Xi's Bookshelf; Dialogue and Buttons; No Ma-Ant Financial Deal For Moneygram Is Dead; Water Politics; "Zen-generation" Driving Communist Cadres To Distraction

Happy Wednesday from frigid DC. As expected there has been a flurry of analyses of Xi's bookshelf, and some of the interesting findings are discussed below.

The RMB hit a 20 month high Wednesday. I have no clue where it goes next but clearly the capital controls have worked and a weak US dollar is helping. Will sentiment towards the RMB shift enough to relieve outflow pressures, or would there be another rush for the exits if Beijing relaxed some of the rules again? 

Thanks for reading.

The Essential Eight

1. Crowdsourced Analysis Of Xi's Bookshelf

Comment: Who needs Pekingologists when you have Chinese netizens…

What’s new on Xi Jinping’s bookshelf this year – Shanghaiist – Medium:

He is reading texts on understanding AI, AR, algorithms, and machine learning, including The Master Algorithm by Pedro Domingos and Augmented by Brett King.

His economics reading includes textbooks on ecological economics, Rostow’s stages of economic growth, Money Changes Everything by William N Goetzmann, and The Grey Rhino by Michele Wucker. As always, Xi’s bookshelves also displayed plenty of new photos of himself fighting poverty, caring for the masses, leading the troops, etc.

China Daily has published an analysis of the photos on display in the office he used for the New Year's greeting. Is it noteworthy that there are no football-related pictures this year?--Why do the 9 new photos appear on Xi's bookshelves(1/18) - China Daily Slideshow:


This picture of Xi at the Zhurihe base for the PLA 90th anniversary event is surrounded by Lao She's Collected Works and de Tocqueville's "Democracy In America".

"The Master Algorithm" and "Augmented": The two books helping China's Xi Jinping understand AI — Quartz:

Xi rearranged two defining titles on Marxism—The Communist Manifesto and Das Kapital—within easy reach of his desk. He also expanded his collections of Western literature substantially to include titles like Homer’s The Odyssey and Ernest Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea. And there are some new texts about military and economics on his bookcase.

The more surprising discovery is that at least two books on understanding artificial intelligence (AI) were also spotted for the first time on Xi’s bookshelf. They are Pedro Domingos’s The Master Algorithm, and Brett King’s Augmented: Life in the Smart Lane.

Question: Has he really read all these books?

2. South Korea And North Korea Agree To Reopen A Channel Of Communication While President Trump Declares His Button Is Bigger Than Kim's

North Korea Reopens Border Hotline With South - The New York Times:

On Tuesday, South Korea’s president, Moon Jae-in, who has called for dialogue with the North since his inauguration in May, quickly embraced Mr. Kim’s offer of talks. His government proposed that high-level negotiators from both Koreas meet at Panmunjom next Tuesday to discuss the North’s Olympic participation.

Trump Tweets His ‘Nuclear Button’ Is ‘Much Bigger’ Than Kim Jong-un’s - The New York Times:

“North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un just stated that the ‘Nuclear Button is on his desk at all times,’” Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter. “Will someone from his depleted and food starved regime please inform him that I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger & more powerful one than his, and my Button works!”

Comment: Does Xi just shake his head when he gets briefed on some of Trump's more ridiculous Twitterea?

America's UN ambassador dismisses proposed North-South Korea talks | The Guardian:

The White House and the state department denied that – in offering to send a delegation to South Korea for the Winter Olympics in February – the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un had succeeding in driving a wedge between South Korea and the US.

But there was a clear gap between Haley’s remarks and the willingness of the Seoul government expressed earlier on Tuesday to hold talks with the North “at any time and place, and in any form”.

Kang, Tillerson reaffirm commitment to ironclad coordination in peacefully resolving NK issue - Yonhap:

Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha and her U.S. counterpart Rex Tillerson held a phone conversation earlier in the day to discuss recent developments related to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's New Year speech, according to the ministry.

China rejects ‘fake news’ of secret plan to boost aid to North Korea | South China Morning Post:

Foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang called the report by Washington Free Beacon “fake news” during a daily press briefing on Wednesday. “Anyone with common sense can see that the document [cited in the report] is fake,” Geng said.

Comment: Lots of discussion about this document on listservs and Twittter, even more skepticism than yesterday about its authenticity. If it is fake, who fed it to Bill Gertz and why?

3. No Ma-Ant Financial Kills MoneyGram Deal After Failing To Get Approval

Comment: Could a US firm buy a PRC payments firm? If not, Beijing has nothing to complain about. Reciprocity is likely to become one of the top US-China words in 2018.

China's Ant Financial Drops Plan to Merge With MoneyGram - Bloomberg

Ant Financial Services Group abandoned its plan to merge with MoneyGram International Inc. after the companies failed to win approval from the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S., a national-security panel that has become more active in blocking Chinese investments in American companies.

4. PRC Impact On US Bond Market Exaggerated? 

Brad Setser breaks down the numbers. Is this one less thing to worry about in the event of a real US-China trade dispute?

China’s Impact on the U.S. Bond Market Gets Too Much Attention. And Europe's Too Little | Council on Foreign Relations:

…it is clear that by far the biggest source of demand for U.S. fixed income assets these days is coming from the eurozone, not China. Europe has a bigger current account surplus than China, and the ECB’s QE and low rates have reduced eurozone bond yields below U.S. yields and created an incentive for fixed income investors to move their funds out of the eurozone.

5. "Zen-generation" Driving Communist Cadres To Distraction?

Apathetic to politics and career, China’s Zen-generation draw censure from Communist Youth League - Global Times:

Referring to the Zen-like attitude of the Buddha, Zen-generation, a newly coined neologism has become a trendy phenomenon among Chinese youth

They are not inspired by any patriotic drive or the Party's political catchphrases. They are simply indifferent.

Experts warn that this mass lack of motivation could possible hold back Chinese society from forward progress

China Communist Youth League is spreading positive energy targeting this negative attitude

Does positive energy bring enlightenment?

6. Former Obama Officials Discuss The Trump National Security Strategy

Was pre-Trump U.S. policy towards China based on “false” premises? - Jeff Bader & Ryan Hass:

Virtually no senior officials in the Trump administration worked on U.S. relations with China during the period the NSS describes or before, so they do not know from first-hand experience what engagement has achieved. The brief review of accomplishments in the U.S.-PRC relationship that follows contradicts the NSS’s assessment, and suggests the need for considerable caution about the NSS’s vague prescription for what is now needed...

At no point has U.S. policy toward China been based on some gauzy conception of a “benign” China that would sacrifice its interest for ours, adopt a political system modeled on Western values, or cease to be a difficult competitor. Policymakers have understood that the U.S.-China relationship would be a mixture of cooperation and competition, with the hope of maximizing the former and managing the latter so that it did not escalate into conflict. This realistic appraisal was a consistent underpinning of U.S. policy during the 1990s and early 2000s when Trump’s NSS asserts that naiveté guided American expectations.

Comment: I had an interesting conversation in 2015 with someone who had worked for President Clinton and had a senior role in Hillary Clinton’s campaign. This person recounted stories from their days in the Clinton White House, and specifically the Most-favored Nation battles. This person’s point was that the argument they were making, that engagement with China would better integrate the country into the global system and lead to some liberalization, turned out to be wrong. It was an interesting insight into how the Clinton campaign viewed China, and if she were President the US-China relationship might even be more tense than it is now.

7. "Governing The Country According To Law"--Hong Kong Gets Another Lesson From Beijing About "Rule of Law"

Human rights lawyer ‘shocked’ by Hong Kong leader’s dismissal of legal community’s concerns on joint checkpoint plan | South China Morning Post:

Prominent human rights lawyer Philip Dykes says he is “shocked and disappointed” by the Hong Kong leader’s dismissal of concerns raised by the local legal community over a contentious joint checkpoint plan for the city’s cross-border rail link, saying she should address the issue instead of attacking her opponents’ character.

Martin Lee says no part of Hong Kong can be exempted from Basic Law - The Standard:

A former member of the Basic Law drafting committee said today Article 18 applies to the entire city and the decision to set up a joint immigration checkpoint at West Kowloon has "clearly breached" this, RTHK reported.

In an interview with the public broadcaster, Martin Lee Chu-ming, the veteran democrat, said the article – which states that national laws shall not be applied here – is effective to the entire Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and no part can be exempted from this.

8. China Controls Much of Southeast Asia's Water

Comment: And Beijing will use that leverage, as they will with India.

Is Mekong River set to become the new South China Sea for regional disputes? | South China Morning Post:

Foreign ministers from the six countries through which the Mekong flows met in southwestern China last month to approve a draft of a five-year development plan for the river. But as state leaders prepare to finalise the proposal at a meeting in Cambodia later this month, environmental groups have expressed concern over what it could mean for Southeast Asia’s longest waterway...

Speaking at the end of the latest Lancang-Mekong Cooperation meeting in Dali, Yunnan province, China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi said that the Beijing-led body had the potential to boost economic development in all six Mekong nations, and that China had made provision to help finance dozens of projects along its route....

Beijing established the LMC in 2015. It was seen by many as a rival organisation to the long-standing Mekong River Commission, which has been around in various guises for more than 60 years. Its members are the same as those of the LMC, except for China and Myanmar.

Business, Economy, Finance And Trade

Is Red Tape Holding Back China’s Rust Belt? - Caixin Global A tirade against bureaucracy posted to social media by the operator of a famous ski resort has renewed discussion about the allegedly “hostile” business environment in China’s economically struggling northeast. Mao Zhenhua, president of China Chengxin International Credit Rating Co., attacked the administration of the area where the popular Yabuli Ski and Tourism Resort is located in Heilongjiang province, saying his company has gone through “a dark period” due to local government harassment.

毛振华为何控诉?其度假村人员近期持续被警方传唤_区域_宏观频道首页_财经网 - CAIJING.COM.CN 针对毛振华控诉在亚布力投资“被欺负被愚弄”的视频一事,一位知情人士向新京报记者表示,热传的视频拍摄于2017年12月31日,拍摄地点为亚布力阳光度假村滑雪场。“最近度假村管理人员持续受到度假区公安局的传唤,公司内部人心惶惶,很多高管提出辞职。” // Comment: The next three items are about Mao and his allegations

东北经济学家王玉霞:对毛振华的遭遇很愤怒 善待企业家东北才有未来 东北振兴一直是热门话题,“投资不过山海关”更是社会对东北营商环境的第一印象。经济观察网记者就毛振华事件以及背后的东北振兴话题,采访了东北财经大学经济学院教授——生在东北、长在东北,对东北振兴持续关注多年的经济学家王玉霞。 王玉霞告诉经济观察网记者,毛振华事件如果属实,就是典型的地方政府乱作为,是对民营企业家极大的财产性侵害、使用权剥夺,长此以往,东北就会没有法制和招商引资的可能了。这件事对东北的未来,对东北市场经济的发展,对东北未来的招商引资,是非常非常重要的,怎么说都不为过。希望黑龙江政府能够妥善处理,给民营企业家一个公平。

毛振华控诉的亚布力管委会:正接受调查,曾建议强化政府行为_财经上下游_澎湃新闻-The Paper 1月2日上午,一段中诚信集团董事长、中国人民大学经济研究所所长毛振华“控诉”黑龙江省亚布力滑雪旅游度假区管理委员会的视频在微博和朋友圈广为流传。毛振华在视频中称被亚布力管委会“欺负、愚弄”,并指责该管委会政企不分,非法侵占其23万平方米土地用于招商。 澎湃新闻(www.thepaper.cn)从中诚信集团内部了解到,该视频拍摄于2017年12月31日。1月2日晚间,毛振华在视频中所指的长期遭受刁难和不公的旗下公司——亚布力阳光度假村相关负责人回应澎湃新闻(www.thepaper.cn)称,该公司正在配合黑龙江省有关方面对此事展开的调查。

China Railway Corp. Slows Spending on Rail Projects - Caixin Global China’s railway operator is putting the brakes on rail investment for 2018, setting a target that’s 8.5% less than the 800 billion yuan ($122.9 billion) benchmark it had used since 2014. China Railway Corp. (CRC) will invest up to 732 billion yuan in the sector for 2018, down from last year’s 801 billion yuan, CRC said at a news briefing on Tuesday.

China's Rail Renaissance Story - Bloomberg Gadfly It's not easy to find value after a 51 percent rally in the MSCI China Index during 2017. So lately, sell-side banks have been telling their clients a rail renaissance story. CRRC Corp., the world's largest maker of equipment for railroads, soared more than 20 percent in the last month, closing the first trading day of 2018 at an almost two-year high. QUICK COMEBACK The investment logic is simple: Building a high-speed rail line generally takes four to five years, and the government does not start ordering trains and equipment until about three years into construction. After the July 2011 crash, Beijing froze activity, resulting in a sharp drop in new lines in 2016 and 2017. The program resumed in earnest in 2013, meaning orders are now increasing for the likes of CRRC.

Successful China Rebalance Best for Economy, Says Yu – Bloomberg Geoffrey Yu, head of U.K. investment office at UBS Wealth Management, and Bloomberg Gadfly columnist Mark Gilbert examine the Chinese economy as the nation's government talks of three years of "critical battles" ahead.

Cement Industry Cracked Up Over Price Spike of Key Component - Caixin Global During the January-through-November period, China purchased 184,600 tons of cement clinker from abroad, more than four times the amount in the same period in 2016, according to data from dcement.com, an industry information provider linked to the China Cement Association. The association has more than 3,000 member companies.

China’s Xiongan-linked stocks jump after planning meeting - FT $$ Officials met on Tuesday in Beijing to discuss a framework plan for the Xiongan New Area, which includes inviting domestic and foreign talent to “participate in the creation of Xiongan” along with investment, finance, tax and land policies, state media Xinhua reported.

China's yuan weakens after strong official fixing - Reuters Prior to market opening on Wednesday, the People's Bank of China (PBOC) set its official yuan midpoint CNY=PBOC at 6.4920 per dollar, breaching the key threshold 6.5 per dollar level. Wednesday’s official midpoint was 159 pips, or 0.24 percent, firmer than Tuesday’s fix of 6.5079 and was the strongest since May 3, 2016.

Loan sharks continue to prey on Chinese university students by going offline to bypass crackdown | South China Morning Post State-run China Central Television reported on Monday, however, that predatory lending was still flourishing on campuses. It said Dtxindai, a Shanghai-based consumer loan company, was found lending money to students through ads it had posted around university grounds, charging an extremely high annual interest rate of as much as 76 per cent.

Hyundai Cuts Global Sales Target as Firm Struggles in China - Caixin Global The firms’ sales slumped in China — the world’s largest car market — last year amid diplomatic tensions between Beijing and Seoul over the latter’s deployment of a U.S. anti-ballistic-missile system. From January to November, Beijing Hyundai Motor Co. and Dongfeng Yueda Kia Automobile Co. managed to sell 970,000 vehicles combined in China — a 38% drop in sales compared with the same period the year earlier, according to Yonhap.

More supply-side reform on agenda - China Daily "The country will establish development funds to further the Made in China 2025 strategy and direct more private capital into the real economy, in order to better finance important manufacturing projects," said Miao Wei, minister of industry and information technology, at the ministry's annual conference, without elaborating on the size of the funds.


Politics, Law And Ideology

Reporting apps allow Chinese to take part in national governance: experts - Global Times "Some local governments have developed apps for reporting violations, which is a way for residents to conduct social supervision. There are similar online platforms in other countries and they provide convenience for people in the mobile internet era," Fang Xingdong, the founder of technology think tank ChinaLabs, told the Global Times on Tuesday. The Wall Street Journal reported on Friday that the Chinese government is using new technology to reward citizens for notifying authorities about illegal activities, which is a part of the government effort to "meld old-school totalitarian techniques with 21st-century e-commerce, big data, and digital surveillance."

Vice Shaanxi governor under investigation for disciplinary violations - Xinhua Feng Xinzhu, vice governor of northwest China's Shaanxi Province, is under investigation for suspected "severe disciplinary violations," the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) of the Communist Party of China announced Wednesday.// Comment: He appeared on the provincial evening news broadcast the night before his detention 前一天出现在陕西新闻联播的他 第二天就落马了 

E China province appoints acting governor - Xinhua Tang Dengjie was appointed acting governor of eastern China's Fujian Province Tuesday...Tang, among other posts, has served as vice minister of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology of China, director of the China National Space Administration, as well as chairman of the China Atomic Energy Authority

汇聚奋进新时代开启新征程的磅礴伟力——二〇一七年宣传思想文化工作综述--新闻报道-人民网 Jan 3 page 1 People's Daily roundup of propaganda thought cultural work in 2017

中央纪委监察部网站 CCDI website redesigned

人民日报:让“临时工”背锅也是官僚主义_新闻_腾讯网 不久前,吉林省吉林市出现了一起政务大厅因“懒政”问题遭记者暗访、官方回应中却强调是“临时工”所为的新闻。尽管该事件在受到舆论关注后有了及时有力的整顿,但这些年每每出现类似官方回应,舆论总是很不“买账”:为什么出事的总是“临时工”? 曾几何时,“临时工”只是个关乎内部身份的称谓,并没有多少社会公众关心。可是这几年一些地方政府的“临时工”却频频被“出镜”,各种新闻一旦出现“临时工”,往往引起舆论关注。//Comment: People’s Daily critices local officials in Jilin for blaming “temporary workers” for slacking off at work in the wake of a recent scandal

正厅级出逃美国的背后 2017年最后一个工作日,宁夏经信委原党组副书记、副主任戎生灵(正厅级)的双开通报获公开。 看法新闻记者注意到,此人早在2017年1月就已被批捕,不过此时他已经出逃美国、拒不回国。检方曾公开发文,劝其自首,并披露戎生灵涉嫌合同诈骗、挪用公款,金额高达数亿。 目前至少已有5份判决、2份裁定与戎生灵相关,从而能一窥其是怎么通过借款等金融手段,敛财数亿的。// Comment: On a Ningxia official who fled to the US to avoid investigation and refuses to return

坚持党对一切工作的领导 2017年12月31日 来源: 求是 作者: 秋 石 二、切实加强党对一切工作的领导 — 党政军民学,东西南北中,党是领导一切的。无论哪个领域、哪个方面工作,都必须从加强党的领导抓起,最终落脚在强化党的建设上。我国社会主义政治制度优越性的一个突出特点,就是党总揽全局、协调各方的领导核心作用。在国家治理体系大棋局中,党中央是坐镇中军帐的“帅”,车马炮各展其长,一盘棋大局分明。实践证明,党的领导是我国政治稳定、经济发展、民族团结、社会和谐的根本点。各个领域、各个方面都必须自觉坚持党的领导,绝不能有丝毫动摇。// Comment” Qiushi” commentary in latest Seeking Truth on maintaining the Party’s leadership over everything

Ministry of Truth: No Further Reporting on Iran Protests - China Digital Times (CDT) Do not report any more on the demonstrations in Iran. Follow-up reports require further notice from superiors. Relevant information that has already been transmitted and is from an authoritative source and is compliant should no longer be hyped but do not delete it.

Interrogation chairs being sold online for US$75 in China – no questions asked | South China Morning Post Dozens of vendors on online shopping platform Taobao have this week been found to be selling the same rigid chairs that are used by police in China to restrain suspects. Taobao is owned by Alibaba Group, which owns the South China Morning Post.

Metro pickpockets beware! China’s hi-tech cameras are watching your every move | South China Morning Post A Guangzhou metro line is thought to be the first in the world fitted with real-time, high-res 4K CCTV capable of working with facial recognition software

Xinjiang holds ‘unity week’ for ethnic unity, congress spirit - Global Times From December 11 to 31, 2017, cadres and employees from departments and institutes across the region lived together with their foster families in grassroots villages and communities, the Xinjiang Economic Daily reported on Tuesday. Around a million cadres and employees in Xinjiang participated in the "ethnic unity week," in which they spent time living, working and studying with different ethnicities, the Xinjiang Daily reported on Sunday.

湖北省军区司令员马涛少将任湖北省委常委_凤凰资讯 本轮深化国防和军队改革大幕拉开之后,原先由大军区领导的省军区系统转隶军委国防动员部领导。进入“脖子以下”改革阶段之后,省军区系统已按新的编制体制运行。// Comment: PLA official joins the Hubei Provincial Party Committee


Foreign and Military Affairs

Xi issues instructions at 2018 PLA training launch - Global Times The Central Military Commission held its 2018 “start training” mobilization ceremony of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) on Wednesday, the first of its kind. General Secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee Xi Jinping, who is also Chinese president and chairman of the Central Military Commission, issued the instructions to the PLA. At the ceremony, Xi and other members of the Central Military Commission inspected a group of PLA troops at a military training base, the PLA Daily’s WeChat account reported on Wednesday. The report didn’t mention where the ceremony was held. 中央军委首次举行开训动员大会 习近平向全军发布训令 

PLA implements training regulation from Xi's thought - Ministry of National Defense Xi recently signed the order to publish the revised regulation, which adheres to the fundamental principle of upholding the absolute leadership of the Communist Party of China (CPC) over the armed forces, and introduces new ways to organize and conduct military training, aiming to enhance the combat readiness of the military, the Xinhua News Agency reported on Friday. The revised regulation established the guiding role of Xi's thought of strengthening the military, which is a move to fundamentally ensure China's military training will be advanced along the right course, said a Saturday article published on 81.cn, the PLA's official website.

Macron's state visit to promote cooperation - China Daily French President Emmanuel Macron's upcoming visit to China is expected to bear fruit for Chinese-French cooperation in such areas as nuclear power, analysts said. Macron will make a state visit to China from Monday to Wednesday next week at the invitation of President Xi Jinping, Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang announced on Tuesday.

What Does France’s President Want to Achieve in China? | The Diplomat Faced with these undisguised ambitions, Macron is the first to plead with such clarity for more reciprocity, and France supports the strengthening of regulations for Chinese investments in sensitive sectors. Similarly, with regard to the Belt and Road Initiative, the flagship project of President Xi Jinping to achieve his “China dream,” France remains cautious and aware of its many financial and governance pitfalls. Beijing – as with any other partners – would like the Franco-Chinese relationship to be entirely at the service of its own priorities..--Valérie Niquet is a senior visiting fellow at the Japan Institute of International Affairs and head of the Asia department at FRS (Fondation pour la Recherche Stratégique), Paris.

Chinese netizens furious at racist French nursery rhyme | South China Morning Post The song, titled Zhang, my little Chinese, was taught at an unnamed school in Aubervilliers, a northeastern suburb of Paris, for more than a decade, China News Service reported on Monday. Despite its longevity, a row started online after “an Asian parent” posted a video of it on Facebook on December 26, French newspaper Le Figaro reported.

All key parts of BeiDou satellites made in China: chief designer - Xinhua All the key components of China's BeiDou navigation satellites are made in China, ending reliance on imports, Xie Jun, chief designer of the Beidou system, said on Tuesday. Key components such as traveling-wave tube amplifiers, microwave switches, and high-power current source controllers are now all made in China instead of being imported, Xie said.

Chinese navy trains more fighter pilots for expanded aircraft carrier fleet | South China Morning Post The PLA Navy has started training its own pilots – rather than recruiting them from the air force – at its Naval Aeronautical University, which opened last year with a main campus in Yantai, Shandong. Fighter pilot cadets are using the country’s most advanced training aircraft at that campus and three others – in Liaoning, Hebei and Shanxi provinces, the official PLA Daily reported.



Taiwan Dentist Is Ordered to Pay Mother, Who Financed His Education, Nearly $1 Million - The New York Times The case attracted considerable attention because the mother and son had put down in a written contract — signed when he was 20 — what is often left unsaid, particularly in a heavily Confucian-influenced society that emphasizes filial piety. The principle is backed up by law in Taiwan, where adults are legally prohibited from abandoning their parents. Each side advanced arguments: The mother urged the court to enforce the contract. The son maintained that he had already paid his mother $1 million and should not have to pay her more.


Tech And Media

A Saucy App Knows China’s Taste in News. The Censors Are Worried. - The New York Times: As Toutiao’s popularity has skyrocketed, Bytedance has become a darling of Silicon Valley investors such as Sequoia Capital. The company, which is currently valued at $20 billion, has been in talks with existing backers to raise new financing that would value the company at more than $30 billion, according to a person familiar with the discussions who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the details are not public. That price tag would make Bytedance among the most valuable privately held technology companies in the world, not just in China. Airbnb is said to be valued at around $30 billion. SpaceX, the rocket maker founded by Elon Musk, is valued at $21 billion.

Toutiao hiring Party members to comb content, number of censors to reach 10,000 · TechNode: No rest for the wicked (or the lustful) in the Middle Kingdom. News aggregation platform Jinri Toutiao is hiring 2000 content review editors to comb its app for unsavory content, The Paper has reported (in Chinese). Last week, Toutiao and Phoenix News received punishments for spreading pornographic materials and publishing news without proper licenses. Both outlets had to suspend updating several news channels for 24 and 12 hours respectively. The editors will be based in Tianjin and will have to review about 1000 pieces of content per day. According to the job posting, the ideal candidate will have an interest towards news and current affairs, a good sense of politically sensitive content, a Bachelor degree or above, and, preferably, a Communist Party membership.// Comment: Investors will likely see the company as somewhat de-risked now and the funds will keep flowing.

China’s Selfie Obsession | The New Yorker I first met HoneyCC, in May, in Xiamen, a port city on the Taiwan Strait. We were at the headquarters of Meipai’s parent company, Meitu, Inc. Its first product, in 2008, was a photo-editing app, also named Meitu (“beautiful picture,” in Chinese), which young people seized upon as a means of enhancing their selfies. The company now has a battery of apps, with names like BeautyPlus, BeautyCam, and SelfieCity, which smooth out skin, exaggerate features, brighten eyes. The apps are installed on more than a billion phones—mostly in China and the rest of Asia, but also increasingly in the West, where Meitu seeks to expand its presence. The company sells a range of smartphones, too, designed to take particularly flattering selfies: the front-facing selfie cameras have more powerful sensors and processors than those on regular phones, and beautifying apps start working their magic the moment a picture has been taken. // Comment: What can I say, this app works...

Didi Chuxing to Take Over Troubled Bike-Sharing Startup - Caixin Global Chinese ride-hailing giant Didi Chuxing has agreed to acquire cash-strapped bike-sharing startup Blugogo to further expand its business footprint, sources close to the matter told Caixin. The two companies signed an agreement on the deal in late December, although the transaction hasn’t been completed, sources said. Bluegogo halted its business beginning Nov. 20, and most of its workers are gone.

Successful Reality Show 'The Birth of Actors' Surrounded by Controversy | What's on Weibo Reality show ‘The Birth of Actors’ (演员的诞生) has been trending on Chinese social media for weeks now. Since its first airing in late October 2017, the Zhejiang Satellite TV hit has repeatedly become a focus of discussion on Weibo. Its first two episodes alone already had a viewership of 330 million. The show’s hashtag (#演员的诞生#) received 4,6 billion views on Weibo so far. The show is hosted by the popular actor and director Zhang Guoli (张国立).

NetEase denies introducing Pokémon Go into Chinese market - Global Times etEase made the statement after a Financial Times report noted on Tuesday that Pokémon Go will soon make its debut in Chinese mainland after its developer Niantic struck a partnership with NetEase. But NetEase said in article sent to the Global Times that the report has no clear evidence to support this conclusion. According to NetEase, no interviewees in the report had revealed any information about Pokémon Go's potential debut in the Chinese market.

Beijing to build technology park for developing AI - Xinhua The park will be situated in suburban Mentougou district in western Beijing, covering 54.87 hectares, Beijing News reported, citing a plan released by Mentougou authorities Tuesday. With an estimated investment of 13.8 billion yuan (about 2.1 billion U.S. dollars), the park is expected to attract about 400 enterprises, with an estimated annual output value of about 50 billion yuan (about 7.7 billion U.S. dollars).


Society, Art, Sports, Culture And History

Aoi Sora announces she is married, shatters millions of hearts - Shangaiist Aoi is called “Teacher Sola” by many of her fans in China, because she ostensibly provided some much-needed sexual education to a generation of Chinese youths in a country where porn is illegal and sex ed is a joke.

Sanya Gentrification Plan Stirs Trouble in Paradise - Sixth Tone According to a government notice, Feng won’t receive any compensation for relocating, as the construction contract for his apartment building — a partnership between a property developer and the Hainan native who holds the deeds to the land — is illegal under a 2008 government ban on such deals between developers and local citizens. “If it’s illegal, why did government departments authorize our water and electricity?” Feng asks. “That’s the past government’s negligence — elderly people shouldn’t pay the price for it.”

Bamboo worlds: the beauty of Chinese aquaculture – in pictures | Art and design | The Guardian In Coastal Geometries, architect and photographer Tugo Cheng conjures minimalist compositions from the fishing nets and bamboo poles on the coast of Fujian. It is a world that’s vanishing, since this vital culture is threatened by rapid development

National Ballet Dances with Danger in Letter Condemning Judges - Caixin Global China’s National Ballet slammed “inferior judges who have undermined justice” after a court ruled it had failed to give credit and pay royalties to the screenwriter of a classic production. The state-run art troupe has been in a long-running legal battle with the family of Liang Xin, a renowned scriptwriter behind the 1961 classic film “Red Detachment of Women,” which was later adapted to stage. It’s widely known in the West as the ballet performed for U.S. President Richard Nixon during his historic visit to China in 1972.


Energy, Environment, Science And Health

UK faces build-up of plastic waste - BBC News The UK's recycling industry says it doesn't know how to cope with a Chinese ban on imports of plastic waste. Britain has been shipping up to 500,000 tonnes of plastic for recycling in China every year, but now the trade has been stopped.

China Halts Commercial Construction Spree in Sea - Caixin Global China won’t approve new commercial land-reclamation projects in 2018, amid rising concerns that such projects have led to severe damage of the marine ecosystem. The State Oceanic Administration said it would in principle stop approving general reclamation projects in 2018, except for major projects approved by the State Council. Public infrastructure, public service and national defense projects will continue to be allowed, the state-run Legal Daily reported Tuesday.

China stops producing 553 auto models over fuel consumption - Xinhua China will suspend the production of 553 passenger vehicle models that have not met the government's fuel consumption standards. The suspension will take effect from Jan. 1, said the China Vehicle Technology Service Center, citing approval from the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT).

China’s growing cancer burden often kept secret from patients Keeping a cancer diagnosis from patients in an attempt to shield them from worry is common in China. But the country’s rising cancer burden — 4.3m cases were diagnosed in 2015, twice the 2000 figure and more than any other country — has led some doctors to rethink the practice on the grounds that it hinders treatment.

New plant species discovered in southwest China - Xinhua Chinese scientists have discovered a new endangered species of flowering plant from the Primulaceae family, and the finding has been published in the Nordic Journal of Botany. The new species, Primula Zhui, known in Chinese as Zhu Hua Baochun, was named after Zhu Hua, a researcher from Xishuangbanna Tropical Botanical Garden under the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS).

Russia's Oil Friendship With China Makes Crude Costly for Europe - Bloomberg As the world’s second-biggest economy buys more, crude shipments from Primorsk port in the Baltic region will be cut, according to industry consultant FGE. The reduction will push up the price of varieties available for sale to Europe. Russia is already the biggest supplier to the China, and will probably boost exports to the country by 200,000 barrels a day in 2018 from a year earlier, FGE said.

Made in China: New and Potentially Lifesaving Drugs - The New York Times For years, China’s drug industry concentrated on replicating Western medicines. Getting new drugs approved was a frustrating and time-consuming process. Companies thought plowing millions of dollars into research and development was risky and stuck to safer revenue streams. The country is now pushing to play a bigger role in the global drug industry. Millions of people in China have cancer or diabetes, and the government has made pharmaceutical innovation a national priority.

Chinese, overseas research institutes to jointly monitor ecosystem in central Asia - Xinhua A memorandum has been signed by the Xinjiang Institute of Ecology and Geography and 22 overseas scientific research institutes, launching joint research projects on the ecosystem in central Asia. Over the next five years, the institutes will focus on the region's glaciers, water resources, flora and fauna, as well as agriculture, in the context of global climate change.



Goodbye to a Beijing (Dirty) Alley – William Farris – Medium It is hard to justify mourning the loss of something that, had laws been properly enforced, should never have existed in the first place. It is also difficult to muster up any indignation or conjure up any conspiracy theories when Sanlitun Dirty Alley was just one of many areas that have been “rectified” (to use the Chinese state run media’s terminology). And most of all, it seems self-indulgent to complain about losing a favorite weekend haunt, when many lost their livelihoods, and others gained a cleaner, quieter, and safer neighborhood. // Comment: Lots of good pictures.

Beijing completes land supply target for 2017 - Xinhua In 2017, Beijing supplied a total of 721 hectares of construction land for residential housing, including 207 hectares of land for joint ownership housing, the commission said Tuesday. Of the land used for joint ownership housing, about 157 hectares was in urban areas and new towns on the outskirts of the capital city.

Beijing achieves air quality goal in 2017: official - Xinhua Average density of PM2.5 in Beijing stayed at 58 micrograms per cubic meter of air in 2017, meeting the goal set by the State Council, an official said Wednesday. The density dropped by 20.5 percent compared with the average level in 2016, Liu Baoxian, deputy director of Beijing environmental protection monitoring center, told a press conference.