US-China Trade Truce; Xi Convenes Two Day Meeting On The Battle Against Pollution; Merkel Goes To China Again; Westlake University; South China Sea

China Trade Week extended late into Friday night and ended with a whimper, not a bang. I hear the talks were brutal and while a face-saving joint statement was issued Saturday many of the details remain unsettled and the toughest issues unresolved. It looks to be a clear victory for Beijing as tariffs are at least temporarily deferred and the US has agreed to keep talking, something which China is always happy to do. 

Expect the truce to last at least until the Trump-Kim Singapore summit, or its cancellation/rescheduling, but remain skeptical that significant progress was made until we see much more detail of what exactly was agreed to. In the meantime both sides are trying to claim success. 

Here are some of the things I am watching for:

  • Will there be any double counting of the November 2017 “$250 billion” in claimed deals to add luster to this latest round?;

  • How will President Trump react to mounting criticism from normally pro-Trump media and pundits?;

  • Will we see more leaks about splits in the Administration between the Secretary of Treasury and the US Trade Representative?;

  • What will Congress do, especially if there is a move to give ZTE a reprieve when it appears Beijing conceded nothing in exchange for Trump reopening the ZTE case other than agreeing to send Liu He to talk last week?;

  • How will Trump react if there is failed or cancelled summit with Kim Jong Un, especially if Trump, as he has suggested, believes Xi has been somehow playing him?

President Trump seems sensitive about criticism of the trade negotiation outcome as he took to Twitter this morning to praise it in a series of tweets:

Donald J. Trump@realDonaldTrump

I ask Senator Chuck Schumer, why didn’t President Obama & the Democrats do something about Trade with China, including Theft of Intellectual Property etc.? They did NOTHING! With that being said, Chuck & I have long agreed on this issue! Fair Trade, plus, with China will happen!

May 21, 2018
Donald J. Trump@realDonaldTrump

China has agreed to buy massive amounts of ADDITIONAL Farm/Agricultural Products - would be one of the best things to happen to our farmers in many years!

May 21, 2018
Donald J. Trump@realDonaldTrump

On China, Barriers and Tariffs to come down for first time.

May 21, 2018
Donald J. Trump@realDonaldTrump

China must continue to be strong & tight on the Border of North Korea until a deal is made. The word is that recently the Border has become much more porous and more has been filtering in. I want this to happen, and North Korea to be VERY successful, but only after signing!

May 21, 2018
The best performance award for last week’s “China Trade Weeks” episodes clearly belongs to Liu He, who seems to have accomplished a masterful task of barbarian placation.

Thanks for reading.

The Essential Eight

1. US-China Trade Truce

Treasury, USTR Send Mixed Messages Over Tariffs on Chinese Imports​ - WSJ $$:

Several hours after Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told Fox News on Sunday that the U.S. was “putting the trade war on hold” and wouldn’t assess tariffs on Beijing while the two sides talked, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer put out a statement saying that tariffs remained an important tool to “protect our technology.”

Mr. Lighthizer didn’t say the U.S. would resort to tariffs any time soon, and Mr. Mnuchin didn’t rule out tariffs, and a U.S. trade official played down the disparity, but trade experts said the differences in tone and substance stood out. People familiar with the administration’s internal deliberations said Mr. Lighthizer was signaling that he wouldn’t accept a watered-down version of U.S. goals or tactics in the trade dispute with China.

Joint Statement of the United States and China Regarding Trade Consultations - White House:

Both sides attach paramount importance to intellectual property protections, and agreed to strengthen cooperation. China will advance relevant amendments to its laws and regulations in this area, including the Patent Law.

Both sides agreed to encourage two-way investment and to strive to create a fair, level playing field for competition.

Both sides agreed to continue to engage at high levels on these issues and to seek to resolve their economic and trade concerns in a proactive manner.

China-U.S. economic, trade consensuses "meet interests of the people": vice premier - Xinhua:

The consensuses reached during economic and trade consultations between China and the United States meet the interests of the people of the two countries and whole world, Chinese Vice Premier Liu He said on Monday.

Liu, just returned from the United states, referred to the talks as "positive, pragmatic, and productive" with some important consensuses reached.

The vice premier made the remarks while meeting some attendees at the fourth China-U.S. governors' forum.

US-China trade war is on hold. So what now? - CNN:

The United States' threat to impose steep tariffs on as much as $150 billion of Chinese goods resulted from an investigation into how China gets it hands on American technology.

Those issues, which include US companies being pressured to hand over tech secrets in exchange for access to China's huge market, haven't gone away, US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said in a statement Sunday.

"Real work still needs to be done to achieve changes in a Chinese system that facilitates forced technology transfers in order to do business in China," said Lighthizer, who also complained about "the theft of our companies' intellectual property and business know-how."

People's Daily "Xiake Dao" says that the PRC held to its three bottom lines in the negotiation with the US-侠客岛 - 中美达成共识,守住了中方不可退让的三大底线:

1、以中国扩大进口的积极主张缓解贸易不平衡,而不是中国减少出口的消极主张;expanding imports to alleviate the trade imbalance rather than cutting exports;

2、没有设定美方当初提出的“中国削减两千亿美元贸易顺差”指令性计划指标;not agreeing to the $200B deficit reduction target sought by the US;

3、维护了中国追求产业升级、自我发展的权利。safeguarded China's efforts to upgrade its industries and its right to self-development


新华社华盛顿5月19日电(记者于佳欣 朱东阳)正在对美国进行访问的习近平主席特使、中共中央政治局委员、国务院副总理、中美全面经济对话中方牵头人刘鹤于当地时间19日上午接受了媒体采访。他表示,此次中美经贸磋商的最大成果是双方达成共识,不打贸易战,并停止互相加征关税。


China relieved U.S. trade war is 'on hold'; U.S. business ambivalent | Reuters:

James Zimmerman, a Beijing-based lawyer and a former chairman of the American Chamber of Commerce in China, said the Trump administration’s move to walk back its threatened trade actions was premature, and a “lost opportunity” for American companies, workers and consumers...

“The Chinese are in a state of quiet glee knowing that Trump’s trade team backed off on sanctions without getting any real and meaningful concessions out of Beijing,” Zimmerman said.

But Jacob Parker, vice president of China operations at the U.S.-China Business Council, called the apparent de-escalation in trade tension “a great bit of progress”.

Get Ready for Annual U.S.-China Trade Wars, Credit Suisse Says - Bloomberg:

“Any expectation of a fundamental settlement of the disputes between the both sides would be unrealistic,” Vincent Chan, head of China equity research for Credit Suisse wrote in a note to clients. “The political and economic relationship between China and the U.S. has changed dramatically in the last few years.”

Treasury Secretary Mnuchin wins, America loses - AEI - Derek Scissors:

The US and China have (not much of) a deal. If you desperately wanted to avoid a trade conflict, Secretary of the Treasury Mnuchin is a hero. If you think, as candidate Donald Trump thought, the US is long overdue in confronting China on predatory trade policies, then Secretary Mnuchin just put his own interest ahead of the national interest...

Our years-overdue response to the PRC’s predatory behavior is on hold in exchange for things yet to occur, and Mnuchin won’t tell us what they are. It’s actually worse than that – energy exports to China are already soaring. He’s promising to win something already happening.

China says it can't guarantee no more trade tension with US - AP:

The truce is likely to be only temporary due to unresolved “structural issues” between China and the United States, said Shi Yinhong, director of the Center for American Studies at Renmin University in Beijing.

“I don’t think the truce will last very long,” Shi said. “The antagonism in trade will ebb and flow in China-U.S. relations in the long term.”

Treasury Secretary Says U.S., China Have Suspended Tariffs - WSJ $$:

There is no specific timetable for the next steps in the negotiations, Lawrence Kudlow, the director of the National Economic Council, said on Monday.

“Tariffs are suspended right now, that’s a good thing,” Mr. Kudlow said, also speaking on CNBC. “But you cannot remove tariffs as a negotiating tool or an enforcement tool from this process.”

U.S. Commerce chief to travel to China next week: Mnuchin | Reuters:

“Secretary Ross has to go over and turn that into a signed piece of paper with companies,” Mnuchin told reporters at the White House. “This is not a government-to-government purchase order, but we have an agreement with them as to what will be executed.”




2. Xi Convenes Two Day Meeting On The Battle Against Pollution

Fighting pollution is one of the "three tough battles", expect China to make real progress over the next several years now that it is a key political task and performance yardstick for cadres.

Xi vows tough battle against pollution to boost ecological advancement - Xinhua 

Xi said the country will channel more energy into promoting ecological civilization and resolving environmental problems, backed by the political advantages of the centralized and unified leadership of the CPC and the socialist system, as well as the achievements made during the 40 years of reform and opening-up.

Building an ecological civilization is of fundamental importance for the sustainable development of the Chinese nation, Xi said, noting that a great deal of work has been done since the 18th CPC National Congress to bring profound and historical changes regarding ecological and environment protection...

Despite overall improvement in China's ecological environment, Xi said the progress was not made in a firm manner.

The building of ecological civilization has entered a critical period, a period that requires more quality ecological goods to meet people's ever-growing demands for a beautiful environment, and a period when China is capable of addressing prominent ecological and environment issues, he said.

With the Chinese economy transitioning from high-speed growth to high-quality development, Xi said there will be conventional and unconventional challenges and difficulties. "We must bite the bullet and overcome them," he said...

Xi stressed the importance of strengthening the party's leadership in the urgent and tough battle against pollution.

Major leaders of local party committees and governments shall be held responsible for environmental protection in their own administrative regions, Xi said. A scientific and reasonable evaluation system will be established to assess the performance of officials, and those damaging the environment will be held accountable.

习近平:坚决打好污染防治攻坚战 推动生态文明建设迈上新台阶-新华网:






China Mulls Ban on Transporting Coal, Ore, Steel by Truck - Caixin Global:

The Ministry of Ecology and Environment has been considering a rule that coal must be transported on the country’s mostly electrified rail network by the end of September, banning the use of diesel-fueled trucks to make shipments, Caixin has learned from sources close to the matter.

The upcoming policy change is expected to bring about a significant chain reaction affecting not only truckers, but also coal mines, port operators and the railway system. However, obstacles such as the high cost of rail transport and that fact that the rail network doesn’t reach many smaller traders and manufacturers may hinder the reform.

Beijing sees April pollution levels rise as industry curbs end | Reuters:

Pollution levels in China’s capital Beijing rose by 20.8 percent year-on-year in April as industries, including steel, ramped up output following the lifting of winter curbs, according to official data released on Monday.

Xi’s green comments spark environmental stock rally - FT $$:

Although the president’s comments did not appear to include specific new measures, several environment-related stocks soared on Monday, implying some investors had taken the remarks seriously.

3. Merkel Goes To China Again

Will she push to have Liu Xia released from her illegal detention and allowed to return to Germany with her?

Trump trade threat looms large as Merkel heads to China | Reuters

“Trump’s policies have turned this fairly routine visit to mark the start of the new German government into one of special importance,” said Sebastian Heilmann, director of MERICS, a Berlin-based think tank on China.

A German diplomat described the trip as a “high-wire act” for the chancellor, who traveled to Washington last month to lobby Trump to stay in the Iran nuclear deal, only to see him withdraw days later and threaten sanctions against European firms that continue to respect it.

The trip will be Merkel’s eleventh to China since becoming chancellor in 2005. Accompanied by an industry delegation of roughly 20 German executives, she will hold a news conference with Chinese premier Li Keqiang on Thursday before attending a dinner hosted by President Xi Jinping.

Merkel to Seek China as Free-Trade Ally on Beijing Trip - Bloomberg:

“China and Germany are committed to the rules of the World Trade Organization, yet we will also talk about reciprocal access in trade and intellectual property issues,” Merkel said in her weekly podcast published Saturday. “And we want to strengthen multilateralism.”

Merkel plans to meet Xi and other Chinese leaders on May 24, followed by a stop in Shenzhen to tour sites including a Siemens AG facility

4. South China Sea Developments

Show of force? China lands bombers on South China Sea airfield - Defense News:

Video released by the ministry showed the bombers from the 36th Bomber Division of the People’s Liberation Army Air Force or PLAAF carrying out touch and go landings as well as missed approaches on the airfield. Based on the runway orientation and other infrastructure seen in the video, Defense News has verified that airfield is at Woody Island in the Paracels chain, and not the airfields China has built on the reclaimed islands in the disputed Spratly Islands further south.

Watch the official video of the landing and takeoff

Philippines takes 'appropriate action' over Chinese bombers in disputed South China Sea | Reuters:

The Philippines could not independently verify the presence of Chinese bombers in the South China Sea, said presidential spokesman Harry Roque.

“But we take note of the reports that appeared and we express our serious concerns anew on its impact to efforts to maintain peace and stability in the region,” Roque told a regular media briefing at the presidential palace.

With an eye on China, India to hold naval exercise with Vietnam - Times of India:

India will hold its first naval exercise with Vietnam next week, as part of the overall strategy to steadily build military ties with nations in the Asia Pacific region with an eye firmly on a confrontationist and expansionist China, even as defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman is slated to visit Hanoi next month.

Three Indian warships on operational deployment to South East Asia and North West Pacific region, stealth frigate INS Sahyadri, missile corvette INS Kamorta and fleet tanker INS Shakti, will enter the Tien Sa Port (Danang) on Monday.

Vietnam says Chinese bombers in disputed South China Sea increase tensions | Reuters:

The flights “increase tensions, cause regional instabilities and are not good for maintaining a peaceful, stable and cooperative environment in the East Sea,” foreign ministry spokeswoman Le Thi Thu Hang said in a statement, using the Vietnamese name for the South China Sea.

China’s Strategic Strait in the South China Sea | RealClearDefense:

At the strategic level, China’s creeping militarisation of the South China Sea gives it greater ability to control this vital waterway, potentially transforming it into what Richard Bitzinger refers to as a strategic strait that it would seek to control. This is occurring as Chinese academics are now promoting the idea of replacing the nine-dash line with a continuous boundary as part of a new ‘Four Sha’ doctrine.

That doctrine is changing how China views territorial disputes, moving from treating disputed islands as individual claims to regarding them as an integrated archipelagic body, with continuous baselines and their own exclusive economic zones. That would represent a new ambit claim that further contradicts the findings of the Permanent Court of Arbitration. A continuous boundary would expand China’s territorial claims effectively over the entirety of the South China Sea.

Island or Rock? Taiwan Defends Its Claim in South China Sea - The New York Times:

The largest natural feature of the Spratly Islands, the hotly disputed archipelago in the South China Sea, is a forested, sun-drenched oval of land, cleaved by a single runway that gives the place the appearance of a raw coffee bean floating in bright blue water.

Called Itu Aba, it is occupied not by China, which has aggressively asserted its territorial claims in the sea, but by its archrival, the self-governing democracy of Taiwan.

5. China Increasingly Desperate To Increase Birthrates

China Considers Ending Birth Limits as Soon as This Year - Bloomberg:

The State Council, China’s cabinet, has commissioned research on the repercussions of ending the country’s roughly four-decade-old policy and intends to enact the change nationwide, said the people, who asked not to be named while discussing government deliberations. The leadership wants to reduce the pace of aging in China’s population and remove a source of international criticism, one of the people said.

Proposals under discussion would replace the population-control policy with one called “independent fertility,” allowing people to decide how many children to have, the person said. The decision could be made as soon as the fourth quarter, the second person said, adding that the announcement might also be pushed into 2019...

"The policy shift will hardly boost the number of newborns in China," said Huang Wenzheng, a specially-invited senior researcher of Center for China and Globalization, a Beijing-based think tank."China’s number of births will continue to drop dramatically, considering a sharp decrease in the number of fertile women and declining fertility willingness. "

6. The Birth Of Westlake University

Cover story of this week's Caixin magazine is about the creation of Westlake University

China’s Westlake University Aims to Match Caltech - Caixin Global

Shi Yigong’s audacious vision for Westlake University as a magnet for China’s best and brightest is already beginning to take shape.

Two of the most recent additions to Shi’s faculty are neurobiology researcher Jia Jiemin, lured home last year from a Texas university, and diabetes researcher Wu Liangeng, who left a position at Harvard University in late 2017. Both in their late 30s, Jia and Wu are among a parade of young, foreign-trained scientists who are helping to build China’s first doctorate-granting private university in eastern China’s picturesque city of Hangzhou, Zhejiang province...

The founding team of Westlake decided to take a different approach from their private counterparts. They positioned the school as a high-level research institution dedicated to the public interest, rather than profit-seeking, according to the university’s charter.

The scholars’ plan was warmly welcomed by the Zhejiang government, which is seeking to create innovative impetus for the local economy. The government invited the institution with preferred policies and helped it win support in Beijing.

In January, Westlake won special approval from the national education authority to become a formal university. So far, the school has launched seven rounds of global head-hunting, attracting more than 4,000 applicants. From them, Westlake hired 40 academics to lead labs.


7. The Muzzling of He Weifang

Another great article by Chris Buckley, one has to ask how much longer Mr. He will be allowed to teach or remain free. 

Chinese Legal Maverick, Facing Political Gales, Bides His Time - The New York Times:

These are quiet but fretful days for He Weifang, who has spent two decades at the forefront of struggles for the rule of law in China. He may be China’s best known law professor; he is also, in many ways, persona non grata in his country.

Universities where students once thronged to hear his lectures cannot invite him. Newspapers that regularly published his columns and lionized him as a trailblazer cannot mention him. Frustrated by censors, he has mostly given up trying to speak out on China’s internet, where his dormant Weibo social media account still has nearly 1.9 million followers.

“It’s even become hard to publish papers in academic journals,” Mr. He said with a half-bemused shake of his head in a bookstore cafe near Peking University, where he has taught for 23 years. “The past five years have been really, really stifling.”

8. Snap CEO's Failed Cloning Of Chinese Apps

How Evan Spiegel Fumbled Snap’s Redesign — The Information $$:

Last fall, on a flight back from China, Evan Spiegel decided to remake Snapchat.

Inspired by apps he’d seen in that country, Mr. Spiegel wanted to create a new version separating users’ friends’ content from the professional media. Each category would be sorted by an algorithm rather than Snapchat’s existing chronological feed. Huddling on the plane with one of his top designers, Will Wu, Mr. Spiegel hashed out a design for the future of the app.

Business, Economy, Finance And Trade

China will actively and steadily deleverage, tackle risks -sources | Reuters The sources cited the country’s five-year plan (2016-2020) for the financial sector which has been a major focus for regulators as they look to rein in shadow banking activity, improve transparency in funding sources and generally reduce a dangerous build-up of debt across the economy. China will boost the role of price-based monetary policy targets with interest rates as core, according to two sources with knowledge of the matter and a document seen by Reuters. The sources were quoting the plan jointly issued by the People’s Bank of China, financial regulators and other government agencies.

Hainan Starts Picking Regulators for Horse Racing, Lotteries - Caixin Global The province’s Department of Culture, Radio, Television, Publication and Sports has been charged with developing racetracks and related tourism and commercial facilities, according to official media outlet China News, which cited official documents issued at a press conference over the weekend.

Regulators Step Up Supervision as Bond Default Risks Rise - Caixin Global The National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), which is responsible for monitoring foreign bond sales, recently hauled in eight companies and intermediaries for failing to register offshore sales by their overseas subsidiaries and branches, according to a notice posted on the commission’s website on Friday.  The commission warned it will take a harsher stance against companies that continue to fail to register their offshore bond issuances. Depending on the severity of the noncompliance, issuers may find themselves added to an industry blacklist and have the offense recorded in the national credit information system, the NDRC said, without giving further details.

PBOC Loosens Cross-border Capital Flows to Boost Financial Opening - China Banking News On 18 May the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) issued the “Notice Concerning Arrangements to Further Improve Cross-border Fund Flow Management and Support Financial Market Opening” (关于进一步完善跨境资金流动管理 支持金融市场开放有关事宜的通知). The Notice stipulates that offshore RMB clearing banks may engage in interbank borrowing and lending, cross-border account financing and interbank bond market repo transactions under the existing policy framework, in order to provide greater liquidity support to offshore RMB operations.

Beijing Intensifies Real Estate Market Controls with Six New Measures - China Banking News On 19 May MOHURD once again announced that real estate control targets will remain unchanged and that their intensity will not be relaxed, proposing six new measures for further intensifying control policies. Since the start of 2018 MOHURD has repeatedly stressed the need to maintain the municipal real estate market controls first launched by local governments in early 2017.

Firms in Beijing seek domestic helpers from poor areas amid shortage - ECNS More housekeeping companies in Beijing are hiring people directly from poverty-stricken areas as the capital experiences a shortage of 400,000 to 500,000 domestic helpers, Beijing Youth reported. The caregiver supply to demand ratio is currently about 1-to-8, with skilled helpers for new mothers, babies and the elderly in high demand.

Default Jitters in China's Bond Market Are Crimping Note Sales - Bloomberg Corporate defaults are piling up in China’s onshore bond market as a government crackdown on leverage chokes financing for private-sector companies. At least 14 bonds have missed payments so far this year. Among the six first-time defaulters in 2018, four were listed firms, according to Bloomberg-compiled data.

China's Got a $46,000 Wealth Gap Problem - Bloomberg While residents in Shanghai and Beijing are almost as well off as those in Switzerland by some income measures, parts of the country live more like they were in Guatemala.

Trump Takes Aim at Chinese Loans to Poor Nations - Bloomberg Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin has raised U.S. concerns about the risk that countries will default on their Chinese loans at IMF meetings last month and during a G-20 conference in March. Mnuchin, the IMF and the World Bank have asked China to join the Paris Club, a group of creditors that specializes in loans to governments and requires both its members and their debtors to adhere to transparency standards

Opening of Chinese Financial Sector Requires Reciprocity: CBIRC - China Banking News A senior official from China’s banking and insurance regulator says that the country’s opening of its finance sector will entail reciprocal measures on the part of other economies. “Our country’s opening must be based on the principle of equality and mutual benefit,” said Chen Wenhui, vice-chair of the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission, at a forum over the weekend.


Politics, Law And Ideology

China introduces measures to motivate officials - Xinhua The General Office of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee Sunday published a guideline to promote competent officials, encourage their initiative, and improve their welfare...CPC Central Committee stressed that officials will be allowed to make mistakes when they try to push forward reforms and test new policies. Officials who make mistakes due to a lack of experience or precedents at work are different from those who break Party rules and law, the document said. Those who make mistakes when trying to do a better job are different from those breaking rules to seek personal gain, it added.// 中共中央办公厅印发《关于进一步激励广大干部新时代新担当新作为的意见》 

U.S. arrest, raids in Seattle pot probe with China ties | The Spokesman-Review Authorities are still searching for two men who are suspected of leading a crime ring that used hundreds of thousands of dollars wired from China to grow marijuana illegally in 17 homes around Washington state and then shipped it to New York’s black market, the Seattle Times reported. Agents arrested Seattle resident Xiamin Huang, 37, and are looking for her husband and his brother, Qifeng Li and Qiwei Li.

Social credit system must bankrupt discredited people: former official - Global Times An improved social credit system was needed so that "discredited people become bankrupt," Hou Yunchun, former deputy director of the development research center of the State Council, was quoted as saying by Sina Finance at an annual credit development forum in Beijing on Saturday.

Popular Uyghur Singer’s Whereabouts Unknown, Believed Detained in Xinjiang Re-Education Camp - RFA Ablajan Ayup, 34, known as the “Uyghur Justin Bieber,” was taken into custody by a state security unit in the XUAR capital Urumqi on Feb. 15 as he returned from Shanghai, where he had traveled to perform as part of a music tour, a friend told RFA’s Uyghur Service, speaking on condition of anonymity.

One of his music videos, on Youtube:

China highlights core socialist values ahead of Children's Day - Xinhua China will hold activities to mark International Children's Day on June 1, highlighting a public education campaign advocating socialist core values among Chinese children. The activities should meet the needs for "fostering a new generation capable of shouldering the mission of national rejuvenation, and cultivating and observing core socialist values," said a circular by eight authorities, including the All China Women's Federation (ACWF) and the Ministry of Education, which was made public Monday.

Government-run website opens for public to seek legal service - Xinhua Citizens can contact lawyers entrusted by the ministry for legal advice and search information about legal aid, mediation and other judicial services at the website "," according to a ministry press release.

China calls on all mosques to raise national flag - AFP All Chinese mosques should raise the national flag to "promote a spirit of patriotism" among Muslims, the country's top Islamic regulatory body has declared, as the Communist Party seeks to tighten its grip on religion. Flags should be hung in a "prominent position" in all mosque courtyards, the China Islamic Association said in a letter published Saturday on its website.

State Council’s poverty alleviation group membership reshuffled - According to the circular, Vice-Premier Hu Chunhua will sit at the helm of the new lineup as the group head, flanked by 10 deputy heads — Gao Yu, a member of the Leading Party Members’ Group of the State Council; Liu Yongfu, head of the State Council Leading Group Office of Poverty Alleviation and Development; Li Xiaoxin, a member of the Organization Department of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China; Han Jun, a vice-minister at the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs and deputy head of the Office of the Central Rural Work Leading Group; Lin Nianxiu, a deputy head of the National Development and Reform Commission; Tang Chengpei, a vice-minister at the Ministry of Civil Affairs; Hu Jinglin, a vice-minister at the Ministry of Finance; Yu Xinrong, a vice-minister at the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs; Pan Gongsheng, a deputy governor of the People’s Bank of China, and Wang Jianwu, a deputy head of the Political Work Department of the Central Military Commission.


Foreign and Military Affairs

Chinese VP Wang Qishan to visit Russia, Belarus - CGTN Chinese Vice President Wang Qishan is going to visit Russia and the Republic of Belarus from May 24 to 29, Chinese Foreign Ministry announced on Monday. Wang will attend the 22nd St. Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF) that will take place from May 24 to 26 at Expoforum, Saint Petersburg during his visit. // Comment: Interesting choice for his first visit in this role

How Chinese mining in the Himalayas may create a new military flashpoint with India | South China Morning Post: Although mining has been going on in the world’s highest mountain range for thousands of years, the challenge of accessing the remote terrain and concerns about environmental damage had until now limited the extent of the activities. The unprecedented scale of the new mines follows years of heavy investment by the Chinese government in roads and other infrastructure in the area. People familiar with the project say the mines are part of an ambitious plan by Beijing to reclaim South Tibet, a sizeable chunk of disputed territory currently under Indian control. ..

Iran’s top envoy to China calls on Beijing to help safeguard nuclear deal  | South China Morning Post The nation’s ambassador to China Ali Asghar Khaji said Beijing had a positive role to play in upholding the deal, and should boost economic cooperation with Tehran.  He also said the Iranian foreign minister chose Beijing as his first stop on a whirlwind diplomatic tour last week because of China’s “importance” to Iran.

China and the International Order | RAND This report offers four major findings about the relationship of China to the international order. First, China's behavior over the past two decades does not mark it as an opponent or saboteur of the order, but rather as a conditional supporter. Since China undertook a policy of international engagement in the 1980s, the level and quality of its participation in the order rivals that of most other states. Second, looking forward, the posture China takes toward the institutions, norms, and rules of a shared order is now in significant flux; various outcomes — from continued qualified support to more-aggressive challenges — are possible. Third, partly because of this uncertainty, a strengthened and increasingly multilateral international order can provide a critical tool for the United States and other countries to shape and constrain rising Chinese power. Finally, modifications to the order on the margins in response to Chinese preferences pose less of a threat to a stable international system than a future in which China is alienated from that system. However, these modifications must be governed by strictly articulated end-points.

China Agrees to Buy Complex Near Tower of London for Embassy - Bloomberg The sale price for the complex, which includes the former Royal Mint, wasn’t disclosed in a statement Friday from the vendors, Delancey and LRC Group. The site, across from the Tower of London, has planning approval to build more office space than the nearby Gherkin skyscraper, as well as retail space.

Cleared of Spying for China, She Still Doesn’t Have Her Job Back - The New York Times Three years ago, the Justice Department dropped espionage-related charges against Sherry Chen, a Chinese-American hydrologist at the National Weather Service, clearing her of accusations that she had used a stolen password to download information about the nation’s dams and lied about a meeting with a high-ranking Chinese official. But Ms. Chen still can’t get back to work. Even though her name was cleared, her employers at the Commerce Department — which oversees the National Weather Service — continue to press their case that Ms. Chen be fired for many of the same charges she was exonerated of, according to two people familiar with the case but not authorized to speak about it publicly.

Railroaded: The Chinese High-Speed Train Network No One Else Really Wants - WSJ Chinese diplomats are “making the sales pitch everywhere,” said Jonathan Hillman, a fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a U.S. think tank. In doing so, they don’t always pause to consider whether the countries they’re pitching high-speed rail to really need it, he said. Thailand and Laos are the only places where China is making concrete progress, and in these countries Chinese officials needed a decade of negotiations to extract firm commitments from their reluctant counterparts.

PLA marches on social media to gain public support - People's Daily Online On Sunday, PLA Ground Forces launched their official Wechat and Sina Weibo accounts, making it the second Chinese military force to join social media after the PLA Air Forces made their online debut back in 2015. The Weibo account has attracted over 250,000 followers in just one day, while the video clip showcasing PLA’s combat capabilities has garnered over 20 million views as of press time.

DoD, White House Likely To Fight Chinese Monopoly on Rare Earth Minerals « Breaking Defense - Defense industry news, analysis and commentary With an Executive Order and a new study due soon that promises to take a hard line against Chinese imports, the Trump administration is opening a new front, while protecting the US defense industry.

CPC dialogue with world political parties to highlight opening-up policy, political firmness - Global Times The event will include a conference discussing Guangdong's practice of the Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era and a seminar to commemorate the 200th birth anniversary of Karl Marx. "The agenda shows that China's ideology and governing philosophy will not be weakened with the opening-up policy," said Song Luzheng, a France-based scholar and research fellow at Fudan University's China Institute. The second China-CELAC Political Parties Forum, the forth Africa-China Young Leaders Forum and the first political parties forum of countries from the Shanghai Cooperation Organization are also expected to be held.


Hong Kong, Macao

Hong Kong localist Edward Leung convicted of rioting over Mong Kok unrest | Hong Kong Free Press HKFP A nine-person jury has unanimously found localist Edward Leung guilty of rioting over his participation in the 2016 Mong Kok unrest, but not guilty of inciting a riot. He faces up to a decade behind bars.


Tech And Media

China's Digital Game Sector | U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission China’s digital game market has emerged as the largest in the world but remains heavily restricted to U.S. game companies. U.S. companies are required to license their games to Chinese operators who appear to claim a majority of the revenue a U.S. game earns in China. Intellectual property rights conditions in China create significant challenges for U.S. firms, facilitating piracy in other international markets through China’s manufacture of piracy-enabling devices and restricting the commercial viability of certain gaming genres and platforms within China due to widespread piracy. Chinese companies have acquired several foreign game companies, raising data privacy concerns given the power of the Chinese government to request information from domestic companies and the broad array of data that can be collected by mobile games.

Want to Invest in Jack Ma? Avoid Alibaba’s Rivals - WSJ Ant Financial Services Group, a financial-technology juggernaut controlled by billionaire Jack Ma, is preparing to close a $10 billion private fundraising round that would value the Hangzhou-based company at $150 billion, according to people familiar with the matter. As part of the deal, investors putting money into Ant have to agree not to invest in or raise their stakes in companies controlled by major rivals such as social-media giant Tencent Holdings Ltd. and online retailer Inc., the people said...Investment firm Tiger Global Management LLC dropped out of the fundraising because it found the terms unacceptable

Baidu Shares Sink After Key Executive Steps Aside - Caixin Global Lu Qi, a Microsoft Corp. veteran, can no longer work full-time in China for “personal and family reasons,” according to a company statement on Friday.  The 56-year-old is a noted expert in artificial intelligence who graduated from Carnegie Mellon University in the U.S. He joined Baidu as president and chief operating officer in January 2017, repositioning the struggling search giant’s business to focus on artificial intelligence (AI), cloud computing and autonomous driving.

China's Online 'Baoman' Community Shut Down: Behind Rage Comics (Baozou Manhua) | What's on Weibo Among the banned Weibo accounts are @Baozoumanhua (@暴走漫画), @Baozoudashijian (@暴走大事件), @HuangJiguang (@黄继光砸缸) and @DongCunRuiattheoffice (@办公室的董存瑞) – all very popular channels through which China’s so-called ‘Rage Comics’ are created and spread. The ban also goes beyond Weibo, affecting Rage Comics accounts on Q&A platform, video-streaming sites Youku and iQIYI, and official Baozou Manhua websites.

Four of the top 25 Github projects are written in Chinese, six contain no code — Quartz While China has blocked access to Github in the past, the restriction is usually temporary. At least one project has been blocked only to users in China. In one project, a Chinese Github user documented the timeline of a sex abuse case related a professor at a prominent Chinese university. Chinese censors blocked and deleted information about the incident on Chinese websites. The Github project is still online. There was even a discussion of the allegations on a page of the project normally used for tracking bugs and organizing future work.


Society, Art, Sports, Culture And History

Why China loves Jane Eyre, whether as a feminist manifesto, a history of colonialism or just a simple children’s bedtime story | South China Morning Post Shouhua Qi, English professor at Western Connecticut State University and co-editor of the book The Brontë Sisters in Other Wor(l)ds, says the story really begins with the television film of the novel directed by Delbert Mann. Starring Susannah York and George C. Scott, it was released in the UK in 1970. “The film was dubbed secretly into Chinese in 1975 during the Cultural Revolution by the storied Shanghai Film Dubbing Studio and was finally screened publicly in 1979,” Qi says. “At this time, China was opening to the outside world, and all things Western were gushing in. A renaissance of learning was sweeping the country, with a frenzied reading of books, both Chinese and Western classics, that had been banned during the Cultural Revolution.”

‘Imperial Twilight’ Review: An Explosive Mix of Trade and Politics - WSJ $$ As Stephen R. Platt describes in his masterly “Imperial Twilight: The Opium War and the End of China’s Last Golden Age,” Chinese commerce with Western countries has been consistently defined by the dynamics of flattery and scorn, wonder and chastisement, fairness and greed. Mr. Platt, a historian at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, is careful not to project the concerns of the present back onto the past. But the resonances are inescapable, and his book is important reading not only for those interested in China’s history but also for anyone seeking to understand the explosive intersection between trade and politics today. //The book here on Amazon. Mine arrived Sunday, very much looking forward to it.

Archaeologist Who Uncovered China's 8,000-Man Terra Cotta Army Dies At 82 - NPR Zhao Kangmin first laid eyes on fragments of terra cotta warriors in 1974. Farmers some 20 miles from China's central city of Xi'an were digging a well and struck into the pieces. They had no idea what they had found — an army that had been interred for more than 2,000 years to guard China's first emperor.


Energy, Environment, Science And Health

China Launches Relay Satellite for Mission to Moon's Far Side - Queqiao is now its way to the Earth-moon Lagrange point-2, a gravitationally stable spot about 40,000 miles (64,000 kilometers) beyond the lunar far side. The satellite will set up shop there and wait for China's robotic Chang'e 4 lander-rover spacecraft, which is expected to launch in November or December.


Books And Literature

Before the Revolution | by Louisa Chiang | The New York Review of Books In the last ten years, there have been signs in China that a growing number of people want to move beyond the look-up-or-look-down trap, and the popularity of Eileen Chang’s novel Little Reunions is one of them. Finished in 1976 but not published until 2009, fourteen years after her death, the book sold 700,000 copies in China in its first six months of publication. It is Chang’s most autobiographical work, so some of its allure has been as a trove of clues to the author’s life. More than that, though, the novel recalls a vanished China of the 1930s and 1940s that was both rooted in Chinese culture and open to the West; its scenes offer an antidote to the mood of indignant rivalry and, at least in the imagination, an alternative to the Xi Jinping version of what it means to be a modern Chinese