Xi in Macau; Trade deal details public after signing; Operation Wocao 我操

I think we are all in holiday mode so I won’t waste your time with uninspired commentary today…

Thanks for reading.


The Essential Eight

1. US-China

Treasury Secretary Mnuchin is 'confident' trade deal will be signed - CNBC

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Thursday he has no doubt that U.S. and Chinese trade negotiators will sign their “phase one” trade deal in early January.

Asked by CNBC’s David Faber how certain he is the trade deal will be signed on schedule, the secretary said he was “very confident.”

“It’s just going through what I would consider to be a technical, legal scrub, and we’ll be releasing the document and signing it in the beginning of January,” he said.

Grassley still waiting for China specifics - POLITICO

— Senate Finance Chairman Chuck Grassley says he has not seen any details of the preliminary trade deal with China even after talking with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, as the text is still being translated.

So it is not just we who are in the dark about the details…

China says in touch with U.S. on signing of Phase 1 trade deal - Reuters

Both the Chinese and U.S. trade teams are in close communication, Gao Feng, a spokesman at the Chinese commerce ministry, told reporters at a regular briefing on Thursday, adding there is no specific information on the deal to disclose currently.

“After the official signing of the deal, the content of the agreement will be made public,” Gao said.

Comment: Perhaps the content is not being made public until after the signing because some people in China will not like the concessions?

I have heard it described as a "卖国条约 treasonous pact". It is very interesting that Taoran Notes, a reliable reporter of the deal negotiations, has been silent since November 5. It is possible that Xi decided a deal was to be done and this time he made sure to shut down any negative voices.

As I wrote in Monday's newsletter:

It is hard to tell from the limited public details, but my sense is that the Chinese did concede more than the US because Xi wants to try to put a floor, however temporary and narrow it may be, under the rapidly descending trajectory of US-China relations.

This reporter is hearing similar things - Did Xi surrender to Trump? China struggles to silence chatter - Nikkei Asian Review

When the U.S. and China reached a "phase one" trade deal late last week, neither Saturday's prime time news program on state-run China Central Television nor the Sunday edition of the People's Daily spoke a word of it, despite the media fanfare that hit much of the rest of the globe.

Almost no official commentaries about the trade deal have been made since then.

Nevertheless, a quiet debate is taking place among Chinese political junkies, be they intellectuals or ordinary citizens. Most of these whispered conversations happen face-to-face, since online posts are under strict surveillance, now with the help of artificial intelligence.

"Did Chinese President Xi Jinping just surrender to U.S. President Donald Trump?"...

The buzzword being used for "surrender" is cheng xia zhi meng [城下之盟], literally "an oath taken at the bottom of the castle." It refers to a peace treaty a city is forced to conclude after seeing enemy forces breaching its last castle wall.

China announces new tariff exemptions for U.S. chemical, oil products - Reuters

The tariff waivers will apply to four chemical products, such as metallocene high-density polyethylene (HDPE) and a special grade of linear low-density polyethylene (LLDPE), and refined oil products that include white oil and food-grade petroleum wax.

Henry Kissinger told White House he talked to Xi about Trump: Kudlow - CNBC

Kudlow told CNBC that Kissinger, who served in senior roles under Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford, met with Xi “twice” during a weeklong trip to China, along with “other big shots.”

During their talks, Xi said he would rather deal with Trump than Democrats “who won’t talk about key trade issues, but instead will go on about human rights and other things,” Kudlow said Kissinger told him.

First Xinjiang, then Hong Kong … now US turns human rights attention to Tibet | South China Morning Post

The US House of Representatives’ foreign affairs committee on Wednesday approved a bill calling for stronger US support for religious and human rights in Tibet, a step on the way to it becoming law.

Known as the Tibet Policy and Support Act of 2019, the bill is expected to go to the House for a full vote, although a date has not been set...

The main stipulation in the Tibet legislation is for the Tibetan Buddhist community to choose the next Dalai Lama spiritual leader, a right the Chinese government has claimed.

It’s not all on Trump: China’s Xi Jinping favors confrontation with the U.S. - The Washington Post OpEd by Pomfret

Given these jeremiads, reading the pronouncements by the American figures —columnist Thomas Friedman, former treasury secretary Henry Paulson, former World Bank president Robert Zoellick and foreign affairs expert Fareed Zakaria — it’s difficult to grasp what exactly they would have the United States do. It takes two to fight a Cold War; it also takes two to stop one...

For me, the critical issue is that none of these writers seems to have truly grasped how much China has changed for the worse under Xi…China began to veer from its market-oriented economic reforms and understated foreign policy in 2008, when the global financial crisis made the United States appear weak. Xi’s rise to Communist Party boss in 2012 added a dose of accelerant.

中方如何评论特朗普遭弹劾?耿爽:美国内政 不评论_网易新闻

MoFA spokesperson Geng Shuang says impeachment is a US internal affair, will not comment on it

Chinese web users mock ‘big show’ of Trump impeachment - Global Times

Diao Daming, an associate professor of Renmin University of China in Beijing, said "if US people need to talk about the impeachment, they have no time to discuss about what they need or what they should do in the future, because they need to dig evidence from the past to verify whether Trump needs to be removed. This is actually a shame of the US democracy."…

"Populism among the West was caused by three main reasons - the dispute on immigration, the increasing gap between rich and poor, and people's disappointment with establishment elites. At least on the Chinese mainland, we don't have this kind of challenge yet," said Song Luzheng, a political studies expert at Fudan University in Shanghai.


2. More on the debt mess

City-Level Financial Stress Rising | Rhodium Group - Logan Wright and Allen Feng

Local-level credit events in China are piling up, and evidence of broader stress across China’s financial system is accumulating. The ultimate cause is the contraction in shadow banking under the deleveraging campaign, as the informal financial system had previously kept highly indebted local governments afloat. The bill for the post-crisis credit expansion is now coming due, and recent defaults by some of Tianjin’s larger state-owned firms will not be the last credit events from China’s local governments.

In this note we take an in-depth look at city-level financial data, using disclosures from local government financing vehicle (LGFV) bond prospectus documents and city-level fiscal data. The analysis yields a large number of cities facing similar levels of pressure to Tianjin, particularly in China’s northeastern and southwestern regions. These credit events will limit the effectiveness of counter-cyclical stimulus measures in the coming years and will force Beijing to consider more aggressive options to clean up local debt...

China’s policymakers are more likely to be reactive to local government financial stress rather than proactive in managing that stress. This is primarily because Beijing has an interest in “constructive ambiguity” toward local government debt: a signal of widespread guarantees would only cause the debt problem to expand. Even though some bailouts will be necessary, Beijing will probably only provide such assistance sparingly and at the last minute. Eventually, however, expect the Ministry of Finance and central bank balance sheet to provide additional central government support in firefighting the financial stress building at the rural and city levels of government.

This has significant implications for counter-cyclical monetary and fiscal policy in 2020, which will be less effective as localities need to devote large volumes of new credit and fiscal resources to managing existing debt burdens, while even this support will not necessarily reduce the risk of credit events.

Rising Demand for Loans in China Conceals Economic Weakness - Bloomberg

“Both new loans and aggregate financing could have been affected by debt swaps,” Zhang Wenlang, an analyst at Everbright Securities Co. in Beijing, wrote in a note on Tuesday. He estimates that 7%, or about 277 billion yuan ($40 billion), of new loans in the third quarter were used to repay or swap existing debt, and between 5% to 12% of newly-added loans will likely be used for that in coming quarters.

地方隐性债务化解这两年:各地多种渠道探索,尚无可推广模式_金改实验室_澎湃新闻-The Paper

The Paper gives us a year-end review of local governments’ different approaches to dealing with their off-balance sheet debt.

China Adds Most Cash in Open Market Operations Since January - Bloomberg

The People’s Bank of China added 280 billion yuan ($40 billion) into the financial system with 7 and 14-day reverse repurchase agreements Thursday, while keeping the interest rates unchanged. That came after the authorities restarted such operations after a 20-day hiatus on Wednesday.

Comment: Year end liquidity checks and Lunar New Year 2020 is January 25, liquidity crunch happens every year in the month before the holiday

World Bank warns on ‘towering’ $55tn emerging market debt pile | Financial Times $$

China itself, whose debt-to-GDP ratio has risen 72 points to 255 per cent since 2010, accounts for the bulk of the boom, but nominal debt levels have doubled in the rest of the developing world, the bank found.

The report - Global Waves of Debt : Causes and Consequences


3. Xi in Macau

Chinese president speaks highly of Macao's patriotic education, urges increased efforts - Xinhua

"Patriotic education lays a solid social and political foundation for Macao to implement the 'one country, two systems' principle and guides its practice to always proceed in the correct direction," Xi said during his visit to the Premier School Affiliated to Hou Kong Middle School.

Xi made the remarks in the school's auditorium after watching a Chinese history class themed "'one country, two systems' and Macao."

Noting that Hou Kong Middle School has a long patriotic tradition, Xi said he was touched when he received a letter in May from the school's pupils who showed a strong sense of patriotism...

"One can easily feel a strong sense of national self-esteem and national pride after knowing our uninterrupted history spanning over five millennia," Xi said. "And only by knowing the nation's history of humiliation after the Opium War, one can understand the Chinese people's strong yearning for national rejuvenation."

Xi urges Macau schools to spread Chinese culture - RTHK

One of the students who met and shook hands with the president said he had imagined Xi as a very serious person, but was surprised to discover that he was a "kind man". He felt a warmth spread across him when the president shook his hand, the student gushed.

The full CCTV Evening News report on this visit 习近平视察澳门政府综合服务中心和英才学校

《新闻联播》 20191219 21:30_CCTV节目官网

First 25 minutes of the Thursday CCTV Evening News consists of various reports of Xi in Macau

Macau’s yuan remittance limit raised to same level as Hong Kong as Beijing starts to shift financial focus | South China Morning Post

The daily yuan remittance quota for Macau residents had been kept lower than Hong Kong as Beijing was concerned about money laundering in the casino hub.
But Beijing is now keen to grow Macau as an offshore yuan hub, with Hong Kong’s place as the dominant offshore yuan centre under threat due to the anti-government protests. A yuan-denominated stock exchange and a bond trading centre is reported to be in the works for Macau, according to mainland media.


4. Hong Kong

(MacaoSAR 20) Central government fully supports HKSAR's future work plan: Xi - Xinhua

The central government fully supports the future work plan of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) government, Chinese President Xi Jinping said Thursday.

Xi made the remarks while meeting with HKSAR Chief Executive Carrie Lam and some officials of the HKSAR...

Lam, who is here to attend celebrations of Macao's 20th anniversary of return to the motherland, pledged to lead the SAR government to continuously stop violence and restore social order as soon as possible.

Prominent advocate for Hong Kong independence charged with unlawful assembly over June protest | Hong Kong Free Press HKFP

Police have begun to formally charge protesters over protests that took place in June, with a pro-independence activist and eight other people charged with unlawful assembly.

Wayne Chan, convenor of the Hong Kong Independence Union, was charged on Wednesday over clashes that took place in the early hours of June 10

Hong Kong police freeze HK$70 million in protest fund - AFP

Police said their investigation focused on Spark Alliance, a non-profit online platform formed in 2016 that collects donations to provide support to political critics of the city's pro-Beijing authorities.

It is one of two crowd-sourced funding platforms that have collected millions of dollars to provide legal and other help for people arrested in the pro-democracy protests that have upended the city since early June.

But police said some of the donations were allegedly used by the fund owners for other investments.


5. Thousand talents link cause resignations at a US cancer center

Moffitt Cancer Center shakeup: CEO and others resign over China ties - Tampa Bay Times

Dr. Alan List, the CEO and president of H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center & Research Institute, resigned under pressure Wednesday amid a controversy that linked him and others at the hospital to possible exploitation of American-funded research by China.

List was joined by Thomas Sellers, a vice president and director at Moffitt, and four of the cancer center’s researchers, who also resigned abruptly...

Moffitt’s internal compliance office launched an internal investigation into the hospital’s partnership with any China research arms and found several “compliance violations,” officials said. Most were linked to Moffitt employees’ personal involvement in China’s “Thousand Talents” program...

Moffitt is also reviewing its 12-year research and education partnership with the Tianjin Medical University Cancer Institute and Hospital, a 2,400-bed hospital outside of Beijing. Last year, Moffitt also celebrated five years of collaboration with China’s International Personalized Cancer Center.

Comment: Interesting case, at least two of the six are not ethnically Chinese


6. Pushback on China Daily and CGTN

China Flouts Fed Law to Publish Propaganda in NY Times, WaPo - Washington Free Beacon

China Daily has published propaganda in mainstream outlets for decades, but did not disclose its purchases of space in American newspapers to the Department of Justice until 2012. Even after it began acknowledging its relationship with the papers, the regime mouthpiece continued to violate federal disclosure requirements. China Daily has failed to provide breakdowns of spending activities and withheld copies of online ads, among other omissions that violate federal law, according to experts who reviewed years of its FARA filings...

After reviewing China Daily‘s most recent report, filed in November, both Rosenstein and Freeman said the outlet continues to flout the law. The report illegally lumps together all expenditures under two vague categories: "Total Cost of Goods Sold" and "Operation Expenses." China Daily should have broken down its expenditures, detailing how much money it paid to each outlet for each ad purchase, said the two experts...

A Times spokesperson said that the lucrative ad deals with China Daily have not compromised the paper's reporting, pointing to a recent exposé on oppression in Xinjiang as evidence.

"The New York Times covers China thoroughly and aggressively, and at no time has advertising influenced our coverage," she said.

Comment: The Times spokesperson misses the point. The far is less that China Daily money will influence the paper’s own coverage, more that the NYT is selling renting its credibility to CCP propaganda efforts

Forced confessions have been broadcast in Canada on China-based television, and a human rights group wants Ottawa to take action | The Star

Chinese state-run media available in Canada has been broadcasting forced confessions from people detained by mainland China authorities, alleges an international human rights group calling for Ottawa to punish those responsible.

Safeguard Defenders, a human rights organization based in Hong Kong and Europe, filed a complaint with the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission. It is calling on the federal government to use so-called Magnitsky legislation to punish those responsible for broadcasting the confessions.

China state TV axes interview with UK ambassador - AFP

Ashley Rodgers, head of communications at the embassy, told AFP that Ambassador Barbara Woodward was asked about Hong Kong during an interview in October with Liu Xin, a well-known anchor at China Global Television Network (CGTN)...

Separately, CGTN is facing a probe by Britain's broadcasting watchdog following a complaint filed by a former employee of the British consulate in Hong Kong, Simon Cheng.

A human rights group, Safeguard Defenders, said last month that state-run CGTN, which holds a licence to broadcast in Britain, had aired an item including "direct lies, violations of his privacy and unproven allegations reported as facts".


7. Football

Yaya Toure hits out at Mesut Ozil and tells Arsenal star he was wrong to condemn China's treatment of Uighurs

Toure, who has just finished a brief stint playing in China, said: “Footballers have to stay with football and politicians to politics because you cannot be involved with this kind of things because it’s going to attract a lot of problems and a lot of things.

FC Koln's halt of China academy project 'normal': CFA - Global Times

Echoing the official, the club released a statement on Thursday on its Sina Weibo account, citing club president Werner Wolf as saying that "calling off the project off was due to the club's current sporting situation, as well as in consideration of resource integration and priority."

"I did know about the sports cooperation project, but the German's words are nonsense," said Geng Shuang, spokesperson of Chinese Foreign Ministry, in response to the comments at Thursday's routine press conference.

The Dong Fangzhuo experiment – The Athletic $$

“We’re signing a Chinese boy, hopefully in the next few weeks. But we have to be careful how much we grow. Can we cope with another couple of million wanting to support us?”

It is safe to say that Sir Alex Ferguson’s concerns about global expansion were not shared widely at Manchester United. Back then, in November 2003, they boasted 53 million fans worldwide. These days, they prefer to trumpet a figure of 1.1 billion “followers”, no fewer than 253 million of them in China...

This is the human story of the Chinese boy in question, who was plucked from obscurity, after just a handful of appearances for his hometown club Dalian Shide, and hailed by United’s chief executive David Gill as a player of “outstanding quality” who had “the possibility to become one of the best young players in the world”.

Dong Fangzhuo fell a long, long way short of that. He made three appearances for United before drifting back into obscurity and, in the eyes of some, ignominy. He retired from football at the age of 29 — largely forgotten but otherwise derided, whether as someone who was only there to “sell shirts” or, as many in China would have it, as someone who had an incredible opportunity, at one of the biggest clubs in the world, and blew it.


8. Operation Wocao 我操 Hacking

Sorry but with that name how could it not make the Essential Eight?

Quiet For Years, Chinese Hacking Group Resumes Global Attacks - Bloomberg

Fox-IT, a security company based in the Netherlands, said in a report published Thursday that the group’s attacks have extended to 10 countries, including the U.S., the U.K., France, Germany and Italy.

The Chinese hackers carried out a global espionage campaign that targeted industries including aviation, construction, finance, health care, insurance, gambling and energy, the firm said.

Operation Wocao: Shining a light on one of China’s hidden hacking groups - Fox-IT

Operation Wocao (我操, “Wǒ cāo”, used as “shit” or “damn”) is the name that Fox-IT uses to describe the hacking activities of a Chinese based hacking group.

This report details the profile of a publicly underreported threat actor that Fox-IT has dealt with over the past two years. Fox-IT assesses with high confidence that the actor is a Chinese group and that they are likely working to support the interests of the Chinese government and are tasked with obtaining information for espionage purposes. With medium confidence, Fox-IT assesses that the tools, techniques and procedures are those of the actor referred to as APT20. We have identified victims of this actor in 10 countries, in government entities, managed service providers and across a wide variety of industries, including Energy, Health Care and High-Tech


Business, Economy and Trade

Chinese vice premier calls for enhanced efforts to ensure steady economic growth - Xinhua Chinese Vice Premier Han Zheng has called for enhanced development and reform efforts to ensure steady economic growth in 2020 to fulfill the 13th Five-Year Plan...A batch of major projects should be implemented in infrastructure and other fields, while investment should be expanded in advanced manufacturing and emerging sectors, Han said. Major foreign investment projects will be facilitated while more opening-up policies will be rolled out and the business environment will be further improved, according to him.

China’s economy has bottomed out - Global Times By Sheng Songcheng, a former director of the People’s Bank of China’s statistics and analysis department// The Chinese economy has bottomed out. GDP growth this year is expected to grow by at least 6.1 percent. If we proceed with current economic operations and policies, the economic growth will not drop below 6 percent in 2020. Therefore, whether China should maintain 6 percent growth is not a valid question anymore. Deepening reforms, expanding opening-up, pushing up economic transformation and improving potential output are more important measures.

Iron-Handed Ex-Chairman of Troubled Bank Dies in Wake of Government-Engineered Bailout - Caixin Multiple sources confirmed with Caixin that Zhang Wei, a former chairman of the bank, died in the morning. One implied that his death was likely due to stomach illness, saying that Zhang had gastric cancer and recently had to make multiple trips to intensive care. Zhang had stepped down as Bank of Jinzhou’s chairman on Nov. 15, a board meeting after its regulator-guided restructuring. “He came to that meeting in a wheelchair,” a source familiar with the matter said.

锦州银行原董事长张伟离世:5个月前试图外逃,飞机在跑道上被拦截_腾讯新闻 This article from the Economic Observer on Zhang Wei says he was caught at the Beijing Airport in July trying to flee to the US

459 Real Estate Bankruptcy Filings Raise Concerns of Homebuyers Losing Out - Caixin More property developers have filed for bankruptcy this year than last, amid sluggish economic growth and tightening regulatory control over the real estate market and relevant financing channels, meant to curb speculation.

Yicai Global - China Issues First Yuan-Based CIF Pricing for Crude Oil Imports China, the world's top crude oil importer, has issued its first price in yuan for cost, insurance and freight of the imported commodity as part of the country's efforts to beef up its influence in the international energy market.

Temasek-Invested Big Data Company Accused Of Making Most of Its Money Illegally - Caixin Tongdun Technology Co. Ltd., a prominent data service startup invested in by Singapore government-backed Temasek Holdings Pte. Ltd., is based in East China’s Hangzhou city. A Hangzhou-based data company has been accused of collecting Chinese citizens’ personal information and selling it to shady online lenders for “risk control,” Chinese state broadcaster CCTV recently reported, citing police records.

Yicai Global - Chinese Tycoon Jia Yueting's Bankruptcy Case May Go to Californian Court A Delaware court said it will not accept Chinese internet billionaire Jia Yueting's filing for bankruptcy restructuring and instead recommended referring the case to its counterpart in California, which happens to be where most of Jia's real estate assets are located.

Yicai Global - Ant Financial's Simon Hu Is Promoted to CEO Hu replaces Eric Jing who will remain as executive chairman of the Alibaba Group affiliate. The appointment is part of the Hangzhou-based company's efforts to build three pillars of growth: globalization, domestic demand and technology, it said in a statement.

China’s pork crisis: local banks offer meat to new customers with African swine fever set to continue | South China Morning Post Handing out servings of expensive pork as a reward for opening an account is the latest gimmick being used by a growing number of small local banks across China to lure new depositors.

Shanghai parents hit refund brick wall after Lego learning centre closures | South China Morning Post Shanghai Jixiao Information Science and Technology, which ran three Lego Education Learning Centres in the city, said in an online statement on Monday that it was left with no choice but to close the centres after Lego Education in China ended its agreement with its Chinese partner, Beijing-based Semia.

CITIC poised to beat Goldman to become first China firm to lead Asia equity rankings - Reuters Last year Goldman was first while CITIC Securities was seventh.

Chinese Investors Surge Into Chips, Expecting Future Import Curbs - Bloomberg From sanctions to export restrictions, the rest of the world views China’s chip champions like Huawei Technologies Co. and ZTE Corp. with suspicion and skepticism. But inside the country, all investors see is a $300 billion-a-year golden opportunity. One could almost say that the Chinese have a chip on the shoulder by rewarding semiconductor startups with such a vengeance.  Companies that have anything to do with the industry are among the year’s best performers.

Central Bank Says China Has Paid "Huge Price" for Online Financial Risk - China Banking News Pan Gong­sheng (潘功胜), deputy gov­er­nor of the Peo­ple’s Bank of China (PBOC), said that prob­lems with on­line fi­nan­cial risk in China had pro­vided a “deep les­son” for reg­u­la­tors.  “We have paid a huge price, from the ac­cu­mu­la­tion, ex­pan­sion and ex­plo­sion of in­ter­net fi­nan­cial risk, to sub­se­quent clean-up and rec­ti­fi­ca­tion which con­tin­ues un­til now,” said Pan in a speech de­liv­ered on 17 De­cem­ber at the 3rd Chi­nese In­ter­net Fi­nance Fo­rum (第三届中国互联网金融论坛) con­vened in Bei­jing.

Politics and Law

China Mobile Inspector Revealed How He Monitored the Internet – Chinascope A former China Mobile worker disclosed the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP’s) monitoring over its citizens’ phone conversations and text messages to Bitter Winter, a publication focused on the CCP’s human rights abuses. The former inspector of China Mobile Online, who remained anonymous, said that China Mobile monitors its customers’ conversations and text messages using the excuse that it is managing “inappropriate messages.” Covering all territories in mainland China, its system can automatically detect messages related to politics and religion, including those messages against the CCP or those that make fun of the top leaders. All the detected messages must go through a manual inspection.

Well known labour activist detained in Guangzhou | China Labour Bulletin Chen Weixiang, known as “Xiangzi,” ran a public WeChat account called Heart Sanitation (心环卫) that published news about sanitation workers’ struggles and provided information about their legal rights. Just three days before Chen’s detention, for example, the platform published an article on 130 sanitation workers in Guangzhou’s University Town district who were owed 1.8 million yuan in wage arrears.

走区域协调发展之路_黄河新闻网 犹记2019年初,习近平总书记深入京津冀考察调研时指出:“京津冀如同一朵花上的花瓣、瓣瓣不同,却瓣瓣同心”,“要保持历史耐心和战略定力,做好这件历史性工程”。这是共产党人的战略眼光,更是人民领袖的历史担当。谋求区域协调发展,亦是如此

Party poopers - Video blogs by critics of China’s Communist Party attract many fans | China | The Economist Bookish and soft-spoken, Wen Zhao never expected to become a celebrity. In Toronto, where he lives, Mr Wen is often asked for selfies by adoring fans (female ones are especially keen, he says bashfully). He owes his fame to a video blog, updated every two or three days, in which he talks in Mandarin about current affairs, often very critically of China’s ruling Communist Party // Comment: Wen Zhao is very entertaining, here is his Youtube page 文昭談古論今

Foreign and Defense Affairs

China’s envoy to Australia dismisses mass detention of Uygurs in Xinjiang as ‘fake news’ | AFP China’s ambassador to Australia held a rare press conference on Thursday to defend his government against charges of human rights abuses, espionage and political meddling which have frayed relations between the major trade partners.

Putin says no plans for Russia-China military alliance - Reuters President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday Russia is not planning to create a military alliance with China, despite Moscow helping Beijing build a missile attack warning system.

China’s aircraft carriers tipped to team up to target foreign forces aiding Taiwan | South China Morning Post Instead of fighting alone, the Shandong, which was commissioned on Tuesday, would work with the Liaoning, a refitted Soviet Kuznetsov-class vessel, to create a more powerful combination to block US or Japanese vessels from reaching the island if they went to the aid independence-leaning forces on Taiwan, the Beijing-based Naval and Merchant Ships monthly magazine reported on Tuesday. “[Another major] task of the [battle group’s aircraft] is to stop US long-range bombers from taking off from a naval base in Guam. This would be to prevent American aircraft targeting the PLA’s landing transport formations and Chinese submarines,” it said.

Five strategic implications behind first China-made aircraft carrier - China Military First, it was independently designed by China, which realizes the historic leap from renovation to self-development of aircraft carriers; Second, it is the first time that an Asian country has an independently-built aircraft carrier after WWII.; Third, the commissioning of the domestically-built aircraft carrier gives China two carrier strike groups (CSGs) for the first time, making it the third country in the world after the US and UK.; Fourth, the emergence of two CSGs also leads to the simultaneous launch of two aircraft carrier bases.; Fifth, the commissioning of the domestically-made aircraft carrier in Sanya indicates China's deployment of aircraft carrier in the South China Sea for the first time.

The English-speaking commander of China’s newest aircraft carrier in service | South China Morning Post Lai Yijun stepped in to take command of the guided-missile frigate Lianyungang during a multilateral live-fire naval exercise in Pakistan in 2007 when the vessel’s top officer fell sick...Now Lai, who graduated from the PLA’s Dalian Naval Academy with a major in missiles, is at the helm of the Shandong, the first aircraft carrier built in China.

黎湘任国防科大校长 中候补邓小刚卸任_凤凰网资讯_凤凰网 Li Xiang is the new President of National University of Defense Technology

What's behind US Army's investment in rare earth? - China Military The financial support by the Pentagon to the industry is said to be the first time that the US military invests in the commercial production of rare earth since the "Manhattan Project", which developed the atomic bomb in World War II.The difference is that the historical "Manhattan Project" aimed at the actual threat of fascist militarism, and as a result, made America, the leader of the anti-fascist alliance, unprecedentedly great. This time, the US aims at "emerging industrial nations" that insist on peaceful development, opening to the outside world, and maintaining free trade. However, the US itself fell into the mire of threats and spreading war. (The author is a professor with the PLA National Defense University)

Trilateral summit to discuss Korean Peninsula issue - Global Times Chinese President Xi Jinping will meet South Korean President Moon Jae-in and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe separately during their stay in China for the summit, Luo Zhaohui, China's Vice Foreign Minister, said on Thursday at a press briefing for the event.  Chinese Premier Li Keqiang will chair the summit in Chengdu on December 24 with the attendance of Moon and Abe.

Chaguan - Communism is not what worries the world about China’s Communist Party | China | The Economist Chinese demands for respect are in part a ploy, a passive-aggressive bid to browbeat foreign critics into silence. But to meet officials in Beijing is to hear a regime talking itself into a funk about how America and its allies cannot bear to let a system like theirs succeed. That is mostly bogus. The problem is China’s actions, not the fact that it has a politburo. But the risks of a rupture are real

On the Trail of Xi Jinping: a new Podcast by Jane Perlez | Shorenstein Center On the Trail of Xi Jinping follows the rise of China’s current leader, and how the West got him so wrong. From clinking champagne glasses at the State Department to the lowest ebb in US China relations in 40 years, Perlez and a series of expert China watchers explain what’s happened

China's envoy calls for just, reasonable solution to Palestinian issue - Xinhua Zhai Jun, Chinese special envoy on Middle East affairs, has called for promoting a just, reasonable and lasting solution to the Palestinian issue...The Chinese envoy said one of the most important reasons that Palestinian issue is not resolved is that the U.S. biased stance towards Israel. Zhai said the international community has made many efforts on Palestinian issue, which have resulted in some consensus. However, the United States pursues a unilateralist policy and hegemonism which erode the foundation of Palestinian-Israeli peace and regional peace, he noted.

Another Chinese woman arrested for trespassing at Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort | AP Lu Jing, 56, was confronted by the private club’s security officers and told to leave, but she returned to take photos, Palm Beach police spokesman Michael Ogrodnick said in an email. Palm Beach officers were called and arrested her. It was determined she had an expired visa, Ogrodnick said. Lu was charged with loitering and prowling and was being held late on Wednesday at the Palm Beach County jail.

Chinese Police Work in Cambodia to Handle Chinese Suspects - RFA For almost a year, Chinese police officials have worked from an office in Cambodia’s National Police headquarters to help identify and handle Chinese nationals suspected of committing crimes in the Southeast Asian country, RFA has learned.

Taiwan

China more confident than ever of Taiwan reunification, senior mainland official says | South China Morning Post Head of Taiwan Affairs Office says country’s growing international influence means it can be more confident than ever of returning island to the mainland fold Liu Jieyi’s comments to People’s Daily newspaper were made three weeks ahead of the island’s elections, where cross-strait relations are one of the main issues //坚定推进祖国和平统一进程(权威访谈)——访中共中央台办、国务院台办主任刘结一

Taiwan's Tsai and Han clash over China in impromptu televised debate - Nikkei Asian Review "President Tsai, you should let Taiwanese people know where you are leading us to," said Han, the mayor of the southern city of Kaohsiung. He accused Tsai of having "failed supporters who are pro-independence because you don't make your stance clear." Tsai countered that "China is the one that attempts to damage the status quo of cross-strait relations, not Taiwan."

Tech and Media

Tencent, Xiaomi apps called out for illegal data collection · TechNode The list includes many popular apps such as Tencent’s QQ and QQ Reading, Xiaomi’s digital finance app Xiaomi Finance, Sina Corp’s sports media platform Sina Sports, news aggregator 36Kr and Sohu News, and inter-city delivery service FlashEX.

Society, Arts, Sports, Culture and History

The Strange Rise of Fingerprint Personality Tests in China - Sixth Tone Chen is just the latest Chinese parent to purchase a dermatoglyphics multiple intelligences test, or DMIT, in a bid to better understand her child. The fingerprints-based personality test has become increasingly popular among middle-class families in recent years. The DMIT movement, however, is also facing growing backlash from critics who accuse practitioners of peddling pseudoscience.

Energy, Environment, Science and Health

Chinese CRISPR Researcher Among 2019’s Most Influential Scientists | Sixth Tone Deng Hongkui, an immunologist at Peking University, used CRISPR…to edit blood-forming stem cells from a bone marrow donor, before transplanting a cocktail of edited and unedited cells into a 27-year-old man with HIV and leukemia.

Chinese, U.S. scientists identify dark matter in rice genome enabling domesticated traits - Xinhua 

Is China’s particle collider the Three Gorges Dam of Chinese physics? - Abacus

Beijing

Beijing to reserve land for long-term sustainable development - China Daily The capital plans to set up reserved land for the first time in district space planning to further optimize demographic structure and increase the proportion of residential land for long-term sustainable development.

Rural and Agricultural Issues

Caixin "Release the land dividends: No less than 300 townships will pilot comprehensive land improvement" 释放土地红利 不少于300个乡镇将试点全域土地综合整治__财新网 MInistry of Natural Resources put a circular on the pilots yesterday// 12月18日,自然资源部公布了《关于开展全域土地综合整治试点工作的通知》(下称《通知》),部署以乡镇为基本实施单元(乡镇全部或部分村庄),开展土地综合整治,包括农用地整理、建设用地整理和乡村生态保护修复。也就是说,通过对镇域的重新科学规划,将镇域内土地和空间布局重组,实现生产、生活、生态空间格局优化,并达到节约土地、改善人居环境、助推乡村全面振兴的目的。