Wuhan effectively quarantined; People's Leader, Huawei; Dark side of the moon

The situation with the Wuhan virus has gotten much worse over the last day, with the number of official cases now 544 and the death toll at 17.

The authorities have just announced that they are effectively quarantining the city starting Thursday morning, in the first notice issued by the “Wuhan Municipal New Coronavirus Infection Pneumonia Epidemic Prevention and Control Headquarters 武汉市新型冠状病毒感染的肺炎疫情防控指挥部” 武汉疫情指挥部:全市离汉通道暂关闭 公共交通停运::

[My translation] In order to prevent and control the outbreak of pneumonia caused by the new coronavirus, effectively cut off the transmission route of the virus, resolutely curb the spread of the epidemic and ensure the safety and health of the people, the relevant announcements are as follows:

The city's buses, subways, ferries and long-distance passenger transport will be suspended from 10:00 a.m. on January 23, 2020. Unless there are special reasons, citizens should not leave Wuhan. The airport and departures will temporarily closed. The schedule for restoration of those services will be announced later.

We ask the general public and passengers to please understand and support!

为全力做好新型冠状病毒感染的肺炎疫情防控工作,有效切断病毒传播途径,坚决遏制疫情蔓延势头,确保人民群众生命安全和身体健康,现将有关事项通告如下:

自2020年1月23日10时起,全市城市公交、地铁、轮渡、长途客运暂停运营;无特殊原因,市民不要离开武汉,机场、火车站离汉通道暂时关闭。恢复时间另行通告。

恳请广大市民、旅客理解支持!

The Wuhan Internet has not been shutdown. That step would be even more worrying.

This outbreak may be the biggest threat to Xi and the Party in years, which is why they will stop at nothing to try to control and then eradicate it.

You would not sense the urgency though from the Wednesday People’s Daily, in which the first mention of the virus appeared in a small article at the bottom of page 4. The first two pages were all about Xi’s trip to Yunnan, with a brief mention of 25-hour Myanmar trip on page 1:

The virus got a mention in the sixth report on the Wednesday CCTV Evening News, when Li Keqiang visited a hospital in Xining, Qinghai and exhorted the staff to do everything they can to prevent the spread. No one was wearing masks, so clearly it has not hit Xining yet. The only dedicated report on the Wednesday broadcast was the 13th item.

The non-Party Central media is mostly flooding the zone with coverage of the outbreak, as the China Media Project notes in Party Media Focus Away From Outbreak:

One might suggest that Party media at the local and national levels do not have their priorities straight. But these pages are clear declarations of priority, and they point to the very nature of the so-called “Party nature.” It is only that the sense of dissonance becomes more pronounced when the country faces a real and pressing crisis that should dominate the news.

Discussion of the virus is dominating social media, though the censors and public opinion management efforts are in overdrive.

Thanks for reading.


The Essential Eight

1. Wuhan virus

China virus deaths hit 17, heightening global alarm - Reuters

The latest death toll in Hubei province, of which Wuhan is the capital, rose from nine to 17 by midday on Wednesday, state television quoted the provincial government as saying.

Official newspaper China Daily said 544 cases had now been confirmed in the country. Abroad, Thailand has confirmed four cases, while the United States, Taiwan, South Korea and Japan have each reported one.

China Virus Death Toll Jumps to 17 as Authorities Work to Understand Illness - WSJ $$

Hubei province plans to ask the national government for emergency aid, the official Communist Party mouthpiece People’s Daily reported Wednesday. Hubei is short of facemasks, the report said.

Coronavirus cases info released timely and accurately: health commission - Global Times

In response to media reports that claimed the number of people already infected by the virus is far greater than official figures, Gao Fu, head of the country's disease control and prevention center, said he read the scientists' calculation and the number [proposed by the scientists] is the largest in the interval he worked out. Besides, he dismissed the 1,700 figure estimated by UK experts as a rumor.

"To learn anything new, especially about a virus like this, study must be based on a concept of 'facts are facts, theories are theories.' We welcome people to come up with models, and there are many models out there. However, is such a model consistent with the fact? Based on what we have known so far, it is not the model that the scientist calculated," Gao said.

In recent days, there is a surge in confirmed cases of the Wuhan coronavirus and there's a buzz on the social media suspecting if the government failed to release adequate information or even attempted to conceal the epidemic situation.

关于新型肺炎,武汉市长必须回答的六个问题

A Wechat post asking if Wuhan officials delayed reporting the outbreak because they did not want any bad news clouding the the municipal “two meetings” earlier in January.

6、按前《南方周末》记者褚朝新的说法,武汉市政府之所以长时间对新型冠状病毒性肺炎疫情隐瞒不报,是因为当时武汉市正忙着召开两个重要的会议,所以不允许报道负面新闻,要营造和谐稳定的氛围。请问,前《南方周末》记者褚朝新的说法是否属实?

Latest on Wuhan virus: Source confirmed, no super-spreaders, and more - CGTN

Gao Fu, director of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, also confirmed the source of the new coronavirus, saying it was transmitted via wild animals illegally sold at a seafood market in Wuhan.

Wuhan Coronavirus: Chinese Researchers Say Snake-to-Human Transmission Likely - Sixth Tone

A team of five Chinese researchers conducted a viral RNA genome sequencing analysis and found that the novel coronavirus bears similarities to a bat coronavirus and another coronavirus of unknown origin.

They concluded, however, that snakes are the “most probable wildlife animal reservoir” based on a second analysis of the novel coronavirus’ relative synonymous codon usage (RSCU) bias, with its RSCU bias resembling that of a snake over other animals.

Wuhan suspends operations related to terrestrial wildlife - Xinhua

Wuhan has called for a strengthened crackdown on illegal acts of poaching, raising, transporting and selling wildlife and related products in the city, according to the municipal bureau of gardening and forestry...

Relevant public institutions such as the local zoo, a local forest park and a bird park have been closed to the public. Relevant activities have also been suspended.

China Focus: China at "crucial stage" to control novel coronavirus, experts say - Xinhua

Zeng Guang, chief epidemiologist of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (China CDC), said no infections among children or students have been reported in Wuhan, and the infection cases are mainly elderly people.

The outbreak is at its early stage of community transmission, Zeng said, adding that it can be reversed if measures are taken now...

Comment: And this is confirmation of the claims on social media that hospitals have been turning away people with the virus symptoms.

The commission also banned medical institutions from rejecting confirmed or suspected viral pneumonia patients for any reason, noting that the supply of relevant drugs, diagnostic kits and personal protective equipment is stable.

Why wild animals are a key ingredient in China’s coronavirus outbreak | South China Morning Post

Shi Zhengli, a researcher with the Wuhan Institute of Virology at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, said the real problem was in people’s behaviour, rather than with the animals.

“The simplest way to prevent such infectious diseases is to stay away from wildlife, say no to game, avoid their habitats and livestock and farms mixing with wildlife,” Shi said.

China coronavirus: death toll almost doubles in one day as Hong Kong reports its first two cases | South China Morning Post

Hong Kong reported its first two cases of coronavirus infection on Wednesday, as mainland China’s death toll from the virus almost doubled in one day.

Authorities were also scrambling to track down four family members of one of the patients in Hong Kong, who had continued their journey to the Philippine capital, Manila.

我国累计报告确诊病例440例 加强部署防止疫情扩散_CCTV

The only dedicated report on the Wednesday CCTV Evening News was the 13th item

Wuhan pneumonia response reflects progress in China’s system - Global Times

The West has long had a view that China's system has no ability to correct previous errors, simply because it has no Western-style elections. As some Westerners claim that China's system must be stiff, they overlooked the huge progress the country has been making, especially after reform and opening-up, thanks to its self-correcting capability, and innovative reforms in its governing system that keep pace with the times.

武汉一对夫妇10天内先后去世,家属称或因严重肺炎 - 国内 - 新京报网

one of the stories leading to people think more have died from the virus than has been reported, this one in The Beijing News says well known environmental activist Xu Dapeng and his wife died of unidentified lung illnesses within ten days of each other in Wuhan, and that they were not tested for the virus

Coronavirus threatens Chinese box office during Spring Festival - Global Times

The Spring Festival is usually a harvest season for Chinese box office as going to the cinema is one of the most popular forms of entertainment. Maoyan data shows the 2019 Spring Festival box office reached 10.4 billion yuan, or 26 percent of the entire year and the highest of all festival seasons, the Xinhua News Agency reported.

As Virus Spreads, Isolated Taiwan Risks Being a Loophole in War on Epidemics - WSJ

Taiwan’s first reported case of a patient infected by a deadly coronavirus spreading across Asia turns a spotlight on Beijing’s attempts to exclude the self-governing island from the World Health Organization, which Taiwanese officials say hinders an effective global response to public-health crises.

Wuhan coronavirus: Macau confirms first case as new disease looms over Hong Kong | South China Morning Post

Macau confirmed its first case of the new China coronavirus on Wednesday in a development highlighting the challenges of detection after the patient passed through health checkpoints without showing symptoms.

Coronavirus Outbreak Forces Chinese to Rethink Travel Plans - The New York Times

According to official estimates, Chinese spent $74 billion on travel and $145 billion on shopping and food during the Spring Festival holiday last year. The holiday is also one of the most profitable periods for the Chinese box office, but there are concerns that potential moviegoers might stay home to avoid sitting in enclosed spaces with strangers...

Zhong Nanshan, a prominent scientist who is leading a government-appointed panel of experts working to control the outbreak, singled out the cramped train rides that many Chinese have to endure during the holiday as potential hotbeds of transmission.

Thailand finds fourth China coronavirus infection - Reuters

The Thai patient, a 73-year-old woman, had traveled to Wuhan during the New Year holidays and developed a fever after returning, the Public Health Ministry said.

First Travel-related Case of 2019 Novel Coronavirus Detected in United States | CDC Online Newsroom | CDC

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) today confirmed the first case of 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) in the United States in the state of Washington. The patient recently returned from Wuhan, China, where an outbreak of pneumonia caused by this novel coronavirus has been ongoing since December 2019. While originally thought to be spreading from animal-to-person, there are growing indications that limited person-to-person spread is happening. It’s unclear how easily this virus is spreading between people.

China adjusts reimbursement policies for patients with new coronavirus-related pneumonia - Xinhua

According to the National Healthcare Security Administration, expenses from medicines and medical services needed for treating the pneumonia will be completely covered by medical insurance funds.

Medical insurance departments will pay for expenses incurred in the treatment of the disease in advance to lessen financial pressures on hospitals, according to the policies.

HSBC, Others Limit China Travel to Guard Against Deadly Virus - Bloomberg

Tencent Holdings Ltd. was among Chinese corporations that responded swiftly to reduce individual contact. It called off a longstanding annual tradition where top executives hand out Lunar New Year red envelopes in person to employees

China Silences Critics Over Coronavirus Outbreak - The New York Times

“The authorities are sending a signal, which is that only the government agencies can talk about the epidemic,” Yu Ping, a former Southern Metropolis Daily reporter, wrote on his personal blog. “All other people should just shut up.”

“It’s not public disclosure,” Mr. Yu added. “It’s a naked information monopoly.”


2. People’s Leader 人民领袖

Commentary: Xi's new year tours underpin people-centered philosophy - Xinhua

Xi...has made it a tradition to visit ordinary people across the country ahead of Spring Festival, the most important holiday in the Chinese lunar calendar.

He visited northwestern Gansu Province in 2013, northern Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region in 2014, northwestern Shaanxi Province in 2015, eastern Jiangxi Province in 2016, northern Hebei Province in 2017, southwestern Sichuan Province in 2018 and Beijing in 2019.

There has been a consistent theme throughout the years: a people-centered philosophy. As Xi has said, "Our people are the solid foundation of the country, and are our main source of confidence as the ruling party."

Tracing the “People’s Leader” | China Media Project

it seems the earliest references we can find in digitally available Chinese-language media sources to the notion of the “people’s leader” are translations of the German “Volksführer” dating to Hitler’s rise as supreme leader. This is certainly not an etymology China’s present leaders would welcome, particularly given highly sensitive references in the social media space to “Xitler” (习特勒)...

Li Yuzhuo (李玉贞), a historian specializing in the Soviet era, wrote for the journal Yanhuang Chunqiu about Yefim Alekseevich Pridvorov (pen name Demyan Bedny), the Soviet poet and satirist, as one of the earliest figures in Soviet literature to “fix the image” of Stalin, and perhaps the first to refer to him as “people’s leader” in the 1920s.

It makes sense that the term “people’s leader” would have currency within the political culture of the Chinese Communist Party as an import from the revolutionary tradition of the Soviet Union...

Some recent usage of 人民领袖 to describe Xi, around his Yunnan visit:

CCTV “quick comment” - 央视快评:过一个安定祥和的春节_手机新浪网:

在习近平总书记一以贯之的初心使命和“我将无我,不负人民”的赤诚担当中,人们看到的是人民领袖情系人民的赤子之心,是大国领袖“作于细”而“成其大”的治国伟略。

People’s Daily online commentary - 人民网评:谱写好中国梦的云南篇章--观点--人民网

“胸中有丘壑,眼里存山河。”在三家村了解脱贫攻坚情况,在和顺古镇了解历史文化传承状况,在滇池星海半岛生态湿地强调环境治理工作,在昆明国际会展中心询问春节前市场供应情况,在国立西南联合大学旧址寄语时代新人……举手投足间,只言片语里,考察的是土地政策、精准扶贫、产业发展的落地生根,擘画的是医疗保障、公平教育、美丽中国的发展图景。这些情之所系、心之所切的细节,是人民领袖最长情的牵挂,也是人民政党最深厚的情怀,传递出以人民为中心的发展理念,彰显了为人民谋幸福的不变初心。

牢记殷殷嘱托 铆足干劲共创幸福生活_云时评_彩云网评_云南网

这些情之所系、心之所切的细节,让人感到无比温暖、充满希望,充分彰显出人民领袖深厚的为民情怀和不变初心。

“一个民族都不能少”,初心使命暖人心_云时评_彩云网评_云南网

人民领袖与人民“零距离”亲密接触,强调“全面建成小康社会,一个民族都不能少”,是对初心与使命的生动诠释。


3. Huawei

Exclusive: Huawei stockpiles supplies, fearing new US tech ban - Nikkei Asian Review

Huawei, the Chinese telecoms giant that Washington views as a global security threat, is scrambling to stockpile up to a year's worth of foreign supplies for its core telecoms equipment business ahead of a widely-expected toughening of U.S. technology sanctions that may come as soon as next month, multiple sources told the Nikkei Asian Review...

In a sign of how seriously Huawei is taking the risk of an outright U.S. ban, sources said the company, which has a roughly $70 billion global procurement budget, was prioritizing inventory for its more strategic 4G and 5G routers, switches and base stations businesses over its smartphones operation...

Asian suppliers to Huawei such as Taiwan's TSMC, the world's largest contract chip maker and also Apple's largest chip supplier, have less than 25% American content in the components they sell to Huawei.

Now, however, sources told Nikkei they fear that the mooted new rules could lower the content threshold to 10% or even 0% -- as tough a level of sanctions as that faced by Iran.

Deputy National Security Advisor Matt Pottinger had some choice words about Huawei at the Raisina Dialogue in India last week. Here are some of his comments, from an unofficial transcript sent to me by a US official:

You had said in your question that the U.S. is trying to “catch up” on 5G.  So I just wanted to disabuse people of this idea.  If you take a piece, for example, of Huawei radio-access network gear and crack it open and look at the actual components inside, they are almost entirely American and European components.  The technology is actually ours.  When it comes to the software that is going to ride on 5G networks, that's where the United States has the greatest advantage of all.  So software-defined networks, the applications and so forth that are going to ride on that. 

So, the advantage that Huawei has had is one of massive state subsidies to the tune of tens upon tens of billions of dollars that have allowed them to undersell competition, kneecap the market, and drive market competitors out of business. 

So, what it really comes down to though is trust, you know?   Who do you want providing critical digital technology, your critical digital payment systems, your social media, critical infrastructure, and the Internet of Things?  Do you want it to be provided by suppliers that are beholden to regime-centric governments that are accountable to no one?  Or do you want them to spring from citizen-centric societies that actually obey the rule of law? 

And, I mean, can you imagine a situation where, in the 80s, Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher have a conversation and they say, “You know, I think we should have the KGB come and build all of our telecommunications and computer network systems because they're offering a great discount.” And I mean that's really the proposition before us. 

Mr. Pottinger’s comments on the subject of decoupling more broadly were also interesting:

Quite frankly, Beijing has been decoupling from the broader world since they entered the WTO in 2001. The great, bold, optimistic vision that the world had for China and that we hoped China had for itself was that by bringing China into the WTO nearly 20 years ago, it would converge with a more liberal order.  That by opening our markets, investing our capital, training generations of Chinese technocrats and military officers and engineers, that China would begin to liberalize. Unfortunately, upon entering the WTO, the pressure for that kind of reform dissipated.  They’d sort of crossed the finish line for the goal that they wanted, which was access to our markets and that's when the reforms started to stall out.  And frankly, under the current leadership, those reforms have gone into reverse. 

So: decoupling.  I'll tell you, “decoupling” is when you have a Great Firewall where not a single Western internet company has been able to prosper or survive in China, by design.  That's “decoupling.” When Christian churches are torn down and ethnic minorities are put into re-education camps, that's “decoupling.”  So the decoupling is something that's been underway for quite a long time and it is not driven by the United States. 

The Editorial Board - Barring Huawei from Britain’s 5G is too costly to justify | Financial Times

Some intelligence officials dissent from their bosses’ sanguine attitude, warning 5G networks will eventually be so complex that managing the risks of Chinese involvement will overwhelm resources. The government should therefore give Ofcom, the regulator, stronger powers to hold telecoms operators to the toughest security standards in network design. Huawei’s involvement even in 5G periphery should be conditional on rapidly addressing concerns over its cyber security standards raised by a testing centre based in Banbury. But the costs of a full ban are too high to justify.

Ren Zhengfei at Davos: U.S. will further limit Huawei, but that's fine - CGTN

"We got the experience now," he said during a session at the Winter Davos. "We have poured hundreds of billions of money into our Plan B, and that's why we can withstand the first wave of U.S. attack."..

Another topic of the Davos session is the possibility of China and the U.S. splitting the tech world into two forces. Ren said the possibility is minimal.

"In my opinion, the Chinese government has not even started to think about the consequences of AI development," he told Davos. "China's education is still trying to train engineers instead of scientists, which means China does not have enough basic science research power to compete with the U.S.," he explained.

Ren said the U.S. is overthinking about China's sci-tech power.

Huawei Again Tops China’s Software Industry, Which MIIT Says Is Still Frail - Caixin

Huawei topped China’s list of software makers by revenue for the 18th straight year, according to the report, though the company is better known as a hardware maker and faces headwinds in foreign markets.

GOP rep introduces bill to block intelligence sharing with countries using Huawei for 5G | TheHill

Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind.) introduced a bill Tuesday aimed at barring the United States from sharing intelligence with any countries that permit Huawei to operate their 5G networks.

An industry insider’s view - 5G: The outsourced elephant in the room - Articles

a modern telecommunications service provider, new equipment is deployed, configured, maintained and often financed by the vendor. Just to let that sink in, Huawei (and their close partners) already run and directly operate the mobile telecommunication infrastructure for over 100 million European subscribers…

the discussion should not be about the choice for Huawei or not. It should be about how we’ll control our vital communication infrastructure - only (not) picking a specific vendor will do very little to change that.


4. Pictures from the dark side of the moon

China releases huge batch of amazing Chang'e-4 images from moon's far side | Space

Images include close-up views of craters and regolith, or lunar soil, in Von Kármán Crater, as well as various shots of the lander and rover, the distant skyline and Yutu-2's roving tracks.

Comment: Does not look like there are any fireballs reflecting off the frames of the pictures:

Lots more space ambition - China begins tests for launch of space station module on Long March-5B rocket | South China Morning Post

China will press on with work on a permanent space station after the core module and carrier rocket for the vehicle arrived at the launch site for rehearsals and preparation, the developer said on Tuesday.


5. Provincial governments coming clean on GDP growth?

Some officials worried Beijing is on to them and it will be even more embarrassing now that the central government has taken over local GDP stats measurement?

Nearly Half of Chinese Local Governments Revise 2018 GDP Down After Economic Census

All of these local governments had announced economic census results as of Wednesday, and 14 reported smaller GDP amounts for 2018 than originally estimated, according to Caixin calculations based on official statements.

Most of the governments who lowered their GDP figures are located in northern China, some of which have been hit heavily by a recent economic slowdown amid sluggish domestic and global demand as well as structural economic changes. Some of their revisions are due to Beijing’s crackdown on local governments falsifying data to exaggerate their economic performance, as well as corrections of statistical errors, according to the statements.

East China’s Shandong province made the sharpest cut in terms of amount, revising down its 2018 GDP by 982.1 billion yuan ($142.3 billion).

The municipality of Tianjin municipality and provinces of Jilin and Heilongjiang made the biggest downward revisions in percentage terms, adjusting their 2018 GDP amounts down by 29% (link in Chinese), 25.3% (link in Chinese) and 21.5% respectively.

But not all were revised down:

A total of 17 provincial-level governments revised their 2018 GDP upwards. The 2018 economy of Southwest China’s Yunnan province was 16.8% larger than originally estimated


6. Bloomberg gives Joe Tsai a nice profile

Nets Owner Joe Tsai on Brooklyn, Beijing, the Hong Kong Protests - Bloomberg

before boarding a flight from Hong Kong to join the team in Shanghai, Tsai wrote a “letter to all NBA fans” and posted it on Facebook. “When I bought controlling interest in the Brooklyn Nets in September,” he began, “I didn’t expect my first public communication with our fans would be to comment on something as politically charged and grossly misunderstood as the way hundreds of millions of Chinese NBA fans feel about what just happened.”

The letter, which cast Morey as ignorant and his tweet as damaging, drew criticism in the U.S. and Hong Kong from those who saw Tsai as following the Chinese government’s line. In his 25 years of shuttling between China and the U.S., arranging highly complicated and lucrative connections between the two, Tsai’s multicultural, intercontinental identity—Taiwanese-born, Mandarin-speaking Ivy League grad, California sports dad, Hong Kong dweller, Canadian citizen—had always been key to his success. Suddenly he found himself caught, in a very public way, between Beijing and Brooklyn...

“I’m Chinese,” Tsai says. “I grew up in a very culturally Chinese environment.” He spoke Mandarin as a child, and his parents talked about returning to visit the mainland. At the time, the KMT saw itself as China’s rightful ruler, a status then recognized by most of the West. “My upbringing is always that there is one China,” he says...

Tsai is eager to see NBA games back on CCTV. Although Tencent has begun showing them again, the state-owned broadcaster has yet to budge. A person familiar with the matter says the league is optimistic the network will relent, beginning with the All-Star Game on Feb. 16—there’s no ready replacement, after all, for LeBron James and Giannis Antetokounmpo.

“Once you are on the air,” Tsai says, “everything will come back.”

Comment: Anyone know is a PR firm arranged this, and if so which one?


7. A warning about social media apps and efforts from the PRC

Challenging China’s Bid for App Dominance | Center for a New American Security

Social media platforms are emerging as central to China’s efforts to shape the global information architecture. Beijing is exploiting the relative openness of the United States’ and other democracies’ social media platforms to manipulate the narrative around its policies, while the virality of some of China’s own social media applications (colloquially known as “apps”) has positioned Beijing to quietly export its model of surveillance and censorship. Social media platforms will continue to be an important vector by which information is disseminated and consumed, and control over these platforms will yield significant influence over perceptions of the United States and China.1 As Beijing executes a more aggressive global social media strategy, the U.S. government should coordinate closely with both like-minded countries and social media companies to backstop the integrity, transparency, and competitiveness of their own platforms...

Beijing is permeating the United States’ userbase with its own viral apps while using Twitter and Facebook to conduct strategic messaging beyond its borders.26 Even Chinese diplomats have taken to Twitter, with the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs opening an official Twitter account in December 2019. Shortly after her promotion to the position of Director of the MOFA Information Department, for example, Hua Chunying outlined a more aggressive global social media strategy in a Study Times article which suggested that Twitter may become an important tool in Beijing’s information warfare arsenal


8. New US envoy to counter PRC influence

State Department Appoints Special Envoy to Counter Chinese Influence at United Nations and Other International Organizations

The U.S. State Department has appointed a new special envoy with a mandate to stall China’s growing influence at the United Nations and other international organizations that the Trump administration has, until now, largely snubbed or ignored, according to several U.S. sources.

The new envoy, Mark Lambert—whose appointment has not been publicly announced—served until recently as the U.S. special envoy for North Korea


Business, Economy and Trade

China Weighs Lifting Cap on Foreign Holdings in Companies - Bloomberg In an interview in Davos, Switzerland, Fang Xinghai, vice chairman of the China Securities Regulatory Commission, said there’s potential to lift the limit to “more than 30%” given that other countries in the region have higher caps.

Does the Phase One China Deal Measure Up? Depends on How You Measure | Center for Strategic and International Studies - Claire Reade So, the Section 301 metric yields partial credit at best; the fundamental change metric suggests there is little to show;, and the incrementalist metric, looking only at the four corners of the Phase One deal, would suggest a significant number of real barriers to trade are being eliminated. At the same time, we cannot yet fairly assess this experiment under any metric without looking at the broader context. It has caused serious disruption, and it is not over.

The Phase 1 IP Agreement: Its Fans and Discontents | China IPR - Intellectual Property Developments in China How much will the IP Sections of the Phase 1 Agreement (the “Agreement”) with China change  IP strategies in China?   For the most part, the Agreement adds much less than its appearance might suggest.  Many of the important changes that the Agreement memorializes have recently been codified into law or set into motion for forthcoming codification.  There are some important prospective changes in the text, particularly regarding pharmaceutical patent protections and in civil and criminal enforcement.  If these changes are well-implemented, that could augur significant changes in the future.  Nonetheless, a cautious approach should be taken to these changes as well, as many of them have a long history of disappointing US rightsholders.  An additional problem with the Agreement is its reliance on administrative mechanisms that have a track record of not providing sustained protection for IP rights.

Alibaba IPR Report Demonstrates Brand-Protection Leadership | Alizila.com A combination of ever-improving technologies and close partnerships with brands and other external stakeholders helped to deliver strong results for the company in the core areas of proactive monitoring and removal, rights-holder takedown requests and offline enforcement, the annual IPR report noted. // Comment: But hearing it may not be enough to get Alibaba off the USTR Notorious Markets List

How Trump Gave a Huge Gift to China’s Solar Makers - Bloomberg Since June, all bifacial panels have been tariff-free, and Chinese panel makers are turning the once-niche design into a cornerstone of their U.S.-aimed product lines. A trade court has temporarily blocked the White House’s efforts to kill the exemption. Trump is expected to decide as soon as next month, as part of a scheduled review, whether to make the otherwise-harsh solar tariffs even harsher. Trade adviser Peter Navarro has said “the loophole for bifacial solar panels China is currently exploiting needs to be slammed shut.”

Politics and Law

Chinese leaders extend Spring Festival greetings to former leaders - Xinhua The former leaders, including Jiang Zemin and Hu Jintao, received personal visits either from the current leaders or from their representatives. The former leaders thanked them for visiting and spoke highly of the historic achievements made by the whole Party, military and Chinese people of all ethnic groups under the leadership of the CPC Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping at the core.

The full list of the retired leaders who got new year's wishes - 中央领导同志看望老同志--时政--人民网 

Wife: China's ex-Interpol boss jailed for reformist views - AP Speaking in an exclusive interview Wednesday with The Associated Press, Grace Meng said her husband, Meng Hongwei, had been part of a reformist faction within the secretive ruling party. She said he and others argued, out of the public eye and at the highest circles of power in China, for a “modern” constitutional and election-based political system, as a response to worsening corruption. // Comment: Sorry but I call BS

Artists, teachers, scientists receive festive greetings from Party leadership - Xinhua Wang Huning, 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, visited several prominent figures Wednesday morning and extended greetings of the Chinese Lunar New Year, which falls on Jan. 25 this year. Wang paid visits to a renowned movie actor, two academicians and a law professor, commended their work and listened to their advice. They expressed gratitude for the care from the CPC Central Committee with Xi Jinping at the core and support to the Party's policies on advancing culture, education, science and technology causes. 王沪宁看望文化教育界知名人士和科技专家 代表习近平总书记和党中央向文化教育工作者和科技工作者致以诚挚问候和新春祝福  

Foreign and Defense Affairs

Chinese military enthusiasts expect new warplanes in 2020 - Global Times The internet users' appetite was whetted by a statement from the state-owned Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC) last week, in which the country's main warplane developer announced the company would develop nine types of aircraft, conduct maiden flights for four types of aircraft, and receive a production permit for one type of aircraft in 2020.

Press release: Leadership change at MERICS | Mercator Institute for China Studies From 1 February 2020 onwards, Mikko Huotari and Bettina Bubnys will be at the helm of the Mercator Institute for China Studies. Huotari will be Director of the think tank and Bubnys remains CFO...Frank N. Pieke, Research Director and CEO of the Mercator Institute for China Studies, is resigning from his position at the end of January 2020 due to differences in opinion about the strategic development of MERICS // Comment: If anyone knows more about the backstory please do tell.

China says it has ‘no intention’ of joining arms talks with US and Russia | AFP Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang accused the US of using China’s involvement as “a pretext to shirk and shift its own nuclear disarmament responsibilities”. “China has no intention to participate in the so-called China-US-Russia trilateral arms control negotiations,” Geng said at a regular press briefing in Beijing.

(1) A partial and defective US-China trade truce | Financial Times - Martin Wolf $ continuing friction between the two superpowers now seems unavoidable. Agreement on enforceable trade rules may be possible, albeit difficult, in specific areas. But China will never agree to accept permanent economic and technological inferiority. If imposing the latter is the dominant US objective, this is just the early stage of a very long conflict. We may be able to welcome an occasional partial truce like this one. But the war itself is likely to continue indefinitely.

'Ashamed, embarrassed': Burnaby woman says she was paid $150 to support Meng Wanzhou outside court This woman said she was paid the $150 by an Asian woman in her 30s wearing all black named “Joey,” but has no further information about who “Joey” is or who she is affiliated with. When NEWS 1130 asked this paid protester if there was any suggestion that “Joey” was representing Huawei or the Chinese government, she told us she had no further information, suggesting another alternative possibility: that “Joey” is simply a supporter of Meng.

Tech and Media

Internet Firms to Hand Out Over $2 Billion in Festive Red Envelopes to Lure Users - Caixin According to Caixin’s calculations, this year companies have pledged to give away at least 14.6 billion yuan ($2.1 billion) over the festive season, mainly in the form of digital “hongbao.

WeChat tests short-video feature in challenge to TikTok · TechNode WeChat is testing a new feature that allows users to post videos to an audience beyond their social circles in a bid to boost user engagement as competition from rivals Douyin and Kuaishou intensifies

Tencent makes $148 million offer to acquire all shares of Dune developer Funcom | VentureBeat Tencent, China’s social media giant and the world’s biggest game company, took a 29% share of Oslo, Norway-based Funcom in October. One of Funcom’s most promising titles is Dune, an open world sandbox game based on Frank Herbert’s Dune science fiction universe.

Society, Arts, Sports, Culture and History

Beijing Arts Academy Retains Professor Accused of Harassment - Sixth Tone Since June 2019, dozens of students at the Central Academy of Fine Arts have filed complaints against Yao Shunxi. The school announced Tuesday that it would punish, but not dismiss, the professor.