Trade deal progress; Politburo reports to Xi; Demographics; Confucius Institutes

The official spin cycle is revving up to sell any trade agreement with China as a huge win, even though I am still hearing the mooted deal is far from what the US originally wanted. One of the PR talking points from the Trump Administration seems to be that this is a "process" and the US can't expect to get everything in just one deal.

The Chinese side is messaging that their concessions are huge and they may be difficult for Xi to accept, or to implement in the near term. So while clearly there is momentum towards a deal the details are not done, and probably will not be until Trump and Xi meet in late March.

Kim Jong-un will return home to North Korea through China this weekend. There is speculation that he may stop in Beijing this time to meet with Xi but so far nothing is confirmed. The Chinese side wanted more progress from this second summit and would very much like to officially loosen sanctions on the DPRK.

Perhaps Beijing will see Trump’s decision to walk away from the Kim summit without a deal as a sign that he is willing to walk from the trade deal under discussion, but given the upcoming election cycle US domestic politics are increasingly unfavorable for President Trump to continue the trade war and so I am not sure how much of a signaling effect it will really have.

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The Essential Eight

1. US-China trade

Kudlow's ebullience was remarkable - Larry Kudlow says US-China trade deal talks made 'fantastic' progress last week - CNBC:

"Last week was fantastic," Kudlow told CNBC's "Squawk on the Street." "We're making great headway on nontariff barriers and tariffs regarding various commodities such as soybeans and energy and beef. We have mechanisms with regard to enforcement, which is — I think — unparalleled."

"The progress has been terrific," Kudlow added. But "we have to hear from the Chinese side. We have to hear from President Xi Jinping, of course. I think we're headed for a remarkable, historic deal."

China deal remains close - POLITICO:

MM is told by a senior administration official that there isn’t much tension between Lighthizer and Trump, who speak nearly every day. This person described the China deal as largely complete, currently running to around 140 pages and including significant enforcement mechanisms. If the Chinese are found to be in violation of the deal, the U.S. would be able to re-impose tariffs. The Chinese would not be allowed to retaliate.

Waiting on Xi — The enforcement structures would be a big leap for the Chinese. And it’s still unclear whether Chinese President Xi Jinping will ultimately agree to them. So a deal could still fail. But the senior administration official told MM that if Xi accedes to what his negotiators have put on paper then there will likely be a signing event at Mar-a-Lago at the end of March.

Lighthizer’s reality check on China talks - POLITICO:

Lighthizer really wants this to be bipartisan. Throughout the hearing, he repeatedly praised House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for her opposition to the U.S. trade bill that accompanied China’s entry into the World Trade Organization, arguing the United States would be in a better position if her view had prevailed.

“These things have to be bipartisan. They cannot be partisan,” Lighthizer said. “This is just different than a lot of other stuff we deal with.”

— A currency deal isn’t a done deal yet, despite Trump’s comments last week signaling otherwise. "There's no agreement on anything until there's an agreement on everything. But the reality is we have spent a lot of time on currency and it'll be enforceable," Lighthizer said

USTR to suspend China tariff hike 'until further notice' | Reuters:

In accordance with the president’s direction, the Office of the United States Trade Representative will publish a notice in the Federal Register this week to suspend the scheduled tariff increase until further notice

Trump trade official calls for strict policing of U.S.-China deal - The Washington Post:

Under the U.S. proposal, working-level officials would meet each month to consider complaints about Chinese practices from American businesses, including ones submitted anonymously to avoid stirring Beijing’s ire, Lighthizer said.

Those that can’t be resolved will pass to higher level officials meeting quarterly and, if necessary, to Lighthizer and his Chinese counterpart, Vice Premier Liu He, who would confab twice a year.

Mnuchin says US-China trade deal will have real structural commitments, but still more work to do:

"The deal is not done yet but we have made a lot of progress" Mnuchin told CNBC's Hadley Gamble in an interview that aired on "Squawk on the Street" Thursday. "We still have more work to do, and we hope to make progress this month."

Opening Statement of USTR Robert Lighthizer to the House Ways and Means Committee | United States Trade Representative:

I would just like to read something briefly. Faced with the PNTR [Permanent Normal Trade Relations] vote in April of 2000, the Speaker said:

It is incumbent upon all of us in the public and private sectors to work for free and open trade with China that is real. The U.S.-China bilateral WTO agreement, however, is seriously deficient in substance, implementation, and enforcement. This issue is too important for our economy to be based on a pattern of broken promises, not proven performance. China can become a member of the WTO without Congress having to surrender its right to U.S.-China trade review annually. There is no reason why we should permanently surrender that leverage at this time.

I ask: if her position had prevailed, how different would things be right now? There are many other examples of bipartisan leadership, including a lot of people on this committee and I’m going to get into it and answer the questions if it’s relevant.

U.S. Trade Representative Says China Deal Will Include Enforcement Mechanism - WSJ $$:

In his testimony, Mr. Lighthizer said any deal with China must have strong enforcement provisions to ensure Beijing honors the deal. Complaints of violations would be discussed in a series of consultations, he said—monthly by staffers, quarterly by vice ministers and twice-yearly by ministers of the two nations. That last would likely mean Mr. Lighthizer and Chinese Vice Premier Liu He, China’s special envoy on trade.

US trade demands could take China years to achieve, says Beijing’s ambassador to Washington | South China Morning Post:

Cui Tiankai, the Chinese ambassador to the US, also hit out at the US government’s criminal action against Chinese telecoms company Huawei, calling it “very stupid” and “absurd”.

Discussing recent trade negotiations, Cui told the South China Morning Post that while certain commitments such as purchases of US goods could be realised in a short time frame, other reforms that would have to go through China’s legislative process could take anywhere from “five to 10 years” to accomplish.

One sign of the mood in DC - CPAC’s new boogeyman: China - POLITICO:

Last year, the title of a panel at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference posed a simple question — “What is the Biggest Threat to the U.S.?” — and offered three options: China, Russia or rogue states like North Korea.

Now, the results are in. “China, the global menace,” warns the title of one panel at this year’s conference. “21st Century terminator: How China is using 5G and AI to take over the world,” warns another. A third China-focused panel borrows its title from a book by Winston Churchill about the runup to World War II. The words “Russia,” “Iran,” “North Korea” and “terrorism” do not appear on this year’s agenda.


2. Politburo members submit work reports to their boss

A reminder they all work for Xi, in case there were still doubts…

Senior CPC officials report work to CPC Central Committee, Xi - Xinhua:

Members of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee recently submitted reports on their work to the CPC Central Committee and General Secretary Xi Jinping in accordance with regulations, an official statement said Thursday.

After reading through their work reports, Xi urged them to fulfill their historical responsibilities given by the Party and the people, always preserve the political character and revolutionary spirit of Communists and devote themselves to public duty, said the statement.

Xi called on members to be enterprising, tackle tough issues head-on, maintain a strong sense of responsibility, uphold integrity and self-discipline, work diligently and set an example for the whole Party.

The members of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee wrote their reports on their work over the last year, which included summaries of their work experiences, problems they found and improvements they did, as well as the plans and advice for their future work.

中央政治局同志向党中央和习近平总书记述职 

China's ruling elite tell Xi they have 'strengthened education' of families | Reuters:

“Comrades of the Politburo strictly enforce the rules of honesty and self-discipline of party members and leading cadres ... and strengthen the education management of relatives and staff around them,” the report added.


3. Huawei

Merkel seeking no-spying deal with China over Huawei issue: magazine | Reuters:

Chancellor Angela Merkel wants to agree a deal with China not to spy on each other so that Germany does not have to exclude Huawei on principle from building a 5G network in Germany, a magazine on Tuesday cited security sources as saying.

“Merkel’s economic advisor Lars-Hendrik Roller was recently in China to negotiate about the agreement,” WirtschaftsWoche cited security sources as saying.

German cyber security chief backs 5G ‘no spy’ deal over Huawei | Financial Times $$:

The remarks by Arne Schönbohm, head of the BSI, the German federal cyber security agency, suggest that Germany could formally allow Huawei to participate in the 5G roll-out if Chinese authorities give extra assurances on data security.

That would mark a setback for attempts by the US to persuade its allies to ban Huawei on the grounds that the Chinese state could use the company to conduct espionage or cyber sabotage.

The PRC Embassy in DC sent me a copy of this letter - 'Come and see us,' Huawei says in open letter to US media - China Daily:

"The US is a shining example of how to inspire passion for technological innovation and development. We too have been inspired by your history of creativity and hard work," said the letter, bearing the name Catherine Chen, a Director of the Board at Huawei, who is in charge of public and government affairs.

"I am writing to you in the hopes that we can come to understand each other better. In recent years, the US government has developed some misunderstandings about us. We would like to draw your attention to the facts," the letter said.

How much do Chinese people love Huawei? Just ask these cute singing children. - The Washington Post:

A music video featuring a group of kids performing a song called “Huawei the Beautiful” went viral on Chinese social media Wednesday.

The video was made by Zhoudan Kids’ Singing Classroom, a production company based in Zhuhai in southern China, which posted the video on its WeChat social media account. It was then widely shared on Weibo, China’s answer to Twitter.

The production company explained that it made the video as “an act of public benefit” and said that all children involved, and their parents, were real-life fans of Huawei.

The video:

 RBC Said to Ask Bankers Avoid China Travel Amid Huawei Saga - Bloomberg:

The Toronto-based lender has asked its workers, especially those based in Canada, to skip business trips to China, one of the people said. The bank has requested that at least two Canada-based staff cancel or delay their travel to the country, according to the person, who asked not to be identified because the information is private.

The Canadian minister who could decide whether Huawei’s Meng Wanzhou goes free | South China Morning Post:

According to section 14 of Canada’s Extradition Act, Lametti has 30 days from when the US formally filed its extradition request to make a decision...

The Canadian Department of Justice confirmed on January 29 that officials had received a formal extradition request from the US. Assuming the request was filed on that date...

The decision is widely expected to be announced at the March 6 hearing.

Five Eyes countries should follow national interests rather than US opinions - Global Times:

The US has been trying to rope in the other four countries from the Five Eyes (FVEY) intelligence alliance, the UK, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, to encircle China's Huawei Technologies. However, the UK National Cyber Security Center has recently determined that "there are ways to limit the risks from using Huawei in future 5G."

New Zealand also confirmed that Huawei hasn't been ruled out of from playing a role in the development of the nation's 5G network. FVEY once followed Washington's opinion, but now the UK and New Zealand are taking different stands.


4. PBoC official reiterates no credit surge coming

Central Bank Official Downplays Chances of Credit Binge - Caixin:

“(We) will fully take into account new changes in the economic and financial situation to fine-tune (policies), but we will do this in a measured manner and firmly avoid flooding the economy (with credit),” Wang Jingwu, head of the Financial Stability Bureau of the People’s Bank of China (PBOC), said in an interview with the Financial News, a newspaper run by the monetary authority. The bureau is responsible for guarding against systemic risks in the financial system

“(We) will keep a close eye on and carry out a dynamic assessment of market liquidity and factors affecting it, and be vigilant against the formation of a ‘liquidity delusion’ and expectations of one-way (moves in the monetary policy) among market participants,” he said.

The Financial News article 访谈 | 王景武:坚决打好防范化解重大金融风险攻坚战 


5. US Senate panel investigates Confucius Institutes

Senate panel wants Chinese-funded institutes to change or leave U.S. | Reuters:

China has provided over $158 million to U.S. schools for Confucius Institutes to promote Chinese culture, U.S. Senate investigators said on Wednesday, releasing a report saying the centers have acted as tightly controlled propaganda arms for Beijing and should be changed - or shut down..

The Senate’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations spent eight months investigating the Confucius Institutes, which were created in 2004 to promote Chinese language and culture at schools and universities around the world.

Here is the report - Majority and Minority Staff Report - China's Impact on the U.S. Education System 

Video of the hearing today

Senate Panel Takes Aim at China-Funded Education Programs in U.S. - WSJ $$:

The eight-month Senate investigation drew from communication with more than 100 schools, including reviews of contracts for 15 U.S. schools, their Chinese partners and Hanban, as well as interviews with Confucius Institute officials.

It faults both schools and government agencies for not more carefully vetting Confucius Institutes and their instructors. “There is no other comparable arrangement with a foreign government in U.S. higher education,” the report says...

It also said that while Education Department rules require colleges and universities to report foreign gifts of $250,000 or more, nearly 70% of U.S. schools that hit that threshold from Hanban didn’t properly do so.

U.S. GAO - China: Agreements Establishing Confucius Institutes at U.S. Universities Are Similar, but Institute Operations Vary:

GAO reviewed 90 agreements and found they describe generally similar activities, funding, and management. For example, the institutes primarily receive funding from Hanban and the U.S. school, and do not receive direct U.S. federal funding. GAO also examined the agreements for language on application of school polices to the institutes, curriculum, and confidentiality, among other things. One-third of the agreements explicitly addressed how U.S. school policies apply to institutes, and a few addressed curriculum. Officials GAO interviewed at case study schools noted that U.S. school policies, including policies on matters such as curriculum, apply to institutes at their schools, though we found schools vary from one another in institute activities and use of resources, including teachers and teaching materials. While 42 of 90 agreements include language indicating that the document was confidential, some agreements were available online or are shared upon request. Some officials at schools that did not post agreements online said this was consistent with handling of other agreements.


6. Demographics

China has more people aged 60 and above than under 15 - Global Times:

The population aged 60 and above in China has for the first time surpassed those under 15, showing how the country's demographic structure is aging.

According to the statement released by National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) on Thursday, the population of China was about 1.4 billion at the end of 2018. Among them, the number of people aged 15 and under is 248.6 million; those who aged 60 and above are 249.5 million.

The NBS report - Statistical Communiqué of the People's Republic of China on the 2018 National Economic and Social Development 

China’s Employment Population Shrinks for First Time Ever - Caixin"

At the end of 2018, the number of people employed fell to 776 million, a drop of 540,000 from 2017, according to annual census data published Thursday by China’s National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).

The working-age population, or people between the ages of 16 and 59, also shrank — for the seventh consecutive year, down a total of 2.8% from 2011 to 2018, a clear sign that China’s population is aging rapidly.


7. China's massive Internet

China has 829 mln netizens, short-video users account for 78.2% - ECNS:

The number of Internet users in China hit 829 million at the end of December, according to a report from the China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC).

As of December, the number of short video users reached 648 million, 78.2 percent of China’s total Internet users.

The increase brought the country's Internet availability rate to 59.6 percent, with 26.7 percent of Internet users or 222 million living in rural areas, a year-on-year growth of 6.2 percent.

The cumulative mobile Internet traffic reached 71.1 billion GB, an increase of 189.1 percent. The average time people spent online reached 27.6 hours per week in last year...

Online shoppers numbered 610 million, up 14.4 percent, and about 592 million shopped with their mobile phones, an increase of 17.1 percent. Online payment users also rose by 13 percent year on year to reached 600 million.

According to the report, the number of Chinese Internet users using online financial services also increased by 17.5 percent to 151 million.

The report - 第43次《中国互联网络发展状况统计报告 


8. More on China's global governance ambitions

Mapping China’s Global Governance Ambitions - Center for American Progress:

The United States and other democratic nations need to understand Beijing’s vision for the global governance system and how that vision differs from the prevailing liberal democratic order, which recognizes limits to state authority, such as binding international law and unalienable individual rights. It is difficult to map China’s true intentions based on Xi Jinping’s international speeches, which make fuzzy promises that can be spun many different ways, such as his frequent claim that China aims to make the global governance system more democratic in order to “build a community of shared future for mankind.”2 Yet when viewed through President Xi’s domestic messaging and the actions Beijing has taken thus far to implement its global agenda, a clearer picture emerges. The current global governance system is rules-based, and it privileges liberal democratic values and standards; Beijing’s alternative vision is a system based on authoritarian governance principles in which nations negotiate issues bilaterally instead of following common rules and standards. From a liberal democratic perspective, if Beijing succeeds in bringing about that vision, the world will be less free, less prosperous, and less safe.

This report aims to provide a deeper and more nuanced perspective on China’s real global governance intentions by mapping what President Xi and other Chinese leaders are saying to their domestic audience and how Chinese foreign policy scholars interpret those statements. In the Chinese political system, internal leadership statements are particularly revealing because they convey Beijing’s intentions to officials throughout the Chinese Communist Party and government hierarchy. This report will analyze that internal messaging alongside the empirical pattern of actions Beijing has taken thus far in order to assess the risks and opportunities that China’s new activism presents for the current liberal order.

As I wrote yesterday about the 5th in a People's Daily series on "grasping the new implications of developing our nation's important strategic opportunities参与全球经济治理体系变革--观点--人民网"

I choose to translate 变革 as change or transformation, not reform. The CCP calls reform and opening as 改革开放 not 变革开放 so there seems to be a very important distinction between 改革 and 变革. There is still a debate about China's goals in shaping global governance systems, whether it wants to reform them to Beijing's advantage or transform them to Beijing's advantage. I think there is a difference, and from everything I have heard and read I believe transformation, not simply reform, is the goal. 

A lot of this we have heard and read before, but it is worth revisiting given its placement and the current state of the world, and the hubbub in certain pundit circles that Xi is somehow chastened and pulling back on initiatives like BRI...

I am sure some of you disagree, so please argue with me in the comments

View comments


Business, Economy, Finance And Trade

China February factory activity shrinks to three-year low, export orders worst in a decade | Reuters The official Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) fell to 49.2 in February from 49.5 in January, pointing to a contraction in activity for the third straight month, according to data released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) on Thursday. The 50-mark separates growth from contraction on a monthly basis. Analysts surveyed by Reuters had forecast the manufacturing gauge would stay unchanged from January’s 49.5. China’s factory activity has been generally softening since last May. // Comment: Bad data, but caution over-reading given the New Year Holiday

Prepare to Hold More Chinese Stocks as MSCI Decision Arrives - Bloomberg MSCI will say if it decided to lift a cap on free-float-adjusted market value to 20 percent from 5 percent for yuan-denominated stocks. The implementation would occur in two stages this year and mean that A shares made up 2.8 percent of the MSCI Emerging Markets Index by August, according to a consultation paper. MSCI will also decide whether to make equities listed on the tech-heavy ChiNext board eligible from May, and mid-cap stocks from 2020.

Chinese Stocks Are Suddenly the World's Best Trade in February - Bloomberg In the 15 days they’ve been open in February, China’s financial markets have delivered spectacular returns for equity investors. The tech-heavy ChiNext stands out with a 25 percent surge, its best month on record, with all 100 members rising. The Shanghai Composite has added 14 percent, better than any other major equity index worldwide and its widest outperformance relative to global stocks since April 2015.

Chinese consumers: your country needs you | Financial Times $$ ...closer analysis suggests fears about falling consumption are exaggerated. The reasons behind the drop in car sales are often sector-specific factors, such as tax cuts being reversed. Likewise, retail sales offer an imperfect picture of household spending. The figures include corporate and government purchases, while as Chinese households become more affluent, more of their spending goes on services than goods. Mr Zhang, for instance, says 15 per cent of the family’s household income is spent on tourism. Their daughter’s education is another big expense

Chinese investors withdrawing from overseas property market - ECNS Chinese investors have been increasingly withdrawing from overseas real estate markets in recent years following tightened loan policies, said a report by global real-estate services company Cushman & Wakefield.

New tech board gets ready for launch - China Daily Dong Dengxin, director of the Finance and Securities Institute at the Wuhan University of Science and Technology, expects that both the detailed rules and the list of the first companies involved are likely to come out in March.

Starbucks' China rival Luckin Coffee taps three banks for U.S. IPO: sources | Reuters .

Yicai Global - Short Seller Citron Research Loses Suit, Is Banned From Hong Kong for Five Years


Politics, Law And Ideology

Xi's article on reform of national supervision system to be published - Xinhua In the fifth issue of the Qiushi Journal, to be published Friday 在新的起点上深化国家监察体制改革 and some highlights 习近平谈公权力监督 这些重点所有公职人员要牢记--专题报道-人民网

Xi highlights building of Marxist learning party, nurturing of love of learning - Xinhua President Xi Jinping has called for expediting the building of the Communist Party of China (CPC) into a Marxist learning party and the nurturing of a love of learning in the people. Xi, also general secretary of the CPC Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission, made the remarks in a preface he wrote for a series of textbooks designed as learning and training materials for officials across the country, an official statement said Thursday. // 习近平:第五批全国干部学习培训教材序言

NPC Calendar: March 2019 – NPC Observer On March 4, the Session will convene for a preparatory meeting to select members of the Presidium (which will preside over the Session) and to finalize the Session’s agenda. The Presidium will then immediately meet to decide on (among other matters) the Session’s daily schedule. Shortly thereafter the Session is expected to hold its first press conference. We expect the NPC’s 2019 annual session to close around March 15. On that last day, we expect it to approve the Foreign Investment Law.

China Focus: Key economic terms for upcoming "two sessions" - Xinhua Following is a list of key economic terms that will outline China's plan in maintaining stable 2019 growth: GDP growth; Fiscal deficit; Tax reduction; Monetary stance; Job creation; Poverty alleviation; Trade growth; Property market; Science and technology innovation board; Foreign investment

China’s new veterans’ law to be reviewed at National People’s Congress next week | South China Morning Post Li Xiao, a 64-year-old veteran campaign leader, said he had been told that the draft, which comprises 83 articles in 11 charters, had been submitted to the National People’s Congress (NPC), which begins its annual session on Tuesday. “This is the law the veterans have been waiting for for decades, with many retired senior military officers pushing for it since the 1970s. Now, we finally see a ray of hope,” said the former artillery soldier who was involved in China’s nuclear tests from 1978 to 1981.

王永康任黑龙江省委常委、省政府党组成员(图/简历)--组织人事-人民网 Xian Party Secretary Wang Yongkang moves to Heilongjiang to become a member of the provincial Party committee

Former Party official Li Rui passes away - Xinhua Li Rui, a former member of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Advisory Commission and former deputy chief of the Organization Department of the CPC Central Committee, died of illness in Beijing on Feb. 16 at the age of 102, said an official statement Thursday. // Xinhua- 原中顾委委员、中组部原副部长李锐在京逝世 享年102岁 

Chinese law books written by judge behind stolen court papers scandal recalled by publisher | South China Morning Post Law books written by a Chinese judge were removed from shelves after he made a surprise televised confession about his part in a scandal at the country’s highest court that he helped bring to light. More than 10 books written by Wang Linqing, a former assistant judge to the Supreme People’s Court, were recalled by his publisher on Friday, employees at the company and bookstores said.

十三届全国人大一次会议专题--人民网 People's Daily site for the Two Meetings

Former executive of China Development bank drummed out of Party for severe discipline violations - Global Times Guo Lin, a former member of the China Development Bank's administrative committee, was found to have severely violated anti-corruption discipline during his stint as head of the bank's Tianjin branch, the CPC Central Commission for Discipline Inspection and the National Supervisory Commission said in a statement posted on its website.

Overseas returnee selling homegrown marijuana detained - Global Times After returning to China, Su, while smuggling marijuana from the US, started to learn how to grow marijuana from an English-language website, got marijuana seeds illegally and began growing the plant.  According to Su's neighbors, Su always went in and out the apartment with peers and the apartment often smelled weird.  Actually, Su lied to his parents twice to get more than 20,000 yuan ($2989) to buy marijuana seeds and growth equipment to harvest marijuana. Relying on Su's care around the clock, the survival rate of the marijuana was nearly 70 percent.

中共中央印发《中国共产党重大事项请示报告条例》--时政--人民网 Central committee issues "Regulations of the Communist Party of China on Asking for Instructions and Reporting Major Matters"

“学习强国”上海学习平台在PC端、手机客户端正式上线_浦江头条_澎湃新闻-The Paper

Inside the Investigation That Led to Prostitution Charges Against Robert Kraft - WSJ $$ Other clues about the wrongdoing included the women working at the spas only speaking dialects of Chinese. Masseuses are licensed in Florida after an exam that is only administered English and Spanish. Many of the licenses, authorities determined, were fraudulent. Subpoenas gave police access to bank accounts and other financial records of the spa operators. Mr. Snyder says the records showed upward of $20 million was flowing back and forth to parties in China.


Foreign and Military Affairs

China says difficulties in U.S-North Korea talks unavoidable | Reuters Difficulties in U.S.-North Korea talks are unavoidable, but China hopes both sides can continue their dialogue, the Chinese government’s top diplomat told a visiting senior North Korean diplomat on Thursday, state media said.

Trump: China's been a 'big help' in US-North Korea engagement [Video] but notes that the hermit kingdom calls "its own shots."

Next stops: Europe and United States. Chinese President Xi Jinping to head to Italy, France and Florida on trade and tech missions | South China Morning Post After the annual National People’s Congress gathering in Beijing, Xi is expected visit Italy in late March and then France, with another planned stop at US President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida.

Donald Trump, human rights activist? Meet the Chinese dissidents sticking up for the US president | South China Morning Post 

Jaw-Jaw: China's Great Power Disease - War on the Rocks Podcast - Edward Luttwak and Brad Carson

China to hold naval parade on April 23 in Qingdao - CGTN to celebrate the 70th anniversary of the founding of Chinese People's Liberation Army Navy.


Taiwan

App launched to promote preferential policies across Taiwan Strait - Xinhua Users can check on the implementation of 31 preferential policies for Taiwan in the mainland's 25 provincial-level regions on the app. The app also has a Q & A section. The app, released by the Cross-Straits Internet Exchange Committee of the Internet Society of China, will soon be available in app stores.


Tech And Media

'Bohemian Rhapsody' Gets China Release | Hollywood Reporter Sources also tell THR that at least one minute of cuts will be made to the film, removing portrayals of drug use and several intimate kisses between Malek's Mercury and other male characters.

KKR, China's Tencent eyeing bids for Universal Music - sources | Reuters Universal will generate roughly 1.5 billion euros of free cash flow excluding interest payments in 2023, Deutsche Bank forecast. Tencent Music Entertainment Group, a subsidiary of China’s biggest gaming and social media firm Tencent Holdings Ltd, has an existing licensing agreement with Universal and wants to strengthen its collaboration with a partial acquisition, the sources said, cautioning that no deal was certain.

Login - TikTok predecessor gets record FTC fine TikTok, a short-form video app owned by Chinese tech giant Bytedance, has agreed to a $5.7 million settlement with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission for illegally collecting personal data from children, Axios' Sara Fischer reports...It's the largest settlement from a violation of the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) in the law's 20+ year history.

Chinese ‘Deepfake’ Creator Says Videos Meant to Educate Public - Sixth Tone “My initial intention was to help more people hear about this technology and protect celebrities from videos of forged, negative content,” the videos’ creator, who says his surname is Xiao wrote Wednesday on video-sharing platform Bilibili. “The [videos’] virality this time should be a warning to us all.” In two videos that have gone viral since they were released on Bilibili in mid-February, Xiao digitally grafted mainland actress Yang Mi’s face onto Hong Kong star Athena Chu’s body.


Society, Art, Sports, Culture And History

‘Farewell, so long’: video of Taiwanese TV host’s assisted suicide fires up euthanasia debate | South China Morning Post A video of Taiwanese TV host Fu Da-ren’s death by assisted suicide at a clinic in Switzerland has gone viral, raising the profile of the debate on euthanasia in China and questions about dignity at life’s end...In the video, which became public on Taiwanese media this week, Fu, surrounded by his family, is seen holding a cup of medicine. A volunteer with Dignitas, an organisation that enables assisted suicides, tells him to take the drug as quickly as he can because it has a bitter taste.


Energy, Environment, Science And Health

Coal Consumption Increases Despite Drop in Share of Energy Mix - Caixin China’s overall coal consumption and carbon dioxide emissions climbed last year, even as renewable energy generation made gains and coal’s share of the nation’s energy mix fell below 60% for the first time. Coal’s share of the overall energy mix fell to 59%, but China consumed 1% more coal year-on-year, according to data releasedby the National Bureau of Statistics today. Solar and wind made big advances, with total installed capacity increasing by 33.9% and 12.4% respectively. // 2018年国民经济和社会发展统计公报 

Ministry announces new measures to clean up Qomolangma - ECNS The measures included strengthening daily inspection of the Qomolangma nature reserve, regulating the environment at tourist attractions in areas below the elevation of 5,200 meters and also a task force to regularly clean up trash left by visitors. Other measures include offering new garbage bins, building environmentally friendly toilets and providing portable toilets for each mountaineering team, said Liu.

Tomb-raiding themed drama drives pangolin purchase - Global Times According to a recent documentary, Searching for the Last Pangolin, published on World Pangolin Day on February 16, pangolin products were found to be the new favorites for tomb-raiding themed drama followers. Pangolin claws are crafted into an ornament called "mojinfu." Some believe wearing mojinfu can exorcise evil spirits as depicted in the fantasy novel Guichuideng, also known as Ghost Blows Out the Light, depicts.


Education

International Math Competition Defeat Prompts Soul Searching in China - Caixin China placed a mediocre sixth at the 2019 Romanian Master of Mathematics (RMM), a major math competition for pre-university students. The U.S. won the championship for best team, while the highest individual prize went to an Israeli candidate. Math competitions like the RMM are serious business in China, where participation can give students a leg up in university admissions. China’s defeat on Monday prompted social media users to ask if recent Ministry of Education curbs on math competitions were misguided.