Trump-Kim Summit Off; US-China Trade, No RIMPAC For The PLAN; PLAN Marines To Subi Reef?; Taiwan Loses Another Country; RIP Flappy McFlapperson

President Trump called off the June 12 summit with Kim Jong Un earlier today by issuing this letter.

Trump seems to have blamed Xi Jinping for an apparent shift in Kim's attitude after the Kim-Xi Dalian meeting. Since his inauguration the President has deferred tougher actions against China across a range of issues, including trade and the South China Sea, in the hopes of securing China's cooperation to solve the North Korea situation. If Trump has now concluded that Xi is more of a hindrance than a help will the Trump Administration shift to a much tougher approach to China, something that I believe National Security Advisor John Bolton has been advocating?

A tougher approach might include (but not be limited to):

  1. No reprieve for ZTE;

  2. A scrapping of many of the concessions mooted at last week’s talks with Liu He;

  3. Renewed threats of US sanctions against PRC banks and Petro SOEs if the "maximum pressure" campaign against North Korea is not maintained;

  4. More robust US efforts in the South China Sea to push back on China's expansion there;

  5. A Bolton visit to Taiwan.

Here is Trump's tweet on the cancellation, with a link to a video of his comments on the situation:

Donald J. Trump@realDonaldTrump

I have decided to terminate the planned Summit in Singapore on June 12th. While many things can happen and a great opportunity lies ahead potentially, I believe that this is a tremendous setback for North Korea and indeed a setback for the world... pic.twitter.com/jT0GfxT0Lc

May 24, 2018
Trump kept the door open for rescheduling the talks, but do we think Kim will react to this with concessions to satisfy Trump? The recent period of relative calm seems fragile.

Thanks for reading.

The Essential Eight

1. North Korea

Is Kim Jong-un back in Beijing? High-ranking North Korean official reportedly visiting Chinese capital | AP:

A high-ranking North Korean official appears to be visiting Beijing, a source with knowledge of the matter said Thursday, as the country has been bolstering ties with China.

China May Be Happy at Dimming Prospects for a Trump-Kim Meeting - The New York Times:

“Blaming the Chinese for the change in tone from North Korea strikes me as trying to find a Chinese scapegoat for a summit failure,” said Douglas H. Paal, vice president at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace....

The United States, by pressuring China on trade just as it is relying on Beijing to help bring the North to the bargaining table, has created an opening for Mr. Xi to use the talks with North Korea to force the Americans to make concessions on economic issues...

Chinese analysts say North Korea’s elite see Libya, and Mr. Qaddafi’s inability to subsequently defend himself when Western powers backed the popular uprising that toppled him, as a warning not to give up nuclear weapons. They said it was Mr. Bolton’s impolitic comments, and not behind-the-scenes Chinese machinations, that hardened North Korean attitudes.

“Subverting the summit would bring even bigger uncertainties to China,” said Shi Yinhong, professor of international relations at Renmin University in Beijing.


2. US-China Trade

Isn't there something in the Art of War about being unified before you go to battle?

Trump Adviser Peter Navarro Slams Steve Mnuchin as ‘Neville Chamberlain’ - The Daily Beast:

As for Mnuchin’s positions, Navarro has—according to multiple sources who spoke to The Daily Beast on the condition of anonymity—privately nicknamed Mnuchin “Neville Chamberlain” (in reference to the Conservative United Kingdom prime minister famous for his foreign policy of appeasement toward Nazi Germany and Adolf Hitler) and likened the economic threat from China to that of fascist dictator Hitler.

Why China Is Winning the Trade War | The New Yorker:

An acquaintance of mine, an economist with decades of experience in Washington and on Wall Street, recently visited Beijing, where he met with a top Chinese official. Given how the trade talks between the Trump Administration and Chinese negotiators have unfolded in the past couple of weeks, the meeting turned out to be prophetic.

The Chinese official said he viewed the Trump Presidency not as an aberration but as the product of a failing political system. This jibes with other accounts. The Chinese leadership believes that the United States, and Western democracies in general, haven’t risen to the challenge of a globalized economy, which necessitates big changes in production patterns, as well as major upgrades in education and public infrastructure. In Trump and Trumpism, the Chinese see an inevitable backlash to this failure.

U.S. could seek American compliance officers at ZTE: Ross | Reuters:

The United States has not made a final decision on changes to its ban on ZTE Corp (0763.HK), but any alternative remedy could include installing U.S. compliance officers at the Chinese telecoms company, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said on Thursday.  

China Plans Tariff Cut on Wide Range of Consumer Goods - Bloomberg:

China is planning to reduce import duties on consumer goods ranging from food to cosmetics, people familiar with the matter said.

The tariff cuts, which would be effective as early as July 1, would apply to significantly more product lines than a similar reduction on around 200 items announced last year, said the people, who asked not to be identified as the discussions aren’t public. ..

Policy makers including President Xi Jinping have flagged their intention to open the nation’s vast internal market further to outsiders, a shift that may now have the side-effect of helping to defuse tensions with the Trump administration over the trade imbalance.


3. No RIMPAC For The PLAN

The upcoming Shangri-La Dialogue will be interesting...

China Disinvited from Participating in 2018 RIMPAC Exercise - USNI News:

“We have strong evidence that China has deployed anti-ship missiles, surface-to-air missile (SAM) systems, and electronic jammers to contested features in the Spratly Islands region of the South China Sea. China’s landing of bomber aircraft at Woody Island has also raised tensions,” he continued.

“We believe these recent deployments and the continued militarization of these features is a violation of the promise that President Xi made to the United States and the World not to militarize the Spratly Islands.”

China regrets closing of door to U.S. after 'disinvited' from drill | Reuters:

The Rim of the Pacific exercise, known as RIMPAC and previously attended by China, is billed as the world’s largest international maritime exercise and held every two years in Hawaii in June and July..

The Pentagon said the withdrawal of the invitation was in response to what it sees as Beijing’s militarisation of islands in the disputed South China Sea, a strategic waterway claimed in large part by Beijing.

In a brief statement, China’s Defence Ministry said that the United States had “ignored the facts and hyped up the so-called ‘militarisation’ of the South China Sea,” using it as an excuse to uninvite China.

“This decision by the United States is not constructive. Closing the door to communication at any time is not conducive towards promoting mutual trust and communication between the Chinese and U.S. militaries,” it added.

国防部新闻发言人任国强就美方取消邀请中方参加环太军演发表谈话-新华网:

任国强说,中国对南海诸岛及其附近海域拥有无可争辩的主权。中方在自己的领土上开展建设活动,部署必要的防卫设施,是主权国家的正当权利,是坚定捍卫国家主权安全、维护地区和平稳定的必要举措,与“军事化”完全无关。美方无权对此说三道四。


4. PLAN Marines Headed To Subi Reef?

Concrete and coral: Beijing's South China Sea building boom fuels concerns | Reuters:

Private sector data analysis reviewed by Reuters shows Subi, some 1,200 km (750 miles) from China’s coast, is now home to nearly 400 individual buildings – far more than other Chinese islands.

Subi could be the future location of hundreds of People’s Liberation Army marines, as well as a possible administrative hub as China cements its claim with a civilian presence, security analysts and diplomatic sources say.

The data from Earthrise Media, a non-profit group supporting independent media with imagery research, was based on surveys of high-resolution images obtained by DigitalGlobe satellites, dating back to when China started dredging reefs in early 2014.

The biggest China problem has nothing to do with trade - The Washington Post Editorial:

But the long-term impact of China’s buildup could be considerably more important than the threat from impoverished and isolated North Korea, much less the trade balance. Countries surrounding the South China Sea could eventually find themselves forced to accept Chinese hegemony in the region. As Mr. Davidson suggested, the United States would be unable to reverse that dominion short of a nearly unthinkable war. In all, it seems like a more worthy problem for presidential attention and strategic planning than exports of soybeans and automobiles.


5. Beijing Poaches Another Diplomatic Ally From Taiwan

Taiwan breaks diplomatic ties with Burkina Faso | Politics | CNA:

The severing of ties on Thursday leaves Taiwan with only 18 diplomatic allies, after it announced the severing of ties with the Caribbean nation of the Dominican Republic on May 1.

The Kingdom of eSwatini (Swaziland) is currently the only African nation that has diplomatic ties with the ROC, after Malawi and The Gambia switched recognition to Beijing in 2008 and 2013, respectively.

Burkina Faso breaks ties with Taiwan in fresh blow to island - AP:

“I want to tell my people that China’s outrageous acts of suppressing Taiwan’s sovereignty have already challenged the bottom line of Taiwanese society. We will no longer tolerate it,” Tsai said. “We will be more determined, continue to move toward the world and keep working with other countries who share the same economic and security aspects.”

Meanwhile, the efforts to control discourse about Taiwan continue.

Mainland Chinese media names and shames foreign airlines that refuse to comply with ‘Orwellian’ Taiwan demands | South China Morning Post:

Global Times, a nationalist tabloid owned by the party mouthpiece People’s Daily, named and shamed the major overseas airlines still holding out in a social media posting on Wednesday.

“The deadline is approaching and these overseas airlines are still resisting,” one article posted on its WeChat feed said.

Muji Shanghai fined 200,000 yuan for mislabeling products - China Daily:

Muji Shanghai, a branch of Japanese retailer Muji, which sells household consumer goods, was fined 200,000 yuan ($31,300) recently by the Shanghai Administration for Industry and Commerce for selling products marked "Made in Taiwan" as the country of origin on packages.

A Tough Month for Taiwan: What Can We Do? – American Citizens for Taiwan – Medium:

There are many things that Taiwanese at home and abroad, and Taiwan’s supporters, need to be doing. First, they should learn by heart Taiwan’s status in the relevant international treaties, the San Francisco Peace Treaty and the Treaty of Taipei, which define Taiwan as an unincorporated territory whose status awaits final disposition. They should also know that the major powers such as the U.S., the U.K., Canada, Japan, and Australia all support that position. Some learning about Taiwan history is also useful. Taiwan supporters should be able to direct listeners to polls showing that Taiwanese strongly support independence. This knowledge is necessary because China and its apologists constantly lie about Taiwan.


6. Merkel In China

The biggest outcome from her visit would be the release of Liu Xia. How hard is she pushing for it?

Premier Li, asked about artist Liu Xia, says China protects rights | Reuters:

Li answered a question about Liu Xia’s freedom by saying China’s constitution states that it respects and protects human rights. He said at a joint briefing with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Beijing he hoped China and Germany could talk about individual human rights cases on an equal basis.

“China will respect the actions taken in accordance with the law by judicial and law enforcement bodies, but at the same time we must respect humanitarianism and follow humanitarian principles,” Li said.

“On relevant individual cases, we hope to have dialogue on the basis of mutual respect and equality. We will explain our situation,” Li said, without elaborating or mentioning Liu Xia by name.

China Focus: China, Germany seek stronger cooperation as Merkel visits - Xinhua:

China and Germany agreed in Beijing on Thursday to step up win-win cooperation and especially in emerging industries such as artificial intelligence and new energy vehicles.

The agreement was made between Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and visiting German Chancellor Angela Merkel...

China hopes to step up negotiation of a bilateral investment treaty with Europe, he said, vowing to join with the European Union to advocate multilateralism and safeguard multilateral trade system, and promote trade and investment liberalization and facilitation


7. Another Week, Another Groveling Apology From An Internet CEO

Comics Chief Pays Tribute at Chinese Hero's Memorial After Internet Ban - RFA:

The head of an online comedy company banned from China's internet for "insulting" a revolutionary war icon has paid his respects at the hero's monument in the northern province of Hebei, official media reported.

Rage Comics CEO Ren Jian posted a short video of himself and nine colleagues presenting a floral tribute at the Dong Cunrui Martyrs’ Memorial Park in Hebei's Longhua county on several social media platforms, including news site Jinri Toutiao and video-sharing sites Youku and Bilibili.

Ren also apologized for "insulting [Dong's] heroic deeds and spirit, which had a negative impact on society," the government-backed China News Service reported.

In a letter of apology, Ren Jian blamed the incident on "lax discipline" among the company's employees, whose average age is 26.

NBD on his apology, asks if it will be enough to save his company that was once worth 4B RMB - 暴走漫画创始人到烈士陵园道歉,估值40亿的公司能被原谅吗 

China's Online 'Baoman' Community Shut Down: Behind Rage Comics (Baozou Manhua) | What's on Weibo:

What are Rage Comics? Many internet users will be familiar with the online crude and simple online comics featuring various characters, often created with simple drawing software such as MS Paint, telling stories about everyday annoyances or personal embarrassments, and ending with a punchline...

The recent ban on Baoman directly relates to a 2015 image and a 2014 short Baozou manhua video clip, which was reposted to online news app Jinri Toutiao earlier this month. Both the image and the clip joked about some of China’s renowned heroes, including Chinese civil war figures Ye Ting (叶挺, military leader) and Dong Cunrui (董存瑞, PLA soldier who destroyed an enemy bunker in a suicide bombing)


8. RIP Flappy McFlapperson

Farewell Flappy – Birding Beijing 北京观鸟:

At 20:17 and 24 seconds China time on 17 May 2018 we received what we think will be the last transmission from a satellite tag fitted to a Common Cuckoo (Cuculus canorus) named Flappy McFlapperson...

Over time, Flappy’s following grew and grew, with media articles about the Beijing Cuckoo Project in the Beijing Evening News, Beijing Science and Technology Magazine, Xinhua (more than a million hits online), Times of India, Hindustan Times, Daily News and Analysis (DNA) India, African Times, The Diplomat, The World of Chinese, GBTimes (Russia), BBC Wildlife Magazine and many more, including of course the front page of The New York Times (brilliantly titled “Cynical avian freeloader wins some respect”)...

As recently as last week, her following in China multiplied thousands-fold after prominent bloggers enthused about her journey online, prompting three more media articles, including the one below in Beijing’s most popular newspaper, the Beijing Youth Daily.

Chris Buckley wrote a great piece about Flappy in 2016-With a Cuckoo’s Journey From China, a Mystery Is Solved, and Cheers Go Up - The New York Times


Business, Economy, Finance And Trade

Canada Crushes Chinese Purchase of Infrastructure Builder - Caixin Global Canada has vetoed the sale of Aecon Group Inc., the country’s largest publicly-listed infrastructure builder, to a Chinese buyer, amid a growing wave of closer scrutiny for such deals by Western countries concerned about national security.

Secretive Financial Group Unloads $3.5 Billion Trust - Caixin Global Sources told Caixin that Tomorrow Holdings or one of its related companies might ultimately have to provide some of the funds for CYTS Industrial’s purchase of New China Trust. CYTS Industrial is currently in talks to potentially complete the deal by borrowing 7 billion yuan from Tianan Property Insurance Co., an insurance arm of Tomorrow Holdings, one source said. But that kind of financing could run afoul of tougher new regulations put out last month, analysts say. Failure to close a sale of New China Trust would become just the latest of Tomorrow’s sales to hit headwinds. Caixin has learned that several of its previous agreements have also ground to a halt due to the large sums of money involved and required regulatory checks.

Revised CFIUS Bill Receives Unanimous Approval in House and Senate Committees; Increases Export Controls for “Critical Technologies” - Lexology Both the House and Senate versions of FIRRMA contain a separate section that would require the President, in coordination with the Secretaries of Commerce, Defense, Energy, and State and the heads of other relevant agencies, to undertake an ongoing interagency process to identify “emerging and foundational technologies” that “are essential to the national security of the United States.” It is widely expected that such technologies will include those related to artificial intelligence, autonomous vehicles, navigation, and robotics, many of which currently are not subject to any specific export licensing requirements...At a minimum, a license will be required to export these technologies to countries subject to an arms embargo (including China and Russia);

Maglev Train Production Line Suspended Amid Overcapacity Concern - Caixin Global China Railway Construction Corp., a top state-owned railway builder, has halted work on a new maglev train production plant in Changsha in response to the government’s tightening scrutiny of urban transportation investments. Central authorities are concerned that excessive local government transit projects will drive up public debt and create overcapacity. The suspension of the facility, backed by CRCC’s subsidiary China Railway Construction Heavy Industry Co. (CRCHI) in central China’s Hunan province, came in early May shortly after the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) held meetings with several state-owned transportation-equipment makers regarding a March policy on railroad investment, multiple sources close to the matter told Caixin.

Chinese company which raised $1.3 billion in IP-backed financing has Virginia factory site foreclosed - Blog - IAM - Informing IP value Tranlin executives agreed to repay the $5 million grant they had received from the State of Virginia to buy land for the plant in a town called Chesterfield. The company made an initial $150,000 payment, but an October 2017 deadline to reimburse the full sum came and went. When Tranlin again missed instalments in December and January, the state foreclosed on the factory site, which had been purchased for $3.2 million. The state agency which made the deal with Tranlin said it had instructed Virginia’s attorney general to seek the return of the rest of the money.

Alibaba’s Tiny Loss-Making Unit Suddenly Soars 70% - Bloomberg A stock that until last week wasn’t covered by a single analyst has rallied 55 percent since May 16 for no apparent reason, generating more turnover than most of Hong Kong’s biggest companies. The sudden gains have made Alibaba Health Information Technology Ltd. -- a subsidiary of Chinese megacap Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. -- easily the best performing stock on the MSCI Asia Pacific Index this month.

Baidu, NetEase Join Queue for Issuing CDRs - Caixin Global Baidu Inc., the dominant search engine, and game company NetEase Inc. will join Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. and JD.com Inc. in seeking domestic listings as early as the end of June, as mainland authorities encourage the country’s tech leaders to list at home, sources said.

China unveils plans to deepen reform, opening-up in FTZs - Xinhua China has published plans to further deepen reform and opening-up in pilot free trade zones (FTZs) of three coastal areas to improve the business environment and push for wider opening to the world. The reform in FTZs in Guangdong, Tianjin and Fujian will focus on high-quality development, supply-side structural reform, institutional innovation, and risk prevention, according to a document issued by the State Council, China's cabinet. A better business environment that is law-based, international and accommodating will take shape, and the FTZs will take the lead in building institutional systems that meet international rules on investment and trade.

Kunlun Group to Offload Shares of Microcredit Firm Qudian to Avoid Financial Risks | Yicai Global As of the statement date, Kunlun Group holds 55,603,706 shares of Qudian, or 16.7 percent stake, as its third largest shareholder. Ant Financial Services Group, affiliate of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., also owns a 12.8 percent stake in Qudian, which it bought through a Hong Kong-based subsidiary, shows publicly available information.

In Cambodia's capital, Chinese buyers pump luxury property bubble | Reuters The Cambodian capital will have 22,828 luxury apartments by the end of this year, more than double the current number of 8,942 units, according to Ross Wheble, Cambodia country head at property consultancy Knight Frank. He added this number, which includes condominiums that sell for an average of $3,500 a square meter, will swell to roughly 30,000 units by 2020. Many may soon face a struggle to find renters or local buyers who can afford the price-tag.

Trade in services gets boost - China Daily It was decided at the meeting that the pilot program will be rolled out in 17 areas, including Beijing, Shanghai and Shenzhen, from this July 1 to June 30, 2020, for the innovative development of services trade. The program was launched by the State Council in 2016. A series of opening-up measures will be piloted covering telecommunications, tourism, engineering consulting, finance and legal services. Access measures for trade in services on cross-border delivery and overseas consumption will be explored and refined. Restrictions will be gradually lifted or eased, and customs clearance and visa arrangements will be streamlined for freer flow of goods and people.

Volvo Is Better Than Ever Thanks to This Chinese Billionaire - Bloomberg In the past year, through various Geely enterprises, he has accumulated a 9.7 percent stake in Germany’s Daimler AG, maker of Mercedes-Benz, as well as 51 percent of British sports car maker Lotus Cars and 49.9 percent of Malaysia’s Proton Holdings. Zhejiang Geely also invested $3.3 billion in Volvo AB, the truckmaker formerly affiliated with Volvo Cars, and acquired flying-car aspirant Terrafugia. Li’s adventures appear to have the tacit approval of the Chinese government, despite his being a private operator vying against China’s many state-owned companies. He declined to answer questions for this story.

金控细则呼之欲出,百余企业或重发牌照_第一财经 第一财经从接近监管人士处独家获悉,金控集团监管首批试点机构已经确定为包括招商局、蚂蚁金服、苏宁集团等在内的五家,“另外考虑地域上,北京、上海还各有一家”,上述人士表示,去年年底试点名单已经确认,2018年年初开始试点。

China gears up for employment of 8.2 million college graduates - Xinhua | Chinese Premier Li Keqiang Thursday instructed a national government meeting to work for stable employment of college graduates this summer. It will be a tough task to help the record 8.2 million graduates find jobs and start careers, said Li in a written instruction to the meeting.

Ex-Mining Auditor Sues Over Cramped China Coach Flights, Firing - Bloomberg A former internal-audit executive for Minerals Technologies Inc. sued the company claiming that she was subjected to a toxic work environment that included being forced to work unreasonably long hours and frequently fly to China in coach.

 

Politics, Law And Ideology

New policies to improve government efficiency, benefit public and business - Xinhua | English.news.cn A set of measures will streamline those public services that directly affect the daily lives of ordinary people and normal business practices, according to the guideline issued by the General Offices of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and the State Council. The work is aimed at minimizing the visits ordinary citizens and business people have to make to government departments, the document said. 中办国办印发《关于深入推进审批服务便民化的指导意见》 

Former PICC President Sentenced to 11 Years in Prison | Yicai Global Wang Yincheng, former president of the People's Insurance Company (Group) of China Limited (PICC), was sentenced to 11 years in prison Thursday for accepting bribes of over 8.7 million yuan (1.36 million U.S. dollars). Wang's illegal gains will be retrieved and turned in to the national treasury. He was also fined 1 million yuan, according to a statement by the Intermediate People's Court of Fuzhou, in Fujian Province.

Why Beijing isn’t Marxist enough for China’s radical millennials | South China Morning Post This handful of activists have grown to their 20s during the most oppressive time for China’s civil society in decades, as Beijing in recent years introduced new, strict laws on non-governmental organisations, rounded up hundreds of rights lawyers and activists in the “709” crackdown of 2015, and tightened control over all religious groups.   That tight control over all social activities makes it impossible to estimate the number of pure Marxists in China. And the young activists recently in the news are hardly recognisable as an organised group of political dissidents.

Late former senior political advisor cremated - Xinhua The body of Sun Fuling, former vice chairman of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), was cremated Thursday in Beijing. Sun was 97 when he died of illness on May 18 in Beijing. Xi Jinping, Li Keqiang, Li Zhanshu, Wang Yang, Wang Huning, Zhao Leji, Han Zheng as well as other senior officials paid their final respects to Sun at Babaoshan Revolutionary Cemetery in Beijing. // CCTV Evening News video of the ceremony

'Disappeared' Chinese Dissident Confirmed Held Under 'Residential Surveillance' - RFA Authorities in the eastern Chinese province of Jiangsu have placed a prominent rights activist under "residential surveillance" at an unknown location after he visited the grave of executed Mao-era dissident Lin Zhao. Zhu Chengzhi has been incommunicado since Apr. 29, when he was taken away from the Lingyan Shan hillside cemetery on the outskirts of Suzhou, alongside fellow activists who laid wreaths to mark the anniversary of Lin's execution for alleged counterrevolutionary crimes under the rule of late supreme leader Mao Zedong.

 

Foreign and Military Affairs

China's New Navy: A short guide for Australian policy-makers - Strategic & Defence Studies Centre - ANU n this Centre of Gravity paper, Sam Roggeveen, Senior Fellow at the Lowy Institute and Visiting Fellow at the SDSC, argues that China’s focus on developing a large ocean-going surface fleet indicates its growing ambitions. China already has the second most powerful navy in the Pacific and is developing the capability to match America’s maritime strength in the Pacific. China may already be building a ‘post-American navy’, one designed not to confront US naval predominance in the Pacific, but to inherit it as the US baulks at the increasing cost of continued regional leadership. Thanks to China’s rise and America’s relative decline, Australia faces its most challenging maritime security environment since World War II. To meet the challenge, the ADF needs a force structure that is itself inspired by lessons from China.

China says no reason found for US staffer's sonic condition - AP “China is already conducting a careful investigation, and we have already given the U.S. preliminary feedback,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang said during a regular news briefing. “At this point, we have not yet found any reason or clue leading to the situation described by the U.S.,” Lu said, adding that China adheres to the Vienna Convention on protecting foreign diplomats.

Robert Kuok part of Malaysian PM Mahathir Mohamad’s plans for strong ties with China | This Week In Asia | South China Morning Post In an internal memo to foreign affairs staff, dated May 14 and obtained by This Week in Asia, Mahathir told foreign ministry secretary general Ramlan Ibrahim that “our strong ties with China … will continue to flourish”. Back-to-back diplomatic moves this week appeared to add weight to the statement. Mahathir met with China’s ambassador to Malaysia, Bai Tian, on Thursday, a day after the prime minister dispatched his key adviser Robert Kuok to the Chinese embassy to discuss continued cooperation between the two countries.

 

Hong Kong, Macao

Help China overcome ‘weaknesses’ to become global tech power, ex-minister Wan Gang asks Hong Kong innovators | South China Morning Post Former national science and technology minister lays bare China’s scientific shortcomings in candid assessment, but says city can play key role in country’s ambitions

 

Tech And Media

Amazon launches another innovation center in China - Xinhua The Xi'an-AWS center is aimed to provide cloud-computing services, including web services, new technologies such as cloud-computing and big data, and services support, to global startups. It will focus on incubating startups, helping traditional enterprises' upgrading and transformation, and helping local startups go global in the next five years.

Chinese internet firm Sina plans secondary listing in HK - sources | Reuters Chinese web portal and social media firm Sina Corp is planning a secondary listing in Hong Kong, in what would be one of the first floats to take advantage of the city’s new rules designed to attract tech equity offerings, two sources said.

SeekingArrangement: the app to match sugar daddies and babies is suddenly China's hottest social network — Quartz SeekingArrangement (SA), an American dating service, has taken over the top spot for free social networking apps in China’s iOS App Store.

China's State Council Orders Faster Blockchain Development - CoinDesk China's State Council, the country's central administrative branch of government, has sent its highest-level order demanding that local authorities speed up blockchain technology development, it was revealed on Thursday.

Tencent Tracing Familiar Pattern as Gains Fizzle in Afternoon - Bloomberg Traders in China are losing interest, selling a net $43 million worth of the stock through trading links with Hong Kong on Wednesday, according to exchange data. That’s the eighth day of net selling in the past nine sessions, bringing the total sold to more than $300 million since May 10.

Chinese AI Firm Mobvoi Beefs Up Smart Hardware Offerings And Releases AI Chip Product – China Money Network Mobvoi, a Chinese artificial intelligence firm backed by Google and Volkswagen Group China, unveiled a number of smart hardware products and an AI chip as the company continues to build up its product portfolio centered around voice recognition technology. In a product launch event held in Beijing today, Mobvoi showcased an upgraded version of its smart watch, TicWatch, two portable smart speakers, an airpods-like wireless smart earphone, and an AI chip supporting voice recognition it claims to be the first such chip ready for mass production by a Chinese AI company.

Qualcomm opening an AI lab in Beijing, joining hands with Baidu's PaddlePaddle · TechNode The company also made a separate announcement about its deal with Baidu’s PaddlePaddle on the same day, May 23. Qualcomm will work with Baidu to use the Qualcomm AI Engine to drive conversion and application of Baidu PaddlePaddle open-source deep learning framework models on Qualcomm Snapdragon mobile platforms. PaddlePaddle is Baidu’s answer to Google’s deep learning framework Tensorflow.

IDG Capital fires manager in China after sexual messages posted online | Reuters Jiang Zuo, also known as Douglas Jiang, joined IDG in 2013 to lead the firm’s cryptocurrency investments. In an internal email dated Tuesday and verified by Reuters, the firm said it fired the executive immediately after it found “his words and actions have seriously violated the values IDG represents and the ethical standards IDG requires”.

Is Costume Drama the Next Genre for Scrutiny By China’s Censors? – Variety Leading Chinese streaming platform, Tencent Video this week failed to launch a high-profile period drama series. The surprise move sparked speculation that the staple court drama genre is now a target of encroaching censorship. Set in the Tang Dynasty period, “Deep in the Realm of Conscience,” was co-produced by Hong Kong’s TVB and Tencent Penguin Pictures, on a budget reported at $15.7 million (RMB100 million). TVB premiered the show as planned on Monday. But Tencent said on its official Weibo social media account that the show’s premiere had to be postponed “due to certain reasons.”

 

Society, Art, Sports, Culture And History

The Chinese Athletes Warming Up for the Gay Games - Sixth Tone Around 90 Chinese athletes are expected to attend this year’s Gay Games — significantly more than four years ago, when only one Chinese athlete participated. “Those who can’t come out in China can still be their authentic selves in another place,” Meng, who uses the gender-neutral pronoun “they,” tells Sixth Tone.

Scramble for Tianjin hukou rolls on despite cooling policies - Global Times Talented Chinese are flocking to North China's Tianjin in search of a hukou (permanent residence) in the Chinese capital's neighbor, although the Tianjin government has already rolled out several policy "fixes" to ease the rush sparked by a talent plan it released only on May 16...The heated scramble for a Tianjin hukou was triggered by the city's announcement of a talent attraction plan called "Haihe talent" on May 16. According to the plan, university graduates under age 40, master's degree holders under 45 and doctoral degree holders can directly get a Tianjin hukou. It gives cash bonuses to certain high-end innovative staff, like winners of international and national skill contests.

Chinoiresie | Beijing Evictions, a Winter’s Tale With a view to labour NGOs, the evictions have at least three layers of meaning: first, they highlight structural and demographic changes in the Chinese workforce; second, they show that there is an urgent need for labour NGO activists to find new strategies to conduct their activities; and third, they demonstrate that the political context is swiftly changing. According to our personal observations, migrant workers who dwell in Beijing’s urban villages work in a variety of industries that go far beyond traditional occupations in small retail, decoration, domestic work, vehicle repairing, etc. Today’s migrants work in industries that are characterised by the logics of modern large-scale capital investment, including logistics, delivery, and real estate. Although the specific distribution of employment by industry still needs to be investigated thoroughly, the abundant supply of information, as well as the increasing ease of transportation and communication, have already made it possible for the urbanised workers to respond promptly to challenges coming from changes in government policies.

Massive arts district to launch in 2019 in valley near Beijing | The Art Newspaper Hebei, the province surrounding Beijing, will get a massive arts district of its own next year. At the Venice Architecture Biennale today (24 May), Guangdong Yuegang Investment Development unveiled plans for Valley XL, an Rmb 18bn (around $2.8bn) development designed by Arquitectonica across 6,600 acres of Hebei’s Xinglong Valley. Valley XL is a special partner of China’s pavilion on rural development, Building a Future Countryside, and is hosting a symposium in Venice from 24 to 26 May.

 

Energy, Environment, Science And Health

The Case of the Stolen Succulents – Voices of Monterey Bay t was the first such incident of large-scale plant poaching reported in Monterey County, but comes hard on the heels of arrests in thefts involving plants in Humboldt and Mendocino counties, specifically involving a species called Dudleya farinosa, commonly known as bluff lettuce or powdery liveforever. Plant thieves were stripping the succulents from the coastal bluffs and smuggling them to Korea and China, where the plants reportedly sell for as much as $50 each.

How China’s Bat Caves Hold the Secret to Preventing Epidemics - Sixth Tone Last year, when 24,000 pigs in Guangdong province died of a mysterious illness, the WIV’s freezers held the key to the disease’s origin: a coronavirus carried by native populations of horseshoe bats that is similar to SARS, the virus that killed more than 300 people on the Chinese mainland in 2003. When Luo and the team sampled bats near the site of the epidemic, the results were inconclusive. Only when they raided the freezers for samples collected from the same area several years before did they finally find a genetic match, naming it the swine acute diarrhea syndrome (SADS) coronavirus. The team published their findings in the journal Nature in April this yea