Vice-Premier Liu He? Big Data, Big Frenzy; Coal Returns To Beijing; WeChat As WeWatch; Foreign Influence Operations

Happy Monday...though it may not be a very happy day for Yang Jiechi if the South China Morning Post is correct. The newspaper has a report over the weekend about personnel moves and Yang does not make its list of four new vice premiers. 

The Communist Party loves big data and has spurred a massive investment boom. That boom will only grow. On Friday the Politburo held a study session on big data and based on Xi's reported comments the Party sees big data as the solution to many of China's challenges. 

The latest I am hearing is that the Central Economic Work Conference will start on or around December 18.

More below, thanks for reading. 

The Essential Eight

1. Will Liu He Be Named One Of Four Vice-Premiers?

Comment: The South China Morning Post, which so far in the New Era has a good track record reporting on Communist Party personnel moves, reports that Liu will replace Ma Kai as the Vice-Premier in charge of finance, and also take on Ma's role as head of the Financial Stability and Development Committee. Liu's roles have been the subject of much speculation and some smart observers expected he would take over the Central Policy Research Office. If he gets a vice premier job will Wang Huning remain in charge of the Central Policy Research Office?

Key Xi Jinping adviser set for major role in team steering China’s economy through turbulent waters | South China Morning Post:

President Xi Jinping’s key economic adviser Liu He is likely to be promoted to vice-premier in March, as Xi assembles a new team to steer the world’s second largest economy over the next five years, according to sources with knowledge of the arrangement...

Han Zheng, the former Shanghai party chief who joined Li on the seven-seat Standing Committee in October, will take on the role of first-ranking vice-premier, also known as the executive vice-premier, currently held by Zhang Gaoli.

Two other Politburo members, Sun Chunlan and Hu Chunhua, are in line to fill the remaining vice-premier positions. Sun is likely replace retiring vice-premier Liu Yandong, while Hu is expected to succeed Wang Yang, who has been elevated into the Standing Committee, according to sources....

Comment: The norm is to have four vice premiers, with the top-ranked one a Standing Committee member who is Executive Vice Premier (EVP). In the 18th Party Congress it was Zhang Gaoli, for the 19th it sounds like it will be Han Zheng. 

The EVP appears to be to PRC politics as the appendix is to the human body; can anyone remember anything noteworthy Zhang Gaoli did? 

If the SCMP is correct that the four vice premiers will be Han Zheng, Liu He, Sun Chunlan and Hu Chunhua, where does that leave Politburo member Yang Jiechi, especially if Wang Qishan does end up overseeing US-China relations? More from the SCMP:

Finance Minister Xiao Jie is in line for promotion as a new state councillor, as well as the secretary general of the cabinet, according to sources.

Xiao had already been named as deputysecretary general last month, and taken over the party posts held by the currentsecretary general, Yang Jing.

At the party’s leadership shake-up in October, Yang surprisingly failed to retain his seat on the Central Committee – the largest of the party’s ruling bodies.

Once considered a contender for vice-premier, the 64-year-old ethnic Mongolian is close to Premier Li Keqiang, his boss in the State Council, according to a source who knows Yang personally.

Yang worked directly under Li when Li was the first secretary of the Communist Youth League and Yang the league’s top official in Inner Mongolia between 1993 and 1996.

Comment: I hear Yang Jing ran into trouble, and has been demoted and taken back to Inner Mongolia.

2. Big Data The New Panacea, And The Pathway To Panopticon 2.0

China Focus: China must accelerate implementation of big data strategy: Xi - Xinhua:

Efforts should be made to advance national big data strategy, improve digital infrastructure, promote integration and sharing of digital resources, and safeguard data security, Xi said during a collective study session of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee's Political Bureau on Friday.

"We should target cutting-edge technology and mobilize prime resources to make breakthroughs in developing core big data technology, and accelerate building an independent and controllable industrial chain, value chain and eco-system of big data," said Xi, who is also general secretary of the CPC Central Committee...

Comment: "independent and controllable industrial chain" means getting rid of foreign technology in the industrial chain. 

Xi also emphasized the necessity of using big data to improve governance. A nationwide information-sharing platform should be set up with the use of e-government and smart city systems.

He also ordered efforts to improve Internet governance and clean up cyberspace.

Xi urged better use of big data in improving people's wellbeing, calling for the advancement of "Internet plus education," "Internet plus medical treatment" and "Internet plus culture" to further ensure citizens' equitable access to public services.

He stressed solving problems, especially prominent problems concerning people's wellbeing, urging the widespread use of big data in areas such as education, employment, social security, medicine and the healthcare system, housing and transportation.

Xinhua report - 习近平:实施国家大数据战略加快建设数字中国:

The CCTV Evening News report on the study session, with video from inside the meeting 习近平在中共中央政治局第二次集体学习时强调 审时度势精心谋划超前布局力争主动 实施国家大数据战略加快建设数字中国

BBC correspondent John Sudworth gets remarkable access to a Guiyang PSP control room. Part of the 5 minute video report includes includes Sudworth giving his photo to Guiyang cops and seeing how long it takes to find him in the city. (I am guessing they already knew but still interesting). Why did Guiyang agree? Will this help business for Chinese surveillance firms trying to sell into the UK, another massive video surveillance state?- Inside China’s surveillance state - BBC News

It is worth remembering that Guiyang s the capital of Guizhou, a province which under the leadership of Chen Min'er made "big data" a key industry in the province.

Doctor, border guard, policeman – artificial intelligence in China and its mind-boggling potential to do right, or wrong | Post Magazine | South China Morning Post:

Zhu Long, co-founder of pioneering Yitu Technologies, whose facial-recognition algorithms have logged 1.8 billion faces and caught criminals across China, says AI will change the world more than the industrial revolution..

“People waste time discus­sing whether it’s all hype or the real thing, but facial recogni­tion already shows how real it can get. In 2015, AI had already beaten humans in face-verification tasks. Our algor­ithm is more accurate than customs officials at telling whether two images show the same person. It can even find a subject among millions of others using a 25- or 30-year-old image. And in the past two years, the performance of machines has increased by 1,000 times.”..

Zhu...received a PhD in statistics from the University of California, Los Angeles and later became a post­doctoral fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

China: Police ‘Big Data’ Systems Violate Privacy, Target Dissent | Human Rights Watch:

The Police Cloud system appears to be a national project. In 2015, the MPS issued a regulation on information sharing (公安机关信息共享规定), ordering aggregation of data and the construction of provincial-level Police Clouds, which form the basis of a national Police Cloud database...

The Police Cloud system aims to integrate different types of information, including data routinely gathered by China’s police, such as residential addresses, family relations, birth control methods, and religious affiliations. The cloud platforms will also integrate hotel, flight and train records, biometrics, CCTV footage, and information from other government departments and even private companies.

Winning Verdict for the AI Lawyer - Caixin Global:

Can big data and artificial intelligence (AI) help a Chinese judge reach the right verdict?

Yes they can, says the founder of a Beijing-based start-up called Gridsum whose company supports court procedures by providing offsite mediation services and easy access to court records.

3. Coal Returns As Poorly Conceived Winter Heating Plans Blow Up

Comment: Another example of a good idea at the central level becoming a mess as it is transmitted down the bureaucracy with little consultation but big impact on official evaluations if not implemented.

Drive for Clean Air Creates 'Chaos,' Leaves Thousands Shivering - Caixin Global:

The failure to accurately estimate the demand for natural gas has led to a supply crunch and a spike in gas prices. The onshore price of liquefied natural gas in northern China has nearly doubled in the past three months to between 6,000 yuan ($906) and 8,000 yuan per ton.

As a result, thousands of families were secretly burning tree branches and coal briskets to keep warm, while their newly installed gas stoves were left to idle.

Hebei is now grappling with its “worst-ever natural gas shortage” in recent decades, due to thousands of last-minute conversions, officials said...

The top-down approach adopted for this campaign is also problematic as lower-level authorities had no involvement in the initial planning, and were only told to follow orders to meet targets set by higher-ups, Lei said.

Beijing Issues Emergency Order to Relight Coal Generators - Caixin Global:

Under instructions from the National Development and Reform Commission, the city sent notices to the State Grid Corp. of China’s North China division, State Grid Beijing Electric Power Co. and Huaneng Beijing Thermal Power Co. Ltd. to begin emergency coal power generation to reduce the city’s use of natural gas, according to a document obtained by Caixin. 

China looks to nuclear option to ease winter heating woes - Reuters:

State-owned China National Nuclear Corp (CNNC) recently conducted a successful 168-hour trial run in Beijing for a small, dedicated “district heating reactor” (DHR) it has named the “Yanlong”.

Concrete Component Makers Livid as Cement Prices Surge - Caixin Global:

Cement prices have surged since November in connection with a government campaign aimed at reducing air pollution in 28 cities in northern and eastern China.

The initiative forced factories that rely on coal, such as cement and steel plants, to cut production. The nation’s Cement Price Index rose to 143.8 on Thursday, the highest level so far this year and up more than 41 points from the same day last year, according to the China Cement Research Institute. The index was 117 on Nov. 1.

Comment: Will they have to cut production even more to compensate for the restart of coal-burning for winter heating? Otherwise the pollution targets will be missed badly

4. Water May Be China's Biggest Environmental Problem

World's Largest Water Diversion Plan Won't Quench China's Thirst - Bloomberg:

Beijing, which gets about 70 percent of its water from the South-North diversion project, is expected to add another 2 million people before the government caps the city’s population at 23 million.

President Xi Jinping announced plans in April to build a new city, Xiongan, about 100 kilometers southwest of the capital. With an estimated 5.4 million people, it would also be fed by the aqueduct...

It also has plans for a third canal, supplementing the Danjiangkou-to-Beijing route and the first channel, which largely uses the old imperial Grand Canal system to move water along the eastern seaboard. The western one would divert water from three tributaries of the Yangtze River to help replenish the Yellow River. It is the most controversial and difficult of the three, channeling water across the vast Qinghai-Tibet plateau that could diminish supplies for rivers that flow through neighboring countries to the south.

Comment: And water will also become an increasingly more contentious issue with its neighbors, especially India.

‘China polluting Brahmaputra’: Assam sends water samples to IIT, IICT | The Indian Express:

“There is no other reason that the mighty Siang should be dirty and black in the month of Novemnber, but has occurred due to heavy excavation on the Chinese side, which has to be verified by an international team,” Ering, in a letter to the prime minister said. He also claimed that fish and other aquatic life had disappeared from the river in the past few weeks.

5. Threats To Attack Taiwan Won't Help With The "Peaceful Reunification: Agenda

Comment: Nor will they help Beijing in DC. In fact, some in the US Congress might be so angered over Beijing's bullying and threatening that they decide to push for exactly what Beijing is so shrilly warning about.

Chinese diplomat in U.S. threatens Taiwan with military attack | Taiwan News:

The day a United States Navy ship docks in Kaohsiung is the day China will launch a military attack against Taiwan, a Chinese diplomat in the U.S. reportedly said Friday.

Chinese embassy Minister Li Kexin (李克新) was referring to the recent passage by the U.S. Congress of a measure which will allow visits by Navy vessels and military officials from the U.S. and Taiwan to each other’s territory.

He was speaking at an embassy event where more than 200 Chinese students in the U.S. but also Taiwanese residents and media had been invited, the Chinese-language Liberty Times reported.

Global Times weighs in 社评:解放军武力统一台湾的选项不是威胁_评论_环球网 :

台湾社会太不了解《反分裂国家法》了。其实民进党当局现在已经在该法的门槛附近冒险了,它在把台湾往极端错误的方向引,使得台湾的发展缺少最基本的可持续的确定性。 美国军舰抵达高雄之日,就是解放军武力统一台湾之时,这是来自大陆方面的严正警告。大陆清晰划出了一条红线,但它不是唯一的红线。如果台湾搞“统独公投”,更改“国号”,或者采取其他“法理台独”的行动,解放军都将根据《反分裂国家法》坚定果断地跨越海峡,登陆并控制台湾全岛,以武力方式结束分裂局面。

China, Taiwan spar over Chinese diplomat's invasion threat - Reuters:

Taiwan’s Foreign Ministry said late on Saturday that, while Chinese officials seemed to want to try and win over hearts and minds in Taiwan, they also had been repeatedly using threats that hurt the feelings of Taiwan’s people.

“These methods show a lack of knowledge about the real meaning of the democratic system and how a democratic society works,” the ministry said.

6. China's Human Rights Declaration At Odds With The UN's Universal Declaration of Human Rights?

Full text of Beijing Declaration adopted by the First South-South Human Rights Forum - Xinhua:

In order to ensure universal acceptance and observance of human rights, the realization of human rights must take into account regional and national contexts, and political, economic, social, cultural, historical and religious backgrounds. The cause of human rights must and can only be advanced in accordance with the national conditions and the needs of the peoples. Each State should adhere to the principle of combining the universality and specificity of human rights and choose a human rights development path or guarantee model that suits its specific conditions. States and the international community have a responsibility to create the necessary conditions for the realization of human rights, including the maintenance of peace, security and stability, the promotion of economic and social development and the removal of obstacles to the realization of human rights.

Comment: Clearly not a coincidence this Beijing declaration came two days before International Human Rights Day.

EU Delegation to China statement on International Human Rights Day 2017:

The Chinese authorities have made commitments to promote law-based governance and the creation of a modern and prosperous society. The respect and promotion of the full range of human rights is not only consistent with these aims, but in our view necessary for their full achievement. In the coming year, a core part of our engagement will include working with China to promote human rights under the Universal Declaration.

U.S. Embassy Statement on International Human Rights Day | U.S. Embassy & Consulates in China:

The Chinese authorities have made commitments to promote some legal reforms and the creation of a modern and prosperous society. The respect and promotion of the full range of human rights is not only consistent with these aims, but necessary to fully achieve them. In the coming year, a core part of our engagement will include working with the government and people of China to promote human rights under the Universal Declaration.

Comment: The US and EU International Human Rights Day statements directed at China look coordinated.

German award for Ilham Tohti sheds light on China′s Uighur abuse | DW:

Imprisoned Uighur rights activist Ilham Tohti has won the 2017 Weimar Human Rights award. Ulrich Delius from the Society for Threatened Peoples (STP) spoke with DW about Tohti's work and the significance of the award.

The Chinese embassy called the mayor of Weimar, and with an abusive tone, warned against burdening relations between China and Germany. (DW: The Chinese embassy did not respond to DW's requests for comment)
After the city was not intimidated by this, the website of the Weimar Human Rights Award suddenly disappeared from the Internet. We are convinced that this can be traced back to Chinese hackers.

China Focus: Xi's "world view" offers Chinese wisdom to global governance - Xinhua

Although the topics of the events varied from economic globalization to cooperation among political parties, the messages in Xi's speech and letters radiated a China vision of global governance that is best summarized as "a community with a shared future for mankind."

In his keynote speech at the opening of the Communist Party of China (CPC) in Dialogue with World Political Parties High-Level Meeting on Dec. 1, Xi described four pictures of the future: a world that is safe and free of fear, a world that is prosperous and free of poverty, a world that is open, inclusive and free of isolation, as well as a world that is environmentally clean and beautiful.

His letters, to the Fourth World Internet Conference on Dec. 3, the 2017 Fortune Global Forum on Dec. 6 and the South-South Human Rights Forum on Dec. 7, contained a common commitment to openness and cooperativeness.

Comment: Can you feel the radiation?

7. Growing Concerns About PRC Foreign Influence Operations 

Comment: Australia is in the midst of quite an awakening about CCP influence work. I expect the US to be next.

Waking up to PRC influence operations may be one of the biggest China stories of 2017, and expect it to only get bigger in 2018. Chinese influence operations are very real but unless this is properly handled the risks of outbreaks of nasty anti-Chinese racism will increase, though the cynic in me believes some in Beijing may want that as they believe growing anti-Chinese sentiment will only push members of the diaspora into the warm embrace of the Motherland.

Turnbull says Australia will 'stand up' to China as foreign influence row heats up | The Guardian:

The Australian prime minister has hit back at China over the issue of foreign interference, speaking Mandarin and invoking a famous Chinese slogan to declare Australia will “stand up” against meddling in its national affairs.

Beijing issued a stinging rebuke of Turnbull on Friday, saying his allegations of Communist party interference had poisoned the atmosphere of bilateral relations and undermined mutual trust.

Global Times responds- 社评:澳总理开始满嘴用中文跑火车了

China's top paper says Australian media reports are racist - Reuters:

“This type of hysterical paranoia had racist undertones, and is a stain on Australia’s image as a multicultural society,” the People’s Daily said.

The commentary was published under the pen name “Zhong Sheng,” meaning “Voice of China,” which is often used to give the paper’s view on foreign policy issues.



Remember, the shriller and more "wounded" China appears, the more likely the underlying claims against its activities are true.

Security agencies flag Chinese Manchurian candidates - The Australian:

Days after the Turnbull ­government unveiled a package of measures aimed at cracking down on foreign meddling in ­Australia’s political affairs, fresh ­details are emerging about the ­extent to which political parties have been compromised by ­foreigners, in particular the Chinese government.

Most of those whom security services identified as having close ties to Chinese intelligence ser­vices and the Communist Party were candidates at local government elections, but concerns have been raised about state and federal figures as well.

China’s foreign influence operations are causing alarm in Washington - The Washington Post:

“We have a lot of discussion of Russian interference in our elections, but the Chinese efforts to influence our public policy and our basic freedoms are much more widespread than most people realize,” said Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), co-chairman of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC). “This is an all-out effort to not simply promote themselves in a better light but to target Americans within the United States.”

On Wednesday, the CECC will hold a hearing on the “Long Arm of China” to expose Chinese efforts to gain political influence, control discussion of sensitive topics, interfere in multilateral institutions, threaten and intimidate human rights defenders, impose censorship on foreign publishers and influence academic institutions.

New Zealand security chiefs warn of China threat - FT:

Briefings prepared for Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Andrew Little, the minister in charge of security agencies, mark the latest official expression of concern over Beijing’s political influence in New Zealand and Australia as they experience a surge in political activity from people with alleged ties to China’s Communist party as their Chinese-born populations surge.

8. WeChat Now Also "WeWatch"

Jailed for a Text: China’s Censors Are Spying on Mobile Chat Groups - WSJ:

He and several cellmates took turns taking cold showers in the hot weather, then sat around on stools because lying down wasn’t allowed for most of the day, he says. At night, unable to sleep, he ruminated about his situation. His cellmates, he says, thought it hilarious that he was there for a WeChat comment.

After his release, Mr. Chen says, relatives, friends and officials all told him to learn his lesson and move on. Still, his detention nagged at him more than he anticipated. “I’ve lost some friends,” he says. “Some people now speak to me with reserve.”

Business, Economy, Finance And Trade

Top Policymakers Vow to Pick Up the Pace on Reform - Caixin Global The Politburo’s vision for 2018 is a combination of ongoing efforts to transform the economy while controlling risks, and improving people’s livelihoods and curbing pollution. “Promoting high-quality development will be the fundamental requirement for determining the thinking on development, formulating economic policies and implementing macro-control measures,” the Politburo said in a statement after the meeting, according to the official Xinhua News Agency.

China's Top Leaders Throw Weight Behind Push to Control Debt - Bloomberg Policy makers mapped out three major tasks, placing risk reduction as the top priority. “Leverage should be effectively controlled, the financial sector should better support the real economy, and progress should be made in reducing risks,” the statement said. Poverty reduction and cutting pollution were listed as the other two missions. The Politburo also stressed social stability, work safety and property reforms, according to the statement. The meeting of senior leadership is a prelude to the Central Economic Work Conference expected to be held later this month

China Nov new loans 1.12 trln yuan, well above expectations - Reuters Chinese banks extended 1.12 trillion yuan ($169.27 billion) in net new yuan loans in November, well above analysts’ expectations and the previous month. Analysts polled by Reuters had predicted new yuan loans would rise to 800 billion yuan, from October’s 663.2 billion yuan.

China liquidity tool moves into focus as Fed rate decision awaited - Reuters The tool is the medium-term lending facility (MLF). Ten months ago, when the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) last made two such injections, it followed the Fed’s March lead and hiked its short- and medium-term target rates. The Financial News, a newspaper under the PBOC, said last week a second MLF injection in December was probable.

Regulator Slaps Biggest Fine Ever on Guangfa Bank - Caixin Global The China Banking Regulatory Commission said Friday it confiscated illegal income and imposed fines on Guangfa totaling 722 million yuan ($109 million) for issuing fake guarantee, hiding bad assets and operating with lax internal controls that enabled wrongdoing. “The case involves multiple institutions, industries and markets,” the bank regulator said in a statement. “The case is severe and its social impact is extremely bad. It has rarely been seen in recent year

China Audit Finds Provinces Faked Data and Borrowed Illegally - Bloomberg Ten cities, counties or districts in the Yunnan, Hunan and Jilin provinces, as well as the southwestern city of Chongqing, inflated fiscal revenues by 1.55 billion yuan ($234 million), the National Audit Office said in a statement on its website dated Dec. 8.

4th economic census to be launched in 2018 - The census will cover all businesses involved in the secondary and tertiary industries, in fields such as mining, manufacturing, electricity, building, wholesale and retail, transportation, financing and real estate. Information pertaining to the basic situation, organization structure, staff expenses, production capacity, financial status, and service activities of the business entities will be collected during the yearlong census. 

China’s Trust Industry Grows More Quickly Despite Shadow-Banking Curbs - Caixin Global In the three months ended Sept. 30, assets managed by trusts in China grew 5.49% from the previous quarter to 24.41 trillion yuan ($3.69 trillion), China Trustee Association said in a report Friday. The trust industry grew more quickly from the second quarter’s 5.33% expansion, but was still shy of a much stronger growth of 8.65% in the first quarter, it said.

China's pension funds struggling to cope with ageing population - Reuters Guangxi, Jiangxi, Hainan, Inner Mongolia, Hubei, Shaanxi, Tianjin, Hebei, Liaoning, Jilin, Qinghai, Heilongjiang and the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps can all pay less than one year’s worth of pensions to workers covered under the respective funds, the official Beijing News reported, citing China’s 2016 Social Security Development Annual Report.

Beijing's ban on virtual office registration threatens startups at co-working spaces · TechNode The new rule has come into force across several districts in the Chinese capital, including Chaoyang, Fengtai, and Haidian where the branch bureaus of the Administration for Industry and Commerce have stopped accepting business registration applications using addresses of spaces like a co-working office or incubator. No official announcement has been made.


Politics, Law And Ideology

Xi stresses nonstop efforts to fight undesirable work styles - Xinhua Xi...made the remarks in an instruction in response to an article by Xinhua News Agency about new forms of misconduct. The new forms of misconduct are, in their nature, old problems, Xi said in the instruction, which was made public Monday, warning about the intractability and recurrence of undesirable work styles -- formalities for formalities' sake, bureaucratism, hedonism, and extravagance...Stressing that the upcoming New Year and Spring Festival season will be an important point in the fight, the circular told relevant authorities to resolutely prevent the return of misconduct and to consolidate and build on the advances made in implementing the central Party leadership's eight-point decision on improving Party and government conduct. 习近平近日作出重要指示强调:纠正“四风”不能止步 作风建设永远在路上

Top procuratorate investigates Sun Zhengcai - Xinhua The SPP has taken "coercive measures" against Sun, which may include summons by force, bail and detention, and further investigation is under way.

China’s state security strategy: ‘everyone is responsible’ - ASPI Perhaps it’s paranoia, but the individual responsibility requirement is based on a well-articulated state security concept, largely focused on threat pre-emption. The idea is reinforced in all recent state-security-related legislation, from the State Security Law (2015) to the Intelligence Law (2017). It can also be seen in rules such as the new regulations that make chat group administrators criminally liable if they fail to remove prohibited content. Mobilising the people, both inside and outside the party—and whether voluntarily or by coercion—is seen as key to the state’s long-term security.

Xinjiang locals to host officials’ visits - Global Times The regional Party committee of Xinjiang has asked officials and government staff at all levels to live in the local villages and communities they represent, in an effort to spread the spirit of the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC), Xinjiang Daily reported on Saturday. Government employees will be required to eat, live and work together with local people and pay for their meals during their week-long stay, according to the report, adding that the activity will be carried out over the remaining weeks of December.

Behind the Golden Shield: China Reforms Public Security Intelligence - Jamestown The blueprint for the new system is “Intelligence-Led Policing” (ILP; 情报指导警务), a British law enforcement model pioneered in the 1990s. It has since been enthusiastically adopted by law enforcement agencies across the globe, including in the United States. In China, it has become a mantra in public security policy speeches and academic analysis.


Foreign and Military Affairs

German Intelligence Unmasks Alleged Covert Chinese Social Media Profiles - Reuters The BfV domestic intelligence service took the unusual step of naming individual profiles it says are fake and fake organizations to warn public officials about the risk of leaking valuable personal information via social media. "Chinese intelligence services are active on networks like LinkedIn and have been trying for a while to extract information and find intelligence sources in this way," including seeking data on users' habits, hobbies and political interests, they said.

Maldives signed off on China trade deal with just an hour’s debate over 1,000-page agreement | South China Morning Post Government pushes through pact at lightning speed despite opposition warnings that it needs proper scrutiny

Belt and Road to Where? - Carnegie Moscow Center - Carnegie Endowment for International Peace Setting aside the shortcomings of the Belt and Road concept, the “OBOR hype’ around the world points to a real and fundamental trend — the ascent of China as a truly global economic and military power. While there may be no well-calculated and informed strategy behind Belt and Road, the increase in China’s external trade, military power, overseas investment and its imprint on various fields of global governance is undeniable. The visibility of Belt and Road is not driven by its intrinsic merits but rather stems from the cumulative impact of three decades of fast economic growth, a transformed and digitalized PLA, the globalized and innovative Chinese companies and a new generation of confident and sophisticated Chinese officials, officers and businesspeople — particularly amid America’s gradual retreat from global engagement.

China needs to be wary of security risks along Belt, Road - Global Times With the advance in China's Belt and Road initiative, for instance, the Gwadar Port being put into service and the construction of China-Laos high-speed railway, China is enjoying a greater influence in countries along the route. Raiding Chinese targets has become an effective way for local anti-government and extreme factions to gain attention. Some external forces may also get involved over strategic concerns. Take Laos for example. The country, which used to be stable and peaceful, has seen several security incidents in the wake of the construction of the high-speed rail.

China-Pakistan economic corridor: CPEC: China wants Pakistan army to take over projects? eijing's "new guidelines" overseeing the release of funds to Pakistan as part of its ambitious China-Pakistan Economic Corridor may stipulate greater involvement of the Pakistan army in the multi-billion dollar project, a report by global think-tank European Foundation for South Asian Studies (EFSAS) suggests.

Sri Lanka parliament backs tax exemptions for port deal with Chinese - Reuters Government and diplomatic sources have told Reuters that the United States, India and Japan had raised concerns that China might use the port as a naval base and could be a threat to security and stability in the Indian Ocean. An initial plan to give the Chinese firm an 80 percent stake triggered protests by trade unions and opposition groups, forcing the government to make some revisions that limit China’s role to running commercial operations while retaining for Colombo oversight for broader security issues

Hambantota: Sri Lanka formally hands over Hambantota port to China - Times of India Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe during a visit to China in April had agreed to swap equity in Chinese infrastructure projects launched by former president Mahinda Rajapaksa in his home district. Former Sri Lankan Finance Minister Ravi Karunanayaka, last year had said that the island country owed China $8 billion. "With this agreement we have started to pay back the loans. Hambantota will be converted to a major port in the Indian Ocean," Wickremesinghe said while addressing the handing over ceremony held in parliament.

In first winter stay, 1,800 Chinese troops camping at Doklam | Times of India Indian security establishment sources said while India "achieved its strategic objective" of not letting China extend its existing road in Doklam (or the Dolam plateau) southwards towards the Jampheri ridge, the fallout has been "the almost permanent stationing of People's Liberation Army (PLA) troops in the region+ ".



TDB Vol. 1 No. 22: Taiwan Passes Act Promoting Transitional Justice – Taiwan Foundation for Democracy Covering the period from Aug. 15, 1945 to Nov. 6, 1992, when Martial Law was lifted on the offshore islands of Kinmen and Matsu (five years later than on Taiwan proper), the Act will see the setup of an independent, nine-people Transitional Justice Promotion Committee overseen by the Executive Yuan. The Committee will be tasked with five main missions: opening up political archives, erasing symbols of authoritarianism and keeping the sites of past injustice, redressing judicial wrongs, restoring the historical truth and promoting social reconciliation, and settling and re-channeling ill-gotten party assets.

Taiwan to bar Chinese human rights violators - Taipei Times Officials from China’s Taiwan Affairs Office whose duties include providing services to China-based Taiwanese will not be banned, as it might prompt criticism, the sources said, adding that the officials make several visits to Taiwan every week. However, the officials would be prohibited from engaging in four types of activities in Taiwan: making political comments, giving media interviews, promoting unification and meeting with Aborigines in private, the sources said.


Tech And Media

China's 'sexy cyborg' took on Silicon Valley bro culture — and won - LA Times There’s no mistaking Naomi Wu amid Shenzhen’s deliverymen and investors...Wu calls herself a “sexy cyborg.” She also calls herself a “maker,” the term for tech hobbyists who build creative DIY projects. Her endeavors have earned Wu 157,000 subscribers on YouTube and more than 43,000 Twitter followers in a country that blocks both platforms. She has more than 700 supporters on Patreon, a crowd-funding site. But in recent weeks she’s received even more attention — first from skeptical online commentators and then from Dale Dougherty, a California executive who helped launch the maker movement. They accused her of fraud.

Tencent Music, Spotify to Swap Minority Stakes - Caixin Global Tencent will make the investment both directly and through its music arm, Tencent Music Entertainment Group, the two companies announced on Friday. Sweden-based Spotify will also buy new shares representing an unspecified minority interest in Tencent Music.

BigBasket: Alibaba all set to put $300 million in BigBasket - The Economic Times Alibaba is poised to buy over a third of online grocer BigBasket, according to three people directly aware of the impending deal, for about $300 million. The transaction will add to a portfolio of strategic investments the Chinese ecommerce giant is building in India as it squares up against Amazon in one of the most dynamic markets for ecommerce.

China’s iQiyi bets on digital girlfriend to boost virtual reality headset sales | South China Morning Post Vivi, as the virtual reality (VR) avatar is known, is the brainchild of Chinese search engine operator Baidu’s iQiyi unit. The Netflix-style video streaming service has ventured into VR and come up with the idea of a virtual girlfriend to entice 18-to-35 year-olds to buy its headset.

China’s Startups Are Only Pawns in the Game - WSJ In the U.S., tech giants have also been copying and investing in leading startups—think of Facebook’s imitation of Snapchat and acquisitions of Instagram and WhatsApp. But the variety and reach of their portfolio companies and products pale in comparison with the Chinese titans. Alibaba and Tencent not only dominate their core businesses, they own the biggest online video sites and have stakes in the biggest meal delivery apps. They’re investors in the most promising artificial-intelligence startups with businesses ranging from surveillance to health care. Critically, the two handle about 94% of mobile-payment transactions in China.

Tencent to challenge Alibaba's new retail with new investment in Yonghui's Super Species · TechNode The land grab between Tencent and Alibaba has recently extended to the retail space. On December 8, Chinese media Caijing Magazine reported that Tencent had purchased a stake in Super Species, the new retail unit of one of China’s largest supermarket chain operators Yonghui Superstores.

The hottest cryptocurrency in China isn't bitcoin, it's OneCoin—make that Lianke—by Xunlei (XNET) — Quartz That turned out to be OneCoin, designed by Chinese tech company Xunlei. Since its launch in mid-October, OneCoin’s value has jumped dramatically in secondary markets—at one point more than 80-fold, according to numerous reports (link in Chinese). That’s despite OneCoin not being available for trade in any major marketplace.Its crazy ride has helped Xunlei become the best-performing stock on Nasdaq for most of the past two months.Xunlei’s share price plunged in recent days after OneCoin drew public scrutiny


Society, Art, Sports, Culture And History

Peng receives honorary Juilliard doctorate - China Daily Juilliard President Joseph W. Polisi, who conferred the honorary degree to Peng, delivered a speech at the ceremony, saying that it is not only a recognition of Peng's accomplishment as an outstanding artist but also for her contribution to cultural exchanges between China and the United States.

Why China Can’t Have a Proper Conversation About Sexual Assault - Sixth Tone Many of today’s parents were not taught about sexual abuse when they were children, an oversight that can carry severe consequences. While many online articles published since the RYB allegations have dispensed objective, valuable advice, others deal only in scaremongering. This piece, published by popular news portal, tells parents to suspect sexual assault if they see their child drawing pictures of fire or snakes, for example.


Energy, Environment, Science And Health

Scientists trace 2002 Sars virus to colony of cave-dwelling bats in China | World news | The Guardian Now, after years of searching across China, where the disease first emerged, researchers reported a few days ago that they had found a remote cave in Yunnan province, which is home to horseshoe bats that carry a strain of a particular virus known as a coronavirus. This strain has all the genetic building blocks of the type that triggered the global outbreak of Sars in 2002. “This will certainly not be the only cave that contains bats infected with these strains of virus, but it is really important that we have found the first one,” said Sars expert Jeremy Farrar, director of the Wellcome Trust. “Samples from these bats will make it much easier to develop a vaccine for the disease and help us be prepared for another outbreak.”

Living With a Toxic Legacy - Caixin Global Chemical plants within the Sichuan Shimian Industrial Zone are located along a narrow strip of land tucked under a mountain range, and were built within 200 meters (219 yards) from many residential homes, a survey of the area by a Caixin reporter found. One home was just separated from a factory by a wall. The local government had identified more than 750 families — living cheek by jowl with plants refining heavy metal — who qualified for relocation in 2013, but as of March less than a fifth of them had been moved.

China makes headway in fighting pollution: minister - Xinhua In the first eleven months of 2017, the final year of the action plan, 338 Chinese cities saw a combined 20.4-percent reduction in PM10, compared to that in 2013. The PM2.5 levels in three main metropolitan areas: Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei, Yangtze River Delta and Pearl River Delta were down 38.2 percent, 31.7 percent and 25.6 percent respectively, Li said in early December.


Agriculture And Rural Issues

Dim Sums: Rural China Economics and Policy: Donkey Poverty Alleviation Led by Inspection Bureau A donkey development project illustrates one of the Chinese communist party's strategies for rural poverty alleviation. Inspection and quarantine bureaus--responsible for inspecting imports and exports--have been instructed to take on side projects to help poor farmers as a political task. Communist party organizations are using their connections to mobilize resources in order to accomplish a task that would be conducted by NGOs or specialized aid agencies in most countries.



Rare Protests in Beijing Condemn Forced Evictions - WSJ: In Feijia Village, on the city’s northeastern fringe, protesters hung a large white banner reading “Violation of Human Rights” across the front gate of the village committee office, according to smartphone videos verified by people on the scene. One man repeatedly yelled “violent evictions,” and the crowd chanted back, “violate human rights.” The protest lasted several hours in midday, with the crowds growing to several hundred people before police dispersed them, according to eyewitnesses.

How the mass eviction of migrant workers has left Beijing reeling | South China Morning Post: Economist Hu Xingdou, with the Beijing Institute of Technology, said the ruthless campaign to drive out migrants and tear down their homes with little or no notice could backfire on the government. “They’re building a fortress like we see in Pyongyang, North Korea, where the affluent people are cut off from the poor. But this sort of separation won’t do anything to address China’s problem of a growing disparity between the rich and the poor – it will develop into social unrest,” Hu said.

蔡奇:持之以恒久久为功把中轴线申遗保护作为文化中心建设重大工程抓实抓好-千龙网·中国首都网 Cai Qi inspects restoration and preservation work along Beijing's "central axis", which runs north-south through the forbidden city, and for which China has applied to become a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Expect more demolitions and cleanup along the central axis, or is that prat mostly done?

北京海淀停止拆除违规广告牌匾:设置跟不上造成群众识别困难_中国政库_澎湃新闻-The Paper Haidian District in Beijing temporarily halts removal of building signs because the officials realized that citizens could no longer find what they were looking for