Trade talks ongoing; China threatens Canada over Huawei CFO; Church crackdown

Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou's bail hearing continues today. Unless she decides to waive extradition to the US, or gets bail and flees back to China, her case in Canada could drag out for months or longer before she is either released or sent to the US. 

China has launched a series of propaganda tirades and threats against Canada. It is hard to see how those threats will not backfire on Beijing, and it is also interesting to note that so far the the nastiest vitriol has been directed at Canada not the US.

China does want the US-China trade talks to continue and for now at least will not allow the arrest of Meng to derail the negotiations. There had been talk that Liu He would come to DC this week for the talks. So far that is not confirmed and the calendar is difficult for him if the Central Economic Work Conference is to be held in the next week and there is to be a big Reform and Opening meeting on the anniversary of the December 18-22, 1978 Third Plenum that launched Reform and Opening. 

Do not be surprised by more moves in the near term from the US government against Huawei, other PRC technology firms or issues like Xinjiang. At some point Beijing may no longer be able to separate the trade talks from the broader deterioration in the US-China relationship. 

But so long as US stock markets keep dropping expect President Trump to be much more willing to take a softer approach in the trade talks at least. 

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The Essential Eight

1. US-China trade talks

March 1 a "hard deadline" for reaching trade deal with China, Lighthizer says - CBS News:

"As far as I'm concerned, it's a hard deadline," Lighthizer said on "Face the Nation" Sunday. "When I talked to the president of the United States, he's not talking about going beyond March. He's talking about getting a deal. If there is a deal to be gotten, we want to get it in the next 90 days."..

Lighthizer said he disagreed with those like Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida who want to ban Chinese telecom companies from doing business in the U.S. He said he considers the issue of Meng's arrest to be unrelated to trade negotiations.

"Well, it's my view that it shouldn't really have much of an impact," Lighthizer said of Meng's arrest. "I can understand from the Chinese perspective how they would see it that way. This is a criminal justice matter. It is totally separate from anything that I work on or anything that the trade policy people in the administration work on. So, for us, it's unrelated, it's criminal justice. We have a lot of very big, very important issues. We've got serious people working on them, and I don't think they'll be affected by this."

But President Trump already tweeted that the deadline could be extended...

U.S. Maintains Hard Line as Details Emerge in Trade Truce With China - WSJ $$:

There are two near-term tests of whether the Buenos Aires agreement will defuse trade tensions. The first is whether China rapidly delivers on pledges to purchase U.S. agricultural and energy products. The second is how quickly Mr. Xi’s economic envoy, Vice Premier Liu He, heads to Washington for higher-level discussions. In Buenos Aires, Mr. Trump told Mr. Xi that Mr. Lighthizer would be leading the talks.

Before the disclosure of the Huawei case, Mr. Liu had planned to lead a 30-member trade delegation to Washington in the week of Dec. 10, according to people briefed on the matter. It is unclear whether that plan has been affected by Ms. Meng’s arrest.

China to Announce Resumption in U.S. Soybean Purchases Soon - Bloomberg

China intends to announce this month the first batch of U.S. soybean purchases where most, if not all, will be destined for state reserves, according to government officials.

The final decision will be made by the State Council or cabinet, said the people, who declined to be identified as the matter is confidential. Details to be decided include whether the volume should be 5 million tons or 8 million tons and if commercial companies should buy a further 2 million tons and be reimbursed for the 25 percent tariffs, the people said.

Kudlow: Trump didn’t know about Huawei executive’s arrest before dining with Chinese leader - The Washington Post:

An unnamed senior U.S. official with direct knowledge of the matter told The Washington Post last week that Trump learned of the arrest only after the meal had concluded and reacted with intense anger.

Behind the scenes of Trump's trade wars - Axios:

Sources with direct knowledge told me that even the small, senior group that joined Trump at the Xi dinner didn't know beforehand what Trump would say. One source with direct knowledge called it a "jump ball.

2. China threatens Canada

China Warns Canada of ‘Heavy Price’ Over Huawei Arrest - The New York Times:

In an editorial published Sunday, the People’s Daily newspaper warned of “serious consequences” should the Canadian authorities fail to immediately release Ms. Meng, the chief financial officer of the Chinese electronics giant and daughter of its founder.

“By convicting her without trial, the Canadian police have completely disregarded the spirit of the law,” the editorial said. “Is this the way a civilized country should act? How can it not make people furious?”

It concluded: “Only by correcting its mistake, immediately ending its violation of a Chinese citizen’s lawful and legitimate rights and giving the Chinese people a due explanation can Canada avoid paying a heavy price.”

People’s Daily Growls Over Meng Arrest | China Media Project:

The commentary is attributed to “Zhong Sheng” (钟声), a pen name used in the paper since November 2008 for important pieces on international affairs on which the leadership wishes to register its view. The name “Zhong Sheng,” literally “bell tone,” is a shortened version of “bell tone to warn the world,” or jingshi zhongsheng (警世钟声).

Particularly of note in this commentary is the way it conflates arguments about the rights and dignity of Meng Wanzhou — even throwing in the term “human rights” — with an argument about the stature of the company Huawei. It mentions the fall in U.S. stocks that followed the arrest, as if to suggest that legal process should simply be suspended in such a case, or that Huawei is above the law.

But it is clear from the piece that the Chinese leadership, at least publicly, does not view this as a legal case at all, but purely as a political move on the part of the United States and Canada. The threats to Canada are unambiguous: dire consequences follow unless they relent and release Meng immediately.

Canada’s treatment of Meng Wanzhou in violation of human rights - Global Times:

There is no doubt that Canada is on the wrong side in this case. To describe with an old Chinese saying, such behaviors are like holding a candle for the devil. Meng did not violate any Canadian law. US authorities are accusing her of violating US domestic laws, but it is still unknown if the US side can provide sufficient evidence to prove their accusations are valid...

It does not serve Canada's national interest if it intends to fawn over the US by treating Ms Meng unjustly. If Meng is refused bail and extradited to the US, Canada will get minimal gratitude from the US, but maximum opposition from China. Chinese people will take the issue seriously, and will ask the Chinese government to impose severe sanctions on Canada. Canadian public interest will definitely be impaired if Sino-Canadian relations are put at a risk of major retrogression.

Envoys summoned over Huawei CFO detention - China Daily:

Vice-Foreign Minister Le Yucheng urgently summoned United States Ambassador to China Terry Branstad on Sunday over the detention of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou...

Le made representations over, and strongly protested against, the US "unreasonably demanding" Canada detain Meng...

On Saturday, Le summoned Canadian Ambassador to China John McCallum over Meng's detention, calling it "unreasonable, unconscionable and vile in nature".

 3. Huawei and Meng Wanzhou

China tries to walk a tightrope as nationalist backlash over Huawei case threatens to derail US trade talks | South China Morning Post:

“We still have to continue the trade talks,” said Wu Xinbo, director of the centre for American studies at Fudan University. “Meng’s arrest is an individual case. Trade is the bigger issue.”

But Wu continued that Meng’s case was likely to be put on the table during trade negotiations in Washington and China would be more “clear-eyed” about America’s desire to contain the country’s technological rise.

HSBC Monitor Flagged Suspicious Huawei Transactions to Prosecutors - WSJ

A federally appointed overseer at HSBC Holdings PLC flagged suspicious transactions in the accounts of Huawei Technologies Co. to prosecutors seeking the extradition of the Chinese company’s finance chief, people familiar with the matter said. 

A monitor charged with evaluating HSBC’s anti-money-laundering and sanctions controls in recent years relayed information about the Huawei transactions to federal prosecutors in the Eastern District of New York, the people said.

B.C. cancels China leg of trade trip after high-profile Huawei official arrest | The Star:

Amid international scrutiny about the arrest of a senior official of Chinese telecom giant Huawei, the province of British Columbia is suspending the China leg of its Asian forestry trade mission.

Lawyer urges police to probe HSBC over alleged role in the arrest of top Huawei exec - Global Times:

Lawyer Li Mingqiang said in a public letter to the Shanghai police on Monday that HSBC Bank (China) Company Limited, an HSBC subsidiary, had exposed Huawei trade secrets and breached a convention that a China-registered business entity should first report any suspected wrongdoings by its clients to Chinese authorities, instead of foreign ones...

Surprise, surprise, Vancouver: Huawei CFO Sabrina Meng Wanzhou is a mansion-owning, satellite-parenting reverse immigrant | South China Morning Post:

Meng has two more sons from her previous marriage; a 14-year-old who lives with his father in Hong Kong, and a 20-year-old computer engineer whose location wasn’t described. The middle son attends school in Andover, Massachusetts. Liu and the couple’s daughter now live in Shenzhen. On paper, it looks like a complicated arrangement, but it is by no means unusual for well-off Chinese families to have children schooled and raised around the world, often separated from their parents for lengthy periods.

Japan bans Huawei and its Chinese peers from government contracts - Nikkei Asian Review:

The guidelines, which do not single out any company by name, are designed to prevent leaks of sensitive information. They also put Japan in step with the U.S., which has imposed sanctions on Chinese companies for their dealings with Iran and other matters. Huawei is suspected of flaunting the sanctions and exporting products to Iran.

4. Could the US kill Huawei?

Huawei's CEO Built an Empire. Trump Could Tear It Down - Bloomberg:

An outright ban on buying American technology and components, should it come to that, would deal Huawei a crushing blow. Earlier this year, the Trump administration imposed just such a penalty on ZTE Corp., also a Chinese telecom, and threatened its very survival before backing down. Both Huawei and ZTE are banned from most U.S. government procurement work.

A full-blown, commercial ban in the U.S. would apply not only to hardware components, but also cut off access to the software and patents of U.S. companies, Edison Lee and Timothy Chau, analysts with Jefferies Securities, wrote in a report. "If Huawei cannot license Android from Google, or Qualcomm’s patents in 4G and 5G radio access technology, it will not be able to build smartphones or 4G/5G base stations," they note.

Huawei Offensive Is Acceleration of Yearslong Endeavor - WSJ $$:

Over the past year, influential China hawks in Congress allied with like-minded national-security officials to enlist the aid of other U.S. agencies, including the Pentagon, State Department, Commerce Department and Federal Communications Commission, according to government officials. All those agencies rolled out measures this year to further restrict Huawei on American soil and to urge allied countries to enact similar bans.

Silicon Valley Helped Build Huawei. Washington Could Dismantle It. - WSJ $$:

Silicon Valley giants from Intel Corp. INTC +0.76% to Broadcom Inc. and Qualcomm Inc. QCOM +3.32% are top suppliers of Huawei, which buys their components to make equipment such as base stations and routers and Huawei mobile phones. By one estimate, Huawei will buy up to $10 billion of components from American companies this year—roughly the value of China’s automobile imports from the U.S.

Will the US government try? There are influential Senators who want to -Transcript: Sen. Marco Rubio on "Face the Nation," December 9, 2018 - CBS News:

I think both Huawei and ZTE and multiple Chinese companies pose a threat to our national interests our national economic interests and our national security interests. And in the Huawei case what they're accused of here- what she is accused of- is violating the Iran sanctions.

So at a minimum we should be doing to them what we did to ZTE when they violated the sanctions law and which included not having access to American suppliers. And I hope that's what will happen that's we're encouraging the administration to do as soon as possible.

U.S. Readies Charges Against Chinese Hackers - WSJ $$

Federal prosecutors are expected to unseal criminal charges as soon as next week against hackers linked to the Chinese government who have allegedly engaged in a sophisticated multiyear scheme to break into U.S. technology service providers in order to compromise the networks of their clients, according to people familiar with the matter.

And the scrutiny of Chinese nationals in the US tech sector will increase. This opinion piece just one more example - Google’s China Problem Is America’s China Problem - Eli Lake - Bloomberg:

But there is another view within Google: that Dragonfly is not diametrical but crucial to the company’s mission. These employees — some 500 of them so far — have also signed a letter making their case on an internal company message board. Interestingly, the campaign was organized by Chinese nationals inside Google.

The letter, which Techcrunch first reported last month, argues that Google needs to at least try to get back into China before writing off a country of almost 1.4 billion people. “The standards of acceptable surveillance are unclear,” says an appendix to the letter...

Chinese citizens are subjects of a totalitarian government. This does not mean that every Chinese national at Google is a spy or a plant. It does mean that Chinese Googlers are more likely to face pressure from their government than Googlers who come from more open societies. Just like the old Soviet Union, the Chinese state views its people as its appendages...

A Google spokesman told me that the company has no special screening mechanism for hiring Chinese nationals — such as whether their relatives are senior members of the Communist Party or whether they were schooled at universities entwined with the military — beyond what the company does to verify the employment history and expertise of any other prospective employees.

Scientist's Death Adds to China Tech Setbacks After Huawei - Bloomberg:

Zhang Shoucheng, an internationally recognized Stanford University physicist and venture capitalist, died on Dec. 1, the same day that the chief financial officer of Huawei Technologies Co. was arrested in Vancouver. The 55-year-old had been battling depression, the South China Morning Post reported, citing an email from the Shanghai-born scientist’s family. In a later statement, the family said there was no truth in speculation on Chinese social media that Zhang’s death was connected to a possible U.S. government investigation into his venture capital fund, the newspaper reported...

The scientist, who had been tipped as a future Nobel Prize winner for his work on quantum physics, founded a $400 million fund that invests in Silicon Valley startups and was active in helping U.S.-trained Chinese researchers to return home.

His death highlights a deep pool of Beijing-backed money that has been passing under the public radar.

Consider the fund Zhang founded. Danhua Capital was cited in a report last month by the Office of the United States Trade Representative after an investigation into China’s technology policies and practices.

China's Efforts to Build the Semiconductors at AI's Core - Digichina

The scholar, Tan Tieniu, made explicit what has long been apparent: U.S. government actions toward the Chinese network infrastructure and smartphone giant ZTE have increased Chinese resolve... 

Though many in China thought ZTE had been reckless, the fact that the U.S. Commerce Department had the leverage to practically destroy a major Chinese company focused many minds. Only after Xi intervened with Trump was the company saved. 

In this context in April, Xi reminded audiences of the value of “self-reliance” and touted “indigenous innovation” in “core technologies” at the important National Cybersecurity and Informatization Work Conference.

5. More PRC tech firms to list in the PRC?

Question: Will this help reduce the number of China tech IPOs in the US? Beijing has long been uneasy with its national tech champions listing in America. The fact that PRC tech firms could effectively only list overseas had a real benefit for the founders and investors--they created massive wealth offshore that while in some cases was subject to PRC taxes it was not subject to PRC capital controls. Now if they increasingly list in China they will be even more captive to the state and the Party. It is also possible that the US could move to restricting PRC tech firms listing in US capital markets. US-China tech decoupling is gaining momentum on both sides...

Shanghai’s New High-Tech Board to Lower Profitability Requirements, Draft Rules Say - Caixin Global:

More details have been revealed about draft rules for the high-tech board proposed by President Xi Jinping, as officials race to get initial public offering (IPO) reform up and running as part of an effort to broaden technology firms’ access to funding.

The so-called science and technology innovation board hopes to woo companies in sectors supported by the nation’s industrial development strategy, including internet, big data, cloud computing, artificial intelligence, software, integrated circuits, high-end equipment manufacturing, biotech, new materials and new energy, a source close to the Shanghai Stock Exchange (SSE) who is aware of the progress on the rules, told Caixin. Candidate companies must control the core technology of their industry and be market leaders, he said.

6. China as America's main rival

In line with the National Security Strategy that came out in December 2017, just another reminder for those who needed it that the official US view of the PRC has changed fundamentally.

Trump admin looks to counter China, Russia's growing power in Africa with new strategy:

The plan, drafted by the White House National Security Council and due to be presented this week at a Washington think tank, will signal a shift by the administration — already underway — that emphasizes America's rivalry with China and Russia as a top priority rather than an exclusive focus on fighting terrorist threats, the officials said.

"Counterterrorism is no longer the organizing principle," said one senior administration official, who was not authorized to speak on the record.

"It's about geopolitics and countering the influence of China and others."

Pompeo Interview With Hugh Hewitt of the Hugh Hewitt Show:

QUESTION: Let me conclude, Mr. Secretary, and thank you for your time. Is the People’s Republic of China the greatest threat to the West now, greater than Russia, greater than Iran? Is it our hundred-year or two hundred-year threat, and do we have to think about it in those terms?

SECRETARY POMPEO: I don’t think there’s any doubt about that. Over the five, 10, 25-year time horizon, just by simple demographics and wealth, as well as by the internal system in that country, China presents the greatest challenge that the United States will face in the medium to long-term.

7. Universal Declaration of Human Rights with Chinese characteristics?

Xi stresses human rights development in Chinese context - Xinhua:

Xi, also general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, made the statement in a congratulatory letter to a symposium marking the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in Beijing Monday.

In the letter, Xi called the declaration a significant document in the history of human civilization and recognized its profound impact on the development of the human rights cause around the world.

Chinese people will work with people of other countries to uphold the common values of humanity, which are peace, development, equality, justice, democracy and freedom, to safeguard human dignity and rights, to promote fairer, sounder and more inclusive global human rights governance, and to build a community with a shared future for humanity, he said.

Noting that the CPC has always taken human development as its goal, Xi said hundreds of millions of Chinese people have had their lives improved since the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949, particularly over the past four decades of reform and opening-up.

China has been combining the principle of human rights' universality with the reality of modern times and staying committed to a path of human rights development that fits the Chinese context, Xi said in the letter.

习近平:坚持走符合国情的人权发展道路 促进人的全面发展--时政--人民网:


Will China dare challenge the UDHR?, by Katrin Kinzelbach (Le Monde diplomatique - English edition, December 2018):

At the 70th anniversary of the UDHR, we should not make the mistake of simply dismissing propaganda talk from China as absurd. It cannot be ruled out that 2028 won’t see the international celebration of the 10th anniversary of Xi’s ‘Community’, which might eclipse the birthday of the 1948 human rights declaration. Such a scenario has long been worked on in China.

A Beijing Human Rights Forum has been held every year since 2008 (then just in time for the 60th anniversary of the UDHR). In September 2018, 200 participants from across the world gathered at this forum and discussed poverty reduction and building a community with shared future for mankind.

8. Church crackdown

Chinese Police Detain Prominent Pastor and Over 100 Protestants - The New York Times:

Wang Yi, who heads the Early Rain Covenant Church in the southwestern metropolis of Chengdu, was detained Sunday evening as congregants gathered for services, said members of the church.

“Lord, help us to have the Christian’s conscience and courage to resist this ‘Orwellian nonsense’ with more positive Gospel action and higher praise,” the church said in a statement shortly before the members were detained. “Without love, there is no courage.”

More than 100 church members were detained on Sunday, according to statements issued by church members. As of Monday morning, police vans were parked outside the high-rise office where the church purchased space. Officers were seen carrying office materials out of the church’s property, which also includes a kindergarten and seminary.

100 Christians snatched in overnight raids on underground Chinese church | South China Morning Post:

Members’ personal accounts and cell group discussions on social media channels were blocked at around 9pm on Sunday while the church’s telephone line was also cut. The homes of the church’s leaders, including pastor Wang Yi, were among those raided.

Zhang Guoqiang, assistant deacon of the Early Rain Covenant Church, was among two church members who were released on Monday morning after his arrest by Chengdu police in the Sunday night raids.

He is now being watched around the clock by “security personnel” in his home...

The South China Morning Post has learned that a number of elders are still in hiding while many church members were tracked down by police overnight asking them to sign a letter pledging they would not attend further gatherings.

Business, Economy, Finance And Trade

2018年第23期 -求是 5 essays in the most recent issue of Qiushi calling for support of private enterprises

China export growth slows sharply in November - MarketWatch Total exports grew 5.4% from a year earlier, decelerating from a 15.6% increase in October, the General Administration of Customs said Saturday. Economists polled by The Wall Street Journal had forecast a 10.0% growth in overseas shipment. Imports expanded 3.0% on year last month, down from a 21.4% increase in the previous month, missing economists' median forecast of 14.4% growth. China's total trade surplus widened to $44.74 billion from $34.0 billion in October, customs data showed. Economists had expected a $33.5 billion surplus.

China Factory, Consumer Inflation Slows Amid Weakening Demand - Bloomberg The producer price index climbed 2.7 percent in November from a year earlier, the slowest pace in more than two years. The consumer price index rose 2.2 percent, slower than estimated

Mainland Investors Get Green Light to Buy Dual-Class Shares in Hong Kong - Caixin Global Mainland investors will finally get the chance to buy shares in two of China's top technology companies next year after Chinese mainland and Hong Kong regulators agreed to include firms with a dual-class share structure in the Stock Connect programs. Smartphone-maker Xiaomi Corp. and online delivery and group buying website Meituan Dianping have so far been out of reach of Chinese investors trading stocks through the Shanghai-Hong Kong and Shenzhen-Hong Kong Connect channels, because mainland regulators banned such companies from the program due to the different voting rights carried by separate classes of shares.

China's 2018 crude steel output to hit record level: government research body | Reuters China’s 2018 crude steel output is expected to set an annual record of 923 million tonnes before slipping back to 900 million tonnes next year, a government consultancy said on Monday.

China to launch fourth national economic census on Jan. 1 - Xinhua The census will cover about 30 million impersonal entities and industrial activity units as well as about 60 million self-employed entrepreneurs. China's fourth national economic census is vital in projecting the new economic situations, particularly the development of new growth drivers, said Ning Jizhe, deputy head of the National Development and Reform Commission and head of the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS

China's central bank skips reverse repo for 32 trading days - Xinhua Monday's interbank market showed the overnight Shanghai Interbank Offered Rate (Shibor), which measures the cost at which banks lend to one another, increased 3.7 basis points to 2.453 percent. The Shibor rate for one-month loans rose 1 basis point to 2.838 percent.

China's passenger vehicle sales slide for six consecutive months - Xinhua About 2.02 million passenger vehicles were sold last month, down 18 percent year on year, according to the CPCA data. The accumulative sales of vehicles amounted to 20.15 million from January to November, down 4 percent compared with the same period last year. Sales of new energy passenger vehicles, however, saw a 57.8-percent rise, amounting to 129,000 last month.

GoPro Plans To Move US-Bound Camera Production Out Of China GoPro, Inc. (NASDAQ: GPRO) today announced that it plans to move most of its US-bound camera production out of China by the summer of 2019 to mitigate the potential impact of inclusion on any new tariff lists. International-bound camera production will remain in China.

China consults on rules for financial holding companies: sources | Reuters Financial holding conglomerates subject to the rules will not only face new requirements on capital adequacy, but may also be forced to restructure and put part of their non-financial assets in a separate entity, the sources told Reuters on Monday, declining to be named due to the sensitivity of the matter.

Risks of Pledged Shares Under Control — For Now - Caixin Global Sell-off risks of pledged shares in China have come under control due to government bailout efforts, but questions remain about whether borrowers can meet their repayment commitments next year, an official at the securities watchdog said. As of the beginning of December, the amount of pledged stocks that have been dumped by securities companies stood at 9.8 billion yuan ($1.4 billion). That means the value of such shares disposed of amounted to 40 million yuan on average per day, a tiny fraction of the daily transaction value that could exceed 100 billion yuan, said Sun Nianrui, a senior official in charge of listed companies at the China Securities Regulatory Commission.

American Entrepreneurs Who Flocked to China Are Heading Home, Disillusioned - WSJ For years, American entrepreneurs saw a place in which they would start tech businesses, build restaurant chains and manage factories, making potentially vast sums in an exciting, newly dynamic economy. ..Now disillusion has set in, fed by soaring costs, creeping taxation, tightening political control and capricious regulation that makes it ever tougher to maneuver the market and fend off new domestic competitors. All these signal to expat business owners their best days were in the past. //  Comment: worse now but this is kind of an evergreen story...

Politics, Law And Ideology

以老一辈革命家为光辉榜样 奋力开创新时代党和国家事业新局面 Leng Rong, director of the Party History and Archives Research Institute, in the latest Qiushi on studying Xi's speech at the symposium on the 120th anniversary of Liu Shaoqi's birth, calls for learning from the glorious achievements of earlier generation of revolutionaries

Central officials arrive in Guangxi for 60th anniversary celebrations - CGTN A delegation from the central government led by China's top political adviser Wang Yang arrived Sunday in Nanning, capital of south China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, to attend festivities marking the 60th anniversary of the region's founding.

China shuts down 1,100 self-media accounts - Global Times China's Ministry of Public Security (MPS) has closed 1,100 self-media accounts and 31 websites suspected of engaging in trolling and extortion since the start of the year. The ministry said that it cracked down on 28 cases involving online trolling and ghostwriters hired to post slanderous content, and arrested 67 people. More than 80 enterprises and organizations were blackmailed

China grants more support to local governments with good performance - Compared to the former 24 items, the government added nine incentive measures, removed three and improved the 21 measures that remained. Those local governments will be given priority treatment on development projects, pilot reforms, and use of funds, according to the circular. Local governments with remarkable achievements in business reform will be included in related pilot programs first, and those largely promoting foreign trade and foreign investment will be supported with precedence in growing bases for foreign trade transformation and upgrade, the circular said.

Bar associations urge Chinese leader to release prominent lawyer | Reuters Bar associations from nearly 20 countries called on Chinese President Xi Jinping on Monday to release Wang Quanzhang, saying that the lawyer has been held incommunicado for more than three years with his legal rights denied.

China Jails Guangdong Musician Who Sang About Liu Xiaobo - RFA Singer-songwriter Xu Lin was sentenced to three years' imprisonment after the Nansha District People's Court in the provincial capital Guangzhou found him guilty of "picking quarrels and stirring up trouble," his lawyer Liu Hao told RFA. Xu was detained last year after he penned songs in memory of Liu, who died in police custody of late-stage liver cancer in July 2017.

Chinese police accused of brutality by kneeling on woman’s neck – next day she thanks their ‘sincere assistance’ | South China Morning Post Furious reaction online to footage and woman’s claim of ‘near-death experience’ after calling police saying she had been ogled at hotel Police statement a day later says woman has been ‘educated on common law’, then she posts second statement praising officers

Foreign and Military Affairs

Disgraced former Hong Kong minister Patrick Ho wanted to use Chinese oil money to buy influence of Republican Party politicians, court documents from trial reveal | South China Morning Post In a proposal to the CEFC chairman, Ho wrote that two years of “dollar relations” could help lay the foundation for good US-China partnership in the future... Ho also suggested funding Republican-friendly think tanks in Washington to study US-China relations, so they could “speak for China”. “We should start cultivating relations with young Republican leaders, support them to come to China before the election, and get a genuine feel about China’s development,” Ho wrote.

China to improve work on handling veterans' petitions - China Military China's Ministry of Veterans Affairs has ordered relative organs at all levels to safeguard veterans' legitimate rights and interests and handle their petitions properly. According to a notification issued by the ministry on Sunday, relevant departments should fully implement the policies on improving veterans' welfare, including helping them to find jobs. The notification urged efforts to provide public service jobs, organize job fairs, and implement preferential policies for companies that hires veterans.

10 accused of inciting clashes with police in Pingdu; 34 hurt - China Daily The suspects, all unemployed from the city of Pingdu, were detained, according to the report, which said they face charges of obstructing police, intentional injury, inciting crowds to disrupt public order and provoking trouble. The move comes after violence in Pingdu on Oct 5 and 6, when hundreds of people gathered under the banner of "military veterans", Xinhua said. It added that the main suspects have complex backgrounds, and some have criminal records for "robbery, fraud, drug abuse and picking a quarrel".

USAF Confirms: The Chinese J-20 Spotted In Georgia Is a Mock-Up Used For Training by the U.S. Marine Corps – The Aviationist The U.S. Air Force has officially confirmed to that the Chengdu J-20 Mighty Dragon photographed at a military facility inside Savannah-Hilton Head Airport, Georgia, US, on Wednesday, Dec. 5, is a training mock-up for use by the United States Marine Corps.

Where India quietly watches China at sea | Asia Times But there is a bigger hidden story in the Andamans, one with a modern geo-strategic twist. On that same chain of remote islands, situated between Southeast Asia and the Indian Subcontinent, India quietly maintains one of its newest and best-equipped military bases.

China's real endgame in the trade war runs through Europe - CNBC European Union officials concede that China already has exercised veto power it has over policies that require unanimity, and because some officials are pushing privately for a change to majority voting. Concerns are growing as Beijing's influence has grown more rapidly than anyone anticipated. Chinese foreign direct investment in the EU has risen to $30 billion in 2017 from 700 million before 2008.

Expert: If US warship illegally violates Chinese territorial waters again, bump against it - China Military n a discussion on the topic of What Lies ahead for the South China Sea Issue and the Taiwan Question on December 8, Dai Xu, president of China's Institute of Marine Safety and Cooperation, suggested that if a US warship illegally enters into Chinese territorial waters again, two Chinese warships should be sent, one to stop it and the other to bump against and sink it, adding, "In China's territorial waters, we won't allow US warships to run amok."

PLA Navy to have at least 5 carriers: experts - China Military Song Zhongping, a military expert and TV commentator, said that China needs at least five aircraft carriers to fulfill the strategic shifts. Wang Yunfei, a naval expert and retired PLA Navy officer, told the Global Times on Wednesday that China needs six aircraft carriers to ensure enough carriers are on active duty while the others are undergoing maintenance.

Five Things to Know About China’s Bid to Land on the Far Side of the Moon - Caixin Global The first two Chang’e missions in the first phase aimed to orbit the moon; the second two missions are for landing on the moon. The third and final phase, which will use the Chang’e-5 and Chang’e-6 crafts, will collect and return lunar samples. The Chang’e-5 mission is planned for late 2019.

I have been watching the CCTV documentary celebrating reform一起走过——致敬改革开放40周年 - Episode 15 is all about PLA reform, some interesting footage of the first night landing on the Liaoning aircraft carrier among other things: 

Tech And Media

ByteDance to compete with WeChat by launching messaging app · TechNode The service, dubbed Flipchat, is going to take the form of an independent app, people close to the matter told Chinese media, adding that ByteDance has approached several senior staff members on WeChat’s team. ByteDance declined to comment on the news.

Tencent-backed fleet manager G7 racks up $320M in funding | TechCrunch G7, which runs a proprietary connected platform for trucks, shippers, fleet manager and drivers, received the proceeds from lead investor HOPU Investments, one of the most high-profile private equity firms in China. Other participants included new investors China Broadband Capital, Intelligent Fund of Funds, Mount Morning Capital, Total Energy Ventures and TH Capital, who are joined by existing investors GLP, Bank of China Investment and Tencent.

Apple Hit With Sales Ban on Older iPhones in China, Qualcomm Says - WSJ $$ Qualcomm said the Fuzhou Intermediate People’s Court in China found Apple had infringed on two nonstandard essential patents: one related to photo editing and another to swiping on a touch-screen device. The import and sales ban didn’t appear to include Apple’s newest devices—the XS, XS Max and XR—because those weren’t on the market when the patent case was filed. It wasn’t immediately clear when any such ban would take effect

Music Giant Backed by Pony Ma Is Poised to Spin New Billionaires - Bloomberg Co-presidents Xie Zhenyu and Xie Guomin are on the brink of becoming billionaires as Tencent Music Entertainment Group prepares a public stock offering in New York that may value the company at $24.5 billion. Zhenyu’s fortune could be $952 million if they price at the upper end of the range provided in a prospectus, and Guomin’s $922 million.

Baidu-backed Haokan Video blocked from WeChat Moments · TechNode Tencent responded by saying that WeChat banned Haokan content because it breached the messaging platform’s external link principles as a result of its “online earning behavior.” No further details were given. Tencent suggests Haokan perform a “self-inspection” and submit an email appeal.

Alibaba Group to Take Majority Stake in Alibaba Pictures | Alibaba Pictures will issue 1 billion new shares to Alibaba Group at HK$1.25 per share (about $0.16), raising a total of HK$1.25 billion ($159.9 million) and taking Group’s stake to 50.29% from 49%. In addition to gaining majority control over Alibaba Pictures, Group will also have majority representation on the board of directors.

China's AI start-up Megvii raising $500 million at $3.5 billion valuation: sources | Reuters Bank of China Group Investment Ltd, the state bank’s private equity (PE) arm, is looking to lead the fundraising with $200 million, two of the people told Reuters, declining to be named as the information is confidential. Terms of the fundraising have not been finalised, the people added.

Society, Art, Sports, Culture And History

Palden Gyatso, Monk Who Suffered for a Free Tibet, Dies at 85 - The New York Times Palden Gyatso, a Tibetan Buddhist monk who defied Chinese control of his homeland, and who then fled to tell the world his story of more than three decades of hardship in Chinese prisons and labor camps, died on Nov. 30 in Dharamsala, India. He was 85. The cause was liver cancer, said a spokesman for Free Tibet, a nonprofit organization dedicated to Tibetan liberation.

Energy, Environment, Science And Health

China Gene-Editing Scientist's Project Rejected For WHO Database - Bloomberg A Chinese branch of the World Health Organization has withdrawn an application to register He Jiankui’s project in its clinical database. The move comes after China’s government halted He’s work, saying it would take a ‘‘zero tolerance attitude in dealing with dishonorable behavior” in research.

China’s Need for Medical Coverage Is Driving Growth in Mutual Aid Platforms In a country where nearly all residents receive medical coverage from the government, 90% of the population doesn’t have private health insurance. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t a need. Enter the “online mutual aid plan.” It’s a product that aims to provide the same benefits as medical insurance — but that isn’t actually insurance. And regulators have ruled the companies peddling it can’t call it insurance.

Agriculture And Rural Issues

China's record rice yield -- a blessing for global grain consumers - Nikkei Asian Review For a second year in a row China has set a record for rice production, this time with a yield of more than 18 tons on a hectare. This is almost three times the average in neighboring Japan, where farmers favor flavor over quantity and do not have 1.4 billion people to nourish. The record was set in an experimental paddy in the northern province of Hebei that had been planted with a variety known as Xiangliangyou 900. A team of researchers led by Yuan Longping, China's "father of hybrid rice," developed the varietal.

China reports new African swine fever cases - Xinhua China has confirmed new outbreaks of African swine fever in the northern province of Shaanxi and southern province of Guizhou, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs said Monday.


Beijing population hit turning point in 2017: report - ECNS Beijing Population Blue Paper, jointly released by Beijing Population and Social Development Research Center, an institute under Beijing Municipal Party School, and Social Science Academic Press, found that the capital’s population was 21.707 million in 2017, a decrease of 22,000 since the end of 2016.