Xi on governance deficits; Tibet white paper; Xu Zhangrun; Huawei; Meng Hongwei

Happy Wednesday.

I still do not have a good answer to the question of why the authorities waited so long to discipline Tsinghua Professor Xu Zhangrun. It might be worth considering whether the timing has anything to do with the symposium in Beijing last week for teachers of ideological and political theory, and whether or not Xu may be used as a negative example of academics who have wavered in their “confidence in the path, theory, system, and culture of socialism with Chinese characteristics” and their patriotism?

I also wonder if the Xu case will lead to leadership changes at Tsinghua. Chen Xu 陈旭 has been Party Secretary of the school since 2013 and Qiu Yong 邱勇 President since 2015. Both have academic backgrounds and perhaps the Party Center will decide it needs tougher hands overseeing the school, as they did with the appointment last fall of Qiu Shuiping 邱水平, who has extensive experience in the Politics and Law bureaucracy, as Party Secretary of Peking University? (see Sinocism 10.26.18 - Peking University gets a new leader).

One day before “Serfs Emancipation Day” the government has issued a new white paper on Tibet - "Democratic Reform in Tibet -- Sixty Years On". It is worth remembering that these white papers and government promises about reform and treating foreign firms better come from the same bureaucracy…

Thanks for reading.


The Essential Eight

1. More weak economic data

China’s Industrial Profits Suffer Steepest Drop on Record - Caixin

China’s industrial profits fell 14% year-on-year in the first two months of 2019, marking the steepest drop since official monthly data on the subject became available in October 2011.

Over the first two months of this year, the total profits of the country’s industrial sector slumped to 708 billion yuan ($105 billion), according to data released on Wednesday by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).

The drop in profits was mostly due to the declining profits of major industries, said Zhu Hong, a senior statistician of the NBS. If the automotive, oil processing, nonferrous metals and chemical manufacturing industries had been excluded from the data, China’s industrial profits would have grown 0.2% year-on-year.

China Beige Book Says First Quarter Recovery Is `Unmistakable' - Bloomberg::

“The recovery extends across both sectors and geographies, with every major sector and each one of our regions showing better revenue results than Q4,” CBB International said in a report based on survey data. “Yet this rally didn’t appear out of nowhere, and there are at least three compelling reasons to doubt its staying power: credit, credit, and credit.”


2. Meng Hongwei case proceeds

Chinese ex-Interpol president Meng Hongwei expelled from Communist Party | South China Morning Post:

The Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) said the Central Committee of the Communist Party had also approved an investigation into Meng, 65, who was a member of the committee and vice-minister for public security...

The CCDI accused Meng of abusing his position and power for personal gain, squandering state funds to finance his family’s extravagant lifestyle, and disregarding the principles of being a party member...

In a rare gesture, the statement also accused Meng of encouraging his wife to use his status to further her own interests.

CCDI announcement - 公安部原党委委员、副部长孟宏伟严重违纪违法被开除党籍和公职—中央纪委国家监委网站:

经查,孟宏伟毫无党性原则,毫无组织观念,不按规定报告个人有关事项,对抗组织,拒不执行党中央决定;特权思想极其严重,公权私用,滥权妄为,肆意挥霍国家资财满足家庭奢靡生活;家风败坏,利用职务影响为其妻谋取职务,纵容其妻利用其职权搞特殊、谋私利;权力观扭曲,利用职务上的便利或职权、地位形成的便利条件,为他人在职务晋升、岗位调整、企业经营等方面谋取利益,非法收受他人巨额财物。

China to prosecute 'lavish spending' former Interpol chief | Reuters:

The anti-graft body said Meng Hongwei had “refused to enact decisions of the party center” and abused his power for private gain. He “wantonly and lavishly spent state funds to satisfy his family’s luxurious lifestyle”, it said.

Meng also used his position to help his wife get a job and illegally took a “huge amount of possessions” from other people in exchange for help with promotions and job moves and “company operations”, the statement said, without giving details.

Comment: Hard to feel much sympathy for Meng or his wife, who were for so long beneficiaries of sitting near the top of the Party-State security services. The decision to grant or deny Meng’s wife asylum is difficult, if kids were not involved it would be easier to send her back.


3. China in Africa

A good long read from Emily Feng, in what I think was her last piece for the Financial Times before moving to NPR as Beijing correspondent - The other side of Chinese investment in Africa | Financial Times Magazine:

Beyond the Belt and Road infrastructure projects, thousands of entrepreneurs from China are also setting up on the continent...

Wilson Wu has big plans for the free trade zone he manages in Igbesa, a scruffy town in Ogun State, some 60km from the frenzy of Lagos, Nigeria’s huge commercial capital...

Mr Wu is one of hundreds of thousands of Chinese citizens — a common estimate is about 1m — who have ventured to Africa over the past two decades to seek their fortune. Like many who have ended up there, he sees in Africa’s raw energy and ambition an echo of the forces that were unleashed by Deng Xiaoping’s reforms of 1978.

Jack Ma's Africa Netpreneur Prize Open for Submissions | Alizila.com:

The application process for the Africa Netpreneur Prize Initiative, the $10 million contest launched by Alibaba Group Executive Chairman Jack Ma to inspire an entire continent of entrepreneurs, is now officially open.

Applications to compete for the prize, which will award $1 million a year for the next 10 years to African entrepreneurs across all industries, will be open online through June 30.


4. CFIUS forces unwinding of Grindr deal

U.S. pushes Chinese owner of Grindr to divest the dating app - sources | Reuters:

Chinese gaming company Beijing Kunlun Tech Co Ltd is seeking to sell Grindr LLC, the popular gay dating app it has owned since 2016, after a U.S. government national security panel raised concerns about its ownership, according to people familiar with the matter...

The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) has informed Kunlun that its ownership of West Hollywood, California-based Grindr constitutes a national security risk, the two sources said... Grindr has hired investment bank Cowen Inc to handle the sale process, and is soliciting acquisition interest from U.S. investment firms, as well as Grindr's competitors, according to the sources...

The development represents a rare, high-profile example of CFIUS undoing an acquisition that has already been completed.

Kunlun took over Grindr through two separate deals between 2016 and 2018 without submitting the acquisition for CFIUS review, according to the sources, making it vulnerable to such an intervention.

Comment: Is the purported national security risk that there are people using Grindr who are still in the closet and so therefore at risk of blackmail? Are there also concerns that relevant organs might match Grindr profiles with pilfered personnel data from the OPM hack?


5. New white paper - "Democratic Reform in Tibet -- Sixty Years On"

China issues white paper on democratic reform, achievements in Tibet - Xinhua:

China's State Council Information Office on Wednesday issued a white paper on democratic reform and the leap of development in Tibet over the past six decades...

The democratic reform in Tibet is the greatest and most profound social transformation in the history of Tibet, said the white paper titled "Democratic Reform in Tibet -- Sixty Years On."..

"By abolishing serfdom, a grim and backward feudal system, Tibet was able to establish a new social system that liberated the people and made them the masters of the nation and society, thus ensuring their rights in all matters," the document said...

Besides a preamble and a conclusion, the white paper consisted of ten sections, "Feudal Serfdom: A Dark History," "Irresistible Historical Trend," "Abolishing Feudal Serfdom," "The People Have Become Masters of Their Own Affairs," "Liberating and Developing the Productive Forces," "Promoting a Range of Undertakings," "Enhancing Ecological Progress," "Protecting the Freedom of Religious Belief," "Strengthening Ethnic Equality and Unity," and "Development of Tibet in the New Era."

Full text: Democratic Reform in Tibet -- Sixty Years On - Xinhua

30,000 monks and nuns in Tibet take exams on laws - Global Times:

More than 30,000 Buddhist monks and nuns in Southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region recently took exams on laws and regulations, which is aimed at improving their legal awareness and consciousness.

It was the second time for the region to hold such a test. The first test was held in March 2018. .. This year's exam, which was held on Monday, covers the Constitution, National Security Law, Anti-terrorism Law, Anti-espionage Act, Cyber Security Law as well as regulations related to religious affairs, the justice department of the Tibet regional government told the Global Times on Tuesday.

The department said that the test reinforced the notion that "national laws are superior to religious regulations, and abiding by the law comes ahead of adhering to religious discipline" among religious administrative personnel in Tibet, which will help to build social stability in the region.


6. Xi on 4 “deficits” in global governance

Xi outlines 4-pronged proposal on global governance - Xinhua:

  • Xi made the remarks at the closing ceremony of a global governance forum co-hosted by China and France in Paris...

  • Xi proposed a four-pronged approach to addressing "four deficits" in global affairs...

  • Firstly, the Chinese president called for fairness and reasonableness to address the governance deficit 一要坚持公正合理,破解治理赤字;

  • Secondly, Xi called for consultation and understanding to address the trust deficit 二要坚持互商互谅,破解信任赤字.;

  • Thirdly, he called for joint efforts and mutual assistance to address the peace deficit 三要坚持同舟共济,破解和平赤字;

  • Fourthly, Xi called for mutual benefit and win-win results to address the development deficit  四要坚持互利共赢,破解发展赤字.

Xi’s speech - 习近平出席中法全球治理论坛闭幕式并致辞


7. Xu Zhangrun

J’accuse, Tsinghua University! - 遺典

On 26 March, the Chinese-language edition of the Financial Times published the following essay by Guo Yuhua (郭於華, 1956-), herself a prominent academic. Guo’s title — ‘When Do Scholars Not Have Something to Say?’ 哪有學者不表達? — is a reference to Xu Zhangrun’s earlier essay 哪有先生不說話 ?!, published in an annotated bilingual version by China Heritage as ‘And Teachers, Then? They Just Do Their Thing!’ (China Heritage, 10 November 2018)...

Guo Yuhua:

Now, I’d like to know just what article in the Chinese Constitution Professor Xu is in contravention of? I certainly don’t know the legal basis of the university’s treatment of him. Where’s the evidence? In my opinion, as a professor of law it is nothing less than a professional responsibility for Xu Zhangrun to advocate constitutional democracy and stress the need for the rule of law. Where’s the crime in that? Just how is he at fault?

For many years Xu Zhangrun has worked on these issues with an unrelenting focus. Why? For the sake of this country, its people, our society: advocating constitutionalism, supporting the rule of law, striving for freedom, criticising the shortcomings of contemporary society and politics. It can be said of him with unflinching candor that his is a heart of absolute honesty and courage; his untainted spirit of concern is a testament to integrity.

Guo's piece is still online at FTChinese--哪有学者不表达? - - FT中文网

Tsinghua University suspends Xu Zhangrun, Chinese law professor who criticised Xi Jinping | South China Morning Post:

Zhang Qianfan, a law professor at Peking University, also expressed support for Xu... “Professor Xu was penalised by Tsinghua not because he said something radical or inappropriate, but because he made some just and honest comments that others dared not make – because free speech is in a difficult situation” in China, Zhang said.

He added that Tsinghua should treat its academics properly instead of punishing them for expressing their opinions.

“Tsinghua should be proud to have a scholar like Xu, but instead it imposed this unbelievable punishment on him,” he said. “This has happened because the university’s leadership wants to save their own skin, and as a result the university will pay a price and its reputation will suffer.”


8. Huawei

EU’s common 5G security approach ‘victory for Huawei, ZTE’ - Global Times:

China's Huawei Technologies and ZTE Corp applauded on Wednesday the latest EU approach to 5G security, which ignored US pressure for a blanket ban on Chinese companies in Europe. Analysts hailed it as a victory for Chinese companies in fighting against the US boycott...

The European Commission released a common EU stance to tackle security issues in 5G networks, according to a statement on Tuesday, urging a national risk assessment of 5G network infrastructures by the end of June 2019. At the EU level, countries should exchange information with one another and complete a coordinated risk assessment by October 1, 2019.

Top Huawei executive says not even Xi Jinping could compel it to help China spy in other countries - The Globe and Mail:

“Xi Jinping hasn’t come to us. And I have no idea if that will happen,” said Eric Xu, one of the rotating chairmen at Huawei.

But if such a request were to arrive, “we would definitely not do it,” Mr. Xu said, citing Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei, who said he would sooner shutter the company – a Chinese corporate champion with 180,000 employees – than engage in overseas spying.

Pentagon eyeing 5G solutions with Huawei rivals Ericsson and Nokia: official | Reuters:

“I am not sure we are going to have a total U.S. solution,” Ellen Lord, the Department of Defense’s under secretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment said. “We are talking to Ericsson, we are talking to Nokia quite a bit.”.

Simultaneously, the U.S. is laying the groundwork to develop its own technology to support 5G enabled communications, said Lord, who is the Pentagon’s chief weapon’s buyer.

How Microsoft found a Huawei driver that opened systems to attack | Ars Technica:

Huawei MateBook systems that are running the company's PCManager software included a driver that would let unprivileged users create processes with superuser privileges. The insecure driver was discovered by Microsoft using some of the new monitoring features added to Windows version 1809 that are monitored by the company's Microsoft Defender Advanced Threat Protection (ATP) service.

First things first: Huawei fixed the driver and published the safe version in early January, so if you're using a Huawei system and have either updated everything or removed the built-in applications entirely, you should be good to go.

Argentina secures ZTE deal amid US assault against Chinese tech companies - Global Times:

ZTE has secured a deal worth $28 million with Jujuy, an Argentine province, where the Chinese telecommunications company will help build fiber optic cable systems, Felix Martin Soto, deputy minister of finance of the Argentine Republic, told the Global Times in an interview on Wednesday.


Business, Economy, Finance and Trade

Chinese premier underlines efforts to unleash market vitality - Xinhua The country must implement the tasks set out in this year's government work report, further promote reform and opening up, strengthen economic growth momentum, and enhance the people's sense of fulfillment, Li said in a tour to south China's Hainan Province during the ongoing Boao Forum for Asia annual conference.

U.S. January Trade Deficit Narrows to $51.1 Billion - Bloomberg The deficit in goods and services narrowed to $51.1 billion, the Commerce Department said Wednesday, smaller than the median estimate of economists. Imports fell 2.6 percent while exports rose 0.9 percent. The merchandise-trade gap with China -- the target of President Donald Trump’s trade war -- shrank to $33.2 billion as imports from the nation dropped 12.3 percent.

Who Is Winning Trump's Trade War with China? So Far, It's Mexico - Bloomberg America’s imports from Mexico surge the most in seven years as Trump’s policies shift supply chains

Some China Brokerages Halt Bond Repo Amid Credit Risks - Bloomberg At least two Chinese brokerages have halted new exchange-listed bond repurchases after rising credit risks damped the value of the pledged notes, according to people familiar with the matter

China's top businesswoman accuses private sector of bribery | Reuters The bold remarks on Wednesday by Dong Mingzhu, chairwoman of Gree Electric Appliances, came at a time when Chinese leaders have pledged to step up support for small and private firms vital for economic growth and job creation. “People abroad don’t completely understand China’s economic structure. Once they talk about state firms, they think they are government-owned... and private firms are bullied. This is their misunderstanding,” Dong said at the Boao Forum, which China is trying to promote as Asia’s answer to Davos.

China’s Cut to Electric-Car Subsidies Is the Biggest in Five Years - Caixin Several government departments led by the Ministry of Finance issued a notice this week stating that the subsidy for electric-battery vehicles with ranges of 400 kilometers (250 miles) and above will be slashed by half to 25,000 yuan ($3,700), down 50% on a year earlier. The cut will take effect in June.

China's New Income Tax Regime Will Do Less to Reduce Inequality: Report - Caixin The reforms, which aim to encourage consumption and thereby bolster cooling economic growth, are projected to weaken the income tax’s redistributive effect, according to a report by Zhan Peng and Li Shi, researchers at the China Institute for Income Distribution at Beijing Normal University, released on Monday...As measured by the Gini coefficient — a widely used measure of inequality — the equalizing effect of the new tax regime will be 38% smaller than the pre-reform system, according to the university’s report.

Canada should take pragmatic measures to correct its mistake: FM - Global Times Commenting on the bilateral relationship, Geng said that "We hope that the Canadian side could work with China to ensure the healthy and stable development of China-Canada relations." "In this regard, the Canadian side should take 'pragmatic measures' to correct the previous mistake it has made," said Geng. Wang Jun, a deputy director of the Department of Information at the China Center for International Economic Exchanges, told the Global Times that "to properly address Meng's issue is the only way out for Canada." "The country should balance whether it wants to restore trade relations with China," Wang said, adding that it's highly possible that the two countries' trade relations would further deteriorate.

As listed firms set foot in industrial hemp field, related stocks gain - Global Times A number of A-share stocks related to industrial hemp planting have surged in recent days, reflecting the Chinese capital market's frenzy over a new investment opportunity.  The shares of Harbin Pharmaceutical soared Wednesday by the 10 percent limit to close at 5.96 yuan, after the National Business Daily reported that the company planned to plant 15,000 mu (1,000 hectares) of industrial hemp in Heihe, Northeast China's Heilongjiang Province. Other hemp-related stocks also gained. For instance, Shunhao surged by the daily limit and closed at 18.01 yuan on Wednesday. Huasheng rose 9.98 percent to close at 8.93 yuan.

Yicai Global - Chinese Consumers Suspect Online Retail, Travel Platforms of Price Optimization Some 88 percent of consumers believe that digital shopping platforms charge customized prices for each client by using Big Data to collect users' online behavior, according to a survey released today by the Beijing Consumers Association. Some 57 percent of them say that they have been subject to this phenomenon.

Starbucks or Luckin? Consumers voice support for locally brewed coffee king · TechNode Luckin’s operations rely on a strategy called “fission marketing,” a concept conceived by Luckin Coffee’s CMO, Yang Fei. This approach focuses on storing and maintaining internet traffic in order to build a large pool of users. Luckin purchases are made entirely within the company’s app, where the coffee chain also pushes rewards to buy in bulk or refer new customers. According to Yang’s fission marketing strategy, once the company builds a pool of users, the next step is to “pour” the traffic. Luckin does this by pushing constant coupons that reward sharing with friends.

China Securities Regulator Eases IPO Rules on All Listings - Caixin Some of the new rules are similar to those being applied to listings on China’s coming Nasdaq-style high-tech board, indicating that the overall system for initial public offerings (IPOs) may be moving in a more market-driven direction, several investment bankers told Caixin. At the same time, it’s too early to say that China is moving toward full implementation of a registration-based system for all IPOs, one senior investment banker said.

China's New Foreign Investment Law and Forced Technology Transfer: Same As it Ever Was | China Law Blog The actual effect of China’s new Foreign Investment Law will be to eliminate the few remaining policies that benefit foreign investors as compared to domestic Chinese businesses. This means foreign investors will no longer be treated better than Chinese nationals; they will instead be treated the same or worse. Just to be perfectly clear, the new law does not confer benefits on foreign investors; it merely represents the final step in a decade long process of China eliminating incentives to foreign investors that were formerly used to encourage foreign investment in China. In that sense, the intent and impact of the new law seems to have been fundamentally misunderstood by most who have commented on the law and I will be doing a series of posts on what this new law really means for foreign investors.

China’s Social Security Fund Chief Lou Jiwei Retires - Caixin Lou Jiwei, an outspoken former finance minister who has headed China’s 2 trillion yuan ($297 billion) social security fund since 2016, has retired from the post, Caixin has learned. Lou, 68, will be replaced by 58-year-old Liu Wei, a vice minister of finance, according to an internal announcement Monday at the National Council for Social Security Fund, Caixin learned.


Politics and Law

No Earrings, Tattoos or Cleavage: Inside China’s War on Fun - The New York Times The Communist Party’s effort to instill what it calls “core socialist values” — patriotism, harmony and civility, among others — is intensifying. Content that celebrates money worship, hedonism or individualism is increasingly removed. Material that was acceptable only a few years ago no longer passes muster. In a few year’s time, today’s youth will have seen less unfiltered content than people even five years older. Without knowing what they don’t know, they’re likely to be more receptive to party doctrine and easier to govern.

中共中央办公厅印发《公务员职务与职级并行规定》———中央纪委国家监委网站 General Office of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China issues "Parallel Provisions on Duties and Grades of Civil Servants"...

较真碰硬扎实开展督导 推动专项斗争向纵深发展--法制网 At the second round of the Central Anti-gang crime and Anti-gane crime Supervision Work Mobilization Training Course, Guo Shengkun stressed that supervision should be carried out to push the dedicated struggle forward.

Textbooks for training of officials published - Xinhua Xi Jinping, general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, wrote a preface for the textbooks... The textbooks expounded the great significance, scientific system, spiritual essence, and demand of practice of Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era, the publishers said at a meeting here Wednesday.

China Detains Several Social Economic Rights Defenders Days After UN Rights Review Ends | Chinese Human Rights Defenders Several human rights defenders working on socio-economic rights issues have been detained just days after the close of China’s 3rdUniversal Periodic Review (UPR) in Geneva on March 15 during the 40th Session of the Human Rights Council (HRC). The timing of the detentions indicates that authorities waited until after the end of the highly public scrutiny of China’s rights records at the United Nations to kick off a likely severe crackdown in a year marking many politically-sensitive anniversaries, including the 30thanniversary of the 1989 Tiananmen massacre. Persecuting social economic human rights defenders contradicts China’s self-claim as a champion in protecting social economic rights.

Love Allah, Love China – Foreign Policy With re-education camps for as many as a million Uighur Muslims in Xinjiang province, demolition threats for a Hui Muslim mosque in Ningxia, and the closing of Protestant “mega-house churches” in Beijing, Chengdu, and Guangzhou, the Chinese Communist Party is limiting religious freedoms across the country. The campaign hit a formal milestone on Jan. 5, when China passed a five-year plan to Sinicize Islam. The news came a week after police raided and sealed off so-called house mosques in Mamichang and two other villages in rural Yunnan, and violent videos of the raids leaked internationally across Twitter and other social media platforms. A series of interviews in Mamichang and Huihuideng, where two of the raids took place, reveal a state determined to maintain social stability and worshippers torn between their love of God and country. Or, as the party would say, their love of country and God.

Online outrage over Chinese anti-gang campaign targeting mentally ill and parents of dead children | South China Morning Post A neighbourhood association in central China’s Hunan province has caused a social media uproar because its anti-gang poster campaign targeted mental health patients and “shidu families”, parents who have lost their only child. Created by the Guangchang Street neighbourhood association of the city of Xiangtan, the poster, titled “10 key tasks in removing gangs and crimes”, included the monitoring of patients with severe mental illness as well as families who have lost their only child.

China Holds Vaccine Parent-Turned-Activist Detained At Beijing Protest - RFA He Fangmei, the mother of a baby made sick by a faulty vaccine, was initially detained by police from her home province of Henan on Feb. 25 during a protest by parents of children affected by faulty vaccines outside the National Health Commission in Beijing, rights groups said. She was taken to an unofficial detention center at Majialou on the outskirts of the capital, before being sent back to her home city of Xinjiang on March 5 under escort.


Foreign and Defense Affairs

A Conversation with Francis Fukuyama - Asia Global Institute Fukuyama: China poses the most important challenge to the idea of the end of history, insofar as it is an authoritarian semi-capitalist system that has mastered economic modernization and may become the world's wealthiest and most powerful country. The issue is whether that system is sustainable over the long run. There are a number of reasons for thinking that it is not, beginning with the challenge of dealing with the enormous social stresses that have appeared as a result of modernization. But if China manages these stresses and remains strong and stable for another generation, then I think there is in fact a real alternative to liberal democracy.

Feature: A BeiDou superstar - Xinhua Shoulder-length hair, black leather jacket, arms across her chest, a faint smile, Xu Ying graces the cover of a youth magazine. A rock star? No, Xu, 36, is a scientist. Xu leads a team at China's prime natural sciences research institute in developing the ground system and augmentation technology of China's BeiDou satellites...She had a message for anyone wanting to crack BeiDou's military codes. "Make a time-travel machine that can take you back to the day we designed the military codes, and then stand by and eavesdrop. Technically, making a time machine would be easier than breaking the codes."

In Depth: Chinese Students in Limbo as Wait for U.S. Visas Stretches for Months - Caixin Since early March, many Chinese students who have not been able to return to the U.S. for the most recent semester have been organizing through a WeChat group in hopes of raising awareness of their plight. Many came back to China at the end of 2018 for winter vacation — but have since suffered through a long and opaque administrative process. Some of the groups quickly grew to have more than 100 members. Some students have already completed their undergraduate studies in China and were working on masters or doctoral degrees in engineering or the sciences in the U.S. Others are studying in the fields of artificial intelligence, aviation, or the material sciences.

Foreign influence showdown as universities decline to register China-funded Confucius Institutes - Sydney Morning Herald The government's foreign influence transparency scheme faces an early test as universities ignore pressure to register their Confucius Institutes — the Chinese government-funded and administered education centres that have been highlighted as a focus for the new accountability regime. None of the 13 host universities have registered the cultural and language institutes after they were warned they might be subject to the scheme. Their position sets up a potential showdown with the government, which could seek to use newfound powers to probe the centres and forcibly register them.

China's First Reaction To India's Space Missile Test Mission Shakti - NDTV The Chinese Foreign Ministry, in a written response to a question on India successfully test-firing an anti-satellite missile, said: "We have noticed reports and hope that each country will uphold peace and tranquillity in outer space". China conducted such a test in January 2007 when its anti-satellite missile destroyed a defunct weather satellite.

Japanese jets intercept Chinese anti-submarine aircraft, says Tokyo - Defense News Japanese fighter jets intercepted Chinese anti-submarine aircraft over the East China Sea last week, marking the first known occasion that this type of Chinese aircraft has been encountered. In an announcement on March 23, the Joint Staff of Japan’s Defense Ministry announced that its fighter jets had scrambled to intercept a pair of Chinese “Y-9 patrol aircraft. A photo of the Chinese aircraft released by the ministry shows it was a Shaanxi KQ-200 anti-submarine/maritime patrol aircraft with its distinctive magnetic anomaly detector boom used for detecting submarines. The MAD boom is mounted in the aircraft’s rear fuselage and is plainly visible

Google's Sundar Pichai to Discuss China, AI With Pentagon Brass - Bloomberg Sundar Pichai, chief executive officer of Alphabet Inc.’s Google, will meet in Washington D.C. with General Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, according to a person familiar with the situation. The internet giant extended the invitation after criticism from Dunford about Google’s artificial intelligence work in China, which he said "indirectly benefits the Chinese military."


Hong Kong and Macao

US House speaker Nancy Pelosi has expressed ‘deep concern’ over Hong Kong plan to extradite fugitives to mainland China, visiting opposition politicians say | South China Morning Post Civic Party lawmaker Dennis Kwok, among three pro-democrats who are on a 10-day trip to the United States at the invitation of the White House, said the government’s fugitive plan was among the key issues discussed in their meeting with Pelosi. “Speaker Pelosi is fully aware of developments in that area. She expressed concern – deep concern – about the implications of such legislative amendments,” he said in Washington, adding that she was particularly concerned about the potential implications for the personal safety of Americans in Hong Kong. “They will continue to pay much greater attention to Hong Kong’s development.”

HKFP wins Google News Initiative grant to create funding solution for small newsrooms worldwide | Hong Kong Free Press HKFP HKFP’s Open Membership Portal for Small Newsrooms platform will be developed by the HKFP team and freelancers over coming months. News startups will be able to deploy the fundraising micro-site easily to bypass, or reduce their reliance upon, expensive third-party crowdfunding sites, and flawed fundraising plug-ins


Taiwan

Cotton, Menendez, and Colleagues Introduce Taiwan Assurance Act | Tom Cotton | U.S. Senator for Arkansas: The Taiwan Assurance Act will enhance the U.S.-Taiwan relationship in the following ways: Mandates that the president conduct a review of the State Department's guidelines on U.S. relations with Taiwan;

  • Directs the Secretary of Defense to make efforts to include Taiwan in bilateral and multilateral military training exercises;

  • Requires that a flag or general officer serve as the U.S. defense attaché in Taipei;

  • States that the United States will continue to advocate for Taiwan's meaningful participation in international organizations;

  • Expresses Congressional support for Taiwan's asymmetric defense strategy, regular U.S. arms sales to Taiwan, and the resumption of bilateral trade talks between the United States and Taiwan.

‘I love my country’: Taiwanese actress Ouyang Nana responds to independence claims | South China Morning Post: In another case of a celebrity getting embroiled in escalating Beijing-Taipei tensions, 18-year-old Taiwanese actress and musician Ouyang Nana has declared her love for China in a television appearance after a strong mainland backlash that threatened her career... “It doesn’t matter if I’m from Hong Kong, Taiwan or Beijing. I am Chinese – I love my country,” the actress, who was born in Taipei, told CCTV6, a channel of China’s state broadcaster.


Tech and Media

China’s Top State Tech Academies to Accept More Members From Private Companies - Caixin China intends to bring more private sector figures into its top state tech academies, in a nod to private companies’ contributions in cutting-edge research. According to a notice from the China Association for Science and Technology, which is administered by the central government, local and industry-specific associations should pay “special attention” to experts from private companies when nominating new members to the state-backed Chinese Academy of Sciences and Chinese Academy of Engineering.

Chinese private firm OneSpace fails with first orbital launch attempt - SpaceNews.com OneSpace of China failed to become the first private launch firm to place a satellite in orbit after loss of its OS-M1 solid launch vehicle Wednesday. Launch of the OS-M1 four-stage rocket, also named ‘Chongqing · Liangjiang Star,’ took place at 05:39 a.m. Eastern from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwest China. Amateur footage from the launch site shared on a Chinese social media platform indicates loss of control of the launch vehicle shortly after first stage separation around one minute after launch.

New President Brings Major Staff Shakeup to Alibaba's Youku Video Platform - Caixin Global Fan, who is also CEO of Alibaba Pictures, took on the role of Youku’s president earlier this year after predecessor Yang Weidong was revealed to be  “assisting mainland authorities with an investigation into an alleged case of seeking economic benefits,” an expression that usually refers to corruption. Fan has downsized Youku's online drama production team and transferred some members of the team to Alibaba Pictures, sources told Caixin. People close to Youku explained that the move could allow Youku to shift its focus toward copyright-related business, while positioning Alibaba Pictures as the platform’s content supplier.

WeChat denies monitoring user chat data - ECNS Some users found advertisements in articles shared by WeChat’s official account Selected (Jingxuan in Chinese), matched subjects in previous chat conversations they had with friends. According to Shanghai-based The Paper, Tencent's WeChat team said the app does not monitor a user's chat record, as it has promised for a long time, or recommend advertisements based on recorded chat data.

Tech groups pre-empt Beijing’s ire over costume dramas | Financial Times $$ Television shows have felt the heat previously. The state-run Beijing Daily newspaper ran an opinion article earlier this year railing against costume dramas, saying their penchant for glorifying royalty and long-dead monarchs undermined modern Communist party heroes and promoted hedonism over frugality and hard work. “The feeling is that the censors were too lax in the first quarter so everything is tightening up now for the second quarter,” said one TV producer of period dramas.


Society, Art, Sports, Culture, and History

Sun Yang storms to second title at Chinese national swimming championships - Xinhua Olympic champion Sun Yang stormed to victory in the 200m freestyle at the 2019 Chinese national swimming championships here on Tuesday, while Yan Zibei set the first national record of the meet in the 50m breaststroke.

'Kimono' showdown stokes anti-Japanese prejudice in China - CNN As the video quickly spread online, local news media picked up the story Monday and interviewed the man in the "kimono," who identified himself as a college student from northeastern China visiting Wuhan to view the city's famous cherry blossoms. The man, who declined to be named, told Shangyou News that he was a fan of traditional Chinese culture and was actually wearing "tangzhuang" -- a type of garment that originated during the 7th Century Tang dynasty in ancient China and is believed by many to have provided the inspiration for the kimono, the full-length Japanese robe.


Energy, Environment, Science, and Health

Assessing the Policy gaps for achieving China’s climate targets in the Paris Agreement | Nature Communications We develop and apply a mixed-method methodology for analyzing the likelihood of current Chinese policies reducing greenhouse gas emissions in accordance with China’s Paris commitments. We find that China is likely to peak its emissions well in advance of 2030 and achieve its non-fossil target conditional on full and effective implementation of all current policies, successful conclusion of power-sector reform, and full implementation of a national emissions-trading system (ETS) for the power and additional major industrial sectors after 2020. Several policy gaps are identified and discussed

China on track to cap water usage below 670B cubic meters by 2020 | english.scio.gov.cn China is also a country with unbalanced water resources among its regions. North China, which has a population of 168 million, accounts for only 4 percent of the country's total water resources. Increasing water demand has resulted in groundwater overdraft and water level declines in the North China Plain, Wei added.