US-China dialogue; Liu He to DC?; Student activists detained; More policies to prop up private firms

The US and China are talking but it is not clear there is much progress. What I am hearing:

  • As expected, the US-China Diplomatic and Security Dialogue on Friday was difficult and did not lead to any significant breakthroughs;

  • Yang Jiechi did not get a hoped-for drop-in meeting and handshake with President Trump, but he did get a meeting with Jared Kushner;

  • I have heard from several people that Steve Mnuchin and Liu had a phone call on Friday, though nothing has been confirmed and no details leaked. The talk that Liu He may be heading to DC soon for talks in advance of the Trump-Xi G20 meeting continues, and if he does come expect markets to get excited, at least momentarily;

  • The split over trade issues inside the Trump administration appears to be unresolved, with USTR head Lighthizer pushing a much tougher approach than Mnuchin. As always what matters will be Trump's decision at the moment, and I believe Beijing still thinks it can sway him towards backing off from the next round of the trade war.

Thanks for reading.

The Essential Eight

1. US-China 

U.S.-China Diplomatic and Security Dialogue - US Department of Sate Statement

Press Availability With Secretary of Defense James Mattis, Chinese Politburo Member Yang Jiechi, and Chinese State Councilor and Defense Minister General Wei Fenghe:

In addition to these opportunities to strengthen our cooperation, I was forthright in addressing significant differences between our nations.

I was clear, for example, that we have continued concern about China’s activities and militarization in the South China Sea. We pressed China to live up to its past commitments in this area.

Regarding our strong ties with a democratic Taiwan, I reiterated the U.S. policy has not changed and that we are concerned about China’s increasing efforts to coerce others, constraining Taiwan’s international space. And finally, I stated the United States and the international communities will continue to express our concerns with respect to China’s repression of religious groups – Christian, Buddhists, and 800,000 to possibly millions of Muslims that have been denied their freedoms.

In closing, I want to state that this was an incredibly productive conversation. The United States is not pursuing a Cold War or containment policy with China.

Rather, we want to ensure that China acts responsibly and fairly in support of security and prosperity of each of our two countries.

I hope that our discussions today as well as the upcoming discussions between Presidents Trump and Xi will yield tangible results towards this goal. I am confident that they will.

The Chinese side stresses that China is firm on pursuing socialist – socialism with Chinese characteristics. Everything that we do is to deliver a better life for the Chinese people, to realize rejuvenation of the Chinese nation. It is not intended to challenge or displease anyone. China will stay on the course of reform and opening up and a path of peaceful development. And we are committed to working with other countries for a community with a shared future for mankind.

In first, Washington calls on Beijing to remove missiles from South China Sea | The Japan Times:

The United States has for the first time urged China to remove missile systems deployed to contested man-made islands in the South China Sea, the Pentagon said Friday.

The move, believed to be the first time the U.S. had directly addressed the issue, came in a statement recapping high-level talks between the two sides in Washington on Friday.

“The United States called on China to withdraw its missile systems from disputed features in the Spratly Islands, and reaffirmed that all countries should avoid addressing disputes through coercion or intimidation,” the statement said.

US-China trade war: ‘mutual respect’ key to resolution, Liu He tells Henry Kissinger | South China Morning Post:

“The Chinese leaders believe they must find someone reliable to talk with and convey a message to Trump,” said Shen Dingli, an expert in American studies at Fudan University in Shanghai.

It was of particular note that Wang and Kissinger met twice in such a short period of time, he said.

“We don’t know what happened behind the scenes, but there must be something going on, otherwise there wouldn’t have been the need for a second meeting so soon.”

Comment: Does Trump really listen to Kissinger?

Navarro tells Wall Street 'globalist billionaires' to end 'shuttle diplomacy' in U.S.-China trade war - POLITICO:

"Consider the shuttle diplomacy that is now going on by a self-appointed group of Wall Street bankers and hedge fund managers between the U.S. and China," Navarro said in a speech at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

"As part of the Chinese government influence operations, globalist billionaires are putting a full-court press on the White House in advance of the G-20 in Argentina. The mission of these unregistered foreign agents … is to pressure this president into some kind of a deal," he said.

The full video of Navarro's talk at CSIS - Economic Security as National Security: A Discussion with Dr. Peter Navarro 

Frozen Out of China, American Farmers Refuse to Sell Their Soy - Bloomberg

The hope is that over the next few months, trade tensions will ease, and China, the top market for the oilseed, will start buying from American farmers again, lifting depressed prices in the process. A bushel of soybeans fetched just $8.87 on Friday. Eight months ago, before trade tensions led to tariffs, it was about $2 more.

Comment: Betting on part of any possible deal that might come out of the Trump-Xi G20 meeting could include a big bulk buy of US soybeans?

2. New US approach to cyber theft as 2015 US-China deal violated?

U.S. Deploys New Tactics to Curb China’s Intellectual Property Theft - WSJ $$:

The Trump administration is broadening its China trade battle beyond tariffs with a plan to use export controls, indictments and other tools to counter the theft of intellectual property, according to people familiar with the matter.

The opening move in the new strategy came in the form of a recent crackdown by the Commerce and Justice Departments on a Chinese state-owned chip maker, which the U.S. administration accused of stealing trade secrets from Idaho-based Micron Technology Inc., the people said.

U.S. officials are looking at additional cases where they could use a similar combination of tools to fight Chinese IP theft, the people added. The officials hope that the unprecedented actions taken to defend Micron—the largest American memory-chip maker—will encourage more U.S. companies to work with the government to counter intellectual property theft.

China Violated Obama-Era Cybertheft Pact, U.S. Official Says - WSJ $$:

The 2015 bilateral agreement had significantly reduced the amount of Chinese cybertheft targeting American companies, but Beijing’s commitment to the deal has eroded, said Rob Joyce, senior adviser for cybersecurity strategy at the National Security Agency.

“It is clear they are well beyond the bounds of the agreement today that was forged between our two countries,” Mr. Joyce said during a panel conversation at the Aspen Cyber Summit.

Comment: How would Beijing react to an official US declaration that they have violated the 2015 agreement? Hearing talk that such a declaration is imminent

3. Student activists detained

Police 'kidnap' 10 labour activists across China: Rights group - AFP:

A Chinese labour rights group on Saturday (Nov 10) said at least ten of its supporters were detained by police in several cities across the country, in the latest apparent crackdown against its activists...

Five were graduates of Peking University - one of the country's top-ranked institutions.

One of the graduates, Zhang Shengye, was "kidnapped" on the school campus, the group alleged in its statement.

An eyewitness and Peking University student claimed that more than ten people in dark-coloured clothing beat Zhang before dragging him into a black car...

A few other students who were passing by were also beaten, he added. They were forced to the ground, and stopped from taking photos or speaking.

Comment: Not a coincidence- Peking University’s new Party Secretary, the real head of the university, has a long history in the politics and law system, including a brief stint as party secretary of the Beijing state security bureau - Sinocism 10.26 -Peking University gets a new leader:

Amidst the broader tightening inside China, 2019 is a year of momentous anniversaries of student movements--the 100th of the May 4 Movement and the 30th of the Tiananmen Square protests--and Peking University was at the center of both. It certainly looks like this move may be part of the broader ideological hardening underway at Peking University and at educational institutions in general.

Young Activists Go Missing in China, Raising Fears of Crackdown - The New York Times:

On Sunday, students at Peking University handed out pamphlets in a campus cafeteria to spread word about the missing activists. “Let those with strength contribute strength, for their safety, for their freedom and for illuminating the path to justice in society,” the pamphlets said.

Before long, security officers appeared and tried to stop their campaign. The students persisted, moving from table to table to make their pleas.

Chinese Police Continue Crackdown on Student Labor Activists: Reporters - RFA:

Student activists from several of China's top universities staged a small protest outside the Beijing Apple Store on Friday over a controversial internship scheme involving the company's suppliers.

"So this morning some Beijing students took a picture in front of an Apple Store to demonstrate their support to students forced to work in Apple's suppliers factories in South China," Liu Zhifan, a French freelance journalist based in Beijing, tweeted.

"A student was taken away by the police!" the journalist tweeted, including a photo and video of the incident.

"We protest the use of illegal student labor by Apple suppliers," read a slogan held up by the students in the photo.

4. Policy embrace of private firms hard to implement in practice

Multi-pronged measures to help ease financing woes of small firms - Xinhua:

China will make more targeted efforts to boost the financial sector's support for the real economy and tackle financing difficulties for small and micro businesses, the State Council's meeting chaired by Premier Li Keqiang decided on Friday.

The meeting heard a report on delivery of the policies regarding accessible and affordable financing for micro and small businesses...

"Government departments are encouraged to take multi-pronged approach, and we must waste no time in helping small firms tackle their liquidity difficulties," Li said, "No loans extended should be willfully withdrawn."

It was pointed out at the Friday meeting that greater efforts will be made to enhance financial services for the private sector, especially micro and small firms.

The financing channels will be widened. The scope of qualified collaterals of the Medium-term Lending Facility will be expanded to cover loans for micro and small firms with a credit quota of up to 10 million yuan per company. Support will be given to more such firms for equity and bond financing.

China won't set targets for individual banks' loans to private firms: state media | Reuters:

Guo Shuqing, chairman of the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission (CBIRC), said on Thursday at least a third of big banks’ new loans to companies should be to private firms, while at least two-thirds of small and medium-sized banks’ new loans to companies should be to private businesses.

“The targets are not ‘hard’ indicators for each bank,” the China Securities Journal said, citing unidentified sources. “The regulatory authorities will not propose specific targets for a single bank.”

银保监会:“一二五”非硬性考核指标 信贷标准不会放松 _中国经济网——国家经济门户

Xinhua on efforts by the State Council Financial Stability and Development Commission to improve financing for private firms - 把解决民营企业融资难融资贵问题落到实处——金融委督导在行动系列述评之一_中国经济网——国家经济门户 

What's a Private Company? China Banks Grapple With Lending Rules - Bloomberg:

The problem, according to senior executives at three banks who spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of alienating regulators, largely boils down to this: In a country where the state’s influence is felt everywhere, there remains little consensus on what, exactly, defines a “private” company. That leaves the new policy open to misinterpretation and even potentially to gaming, they said.

Investors and bank executives alike are concerned that setting specific targets for lending to private businesses -- something authorities refrained from even during the height of the 2008 financial crisis -- could result in a pile-up of bad debts. Bond defaults by non-state companies, an indicator of stress in the private sector, jumped fourfold this year from 2017, Bloomberg-compiled data show.

China to improve legal services for private businesses: official - Xinhua:

China will create a sound environment for private businesses by improving legal services and law enforcement, Minister of Justice Fu Zhenghua said Sunday.

The Ministry of Justice will push forward the revision and annulment of laws and regulations that have hindered private businesses, thus enabling private businesses to have equal access to government investment grants and subsidized loans, Fu said.

Suggestions by private businesses should be fully considered when drafting and reviewing laws and regulations concerning the interests of private businesses, he said, asking authorities to give an explanation on the unadopted opinions raised by private entrepreneurs.

5. Market role downgraded in RMB management?

China Signals Tougher Yuan Management at Expense of Market Role - Bloomberg:

China signaled tougher management of the yuan, dropping a phrase underlining the importance of market forces from a key policy report for the first time in five years.

The People’s Bank of China cut its pledge to allow "market supply and demand to play a bigger role in deciding the exchange rate" from a section on future tasks in its third-quarter monetary report. The last time that phrase wasn’t used was in the fall of 2013. Policy makers will take steps to ensure the yuan is basically stable at reasonable and balanced levels, according to the report published late Friday.

Beijing to stabilise the yuan, but intervention to cushion – not halt – currency’s decline, say analysts | South China Morning Post:

“Over the long term, it looks likely that the Chinese government will have to allow the renminbi to depreciate more against the currencies of its major trading partners. Although, for the moment, it remains subject to the central bank’s intervention,” said Dong Chen, senior Asia economist at Pictet Wealth Management.

The change in language, along with analysis that suggests the Chinese central bank has been using its foreign exchange reserves to intervene in the currency market on the yuan’s behalf since August, hints at the PBOC’s willingness to support the currency above the psychologically important level of 7.00 per US dollar. The central bank will support the yuan in the coming weeks, particularly ahead of a crucial meeting between Chinese President Xi Jinping and US President Donald Trump at the end of November, according to analysts.

Traders Eye Yuan Proxies as China Intervention Risks Linger - Bloomberg:

China bears are shorting yuan proxies, as risks of central bank intervention loom large with the currency edging closer to its decade-low again.

Yuan proxies -- such as the Australian and New Zealand dollars -- are appealing, as they are more flexible, liquid and less affected if the Chinese central bank intervenes, according to Sean Callow, senior currency strategist at Westpac Banking Corp. Other popular proxies include the Korean won, and the Taiwanese, Singaporean and Hong Kong dollars, analysts say. Such exchange rates tend to decline on negative sentiment toward China because the nation is their major export market.

6. Ma Jian gets to speak in Hong Kong

Good to see Tai Kwun changed its decision to cancel Ma's talk, but I would not see this as a sign Hong Kong's accelerating trajectory towards becoming just another Chinese city has changed.

Ma Jian, Exiled Chinese Novelist, Hails Appearance as Victory for Rights - The New York Times:

An exiled Chinese novelist spoke at a literary festival in Hong Kong on Saturday, two days after his appearance had been briefly canceled in a move that was widely seen as the latest erosion of freedoms in the semiautonomous city.

The writer, Ma Jian, whose appearances at the Hong Kong International Literary Festival were reinstated at the last minute, said the reversal “proves the failure” of self-censorship...

“We do not want Tai Kwun to become a platform to promote the political interests of any individual,” Timothy Calnin, the center’s director, said in a statement on Thursday. “We have therefore worked closely with the Hong Kong International Literary Festival to find a more suitable alternative venue.”

Tai Kwun reversed course on Friday, saying it had “reconsidered our position in light of the possibility that these events might be prevented from taking place altogether.”

Repeated Blows to Free Speech Spark Outcry in Hong Kong - RFA:

Ma, who is described in the festival's promotional material as "China's answer to Orwell, Swift and Solzhenitsyn," had earlier tweeted that he had no political agenda other than freedom of speech, and Tai Kwun said this "clarification" had contributed to its change of heart...

Meanwhile, Democratic Party lawmaker Ted Hui hit out at Tai Kwun's decision, which he attributed to the venue's ultimate owners, the Hong Kong Jockey Club.

"It seems that in its management of Tai Kwun, the Jockey Club is willing to sacrifice freedom of speech and expression in Hong Kong," Hui told reporters on Friday during a protest outside the arts venue on Friday.

"The Jockey Club has shown it is subject to political pressure and interference, because it wouldn't allow Ma Jian's event to go ahead at this venue," he said. "The Jockey Club itself also self-censors in order to minimize its political risk."

7. Sick of Single's Day? | New 11.11 GMV Record as Alibaba Ecosystem Goes All-In |

Even facing cyclical and geopolitical economic challenges, they gave a sense that there’s no stopping the rise of China’s middle class and its quest for an upgrade in lifestyle through the consumption of higher-quality products and services.

“I think you have to understand Alibaba and what Alibaba’s doing in the context of the long-term secular trend that’s developing in China, which is the rise of the Chinese middle class,” said Alibaba Executive Vice Chairman Joe Tsai. ” That trend is not going to stop, trade war or no trade war.”

‘Double 11’ Sets Records Again — but Growth is Slowing Despite Efforts to Pump Up Numbers - Caixin:

Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. booked a record 213.5 billion yuan ($30.7 billion) in gross merchandise value — the value of the goods sold by stores using its platforms — during the 24-hour long shopping festival on Sunday, a 27% increase year-on-year. This was the lowest year-on-year expansion since the company created the celebration of consumerism in 2009...

Alibaba CEO Daniel Zhang, told reporters on Sunday that the sales from Hema and won’t contribute to the headline figure, which will mostly be made up of its two e-commerce platforms Taobao and Tmall.

However, Zhang said it did include sales from some of its brick-and-mortar platforms, such as Beijing-based home improvement chain Easyhome, in which Alibaba took a 15% stake early this year. Zhang said only sales that were motivated by advertisements on Tmall would “very likely” make it into the headline figure.

Alibaba’s Singles Day Sales Top $30 Billion. The Party May Not Last. - The New York Times:

No one expects Alibaba to generate whopper Singles Day sales growth numbers every year for eternity. At some point, when growth starts decelerating quickly, the event could change, to focus on one week’s sales instead of one day’s, or on something else entirely.

Alibaba’s track record suggests that when the time comes, it will have no trouble pulling off another act of conjuring.

“I’m not worried about Alibaba at all,” said Steven Zhu, an analyst in Shanghai with the research firm Pacific Epoch. “These guys are really good at creating things from nothing.”

'Ababis' and 'Star Wnrs': Knockoffs thrive in China e-commerce - AFP:

As China held its massive annual "Singles Day" online sales event on Sunday, shoppers could still find cheap imitations on Alibaba's Taobao app despite the company's efforts to curb sales of counterfeit goods...

AFP was able to find a veritable treasure trove of knockoffs on Taobao ahead of the November 11, or "Double 11", shopping spree. During last year's event, consumers spent a record $25 billion through Alibaba's platforms.

8. Bribery and influence operations against the UN

Beijing's secret plot to infiltrate UN used Australian insider - Sydney Morning Herald

Earlier this year, a petite 62-year-old woman dubbed the ‘‘queen of the Australian-China social scene’’ walked out of a US federal prison.

Charming and gregarious, Sheri Yan was once known for hosting soirees around the world where diplomats mingled with millionaire business executives and socialites. But her life changed forever in October 2015, when she was arrested by FBI agents in New York and accused of bribing the former president of the United Nations General Assembly, John Ashe...

In the blur of names and NGOs, it is easy to get confused. It is perhaps why Yan’s story has mostly been reported as a straightforward kickbacks case, a cautionary tale of avarice. Yet serving and former national security officials in Australia and the US note the pattern of conduct displayed by Yan’s NGO and the two others like it, along with their deep connections to the Communist Party. Under the guise of charitable and altruistic policy work, the NGOs all combined clandestine and corrupt means to influence powerful UN officials.

Former US intelligence official and expert on Chinese government intelligence, Mark Stokes, has reached the same conclusion as these officials: ‘‘Most certainly it is part of a broader campaign of influence at the UN.’’

Question: Was Yan's husband, former Australian intelligence officer Roger Uren, ever charged over allegations of mishandling classified information? Charges loom for ex-intelligence official Roger Uren after ASIO raid 

Business, Economy, Finance And Trade

China's trade faces more severe, complicated situation in 2019 - Reuters China’s foreign trade will face a more severe and complicated situation in 2019 and government will push the implementation of policies to ease burdens on exporters and importers, the commerce ministry said on Monday. Currently, Sino-U.S. trade frictions have limited impact on China’s foreign trade sector, the ministry said in a statement on its website, while noting that the relatively high base for trade data in the last quarter in 2017 is expected to have an adverse impact on China’s export and import growth in the same period this year.

Wall Street's $45 Trillion China Dream Inches Toward Reality - Bloomberg Chinese President Xi Jinping said in a speech last week that the country was “steadily widening the opening up” of its financial industry. For China watchers, steadily was the key word. Almost exactly a year after the country announced historic plans to ease local ownership rules and entry barriers to what’s now a $45 trillion industry, the pace of change has been closer to a crawl than a sprint. While Xi signaled that China’s opening remains on track despite the country’s trade war with America, he also made it clear that policy makers will move deliberately.

Ping An’s hedge against future risks | Financial Times $$ Over the past 30 years, chief executive Peter Ma has built Ping An into the world’s biggest insurance company by market capitalisation. It is worth around $170bn, much more than longer established rivals such as Axa, Allianz and AIG. And he has done it almost entirely within the borders of China, where Ping An boasts impressive scale — 1.4m insurance agents, 179m customers growing at a rate of 25 per cent a year, 486m users of its internet services and sidelines in everything from medical diagnostics to wealth manageme

Buyout Bids Return for U.S.-Listed Chinese Companies - WSJ $$ At least four other U.S.-traded Chinese companies have announced similar offers this year, in deals totaling $7 billion, according to research firm Dealogic. The largest is China Biologic Products Holdings Inc.’s $3.96 billion buyout offer, which was announced in August. Last year, three such “take-private” deals were unveiled, worth a total $3.45 billion. That was down from a peak in 2015, when bids were made for 19 Chinese firms worth a total $20.14 billion.

Beijing Gets Help Fighting Anonymity in Online Lending — With Blockchain - Caixin Users registered on Arxan’s system will be able to use decentralized identities to manage assets, and to store and retrieve codes for transactions in a secure environment, the company said. The startup is also developing technology that will allow users to link their fingerprints, voices, or faces to verify their decentralized identity, a developer from Arxan told Caixin. From a regulator’s point of view, the system will allow it to trace the identity of any registered owner of digital assets on the system, effectively using blockchain to keep tabs on users.

China Reveals New Share Buyback Rules in Latest Move to Stabilize Market - Caixin Any company whose stock price has fallen below its book value per share or has dropped a total of 30% within 20 consecutive trading days will be allowed to buy back its shares, according to a statement  (link in Chinese) jointly released Friday by the China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC), Ministry of Finance and the State-Owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission, the agency that oversees state-owned enterprises.

With Subdued Fanfare, China Import Fair Discloses Final Deal Tally of $57.8 Billion - Caixin The total value of deals signed at the CIIE is equal to one-third of China’s imports in October, but came in under the $59.9 billion in deals made in this year’s China Import and Export Fair, also known as the Canton Fair, which dates back as early as 1957 and is the country’s best-known trade fair.

Central bank chiefs from China, eastern Europe discuss closer cooperation between ‘new power centres’ | South China Morning Post Central bank chiefs from China and 16 eastern European countries discussed the development of closer economic ties and the possible future use of the yuan as a foreign exchange reserve currency on Friday at a new financial summit in Budapest. According to a statement by the People’s Bank of China (PBOC), Yi Gang, its governor, conducted “in-depth” discussions with his European counterparts about Chinese and central European economic development, the role of yuan in foreign exchange reserves and central bank cooperation. It did not elaborate.

Local Government Bond Issuance for Jan-Oct Exceeds 4 Trillion Yuan - China Banking News The period from January to October saw the issuance of 4.055414 trillion yuan in local government bonds according to data from China Chengxin Credit Rating Group. Special bonds accounted for 46.63% of this amount at 1.891151 trillion gun, while standard bonds accounted for 53.57%, or 2.164263 yuan. New bonds accounted for 52.86%, or 2.143616 trillion yuan, while roll over bonds accounted for 32.37%, or 1.312771 trillion yuan, and refinancing bonds 14.77%, or 599.027 billion yuan.

China will step up tax cuts: finance minister | Reuters China will study and implement tax cuts of a larger scale and more significant fee reductions for companies, the country’s finance minister Liu Kun said on Monday.

Politics, Law And Ideology

Senior CPC official stresses enhanced discipline - Xinhua Zhao Leji, a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and head of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection of the CPC, made the remarks during his inspection trip to central China's Henan Province that ended on Friday. Disciplinary inspection and supervision authorities at all levels should firmly establish a people-centered development vision, prioritizing efforts to address corruption and misconduct that occurs on the people's doorsteps, Zhao said. He also urged the commission to continuously focus on poverty alleviation, public wellbeing and "protective umbrellas" behind criminal gangs. "Disciplinary education has to be strengthened and the revised regulations on CPC disciplinary actions have to be strictly implemented, in order to ensure officials get used to working and living in an environment of supervision and restriction," said Zhao. // 赵乐际在河南调研时强调 严明纪律规矩 严格执纪监督 保障党中央重大决策部署落地见效 

Shanghai’s jailed top prosecutor ‘implicates 100 other officials in corruption case’ | South China Morning Post Once dubbed the “law manipulator of Shanghai”, Chen Xu was sentenced on October 25 after a court in Nanning, the capital of south China’s Guangxi region, found him guilty of taking money and property worth more than 74.2 million yuan (US$10.7 million) personally or through family members between 2000 and 2015...The source who has direct knowledge of the case said it was extremely difficult for the anti-corruption watchdog to target those who had a deep understanding of China’s law and judicial system because they “cover their trails way better” than others.

And Teachers, Then? They Just Do Their Thing! - China Heritage In late July 2018, Xu Zhangrun (許章潤, 1962-), a professor of law at Tsinghua University in Beijing and a research fellow with the Unirule Institute of Economics, broke the silence that has spread under the draconian rule of Xi Jinping, the supreme party-state-army leader of the People’s Republic. In an eloquent and withering essay Professor Xu expressed his concerns about the state of Chinese politics and anxiety about the country’s future...In late October 2018, three months after that original essay appeared, Professor Xu published a commentary which is, in part, also a letter addressed to China’s online censorate. In it, Xu cautions readers about the pitfalls of silence and complicity. Whereas the mechanisms of the state chose to cast the words and warnings of a man of conscience like him into oblivion, they nonetheless give free online license to some of the most heinous figures in post-1949 history, as well as providing liberal access to their writings  //  Xu is back in China, teaching at Tsinghua? Interesting if he is and so far unpunished…

In China, an outspoken human rights defender withers away in jail - The Washington Post Editorial Board HUANG QI, who has spent two decades documenting human rights abuses and corruption in China, is now enduring his third term in prison for his efforts. The Chinese penal system has a record of denying proper medical care to prisoners until they die, including Nobel Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo and others. Mr. Huang is now in ill health, and, according to activists and his mother, his life is in danger. China should free him for medical care now and not add his name to the rolls of dissidents left to expire in a jail cell.

China plans to let victims sue vaccine makers for punitive damages after string of scandals | South China Morning Post The draft Vaccine Management Law, posted online for public consultation on Sunday night, follows the country’s largest vaccine safety scandal earlier this year. The State Administration for Market Regulation said past scandals have exposed numerous flaws in supervision and in vaccine production and distribution. The new legislation is designed to establish a long-term supervision system by integrating articles from different pieces of legislati

Deletion of Wu Gan’s Twitter Posts Reflects the Urgent Need to Protect Chinese Human Rights Activists’ ‘Data Ownership’ « China Change Around 10:10 pm eastern time on Nov. 8, as I was browsing my Twitter timeline and taking a breaking from editing a website post, a tweet by Wu Gan (吴淦) jumped into my vision. Even though he has gone for three years and a half, his avatar immediately stood out. It’s an auto-generated tweet that reads: “I just activated @Tweet_Delete on my account to automatically delete my old tweets (!” Instinctively, I pressed the “prt src” key: It was 11 am on Nov. 9, Beijing Time. Wu Gan, better known as the “Super Vulgar Butcher,” is serving an eight-year sentence in a prison somewhere in the mountains on the border of Fujian and Jiangxi provinces.

Senior Chinese lottery officials confess to corruption in video - Global Times Four former senior lottery officials have confessed to corruption in a video, sparking online discussions on corruption in the welfare lottery system. Feng Lizhi, Wang Yunge, Bao Xuequan and Wang Suying, who were former heads and deputy heads of the China Welfare Lottery Distribution and Management Center under the Ministry of Civil Affairs, admitted to "systematic corruption in the lottery field," reported Friday. They repented in the video and admitted that what they did were violations of related laws, declaring that their corruption acts brought disaster to China's welfare lottery system.

郭声琨:坚持发展新时代“枫桥经验”加快推进基层社会治理现代化--法制网 新华社杭州11月12日电 纪念毛泽东同志批示学习推广“枫桥经验”55周年暨习近平总书记指示坚持发展“枫桥经验”15周年大会12日在浙江绍兴召开。中共中央政治局委员、中央政法委书记郭声琨在会上强调,要以习近平新时代中国特色社会主义思想为指引,坚定不移走中国特色社会主义社会治理之路,坚持创新发展新时代“枫桥经验”,加快推进基层社会治理现代化,努力建设更高水平的平安中国,不断增强人民群众获得感、幸福感、安全感。// Guo Shengkun's comments at "Fengqiao experience" anniversary meeting...Xi is a big fan of this Mao-era approach to "comeprehensive social management". China Media Project had a great piece on it in 2013 

项俊波“神秘”大秘的新消息_凤凰资讯 Xiang Junbo main secretary has also been charged. Li Yuanchao's main secretary was recently sentenced to 15 years in jail. The secretary's know just about everything...

Foreign and Military Affairs

President Xi to attend APEC meeting, visit Papua New Guinea, Brunei, Philippines - Xinhua Chinese President Xi Jinping is to pay state visits to Papua New Guinea, Brunei, and the Philippines from Nov. 15 to 21, and will attend the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) leaders' meeting from Nov. 17 to 18 at Papua New Guinea's capital city of Port Moresby.

Pence takes the new U.S. Asia strategy on the road - The Washington Post “He’s going to the region with an affirmative message to talk about what we and our partners are doing across the region to reinforce the idea of a free and open Indo-Pacific,” a senior administration official told me. The idea is to put meat on the bone of the Asia strategy Trump unveiled at last year’s APEC meeting in Vietnam. Pence is not going to the region to criticize the Chinese government directly, as he did in his recent speech. The plan is to argue that the U.S. vision for the region is better for those countries economically and politically — and that the U.S. commitment there is real

Chinese premier arrives in Singapore for visit, East Asia cooperation - Xinhua During the visit, Li is also going to attend the 21st China-ASEAN (the Association of Southeast Asian Nations) (10+1) leaders' meeting, the 21st ASEAN-China, Japan and South Korea (10+3) leaders' meeting and the 13th East Asia Summit. Li will also meet with ASEAN leaders on the progress of Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), a trade deal that, once agreed upon, could cover half the world's population.

Pence in Japan to discuss trade, N. Korea before summits - AP During a stopover in Alaska, Pence told reporters that he planned to “talk about our important alliance, our economic relationship, current negotiations for a free trade agreement of course, and we’ll be focusing on our ongoing commitment to the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula,” Japan’s NHK public television reported...Pence is to leave Tuesday to attend a meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in Singapore and an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Papua New Guinea on behalf of Trump.

In North Korea, Missile Bases Suggest a Great Deception - The New York Times But American intelligence officials say that the North’s production of nuclear material, of new nuclear weapons and of missiles that can be placed on mobile launchers and hidden in mountains at the secret bases has continued. And the sanctions are collapsing, in part because North Korea has leveraged its new, softer-sounding relationship with Washington, and its stated commitment to eventual denuclearization, to resume trade with Russia and China.

DPRK and ROK begin destroying 20 border guard posts - CGTN The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) and the Republic of Korea (ROK) began destroying 20 front-line guard posts on Sunday under a plan to reduce tensions on the border, Seoul's defense ministry said. Under an agreement made between their generals, the two sides agreed to each remove 10 posts and preserve one on either side of the frontier. According to Yonhap, ROK has around 60 such posts along the rest of the border while the DPRK has about 160.

China touts ‘martyrs’ killed working on Zambia infrastructure projects as symbol of friendship | South China Morning Post China is planning to build a cemetery in Zambia that honours Chinese construction workers killed working on the country’s infrastructure projects as “martyrs”.

China's stealth fighters show off missile payload - CNN The Chinese air force saved the big guns for last at its biennial Zhuhai air show, flying its new stealth fighters with full missile loads Sunday for the first time in a public display. The twin-engine J-20, seen as China's answer to US F-22s and F-35s, entered the People Liberation Army Air Force fleet in February.

China pours money into private sector military technology | Financial Times $$ China has mobilised at least Rmb387bn ($55.6bn) to fund private sector companies that develop technology with potential military applications, according to Financial Times calculations based on public documents and state media announcements. “Civil Military Fusion”, or the use of private companies to help develop China’s defence sector, was a key theme at last week’s Zhuhai Air Show, where exhibitors were keen to stress how their products fitted into the national strategy.

China announces roadmap for building stronger modern air force - Xinhua The building of a stronger modern air force is in line with the overall goal of building national defense and the armed forces, Lieutenant General Xu Anxiang, deputy commander of Chinese Air Force, said at a press conference on celebrating the 69th anniversary of the establishment of Chinese Air Force held in Zhuhai, south China's Guangdong Province. According to Xu, the first step is to, by 2020, build a strategic force that integrates aviation and space power, and strike and defense capabilities, in which the fourth generation of equipment serves as backbone and the third generation of equipment as mainstay. The systematic combat capabilities will be enhanced.

Xinjiang troops upgrade training to prepare for counter-terrorism, border patrol missions - Global Times A Chinese army aviation brigade stationed in Northwest China's Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region has upgraded its training in high-altitude and in adverse weather, a move that experts say will facilitate counter-terrorism and border patrol missions under extreme conditions. The brigade conducts 44 percent of its training at night. High-altitude and tactics training increased by 40 percent compared to last year, the Xinjiang Daily reported on Sunday.

Central State-owned Enterprises Undertake More Than 3100 Belt and Road Projects - China Banking News The State-owned Assets Supervisory and Administrative Commission (SASAC) told the People’s Daily that central SOE’s are involved in a total of 3116 Belt and Road projects, accounting for 50% of all infrastructure projects in relation to the initiative that have commenced construction or are planned, and more than 70% of the contractual amount.

Visiting Chinese defense minister honors US Flying Tigers' veterans - China Military The visiting Chinese State Councilor and Defense Minister General Wei Fenghe met with Flying Tigers' veterans and their relatives in Washington on Saturday. Wei said that Chinese people will never forget their old comrades-in-arms and old friends, and the China-US friendship will stand the test of time and distance.

Hong Kong, Macao

Xi urges HK, Macao to embrace nation's reform, opening-up for greater development - Xinhua Compatriots in Hong Kong and Macao are expected to continue participating in the country's reform and opening-up with sincere patriotism and pioneering spirit, attain the greater development of the two special administrative regions (SARs) by promoting the development of the country, and jointly work for the national rejuvenation, Xi said when meeting with a delegation from the two SARs.习近平会见香港澳门各界庆祝国家改革开放40周年访问团


Risking Beijing’s wrath, Taiwan to vote on removing ‘China’ from name of its 2020 Olympic team | South China Morning Post The referendum asks whether Taiwan should compete in the 2020 Games in Tokyo and other international sporting events under that name, rather than “Chinese Taipei” – a title that has been used since 1981. The referendum is among 10 such votes being held alongside the island’s local government elections on November 24, but is the only one so far condemned by Beijing as a prelude of the island’s attempt to declare independence and change the cross-strait status quo

Tech And Media

Facebook launches Lasso, its music and video TikTok clone | TechCrunch Done cloning Snapchat, Facebook is now chasing Chinese short-form video sensation TikTok with the launch of its knock-off Lasso. Available now for iOS and Android, Lasso is Facebook’s answer to the zany mobile lipsyncing playground that’s gained ground with young users, both in China and in the West. The release confirms TechCrunch’s scoop from last month that the company was building an app called Lasso to let people share short videos with soundtracks. With TikTok looking like the next big thing, it’s not surprising to see Facebook playing chase, much like it did, successfully, when Snapchat posed an existential threat.

In Depth: Upstart ByteDance Takes On China’s Internet Goliaths - Caixin Among China’s trio of internet giants ― Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent, popularly referred to as “BAT” — ByteDance does appear to have one ally in e-commerce pioneer Alibaba. Yunfeng Capital, led by Alibaba founder Jack Ma, participated in ByteDance’s latest financing round. ByteDance is also in an advertising partnership with Alibaba that involves its short-video apps redirecting users to the Alibaba e-commerce platforms Taobao and Tmall. But ByteDance isn’t content with merely redirecting shoppers. In September, it unveiled Zhidian, a bargain-hunting app with price points similar to those of fellow e-commerce upstart Pinduoduo, which listed on Nasdaq in July. Zhidian’s home page proudly highlights its policy of free delivery with a minimum purchase of just 9.90 yuan ($1.42).

Alibaba, Youku to Air Tom Hardy’s BBC Drama ‘Taboo’ in China – Variety “Taboo” by Hardy – whose movie “Venom” has just had a monster opening weekend in China – “was a hugely successful series in the U.K., which we are excited to bring to Chinese audiences and look forward to it having the same reception there,” said Maggie Liang, managing director and executive producer at The Media Pioneers.

Society, Art, Sports, Culture And History

Author Graeme Shepard Disputes Paul French's Famed Peking Murder Book | the Beijinger French gave the first comprehensive summary of the puzzling murder and the investigation that followed. However, the facts are of this unsolved murder remain contested to this day, as demonstrated by a book released last month written by a retired British policeman named Graeme Shepard in which he lays out his counter theory. Following an event last week to promote the release of his new book, A Death in Peking: Who Really Killed Pamela Werner, Shepard told the Beijinger that: "Paul French has brought the case to the public eye and he deserves the credit for that. It is a good, enjoyable story, a real page-turner! But it's wrong in its conclusions." // The book on Amazon. I hope someone can solve this more recent (2006) Beijing murder of an Italian woman. 

Xinhua Headlines: Unsung heroes of WWI -- Chinese laborers - Xinhua A century after the Armistice Day that marked the end of the World War I (WWI), stories of Chinese laborers deployed to the war's western front started to receive more attention that they deserve after being overlooked for decades. Between 1916 and 1918, some 140,000 Chinese laborers completed a tumultuous journey across the sea and risked their lives repairing vehicles, building roads and digging trenches in the battlefields. Many of them never managed to go back home.

Energy, Environment, Science And Health

China postpones lifting of ban on trade of tiger and rhino parts | Reuters The “detailed regulations for implementation” of the October change had been “postponed after study”, the official Xinhua news agency reported, citing State Council Executive Deputy Secretary-General Ding Xuedong. Under the October plan, exceptions to the ban could be made for parts from those animals, bred in captivity, being used for medical and scientific research, education and “cultural exchanges”.

In China, Desperate Patients Smuggle Drugs. Or Make Their Own. - The New York Times: The country’s rudimentary insurance system doesn’t begin to cover the ever-rising prices of treatments and drugs. Coverage also depends on where somebody lives, and some rural residents still lack access to certain drugs. Despite a costly new safety net from the government, illness remains the leading reason Chinese families fall below the poverty line, according to official figures... To stay alive, many sick people in China — and the people who love them — break the law. Online marketplaces are filled with illegal pharmaceuticals. Dealers run underground pharmacies. In some cases, cancer patients and their families make the drugs themselves, finding the ingredients and the instructions online.

Johnson & Johnson still bullish on Chinese health care industry even as US-China trade war rages on | South China Morning Post A wider manufacturing and research and development base in mainland China will facilitate the scale of clinical tests for innovative drugs that treat diseases like lung cancer, in which 60 per cent of the world’s new incidents are from China. J&J has nine manufacturing facilities in China. Among the 10,000 employees on the mainland, 700 are scientists engaged in R&D work.

Agriculture And Rural Issues

Swine Fever Virus in Animal Feed Raises China's Contagion Risk - VOA Major Chinese animal feed maker Tangrenshen Group says feed produced by one of its units was contaminated with the virus that causes African swine fever, raising fears of its spread further across the country. This was the first reported contamination of feed supplies in China and increased the concerns for pig farmers trying to avoid the disease. It also raised the economic pressure on feed manufacturers already struggling with low margins and slowing demand.