Trump and Xi to meet; Restrictions on PRC scholars coming to America; Huawei

Hi everyone, to celebrate the upcoming Year of the Pig I decided to make today’s issue free to everyone.

President Trump took to Twitter Thursday morning to tell us that the trade talks are progressing and that he will be meeting Xi Jinping soon:

A Trump-Xi meeting in the “near future” is not a surprise, as I wrote last Thursday:

My neck hurts from all the US-China trade talks whiplash. I wish everyone could chill out but that is not how the markets work. Be wary of leaks and “scoops”, what matters next is the the Liu He visit next week. The two sides are still far apart, but there are also 35 days until the March 1 deadline and I don’t expect any deal will truly happen until Trump and Xi meet again.

I concluded my CNBC appearance Wednesday by saying:

When Liu He meets with President Trump tomorrow…he is likely to..convey a message from Xi Jinping that Xi would like to meet with Trump some time in the near future…because ultimately the Chinese believe that the only way they are going to get a deal is if there is another face-to-face between Trump and Xi and ultimately they believe if they can get face-to-face with Trump they will probably get a more favorable deal for China.

My guess is that the meeting will be scheduled around the Trump-Kim summit, and if Trump and Kim meet in Vietnam or Thailand then Hainan, and perhaps Bo’ao (China’s Palm Beach…) is the likely location.

But even if Trump and Xi get to yes on a trade deal the broader friction and competition in the relationship, including around technology, is only going to intensify.

One wildcard: When they meet will Xi make a last-minute request to release Meng Wanzhou and settle the Huawei indictments with a fine? It worked for Xi in the ZTE debacle.

Back in August after a trip to Beijing I wrote:

One other thing I heard from several PRC scholars during my Beijing trip is that the US has started revoking visas of some PRC America scholars, and in least one case I was told an academic’s visa was revoked after pressure from the FBI for information during visits to the US, pressure this person resisted and reported. Maybe this is visa reciprocity for some of the problems foreign scholars have with Beijing, but I do wonder if limiting visits from PRC US experts at this moment is helpful?

I am hearing now that several more well-known PRC American scholars were denied visas, or had existing ones cancelled, including for some planning to attend US for a recent seminar at a well-known institution to celebrate the 40th Anniversary of the establishment of US-China relations. At least some of the lucky scholars who did get visas were subject to secondary searches upon entering the US, as well as in some cases visits from law enforcement.

I am not going to name names or places but I would expect to read about this in mainstream media at some point. Six months later, as US-China relations feel like they are on the precipice, my question remains “is limiting visits from PRC US experts at this moment helpful?”

I know there is the argument that this is reciprocal as the Chinese have done this to US scholars for years and playing nice got no results, so now the US has to change its approach. Maybe that will work, or maybe it will cause Beijing to double down.

Regardless of the answer to the wisdom of this approach, it is clear that the US government has shifted to a more aggressive stance to this class of PRC citizens, and that it is a symptom of the broader and likely accelerating deterioration in US-China relations, and I have no expectations that a trade deal will arrest that. The New Era of US-China relations may be akin to wrestlers fighting while in a tight embrace.

One housekeeping note: Today’s issue is the last before the Lunar New Year. I will not be publishing at least through next Wednesday unless there is something really big, and given that China is effectively shut down next week I see no point in clogging your inboxes with fluff.

For those keeping track, this upcoming year of the pig is the 己亥 (ji3hai4) year, or the 36th year in the 60-year sexagenary cycle. If you were born in the year of the pig you might find this backgrounder and horoscope interesting. And remember to wear something red every day and go to as many weddings possible, to ward off bad luck in your 本命年 (ben3ming4nian2; year of your zodiac sign).

Happy Year of the Pig!

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The Essential Eight

1. US-China

Trump Says ‘Good Chance’ U.S. Reaches Trade Deal With China - The New York Times:

A person familiar with the negotiations said that there were signs of progress on Wednesday, the first day of talks, but that it did not appear that major breakthroughs were imminent on many of the major concessions the United States is seeking. There continues to be division within the Trump administration over what would constitute a sufficient deal, with some advisers such as Robert Lighthizer urging Mr. Trump to push China harder for major concessions, including ending its practice of forcing American companies to hand over valuable trade secrets as a condition of doing business there. Other advisers, such as Steven Mnuchin, the Treasury secretary, have warned Mr. Trump that a protracted trade war and additional tariffs will be counterproductive to the president’s economic agenda and spook financial markets.

China Is Counting On Trump-Xi Meeting to Settle Trade Fight - WSJ $$:

China is pinning its hopes on another meeting between President Trump and Chinese leader Xi Jinping to help solve the trade dispute between the world’s two largest economies, according to people briefed on the matter, as a wide gap remains between U.S. demands and what Beijing is willing to offer.

The Chinese delegation led by Vice Premier Liu He—Mr. Xi’s economic czar who is holding talks with American negotiators in Washington this week—has proposed to the U.S. that Mr. Trump meet with Mr. Xi in the seaside Chinese resort island of Hainan after his planned summit with the North Korean leader, Kim Jong Un, in late February, the people said.

China Protesters Scuffle With Security as Trade-War Talks Begin - Bloomberg:

Several protesters jostled with security on Wednesday as members of the Chinese delegation left the Willard International hotel in Washington for a meeting with Trump administration officials. The protesters, who said they were from Shanghai, distributed documents accusing the government of forcing Chinese residents to relocate. A woman was knocked down in the scuffle, but no one appeared to be injured.

Chinese digital radio maker Hytera vows to outlast Trump trade war - The Washington Post:

Earlier this month, the International Trade Commission barred Hytera from importing several of its products after concluding that the Chinese company had “wrongfully copied” trade secrets from Motorola Solutions, the U.S. company that dominates the $5 billion mobile digital radio market.

Even as U.S. and Chinese diplomats are scheduled to resume trade talks Wednesday amid mounting hopes for a deal, this little-known manufacturer illustrates how the fight for global technology dominance could escalate. Administration officials are preparing to continue the battle by pushing for new measures against Chinese companies like Hytera, according to several people familiar with the discussion.


2. Huawei and the pressures for technology decoupling

EU considers proposals to exclude Chinese firms from 5G networks | Reuters:

The European Union is considering proposals that would effectively amount to a de-facto ban on Huawei Technologies Co. equipment for next-generation mobile networks, four senior EU officials said, adding to mounting international pressure on the world’s largest maker of telecom gear...

While efforts by the EU’s executive are still at the very early stages, and could prove complicated to implement, the move marks a shift in the EU’s stance amid growing security concerns in the West about China...

According to an internal Commission document reviewed by Reuters, the EU shift has been prompted by changes to Chinese intelligence and security laws in recent years. In one example cited in the Commission document, China’s National Intelligence Law states that Chinese “organizations and citizens shall, in accordance with the law, support, cooperate with, and collaborate in national intelligence work.

U.S. wants Western tech to be used instead of Huawei kit | Reuters:

The United States wants to steer people away from Huawei towards Western products because of its concerns over the security of the Chinese company’s technology, the U.S. envoy to the European Union said on Thursday...

Huawei faces international scrutiny over its ties with the Chinese government and allegations that Beijing could use Huawei’s technology for spying, which the company denies

However, Gordon Sondland said that there was classified evidence on security breaches by the Chinese firm, saying he had raised the U.S. concerns with EU officials.

Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Geng Shuang's Regular Press Conference on January 31, 2019:

Q: Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Sen. Mark R. Warner recently said that the relevant actions by China's large-scale technological companies have been a cause for concern. They have been acquiring and copying sensitive technologies with the help of the Chinese government. Also on the same day, US Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said that China wants to replace the US in leading the technological world and has been stealing for that end. What is your response?

A: I have noted relevant reports. In science and technology, the US is second to none. This is a fact we recognize. But we also hope that the US can accomodate other countries' technological development and progress in an open and inclusive attitude. There is no justification at all for the US to applaud its own progress in science and technology and have little tolerance for the development of others. It even makes no sense to throw mud and bricks at other countries' technological development whenever it feels like to do so.

I want to stress that China has achieved its technological development, not by stealing or robbing, but by the wisdom and hard work of all the Chinese people including Chinese scientists.

Huawei woes fail to bolster telecoms rival Nokia’s outlook | Financial Times $$:

Nokia is not yet showing signs of benefiting from the troubles facing its Chinese rival Huawei as the Finnish telecoms equipment maker announced a worse than expected outlook for this year.

Rajeev Suri, Nokia’s chief executive, said it was “early days” in the race to win extra business as countries such as the UK, Germany and Norway weigh a ban on Huawei due to heavy US pressure over security concerns.

Do not underestimate the risk of an iron curtain in tech supply chains | Financial Times $$:

Shut your eyes and imagine a world where American technology companies were prevented from sourcing components from Chinese suppliers, or exporting equipment to them. What would that new iron curtain do to global economic growth? Or the lofty valuations of western tech groups?..

But last week this once-fanciful question sparked some heated — and nervous — debate at private dinners at the World Economic Forum in Davos. And this week, two of the biggest US financial groups told me they had quietly asked their investment committees to conduct scenario planning for these formerly outlandish ideas. “It’s a big talking point now,” said one top finance executive.


3. New tech board to accept VIE structures

Comment: "Foreign-funded mainland companies structured as variable interest entities (VIE) will be allowed to list " is big, reducing reliance on US capital markets for top tech firms has been a long-term goal, even more important now in this New Era, and this could help.

Regulators Spell Out Trading Rules for New High-Tech Board - Caixin:

Formally known as the Science and Technology Innovation Board, the new board was proposed by President Xi Jinping in November as part of broader efforts to encourage innovation. It is also seen as a key move by Beijing to gear up mainland markets to compete with Hong Kong and New York for high-tech listings to revitalize the country’s capital market. The new board won approval last week...

Money-losing startups for the first time will be allowed to raise funds from public listings in China as long as they meet certain criteria regarding market value, financial and business operations.

Foreign-funded mainland companies structured as variable interest entities (VIE) will be allowed to list on the high-tech board through the issuance of Chinese depositary receipts..

The new board will also accept companies with a dual-class shareholding structure, or weighted voting rights, if they meet certain financial requirements. Such arrangements will make Shanghai more competitive with the Hong Kong bourse in luring tech listings...


4. Xi on ecological civilization

Xi's article on building ecological civilization to be published - Xinhua:

An article by President Xi Jinping on building an ecological civilization will be carried in the third issue of Qiushi Journal this year, to be published Friday.

In the article, Xi, also general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission, demands the coordination of economic and social development and the building of ecological civilization.

The people's attention, aspirations and needs should be responded to in an active manner so as to meet their ever-growing demands for a beautiful environment, Xi writes.

Xi orders concrete efforts to control pollution, promote green development, contain environmental risks and improve governance on environment issues.

He stresses the need to enhance the Party's leadership to win the battle of pollution prevention and control, and asks governments at all levels to thoroughly carry out the decisions and policies of the CPC Central Committee.

Xi's article in Qiushi -《求是》杂志发表习近平总书记重要文章 《推动我国生态文明建设迈上新台阶 

Deadly Hebei Chemical Factory Blast Was Years in the Making - Caixin:

Soon after the blast, on the evening of Nov. 30, 15 Shenghua employees were detained by police. Since then, “responsible persons” from the enterprise, its parent company, and the Zhangjiakou government have been interviewed by officials from the State Council, China’s cabinet.

But leaking vinyl chloride gas is not the only environmental breach that has been attributed to the plant. Provincial officials found it to be violating environmental and safety standards on at least three occasions in 2018, 2017 and 2014. And people living in Beiganzhuang and Meijiaying villages around the plant said they had filed many complaints because of excessive pollution. But no changes were ever made.

China’s Coal Plants Haven’t Cut Methane Emissions as Required, Study Finds - The New York Times:

China, the world’s coal juggernaut, has continued to produce more methane emissions from its coal mines despite its pledge to curb the planet-warming pollutant, according to new research.

In a paper published Tuesday in Nature Communications, researchers concluded that China had failed to meet its own government regulations requiring coal mines to rapidly reduce methane emissions, at least in the five years after 2010, when the regulations were passed.

It matters because coal is the world’s dirtiest fossil fuel, and China is, by far, the largest producer in the world.

Shuttered at home, cement plants bloom along China's new Silk Road | Reuters:

Hundreds of cement plants have been shuttered in China under the pollution crackdown, according to state media, and the China Cement Association says that the country aims to eliminate about 400 million tonnes of capacity - about one-tenth of the total - by 2020...

Chinese majors such Gezhouba, Anhui Conch Cement and Shangfeng Cement in 2018 announced investments in at least 18 plants across Africa, Asia and South America with total annual capacity of more than 20 million tonnes - larger than the output of most European countries - according to industry publication Global Cement.


5. PRC ground station in Argentina

Paranoia or legitimate security concerns?

China's military-run space station in Argentina is a 'black box' | Reuters:

The United States has long been worried about what it sees as China’s strategy to “militarize” space, according to one U.S. official, who added there was reason to be skeptical of Beijing’s insistence that the Argentine base was strictly for exploration.

Other U.S. officials who spoke to Reuters expressed similar concerns.

“The Patagonia ground station, agreed to in secret by a corrupt and financially vulnerable government a decade ago, is another example of opaque and predatory Chinese dealings that undermine the sovereignty of host nations,” said Garrett Marquis, spokesman for the White House National Security Council.

Some radio astronomy experts said U.S. concerns were overblown and the station was probably as advertised - a scientific venture with Argentina - even if its 35-meter diameter dish could eavesdrop on foreign satellites.


6. Foreign affairs need better Party leadership

Diplomatic novice picked for top Communist Party job at China’s foreign ministry amid deteriorating relations with US | South China Morning Post:

The announcement on Tuesday night that Qi Yu, 58, former deputy head of the party’s all-powerful Organisation Department, would be the ministry’s party secretary took many Chinese diplomats and veteran China observers by surprise because of his lack of diplomatic experience...

Zhu Lijia, a professor at the Chinese Academy of Governance, said Qi’s promotion was in line with Xi’s focus on tightening party control, and showed the importance the Chinese leaders attached to foreign affairs...

Zhang Lifan, a Beijing-based political observer, said the ministry was an executive body without much say in making decisions and bringing an outsider into the diplomatic team showed that its standing could decline even further.

“Party building is one of the seven major risks confronting China that were cited by Xi in his recent speech [on controlling risks] and it is likely that top leaders have attributed the deteriorating international environment to inadequate efforts [by the foreign ministry] on party building rather than errors in decision-making,” he said.


7. Pharma's China supply chain

Chinese Heart Drug Valsartan Recall Shows FDA Inspection Limits - Bloomberg:

Treatments made by Chinese companies now account for almost one of every 10 generic drugs cleared by the FDA for sale. But agency inspections meant to ensure that approved drugs are meeting U.S. standards fell almost 11 percent, to 125, in China for the fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, compared with the previous year, according to data obtained by Bloomberg through public-records requests...

Using hundreds of pages of the U.S. government documents, Bloomberg has spent the last year reporting on a supply chain that reaches around the world and ends inside American medicine cabinets. While overall inspections of that network are down, records show that those that do get done—from West Virginia to China and India—raise doubts about the data meant to prove drugs are safe and effective...

The FDA inspector who visited Zhejiang Huahai’s factory in the city of Linhai wrote in his inspection report that the company has a practice of recording passing scores for drugs that originally fell short of U.S. standards on routine quality tests. He said his findings cast “a cloud of uncertainty over the accuracy of test results” that are used to gain clearance to sell drugs in the U.S., according to documents from the public-records request.


8. The West as “the hidden force behind China’s rise”

'The Real Problem Comes From the West': Ai Weiwei Slams the US and Canada for Their Complicity in Tensions With China | artnet News:

In an extensive statement released today via the Gardiner Museum in Toronto, where a large-scale exhibition of Ai’s work will open on February 28, the artist chastises the West as “the hidden force behind China’s rise” and accuses it of “profiting from the status quo.”..

“The West’s apparent conflict with the situation in China is because of its refusal to acknowledge its complicity in creating this monstrous regime,” Ai writes. “In the end, nothing will change. China completely ignores so-called universal values. It is under the control of a one-party system where its citizens have never had the right to vote… China has done quite well under those circumstances. The real problem comes from the West where there is a complete lack of vision and responsibility.”


Business, Economy, Finance And Trade

China Frustrates Foreign Firms With Accelerated Investment Law - WSJ $$: While the current draft responds to some longstanding criticisms from foreign firms, vowing to protect their intellectual-property rights and ban coerced technology transfers, it contains vague language on national security reviews, government expropriation and other matters officials could use against foreign firms. It also ignores the long-running practice of subsidizing state-owned enterprises—a sore point for the Trump administration that some businesses hoped would be addressed. Foreign business groups such as the American Chamber of Commerce in China and the U.S.-China Business Council say they are now at a disadvantage under the legislature’s new timetable.

Lawmakers Debate How to Reconcile Domestic Law, International Treaties on Foreign Investment - Caixin: Chinese lawmakers have recently debated how to bridge the difference between domestic law and international treaties, as they ended a two-day deliberation of a draft law on foreign investment on Wednesday.

China to further step up IPR protection - Xinhua MOC spokesperson Gao Feng told a press conference that more efforts would be made to improve IPR reviews, introduce punitive damages and crack down on IPR violations. IPR protection is a significant part of the draft foreign investment law that will be reviewed by lawmakers at the annual session of the National People's Congress slated for March.

Yuan Strengthens As Fed Holds Interest Rates Steady - Caixin The yuan briefly dipped below the 6.7-per-dollar line in morning trading on Thursday for the first time in six and a half months, after the People's Bank of China (PBOC) set the yuan's daily parity rate at 6.7025 per dollar, 318 pips below the previous day's rate. The PBOC allows the yuan to trade at 2% either side of this rate.

Hundreds More Chinese Companies Just Warned on Their Profits - Bloomberg Some 440 firms disclosed on Wednesday -- the day before a deadline to do so -- that their 2018 financial results deteriorated, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Of the more than 2,400 mainland-listed firms that have announced preliminary numbers or issued guidance this season, some 373 said they’ll post a loss, the data show. About 86 percent of those were profitable in 2017.

China's P2P lending sector a 'disaster zone' of fraud: government official · TechNode The Chinese online peer-to-peer (P2P) lending industry is a “disaster zone” of fraudulent activity and illegal fundraising, according to a senior official at the country’s Ministry of Public Security. Wang Zhiguang, deputy director of the economic crimes investigation unit at the ministry, made the comment on Wednesday at a press conference organized by the Supreme People’s Procuratorate in Beijing, according to state media outlet Xinhua

Another Apple Engineer Accused of Stealing Autonomous Vehicle Trade Secrets - NBC Bay Area For the second time in six months, the FBI is accusing a Chinese national working for Apple of attempting to steal trade secrets related to the company’s secret autonomous vehicle program, NBC Bay Area’s Investigative Unit learned Tuesday. Apple began investigating Jizhong Chen when another employee reported seeing the engineer taking photographs in a sensitive work space, according to a federal criminal complaint unsealed this week.

Apple’s China Problem May Require a New iPhone - WSJ $$ The call for change is rooted in the belief that Apple’s top-down management system and secretive culture have weakened its China business. Over the years, the company’s “Designed by Apple in California. Assembled in China.” ethos meant staff in China couldn’t always deliver iPhones that fit well with local apps and user habits.

State Council requires reducing time needed for immovable property registration This may help with launching a property tax, but wasn't it supposed to have been done years ago?  //  An interagency information pooling and sharing mechanism will be established so that information related to immovable property registration, including household registration, business license, tax payments and transactions, can be shared by the end of this year.

Too Many Investment Bankers in China Has Them Working for 0.001% - Bloomberg Competition among Chinese investment banks has become so intense that five firms recently agreed to split a 0.001 percent fee for arranging a private share placement. That compares with the more than 5 percent that’s usual for follow-on stock offerings on Wall Street, data compiled by Bloomberg show. It’s the latest example of a price war in China that helped cut average equity underwriting fees in half last year and prompted a trade group to call for measures to prevent “vicious competition.”

China Factory Slowdown Eases for Now as U.S. Trade Talks Resume - Bloomberg The first official gauge of China’s economy in 2019 showed a slowdown in the manufacturing sector eased off a little in January, though uncertainty over the future of trade with the U.S. remains a headwind. The official manufacturing purchasing managers index came in at 49.5 in January from 49.4 in December, remaining below the 50 mark that signifies contraction. A gauge of new export orders also improved slightly, while a measure of activity in services and construction showed robust expansion, improving for a second month.

Fed's China Concern Is Behind Its Pause on Rates - Bloomberg The Fed took a big step on this front Wednesday, scrapping a preference to hike interest rates, citing global economic and financial conditions and waning price pressures. The principal worry is China and the weakness and deflationary pressures it’s exporting. China isn’t mentioned directly in the Federal Open Market Committee’s statement; 1  it’s there in all but name.

Indebted Steelmaker Moves Toward Reorganization - Caixin Representatives of Bohai Steel’s more than 100 creditors approved a bankruptcy and reorganization plan Wednesday, ending a long series of twists and turns since a creditors committee was formed in March 2016 to try to restructure the debt-ridden company. The bankruptcy reorganization of Bohai Steel is China’s biggest-ever effort to rescue a financially crippled company. Under a court ruling in August, the reorganization would involve 48 companies under Bohai Steel’s umbrella, while 160 more subsidiaries would be liquidated.

Bloomberg to add Chinese government bonds to flagship index | Financial Times $$ Bloomberg has confirmed that Chinese renminbi government bonds will be added to the $54tn Bloomberg Barclays Global Aggregate index from April 2019. The data provider said that the inclusion of the government bonds, as well as policy bank securities, will be phased in over a 20-month period.

Cost-conscious Chinese tourists staying closer to home for Lunar New Year | Reuters Hotels and travel agencies in Asian countries from Thailand to Japan anticipate higher numbers than a year ago of Chinese tourists, who have become a powerful spending force with the ability to make, or break, the fortunes of retailers and tourism brands. But recently, the numbers going to the United States, Australia and New Zealand have fallen or only show small increases.

China Launches Sweeping Audit of Power Grid - Caixin China has launched the second phase of its overhaul of the country’s opaque power grid, announcing a major audit of involved companies in a bid to shed light on the true cost of electricity transmission and pass savings on to industries facing fierce economic headwinds.


Politics, Law And Ideology

Artists, scientists receive festive greetings from Party leadership - Xinhua Wang Huning, a senior Communist Party of China (CPC) official, extended festive greetings to artists and scientists Thursday morning, on behalf of General Secretary of the CPC Central Committee Xi Jinping and the CPC Central Committee. Wang, a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and a member of the Secretariat of the CPC Central Committee, visited several prominent artists and scientists and extended greetings ahead of the Spring Festival, China's traditional Lunar New Year.

Anime Series on Karl Marx Debuts to Mixed Reviews - SixthTone Less than 24 hours after its release on Bilibili, the first installment of “The Leader” had received over 2.8 million views online. The seven-episode series was a collaboration between the central government’s Office for the Research and Construction of Marxist Theory, Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region’s publicity department, and a film production company based in the region to commemorate the 200th anniversary of Marx’s birth, which was observed on May 5, 2018.

Canada-based pop star Wanting Qu pleads for mother in Harbin death-penalty corruption case – but China’s netizens are unimpressed | South China Morning Post Canada-based pop star Wanting Qu has issued a heartfelt plea for justice in the long-delayed Chinese corruption case against her mother, a former Harbin city official who prosecutors want executed for allegedly embezzling 350 million yuan (US$52 million). Qu’s posting on Weibo, telling how her “heart aches” for her mother Qu Zhang Mingjie, went viral this week. Posts carrying a hashtag referring to her comments have been viewed more than 230 million times, but elicited an overwhelmingly negative response from Chinese netizens.

‘My Responsibility to History’: An Interview with Zhang Shihe | by Ian Johnson | NYR Daily | The New York Review of Books: “Tiger Temple” (Laohu Miao) is the nom de guerre of Zhang Shihe, one of China’s best-known citizen journalists and makers of short video documentaries, many of them profiling ordinary people he met during extraordinarily long bike rides through China, or human rights activists who have been silenced but whose ideas on freedom and open society he has recorded for future generations... After nearly twenty years in Beijing, Zhang was caught up in the hardening political climate and, in 2011, sent him back to his hometown of Xi’an. This is the most important metropolis in western China and also one of the country’s most famous ancient cities. I went there with the help of a Pulitzer Center travel grant late last year to find out how civil society was faring outside of the narrow confines of Beijing.


Foreign and Military Affairs

Competitive Coexistence: An American Concept for Managing U.S.-China Relations | The National Interest Rather than let Beijing dictate terms in bilateral interactions, Washington should proactively and consistently promote its own ideas and phrasing. Describing the United and China as strategic stakeholders that should pursue competitive coexistence realistically is a good place to start. by Andrew S. Erickson

Xi's special envoy to attend 7th World Government Summit - Xinhua Chinese President Xi Jinping's special envoy Wang Zhigang will attend the 7th World Government Summit to be held in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) on Feb. 10, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said Thursday. Wang, also minister of science and technology, is attending the summit at the invitation of the UAE government

Maldives seeks to renegotiate with China over Belt and Road debt | Financial Times $$ Maybe BRI should be called the BBRI--Bribery, Belt & Road...how many of the target countries did not agree to Chinese deals without massive payoffs to local leaders?  //  “This was wilful corruption,” Ibrahim Ameer told the Financial Times. “[The former government] knew what they were doing, getting kickbacks from contractors . . . That’s why the contract prices were too high.” Mr Ameer is part of a new administration that took charge in November after the electoral defeat of Abdulla Yameen, who had overseen a huge surge in Chinese-funded projects during his five years as president. Beijing had promoted the investments in the Maldives as a success story in its Belt and Road Initiative, a large-scale programme to fund and develop infrastructure across Asia and beyond.

India china relations: China signals it will continue to block India from NSG | Times of India China signalled on Wednesday that it would continue to block India’s entry into the Nuclear Suppliers Group despite the special rapport struck between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping during the past three meetings starting with the Wuhan talks in April last year.

Ex-envoy to China does about-face, says OK Chinese will manage Haifa port - Israel News - Jerusalem Post Three weeks after former ambassador to China Matan Vilna’i told The Jerusalem Post that Israel should rethink and reverse its decision to let a Chinese firm manage the new port in Haifa, Vilna’i did an about-face on the matter on Wednesday and said there is no harm in letting the Chinese manage the private port. “If they want to spy, they have other ways, they do not need the Haifa port,” Vilna’i said at a briefing organized by Media Central.

Beijing opens maritime rescue base in South China Sea - ABC News The centre was opened on Fiery Cross Reef in the Spratly Islands — which China calls Yongshu reef and the Nansha Islands — according to China's state-run Xinhua news agency, which regularly carries official announcements. It will "better protect navigation and transport safety in the South China Sea", Xinhua said.

China naval gun ready for warfare by 2025: US intelligence - CNBC China tested the world's most powerful naval gun earlier this month, and it is expected to be ready for warfare by 2025, according to people with direct knowledge of a U.S. intelligence report. China's railgun was first seen in 2011 and underwent testing in 2014, according to the people, who spoke to CNBC on the condition of anonymity. Between 2015 and 2017, the weapon was calibrated to strike at extended ranges, increasing its lethality. By December 2017, the weapon was successfully mounted on a warship and began at-sea testing, a feat no other nation has accomplished. The Chinese are expected to complete at-sea testing by 2023.

White House map showing Taiwan as separate from China catches the eye of island’s internet | South China Morning Post Is this a new map in that room or does it predate the Trump Administration?  //  The map was displayed on Monday during a press conference by White House national security adviser John Bolton and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. The pair were discussing sanctions on a Venezuelan state oil company after the US declared it would no longer recognise Nicolas Maduro as president. While much of world is focused on the ongoing turmoil in the South American country and the possible US response, eagle-eyed internet watchers in Taiwan noticed that while China and Russia were marked in red, along with other supporters of the embattled president, the island was not.

Erik Prince company to build training center in China's Xinjiang | Reuters Hong Kong-listed Frontier Services Group (FSG), co-founded by former U.S. military services contractor Erik Prince, has signed a deal to build a training base in China’s far western region of Xinjiang, the company said in a statement.

Police looked at letter claiming widespread censorship of Chinese media in NZ: Anne-Marie Brady - NZ Herald A letter making claims of widespread censorship amongst Chinese-language media in New Zealand is understood to have been looked at by police investigating the still-unresolved burglaries of professor Anne-Marie Brady. Days before the University of Canterbury professor and China researcher's home and office were burgled in February, she received the anonymous letter that also included specific claims made about coverage in the Chinese New Zealand Herald (CHNZ).

中央军委印发《关于全面从严加强部队管理的意见》 - 中华人民共和国国防部 中央军委日前印发《关于全面从严加强部队管理的意见》(以下简称《意见》),旨在深入贯彻习近平强军思想,加快构建新型军事管理体系,推进治军方式根本性转变,加强和改进新时代部队管理工作。


Tech And Media

Chinese Sci-Fi Movie 'The Wandering Earth' to Get U.S. Release | Hollywood Reporter Made for more than $50 million, the movie is directed by Frant Gwo and stars Chinese action hero Wu Jing, the writer, director, and star of Wolf Warrior 2, the military action flick that earned a historic $850 million in China in 2017. Perhaps most notable for international sci-fi fans, the movie is an adaptation of a short story by author Liu Cixin, whose novel The Three-Body Problem won the Hugo Award in 2015 — China's first win of science fiction's highest honor. Banking on at least a modicum of curiosity factor in the West, Beijing-based distributor CMC Pictures has secured the international rights and is planning a sizable North American release on Feb. 8.

Trailer: 

More Hollywood Movies May Play in China Due to Lack of Local Content – Variety That’s because the local industry is still reeling from the twin hits of the tax-evasion scandal surrounding Chinese superstar Fan Bingbing and, in recent months, the government’s move to tighten enforcement of national tax rules and close regional loopholes. The combined effect has been to sharply slow the greenlighting of homegrown movies and TV series, to drive numerous small production companies into bankruptcy, and to scare off some outside speculators. Last September, the number of registrations per month for new film projects dropped below 200, compared with 300 earlier in the year.

K-pop star Hwang Chi-yeul sparks online pollution storm between China and South Korea | South China Morning Post Hwang Chi-yeul was discussing his recent trip to Changsha, in the central Chinese province of Hunan, during an appearance on the South Korean talk show Radio Star last Wednesday when he said his managers had warned him about China’s bad water and air quality beforehand. “When I arrived at the airport [in China], I couldn’t see what was in front of me. The air quality was really that bad,” Hwang said. “I took a sip of water, and even the taste wasn’t the same. But it did not matter overall … The environment doesn’t really affect me.”


Society, Art, Sports, Culture And History

Teaching China Through Black History – Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies, Harvard University To commemorate Black History Month in the United States, the Fairbank Center presents a reading and teaching introduction to the history of Black and African Americans’ interactions with the People’s Republic of China. This guide includes blog posts, journal articles, books and book chapters, audio-visual resources, digital archives, and other materials that can be used to teach the confluence of black and Chinese history in the 20th century.


Energy, Environment, Science And Health

For science, or the ‘motherland’? The dilemma facing China’s brightest minds - SupChina Part of China’s strategy to become a science and technology superpower is aggressive pursuit of foreign-trained talent. The top of the homepage for the government’s flagship talent recruitment program reads in red, bold Chinese characters: “The motherland needs you. The motherland welcomes you. The motherland places her hope in you.” The sentences do not begin with “China.” It’s “the motherland.” The Chinese government sees itself as not just ruling over a territory but in ownership of a people, whose basic rights it routinely denies. When Chinese scientists cross water, where is their motherland, and who are their people?

Advancement in Quantum Entanglement Earns 2018 AAAS Newcomb Cleveland Prize | American Association for the Advancement of Science A team of 34 physicists based at various institutions in China will receive the 2018 Newcomb Cleveland Prize, presented by the American Association for the Advancement of Science, for research that could provide the basis of a next-generation internet. The Newcomb Cleveland Prize, AAAS’ oldest award, has honored the most impactful research paper published in Science each year since 1923. This year’s winning paper describes an exponential increase in the distance at which particles can remain in a mysterious state called “quantum entanglement,” laying the groundwork for ultra-secure communication networks of the future.

The demise of caterpillar fungus in the Himalayan region due to climate change and overharvesting | PNAS Global demand for species used in traditional medicine is increasing among wealthy urban consumers. This growing trade provides livelihood opportunities for harvesters, but also risks causing resource overexploitation. A dearth of reliable data hinders assessments of whether these species are declining, and why. We investigate these issues for Himalayan caterpillar fungus—one of the world’s most expensive medicinal species—by integrating local harvesters’ knowledge of production trends with ecological modeling. We find that harvesters increasingly attribute declining production to overexploitation, while models indicate that climate warming is also contributing to this decline. Our results underscore the “double whammy” threatening highly valuable species, and demonstrate the complementarity of different knowledge systems for assessing the sustainability of the medicinal resource trade.

Uncaged: saving China's songbirds from the poachers' nets – video | Environment | The Guardian Bird poaching – for meat or for the pet trade – has become a silent epidemic across China, resulting in the deaths of tens of thousands of migratory birds each year. Gu Xuan, a young conservationist, is determined to break this cycle of death and destruction, and set the birds free

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