Xi Jinping's New Year's Greeting; Rural Revitalization; Mao Zhenhua's Tirade Against Heilongjiang Corruption; Censors Bring News App Toutiao To Heel

Happy 2018!

Sinocism is back to a normal schedule. I imagine many of you have full inboxes after the holiday so if you missed my year-ender here is a link to it again--Seven China Themes For 2018

Thanks for reading. 

The Essential Eight

1. Xi Jinping's New Year's Greeting

President Xi delivers New Year speech vowing resolute reform in 2018 - Xinhua:

Xi said the year 2018 marked the first year of fully implementing "the spirit of the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC)," which outlines China's desired development blueprint over the next three decades.

"Building a high-rise begins with mounds of soil," Xi said, borrowing an ancient Chinese phrase to urge his fellow Chinese to take a step-by-step approach and work hard to turn the blueprint into a reality.

Xi said that by 2020 all rural residents living below the current poverty line should have been lifted out of poverty. It will be the first time in China's thousands of years of history that extreme poverty is eliminated.

"It is our solemn promise," Xi said. "Only three years are left to 2020. Every one of us must be called to action, do our best, take targeted measures to secure victories one after another."

"This is a great cause, important to both the Chinese nation and humanity. Let's do it together and make it happen," he said.

Comment: Video of Xi's speech, looking forward to analysis of the pictures on display in his office.  

Commentary: Xi demonstrates China's role as responsible country in New Year address - Xinhua:

"China will resolutely uphold the authority and status of the United Nations, actively fulfill China's international obligations and duties, remain firmly committed to China's pledges to tackle climate change, actively push for the Belt and Road Initiative, and always be a builder of world peace, contributor of global development and keeper of international order," Xi said.

Once again, the remarks sent out a strong message of the times concerning the future of mankind. It is not hard to tell that China, while pursuing its own development, also attaches great importance to the development of the international community.

Currently, the international situation is undergoing profound and complex changes, and the world has reached a critical juncture. While peace and development remain the theme of the time, the world is faced with multiple challenges including the rise of anti-globalization, terrorism, unilateralism and xenophobia.


2. Latest On North Korea

Kim Jong-un’s Overture Could Drive a Wedge Between South Korea and the U.S. - The New York Times:

But the South Korean president also agrees with China and Russia that talks are needed to resolve the nuclear crisis. Mr. Kim’s sudden peace overture on Monday will probably encourage both South Korea and China to raise their voices for dialogue.

“Kim Jong-un is using the Pyeongchang Olympics as a way to weaken the sanctions,” said Kim Yong-hyun, a professor of North Korean studies at Dongguk University in Seoul. “He is seeking to create a fissure between Seoul and Washington and between Washington and Beijing.”

South Korea Proposes Border Talks With North Korea After Kim’s Overture - The New York Times:

If the North responds positively, it will set in motion the first official dialogue between the two Koreas in two years. South Korean officials hope the talks will lead to a thaw on the divided peninsula after years of high tensions and threats of war over the North’s pursuit of nuclear weapons.

China Resists U.S. Efforts to Blacklist Ships Through U.N. - WSJ $$:

In their formal communication to the sanctions committee, a Chinese official said Beijing’s decision on which ships to list was based on the evidence but didn’t discuss the cases in detail. U.S. officials, speaking earlier this month, said at least one of the ships targeted by the U.S. is owned by a Chinese company.

Comment: The following explosive story may be true, and certainly a lot of people will believe it is true, but take this with a huge grain of salt until there is better verification, especially if it turns out the source is Guo Wengui. But if it is true it is explosive-- Secret Document Reveals China Covertly Offering Missiles, Increased Aid to North Korea - Bill Gertz:

The document, labeled "top secret" and dated Sept. 15—12 days after North Korea's latest underground nuclear blast—outlines China's plan for dealing with the North Korean nuclear issue. It states China will allow North Korea to keep its current arsenal of nuclear weapons, contrary to Beijing's public stance that it seeks a denuclearized Korean peninsula.

Chinese leaders also agreed to offer new assurances that the North Korean government will not be allowed to collapse, and that Beijing plans to apply sanctions "symbolically" to avoid punishing the regime of leader Kim Jong Un under a recent U.N. resolution requiring a halt to oil and gas shipments into North Korea.

A copy of the four-page Chinese-language document was obtained by the Washington Free Beacon from a person who once had ties to the Chinese intelligence and security communities. An English translation can be found here.


3. Rural Revitalization

China outlines roadmap for rural vitalization at central rural work conference - Xinhua:

China has outlined tasks and targets for a rural vitalization strategy addressing issues related to agriculture, rural areas and rural people.

By 2020, the strategy should have established an institutional framework and policy system, according to a statement released Friday after the central rural work conference.

By 2035, China aims for "decisive" progress, with basic modernization of agriculture and rural areas. By 2050, rural areas should have strong agriculture, a beautiful countryside and well-off farmers, the statement said.

"Rural vitalization" was one of the major aspects of developing a modernized economy in a report delivered to the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC).

"Issues related to agriculture, rural areas and rural residents are fundamental problems as they directly concern the country's stability and the people's well being," according to the statement.

The strategy will help resolve the contradiction between unbalanced and inadequate development and the people's ever-growing needs for better lives, meet the two centenary goals and realize common prosperity, the statement said

CCTV Evening News on the conference - 中央农村工作会议在北京举行 习近平作重要讲话 

People's Daily - 实现中华民族伟大复兴的一项重要任务——一论贯彻落实中央农村工作会议精神 

Dim Sums: Rural China Economics and Policy: China's "Rural Revitalization" Set for 2018:

An ambitious rural revitalization initiative was one of 8 priorities set for Chinese officials at the 2018 "economic work conference" held in Beijing December 18-20. The strategy was one of the directives issued in Xi Jinping's October speech to the 19th communist party congress where he proclaimed that agricultural and rural problems are foundational issues that must receive the utmost attention from communist party leaders…

The strategy is perplexing to outsiders because it is both capitalist and socialist, both forward-looking and conservative. The strategy aims to use capitalist tools like markets and entrepreneurship to enliven moribund socialist institutions governing the countryside: collective land ownership, state farms, and bureaucracies. These institutions were jury-rigged in the 1950s by officials trying to balance their utopian vision of collective farming with the realities of giving peasants incentives to produce efficiently. Xi envisions a 21st century "new era" for China of affluence, efficiency, and interconnectedness. Yet his vision also calls for preserving the past: promoting pride in rural "civilization" and maintaining a countryside laid out to accommodate medieval subsistence agriculture.


4. Will The South China Sea Become A renewed Flashpoint In 2018?

Comment: Or has China succeeded with its fait accompli?

Beijing bolsters its islands in the South China Sea - FT $$:

With international attention this year diverted by North Korea, China has been quietly making geopolitical gains further south. Throughout 2017, Beijing has been equipping its artificial islands in the contested waters of the South China Sea for potential military use.

Aerial photos published by the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington show new construction on islands built by China, which now bristle with bunkers, aircraft hangars and shelters for radar, aircraft, warships and artillery.

The South China Sea fell off Trump’s radar last year. He may have to pay attention in 2018.:

Beijing could declare what are known as "straight baselines" in the Spratlys. These are in effect perimeters connecting the outermost points of a group of islands, turning the sea within into "internal waters." In the case of the Spratlys, straight baselines would enclose features occupied by other nations.

China declared straight baselines in the Paracel island chain in 1996 and has in recent years signaled that it may do so in the Spratlys, a move that would be hotly contested and would almost certainly draw a U.S. response.

China’s air force targets South China Sea with new strategic expert in top ranks | South China Morning Post:

Shanghai-based online news portal Thepaper.cn reported on Monday that Lieutenant General Xu Anxiang, 61, formerly head of the air force’s Southern Theatre Command, had been transferred to become one of the 10 members of the standing committee of the air force’s Communist Party committee.

Meddling in South China Sea deepens Australia's strategic plight - Global Times:

Recently Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said, "Australian people stand up." He emphasized the independence of Australia's national interests and diplomacy, and advocated the Indo-Pacific concept, trying to show Australia's important role in shaping regional security order. However, the huge gap between ideal and reality has produced many setbacks for Australia in implementing its foreign strategy. Australia uses the South China Sea issue to show its influence as a middle power, but too much interference in the waters will cost it enormous economic, diplomatic and military resources. - Zhang Ye 张烨 is a researcher at the Chinese Naval Research Institute in Beijing.

The original - 张烨:搅局南海加剧澳大利亚战略困境 

And another recent one in GT by Zhao Yi 赵毅:澳大利亚频频挑动南海争端为哪般?, a professor at the National Defense University.

What is Beijing so nervous about Australia doing?


5. Is Trump's MAGA A Boon For Beijing?

Comment: Evan Osnos looks at the US-China relationship under Trump. There are too many good sections to quote here, the whole thing is worth a read. Can the US, China and Russia all become great again at the same time?

Making China Great Again | The New Yorker:

Under the banner of “America First,” President Trump is reducing U.S. commitments abroad. On his third day in office, he withdrew from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a twelve-nation trade deal designed by the United States as a counterweight to a rising China. To allies in Asia, the withdrawal damaged America’s credibility. “You won’t be able to see that overnight,” Lee Hsien Loong, the Prime Minister of Singapore, told me, at an event in Washington. “It’s like when you draw a red line and then you don’t take it seriously. Was there pain? You didn’t see it, but I’m quite sure there’s an impact.”

In a speech to Communist Party officials last January 20th, Major General Jin Yinan, a strategist at China’s National Defense University, celebrated America’s pullout from the trade deal. “We are quiet about it,” he said. “We repeatedly state that Trump ‘harms China.’ We want to keep it that way. In fact, he has given China a huge gift. That is the American withdrawal from T.P.P.” Jin, whose remarks later circulated, told his audience, “As the U.S. retreats globally, China shows up.”..

For Chinese leaders, Yan [Xuetong] said, “Trump is the biggest strategic opportunity.” I asked Yan how long he thought the opportunity would last. “As long as Trump stays in power,” he replied...

After the [Mar-a-Lago} summit, the Pangoal Institution, a Beijing think tank, published an analysis of the Trump Administration, describing it as a den of warring “cliques,” the most influential of which was the “Trump family clan.” The Trump clan appears to “directly influence final decisions” on business and diplomacy in a way that “has rarely been seen in the political history of the United States,” the analyst wrote. He summed it up using an obscure phrase from feudal China: jiatianxia [家天下] —“to treat the state as your possession.”


6. Prominent Entrepreneur Launches Viral Tirade Against Corrupt Local Officials In Heilongjiang

Comment: A video of entrepreneur and Dean of Institute of Economics of Renmin University of China (English bio) Mao Zhenhua criticizing local corruption that has hurt his ski resort in Yabuli, Heilongjiang has gone viral...the general reaction seems to be of course, Dongbei is perhaps the most corrupt place in China, no wonder the economy is such a disaster up there...

I uploaded the version of the video I saw in Wechat to Youtube here. 

The transcript, already being harmonized, is here in Google cache  毛振华控诉亚布力管委会:在这里被欺负被愚弄(全文)

Caixin reports that Heilongjiang has responded already and announced an investigation into the allegations made by Mao Zhenhua - 中诚信董事长毛振华指控亚布力投资环境 黑龙江省已派调查组_政经频道_财新网


7. Two More Installments in the AP's Series On Xinjiang

China's crackdown on Uighurs spreads to even mild critics - AP:

Court records say Zhang was convicted of sending 274 posts from 2010 to 2015 on Twitter and the Chinese social media service WeChat that “resisted, attacked and smeared” the Communist Party and its policies, earning him 15 years in prison for inciting subversion of state power. He was given another five years for talking to foreign reporters and providing photos of the intense police presence in the streets of Xinjiang. That, the court said, amounted to providing intelligence about China’s anti-terror efforts to foreign organizations. The court said it would combine the two punishments and sentence him to 19 years in prison

China's Uighurs work to fend off pull of jihad - AP:

Extensive Associated Press interviews detail the daily battle some Uighur activists are fighting against the radicalization of their people, members of a Muslim ethnic minority who live in China under heavy surveillance and the constant fear of arrest . In Turkey, religious extremism has peeled away young Uighur men and entire families from Istanbul's immigrant neighborhoods, from gritty central Anatolian suburbs — sometimes from right outside the airport.

The war in Syria has thrust an ethnic minority from the far reaches of China into the center of the global jihadi movement. Several thousand Uighur men, women and children are estimated to have crossed the border to join the Turkistan Islamic Party (TIP), an ethnic Uighur militia allied with al-Qaida on the front lines of the fighting.

Comment: No wonder China is so worried about blowback. But the cycle of repression and extremist creation is so far a long that it looks unstoppable now. 


8. Censors Bring News App Toutiao To Heel

Comment: The propaganda system is cracking down on Toutiao, which poses a challenge in the era of "AI" personalization of news presentation, Toutiao seems to be adding fixed placements of the top news as dictated by propaganda officials...

China takes popular news app Toutiao offline for 24 hours over pornographic content | South China Morning Post:

In a brief statement on Friday, the Beijing Internet Information Office said Toutiao and the mobile app linked to Hong Kong-based Phoenix Television had “exerted a bad influence on online opinion”.

Toutiao is the country’s biggest online news aggregator with 120 million daily active users.

Penalized news app Toutiao sets ‘New Era’ as default channel - Global Times:

China's popular online news platform Toutiao has suspended more than 1,000 unregulated accounts and set "New Era" as the default channel in order to better promote main-stream values.

Toutiao has included "New Era" as one of its in-app default channels to release information or reports about China's accomplishments and efforts after socialism with Chinese characteristics has entered a new era, according to a Sunday notice posted on its WeChat public platform.

The move is a step to better promote main-stream values and the spirit of the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, the notice said.


 

Business, Economy, Finance And Trade

Inside the new trade arguments Trump is hearing - Axios It's quite likely Trump will use 301 authority — in January, we're told — to put tariffs on Chinese consumer electronics as retaliation against the country's widespread theft of American companies' intellectual property. Though Cohn and Mnuchin don't like tariffs, they're comparatively comfortable with targeted actions against truly bad actors, as in this case.

China Offers Tax Incentives to Persuade U.S. Companies to Stay - The New York Times There is, however, a catch: To be eligible for the exemption, foreign companies must invest those earnings in sectors encouraged by China’s government — including railways, mining, technology and agriculture — according to a statement from the Finance Ministry. The measure is retroactive from Jan. 1 this year, the ministry said.

Web Finance Firm Head Surrenders to Police After Ponzi Scheme Allegations - Caixin Global A whistleblower reported to the industry and commerce authorities in August that Zhang and Qbao.com were suspected of running a Ponzi scheme and illegally raising funds from the public, The Beijing News reported Thursday. Some investors also complained that they have had difficulties withdrawing large amounts of cash, and that the firm’s Shanghai office had been vacated, the newspaper said. Born in 1969, Zhang has more than 80 registered companies under his name, according to Tianyancha, a portal providing company registration information in China. These companies, some of which are connected with Qbao.com’s merchant platform, run a vast range of businesses from sponsoring Spanish football club Real Sociedad to acquiring the gaming section of debt-laden Chinese tech giant LeEco.

China puts US$15,000 annual personal cap on overseas bank card withdrawals | South China Morning Post Under the new rules individuals will be allowed to withdraw a maximum of 100,000 yuan (US$15,000) a year, regardless of how many separate bank accounts or ATM cards they have, the State Administration of Foreign Exchange said in a statement released on Saturday. The current cap on daily withdrawals remains unchanged at 10,000 yuan per card

Massive Layoffs Signal That Wanda Folding E-Commerce Business - Caixin Global Wanda Internet Technology Group, which focuses on e-commerce, digital payments and internet finance, allegedly started forcing people to quit in June and accelerated the downsizing process by year-end. By Friday morning, more than 80% of workers from its “smart life” department had been told to leave the company, said Tao Liujun, an employee from the department. Wanda Internet plans to slash its current staff of 6,000 to only 300, Shanghai-based news outlet The Paper reported. But no deadline for the cuts was reported, and it isn’t clear how many have been fired so far.

LeEco founder defies China return order, stays in U.S. for car fundraising - Reuters Jia said he had asked his wife, Gan Wei, and brother to represent him at Leshi Internet Information & Technology Corp (300104.SZ) in exercising shareholder rights and handling the sale of assets. Jia stepped down as CEO of the group’s main listed unit in May last year.  //  Does he or his wife have US citizenship or a green card?

State Planner Orders Assessment of Enterprise Bond Risk - Caixin Global In a document published Friday by the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), provincial-level agencies were tasked with taking inventory of outstanding enterprise bonds issued in their jurisdiction. They are to review issuers’ repayment abilities, use of proceeds, as well as information disclosure.

 

Politics, Law And Ideology

Beijing criticises province for ignoring eco crackdown on tycoon’s golf courses | South China Morning Post The two golf courses in Jilin province, developed and operated by billionaire Wang Jianlin’s Dalian Wanda Group, were ordered to shut down in September, when ministry officials from Beijing were conducting a one-month inspection of the province. // Comment: Wanda seems to have lost its political invisibility cloak

China 'Fires' Editors Over Criticism of Mao, Detains Leftist Activist - RFA Chinese authorities have reportedly imposed punishments on two journalists in recent days who questioned Mao Zedong’s officially sanctioned reputation on social media, while detaining an outspoken leftist intellectual who thought Mao’s vision for a communist utopia should never have been abandoned.

In Sign of Resistance, Chinese Balk at Using Apps to Snitch on Neighbors - WSJ $$: The party has talked of developing an automated social-management system since the 1980s, when it began computerizing official data and seeking new ways to control society after economic reforms brought Mao’s totalitarian governance model to an end. Since the early 2000s, the party has steadily expanded a “grid management” system that divides communities into units of around 300 households—each overseen by a “grid manager” who visits each one regularly—and gathers a broad range of data on residents’ lives. Under President Xi, the emergence of powerful new technologies has accelerated efforts to digitize social management and bolstered his drive to enforce the party’s primacy in all areas of Chinese society.// Comment: Interesting article on the development of snitch apps, though the headline is a bit sensationalist. I installed the the Beijing for "Chaoyang Masses" on my China phone, I have to say it is poorly designed, does not work well, have to wonder how much money was made in the contracting process...the surveillance-industrial complex is a lucrative space anywhere...

Why China’s armed police will now only take orders from Xi and his generals | South China Morning Post “To implement the party’s absolute leadership over the PLA and other armed forces, and carry out the great struggles and defend political safety in a better way ... it is essential to make changes to the paramilitary’s command system,” the newspaper said in a commentary. Beijing Youth Daily social media outlet Zhengzhijian quoted a paramilitary source as saying that under the existing system even county-level officials could call out armed police. But in the future, local authorities would need Beijing’s nod to deploy the PAP, forcing them to rely more on regular police to maintain social stability.

China launches website to inform on those 'fabricating information' about army and communist party According to state media the move was aimed at providing a way for people to make "national security tip-offs". The website will be launched on Jan 1 and feature videos promoting the importance of respecting military figures and their uniforms.

PLA to take on flag guarding, salute cannon duty - Xinhua On Jan.1, the national flag rising ceremony at the Tian'anmen Square will be conducted by the Guard of Honor and the military band of the PLA at 7:36 a.m. The event will be live broadcast by China National Radio, China Central Television, China Radio International as well as several web portals including www.people.com.cn and www.xinhuanet.com. Before Jan. 1, the ceremony has been conducted by the armed police

Tianjin appoints acting mayor - Xinhua Zhang Guoqing was appointed acting mayor of north China's Tianjin Municipality Tuesday. Zhang was also named vice mayor of the port city at a session of the Standing Committee of the Tianjin Municipal People's Congress. Zhang was appointed deputy secretary of the Tianjin Municipal Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) in late December. Zhang earlier served as deputy secretary of the CPC Chongqing Municipal Committee and mayor of Chongqing.

New year, new laws that add ecological protections to air, water - China Daily A batch of laws and regulations to benefit people's livelihoods, including the country's first environmental protection tax, rules on takeout foods and tour guide services, went into effect on Monday. The new laws and regulations were issued by the National People's Congress, the top legislative body, and central government ministries. Among the new measures, environmental protection has been a major area, with two laws and a reform plan that took effect on Monday. They include an environmental protection tax, a water pollution prevention and control law and the compensation reform plan on ecological and environmental damage.

开启新征程 谱写新史诗--新闻报道-人民网 Comment: "Starting on a new journey, composing a new epic"---long piece getting top propaganda billing on Xi and and the party Center with Xi as the core leading Socialism into a new era...the "new journey" concept is everywhere since the 19th Party Congress

北京市委副书记景俊海任吉林省代省长(简历)-千龙网·中国首都网 Comment: Jing Junhai, most recently deputy party secretary of Beijing, deputy minister of propaganda from 2015-17 after spending his entire career in Shaanxi, is now acting governor of Jilin

China’s empty promise of rule by law - The Washington Post - Teng Biao Oped To the Chinese Communist Party, “governing the country according to law” does not mean rule of law as you and I understand it. The essential element required for rule of law — using the law to limit the power of the government — stands in ideological opposition to the purpose of the party. In reality, the rule of law that the party talks about is “Lenin plus Emperor Qin Shi Huang” — modern totalitarianism combined with pre-modern Chinese “legalism.” It is nothing more than a tool to further control society. Rule of law is always superseded by the rule of the party, and there is not a shred of doubt about this.

Chinese Artist Who Filmed Beijing's Mass Evictions Now Faces Eviction Himself - RFA "They told the Songhua Artists' Village leadership to evict him; they aren't allowing him to live there any more," Li said. "If he stays at my place, the village committee will cut off our water and electricity." "I went with Hua Yong to meet with the village party secretary, who said he was only telling Hua Yong to leave because of pressure [from higher up]," he said.

人事观察|沪赣苏皖冀辽鄂七省份军方代表再“入常”_政经频道_财新网 Comment: military officials start returning to provincial party committees after a brief hiatus when PLA reform kicked into high gear

 

Foreign and Military Affairs

US should look inward to tackle opioid crisis, Chinese officials say -AP Yu Haibin of the China National Narcotics Control Commission told reporters there was little evidence showing China was the source of much of the chemicals used in the production of the powerful opioid fentanyl. President Donald Trump in November blamed a "flood of cheap and deadly" fentanyl made in China for the deadliest drug epidemic in US history.

Abe Sends Representative to Invite Xi to Japan Again | The Diplomat On December 28, Chinese President Xi Jinping met with a Japanese delegation led by Toshihiro Nikai, secretary general of Japan’s Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), and Yoshihisa Inoue, secretary general of Komeito, LDP’s ruling coalition partner, in Beijing. Xi’s appearance at the meeting signaled Beijing’s willingness to strengthen bilateral ties with Japan. During the meeting, Nikai invited Xi to visit Tokyo next year. Earlier this year, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe himself had already offered the same invitation to Xi in a public event.

Introducing the DF-17: China’s Newly Tested Ballistic Missile Armed With a Hypersonic Glide Vehicle | The Diplomat According to a U.S. government source who described recent intelligence assessments on the People’s Liberation Army Rocket Force (PLARF) on the condition of anonymity, China recently conducted two tests of a new missile known as the DF-17. The first test took place on November 1 and the second test took place on November 15. The November 1 test was the first Chinese ballistic missile test to take place after the conclusion of the first plenum of the Communist Party of China’s 19th Party Congress in October.

China’s underwater surveillance network puts targets in focus along maritime Silk Road | South China Morning Post According to technical briefings posted on oceanology institute’s website, the Chinese system is based on a network of platforms – buoys, surface vessels, satellites and underwater gliders – that gather data from the South China Sea, and the Western Pacific and Indian oceans.

Xi says China ready to promote mutual trust, cooperation with Russia in 2018 - Global Times Chinese President Xi Jinping said Sunday he is ready to join his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, in consolidating political and strategic mutual trust, and expanding bilateral all-around pragmatic cooperation. Xi made the pledge in his New Year greeting message to Putin. In the message, Xi, on behalf of the Chinese government and the people, extended his sincere greetings and fine wishes to President Putin and to the Russian people.

China's most advanced UAV combat ready: expert - Global Times The record of "five hits in succession" performed by China's home-developed Wing Loong II UAS, a high-end reconnaissance-strike unmanned aerial system (UAS), showed that the system equipped drone is combat-capable and will be widely used in future military actions, said an expert. After multiple rounds of flight and firing tests, the Wing Loong II UAS has conducted firing tests with eight types of missiles and dozens of bombs, with a hit rate of 100 percent, the Xinhua News Agency reported, citing the State-owned aviation giant of Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC).  //  Comment: When will it be used in Xinjiang and how will the US criticize China with a straight face for drone attacks?

Bridging the Gap Between China & Central Europe - China Digital Times (CDT) Project Sinopsis is a joint project between AcaMedia and the Institute of East Asian Studies at Charles University in Prague that seeks to inform the Czech public about China and its burgeoning role in the region. CDT English editors recently interviewed Martin Hála, founder and director of Project Sinopsis, and the project’s editor, Anna Zádrapová, about their work, the developing relationship between Beijing and CEE capitals, and the impact of that relationship on the local regions and the world. This interview will be followed in coming weeks by a series of columns for CDT by Project Sinopsis staff which will explore various aspects of the China-CEE relationship.

Chinese-built Ethiopia-Djibouti railway begins commercial operations - Xinhua "It is the first trans-boundary and longest electrified railway on the African continent. We, the Chinese, see this as earlier harvest project of the Belt and Road initiative. It is regarded by many as a lifeline project for both countries, for Ethiopia and for Djibouti. And we see this as a railway of development; as a railway of cooperation; and as a railway of friendship," he said.  //  Comment: even though it was started before BRI was an articulated concept

PLA implements training regulation from Xi's thought - China Military Xi recently signed the order to publish the revised regulation, which adheres to the fundamental principle of upholding the absolute leadership of the Communist Party of China (CPC) over the armed forces, and introduces new ways to organize and conduct military training, aiming to enhance the combat readiness of the military, the Xinhua News Agency reported on Friday.

China’s point man on North Korea promoted in diplomat reshuffle | South China Morning Post The appointment of assistant foreign minister Kong Xuanyou was unveiled along with a slew of personnel changes at the ministerial level by state media on Tuesday. Analysts said the move showed a generational shift in the diplomatic establishment was under way that would likely see a reshuffle of Foreign Minister Wang Yi and several of his deputies, as well as the heads of key diplomatic missions around the world.

New line of China-Russian oil pipeline begins operation - Xinhua A second line for the China-Russia oil pipeline began commercial operation Monday, raising China's annual imports of Russian crude oil from 15 million to 30 million tonnes annually through the pipeline. Construction on the 941.8-km-long second line from Mohe, which borders Russia, to the city of Daqing in northeast China's Heilongjiang Province began in August 2016. The line passes north China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region.

.China is training Africa's next generation of leaders — Quartz: In the 1970s, China actively tried to export its communist revolution to Africa, one of Beijing’s few diplomatic engagements at the time. Now, Beijing is promoting a more subtle movement: support for China and and its model of development. Instead of relying on Chinese emissaries in African countries, Beijing is bringing thousands of African leaders, bureaucrats, students, and business people to China... China is particularly interested in the next generation of African elites. Last year, Beijing announced it would invite 1,000 young African politicians for trainings in China, after hosting more than 200 between 2011 and 2015. Thousands of African students are pursuing undergraduate and graduate degrees in China on scholarship programs funded by Beijing. As of this year, more Anglophone African students study in China than the United States or the United Kingdom, their traditional destinations of choice. // Comment: By Lily Kuo, who just joined The Guardia as its new Beijing bureau chief

 

Hong Kong, Macao

Hong Kong leader brushes off concerns of lawyers over China joint rail checkpoint plan, saying legal basis is clear | South China Morning Post “If you ask me, it shows the elitist mentality or double standards held by some of the lawyers in Hong Kong. They think Hong Kong’s legal system is paramount while the legal system of the mainland – a big country with a population of 1.3 billion – is not right.” Lam said such an attitude was unfavourable in maintaining Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy under the “one country, two systems” governing formula, in place since the transfer of sovereignty from Britain in 1997.

 

Taiwan

Taiwan mistakenly prints 200,000 passports featuring image of Washington airport | South China Morning Post On Tuesday, Focus Taiwan, part of Taiwan’s state media, reported that 200,000 passport books included an image of Dulles International Airport instead of Taiwan’s Taoyuan International Airport. According to the architecture website ArchDaily, the Taiwanese airport, built in 1979, was “influenced by Eero Saarinen’s Washington Dulles International Airport,” which opened in 1962.

 

Tech And Media

China 2017 Box Office Wrap-Up: Hollywood Movies Grab $3.4 Billion, Universal Rules All together, American-produced pictures grossed a combined $3.4 billion in Middle Kingdom multiplexes in 2017. That’s a hefty 25 percent increase over last year’s $2.7 billion, though it should be noted that this year’s figures were boosted by the new addition of ticketing fees into the gross numbers, a bump that accounts for about one-third of the year-to-year increase. Even with that growth, Hollywood’s market share in China was essentially flat compared to 2016, remaining at just over 40 percent. That’s a far cry from the days of several years ago when U.S. movies captured 50 percent and more of the territory’s box office revenue. China’s government film authorities have managed the market through import controls, release dates and blackouts that favor local films, and marketing rules to ensure that the Americans stay in their place at below 50 percent

‘Youth’: Feng Xiaogang’s Paean to Nostalgia - Caixin Global Award-winning director Feng Xiaogang’s “Youth” – which follows the lives of a dancer running away from her father’s political sins and a soldier fighting in the Sino-Vietnamese war – has become a hit among moviegoers above age 40, a group that is usually missing from cinemas. The film raked in $48 million during its opening weekend, nearly 30% higher than the figure for “Coco,” and has remained the top grossing movie since it debuted on Dec. 15, according to film consulting firm Artisan Gateway.

China's new rules targeting 'inappropriate' online games send NetEase's shares down · TechNode China’s publicity department, cyberspace management department and other relevant ministries jointly released a statement (in Chinese) on Thursday outlining the government’s plan to regulate explicit and inappropriate online games. The statement specified that it is targeting games with large numbers of players which have significant social influence. The statement also said that the government will strictly ban games that contain illegal content from going abroad.

A Browser You’ve Never Heard of Is Dethroning Google in Asia - WSJ $$ Hundreds of millions of people in India, Indonesia and other emerging markets getting online for the first time are picking UC Browser, owned by Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, over ones made by U.S. rivals. Users say UC Browser works better in countries dominated by low-end smartphones and spotty mobile service.

Tencent denies storing WeChat records after Chinese billionaire reportedly questions monitoring | South China Morning Post Tencent Holdings, whose WeChat messaging app has more than 1 billion users worldwide, said it does not store any user chat histories, after Chinese automotive industry tycoon Li Shufu reportedly slammed the company for invading user privacy.

A female-targeted relationship simulation game has taken China by storm · TechNode Who says gaming isn’t romantic? A female-targeted mobile game Love and the Producer (恋与制作人) (our translation) has taken China by storm in little over two weeks after it went live on iOS on December 13th. Developed by Suzhou-based gaming company Page Games (苏州叠纸网络科技), the game is a relationship simulation targeted at women and girls. The game has taken over Honour of Kings and is now ranked the second most popular download on the App Store in the gaming category.

‘Pokémon Go’ set to finally land in China - FT $$ Niantic’s fuel for that voyage is a new $200m funding round from investors including China’s NetEase, providing the partner that the US company needed to launch legally under Chinese internet regulations. “We absolutely intend to bring our existing games into China,” Mr Hanke said. “Beyond that, there are opportunities to build games in China, both for China and for the world.”

Tech Firms Race to Enable Machines to See – and Understand - Caixin Global Caixin cover story on developing "AI vision" 抢跑AI视觉 //  “If there are 100,000 people that can be called AI experts in the world, about 30,000 to 40,000 of them are Chinese,” said Huang Yan, a founding partner of CDH Investments, an investor in Chinese computer-vision developer SenseTime, one of the world's most valuable AI startups. China already has 146 computer-vision companies, more than any other sub-sector in the country’s AI industry, according to a report issued by Tencent Research Institute in August. Those companies have raised a total of 14.3 billion yuan ($2.2 billion) from investors, or 23% of the total funds raised by all AI startups.

 

Energy, Environment, Science And Health

China Is the Dark Horse in the Search for Dark Matter - The Atlantic The choice to invest in these particular fields have been very deliberate, according to Johnson-Freese. “China likes to be in the record books like everyone else,” she said, but the country can’t compete in areas of space exploration where the U.S. and other countries have long dominated. Instead, the Chinese have gone after realms in which no country has yet made a definitive triumph—like the search for dark matter. In March 2016, a few months after DAMPE launched, Chang Jin, the mission’s chief scientist, said the search for the mysterious substance is "tops the basic frontier projects of science listed by the U.S., Europe, China, and Japan."

Plummeting Gas Imports From Central Asia Worsen China’s Shortage - Caixin Global PetroChina Vice Chairman Wang Dongjin traveled to Uzbekistan on Dec. 18 to investigate the situation and meet with the chairman of national energy company Uzbekneftegaz, Alisher Sultanov, according to PetroChina. Sultanov apologized for the failure of Uzbekneftegaz to match the agreed-upon supply level, and said it will increase the supply as soon as possible. Sultanov also asked for technical assistance from CNPC to improve Uzbekistan’s gas supply capacity, PetroChina said. Other personnel from PetroChina have also been sent to Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan to assess the situation and request more gas.

Chinese scientists hear sound in Mariana Trench, deepest part of world’s oceans | South China Morning Post Researchers from Northwestern Polytechnical University in Shaanxi province carried out the experiment near the Challenger Deep, a small valley at the southern end of the trench about 11km under the surface, China Ocean News reported this week. The test involved sending out and retrieving a 10km acoustic probe that had sensors which could pick up sounds at a distance of 9.3km. “Chinese scientists have, for the first time ever, heard sound from the deepest part of ocean,” the report said.

China’s moon mission to boldly go a step further | The Guardian This time next year, there may be a new world leader in lunar exploration. If all goes according to plan, China will have done something no other space-faring superpower has been able to do: land on the far side of the moon. China is rocketing ahead with its plans for lunar exploration. In 2018, they will launch a pair of missions known collectively as Chang’e 4. It is the fourth mission in a series named after the Chinese moon goddess.

China fully closes door on ivory trade - Xinhua China honored its commitment to end the commercial processing and sales of ivory by the end of 2017, the State Forestry Administration said, adding it was China's "New Year's gift to the elephants," Xinhua News Agency reported.

To Sate China’s Appetite, African Donkeys Are Stolen and Skinned - The New York Times A gelatin made from donkey hides is prized as a traditional Chinese remedy. Now slaughterhouses have opened in Africa, and domestic animals are disappearing from villages.

 

Education

In first-of-its-kind deal, Florida school sold to Chinese company - USA Today Florida Preparatory Academy has been sold to a Chinese education company making its first foray into the United States. Newopen USA, a subsidiary of the Chongqing, China-based Newopen Group, is the new owner of the private school, which opened as Florida Air Academy in Melbourne in 1961. Newopen is planning to create a network of schools throughout the country.

Chinese authorities define student bullying - ECNS China's 11 departments jointly released a plan Wednesday on the management of bullying at primary and middle schools. The plan was released amid increasing bullying on campuses, which has caused wide-spread public concern. Till recently, there had been a lack of a clear line to define bullying and frolicking between students.-教育部等十一部门联合印发《加强中小学生欺凌综合治理方案》

Former Doctoral Student Accuses Professor of Sexual Misconduct - Sixth Tone Luo Xixi, who now lives in the U.S., accused her advisor, 45-year-old Chen Xiaowu, of driving her to his sister’s home and “throwing himself” at her. Beihang University announced the same day that it had suspended Chen pending an internal investigation.