Discover more from Sinocism
US-China; Xinhua & CGTN to register as foreign agents in US; Wishful thinking about Xi and the CCP; Alibaba's honey badger for chips; Deleveraging vs stimulus? ; Private capital for central SOEs
Good morning from Sinocism.
President Trump has not yet followed through on his threat that “if China takes retaliatory action against our farmers or other industries, we will immediately pursue phase three, which is tariffs on approximately $267 billion of additional imports” but I expect we will hear about it this next round very soon.
The Chinese side has still not said anything publicly about Liu He’s possible visit to DC, but really why would he make the pilgrimage again in this environment?
I do not have much in the way of commentary today so let’s get right to it.
Thanks for reading.
The Essential Eight
Mr Xi’s initial misreading of his US counterpart contributed to grumbles by some officials and intellectuals over the summer. But he has shown no sign of backing down and could well benefit politically from attacks by an external enemy at a time when he faces mounting internal problems.
The latest duties are “a clear sign that Trump is trying to suppress China and using tariffs as a tool”, said Zhu Feng, dean of the School of International Relations at Nanjing University. “This will enrage the Chinese government.”..
Privately, some Chinese entrepreneurs add that the trade war will trigger further political tightening and put them in the Communist party’s crosshairs.
“Recent fluctuations in the renminbi exchange rate have been seen as an intentional measure, but that isn’t true,” Li said in a keynote speech at the World Economic Forum in Tianjin on Wednesday. “One-way devaluation will do more harm than good to China’s economy. China will by no means stimulate exports by devaluing the yuan.”
WASHINGTON — President Trump is confident that the United States is winning its trade war with China. But on both sides of the Pacific, a bleaker recognition is taking hold: The world’s two largest economies are in the opening stages of a new economic Cold War, one that could persist long after Mr. Trump is out of office.
“This thing will last long,” Jack Ma, the billionaire chairman of Alibaba Group, warned a meeting of investors on Tuesday in Hangzhou, China. “If you want a short-term solution, there is no solution.”
Comment: I am not using the term "cold war" to describe the state of US-China relations. We need something more accurate, the situation is in many ways far more complex than the US-USSR cold war.
China will find a way to benefit from the tariff spat with Washington, state-owned media outlets said, reiterating Beijing's defiance in the face of fresh U.S. trade measures.
"To deal with the trade war, what China really should do is to focus on doing its own thing well," said the People's Daily, a mouthpiece of the ruling Chinese Communist Party, on Wednesday.
“Many foreign business people and politicians have underestimated the determination of Chinese people to support the government in a trade war,” said Mu, vice chairman of Yihai Kerry, owned by Singapore-based Wilmar International (WLIL.SI)…
Just one prong of the strategy Mu detailed - to slash soymeal content in pig feed - could obliterate Chinese demand for U.S. soybeans if broadly adopted, according to Reuters calculations.
Cutting the soy ration for hogs from the typical 20 percent to 12 percent would equate to a demand reduction of up to 27 million tonnes of soybeans per year – an amount equal to 82 percent of Chinese soy imports from the United States last year. Chinese farmers could cut soymeal rations by nearly half without harming hogs’ growth, experts and academics said.
And then that trade would never come back…
While China’s levy is less than the 25% it proposed last month, the tariff still brings additional pressure to bear on the U.S. gas industry, which is competing with Russia, Australia and Qatar for market share in China, the world’s biggest buyer. Just last year, American officials were courting Chinese companies to invest in new export projects.
China must plug loopholes in the way it applies rules on subsidies and technology transfer to address complaints from the United States and the European Union, a former central bank chief said on Wednesday...
Zhou Xiaochuan, addressing a seminar at the Center for Trade and Economic Integration in Geneva, said it would be possible to achieve consensus on reform of the World Trade Organization, a target of U.S. President Donald Trump, who says the global body does not give the United States a fair deal.
“Divorce will see a huge shift in supply chains,” said Michael Every, head of Asia financial markets research at Rabobank in Hong Kong. “Vietnam and Thailand and maybe India win. So will Mexico. The U.S. will win geo-strategically by hollowing out China as it has been hollowed out, preventing the Made in China 2025 plan and fracturing the world into a China and U.S. camp with more limited economic connections. It’s a win for U.S. power.”
“One goal of U.S. officials is to use tariffs to incentivize U.S. firms to pull their supply chains outside of China, though this isn’t a uniform view within the administration,” said Michael Hirson, Asia director at Eurasia Group. “The ideal would be to bring production back to the U.S. Some officials would be happy with U.S. firms simply moving to other countries and not having their supply chains so concentrated in China. That’s especially true in high-tech sectors.”
Darrell Issa, from California, and Todd Rokita, of Indiana, called on China to stop “stealing and cheating” and urged the government to take timely actions that would allow a ceasefire in the trade war with the United States.
Their ad hoc press conference on the sidelines of the forum was not on the official schedule and attendees received an email during Li’s speech to say it would occur less than 30 minutes after the premier’s address.
The two congressmen voiced strong support for the Trump administration’s trade confrontation with China.
Mr. Li’s speech, in which he also reiterated promises to lower tariffs and improve the business environment for foreign companies, fell short of what some in the audience were looking for.
“We’ve heard this before,” said Wendy Cutler, a former negotiator in the office of the U.S. Trade Representative and managing director at Asia Society Policy Institute. “All the buzzwords were there but now the administration is looking for details, not just a general statement.”
At the congressmen’s news conference, after panning Mr. Li’s remarks, the mood turned combative. Mr. Issa interrupted a Chinese reporter who described President Trump as a climate-change skeptic and cut off a question by another Chinese journalist asking whether President Trump would be impeached.
2. Xinhua and CGTN must register In US as foreign agents
Russia's RT has long been registered under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA), but the political will in DC to force the PRC entities into compliance with the law was not there previously. Clearly something has changed...And this might make things awkward for some of the US citizen employees who don’t want any perceived taint that comes from working for a FARA registered foreign entity...
The Justice Department ordered two leading Chinese state-run media organizations to register as foreign agents, according to people familiar with the matter, as U.S. officials ramp up efforts to combat foreign influence operations and toughen their stance on a variety of China policies.
The DOJ in recent weeks told Xinhua News Agency and China Global Television Network—known as CGTN now and earlier as CCTV—to register under a previously obscure foreign lobbying law that gained prominence when it was used in the past year against associates of President Donald Trump, including Mr. Trump’s former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, the people said.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said that Beijing had “contacted and communicated” with the U.S. side over the issue, but gave no details.
“Media serve as an important bridge and link to help the people from different countries to better understand and communicate with each other,” Geng told reporters at a daily briefing. “We should provide convenience for media’s normal works instead of posing obstacles, still less politicizing their role.”
3. Wishful and incorrect thinking about Xi and the CCP
Deng Yuwen writes in the New York Times Chinese edition that the idea promoted by many on the overseas dissident/activist community that the CCP is on the verge of collapse or that Xi is incompetent and weakened are wrong, and based on bad information and wishful thinking...I hope the NYT translates this into English
4. Human Rights with Chinese characteristics
Consistent with its ambitions to play a central role in leading the international order, China is emerging as a pivotal player in the international human rights system. In the past few years, China has shifted from its traditionally more defensive posture to a more activist role, particularly on the U.N. Human Rights Council. This stems from a two-part strategy that seeks to 1) block international criticism of its repressive human rights record, and 2) promote orthodox interpretations of national sovereignty and noninterference in internal affairs that weaken international norms of human rights, transparency, and accountability. While these goals are not new, the more proactive tactics that Chinese officials are using, especially since the reappointment of Premier Xi Jinping, suggest the start of a more wholesale campaign to reshape the rules and instruments of the international human rights system
Huang Kunming, a member of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and head of the Publicity Department of the CPC Central Committee, made the remarks in a speech at this year's Beijing Forum on Human Rights, which opened Tuesday.
Noting that "to respect and protect human rights has been a consistent stance and proposition of the CPC and Chinese government," Huang said that over the last 40 years, China had combined common principles in human rights protection with the country's reality.
"The understanding of human rights has been deepened, and practices in this regard expanded," Huang said. "Also, as the world's biggest developing country, China has always been a vigorous proponent and strong promoter in the global poverty reduction cause."
5. Alibaba's Honey Badger going after semiconductors
Jack Ma knows political and economic opportunity..
Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba Group Holding unveiled on Wednesday its ambitious plans to develop a proprietary artificial intelligence (AI) chipset, and it said it will establish a semiconductor company to meet this goal.
The chip company is to be called Pingtouge, a name chosen by Jack Ma Yun, founder of Alibaba. The name is also the nickname of honey badger, a fearless animal that dares to challenge other, larger creatures.
The Hangzhou-based company will produce its first neural network chip in the second half of next year with an internally developed technology platform and a synergized ecosystem, Zhang Jianfeng, head of Alibaba's DAMO Academy, said in a statement sent to the Global Times. The move will boost China's domestic semiconductor industry, he said.
Alibaba Executive Chairman Jack Ma has been vocal about addressing China's heavy reliance on foreign-made chips.
"The market for chips is controlled by America ... and suddenly if they stop selling, what that means, you understand," Ma told university students in Tokyo in April. "That's why China, Japan and any country — you need core technologies."
U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Susan Collins (R-ME), Mark Warner (D-VA), James Lankford (R-OK), and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) today introduced the ZTE Enforcement Review and Oversight (ZERO) Act, a bipartisan bill to enforce full compliance by ZTE, a Chinese state-directed telecommunications firm that repeatedly violated U.S. laws, with all probationary conditions in the Commerce Department’s deal to lift the denial order’s seven-year ban against the export of U.S. parts and components to ZTE. If the Commerce Secretary cannot regularly certify ZTE’s full compliance with the deal and with relevant U.S. export controls and sanctions laws, the denial order’s crippling punishments will be reinstated against ZTE.
Alibaba’s executive chairman told investors at an event in the e-commerce giant’s home city of Hangzhou on Tuesday that his coming retirement had been planned for a decade. The timing of the announcement earlier this month that Mr. Ma, 54, would hand over the reins to Chief Executive Officer Daniel Zhang next September caught many by surprise.
Chinese government officials, he said, called him to ask “ ‘Are you crazy,’ ‘What happened?’ ‘Is it something painful?’ ‘Or some disease or what?’ I said, no!” he said during a speech at Alibaba’s headquarters. “I’ve also got rumors from outside China, saying, ‘It’s because the government wants to push you down.’ Nobody can, if you don’t want to leave, right? I know it’s nothing about the politics or government.”
6. More measures to keep economy on track during trade war
China will roll out new measures including cutting customs clearance time, streamlining port services and improving the export tax rebate policy to increase opening up and facilitate the steady growth of foreign trade, the State Council's executive meeting chaired by Premier Li Keqiang decided on Tuesday.
Premier Li Keqiang also stressed the imperative for further opening up when meeting the press earlier this year after the National People's Congress.
"The growth of foreign trade directly bears on boosting economic growth and upgrading domestic consumption. It is important to further improve current policies regarding export tax rebate and financial services," Li said.
"As infrastructure investment growth slowed and investment in new projects plunged, it is necessary to ramp up the effort to fix weak areas in infrastructure and ensure stable and effective investment," said Liu Shihu, an investment official at NDRC.
In the first eight months of 2018, China's fixed-asset investment was up 5.3 percent from the same period of last year, slowing from 5.5 percent in the January-July period. Planned investment in new projects is down 18.3 percent and 28.1 percent for infrastructure.
The northeastern cities of Jiangsu and Changchun, as well as Shenzhen in the south, last month announced plans to spend the equivalent of billions of dollars boosting their underground systems by a total of around 1,600 kilometers (1,000 miles), gobbling up steel as they expand.
While on Tuesday, the top state planner said it would ramp up investment in infrastructure and accelerate spending on projects that have already been approved, as the nation tries to spur economic growth amid a festering trade war with Washington.
In an article entitled “Control the Three Main Forms of Macro-leverage, Advance High-quality Economic Growth” (控制三大主体宏观杠杆率 推动经济高质量发展) published by PBOC’s Financial News, Xu Beibei ( 徐贝贝) points out that “China’s economic structural adjustments and reforms face new challenges following the emergence of external pressures such as instability in emerging financial markets and Sino-US trade frictions.”
The publication of the PBOC article arrives following a shift in the central bank’s monetary policy stance to “rationally ample” from “rationally stable,” as well as the flagging of more robust stimulus measures and credit extension by Beijing to shore up the Chinese economy amidst escalating Sino-US trade tensions.
The PBOC article nonetheless reiterates the need to drive further deleveraging in the government, state-owned enterprise and real estate sectors.
7. Private companies not deleveraging
While the overall debt ratio for state-owned enterprises (SOEs) has fallen marginally, the figure for private industrial companies has shot up, according to the report released Tuesday by Center for National Balance Sheet at the National Institution for Finance and Development.
The debt-to-asset ratio at private industrial companies climbed to 55.8% at the end of June from 51.6% at the end of 2017, the highest percentage in data going back to 2014, the report showed. But over the same period, the ratio at SOEs dropped to 65.0% from 65.7%.
The report's authors attributed the deteriorating performance of private companies to two main factors — an increase in financing costs caused by the deleveraging drive, and an erosion in profitability due to a government campaign to curb overcapacity which has boosted commodity prices. Although that's helped increase profits at SOEs who dominate commodity and heavy-industry sectors, known as upstream industries, it's hurt earnings at private companies who are further down the industrial chain, the report said.
And the cash-rich private firms may be "invited" to invest in central SOEs..
China is encouraging centrally administrated SOEs to explore feasible paths for mixed-ownership reforms at the group level, according to a document published Tuesday on the website of the National Development and Reform Commission, the country’s top economic planning agency.
The official statement, which was formalized in November, marked the first time that the Chinese authorities had specifically mentioned central SOEs in regard to mixed-ownership reform at the group level.
In recent years, mixed-ownership reform has become a buzzword in China, as the central government attempts to make the state-run sector more dynamic and efficient by bringing in private-sector investment and management for SOEs, many of which operate in state-monopolized sectors such as power, railways, and telecommunications.
8. Suspicion of China in Pakistan
Security along the planned economic corridor has for years been a priority for the military, and the burned schools are all close to the locations of major C.P.E.C. infrastructure projects.
That proximity has led some residents and security analysts here to wonder whether the only reason that Pakistani security forces surged here after the fires was to protect the economic interests.
Distrust and resentment of the military runs so deep that some speculated that Pakistani forces have used the fires as a pretext to start a broader crackdown within the economic development zone.
Today, China is at risk of inadvertently embarking on its own colonial adventure in Pakistan— the biggest recipient of BRI investment and once the East India Company’s old stamping ground. Pakistan’s leaders have described their relationship with China as that of “iron brothers” with ties that are “higher than the Himalayas, deeper than the deepest ocean and sweeter than honey”.
But this hyperbolic rhetoric masks the fact that Pakistan is now virtually a client state of China. Many within the country worry openly that its reliance on Beijing is already turning it into a colony of its huge neighbour. The risks that the relationship could turn problematic are greatly increased by Beijing’s ignorance of how China is perceived abroad and its reluctance to study history through a non-ideological lens.
Together with the new Pakistani government, China is willing to promote their friendly relations further, make every effort to promote the construction of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), and better benefit the two nations, Zhang said.
General Zhang Youxia added that the relations between Chinese and Pakistani militaries serve as an important backbone of the relations between the two countries. The two militaries should further enhance pragmatic cooperation in all areas, continuously improve the ability to cope with various security risks and challenges, and work together to safeguard the common interests of the two countries.
Xi also met with the Pakistani Army Chief--习近平会见巴基斯坦陆军参谋长巴杰瓦 - 中华人民共和国国防部
Business, Economy, Finance And Trade
China Cuts U.S. Treasury Holdings as Trade War Intensifies - Bloomberg “It doesn’t surprise me, given the weakening of the yuan over the course of the month of July,” said John Briggs, head of strategy for the Americas. “They could be diversifying their holdings, of course, but that could be the reason.”
Real Estate Assets of China's Listed Banks Could Exceed $1.02 Trillion - China Banking News Mid-year financial reports indicate that as of the end of the first half of 2018 the self-owned “real estate-related fixed assets” (including houses, and buildings, projects under construction and houses undergoing refurbishment) (“涉房固定资产”(含房屋及建筑物、在建工程以及房屋装修)) of 26 listed Chinese banks had a net value of 622.7 billion yuan, as compared to an original value of nearly 900 billion yuan, according to a report from Securities Daily . The report claims, however that “conservative estimates” would put the actual market value of these assets as high as 4.5 trillion yuan, or nearly 4 trillion yuan higher than the value reflected by official financial statements. Securities Daily further claims that if the off-balance sheet real estate assets of China’s listed banks are included, their total housing-related fixed assets could run to as high as 7 trillion yuan.
Awakening Governance: ACGA China Corporate Governance Report 2018 This report is written for both a domestic and international audience. Our aim is to describe in as fair and factual a manner as possible the system of corporate governance in China, highlighting what is unique, what looks the same but is different, and areas of genuine similarity with other major securities markets. The main part of the report focuses on “Chinese characteristics” and looks at the role of Party organisations/committees, the board of directors, supervisory boards, independent directors, SOEs vs POEs, and audit committees/auditing. Each chapter explains the current legal and regulatory basis for the governance institution described, the particular challenges that companies and investors face, and concludes with suggestions for next steps. Our intention has been to craft recommendations that are practical and anchored firmly in the current CG system in China—in other words, that are implementable by companies and institutional investors. We hope the suggestions, and indeed this report, will be viewed as a constructive contribution to the development of China’s capital market.
A Chinese Company Reshaping the World Leaves a Troubled Trail - Bloomberg State-owned CCCC, one of the world’s largest companies with annual revenue greater than Procter & Gamble Co. or FedEx Corp., says its portfolio of 700 projects in more than 100 countries outside China has a value of more than $100 billion. That makes it the largest Belt and Road contractor, according to RWR Advisory Group in Washington, which tracks Chinese investments abroad for government and corporate clients. It is also one of the most vexed. CCCC and its subsidiaries have left a trail of controversy in many of the countries where they operate.
Hillhouse Capital Closes Oversubscribed $10.6B New Fund – China Money Network Investment firm Hillhouse Capital today announced the final closing of its new fund, Hillhouse Fund IV, L.P., heavily oversubscribed with commitments of US$10.6 billion. The new fund will seek investment opportunities across the healthcare, consumer, technology and services sectors globally, with a focus on Asia, the company said in a statement.
HNA chairman’s family tightens grip on Chinese group’s reins | Financial Times $$ Mr Chen’s son, Daniel Chen, has been elected to the HNA Group board of directors, the company announced on Tuesday. The company also said Dennis Chen, nephew of the 65-year-old chairman, has been named vice-president of the group.
Analysts Suspended After Racy Client Party Video Goes Viral - Bloomberg Two analysts at a major Chinese brokerage were suspended on Tuesday after a racy video of them partying with clients went viral, underscoring concern that some sell-side researchers are going too far to win votes for the country’s most important analyst ranking. Founder Securities Co., a Chinese partner of Credit Suisse Group AG, suspended the analysts after a preliminary investigation, citing video and photos that brought “severe damage” to the firm’s reputation. The analysts were also barred from this year’s New Fortune research contest, a hyper-competitive Chinese version of the Institutional Investor research poll.
Politics, Law And Ideology
中共中央党校 - 学习时报网_习仲勋的治学之道 // "The Way of Xi Zhongxun's Scholarship".. Three takeaways are first he began to “seek truth from facts” in 1943 (predating Deng Xiaoping). Secondly he was leading the market reform in Guangdong starting in the late 70s. And last but not least, he faithfully executed the mass-line campaign...the victor gets to write history, and perhaps no CCP leader since Mao has been so steeped in Party History and its importance as Xi Jinping
China's Embattled Human Rights Lawyers Set up Legal Consultancy Five years after police launched a nationwide crackdown raided law firms and detained hundreds of lawyers and activists, China's embattled human rights lawyers are increasingly left without any way of practicing law. A group of former rights attorneys who have lost their "business license" at the hands of local justice departments, and may no longer represent clients in court, have formed a company called the China Lawyers' Club in the southwestern region of Guangxi, RFA has learned.
Chinoiresie | The Jasic Struggle and the Future of the Chinese Labour Movement Reports from foreign media have tended to focus either on the involvement of the Maoist students in the solidarity actions or on the gigantic scale of state repression, especially with regard to the raids that took place in August. However, within China, the Jasic struggles first became a hot topic in late July, largely thanks to the determination, bravery, and audacity displayed by the Jasic workers themselves in their struggles. Videos of Jasic workers delivering impassioned speeches as they staged protest actions outside the police station went viral. Articulate, touching, and inspiring, their speeches have all left heartfelt impressions on both bystanders and online audiences. It is for this reason that the videos and related articles were widely read and shared even on many online media platforms that usually had nothing to do with politics and activism, such as the sports forum Hupu, where a trending post in late July (since deleted) was titled ‘the guy [referring to a leading worker giving a speech] is so handsome!’ A deeper look at the dynamics and various twists and turns of the Jasic workers’ unionisation struggles reveals how this episode has important implications for the broader labour movement in China on at least two different levels.
Foreign and Military Affairs
范长龙孙建国王国生3名卸去军职上将一同出席活动|范长龙|孙建国|王国生_新浪新闻 Fan Changlong, Sun Jianguo and Wang Guosheng attend an art exhibition...the report interesting because it shows that Sun Jianguo is no longer the deputy chief of staff of the CMC joint staff department 值得一提的是，人民网上述报道在介绍孙建国上将时职务标注为“全国人大常委会委员、中央军委联合参谋部原副参谋长”，从而证实了孙建国上将已卸任中央军委联合参谋部副参谋长的消息。
海空在召唤！2019年度海军招飞启动（附招飞简章） - 中国军网 The new PLAN pilot recruitment video....very high production values...at 2:18 shows a challenge in the South China Sea...
Opinion | Will Donald Trump Stand Up to China? - The New York Times Editorial And the Uighurs may not be the end of it. As The Washington Post reported recently, Beijing is taking steps to suppress all five of China’s officially sanctioned religions — Catholicism, Buddhism, Protestantism, Daoism and Islam. If no one stands up for the Uighurs, who will defend these other groups when Beijing turns its repressive hand on them?
Hongyan satellite constellation to be operating by 2025 - Global Times Global coverage for mobile phones will be realized by 2025 when the broadband system for a 300-satellite Chinese constellation is completed, a scientist for the project announced Tuesday. "A broadband system will enable seamless global intercommunication," Pang Zhihao, a retired rocket and aerospace expert who co-led the Hongyan project at the China Academy of Space Technology, told the Global Times on Tuesday.
PLA ground force holds “Crossing Obstacles 2018" land-based unmanned system competition - Ministry of National Defense This year, the competition includes 44 competition events in ten categories, such as autonomous maneuver and reconnaissance in wild battlefield, air-ground coordinated search, and passage-opening in minefield. It highlights some of the typical combat styles such as close-range reconnaissance and mobile attack, and builds typical operational environments such as urban blocks, mountains and jungles, making it possible to simultaneously assess the key combat technologies and capabilities.
Xi greets leaders attending Summer Davos Forum - China Daily President Xi Jinping welcomed foreign leaders on Tuesday who are in China to attend the Summer Davos Forum, and he called for greater joint efforts in constructing the Belt and Road to better benefit their people. Xi met separately with the presidents of Serbia, Estonia and Latvia as well as Samoa's prime minister at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, a day before the opening ceremony of the forum to be held in Tianjin.
Chinese vice premier meets Putin, vowing to further advance bilateral ties - Xinhua Han, also a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, was in the Russian capital to co-chair the fifth meeting of the China-Russia Investment Cooperation Committee with Russian First Deputy Prime Minister Anton Siluanov and the 15th meeting of the China-Russia Energy Cooperation Committee with Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Kozak from Monday to Tuesday.
习近平主席夫妇看望柬埔寨国王和太后_CCTV top story on Wednesday CCTV Evening News is Xi and Peng Liyuan meeting with Cambodian King Norodom Sihamoni, who is in Beijing recovering from an illness, and his mother...in his comments Xi congratulates Cambodia on holding a successful election...
Xi Jinping: China-Cambodia friendship is growing with vigor and vitality - CGTN Chinese President Xi Jinping and First Lady Peng Liyuan met with visiting Cambodian King Norodom Sihamoni in Beijing on Wednesday, hailing that China-Cambodia friendship is growing with vigor and vitality since the establishment of diplomatic ties 60 years ago. The king was accompanied by his mother, former Queen Norodom Monineath Sihanouk.
Buddhist Temple, Now a Communist Shrine, Plants China’s Flag in Taiwan - The New York Times After taking over the property and evicting the four nuns who lived there, Wei Ming-jen, a Taiwan native hired to build an addition to the century-old building, set out to convert Biyun Temple into something likely never before seen on this island: an extravagant shrine to China’s Communist Party. Gone are the Buddhist ritual drums and traditional Chinese calligraphy scrolls. Instead, Communist Party symbols, propaganda posters and portraits of party leaders like Mao Zedong and Zhou Enlai now adorn the century-old temple tucked into a hillside in Ershui, in central Taiwan.
Vatican-Beijing deal on bishops no cause for concern, Catholic Church tells Taiwan | South China Morning Post Church officials say any agreement with the mainland on bishop appointments won’t have ‘connotations’ for the self-ruled island
Tech And Media
Cuts Made to Jia Zhangke’s ‘Ash’ Ahead of China Release – Variety Chinese auteur Jia Zhangke’s drama “Ash is Purest White” will get its theatrical release this Friday in China – but with cuts that may reflect the sensitivity of the current political-cultural climate in the Middle Kingdom...But Chinese media reported that the edits specifically remove the cameo appearances of Feng Xiaogang, the high-profile film director who is embroiled in the scandal and rumor mill surrounding celebrity actress Fan Bingbing. Fan has been accused of hiding part of her income from an appearance in Feng’s upcoming film “Cell Phone 2.” Fan and Feng have both denied accusations of tax dodging. // Comment: Plenty of rumors that Feng is next to go down in this growing scandal
Ex-L.A. Times Beijing Bureau Chief Resigns Amid Sexual Misconduct Claims - The New York Times The journalist, Jonathan Kaiman, was suspended in May after accusations were made against him by two women. Hillary Manning, director of communications for The Times, confirmed Mr. Kaiman’s resignation in an email...In an emailed statement, Mr. Kaiman said that the allegations “have irrevocably destroyed my reputation, my professional network, my nine year career in journalism, and any hope for a rewarding career in the future; they have branded me with a scarlet letter for life, and driven me to the brink of suicide.”
China's Tencent Music halves U.S. IPO to $2 billion: sources | Article [AMP] | Reuters Tencent Music had earlier been seeking to raise up to $4 billion, people familiar with the matter said, which would have made it the biggest Chinese float in the United States so far in 2018, ahead of streaming company iQiyi's (IQ.O) $2.42 billion IPO in March.
Tencent releases open platform to help drive AI projects at other companies | South China Morning Post “There’s an immense market potential in helping companies and whole industries upgrade their capabilities with AI,” said Hou Xiaonan, the general manager of Tencent’s AI Open Platform and vice-president of its mobile internet group, at a forum on Tuesday under the World Artificial Intelligence Conference in Shanghai. Hou launched Tencent’s open platform at the event, marking a major campaign for the Shenzhen-based firm to get its AI expertise adopted freely by individual developers and enterprises, a company spokesman said.
White House reviews incident involving Epoch Times photographer handing a folder to Trump - The Washington Post The White House has reviewed an incident last week in which a news photographer for the Epoch Times, a publication banned in China for its critical coverage, stepped into a restricted area and handed President Trump a folder during an official event. The photographer, identified by other photojournalists as Samira Bouaou, passed the purple-colored folder to Trump as he was walking out of the East Room on Sept. 12 after delivering remarks at a reception for the Congressional Medal of Honor Society.
Society, Art, Sports, Culture And History
Chinese tomb raiders dug underground tunnels to steal priceless objects from 3,000-year-old Yin Xu royal site | South China Morning Post Around 140 people arrested after crime syndicate that burrowed into graves to steal ancient bronzes at Unesco World Heritage Site in Henan was broken up by police
Specters and Speculators: The People Buying Haunted Homes - SixthTone Despite the widely held belief that properties with a dark past are haunted, Chinese feng shui master Qiu Hongxiang said that properties couldn’t be deemed haunted under traditional feng shui theories. “Accidents that happen inside the house are caused by the clash of a person’s fate with the [metaphysical] attributes of the property. Someone might have died here, but it doesn’t mean you can’t lead a good life here,” he told Sixth Tone. But he said homes do have “memories” that cannot be explained by modern science, and Taoist rituals are sometimes required to clear them away.
Where Surfing in China Gained a Foothold, Typhoon Mangkhut Left Ruins - The New York Times When the storm hit the village, called Xichong, it created sea surges that dismantled sea walls upon which dozens of small shops, cafes and guest cottages stood. Wind gusts that reached 100 miles per hour shredded scores of coniferous trees that studded the scenic, crescent-shaped cove facing the South China Sea.
Energy, Environment, Science And Health
Beijing ups ante against air pollution - China Daily To achieve the goals, authorities plan to increase the amount of cargo moved by trains to 10 percent of the total from the current 2.9 percent, and to more than double the number of new energy vehicles to 400,000. The capital also vows to enhance law enforcement against polluting diesel-powered trucks and to inspect at least 1.5 million of them every year.
Merck Slashes Key Cancer Drug Price for China - Caixin Global MSD’s Keytruda, a cutting edge treatment for melanoma, will be priced at 17,918 yuan ($2,613) for a 100 milligram/4 milliliter dose, the lowest price in the world, Caixin has learned. At that price, the drug costs half as much as it does in the U.S. and is 30% cheaper than it is in Hong Kong. // Comment: Why won't Merck lower it in the US as well?
A Chinese Oil Slick for the Dollar? - WSJ $$ China’s Shanghai-traded oil futures remain a distant third to the dollar-based contracts traded in New York and London, but they have gained ground quickly. In late March, following its first 24 hours of trading, the Shanghai contract captured 5% of the trading volume in global front-month oil futures, according to Thomson Reuters . By the end of July, it was at 14%. Trading in New York’s West Texas Intermediate contracts declined to 57% of the front-month total from nearly 70% over the same period.
Agriculture And Rural Issues
Dim Sums: Rural China Economics and Policy: African Swine Fever: 18 Cases, Divergent Price Trends African swine fever's impact on China's pork market is uncertain. Hog prices have risen in regions that rely on shipping in hogs from the hinterland, and prices are falling in major production regions. Prices are highest in eastern regions that rely on shipping in hogs from other regions. Similarly, prices have climbed to a high level in the western region. At the other end of the spectrum, prices are depressed in the northeast--the first region where African swine fever appeared in China and which has been hit hardest by bans on outbound shipment of hogs. The north and central regions have had the most outbreaks and are also seeing sinking prices. Prices in the South surged early this month but have since begun to fall.
Chinese Agriculture Internet Firm Nxin Raises $53M In Series B Financing Round – China Money Network Founded in 2015, Nxin has built a pig full-chain internet service platform which has three key platforms as core business: “Data + E-commerce + Finance”, namely Internet of Pig Industry. The Internet of Pig Industry realizes the cross-border integration of "Internet + Modern Agriculture" and data-driven transformation and upgrading of the whole pig industry chain. The industry forms a business model of "management digitization, business e-commerce, financial development and industrial ecology".