US reports on the PLA and China’s expanding global footprint; "Political security"; Economy

No lead commentary, just some comments below.

Thanks for reading, and if someone forwarded you this email please considering signing up here.


The Essential Eight

1. PRC Economy

China central bank's record $83 billion injection heightens worries over ailing economy | Reuters:

The People’s Bank of China (PBOC) said Wednesday’s injection was aimed at ensuring there are ample funds in the financial system, which is facing strains as tax payments peak in mid-January, and as demand for cash picks up ahead of the Lunar New Year holidays starting in early February.

“The banking system’s overall liquidity is falling rapidly,” it said in a statement.

While sizable injections are common this time of year ahead of the long holidays, the addition was much heftier than usual and follows a large cut in banks’ reserve ratios announced this month, which will free up a total of $116 billion for new bank lending.

China Tolerates More Bad Loans to Aid Farms, Small Business - Caixin:

Policymakers have issued a slew of policies since October designed to aid the struggling private sector and small businesses, such as tax and fee cuts. The central bank has also lowered the percentage of funds that banks have to hold in reserve in an effort to spur lending.

In the latest step on Monday, the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission (CBIRC) announced it has let rural banks have bad-loan ratios of at least 5% on loans to the agricultural sector, according to a statement on its website. The CBIRC also said it has allowed bad-loan ratios for loans to small and midsize firms to be 3 percentage points higher than their own nonperforming-loan ratios.

NDRC head He Lifeng has an essay in the latest issue of Qiushi in which he lays out the ways China can boost economic development, including increasing domestic consumption, supply side reform, support for domestic sector, innovation etc - 促进形成强大国内市场 大力推动经济高质量发展 - 求是网 

Trade war sees China’s provinces slash growth forecasts for 2019 | South China Morning Post:

As of today, 12 of China’s 31 province-level divisions had published their annual growth targets, with eight of them reducing their growth targets for the year, according to the South China Morning Post’s review of local government reports.

Beijing Primes Infrastructure Pump With $15 Billion in New Airport Projects - Caixin:

The new projects are located in Xi’an, capital of northwestern Shaanxi province; Ezhou, a city in central Hubei province; Hohhot, capital of the Inner Mongolia autonomous region; and Lianyungang, a city in East China’s Jiangsu province, according to separate announcements (links in Chinese) on Tuesday and Wednesday on the website of the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC).

Opinion | Will China’s Economy Hit a Great Wall? - The New York Times - Paul Krugman:

The case for crisis seems compelling – but I said that in 2011, too....

But now China seems to be stumbling again. Is this the moment when all the prophecies of big trouble in big China finally come true? Honestly, I have no idea.

On one side, China’s problems are real. On the other, the Chinese government – hindered neither by rigid ideology nor by anything resembling a democratic political process – has repeatedly shown its ability and willingness to do whatever it takes to prop up its economy. It’s really anyone’s guess whether this time will be different, or whether Xi-who-must-be-obeyed can pull out another recovery...

What are the global consequences if China does get into trouble? The important thing to realize here is that China no longer runs huge trade surpluses with the world as a whole (the U.S. bilateral deficit is exceptional and deceptive.) And as a result China has become a major market. Figure 3 shows China’s imports from other countries as a percentage of world GDP; they’ve gotten quite big. For another perspective, in 2017 Chinese imports were $2.2 trillion, compared with $2.9 trillion for the US; they’re almost as much of a locomotive for the world economy as we are

Xi Jinping’s turn away from the market puts Chinese growth at risk | Financial Times - Nick Lardy $$:

The combination of the precipitous decline in the return on assets of state-owned enterprises, which control about $30tn in assets (the equivalent of well over twice last year’s gross domestic product), and declining investment by private companies is dragging down China’s average annual growth by an estimated two percentage points.

Perhaps Mr Xi accepts this as the price of maintaining a state sector that he believes is an important element in sustaining political control. But without a return to a more marketed-oriented economic policy, even if bilateral trade disputes with the US are resolved, the likelihood is that China’s growth will slow further — with unpleasant consequences for the global economy.

Comment: Lardy's new book The State Strikes Back: The End of Economic Reform in China? comes out next month. HIs previous book was the 2014 Markets Over Mao: The Rise of Private Business in China so clearly Lardy has taken a much darker view of the PRC economy in the last 4+ years...

What will it take to lower China’s investment rate? | Andrew Batson's Blog:

The hard choice that China has to make is not whether to undertake complex and difficult technical reforms to social policy. The hard choice is to decide when the efficiency losses from forced high investment start to outweigh the benefits of the boost to aggregate demand.

Some people are interpreting the government’s recent pledges to avoid “flood- like” (大水漫灌) stimulus as a sign that they have in fact reached this conclusion, and want to wean the economy off low-return infrastructure projects. Maybe a bit, at the margin. But the leadership is also going to a lot of trouble to create new funding mechanisms to ensure local infrastructure projects can continue, so it seems clear they don’t want this shift to happen right now.


2. US reports on the PLA and China’s expanding global footprint

New defense intelligence assessment warns China nears critical military milestone:

Speaking to reporters Tuesday ahead of the new DIA 2019 “China Military Power” report, a senior defense intelligence official called the idea that Beijing might soon trust its military capabilities well enough to invade Taiwan “the most concerning” conclusion from the report.

“The biggest concern is that they are getting to a point where the PLA leadership may actually tell [President Xi Jinping] they are confident in their capabilities. We know in the past they have considered themselves a developing, weaker power,” the official said.

“As a lot of these technologies mature, as their reorganization of their military comes into effect, as they become more proficient with these capabilities, the concern is we’ll reach a point where internally in their decision-making they will decide that using military force for regional conflict is something that is more imminent,” the official added.

DIA’s China Military Power Report Details Leaders’ Strategy > U.S. Department Of Defense:

 “As we look at China, we see a country whose leaders describe it as moving closer to center stage in the world, while they strive to achieve what they call the ‘great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation,’” said Dan Taylor, a senior defense intelligence analyst with the DIA. “This ambition permeates China’s national security strategy and guides the development of the People’s Liberation Army.”..

"The PLA developed a noncommissioned officer corps and began programs to recruit more technically competent university graduates to operate its modern weapons," the report says. "PLA political officers assigned to all levels of the military acquired broader personnel management responsibilities in addition to their focus on keeping the PLA ideologically pure and loyal to the CCP."

Professionalization of the PLA, with an increased push to focus on an ability to “fight and win” -- a goal that mirrors U.S. doctrine -- has been a hallmark of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s recent military strategy, said one defense official speaking to reporters on background.

Pentagon Sees China Seeking Nuclear Bomber to Compete With U.S. - Bloomberg:

China is likely developing a long-range bomber capable of delivering nuclear weapons and a space-based early warning system it could use to more quickly respond to an attack, according to a new report from the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency.

The development of the bomber, when combined with China’s land-based nuclear weapons program and a deployed submarine with intercontinental ballistic missile technology, would give Beijing a “triad” of nuclear delivery systems similar to the U.S. and Russia, according to the report published Tuesday.

The report - China Military Power: Modernizing a Force to Fight and Win

Pentagon warns of global power play behind Chinese projects such as Belt and Road Initiative | South China Morning Post:

The Pentagon has said China is using its expanding military, trading and infrastructure network to pursue global leadership in a report that warned that its global ambitions could undermine the security of the US and its allies and threatened international economic corridors.

Monday’s report assessed China’s military and non-military expansion efforts, such as the Belt and Road Initiative and the “Made in China 2025” industrial strategy, and their implications for America around the world.

It coincided with another detailed assessment by the US Defence Intelligence Agency on Tuesday, which said China’s drive to acquire cutting-edge weaponry – including nuclear bombers and a space-based early warning system – was intended to establish itself as a global military power.

Assessment on United States Defense Implications of China’s Expanding Global Access, Supplemental Report to Congress: U.S. Defense Implications of China’s Expanding Global Access (as required by statute) (Arlington, VA: Department of Defense, 20 December 2018)

The report describes China’s expansion by a range of means, including military access and engagement; the One Belt, One Road (OBOR) and Digital Silk Road initiatives; technology acquisition; and a growing economic footprint; with a focus on areas of military expertise.

The Chinese Communist Party’s foreign policy reflects its strategic objectives. The U.S. National Security Strategy states that China seeks to displace the United States in the Indo-Pacific region, expand the reaches of its state-driven economic model, and reorder the region in its favor as the preeminent power. China’s most substantial expansion of its military access in recent years has occurred in its near-abroad, where territorial disputes in the East and South China Seas persist, but China has also expanded its military operations further from the Chinese mainland. China seeks this presence based on its changing military focus and expanding international economic interests, which are increasing demands for the PLA to operate in more distant maritime environments to protect Chinese citizens, investments, and critical sea lines of communication.

China slams Pentagon’s PLA report, said it disregards facts, uses Cold War mentality - Global Times:

"The report, in disregard of facts, made assumptions on China's development path and strategic purposes using a Cold War mentality and zero-sum game," Hua Chunying, spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said at a routine press conference on Wednesday...

A Beijing-based Chinese military expert who requested anonymity told the Global Times on Wednesday that "if there is anyone doesn't believe world peace is now facing the challenge of great power competition, just read the US' stance in this report."

"The US still treats China's military development as a threat and is suspicious of China's intention to develop its forces, but the facts in recent years have proven that China never uses military conflicts to resolve its disputes with other countries, while the US launches foreign military interventions and operations again and again," he said.

These reports are another reminder that the US-China trade dispute is just one component of the much broader competitive and increasingly contentious US-China relationship, and in fact may be the easiest are to fix…


3. US-China

Assessing U.S.-China relations 2 years into the Trump presidency - Brookings - David Dollar, Ryan Hass, and Jeffrey A. Bader:

U.S. policy toward China now appears animated by a judgment that the past trajectory of the bilateral relationship favored China and disadvantaged the United States in a long-run competition for global leadership. To try to break that trajectory, the Trump administration over the past two years has adopted an increasingly zero-sum, unilateralist, protectionist, and nativist “America first” approach to the relationship. But if the aim is to influence Chinese behavior, the administration will need to demonstrate considerably more focus in strategic thinking, time, resources, and coordination with partners...

Although the approach is inconsistent, the combination of Trump’s tolerance for trade friction and possible softening in China’s economic outlook could yet still present opportunities to press China through time-bound negotiations to gain market access and some restructuring. If achieved, such progress would be noteworthy and commendable. But to get there, the United States will need a clear strategy, coordinated with allies, as to what is acceptable opening and reform to maintain the economic relationship. Washington also will need to convince Beijing that addressing irritants on the trade front would lead to improvements in the overall relationship.

What China Threat? | Harper's Magazine - Kishore Mahbubani:

To seize the opportunity, American policymakers have to accept the undeniable reality that the return of China (and India) is unstoppable. Why not? From the year 1 to 1820, China and India had the world’s two largest economies. The past two hundred years of Western domination of global commerce have been an aberration. As PricewaterhouseCoopers has predicted, China and India will resume their number one and two position by 2050 or earlier.

The leaders of both China and India understand that we now live in a small, interdependent global village, threatened by many new challenges, including global warming. Both China and India could have walked away from the Paris Agreement after Trump did so. Both chose not to. Despite their very different political systems, both have decided that they can be responsible global citizens. Perhaps this may be the best route to find out if China will emerge as a threat to the United States and the world. If it agrees to be constrained by multiple global rules and partnerships, China could very well remain a different polity—­that is, not a liberal democracy—­and still not be a threatening one. This is the alternative scenario that the “China threat” industry in the United States should consider and work toward.

Influential and connected think tank China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations (CICIR) releases its 2018/2019 International Strategic and Security Review. I'd love a copy. One of the contributors, a US expert, wrote on Wechat that he is both sad and happy his name is not on the cover, so I am guessing it has some pretty grim discussion of the US-China relationship and its trajectory - 《国际战略与安全形势评估2018/2019》发布暨国际形势研讨会在京举行--国际--人民网:

 在研讨环节,来自国防大学、中国人民大学、外交学院、中国社会科学院、中国国际问题研究院等国内高校及科研机构的20多位知名专家学者就“中美贸易摩擦与全球经济走势”“大国关系调整与国际格局演变”“周边安全形势与国际热点走向”“全球治理与中国战略选择”等问题进行了深入讨论。

中国现代国际关系研究院 - 袁 鹏:2018,世界大变局中的求索与思考:

CICIR head Yuan Peng: 2018,Exploration and Thinkings in the Global Upheaval. "The most important feature of the international situation in 2018 is that the old international political, economic and security order created after the second world war is in danger of collapse, while the new international order is still unestablished. The great upheaval is testing not only China but also other countries in the world. In this historical upheaval, people need to keep peace and calm in heart, and it is very important to countries that keep strategic stability and patience."


4. Downfall of former Shaanxi Party Secretary

Caixin is out with a translation of its article from yesterday, still the best coverage of this case.This is a big deal, there are deep and dirty waters in Shaanxi, and I think more heads are going to roll.

Former Shaanxi Chief Under Graft Investigation:

The case of Zhao [Zhengyong] caught nationwide attention as he reportedly ignored President Xi Jinping’s repeated orders to demolish a large number of illegal villas built in provincial capital Xi’an, according to state TV network CCTV.

Zhao was also allegedly involved in a recent high-profile scandal at the Supreme People’s Court, in which he was said to have colluded with a senior judge to influence the verdict in a mining dispute that reportedly involved hundreds of billions of yuan.

The probe into Zhao sent a shockwave through officialdom in Shaanxi, one of China’s ancient cultural centers and a major source of coal and iron. The province has become an epicenter for the corruption crackdown and witnessed the fall of at least eight senior officials over the past few years, including a former deputy provincial party chief, a former deputy governor and a former deputy of the provincial legislature...

The graft buster’s announcement of the Zhao investigation didn’t provide any details. But Caixin learned that the probe involves allegations of intervening in a mining dispute that set off a probe this month of the Supreme People’s Court, neglect of duty and links with disgraced official Wei Minzhou.


5. Xi chairs political and legal work conference

The brief english announcement leaves out the emphasis on "political security", which in the Chinese reports comes ahead of social justice and people's wellbeing. 

President Xi orders efforts to promote social justice, ensure people's wellbeing - Xinhua:

President Xi Jinping has ordered efforts to promote modern social governance, push forward reforms and develop a better force in political and legal work.

Xi, also general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission, made the statement in a speech to the central conference on political and legal work held in Beijing Tuesday and Wednesday.

He instructed law enforcement and judicial agencies to enhance their revolutionary spirit, standardize their practice and improve competence.

CCTV Evening News 10 minute top report on the meeting. -习近平在中央政法工作会议上强调 全面深入做好新时代政法各项工作 促进社会公平正义保障人民安居乐业_CCTV:

"履行好维护国家政治安全、确保社会大局稳定、促进社会公平正义、保障人民安居乐业的职责任务,不断谱写政法事业发展新篇章...习近平在讲话中强调,党的十八大以来,党中央把政法工作摆到更加重要的位置来抓,作出一系列重大决策,实施一系列重大举措,维护了政治安全、社会安定、人民安宁,促进了经济社会持续健康发展"

Of course "political security 政治安全" comes before everything else...


6. Europeans increasingly worried about PRC state capitalism

EU Explores Ways to Counter China’s State-Backed Capitalism - WSJ $$:

The rethink—the subject of an unusual debate among senior officials Tuesday—has been prompted by the proposed merger of Europe‘s two rail giants. Siemens AG of Germany and Alstom SA of France in 2017 announced plans to merge to better compete with Chinese rail behemoth CRRC Corp., the world’s largest rail supplier. Several European governments have objected to the linkup because it would limit competition within Europe.

The debate comes as concerns are increasing in the West about Chinese economic might and the tight links between many Chinese companies and the Chinese government. Polish authorities on Friday arrested two men on charges of spying for China and calls are growing in many capitals to ban telecommunications equipment from Huawei Technologies Co. and other Chinese suppliers.

From client to competitor: China's rise prompts German rethink | Reuters:

With German industry pressing for a more robust approach to China, Finance Minister Olaf Scholz heads to Beijing this week to seek better access for his country’s businesses, especially banks and insurance companies.

German policymakers and business executives say China’s state-driven economic model leaves them at a disadvantage...

In an unusual move, Germany’s influential BDI industry association last week called for tougher European Union policies towards China and urged companies to rely less on the Chinese market.


7.  "Power Silk Road"

China’s State Grid Corp Crushes Power Transmission Records - IEEE Spectrum:

The new ultra-high voltage DC (UHVDC) line built by Beijing-based State Grid Corporation of China can transmit up to 12 gigawatts. That is enough to power 50 million Chinese households, according to a statement issued in Chinese by State Grid last week, and 50 percent more than most of the 800-kilovolt UHVDC lines that State Grid has built over the past decade.

The new 1100-kv UHVDC line absorbs the grid’s alternating current at an AC/DC converter station near the capitol of Xinjiang—China's vast northwestern territory—and sends DC power to a second converter station in Anhui province in eastern China. That 3,293 kilometer run extends power transmission’s distance record by over 900 kms.

State Grid dubs it the “Power Silk Road” in its statement because it follows the eponymous ancient route’s path through northwest China’s Hexi Corridor and can replace the equivalent of 25,000 coal trains’ worth of coal-fired generation in China’s heavily polluted eastern cities. In addition to battling air pollution, it could also deliver a hefty reduction in greenhouse gas emissions if State Grid prioritizes export of the northwest’s abundant solar and wind power.


8. “It’s not like China’s forests are being cut down"

A depressing feature story from Sixth Tone.

How Illegally Harvested Timber Is ‘Greenwashed’ in China - Sixth Tone:

The pungent odor of formaldehyde fills the factory of Shandong Xingang Group in the city of Linyi. Few employees wear masks, despite signs saying they are required. Throughout the hall lie boxes adorned with tree-shaped logos, which should mean that the wood inside is certified by the international nonprofit Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) to have been produced under good labor conditions and come from sustainable forests.

But like so much timber that passes through China, their sourcing is unclear and likely anything but sustainable. “These are poplar and eucalyptus cores, but they’re not FSC-accredited,” a company manager explained, standing in front of a box sporting the FSC logo. “Everyone does it. We’re just following suit because of the market.”..

Zhangjiagang, a port city on the Yangtze River in Jiangsu province, is one of the country’s largest gateways for tropical wood, with several hundred timber import businesses and distributors of varying sizes located near the port area. Many of the dozen distributors Sixth Tone talked to said that they know the countries their timber comes from, but they aren’t clear about the exact origin or circumstances, and that their customers are similarly unconcerned.

A state-owned company and one of China’s top 10 tropical timber importers said they run a forest-cutting area in Equatorial Guinea, but that very few customers ask them for legal documentation. The person in charge was nonplussed about the interest in how its overseas forests are being managed. “If it’s cut down, it’s cut down,” he said. “It’s not like China’s forests are being cut down."


Business, Economy, Finance And Trade

Four Chinese Tycoons Just Transferred $17 Billion to Trusts - Bloomberg Four Chinese tycoons transferred more than $17 billion of their wealth into family trusts late last year, underscoring how the rich are scrambling to protect their fortunes from the nation’s newly toughened tax regime. The latest example came from billionaire Sun Hongbin, chairman of real-estate developer Sunac China Holdings Ltd., who disclosed in a filing in Hong Kong on Jan. 12 that he shifted most of his stake in the company to South Dakota Trust Co. on Dec. 31. Longfor Group Holdings Ltd. Chairwoman Wu Yajun, one of China’s richest women, made a similar move in recent weeks, as did the wealthy magnates behind food distributors Dali Foods Group Co. and Zhou Hei Ya International Holdings Co.

Big State Firms’ Profits Hit Record High in 2018 - Caixin The combined profit of the more than 90 SOEs directly controlled by the central government jumped 15.7% to 1.2 trillion yuan ($177.6 billion) last year, according to data (link in Chinese) released Wednesday by the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission. The combined revenue of these SOEs reached 29.1 trillion last year, up 10.1% from 2017. They paid a total of 2.2 trillion yuan in taxes and fees in 2018, up 5.7%, the data showed.

China Pledges to Cut Financial Risks at State Enterprises in Wake of Unipec Losses - Caixin Heading off risks from SOEs’ investments will be one of this year’s key tasks for the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission (SASAC), the commission said in a statement Wednesday. Specifically, SASAC plans to clamp down this year on SOEs’ new financial investments. It also wants to ensure that the companies only trade in derivatives, such as futures, for hedging purposes, not speculation, according to the Economic Information Daily,

China's New Rules on WMP Units Boosts Competition for Wall Street - Bloomberg Last month, China made a new rule requiring banks to spin off their wealth-management products into subsidiaries. These units will operate independently from their parent companies, removing the implicit guarantee that boosted the appeal of their products for many savers.

Guangzhou Throws More Money Into Southern Economic Hub Project Guangzhou’s city government plans to allocate 19 billion yuan ($2.8 billion) to the project this year, a 23% increase over last year, the state-run Xinhua News Agency said, citing a draft budget (link in Chinese) that the government submitted to the city’s legislature on Tuesday. The Greater Bay Area plan draws in nine southern cities on the Chinese mainland and the special administrative regions of Hong Kong and Macau.

MNI: China Policymakers To Link CGBs With MonPol Controls | MNI China's Ministry of Finance (MOF) will enhance the role of China Government Bonds as a main tool for central bank open market operations, expanding their use in the transmission of monetary policy, Guo Fangming, deputy director of the Treasury Department under the MOF told a economic forum earlier Wednesday.

How Chinese Sellers of Fake Dior Are Evading a Crackdown Online - Bloomberg A new law effective Jan. 1 promises to slap online retailers with up to 2 million yuan ($296,000) in fines for bogus goods sold on their platforms. But Chinese counterfeiters -- still the most prolific in the world -- have already reshaped their businesses by retreating to even more private spaces online. Many of the country’s best fakers are now hawking their wares via social messaging networks like Tencent Holdings Ltd.’s WeChat. First they market their offerings at home and globally on platforms like Instagram or ByteDance Ltd.’s Tik Tok. Buyers then order and pay through private messaging apps. Such transactions are arguably “friend-to-friend” and not e-commerce as defined by the new law.

China Speeds Long-Sought Foreign-Investment Law - WSJ $$ The national legislature’s executive committee on Wednesday announced a previously unscheduled session for Jan. 29 to 30 with the draft law as the top item, less than three weeks after reviewing the current draft in a routine session. A new foreign-investment law has the potential to level the competition between foreign and domestic firms and has been long sought by foreign businesses and drafted in various forms for years by legislative and government officials. Foreign executives, however, are deeply skeptical that Beijing is willing to introduce changes that would weaken its powerful state sector.


Politics, Law And Ideology

Rights Groups Demand Release of Uyghur Professor Ilham Tohti on Fifth Anniversary of Arrest - RFA On Tuesday, the Germany-based Ilham Tohti Initiative urged Beijing to immediately and unconditionally free the jailed writer and professor, calling the conditions of his imprisonment a “calculated and cruel deprivation” of his rights to family visits and outside communication. “All this is carefully engineered to punish the Uyghur scholar with degrading treatment and psychological torture, while at the same time keeping the attention on his plight from the outside world to a minimum,” the group’s president Enver Can said in a statement.  //  5 years, his arrest in retrospect clearly marked the change in policy towards Xinjiang that led to the camps

Xinjiang Authorities Detain Uyghur Aspiring Professional Footballer in ‘Political Re-education Camp’ - RFA Authorities in northwest China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) have detained 24-year-old Uyghur Erpat Ablekrem—an aspiring professional footballer—in a “political re-education camp” after he maintained contact with family members who fled the country, according to his cousin. Ablekrem, also known by his Chinese name Aierpati Abulaikeremu, was detained from his hometown of Ghulja (in Chinese, Yining) city, in the XUAR’s Ili Kazakh (Yili Hasake) Autonomous Prefecture in March last year and sent to a “political re-education camp” in the area, his cousin Muyesser Abdulehet told RFA’s Uyghur Service.

Xi's article on building ranks of high-quality officials to be published - Xinhua An article by President Xi Jinping on building a contingent of high-quality officials who are loyal, clean and have a strong sense of responsibility, will be carried by the second issue of Qiushi Journal, to be published on Wednesday. Xi, also general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission, says in the article that to unite and lead people to reach the two centenary goals and realize the Chinese Dream of national rejuvenation, the Party's organizational line in the new era must be comprehensively implemented. The standard of both integrity and ability must be upheld, and the appointment of officials should be fair, reads the article carried by Qiushi Journal, the flagship magazine of the CPC Central Committee. 努力造就一支忠诚干净担当的高素质干部队伍-新华网

Senior official stresses Party building at colleges - Xinhua Senior Communist Party of China (CPC) official Wang Huning on Tuesday called for the full implementation of the Party's education policy to advance Party building and ideological and political work at colleges. Wang, a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and a member of the Secretariat of the CPC Central Committee, made the remarks at a meeting on Party building at colleges across the country. Enhancing the Party's political building should be taken as the overarching principle to push forward the colleges' Party building work with stronger guidance in both politics and value, Wang said. He also called for the innovative development of the ideological and political work of colleges and more efforts to strengthen the professional ethics and competence of teachers.

太原”网红市长”耿彦波辞职 新市长是位副部级_网易新闻 Geng Yanbo out as mayor of Taiyuan, Shanxi, no reason given so may be normal personnel change. He was the focus of the excellent documentary "The Chinese Mayor" during his time as mayor of Datong, Shanxi. The documentary is on Netflix.

中国记协号召全国新闻工作者增强脚力眼力脑力笔力 -中新网 New call from China Journalists Associaton to "news workers" to better serve the Party and the country// 中国记协16日向全国新闻工作者发出倡议,号召广大新闻工作者牢记习近平总书记提出的增强“脚力、眼力、脑力、笔力”要求,锻造过硬素质、过硬本领、过硬作风,书写新时代的精彩答卷。   倡议书号召,广大新闻工作者要在增强“四力”中提高政治能力,把党的理论路线方针政策和重大决策部署宣传好、阐释好、落实好;要在增强“四力”中提升业务本领,练就一身好把式、真功夫,采写更多有思想、有温度、有品质的精品佳作;要在增强“四力”中锐意创新创造,练好“十八般武艺”,努力成为“全媒化”“复合型”媒体人才;要在增强“四力”中锤炼优良作风,以人民为中心,坚持短实新、反对假长空,让新闻作品“沾泥土”“带露珠”“冒热气”。

President Xi Jinping inspects Xiongan New Area - CGTN Chinese President Xi Jinping inspected the Xiongan New Area in north China's Hebei Province on Wednesday morning, the second such visit in two years. President Xi, also general secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, listened to the new area's overall planning, policies and current construction at a service center. He also conducted a video call with construction workers. //  expect full propaganda rollout soon

China Focus: Xiongan New Area construction to gain momentum - Xinhua Earlier this month, China's central authorities approved the 2018-2035 master plan for Xiongan. According to the plan that stresses high-quality development, Xiongan will become a modern city that is green, intelligent and livable with "relatively strong competitiveness and human-environment harmony by 2035."  

China’s leaders must learn from Soviet Union’s fatal mistakes, says leading reformer | South China Morning Post “One of the fatal errors [made by the Soviets] is that they followed a political system with highly centralised power. Not every socialist country does that,” Hu Deping, son of the late reformist general secretary Hu Yaobang, told a seminar. “Another [mistake] was their rigid economic system. By the same token, not all socialist countries must practise a planned economy,” he said... His speech on Wednesday was delivered to a seminar in Beijing hosted by the Hongfan Institute of Legal and Economic Studies, a liberal private think tank made up of former economic and policy advisers and academics. // Comment: Hu Deping once was influential with Xi, not sure these days

Minitrue: Huai'an City: Control Calls to Action on Vaccine Scandal – China Digital Times (CDT) Everyone: although this vaccine incident occurred in Jinhu [county], it is extremely likely to spread throughout the city. I hope everyone will get an idea of the overall situation across the city, and that we can pull through this crisis together. Related requirements are as follows: Strictly control calls to action or inflammatory information related to the Jinhu vaccine situation on self-media and other platforms. If you discover calls to action, inflammatory information, or attacks on the Party committee or government on forums outside the city, report promptly with links and screenshots.

The Schellenberg Affair: Chinese Lawyers and Law Professors Opposing Court’s Handling of Robert Schellenberg’s Case « China Change

传媒茶话会 - 各地《政府工作报告》40例语言文字差错请知晓 Interesting instructions on the correct language to use around the local government work reports

Philippines arrests, hands over to China corruption fugitive - AP Philippine officials have turned over to China a former government official wanted for alleged economic crime and corruption. Xie Haojie (SHEE’-ye hao-JEE’-ye) was arrested on Sunday in Manila in an operation coordinated with Chinese authorities. The 49-year-old is wanted back home on charges of corruption that amounted to $210 million.

学习强国 Central Propaganda Department is behind this site "Study Superpower" with the 学习 Xue2Xi2 of course a play on studying Xi


Foreign and Military Affairs

Secretary Pompeo's Call With Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo spoke yesterday with Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland. The Secretary and the Foreign Minister discussed a number of global and bilateral issues, including Russia and Venezuela. They expressed their concerns about the arbitrary detentions and politically motivated sentencing of Canadian nationals. They noted their continued commitment to Canada’s conduct of a fair, unbiased, and transparent legal proceeding and U.S. extradition request with respect to Ms. Meng Wanzhou, the Chief Financial Officer of Huawei. They expressed their concerns about the detention of Paul Whelan in Russia.

Overseas investments riskier for Chinese firms as US tensions and Islamic State threats rise | South China Morning Post The report, released on Tuesday, said the challenges were particularly acute in Asian and African countries, which are at the centre of China’s global trade and infrastructure strategy, the “Belt and Road Initiative”. It also said the US and its allies were expected to step up efforts to counter China’s growing influence in those countries. The report was published by Beijing-based Paitron Services and the China Overseas Development Association, a semi-official body under the National Development and Reform Commission.

Nasa wanted to use China’s spacecraft to plan a new American moon mission, top Chinese scientist says | South China Morning Post Wu Weiren, chief scientist of China’s lunar programme, said Nasa scientists made the request at an international conference a few years ago, state broadcaster CCTV reported. The American scientists had asked China to extend the Queqiao relay satellite’s lifespan and allow an American beacon device to be placed on Chang’e 4, saying it would help the US side plan its own lunar landing strategy, Wu said.

China seeks big-ticket payback from Myanmar - Asia Times Beijing’s interests in Myanmar are largely strategic, including as an outlet for its landlocked southwestern provinces to the Indian Ocean. A hydroelectric dam at Myitsone would provide power to Yunnan and other southern areas across the border where a proposed Myanmar-China Economic Corridor (MCEC) would feasibly begin.

U.S., Britain conduct first joint drills in contested South China Sea | Reuters A U.S. Navy guided missile destroyer the USS McCampbell, which is based in Japan, and a Royal Navy frigate, HMS Argyll, which is on a tour of Asia, conducted communication drills and other exercises from Friday to Wednesday “to address common security priorities”, the U.S. Navy said in a press release.

Bank of China offers $300m loan to Sri Lanka | China News | Al Jazeera Bank of China, one of the country's biggest lenders, has offered a loan of $300m to Sri Lanka's government, with the option of increasing the amount to one billion dollars. The offer came as Colombo faces an economic crisis triggered by political uncertainty in the South Asian island nation.

No Exit: China’s Growing Use of Exit Bans Violates International Law - Lawfare Depending on how they are applied, exit bans can also violate an individual’s right to leave under international law. Article 13.2 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) states that “(e)veryone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country.” This language is mirrored in Article 12.2 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which China has signed but not yet ratified. Article 12.3 of the ICCPR makes clear that the right to leave can only be subject to restrictions if those limitations are “provided by law, are necessary to protect national security, public order… or the rights and freedoms of others.” China is, of course, bound by the UDHR, which is generally considered to be customary international law. At the same time, as a signatory to the ICCPR, China has an obligation not to take any action that undermines the object and purpose of the Covenant prior to state ratification.

Alejano warns of possible 'security disaster' in CCTV deal with Chinese firm | Philstar.com he Department of the Interior and Local Government's project with a state-owned Chinese firm may be a risk to national security, Rep. Gary Alejano (Magdalo Party-list) said Wednesday. The DILG and China International Telecommunications and Construction Corp. have signed a P20-billion CCTV network project, wherein the Chinese firm would install an initial 12,000 surveillance cameras on public places in Metro Manila and Davao City.

Spy chief Nick Warner in Vanuatu with Scott Morrison shows China pushback - AFR Australia's top spy Nick Warner has accompanied Prime Minister Scott Morrison to Vanuatu, in a further sign that Australia is pushing back against China's rising influence in the South Pacific.

Cash-strapped Pakistan asks China to shelve US$2 billion coal plant | This Week In Asia | South China Morning Post Pakistan has officially asked China to shelve a joint US$2 billion coal power project from the US$62 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) infrastructure project, claiming it will be too expensive and should not be an immediate priority.

U.S. official cautions Israel over Chinese investments | Reuters “We know that the threat of cyber attacks is growing each and every day,” U.S. Deputy Secretary of Energy Dan Brouillette said in a statement to Reuters during a visit to Israel. He said that in his meetings with Israeli officials, he would “share our experiences and concerns regarding certain Chinese foreign investment in Israel, and hope to continue a dialogue on best practices”

China's "Father of Hydrogen Bomb" dies at 93 - Xinhua Chinese nuclear physicist Yu Min, who was credited with developing China's first successful hydrogen bomb, died Wednesday in Beijing at the age of 93. Yu, who was born in north China's Tianjin in 1926, also played a key role in the miniaturization of nuclear weapons, technological breakthroughs in the neutron bomb and filled the nation's void in the theory of atomic nucleus.


Taiwan

Huawei products banned by Taiwanese tech institute as island targets Chinese brands | South China Morning Post The move, effective from noon local time on Tuesday, also came two weeks after Taiwan enacted its Information and Communication Security Management Act, introduced to try to block leaks of confidential information and malicious hacking into the systems of government departments and agencies. In an internal circular on Monday, the Industrial Technology Research Institute announced that “users of Huawei’s products will be unable to gain access to the institute’s internal network for the sake of information security”.


Tech And Media

WeChat blocks three social networking challengers within one day · TechNode Tencent-backed WeChat banned three social networking rivals within one day on its platform—including Bytedance’s just-launched video-based messaging app Duoshan—taking China’s social media war up another notch in 2019. Other apps affected by the WeChat ban included: Kuairu Technology-owned, Smartisan-backed Liaotianbao, which is an updated version of the once-popular messaging service Bullet Messenger; and Matong, an anonymous social media app developed by Shenzhen-based Ringo.AI. All three apps were rolled out on Tuesday.

World's Most Valuable Startup Takes a Hit From China's Slowdown - Bloomberg The company told investors to expect revenue of 50 billion ($7.4 billion) to 55 billion yuan during its most recent fundraising, the people said, asking not to be named because the matter is private. It reached the lower end of the target, the first time in years it hasn’t beaten its forecast, because it delayed monetizing new functions and China’s slowing economy dampened spending on ads, the people said.


Society, Art, Sports, Culture And History

Confucius and Mao at the Mall - Places Mao regarded his revolution as an historic rupture. But the Party now presents its regime as a restoration, returning China to its traditional place as the world’s largest economy and most powerful state. In the last fifteen years or so, official edicts have elevated numerous philosophers and statesmen from the ages of the emperors — including Confucius and An Bing — to secular sainthood, part of a growing pre-Communist pantheon that emphasizes parallels between the wealthy and powerful Middle Kingdom that endured for millennia before Western imperialism, and the nation eclipsing the West today. The government has an ambitious ideological agenda to push and full coffers from the state-capitalist boom. For China’s artists, there’s never been more money to be made in Communist art.

Short Pants and Long Sleeves: China’s Soccer Team Plays Under Tattoo Ban - The New York Times China’s recent attempts to emerge as a serious soccer nation after decades in the sports wilderness have taken some curious turns. One of the more recent ones is visible — or, rather, invisible — at this month’s Asian Cup. Temperatures in the tournament, which is being played in the United Arab Emirates, can be stifling, making the sight of some Chinese players wearing long-sleeved undershirts beneath their jerseys seem puzzling. The answer lies in a semiofficial edict from Chinese sports officials issued last year that bans tattoos from being visible during matches

Chinese actress removes post over religious heresy accusations - Global Times A famous Taiwan actress deleted her post promoting controversial Indian spiritual courses, after heated exchanges on Chinese social media over suspected religious cult.  Yi Nengjing, or Annie Yi, an actress from the island of Taiwan, posted on Sina Weibo on Monday promoting lessons of Amma and Bhagavan, creators of the Oneness University based in Chittoor, India. The post sparked heated discussions on Weibo after the Ministry of Public Security (MPS) and China Anti-Cult Association (CACA) forwarded the post and warned the public that some spiritual schools are mired in sexual assault scandals.


Agriculture And Rural Issues

Vice premier stresses control over African swine fever - Xinhua Vice Premier Hu Chunhua on Wednesday called for effective prevention of and control over African swine fever to ensure the country's pork supply and pig production capacity. Hu, also a member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, made the remarks when presiding over a symposium on prevention of and control over the disease. Hu called for solid efforts in ensuring the supply of pork, the staple meat of the country, especially during the Spring Festival holiday period. Despite the positive results China has achieved in controlling the spread of the disease, Hu said the situation remained complicated and grave and it was a pressing task to intensify the control efforts.

More Than 900,000 Pigs Culled in Fight Against Deadly Swine Virus The number of pigs culled in efforts to fight China’s swine fever outbreak is approaching one million, according to a statement from China’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs released on Tuesday. “Through January 14, 2019, there have been cases of the epidemic in pigs and wild boars in 24 provinces, and a total of 916,000 pigs have been culled,” the statement from ministry spokesman Guang Defu read.


Education

Racism row: British university apologises to Chinese students for exam cheating warning | South China Morning Post The apology came after the University of Liverpool’s Student Welfare Advice and Guidance office sent an email to all international students on Monday, warning them of serious consequences for breaking exam rules. The email was written in English but contained the Chinese characters for “cheating”.