been previously reported, are viewed by top clerics here and in the Vatican as a sign Beijing wants the mission shut.


Taiwan leader's New Year speech exposes secessionist nature: mainland spokesperson - China Military Zhu Fenglian, spokesperson for the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council, made the remarks in response to a media question about content regarding cross-Strait relations in the speech. Zhu said the cross-Strait exchanges are currently in an "extremely abnormal state," and the abnormality is due to the obstacles imposed by the DPP.

Taiwan’s ban on books, TV shows ‘the work of the thought police’, co-founder of ruling party says | South China Morning Post A founding member of Taiwan’s ruling Democratic Progressive Party has slammed the banning of a children’s book and the silencing of a pro-mainland cable television channel as a return to the island’s authoritarian past. The picture book, Waiting for Dad to Come Home, was ordered off the shelves on December 2 by the culture ministry, which said this week it was considering censoring other books from the mainland. Just days after the title was removed, the CTi news channel was also taken off the air when the broadcasting regulator declined to renew its licence.

Tech and Media

Huawei Must Scale Back Businesses, Focus on Cloud Services: Founder Ren Zhengfei - Pandaily In a speech delivered at a company event in November and shared on an internal forum on Dec. 30, Ren said Huawei’s enterprise business may “lose its combat strength if its strategy is too broad,” saying that the firm needs to “scale back its battlefront” and concentrate on areas of strategic focus.  Ren admitted that developing cloud services is not the company’s forte, and a breakthrough is needed. The Shenzhen-based company has primarily been focusing on telecom operations and smartphones.

Bilibili, a Streaming Platform Favored by China's Gen-Z, Lands in Southeast Asia- PingWest Bilibili, a Chinese video-sharing website themed around animation, comics, and games (ACG), has launched localized services in Thailand and Malaysia, tech news outlet Zhixiang reported.

Huawei-Tencent Showdown on Revenue Sharing Highlights Industry Divide - Caixin On Friday, Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. announced it had pulled Tencent Holdings Ltd.’s games from its mobile app store in response to Tencent’s “unilateral request” to reduce the percentage of revenue it pays Huawei for distributing the gaming giant’s products. Nonetheless, Tencent game sales on Huawei phones were restored later the same day after the two tech giants engaged in talks and reached an agreement for Huawei to maintain its 50% revenue cut for the time being and while the two sides continue negotiating, Caixin has learned from sources with knowledge of the matter.

Yicai - Jingxi Culture Hits Limit Down as Chinese Blockbuster Filmmaker Is Probed for Fraud Shares in Beijing Jingxi Culture & Tourism plunged by the exchange-imposed daily limit of 10 percent today on the news that the producer of China’s highest grossing movie Wolf Warriors 2 is under investigation by regulators for alleged bookkeeping fraud.

China’s Box Office Starts New Year With Record Opening - SixthTone The New Year’s Day box office raked in about 600 million yuan ($92.8 million) in revenue, breaking its previous record set in 2018, according to official figures. Domestic releases including “A Little Red Flower” and “Warm Hug” — which both premiered Dec. 31 — drove ticket sales during the three-day holiday.

In Depth: Clash of Two Tech Whizzes Reflects Leading Chipmaker SMIC at Crossroads - Caixin A person close to SMIC’s board told Caixin that some of the company’s major stakeholders had suggested several years ago it explore a less sophisticated area called chiplets, an emerging field that combines arrays of smaller chips in a modular way rather than placing everything on a single purpose-built chip. But Liang had little interest in that area due to his focus on 7 nanometer technology, most of which required imported manufacturing equipment and materials. A person at one of SMIC’s joint ventures told Caixin the company’s older 55 nanometer technology is relatively non-reliant on American technology. But he added it would still be difficult for SMIC to quickly cast off its dependence on all American products. “SMIC has inventory that will allow it to continue for three to six months,” one longtime analyst told Caixin.

Game Studio Chief Tied to Hit Sci-Fi Series Dies After Suspected Poisoning by Co-Worker - Caixin Police said they had arrested Lin’s colleague, a 39-year-old male whose last name was only given as Xu, who is suspected of the poisoning. Several gaming industry sources told Caixin the arrested person could be Xu Yao, a former Yoozoo director who works at the company’s motion picture subsidiary, where he was leading a project to create films based on the acclaimed “The Three-Body Problem” science fiction novels.

Founder of Mobile Game Developer Jailed for Stock Manipulation - Caixin The founder of Chinese game developer Shanghai Kingnet Network Co. Ltd. has been jailed for stock manipulation in the second scandal to rock the gaming industry within a week. Wang Yue was sentenced to five years and six months in prison and fined 10 million yuan

Society, Arts, Sports, Culture and History

Trending in China: Death of Child Star Sun Qiaolu Raises Cardiovascular Awareness Among Gen Z - Caixin The death of a young actress has raised awareness of cardiovascular disease among young people. Sun Qiaolu, 25, who played a leading role in a beloved Chinese kids television show called Balala the Fairies, died following a heart attack on the first day of 2021. The hashtag #Sun-Qiaolu-passes-away# has been viewed over 580 million times on Weibo.

New York Liberty extends Chinese Han Xu's contract to 2022 - Xinhua New York Liberty of the Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA) has extended Han Xu's contract to 2022, the Chinese center said on Monday. The American club exercised the one-year option of Han's rookie "3+1" contract, which has three promised seasons until 2021 and one optional season.

Beijing 2022 unveils sports pictograms to welcome the New Year - Olympic News The Organising Committee for the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022 unveiled its new sports pictograms on Thursday, as the world began to welcome the New Year. According to the organisers, the release of the official Games’ pictograms “capped an exciting year of preparations for the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games Beijing 2022

In memoriam Fou Ts’ong | Stephen Jones: a blog In homage to the great Fou Ts’ong 傅聪 (1934–2020), who became yet another casualty of Covid last week in London, I’ve been re-reading the account of his career in Chapter 3 of Richard Kraus, Pianos and politics in China (1989). It makes a perceptive study of tensions in the Chinese artistic world before and after the 1949 revolution

Dispute Over Writings of Towering Figure in U.S.-China Diplomacy Upends Auction Chinese authorities have ordered a Beijing auction house to suspend a major sale of diaries, letters and other written works penned by former U.S. Ambassador to China John Leighton Stuart, amid a dispute over who owns the documents. Beijing Yongle International Auction Co. Ltd. confirmed Friday that the sale had been halted. People with knowledge of the matter told Caixin that the incident centers on a squabble between Yan Ming, an antiques dealer, and the descendants of Fu Jingbo, Stuart’s former private secretary.

Energy, Environment, Science and Health

Coronavirus Found on Car Part Packaging Across Northern ChinaThe greatest number of contaminated items were found at a Daimler car dealership in Hohhot, capital of Inner Mongolia, where the virus was discovered on five packages. All the packages were shipped from a warehouse operated by Daimler Northeast Asia Parts Trading and Services Co. Ltd., located in the Jinma Industrial Zone (金马工业园) in Beijing’s suburban Shunyi district. A total of 11 Daimler Northeast Asia Parts workers have tested positive for Covid-19 since mid-December. Municipal officials have concluded that the company hadn’t followed disease-prevention rules, including mandatory mask wearing. Both the warehouse and the Jinma Industrial Zone have been sealed off.

Chinese mainland reports 33 new COVID-19 cases - Xinhua China's National Health Commission said Monday that it received reports of 33 newly confirmed COVID-19 cases on the Chinese mainland Sunday, including 13 locally transmitted cases and 20 imported ones. Six locally transmitted cases were reported in Liaoning, four in Hebei, two in Beijing and one in Heilongjiang, said the commission in its daily report.

Chinese supermarkets, consumers seek domestic meats to cut contamination risks - Global Times several supermarkets have announced that they are taking more precautions with imported food. Hema Fresh, a Chinese e-commerce platform run by Alibaba Group, pledged in August to increase its stocks of domestically produced seafood and meat to replace imported products, media reported. An employee from a Carrefour store located in Hefei, East China's Anhui Province told the Global Times anonymously on Sunday that "no imported meat is sold at this supermarket, and we only sell domestic meat."

Over 217,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses administered in east China province - Xinhua A total of 217,158 doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered to key groups with higher risks of infection in east China's Shandong Province, authorities said on Monday. As of Sunday, no serious side effects have been reported among vaccine recipients, said the provincial health commission.

New Dalian COVID-19 cases have longer incubation period, with some found to be positive after 11 tests - Global Times Dalian, Northeast China's Liaoning Province, announced that it was extending the COVID-19 quarantine period to 21 days from 14 as the new cases in the recent COVID-19 outbreak in the city show a longer incubation period, faster transmission and more complex pattern. Some patients tested positive for COVID-19 after taking 11 nucleic acid tests, while in some regions, cases were still found even after six rounds of mass testing, said Dalian authorities at a press conference on Monday.

Beijing Driver With 58 Close Contacts Tests Positive for Covid-19 - Caixin Confirmation of the drive’s positive result raises the possibility that the infection has spread across further across the capital. In response to the small scale outbreak in the northeastern Shunyi district, the local government has been conducting a sweeping recheck of high risk groups who had previously been tested. As of 3pm on Saturday, more than 108,200 residents have tested negative. Currently, the captial city has a total of seven “medium-risk” areas, including six in Shunyi and one in the neighboring Chaoyang district. Local health authorities have concluded that the source of the outbreak was imported by a 28-year-old Indonesian man who arrived in Beijing on Dec. 10 and tested positive more than two weeks later.

China city traces COVID-19 infection source to imported frozen food - Xinhua Preliminary investigation has traced the source of the latest local transmissions of COVID-19 in the northeastern Chinese port city of Dalian to imported cold-chain food, a local health official said Sunday.Zhao Lian, deputy director of the Dalian municipal health commission, told a press briefing that most of the recent cases reported in the city were related to five dockworkers who got infected by unloading bulk goods from a Russian ship tainted by the novel coronavirus.

China Focus: Nation tightens epidemic control amid new local cases - Xinhua As for the possible risks and potential dangers in cold-chain food, downtown Xicheng District has started to conduct nucleic acid testing once a week for all employees involved in the cold-chain, catering and food industries since Saturday. During the forthcoming New Year and Spring Festival holidays, Beijing will not hold temple fairs or large-scale mass cultural activities, said Zhou Weimin, an official with the Beijing Municipal Bureau of Culture and Tourism... Experts have suggested complete disinfection on goods entering Beijing and urged the public to take epidemic prevention measures when receiving their parcels.

Beijing began COVID-19 vaccination among key groups - Xinhua Nine groups of people aged 18 to 59 will receive the vaccine before the Spring Festival of 2021, which falls on Feb. 12. These include frontline customs inspectors of imported cold-chain goods and personnel working in the overseas and domestic transportation sector.

Beijing universities start winter vacation earlier due to COVID-19 - Xinhua Two universities in Beijing announced on Saturday the winter vacation would start earlier than usual, in an effort to reduce the pressure of COVID-19 control on campus.

For Beijing residents, small gatherings to become latest fad to spend New Year's amid virus spike - Global Times In response to the anti-epidemic measures which call upon locals to stay in the city to reduce the viral spread, many Beijing residents have adjusted their travel plans to choose a simpler way to spend the New Year holidays, CCTV News reported on Wednesday. Relevant searches of "group tours" on the internet have plummeted by 40 percent, and "nearby travel" has also declined by 23 percent in the past seven days.

Yicai - Aier Eye Hospital’s Shares Skid After Well-Known Doctor Accuses It of Botched Surgery Ai Fen, one of the first doctors to warn of the coronavirus in the Chinese city of Wuhan, recently said she suffered a detached retina after cataract surgery at a branch of Aier Eye Hospital. The Changsha-based group has denied responsibility.

Beijing sees record low PM2.5 density in 2020 - Xinhua The average concentration of PM2.5 in the metropolis was 38 micrograms per cubic meter in 2020, a year-on-year decline of 9.5 percent and the lowest measurement since the data was first collected in 2013, according to the Beijing Municipal Ecology and Environment Bureau.

Rural and Agricultural Issues

China taking measures to ensure grain security: Minister - SCIO China will advance technological innovation in the seed industry and improve farmland conservation in 2021 to ensure grain security, the country's agriculture minister said. Calling seeds the "chip" of agriculture, Tang Renjian, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Affairs, vowed to make the development of seed industry a major task of the country's agricultural and rural modernization. Tang urged technological breakthroughs in seeds, calling for efforts to strengthen the establishment of seed banks, the foundation of innovation in the seed industry. China's current crop germplasm pool stores 440,000 pieces of crop resources. A new crop germplasm pool capable of storing 1.5 million pieces of various crops will be put into operation in 2021, with the pool capacity highest in the world.

从根本上确保国家粮食安全——中央农办主任、农业农村部部长唐仁健谈2021年“三农”工作热点话题-新华网 Minister of Agriculture and Rural Affairs and head of the central office on Agriculture and Rural Affairs discusses the focus of his work in 2021

China Vows to Improve Food Security as Imports Rise to Record - Bloomberg New agriculture minister Tang Renjian pledged to improve crop yields of locally-grown rice, wheat, soybeans and corn while protecting against farmland loss, according to a report on the ministry’s website. He said maintaining stable food production will be a priority under the country’s 14th Five-Year Plan, which will set out key economic and political goals for 2021 to 2025.

Revitalising China’s rural regions is Xi Jinping’s next priority | South China Morning Post Xi told the latest Central Rural Work Conference that “if we want to rejuvenate the nation, we must revitalise the countryside”. And as such, Xi said China will exhaust the power of the whole party and the whole of society to make its farming “efficient”, the countryside “good for living”, and the country’s peasants “rich”...As Beijing declares victory over the battle of ending extreme poverty, Xi is now replacing it with a grander project of “comprehensive rural revitalisation”...

After microchips, what's the next big (small) thing on Beijing's self-reliance list? - Pekingnology In another comparison that shows how senior Chinese officials now view the importance of seeds, 韩文秀 Han Wenxiu, 中央财经委员会办公室分管日常工作的副主任 Executive Deputy Director of the General Office of the Central Financial and Economic Affairs Commission, put it this way: 种子是农业的“芯片”,我国种业有了很大的进步,但与国际先进水平还有很大的差距。 Seed is the “microchip” of agriculture. Our country’s seed industry has made great progress, but still falls far behind the advanced level in the international community.

Dim Sums: Rural China Economics and Policy: China Released 670,000 MT Reserve Pork in 2020 China's release of 70,000 metric tons of national pork reserves in December 2020 brought the 2020 total to 670,000 metric tons. A total of 38 sales were held during 2020 as authorities sought to bring record-high prices under control. Reserve sales during 2019 totaled 170,000 metric tons during September and December--ahead of major holidays--as pork prices first began to soar. Releases were 20,000 metric tons in most weeks from December 2019 to September 2020 as pork prices remained stubbornly high.