Xi Chairs Politburo Democratic Life Meeting; Second Plenum Set For January With Amending Constitution On The Agenda; Beijing Evading Oil Sanctions On North Korea?; Leniency For Those Who Confess, Severity For Those Who Resist 坦白从宽抗拒从严
I hope everyone is enjoying the Holidays, apologies for less frequency than promised over these two weeks. I will make it up to you.
I am working on a yearend look at the top trends in China, clearly Xi’s consolidation of power is one of the most important ones. But I think the return of the Party, captured in Xi’s statement “Government, military, society and schools, north, south, east and west, the Party is the leader of everything “党政军民学，东西南北中，党是领导一切的”, is the most important trend driving China internally and externally. More to come as I think it through, comments of course welcome.
Thanks for reading.
The Essential Eight
1. Politburo Convenes Democratic Life Meeting, Sets Second Plenum For January
"It is the aspiration of the whole Party and the people to have Xi, general secretary of the CPC Central Committee, serve at the core of the CPC and its Central Committee," said a statement issued after the "democratic life meeting."
"Under the leadership of the CPC Central Committee with Xi at the core, China has made historic achievements and witnessed profound changes since the 18th CPC National Congress in 2012.
"Xi has shown firm faith and will, clear commitment to the people, extraordinary political wisdom and tactics and a strong sense of responsibility, in leading the CPC and China in the great struggle with many new contemporary features," the statement said.
"The meeting has laid an ideological foundation for the whole Party and the nation to embark on a new journey in the new era," said Jing Junping, a professor with the school of Marxism at Wuhan University in central China's Hubei Province...
The democratic life meeting, a long-time CPC tradition, saw members of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee reflect on their own performance and criticize themselves and each other.
Comment: The 12.26 CCTV Evening News on the meeting, the top 13 minutes of the broadcast, the video of the meeting shows just the 25 Politburo members in the room, along with two notetakers/secretaries and one other person who looks like a guard 中共中央政治局召开民主生活会 中共中央总书记习近平主持会议并发表重要讲话
The whole spectacle and the reiteration of the need to "work harder to uphold the authority and centralized, unified leadership of the CPC Central Committee" makes it clear they all report to Xi in his position at the core of the CPC and the CPC Central Committee.
People's Daily on the meeting - 中共中央政治局召开民主生活会以认真学习贯彻习近平新时代中国特色社会主义思想 坚定维护以习近平同志为核心的党中央权威和集中统一领导 全面贯彻落实党的十九大各项决策部署情况为主题进行对照检查
It is the aspiration of the whole Party and the people to have Xi serve at the core of the CPC and its Central Committee, the statement said.
Members of the Political Bureau were urged to consciously safeguard Xi's position at the core of the CPC and the CPC Central Committee, and work harder to uphold the authority and centralized, unified leadership of the CPC Central Committee.
They were also required to take the lead in studying Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era, and master its essence, innovative ideas, and its political, historical, theoretical and practical significance.
The Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee decided Wednesday to discuss a proposal about amending part of China's Constitution at the second plenary session of the 19th CPC Central Committee in January.
Xi Jinping, general secretary of the CPC Central Committee, presided over the political bureau meeting Wednesday, which also listened to a work report from the CPC Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) and discussed the Party's anti-graft work in 2018...
Stressing the importance of political discipline and regulations, the statement said discipline inspection agencies will focus on Party members who are disloyal and dishonest to the Party, who comply in public but oppose in private, who disobey the Party's political guidelines and compromise the political environment.
Stressing the significance of the campaign against undesirable work styles, the statement said that the priority is to curb bureaucratism, red tape and privileges among senior officials.
To consolidate the progress of the anti-graft campaign, the CCDI will push forward reform of the national supervision system and fight corruption at the lower ranks, the statement said.
The official statement--中共中央政治局召开会议 决定召开十九届二中全会
2. New North Korea Sanctions, Pictures Of PRC Ships Violating Sanctions, Report Of Increased US-PRC Intelligence Sharing
U.S. reconnaissance satellites have spotted Chinese ships selling oil to North Korean vessels on the West Sea around 30 times since October.
According to South Korean government sources, the satellites have pictured large Chinese and North Korean ships illegally trading in oil in a part of the West Sea closer to China than South Korea.
Hua questioned whether any country could make sure “not a single breach will happen.” She said, “the Chinese government has been completely and strictly enforcing Security Council resolutions. We are taking a sincere and serious attitude and forceful and effective actions.”
Why it matters: If the Chinese government ignores oil smuggling the sanctions will be less effective. And if the Trump Administration views Beijing as not faithfully implementing what it agreed to then new sanctions against more Chinese individuals and firms, including a major oil company and a large financial institution, are increasingly likely.
When the dispute over the scope of sanctions against North Korea and US-China trade issues intensified, China hurriedly dispatched Vice Foreign Minister Zheng Zeguang to Washington on Dec. 6-8 to determine the US’s true intentions. China also seems to have been worried by US Undersecretary of the Treasury for International Affairs David Malpass’ unilateral declaration during an interview with the Financial Times on Nov. 30 that the US was not planning to revive the Comprehensive Economic Dialogue with China, since China had received no prior notification or even a hint of this harsh move.
Sources said the intelligence sharing would extend to such issues as how to secure North Korea's nuclear weapons and dealing with refugees from North Korea should a military encounter occur with North Korea or if the regime of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un collapsed.
In addition to periodic meetings between high-ranking officials of the two nations' militaries and intelligence agencies, a direct hotline will be installed between the Seoul headquarters of U.S. forces based in South Korea and the Chinese military's Northern Theater Command, which is based in Shenyang, Liaoning province.
The Global Times says this claim is fabricated by people with "malicious intent"--Japan's fake "hotline" story reveals deeper motives
3. Migrant Cleansing Continues
A controversial Beijing crackdown on unsafe rental homes that has mostly affected out-of-town workers has spread beyond its borders to a neighboring small town home to thousands of low-income migrants working in the capital.
Short video clips released online shows officers from law enforcement departments including local police arrive at Fengjiafu village in the Hebei province town of Yanjiao to seal off farmhouses refurbished into cramped apartment blocks, which were mostly occupied by migrant workers.
In Beijing, a sprawling network of more than 100 privately run migrant schools serves hundreds of thousands of students for whom these are often the only option. (The government does not publicize exact figures.)
The Beijing government has shuttered dozens of migrant schools over the years. But the current campaign is the most severe in recent memory, targeting not only makeshift schools but also well-established institutions.
According to weiquanwang.org, one of the very few websites still able to display the full text of this petition letter, the eight signatories are Jiang Ping (87, a top Chinese legal scholar, former president of China University of Political Science and Law, and widely regarded as the conscience of China’s lawyers for his constant advocacy for rule of law in China), He Weifang (Professor of Law at Peking University and one of China’s leading academic advocates of legal reform), Sheng Hong (executive director of Beijing Tianze Economic Research Institute and Professor of Economic Research Center of Shandong University), Xu Zhangrun (Professor of Jurisprudence and Constitutional Law at Tsinghua University), Jiang Hao (director of Beijing Tianze Economic Research Institute’s Law and Public Governance Center), Mo Shaoping (lawyer), Ding Xikui (lawyer), and Qin Hui (Professor of History, Institute of Humanities and Social Sciences at Tsinghua University).
SF Express sends delivery men reinforcements to Beijing to help with the shortage caused by "reasons everyone knows about"--slideshow - 顺丰小哥紧急驰援北京，场面蔚为壮观，为冬日北京带来暖意！
Will Shanghai be next?
The government set a similar limit for Beijing in September, declaring the city’s population should not exceed 23 million by 2020. Beijing had a population of 21.5 million in 2014. Officials also want to reduce the population of six core districts by 15% compared with 2014 levels.
Comment: The official statement after the Central economic Work Conference did not mention "deleveraging", but it is a mistake to assume that means that Beijing is pulling back from attempts to rein in the debt explosion. "Risk Control" was listed as one of the three "key battlefields" (the other two are targeted poverty reduction and pollution control).
As of the end of 2016, Chinese government debt totaled 27.33 trillion yuan ($4.17 trillion), or 36.7% of gross domestic product, according to data from the Ministry of Finance. Regional and local governments had 15.32 trillion yuan of debt combined, or 80% of their total income including fiscal revenues, earnings from land sales and payment transfers from the central government, the data show...
“If you look at the data, the current debt level is manageable,” said Yao Sheng, former vice-chairman of the Budgetary Affairs Commission of the NPC Standing Committee. “But the issue cannot be overlooked since large amount of hidden debts are still unaccounted for.”
The central government will not secure irregular loans taken out by local and regional governments as it seeks to curtail runway growth in off-balance sheet debt, the Ministry of Finance said...
The main culprit for the soaring debt is the incorrect view of political performance among some local cadres, the ministry said. When seeking “political achievements,” some local governments have engaged in excessive borrowing to support ambitious expansion plans, straining their financial resources, it said.
Dongbei Special’s main production facility in the northeastern port city of Dalian has turned a profit after nearly six years of losses, a source from a creditor bank told Caixin. That followed a nine-month struggle to settle more than 45 billion yuan ($6.8 billion) in debt and invite in fresh capital from new investors.
The debt-relief battle surrounding Dongbei Special is a peek inside China’s campaign to deal with ballooning debt of state-owned firms...
In October of 2016, a local court ordered the company to enter bankruptcy reorganization proceedings. That set off a tug-of-war among the debt-ridden Dongbei Special, its 1,911 creditors, local officials and potential investors.
The dust settled in August when a court in Dalian approved a restructuring plan that was a mix of partial repayment, debt-to-equity swaps and new investment. Most creditors were offered either compensation in cash at 22.09 percent of value or a debt-for-equity swap...
In Dongbei Special’s case, the creditor committee, mainly formed by banks, played a crucial rule in coming up with the restructuring plan, although some smaller creditors complained that their interests were not well represented.
Two years ago the central bank asked China’s most successful internet companies — including affiliates of the sophisticated online giants Tencent Holdings and the Alibaba Group — to create their own credit ratings systems. Since then, it has declined to issue licenses that would formalize those systems, and officials have indicated in local news reports that the plan has fallen short of expectations. Last month, an internet financial association affiliated with the People’s Bank of China announced plans to start a system that would crunch data from China’s big tech firms. Few details were provided.
5. Global CCP Influence Operations
While the United States seeks to understand and curtail opportunities for the Chinese government to influence U.S. political discourse through think tank and university scholars, it should ensure that facts trump rumors and avoid overreacting. In the current divisive and amped-up U.S. political environment, there is significant danger that educational institutions, think tanks, and scholars will be caught up in a rush to root out Chinese influence. There is an added danger, as well, that these investigations are merely the tip of the iceberg—that the United States will soon be embroiled in a witch hunt that will ensnare unsuspecting and innocent Chinese students and scholars, as well as the larger community of Chinese-Americans. The United States has experienced many waves of anti-foreign hysteria, only to be followed by a deep sense of shame once cooler heads prevail. We have seen this movie before and it does not end well; there is no need to play it again.
There are good reasons why we need to be careful when discussing “Chinese influence.” The idea comes freighted with a great deal of historical baggage, and it becomes too easy to slip into uncomfortable tropes. “Civilizational conflict” becomes a dog whistle for “racial war.”..
The Party’s legitimacy rests, in part, on its assumed role as the sole representative not just of the Chinese state, but the Chinese nation and, increasingly, Chinese civilization writ large. Critics of CCP policy are frequently accused of “hurting the feelings of the Chinese people.”
Party theoreticians and propagandists are hypersensitive to any attempts to separate the party from the people. Doing so undermines the CCP’s very raison d’etre and sets up the possibility that the Chinese nation or people could have a future or identity separate from that of the Party. This is dangerous ground for a Leninist Party-State.
What made that coverage somewhat surprising — especially given how opaque, and frankly tedious, the congresses tend to be — is where Qiao Bao is based: Alhambra, California.
The American daily serves up mostly Beijing-friendly news to more than 100,000 Chinese readers in at least 15 major cities in the United States, including Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, New York, Houston, Boston, and Washington.
The enthusiastic coverage of official Beijing is no accident. In recent years, and especially since Xi became president in 2012, the Chinese government has sought various ways to increase its influence over China’s 40 million-strong diaspora. The Overseas Chinese Affairs Office, a ministry specifically dedicated to the task, works to extend the party’s reach, and the push has seen increasing success in New Zealand, Australia, and Canada, where local ethnic Chinese organizations have begun to vocally push for pro-Beijing policies.
While CGTN America has not registered as a foreign agent, a public relations company that worked on behalf of the network’s U.S. division has filed Foreign Agents Registration Act paperwork. In late 2011, just ahead of the channel’s American launch, CCTV signed a $15,000-a-month contract with Ogilvy Public Relations to “communicate to the American public that CCTV America will provide compelling, comprehensive, and balanced news programming from an Asian perspective that is relevant to a global audience.”
In forms filed with the Justice Department in 2012, Ogilvy said CCTV America was supervised, owned, directed, controlled, financed, and subsidized by a foreign principal. “CCTV falls under the supervision of the State Administration of Radio, Film, and Television, which is in turn subordinate to the State Council of the People’s Republic of China,” Ogilvy said in its FARA filing. An Ogilvy spokesperson told Foreign Policy this was a “short-term project with CCTV America.” According to contract documents filed with the Justice Department, Ogilvy signed a three-month contract lasting the first quarter of 2012.
6. More Building Blocks Of The Surveillance State Come Into View
Nationwide, police have a goal of almost doubling China’s current DNA trove to 100 million records by 2020, according to a Wall Street Journal examination of documents from police departments across China. To get there, they need to gather almost as many records each year as are in the entire national database the U.S. has built over two decades...
In a police journal last year, Liu Shuo, then China’s chief forensic officer, wrote that the DNA database had become a “precision-guided weapon for crime-solving.”
This is a preliminary result of a project undertaken last year by China to improve the accuracy of identity confirmation using facial recognition...
A police officer, surnamed Yan, told Caixin that as long as the skeletal structure of a person’s face remains unchanged, things like makeup, hairstyle changes and weight loss will not affect the accuracy of the facial recognition. Yan is from the First Research Institute of the Ministry of Public Security, which developed the technology with the Guangdong Provincial Public Security Department.
Social credit is best understood as part of China’s growing surveillance apparatus. Like the cameras that now line every street and alley in Beijing, social credit adds something to security at the expense of privacy. Just as the cameras monitor our physical activity using AI and facial recognition, social credit is about using real-name registration systems and big data management to create records of our digital conduct. All aspects of our lives – transactional, educational, medical, legal, recreational, and consumer- leave a digital footprint, and social credit is about integrating and mobilizing that data to increase social and economic stability. Of course, it is the Party-State that maintains and mediates access to this data.
China’s Social Credit Plans aren’t secret. An outline for progress through 2020 was released in 2014 laying out broad premises and mechanisms, and an enormous wave of implementing rules and regulations has since followed. Social credit and related information systems were also a major component of a Party-State document on increasing public security. This article and others on this site, draws on such primary sources to add clarity to the discussion of social credit.
7. Leniency For Those Who Confess, Severity For Those Who Resist 坦白从宽抗拒从严: Wu Gan and Xie Yang Sentenced
Mr. Wu [Gan], 45, was among 250 or more people detained in a sweeping clampdown of outspoken lawyers and rights activists that began in 2015, and he was among the last detainees from that roundup waiting to stand trial. Many of the detainees were released in days or weeks, but the government arrested and indicted a core group, mostly linked with the Fengrui Law Firm in Beijing, where Mr. Wu worked as an assistant and researcher.
Lawyer Xie Yang was exempted from receiving criminal punishment by a court in Central China's Hunan Province on Tuesday despite being found guilty of inciting subversion.
The leniency was based on the fact that Xie's behavior did not cause serious social harm, said Changsha Intermediate People's Court, and that Xie had already confessed and pleaded guilty during the trial.
Xie was also accused of disrupting court order by local prosecutors, but the Hunan Province court ruled on Tuesday that Xie was not guilty on this count.
For those living under a dictatorship, being given the honorable label of one who “subverts state power” is the highest form of affirmation for a citizen. It’s proof that the citizen wasn’t an accomplice or a slave, and that at the very least he went out and defended, and fought for, human rights. Liang Qichao (梁启超, famous reformist at end of Qing dynasty) said that he and dictatorship were two forces inextricably opposed; I say: If I don’t oppose dictatorship, am I still a man?
They have attempted to have me plead guilt and cooperate with them to produce their propaganda in exchange for a light sentence — they even said that as long as I plead guilty, they’ll give me a three-year sentence suspended for three years. I rejected it all. My eight-year sentence doesn’t make me indignant or hopeless. This was what I chose for myself: when you oppose the dictatorship, it means you are already walking on the path to jail...
I hereby name the individuals involved in persecuting, torturing, and abusing me: An Shaodong (安少东), Chen Tuo (陈拓), Guan Jiantong (管建童), Yao Cheng (姚诚), Yuan Yi (袁溢), Wang Shoujian (王守俭), Xie Jinchun (谢锦春), Gong Ning (宫宁), Sheng Guowen (盛国文), Cao Jiyuan (曹纪元), Liu Yi (刘毅), Cai Shuying (蔡淑英), Lin Kun (林崑).
More candidates for the Global Human Rights Accountability Magnitsky Act?
Officials in the United States have sanctioned a Chinese police officer under the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act for his role in the death by neglect of human rights activist Cao Shunli while she was in police custody. Gao Yan was chief of police in Beijing’s Chaoyang district from January 2014 to October 2016, and bears “command responsibility” for the denial of medical care and other human rights abuses during his tenure.
The embassies of Germany and the United States are deeply disappointed that Chinese human rights defender and blogger Wu Gan and Chinese attorney Xie Yang have been convicted on vague charges of “subverting state power”, and that Wu has been sentenced to eight years in prison. We call on the Chinese authorities to release Wu immediately. As Xie has been exempted from punishment, we urge China to allow Xie to resume his professional activities without preconditions and be free of any restrictions.
Question: Why didn’t Australia, Canada and other EU nations sign onto this statement?
8. The One China Podcast To Listen To This Holiday
The U.S. relationship with China is arguably one of the most strategically important, as highlighted by the Trump administration calling China a “strategic competitor” in its new national security strategy. In this episode, Michael spends time with Chris Johnson, one of his most trusted former China analysts while the two worked at the CIA, to examine how China has evolved to challenge the U.S. on the global stage: its economic growth; its geopolitical influence; Chinese political power plays and the key factors that drive the U.S.-China relationship.
Business, Economy, Finance And Trade
China Shores Up Rules on Offshore Investments - Caixin Global The Corporate Overseas Investment Management Measures aim to “improve supervision on the entire life span” of outbound investment projects, promote the sustainable and healthy development of offshore investment and “protect China’s national interests and security,” an unnamed official with the NDRC said in a statement posted after the rule was published. // The rules in Chinese (PDF on the NDRC site)
Five Things to Know About China’s Proposed Property Tax - Caixin Global The article, penned by Finance Minister Xiao Jie, said that China aims to implement the new tax based on the appraised value of real estate after a special law is passed. He did not give a timetable on when this particular law will be enacted. Rather, he said that the country plans to “complete the reform to implement statutory taxation” in 2020 after finalizing all related legislations in the previous year. The op-ed first appeared in early November in a book printed by the official People’s Publishing House shortly after the 19th Party Congress.
China’s latest plans to dominate robot, smart car and railway industries by 2020 | South China Morning Post Among the plans published by the National Development and Reform Commission on Tuesday is one to develop magnetic levitation trains able to travel at up to 600km/h by 2020. Other areas include smart cars, robotics, advanced shipbuilding and maritime equipment, modern agricultural machinery, advanced medical devices and drugs, new materials, smart manufacturing and machine tools. The aim is “to make China a powerful manufacturing country” and upgrade the nation’s industrial power through “the internet, big data and artificial intelligence”, the commission said.
Geely Buys Stake in Volvo Trucks, Despite China Curbs - The New York Times Zhejiang Geely Holding Group, the Chinese company that bought Volvo Cars in 2010, said on Wednesday it would acquire an 8.2 percent stake in AB Volvo, a Swedish manufacturer of trucks, from the activist investment firm Cevian Capital. The deal, valued at $3.2 billion based on a New York Times calculation, would make Geely the truck maker’s largest shareholder.
China share pledges soar as founders seek new borrowing tools - FT $$ Shareholders in 317 Shanghai and Shenzhen-listed companies had pledged shares worth at least 40 per cent of those companies by December 18, up from 224 companies on the same date a year earlier, according to Wind Info.
Politics, Law And Ideology
China to bring paramilitary police force under military's wing - Reuters: In a brief report, the official Xinhua news agency said that from midnight on Jan. 1 the People’s Armed Police would no longer fall under the purview of the State Council, or cabinet, and instead report to the Central Military Commission...the party’s official People’s Daily, in a commentary for publication on Thursday but reported by Xinhua on Wednesday, said the move was needed to ensure security and promote the aim of having a “strong military”. // The People's Daily commentary--人民日报评论员：确保党对武警部队绝对领导的重大政治决定 ; The official announcement - 中共中央决定调整中国人民武装警察部队领导指挥体制 . Why it matters: The commentary makes clear the Party will control the PAP, this move clears up any command confusion and reiterates direct oversight of the PAP to Xi.
Liu Xiaobo’s widow enjoys a Christmas Eve with brother, Hong Kong human rights group says | South China Morning Post The Information Centre for Human Rights and Democracy contacted Liu by phone shortly after noon on Christmas Day. Liu, who has been under house arrest since 2010 despite not being formally charged with a crime, was initially good spirits, according to the centre’s founder, Frank Lu Siqing, who spoke to her for about 15 minutes.
CPC unveils regulation to promote transparency in Party affairs - Xinhua However, promoting transparency in Party affairs should not pose a threat to political, economic, military, cultural, social, homeland security and the safety of its people, the regulation warned. 中共中央印发《中国共产党党务公开条例（试行）》
推进党务公开 让权力在阳光下运行——中央办公厅有关负责人就《中国共产党党务公开条例（试行）》答记者问——中央纪委监察部网站 问：请问如何准确把握党务公开的内容和范围。 答：党务公开主体可以分为3类：一是党的中央组织、地方组织、基层组织，二是党的纪律检查机关，三是党的工作机关、党委派出机关、党委直属事业单位、党组等，这3类主体基本上涵盖了党的各级各类组织，有利于实现全党党务公开工作全覆盖、无死角。需要指出的是，以往关于党务公开的文件主要是对地方和基层党组织党务公开工作进行部署和规范，这次中央制定《条例》把党的中央组织也纳入其中，充分彰显我们党自觉自信、开放透明的崭新姿态，充分体现党中央以身作则、以上率下的责任担当。// Comment: A CCDI official answers questions about the transparency regulation
Hainan Cuts GDP’s Ties to Officials’ Performance, but Not Everywhere - Caixin Global The provincial government released revised guidelines for assessing the performance of local officials that de-emphasizes economic targets in favor of environmental protection goals. The revised guidelines, released Monday, stated that officials will no longer to be required to meet targets for GDP growth, industrial investment and fixed-asset investment — but only in 12 of the 19 cities and counties in the province.
China may bring in new law to punish those who slander national heroes | Reuters Communist Party considering new legislation to outlaw insults to those who died fighting the Japanese and the Nationalists
AP Exclusive: Uighurs fighting in Syria take aim at China - AP Since 2013, thousands of Uighurs, a Turkic-speaking Muslim minority from western China, have traveled to Syria to train with the Uighur militant group Turkistan Islamic Party and fight alongside al-Qaida, playing key roles in several battles. Syrian President Bashar Assad’s troops are now clashing with Uighur fighters as the six-year conflict nears its endgame. But the end of Syria’s war may be the beginning of China’s worst fears. “We didn’t care how the fighting went or who Assad was,” said Ali, who would only give his first name out of a fear of reprisals against his family back home. “We just wanted to learn how to use the weapons and then go back to China.”
State Council Appoints Yan Qingmin as China Securities Regulatory Commission Vice Chairman | Yicai Global Yan has worked for the People’s Bank of China and the China Banking Regulatory Commission. He acted as vice chairman of the CBRC from May 2013, and as deputy mayor in Tianjin from December 2014 until earlier this month.
Microblog editor suspended for disrespecting Mao's birthday - Global Times An office under the Henan provincial Party committee on Tuesday suspended the editor of its official microblog for a post that Internet users dubbed insulting to Mao Zedong on his birthday. "The birth of someone might not be worth mentioning while the complete collapse of a giant utopia is something worthy of being remembered in human history," reads the official Sina Weibo post released by the general office for guiding cultural and ethical progress under the Henan provincial Party committee on Tuesday morning, according to screenshots circulated online.
China accused of waging war on Christmas - FT $$ Following initial reports about regional bans, China’s censorship authorities ordered the country’s tightly controlled media not to report news related to Christmas, according to instructions leaked on the internet. China’s official press insisted that talk of a ban on Christmas was exaggerated.
Foreign and Military Affairs
China Faces Pushback in the UN on Belt-Road Initiative, Retreats Quietly - The Wire India took the lead in questioning the language, the US joined in, and the others slowly followed, including many EU members. Some in the EU are more aware or are less beholden to the Chinese than some others, making the internal debates rancorous and time-consuming. But the clear US position is important in influencing the more recent EU members who are more prone to falling under Chinese influence.
Tillerson scores a personnel win, as top East Asia adviser is nominated - The Washington Post Tillerson had wanted her in the job for months, but said the turning point was during President Trump’s trip to Asia in November. “The president spent face-time with Susan during the Asia trip,” Tillerson said. “He had a chance to interface with her and came away very impressed with her.” Thornton’s nomination says as much about Tillerson and White House palace intrigue as it does about her credentials. And it could help revive flagging morale among Foreign Service officers in the State Department, many of whom have felt Tillerson does not value their advice. // Comment: And Randall Schriver was just confirmed as assistant secretary of Defense for Asian and Pacific affairs
China's first domestic large amphibious aircraft makes maiden flight - Xinhua It can carry 50 people during search-and-rescue missions, collect 12 tonnes of water in 20 seconds for fire fighting and transport up to 370 tonnes of water on a single tank of fuel. Its name "Kunlong" stands for a high expectation in Chinese culture with the "Kun" meaning an enormous legendary fish and "Long" a dragon.
Chinese report says South China Sea islands expanded 'reasonably' - Reuters The new report, posted on a website run by China’s National Marine Data and Information Service and the overseas edition of the ruling Communist Party’s People’s Daily, says China has enhanced its military presence there and “reasonably” expanded the area covered by the islands. Apart from what it termed “large radar” - it was unclear if the report was referring to more than one - construction this year has included facilities for underground storage and administrative buildings.
China hits back at German diplomat’s claims it is avoiding talks on cybersecurity, VPNs | South China Morning Post Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said, however, that Clauss’ comments were not “constructive” and “not in line with the facts”. “China has repeatedly invited a German delegation to China for consultation, but Germany has never responded on time,” she said. “It’s unreasonable for Germany now to criticise Beijing for not being sincere.”
China, Afghanistan to strengthen military cooperation - Xinhua While meeting Afghan Defense Minister Tariq Shah Bahrami, Xu Qiliang, vice chairman of the Central Military Commission, spoke highly of the traditional friendship and effective exchange between the two countries.
Hong Kong, Macao
China says part of Hong Kong rail station to be subject to mainland laws - Reuters China’s parliament on Wednesday said part of a high-speed railway station being built in Hong Kong would be regarded as mainland territory governed by mainland laws, an unprecedented move that critics say further erodes the city’s autonomy.
Taiwan separatist attempts doomed to failure: mainland official - Xinhua It is futile for Taiwan to use military force to resist reunification, given the widening strength gap between the island and the Chinese mainland, a mainland official said Wednesday. The way to safeguard peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait is to abandon "Taiwan independence" and a hostile mentality, said An Fengshan, spokesperson for the Taiwan Affairs Office of the State Council, at a press conference.
Tech And Media
Guardian appoints new Moscow and Beijing bureau chiefs | Guardian US press office | The Guardian Lily Kuo is named as the Guardian’s Beijing bureau chief. Based in the city, Lily will be working closely with Benjamin Haas, the Guardian’s China correspondent.
Another corruption scandal hits Huawei with its top executive suspected of bribery · TechNode The executive vice president of Huawei’s consumer business group Greater China, Teng Hongfei, has been taken away by the public security, according to people familiar with the matter. Once a recipient of the highest management honor granted by Huawei, Teng is under investigation for corruption charges
Inside Huawei’s Plans to Challenge Apple in the U.S. — The Information Huawei plans to release its Mate 10 smartphone with AT&T in early February, the first time a major U.S. carrier is selling a Huawei phone for its main service, according to people familiar with the matter. The Information first reported in August that AT&T had tentatively agreed to sell a Huawei phone in the U.S. in the first half of 2018.
Will LeEco Founder Obey Regulator and Return to China? - Caixin Global China’s security regulator has asked Jia Yueting, the founder of embattled technology firm LeEco, to return to the country to “fulfill his duties” to the company’s investors. On Dec. 25, the Beijing branch of the China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC) demanded Jia come back to China before the end of the year, perform his duties as the de facto controller of LeEco, help solve the company’s problems and protect investors’ interests.
China's bike rental sector is still kicking—Hello Bike just won RMB 1 billion financing · TechNode Despite the spectacular demise of bike rental companies such as Coolqi and Bluegogo, the market is still alive and kicking. Hello Bike (哈罗单车) announced today the completion of RMB 1 billion worth Series D2 round of financing led by Fosun Capital, GGV and other investors. Less than a month ago, on December 12th, Hello Bike completed its Series D1 financing round worth $350 million.
Since 2015, China's internet "clean-up" shut over 13,000 websites and 10 million user accounts — Quartz A high-level review of how well China is implementing a new cybersecurity law and other regulations pertaining to cyberspace says that authorities have taken down 13,000 illegal websites and barred some 10 million user accounts since 2015. The numbers were included in a report filed on Dec. 24 (link in Chinese) before the standing committee of China’s National People’s Congress,
Society, Art, Sports, Culture And History
Pickup Artists with Chinese Characteristics | ChinaFile Only a few, like one 26-year-old showboater who viewed the course as “a finishing school,” were typically American-style ladies’ men. The rest were more familiar Chinese bachelors: late starters to the dating game, looking for an early exit. “I’m not after one-night stands,” 28-year-old Michael, who preferred his English name, mentioned several times. A traumatic breakup had prompted the oldest in the group, Gan Shanbiao, 32, to consider PUA as a form of relationship counseling. “I want to make my parents happy,” Gan remarked, a near-universal sentiment among his peers. Many had traveled hundreds of miles to learn how.
Can Russia help China crack men’s pro ice hockey? - FT $$ Beijing needs a top team in place by 2022, when it hosts the Winter Olympics
Energy, Environment, Science And Health
Hainan Authorities Colluded With Developer to Break Environmental Rules - Caixin Global The report came after a month-long inspection that ended on Sept. 10. Both the city government in Danzhou and the provincial maritime authority allowed a developer to conduct environmental impact assessments on small parcels of land that were all part of a massive artificial island, inspectors said. The real impact of the development was masked with this approach.
China Struggles to Reel In Its Illegal Fishing Abroad - Caixin Global Xue Guifang, a professor of law at the Shanghai Jiaotong University, told Caixin that “because deep sea fishing is conducted in distant waters, it is very difficult to monitor the fishing activity.” She said the Agriculture Ministry’s January 2015 policy on monitoring ships’ locations was an example of a regulation that distant vessels could easily bypass. According to the regulation, automatic position-monitoring equipment on ships can legally be out of service during repairs for up to 60 days. During this period, there is no way to automatically report a ship’s position, so crew are required to manually write reports.
Nanchang Doctor Stirs Controversy After Bragging About Bribes on Weibo | What's on Weibo A doctor from Nanchang, Jiangxi Province, has stirred controversy online for sharing photos of supposed bribes for medicine. In September of this year, the man shared photos on his Weibo account (@Tao韬GT) of cash money, writing: “I have received 5500 yuan [±840$], again, as a commission for medicine sales. I’m happy, now I can go shopping again, it’s good to be a doctor, ha.”
China blasts two provinces for deception in environment fight - Reuters In a statement late on Tuesday, the Ministry of Environmental Protection said Binzhou city, China’s aluminum smelter hub, used fake certificates and false data to win approval for 2.4 million tonnes of new aluminum capacity in 2014. The environmental watchdog also said Rizhao Steel, a major producer, continued to run a mill with 5.94 million tonnes of capacity after it had been due to shut in 2015.
Agriculture And Rural Issues
China extends pilot plan to mortgage rural land rights - Xinhua Approved in December 2015, the pilot program for mortgaging contracted land use rights tried out in 232 regions in Beijing, and that for mortgaging rural property rights was tested in 59 localities in Tianjin. The pilot program was scheduled to expire on Dec. 31, 2017. Wednesday's decision means the pilot program will be extended for one year until Dec. 31, 2018.
China makes big step forward in rural reforms - Xinhua The country is also expanding its rural land ownership reform. A total of 300 counties will be covered in the pilot program next year, up from current 129, Vice Agricultural Minister Ye Zhenqin said earlier this month at a meeting in Tianchang in central China's Anhui Province, a major grain-producing region.
Xi stresses construction, maintenance of rural roads - Xinhua Chinese President Xi Jinping has stressed the significance of construction, maintenance and operation of rural roads in the country's battle against poverty. Efforts should be made to build good roads in rural areas and keep them under sound maintenance, so as to ensure a better quality of life for farmers and accelerate the agricultural modernization, Xi said.
Major education award in China goes to an American professor (who wins nearly $4 million) - The Washington Post Carol Dweck, the Lewis and Virginia Eaton Professor of Psychology at Stanford, recently accepted the Yidan Prize in Hong Kong, where she spoke out in favor of an education process that is counter to the intense, standardized test- and cramming-based school culture in China...The prize was started in 2016 by Charles Chen Yidan, co-founder of the technology giant Tencent. Its inaugural awards process had two winners: Dweck for education research, and Vicky Colbert, founder and director of Fundación Escuela Nueva in Colombia, for education development.