US-China trade speculation; Europe awakening?; More depressing Xinjiang reports; China Climate Change Blue Book

It is trade deal speculation day. President Trump is meeting Vice-Premier Liu He later today at the White House and Bloomberg, Wall Street Journal and the New York Times are reporting there may be an announcement of a date for a Trump-Xi summit to close the deal. Reuters is reporting there will be no announcement.

So all we can do is tune in to the next episode of the "Trade Wars! China Edition" reality show at 430 PM today in the Oval Office. That time slot though is not prime time so I am not holding my breath for an earth-shattering announcement, as the producers are likely to hold back the really good stuff for the Summit season finale. Sorry, but I just want this to end…

China is on holiday for the Qingming Festival, everyone should be back to work Monday.

Thanks for reading.

The Essential Eight

1. US-China

White House not expected to announce Trump-Xi summit date: official | Reuters:

The White House is not expected to announce a date on Thursday for a meeting between President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping on trade, an administration official said, denying a report by the Wall Street Journal.

“The White House is not expected to announce a date for a meeting,” the official said.

U.S. Said to Set 2025 Target for China to Fulfill Trade Pledges - Bloomberg:

The White House is particularly focused on purchases commitments through the second quarter of 2020, in an effort to narrow the trade balance ahead of Trump’s re-election bid...

A meeting date between Trump and Xi could be announced as early as Thursday, people familiar with the plans said. After Xi’s team initially floated a formal state visit to Washington as an option, China has pushed back against a meeting on U.S. soil and wants to instead meet in a neutral third country, the people briefed on the plans said.

Trump Likely to Announce Plans for Summit With China’s Xi on Thursday - WSJ $$:

An announcement of a summit date is “likely” to come while Mr. Trump meets with the Chinese leader’s special envoy, Vice Premier Liu He, at the White House on Thursday [4:30PM ET per the White House], according to an administration official, but discussions remain fluid and those plans could change.

Trump Poised to Announce China Summit Meeting as Trade Deal Nears Completion - The New York Times:

The announcement is expected to coincide with an afternoon meeting at the White House between Mr. Trump and Liu He, the Chinese special envoy, who has been in Washington this week for discussions with American negotiators.

Tariff suspensions create good atmosphere for China, US trade talks: MOC - Xinhua:

Reciprocal suspensions of additional tariffs are "undoubtedly" conducive to creating a good atmosphere for the China-U.S. economic and trade negotiations, Chinese commerce ministry's spokesperson Gao Feng said Thursday.

Trump's Bet on China's Mythical Reformers Risks Another Letdown - Bloomberg:

“You have to start with the proposition that there are people in China who believe that reform is a good idea,” U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer told NPR on March 25, in one of several similar recent remarks. “And you have to believe that those people are at a very senior level.”..

Problem is, U.S. officials and executives have been hearing the same Chinese promises for decades..

As early as 1985, a RAND Corp. study on Chinese negotiation tactics commissioned by the U.S. government argued that party officials “may urge a foreign negotiator to accommodate to their position using the argument that if he does not, his ‘friends’ in the PRC leadership will be weakened by failure to reach agreement.”

March 25 - U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer Discusses Ongoing Trade Talks With China : NPR:

LIGHTHIZER: No. Well, in the first place, you know, everything won't happen in a month, for sure that's true. But I think you have to start with the proposition that there are people in China who believe that reform is a good idea. And you have to believe that those people are at a very senior level.

I think he was referring to Liu He

2. Premier Li may have a rough trip to Europe

China Focus: Premier Li's Europe visit to inject impetus to China-EU ties - Xinhua:

Li's visit, scheduled for April 8 to 12, will take him to Brussels for the 21st China-EU leaders' meeting, and Croatia for an official visit and the eighth leaders' meeting of China and Central and Eastern European countries (CEEC), Vice Foreign Minister Wang Chao said at a press briefing...

Leaders of the two sides will exchange views on bilateral ties and major international and regional issues of common concerns, and witness the signing of cooperation documents on energy, competition policies and other areas, Wang said.

"We believe that this meeting will inject new impetus to the China-EU comprehensive strategic partnership, take our dialogue and cooperation across the board to a new level, and strengthen the stability, reciprocity and strategic significance of our relations," Wang said.

Why Europe Is Getting Tough on China - Foreign Affairs - Andrew Small:

What accounts for the shift in European thinking? No doubt political and security developments have played a role—from China’s deepening authoritarianism under President Xi Jinping to its efforts to extend political influence in Europe. The strongest drivers of the change, however, are economic. Europe has lost hope that China will reform its economy or allow greater access to its markets, and at the same time, China’s state-backed and state-subsidized actors have advanced in sectors that Europe considers critical to its economic future. The implementation of Made in China 2025 (a ten-year plan to speed the development of high-tech industries), a spate of sensitive Chinese takeovers in Europe, and the BRI’s export of China’s domestic economic practices to third countries suggest a threat that is coalescing with real immediacy...

China’s Influence Digs Deep Into Europe’s Political Landscape - Bloomberg:

In November, a British Conservative Member of the European Parliament called Nirj Deva traveled to Beijing for an event on innovation. It was a routine trip for Deva, a regular visitor as chairman of the EU-China Friendship Group. And as usual, his economy class air fare was upgraded to business by his Chinese government hosts, who also picked up his hotel bills and expenses...

“I am quite intimately involved with China,” Deva said in an interview at his parliamentary office in Strasbourg, France. He confirmed the arrangements for his visits, which are recorded in the European Parliament’s register of interests and are legitimate under the code of conduct for lawmakers. Deva said that growing wariness of China’s motives is misplaced and in his experience is partly due to “ignorance.” Over 15 years of closely watching China, “I can’t think of one big mistake they have made,” he said...

Remarks by Vice President Pence at NATO Engages: The Alliance at 70 | The White House:

Perhaps the greatest challenge NATO will face in the coming decades is how we must all adjust to the rise of the People’s Republic of China. And adjust we must. For determining how to meet the challenge of Chinese 5G technology, meet the challenge of the easy money offered by China’s Belt and Road Initiative, is a challenge European allies must contend with every day.

Whether we like it or not, the implications of China’s rise will profoundly affect the choices NATO members will face, individually and collectively.

China’s expanding influence will necessarily demand more of America’s attention and resources. And as we meet that challenge, our European allies must do more to maintain the strength and deterrence of our transatlantic alliance with their resources.

Europe Gets Its Competition With China All Wrong – Foreign Policy:

It makes sense for the European Commission to think about ways to protect the integrity of the liberal order governing Western societies. But it should also begin to pay attention to ways to ensure that it can survive and thrive against fierce competition from opposing models. In other words, although the EU seems to be embracing a decidedly more political outlook—it is ready to apply and enforce stricter rules—it is not yet embracing geopolitics.

There is nothing in the new strategic outlook about the need to compete with China for influence in critical geographies or over resources. It ignores the projection of power outside the EU’s borders. The struggle to control global infrastructure is never addressed and the EU’s sources of power or leverage over Chinese conduct disregarded.--Bruno Maçães is a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute and a former Europe minister of Portugal.

Yicai Global - China Fund for Central, Eastern Europe to Focus in Three Areas, Executive Says:

China's investment fund aimed at financing projects in central and eastern Europe will focus on three kinds of projects in future, according to its chief investment officer.

The first are in the new energy sector, where China and the central and eastern European countries can draw on each other's strengths, the China-Central and Eastern Europe Investment Cooperation Fund's Qin Jing said in an exclusive interview with Yicai Global. The second group involves hotel management and related businesses, while the third covers high-end industrial manufacturing and the medical equipment sector, he said.

The UK kind of counts as “Europe” for a few more days at least - UK putting trade with China above security and human rights abuses | The Independent:

The British government has put trade with China above vital issues of national security and human rights in a policy which “reflects an unwillingness to face the reality” that Beijing is an “active challenger” to the UK in many areas, according to the Commons Foreign Affairs Committee.

A report by the MPs states that the UK “needs to recalibrate its policy towards China”. A declaration by Theresa May’s government of a “golden era” in relations between the UK and China may have been misconceived and much greater scrutiny needs to be given, it says, to claims of interference in British domestic affairs by Beijing, and intelligence risks such as those allegedly posed by the involvement of telecommunications giant Huawei in this country’s 5G infrastructure.

The report - China and the Rules-Based International System - Foreign Affairs Committee - UK House of Commons:

3. US worried about China’s UN influence

Bolton Builds Anti-China Campaign at the U.N. – Foreign Policy:

John Bolton, the U.S. national security advisor, is leading a campaign to contain China’s growing influence in the United Nations and other international organizations, a move that reflects growing alarm that Beijing is taking advantage of the U.S. retreat from the world stage to build diplomatic alliances and promote its own global interests...

For the past two years, European allies have warned the Trump administration that its withdrawal from a range of international organizations and agreements, including those dealing with climate, human rights, and migration, had paved the way for China and other powers to fill the diplomatic vacuum. While the White House has no interest in reasserting leadership on those fronts, it has stepped up its efforts to prevent China from doing so

4. Huawei

Huawei may be awakening Canadians to real threats of the world, says former spymaster | The Star:

The spotlight shining on Huawei may help correct Canadians’ chronic underestimation of the threat to their country’s sovereignty, said Richard Fadden, former director of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, during a sit-down interview...

Despite multiple assurances from Huawei officials that the company would never submit to orders from Beijing to hand over sensitive user data, such claims of corporate immunity to party interest represent “an impractical proposition in a state like China,” Fadden said.

“China has a recognized worldwide reputation for being a relatively aggressive intelligence and information gatherer and influencer,” he said.

Elite U.S. school MIT cuts ties with Chinese tech firms Huawei, ZTE | Reuters:

"MIT is not accepting new engagements or renewing existing ones with Huawei and ZTE or their respective subsidiaries due to federal investigations regarding violations of sanction restrictions," Maria Zuber, its vice president for research, said in a letter on its website.

ZTE makes Europe’s first 5G call with local carrier · TechNode:

European mobile network operator Orange announced on Wednesday that it had made Europe’s first voice and data call over a full 5G mobile network in cooperation with Chinese telecoms equipment maker ZTE...

Spanish press reported the company’s plans to work with ZTE, Huawei and Nokia in its 5G trials across the country in early January. The operator stated that it would trial 5G technology in Valencia in partnership with ZTE, in Seville with Huawei, and in Vigo with Nokia.

South Korean, U.S. telcos roll out 5G services early as race heats up | Reuters:

Among South Korea’s three operators, SK Telecom and KT Corp do not use Huawei equipment for 5G. Smaller carrier LG Uplus Corp uses Huawei gear.

But SK Telecom officials said it was likely there will be an open auction for network equipment makers including Huawei if South Korea needs more base stations for higher frequencies.

Facing U.S. Pushback, Huawei Aims to Triple Its Consumer Electronics Business to $150 Billion — The Information $$:

“This is wartime,” said Huawei deputy chairman Eric Xu in an internal memo in February, urging employees to change their mentality. “In the current environment, winning is the only option for us,” he said in the memo, which was reviewed by The Information. 

Mr. Xu also said in the memo that some employees already were working day and night without taking any holidays, and suggested that the rest of Huawei’s 180,000 employees do the same. “We don’t need soldiers who cannot fight or generals who cannot command,” he said.

Current, former Pentagon leaders sound alarm on Chinese technology in 5G networks - The Washington Post:

In a statement Wednesday, six former officials note that the immense bandwidth and super-high speeds of the coming 5G systems — up to 100 times faster than current 4G platforms — will make them attractive for the U.S. military to share data with allies or transfer information in combat.

And they and U.S. defense officials warn that allowing Chinese firms such as Huawei to outfit these networks poses unacceptable risks of espionage and disruptive cyberattacks on military operations because of the firm’s alleged ties to the Chinese government and a 2017 Chinese law that requires companies, if directed, to cooperate in surveillance activities.

The statement

And a new US Defense Innovation Board report - The 5G Ecosystem: Risks and Opportunities for DoD

5. Xinjiang

Ghost World - by Darren Byler -Logic

The surveillance and predictive profiling systems that targeted Alim and the many Uyghur Muslims he met in detention are the product of a neo-totalitarian security-industrial complex that has emerged in China over the past decade. Dozens of Chinese tech firms are building and marketing tools for a new “global war on terror,” fought in a domestic register and transposed to a technological key. In this updated version of the conflict, the war machine is more about facial recognition software and machine learning algorithms than about drones and Navy SEAL teams; the weapons are made in China rather than the United States; and the supposed terrorists are not “barbaric” foreigners but domestic minority populations who appear to threaten the dominance of authoritarian leaders and impede state-directed capitalist expansion...

A middle-aged Uyghur businessman from Hotan, whom I will call Dawut, told me that that, behind the checkpoints, the new security system has hollowed out Uyghur communities. The government officials, civil servants, and tech workers who have come to build, implement, and monitor the system don’t seem to perceive Uyghurs’ humanity. The only kind of Uyghur life that can be recognized by the state is the one that the computer sees. This makes Uyghurs like Dawut feel as though their lives only matter as data—code on a screen, numbers in camps. They have adapted their behavior, and slowly even their thoughts, to the system. 

“Uyghurs are alive, but their entire lives are behind walls,” Dawut said softly. “It is like they are ghosts living in another world.”

Chris Buckley, Paul Mozur and Austin Ramzy give a deeply disturbing video and photo report on Kashgar. Orwell and Stalin would approve - How China Turned a City Into a Prison - The New York Times

US Lawmakers Demand Sanctions on China Over Rights Abuses of Uyghurs in Xinjiang - RFA:

The lawmakers—led by Senators Marco Rubio and Bob Menendez, and Representatives James P. McGovern and Chris Smith—called for the swift imposition of Global Magnitsky Act sanctions on XUAR Party Secretary Chen Quanguo and other Chinese officials “complicit in gross human rights abuses” against ethnic Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities in the region...

They also called on the Commerce Department to strengthen export controls to ensure U.S. companies are not assisting the Chinese government in creating civilian surveillance or predictive policing systems used by authorities in the XUAR.

Meanwhile, retribution has already begun against the relatives of one of the Uighurs who met with US Secretary of State Pompeo last week:

Uyghurs and allies urge action against China in Washington - CNN:

Ablajan was one of dozens of members of the Uyghur community, advocates and lawmakers who gathered on Capitol Hill in Washington Monday to recognize the plight of the Uyghurs and other persecuted minorities being detained in China. The evening reception capped a day of activism on the Hill organized by the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community.

And In DC this Friday NüVoices is holding an event: Life under Chinese Rule in Xinjiang

6. Sentencing for a CIA spy

Prosecutors seek life term for ex-CIA man Kevin Mallory on spy conviction - AP:

A jury convicted Kevin Mallory of Leesburg last year under the Espionage Act for providing top secret information to Chinese handlers in exchange for $25,000.

He must have given away a lot if the prosecutors want life.

How a $230,000 debt and a LinkedIn message led an ex-CIA officer to spy for China:

A graduate of Brigham Young University, Mallory spent a stint in the U.S. army and a career in the intelligence world.

He worked as a CIA case officer in the 1990s, meaning he was an undercover operative, tasked with handling agents and stealing foreign secrets. Fluent in Mandarin, he became a senior intelligence officer for the Defense Intelligence Agency in the early 2000s. He returned to the CIA as a contractor from 2010-2012, but he lost his top secret security clearance after improperly disclosing classified information, court records show.

In February 2017, Mallory responded to the LinkedIn message from Michael Yang, who passed himself off as a think tank representative looking for a foreign policy expert. The FBI says he was a Chinese intelligence officer.

Comment: If someone contacts you out of the blue on Linkedin about China consulting or research work, be wary. Be even warier if they invite you to China, and then offer to pay for your expenses in cash. An envelope in cash, and no receipt, is a good sign the other party is not a normal business person or think tank...

7. China Climate Change Blue Book (2019)

Govt Report Details Alarming Effects of Climate Change in China - Sixth Tone:

In a social media post Tuesday, the National Climate Center outlined the bleak findings of the China Meteorological Administration’s “China Climate Change Blue Book (2019)” in five sections, covering the atmosphere, hydrosphere, cryosphere, terrestrial biosphere, and climate change’s “driving factors.”

The atmosphere portion finds that temperatures are increasing at faster rates, particularly in northern parts of China, with the fastest in Qinghai province and the Tibet Autonomous Region. Meanwhile, the number of “low-temperature events” in the country has decreased since the 1960s, while the number of high-temperature days has increased substantially since the mid-1990s.

The hydrosphere section — about the Earth’s waters — reports that the rate of sea-level rise in China from 1980 to 2017 averaged 0.33 centimeters per year, higher than the average rate over the same time period globally. Qinghai Lake — the largest lake in China — has seen a particularly swift rise of 2.54 meters since 2005. Between 1961 and 2018, there was also an increase of “extreme heavy rainfall” incidents.

In terms of the cryosphere, or the totality of Earth’s frozen waters, the report finds a record-high speed for the retreat of the Urumqi Glacier No. 1 in the Tianshan mountain range — a global reference glacier. The terrestrial biology overview says climate change caused trees to begin growing leaves days earlier in spring 2018 compared with 2017.


8. “Uncle Petrov” (彼得大叔)

Who’s Chinese? The Farmer-Turned-Livestreaming Star Who's Challenging China’s Ideas of Racial Identity

Hailing from the Sino-Russian border town of Xunke (逊克县), Dong is among the country’s 15,000 ethnic Russian citizens (according to the 2010 census). His great-grandparents — the Petrovs — fled Russia at the height of the October Revolution, crossing the Amur River. When the Russian great-grandmother remarried, to a man from China’s Shandong province, the family adopted the Han surname of Dong (董). Three generations later, the Heilongjiang farmer speaks no Russian, is married to a Han woman, has two children, and sells his hometown specialties for a living.

Uncle Petrov Russian Chinese livestream star Dong’s unsophisticated humor and unconstrained optimism have helped him build over a million followers on Kuaishou, where he is better known as “Uncle Petrov” (彼得大叔), after his Russian family name.

One video, on Youtube:

Business, Economy and Trade

China Preps More Stimulus Measures to Aid Consumption Recovery - Bloomberg Policy makers are drafting policies to help farmers, small-business owners and scientific researchers boost their incomes, the Economic Information Daily reported, citing unnamed sources. The measures will probably include "bigger breakthroughs" in land reform to enhance farmers’ property gains, the newspaper said.// 新一轮居民增收方案酝酿出炉 城乡居民增收项目资金支持将加码,“提低”硬举措加快落地

China stimulus efforts show signs of stabilising economy | Financial Times $$ The leading source of fresh growth for March was manufacturing production, a sign that government spending on infrastructure projects was having a noticeable impact on the economy, according to Robin Xing, chief China economist at Morgan Stanley. “This is a policy-driven rebound,” he said. “It’s better than in previous easing cycles because it’s not relying on shadow banking. They are more focused on fiscal policy easing.”

Bankruptcy Run in Wealthy China Province Spooks Creditors - Bloomberg Four debtors have entered bankruptcy procedures since the start of November in Dongying, a city of 2 million in the eastern province of Shandong that once thrived with a booming tire-making industry. While China sees thousands of bankruptcies each year, instances of court-led restructuring of publicly issued bonds have been rare. Authorities in other cases have encouraged workouts with creditors, raising questions about the Dongying examples.

Exclusive: P2P Registration System May Roll Out in Second Half - Caixin Two central government watchdogs — the Office of the Special Rectification Work Leadership Team for Internet Financial Risks along with the P2P Internet Lending Risk Specialist Rectification Team — met last week with regional financial regulators, soliciting opinions on the monitoring and registration of P2P platforms. The regulators aim to start registration in pilot cities in more developed areas in the second half and complete the national registration system by 2020, a person attending the meeting told Caixin.

China encourages central SOEs to enhance BRI cooperation - Xinhua Central SOEs should follow the principle of marketization while working with enterprises of all types of ownership in an open, cooperative and win-win manner, Xiao Yaqing, head of the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission of the State Council. Xiao made the remarks while meeting former World Bank President and partner of Global Infrastructure Partners (GIP) Jim Yong Kim in Beijing on Monday.

China state banks pull back from risky overseas projects | Financial Times $$ “Chinese authorities are looking at BRI with much more commercial rigor,” said Peter Burnett, head of corporate finance for greater China and north Asia at Standard Chartered. “That’s good for commercial banks like Standard Chartered.”

Chinese capital controls mean Shanghai is not a global financial hub, US bankers say | South China Morning Post More than half of 26 financial industry executives recently surveyed by AmCham Shanghai said the city has struggled to find a balance between serving as a loyal base for the Communist Party and offering a safe haven for global capitalists.// Snark: They needed a survey to figure this out? And so long as the CCP is in charge Shanghai will never be a "a safe haven for global capitalists"

China stumbles in push to internationalise its currency | Financial Times $$ At the peak more than four years ago, the Chinese currency had become the fourth most widely used currency for cross-border payments, according to SWIFT, the global financial messaging service. But in February this year the renminbi was frozen in fifth, which is where it has been for most of the past few years, having fallen bigger in monthly volumes, year-on-year, than other global currencies. Similarly, yuan-denominated trade accounted for 30 per cent of total Chinese trade in 2014, but has since slipped to about half that level.

Bayer points finger at Chinese-based group after blocking cyber attack | Reuters “There is no evidence of data theft,” the statement said, although a spokesman added that the overall damage was still being assessed and that German state prosecutors had launched an investigation. “This type of attack points toward the ‘Wicked Panda’ group in China, according to security experts,” the spokesman said, citing DCSO, a cyber security group set up by Bayer in 2015 with German partners Allianz, BASF and Volkswagen.

Heart over head, Chinese retail investors rush into municipal bonds | Reuters China piloted the first batch of local government bonds targeting retail investors in recent weeks at bank outlets in six regions including Beijing and Ningbo, raising a billion dollars. The bonds sold like hot cakes, illustrating a potentially lucrative outlet for local governments who analysts estimate have been given permission by the central government to raise between 4.5 trillion yuan to five trillion yuan ($672 billion to$746 billion) via bond sales this year alone.

Chinese Banks Raise Salaries in 2018, Big Six State-owned Lenders Shed 28,000 Staff - China Banking News 19 out of 32 A-share banks in China have released their annual reports for 2018, with a report from further indicating that the total remuneration expenditures of 14 banks for which comparable data is available was 62.285 million yuan in 2018, for YoY growth of 6.7%. 13 out of the 14 banks saw their total remuneration spending increase in 2018, with the exception of China CITIC Bank which posted a YoY decline of 8%.

China Tells Exxon Boss: Bring on the 'Wholly Foreign-Owned Petrochemical Projects' - Caixin Chinese Vice Premier Han Zheng said at a Thursday meeting with multinational energy giant Exxon Mobil’s CEO Darren Woods that the company is welcome to expand investment and set up more large “wholly foreign-owned petrochemical projects” in China, state-run Xinhua News Agency reported. Han said opening-up is one of China’s fundamental policies, and that the country has been “actively” attracting foreign investment.

Politics and Law

State Council appoints, removes officials - Xinhua Xu Hongcai was appointed Vice Minister of Finance, replacing Liu Wei. Liu Wei was named vice chairman of the National Council for Social Security Fund, replacing Lou Jiwei.

Opinion | Uber but for Xi Jinping - The New York Times - Audrey Jiajia Li But no matter how fancy the new products look on the surface, at their core they remain the mandatory study of ideologically correct materials and the demonstration of allegiance to the central government. The minute I entered the quiz section, memories of my middle school years in Chinese classrooms came flooding back: the grandiose language, the endless repetition, the fixed answers, the publicly displayed class rankings — the collective memories of Chinese students across several generations. Many Weibo users have pointed out the parallels between Xuexi Qiangguo and the fervent “Little Red Book” campaigns of the Mao era.

My Tsinghua Lament - China Heritage Zi Zhongyun (資中筠, 1930-) is a noted expert on American diplomatic history and the study of the United States more broadly. She is also a much-published translator and former head of the Institute of American Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Science in Beijing. Zi studied English and French at Tsinghua University from 1948 to 1951...In response to the ‘Xu Zhangrun Incident’, Zi Zhongyun composed the following essay, the Chinese title of which is simply 清華哀 Qīnghuá aī, ‘lamination’ or ‘mourning for Tsinghua University’.

China captures corruption fugitive - Xinhua Xi Fei, 56, fled abroad after the procuratorial agency of Haidian District, Beijing, decided to investigate his suspected embezzlement in 2003, according to a report by the Communist Party of China Central Commission for Discipline Inspection and the National Supervisory Commission.
He was recently found to have secretly returned to Beijing and the Haidian supervisory commission, working with police authorities, apprehended him.

Foreign and Defense Affairs

China struggles to ease concerns over Silk Road project as summit looms | Reuters It has not disclosed a full list of the leaders planning to attend the event. But some of Beijing’s closest friends have confirmed they will go, including Russian President Vladimir Putin and Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan.

New Silk Road critics are 'prejudiced', China's top diplomat says | Reuters Speaking to the ruling Communist Party’s official People’s Daily, Yang Jiechi, who runs the party’s foreign affairs committee, said he had noted that some in the international community believed this was a geopolitical tool and would only bring debt traps for participating countries. “This obviously shows a lack of objectivity and fair understanding of the Belt and Road initiative. It is a misunderstanding, misjudgment and is even prejudiced,” wrote Yang, a former foreign minister and ambassador to Washington.

Facing criticism of China deal, Vatican's top diplomat says 'be patient' - Crux After U.S. government officials criticized the Vatican’s recent deal with China on the appointment of bishops for making religious freedom in the Asian superpower worse, Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin said Wednesday there’s a need to be patient since the situation won’t change overnight. “We signed this agreement to help advance religious freedom, to find normalization for the Catholic community there, and then for all other religions to have space and a role to play in society which is recognized,” Parolin told journalists April 3...Recently, ex-Trump strategist Steve Bannon told Crux that he may lead a lawsuit to compel the Vatican to release the text of the deal under the terms of the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, drawing on resources from a fund of wealthy Chinese ex-patriates. [Guo Wengui?]

Global debt on the rise, Africa hit hardest | DW | 03.04.2019 Although China often gets a bad rap for creating debt traps when financing infrastructure projects, Jubilee came to Beijing's defense. From 2000 to 2017, China extended some €143 billion ($161 billion) in credit to African nations and businesses, but Jürgen Kaiser of Jubilee said: "China isn't the bad guy." He also noted that China had written off substantial debts in the past. The report made clear that the far bigger problem of predatory lending was posed by institutions such as the World Bank or European development funds.

China's 'Dr. Charles' claims to have a pipeline to U.S. power. The reality appears far more murky. - The Washington Post Dr. Charles” appears to be neither a doctor nor a Charles. And his organization, with a self-styled imprimatur of the United Nations, similarly appears to be a commercial influence peddling operation looking for a veneer of respectability. “Dr. Charles,” whose real name is Li Weitian according to bank records, has become a central figure in the Chinese effort to get close to Trump and influential Republicans. He goes to the president’s Florida country club so regularly that Yujing Zhang — the Chinese woman arrested at Mar-a-Lago on Saturday — told Secret Service agents that she was there to meet “her Chinese friend Charles.

China providing services to woman arrested at Mar-a-Lago - ABC News Spokesman Geng Shuang told reporters that the Chinese Consulate General in Houston had been notified of the March 30 arrest, had gotten in touch with the person involved and was providing her with consular assistance. Geng gave no details.

Limit, Leverage, and Compete: A New Strategy on China - Center for American Progress This report presents a new strategic framework—limit, leverage, and compete—as well as key measures the United States should take to begin implementing it. The first section explains how major political shifts in the United States and China put both countries on a trajectory that led to China’s re-emergence as a global power. It concludes by describing the strategic missteps—including a multidecade period of inertia and two wars in the Middle East—that have hindered the United States’ ability to compete against an increasingly powerful China. The second section lays out an alternative approach to China that will reverse the current trajectory. It recommends a new strategic framework that limits China’s ability to exploit U.S. openness; leverages China’s growing capabilities to address global challenges; and positions the United States to compete more comprehensively over the long term. The section concludes by explaining how this strategic framework—limit, leverage, and compete—will put the United States in a stronger position to respond to the realities of a more assertive China while providing ample off ramps to adjust if China chooses a more collaborative path. The third and final section makes specific recommendations about how each pillar of this strategy should be implemented, prioritizing investments in the United States’ network of democratic allies, its democratic values, and the unlimited potential of the American people.

Tech and Media

China Forbids TV Shows From ‘Sensationalizing’ Child Stars - Sixth Tone China’s National Radio and Television Administration announced new guidelines for TV programs involving minors on Wednesday, effectively cracking down on reality shows starring the children of celebrities.

The People Behind ByteDance’s App Factory — The Information $$ The Information reveals the top 106 employees at ByteDance, one of the world’s most valuable venture capital–backed startups, worth $75 billion at its last fundraising.

Chinese browsers block protest against China’s 996 overtime work culture | Abacus A number of Chinese browsers, including Tencent’s QQ Browser, Qihoo’s 360 Browser and the native browser on Xiaomi smartphones, have restricted user access to the repository on GitHub...Now with some of China’s biggest tech firms censoring the project, netizens have noted the ironic turn of events. “So these 996 companies’ 996 developers had to work 996 to block a website about 996,” one user said on Weibo in a comment liked nearly 800 times

Ruhnn, a Chinese startup that makes influencers, raises $125M in U.S. IPO | TechCrunch The Alibaba-backed company supplies a suite of services for KOLs to connect with fans on one hand and brands and retailers on the other. That means influencers receive training to grow their fame and create digital content to market products. In 2018, Ruhnn’s batch of 113 contracted KOLs generated 2 billion yuan ($300 million) in total sales and collected nearly 150 million fans across various social channels.

Chinese Government Confirms Two Esports Professions, Panda TV Officially Shuts Down its Service - The Esports Observer the Chinese government finally confirmed two esports professions – esports operator and esports professional; Panda TV officially shut down its streaming service to the public, and ended its sponsorship deal with  Invictus Gaming

Society, Arts, Sports, Culture and History

Cristiano Ronaldo mourns Chinese forest fire victims on Weibo - ECNS On China’s popular social media platform Sina Weibo, Ronaldo wrote in English that “My prayers are with all those affected by the fire in Sichuan, especially the brave fire fighters who lost their lives.” He ended the message with an emoji of a candle.

A Czech couple in 1950s’ Tianqiao | Stephen Jones: a blog My brief mention of narrative-singing in 1950s’ Beijing leads me to a remarkable Czech couple, and thence to the Prague sinologists, prompting me to consider the work of Chinese and Czechoslovak scholars—and their tribulations.

David Xu poisoned a co-worker's drink for months with cadmium, police say - The Washington Post In the US but shades of some famous China poisoning cases

Energy, Environment, Science and Health

Yicai Global - China Plans to Double Spending on Natural Gas Storages to Stabilize Supply 

China May Save $30 Billion With Generic-Drug Plan, Novartis Says - Bloomberg .