Trade talks; Positive energy and the economy; Policy implementation; BRI; Altaba exiting Alibaba

Is this the week Liu He and Robert Lighthizer reach a deal to present to President Trump and General Secretary Xi? I do not know, but optimism seems to be growing an agreement is close. I have a hard time believing Xi will agree to any deal that keeps existing tariffs in place or allows the US to penalize China unconditionally, but perhaps the US side has softened its demands in those areas.

More and more people seem to be picking greed over fear when looking at the prospects for China’s economy for the rest of year. Have things really turned, and is all the policy support and bits of stimuli kicking in? As I have said before given the political sensitivities of this year I would not want to be betting against Beijing right now, and a trade deal would only add fuel to the positive energy.

Thanks for reading.

The Essential Eight

1. US-China trade

US and China draw closer to final trade agreement | Financial Times $$

Top US and Chinese officials have resolved most of the issues standing in the way of a deal to end their long-running trade dispute but are still haggling over how to implement and enforce the agreement, people briefed on the talks have said...

Although an agreement was within reach, the two sides remain apart on two key issues — the fate of existing US levies on Chinese goods, which Beijing wants to see removed, and the terms of an enforcement mechanism demanded by Washington to ensure that China abides by the deal...

White House sees 'headway' on U.S.-China trade ahead of new talks this week | Reuters

“We expect to make more headway. I can’t report any of the details, but it’s a larger, grander discussion than anything we’ve had before in U.S.-China trade relations, and there’s a certain amount of optimism,” Kudlow said in remarks at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

US President Trump says he called Xi Jinping the "king" of China - CNN

Speaking Tuesday at the National Republican Congressional Committee spring dinner in Washington, Trump said Xi had denied he was a king but the US leader insisted.
He said, 'But I am not king, I am president.' I said 'No, you're president for life, and therefore you're king'," Trump told his audience, prompting laughter.

"He said, huh. He liked that. I get along with him great."

2. Economy picking up?

China March services activity quickens to 14-month high in further sign of recovery: Caixin PMI | Reuters

The Caixin/Markit services purchasing managers’ index (PMI) rose to 54.4, the highest since January 2018 and up from February’s 51.1, a fourth-month low. The 50-mark separates growth from contraction.

Survey respondents said activity was being buoyed by stronger demand, new state policies and improved access to financing.

The findings were largely in line with those of an official gauge on the non-manufacturing sector released on Sunday, which showed services activity picked up in March as new orders rose more quickly. Construction, in particular, showed strength, likely reflecting government efforts to fast-track more infrastructure projects to kindle domestic demand.

Shanghai’s benchmark stock index rises to a 12-month high, buoyed by an unexpected pickup in China’s services industry | South China Morning Post

“We expect the services sector to continue to show signs of recovery in the upcoming months, as fiscal policy easing provides more support for the private sector,” said HSBC’s economist Chen Jingyang, in a research note after Caixin’s Services PMI was released. “This should further support economic activity and boost business confidence.”

The Wild Beasts of Chinese Real Estate Are Growing Up - Bloomberg

What a difference six months makes. Now real estate companies are thriving. This year, Vanke managed to quickly sell more than 70 percent of 126 luxury apartments available at the launch of a new riverside project in Shanghai. They were priced between 25 million yuan and 35 million yuan ($3.7 million and $5.2 million) each, a pretty striking sign of returning confidence.

The Chinese economy is stabilising | Financial Times $$ - Martin Wolf

Is the Chinese economy recovering from its slowdown at the end of last year? “Yes”, say Gavyn Davies, Goldman Sachs and many others. During my recent visit to Shanghai and Beijing, a number of economists and private businessmen also indicated growing optimism about China’s economic prospects. Why do they think this and are they likely to be right?...

I was surprised by how cheerful people I met were, especially in Shanghai, China’s financial capital. This greater optimism seems to be in line with the evidence for early 2019...

As the government continues to talk the talk about making the business environment better for local and foreign firms - China to introduce policies to lessen burden on businesses, individuals - Xinhua

The measures identified at the meeting Wednesday are the most recent moves for fee reduction following the lowering of the social insurance contribution rate. Full delivery of these measures is expected to lighten the fee burden on companies and individuals by more than 300 billion yuan in 2019.

"Tax and fee cuts are our key measure to tackle the downward economic pressure this year. They are a major policy initiative. Cutting fees could serve multiple purposes. All government departments must do their best to effectively ease the burden on businesses and deliver real benefits to consumers," Li said. "This will also boost our industrial development."

Top legislature launches enforcement inspection on SME promoting law - Xinhua

The Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC) has launched an inspection on the enforcement of the Law on Promoting Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs) in a bid to improve the legal and business environment.

NPC inspection teams will be sent to six provincial regions, in addition to inspections carried out by entrusted local legislative authorities in eight other regions.

The inspection is designed to facilitate implementation of the law among various government agencies, said Li Zhanshu, chairman of the NPC Standing Committee, while presiding over the first plenary meeting of the program Tuesday.

Chinese vice premier stresses cuts of corporate pension insurance contributions - Xinhua

Localities and related departments must ensure a substantial reduction in the actual burden of companies, Han, also a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, said at a meeting.

The country will lower the share borne by employers for urban workers' basic pension insurance, and localities may cut corporate contributions down to 16 percent, according to this year's government work report.

China to revise laws, regulations related to foreign investment law - Xinhua

Draft amendments for administrative licensing law, trademark law, construction law and electronic signature law were passed Wednesday at a State Council executive meeting presided over by Premier Li Keqiang.

It was also decided at the meeting to submit the draft amendments to the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, China's top legislature, for deliberation, according to a statement after the meeting.

Suggestions for revisions include adding the principle of "non-discrimination" in administrative licensing, substantially raising the amount of compensation for infringing exclusive rights to use trademarks, and cutting approval time for applications for qualified construction permits.

China names and shames local governments for mistreating foreign investors | South China Morning Post

The National Audit Office said in its quarterly report that it had found 45 local authorities who had committed violations relating to levying unauthorised fees and delays in granting business licenses...

The quarterly audit is a broad review on whether local governments are implementing Beijing’s rules and policies covering poverty reduction, pollution control, financial risk management, reducing business costs and improving business environment. However, it is rare for Beijing’s audit office to name the local governments for mistreating foreign investors.

Making China’s Tax Cuts Fiscally Sustainable by Shang-Jin Wei - Project Syndicate

China is about to slash the employer contribution rate to the social-security fund from 18-20% (with some variation across regions) to 16%, and cut the value-added tax (VAT) rate from 16% to 13% (for most enterprises). This is on top of a previously announced reduction in the corporate income tax charged on the first CN¥3 million ($447,000) of taxable income. These policy moves are timely and useful in combating the downward pressure on economic growth, but they also raise the risk of a future debt crisis.

The loss of government revenue will not be entirely proportional to these rate reductions, as the government can also tighten enforcement to reduce tax evasion.

3. As pressure to implement central policies increases

Anti-graft chief stresses supervision over policy implementation - Xinhua

Zhao Leji, a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and secretary of the CPC Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, made the remarks during his investigation and research tour in east China's Jiangxi Province from Sunday to Wednesday.

Discipline inspection and supervisory authorities at all levels were called on to focus on the implementation of major decisions of the CPC Central Committee and contribute to the building of a moderately prosperous society.

During the tour, he called for greater efforts to fight corruption in poverty alleviation, and promote a new type of cordial and clean relationship between government and business.

While meeting with local CPC officials, Zhao stressed that supervision should focus on the practice of "formalities for formalities' sake" and bureaucratism to alleviate the burden on primary-level authorities.

Wednesday CCTV Evening News on Zhao's inspection tour 赵乐际在江西调研

四川省纪委监委:政商关系向亲清,七大隐忧待消除_中国政库_澎湃新闻-The Paper

The CCDI's Disciplinary Inspection and Supervision Magazine has an article on relations between officials and businesses, says the relationship is improving but there remain "seven hidden worries", from continued corruption and trading power for benefits to officials not doing anything because it is safer than making an approval decision that can blow up in their faces

Comment: Since there is less in it for them in terms of material benefits Beijing will have to increasingly resort to the stick to get local officials to do what it wants. Local policy adherence is not unique to the CCP; it is a recurring theme in the thousands of years of dynastic history in China.

4. Belt and Road

China Moves to Define `Belt and Road' Projects for First Time - Bloomberg

China is drafting rules for overseas investments to be considered part of President Xi Jinping’s Belt and Road Initiative, according to people familiar with the matter, marking the first attempt to better define his signature policy.

The plan, which isn’t yet final, aims to stop companies from misusing the label “Belt and Road Initiative,” said the people, who asked not to be named because the discussions were private. Unchecked use of the name on projects has created confusion about the initiative’s scope and damaged its reputation abroad, they said.

One of the people said the National Development and Reform Commission, or NDRC, is working on a list of legitimate Belt and Road Initiative projects officially acknowledged by the Chinese government. It would include both state-owned enterprises and private companies, helping authorities improve regulation of projects, the person said.

Refining BRI should be no surprise, but given it is written into the Constitution no one should be under any illusion it is going away. This article by the Central Literature Research Center 中共中央文献研究室 in the 12.20.2018 People's Daily recounts the timeline of how Xi put forward the Belt and Road and explains why the initiative matters.- 打造国际合作新平台 增添共同发展新动力--观点--人民网 

Google translate: In short, Comrade Xi Jinping’s important exposition on the construction of the “Belt and Road” has built a high-rise and unified overall situation, with profound ideas and rich connotations, and provided fundamental follow-up for promoting the construction of the “Belt and Road”. [Emphasis mine] In the past few years, the “One Belt and One Road” has been built to complete the overall layout, and a “big freehand brushwork” has been drawn. In the future, we will focus on the key points and carefully crafted the “fine brushwork”. 

The second Belt and Road Forum is at the end of April - U.S. says will not send high-level officials to China's Silk Road summit | Reuters

“We will not send high-level officials from the United States,” U.S. State Department spokesman Robert Palladino said in answer to a question from Reuters.

“We will continue to raise concerns about opaque financing practices, poor governance, and disregard for internationally accepted norms and standards, which undermine many of the standards and principles that we rely upon to promote sustainable, inclusive development, and to maintain stability and a rules-based order.

Comment: NSC Senior Director for Asia Matt Pottinger attended the first BRI forum in 2017

China striving to get Indian bizmen for BRI meet - Times of India

China is sending invitations to several Indian entities to attend the upcoming Belt and Road Forum in Beijing from April 25. It is striving to ensure business attendance from India as the government is likely to boycott the event again.

Chinese Banks Could Be Getting Edged Out of Belt and Road - Bloomberg

The currency of the global construction industry is dollars, and Beijing doesn’t have an endless supply of them. With the country heading into a current account deficit and the economy slowing down, cash isn’t flowing as freely as it once did. Martin David, the Asia Pacific head of Baker McKenzie’s projects group, says the growing involvement of international banks is inevitable: “There isn’t a bottomless pit of Chinese bank money.”

China’s Belt-and-Road Initiative Puts a Squeeze on Pakistan - WSJ $$

In Pakistan, where the powerful army has overseen the decadeslong strategic relationship with China, public criticism from the government has been muted. But new Prime Minister Imran Khan was critical of many of the projects his predecessor Nawaz Sharif initiated with China in the four-year-old program.

Mr. Khan’s government has quietly put on hold many of the remaining $62 billion of CPEC projects—so far, $19 billion of roads, power plants and port development were started or completed, Beijing said.

Comment: The cynic in me wonders how many of the politicians in places like Pakistan, Malaysia, Sri Lanka et al are pushing back against BRI projects solely because they are not totally rational economically, and how many are just renegotiating with Beijing to make sure they get a taste like their predecessors did?

Wariness Over BRI as State Counselor Prepares for Beijing Forum - The Irrawaddy

Upon signing the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for the China-Myanmar Economic Corridor (CMEC) in September last year, the Myanmar government officially became a partner in China’s ambitious Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). China has proposed 30 projects as part of the BRI...

The Irrawaddy has learned that the Myanmar government is drafting a master plan relating to the CMEC. This includes some significant conditions, including that identified projects are to be selected through a public tender process, and that Myanmar should be allowed to borrow from multiple sources if debt financing is required.

5. PRC citizen arrested at Mar-a-Lago

Chinese woman arrested at Mar-a-Lago with malware | Miami Herald

The woman, Yujing Zhang, has been charged with two federal crimes: making false statements to a federal officer and entering restricted property. 

She was carrying four cell phones, one laptop, one external hard-drive and a thumb drive, according to court records. In a charging document, a Secret Service agent said a preliminary forensic examination of the thumb drive showed it contained “malicious malware.” The court filing did not provide further details about the nature of the malware... 

But Zhang told agents she was invited to Mar-a-Lago by a Chinese friend she identified only as “Charles,” according to court records. Yang worked with a Chinese event promoter named Charles Lee to advertise Safari Night and other galas and political fundraisers featuring the Trump family at Mar-a-Lago over the past year.

Lee runs a group called the United Nations Chinese Friendship Association, similar to the name of the event Zhang said she wished to attend. The group, which is not affiliated with the U.N., has promoted the Chinese Communist Party, and advertised events at Mar-a-Lago as ways for Chinese businessmen to participate in President Xi Jinping’s so-called business diplomacy agenda — essentially, an effort to have Chinese executives make friends with important people abroad.

More on Lee's group:

Comment: She may be a bumbling grifter looking to use proximity to US power to further business interests, and all her devices may be innocuous, and she may have had no idea there was malware on the USB drive. But given the stakes, no responsible law enforcement or intelligence professional would not have alarm bells ringing over the close proximity so many people with ties to the PRC have to the US President. 

6. Yahoo’s successor firm selling all its shares in Alibaba

Yahoo spinout Altaba is selling its entire Alibaba stake and closing down | TechCrunch

Altaba will shift its remaining Alibaba holdings — that’s around 11 percent of the company following a partial sale last year; Altaba is Alibaba’s second-largest stakeholder — and disappear from the world by Q4. 

The sale is expected to generate a net return of around $40 billion for Altaba stockholders — the provided range is between $39.8 billion and $41.1 billion based on share prices and associated expenditure — and it’ll happen in two parts. The first will see up to 50 percent of the stake sold, the rest will be traded if Altaba receives approval from its stockholders.

The official announcement - Altaba Announces Board Approval of Plan of Complete Liquidation and Dissolution

Comment: Yahoo may have been run into the ground by its board and last few CEOs but from a shareholder return perspective it may have had the greatest return of any American company ever in China.

7. History of US-China relations in a new podcast series

Georgetown University Initiative for U.S.-China Dialogue on Global Issues Initiative | U.S.-China Dialogue Podcast

"A new podcast series that captures the profound and candid reflections of ambassadors, cabinet secretaries, and senior officials whose actions have shaped and are shaping the course of ties between the United States and China through the many twists and turns in what arguably is the most complex relationship in international diplomacy today"

The first three are online, with Susan Thornton, John Negroponte and Michael Froman. Former US government official James Green (also my China studies classmate at SAIS under Alice Miller) is running the initiative.

8. Increasing focus on the “China threat” beyond trade

China Threat Rises to NATO’s Agenda - WSJ $$

After five years focused on Russia, NATO ministers this week hold their first formal discussion on a perceived threat from China that ranges from the Arctic Circle to members’ own communication networks....

China will be discussed at the end of a NATO ministers’ session on countering terrorism, several diplomats said. Allies are in the early stages of evaluating what the threat from China could be and how the alliance, which is focused on the defense of Europe, should respond.

U.S. Military Refocuses on Pacific to Counter Chinese Ambitions - WSJ $$

The U.S. military has held talks with the Federated States of Micronesia about opening new naval facilities and expanding an airport runway, according to Micronesian government officials and official minutes of a Dec 4, 2018, defense meeting between officials of both nations. The minutes were reviewed by The Wall Street Journal. 

The U.S. Army also is in discussions to launch joint military exercises in Micronesia, according to the minutes and to Army officials.

The expansion comes as U.S. military planners are refocusing on peripheral and nearly-forgotten strategic lands elsewhere in the Pacific. The Journal reported in January that the Navy also plans to reopen a closed Alaskan base on Adak in the Aleutian Islands and will conduct “freedom of navigation” operations partly to counter Chinese and Russian maritime expansion in the Arctic.

Business, Economy and Trade

Central Government Departments Heed Call to Tighten Their Belts - Caixin Of the 102 central government departments that released their 2019 budgets on Tuesday, nearly half, or 46, reduced their general public spending budgets from what they actually spent last year, according to Caixin’s calculation based on official data. However, 49 departments increased their budgets compared with last year’s actual spending. Seven departments did not provide such figures.

China triples investment in emerging Asia on trade war | Financial Times $$ Data from the Asian Development Bank (ADB) published on Wednesday showed that greenfield investment by Chinese companies in the “rest of developing Asia” — a definition comprising 44 Asian countries excluding China — soared to $54.9bn in 2018, up 198 per cent over 2017.

China’s CSSC strengthens links with state banks | Jane's 360 CSSC’s agreement with the Export-Import Bank of China is intended to support the export of “high-end vessels” through the provision of financial services including credit, guarantees, trade financing, and consulting, said SASTIND.

Inside Grindr, fears that China wanted to access user data via HIV research On July 3, 2018, Chen informed three Grindr employees that Yiming Shao, an HIV researcher for China’s equivalent of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, was interested in working with Grindr. To facilitate this project, Chen wrote an email to the employees — obtained by NBC News — that suggested putting a full-time “intern” in Grindr’s West Hollywood, California, headquarters to do research and work on a paper about HIV prevention that would be co-published with the company. “They are attracted by our brand, reach and data,” Chen wrote in the email. “We need to be extremely careful about their data request. Yiming is head of HIV prevention in China CDC. We can’t let people say this is about ‘sharing user data with the Chinese government.’”

Politics and Law

安徽原副省长陈树隆受贿2.7亿被判无期 处罚1.7亿元_凤凰网资讯 life in prison for former Anhui vice governor Chen Shulong

记者手记:在西柏坡,接受一次“赶考”的洗礼-新华网 On March 28, the Central Propaganda Department held a launch ceremony of a large-scale thematic interview activity entitled "70 years of magnificence and a new era of struggle" in Xibaipo, Hebei Province. More than 300 editors and reporters from the central and local news organizations came here to visit and study, to draw strength for the upcoming spot investigation and interviews, and to strengthen the "four forces" for the news work in the new era.

China bars human rights lawyer from US State Dept. program - AP A prominent Chinese human rights lawyer said he was blocked on vague national security grounds from leaving the country to participate in a U.S. State Department-sponsored studies program. Chen Jiangang said he was pulled aside Monday at Beijing airport and told by a customs agent that he was forbidden to leave but he was given no detailed reasons or a written explanation.

山东省人民政府驻京办党委书记窦玉明接受审查调查—中央纪委国家监委网站 The director and party secretary of the Shandong Provincial representative office in Beijing is under investigation

Ain’t no party like a Communist Party: Chinese cadres told how to celebrate political ‘birthdays’ | South China Morning Post The party’s top disciplinary watchdog, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI), published an article on its website on Monday advising all party members on how to celebrate the anniversary as part of the drive to strengthen control over its members.

Foreign and Defense Affairs

New Zealand ‘Does Not Pick Sides,’ Leader Says, Signaling Belt and Road Support - Caixin In plain terms, [PM] Ardern told Caixin that Huawei is not banned from New Zealand, and that the country was looking forward to seeing how it can work with China in the Belt and Road Initiative and on climate change. And she also described her eagerness to upgrade the China-New Zealand Free Trade Agreement.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte calls China a ‘friend’ amid South China Sea tensions | South China Morning Post China is not after Philippine territory and has not asked for anything in exchange for the weapons and aid it’s given the Philippines, Duterte said in a campaign speech in Manila late on Tuesday. “You know, Red China or Communist China just wants to be friends with us,” Duterte said.

US and Philippines said to be in talks on rocket system to deter Beijing’s ‘militarisation’ in South China Sea | South China Morning Post Washington and Manila have been discussing the potential deployment of an upgraded US rocket system in a bid to deter Beijing’s “militarisation” of its artificial islands in the contested South China Sea, according to regional security experts. But the two sides have been unable to reach a deal because the high-mobility artillery rocket system (HIMARS) could be too expensive for Manila given its tight defence budget, they said.

China's PLA aerobatic team joins Pakistan's National Day celebrations - CGTN The Chinese People's Liberation Army Air Force's aerobatic team has performed for the first time in a foreign country's national day celebration

China Plans International Airport In Tibet To Facilitate Mansarovar Visit China is planning to upgrade a domestic airport to an international one in Ali prefecture of the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) seeking to facilitate travel of foreign tourists, including Kailash Mansarovar Yatra pilgrims to the holy site, a senior Chinese official said Tuesday.

China plans to replace its longtime envoy to Japan, Cheng Yonghua, sources say, as ties improve | The Japan Times With relations between the two countries improving, Beijing has likely deemed it is in a position to send a new ambassador, the sources said. Vice Foreign Minister Kong Xuanyou, considered an expert on Japan, is seen as a leading candidate to succeed Cheng.

Another look at China’s involvement in the power sector in Sub-Saharan Africa When we first looked at China’s involvement in the sub-Saharan Africa power sector in 2016, we found that Chinese companies operating as the main contractor were responsible for almost 30% of capacity additions in the region. Renewable sources accounted for 56% of total capacity added by Chinese projects, including 49% from hydropower. Taking another look this year, we find that capacity additions by Chinese companies have fallen somewhat, but low-carbon projects represent a larger share.

Hong Kong and Macao

New extradition law would enable China to capture journalists in Hong Kong, warns media watchdog | Hong Kong Free Press HKFP The Hong Kong Journalists Association (HKJA) has said that an update to Hong Kong’s extradition laws could enable China to get hold of journalists in Hong Kong with all kinds of unfounded charges, and bring an end to the limited freedom of speech that Hong Kong still enjoys. The government’s amendment to the Fugitive Offenders Ordinance and the Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Ordinance will be tabled at the legislature on Wednesday.


US Marines to be stationed at AIT compound - Taipei Times The American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) yesterday said that plans for US Marines to be posted at its new compound in Taipei’s Neihu Distrcit (內湖) are consistent with common practice since 2005 and are part of efforts to ensure the safety of staff. The AIT made the comments while announcing the date for the move to the new location as May 6.

Both sides of Taiwan Strait are Chinese territories - China Military Liu Guoshen, Executive Director of the Collaborative Innovation Center for Peaceful Development of Cross-Strait Relations, said in an interview on March 31 that the so-called “median line of the Taiwan Strait” is a pseudo-proposition. Both sides of the Taiwan Strait belong to one China. Both sides have and only have one motherland, that is the People’s Republic of China, and we share a responsibility to safeguard the unity and integrity of the country's territory and sovereignty.

Tech and Media

Yicai Global - Baidu to Put Robotaxis on Changsha City Streets Baidu will start commercially operating 100 autopilot taxis in designated areas of Changsha, the capital of China's central Hunan province, in the second half of 2018, Beijing Business Today reported, citing co-founder and Chief Executive Robin Li.

China tech worker protest against long working hours goes viral | Financial Times $$ The “anti-996” campaign opposes employees working shifts of 9am-9pm, six days a week, which are commonly required by the country’s tech giants. The movement is being organised by volunteers on collaborative platforms — primarily Microsoft’s GitHub, used for code-sharing, as well as Slack, used for messaging. 

US semiconductor firms call for more backing from Washington to stay ahead of advancing China | South China Morning Post Semiconductor companies are calling on Congress on Wednesday to triple government spending to US$5 billion by 2024 to advance new designs and materials aimed at boosting chip performance. They also seek a doubling, to US$40 billion, of research spending for semiconductor-related sectors including computer science, engineering and applied mathematics, and a 50 per cent hike to US$1.5 billion for US science, technology, engineering and maths education to help fill a skills gap.

Qualcomm’s China Venture Shows Risks of Beijing’s Tech Ambition — The Information $$ Chinese government officials showcased Huaxintong Semiconductor, or HXT, as a shining example of how the country was going to leverage foreign expertise to build up its semiconductor industry. On one side of the joint venture there was the local government of Guizhou, a poor, rural province that has lured everyone from Apple to Huawei to build data centers there with the promise of cheap electricity and cool temperatures. On the other was Qualcomm, which had promised to invest in the Chinese economy as part of an antitrust settlement and later needed Beijing’s approval for a huge multinational merger. But the venture’s grand plans—to build chips for servers in data centers springing up across China—haven’t quite worked out. Amid intensifying competition, demand for HXT’s chips never materialized, according to people familiar with the project. Now, some employees at HXT say they have halted work on future projects.

Nearly 1,000 games have received a license since the restart of game approvals in China – Niko The rate of approvals is slower than it has been in prior years. In Q1 2019 there have been 795 titles approved compared to 1,931 titles during Q1 2018. This is primarily due to a crackdown on titles in the poker and mah-jong genre after China’s government became concerned about real world money being used in these games. In Q1 2018, 49.8% of game licenses (equal to 962) were for poker & mah-jong games whilst there were zero poker & mah-jong games approved in the first quarter of 2019. The lack of poker & mah-jong titles is the main reason why the number will be lower this year than in past years.

Society, Arts, Sports, Culture and History

Chinese bid farewell to dead firefighters - Ministry of National Defense China's Ministry of Emergency Management and Liangshan government have turned their websites into black and white to mourn those who died. Chinese internet users have paid their respects to those who lost their lives. Posts on social media from the firefighters have been widely shared on China's Twitter-like platform Sina Weibo

Actor apologizes after ‘defending’ Japanese invaders on social media - Global Times Netizens have accused Swedish actor Zhao Lixin, who was born in Central China's Henan Province and currently works in China, of excusing the Japanese for their war crimes. Well-known TV and movie actor Zhao, 51, asked on a Sina Weibo post on Tuesday "why didn't the Japanese steal relics from the Palace Museum and burn it down during the eight years the Japanese occupied Beijing? Is it in line with the nature of the invader?" which sparked heated controversy among netizens. Zhao was referring to the period between 1931 and 1945 when Japan invaded China.

Photo Essay: China’s Left-Behind Elders - Caixin In the mountains surrounding the city of Dingxi in Northwest China’s Gansu province, entire communities have lost their youngest residents.Left behind in the province, one of China’s poorest, are the oldest people who continue to eke out meager existences in a bleak landscape. In Bailiu village near Dingxi, there are fewer than 4,000 people — nearly none under the age of 35.// Heartbreaking photos

Wǒ Men Podcast: Under Red Skies - Inside the Minds of Chinese Millennials Author and former New York Times journalist Karoline Kan joins the Wo Men Podcast at the Yenching Global Symposium to discuss how history has helped shape China's millennial generation

The Inclusive School Fighting China’s Stigma Against Autism - SixthTone Schools like Yulan are rare in China. The country is home to more than 2 million children with autism, with 200,000 new diagnoses every year, according to a 2017 report jointly released by Beijing Normal University, the Beijing-based Wucailu Autism Research Institute, and state news agency Xinhua. China’s Ministry of Education encourages schools to accommodate children with autism as much as possible, and in 2014 the State Council — China’s Cabinet — announced a plan to enhance the country’s special-education services. Nonetheless, roughly half of the country’s autistic children do not attend school at all.

‘Death education’ - Global Times Gu Jin, an NPC delegate attending as a chief physician at Beijing Cancer Hospital, submitted a proposal that death education should be conducted among students in primary and middle schools. "China is exploring death education, which should focus on delivering relative knowledge, and promoting the ability to deal with death based on respecting life," he said. Special death education for late-stage cancer patients is highlighted in his proposal. "A good death should also be a right," he said. The proposal sparked discussion on China's internet and topped the weibo trending list. Chinese netizens' discussions over the legalization of Euthanasia have drawn public attention as well as controversy.

Energy, Environment, Science and Health

Hainan to designate tropical rainforest park covering one-seventh of the island - Global Times The management model for the park could serve as a guide for the future designation of a marine national park in the waters of the South China Sea, observers said Tuesday.

Water diversion project benefits 12 million people in Beijing | SCIO The South-to-North Water Diversion Project brought Beijing 4.2 billion cubic meters of water from Danjiangkou Reservoir as of the end of 2018, benefiting more than 12 million people, according to Yang Jinhuai, deputy director of the Beijing Water Authority.

China Unveils Lower-Than-Expected Tariffs for New Wave of Nuclear Plants - Caixin the National Development and Reform Commission announced tariffs for three “third generation” nuclear reactors. According to the new announcement, the three plants will receive guaranteed tariffs of between 0.4141 yuan ($0.06) per kilowatt-hour (kWh) and 0.4350 yuan/kWh, in a trial that will last until 2021. The trial tariffs were lower than many in the industry expected, said Xu Yuming, the deputy director of the expert committee at the China Nuclear Energy Association, a government-affiliated industry group.