US-China trade; Pension problems; Human brain genes in monkeys

Cat has my tongue today, so no commentary up top. Thanks for reading.


The Essential Eight

1. US-China trade

Mnuchin: China to establish ‘enforcement office’ as part of any U.S. deal - POLITICO

The United States and China are working on the establishment of an “enforcement office“ to help Beijing live up to commitments it makes in a trade deal with the Trump administration, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin reiterated on Wednesday.

“We will have a process on both sides with significant resources,” Mnuchin said during the annual Bretton Woods Committee conference in Washington.

China Sweetens Its Cloud Offer in U.S. Trade Talks - WSJ $$

China sweetened an offer to open its cloud-computing sector to foreign companies, in a bid to forge a trade deal after U.S. negotiators rejected an earlier proposal as inadequate, said people briefed about the negotiations.

In last week’s face-to-face talks in Washington, Chinese negotiators led by Vice Premier Liu He revised an earlier offer on cloud-computing access, proposing to issue more licenses that businesses need to operate data centers and to lift the 50% equity cap that limits ownership for certain foreign cloud-service providers, the people said. Both sides continue to haggle over the issues this week via videoconference, one of the people said.

China, US trade negotiators discuss remaining issues over phone - CGTN

Senior trade negotiators of China and the U.S. placed a phone call to discuss the remaining issues after the ninth round of high-level economic and trade talks, Chinese Commerce Ministry Spokesman Gao Feng said at a regular press briefing on Thursday.

Both sides will keep in close communication and spare no efforts to continue negotiation, Gao said.

China investigating U.S. request to lift anti-dumping tariffs on DDGS - Reuters

China’s commerce ministry confirmed on Thursday that it was examining an application from a U.S. trade association requesting a review of its anti-dumping tariffs on imports of distillers grains (DDGS) from the United States.

China can’t ditch state-led drive for high technology - Global Times: 

While China's state-owned enterprises and state-led research projects have been criticized by some US observers for disrupting market competition and posing a threat to national security, the US government may enhance its role in the scientific field by announcing "first-of-its-kind" national strategies.

A new trend in the world economy is emerging, as national industrial strategies are mapped out across major countries, ranging from the US and Germany to Japan and South Korea. Many nations have attached importance to state-led research and development (R&D) plans to advance their competitiveness in the global cutting-edge technology race.


2. Committee for the Present Danger: China

China hawks call on America to fight a new Cold War - The Washington Post - Josh Rogin

The Committee on the Present Danger: China is taking the idea to a new level in two respects. First, it is calling for broad disengagement with China on economic and diplomatic matters and essentially rejecting the idea of negotiating an accommodation with the current regime in Beijing. “There is no hope of coexistence with China as long as the Communist Party governs the country,” states one of its guiding principles.

Secondly, although on its website the group identifies as “non-partisan” and says it “takes no ideological point of view” and seeks only a facts-based examination to educate the American people, several speakers could not resist injecting their political agendas.

Gingrich blamed a lack of public awareness of the China threat on the “infantile nature of the current news media” and the “academic left.” He also promised to resurrect the effort of the House Un-American Activities Committee, which was formed to root out fascist and communist sympathizers in the mid-20th century…

Many members of the committee are serious scholars, former officials and experts who feel their long records as China hawks are being vindicated as the Communist Party’s behavior gets worse and worse. The committee is right to sound the alarm, and its members have real contributions to make.

Comment: Some call for rationality from Rogin:

But we need to have an inclusive, national debate and then marshal all willing parts of our system for a coordinated and comprehensive strategic response. The stakes are too high, and the risks too great, for anything less.

Steve Bannon accuses US firms of selling out amid ‘enslavement of the Chinese people’ | South China Morning Post

“All the McKinsey guys, all the Booz Allen [Hamilton] guys, all of the law firms, all of the accounting firms, Goldman Sachs, my old firm, all of the commercial banks, all of them” know about the Chinese government’s policies towards Uygurs and Christians and other religious minorities, and “the enslavement of the Chinese people”, Bannon said...

“One hundred years from now, this is what they’re going to remember us for, and I guarantee you that we’re going to identify those members of the elite that sold us out and continue to sell out the American people and sell out the Chinese people.”

Video - ‘Committee on the Present Danger: China’ Hosted Capitol Hill Roundtable Discussion of Threat Posed by Communist China

Senior Republicans criticise Microsoft’s AI China work | Financial Times $$

Marco Rubio:

“It is deeply disturbing that an American company would be actively working with the Chinese military to further build up the government’s surveillance network against its own people — an act that makes them complicit in aiding the Communist Chinese government’s totalitarian censorship apparatus and egregious human rights abuses.”

He added: “The Chinese government and Communist party poses a real and persistent threat to American national and economic security, as well as basic human freedoms. American companies must recognise this threat and rethink their role in aiding China.”

Difficult times ahead in the US-China relationship, no matter the outcome of the trade talks.


3. More on Chinese access to Mar-a-Lago 

Who has gained access to President Trump and Mar-a-Lago through Cindy Yang? | Miami Herald:

For 18 months, former Asian day spa owner Cindy Yang sold access to President Donald Trump and his family. In online ads targeting overseas clients — mostly from China — Yang promoted schmoozy fundraisers as opportunities to mingle with Trump, his family and other top Republicans.

A Miami Herald investigation revealed her business and many clients – ranging from Chinese tech-executives who took $50,000 photos with the president at a New York fundraiser for his re-election campaign, to a local leader with ties to the Chinese government.

This network graph is based on exclusive Miami Herald reporting and depicts who has gained access to Donald Trump and his family through Yang and how their presence at Yang events has financially benefited the president or his re-election campaign.

Who is Charles Lee? Businessman linked to woman who breached Mar-a-Lago security has a chequered, mysterious past | South China Morning Post

Yet an equally puzzling and, according to national security analysts, potentially troubling picture is beginning to emerge about the man who advertised the event that Zhang said she was at US President Donald Trump’s resort to attend: Charles Lee.

That picture includes multiple identities, a professional partnership with a Chinese lawmaker, allegations of business fraud and a host of dormant companies based in the US tax haven of Delaware.

Over the past two decades, Lee – who advertises access to prominent political figures around the world to Chinese clients – has used at least four names to do business, an analysis of Chinese court documents, US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filings and previous Chinese media investigations reveals.

Mar-a-Lago is a counterintelligence nightmare - The Washington Post - Ali Soufan

Whether Zhang is ultimately charged with espionage, one thing is clear: Every hostile intelligence service worthy of the name must have eyes and ears at Mar-a-Lago and other Trump resorts. Take it from an intelligence veteran: If Vladimir Putin ran his dachas as open-access country clubs, any U.S. president would expect this country’s intelligence agencies to be running assets there.


4. Pension problems

Urban pension funds likely to run out by 2035: Chinese Academy of Social Sciences - Global Times

Pension funds in China could run out before workers born in the 1980s retire, according to a report released by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences on Wednesday.

According to the report, pension funds for urban employees are expected to begin declining from a peak of 6.99 trillion ($1.04 trillion) yuan in 2027. By 2035, there is a possibility of exhausting the accumulated balances, before people born in the 80s retire, the report said.

The report also noted that the current balance of pension funds in 2019 is 106.29 billion yuan, but the balance may dip below zero to 118.13 billion yuan in deficit in 2028. 

The report warned that given the current demographic situation in urban China, the pressure on pension funds is steadily increasing...

There is also a huge discrepancy among different provinces in terms of pension fund balances, according to the report. 

The pension balance of South China's Guangdong Province outranks that of every other province by a huge margin with over 200 billion yuan—almost equivalent to the total pension balance of the next nine provinces combined. The report also estimates that in 2019, up to 16 provinces will not be able to pay for the pensions from the pension poll. 

社科院报告预警!养老金这么花 没等80后退休就花光

Yicai Global - China's Pension Fund Could Dry Up by 2035, State Researcher Says

Beijing plans to reduce the basic pension rate to 16 percent from 20 percent starting May 1, after which the ratio of retirees to pension contributors will fall to 9:10 over the next 30 years. At present, it takes more than two payers to support one retiree, at a ratio of about 4:10. But China's Ministry of Finance has proposed to raise pension standards for 118 million retirees by 5 percent in the 2019 draft budget, despite lower basic pension rates for employees.


5. Huawei

Who is the man behind Huawei and why is the U.S. intelligence community so afraid of his company? - Los Angeles Times

The meetings with The Times were part of a broader media campaign to humanize the company and to lay to rest the recurring doubts about its origins and its current ownership...

Interviews with Huawei employees and companies doing business with it reveal a widespread belief that the Chinese government has placed intelligence agents in Huawei offices around the world and that conversations are routinely monitored.

“The state wants to use Huawei, and it can use it if it wants,” the staffer in Shenzhen said. “Everyone has to listen to the state. Every person. Every company and every individual, and you can’t talk about it. You can’t say you don’t like it. That’s just China.”...

The rhetoric and the indictments notwithstanding, none of the U.S. intelligence officials interviewed over several months for this story have made information public that supports the most damning assertions about China’s control over Huawei and about Ren’s early ties to Chinese military intelligence.

They have yet to provide hard evidence and, privately, these officials admit they don’t have any. Instead, they frequently fall back on a 2012 House Intelligence Committee report.

US praises German 5G standards as Huawei battle simmers - AP

The top U.S. diplomat for cybersecurity policy on Wednesday praised Germany’s draft security standards for next generation mobile networks, which he said could effectively shut out China’s Huawei.

The standards published last month were a “positive step,” said Rob Strayer, who’s leading the U.S. campaign to persuade its allies to stop using the Chinese tech giant’s network gear.

Top EU technology official still concerned about Beijing’s access to data from Chinese firms | South China Morning Post

The top official overseeing 5G technology policies for the European Union said on Wednesday he is concerned that Chinese companies are legally bound to share information with the government’s intelligence apparatus back home – a stark example of the high-level resistance confronting Chinese officials as they fight Western attempts to block Chinese tech giants.

Andrus Ansip – one of the European Commission’s five vice-presidents, under President Jean-Claude Juncker – made the remarks in an interview with the South China Morning Post


6. Human brain genes in monkeys

Chinese scientists have put human brain genes in monkeys—and yes, they may be smarter - MIT Technology Review

scientists in southern China report that they’ve tried to narrow the evolutionary gap, creating several transgenic macaque monkeys with extra copies of a human gene suspected of playing a role in shaping human intelligence.

“This was the first attempt to understand the evolution of human cognition using a transgenic monkey model,” says Bing Su, the geneticist at the Kunming Institute of Zoology who led the effort.

According to their findings, the modified monkeys did better on a memory test involving colors and block pictures, and their brains also took longer to develop—as those of human children do. There wasn’t a difference in brain size...

several Western scientists, including one who collaborated on the effort, called the experiments reckless and said they questioned the ethics of genetically modifying primates, an area where China has seized a technological edge.


7. The Reform of Reform

Book Review: Former Central Bank Top Researcher on the Hard Nuts of Reform

Xu Zhong, who has just ended his two-and-a half years as head of the People’s Bank of China’s Research Bureau, has been known for his sharp observations that often pierce through the veil of China’s financial and economic problems. In July, he even provoked a public debate on China’s fiscal policy after he published an article criticizing it for being inadequate to support growth, in which he also argued that some of the much-discussed tax cuts in recent years have not really benefited most businesses or consumers...

Xu’s book, titled “The Reform of Reform 改革得改革”, is a collection of speeches and articles from recent years. It also includes some articles that have never been published before, which are particularly thought-provoking...

As China’s economy faces growing downward pressure exacerbated by the China-U.S. trade war, Xu’s book can serve as a sober warning for decision-makers — they must face up to the real challenges the country faces as it moves ahead in its reform and opening-up.


8. China Story Yearbook: Power

This annual effort out of the Australian National University is always a good read.

2019 China Story Yearbook - "Power" - ANU

In surveying the various ways in which the Party-state wields its hard, soft, and sharp power, the China Story Yearbook: Power offers readers a sense of the diversity of power at work both in China and abroad. Citizens of the PRC have long negotiated the state’s influence; increasingly, diaspora communities and other actors are now being subject to its might. As with previous editions in the series, we place important developments in historical context, and adopt a cross-disciplinary approach: it is our view that economy and politics cannot be divorced from culture, history, and society. The Yearbook provides accessible analysis of the main events and trends of the year and is an essential tool for understanding China’s growing power and influence around the world.


Business, Economy and Trade

Yicai Global - China's Consumer Inflation Hit Five-Month High in March on Food Prices Pork prices rose for the first time in 25 months, leaping 5.1 percent and adding 0.12 point to the CPI, while fresh vegetables surged 16.2 percent because of the spring off-season and contributed 0.42 point to the CPI. A sharp increase in pork prices since March, due to the number of live pigs and fertile sows continuing to drop because of swine fever, has raised concerns about a surge in inflation.

China inflation: March PPI and CPI released as trade talks go on - CNBC Consumer price index (CPI) in March rose 2.3 percent from a year ago — the quickest pace since October 2018. It was lower than the 2.4 percent rise forecast by economists Reuters polled, but higher than February’s 1.5 percent increase...China’s PPI — a gauge of industrial profitability — rose 0.4 percent from a year ago in March. It came in line with expectations of analysts polled by Reuters. February PPI was up 0.1 percent on-year.

Axios Markets - 1 big thing: How China is shaking up the global financial orders "China sees itself less as slotting into some global financial system and more that it’s going to create its own system and shape the global financial markets," Keyu Jin, an associate professor of economics at the London School of Economics, tells Axios on the sidelines of the IMF-World Bank meetings. // Comment: Worth noting that Dr. Jin's father is Jin Liqun, head of the AIIB

Yicai Global - China Kept Delivery Crown in 2018, Sent Three Times More Packages Than US The figure was up 26.6 percent from 2017, China's State Post Bureau said in its latest report, published today. The nation's still rapidly growing e-commerce sector was a major factor in the domestic tally, which made up more than half of the global total last year.

China’s First Quarter Box Office Drops 8% – Variety While the gross figures look weak, the admissions trend is worse. The total number of tickets sold dropped by 14% from 561 million in the first three months of 2018, to 480 million this year. The admissions fall was cushioned by an increase in mean ticket prices. These rose from an average of RMB36.1 ($5.37) in the first quarter of last year, to RMB38.8 ($5.77) in the quarter just completed. The first quarter downtrend continues a weak December, and extends what some in the Chinese industry are now referring to as a long cold winter. Last year, box office barely scraped over the government set target.

Shanghai aims to rev up car sales with trade-in subsidies - China Daily The official WeChat account of the Shanghai Municipal Government announced yesterday it will launch a car trade-in program, encouraging car owners to trade in their vehicles for new gas-powered cars complying with State-VI emissions standards or new energy vehicles, according to a report by the 21st Century Business Herald. The government will provide a subsidy of 10,000 yuan ($1,489) for a trade-in gas-powered vehicle and 15,000 yuan for a trade-in new energy vehicle, the announcement said.

Brokerage Seizes on China Bull Market With Hong Kong Mega-Listing Plan - Caixin Brokerage Shenwan Hongyuan Group Co. Ltd. is aiming to raise up to HK$9.84 billion ($1.25 billion) through a Hong Kong listing, seizing on positive sentiment that has made China one of the world’s best-performing stocks markets this year.

ASML falls victim to Chinese corporate espionage - Reuters The FD report, which cited court documents and its own investigation, said the theft had resulted in hundreds of millions of dollars in losses. The newspaper based its report partly on company sources and partly on the California court ruling in a suit between ASML’s U.S. subsidiary and a subsidiary of a Chinese company, XTAL Inc, which specialized in electrical design automation for semiconductor systems. “The FD’s investigation found XTAL’s Chinese parent company Dongfang Jingyuan has ties with the Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology,” the paper said.

The Chinese Are Coming - #39 — ZoZo Go Leadership at many US auto companies is still thinking of China in Auto Industry 1.0 terms - the traditional vehicle sales and service business.  The reality is that China is shifting to Industry 2.0 - electric, autonomous, connected and shared - faster than any market in the world.

China's Geely launches new electric car brand 'Geometry' - Reuters Geely, China’s highest profile car maker with investments in Volvo and Daimler, launched a premium all-electric car brand “Geometry” on Thursday as it pushes ahead with its plans to boost production of new energy vehicles.

Research: Chinese employers are more likely to call back Chinese-educated applicants than American-educated ones - Inside Higher Ed New research finds that graduates from U.S. universities are less likely to get a call back from Chinese employers than their counterparts with degrees from Chinese universities.

U.S. puts 37 Chinese companies and schools on red-flag 'unverified' list - Reuters Being put on an “unverified” list means that U.S. suppliers to the unverified companies and schools can no longer use license exceptions to, for example, sell products to repair goods that were sold previously but instead will have to get a new license

U.S. Natural-Gas Market Is Taking Cues From China - WSJ $$ The rise of the U.S. as a major exporter of liquefied natural gas has helped balance the domestic market amid surging production. It has also connected the price of gas in Louisiana to the weather in China—a development that is adding pressure on already low U.S. prices.

‘China’s Manhattan’ Borrowed Heavily. The People Have Yet to Arrive. - The New York Times Welcome to Yujiapu Financial District, which promotes itself as China’s Manhattan, but may better be seen as a monument to the breakdown of the Chinese growth model. //Comment: The Yujiapu "Ghost City" story never gets old...

For Chinese Raised in Prosperity, Shrugs in the Face of Layoffs - The New York Times What makes the current optimism of young people like Mr. Huang so striking, and the livability of today’s city so surprising, is that Chongqing has experienced a grim history over much of the past century. The beauty and orderliness now contrast with a violent past.

China’s tax cuts were meant to boost its slowing economy, but will they end up hurting debt-ridden regions? | South China Morning Post The tax cuts will hit China’s poor regions the most, according to a finance official from a county-level city in the prosperous eastern province of Zhejiang, who declined to be identified as he was not authorised to speak publicly. This was because poor governments operate using “feeding finance”, relying heavily on financial transfers from the central government to allow them to invest in upgrading industry as they have barely any additional funds from their own revenue sources beyond those needed to cover basic administrative functions. In contrast, the more affluent governments operate “development finance”, in which a portion of the budget is set aside annually to be spent in the future to ensure stable growth, the official said.

China replaces central bank advisor - Xinhua Yi Huiman, head of the China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC) replaces Liu Shiyu, former head of the CSRC

Blogger Fined $30,000 for Saying SOHO Complex Has Bad Feng Shui - Caixin Global 


Politics and Law

王三运受贿6685万一审领刑12年 重大立功获轻判_政经频道_财新网 former Gansu party secretary Wang Sanyun gets 12 years in prison, sentence reduce because he performed significant meritorious service; i.e. he likely ratted out come one or some people up the food chain...

Anhui Official Victim of Robbery Is Now Under Investigation - Caixin Shi Ping originally drew attention in 2015 when his apartment was robbed, with thieves making off with unusual spoils: items worth 1.3 million yuan ($193,667), including roughly 830,000 yuan and $30,000 in cash, as well as several department store gift cards.

Shenzhen official kicked out of Chinese Communist Party for ‘trading power for personal gain and sex’ | South China Morning Post Former law and order chief Li Huanan expelled for serious violation of party discipline

中央扫黑除恶专项斗争第二轮督导工作全面启动-中国长安网 The second round of supervision of the central government’s special campaign against gang crime has launched.

新中国从这里走来——西柏坡,启迪新时代“赶考”征程--人民网 Page 1 April 11 2019 People's Daily - "New China came here - Xibaipo, enlightening the new era"--"Seventy years ago, the Chinese Communists set off from Xibaipo to Beijing to "take the exam" and move from victory to new victory. Today, 70 years later, how to continue to carry forward the spirit of Xibaipo, take a good start in the new era, and greet a greater victory? Please see the reporter's report sent back from Xibaipo."

Xi encourages ethnic minority people to create better future - Xinhua Xi, also general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission, made the remarks Wednesday when answering a letter from people of the Dulong ethnic minority group in Dulongjiang Township, Gongshan County of Yunnan Province. In the letter, the Dulong people informed Xi that they had been lifted out of poverty as a whole group in 2018 and villagers were enjoying a better life. 习近平回信勉励云南贡山独龙族群众

CPC decides to abolish 54 central Party regulations, normative documents - Xinhua Another 56 will be annulled, with eight amended. The release of the decision marked the conclusion of the second round of centralized clean-up of Party regulations and normative documents, which was launched in November last year. A package of amendments to 14 central Party regulations related to the reform of Party and state institutions will also be made. 中共中央完成党内法规和规范性文件第二次集中清理工作


Foreign and Defense Affairs

Before a joint statement, a threat: EU diplomats nearly walked out of talks with China | South China Morning Post The rare show of EU hostility, diplomats said, reflected its impatience with China’s lack of solid promises or follow-through on when and how it would deliver the market reforms the EU had been waiting for years to see.

Don’t expect a real-life Game of Thrones at Dubrovnik summit, says Chinese Premier Li Keqiang | South China Morning Post Chinese premier promises ‘win-win cooperation’ rather than feuding ahead of summit in historic port where parts of hit drama were filmed Li seeks to capitalise on fantasy show’s popularity as part of charm offensive to expand Chinese influence in Central and Eastern Europe

China's spreading influence in Eastern Europe worries West - AP EU member Croatia is hosting a summit Thursday between China and 16 regional countries — the 8th so far — that focuses on expanding business and other links between China and the region, which Beijing sees as a gateway into Europe. The gathering in Dubrovnik of the so-called 16+1 initiative consists of Central and Eastern European countries that have endorsed China’s ambitious global “Belt and Road” investment project

Montenegro fears China-backed highway will put it on road to ruin | Financial Times $$ The Montenegrin government’s borrowing from China to finance the road’s cost, estimated at €1.3bn, has sent the country’s debt soaring from 63 per cent of gross domestic product in 2012 to almost 80 per cent. If Montenegro were to default, the terms of its contract for the loans even give China the right to access Montenegrin land as collateral.

Xi meets with Myanmar's commander-in-chief of defense services - Xinhua Noting the long-standing "Paukphaw" (fraternal) friendship between China and Myanmar, Xi spoke of the sound development of bilateral relations at present, the expanding exchanges and cooperation in various fields and at various levels, and new progress in the Belt and Road cooperation...

U.S. Military Wary of China’s Foothold in Venezuela – Foreign Policy In an interview with Foreign Policy, Adm. Craig Faller, the four-star military officer who heads U.S. Southern Command, pointed to a Chinese disinformation campaign designed to blame the United States for the blackouts that devastated Venezuela in recent weeks...“China came out publicly, a state spokesman, implying the blackouts were attributable to U.S. cyberattacks,” Faller said during a recent trip to Washington, D.C. “That is just such a blatant lie.

Patriotic posts flood East Turkestan pages to fight untrue reports on Xinjiang - Global Times A group of patriotic Chinese netizens flooded the Facebook pages of East Turkestan terrorists with pictures and stickers on Wednesday night, a move they said aims to fight against Western lies about Northwest China's Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region...The Di Ba group on Baidu Tieba, one of China's largest online forums, announced a "war" against the East Turkestan terrorist groups in a notice published on its Facebook account on Tuesday...In 2016, the group bombarded the Facebook pages of then Taiwan leader-elect Tsai Ing-wen with comments and stickers calling the island of Taiwan an inalienable part of China.

China to enhance BRI cooperation with Croatia: premier - Xinhua Li made the remarks when holding talks with Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic in the Croatian capital of Zagreb...Plenkovic welcomed Li on the visit and said Croatia stands ready to strengthen the understanding of China's history and culture, share China's development opportunities, support the building of the Belt and Road so as to benefit the two countries and peoples.

China-built deep-water drilling rig achieves a first in South China Sea - Global Times This is the first deep-water development well drilled by China-built drilling platform, Previously, all other deep-water oil or gas wells in Chinese territory have been drilled by foreign-made drilling platforms, it said. .."This is a remarkable achievement in the South China Sea. China has spent a lot on exploring energy in the region and this shows that we can finally use the resources to sustainably serve our development goal," Lin Boqiang, director of the China Center for Energy Economics Research at Xiamen University, told the Global Times on Thursday.

Mistrial of the terracotta warrior finger thief upsets Chinese internet - People's Daily Online The case of a man who broke a finger of a terracotta warrior and brought it home from an exhibition in the US state of Pennsylvania last year on Tuesday ended in mistrial, upsetting the Chinese internet, calling it unfair and prejudiced.

China Tests Laser Weapon Similar to U.S. Navy Prototype - Maritime Executive China's People's Liberation Army Navy (PLA Navy) is testing a tactical laser system that bears remarkable similarity to the U.S. Navy's Laser Weapon System (LaWS), an anti-surface / anti-air defensive weapon which has been in development since 2014. 


Taiwan

Paul Ryan to lead U.S. delegation to Taiwan for TRA events: AIT | CNA Former U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan will lead a delegation to Taiwan to attend a series of celebrations marking the 40th anniversary of the Taiwan Relations Act (TRA), the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT) confirmed Wednesday.// Comment: This sure looks like a concession to Beijing by Trump, who is concerned about upset Beijing and the trade talks

Taiwan’s President Welcomes U.S. Officials as Tensions With China Escalate - The New York Times Ms. Tsai made the remarks at a dinner at the American Chamber of Commerce in Taipei in honor of the 40th anniversary of the Taiwan Relations Act, the law that has guided the United States’ unofficial relationship with the island’s government.. Several American senators made recorded video statements shown at Wednesday’s dinner in Taipei, offering American support in the face of Chinese pressure.


Tech and Media

CEO of Xiaomi says he'll give £750m bonus to charity | The Guardian The combined payouts mean Lei was given a sum approaching the smartphone company’s entire net profit for 2018, which was 8.6bn yuan (£980m). Xiaomi said: “To the knowledge of the company, upon receipt of the relevant shares, Lei Jun promised to donate all the relevant shares after deducting any tax payable for charitable purposes.”

China's dating apps are experimenting with live-streamed matchmaking - Trivium UB - User Behavior & Market Attitudes in China the three top players in the game, Zhenai 珍爱, Baihehunlian 百合婚恋 and Shijijiayuan 世纪佳园, have rolled out various versions of these features. Shijijiayuan reports that its live-streaming users stay an average of five minutes longer (from an average of 30 minutes to an average of 35) in the app during each use.

TikTok App Ban Would Harm Free Speech, China's Bytedance Tells Supreme Court | Technology News An Indian court's call for a ban on the popular video app TikTok will hurt free speech rights, China's Bytedance Technology has said in a request for the Supreme Court to quash the directive. // Comment: Irony is dead


Energy, Environment, Science and Health

BP latest oil major to exit China's shale gas after poor drilling results - Reuters BP is the last of the international oil majors, including Royal Dutch Shell, Exxon Mobil, ConocoPhillips and ENI, to quit exploring for shale gas in China because of poor drilling results.

对国家重点实验室亮“黄牌”是动真碰硬--科技时评 - S&T Daily Recently, the Ministry of Science and Technology announced the "Assessment Results of the State Key Laboratory of Engineering Fields and Materials in 2018", in which six national key laboratories of five universities were "yellow card warning" and were listed as laboratories needing rectification.

Top legislator calls for strengthening water pollution control - Xinhua Li Zhanshu...made the remarks when he led a team to inspect enforcement of the water pollution control law in southwest China's Sichuan Province Monday through Thursday. The inspection was strictly based on the provision of the water pollution control law, with a focus on the fulfillment of legal responsibility by government at all levels and by supervision, enforcement and legislation authorities as well as enterprises. CCTV - 书在四川检查水污染防治法实施情况时强调 落实法定领导责任工作责任监管责任执法责任 用法律武器治理污染筑牢长江上游生态屏障

China, U.S. researchers find special signal from magnetic star - Xinhua A joint team of researchers from China and the United States have picked up a special X-ray signal that lasted for around seven hours powered by a magnetar, or magnetic star, 6.6 billion light years away.

Ant Financial's 'mutual aid' healthcare platform drew 50 million users since Oct · TechNode Xiang Hu Bao (literally, “mutual protection”) is an online mutual aid platform in the Alipay app that provides a basic health plan that covers 100 illnesses. Participants in the plan can receive health care coverage, as long as they agree to pitch in and help out with other participants’ medical expenses—bearing the risks and expenses together as a collective. Anyone with a sesame credit score of 600 or higher that meets the health conditions can join the plan.


Education

Tsinghua University toughens punishment on student academic misconduct - ECNS Students found to have engaged in plagiarism or forgery in their published papers will be expelled from the school, while violations in the past were sanctioned with a demerit on their school record. Other academic misconducts include plagiarism or encroachment on other people's academic achievements, distorting research results by others, falsifying research data, materials and literature reviews, fabricating or hiding the role of other researchers, and providing or using ghostwriting services.