Valentine's Day trade talks; Red app; Huawei and the "tech Cold War"; Bond blues
It is Valentine’s Day in Beijing and we all want to know how Liu He and Robert Lighthizer will spend the day together. Steven Mnuchin may be Liu’s for the taking but Liu knows Lighthizer is the one he has to woo until President Trump and General Secretary Xi meet again.
Trump said the March 1 deadline for the US-China trade talks could be extended. He wants a deal, Xi wants a deal, and the Trump Administration officials who want a deal that addresses the hard issues are increasingly uneasy. There may be some good media leaks soon as a result.
Xi will meet the US trade negotiating team this week. Given that Trump met Liu He in DC two weeks ago it would be a very bad sign if Xi did not reciprocate. Xi taking the meeting is certainly positive but should not be seen as evidence of any breakthrough.
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The Essential Eight
1. US-China trade
President Donald Trump said he’s open to extending a March 1 deadline to raise tariffs on Chinese products if the two sides are near an agreement, sending a conciliatory signal amid talks to resolve the trade war between the world’s two biggest economies.
“If we’re close to a deal where we think we can make a real deal and it’s going to get done, I could see myself letting that slide for a little while,” Trump told reporters during a cabinet meeting Tuesday. “But generally speaking I’m not inclined” to delay raising tariffs, he added.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders on Wednesday told Fox News that President Trump is weighing different possibilities on how to treat the looming March 1 deadline to reach a trade deal with China, adding that the final agreement depends on Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping meeting in person....
Sanders also said that reaching an agreement to end the trade war between the two economic superpowers would take an in-person meeting with Trump and Xi, adding that Trump’s Mar-a-Lago retreat in Palm Beach, Florida, would make a good venue for such a talk.
During the last round of talks in Washington, China withheld any major concessions that would have addressed structural issues like forced technology transfers and subsidies, according to sources close to the talks.
One source who declined to be named because of the sensitive nature of the negotiations said China has only made offers in line with Xi’s speech at the Boao Forum in April
“Xi is scheduled to meet both Lighthizer and Mnuchin on Friday,” one source briefed on the arrangements told the South China Morning Post.
A second source said Xi was expected to meet the US delegation in Beijing this week, although the specific time had not been confirmed.
In addition, a banquet would be hosted for the US delegation in “a Chinese cuisine restaurant” in downtown Beijing later this week, with Chinese Vice-Premier Liu He expected to toast the US delegates, the first source added.
Still, given the Chinese government’s track record for failing to keep its trade promises, American negotiators feel that any deal must have some sort of mechanism that will swiftly inflict higher tariffs on China if it does not comply.
The mechanism they have in mind is one Beijing has fought vociferously in the past.
When China joined the World Trade Organization in 2001, the international body approved a rule that allowed member countries to raise tariffs if increases in Chinese exports disrupted their domestic markets. Many countries were loath to use it, given China’s growing economic might...
Raising the prospect of such tariffs is a gamble for the Trump administration. Despite China’s previous opposition, American officials hope the country’s current economic weakness will outweigh those concerns at the negotiating table.
U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, today released a report titled “Made in China 2025 and the Future of American Industry.” The report outlines the challenges posed by China’s whole-of-state industrial planning for America’s prosperity and productivity, including the jobs and wages of American workers and small businesses. It also lays out policy recommendations to strengthen the American economy against its rivals by increasing high-value, high-labor production in the United States. The report is the first product of the Project for Strong Labor Markets and National Development from Rubio’s committee staff.
2. Xi Study Strong Nation app
Available at the website xuexi.cn, the “Xi Study Strong Nation” app is tool by means of which, once installed, the Party can assert its ideological and intellectual authority over Party members and employees of Party-run institutions, including schools and media. Beyond making Party messages passively available, as Party newspapers and state controlled media have done for decades, the app commands engagement, by which users can earn “Xi Study Points” (学习积分). Once engagement with the app is enforced by administrative demands that it be installed and used, something that is already happening, the messages of the Party become inescapable.
Gone are the days when you can simply ignore that stack of Party newspapers in the corner of the office, or switch off the Party’s nightly newcast, “Xinwen Lianbo.”
The app’s name, “Xi Study Strong Nation,” or Xue Xi Qiang Guo (学习强国), is derived from a now widely used official pun on the surname of China’s top leader. The surname “Xi” is also the second character in the Chinese word xuexi (学习), meaning “to study.” The app, designed and built by the Propaganda and Public Opinion Research Center of the Central Propaganda Department of the CCP (中共中央宣传部宣传舆情研究中心), an office previously known as the “Research Center on Ideology and Political Work” (思想政治工作研究所), is organised into several sections...
The platform is interesting and significant not only for the nature of its content as reflective of a renewed push to enforce the dominance of the Party’s ideology and positions, and to consolidate the power of Xi Jinping around the developing notion of “Xi Jinping Thought,” but also for the way it reinvents the process of ideological dominance for the digital era.
Comment: As I have said for a while Xi has launched a “Cadre Cultural Revolution”, one that has been for the most part kept inside the Party and under control. This app is a logical next step, as is the points and usage monitoring system. If the app becomes a required home screen install on all mobile phones in China then we should get really worried, but so far no signs that is coming...
If you want to get with the program here is the iOS version of 学习强国
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 at a conference on publicity and ideological work.
He called for steady efforts to carry out the initiative launched on publicity and ideological fronts to improve workers' "four essential abilities", namely investigating and studying, being observant and of sound judgment, sticking to correct political direction and at the same time making bold innovations, and being experts in expressing ideas and public communication.
3. Huawei and "high-tech Cold War"
The Trump administration is poised to issue an executive order this week to secure American telecommunications networks, a move that’s likely to result in the barring of Chinese tech firms such as Huawei, according to three U.S. officials.
The order, which President Trump is expected to sign by Friday, would give the commerce secretary broad powers to stop American companies from doing business with foreign suppliers...
“This is a national security issue, not a trade issue,” said one U.S. official, who, like two others interviewed for this article, spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations. “We’re not doing this to increase the leverage [with China]. This is on a separate track.”..
U.S. officials want the order finalized before they travel this month to the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, where they are expected to renew calls to secure the international telecom supply chain.
Comment: This has been reported about multiple times since last year, maybe this week it will finally happen...none of the reports suggest that US firms will face additional restrictions on selling components to PRC telecom firms
The acting secretary of defense, Patrick M. Shanahan, is scheduled to be in Brussels for meetings on Wednesday and Thursday and will travel to Munich on Friday for the annual security conference there. He is also expected to raise the dangers of using Huawei and other Chinese telecom firms in foreign networks.
Huawei’s critics are conjuring up threats and misusing state power to “suppress the legitimate development rights and interests of Chinese enterprises” and are “using political means to intervene in the economy,” said Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying.
“All countries should deal with relevant matters in an objective, comprehensive, rational, and correct manner, rather than fabricating excuses of all kinds for one’s own pursuit of interest at the cost of others, which is quite hypocritical, immoral, and unfair,” Hua said.
Li Yi, a senior research fellow at the Internet Research Center affiliated to the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times that the Trump executive order launches a new US offensive in the high-tech sector that will certainly bring about more containment of its biggest competitor, China.
The executive order requested protection for US AI technology from "attempted acquisition by strategic competitors and adversarial nations."
Just like the fierce competition in 5G technologies, the US will likely tighten technology and talent exchanges with China, said Chinese analysts.
Chinese AI enterprises will face more pressure and a less friendly environment for their business in the US, but those changes will only make them stronger and more resilient, said Li.
The executive order brings higher policy risks for US investors and entrepreneurs who do business with Chinese partners, analysts predicted.
Eric Xu, one of Huawei’s three rotating chairmen, said on Wednesday that warnings this week by Mike Pompeo, the US secretary of state, to eastern European countries against using the group’s equipment were the latest example of how Washington was “using the government machine [against] a small, weak sesame-seed company”...
“Is [the US] truly thinking about cyber security and protecting the privacy of other countries’ citizens, or do they have other motives?” he said.
“Some say that because these countries are using Huawei equipment, it makes it harder for US agencies to obtain these countries’ data,” he added.
China’s Huawei has taken out full-page ads in major New Zealand newspapers in which they equate the idea of ban on the company to a rugby tournament without the All Blacks.
The advertisement reads: “5G without Huawei is like rugby without New Zealand”, referring to the upcoming nationwide rollout of the mobile technology.
State Councillor Yang Jiechi will be confronted by the US and its allies on issues including Venezuela, Iran and Chinese technology giant Huawei’s part in developing 5G networks at the three-day Munich Security Conference...
Yang, a member of the Communist Party’s Politburo, will represent China at the conference, which he last attended in 2015. Last year’s conference was attended by Foreign Minister Wang Yi.
Interior Minister Horst Seehofer has thrown his weight behind a proposal to reform Germany’s telecommunications law to toughen security requirements on foreign network vendors, the RND group of newspapers reported on Tuesday...
Citing participants at a meeting of conservatives and Social Democrats, who rule together in a grand coalition, RND said Seehofer’s aim was to better control Huawei - and not to ban it.
For more than 1,000 years, the sprawling castle complex perched high above Prague has been the seat of power for Holy Roman emperors, the kings of Bohemia and, now, the Czech president, Milos Zeman. And for the last four years, the Chinese technology giant Huawei has had a contract to fulfill the communication needs of the president and his staff...
So when the Czech government’s cybersecurity agency issued a directive in December warning that Huawei represented a potential national security threat, company officials were shocked — as was Mr. Zeman, known for his closeness to China. Huawei has threatened legal and financial retaliation. Mr. Zeman has accused his own intelligence services, including the cybersecurity agency, known as Nukib, of “dirty tricks.”..
Huawei officials, for their part, were so confident in their standing in the Czech Republic that in June, they decided to push for Czech security clearance to work on critical infrastructure — a move that may have contributed to the cyberagency’s decision to more closely scrutinize the Chinese company.
Question: Any chance bribes were involved?
4. AI is the next revolution in military affairs
The Pentagon and any other defense bureaucracies are right to be concerned about the PRC's progress in AI.
A day after the release of an executive order by President Trump that omits naming China, the Defense Department, in a new AI strategy document, speaks in stark terms of a "destabilizing" Chinese threat.
"Failure to adopt AI will result in legacy systems irrelevant to the defense of our people, eroding cohesion among allies and partners, reduced access to markets that will contribute to a decline in our prosperity and standard of living, and growing challenges to societies that have been built upon individual freedoms."
The bottom line: The new document, a public summary of a classified strategy developed last year, calls for the Pentagon to realign itself drastically.
5. Suggestions for US policies towards China
I highlighted this new report yesterday but think the summaries from the release made it worth mentioning again. The PRC government should take this report seriously, not only because some of the sensible prescriptions may become policy but also because Chinese officials really need to understand how much the ground in DC has shifted to viewing China as an enemy.
The report is the second written by the group of China experts. The 17 authors “are all on this escalator away from the idea that engagement is functional and that things were generally heading in a convergent direction despite setbacks,” Mr. Schell said in an interview. “That’s a startling change that has pulled the floor out from underneath many of our old assumptions.”
Ms. Shirk said the group agreed that it was “good to get tougher with China and call out the Chinese policies that are not keeping with global norms and detrimental to U.S. values.” But, she said, “we feel more strongly that the Trump administration is going about this in the wrong way.” She added, “The way they’re going about it is whack ’em and push back for the sake of pushing back.”
Daniel Rosen's "Additional Commentary" at the end of the report is worth reading in full:
I thoroughly support this report in general, and most of the details. At the same time I have several views which I am compelled to elaborate. The most important concerns engagement (or coupling, or linkage, as variously used). Engagement is neither an end in itself nor an all-or-nothing choice, and two nations not convergent on shared norms of economic policy cannot be as engaged as two nations like minded in this regard. China has lately asserted significant reservations to convergence with market orientation as understood in the United States and other advanced economies. That is China’s right. But the erstwhile degree of U.S.-China engagement was contingent on a different set of convictions in Beijing. As Chinese policy intentions evolve, so too must the policy calculations of market-oriented nations. This need not trap us in conflict, but to ensure our response is practical and purposeful we must first concede that some disengagement is inevitable under present trajectories; indeed, that it is already happening. A China that prioritizes politics ahead of markets in the allocation of capital, commercial opportunities, and other economic essentials could be injurious to the United States and other advanced economies. It also means diminishing Chinese growth and less upside for engagers, when accurately measured. Chinese growth is neither doomed nor inevitable: it depends on the quality of policymaking. For the better part of forty years liberalization and marketization bolstered China’s performance. Unless our hardlearned insights about the shortcomings of politicizing the marketplace are wrong, we must expect renascent statism to depress China’s growth and productivity, impairing the benefits engagement would promise. In light of uncertainty and a strong likelihood of Chinese reversion back to reform, limits on American engagement should be adjustable and reversable; but they cannot be unthinkable.
The report, titled "Course Correction: Toward an Effective and Sustainable China Policy," said "it is natural for China's international role to expand as its economy, international interests, and diplomatic capabilities grow."
"Opposing Chinese influence across the board is neither desirable nor feasible," argued the report.
As observers of and participants in these quickly-evolving debates on the future of U.S.-China relations and the role of the United States in Asia, we believe that an important set of questions remains to be answered. Below we identify seven questions that the China-facing policy community is now debating as it grapples with how the United States should respond to challenges being posed by China’s rise. In many cases, these major questions beget research agendas of their own. If the United States seeks to craft a durable and comprehensive strategy for its role in Asia and relationship with China, experts and policymakers must interrogate these debates.
6. More on Roderick MacFarquhar
Professor MacFarquhar specialized in the origins of the Cultural Revolution, the decade of turmoil that terrorized China beginning in 1966. His three-volume work, “The Origins of the Cultural Revolution,” came to be considered a classic...
Unlike many historians who dwelled on the violence of the Red Guards after the outbreak of the Cultural Revolution, Professor MacFarquhar concentrated on the elite factional fighting that started in the 1950s...
Professor MacFarquhar had in the last several years turned to writing a book on India. But he was always asked about China and its future. One thing seemed certain, he said: The Communist Party will not last forever....
“I do foresee the Communist Party fading,” he said in the 2017 interview. “How it will happen I’ve not got the slightest idea. The idea that the party knows best, and only the party can rule, I think it will disappear. Whether it will disappear by some kind of new revolution or just gradually fade away, I don’t know.”
I am sure Xi is serious but he cannot attack the elite and maintain tight control. They will get rid of him or he will have to become a military dictator.
7. Corporate bond concerns
China’s state planner said on Wednesday it would launch an investigation and assessment into corporate bond risks, in an effort to strengthen management and reduce financial risks.
Local authorities will be required to conduct checks on companies’ ability to repay their bonds, and help resolve repayment risks to protect bondholders’ rights, the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) said in a statement on its website.
A Beijing-based construction company made a 30 million yuan ($4.15 million) interest payment a day late on Wednesday, rattling investors already concerned about the financial health of China’s corporate sector.
The late payment is the latest “technical default” that has added to the worries about China Inc.’s ability to repay its debts amid a slew of corporate defaults around the country.
Beijing Orient Landscape & Environment Co. Ltd. failed to make an interest payment due Tuesday on 500 million yuan in commercial paper issued in 2018, according to a statement submitted to Shanghai Clearing House Co. The indebted company blamed the late payment on operational errors by its staff. The payment was expected to go through on Wednesday.
8. Tax bureau slashes through Chinese film industry
There have been faint attempts to push back at what many see as unfairly tarnishing an entire industry. In December, a group of prominent directors published a letter accusing the government of forcing law-abiding filmmakers to pay for the sins of a few. “We express greatest anger toward some unfair public opinions that stigmatize the entire industry,” the China Film Directors' Guild wrote...
For the most part, though, movie people have gone into hiding. Production companies canceled or postponed projects while they audit their books and negotiate what they owe in back taxes. Many of the country's biggest actors stopped working, afraid of becoming the next Fan Bingbing. Financing dried up as banks shied away from an industry tainted by scandal...
Questions: How many did not cheat on their taxes, and do any Hollywood stars or investors have liability?
Box office sales over the Lunar New Year holiday, China's busiest movie-going week, stagnated this year, climbing just 1 percent. Overall attendance declined. Just last year, sales over the holiday week climbed by 69 percent from the previous year. Chinese regulators blamed piracy for the slowdown...
`The government thinks the movie and TV industry made a lot of money in the past several years,’’ says Albert Guo. ``When they need money, they go after us.’’ Guo was about to start production on a TV drama when his financiers’ bank account was frozen in the wake of the Fan Bingbang tax scandal.
The total box office intake for the Feb. 4-10 lunar new year period reached RMB5.83 billion ($860 million), an increase of 1.4% year-on-year, according to data from online ticketing platform Maoyan. But the number of actual cinema visits was down 10.3% year-on-year to 130 million.
Business, Economy, Finance And Trade
China cracking down on illegal underground forex trading in bid to control capital flight | South China Morning Post According to the joint judicial interpretation by the Supreme People’s Court and the Supreme People’s Procuratorate, effective from the start of February, illegal forex trading activities would be a criminal offence, with those involved charged with engaging in an illegal business operation.
Subsidies supplant rural factories as Beijing tackles air pollution | Financial Times $$ in the countryside where scattered small factories are an important source of local employment, provinces have increasingly fallen back on subsidies to paper over slowing growth or the local impact of campaigns such as anti-pollution closures. So, the prospect of a broader national slowdown has not deterred local governments eager to stave off discontent. “It’s a growing practice and, given that the fiscal situation doesn’t seem immediately dangerous, we may see more of this in the future,” said Zhu Ning, associate dean of the national institute of financial research at Tsinghua university. “It makes sense to improve social welfare and ensure social stability.”
Reading between the lines of China’s secondhand e-commerce market · TechNode “[Chinese] media gives a distorted picture of consumer trends in China,” says 28-year old Yang Yuhuan, COO of Yuelin, a Beijing-based startup that is currently focused on China’s secondhand book market. “They too often forget the majority of the population is living in second- and third-tier cities.”
Tesla Rushes Model 3s to China Before Trade-War Truce Expires - Bloomberg Tesla Inc. is loading as many Model 3 sedans as it can onto vessels destined for the People’s Republic ahead of March 1, when a trade-war truce between presidents Donald Trump and Xi Jinping is scheduled to expire. Musk fears the two countries could ratchet tariffs back up, which would make the chief executive officer’s electric cars more expensive in China and boost costs of key components the country sends to his U.S. assembly plant.
Alibaba Says China's Slowdown Isn't Hurting It All That Much - Bloomberg He also praised China’s decision to reduce the tax burden for small and micro-sized companies by 200 billion yuan per year for the next three years, to boost those businesses amid the economic downturn. “In prior cycles the Chinese government would use monetary policy to pump a lot of liquidity into the system,” Tsai said. Now, the government needs to “use fiscal policy, i.e. reducing taxes.” he added, “These SMEs, with more money in their pockets, will be growing their businesses.”
Chinese Sci-Fi Writer Sparks Debate on Slack in State Economy - Bloomberg China’s most prestigious science fiction novelist revealed that a lot of his work was written during work hours at a state-owned power plant, sparking debate about the level of slack in the nation’s vast state sector. The comments from Liu Cixin, seen as China’s equivalent to Arthur C. Clarke, come from a 2015 interview that began circulating widely on social media recently after the film Wandering Earth, which is based on one of his novellas, took in 2 billion yuan ($300 million) in just a week.
China’s First Homegrown Jetliner Nears Commercial Debut - Caixin Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China (COMAC), China’s state-owned aircraft manufacturer, expects to hand over the first C919 jetliners for commercial use to Shanghai-based China Eastern Airlines in 2021, the company said Wednesday.
经济日报 - 年底前企业开设银行账户无需许可 Firms especially small entrepreneurs that are legally registered will be able open a cooperate deposit bank account without applying for approval in Jiangsu and Zhejiang by year end (!!). It is part of an experiment following the instruction of PBoC extended from Taizhou city in Zhejiang
Report: China can extend bond issuance - China Daily China has the capacity to extend local government bond issuance or implement more tax cuts, Economic Information Daily reported Wednesday, citing the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. A total of 2.61 trillion yuan ($386.46 billion) of bond quota was unused by the end of 2018, accounting for 14.1 percent of total local debt, the academy said in a report. This means China can extend bond issuance, or undertake 14 percent of tax and fee cuts
SAFE issues new rules for foreigners taking part in stock incentive programs - Global Times The State Administration of Foreign Exchange (SAFE) has issued detailed rules on how foreign workers can engage in cross-border income and expenditure transactions, capital transfers, and foreign exchange settlements if they take part in a stock incentive program in a company listed on the Chinese mainland.
Executives of TCM company in trouble over honey - China Daily Jiangsu TV reported in mid-December that a honey provider for Beijing Tong Ren Tang Bee Industry－a subsidiary of the Chinese herbal medicine brand founded in 1669－had been accused of reusing expired honey in production in Yancheng, Jiangsu province. An investigation was launched by the company. Because the company is registered in Beijing, the capital's discipline inspection commission began an investigation last month to apportion responsibility. The investigation found that the Party committee of the company failed to supervise its subsidiaries, resulting in chaotic internal management and severe loss of State-owned assets, the CCDI said.
State Council encourages vocational education reform - Gov.cn The circular said that by 2022, 50 high-level advanced vocational schools with 150 key majors should be established, and a national standard system of vocational education that covers most industries and meets international advanced levels will be created. Enterprises will show more willingness to participate in vocational education, and teachers with both theoretical and practical skills will account for over half of the total number of professional teachers.
China economy: Morgan Stanley forecast China's account deficit in 2019 China will likely become more reliant on foreign capital as the country looks set to enter into years of shortfall in its current account, Morgan Stanley predicted in a report. "The economy's current account is in long-term decline and the future growth of the economy will be increasingly dependent on foreign capital," said the investment bank in a report on Tuesday.
Politics, Law And Ideology
Uighurs ask China: 'Show me my mother and father are alive' - BBC News On 10 February, the footage released showed a man said to be Abdurehim Heyit stating he was in "good health". The video came after Turkey criticised China's mass detention of Uighurs in its far west, saying it had learned of Mr Heyit's death in a camp. Questions about the video's authenticity and when it was filmed were raised by some Uighur groups. Now, using the hashtag #MeTooUyghur, relatives of detainees and activists have taken to Twitter and Facebook to ask the Chinese government to prove that their loved ones are still alive.
Next stop Xinjiang for one of China’s rising political stars Wang Junzheng | South China Morning Post Wang Junzheng, 56, has been appointed to Xinjiang’s 14-member Communist Party standing committee, according to an official statement on Monday. His new role was not specified in the two-paragraph announcement. Analysts said he was expected to assume a leadership role in the party’s regional political and legal affairs commission – a critical body in the implementation of China’s “stabilising measures” in Xinjiang, which include the controversial “re-education camps” where up to 1 million people from the Muslim ethnic minority group are reportedly being held.
涉秦岭别墅问题的这位重要官员 大量问题被通报_网易新闻 Former environmental protection bureau chief in Xi’an got expelled from CCP membership – the first Shaanxi office expelled from membership for involving in the Qinling villa scandal
China cracks down on organized crime, providers of "protective umbrellas" - Xinhua China's discipline watchdogs and supervision organs handled 14,000 cases of corruption involving organized crime and officials who provide "protective umbrellas" in 2018, the top anti-graft body said Wednesday. More than 10,000 Party members and public office holders involved in these cases were punished and 1,899 were transferred for justice, said the Communist Party of China Central Commission for Discipline Inspection and the National Supervisory Commission on its website.
Supervisors at religious places - Global Times A new National Religious Affairs Administration (NRAA) regulation states that religious venues should set up a democratic management committee responsible for internal management, annual work plan, budget and other major decisions of the venue, the United Front Work Department (UFWD) of the Communist Party of China Central Committee said on its WeChat account on Tuesday...Requiring Chinese mainlanders as committee members and supervisors is meant to protect religious venues from being taken over or monopolized by an individual or a group that uses religion for their own purpose, such as separatists or foreign forces, Zhu Weiqun, former head of the Ethnic and Religious Affairs Committee of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, told the Global Times on Wednesday.
Foreign and Military Affairs
China Talks With Venezuela Opposition to Protect Investments - WSJ Chinese diplomats, worried over the future of its oil projects in Venezuela and nearly $20 billion that Caracas owes Beijing, have held debt negotiations in Washington in recent weeks with representatives of Juan Guaidó, the opposition leader heading the U.S.-backed efforts to oust Mr. Maduro, according to people familiar with the talks.
Or not? - China refutes report of contact with Venezuelan opposition - Xinhua Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying made the remarks when asked for comments on The Wall Street Journal reporting that Chinese diplomats had contact with Venezuelan opposition representatives in Washington. "Recently, some media have been cooking up fake news. I don't know what the purpose is," said Hua at a press briefing. "We hope relevant media will report news abiding by principles of being objective and fair."
Rules aim to build up PLA combat abilities - Ministry of National Defense The regulation's 10 chapters and 61 clauses specify the duties and major tasks of training inspectors and prescribe the proper procedures and methods of inspection. Wu Peixin, a military observer in Beijing, said the regulation is expected to enable the PLA to better supervise units' training. "Currently, the training of PLA units is examined and supervised by higher authorities, mainly based on those authorities' own rules, which are more or less different from each other," he said. "With the regulation, training will be organized and supervised with a unified set of standards, so it will be improved."
China targets military training in renewed combat readiness mission | South China Morning Post To drive home the message, the PLA Daily’s social media platform published an interview with an officer from the CMC’s training management department stressing that the new regulation was meant to “rectify” problems such as cheating, waste and bureaucracy. The officer said that under the new regulation, the PLA would establish proper systems and assign inspectors to monitor and supervise officers responsible for training and hold them accountable for failures and derelictions of duty.
Challenges and complexities | croaking cassandra Interviewed on Radio New Zealand this morning, the Prime Minister conceded that there were “challenges and complexities” in the government’s relationship with the People’s Republic of China. Fearful, and seemingly out of her depth, she wouldn’t or couldn’t identify any of those “challenges and complexities”. // Comment: New Zealand's festering China problem seems close to bursting
Police fail to crack case of burgled China scholar Anne-Marie Brady - NZ Herald Canterbury University professor Anne-Marie Brady suffered a number of suspicious burglaries in early 2018 that she - and other scholars and intelligence analysts - have said were likely a response to her critical work investigating China's foreign influence activities. The investigation, which stretched for almost a year, involved the police's secretive National Security Investigation Team, international law-enforcement body Interpol and spy agency the New Zealand Security and Intelligence Service. The latter agency also swept Brady's home and university office for bugs. In a statement today police said they had been unable to resolve the case.
Chinese student regrets 'pudding tantrum' - The Straits Times Across Facebook and Twitter, Zhang was derided for her arrogance and for being disrespectful. Some said her behaviour reflected the purportedly low regard many Chinese had for the Philippines, on account of President Rodrigo Duterte's policy to warm relations with China in exchange for investments for his ambitious US$169 billion (S$230 billion) infrastructure-building programme.
Commentary: Egregious accusations ignore basic facts on Xinjiang - Xinhua The facts about Xinjiang's anti-terrorism work and religious freedom have also been seen first-hand and recognized by diplomats from 12 countries and media representatives from six countries including Turkey during their visits to Xinjiang in the past two months. In contrast to how the Turkish foreign ministry had described Xinjiang's vocational education centers, those diplomats and journalists saw smiling faces of people in different localities in the region. Turkish ATV reporter Tugcenur Yilmaz said that trainees are learning laws and skills, which play an important role in de-extremism. Kabaziyev Manarbek, Counselor of the Kazakhstan Embassy in China, said students master vocational skills through training and make a living with these skills later in life, which shows that the Chinese government truly cares about these trainees.
Malaysia's Anwar Tells Southeast Asian Nations to Defend Territory against China - RFA Malaysian leader Anwar Ibrahim said Southeast Asian nations have to defend their territory amid Beijing’s aggressive moves to expand shoals into artificial islands and build military facilities in the South China Sea. Anwar, who is widely expected to take over eventually from Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, made his statement during an open forum near the U.S. capital on Sunday, the same day that Washington drew Beijing’s ire for sending two warships near the disputed Spratly Islands.
Hong Kong, Macao
'Trojan horse': Hong Kong's China extradition plans may harm city's judicial protections, say democrats | Hong Kong Free Press HKFP The Security Bureau has proposed a case-by-case system on fugitive transfers, but democrats fear the proposal – which applies to mainland China, Taiwan and Macau – will hurt Hong Kong’s judicial protections under One Country, Two Systems. The government’s move was in response to the case of Poon Hiu-wing, a 20-year-old Hong Kong woman who was killed during a trip to Taiwan last February. Hong Kong authorities arrested Poon’s boyfriend Chan Tong-kai, but were unable to charge him with murder in local courts.
韩国瑜3月将访大陆多个南方经济性较强的城市_网易新闻 KMT’s rising star Han Kuo-yu is going to visit several cities with good economic standing in south China to look for business opportunities for Kaohsiung.
Tech And Media
Didi rumored to have lost record RMB 10 billion in 2018 · TechNode Chinese ride-hailing firm Didi is rumored to have lost of billions of yuan of loss in 2018, as the company shifted focus from revenue growth to legal compliance, reports 36Kr (in Chinese). According to an internal file obtained by 36Kr, the Chinese mobility giant recorded an annual loss of RMB 10.9 billion (roughly $1.48 billion) in 2018. It had also reportedly given to drivers subsidies totaling RMB 11.3 billion for the whole year.
Bytedance ups ante in Spring Festival hongbao battle, giving away RMB 1.6 billion · TechNode The RMB 1.6 billion was distributed between content aggregator Jinri Toutiao, short video app Douyin, and social networking app Duoshan. The three apps received RMB 1 billion, RMB 600 million, and RMB 100 million respectively, according to the Jiemian report. They used the money for different Spring Festival promotional activities: users either collect tokens to qualify for a prize money raffle in the form of hongbao issued by the platform or are directly rewarded for participation.
Autonomous truck startup TuSimple hits unicorn status in latest round | TechCrunch TuSimple, a self-driving truck startup running daily routes for customers in Arizona, has raised $95 million in a Series D funding round led by Sina Corp. as the company prepares to scale up its commercial autonomous fleet to more than 50 trucks by June.
Apple removes 700 social media apps from China store - Global Times Apple has again pulled a large number of apps from its well-known app store in China. Analysts noted that the company is increasingly intolerant of violations of its own regulations and Chinese laws, as its charm among Chinese consumers wanes. Work networking platform Maimai, karaoke app Yinyu, and voice-messaging and entertainment platform Hello were among an estimated 700 apps that were removed from Apple's China app store recently.
Yicai Global - Source Close to Chinese Game Streamer Douyu Says US Listing Rumors Are True Speculation that Douyu, China's leading streaming platform for video gaming, will raise USD500 million in a stateside initial public offering is true, according to a source close to the firm. The Wuhan-based firm, backed by internet giant Tencent Holdings, already boasts better user data than domestic rival Huya, which is listed in New York, the anonymous source told state-owned Beijing News.
Society, Art, Sports, Culture And History
Rabil’s Lacrosse League Gets Investment From Alibaba's Joe Tsai - Bloomberg The upstart Premier Lacrosse League, which begins its inaugural season on June 1, has a new high-profile backer: Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. billionaire Joe Tsai. The league just closed a Series A funding round that was led by Tsai, who also owns a stake in the National Basketball Association’s Brooklyn Nets.
Energy, Environment, Science And Health
Beijing mulls earlier adoption of emission standards to cut pollution - China Daily Beijing’s environmental watchdog is considering adopting the National VI (B) emission standards ahead of the country’s scheduled time, aiming to reduce vehicle emissions and enhance air pollution control in the capital. According to a draft plan published by the Beijing Municipal Ecological Environment Bureau on Monday, the new standard would come into effect first for diesel-powered trucks in public transportation and environmental sanitation industries and heavy-duty vehicles powered by gas in July, and then extend to other vehicles beginning in 2020.
Three-Quarters of China’s Coal Plants Fitted With Emission-Cutting Tech - Caixin This week it was able to celebrate another milestone in its clean-up effort. At least 700 gigawatts (GW) of power plants have been fitted with “ultra-low emission” technology, according (link in Chinese) to state news outlet Xinhua. This means the country has more than achieved its aim of fitting 580 GW-worth of plants with the technology two years ahead of schedule.
Xinhua Headlines: NASA satellite data verify China's contribution to global greening efforts - Xinhua A new study using data from NASA satellites shows that China and India are leading the increase in greening on land and concludes that the "effect comes mostly from ambitious tree-planting programs in China and intensive agriculture in both countries." The study was published on Feb. 11, 2019, in the journal Nature Sustainability.
Zhai Tianlin's Alleged Plagiarism Triggers Discussions on Academic Cheating in Chinese Universities | What's on Weibo The plagiarism allegation case has become a major topic of discussion on Chinese social media this week. The hashtag “Peking University Responds to Zhai Tianlin Case” (#北大回应翟天临事件#) has been viewed a staggering 650 million times on Weibo at time of writing, while the hashtag “Beijing Film Academy Sets Up Zhai Tianlin Investigation Team” (#北电成立翟天临事件调查组#) received more than 490 million views...Although the scandal has triggered countless reactions condemning Zhai, there are also many people on social media who are directing their anger towards the universities and state media, with one typical comment saying: “By solely focusing on Zhai, you are avoiding the real problem. Colleges and universities face great corruption problems, that is what you should be looking into."