Xi signals tighter information controls; Xi going to Europe; Xinjiang white paper

Aloha! As I mentioned earlier I am in Hawaii for a couple of weeks and so the timing of the newsletters may be a little off from normal but I will be still be writing them, though some days, like today, they may be shorter than usual.

Some of the things on my radar this issue:

  • Xi Jinping will pay state visits to Italy, Monaco and France from March 21 to 26;

  • Xi is ramping up ideological controls even more, the latest examples being a symposium he convened in Beijing for teachers of ideological and political theory and the publication in the latest issue of Qiushi of some of his comments on integrated media development at the January 25 Politburo study session field trip to People’s Daily;

  • The South China Morning Post reports that the Trump-Xi summit to close the trade talks may not happen until June;

  • The State Council issued a white paper on Xinjiang defending its policies;

  • In an article on the flagging US efforts to convince allies to block Huawei from their 5G networks the New York Times says there is talk again of “restricting American companies from supplying Huawei with key components that it needs to build 5G networks across the world.”

Thanks for reading.


The Essential Eight

1. Xi on integrated media development

“As I have said many times, without Internet security there is no national security 我多次说过,没有网络安全就没有国家安全” - Xi Jinping in Qiushi

It is clear from this new Qiushi article that Xi is still not happy with propaganda work and information controls, that restrictions in this area will tighten even more, and that China will intensify its overseas propaganda work efforts.

Xi also makes clear the Party is ramping up AI work in its propaganda and information control efforts.

Xi's article on accelerating integrated media development to be published - Xinhua:

An article by President Xi Jinping on promoting integrated media development will be carried by the sixth issue of the Qiushi Journal this year, to be published Saturday. 

Xi, also general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission, stressed in the article that promoting integrated media development and building all-media have become an urgent subject. 

The achievements of the information revolution should be utilized to promote integrated media development and help mainstream public opinion grow bigger and become stronger, Xi wrote in the article. 

The integrated development of the media should be accelerated to make the penetration, guidance, influence, and credibility of the mainstream media powerful. 

The article underscored the need to build new types of mainstream media with strong influence and competitiveness. 

The article called for the exploration of using artificial intelligence in news gathering, generation, distribution, receiving and feedback, so as to comprehensively improve the ability to guide public opinion. 

The article also asked the mainstream media to provide more authentic and objective information with clear viewpoints in a timely manner

加快推动媒体融合发展 构建全媒体传播格局 - 求是网

我多次说过,没有网络安全就没有国家安全;过不了互联网这一关,就过不了长期执政这一关。全媒体不断发展,出现了全程媒体、全息媒体、全员媒体、全效媒体,信息无处不在、无所不及、无人不用,导致舆论生态、媒体格局、传播方式发生深刻变化,新闻舆论工作面临新的挑战。... 

我多次说过,人在哪儿,宣传思想工作的重点就在哪儿,网络空间已经成为人们生产生活的新空间,那就也应该成为我们党凝聚共识的新空间。移动互联网已经成为信息传播主渠道。随着5G、大数据、云计算、物联网、人工智能等技术不断发展,移动媒体将进入加速发展新阶段。要坚持移动优先策略,建设好自己的移动传播平台,管好用好商业化、社会化的互联网平台,让主流媒体借助移动传播,牢牢占据舆论引导、思想引领、文化传承、服务人民的传播制高点。 

从全球范围看,媒体智能化进入快速发展阶段。我们要增强紧迫感和使命感,推动关键核心技术自主创新不断实现突破,探索将人工智能运用在新闻采集、生产、分发、接收、反馈中,用主流价值导向驾驭“算法”,全面提高舆论引导能力。.. 

我们要把握国际传播领域移动化、社交化、可视化的趋势,在构建对外传播话语体系上下功夫,在乐于接受和易于理解上下功夫,让更多国外受众听得懂、听得进、听得明白,不断提升对外传播效果。 

现在,国际上理性客观看待中国的人越来越多,为中国点赞的人也越来越多。我们走的是正路、行的是大道,这是主流媒体的历史机遇,必须增强底气、鼓起士气,坚持不懈讲好中国故事,形成同我国综合国力相适应的国际话语权。 

Here is a Sogou translation (rough, hope someone will translate this article in full, but this should give you an idea) of Accelerating the Development of Media Convergence and Constructing the Pattern of All-media Communication

Why China Silenced a Clickbait Queen in Its Battle for Information Control - The New York Times:

She was known as China’s clickbait queen, an irreverent blogger who prescribed shopping to combat sadness (“better than sex, orgasms, strawberry cake”) and makeovers to win back cheating husbands (“men are visual animals”). 

But late last month, Ma Ling, a blogger who commanded an audience of more than 16 million people, went conspicuously silent. 

In the battle for control of the Chinese internet, the authorities had designated Ms. Ma a threat to social stability.. 

Xi is pushing to tame one of the most vibrant corners of the Chinese internet: the more than one million self-help gurus, novelists, sportswriters and other independent writers who make up the so-called “self-media

The Autocrat’s New Tool Kit - WSJ $$:

As dystopian and repressive as these efforts sound, just wait. They may soon look like the quaint tactics of yesteryear. A sophisticated new set of technological tools—some of them now maturing, others poised to emerge over the coming decade—seem destined to wind up in the hands of autocrats around the world. They will allow strongmen and police states to bolster their internal grip, undermine basic rights and spread illiberal practices beyond their own borders. China and Russia are poised to take advantage of this new suite of products and capabilities, but they will soon be available for export, so that even second-tier tyrannies will be able to better monitor and mislead their populations. 

Many of these advances will give autocrats new ways to spread propaganda, both internally and externally... 

In an October 2018 discussion at the Council on Foreign Relations, Jason Matheny, the former director of the U.S. government’s Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity, cited this kind of “industrialization of propaganda” as one reason to beware of the “exuberance in China and Russia towards AI


2. US government not happy with Google’s China work

Google Is 'Helping' China's People's Liberation Army Says U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs | The National Interest:

Google is helping China's People's Liberation Army, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff has told Congress on Thursday. 

"The work that Google is doing in China is indirectly benefitting the Chinese military," Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford told the Senate Armed Services Committee. 

"Frankly, 'indirect' may be not be a full characterization of the way it really is," Dunford continued. "It's more of a direct benefit to the Chinese military." 

Google denies working with the Chinese military after Trump criticism - NBC News:

"We are not working with the Chinese military. We are working with the U.S. government, including the Department of Defense, in many areas including cybersecurity, recruiting and healthcare,” a spokesperson said.

Comment: President Trump repeated the allegation:

Google’s AI head Jeff Dean being an advisor the computer science advisory committee of Tsinghua seems quite problematic. See this article about a speech by Tsinghua Vice President on Tsinghua's Approach to Military-Civil Fusion in Artificial Intelligence

In accordance with central requirements, Tsinghua University will closely integrate the national strategy of military-civilian integration and the AI superpower strategy. Tsinghua University was entrusted by the CMC Science and Technology Commission to take responsibility to construct the High-End Laboratory for Military Intelligence (军事智能高端实验室). With regard to basic theories and core technologies, military intelligence and general AI possess commonalities. Therefore, Tsinghua University regards the construction of the High-End Laboratory for Military Intelligence as the core starting point for serving the AI superpower strategy

Inside the U.S. and China's Incoming Artificial Intelligence Cold War - Pacific Standard - Anne Marie Slaughter:

Amy Webb's new book, The Big Nine: How the Tech Titans and Their Thinking Machines Could Warp Humanity, focuses on the ways in which A.I. is integrated with China's geopolitical goals. "China's AI push," she argues, "is part of a coordinated attempt to create a new world order led by President Xi." U.S. A.I., on the other hand, is primarily driven by "market forces and consumerism," a dichotomy that "is a serious blind spot for us all."

I have a hard time with the argument that AI collaboration with key Chinese institutions is just for benign research purposes, and is not going to be used by the Party to strengthen its control and by the PLA to further its progress in the coming revolution in military affairs, because that is clearly what the Party sees as key outcomes in its efforts to build up China’s AI capabilities and applications.


3. Xinjiang

China says 13,000 Xinjiang 'terrorists' arrested since 2014 -AP:

China has arrested nearly 13,000 people it describes as terrorists and has broken up hundreds of “terrorist gangs” in Xinjiang since 2014, the government said in a report Monday issued to counter criticism of internment camps and other oppressive security in the traditionally Islamic region

Xinhua Headlines: Preventive approach: China's effective means to combat terrorism:

Based on experience learned from the international community, China has been active in implementing the resolution of the United Nations General Assembly concerning the United Nations Global Counter-Terrorism Strategy (60/288), and has been working hard to wipe out the conditions conducive to the spread of terrorism and to prevent and combat terrorism. 

"Education and training centers have been established with the goal of educating and rehabilitating people guilty of minor crimes or law-breaking and eradicating the influence of terrorism and extremism, in order to prevent them from falling victim to terrorism and extremism, and to nip terrorist activities in the bud," said the white paper, titled "The Fight Against Terrorism and Extremism and Human Rights Protection in Xinjiang."

The Xinjiang White Paper in Chinese - 新疆的反恐、去极端化斗争与人权保障-新华网 

Full text: The Fight Against Terrorism and Extremism and Human Rights Protection in Xinjiang - Xinhua

China’s assault on human rights is the one thing bringing Washington together - The Washington Post:

When releasing the State Department’s annual human rights reports Wednesday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said China “is in a league of its own when it comes to human rights violations.” Ambassador Michael Kozak, who heads the bureau that drafted the reports, compared China’s internment of possibly more than 2 million people in Xinjiang province to Nazi concentration camps. 

“You haven’t seen things like this since the 1930s,” he said. The Chinese government “is trying to basically erase [Muslim minorities’] culture and their religion and so on from their DNA. It’s just remarkably awful.”

People's Daily has posted a series of videos of "reformed" Uighurs to Youtube. I wonder how Google feels about helping China promote Uighur ethnicide globally? - Embracing a New Life - YouTube  

Dilemma for Widodo as China casts shadow on Indonesia polls | Financial Times $$:

He has named an ageing hardline Muslim cleric as his running mate, played up his religious devotion and heavily criticised Myanmar’s treatment of minority Rohingya Muslims. 

But there is one topic in the Islamic world that remains taboo — China’s incarceration of an estimated 1m Muslims in the western territory of Xinjiang. 

In an interview with the Financial Times, the president, popularly known as Jokowi, rebuffed several questions on the restive Chinese region, claiming he had no knowledge of the situation there and was unable to comment

Sweden now grants refugee status to all Uyghurs from Xinjiang – InBeijing:

the Migration Board on January 25 came to the decision that ”asylum seekers from China who is muslim and Uyghur, or belonging to any other Turkic minority group, with past residence in the Xinjiang province” are now to view as a refugee.

This due to the risk that any applicant that fits the above description would be placed in what the Migration Board calls ”reeducation camp”, or subjected to other kinds of repression. The decision also notes that muslims or members of Turkic minorities in China whose past residence was not in the Xinjiang region ”runs a slightly lower but not negligible risk” to be subjected to the same treatment


4. Xi wants better ideological and political education

Xi stresses ideological and political education in schools - Xinhua:

Chinese President Xi Jinping on Monday stressed efforts to implement the Party's education policy and foster virtue through education with the thought on socialism with Chinese characteristics for a new era. 

Xi, also general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission, made the remarks when presiding over a symposium in Beijing for teachers of ideological and political theory. 

The CCTV Evening News report - 习近平主持召开学校思想政治理论课教师座谈会强调 用新时代中国特色社会主义思想铸魂育人 贯彻党的教育方针落实立德树人根本任务 

Wang Huning is mentioned as the other PBSC member who attended 

The second CCTV Evening News report was on attendees reactions and was titled "Casting Souls and Educating People, Taking on the Great Responsibility of National Rejuvenation" 铸魂育人 培养担当民族复兴大任的时代新人 


5. US-China trade

Trump-Xi meeting to end trade war may be pushed back to June, sources say | South China Morning Post:

It had initially been hoped that they would be able to reach a deal more quickly, but one source who has been briefed on the arrangement told the South China Morning Post that a meeting in April was less likely, while another said the summit could be held in June

Trade Fight With China Enters Overtime, With Tariffs a Costly Sticking Point - The New York Times

On Friday, a report commissioned by the nation’s biggest business lobbying group showed that the Trump administration’s tariffs are actually damaging an industry the levies were intended to protect. The report [PDF], by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Rhodium Group, a research firm, said that Mr. Trump’s tariffs on $250 billion worth of Chinese goods were eroding the competitiveness of the America information technology sector — including companies that manufacture computers, electronics and telecom equipment, as well as provide services like cloud computing, computer-aided design and customer relations


6. Huawei

U.S. Campaign to Ban Huawei Overseas Stumbles as Allies Resist - The New York Times:

The decisions are a blow to the Trump administration’s efforts to rein in Beijing’s economic and technological ambitions and to stop China from playing a central role in the next iteration of the internet. 

American government officials are now looking for other ways to curb Huawei’s global rise without the cooperation of overseas allies, including possibly restricting American companies from supplying Huawei with key components that it needs to build 5G networks across the world

China rejects 'abnormal' U.S. spying concerns as EU pushes trade | Reuters:

“What we oppose are groundless accusations for political purposes and attempts to bring down a foreign company,” Wang told a news conference, although he did not name Huawei, which is seeking to sell the next generation of mobile technology in Europe, its top market outside China. 

“We think such practices are abnormal, immoral and have no support,” he said after a meeting with EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini and hours before a lunch with EU foreign ministers in Brussels

The Zhong Lun Declaration on the Obligations of Huawei and Other Chinese Companies under Chinese Law by Donald C. Clarke :: SSRN:

This memorandum analyzes a declaration submitted to the Federal Communications Commission in May 2018 by two attorneys from the Zhong Lun law firm in China. The declaration supports Huawei's position that it cannot be compelled under Chinese law to tamper with telecommunications equipment it manufactures or sell to install backdoors, eavesdropping facilities, or other spyware. The memorandum finds the declaration to be incomplete, in that it does not address the key question of the extent to which the Chinese government is constrained by Chinese law. It also finds that the declaration makes some questionable assertions about Chinese law


7. Xi to Europe

As Xi heads to Italy, Vatican says China should not fear Church | Reuters: 

Senior Vatican sources have said Francis is willing to meet Xi and that intermediaries had made overtures to the Vatican, but the Chinese side had not yet formally asked for a meeting. Any encounter would be the first between a Chinese leader and a pope. 

Xi’s visit, starting Thursday, is his first to Italy following a historic agreement in September between the Vatican and the Chinese government on the appointment of bishops in China

The Sinophile driving Italy’s hopes of a New Silk Road deal with China | South China Morning Post:

Michele Geraci, the undersecretary of state for economic development in Italy’s populist coalition government, has been tasked by Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte to reach a memorandum of understanding with Beijing – for Italy to take part in the “Belt and Road Initiative” – during Xi’s March 22-24 visit. 

Geraci, 53, has been helping to plan Xi’s trip, part of which will cover the Sicilian port city of Palermo, Geraci’s birthplace, the minister told Italian newspaper La Stampa last week... 

“I would like to convince President Xi that it is worth investing in Sicily,” said Geraci, who speaks Chinese fluently and spent the last decade in China as a part-time professor in the eastern coastal province of Zhejiang and in neighbouring Shanghai

Sieren′s China: A divided EU | DW:

Italy is not the first EU state to show an interest in China's new Belt and Road Initiative. Portugal, Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Greece, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Hungary, Malta and the three Baltic states have already signed investment treaties with Beijing. But Italy, as the fourth-largest economy in the EU and the eighth in the world, is of a different caliber


8. More on the Chinese Massage Mogul

She Extols Trump, Guns and the Chinese Communist Party Line - The New York Times

A photo of Cindy Yang with the president at Mar-a-Lago in Florida last year. Ms. Yang, a Trump donor, once owned a massage parlor where the New England Patriots owner was recently arrested in a prostitution sting... 

The invitation limited campaign contributions to $5,400 per person, so Ms. Yang, a Chinese immigrant who had set up a string of day spas in Florida and was active in groups backed by the Chinese government and Communist Party, needed others to chip in. 

Over the weeks leading up to the event, at least nine people in Ms. Yang’s orbit, some of them with modest incomes, made donations at exactly $5,400. She ended up at the dinner... 

Asked if Ms. Yang had reimbursed her for the $5,400, Ms. Peranio said, “I do not want to answer that question.” Reimbursing someone for a political contribution or contributing in the name of another person is illegal... 

Ms. Yang also joined the Florida branch of the China Association for Science and Technology, a nongovernmental organization affiliated with China’s Ministry of Science and Technology, according to James Mulvenon, an expert on China’s intelligence capabilities. 

“It is an organization explicitly designed to facilitate cooperation with the Chinese government,” Mr. Mulvenon said

Cindy Yang brought Chinese ex-pat leader to Republican events | Miami Herald

South Florida day spa entrepreneur Li “Cindy” Yang — now famous for her Super Bowl party selfie with the president — used her burgeoning political access to bring Xianqin Qu, a leader from the foreign arm of the Communist Party of China, to an event where she met top Republicans and members of the Trump administration, including Kellyanne Conway, counselor to President Donald Trump. 

Qu is the president of the Florida Chapter of the Council for the Promotion of Peaceful Unification — a group ”directly subordinate” to the Communist Party of China, according to a 2018 U.S. government report. The group’s stated purpose is to push for reunification of China and Taiwan, although in recent years members in chapters around the world actively promoted a wide range of policies in harmony with Beijing’s agenda abroad.

Actually it is the “Essential Nine” today…

9. Cadre selection rules

CPC Central Committee issues regulation on selection of officials - Xinhua:

The Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee has released a revised regulation on the selection and appointment of Party and government officials, according to a CPC Central Committee circular. 

Calling it an important intra-Party regulation, the regulation underlined the need to uphold and strengthen overall Party leadership, adhere to putting political standards first, and absorb the achievements made on selection and appointment of officials since the 18th CPC National Congress in 2012. 

The regulation, which was revised to respond to new problems under new circumstances, is of great significance to foster a contingent of competent and professional officials who were loyal to the Party, had moral integrity, and demonstrated a keen sense of responsibility, according to the circular 中共中央印发《党政领导干部选拔任用工作条例》