Trade talks; RMB; Family planning; Naughty New Zealand; Roderick MacFarquhar

It is a rainy Tuesday here in DC and a bit of a slow news day so there is not much commentary up top from me.

There is a growing expectation that the US-China trade talks will lead to at least a ceasefire and a framework deal to keep discussing (aka punting on) the deeper structural issues. Are we getting lulled into false confidence, or has President Trump decided he needs a deal, for political and economic reasons? I believe Xi long ago decided he needed a deal but he and his negotiators are in no hurry to make big concessions while they pursue every available avenue to soften President Trump’s resolve.

The China studies field lost a giant. Professor Roderick MacFarquhar passed away over the weekend. The South China Morning Post has published one of the first of many obituaries to come - Roderick MacFarquhar: the scholar who wrote the leading history of China’s Cultural Revolution as it happened:

Harvard University’s Fairbank Centre for China Studies, where MacFarquhar was director from 1986-1992, described him as a “great scholar and great man”...

MacFarquhar is best known for his works on China under the rule of chairman Mao Zedong, including the The Origins of the Cultural Revolution and Mao’s Last Revolution.

MacFarquhar, who started writing on Communist China as early as the 1960s, finished the first of his three-volume The Origins of the Cultural Revolution in 1974, two years before the end of the decade of turmoil, which is still a taboo topic in China.

We all benefited from his scholarship. RIP Professor MacFarquhar.

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The Essential Eight

1. US-China trade

China, U.S. Seek to Narrow Gap on Trade for Trump, Xi to Close at Summit - WSJ $$

Chinese and U.S. negotiators are focusing this week on producing a broad outline of a trade agreement for their presidents to clinch at a possible summit, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

Officials holding trade and economic portfolios for both governments are seeking to narrow the still-substantial gap between the concessions China is willing to offer and what the Trump administration will accept...

Both sides hope to hash out a framework of a deal, the people said, with the goal of getting it finalized in a meeting between President Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping...

U.S. officials, who have for years complained about China’s poor follow-up record, are pushing for provisions that would either permit Washington to reimpose tariffs on Chinese goods should Beijing fail to meet certain milestones—“snap-back” in trade lingo—or leave the levies in place and gradually remove them levies if Beijing meets agreed-upon yardsticks.

Chinese negotiators have pushed back at both ideas, saying that these mechanisms would violate China’s sovereign rights.

U.S. Sees Trump-Xi Meeting Soon as Lighthizer Arrives in Beijing - Bloomberg:

“He wants to meet with President Xi very soon,” White House adviser Kellyanne Conway said Monday on Fox News. “This president wants a deal. He wants it to be fair to Americans and American workers and American interests.”

Kevin Rudd says Donald Trump's trade deal with China will be 'superficial' - AFR:

"I think it will be, as it were, superficial plus," Kevin Rudd, head of the New York-based Asia Society Policy Institute, told CNBC. "But it will not get into fundamental territory."

"Both leaders [Trump and Xi Jinping] want a deal; the negotiators, however, remain divided on the substance."

United States to remain sole global economic superpower until 2035, Chinese government think tank says | South China Morning Post:

The United States will remain the world’s only global economic superpower until 2035 even though China’s role in the world economic landscape will become more important, according to Beijing’s latest predictions, in an apparent toning down of the mainland’s public ambitions for its future role in global economy.

While the report by the Development Research Centre of the State Council (DRC) does not directly address the rivalry between China and US, it does attempt to project a relatively low profile role for China over the next two decades.

Course Correction: Toward an Effective and Sustainable China Policy | Asia Society:

The Task Force proposes a strategy of "smart competition." "Smart competition" involves building on American strengths to compete effectively with China while maintaining as much cooperation as possible in areas of common interest; building international coalitions to press China to follow international laws and norms; negotiating resolutions of key disputes wherever feasible; and preserving and updating those international institutions that have enhanced the welfare and security of both countries and the rest of the world for so many decades.

The report is available here 

Trump Can't Waste China Trade Talks - Bloomberg-By J. Kyle Bass and Daniel Babich

The country’s pernicious debt load and rapidly weakening economy mean the U.S. has more leverage in trade talks now than it ever had before (Disclosure: Hayman Capital Management, where the author is chief investment officer, has positions in the Chinese currency.)

Bass may be channeling Steve Bannon and Guo Wengui—The Kyle Bass Interviews: Stephen K. Bannon's China Warning | Real Vision:

Stephen K. Bannon, former White House Chief Strategist, sits down with hedge fund giant Kyle Bass to discuss America’s current geopolitical landscape regarding China. Bannon and Bass take a deep dive into Chinese infiltration in U.S. institutions, China’s aggressiveness in the South China sea, and the potential for global conflict in the next few years. Filmed on October 5, 2018 at an undisclosed location.

The Kyle Bass Interviews: The Billionaire Chinese Dissident 

Kyle Bass sits down with infamous Chinese businessman Guo Wengui, also known as known as “Miles Kwok,” to hear a series of shocking accusations and predictions revolving around the Chinese government. Kwok provides his perception of the backstory behind several recent high-profile news items, and touches on the Chinese government’s management of the economy. He also unfurls an alarming forecast about Alibaba co-founder Jack Ma. Filmed on October 5, 2018 at an undisclosed location.


2. US campaign against Huawei goes to Hungary

Pompeo warns allies Huawei presence complicates partnership with U.S. | Reuters:

“We have seen this all around the world. It also makes it more difficult for America to be present,” Pompeo told reporters during a stop at the U.S. embassy, referring to Huawei equipment. “If that equipment is co-located where we have important American systems, it makes it more difficult for us to partner alongside them.”

Pompeo announced plans for a defense cooperation agreement with Hungary, one of the European governments that is most enthusiastic about Chinese investment. But he said he had discussed “the dangers of allowing China to gain a bridgehead in Hungary” in talks with Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto.

Transcript of the Pompeo-Szijjarto press conference:

SECRETARY POMPEO:Russia’s not the only power that wants to erode freedom in this region. I raised with Peter today the dangers of allowing China to gain a bridgehead in Hungary, and we talked openly about how we might work together on that issue. There’s an experience of states in the Asia-Pacific region that shows that Beijing’s handshake sometimes comes with strings, strings that will leave Hungary indebted both economically and politically...

FOREIGN MINISTER SZIJJARTO: (Via interpreter) We are NATO allies. When it comes to cooperation with Russia or cooperation with the People’s Republic of China, that does not harm us being a reliable – or doesn’t endanger us being a reliable ally to the United States and to NATO. If you look at our cooperation with China, we represent 1.2 percent of the trade between the European Union and the People’s Republic of China. If you look at that Chinese company which is very often in the news nowadays regarding telecommunication, are they present in Hungary? Yes. Who are their major contractors? A German and a British company. So when it comes to China, I think hypocrisy should be left finally behind. We are usually accused, Central Europeans, that the so-called 16+1 format is so much breaking the European Union. Now out of the 16 countries involved in this cooperation, 11 are members of the European Union. Do you know how many percent of EU-China trade 11 of us represent? Less than 10 percent. So I think it’s not us that will be the game-changers in the relationship between, let’s say, the Western world and China.

US moves to pull central and eastern Europe out of China-Russia orbit | Financial Times $$:

In advance of the trip, a senior US state department official said that Washington would be increasing its assistance to independent media in the four Visegrad countries — Slovakia, Poland and the Czech Republic as well as Hungary — and supporting investigative journalism in central Europe “to study the intersection between regional corruption and Russian and Chinese influence”.

Comment: Interesting idea, though may expose any reports funded by the US government to charges of propaganda...

The US message about Huawei is not resonating in the Philippines - Huawei gets vote of confidence from Philippines’ Globe Telecom, which says security concerns somewhat overblown | South China Morning Post:

Globe Telecom, a Philippines-based network operator that counts Huawei Technologies as a key supplier, said that concerns over the potential threat posed by the Chinese company to national security were overblown “to a certain extent” and that it was pushing ahead with a planned roll-out of fifth-generation (5G) commercial services in the second quarter of this year.

Blanket bans on Chinese tech companies like Huawei make no sense | Financial Times - Robert Hannigan $$

The key point here, obscured by the growing hysteria over Chinese tech, is that the NCSC has never found evidence of malicious Chinese state cyber activity through Huawei. It is not naive: it has, for example, pointed to the scale of Chinese state-linked cyber espionage through attacks on IT-managed service providers around the world. But the fact that these attacks did not require the manipulation of Chinese sovereign companies such as Huawei merely underlines how ineffective a blanket security ban based on company national flags is likely to be.

The writer was Director of GCHQ from 2014-17 and is a senior fellow at the Belfer Center, Harvard


3. New Zealand's turn in a Beijing barrel?

China, New Zealand links sink to new low: PM Jacinda Ardern's visit on hold, tourism project postponed - NZ Herald:

Diplomatic links with China appear to have plummeted to a new low as Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is given the cold shoulder by Beijing and a major tourism promotion is postponed by the superpower.

Ardern was scheduled to visit China early this year but the invitation has been put on hold.

The 2019 China-New Zealand Year of Tourism was meant to be launched with great fanfare at Wellington's Te Papa museum next week, but that has been postponed by China...

The decision by the Government's chief spy agency, the GCSB, to axe Chinese telco giant Huawei from the Spark 5G broadband rollout is seen by China as New Zealand taking sides with the United States.

Air NZ plane forced to turn around after airline forgot to remove reference to Taiwan | Stuff.co.nz:

An Air New Zealand plane which was forced to turn around en route to Shanghai did so for diplomatic reasons, but not because of recent unease with New Zealand's relationship with China.

Multiple sources say paperwork for the Air NZ flight 289, which returned to Auckland after several hours in the air included reference to Taiwan which China took to be an acknowledgement that the island was independent.

Question: What if this issue had been discovered only an hour from Shanghai, with fuel depleted? Would China still have refused permission to land?

New Zealand refutes claims of rift with China - Sydney Morning Herald:

New Zealand's business ministry on Tuesday confirmed it was postponing the launch of a much-touted "China-New Zealand Year of Tourism" project because "changes of schedule on the Chinese side" meant a visiting delegation couldn't make it to the opening ceremony in Wellington


4. "Digital Silk Road"

Good business for the right PRC firms, also good for pushing Beijing's broader agenda of reshaping global cyber governance and cyber norms. 

Securing the Digital Silk Road | Center for Advanced China Research:

This strategy is laid out in a guidance document published in 2017 by China’s State Information Center (SIC, 国家信息中心) entitled “Leveraging the ‘Belt and Road’ to Accelerate the Growth of Cybersecurity Enterprises in China” (借力“一带一路”加快我国网络安全企业走出去). The document assesses that BRI presents a significant opportunity for China-based cybersecurity firms to expand their overseas presence while noting that such companies are currently hampered by factors such as a lack of international brand recognition and insufficient experience operating abroad. SIC instead proposes establishing “linkage mechanisms” between the PRC government and select cybersecurity companies so that these enterprises can “cooperate and support the [PRC]’s national strategic aims, understand the needs of partner countries, and construct an interactive support architecture between the state and security enterprises.”..

A recent initiative undertaken by Beijing Venustech (启明星辰信息技术集团股份有限公司) serves as an instructive case study on the implementation of this public-private partnership strategy. Venustech is currently one of China’s largest and most prominent cybersecurity vendors, and boasts extensive ties with the PRC government. For example, it provides network security services for the municipal governments in Yunnan and Kunming, runs the Tianjin Security Operations Center (SOC), and has worked with both the Ministry of Public Security (中华人民共和国公安部) and the National Administration for the Protection of State Secrets (国家保密局) in developing national network security standards.

In 2018, Venustech signed a “Strategic Cooperation Agreement” with the China Association for Friendship (CAFF, 中国友谊促进会) to promote network security in BRI countries as part of the Digital Silk Road Initiative.

Comment: Venustech (web site) is an interesting and well-connected company. Founder and CEO Yan Wangjia (严望佳) has a PhD from the University of Pennsylvania. The company is often mentioned as participating in the Great Firewall project. 

China urges relevant countries to stop tarnishing China on cybersecurity - Xinhua:

Reports alleged that hackers working for China's state security department breached the network of a Norwegian software firm, as part of a global hacking operation aimed at stealing intellectual property and corporate secrets.

"This is nothing but one of those series of actions by a few countries to tarnish China's image," said Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying at a daily news briefing...

"Those who really care about cybersecurity issues should never forget the 'PRISM Program,' the 'Equation Group' and the worldwide WannaCry ransomware attack, which was caused by certain country's development of offensive cyber tools," Hua said, adding that these events have sounded the alarm for global cybersecurity.


5. RMB:USD not going to 7 this year?

Yuan edges up after slipping to near 3-week low - Nasdaq.com:

Strategists at Morgan Stanley revised their yuan forecasts, expecting it to finish this year at 6.55 per dollar and 6.30 by end of 2020, according to a note published on Monday.

Separately, China's foreign exchange reserves rose slightly more than expected in January as the yuan rallied on hopes for progress in Sino-U.S. trade talks that could lift some pressure on the cooling Chinese economy.

Reserves rose $15.2 billion in January - the biggest increase in a year - to $3.088 trillion, data showed on Monday.

Must be painful for Yuan bears, RMB:USD looked like it was on track to get a 7 handle, now has had quite a snapback, again. - Bass Says China Is 'Just a Paper Tiger' – Bloomberg 

Yicai Global - China's Forex Reserves Rose for Third Month in January to USD3.1 Trillion - Yicai Global:

When converted into US dollar, the euro-denominated part of the forex reserves lost some of their value while the yen-denominated part gained, Wen Bin, the chief analyst of China Minsheng Bank, told Yicai Global.

The supply and demand in China's foreign exchange market was balanced in January, and cross-border capital flows were generally stable, said Wang Chunying, a spokesperson of the State Administration of Foreign Exchange, adding that major currencies rose against the US dollar and that the value of financial assets gained.


6. Poverty alleviation and rural revitalization

China Wants to Plant More Cash in Rural Areas - Caixin:

The plans were outlined in a document released jointly on Monday by the People’s Bank of China (PBOC), the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission (CBIRC), the China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC), the Ministry of Finance (MOF) and the Ministry of Agriculture...

The focus up to 2020 will be on poverty alleviation, the document said, adding that new financial resources should be tilted toward impoverished areas..

Policymakers are also creating an assessment mechanism to measure how well financial institutions are doing in providing services in rural regions and plan to publish the results on a regular basis, although the document did not give any specific details of targets...

China to lift another ten million people out of poverty in 2019 - Xinhua:

About 13.86 million Chinese people were lifted out of poverty in 2018, thanks to the dedicated efforts by local authorities and competent departments in implementing the decisions made by the Communist Party of China Central Committee and the State Council, according to the country's State Council Leading Group Office of Poverty Alleviation and Development (SCLGOPAD)...

In 2019, another 10 million people will be lifted out of poverty to lay a solid foundation for winning the battle against poverty, the State Council's executive meeting chaired by Premier Li Keqiang decided on Monday.

At the meeting, Premier Li gave specific instructions on ways to push forward this work and to better manage the poverty alleviation funds.

"We must strive to meet the poverty alleviation target for this year. Making poverty history by 2020 is the solemn commitment our Party and government have made to the people. We must fulfill this commitment by ensuring full delivery of all related policies and consolidating the progress we have made," Li said.


7. Family planning rules to stay for now

No to abolishing family planning at the moment, top health authority says - China Daily:

All laws about population and family planning in China were made based on the Constitution which endorses implementation of the family planning policy, so it is not proper to immediately remove all articles concerning family planning from existing laws, the National Health Commission said in a statement posted on its website.

The statement was made in response to a suggestion from a deputy of the National People's Congress. The deputy was not named in the statement. The deputy suggested the NPC to remove all content about family planning from existing laws.

国家卫健委回应取消“计划生育”:不宜立即全面删除:

国家卫生健康委员会网站近日公布的“对十三届全国人大一次会议第1949号建议的答复”(以下简称“答复”),答复了全国人大代表关于取消“计划生育”的建议。该答复成文于2018年9月25日。

针对代表提出的“关于全国人大删去所有法律中各种有关‘计划生育’的内容”,国家卫健委答复称:“习近平总书记指出,‘宪法是国家的根本法,是治国安邦的总章程,具有最高的法律地位、法律权威、法律效力,具有根本性、全局性、稳定性和长期性’。

China’s Demographic Danger Grows as Births Fall Far Below Forecast - WSJ:

The number of newborns in China dropped to 15.23 million in 2018, according to the National Bureau of Statistics. That’s two million less than 2017 and 30% below the median official forecast of more than 21 million.

It was also the lowest level of births since 1961, when millions were struggling to survive during China’s Great Famine....

“The demographic outlook does appear to be deteriorating faster than officials had expected,” analysts at Capital Economics wrote in a recent research note.

That’s making it harder for officials to lower taxes much to stimulate growth, since doing so could make it tougher to shore up underfunded pension programs. It’s also making it harder to encourage consumers to boost spending, as more people worry over health and retirement costs.


8. Chinese students in Toronto unhappy with result of student election

A recap of the Scarborough Campus Students’ Union elections – The Varsity:

Online harassment of Lhamo for Tibetan activism

In the run-up to the release of the election results, Lhamo’s social media was attacked with comments that mostly concerned her outspoken stance on the Tibetan independence movement.

On her Lunar New Year post on Instagram, Lhamo received about 10,000 comments in the span of a day. Other recent posts have also been affected. Many of the comments included Chinese flag emojis, personal attacks, racist slurs, and vulgar words in English and Chinese.

“It’s been blowing up since the day after the elections,” Lhamo wrote to The Varsity. “It is concerning, not so much about my safety but rather the safety of our Canadian rights.”

“This is just an example of China’s long arms, how they still think and inherently believe that they can intimidate me into not running for Presidency,” said Lhamo.

According to Lhamo, the heads of security at UTSC and the U of T President’s office are both aware of the situation.

Chinese students slam students’ union bet over posts - Global Times:

Chinese students at a Canadian university launched an online petition questioning the qualifications of a student running for president of the students' union, who claims to be a "Tibetan refugee in India," following her pro-Tibet independence social media posts.

More than 9,000 people have signed the petition against Chemi Lhamo's qualifications as a presidential candidate for the student union at the University of Toronto Scarborough (UTSC) on Tuesday.

The petition, "We don't want such person to be the students' union president" on the website of change.org, a petition website, launched by a Chinese student going by Kennedy L on February 8, said Chemi Lhamo has "too much political involvement" with an outside group, which the petition identified as "Free Tibet."

"Her behavior on social media will damage the relations and feelings of international students if she is the president of the students' union," read the petition...

Ladder Street, a Chinese student association of the University of Toronto business school, wrote that the Canadian university "collects more than 700 million yuan in tuition fees from some 12,000 Chinese students, while allowing such Tibetan-separatist organization on campus,"and since part of the money goes directly to the students' union, Ladder Street questioned how the university could do such things to endorse Tibetan-independence and allow Chemi Lhmao to head the Students' Union."


Business, Economy, Finance And Trade

How Bad Is the China Slowdown? U.S. Companies Offer Some Answers - WSJ $$ Fourth-quarter results from U.S. companies indicate that slowing growth in China is modest, but broad...About a third of companies in the S&P 500 generate no direct revenue from China, according to estimates by FactSet, based in part on company disclosures. Another third generate at least 3% of sales in China. About 60 of the biggest U.S. companies generate 10% or more of sales there.

China’s wealth gap widens as more than half of its provinces missed growth targets last year | South China Morning Post Seventeen of 31 Chinese provincial-level divisions failed to meet their gross domestic product (GDP) growth rate goals in a year where the national economy expanded at 6.6 per cent, its slowest pace in 28 years, according to a review of local annual economic reports by the South China Morning Post. Chongqing, once the nation’s fastest growing region, was its worst performer last year. The 2018 growth rate of the inland manufacturing powerhouse slumped to 6.0 per cent from the previous 9.3 per cent, and was 2.5 percentage points behind the targeted 8.5 per cent set at start of the year.

MSCI Adds New Chinese Stocks to Major Indexes - Caixin MSCI announced Monday that 12 securities will be added to the MSCI Global Standard Indexes’ China Index: the Aluminum Corporation of China A, Bilibili ADR Z, Foxconn Industrial Internet, Guanghui Energy A, Huaxi Securities A, iQiyi ADR A, Meituan Dianping B, Pinduoduo ADR A, SDIC Capital A, Tencent Music A ADR, Xiaomi Corp. B, and ZTO Express ADR A. The company did not remove any companies from the China Index.

Wanda Film Scales Back Wanda Media Acquisition Plan - Caixin A state-owned minority shareholder dropped out of Chinese conglomerate Dalian Wanda Group’s plans to consolidate its film and entertainment businesses, forcing Wanda to scale back the transaction by almost 10% to $1.55 billion. Wanda Film Holding Co. Ltd., the conglomerate’s cinema chain, said in a statement Monday that a state-owned shareholder of the film studio Wanda Media would no longer participate in the asset-restructuring plan. The state-owned enterprise is based in the coastal city Qingdao.

Debt guarantee tangle: China's private firms hit by default contagion | Reuters For a private firm to get bank loans in China, especially those in traditional, capital-intensive industries, it often needs substantial collateral or the guarantee of another company. The guarantor itself is very likely to have taken on loans guaranteed by other firms. The private sector mess in Dongying highlights the inherent dangers in cross-guaranteeing of debt, with defaults quickly cascading across the system when one loan goes bad, threatening to disrupt local financial systems and new lending.

Vale iron ore dam disaster may force China steel mills to change: Russell | Reuters The exact ramifications to iron ore supply and China’s vast steel sector from the burst dam at Vale’s Corrego do Feijao mine, which has killed 142 people and left 194 others missing, are still to be quantified. Supply-wise, it’s likely to run into tens of millions of tonnes of high-grade iron ore lost from the seaborne market, with some estimates reaching as high as 70 million tonnes

China’s demand for electric vehicles charges copper | Financial Times $$ The start of a long-term demand trend is occurring in China, where copper in electric cars is set to offset a sharp fall associated with sales of petrol cars this year, according to analysts at Citigroup. The number of petrol cars made in China this year is expected to drop by 9 per cent, according to Citi, while electric car production is set to rise by 53 per cent. That results in net copper demand growth of 0.3 per cent for the sector.

China's 2018 tourism revenue growth slowest in a decade as economy cools | Reuters Overall tourism earnings grew 10.5 percent in 2018 from a year earlier to 5.97 trillion yuan ($881.49 billion), decelerating from 2017’s 15.1 percent gain and marking its slowest pace of growth since 2008, when it was just 5.8 percent, data from the Ministry of Culture and Tourism showed.

Kering's Gucci joins peers in defying China fears | Reuters “Sales among our Chinese clientele remained very dynamic in the fourth quarter, even with a high comparison base,” Financial Director Jean-Marc Duplaix told journalists, adding that spending by these customers had shifted from overseas to mainland China

Yicai Global - China's Dumpling Queen Zang Jianhe Dies Aged 73 - Yicai Global Zang Jianhe, the renowned founder of a Chinese dumpling brand now owned by General Mills, has passed away the age of 73. The entrepreneur, known as China's 'Dumpling Queen,' died yesterday, the world's sixth largest food company said in a statement the same day. The Minnesota-based firm, which also owns Haagen-Dazs and Betty Crocker, will release further information over the next few days, it added. Zang established Wanchai Ferry in 1985 and sold 70 percent of her shares to Pillsbury in 1997, which was acquired by General Mills in 2001. Born in 1945 in Qingdao, Shandong province, she moved to Hong Kong in 1977

山东两副省级城市均设民营经济发展局 有这些职责_网易新闻 Jinan and Qingdao have both set up agencies to specifically help the private sector.

Indebted Chinese Investment Firm Turns to Thai Conglomerate for New Co-Chairman China Minsheng Investment Group Corp. Ltd. (CMIG) appointed Yang Xiaoping, a vice chairman of Bangkok-based Charoen Pokphand Group Co. Ltd., as its co-chairman on Monday, according to a statement (link in Chinese) posted to social media app WeChat. The cash-strapped group, which is in danger of defaulting on its debts, has been seeking new investors to take over part of its stake from existing shareholders, people familiar with the matter told Caixin. Charoen Pokphand, as well as big Chinese state-owned enterprise Citic Group Corp., are among CMIG’s list of potential new investors, they said on condition of anonymity.

Court Freezes China Minsheng Stake in Valuable Shanghai Land - Bloomberg Shanghai-based China Minsheng Investment is being closely watched by investors as it owed about $34 billion as of June, one of the biggest debt piles among the nation’s private sector companies. The court-imposed freeze on some of its holdings may hurt the firm’s ability to raise funds, especially as majority of its bonds are set to mature this year.


Politics, Law And Ideology

China claims it has no 'Gulags', but satellite imagery shows 3 new ones coming up in Tibet ThePrint has identified at least three re-education centres - or 'Gulags', as the Soviet-era equivalents were called - under construction in Tibet. // Any other possible credible interpretation of this imagery?

Senior Figure at Chinese Energy Giant Under Investigation - Caixin Hu Yongqing, deputy manager at the CNPC’s planning department, is being investigated for “serious violations of law and duty,” a euphemism for corruption, according to the the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, the top anti-corruption watchdog for China’s Communist Party.

Censored on WeChat: A year of content removals on China's most powerful social media platform - Global Voices Advox China-US trade war
US sanctions against ZTE; The arrest of Meng Wanzhou, CFO of Huawei in Canada; The investigation of businessman Ye Jianming for economic crimes; Hongmao medicinal liquor scandal; #Metoo and sexual harassment allegations against a Peking University professor; Passenger-driver conflict in Chongqing; World’s first genetically-edited baby; Changsheng vaccine scandal; Fan Bingbing tax fraud scandal

王君正任新疆维吾尔自治区党委常委|新疆维吾尔自治区|王君正|党委常委_新浪新闻 Wang Junzheng moves from Changchun municipal secretary and member of the Jilin provincial Party committee to Xinjiang as a member of the provincial Party committee...sue looks like a demotion in the wake of the recent vaccine scandal

人民日报:始终坚定信仰信念信心--观点--人民网 Li Shenming, former vice head of CASS and an ultra-Maoist and leftist, on the theory page of the 2.212 People's Daily on studying and implementing Xi Thought and staying firm in faith, belief and confidence. Li once wrote books and articles praising Mao’s cultural revolution and was behind a couple of books and documentaries about the lesson from the collapse of the Soviet Union. This piece basically reiterates Xi’s talking points about socialism

Mimeng and ‘Self-Media’ under Attack for Promoting Fake News Stories to Chinese Readers | What's on Weibo China’s “Queen of Self-media,” Mimeng, is under attack after publishing a story that has been labeled ‘fake news.’ The scandal has triggered discussions on the status-quo of Zimeiti (自媒体/We Media) on the Chinese internet.

China to deepen procuratorial reform - Xinhua China's Supreme People's Procuratorate (SPP) has unveiled a five-year plan for deepening procuratorial reform in a bid to ensure that procuratorates can fully perform their functions...The enforcement of judicial accountability has been highlighted in the reform plan for the period between 2018 and 2022. Prosecutors should take responsibility for the cases they deal with, it noted. // 最高检下发五年检察改革规划 确定6个方面46项改革任务 

勇于自我革命 坚定不移推动全面从严治党向纵深发展 - 求是网 CCDI’s writing team "Zhong Jiyan" recaps Xi’s speech in the third plenum of the CCDI in January about the concept of “four-self” in the Party’s political life 四个自我, i.e. self-cleansing, self-perfection, self-innovation and self-enhancement 自我净化,自我完善,自我革新,自我提高


Foreign and Military Affairs

Billionaire political donor Huang Xiangmo decries cancelation of his permanent visa by Australia - Global Times Huang: I cannot figure out the logic of ASIO in regard to my efforts in promoting the reunification of China as threatening the national security of Australia. After all, my words and actions are fully in accordance with Australia's foreign policies and laws...If someone from the ASIO disagrees with Australia's foreign policy, I believe there's ample room for discussion and negotiation within the framework of Australia's political system. However, it certainly should not be an act from a system that has claimed to have democracy and rule of law to abuse power and force its dissidence on vulnerable Chinese. If you treat Chinese in such a manner today, you would do this to the Jews and Arabs tomorrow and that's the most dangerous thing...The history of Australia has determined the innate characteristics of a giant baby. This is an objective fact and it does not mean Australia has to feel inferior. The growth of a giant baby takes time, and Australia still has a long way to go. I fully understand this.Australia is a beautiful country. The Chinese are one of the earliest builders of this country and a part of this country that cannot be separated.

Xi signs order to release regulation on military training supervision - Xinhua The regulation, which will take effect on March 1, 2019, focuses on improving the combat readiness of the People's Liberation Army. The regulation formulates measures to rectify practices that are inconsistent with the requirements of actual combats. It also details the criteria for identifying malpractices and discipline violations during military training.

Blackwater Mercenary Prince Has a New $1 Trillion Chinese Boss - Bloomberg Prince, brother of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, has made no secret about his ambitions in China. But since he became chairman of Frontier Services Group in Hong Kong five years ago, CITIC, his mainland benefactor, has slowly cemented its grip on the firm. Prince stepped down as FSG Chairman in December to make way for a new boss from the conglomerate, which has amassed a bigger stake than Prince’s 9 percent.

China issues Turkey safety alert after Ankara’s ‘vile’ statements about treatment of Uygurs in Xinjiang | South China Morning Post The Chinese embassy in Ankara advised residents and tourists travelling to Turkey to “be wary and pay attention to their personal safety”. Turkey on Sunday described China’s treatment of its Muslim ethnic Uygur people as “a great embarrassment for humanity”, prompting a strong rebuke.

New Pentagon report warns of Russian and Chinese laser threats to US satellites - CNNPolitics A new Pentagonreport on threats in space warns that China and Russia are both developing capabilities to threaten the US' preeminent position, including lasers that could target and destroy US satellites.

Major New CRS Report with Substantial China Coverage: “Changes in the Arctic: Background and Issues for Congress” | Andrew S. Erickson China’s growing activities in the Arctic may also reflect a view that as a major world power, China should, like other major world powers, be active in the polar regions for conducting research and other purposes. (Along with its growing activities in the Arctic, China has recently increased the number of research stations in maintains in the Antarctic.) Particularly since China published its Arctic white paper in January 2018, observers have expressed curiosity or concern about China’s exact mix of motivations for its growing activities in the Arctic, and about what China’s ultimate goals for the Arctic might be

"Asia Rising: China’s Global Naval Strategy and Expanding Force Structure" by James E. Fanell - Naval War College Review The balance of power in the Indo-Pacific is shifting as China spends its national treasure to build a modern, blue-water navy and exerts its influence around the region, and the world, through economic investment and military power projection. Beijing’s pursuit of the China Dream is pushing America and its allies toward a decade of concern, when the already tenuous situation may experience further destabilization.

China’s state-owned rail-car builder looks close to bidding on DC Metro contract; also eyeing N.Y. subway work - The Washington Post China’s state-owned rail-car manufacturer has shown increased interest in building Metro’s next-generation rail cars, a development that could put the transit agency at odds with Congress over concerns about the cybersecurity risks and economic conflicts of such a deal. China Railway Rolling Stock Corp. (CCRC) made a Metro-sponsored site visit last month for companies interested in bidding for the rail-car contract, which could exceed $1 billion for its next-generation 8000-series cars. Eleven CRRC employees showed up to the event at Metro’s Greenbelt rail yard, according to meeting documents.

Saudi Arabia + Censorship In China | Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj | Netflix - YouTube On the first new episode of Patriot Act in 2019, Hasan addresses the government of Saudi Arabia's legal demand to take down an episode of the show in that country, and turns his focus to another country with restrictive censorship laws: China. But by using the Internet, Chinese activists are making their voices heard and a determined #MeToo movement may be creating lasting change

Britain urges the West to be ready to flex military muscle in the Pacific as US Navy steps up activities in South China Sea | South China Morning Post Western powers should be prepared to back their interests with military power just as Britain is prepared to send its new aircraft carrier to the Pacific, British Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said on Monday.


Taiwan

An open letter to Mr. Kuo Pei-hung and his colleagues - Richard Bush One of these activists is Kuo Pei-hung, who is chairman of pro-independence Formosa TV. With a number of like-minded colleagues, he has formed the Formosa Alliance (literally “Joyful Alliance” in Chinese) to promote a Deep Green agenda and specifically to liberalize the use of referendums. Currently, the requirements for holding referendums on domestic policy issues are relatively modest, but more restrictive regarding questions of Taiwan’s sovereignty and, by implication, its relationship with China. The open letter below to Mr. Kuo argues that such an effort would, if successful, have significant implications for the United States.


Tech And Media

Shock in China after Zhang Yimou film set during Cultural Revolution is pulled from Berlin festival | South China Morning Post Industry insiders confirmed the film had acquired an initial release permit from Beijing but believe regulators may have changed their minds and asked for further cuts because of the sensitivity of the subject...The news of the film’s withdrawal attracted more than 160 million views on Weibo – China’s version of Twitter – with many people expressing shock that even Zhang, one of China’s most influential filmmakers, would face censorship hurdles after committing to an international festival release.

China’s Tencent Invests in Reddit, Sparking Free Speech Protests - Bloomberg users posted links to Reddit depicting imagery banned by Chinese censors. They include video of the Tiananmen Square protest and pictures comparing President Xi Jinping to the portly Winnie the Pooh. Reddit users swarmed several of the submissions, pushing them to the list of most popular posts.

Chinese Sci-Fi Box Office Smash Marred by Online Theft - Caixin Downloadable copies of eight Chinese productions timed for the Spring Festival break, including “The Wandering Earth,” were still available on Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.’s Taobao on Monday. Some sellers bundled the eight into a single package and sold it for as little as 2 yuan ($0.30), while others boasted about the high definition of their versions.

Half of world's top AI unicorns come from China - CGTN Six of the 11 artificial intelligence (AI) startups that are considered to be unicorns – which means to have a value of one billion U.S. dollars or above – come from China, according to CB Insights, a research firm that tracks venture capital and startups. SenseTime took the top spot with a valuation of 4.5 billion U.S. dollars, followed by Yitu Technology at 2.3 billion U.S. dollars and smaller unicorns 4Paradigm, Horizon Robotics and Momenta.

Actor Investigated for Academic Misconduct in Doctoral Program - SixthTone Beijing Film Academy said Monday that it will investigate a Chinese television and film actor’s alleged academic misconduct in a doctoral program at the school, Beijing Youth Daily reported. The school’s probe into Zhai Tianlin, a rising star who appeared in the annual Spring Festival Gala last week, follows a series of allegations that have surfaced online in past weeks about his academic qualifications.


Society, Art, Sports, Culture And History

In China, This Video Game Lets You Be a Tiger Mom or a Driven Dad - The New York Times Mete out love and discipline. Set ambitious goals. Endure a teenager’s first dates. Fans say the game Chinese Parents is a surprisingly poignant exercise in role reversal.

Xinjiang commemorates contribution of 20,000 female veterans from East China who went to region in 1950s - Global Times In September 1949, Xinjiang was peacefully liberated.  In February 1952, Chairman Mao Zedong gave the PLA troops the order to build Xinjiang while defending its borders. The Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps (XPCC), a quasi-military, governmental organization, was founded in 1954. At that time, the 170,000-strong army was almost all male. In 1955, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region was established, becoming China's largest provincial region.  In early 1950s, the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China started to recruit young women soldiers from other parts of China to satisfy the marriage needs of male soldiers, which became a problem that could potentially compromise their stability.


Energy, Environment, Science And Health

Northern China pollution up 16 percent in January | Reuters Average concentrations of small, hazardous particles known as PM2.5 in two major northern Chinese emissions control zones climbed 16 percent from a year earlier to 114 micrograms per cubic meter, according to Reuters analysis of official pollution data. China has vowed not to ease up when it comes to fighting pollution even amid an economic slump, but rising emissions of lung-damaging smog last month suggests that some provinces could struggle to balance that goal with an upturn in industrial production.

China Focus: China pushes forward reforms to expand access to anti-cancer drugs - Xinhua A State Council executive meeting chaired by Premier Li Keqiang decided Monday that China will further streamline the registration and approval of new anti-cancer drugs, announcing that experts will be invited to select new overseas drugs to meet urgent clinical needs, and import policies will be improved for a faster launch of the new drugs in China. These are the most recent efforts to expand access to anti-cancer drugs made by China, which has seen more than 3.5 million new cases of cancer and more than 2 million cancer deaths every year, according to research data released in 2018.


Food And Travel

Fosun Shares Slide After Viral Diarrhea Outbreak at Northeast China Resort At least 40 people are believed to have been struck with viral diarrhea at a luxury resort in China’s northeastern city of Harbin over the Lunar New Year holiday. On Sunday, a guest’s viral post on Twitter-like Weibo criticized Club Med Yabuli’s food hygiene practices, and claimed (link in Chinese) guests had fallen ill while on a package deal where the club provided all food, drinks and refreshments.