Trade talks extension speculation; Central Economic Work Conference underway?; Michael Kovrig

Bloomberg is reporting that the annual Central Economic Work Conference is underway. It certainly looks that way from the propaganda, with several articles yesterday and today pounding out the message that the economy is resilient and growing steadily.

Multiple media outlets are running stories that it is likely the US and China will extend trade talks past the upcoming December 15 tariff deadline. In this instance I would listen to Jared Kushner, who said Monday when asked what President Trump would do:

“I don’t know what his decision will be”.

Today is the one year anniversary of the arrest of Canadian Michael Kovrig, clearly in retaliation for the detention of the Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou. A few days later a second Canadian, Michael Spavor, was also detained. It sounds like their cases may soon be headed to trial.

Thanks for reading.


The Essential Eight

1. US-China

U.S. and Chinese Trade Negotiators Planning for Delay of December Tariffs - WSJ $$

In recent days, officials in both Beijing and Washington have signaled that Sunday is not the final date for reaching a so-called phase-one deal—even though that is the date President Trump has set for tariffs to increase on $165 billion of Chinese goods. That date could be extended, as has happened several times when the two sides thought they were on the verge of a deal. Those prior deals, though, never held and tariffs continued to mount.

Chinese and U.S. officials involved in the talks say they don’t have a hard deadline. On Friday, White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said on two television appearances that there were “no arbitrary deadlines.” Such remarks from Mr. Kudlow—especially when they are restated several times—often reflect the president’s views and have been echoed privately by other U.S. officials.

U.S.-China trade talks going in ‘good direction,’ Kushner says - MarketWatch

Trade talks between the U.S. and China are “heading in a good direction,” White House adviser Jared Kushner said Monday, even as he declined to answer if President Donald Trump would follow through with more tariffs on Dec. 15.

“I don’t know what his decision will be,” said Kushner about Trump

Trade war: China deal unlikely this week with US distracted by USMCA, but new tariffs not expected | South China Morning Post

…sources close to the talks do not expect the tariffs planned for December 15 to come into force, adding to a growing chorus on both sides who expect de-escalation this week...

A US source briefed on the talks, meanwhile, said there was still work to be done before a so-called phase one deal could be reached. But the source, who requested anonymity, said there was “strong reluctance” from the US side to impose tariffs, though ultimately the final decision was with the president.

Sonny Perdue Sees New Dec. 15 Tariffs on Chinese Goods Unlikely - Bloomberg

“We have a deadline coming up on the Dec. 15 for another tranche of tariffs, I do not believe those will be implemented and I think we may see some backing away,” Purdue said at a conference in Indianapolis, Indiana Monday.

China’s rare nod for Korean war film seen as boost to nationalism | South China Morning Post

One of the bloodiest battles of the Korean war is the subject of a film which will soon start production in China, in a move which is being linked to surging Chinese nationalism amid poor relations between Beijing and Washington.

The film, based on the Battle of Triangle Hill – also known as the Shang Gan Ling campaign in China – was given the green light by state regulator the China Film Administration in July, but was not reported by Chinese official media until last week.

Rubio to challenge GOP orthodoxy with call for ‘pro-American industrial policy’ to counter China

Marco Rubio will call for the government to protect key industries and workers from the rise of China, further breaking with the libertarian-leaning GOP orthodoxy of the past decades.

The Republican Florida senator will present the case for a “21st-century pro-American industrial policy” in a speech Tuesday at the National Defense University, according to a draft given to the Washington Examiner.


2. Economic data and the CEWC

China’s Leaders Gather to Set 2020 Economic Targets, Priorities - Bloomberg

The central Economic Work Conference meeting began Tuesday and will wrap up on Thursday, according to people briefed on the plans, right as negotiators aim to finalize a phase-one trade deal with the U.S.

The closed-door gathering lays down priorities for economic policy for the coming year and sets targets for gross domestic product growth, the fiscal deficit and inflation. The details aren’t released until legislative meetings in March....

A State Council economist said in a People’s Daily article Tuesday that it is not necessary to attach too much significance to the 6% growth rate, but highlighted the importance of high-quality development. “6% is not a special watershed,” said Wang Yiming, a deputy director at the Development Research Center of the State Council.

Wang Yiming's article, which took up about 2/5s of page 9 of the Tuesday edition - 中国经济在抵御下行压力中显现韧性和亮点(经济形势理性看)- 王一鸣 . Here is the bit quoted above:

现在有人担心明年中国经济增速会不会“破6”。事实上,6%并不是特别的分水岭,增速略高一点或略低一点不是主要问题,关键仍要看经济增长质量和效益。这不是说速度不重要了。增长速度过低,就业难以保障,结构调整难以推进,宏观杠杆率也难以稳住。在提高质量和效益的基础上,还是要保持中高速增长。中国仍是世界上最大发展中国家,发展是解决一切问题的基础和关键,对此必须保持清醒认识,坚持发展是硬道理,坚持以经济建设为中心。这就要求把稳增长放在重要位置,强化宏观政策逆周期调节,坚持深化供给侧结构性改革,在高质量发展中化解矛盾、应对挑战,确保经济运行在合理区间。

Inflation in China Jumps to Eight-Year High as Pork Prices Keep Soaring - Caixin

The consumer price index (CPI), which measures the prices of a basket of consumer goods and services, rose 4.5% year-on-year in November, the biggest jump since October 2011, data released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) show. That compared with a 3.8% gain in October and was higher than the median estimate of 4.4% growth in a Caixin survey of economists...

Higher food prices contributed 3.7 percentage points to the increase in the CPI last month, Shen Yun, a senior statistician at the NBS said in a statement. The surge was mainly driven by pork prices, which soared by 110.2% year-on-year and accounted for 2.6 percentage points of the overall CPI gain, NBS data show...

Apart from food, there is little pressure on other prices....

The producer price index (PPI), which tracks changes in the prices of goods circulated among manufacturers and mining companies, fell 1.4% year-on-year in November

Economic Watch: China's inflation stays within annual target but challenges remain - Xinhua

Non-food prices gained 1 percent year on year last month, 0.1 percentage points higher than that of October. Prices of healthcare and education, culture and entertainment increased by 2 percent and 1.7 percent, respectively.

China’s Credit Supply Rebounds in November After Seasonal Slump - Bloomberg

Aggregate financing was 1.75 trillion yuan ($249 billion), the People’s Bank of China said Tuesday. That compares to about 619 billion yuan in October and 1.6 trillion yuan in November 2018. The median estimate of economists was 1.485 trillion yuan. Financial institutions offered 1.39 trillion yuan of new loans in the month, versus a projected 1.2 trillion yuan...

The stock of outstanding credit was 221.28 trillion yuan. That was 10.7% larger than a year ago, the same growth rate as in October.

The propaganda is pushing hard on the idea of economic resilience and steady progress-

Xi Focus: Top CPC leadership navigates China through testing year - Xinhua

China, the world's largest developing economy, has generally sailed through a challenging year marked by trade tensions and weak demand among others.

Facing the complicated situation of rising risks and challenges both at home and abroad this year, China has maintained sustained and sound economic and social development, said a meeting held last Friday by the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee.

Abridged version of this much longer Tuesda People's Daily page 1 piece - 二〇一九:沧海横流 浩荡前行——以习近平同志为核心的党中央引领中国经济高质量发展述评

疾风知劲草 中国经济坚定前行_CCTV

top item on Tuesday CCTV Evening News uses the idiom "The storm put strong grass to the test" to make the point that China's economy has faced up to adversity and continues to steadily move forward

做好“六稳”,安如磐石底气足(2019·中国经济观察②)

Second in People's Daily page 1 series on the good work that the leadership has done managing the economy, this one specifically on successfully achieving the "six stabilizations" set out earlier this year. The six are: ta­ble em­ploy­ment, sta­ble fi­nance, sta­ble for­eign trade, sta­ble for­eign in­vest­ment, sta­ble in­vest­ment and sta­ble expectations.


3. Trouble for the book burners

Library employees burning books to be investigated - Global Times

Local government in Zhenyuan county, Northwest China's Gansu Province, has severely criticized the misconduct of the local library for burning 65 "illegal, pirated and deviant" publications, which has aroused growing public attention lately.

The authority has vowed to investigate the matter and hold those involved accountable, according to an official statement published on its website.

A picture showing staff at a library in Gansu burning books went viral on social networks in recent days. Such behavior also sparked controversy as many questioned whether it was civilized behavior...

The destruction of illegal books should not be done by the library, but should be carried out by the relevant government agencies of the local cultural management department after the books are judged to be illegal publications and are sealed and handled uniformly, Zhu Wei, a communications researcher at the China University of Political Science and Law, told the Global Times on Tuesday.

"Books are a carrier of knowledge and culture. The library is a treasure trove of culture. Library staff should treat books properly in accordance with the concept of respecting culture and knowledge. Destroying books by burning leads to serious social consequences," he said, noting that people could relate it to the practice of burning books and burying scholars alive during the Qin Dynasty (221 BC-206 BC), which may lead to social panic.

I am sticking with my comment from Monday’s Newsletter. This is not good but I do not think this a sign of a broader "Cultural Revolution 2.0" or Qin Dynasty Era "burning of books and burying of Confucian scholars 焚书坑儒". More likely this is a local library and government doing something stupid. Not good either, but perhaps a bit less bad.


4. Trials coming for China’s Canadian prisoners?

Case of detained Canadians Kovrig and Spavor sent for ‘review and prosecution,’ China says - The Globe and Mail

“the investigative process on the two cases has been completed and they have been transferred to procuratorial authorities for investigation and prosecution,” Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said Tuesday. Under Chinese law, that means the two Canadians should now be granted the right to see lawyers, Chinese legal experts said, although such access can be delayed.

Chinese procurators have three options: take their cases forward with an indictment, send it back for supplementary investigation or reject the cases altogether, allowing the accused to go free, said Mo Shaoping, a prominent Chinese human rights lawyer.

“The fact that these two Canadians have been transferred to the procuratorate is necessary and supposed to happen,” he said. They are unlikely to be allowed to see family until their case moves to trial, he said.

Hua Chunying’s comments - 外交部:加拿大公民康明凯、迈克尔被起诉 涉窃取国家秘密

我们之前已应询多次介绍了这两名加拿大公民的情况。加拿大人康明凯为境外刺探国家秘密、情报案和迈克尔为境外窃取、非法提供国家秘密案,已经由侦查机关侦查终结,并按法律规定移送检察机关审查起诉。中国司法部门严格依法办案,保障康明凯和迈克尔的合法权利。

Unjustly Detained in China for One Year | A Message from Crisis Group's President Rob Malley

“When China violates the rights of a foreigner on its soil, and when it does so with such a thinly disguised ulterior motive, it inevitably has a chilling effect on all those who would like to engage Beijing, whether in diplomacy, business or other mutually beneficial interaction”, our presidents say. “It can only dissuade many such people from reaching out to China, out of worry that they, too, will wind up behind bars”.

Taking hostages is routine in Xi Jinping’s China | Financial Times - Charles Parton $$

Ambiguity and juxtaposition are favoured tools of the Chinese Communist party, allowing it to apply pressure but dodge accusations. Even so, the Chinese ambassador to Canada came close to an open admission when, in a January op-ed, talking of Ms Meng and the two Michaels, he mentioned “self-defence” in the same sentence.

Later, a Chinese spokesman discussing why Chinese-Canadian relations were “at a freezing point” commented: “We hope that Canada will take seriously our severe concerns and immediately release Ms Meng Wanzhou, and actively take substantial measures to push China-Canada relations back on track as soon as possible.” You cannot say unfairer than that...

This Christmas, Ms Meng will be free to wander around Vancouver and enjoy the warmth of her $15m house. Mr Kovrig will be alone or with someone tasked to report on him, cold, hungry and sleepless. Totalitarianism with technology has brought economic development but not decency. This year also marked the 50th anniversary of the release of Anthony Grey, a British journalist taken hostage for two years during the Cultural Revolution. Barbarity is back, if it ever left.


5. Zhuhai and Gree, a model for mixed-ownership reform?

In Depth: How the Queen of Gree Won, Again - Caixin

In late October, after a bidding process lasting more than six months that attracted 25 or so companies and consortia, Gree’s state-owned controlling shareholder picked a private equity firm as the winning buyer of a 15% stake in the company. During the process, the market’s focus on the high-profile sale was who would become the new master of the home appliance giant and where it would leave Dong [Mingzhu], the Queen of Gree...

When the final agreement was announced Dec. 2, the market was stunned to learn that buyer Zhuhai Mingjun Investment Partnership, a private equity fund backed by Hillhouse Capital Group, spent nearly 40 billion yuan ($5.7 billion) to become Gree’s biggest shareholder but managed to secure only one board seat. Meanwhile, Dong and her management team became the actual decision makers at Gree through a series of complicated cooperation agreements, even though they hold a minor stake that’s a small fraction of Zhuhai Mingjun’s investment...

“This is a significant mixed-ownership reform case,” granting Gree the right to name its senior executives and making it completely free from government control, a senior Gree executive said...

Founded in 1991, Gree was the star company of the Zhuhai government. With a sterling record of profitability, the company has paid more than 54.4 billion yuan of dividends to shareholders during its 23 years as a listed company....

“The inefficiency in Gree’s decision-making process makes it difficult to adapt to market demand,” said Li Congshan, the head of Zhuhai SASAC. “Without a reform, it wouldn’t be long for Gree to decline. A reform may curb the decline.”

Dong clashed with Gree’s state-owned shareholder. She was abruptly removed from her position as chairwoman of the parent company in 2016. She publicly expressed her dissatisfaction with the Zhuhai government and the bureaucratic nature of China’s state-run corporate system.

Caixin Editorial: Gree Electric’s Equity Transfer Illustrates the Value of Entrepreneurs

The Gree share transfer agreement could not have been achieved without the long-term vision and open-minded attitude of the local government. Over the years, Gree Group, which is wholly owned by the Zhuhai State-Owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission (SASAC) in South China’s Guangdong province, has been reducing its shareholding in Gree Electric. This time, it has further ceded controlling shares and introduced social capital. Like other leading enterprises, Gree Electric plays an important role in local economic and social development. However, many local governments prefer to watch enterprises decline rather than give up control. In contrast, Zhuhai’s approach is particularly enlightened, with steps taken for the sake of the development of the enterprise and for the good of local development. For other local governments, Zhuhai serves as an example: when it comes to enterprises, we must be open-minded. Opening-up is actually the biggest support.


6. US security clearances for Chinese Americans

The U.S. Government’s Mistrust of Chinese Americans - Bloomberg

A Bloomberg News analysis of more than 26,000 security clearance decisions for federal contractors since 1996 demonstrates another facet of the government’s steep loss of faith in Americans with ties to China. From 2000 through 2009, clearance applicants with connections to China—such as family or financial relationships—were denied Pentagon clearances at the same rate as applicants with links to all other countries: 44%. But from 2010 through Oct. 31 this year, the China-related denial rate jumped to 61%, and the rate for all other countries fell to 34%. In other words, more than three-fifths of applicants who have family or other ties to China are rejected for security clearances to work for government contractors, while two-thirds of applicants with ties to other countries are approved...

Too often, distrust of people of Chinese heritage drives decision-making at the FBI and other U.S. security agencies, according to interviews with more than a dozen people who’ve worked as federal investigators. One of them, Mike German, worked as an FBI special agent from 1988 to 2004. In his book, Disrupt, Discredit, and Divide, he argues that FBI leaders have propagated Chinese and other ethnic stereotypes since Sept. 11 as part of an effort to focus more heavily on domestic counterintelligence...

The idea that having friends or family in China makes Chinese Americans vulnerable to coercion by Chinese agents, directly or through their loved ones, is a premise of most of the [Pentagon’s Defense Office of Hearings and Appeals]'s China-linked denials.


7. More allegations of CCP influence efforts in the Czech Republic

Kellnerův Home Credit platil kampaň na podporu rudé Číny. Využil experty i novináře - Aktuálně.cz

"Kellner's Home Credit paid a campaign to promote red China. He used experts and journalists"

The Executive Director of Prague-based European Values Center for Security Policy calls it the “scandal of the year” in a Twitter thread:

Jakub Janda @_JakubJanda
HOW: Czech daily
aktualně.cz has confirmed documents wooing that over 2000 work hours have been funded via its subsidiary Home Credit to a PR agency which “consulted” and prepared pro-CCP articles for numerous Czech public figures.

These allegations may have regulatory ramifications for this recently announced media deal, if it appears that the acquirer is acting as a cutout or proxy for CCP influence efforts - 10.27.19 - Broadcaster CME agrees to be acquired by Czech firm PPF in $2.1 billion deal - Reuters

Investment group PPF, owned by the Czech Republic’s wealthiest businessman, Petr Kellner, has agreed to buy broadcaster Central European Media Enterprises Ltd (CME) (CETV.O) (CETV.PR) in a cash deal valued at about $2.1 billion, the companies said on Sunday.

The deal, due to be completed in the middle of 2020 subject to shareholder and regulatory approval, will mark the exit of CME’s largest shareholder, AT&T Inc (T.N), as it pays down debt. It also expands PPF’s reach in the media and telecommunications landscape across central and eastern Europe.

The Economist is the latest major Western media outlet to look at the Czech reaction to growing CCP influence and interests in the country - Fumbling the capture - China tries, and fails, to influence the Czechs | The Economist $$

Officials in Western democracies have grown anxious in recent years at China’s increasing dexterity at exerting influence far from its shores. But China’s experience in the heart of Europe suggests its diplomatic playbook is much trickier to execute in a democracy with a free press and fairly strong institutions—and perhaps especially one, like the Czech Republic, that has a historical sensitivity to being pushed around by an authoritarian great power. “It is a story of backlash,” says Martin Hala of Sinopsis, which has monitored the rise and fall of Chinese influence in the country.


8. More trouble for TikTok in the US

TikTok leader postpones trip to Washington to meet with members of Congress - The Washington Post

TikTok chief Alex Zhu has canceled a scheduled trip to Washington to meet with members of Congress, lawmakers said, a move that stoked fresh criticism of the social-media app at a moment when it’s trying to repair its relationships with U.S. officials.

TikTok in a statement confirmed that Zhu was postponing his planned Washington trip until “after the holidays.” It said the postponement was necessary “to ensure these conversations are as productive as possible.”..

…early signs emerged that some of the company’s skeptics weren’t actually willing to meet with him. Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, who in October asked the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States, to open a probe into the merger that ultimately resulted in TikTok’s creation, had declined to meet with Zhu, his spokesman said.

One Senator who was going to meet with Mr. Zhu was not pleased:


Business, Economy and Trade

German Industry Lobby Warns of Overreacting to China Investments - Bloomberg “We are far from seeing a Chinese takeover wave in German or European industry,” Carl Martin Welcker, president of the country’s VDMA Mechanical Engineering Industry Association, told journalists in Frankfurt on Tuesday. “We in machinery have consistently made positive experiences with Chinese investors” and “don’t see any disadvantage for Germany if the Chinese are guaranteeing our jobs.”

In Depth: Why Easing Monetary Policy Is Not Enough - Caixin Lending to small companies “carries big risks, and it’s really not easy to do,” a manager in the credit department of a bank based in Shandong province said. “We want to lend, but we are in a desert. There are very few high-quality companies looking for loans that meet our lending criteria. Other companies are actively deleveraging and just don’t want to borrow.”

Yicai Global - Tycoon's Son Wang Sicong Has Further USD3.1 Million in Assets Frozen The Shanghai Baoshan District People's Court granted Shanghai Jingling Investment Center's petition to block CNY22 million in the 31-year-old's bank accounts or the equivalent value in assets over a stock ownership dispute, The Paper reported today, citing the court's ruling. No further details were given.

China’s Yuan Punches Below Its Weight - WSJ $$ The strength of a currency for international use rests on what holders can do with it. In the case of the yuan, a largely closed capital account and ultraspeculative asset markets are relatively uninviting. Unless that changes, expect discussions of the yuan’s international role to keep producing more hot air than headway, and take any pronouncements of its coming role in global finance with a pinch of salt.

Houston Rockets Fans in China Need to ‘Watch Games and Be Low Key’ - WSJ CCTV-5, the state-controlled sports broadcaster, has kept NBA games off the air since Morey’s tweet. It replaced them in part with taped action from the Chinese Basketball Association, a league of few dunks. The Chinese digital-entertainment giant Tencent Holdings Ltd. is streaming fewer games than last season—and none involving the Rockets. When a fan sitting courtside brought a Taiwanese flag to a Los Angeles Lakers game, Tencent switched to another game. Searches for “Houston Rockets” gear on marketplaces run by Alibaba and JD.com, China’s leading online retailers, still yield no results. // Some questions: 1. Are CCTV-5 and Tencent paying the full amounts for streaming rights per their contracts with the NBA, have they negotiated a reduced rate, or are they stiffing the NBA and daring it to complain? 2. Did the league and/or team owners/management communicate to the players that they should keep their mouths shut about anything China sensitive, or was the lesson learned from the Chinese reaction? Because there has been a remarkably consistent level of silence about China from anyone affiliated with the NBA

Chinese player to compete for a spot in NFL pathway program - Xinhua China's Li Boqiao has become the country's first American football player to join the NFL's International Player Pathway Program for 2020. First run in 2017, the program aims to provide international athletes with the opportunity to compete at an NFL level and ultimately earn a spot on the roster of an NFL team.

Politics and Law

Protests over arbitrary detentions as China hosts global lawyers forum | The Guardian On Tuesday China held the second day of the global lawyers forum, coinciding with human rights day, bringing more than 800 legal professionals including those from the International Bar Association, the International Association of Lawyers, and the Bar Council of England and Wales. China’s justice minister, Fu Zhenghua, said it was “an opportunity for China to draw on global experience in developing the rule of law”, Xinhua news agency reported. But as the forum got under way, at least one spouse of a detained lawyer was put under house arrest

Chen Xi addresses national conference of Party school principals in Beijing - Xinhua 陈希在全国党校(行政学院)校(院)长会议上强调 把党校(行政学院)建设成为学习研究宣传习近平新时代中国特色社会主义思想的重要阵地

Video - Exemplary practice of social governance in Fengqiao | Stories shared by Xi Jinping - Xinhua  Fengqiao in eastern China was celebrated for its community-level social governance in the 1960s. Five decades on, its experience is still regarded as exemplary in resolving social disputes. The "Fengqiao Experience" is also held in high regard by Chinese President Xi Jinping // Xinhua makes it sound so nice

China invites public opinion on gov't work - Xinhua An online initiative titled "I Want to Say to Premier" was launched Tuesday by the official website of China's central government (www.gov.cn) and other internet platforms to invite public opinion and suggestions on the government's work. Opinions or suggestions on 20 topics including poverty reduction, business environment, employment, education, elderly care, and income can be submitted via www.gov.cn, the "State Council" mobile application, and other websites joining the initiative, according to an official statement

Foreign and Defense Affairs

China cancels trade visit to Sweden over detained bookseller Gui Minhai’s free speech prize | South China Morning Post Diplomatic sources confirmed to the South China Morning Post that it was cancelled because the Swedish culture minister presented the free speech award, given by Sweden’s PEN International, to 55-year-old Gui, who is currently in detention in China.

US says suspect in Apple case had classified Patriot missile file from Raytheon - Bloomberg The discovery adds a striking national security wrinkle to an otherwise routine corporate espionage case, and the government says it merits keeping Jizhong Chen under close scrutiny. The Patriot document was discovered among numerous electronic devices and paper files from Chen’s former employers including General Electric — some of which were stamped “confidential,” according to prosecutors.

Apple has 'deep concerns' that ex-employees accused of theft will flee to China - Reuters At a hearing in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, prosecutors argued that Xiaolang Zhang and Jizhong Chen should continue to be monitored because they present flight risks. Both men were arrested on criminal trade secrets theft charges while heading to airports to fly to China and have been monitored after being released on bail.

Congress Wants to Ban Chinese Buses, Railcars in Defense Bill - WSJ House and Senate Republicans and Democrats have reached agreement on language in the National Defense Authorization Act that would bar the use of federal funds to buy Chinese buses and railcars, congressional aides familiar with the matter told The Wall Street Journal, adding that the ban excludes pre-existing contracts.

In the crosshairs: Chinese drones a target for US ban as security risk | South China Morning Post In recent months, US lawmakers have introduced two dozen drone-related bills, many aimed at restricting Chinese drones and building up US industry

Japan Coast Guard to 'eliminate' Chinese drones - Nikkei Asian Review The Japan Coast Guard plans to stop using and procuring Chinese-made drones in fiscal 2020 due to concerns over information security, Nikkei has learned. It will be the second case in which Chinese products are barred from consideration by Japanese government procurement programs.

Vlogger sparks debate on culture promotion - Global Times Chinese internet users hailed a Chinese vlogger with 7.45 million YouTube followers as "more effective than hundreds of Confucius institutes" for her idiosyncratic videos depicting traditional bucolic life in Chinese rural areas.  Many fans joined in praising Li Ziqi, a Chinese influencer fond of sharing traditional crafts and cooking ideas for her effective promotion of Chinese culture to the world.

Twitter sees more active voices from Chinese diplomacy - Global Times Chinese experts said the new generation of Chinese diplomats have been more open and more likely to follow the current trend. But their appearance on Twitter may make the Western world "uncomfortable." Technically speaking, using Twitter is necessary, Gao Fei, vice president of China Foreign Affairs University told the Global Times on Sunday. "If all others are using Twitter to express their voices but we do not, it would be self-deceiving." While noting the significance of Weibo, Gao said that if China's own social media system doesn't keep track of the world, Chinese voices could lose their impact in global discourse.

Protests along the BRI: China’s prestige project meets growing resistance | Mercator Institute for China Studies Anti-Chinese sentiments are often instrumentalized not to score points against Beijing, but to send a message to the host countries’ rulers. With weak judiciaries and almost no independent media, populations are susceptible to strong political messages that spread via messaging apps and other unregulated social media channels.

The YCW Pulse 2019 Survey This survey examines the views of the global community of young professionals engaged in China. Insights from this survey will be published in a detailed study early next year. This survey should take 10 minutes to complete.

When China came calling: inside the Solomon Islands switch | The Guardian the decision has not unfolded smoothly. In the weeks following, four cabinet members who didn’t back the move were sacked and one more resigned. A Christian nation of 600,000 people that lies 1,800km east of northern Australia, many Solomon Islanders fear China’s oppression of religious minorities is incongruous with their way of life. Some worry Honiara’s institutions are incapable of dealing with the world’s largest nation. Others lament the exit of Taiwan, a friend which stuck with Solomon Islands, even during its civil war.

China's diplomatic push in Asia sees mixed results: Study - AFP China has spent billions of dollars to project soft power in Asia but it has struggled to win the hearts and minds of ordinary citizens in parts of the region, a study said Tuesday (Dec 10). President Xi Jinping doubled China's foreign affairs budget in six years from 30 billion yuan (S$5.8 billion) to 60 billion yuan to bolster its global diplomacy, according to the AidData research lab at the College of William & Mary in Virginia. "Public diplomacy is a critical ingredient in Beijing's toolkit to neutralise potential threats, overcome internal disadvantages, and outmanoeuvre regional competitors," said the report, carried out with the Asia Society Policy Institute and the China Power Project of the Centre for Strategic and International Studies.

China, Sao Tome and Principe pledge to forge ahead ties - Xinhua China's top legislator Li Zhanshu held talks on Monday with visiting president of the National Assembly of Sao Tome and Principe Delfim Neves...Neves said Sao Tome and Principe will firmly adhere to the one-China principle, expressing the willingness to enhance cooperation in such areas as energy, infrastructure construction, fishery, health and culture.

把党对人民军队的绝对领导贯彻到军队建设各领域全过程(深入学习贯彻党的十九届四中全会精神) 钟 新 《 人民日报 》( 2019年12月10日   09 版)

Hong Kong and Macao

‘Fangirls’ Defend China From Hong Kong Protesters and the World - Bloomberg Ever since anti-government demonstrations in Hong Kong turned violent this summer, China’s celebrity-obsessed young generation have patrolled Facebook, Twitter and Weibo, ready to pounce on perceived slights and defend their motherland. Nicknamed “fangirls” because they exhibit the same fervor most often reserved for pop-culture icons, these women and men flood social media with slogans and memes shaming brands -- sometimes with far-reaching consequences.

Court deals govt blow over mask ban ruling - RTHK The judges dismissed the government's claim that by declaring the law invalid, the High Court had sent the wrong message to the public, encouraging them to wear masks at protests and emboldening them to commit acts of violence.

Taiwan

Taiwan's election: A battle over identity with ballots not bullets - Nikkei Asian Review Even though President Tsai's reelection chances are looking good, as well as her party's odds of retaining the legislature, Taiwan's young democracy has proved time and time again that predicting how voters will feel on election day is a difficult task. This was demonstrated most recently in last year's Kuomintang trouncing of the DPP in local polls. Han pulled off a stunning victory to become mayor of the DPP stronghold of Kaohsiung -- rising to international prominence -- while Tsai resigned as chair of her party.

Tech and Media

Ambitious Nanjing Chip Project Faces Capital Strain - Caixin Global An ambitious semiconductor project in eastern China’s Nanjing with planned investment of about $2.8 billion is stalled amid failures to attract investors, spotlighting a bursting bubble of local government forays into computer chips. The project, led by Tacoma (Nanjing) Semiconductor Technology Co. Ltd., was launched in the capital city of Jiangsu Province in 2016 and designated a major local investment project. The plan included creation of a complex covering the entire business chain of chip production

China airs tighter content rules to rein in live streaming, rap and comedy shows | South China Morning Post China could introduce a three-minute delay on live streaming if draft regulations on public performances are adopted. The delay is among a range of recommendations released by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism on Thursday for about two weeks of public comment. In it, the ministry says special attention should be paid to electronic music and rap shows, particularly in terms of audience interaction and content on screens.

Over 100 million users watch live streaming shows on Kuaishou every day, says the firm Tencent-backed short video app Kuaishou has announced that more than 100 million users are watching every day live streaming shows on its platform, according to a report shared by the firm via its Weibo account. Kuaishou, which has gathered around 200 million daily active users (DAUs) as of May 2019, and is seeking to hit 300 million before the 2020 Chinese New Year, said that the three top live-streamed categories on its platform are broadcasters’ daily activities, singing shows, and Chinese opera performances.

JD.com’s Richard Liu Steps Down From Key Positions, but Retains Control - Caixin Liu’s retention of control suggests that key-man risks persist for JD.com, despite his announcement last year that he would loosen his grip on the company. Liu’s arrest on suspicion of rape in 2018 raised concerns that he held too much power under JD’s concentrated ownership and decision-making structure.

Yicai Global - China's Biggest Photo Website VSG Is Forced to Halt Services Again VCG.com and another large photo website DFIC.cn, operated by IC Photo, engaged in internet news information services in violation of regulations and illegally engaged in internet news information services with overseas companies, the Cyberspace Administration of China said in a statement.  The watchdog demanded that the two websites undergo comprehensive and thorough 'rectification.' The sites' managers said services will be halted from today.

Yicai Global - SenseTime, Tencent, Other AI Firms to Draw Up China's Facial Recognition Standards Other big names in the group, which will formulate new technical criteria for data management and detection methods, are Ant Financial Services Group, Xiaomi, iFlytek and Ping An Insurance, the Science and Technology Daily report today.

Baidu-backed lidar sensor maker Velodyne lays off Beijing office and halts direct sales in China Baidu- and Ford-backed lidar sensor company Velodyne Lidar is planning to lay off more than 20 employees in its Beijing office and discontinue the direct sale of its lidar sensors in China

Tencent Teams Up with Tech Firms to Build Satellite Network - Caixin The Chinese internet titan has teamed up with three other companies to create a gargantuan satellite network, in an attempt to provide affordable remote-imaging services to government agencies, scientific research institutions and tech companies, according to a Monday post on Tencent Cloud’s public WeChat account.

Nintendo Switch Officially Launches in China | Sixth Tone Tuesday’s product launch comes months after the Japanese gaming pioneer in April announced a partnership with Chinese tech giant and game developer Tencent to introduce Nintendo products to the world’s second-largest gaming market. The Switch bundle, currently available on domestic e-commerce platforms Tmall and JD.com, is priced at 2,099 yuan ($300), consistent with the product’s price in countries like Japan and the U.S.

Society, Arts, Sports, Culture and History

Translation issues delay verdict in Sun Yang doping case - AP Translation problems in the doping case of Olympic swimming champion Sun Yang have delayed the expected verdict to January, the Court of Arbitration for Sport said Tuesday. CAS said an “agreed-upon written transcript” from the hearing, including Sun’s testimony from Chinese into English, is being prepared to help the judging panel who heard the appeal in open court last month.

Shanghai School Will Dismiss Prof Accused of Sexual Harassment - SixthTone On Dec. 9, Shanghai University of Finance and Economics said it would fire Qian Fengsheng after an internal investigation concluded that he had “seriously violated teachers’ professional ethics and caused an extremely bad social impact.” The alleged victim had reported the case to police the previous day; she told Sixth Tone that she and her lawyer will pursue criminal charges.

Energy, Environment, Science and Health

Yicai Global - China to Turn 1950s-Era Nuclear Power Plant, Nation's First, Into Museum The first-stage scheme to disassemble the reactor located in the far western Beijing suburb of Xinzhen that includes early-stage preparations and demolition of peripheral systems has got the nod from the Chinese government, Science and Technology Daily reported today. The 101 HWRR is China's first officially decommissioned nuclear reactor.

Xie Zhenhua: China’s top climate negotiator steps down | China Dialogue Li Jing considers the legacy of a key architect of the Paris Agreement and one of the world’s longest-serving climate diplomats

Chinese scientists raise alarm about LCD screen pollution | South China Morning Post Some chemicals in liquid crystal displays (LCDs) could alter genes, they said. Animal cells mutated unexpectedly if exposed, and preliminary results of their ongoing study published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences on Monday showed that one of the most polluted places was the home.