"Tariff Man" Trump appoints Lighthizer to lead talks with China; Xi's G-20 speech; Tax crackdown; IPR protections

There appears to be some confusion among President Trump’s advisors about what he and General Secretary Xi actually agreed to at the Saturday dinner. I had heard that none of Trump’s team knew exactly what Trump was going to do when they sat down with Xi and his team. The aftermath sure seems to support that…

President Trump made a very important decision in appointing USTR chief Lighthizer to lead the negotiations. Call him a hawk, or a realist, regardless he knows the issues cold and is unlikely to settle for a squishy deal, unless his boss does.

I believe at least some on the Chinese side are happy with Lighthizer’s appointment, even though they know he is an incredibly competent hawk and negotiator. Mnuchin no longer has much credibility in Beijing given his inability to keep the deal Liu He thought they had struck in May and the Chinese also understand the Lighthizer needs to sign off any deal for it to have a chance, though so long as Trump had not specifically named Lighthizer as the point person protocol dictated spending more time with Mnuchin.

Lighthizer as point man may mean an eventual deal may be even more difficult to achieve, but President Trump weighed in on Twitter Tuesday morning and raised the possibility of extending the 90 day deadline:

I can’t wait for this to be over.

Amidst all the focus on the Trump-Xi meeting I think Xi’s G-20 speech was almost ignored. Xi, who has kept himself busy in the last three weeks by attending APEC and the G-20 and conducting state visits to Papua New Guinea, Brunei, the Philippines, Spain, Argentina, Panama and Portugal, hit the right notes for many countries and leaders around the world in his speech Look Beyond the Horizon and Steer the World Economy in the Right Direction:

This year marks the 40th anniversary of China's reform and opening-up. During the past 40 years, with the support of the international community, we in China have forged ahead with perseverance and made historic achievements in development. In the years since the global financial crisis, China has contributed over 30 percent of global growth. China is firm in its resolve to eradicate poverty. Our goal is to eliminate absolute poverty as currently defined by 2020, and we have every confidence to meet this target. China owes its progress to reform and opening-up, and will continue to advance on this path. Earlier this month, the first China International Import Expo (CIIE) was successfully held, which was warmly received by the international community. China will continue to deepen market-oriented reform, protect property rights and IPR, encourage fair competition and do more to expand imports. The CIIE will be held annually as a way to further open China's market. In the latest World Bank Doing Business report, China moved up 32 places in the ease of doing business ranking from last year. China will continue to improve its business environment, and hopes that all countries will work together for a free, open, inclusive and orderly international economic environment.

Yes I know there is much to be skeptical about, but Xi is showing up in lots of places bearing gifts and saying the right things, and that still counts for a lot, especially when the Marxist in him sees a massive historical opportunity in a shifting global order…

Thanks for reading.

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The Essential Eight

1. US-China

Trump Names Lighthizer to Run U.S.-China Negotiations - WSJ $$:

Mr. Trump informed Chinese President Xi Jinping of his choice of Robert Lighthizer at their Saturday meeting in Buenos Aires, people familiar with the discussions said, pointing several times to the U.S. Trade Representative as the person who will face off with Beijing’s diplomats and using Mr. Lighthizer’s charts in presentations.

The remarks came as a surprise to a Chinese leadership that had maneuvered for months to deal with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who had led initial rounds of talks, but failed to resolve the dispute over the past year...

Jared Kushner, a White House adviser and Mr. Trump’s son-in-law, and National Security Council Asia chief Matt Pottinger played important roles in persuading the president to give Mr. Lighthizer a central role in the talks, the people familiar with the decision said. With Mr. Lighthizer at the helm, people familiar with the deliberations said, Mr. Trump could be assured that the U.S. would press for fundamental overhauls on China economic policies.

Trump's Aides Struggle to Detail Deal He Says He Cut With Xi - Bloomberg 

Questioned about the agreement on Monday, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Trump’s top economic adviser, Larry Kudlow, dialed back expectations and added qualifiers...

“I’ll call them ‘commitments’ at this point, which are -- commitments are not necessarily a trade deal, but it’s stuff that they’re going to look at and presumably implement,” Kudlow told reporters at an official White House briefing on Monday that followed TV interviews and informal briefings by him and Mnuchin earlier in the day...

Trump nevertheless praised himself for the dinner, and abandoned nuance in claiming on Twitter that China had agreed to immediately buy more U.S. farm products, in addition to dropping car tariffs. Mnuchin, in an interview with CNBC on Monday, put a $1.2 trillion price tag on China’s additional trade commitments, but emphasized the details of how they get there still need to be negotiated.

Scott Kennedy - In the U.S.-China Dinner Episode, Trump Wins by a Hair | Center for Strategic and International Studies:

China’s case was not helped by its apparent offer to reconsider the Qualcomm-NXP deal. To the contrary, although that acquisition cannot be resuscitated, Xi’s comment reveals in plain sight that Chinese antitrust policy is inherently politicized, with the top leadership able to shape outcomes to suit their own needs regardless of the facts of any case. This new data point reinforces the impression China’s leaders are not stewards of a competitive market economy.

China grain traders await lower tariffs before U.S. return | Reuters:

China will need to drop steep tariffs it imposed on a range of American farm products earlier this year before it can fulfill its pledge to buy substantial volumes of U.S. goods, said Chinese traders on Monday.

Yuan Poised for Biggest Two-Day Gain in a Decade on Trade Truce - Bloomberg

The currency rose 0.66 percent to 6.8403 per dollar at 5:34 p.m., taking its two-day gain to 1.7 percent, the biggest since at least 2007. Bonds rallied, with the yield on 10-year government debt falling to its lowest level since April 2017, amid speculation the stronger currency will give policy makers room to ease monetary policy. The benchmark Shanghai stock gauge added 0.4 percent at the close.

Behind the Beijing-Washington trade truce - CGTN:

"The lobbying of Wall Street and the industrial community worked this time, since the president eyes to maintain the economic buoyancy to seek reelection in 2020," said Wang Yong, director of the Center for International Political Economy at Peking University.

Comment: Interesting comment from Wang, especially in light of Navarro's complaints a few weeks ago...

China Partly Censors U.S. Embassy Statement on Trade Truce - Bloomberg:

A social media post by the U.S. embassy in Beijing about the trade agreement between the two nations was being partially censored on Monday, with the WeChat article visible but blocked from forwarding or sharing.

Separate posts on the death of former President George H. W. Bush weren’t similarly affected and could be shared

Trump Says China Will Curtail Fentanyl. The U.S. Has Heard That Before. - The New York Times:

If these sound like familiar promises, it’s because they are: They first emerged in September 2016, when the Obama administration said China and the United States had agreed on “enhanced measures” meant to keep fentanyl from coming into the United States.

Fentanyl Alternative Stocks Soar - Caixin:

Guangxi-based Galaxy Biomedical and Tibet AIM saw their Shenzhen stocks rise by the 10% daily limit Tuesday morning. Both companies produce fentanyl alternatives, Yicai reported.

Drugs like Carfentanil are analogous to fentanyl in terms of their effects and strength, but aren't legally considered fentanyl and stand a chance of slipping through legal loopholes if a fentanyl export ban comes into effect.

2. Increasing tech restrictions inevitable

The are inevitable no matter the outcome of the current round of US talks, unless the CCP decides to completely change its goals for China and what it considers to be existential issues. Bets on that happening?

The Economist cover story - Chip wars: China, America and silicon supremacy - Superpowers and technology:

Although the chip battle may have pre-dated Mr Trump, his presidency has intensified it. He has made a national champion of Qualcomm, blocking a bid for it from a Singaporean firm for fear of Chinese competition. Earlier this year an export ban on selling American chips and software to ZTE, a Chinese telecoms firm in breach of sanctions, brought it to the brink of bankruptcy within days. Startled by the looming harm, and (he says) swayed by appeals from Mr Xi, Mr Trump swiftly backtracked.

Two things have changed. First, America has realised that its edge in technology gives it power over China. It has imposed export controls that affect on Fujian Jinhua, another Chinese firm accused of stealing secrets, and the White House is mulling broader bans on emerging technologies. Second, China’s incentives to become self-reliant in semiconductors have rocketed. After zte, Mr Xi talked up core technologies. Its tech giants are on board: Alibaba, Baidu and Huawei are ploughing money into making chips.

The Economist - The semiconductor industry and the power of globalisation 

Two forces are now thrusting the semiconductor industry firmly into the spotlight. The first is geopolitics. Chips are caught up in an increasingly bad-tempered rivalry between America, the incumbent techno-superpower, and China, the aspiring one. The second is physics. This brewing technological struggle comes at a historic moment. For 50 years progress has been driven by Moore’s law, which states that the number of components that can be crammed onto a chip doubles every two years and thus, roughly, so does its computational power. But the law is breaking down, leaving the future of the industry looking messier and less certain than at any time in the past.

China vulnerable in war with US over computer chips | Financial Times $$:

While the two sides agreed a temporary truce over the weekend, Washington plans to ramp up export controls next year on so-called foundational technologies — those that can enable development in a broad range of sectors — and the equipment for manufacturing chips is one of the key target areas under discussion.

The $412bn global semiconductor industry rests on the shoulders of just six equipment companies, three of them US-based.

Together, the companies make nearly all of the crucial hardware and software tools needed to manufacture chips, meaning an American export ban would choke off China’s access to the basic tools needed to make their latest chip designs. 

“You cannot build a semiconductor facility without using the big major equipment companies, none of which are Chinese,” said Brett Simpson, the founder of Arete Research, an equity research group. “If you fight a war with no guns you’re going to lose. And they don’t have the guns.”

China needs our chips badly: Fmr. Cypress CEO - CNBC:

Former co-founder and CEO of Cypress Semiconductor T.J. Rodgers discusses the jump in tech stocks after a trade truce between the U.S. and China is announced.

Britain's MI6 spymaster cautions Russia but eyes China's growing power | Reuters:

In his second major speech since being named in 2014 to head the Secret Intelligence Service, or MI6, Alex Younger, ranged across the global threats faced by Britain as it prepares to exit the European Union in less than four months...

He said 5G reliance on Chinese technology was something Britain needed to discuss, though a bigger issue was the likely Chinese future dominance of emerging technologies.

Younger said he had been struck by President Xi Jinping’s “made in China” ambitions and that Beijing could within decades dominate all of the key emerging technologies, particularly artificial intelligence, synthetic biology and genetics.

Huawei under fire as politicians fret over 5G security | Financial Times $$:

Ian Levy, the technical director of the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre, said there were two main areas of concern: the risk of Chinese spying and the overall security of the network.

“The thing we care about the most is availability of the networks, so turning them off,” he said. “Can someone in Beijing press a button and turn off every piece of Huawei kit and what does that mean for the UK networks, that’s the number one concern.”

3. Xi Jinping goes to Panama

China's Xi in Panama on mission to bolster clout in Latin America - AFP:

Xi and Varela signed a score of infrastructure, tourism and development cooperation agreements as Panama became the first Latin American country to partner with Beijing's giant multi-billion dollar global investment initiative known as "Belt and Road."

Xi's visit comes after Panama broke ties with Taiwan last year and switched its allegiance to Beijing. Since Panama's move, two other Central American countries -- the Dominican Republic and El Salvador -- have made the switch.

"Our bilateral relations have had a strong start after only a year and a half," Xi said.

Varela said Xi's visit -- and the investment it brought -- meant Panama would become "the gateway of China to Latin America."

Chinese President Xi calls for closer cooperation with Panama in connectivity - CGTN:

China is willing to keep a close high-level exchange with Panama, Xi said, while commending Panama's resolute support for China on major issues including Taiwan.

Xi also confirmed the role of the Panama Canal in global economy, saying China respects Panama's sovereignty over the canal and accepts that the canal is a permanently neutral international transit waterway.

China supports Panama in playing a bigger role in international and regional affairs, Xi added.

In the meeting, Xi emphasized the prospect for both countries to work on connectivity.

Noting Panama's National Logistics Strategy 2030 is highly compatible with China's Belt and Road Initiative, Xi called on both sides to cooperate more in areas like finance, tourism, logistics and infrastructure.

The US still holds more sway in Panama, but expect Beijing to keep trying to chip away--Panama the new flashpoint in China's growing presence in Latin America | The Guardian:

China’s plans to build a new embassy on the islands were derailed after US officials pressured the government of Panama’s president, Juan Carlos Varela, to withdraw its offer of a four-hectare plot, according to senior Panamanian and diplomatic sources.

“Of course there was pushback from the US: they weren’t going to allow a huge Chinese flag next to the entrance to the canal,” a diplomatic source told the Guardian. “But local pressure was also important. Handing over that land to the Chinese would have been a hugely unpopular move by the Varela government.”...

But a previous plan to build a new Chinese embassy in the traditional diplomatic district of Panama City was also blocked by objections from Washington, and Beijing has now established a temporary mission in an office block.

China Will Deliver Feasibility Study on Train between Panama and Costa Rica | The Costa Rica News:

Chinese President Xi Jinping will hand over to his Panamanian counterpart Juan Carlos Varela during his visit to the country a feasibility study for the construction of a high-speed train between the Panamanian capital and the border with Costa Rica

After Panama Xi stopped in Portugal on his way back to Beijing - Portugal fetes China, risking tension with Western allies - AP:

While some powerful European Union governments are uneasy about China possibly taking more control of the bloc’s critical energy and transport infrastructure, one of western Europe’s smallest economies is grabbing the opportunity with both hands.

Chinese President Xi Jinping was due in Portugal for a state visit Tuesday. His 24-hour stopover in the capital Lisbon has raised Portuguese government’s hopes that Beijing will invest heavily in the country’s biggest Atlantic port and help expand national energy company Energias de Portugal overseas.

4. Hong Kong, PRC

Hong Kong: is ‘one country, two systems’ under threat? | Financial Times $$:

Corporate executives have looked the other way as Beijing has emphasised its “comprehensive jurisdiction” over Hong Kong, reversing the self-restraint that marked the early years of the “one country, two systems” arrangement, under which China granted the city a “high degree of autonomy” and civic freedoms for 50 years after the British handed it back in 1997.

But the Hong Kong government’s decision to in effect expel Victor Mallet, the Asia news editor for the Financial Times, has finally pushed some representatives of the international business community to confront the growing threats to Hong Kong’s rule of law, the cornerstone of the city’s success as a global financial centre...

We’re not at the point where people are pulling out,” says Ms Joseph of the American Chamber of Commerce. “What would it take? It might take people feeling their data are being taken or reviewed or a sense that it’s not an even playing field in terms of western versus mainland businesses.”

Hong Kong pro-democracy lawmaker barred from running in local election | The Guardian:

Eddie Chu, a former journalist who was democratically elected as one of Hong Kong’s 70 legislators in a 2016 election, had planned to contest a separate grassroots poll to represent a village in the rural hinterland of the New Territories.

But an official with Hong Kong’s Electoral Affairs Commission, Enoch Yuen, wrote to Chu on Sunday to disqualify his candidacy on the grounds that Chu had previously expressed support for “independence as an option for Hong Kong people to self-determine their future”.

5. Tax crackdown

Mixed signals for private businesses, on the one hand the government leaders and propaganda organs are showering them with the love, on the other the tax man wants more, and more and more local governments are desperate for revenue.

Tax Crackdown Shocks, Worries China’s Entertainment Industry - Sixth Tone:

China’s entertainment industry is rattled after a document circulated online indicated that artists and studios would need to self-audit and pay additional taxes for the past three years by the end of 2018, Beijing Youth Daily reported Friday.

Bearing no stamp or other markings that would indicate its official status, the document claims that industry personnel and studios are being asked to pay taxes at rates higher than previously required by local laws, as well as penalty fees for at least 70 percent of their income between 2016 and 2018. The document also says that 17 entertainers have already been summoned to speak with tax authorities in person.

Coming in the wake of a crackdown launched in October after a high-profile tax evasion scandal involving actor Fan Bingbing, the notice has worried screenwriters, directors, actors, and others in the entertainment industry. Organizations such as the China TV-Series Screenwriters Committee and the China Film Directors’ Guild have sent representatives to meet in person with officials from the State Administration of Taxation to discuss the matter.

New E-Commerce Law Will Force Vendors to Pay More Tax - Caixin:

The law, which will more clearly define the parameters of the e-commerce industry, may see more merchants — especially those that operate more informally, such as through social media or as personal shoppers — needing to formally register and pay taxes, and subsequently increase the tax burden on major stores.


Meanwhile, the SAT says that the first month under the new income tax law saw a reduction of 31.6 Billion RMB in taxes paid, and that 60 million people no longer had to pay income taxes--补税通知来了17位艺人被约谈 偷逃税严重地区税务部门或被问责

China to prevent major tax evaders from leaving the country - Global Times:

China will shore up efforts to fight major tax violations starting January 2019 by limiting people who fail to pay accumulated taxes of 100,000 yuan ($14,526) from leaving the country.

The State Administration of Taxation reduced the amount for major dishonest tax violation cases from defaulting on 1 million yuan to 100,000 yuan, according to a circular issued on its official website.

Question: Will this apply to foreign workers?

6. Corporate corruption

The downfall of the Alibaba exec is big deal. 

Head of Alibaba’s Youku Sacked, Under Investigation for Corruption – Variety:

Yang Weidong, president of Alibaba’s video-streaming platform, Youku, has been fired and is under police investigation for corruption, the company confirmed Tuesday. Alibaba Pictures chairman and CEO Fan Luyuan will take over running China’s equivalent of YouTube, while also continuing in his current capacity.

Yang, who also served as head of Alibaba Digital Media and Entertainment Group, is one of the leading figures in China’s fast-growing streaming video business. There was no formal announcement of his ouster, but a spokesperson for Alibaba Digital Media and Entertainment referred to Yang as “ex-president” and told Variety that the exec “is understood to be assisting mainland authorities with an investigation into an alleged case of seeking economic benefits.”

Apple Investigated Possible Business Misconduct in Its Supply Chain - WSJ $$:

The company in May inquired with at least one supplier about possible kickbacks to Apple employees, according to people familiar with the probe.

In response to The Wall Street Journal’s questions, an Apple spokesman acknowledged the investigation and said the company found no evidence of bribery or kickbacks

Lifestyle app Meituan's crime-busting unit sends around 90 to police · TechNode:

Meituan Dianping, a Chinese mega lifestyle app, has sent 89 people to the police as part of an internal anti-corruption campaign.

Since February, the company’s investigation division, dubbed “Major Crime Unit Six,” a name borrowed from a famous Chinese police and crime TV series, has closely examined the company’s operations.

The alleged suspects include staff members and others who were involved in nearly a dozen crimes against internal business operations. According to an official release, the company also sent 59 individuals from partner companies, who were involved in 18 corruption crimes, to the police.

7. "Post-truth" Propaganda

Propaganda in the Era of “Post-Truth” | China Media Project:

When it comes to information and public opinion, the Chinese Communist Party has never had much need for that fanciful thing we call the truth. Truth is only ever a matter of the Party’s interest, something formed and unformed like a dirty ball of clay by however many hands can manage to shape it on the potter’s wheel of power. This basic fact about the political contingency of truth is the foundation of propaganda and media policy in the People’s Republic of China.

Which is why it is interesting to find articles emerging from Chinese officialdom, like this one published recently in China Press Publication Radio Film and Television Journal (中国新闻出版广电报), tossing in the term “post-truth,” or houzhenxiang (后真相), as though China shares in some general global truth malaise, driven by the rise of social media and mobile information. “In the era of ‘post-truth,'” says the article, “facts and data capable of reflecting the essence and changing nature of things are in extremely short supply, and mainstream [Party-state] media must place even greater emphasis on facts and data.”..

What is clear from the piece in China Press Publication Radio Film and Television Journal is that Party pundits have seized on the notion of “post-truth” as yet another hook on which they can hang their accusations against voices emerging on the periphery, through social media and WeChat public accounts — the so-called “self-media,” or zimeiti (自媒体).

8. Teeth for IPR protection?

China vows serious punishment for IPR breaches - Global Times

The National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), the country's top economic planner, along with 37 other government agencies, on Tuesday issued a joint memorandum on penalties for serious breaches of intellectual property rights (IPR).

The release of the memorandum, one of the most detailed documents on IPR protection issued by China, signals a further step by China to strengthen IPR protection and shows China's sincerity in addressing US' concern over the issue.

The penalties include restricting capital support from the government, tightening examination of government fund applications or reducing the scale of support, as well as limiting subsidies and social security funds to companies that have breached IPR, according to a statement on the NDRC website.

Serious breaches include repeated infringement of patents or applying for patents in an "improper" way. Other outlawed practices include providing false documents and patent attorneys registering certificates in patent agencies in exchange for dividends without actually doing the work.

The memorandum also assigned specific tasks to different government agencies. For example, the People's Bank of China, the central bank, has been told to include bad IPR-related records of entities to its financial database and online credit system. The memorandum also set a short deadline for the implementation of the joint crackdown efforts.

Comment: Sounds like for the responsible legal persons and managers of corporate entities, not individuals, could be big if fully implemented. Will the penalties also apply to platforms like those run by Alibaba and JD that have continuing issues with sales of counterfeit goods? Could be useful as part of the US-China trade discussions but this is not a direct reaction to pressure from the US.

38部委联合发布备忘录 对知识产权严重失信主体开展联合惩戒 



Business, Economy, Finance And Trade

China Developers Use Naked Models to Sell Homes - Mingtiandi The models, wearing wispy bottom wraps and glitzy cat masks, displayed the ads on the square footage of their bronzed backs. Included in the 2-D dioramas were the layout of the apartments with the design particulars of the space: the two spacious bedrooms, the fully functional kitchen, the modern bathroom with rain shower and, presumably, flush toilet. In other words, everything a buyer needs in a new home, just without so many clothes.

China Embraces Financial Opening Away From Xi-Trump Glare - Bloomberg China announced a number of steps over the weekend that take the country closer to the promised opening of its financial markets, away from the glare of the high-stakes meeting where Presidents Xi Jinping and Donald Trump called a truce in their trade war

Chinese Dumped $1 Billion of U.S. Real Estate in Third Quarter, Extending Recent Retreat - WSJ $$ Insurers, conglomerates and other big investors from China sold $1.05 billion worth of U.S. real estate in the third quarter, while purchasing $231 million of property, according to data firm Real Capital Analytics. That was the second straight quarter in which Chinese were net sellers of U.S. commercial real estate. The second quarter marked the first time these investors sold more U.S. property than they bought during a quarter since 2008.

Beijing moves to cement influence over world’s financial markets | Financial Times $$ Foreign asset managers, sovereign wealth funds and central banks have increased their total holdings of Chinese domestic stocks and bonds — denominated in renminbi — to $462.2bn at the end of September, up by $122.5bn from a year ago, according to official statistics...There are several reasons for the shift. One is that by opening investments in renminbi to foreigners, China intends to promote the international usage of the currency so that it can reduce its reliance on the US dollar.

Premier urges support for real economy - China Daily Li made the statements when presiding over a meeting last week on local and national economic developments in Nanjing, capital of Jiangsu province. Top government officials from seven provinces and autonomous regions reported on their local economic situations and proposed suggestions for national policymaking. The premier said China has taken targeted and timely measures to tackle challenges arising from increasing uncertainties in domestic and international contexts to ensure stable economic development and accomplish targets set for this year.李克强在部分省(区)政府主要负责人经济形势座谈会上强调 坚定信心 真抓实干 破难前行 增强中国经济发展动力和后劲 

China central bank chief says will keep monetary policy flexible | Reuters When an economy begins overheating, Yi said tools must be used to allow a “slow release of air” and a “soft landing”, while during times of recession or external shocks financial markets must be stabilized and public confidence shored up. Yi made the comments in an article in the China Finance magazine, which is published by the People’s Bank of China (PBOC), to commemorate the 40th anniversary of its landmark economic reforms and opening up under former Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping.易纲:货币政策必须依经济形势灵活适度调整 加强逆周期调控

Politics, Law And Ideology

电视纪录片《我们一起走过——致敬改革开放40周年》播出--时政--人民网 The Central Propaganda Department and CCTV have produced an 18 episode documentary celebrating reform and opening. // 新华社北京12月2日电  (记者白瀛)由中共中央宣传部、中央广播电视总台联合制作的18集电视纪录片《我们一起走过——致敬改革开放40周年》2日起将在央视综合频道每天播出两集。该片以改革开放40年取得的历史性成就和发生的历史性变革为基础,选取我国经济社会各个领域的发展变迁故事,呈现40年来中国改革开放的宏伟实践。// It is on Youtube, Deng Xiaoping features prominently in the first one:

Nearly 1 mln people sit China's civil servant exam - Xinhua A total of 920,000 people took the National Public Servant Exam on Sunday to compete for 14,500 positions, the State Administration of Civil Service said. The exam is considered one of the most competitive tests in China, as only one out of every 63 candidates is expected to get a government job this year. The annual recruitment sees fewer vacancies this year than in 2017, in which more than 28,000 vacancies were on offer.

Minitrue: Delete Article on Li Keqiang’s AIDS Prevention Comments – China Digital Times (CDT) Ahead of the 30th World AIDS Day on December 1, a short article posted (and since deleted) on many Chinese government web portals on November 30 outlined Premier Li Keqiang’s recent statements on strengthening the prevention and treatment of AIDS. Li served as a top government and Party official in Henan from 1998-2004, when the region was battling a significant AIDS epidemic spurred by a poorly managed government blood-buying campaign. Li’s previous comments on AIDS prevention and treatment have been met with scorn from AIDS activists who see Li as directly responsible for the oppression of activists, as well as the prevention of international relief efforts amid the crisis in Henan.

Xi calls for safeguarding Constitution, socialist rule of law - Xinhua President Xi Jinping has stressed promoting the spirit of the Constitution and upholding the Constitution's authority in an instruction on the country's fifth Constitution Day, which falls on Tuesday...The General Office of the National People's Congress (NPC) Standing Committee jointly held a symposium in Beijing Tuesday with the Publicity Department of the CPC Central Committee and Ministry of Justice on how to thoroughly study and implement the Constitution and unswervingly advance reform and opening-up.

Public Security Ministry Aligns With Chinese Data Protection Regime in Draft Rules The November 30 release of the “Internet Personal Information Security Protection Guideline (Comment-seeking Draft)” (translated in full below and hereafter called “the Guidelines”) was the latest development in the Chinese government’s build-out of an increasingly comprehensive data governance system. The new draft guidelines represent the prominent Ministry of Public Security (MPS)’s first major foray into a major area of data governance: personal information protection.

Foreign and Military Affairs

[视频]【最美退役军人】吴惠芳:逐梦新农村建设_CCTV: As part of the efforts to diffuse the issues around PLA veterans CCTV has launched a new segment called "The most beautiful (maybe "the best" better?) veteran:...the first segment profiles Wu Huifang, a combat veteran who is now the village secretary of Yonglian, which has prospered under his leadership according to the report

Beijing may be ‘testing Tokyo’s resolve’ with drilling missions in contested parts of East China Sea | South China Morning Post The two countries’ Exclusive Economic Zones overlap in East China Sea, leading to dispute over precisely where border between nations should be drawn An agreement between the two nations to work together to extract natural resources on hold since tensions intensified over the sovereignty of disputed islands

Security experts question political influence of Toronto developer with ties to Beijing - The Globe and Mail A wealthy Toronto developer with close ties to Beijing’s ruling Communist Party has become a donor to federal, provincial and municipal politicians – raising concerns among security experts about the influence he may be wielding in Canadian politics. Ted Jiancheng Zhou, who has condominium projects in China and Canada, has risen to prominence within the Chinese-Canadian community in the Greater Toronto area only five years after his family’s arrival in Canada in 2013. He boasts of connections to high-level Communist Party officials in Fujian province, where he was born.

DPRK's foreign minister to visit China - CGTN At the invitation of Chinese State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi, Ri Yong Ho will visit China from December 6 to 8, according to Geng Shuang, the spokesperson.

Lowy Institute hit by Chinese hackers - AFR The attacks on Lowy appear to mirror a Chinese campaign against think tanks in the United States, in which hackers not only sought to view correspondence but to access the information of those visiting its website.

Against the Great Powers: Reflections on Balancing Nuclear and Conventional Power - Texas National Security Review Elbridge Colby - The toughest and most important challenge for U.S. defense strategy is how to defend vulnerable allies against a Chinese or Russian fait accompli strategy, particularly one backed by nuclear threats. Here's how the United States should think about how to defeat such a strategy, and what it means for America's conventional and nuclear forces.

NZ ramps up diplomatic presence in Pacific where China influence rising | Reuters New Zealand will send 14 new diplomats to the Pacific region next year, Foreign Minister Winston Peters said on Tuesday, the latest move by Western governments to counter China’s growing influence in the strategic region. The additional staff will be based in Samoa, Tonga, Fiji, Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Kiribati, and the U.S. state of Hawaii, Peters said in a statement.

Fifty years on, China ramps up 'ping-pong diplomacy' in South Pacific | Reuters Although the number of Papua New Guinea (PNG) enthusiasts is small, table tennis’ prestige is on the rise. Its governing organization believes its players could soon start qualifying for the Olympics, a rarity in the South Pacific and a first for table tennis in PNG. PNG’s top players were also given the opportunity to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping on his trip to Port Moresby in November - a visit marked by open hostility between China and the United States over their competing ambitions for the region.

China Is Rising Faster | ChinaFile To commemorate the fifth anniversary of the China in the World podcast, Paul Haenle is interviewing five of the most respected Chinese international affairs scholars to discuss this important inflection point in U.S.-China relations. Haenle spoke with Wang Jisi, Professor at the School of International Studies and President of the Institute of International and Strategic Studies at Peking University.

Russia-India-China Trilateral Prime Minister Modi, President Vladimir V Putin of Russian Federation and President Xi Jinping of the People’s Republic of China, held a Trilateral Meeting in Buenos Aires today. The three leaders exchanged views on expanding mutual cooperation in international forums, and to encourage greater interaction among the three countries. They agreed on the importance of reform and strengthening of multilateral institutions which have benefitted the world, including the United Nations, WTO and well-established as well as new global financial institutions. They underscored the benefits of a multilateral trading system and an open world economy for global growth and prosperity.

In ‘time of crisis’, China breaks with tradition with New York consul general Huang Ping – surprising even him | South China Morning Post Huang wasted no time getting started with his diplomatic work, telling the China Institute audience that “I was not sure I could do the job in a good way especially at this time, but I must admit that after the little time since I came into this building to spend time with you I’ve been overwhelmed by the good will and the great efforts and big contributions you have made to bring the People’s Republic of China and the United States of America together”.

China and the Global Challenge to Democracy: A Conversation with Larry Diamond – Power 3.0: Understanding Modern Authoritarian Influence In this inaugural episode of the Power 3.0 podcast, featured guest Larry Diamond discusses the Chinese Communist Party’s range of influence and interference activities that target the public, civic, and social institutions of democracies, including subnational governments, universities, think tanks, media, corporations, and ethnic Chinese communities.


US commerce official visits Taiwan to bolster relations - Taipei Times US Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Manufacturing Ian Steff yesterday arrived in Taiwan on a two-day visit to promote bilateral trade and investment, the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) announced.

Beijing ‘steps up naval patrols’ in Taiwan Strait in pushback at US warships | South China Morning Post Taiwan’s defence ministry confirmed on Monday that naval vessels from the mainland have stepped up patrols in the western part of the Taiwan Strait this year in what analysts say is a reaction to the increased number of US warships sent into the waters to test Beijing.

Tech And Media

China's Factory of Ideas - Chinese internet culture exported - YouTube Quartz reporter Isabelle Niu examines China’s multi-billion-dollar live streaming industry to understand how China is transitioning from being the world’s factory of things to a factory of ideas. Will the live streaming celebrity with revenue streams from virtual gifts business model be the next Chinese import? Will LiveMe take off in Silicon Valley?

30 million users for 200 yuan: Chinese dating app data 'for sale' online - CGTN In a post on Sina Weibo published Monday, user @lxghost1989 says “Momo's database is so cheap,” while attaching pictures that appear to show mobile phone numbers and password information.

Google Removed Two Cheetah Mobile And Kika Tech Apps For “Deceptive And Malicious Behavior” Google said an internal investigation found that CM File Manager and the Kika Keyboard contain code used to execute ad fraud techniques known as click injection and/or click flooding. The activity was first documented in seven Cheetah apps and one from Kika Tech by Kochava, an app analytics and attribution company that shared its research with BuzzFeed News.

Earn after reading: China news app lures with clickbait and cash | Reuters With its unusual pay-your-user strategy, Tencent-backed Qutoutiao Inc - pronounced “chew-tow-ti-ow” - has drawn in 20 million daily readers. A leaderboard shows the top-earning user has raked in more than $50,000. Digital gold coins are earned by playing games that involve reading stories or by convincing others to join up. The current exchange rate is 1,600 coins for 1 yuan, with strong players receiving the title of ‘master’.

TikTok, a Chinese Video App, Brings Fun Back to Social Media - The New York Times TikTok — a Chinese-made app that was known as Musical.ly until ByteDance, the Chinese internet conglomerate, acquired the company in 2017 and merged it with a video app it owned — has a simple premise. Users create short videos set to music, often lip-syncing along, dancing or acting out short skits. The app contains templates and visual effects to spice up the videos. There is also a live-streaming feature that allows users to send virtual “gifts” to their favorite creators, which can be bought with real money. The rest works like any other social app — followers, hashtags, likes and comments.

Society, Art, Sports, Culture And History

Stop Having ‘Money-Worshipping,’ ‘Vulgar’ Weddings, China Says - Caixin Stop holding “vulgar,” “extravagant” weddings, China’s Ministry of Civil Affairs has told the country’s citizens. The ministry is determined to clamp down on the over-the-top ceremonies, sky-high betrothal gift prices and “raucous” events popular in parts of the country, state broadcaster CCTV reports. Instead, couples and families are encouraged to have “traditional” ceremonies “rich in meaning.”

Jackie Chan shares his darker side: five of the most shocking revelations from his memoir | South China Morning Post The martial arts and film star tells of drinking binges, prostitutes and an affair He admits to domestic violence such as throwing his child Jaycee across the room

Energy, Environment, Science And Health

Chinese police detain two after death of pollution inspector: China Daily | Reuters The inspector, Chen Ben, was part of an enforcement team organised by the environment and police bureaus in the city of Wenling. He was investigating a pollution case when he was run over by a vehicle driven by the two men on Saturday evening, the paper said.

Nationwide probe to start in wake of deadly blast - China Daily The Ministry of Emergency Management will launch a thorough examination of all chemical factories to root out safety hazards in the wake of an explosion in Zhangjiakou, Hebei province, on Wednesday that killed 23 people.

China’s Largest Lithium Producer Closes $4 Billion Chile Deal After clearing several regulatory hurdles, Tianqi Lithium Corp. has finally completed its purchase of a 23.77% share in Chilean miner Sociedad Quimica y Minera de Chile SA (SQM) in a $4 billion deal that further bolsters China’s presence in the global lithium supply chain.

Amid Tightened Pollution Controls, Smog Still Subject to Changing Winds Four bouts of heavy pollution in November have left residents of Beijing, Tianjin and surrounding Hebei province wondering what happened to the blue skies they had last winter.。。After entering the heating season, which lasts roughly from mid-November through March, it is estimated that sulfur dioxide emissions in Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei increased by nearly half, and PM2.5 increased about 30%.

Agriculture And Rural Issues

China reports new African swine fever cases - Xinhia On a farm in Beijing with 9,835 pigs, 85 pigs were confirmed infected with the viral disease and 17 confirmed dead, the ministry said, citing a China Animal Disease Control Center report.


China nationalism unleashes boom in Confucian schooling | Financial Times $$ Although the Chinese Communist party has imposed stricter education controls that put such private guoxue schools in a legal grey area, their numbers have grown quickly. Their popularity — there are an estimated 1,800 Confucian schools such as Wan Hui across China, according to state media — reflects parents’ desire to give children an education steeped in traditional Chinese values as the country’s leaders push out an increasingly nationalistic message.// Comment: I first realized these were a thing when one of our twins' nursery school classmates left their school to attend one of these, back in 2011. Their classmate was interesting, her mom once arranged a classical Chinese musical instrument class with a professor at the Central Conservatory of Music. We were impressed with her guanxi but had no idea who she was beyond working at CCTV and married to a real estate developer. Only later, once Xi came to power, did we learn, after she was detained for a time, that she apparently was once Zhou Yongkang's mistress...the waters run very deep in Beijing, you never know who you are really dealing with...


Beijing launches new administrative center in expansive suburb - Global Times Beijing's subsidiary administrative center in the city's Tongzhou district has been put into formal service as multiple Beijing's municipal government agencies started moving in their entirety into the new area. The first phase of the office area is complete and agencies are settling in, according to the People's Daily.  Some of the municipal departments have started moving in from the central city, and more will follow.