Xi Schools New Senior Officials ; Financial Regulators Ruin Bankers' Weekend; New Push To Make Cities Safer; A Panopticon Needs "Sharp Eyes"

Good morning from DC, where our freeze is finally ending.

The big news in the China Western media world is the resignation of BBC China editor Carrie Gracie:

In an open letter, Ms Gracie - who has been at the BBC for more than 30 years - accused the corporation of having a "secretive and illegal pay culture". She said the BBC was facing a "crisis of trust", after it was revealed two-thirds of its stars earning more than £150,000 were male.

Her departure is a loss for foreign media coverage of China.

The Essential Eight

1. Xi Schools New Senior Officials

Comment: There is going to be a big campaign to study "Xi's January 5 Speech". The politics do not seem to be loosening after the 19th Party Congress, just the opposite in fact.

Xi says senior officials "crucial" in Party, state governance - Xinhua:

Chinese President Xi Jinping on Friday said that members of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and provincial and ministerial-level officials are "crucial" to the sound governance of the Party and the country.

Xi, also general secretary of the CPC Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission, made the remarks at the opening of a workshop attended by newly-elected members and alternate members of the CPC Central Committee, as well as provincial and ministerial-level officials.

Xi called on such officials to raise their political awareness, adopt a historical perspective, reinforce theoretical thinking, think in big-picture terms and improve their knowledge and intellectual attainments to think and understand major theoretical and practical issues with a broader perspective.

Commentary: Xi stresses "consistency," urges CPC to make new progress - Xinhua:

Xi, who is also general secretary of the CPC Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission, asked the officials to "consistently" promote the "great new project of Party building" and increase their sense of precaution and prevention of risks and challenges.

He made the remarks at the opening of a workshop attended by newly elected members and alternate members of the CPC Central Committee, as well as provincial and ministerial-level officials.

Xi's speech placed "socialism with Chinese characteristics in a new era" into its historical lineage of social revolutions led by the CPC, illustrating the links of continuity.

以时不我待只争朝夕的精神投入工作  开创新时代中国特色社会主义事业新局面--时政--人民网:

习近平强调,“备豫不虞,为国常道”。当前,我国正处于一个大有可为的历史机遇期,发展形势总的是好的,但前进道路不可能一帆风顺,越是取得成绩的时候,越是要有如履薄冰的谨慎,越是要有居安思危的忧患,绝不能犯战略性、颠覆性错误。面对波谲云诡的国际形势、复杂敏感的周边环境、艰巨繁重的改革发展稳定任务,我们既要有防范风险的先手,也要有应对和化解风险挑战的高招;既要打好防范和抵御风险的有准备之战,也要打好化险为夷、转危为机的战略主动战。我们要继续进行具有许多新的历史特点的伟大斗争,准备战胜一切艰难险阻,朝着我们党确立的伟大目标奋勇前进。

So far there are four in a series of People's Daily commentaries on the meeting:

一以贯之坚持和发展中国特色社会主义——一论学习贯彻习近平总书记“1·5”重要讲话 

一以贯之推进党的建设新的伟大工程 ——二论学习贯彻习近平总书记“1·5”重要讲话

一以贯之增强忧患意识、防范风险挑战——三论学习贯彻习近平总书记“1·5”重要讲话 

And a fourth in the series is coming on Jan 9 - 必须准备付出更为艰巨、更为艰苦的努力——四论学习贯彻习近平总书记“1·5”重要讲话

Senior CPC officials required to defend Xi's core status - Xinhua:

Wang Huning, a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee, made the call Monday at the closing of the workshop attended by newly-elected members and alternate members of the CPC Central Committee, as well as provincial and ministerial-level officials.

1.8 CCTV Evening News on Wang's speech 学习贯彻习近平新时代中国特色社会主义思想和党的十九大精神研讨班结业 王沪宁出席结业式并作总结讲话


2. Another Round Of Concerted Financial Regulatory Moves

Comment: The new regulations are long overdue, clearly there had been significant resistance, but while 2018 may not be the year of deleveraging it sure looks like it will be the year of real regulatory efforts to squeeze financial risk. A big question though is do the regulators understand exactly what they are squeezing and where it may pop?

Banks Face Crackdown on Entrusted Loans - Caixin Global:

The China Banking Regulatory Commission (CBRC) announced a set of sweeping new rules to control such lending in a statement dated Jan. 5. It said that a lack of unified regulations on entrusted loans had created “certain hidden risks” and that the time was ripe to strengthen risk control and guide credit to better serve the real economy.

The regulations, which were first drafted back in 2015, are being rolled out amid a broader effort by the government to crack down on activities by financial institutions that could destabilize the financial system. In November, the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) and the banking, securities and insurance watchdogs released proposals to tame country’s $15 trillion asset management industry and untangle the complex web of investments that exist outside the formal banking system....

By the end of 2016, entrusted loans had grown to 13.2 trillion yuan ($2.03 trillion), accounting for 8.5% of outstanding total social financing, the country’s broadest measure of credit that includes bank loans, corporate bond and equity issuance and bank acceptance bills. By the end of November 2017, that proportion had dropped slightly to 8%, PBOC data show.

China tightens rules on commercial lender shareholders, entrusted loans - Reuters:

And in separate measures announced on Saturday, the CBRC said it would require firms to step up their risk management and disclosure around entrusted loans, a form of business-to-business financing.

Under the new commercial lender shareholding regulations, a single investor can hold 5 percent or more, considered a major shareholding, of no more than two commercial banks, or a controlling stake of no more than one lender.

Any stake purchase of more than 5 percent must be approved by the CBRC and major shareholders of commercial lenders cannot hold interests in the same institution via financial products.

New Bond-Trading Rules Aim to Clean Up ‘Under-the-Table’ Deals - Caixin Global:

China’s top financial regulators are working together to regulate the country’s 67 trillion yuan ($10 trillion) bond market by introducing unified rules on bond trading, in what is the latest attempt to clean up excessive leverage and shady practices.

The new rules require that financial institutions sign written contracts for any bond repurchase or bond forward transactions. The rules also set a top limit for leverage ratios for institutions in such deals, according to the regulation document viewed by Caixin. The rules were drafted by the central bank and three regulatory commissions overseeing banking, securities and insurance.

The rules mark the latest coordinated effort by China’s top financial regulators to integrate supervision of the country’s fragmented financial markets. In November, the central bank and three commissions jointly released sweeping rules of the country’s $9 trillion asset management industry. Five state agencies currently oversee bond issuance and bond trading.

Banking Regulator Looks Into Nearly 60,000 Cases in 2017 - Caixin:

China’s banking regulator has investigated 59,700 cases involving 17.7 trillion yuan ($2.72 trillion) since late March in a campaign to rein in risks in the industry, it said on Monday.

The regulator plans this year to step up the campaign, which mainly targeted misconduct in the running of interbank transactions, wealth management products and bankers’ acceptances, the China Banking Regulatory Commission (CBRC) told Caixin.


3. US-China Trade War Odds Only Increasing

Comment: President Trump has been consistent for decades in his view that China is ripping the US off. That may be the most important thing to focus on amidst the reports of competing factions around him.

White House preparing for trade crackdown - POLITICO:

Senior aides are also laying plans to use Trump’s State of the Union address at the end of the month to flesh out the president’s trade vision and potentially preview a more aggressive posture toward China, according to the official.

Aides stressed that the specifics are still in flux, but multiple officials told POLITICO that internal conversations have moved beyond the basic question of whether Trump should take tough trade steps and are now focused on what precise measures the president should impose....

Amid widespread concern that the president’s impulsive decision-making could spark a trade war, Trump’s advisers have been organizing weekly meetings since last spring to weigh their options — including where to set any tariffs and import quotas and how much to single out China — in the various outstanding trade cases in the hopes of presenting the president with well-researched policy proposals.

The 1.8 CCTV Evening News reports on Wang Yang meeting with a visiting US Chamber of Commerce delegation in Beijing. My understanding is they are there to make sure the Chinese leadership understands how serious the risk of a US-China trade war has become - 汪洋会见美国客人_CCTV


4. China's Path Towards Global Leadership

Comment: The PRC does not want precipitous US decline or sudden withdrawal from global leadership, but clearly Xi and his subordinates see a massive opportunity for the country, with a strong preference for managed, slow US decline.

China’s Endgame: The Path Towards Global Leadership - Lawfare - Timothy Heath:

In the 19th Chinese Communist Party (CCP) Congress report, China’s most authoritative strategy document, Beijing articulated for the first time an ambition to contend for global leadership. It stated that by mid-century, China seeks to have “become a global leader in terms of composite national strength and international influence.” Given that China already has the second largest economy and one of the largest militaries in the world, this phrasing strongly suggests that, over the long term, China is mulling competition with the United States for the status of global leader.

Beyond reasons of prestige, global leadership affords a country the opportunity to reap considerable economic and security benefits by shaping international norms, rules, and institutions, as the United States has done since World War II. And if trends that narrow the gap in national power continue, global competition between the two giants could become unavoidable in any case. To be sure, the future remains undetermined and there are many reasons why China may never succeed in mounting such a challenge, but the report’s contents suggest China’s leaders are positioning the country to seize such an incredible opportunity should it present itself.

Former NYT Beijing bureau Chief Ed Wong gives us his view of China's trajectory - A Chinese Empire Reborn - The New York Times:

The Communist Party’s emerging empire is more the result of force than a gravitational pull of Chinese ideas...

Chinese citizens and the world would benefit if China turns out to be an empire whose power is based as much on ideas, values and culture as on military and economic might. It was more enlightened under its most glorious dynasties. But for now, the Communist Party embraces hard power and coercion, and this could well be what replaces the fading liberal hegemony of the United States on the global stage.

It will not lead to a grand vision of world order. Instead, before us looms a void.

Question: If it is just a void would China's neighbors and the West consider themselves lucky?


5. The War On Poverty Is Real

Comment: Lots of good will come of it, even amidst forced relocations, but the poor who have been tossed from Beijing and those whose kids can't attend school may not agree

China to move millions of people from homes in anti-poverty drive | The Guardian:

Mark Wang, a University of Melbourne scholar who studies Beijing’s use of resettlements to fight poverty, attributed Xi’s focus on the issue partly to the seven years he spent in the countryside during Mao’s Cultural Revolution.

Xi was born into China’s “red aristocracy” – the son of the revolutionary elder Xi Zhongxun – but was exiled to the parched village of Liangjiahe in the 1960s after his father strayed to the wrong side of Mao.

Wang claimed those years of rural hardship continued to shape Xi’s political priorities: “From the bottom of his heart he knows the Chinese farmers … He understands what they want ... He even knows the dirty language the people use in the fields when they are farming.”

But hard-nosed political calculations also explained Xi’s bid to paint himself as a champion of the poor – an effort undermined by a recent crackdown on migrants in Beijing which has reportedly seen tens of thousands of poor workers forced from the capital.

Classes Left Without Classrooms After Central China City, County Crack Down on Illegal Buildings - Caixin Global:

Builders assisted by excavators began to demolish the private kindergarten (preschool) in Zhoukou’s Luyi county, Henan province, on Sunday, according to Qian Lihong, who built the facility in 2016 for nearly 10 million yuan ($1.54 million).

Qian had about 230 students, some have whom have since found spots in public schools. But most have nowhere to go.

The demolition came as the county authority said Qian’s school was identified by satellite imaging technology in September as a structure that was built without permission.

A Caijing story, now deleted, but still available in Google Cache, on the financial losses for Beijingers in the wake of the migrant cleansing. migrant workers rent was a key source of income for some Beijingers-清退之后,村子空了,租金没了,本土北京人开始焦虑_原创频道_财经网


6. New Push To Make Cities Safer

Comment: Another move that is needed given the uneven enforcement of existing regulations, but will it also be used as a pretext to clean out more migrants and the urban "underclass"?

China to make cities safer - Xinhua:

The country must uphold the vision of making development people-centered and never seek development at the cost of safety, according to the guideline made public by the general offices of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and the State Council.

By 2020, China aims to achieve "noticeable progress" in safe urban development, and create a number of demonstration cities in line with the objectives for becoming a moderately prosperous society in all respects, the guideline said.

By 2035, the country should put in place an improved system for safe urban development and create safe cities that are in line with the requirements for basically realizing socialist modernization, it added.

中办 国办印发《关于推进城市安全发展的意见》


7. Awful Story of Injustice

Comment: Terrible story, interesting that Caixin is allowed to publish it

Daughter’s Long Fight for Justice for Mother’s Death in ‘Black Jail’ - Caixin Global:

Li Ning promised she wouldn’t cut her hair until justice was served for her mother, who allegedly committed suicide after being tortured by private guards hired to dissuade her mother from petitioning against town authorities.

That was in 2009, when Li Ning was 22 and had a shoulder-length hair. Now her hair which reaches below her knees, has become a symbol of her resolve and a testament of her ordeal as she goes from door to door, petitioning official agencies in Beijing, while being harassed by thugs hired to stop petitioners for over eight years.

Li Ning has been bound, gagged, detained and even made to sit on an infamous torture chair in a hotel turned into a temporary prison in her small town of Longkou in the eastern province of Shangdong. But she persisted, even studying law at Renmin University in Beijing, believing her mother underwent even worse torture before her untimely death.


8. All Seeing "Sharp Eyes"

Comment: Apologies if I have been beating a dead horse the last few months over the Communist Party's efforts to build a national Panopticon, but this latest Washington Post report on the topic has some interesting new details. Don't be distracted by claims of consumer "resistance"; control is in the CCP's DNA and these developments are a part of a multi-decade effort to exert better, smarter control over the population, ad the Party will make it happen. The politics, technology, data, and citizen behavior (thanks Wechat!!) are all converging now in near perfect alignment for the creation of a modern surveillance state.

In China, facial recognition is sharp end of big data drive for total surveillance - The Washington Post

The pilot in Chongqing forms one tiny part of an ambitious plan, known as “Xue Liang,” which can be translated as “Sharp Eyes.” The intent is to connect the security cameras that already scan roads, shopping malls and transport hubs with private cameras on compounds and buildings, and integrate them into one nationwide surveillance and data-sharing platform.

It will use facial recognition and artificial intelligence to analyze and understand the mountain of incoming video evidence; to track suspects, spot suspicious behaviors and even predict crime; to coordinate the work of emergency services; and to monitor the comings and goings of the country’s 1.4 billion people, official documents and security industry reports show…

In this effort, the Chinese government is working hand-in-glove with the country’s tech industry, from established giants to plucky start-ups staffed by graduates from top American universities and former employees of companies like Google and Microsoft, who seem cheerfully oblivious to concerns they might be empowering a modern surveillance state.


Business, Economy, Finance And Trade

China’s Foreign Reserves Extend Rising Streak Amid Capital Curbs - Bloomberg China’s foreign-exchange reserves posted an 11th straight monthly increase, capping a year of recovery amid tighter capital controls, a stronger yuan and resilient economic growth. The reserves climbed $20.7 billion to $3.14 trillion in December, according to a People’s Bank of China statement on Sunday, compared with a $3.13 trillion median estimate in a Bloomberg survey. That brought the full-year increase to $129 billion.

HNA Units Missed Payments to More Chinese Banks - Bloomberg As of Jan. 4, four of the banks still hadn’t collected on principal and interest payments owed late last year, said the people, who spoke on condition the lenders not be named because of the sensitivity of the matter. They declined to name the units or provide any details on the size of the missed payments. China Citic Bank Corp. said last month a unit of HNA was having difficulty repaying some short-term commercial bills. Underscoring the fluidity of the situation, one of the banks recently reopened some credit lines after certain HNA units posted additional collateral, one of the people said. And China Development Bank Co. last month granted HNA a credit line of at least 5 billion yuan ($771 million), of which 2 billion yuan has been drawn down, another person said.

Trial Over Theft of Wind Technology Spotlights U.S.-China Tensions - WSJ A dispute over the alleged theft of wind-turbine technology is slated to go to trial in Wisconsin on Monday in a test case for intellectual-property battles between the U.S. and China. Federal prosecutors accuse Chinese wind-turbine maker Sinovel Wind Group Co. Ltd. of stealing the source code for software that controls wind turbines from American Superconductor Corp. , a Massachusetts-based engineering company that once counted Sinovel as its biggest customer. 

China’s Inner Mongolia admits cooking economic data, puts key road and subway projects on hold | South China Morning Post Mongolia autonomous region comes after Beijing made preventing financial risk one of its top economic priorities for the next three years at a key national policy conference chaired by Chinese President Xi Jinping last month. At a two-day economic policy meeting last week, the government of Inner Mongolia said its industrial output figure for 2016 should be revised down by 40 per cent, and its fiscal revenue for that year was 26 per cent less than initially stated

China Insurer Up $101 Billion Trades Like a Technology Stock - Bloomberg Ping An Insurance (Group) Co.’s success shows how the lines between “new” and “old” economy businesses are breaking down, forcing investors and strategists to rethink classifications and appropriate valuations. China is at the forefront of this melding of industries, thanks to its pressure on companies to move up the value chain, and a regulatory approach that gives firms a freer hand at innovating new products and services.

Interest rate rise gains support - China Daily The central bank's top researchers have agreed recently that higher interest rates will help to squeeze asset bubbles and restrain debt expansion, as a tool to be used with broader oversight of financial activities. "There is room for an increase in interest rates in the short term as industrial product prices and enterprises' profitability have improved since last year," Ji Min, deputy head of the central bank's research bureau, told China Daily over the weekend.

China aims to enable half of all new cars with AI by 2020 - Reuters China aims to implement artificial intelligence technology in at least half of all its new cars by 2020 and cover 90 percent of its big cities and highways with a wireless network that can support smart vehicles, its top state planner said on Friday.

Investors Call Cops as Nanjing Internet Finance Firm Freezes Deposits - Caixin Global Users of a Nanjing-based internet finance company have been scrambling to cash out after getting spooked by the collapse of its peer Qianbao. The offices of Xiaosheng Youfu (XSYF) were empty of staff on Saturday, but crowded with users discussing what their next move will be. Some said they had already gone to the police.

Central Bank Relaxes Controls on Yuan’s Cross-Border Use - Caixin Global Overseas salaries can now be paid in China’s national currency and foreign companies can use the yuan to participate in the domestic carbon-trading market, according to a document released by the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) on Friday. The measures are effective immediately. The central bank also clarified that onshore companies that issue bonds or stock in yuan overseas can transfer those funds back to China “depending on their actual needs.”

China issues stricter rules on building new steel capacity: industry ministry - Reuters The statement, long-awaited by market players, offered clearer details on closing capacities to build new plants, based on the size of blast furnace, converters and other facilities to be shut down. The strict standard on capacities swaps has eased market worries that China will not loosen its restrictions on building new projects, a manager with a trading firm in Hangzhou said, declining to be named as he is not authorized to speak to media.

 

Politics, Law And Ideology

China punishes 159,100 in anti-graft campaign in 2017 - Xinhua A total of 159,100 people were punished in 2017 for violating the Party's code of conduct and corruption in China, according to the top anti-graft body of the Communist Party of China (CPC). They were involved in 122,100 cases, of which 48,700 were related to poverty alleviation work, said the CPC Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI).

The Chinese Mayor | Now on Netflix This documentary captures the controversial efforts of Mayor Geng Yanbo to revive the Chinese city of Datong by relocating a half-million people.

Chinese Authorities Jail Four Wealthiest Uyghurs in Xinjiang’s Kashgar in New Purge - RFA Authorities in northwestern China’s Xinjiang region have jailed the four wealthiest ethnic Uyghurs in Kashgar (in Chinese, Kashi) city for acts of “religious extremism,” according to an official, amid a crackdown he said is unlikely to end any time soon. A source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, recently told RFA’s Uyghur Service that Abdujelil Hajim, Gheni Haji, Memet Tursun Haji, and Imin Hajim—all successful business owners in Kashgar—were taken into custody in May 2017. The four men, whose last names signify that they have made the Muslim holy pilgrimage to Mecca, were later sentenced to a total of 42 years in prison, the source said.

The 19th Central Committee - MacroPolo good resource

China through a glass, darkly - China Law Translate If you carefully read foreign coverage of Social Credit in China, you may notice that it either outright conflates or blurs the line between Social Credit and a number of private programs- especially Sesame Credit.

2017年,我和习近平握过手--时政--人民网 People's Daily section-"This year, I shook hands with Xi Jinping"

Academics discuss reform of lawyer system - Xinhua Zhang Jun, minister of justice, called for efforts to standardize the lawyer practice and promote innovation in developing the lawyer system, at the opening of the forum attended by nearly 900 academics and lawyers. As a decision by the top legislature to revise the lawyers' law came into effect on Jan. 1, Zhang stressed the reform of the lawyer system by taking the opportunity of the law revision. 第十届中国律师论坛在深圳举行

 

Foreign and Military Affairs

China says will limit oil, refined product exports to N.Korea - Reuters The statement comes after the U.N. Security Council last month unanimously voted in favour of new penalties on North Korea for its recent intercontinental ballistic missile test, seeking to limit its access to refined petroleum products and crude oil. The move by China will be effective on Jan. 6, it said.

CMC regulates to manage military online media - Xinhua China's Central Military Commission (CMC) has issued a management regulation on military online media, which will take effect on February 1. The regulation laid out the basic principles and overall requirements of the management of military online media.  中央军委印发《军队互联网媒体管理规定》

Where China’s top leaders will hide to survive nuclear fallout | South China Morning Post Located under a national park about 20km northwest of the central government’s headquarters in downtown Beijing, the fallout shelter is situated amid a network of caves that has space for a small city and a stable supply of drinking water for a million people, according to the government-funded study. The bunker is part of the Central Military Commission’s Joint Battle Command Centre, which was revealed to the world in 2016 when state media reported that President Xi Jinping, dressed in fatigues, had visited the facility.

Inside the Ring: China plans Pakistan military base at Jiwani - Washington Times China is constructing its second overseas military base in Pakistan as part of a push for greater power projection capabilities along strategic sea routes. The facility will be built at Jiwani, a port close to the Iranian border on the Gulf of Oman, according to two people familiar with deal. Plans call for the Jiwani base to be a joint naval and air facility for Chinese forces, located a short distance up the coast from the Chinese-built commercial port facility at Gwadar, Pakistan. Both Gwadar and Jiwani are part of Pakistan’s western Baluchistan province. Plans for the base were advanced during a visit to Jiwani on Dec. 18 by a group of 16 Chinese People’s Liberation Army officers who met with about 10 Pakistani military officers. Jiwani is located on a peninsula about 15 miles long on a stretch of land with one small airfield.

Xi Jinping's aide holds talks with V K Singh - Outlook India New Delhi, Jan 5 Amid efforts by India and China to improve their ties post-Doklam, a Chinese delegation headed by Meng Xiangfeng, a close confidant of President Xi Jinping and senior communist party leader, held talks with Minister of State for External Affairs V K Singh here today.

doklam: New pattern in Chinese transgressions since Doklam: Experts - The Economic Times The recent Arunachal Pradesh episode is the first instance of transgression along LAC since re-election of President Xi Jinping as general secretary of the Communist Party of China, which put him in the league of Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping. The transgression reportedly occurred when state councillor Yang Jiechi was in Delhi for the 20th round of special representative talks on the boundary issue. "The common pattern in Dokalam and Arunachal Pradesh is assertion on China's perceived core interests — regardless of the region or opponent," said Chinese affairs expert Srikanth Kondapalli.

Chinese intelligence using fake online profiles to poach Swiss knowledge - SWI swissinfo.ch The NZZ newspaper has reported that Chinese intelligence services are systematically trying to extract information from Swiss researchers and decision-makers by initiating contact via LinkedIn. Swiss intelligence has confirmed it is aware of the threat.

军民融合:通向网络强国的中国路径—新闻—科学网 从计算机的发明到互联网的兴起,从半导体的出现到导航定位系统普及,都是首先源于军事需求,再迅速带动产业升级,而后又反哺国防和军事领域。那么,新时代网信领域如何在军民良性互动中实现高质量高效益发展呢? 1月4日,在厦门召开的第十二期钱学森论坛深度研讨会暨首届网信军民融合峰会上,来自党、政、军、企、学的近千名网信领域专家就此展开研讨。大家纷纷表示,在十九大开启的新时代,网信事业成为持久的驱动力量,军民融合提供科学的发展路径,必须充分激发网络强国和军民融合的战略共振效应。

‘Don’t step out of line’: Confidential report reveals how Chinese officials harass activists in Canada | National Post According to a confidential report submitted to the federal government earlier this year — not yet released to the public — it’s just one example of a sweeping intimidation campaign by Chinese officials against activists here in Canada....Targets include Canadian representatives of what the Chinese sometimes call the five “poisons”: the Uyghur Muslim minority, independence-minded Tibetans, Taiwanese, democracy advocates and, especially, the Falun Gong

Chinese peacekeepers in tense stand-off with armed militants in South Sudan | South China Morning Post China’s military has revealed details of a tense stand-off between Chinese peacekeepers and armed militants in South Sudan this week, at the same location where two of its peacekeepers were killed during fighting 18 months ago.

Macron seeks to woo China's Xi with 'horse diplomacy' - Reuters An adept of soft diplomacy and symbols, Macron picked an 8-year old brown gelding named Vesuvius from the presidential cavalry corps and braved stringent Chinese quarantine checks to offer it to President Xi Jinping.

The choice of the gift, an “unprecedented diplomatic gesture” according to the French presidency, was made after the Chinese president expressed his fascination for the 104 horsemen who escorted him during his last visit to Paris in 2014.

With Russia on the Sidelines, China Moves Aggressively into Ukraine - Atlantic Council Many of China’s projects are related to guaranteeing food exports—port modernizations, dockside silos, highways, a new bridge over the Dnipro, and an offer to build railroad locomotives in Ukraine. The dredging and deepening of Yuzhny port is part of a larger $150 million, Cargill-Ukrainian project which will increase Ukraine’s grain export capacity by 15 percent.

解放军报发表解辛平文章:新时代的胜战号角 - 中国军网 新时代的地平线上,人民军队吹响新的号角,开始新的出发。在习主席率领下,我们正迎来全面加强实战化军事训练、全面提高打赢能力的春天。请关注今日出版的《解放军报》发表的解辛平文章——

 

Hong Kong, Macao

Outgoing HKU chief says Beijing officials meet him ‘all the time’ and wishes higher education ‘wasn’t so politicised’ | South China Morning Post In a frank, wide-ranging interview with the South China Morning Post, Professor Peter Mathieson also revealed his premature departure was prompted in part by Professor Arthur Li Kwok-cheung, a pro-establishment politician who also chairs HKU’s governing body.

 

Tech And Media

Baidu back in the dock accused of illegally obtaining user data · TechNode The alleged Baidu breach came from two mobile apps: the browser and the standalone search app. Without prior consent from users, the smartphone apps collected data on users’ contacts, location, messages and also modified system settings, according to the consumer council.

China names Microsoft executive as first ‘high-end’ foreigner | South China Morning Post Saju George, the company’s human resources director for Greater Asia, Middle East and Africa, was presented with his certificate – which qualifies him to apply for a 10-year multiple-entry visa – on Tuesday, China’s Communist Party mouthpiece People’s Daily said on its website.

China sees record tech funding in 2017 - Tech in Asia China’s startups and tech giants pulled in a record US$58.8 billion from investors in 2017, according to the Tech in Asia database

Xiaomi's IPO rumored to bring its valuation to $200 billion · TechNode Sources close to Xiaomi’s senior executives are claiming that Xiaomi has decided to set its IPO for the second part of 2018 with the exact month still unknown, according to Pheonix News (in Chinese). The company is due to be listed in Hong Kong, sources said. Xiaomi’s founder Lei Jun expects the valuation will reach a whopping $200 billion and the target has been approved by an investment bank, the report states.

12 Chinese dating apps shut after ‘sexy girl’ chats found to be run by robots | South China Morning Post The department of public security in southern Guangdong province was quoted as saying that the cases involved hundreds of thousands of customers and the fraud amounted to more than 1 billion yuan (US$154 million). More than 600 suspects have been arrested.

Toutiao moves into payments with purchase of payment agency Ulpay · TechNode Toutiao has quietly acquired its own online payment license meaning that China’s most popular news aggregation app may go after a chunk of the mobile payment market shared by WeChat Pay and Alipay. The company has bought a 100% stake in Ulpay (合众支付), an online payment agency based in China’s Hubei province, according to 36Kr (in Chinese).

 

Society, Art, Sports, Culture And History

Facial recognition used in marriage registration in Chongqing - Xinhua The facial recognition technology can not only shorten the examination time, but also improve its accuracy. The facial recognition system can quickly take a photo and compare the face with information from other documents and the database of the public security bureau. The quickest time to complete an examination is just 0.3 second. Normally, it takes around 10 minutes to check people's documents. 

'The Biggest Taboo': An Interview with Qiu Zhijie | by Ian Johnson | NYR Daily | The New York Review of Books Unlike prototypical dissident-artists such as Ai Weiwei, who have shunned China’s art establishment and work mainly abroad, Qiu is now firmly part of the Chinese art establishment. He teaches at the Central Academy of Fine Arts, the most influential art school in China, as head of the Department of Experimental Art, and curated the Chinese pavilion at last year’s Venice Biennale. Last month, I met Qiu at his studio in the eastern suburbs of Beijing, where we talked about the challenges of maintaining artistic integrity inside the system, censorship, how he lectures on Communist Party ideology, and the Party’s transformation to a party of nationalism.

China bans champion speed skater for two years after positive drug test | South China Morning Post Xiaoxuan Shi tested positive for the banned substance clenbuterol on December 14, the governing body says in a release posted on China’s General Administration of Sports

China’s patriotic hip-hop quickly gains steam as rappers repent past deviations - Global Times When PG One made that comment, he was the winner of video platform iQiyi's hit talent show The Rap of China. Starting last summer, he began receiving tremendous attention across the country along with numerous gig offers. This all quickly changed a couple of days before New Year's Eve, when netizens found his lyrics included lines such as "pure white powder in a line" and "a shameless bitch, with restless hands." Then came a storm of condemnation from government institutions and the media via Weibo. They each said PG One "doesn't deserve the stage" and "should be forced out." PG One apologized and said all his songs were taken offline for further review. "I was deeply influenced by Black music in the early days when I was exposed to hip-hop culture, and I didn't have a correct understanding of core values of hip-hop culture," the singer said on his twitter-like Sina Weibo account, adding that hip-hop should be about peace and love. Furthermore, a discussion on whether Chinese hip-hop should be restrained ensued on social media. "It is more important to think about how hip-hop culture should be guided than to criticize individual singers," the People's Daily wrote last Saturday.

 

Energy, Environment, Science And Health

WeChat Launches Electronic Social Insurance Card Services - Marbridge Consulting Chinese internet conglomerate Tencent's (0700.HK) Internet+ partnerships division recently launched an electronic social insurance card that offers functions for social insurance queries, social insurance contributions, and viewing local online medical insurance services. The electronic insurance card will also accelerate the introduction of WeChat's medical insurance payment services, which allow users to access Internet+ medical services such as signing in electronically to avoid lines at clinic visits and one-click functions for co-payments and medical insurance payments. Currently, WeChat's medical insurance payments function is connected to human resources and social insurance departments in 27 provinces and cities including Shenzhen, Chengdu, and Zhengzhou.

‘King of Explosives’ who extended firing range of China’s artillery wins top science award | South China Morning Post Wang was a joint recipient of this year’s prestigious science award, and was joined on stage on Monday by Hou Yunde, a virologist and member of the Chinese Academy of Engineering. Now 88, Hou spent most of his career as a researcher at the National Institute of Viral Disease Control and Prevention under the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CCDC). Wang was a joint recipient of this year’s prestigious science award, and was joined on stage on Monday by Hou Yunde, a virologist and member of the Chinese Academy of Engineering. Now 88, Hou spent most of his career as a researcher at the National Institute of Viral Disease Control and Prevention under the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CCDC).

中共中央国务院隆重举行国家科学技术奖励大会 习近平出席大会并为最高奖获得者等颁奖--时政--人民网 上午10时,大会在雄壮的国歌声中开始。在热烈的掌声中,中共中央总书记、国家主席、中央军委主席习近平首先向获得2017年度国家最高科学技术奖的南京理工大学王泽山院士和中国疾病预防控制中心病毒病预防控制所侯云德院士颁发奖励证书,并同他们热情握手,表示祝贺。随后,习近平等党和国家领导人向获得国家自然科学奖、国家技术发明奖、国家科学技术进步奖和中华人民共和国国际科学技术合作奖的代表颁奖。

Bureaucracy Short-Circuits Distributed-Power Trading Plan - Caixin Global China’s central government has pushed back the deadline for regional governments to submit their respective plans for Beijing’s pilot distributed-power trading program after months of slow progress. The National Development and Reform Commission and the National Energy Administration issued a joint statement last week that called on provincial-level areas to submit their plans for the pilot program, which is aimed at increasing the use of solar and wind power, by March 31 — three months later than the previous submission deadline.

China to appoint ‘lake chiefs’ to control pollution - Xinhua A four-tier system of lake chiefs comprising provincial, city, county and township chiefs will be established by the end of 2018 to cover all lakes, according to a document released on Jan 4 by the general offices of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and the State Council.

 

Food And Travel

China slashes number of baby formula brands in quality drive - FT $$ China has slashed the number of permitted milk powder products by 1,400, to boost the market share of the bigger domestic brands damaged by a safety scandal a decade ago, which led overseas companies to dominate the $20bn market.

Chronic Delays Clip Wings of Chinese Airlines - Caixin Global A new ranking confirmed what many flyers in China already knew, with the nation’s big three carriers taking the bottom three spots among the top 20 global airlines last year. Beijing-based Air China was at the bottom of the pack with an on-time rating of just 60%. Shanghai-based China Eastern Airlines wasn’t much higher at 62%. China Southern Airlines, based in the southern metropolis of Guangzhou, was at the top of the local pack with a hardly-stellar rating of 64%.

Air travel in China is about to get more expensive - CNN The country's aviation regulator is lifting a cap on how much government-owned carriers are allowed to charge passengers on domestic Chinese routes. If a route is served by at least five carriers, the state-run airlines can now hike prices by as much as 10% a year.