Two Sessions and the "国之大者 the big national priority"; China sending top diplomats to Alaska; TikTok

The US government has confirmed that Yang Jiechi and Wang Yi are flying to Alaska to meet with the US Secretary of State Tony Blinken and National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan on March 18.

As I wrote yesterday after the South China Morning News first broke this news, a meeting is likely better than no meeting, but Yang did fly to Hawaii last June to meet with then-Secretary of State Pompeo and it did not go well. Perhaps the outcome will be different with the new US administration, but I am skeptical it will be if the Chinese side is just going to come and repeat that all the problems are caused by the US side, though maybe there will be some concrete action items on climate, health and people-to-people exchanges.

The CPPCC has concluded, the NPC finishes Thursday and we will get to watch the Premier’s press conference. The last time a premier’s NPC press conference was exciting was 2012, as Bo Xilai’s downfall was unfolding.

Today’s Essential Eight:

  1. Two Sessions and the "国之大者 the big national priority"

  2. China sending top diplomats to Alaska

  3. China spurring bipartisanship in partisan DC

  4. Dam near the Yarlung Tsangpo Gorge

  5. Hunan’s power shortage and problems with UHV lines

  6. Breaking the technology “choke points” will require a lot of capital

  7. Targeting Taiwan chip engineers

  8. TikTok may have an EU data problem

Thanks for reading.


The Essential Eight

1. Two Sessions and the "国之大者 the big national priority"

China's top political advisory body holds closing meeting of annual session - Xinhua

A resolution on a work report of the Standing Committee of the CPPCC National Committee, a resolution on a report on how the proposals from political advisors have been handled since the previous annual session, a report on the examination of new proposals, and a political resolution on the fourth session of 13th CPPCC National Committee were approved at the meeting.

CCTV Evening News on the closing ceremony - 全国政协十三届四次会议闭幕_新闻频道

Finally, Wang Yang said that "the main national priority" is the one that bears the heavy responsibility [not confident in this translation of “就是责之重者”, comments welcome]. Standing at the key node of the historical intersection of the "two centennial" goals, the call of duty and responsibility are on the shoulders. We should unite more closely around the CPC Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping as the core, vigorously carry forward the "Three Ox" spirit, actively participate in the great practice of building a socialist modern country in an all-round way, continuously promote the construction of specialized consultative institutions and the development of the CPPCC, and celebrate the 100th anniversary of the founding of the CPC with outstanding achievements.

汪洋最后说,“国之大者”就是责之重者。站在“两个一百年”奋斗目标历史交汇的关键节点上,使命召唤、责任在肩。我们要更加紧密地团结在以习近平同志为核心的中共中央周围,大力发扬“三牛”精神,积极投身全面建设社会主义现代化国家伟大实践,不断推进专门协商机构建设和人民政协事业发展,以优异成绩庆祝中国共产党成立100周年。

Comment: "国之大者 the big national priority" is a phrase that is appearing with more frequency starting last year. Sinocism’s first discussion of it was in the January 4, 2021 issue, when it appeared in the readout of the 2020 year-end Politburo Standing Committee meeting. I translated it as the "big issues" but I think that is wrong. It looks more like it is really about the elevation of Xi and the consolidation of his power. I hope to dig deeper into it soon.

Heavy Smog Hits Beijing During Two Sessions - Caixin

According to the latest data released by national environmental monitoring station, the Chinese capital is expecting to see a wave of smog on Wednesday and Thursday, resulting in moderate to severe air pollution. The government has warned the general public to avoid unnecessary travel and wear masks.

The weather in Beijing is expected to improve slightly Friday due to an incoming cold front and precipitation, but the overall air quality will stay poor until Monday, when the smog will lift as diffusion conditions move in.


2. China sending top diplomats to Alaska

Secretary Blinken and NSA Sullivan’s Meeting with PRC Counterparts - United States Department of State

Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken and National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan will meet on March 18 in Anchorage, Alaska with People’s Republic of China (PRC) Director of the Office of the Central Commission for Foreign Affairs Yang Jiechi and State Councilor Wang Yi.  The meeting will take place following Secretary Blinken’s meetings with two of our closest regional allies in Tokyo and Seoul.  Secretary Blinken and NSA Sullivan will discuss a range of issues with the PRC.

Blinken, Sullivan to meet with top Chinese diplomats next week - POLITICO

Testifying before the House Foreign Affairs Committee Wednesday, Blinken suggested the meeting is a one-time deal, for now.

"This is not a strategic dialogue. There's no intent at this point for a series of follow-on engagements. Those engagements, if they are to follow, really have to be based on the proposition that we're seeing tangible progress and tangible outcomes on the issues of concern to us with China."

It was important for the administration to first meet with China on American turf and after consulting with Asian and European allies, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Wednesday.

US and China lay groundwork for first high-level meeting under Biden | Financial Times $$

Two people familiar with the situation said Washington wanted to ensure it was not sidelining China completely while it urged allies to work with the US on adopting a more confrontational stance towards Beijing."

Comment: If that is the reason it seems like the US is giving away leverage.

Secretary Blinken’s Travel to Tokyo and Seoul - United States Department of State

On March 16-17 in Tokyo, Secretary Blinken and Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III will attend the U.S.-Japan Security Consultative Committee (“2+2”) meeting hosted by Japan’s Minister for Foreign Affairs Toshimitsu Motegi and Minister of Defense Nobuo Kishi. Secretary Blinken will meet with Minister Motegi and other senior officials to discuss a range of bilateral and global issues...

On March 17-18 in Seoul, Secretary Blinken and Secretary Austin will attend a U.S.-ROK Foreign and Defense Ministerial (“2+2”) hosted by the ROK’s Foreign Minister Chung Eui-yong and Minister of Defense Suh Wook. Secretary Blinken will meet with Foreign Minister Chung and other senior officials to discuss issues of bilateral and global importance


3. China spurring bipartisanship in partisan DC

President Biden’s second big bill may be China package pushed by top Senate Democrat - The Washington Post

Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) has been working on legislation that seeks to counter China’s rising global power and proposes funding aimed at bolstering U.S. manufacturing and supply chains, among other measures...

Numerous Republican senators have co-sponsored bills with Democratic lawmakers on a range of measures related to China, from shoring up U.S. production of semiconductors to creating a nationwide 5G network. Schumer has said his coming legislative package would include proposals addressed at these matters...

“This is literally the highest potential for bipartisanship of almost any policies you can think of. I think it makes a lot of sense,” said Douglas Holtz-Eakin, former director of the Congressional Budget Office and president of the American Action Forum, a right-leaning group. "Hating China is a big bipartisan thing, and Schumer has the opportunity to take ownership of being against China.

Punchbowl.news interview with White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain 

Q: How does the White House define infrastructure?

“I think we view infrastructure as the kind of investments this country needs to get ready to succeed in this century to beat China in the global economy, to create the kinds of jobs we need.


4. Dam near the Yarlung Tsangpo Gorge

Beijing should speed up hydropower project, Tibetan official says | South China Morning Post

China should accelerate plans to build a hydropower plant on a river near its disputed border with India, a senior official said at a meeting on the sidelines of the National People’s Congress.

A proposal to construct dams on the lower reaches of the 2,900km (1,800 mile) Yarlung Tsangpo River was first presented in November and is included in China’s latest five-year plan

雅鲁藏布江下游水电开发有戏了,印度曾炒作“不利影响”

NDRC head He Lifeng said in an interview during the two sessions that China is indeed planning to build a dam on the Yarlung Tsangpo river. It is in the 14th Five Year Plan.

China gives green light for first downstream dams on Brahmaputra - The Hindu

The high importance given to building dams on the “lower reaches” of the Yarlung Zangbo is underlined in the plan, where it is also mentioned on page 38 of the document among significant planned investments in infrastructure that serve major national strategies...

India has expressed concerns to China over the four planned dams on the upper and middle reaches, though Indian officials have said the dams are not likely to greatly impact the quantity of the Brahmaputra’s flows in India because they are only storing water for power generation, and the Brahmaputra is not entirely dependent on upstream flows with an estimated 35% of its basin in India. Dams on the lower reaches and at the Great Bend would, however, raise fresh concerns because of the location across the border from Arunachal Pradesh and the potential impact downstream.

World's largest hydropower project planned for Tibetan Plateau - China Dialogue 2014

The Yarlung Tsangpo rises at a high altitude, in a geologically complex area. The river’s powerful flow, long course and large drop in altitude give it great potential for hydropower development. But the scale of dam building planned by China and India could have disastrous ecological consequences.

China’s plans date back to the early 1990s, when it carried out a series of hydropower development surveys of the river, with the Yarlung Tsangpo Gorge the focus of interest.

In the late 20th century, this gorge was recognised as the world’s deepest. In the 400 kilometres from the top of the gorge, the river twists around the mountain of Namcha Barwa (known as the Great Bend) and loses more than 2,000 metres in altitude, forming several waterfalls and giving up huge energy potential as it goes. Hydropower experts say a tunnel that cuts the river’s natural loop could carry 2,000 cubic metres of water a second, with a drop in altitude of 2,800 metres – enough to power a 50-gigawatt hydropower station that could provide 300 billion kilowatt hours of electricity a year. It would be the largest hydropower project in human history – about three times the size of the Three Gorges Dam.


5. Hunan’s power shortage and problems with UHV lines

Untangling the Crossed Wires of China’s ‘Super Grid’ - SixthTone

With few coal reserves to call its own and winter rains too erratic to rely on hydropower, central China’s Hunan province had long faced frequent electricity blackouts, an annoyance to residents and a hindrance to economic growth. So when an ultra-high voltage power line was approved in 2015, hopes were high...

Hunan authorities predicted an electricity shortage of 3 to 4 gigawatts, or about 10%, for the winter peak season. Apparently unable to increase supply, they reined in demand instead, turning down the thermostats in government offices, switching off street lamps, and forcing companies to halt production under rolling outages.

In a report analyzing how such power rationing could have been avoided, China Energy News, an outlet overseen by party newspaper People’s Daily, pointed to the persistently underperforming Jiuquan-Hunan UHV line. An anonymous Hunan-based electricity expert told the outlet that it had always been operating at just slightly more than half its planned capacity, leading them to conclude Hunan couldn’t depend on other provinces...

It was a chilling repudiation of the country’s ambitions for UHV, a technology full of country-spanning potential that has so far been hampered by a Balkanized power system, technological incompatibilities with green energy, and questions of financial feasibility in a future liberalized market...

According to China Energy News, many UHV lines are running at just a bit more than 60% of their design capacity due to technological limits and conflicts of interests between power generators, grid companies, and local governments.

Sparks fly over ultra-high voltage power lines - China Dialogue 2018

China’s enthusiasm for UHV is waning. The technology is beset by conflicts of interest between grid companies and central and local governments. The lines themselves are underperforming, and more recent projects are coming online amid a period of electricity generation overcapacity.

This means that approvals for new lines have slowed, and grid companies are unlikely to meet their targets for new ones.


6. Breaking the technology “choke points” will require a lot of capital

Understanding Chinese Government Guidance Funds - Center for Security and Emerging Technology

China’s government is deploying massive amounts of capital in an effort to “catch up with and surpass” the United States in advanced technology. As part of this effort, the Chinese government has invested financially and politically in government guidance funds [政府引导基金], public-private investment funds that aim to both produce financial returns and further the government’s industrial policy goals. As of the first quarter of 2020, Chinese officials had set up 1,741 guidance funds, with a registered target size of 11 trillion RMB (1.55 trillion USD). However, these funds had only raised a total of 4.76 trillion RMB (672 billion USD) from private and public sources.

While guidance funds’ ambitions are clear, their long-term prospects for success are not. Drawing exclusively on Chinese language sources, this issue brief examines how guidance funds raise and deploy capital, manage their investments, and interact with other public and private actors. We find that many guidance funds are poorly conceived and implemented, and that the mechanism as a whole is often inefficient. Nonetheless, these funds have many advantages over traditional industrial policy mechanisms, and they are unquestionably helping mobilize money and other resources for new businesses and emerging technologies


7. Targeting Taiwan chip engineers

Taiwan accuses Bitmain of poaching its top chip engineers | Financial Times $$

The New Taipei City’s prosecutor office accused Beijing-based Bitmain, which designs computers to “mine” bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, of using two companies registered in Taiwan to recruit “several hundred R&D staff in the course of three years”.

It accused the Chinese company of “severely threatening the development of our semiconductor industry”...

Industry experts and government officials said the alleged set-up at the two companies under investigation pointed to a new front in Chinese efforts to attract Taiwanese talent.

“China now has a lot of [semiconductor] design companies in Taiwan,” said Charles Hsu, chairman of eMemory, a Taiwanese semiconductor technology provider. “They just recruit the design engineers in Taiwan.”

A senior national security official said more investigations were being opened into other Chinese companies, which clandestinely conducted chip design in Taiwan.

Taiwanese tech CEOs released on bail over China investment violations - Focus Taiwan

Prosecutors raided the offices of WiseCore, IC Link and several other locations and questioned 19 people over the accusations of poaching hundreds of Taiwanese semiconductor specialists to work in China over the past three years.

After the raid, prosecutors seized WiseCore and IC Link's pay slips and savings books, payrolls, employment contracts, mobile phones and notebook computers.

Those who violate provisions in the Act Governing Relations between the People of the Taiwan Area and the Mainland Area, which include investing in any business without prior approval, face a sentence of up to one year and a fine of up to NT$150,000, prosecutors said.

Taiwan Probe Spurs Fears of China Poaching Top Chip Talent - Bloomberg

Bitmain’s actions are suspected of breaching Taiwan’s Act Governing Relations between the People of the Taiwan Area and the Mainland Area, Chang said. An article in the act stipulates that for-profit Chinese firms cannot set up units in Taiwan and conduct business activities -- including headhunting -- without approval from Taiwanese authorities, she added...

The team offered potential recruits double their existing salaries and advertised openly on Taiwanese job sites, the prosecutors said. The country’s top chip designer MediaTek Inc., a major rival to Qualcomm Inc., was affected by Bitmain’s recruitment drive, Taiwan’s Apple Daily reported.


8. TikTok may have an EU data problem

TikTok Prompts EU Watchdog’s Warning on Data Being Sent to China - Bloomberg

TikTok, the Chinese-owned video-sharing app, may be sending some European Union user data to China, its main data-protection watchdog in the EU warned.

“TikTok tells us that EU data is transferred to the U.S. and not to China, however we have understood that there is possibility that maintenance and AI engineers in China may be accessing data,” Irish Data Protection Commissioner Helen Dixon said at an online event Wednesday.

Question: Are AI engineers in China doing the same for TikTok US data?


Business, Economy and Trade

China's CPI drops on base effect, factory prices pick up - Xinhua The consumer price index (CPI), a main gauge of inflation, declined 0.2 percent year on year in February due to a high comparison base last year, according to data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS). Food prices went down 0.2 percent year on year, dragging down consumer inflation by 0.05 percentage points. The decline was largely driven by the carryover effect as the COVID-19 outbreak boosted prices of consumer goods in February last year and resulted in a higher base.

China’s Credit Better Than Forecast Despite February Holiday - Bloomberg Aggregate financing was 1.71 trillion yuan ($263 billion), the People’s Bank of China said Wednesday. That compares to 5.17 trillion yuan in January and 873.7 billion yuan in the same month last year. The median estimate in a Bloomberg survey of economists was 910 billion yuan

Developer China Fortune Defaults on Another $1.3 Billion in Debt - Caixin China Fortune said that it and its subsidiaries have recently failed to repay 8.38 billion yuan ($1.3 billion) in principal and interest on a mishmash of new debt, including bank loans, trust loans, bonds and other debt financing tools, according to a Wednesday filing to the Shanghai Stock Exchange. The latest defaults add to the property developer’s already large pool of debt. As of Wednesday, China Fortune has defaulted on a total of 19.42 billion yuan in principal and interest, and it is negotiating with related financial institutions to possibly postpone repayment, it said in the filing.

Construction Equipment Sales Soar to February Record as Business Roars Back - Caixin China’s 26 major construction-equipment makers saw sales jump in February to the highest level for that month in four years, beating market expectations as businesses roared back after a subdued Lunar New Year vacation meant people could quickly return to work. Total excavator sales spiked 205% year-on-year to a total of 28,305 units last month, with domestic sales climbing 256% year-on-year to 24,562 units, according to the China Construction Machinery Association (CCMA) on Tuesday.

China’s Factory Gate Prices Rise at Fastest Pace in More Than Two Years - Caixin The producer price index (PPI), which gauges changes in the prices of goods circulated among manufacturers and mining companies, rose 1.7% (link in Chinese) year-on-year last month, accelerating from 0.3% growth in January, according to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS). The figure marks the highest since November 2018 and exceeds the median estimate of a 1.5% rise (link in Chinese) by a Caixin survey of economists.

陈雨露:小微企业贷款延期还本付息政策将会延续_2021两会特别报道_中国金融新闻网 China will instruct its banks to extend more loans to small businesses. At a press conference in Beijing, Chen Yulu, deputy governor of China’s central bank, told reporters that major Chinese commercial banks’ credit lines targeting small businesses will grow at least 30% in 2021.

Steel-making province in China cuts output, to impact ore imports - Global Times "Steel firms in Tangshan city started to control output at the end of February as part of the sector's anti-pollution measures based on the government's call, which has had some impact on iron ore demand," Wang Guoqing, research director at the Beijing Lange Steel Information Research Center, told the Global Times on Wednesday.

2021国家账本: 收支矛盾如何解?约44万亿元怎么花? China has allocated about 44 trillion RMB in fiscal spending in 2021, as Beijing grapples with shrinking government revenues, Yicai reported. While policymakers are wary of stimulus becoming too generous, special purpose bonds will still be issued despite a slowdown in local government debts. Much of the fiscal spending in 2021 will focus on infrastructure projects and revitalizing the rural economy.

For U.S. Farmers, China Is Back and Bigger Than Ever - WSJ $$ U.S. agricultural exports to China in 2020 rose to 55.5 million tons and comprised one-quarter of all farm shipments, according to U.S. Agriculture Department data. China is now buying more farm goods than it did before the trade war, and U.S. agricultural officials expect Chinese demand to grow further.

Yicai - More Small Chinese Banks Are Selling Bad Debt With Private Share Offerings to Boost Liquidity A growing number of Chinese rural commercial banks are tying the sale of a private placement of shares with the sale of some of the banks’ non-performing assets in order to better meet regulatory requirements for liquidity. Eight out of over 10 small and medium-sized lenders who applied for a private share sale to the China Securities Regulatory Commission by March 5 this year, are asking investors to subscribe to some of their bad debt in return for a good price on their equity, according to Yicai Global research.

《深圳经济特区个人破产条例》正式实施 最高法发声:总结司法经验_2021两会综合报道_宏观嘉宾观点_宏观频道首页_财经网 - CAIJING Shenzhen’s personal bankruptcy law, China’s first, took effect on March 1. Under the law, individuals who declared bankruptcy will be barred from flying first class and their children will be barred from attending private schools with high fees. The implementation of the law will be highly watched as other Chinese provinces mull similar moves.

Beijing Court Finalizes Baoshang Bank Liquidation - Caixin Global According to the court document, Baoshang had total assets of 447 million yuan ($68 million) as of the end of October 2020, with net liabilities of about 206 billion yuan, meaning it was insolvent. Baoshang had no actual business and employees as the bankruptcy proceeding started, and none of its creditors demanded restructuring, the court said.

China Weighs Tighter Rules on STAR Board IPOs, Fintech Curbs - Bloomberg The China Securities Regulatory Commission may introduce revised rules as soon as next month, placing greater emphasis on hardcore technology and innovation, said people familiar with the matter, who asked not to be identified as the discussions are private. There will also be increased scrutiny on financial health to boost the quality of companies and protect investors, they said.

Ship Forced to Wait 269 Days Unloads Australian Coal in China - Bloomberg ​Planned unladings are aimed at showing goodwill to nations with stranded seafarers and aren’t a loosening of China’s ban on Australian coal, a person familiar with the situation said last month before the ships began discharging. China’s general administration of customs didn’t respond to a faxed inquiry and it’s unclear if the cargoes are being cleared by authorities or held in storage.

In Depth: ‘Blood and Sweat’ Doesn’t Pay Off for China’s Army of Delivery Workers “The labor force now working for the food delivery platforms is the same as that working at Foxconn Technology Co. Ltd. a decade ago,” said a labor industry veteran who asked not to be named, referring to the contract manufacturing giant that assembles devices for Apple Inc. Foxconn factories were the site of a string of workplace suicides early last decade, and in 2010, the company’s President Terry Gou was forced to deny that the firm had asked workers to sign agreements stating they did not intend to commit suicide...


Politics and Law

人大常委拟增任免副总理权力 李克强总理大权进一步被削 — RFA The Organization Law (Revised Draft), which is being considered by the National People's Congress, proposes to authorize the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress to decide the appointment and dismissal of "other members of the State Council", including the Vice Premier and State Councillors of the State Council, in addition to the candidates for ministers when the National People's Congress is not in session. Some scholars believe that this means that Li Keqiang's power will be further weakened or even completely overhead. 全国人大正在审议的《组织法(修正草案)》,提出授权人大常委会在全国人大闭会期间,除了可以决定部长人选外,还可以决定“国务院其他组成人员”的任免,即包括国务院副总理、国务委员。有学者认为,这意味着李克强的权力将被进一步削弱,甚至完全被架空。

China backs Xinjiang firms, residents in lawsuits against Adrian Zenz - CGTN "The day will surely come when Adrian Zenz and the evil forces behind him have to face the condemnation of conscience and the reckoning of justice," Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian said Tuesday in scathing remarks against the German whose unfounded allegations on Xinjiang have been used by the western media and politicians to attack and malign China.

The 24th Press Conference on Xinjiang-related Issues-TIANSHANNET-天山网 CGTN: Adrian Zenz, in the published article, Beyond the Camps: Beijing’s Long-Term Scheme of Coercive Labor, Poverty Alleviation and Social Control in Xinjiang, claiming that there’s “forced labor” in Aksu Prefecture’s Huafu Color Spinning Corporation, Shache County’s Eagle Textile Company, Xinjiang Meili’ao Fashion Corporation, Xinjiang Jinfuzhen Clothing Corporation, and Kashgar Tashkorgan County’s Jinfuyuan garment factory. What’s your opinion on this? Xu Guixiang: This question goes to Spokesperson of Information Office of the People’s Government of XUAR Elijan Anayit. Elijan Anayit: Adrian Zenz is a member of the far right group established by the US government, and a senior member of anti-China research institution set up and manipulated by the U.S. intelligence agencies. He is living on making up lies on Xinjiang affairs and slandering China. There’s no “forced labor” in Xinjiang’s enterprises. Based on the principle of equality and voluntarily, laborers of all ethnics sign labor contracts with employers and get legal payments in accordance with China's labor law and regulations.

西方媒体炒作首份涉疆“独立报告”,背后竟是“野鸡大学” More attacks on Adrian Zenz by Guancha, calling him and the Fairfax University that host the Newlines Institute fraud scholar and fraud university.

“老赖”将分级分类惩戒,最高法:坚决避免滥用失信惩戒措施|界面新闻 · 中国 China’s Supreme Court has warned not to abuse the punishment mechanism for people with bad social credit. “(We) must specify the scope and duration of punishments according to different types and varying degrees of credit violations, so that the punishments will be more precise and proportional,” said Liu Guixiang, a judge with the Court.

“蔡徐坤微博转发过亿”幕后推手星援App开发者一审获刑五年|App_新浪财经_新浪网 A Chinese app developer is sentenced to five years in prison for selling fake Weibo follower. The developer used nearly 200 thousand fake accounts to follow and retweet some posts, and in exchange, it was paid nearly one million USD for the service. The scheme caught the public attention in 2018 when a Weibo post by a pop star Cai Xukun was reposted more than 100 million times. Apparently, many of Cai’s fans paid the company for retweets to support their idol.

Shanghai Woman Awarded $15,000 in Landmark Verbal Harassment Case - SixthTone A Shanghai court ruled Monday that a man’s persistent inappropriate language toward his colleague constituted sexual harassment, the city’s first such judicial decision under China’s new civil code. The Yangpu District People’s Court said the defendant should pay at least 98,000 yuan ($15,000) in compensation to the plaintiff for medical bills, lost wages, transportation expenses, legal fees, and mental distress, Sixth Tone’s sister publication The Paper reported Monday.

Honest passengers first! Beijing subway trial of credit-based fast entry system - Global Times Beijing's subway may exempt passengers with good credit records from mandatory security checks as part of its new smart measures to speed up commuters' entry into the subway. The Beijing subway is expected to conduct a trial of the measure based on passengers' credit scores at several stations, according to a municipal government report on the city's traffic.

364个教育整顿省级指导组出征,严查“雨过地皮湿”!-中国长安网 长安君在全国政法队伍教育整顿领导小组办公室了解到,目前全国已经成立364个省级指导组,截至3月10日,省级指导组培训已基本完成,相继赴地市开展工作。 // "Chang Anjun" learned from the Office of the National Leading Group for Education and Rectification of Political and Legal Teams that at present, 364 provincial-level guidance groups have been set up in China. As of March 10th, the training of provincial-level guidance groups has been basically completed, and they have gone to cities to carry out work

在斗争中学会斗争--理论-中国共产党新闻网 Organization Department official Xu Wenxiu writes in Study Times about "learning how to struggle while struggling", as a follow on to Xi's recent speech to young cadres that emphasized the need to struggle

Opinion: The Problem With China’s New Rules on Foreign Sanctions - Caixin Global Although the above comparison with the EU model adds some predictability, the law’s Article 9 places market participants in a complete legal limbo. What is controversial about the Chinese version is Article 9, which puts the law on a different plane from other versions. It not only contravenes universal legal doctrines but also does not sit well with the existing Chinese legal system.

China must watch for signs of rising nationalism spurred by tensions with the West, warns former top official | South China Morning Post “(China should) continue to expand opening-up, actively and prudently handle relations with major countries, and prevent the rise of domestic populism,” said He Yiting, former executive vice-president of the Central Party School, during discussions in the Chongqing delegation dated last Friday.

New report shows growing CCP control of Tibetan Buddhism - International Campaign for Tibet The report—released today, March 10, 2021—documents policy and institutional changes that force monks and nuns to serve the interests of the Communist Party. These changes include giving a Communist Party agency direct oversight of monasteries and nunneries; stationing police and party cadres inside religious institutions; and pressuring monks and nuns to denounce the Dalai Lama for the sake of China’s national unity.


Foreign and Defense Affairs

UK ambassador rebuffs Beijing broadside against press freedom comments | Financial Times $$ The foreign ministry called Wilson’s article “inappropriate” and said it demonstrated “arrogance”. The original article has been banned from being shared on WeChat. Wilson stood by her comments, writing on Twitter: “No doubt the outgoing Chinese Ambassador to the UK stands by the 170+ pieces he was free to place in mainstream British media.”

Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian's Regular Press Conference on March 10, 2021 Reuters: China summoned the UK ambassador on Tuesday to lodge stern representations over an article she wrote on the role of the media. What was the specific point the ambassador made in this article which the foreign ministry disagreed with? Why is it inappropriate for foreign diplomats to give their views on Chinese social media, given that Chinese diplomats often do so on foreign platforms and publications? Zhao Lijian: The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China has already summoned Ambassador Caroline Wilson to state our solemn position on the relevant issue. You can also check out the reactions of Chinese netizens to her article. Who is right and who is wrong is clear, and the public also knows the answer clearly. Ambassador Wilson's article, with a confused logic, avoids all the facts, including the British media's disinformation and false reporting on China, and deliberately confuses news slandering with news supervision. The article makes no mention of the Chinese media being suppressed in foreign countries, but praises the so-called Western experience in an arrogant tone, and makes irresponsible remarks about China's system and media. The true purpose of her article is to interfere in China's internal affairs, reflecting her consistent double standards and deep-rooted ideological prejudices. The Chinese Ambassador to the UK Liu Xiaoming also published some articles during his stint in the UK, all of which are in objective and positive tones, meant to introduce China and China-UK relations. Some of his articles have been written to dispel false words and rumors concerning China disseminated by some British media. He has never written any article to provoke disputes, nor attack the British system. In fact, when Ambassador Liu Xiaoming published articles in the British media, it was not as free and easy as Ambassador Wilson said, as his articles have been repeatedly rejected in recent years.

Why did the British ambassador to China lose her Chinese fans? - People's Daily Online In her article, Ambassador Wilson only mentioned China's expulsion of Western journalists, and did not mention that the United States expelled Chinese journalists first. She mentioned only consequences and no cause. Her way of writing is similar to that of some Western media outlets’ reports about China, only that the tone is slightly softer. The Chinese fans who have supported her were disappointed. Her affinity for the country turned out to be just a mask.

Hu Xijin - China needs to fight a creative opinion battle on Xinjiang: Global Times editorial - Global Times If they say what Xinjiang did was wrong, then do they have a plausible way which can eradicate terrorism and ensure Xinjiang is not made into a hell of human rights at the same time? Have they ever been successful in governance in Iraq, Libya or Syria? The political virus they spread to the world is as detrimental as the novel coronavirus. China should engage with the US in this opinion war and be creative. The Five Eyes alliance finding fault with China over Xinjiang affairs is out of geopolitical reasons. It is different from some Europeans who disagree with China. The fiercer China and the Five Eyes clash over Xinjiang governance, the more the international community will understand what exactly Xinjiang affairs are about. Even Islamic countries do not speak out. The fault-finding Five Eyes are making a fuss.

Hu's original - 社评:新疆舆论战,让我们创造性地与美国打 中国应该充分放开手脚与美国打这场舆论战,创造性地同它打。五眼联盟揪新疆问题,有地缘政治的强烈原因,与欧洲社会一些人看不惯中国还不太一样,中国与五眼联盟互怼得越狠,越会让国际社会悟出新疆问题实际上到底是怎么回事。为什么广大伊斯兰国家不急,在这里跟中国急赤白脸的五眼联盟明摆着是在装腔作势。

EU official’s accusation of China aims to cover own vaccination failure: experts - Global Times If EU really has so-called more desirable values than China and Russia as European Council President Charles Michel claims, they should have made efforts to bring down infections and deaths rather than use China and Russia as an excuse to cover their failures in providing members with enough vaccines. Chinese experts made the remarks on Wednesday as, one day before Michel, who chairs summits of European Union leaders, said in a statement that "We should not let ourselves be misled by China and Russia, both regimes with less desirable values than ours, as they organize highly limited but widely publicized operations to supply vaccines to others."

PLA to strengthen combat readiness as US calls China strategic threat - Global Times Song Zhongping, a Chinese military expert and TV commentator, told the Global Times on Wednesday that the "instabilities" and "uncertainties" mainly stem from the US, which has been interfering in China's internal affairs, including the Taiwan question, while also stirring up trouble in the South China Sea...China will also reach another new level in weaponry and equipment development in the next five years, Song said, noting that the 14th Five-Year Plan period will prepare for the 100th anniversary (in 2027) of the founding of the people's armed forces by reaching mechanization, informatization and intelligentization. A large number of advanced weapons and equipment will be developed and commissioned during the period, and will even surpass the achievements reached in the past five years, Song predicted. // Comment: Weapons systems whose capabilities will allow the PLA to project force far beyond the PRC regional neighborhood

罗援:中国军费超两千亿美元,有何不可? Rear Admiral Luo Yuan wrote on Global Times saying China’s military budget increase is justifiable given the containment strategy by the US and others who are trying to dismember China. He said China has nothing to hide, and that the PLA will build the first-class weaponries as the “beat the dog stick打狗棍” to deter enemies.// 要崛起就要拿起“打狗棍”,就要拿起让所有豺狼鬼怪望而生畏的“打狗棍”。这样的“打狗棍”必须是一流的,二流的“打狗棍”豺狼鬼怪是不害怕的。我们不能总是拿着第三代战机去与对手的第五代战机对抗吧?我们不能总是拿着上个世纪研发的装备去与新世纪的新装备抗衡吧?我们必须要有一流的“打狗棍”,而谁都知道要获得一流的“打狗棍”是需要大量投入的。我们也想把这些钱都用来改善人民的物质生活条件,但豺狼鬼怪不让,它们总在我们的家门口闹事,总惦记着把我们的家给“肢解”了。别无选择,被逼无奈,我们只好锻造一流的家伙什儿。

Majority of Canadians view China as biggest security threat, with global war of attrition already underway: poll | National Post More than half of Canadians view China as the single-biggest security threat facing Canada, with a majority believing that a global war of attrition involving the communist state is already well underway, according to a new poll. In a new survey by Maru Public Opinion, 52 per cent of respondents viewed China as the highest security threat facing Canada, followed by Russia (42 per cent) North Korea (39 per cent) and Iran (33 per cent).

Canada’s visa office in Beijing staffed mostly by Chinese police-owned company - The Globe and Mail Fourteen per cent of the staff in the Beijing centre work for VFS Global, the company paid to run Canada’s visa centres abroad. The remainder – 86 per cent – are employees of Beijing Shuangxiong Foreign Service Co., a subcontractor owned by the Beijing Public Security Bureau, according to a written response to questions from Michèle LaRose, spokesperson for Public Services and Procurement Canada // Question: Is this arrangement unique to the Canadian embassy?

Canadian-linked foundation offers travel to China in exchange for research from academics, scientists - The Globe and Mail A foundation with Canadian connections and murky origins that operated out of a house in Southern California has been offering Canadian academics and scientists business-class flights to China and stays at five-star hotels in exchange for sharing their research. Shrawan Kumar, a pioneer in spinal biomechanics, turned down an invitation earlier this year from the organization – the North American Foundation for Science and Technology – worried that it was a front for the Chinese government.

Ransom Payment in the Gulf of Guinea | Council on Foreign Relations According to the Nigerian army, a ransom of $300,000 was paid to pirates in the Gulf of Guinea to secure the release of the crew of a Chinese fishing boat. The party that paid the ransom is not reported. The most likely possibility is that it was the Chinese company that operated the fishing boat.

U.S. judge called to apologize after using phrase "China Virus" - Xinhua Several legal groups have demanded an Ohio judge apologize after he used the term "China Virus" in a column published in a local bar association's newsletter, local media reports said. Lake County Common Pleas Court Judge John P. O'Donnell used the term "China Virus" three times in his article in the Lake Legal Views while addressing how he handled his duties during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Vice Foreign Minister Luo Zhaohui Talks about China-ASEAN Relations: Brighter Prospects after 30 Years of Thriving Development Fourth, we need to consolidate new underpinning forces. Political and security cooperation is one of the three pillars of China-ASEAN relations. We need to promote strategic communication and dialogue, enhance cooperation in traditional security fields, and jointly oppose Cold War mentality and group politics. We need to pay close attention to public health cooperation, especially vaccine cooperation, and focus on cooperation in such non-traditional security fields as climate change and counter-terrorism. We need to accelerate the consultations on the COC. Luo Zhaohui concluded by saying that China will launch the 14th Five-year Plan this year and open wider to the outside world, which will surely bring more opportunities to China-ASEAN cooperation

Uninterrupted Rise: China’s Global Strategy According to Xi Jinping Thought - Steve Tsang and Olivia Cheung | The Asan Forum - To many in the Chinese leadership the global financial crisis revealed that advanced Western capitalist democracies are “paper-tigers.” This assessment led to growing voices questioning if Deng Xiaoping’s “hide and bide” dictum for foreign policy was still appropriate. Prior to Xi Jinping coming to power in late 2012 the Chinese leadership had no consensus on how to move forward beyond Deng. Questions pertaining to China’s long-term visions—such as what kind of power it should be, what type of international responsibilities it should and should not shoulder—were distracted by short-term calculations.1 Under Xi China has developed a new global strategy, one of securing the uninterrupted rise of China, in contrast to the strategy of peaceful rise adopted by Hu Jintao, Xi’s predecessor

China will work with Russia on policy towards US, says ambassador to Moscow | South China Morning Post Zhang Hanhui also defended the military cooperation between the two countries, which he described as an “important pillar” of their relationship and an “important safeguard” in maintaining strategic balance of the world. “Fifty years ago, the US and China opened the door to a relationship that had been closed for decades, and now, 50 years later, the United States should correct the mistakes it has made over time … and adopt a positive and constructive policy towards China,” Zhang told Interfax, a Russian news agency, according to a transcript published on the embassy’s website on Tuesday.

China travel: Americans and other Westerners are increasingly scared of traveling there as threat of detention rises - CNN More than a dozen academics, NGO workers and media professionals CNN spoke to, who in pre-Covid times regularly traveled to China, said they were unwilling to do this once the pandemic restrictions lifted, over fears for their personal safety. Several in the international business community said they would significantly modify their behavior while outside China to avoid attracting the ire of authorities in the country, where they need to do business.

Chinese government should have no role in succession process of the Dalai Lama: US, World News | wionews.com "We believe that the Chinese government should have no role in the succession process of the Dalai Lama," US State Department spokesman Ned Price said, adding, "Beijing's interference in the succession of the Panchen Lama more than 25 years ago, including "disappearing the Panchen Lama as a child and attempting to replace him with a People's Republic of China (PRC) government-chosen successor remains an outrageous abuse of religious freedom."

Exclusive: Quad nations meeting to announce financing to boost India vaccine output - U.S. official | Reuters The financing agreements will be between the United States, Japan and others and focus particularly on companies and institutions in India manufacturing vaccines for American drugmakers Novavax Inc and Johnson & Johnson, the official, who did not want to be identified by name, said.


Hong Kong and Macao

Help Hong Kong residents flee before it's too late, fugitive democracy figure urges | The Guardian Ted Hui, who escaped to the UK while on bail before moving to Australia, says world must provide ‘lifeboat plans’ ahead of expected travel bans

'They Are Monitoring Our Thoughts And Behavior, Which is Chilling.' — Radio Free Asia Amid a crackdown on peaceful dissent and political opposition under a draconian national security law imposed on the city by Beijing, the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) recently withdrew recognition for the student union, known as Syzygia, shortly after it elected its new leadership committee. After some consideration, the union disbanded. Former committee member Issac Lam spoke to RFA in a recent interview about his shock at the announcement, given that university leaders and faculty had previously been supportive of the union

Two acquitted of protest charges at court; charges against musician who played Hong Kong protest anthem dropped | Hong Kong Free Press HKFP


Tech and Media

Yicai - China Mobile, CBN to Build 400,000 700 MHz 5G Base Stations by Year-End Telecoms carriers China Mobile and China Broadcasting Network plan to complete the construction of 400,000 700 megahertz fifth-generation base stations by the end of this year, China Mobile said at a press conference today, according to The Paper.


Society, Arts, Sports, Culture and History

Chinese lawmaker proposes including abandonment of pets in personal social credit records - Global Times The proposal gained a lot of support from Chinese netizens. The related hashtag has gained 110 million views on China's Twitter-like Sina Weibo as of Wednesday.  Sun Quanhui, a scientist from World Animal Protection told the Global Times on Wednesday that he is in favor of the proposal as the animals cannot look after themselves, so clarifying the relevant responsibilities of the pet owners is significant.


Energy, Environment, Science and Health

China leads world's biggest increase in wind power capacity | Energy industry | The Guardian A study has revealed that China led the world’s biggest ever increase in wind power capacity as developers built almost 100GW worth of windfarms last year – enough to power almost three times the number of homes in the UK and a rise of nearly 60% on the previous year.

Expert Committee Sets Sights on China’s Myopia Crisis - SixthTone The National Health Commission said Tuesday that the advisory panel comprises 42 medical experts. The group is responsible for providing professional guidance and recommending appropriate measures for preventing and controlling myopia, a condition that affects millions in the country. China’s childhood myopia rate is among the highest in the world. Over half of the country’s minors are nearsighted, according to a 2018 survey by the National Health Commission. The myopia rate among high schoolers, usually aged 16 to 18, was as high as 81%, representing 5% growth in less than a decade.


Rural and Agricultural Issues

Huaxi Village: The rise and fall of the "richest village in China" - ThinkChina Last week, a video of Huaxi villagers lining up in the rain went viral. It turned out that they had invested their money with the Huaxi Group, set up by the Huaxi Village Communist Party Committee, but their dividends had dropped from 30% to just 0.5%, and they were worried that there were financial issues with the group. They wanted to cut losses and cash out, leading to a run on the Huaxi Group as hundreds of people queued to get back their principal sums.