US-China-North Korea ; Banks encouraged to load up on local government bonds; Student activists; Diplomatic bullying in Nauru; Foreign academics self-censoring

Happy Tuesday...Cat has my tongue today so just going right to the curated stories.

Thanks for reading.

View comments


The Essential Eight

1. US-China

U.S. Trade Gap Widens Most Since 2015; China Deficit Hits Record - Bloomberg:

The goods-trade gap with China widened to a record $36.8 billion on an unadjusted basis, up from $33.5 billion in the prior month, according to the report. The deficit with the European Union jumped to a record $17.6 billion from $11.7 billion, while the gap with Mexico narrowed to $5.5 billion from $7.4 billion.

You have heard this view from me repeatedly over the last few weeks - US and China’s trade war is based on false assumptions | Financial Times

The Trump administration wrongly thinks China’s economy is on the ropes, in part because of the escalating trade war. For their part, Chinese officials are fixated on November’s congressional midterm elections, naively believing that Republican losses will force Mr Trump to back down.

On August 16, Mr Trump’s top economic adviser endorsed a view that has grown popular in Washington. “[China’s] economy is just heading south,” Larry Kudlow told reporters. “Right now, their economy looks terrible.”

Some US officials also seem to believe that Mr Trump’s imposition of tariffs on Chinese exports worth $34bn in July — and on another $16bn in August — is why investment and overall economic growth are slowing in China.

The man primarily responsible for slower investment and economic growth has, in fact, sat opposite US officials at three of the last four rounds of trade talks: vice-premier Liu He.

China to Play Waiting Game as U.S. Trade Pain Worsens: Deutsche - Bloomberg:

“As the scope of tariffs extends to more Chinese exports, the marginal side effects will likely rise for the U.S., and the marginal damage to China will likely decline,” Deutsche Bank AG economists Zhiwei Zhang and Yi Xiong wrote in a note dated Sept. 4. They estimate the $200 billion list has $78 billion worth of consumer goods versus only $3.7 billion in the $50 billion list...

“China may follow a ‘wait and see’ strategy in the next few months before the U.S. midterm election is over in November,” the economists wrote. “There is a good reason to follow such a strategy in our view: the trade war will likely become painful for the U.S. soon as well.”

`I'm in Big Trouble': Corporate America Reels as Tariffs Pile Up - Bloomberg:

Blue Ridge Home Fashions Inc.’s problem is feathers. For Empire Today, it’s vinyl planks. At Jammy Inc., there’s a whole bunch of things, from tail lights to reflective tape...

The next blow could come this week, with tariffs of as much as 25 percent hitting $200 billion in goods, including materials and parts these businesses buy in bulk. The Trump administration has avoided putting duties on finished products, like smartphones and sneakers, for fear of a consumer backlash at home as it aims to punish China. But as it turns out, the president who vowed to boost U.S. manufacturing is hammering some of the companies that managed to survive globalization and thrive...

So Empire recently hired a lobbying firm to help out in Washington. “We’re hoping for an exemption -- we’re just trying to do anything we can think of.”

On Thursday, he and the others may have a clearer picture of the future. That’s when the public-comment period on the proposed tariffs closes and, according to people familiar with the matter, Trump wants to move ahead with his plan.

Comment: The trade wars are great business drivers for lobbying firms, especially when the Trump Administration has built in a role for state-directed crony capitalism by picking winners through "exemptions".

As Trump Mulls Tariffs, China's Industrial Ambitions Loom Large - Bloomberg:

The core of those industrial policies is the Made in China 2025 plan to dominate industries from robotics to new-energy vehicles and aerospace. A key element of that blueprint is an unofficial document that’s slipped largely under the radar: The Made in China 2025 Major Technical Roadmap, better known as the Green Book after the color of its original cover.

Whereas the official Made in China 2025 plan has no specific targets for Chinese companies to seize domestic and global market share and even says implementation must be dominated by markets, the Green Book’s 296 pages are full of goals. They are jaw-dropping targets, too, that if met would virtually lock foreign companies out of many industrial segments in China and threaten market disruption for businesses across the globe...

“The U.S. shouldn’t take Made in 2025 seriously," said Wang Huiyao, an adviser to China’s cabinet and founder of the Center for China and Globalization, whose advisory council is stacked with former lawmakers. He Weiwen, a former commerce ministry official and a fellow at the same research group, said China’s biggest concern with the U.S. is its right to develop, and it may not catch up with American manufacturing capability until 2045.

Comment: Strange comment from Mr Wang considering how seriously people inside China take Made in China 2025...


2. North Korea

I have heard various explanations for Xi's decision to send Li Zhanshu to Pyongyang as his special representative for the 70th anniversary celebrations next week, including Xi preferring to go when he is the center of attention rather than just a spectator, to fears his attendance would upset Trump. Maybe it is a mix of factors.

China eases economic pressure on North Korea, undercutting the Trump admin - NBC News:

The increase in trade can be traced back to March, when the White House stunned Beijing by announcing plans for Trump to hold an unprecedented meeting with the North Korean dictator. Fearing a loss of influence with its often recalcitrant ally, China invited Kim to three successive summits in China, in March, May and June.

While China rolled out the red carpet for Kim, Beijing's enforcement of U.N. sanctions began to soften and its limits on legal commerce also eased, according to regional analysts who track cross-border trade, foreign diplomats and former U.S. officials. As a result, the White House's bid to impose "maximum pressure" on North Korea, in hopes of pushing the regime to abandon its nuclear and missile program, has been dealt a severe blow...

The shift is evident at the Chinese port of Longkou, where North Korean cargo ships have been spotted pulling into coal docks, according to data obtained by NBC News from Windward, a firm that uses commercial satellites and other data to track maritime traffic. At least 29 North Korean cargo vessels visited the coal docks in May and June. Prior to that no North Korean ships had paid a visit to the port since January.

Comment: If China's is slacking off on sanctions enforcement the risk of a sharp US backlash in the form of sanctions on important PRC institutions, sectors and/or individuals is increasing.

The State of Play in Sino-DPRK Relations | 38 North - Yun Sun:

Postponing a visit by Xi to Pyongyang is a prudent decision by the Chinese given both the current political climate around negotiations on trade and with North Korea and Xi’s busy schedule this week. Since July, the US-China trade war has cast a complex shadow over the interactions between China and North Korea. Xi’s trip would have taken place at a time when President Trump is pointing fingers at China for “…[not] helping with the process of denuclearization” due to so-called trade tensions. However, the attitude in Beijing is of deep resentment of what they see as President Trump negating his promise of a better trade deal with China if it cooperated on North Korea. China did cooperate on sanctions measures against North Korea over the past year beyond what many experts expected them to do but was hit hard with tariffs anyway. What Beijing has learned from that experience is that cooperation with Trump on North Korea only frees the US up to make harsher moves against China on other fronts. Therefore, it will be much more difficult to convince China to accept the US demands for its cooperation on North Korea for the foreseeable future.

Some recent history that Beijing can't be pleased is now public--Black Venus -- the South Korean spy who met Kim Jong Il - AFP

With North and South engaged in a rapid diplomatic rapprochement, "The Spy Gone North" has been an instant bestseller and box office hit, the film attracting five million viewers in just its first three weeks on release -- around 10 percent of the South's entire population..

Park started in military intelligence in 1990, tasked with gathering information on the North's nuclear programme, then in its early stages.

He befriended a Chinese nuclear physicist of Korean ancestry who -- in exchange for a million-dollar payment -- later revealed that the North had made two low-level nuclear weapons...

His big break came, he says, when he allegedly helped arrange the release of a nephew of Jang Song Thaek -- the influential uncle of current leader Kim Jong Un who was executed as a traitor in 2013 -- from a Chinese prison by helping pay off $160,000 of debts the nephew owed to Chinese traders.

A grateful Jang family invited Park to Pyongyang and he seized the chance to sign a $4 million deal between his advertising company and a North Korean tourism agency to film TV commercials at locations including Korea's spiritual home, Mount Paektu, and Mount Kumgang, where the two sides hold reunions of divided families...

And ahead of the 1997 presidential poll, Park says, North Korean officials told him three supporters of conservative candidate Lee Hoi-chang had asked them to mount an armed attack days before polling.

In a Beijing hotel room, Park claims, "with my own eyes, I saw the North Koreans counting wads of dollars in their hotel room that they received from the South Koreans", allegedly in exchange.

The trailer is here on Youtube:


3. The central government wants bank to load up on local government bonds

China Scraps Limit on Banks’ Local Government Bond Purchases - Caixin Global:

Lenders were previously only allowed to buy up to 20% of any local government bonds issued arranged by their underwriting departments, a ceiling imposed in 2012 out of concern that the trading and investment arms of banks were mopping up unwanted bonds to ensure the success of the sale, but at the same time exposing their balance sheets to additional risk.

But the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission (CBIRC) has now scrapped the 20% ceiling, according to a circular released on Monday that was seen by Caixin. Banks will now be able to buy up any portion of a bond sale that has not been fully subscribed, reducing the risk that local governments will fail to get all the money they want to raise. The move is being seen as another effort to spur banks to buy more local government bonds as a deluge of issuances is set to hit the market after the Ministry of Finance last month ordered officials to speed up sales...

Other bond market participants told Caixin that the removal of the limit underscores how desperate the central government is for banks to soak up the coming tidal wave of local bonds. According to Guosen Securities Co. calculations, net issuance of local government bonds will hit 600 billion yuan in September, and 300 billion yuan in October.


4. Nauru Nastiness

Pacific Islands Forum: Who wants what and why is it tense as leaders meet in Nauru? - ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation):

There was also a diplomatic confrontation over protocol between China and Nauru, when a Chinese official stormed out of a meeting and was branded "insolent" after not being allowed to speak.

Nauru's President Baron Waqa, chairing the forum, said the delegate "created a big fuss" and held up the meeting for several minutes after other forum leaders were given priority to speak.

"Maybe because he was from a big country he wanted to bully us," Mr Waqa said.

Stormy Forum | islandsbusiness.com:

Islands Business has been sent a video of the clash at the Pacific Islands Forum meeting in Nauru yesterday between Forum chair and President of Nauru, Baron Waqa and a member of the Chinese delegation.

The delegate stormed out of the meeting soon after this video was taken.

Comment: The video is embarrassing, but maybe his tough guy act goes over well back at headquarters? There is certainly no upside in looking soft in Xi’s China…

Nauru blasts 'insolent' China for speaking out of turn at meeting | Reuters:

Nauru President Baron Waqa criticized China’s envoy to the forum as “very insolent” and a “bully” for speaking out of turn after an angry exchange at the opening of the annual gathering.

“The Chinese demanded to be heard when (Tuvalu’s) prime minister was about to speak,” Waqa told a news conference late on Tuesday, after media reported a heated start to the closed-door meeting.

“He insisted and was very insolent about it, and created a big fuss and held up the meeting of leaders for a good number of minutes when he was only an official. So maybe because he was from a big country he wanted to bully us,” Waqa said.

Hua Chunying's statement on Naura nastiness-中国参加太平洋岛国论坛遭主办国瑙鲁阻挠 外交部回应--国际--人民网 

问:据报道,日前在瑙鲁举行的第30届太平洋岛国论坛会期间,瑙鲁方面曾多方干扰中方代表团与会,请问你能否介绍有关情况?

答:9月4日,第30届岛国论坛会在台湾当局所谓“邦交国”瑙鲁举行。应论坛秘书处邀请,中方作为论坛对话伙伴出席会议。

瑙鲁作为论坛主办国,违背国际惯例和论坛规定,上演了一出拙劣的闹剧。会议召开前夕,瑙方要求中方与会人员持普通护照入境。在大多数成员国和中方提出交涉并表示将抵制会议情况下,瑙方不得不同意中方代表团

外交护照与会。会议期间,瑙方再次不顾国际会议惯例阻挠中方代表讲话,对此中方当即提出严正交涉,并提前离开会场以示抗议。出席会议的许多国家代表团也离开会场,对瑙方表示强烈不满。


5. Top US counterintelligence official talks PRC espionage

William Evanina is director of the National Counterintelligence and Security Center. 

Transcript: William Evanina talks with Michael Morell on "Intelligence Matters" podcast, Sep. 4, 2018 - CBS News 

China is number one. So, existentially, long term, they're the largest threat to our national security, bar none; so, it's not even close. They-- however, and we'll juxtapose them with Russia in a second, their-- their processes are more economic-based to be-- the number one economic power in the world-- to not have a global equal like us, but to overtake us.

And they look at that from semiconductors, supercomputing, quantum technology that the persistent theft of our intellectual property and trade secrets, which is critical, the human-enabled cyber capabilities they have from insider threats-- we just-- the F.B.I. just made an arrest two weeks ago for General Electric.

So, that continues, and it's a persistent 1,000 grains of sand. They have a lot of resources they could throw at us, and they hit our academia, our industry, our research development, and obviously our government. The F.B.I. has arrested double-digit individuals in the last year or so all for spying on behalf of China...

They bring ungodly resources that we can't handle right now because they have-- for instance, just in the student population, there's 350,000 students that come to the U.S. every year to study. Majority of those are legitimate, but a lot of them aren't, right?

They have significant number of Ph.D.-plus students that are here working our most sensitive technologies. So, they have the numbers, the resources, they have the will and the intent, the capabilities are out of this world with respect to cyber, and they're-- and they're intent to have a holistic mindset, whole-government mindset how to take from us what they need. ..

MICHAEL MORELL:

Last question before we move on to the third broad issue is-- President Xi made a commitment to President Obama that he was gonna stop this economic espionage. That hasn't happened.

WILLIAM EVANINA:

No. And we said this a few weeks ago as we rolled out our economic espionage-- and cyber space report-- we saw a very slow dip, a lull in that activity-- subsequent to 2015, but then it just kept on moving. It's too successful for the Chinese to stop their theft.


6. More on foreign academics self-censoring

Survey of more than 500 China scholars provides data on how frequently they experience Chinese state repression-Inside Higher Ed:

A survey of more than 500 China scholars discussed Saturday at the American Political Science Association’s annual meeting in Boston finds that such “repressive research experiences are a rare but real phenomenon” in the China studies field and “collectively present a barrier to the conduct of research in China.” Researchers found that about 9 percent of China scholars report having been “taken for tea” by Chinese government authorities within the past 10 years, to be interviewed or warned about their research; 26 percent of scholars who conduct archival research report being denied access; and 5 percent report difficulties obtaining a visa.

A majority of researchers believe their research is either somewhat sensitive (53 percent) or very sensitive (14 percent). Sixty-eight percent of scholars say that self-censorship is a problem for the China studies field.

Repressive Experiences among China Scholars: New Evidence from Survey Data by Sheena Chestnut Greitens, Rory Truex : SSRN:

This paper examines the nature of China’s current research climate and its effects on foreign scholarship. Drawing on an original survey of over 500 China scholars, we find that repressive research experiences are a rare but real phenomenon, and collectively present a barrier to the conduct of research in China. Roughly 9% of China scholars report having been “taken for tea” by authorities within the past ten years; 26% of scholars who conduct archival research report being denied access; and 5% of researchers report some difficulty obtaining a visa. The paper provides descriptive information on the nature of these experiences and their determinants. It concludes with a discussion of self-censorship and strategies for conducting research on China.


7. Student activists

2019 will have the 100th anniversary of the May 4 Movement and the 30th anniversary of the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests...CCP security services will be especially paranoid and vigilant over the new few months, and this type of movement, no matter how small, will be seen as extremely threatening.

Inspired by #MeToo, student activists target inequality in China | Reuters:

Unlike the student leaders of the 1989 pro-democracy Tiananmen protests, the activists said they weren’t calling for an overhaul of China’s political system.

Instead, they take their inspiration from the intellectuals of the May Fourth movement, the 1919 protests that called for China to strengthen itself and were instrumental in forming the Chinese Communist Party.

Today’s activists are calling for greater equality in Chinese society, as well as better treatment for minority groups, migrant workers and lower income groups.

While apparently small in number, the activists are likely viewed as a challenge by the ruling Communist Party, which is wary of activism with national scope and aware of the role students and intellectuals have played in social movements throughout China’s history, including in its own revolution.

In the interviews, the activists cited Marxist and Leninist ideals, as well as quotes from Mao Zedong and President Xi Jinping, as they spoke about their desire to address China’s inequalities.


8. JD CEO suspected of rape

The potential legal jeopardy seems much greater than people thought just a day ago. 

How a billionaire Chinese entrepreneur was arrested in Minnesota - Inkstone:

Liu was arrested on Friday on suspicion of having committed the offense of CSCR-1, which stands for Criminal Sexual Conduct Rape, a first-degree felony.

Arrest of JD.com CEO Came After Night of Wine and Japanese Food in Minneapolis - WSJ $$:

The arrest of Chinese billionaire Liu Qiangdong on suspicion of rape followed a group dinner attended by Mr. Liu and the woman who alleges the assault, according to a person familiar with the woman’s account.

Mr. Liu and the woman, a Chinese student attending the University of Minnesota, sat at the same table Thursday at Origami, a Japanese restaurant in Minneapolis, the person said.

Breakingviews - JD CEO's arrest steps on governance landmine | Reuters:

These concerns are compounded by JD’s use of variable interest entities, a tortuous form of ownership. Laws in the People’s Republic restrict foreigners from investing in sensitive industries such as technology, so Liu, along with two other employees, personally control JD’s core operations and internet licenses through their ownership of the VIEs.

Comment: JD’s stock has sold off since Liu’s arrest, but if he is charged with a felony there could much further to fall..


Business, Economy, Finance And Trade

China tries to prop up investor sentiment amid worries over economy and trade war with United States | South China Morning Post The Financial Stability and Development Commission (FSDC), the government agency responsible for coordinating regulation to prevent risks to the country’s financial system, convened a high-profile meeting on Friday to improve the effectiveness of the government’s efforts to manage market expectations. The conference was hosted by central bank governor Yi Gang and attended by officials from Beijing’s top financial regulators, the four largest state-owned banks, and the nation’s stock exchanges as well as a number of prominent government economists.

China central bank to boost support for smaller firms | Reuters China’s central bank will improve its policy transmission mechanism to further step up financing support for smaller firms, its governor, Yi Gang, said in remarks published on Wednesday. The PBOC will treat state and private firms equally on policies including credit and bond issuance, Yi said in a statement posted on the central bank’s website. The government will coordinate monetary, fiscal and regulatory polices to “stimulate financial institutions’ enthusiasm”, and will build a sustainable financing model for small firms, he added.//Comment: How does a PRC regulator "stimulate financial institutions’ enthusiasm”?

China Unicom Unaware as Wireless Merger Talk Gets Louder - Caixin Global China Unicom, one of the nation’s three mobile carriers, said on Wednesday it has not been notified of any plan that would see it merge with similar-sized rival China Telecom, following increasing speculation about such a plan. // Comment: The joys of State Capitalism for shareholders…

China Starts Sharing Income Data to End Global Tax Loopholes - Bloomberg In a move aimed at cutting tax evasion, China will start exchanging information on residents’ financial investments with about 100 other countries from this month, according to a statement on the tax agency’s website. The information exchange will give tax officials a better view of Chinese residents’ overseas financial investments and earnings. The change is part of the Common Reporting Standard, a global agreement on sharing tax data backed by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development.

New cargo route links Inner Mongolia, Iran - Xinhua A new freight train service linking north China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region with the Iranian city of Bam, was launched Tuesday morning. A freight train departed from a logistics park in Inner Mongolia Tuesday morning and is expected to arrive in Bam in 15 days. The journey covers around 9,000 km, but the travel time between the two cities will be shortened by 20 days compared with sea transportation.

Leading Miner Digs Up Major Copper Asset in Serbia - Caixin Global The acquisition should add about $40 million to Zijin’s profits for every 40,000 tons of copper, estimated Xu Yongqi, an analyst at Citic Futures, the futures arm of one of China’s largest conglomerates. “China is a country that has a shortage of copper resources, so Zijin’s going overseas to buy this kind of asset is in line with a national strategy,” he said. “Zijin is a specialist in several kinds of metals, including copper, zinc, gold and silver. Its overseas investments in recent years have been focused on those minerals, including in places like Africa.”

Nevsun finds white knight, agrees to $1.86-billion buyout from China’s Zijin Mining - The Globe and Mail Zijin has done a number of mergers and acquisitions (M&A) transactions with large Canadian mining companies over the years. It is a joint venture partner with Barrick Gold Corp on its Porgera underground gold mine in Papua New Guinea. It also has a strategic partnership with Ivanhoe Mines Ltd on its Kamoa-Kakula copper project in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Caixin Explains: Why China’s Stock Market Is Full of Rats - Caixin Global So-called “rat trading” (老鼠仓 lǎoshǔ cāng) — known as “front-running” in the U.S. — includes all trades of shares, options and other securities that play off nonpublic knowledge of a large impending transaction. In one recent case, which happened to involve two Mr. Tus, several years of dodgy trading were masterminded via prepaid, easily disposable cellphones and ex-girlfriends’ accounts. Such brokers are called “rats” because of their rodent-like modus operandi: They’re like little rats (老鼠) enjoying the spoils of a well-stocked barn (仓), which is also the word for a financial position in Chinese. Regulators filed 13 such cases in 2017 and 29 in 2016.

China’s land auction premiums drop to lowest levels in over three years as price curbs show effect | South China Morning Post The average land auction premium over starting bidding prices in 40 major Chinese cities monitored by E-house China R&D Institute fell to 17.3 per cent – its lowest level since June 2015, during the last property downturn, and compared with 38.2 per cent a year ago. Average land sale prices also dipped by 2.9 per cent from July to 4,472 yuan (US$654) per square metre, the fifth straight month-on-month decline.

PBoC's Digital Currency Lab Launches New Research Center - CoinDesk The Digital Currency Research Lab of the People's Bank of China (PBoC) is further expanding its ongoing research efforts to several cities outside of Beijing to encourage deployment of fintech, including blockchain, in real-life projects. According to a report on Wednesday from local financial news source Securities Times, the lab has launched a fintech center in Nanjing, the capital city of the eastern Jiangsu province, in partnership with the municipal government.

U.S. apple farmers afraid they will be hurt by U.S.-China trade battle | Reuters U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue unveiled a $12 billion aid package last week that included $1.2 billion for the purchase of apples, pears, pistachios and other such crops, but farmers said it likely would not be enough. Dennis Nuxoll, vice president of federal affairs for the Western Growers in Washington, DC, said the group never expected U.S. Department of Agriculture to make up for growers’ losses but had hoped for more direct assistance.

Cancer Death of Ziroom Tenant Creates Rental Housing Crisis Mingtiandi A social media post linking the leukemia death of an Alibaba employee living in an allegedly-formaldehyde contaminated home operated by Sequoia China and Tencent-backed Ziroom has brought a new round of pressure on the rental housing unicorn this week.

My Story of Renting a Place in Beijing - Pandaily I asked a friend working as a researcher for a large real estate firm about the root cause behind the rising rent costs, and her answer was, “Rental agencies are never the true culprit. The underlying cause is really just a shortage of supply.” According to her, the interference of rental agencies is only one of numerous contributing factors. The increased liquidity brought along by central bank’s injection of funds into the market and housing demolitions and relocation within first-tier cities play a much bigger role in the problem as opposed to rental agencies.

 

Politics, Law And Ideology

Beijing targets independent religions as party control tightens | Financial Times $$ “There has been a change in attitude,” said Ezra Jin, Zion’s pastor, who vowed to keep the church open as long as he could. “There is a stronger desire by government to control religion.” For months, church members have been visited by police and threatened with losing their apartments, school placements or jobs if they did not stop attending, parishioners said. Some also received phone calls from police in their hometowns.

中共中央纪委印发《关于认真学习贯彻〈中国共产党纪律处分条例〉的通知》——中央纪委国家监委网站 CCDI issues a notice to study and implement the new Chinese Communist Party Disciplinary Regulations

“Talking Politics” | China Media Project - Qian Gang In its special section devoted to the study of Party buzzwords (关键词), People’s Daily Online noted that President Xi Jinping had used the phrase “talking politics” 67 times — which is to say in 67 separate contexts or speeches — since coming to office...At the recent Propaganda and Ideology Work Conference last month, “talking politics” reared its head again..When it comes to “talking politics,” that passage is a mouthful. But despite appearances, the language could scarcely be clearer: Xi Jinping is politics, and Xi Jinping’s power and status is the greatest politics possible. “Talking politics” means firmly heeding what he has to say, and following his lead.

China spends big in Tibet to avert a crisis when the Dalai Lama dies - NBC During a rare Chinese government-organized visit to the region, local officials described a development program that they contend will bring prosperity to the 3.3 million Tibetans who inhabit a vast area roughly double the size of Texas.The massive infrastructure projects include new airports and highways that cut through the world’s highest mountains, with planned investment totaling $97 billion.

Professor Fired After Tweeting That Chinese 'Lie, Commit Fraud and Poison Each Other' - RFA Zhou Yunzhong was fired from his job as assistant professor of historical at Fujian's Xiamen University on Aug. 1 after making a post to Weibo.com that "distorted Chinese historical reality, harmed the image of the [ruling Chinese Communist] Party and the country [and] hurt the feelings of the Chinese people," the university said in a statement on its website dated Sept. 1. Zhou's tweet had also "crossed a red line in terms of teachers’ ethics and behavior, and exerted a pernicious influence on society," the statement said.In the offending tweet under the nickname Donghai Daozi, Zhou said: "The highest achievements of the Chinese people consist of lying, cooking the books and issuing fake contracts."

 

Foreign and Military Affairs

China ‘nearing mass production’ of J-20 stealth fighter after engine problems ironed out | South China Morning Post The WS-15 engine features cutting-edge single-crystal turbine blades and has been in development for several years, but Chinese technicians have struggled to get it into mass production. However, many of the problems – which largely related to blades overheating at top speeds – have been ironed out in ground tests and trial flights, putting the goal of a consistently high quality product in sight, sources told the South China Morning Post.

Beijing declaration, action plan adopted at FOCAC summit - Xinhua The Beijing Declaration -- Toward an Even Stronger China-Africa Community with a Shared Future and the FOCAC Beijing Action Plan (2019-2021) were adopted at the two-phase roundtable meeting, chaired respectively by Chinese President Xi Jinping and President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa, the co-chair of the forum.

China in Africa: The Real Story: China's FOCAC Financial Package for Africa 2018: Four Facts 1. The total Chinese pledge of grants and loans (including commercial rate loans and export credits) has declined from $40 billion in 2015 to $35 billion in 2018; 2. Which makes this is a more concessional package than that offered in 2015.; 3. China still doesn't challenge the US position as Africa's largest donor.

'We're not going back to the Cold War': an interview with Chen Dingding - China US Focus Chen Dingding is professor of International Relations at Jinan University in China's Guangzhou, Non-Resident Fellow at the Global Public Policy Institute in Berlin, and Founder of the Intellisia Institute. He speaks to James Chau about how the exchange of trade tariffs is reshaping the China-US relationship.

China ‘relieved’ at extrication of Philippine warship from shoal in disputed South China Sea, analysts say | South China Morning Post Two commercial tugboats were used late on Monday night to pull the BRP Gregorio del Pilar, the flagship of the Philippine Navy, from the shallow fringes of the Half Moon Shoal on the eastern edge of the disputed Spratly Islands, five days after it ran aground, the Philippine military said on Tuesday. “Maintaining status quo in the South China Sea is China’s key interest at the moment while the relationship with the US is strained,” said Ni Lexiong, a Shanghai-based military commentator. “This was a good ending for all parties.”

US, Japanese carriers link up for training in contentious South China Sea - Stripes Several U.S. and Japanese ships recently trained together in the contentious waters of the South China Sea. The aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan and the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force helicopter carrier JS Kaga linked up there on Friday to practice maneuvers, sail in formation and conduct replenishment-at-sea training, a Navy statement said.

Great Power Competition in Central Asia | ChinaPower Project Dr. Theresa Sabonis-Helf is a professor of National Security Strategy at the National War College and an Adjunct Associate Professor for the Science, Technology and International Affairs Program of the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service. Dr. Sabonis-Helf advises governments on climate change policies, post-Soviet energy and environmental issues, regional energy trade, and the politics of electricity.

Private Chinese space company places satellites in orbit - AP A rocket developed by Chinese company iSpace blasted into space Wednesday carrying three miniature satellites in another milestone for the country’s budding private spaceflight industry. Reports said the SQX-1Z rocket took off from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwestern China and entered space at a suborbital level. Two of the satellites will be released into space for testing while the third will re-enter the atmosphere and parachute down to Earth.

Russia, China block Nikki Haley from pushing U.N. on Nicaragua | McClatchy Washington Bureau Several member nations of the U.N., including Russia and China, tried Tuesday to block an effort by the Trump administration to push the U.N. Security Council to confront the deadly violence that has consumed Nicaragua and left more than 300 dead.

Mattis and Pompeo to Seek India Accord Amid Threat of Sanctions - Bloomberg Reflecting the importance of India as a strategic ally, Mattis this year renamed the U.S. Pacific Command as the Indo-Pacific Command. In hopes that India can be recruited to help the U.S. counter China’s growing military and economic power, the Trump administration’s National Defense Strategy published this year calls for bolstering “partnerships in the Indo-Pacific to a networked security architecture capable of deterring aggression, maintaining stability, and ensuring free access to common domains.”

 

Hong Kong, Macao

Senior CPC official meets DAB delegation - Xinhua Senior Communist Party of China (CPC) official You Quan Tuesday met with a visiting delegation of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong (DAB). You, a member of the Secretariat of the CPC Central Committee and head of the United Front Work Department of the CPC Central Committee, spoke of the significant contributions made by the alliance in HK's return to the motherland and its prosperity and stability. 尤权会见香港民建联访京团

 

Tech And Media

Chinese Celebrities Given Social Responsibility Rankings - Sixth Tone Only nine of the 100 television and film personalities, a group that includes top names like Fan Binbing and Jackie Chan, passed a “social responsibility assessment” conducted by Beijing Normal University and the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. The celebrities were evaluated on three criteria — professional work, charitable work, and integrity — based on information collected from media reports published in the past year.

Chinese company says they are bringing Google Cloud to China then swiftly denies the news · TechNode Capital Online (首都在线), a China-based cloud solution provider, announced in an official WeChat article last night that Google Cloud had confirmed its cooperation with the company to enter China. However, the company soon withdrew the announcement without reason.

Youth league urges end to ‘volume idols’ - Global Times China's top Communist youth organization has accused a member of a popular boy band of artificially padding the number of posts and likes on his Weibo post. The  Communist Youth League of China (CYLC) on Sunday posted an article on its Weibo account, saying the 100 million reposts of one of Cai Xukun's Weibo tweet might have been fabricated. Cai is a member of popular Chinese boy band Nine Percent.

Clash of the US and Chinese tech giants in Africa | Financial Times $$ many of Alibaba’s lessons learned in China from innovations in payments to logistics can be directly applied to the African ecommerce landscape. Alibaba’s business model as a middleman between buyers and sellers is likely to translate well to the African market, where there are thousands of small, informal businesses. Ant Financial, Alibaba’s affiliate that includes Alipay, recently raised $14bn to focus on global expansion and is likely to see success in African markets where mobile banking is the norm and traditional financial institutions are limited.

China’s top streaming service hides video view counts after click farms inflated numbers - The Verge In a statement to The Verge, iQiyi says, “The desire to maximize viewer numbers has led to both a willingness in some areas of the industry to overlook work of truly high quality in favor of ‘clickbait’ content.” The platform’s new move will combat fake views generated by paying third parties to click on the videos. Top videos with 10 billion views in 2017 were the subject of ridicule on the internet, as netizens mocked Chinese platforms for having fake views that exceeded the total human population

Ep. 19: Tencent and the Case of the Missing $140B - Pandaily In this episode of TechBuzz China, co-hosts Ying-Ying Lu and Rui Ma take another close look at Tencent. TechBuzz first covered Tencent in Episode 5, and again in Episode 9. Fittingly, those episodes focused on public perception of Tencent’s ability to innovate, as well as the robustness of Tencent’s overall strategy – including against the likes of rising behemoth Toutiao. This week’s Ep. 19 takes a more holistic view of the internal and external factors that may have contributed to Tencent’s poor results. Listeners will also hear expert commentary by Lee Gao, Portfolio Manager at GCA, who helps run the firm’s Emerging Markets Sustainable Growth Fund.

Chinese state tech investments face higher US barriers | Financial Times Nantero’s fundraising caught the attention of national security researchers largely because the groups the company now counts as investors are the same ones seeking to beat the US on semiconductor technologies over the coming decade. When Nantero set up a wholly owned foreign company in China in September last year, it chose a sprawling complex that is home to many of the country’s top semiconductor start-ups. That development area is a project of Beijing E-Town, a state-run company that has invested heavily in semiconductor assets around the world. Notably, in its corporate registration in China, Nantero stated that the scope of its business includes “technology transfer” — a primary target of the new Cfius legislation. Nantero said this was a boilerplate phrase added to the registration document.

Losses Undermine China News Aggregator’s New York IPO - Caixin Global News aggregator Qutoutiao Inc. has slashed the size of its planned New York initial public offering (IPO) by nearly half, just a week after a similar though less severe downsizing by electric-car maker Nio Inc., amid tepid demand for money-losing Chinese companies.  //  Comment: Still looks overpriced...

Chinese regulators begin safety overhaul of ride-hailing firms - Xinhua Within half a month, a multi-department inspection group including supervisors from the Ministry of Transport will examine the industry's eight major players including Didi Chuxing for safety loopholes and problems concerning the safety of passengers and the public. The group began their in-house inspection Wednesday at Didi, which had been ordered by authorities to rectify its operation to ensure the safety of its services after a second passenger murder this year.

 

Society, Art, Sports, Culture And History

Despite China's 'Broadcast Ban' on eSports, Netizens Go Crazy for National Team’s Asian Games Success | What's on Weibo With 1.8 billion views (#电竞亚军会#) on Weibo, the 2018 Asian Games eSports Demonstration Event has been a big topic on Chinese social media. Despite a broadcast-ban, netizens went crazy for the Chinese team, that – somewhat clumsily – waved the Chinese flag in Jakarta.

VogueWorld 100: Beijing Superstar Yungfeng Wan - Vogue Yunfeng Wan just might be the latest fashion personality on the brink of superstardom. First discovered by Vogue’s resident street style photographer, Phil Oh, the Chinese makeup artist, hairstylist, and performance artist is nothing short of captivating. His Instagram account may boast a modest number of followers—a little over 1,000—but his social media bio suggests that’s far from the point: “Where is the road, where is my runway?” Those words aren’t just for show. The 44-year-old struts dramatically through the streets of Beijing in over-the-top, entirely self-made creations. There’s Wan in a short halter dress made out of bandanas, a gilded headpiece, large black wings, and red tube socks posing next to a delivery scooter.

How has Chinese drama ‘Story of Yanxi Palace’ made an impact on the global fashion stage? | Style Magazine | South China Morning Post It may be tricky for fans to recreate an entire outfit seen in the show, but Yanxi has placed a new wave of lip look in the spotlight. The technique, used by women in ancient China, referred to as, involves touching only a small part of the lips. French beauty company Guerlain is the first brand to start a Weibo campaign based on this trend, creating a themed lipstick colour based on each character.

Alibaba Hosts Second Xin Philanthropy Conference | Alizila.com This year, the conference brought together prominent activists and policymakers from all over the world, including Queen Rania of Jordan, Belgian Prince Emmanuel de Merode, who is also the director of Virunga National Park in Congo, Stanlake Samkange, the policy and program director of the World Food Program and Indian activist and actress Gul Panang, as well as celebrities from mainland China and Taiwan.

 

Energy, Environment, Science And Health

Tap here to buy the world’s most trafficked mammal - Inkstone At least a dozen online stores on Pinduoduo, the third-largest Chinese e-commerce platform, have been found to be selling scales from the pangolin, the world’s most trafficked mammal. Sales of raw pangolin scales, which are said in traditional Chinese medicine to reduce swelling and increase lactation and blood circulation, have been banned by China’s State Forestry Administration since 2007, except at designated hospitals and approved pharmaceutical companies.

The face of coal in China - Inkstone This week marks the opening of the COAL+ICE exhibition in San Francisco, which explores the consequences that fossil fuels have on climate change. As the world's largest greenhouse gas emitter, China’s actions have a huge effect on what happens to the planet. We’re publishing one story a day in our series on how China and its people are coping with the consequences of climate change.

China is building a massive multi-location national-level quantum laboratory · TechNode During the 8th International Conference on Quantum Cryptography which took place in Shanghai last week, China announced to be in the progress of building a new multi-location quantum information lab, local media Yicai (in Chinese) reports. According to the announcement, the new lab will integrate resources in different regions including Hefei in Anhui province, Shanghai, and Beijing. The lab’s branch in Hefei called the National Laboratory for Quantum Information Sciences started construction in 2017 and will cover a land area of 86 acres (362,667 square meters) by completion. It aims to accelerate quantum R&D and application with the help of University of Science and Technology of China also located in the area.

China to release updated essential medicines list - Xinhua The updated list will have 685 medicines, made up of 417 Western medicines and 268 Chinese-patented medicines, Zeng Yixin, vice director of the commission, said at a press conference. The new edition of the list, focusing on cancer as well as pediatric and chronic diseases, has added 12 antitumor drugs, 22 medicines for children, and a new hepatitis C drug, Zeng said.

 

Agriculture And Rural Issues

China Has Few Places to Shop for Pork If Fever Disrupts Output - Bloomberg If massive losses do ensue, the European Union -- the top global pork exporter -- might be the first to step in and fill the gaps for China, said Heather Jones, an analyst at Vertical Group. After that, there’s the U.S., but the Asian nation has levied tariffs against American shipments. What could end up happening: China turns to the EU and other importing nations start buying more American pork, she said.

China Reaches Into Russia's Far East in Hunt for Crop Supplies - Bloomberg JBA Holdings, a joint venture between companies including Heilongjiang Agriculture Co. and Joyvio Group, will invest $100 million over three years to build a soybean crusher and grain port in Russia amid a push by Chinese firms to diversify their sources of crop supplies. The JV will also lease 100,000 hectares (247,100 acres) of farmland in Russia to grow wheat, corn and soybeans, Ren Jianchao, JBA’s chairman, said in an interview in Harbin on Tuesday. Russia’s far east has vast farmland area and borders China, which, along with low local taxes, should reduce planting costs, Ren said. JBA will also build storage and a grain port in Russia’s Zarubino that could handle 3 million metric tons of grain a year, said Ren

China reports new swine fever outbreak in Heilongjiang province | Reuters China said on Wednesday a new African swine fever outbreak had occurred at a farm in a suburb of Jiamusi city in northeast Heilongjiang province, the ninth outbreak of the disease since early August.

 

Beijing

Intelligent monitoring system for manhole covers installed in Beijing - Xinhua | The system, developed by the China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation (CASIC), is comprised of a monitoring device that is attached to manhole covers, a data concentrator and a software platform. The device has been installed in 500 manhole covers in the city's Xicheng District. A large number of manhole covers, which are widely distributed throughout the city, are hard to supervise. The loss or damage of manhole covers might influence the drainage facilities and pose a threat to the safety of pedestrians.

 

Jobs And Events

Apply - Interactive Media Arts, tenure/tenure track - New York University: NYU - Domestic: Shanghai NYU Shanghai is seeking applicants for several faculty positions in Interactive Media Arts. (ima.nyu.sh) We are an interdisciplinary undergraduate program mixing media creation and theory, with a particular concentration in interactive interfaces, objects, and experiences. We are seeking candidates of any rank: Assistant, Associate, or Full Professor, or equivalent Arts or Industry Professor rank. Teaching experience and a commitment to undergraduate education are essential. Candidates should have a terminal degree and an ongoing research, artistic, or design practice.