Xi's Spring Festival video chat; Han Zheng to be the next VP?; Janet Yellen and Liu He meet; Wow mess
Xi is full of surprises. In the Monday newsletter I wrote that “later this week Xi should make his annual pre-Spring festival inspection tour”, a tour he has taken every year since 2013 in the days before the New Year. This year he stayed in Beijing and met with various groups around the country via video chat. If he does not make a trip before Saturday, thereby breaking the precedent of the last ten years, that may be another sign of how rough the Covid situation is.
In the video chat Xi addressed the Covid policies, saying that the PRC “had made ‘the right choice’ to deal with the COVID-19 epidemic with strict measures over the past nearly three years” and that “we have now entered a new phase of COVID-19 response. Tough challenges remain, but the light of hope is right in front of us. Perseverance means victory! 坚持就是胜利”
Things are winding down in the PRC ahead of the weeklong Spring Festival Holiday. There will be a newsletter tomorrow but it may be thin, as people are already checking out to try to enjoy the much needed break. Next week’s publishing schedule will be light, and I will not clutter your inboxes unless something really interesting is going on, or I can figure out something coherent to write about what may be going around the apparent policy shifts.
Even if I am not in your inbox you can find me and many of your fellow Sinocism community members in the Sinocism Chat in the excellent Substack app.
Summary of the Essential Eight:
Covid - Airfinity, a foreign independent forecasting firm, has upped its estimates of peak daily deaths to 36,000 per day over the Lunar New Year Holiday, and estimates that over 600,000 people have died from Covid since reopening. Is that possibly accurate? So much pain and suffering in just over a month is almost unimaginable.
Han Zheng to replace Wang Qishan as Vice President? - Former Standing Committee member Han Zheng has been selected by the Shandong People's Congress, after being nominated by the Party Center (中央提名的代表候选人韩正) as one of its representatives to the 14th National People's Congress, which will convene in early March. This is leading to speculation that Han will replace Wang Qishan as Vice President. After leaving the Standing Committee after the 18th Party Congress, Wang Qishan was selected in 2018 as an NPC delegate by Hunan. If Han becomes Vice President, will he also enjoy the privileges Wang Qishan enjoyed as a former Standing Committee member such as attending many events/meetings with the current Standing Committee as a +1?
14th Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference - The new membership of the 14th Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, which will convene in early March, is set. Hu Chunhua 胡春华 is a member, likely a sign that this is his last stop on his political career after not even making the Politburo at the 20th Party Congress. Politburo member Shi Taifeng 石泰峰 is also a member, so he will be ranked ahead of Hu Chunhua, with both likely vice chairs. Wang Huning 王沪宁 is also on the list of course, as he will be the head, replacing Wang Yang.
US Treasury Secretary Yellen and outgoing Vice Premier Liu He meet - The two met in Switzerland today, per the readouts and background briefing there were no announced outcomes other than Yellen will go to the PRC and her counterparts, likely He Lifeng after the NPC meeting in early March, will visit the US “in the near future”. The US-China economic and diplomatic channels appear to be improving, though I still wonder how Beijing will react if/when the new Speaker of the House fulfills his promise to travel to Taiwan.
Send us your R&D and technical talent - The State Council has issued a circular designed to make it much easier for foreign firms to set up R&D centers in the PRC, and to attract talent from overseas.
ASPI on China's Political-Economy, Foreign and Security Policy in 2023 - Kevin Rudd's Asia Society Policy Institute has issued an interesting, unsigned paper looking at the political, economic and foreign policy implications of the sudden change in China’s COVID-19 response. I don't agree with all of it, but it is thought provoking and worth reading.
Netease goes after Blizzard over WoW - Blockbuster MMORPG World of Warcraft is going offline in the PRC just a couple of days into the Year of the Rabbit, as developer Activision Blizzard and operator Netease could not agree on an extension. Now each party blames the other, but in the PRC at least Activision Blizzard has lost the PR battle.
Thanks for reading.
The Essential Eight
1. Xi’s Spring Festival video chat
A long excerpt, but worth reading:
Xi Jinping on Wednesday extended festive greetings to all Chinese people when he held virtual talks in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing with the general public from across the country ahead of the Spring Festival.
Xi..spoke with medical workers at a hospital, senior citizens in a welfare home, workers on an outlying oilfield, travelers and staff members at a high-speed railway station, vendors and customers at a wholesale market, and people in an ethnic minority village via video link...
Li Qiang, Cai Qi and Ding Xuexiang -- who are members of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee -- were also present during the virtual talk..
Acknowledging their great contributions to protecting people's lives and health, Xi extended festive greetings to medical workers across the country.
"We have now entered a new phase of COVID-19 response. Tough challenges remain, but the light of hope is right in front of us. Perseverance means victory," he said.
The country had made "the right choice" to deal with the COVID-19 epidemic with strict measures over the past nearly three years, Xi said, adding that China has thus withstood several rounds of outbreaks of virus mutations.
China has lowered the proportion of severe cases and the case fatality rate to the greatest extent possible, protected people's lives and health, and bought precious time for the later moves to optimize response and downgrade the management of COVID-19, Xi said.
The focus of the current COVID-19 response has shifted from infection prevention to medical treatment, with protecting people's health and preventing severe cases being the priority, said Xi, noting that hospitals are now undertaking more arduous tasks...
While talking via video link with older people and staffers at a welfare home in Fuzhou, capital of east China's Fujian Province, on the same day, Xi said stricter epidemic prevention and health management measures should be taken at nursing homes and welfare facilities to prevent clusters of infection, as older people are the top priority in the current COVID-19 response stage... [Comment: Anecdotally nursing homes have seen a lot of Covid deaths since the reopening]
During another virtual talk, Xi stressed the importance of stable energy supply and price.
"Energy security concerns the overall economic and social development of our country. It is one of the most important security issues," Xi told employees of the Tarim oilfield in northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region...
Speaking with villagers and tourists in Shiyi Village in southwest China's Sichuan Province, Xi called on them to strive for common prosperity to make their lives better...
Xi said this year's virtual talks enabled him to speak with people from across the country. He said that he could feel the happiness and joy of the people, even from behind the screen.
"My heart is always with you all and people of all ethnic groups across the country," Xi said. "My biggest wish is that we all have a happy Spring Festival."..
The past year was extraordinary but not easy, Xi said. "We have overcome all kinds of difficulties and challenges, making new achievements on all fronts."
The report on Xi's New Years video chat with groups across the country took up the first 27 minutes of the Wednesday CCTV Evening News - 习近平春节前夕视频连线看望慰问基层干部群众 向全国各族人民致以新春的美好祝福 祝各族人民幸福安康 祝愿伟大祖国繁荣昌盛
He emphasized that in the past three years, we have strictly implemented the "Class B infectious disease but subject to the preventive and control measures for a Class A infectious disease" for the COVID-19 epidemic, which was the right choice. It has withstood the impact of multiple rounds of virus mutation, minimized the severe illness rate and death rate, effectively protected the people's life safety and health, and won valuable time for optimizing the epidemic prevention and control measures and implementing the "Class B preventive and control measures". We have now entered a new phase of COVID-19 response. Tough challenges remain, but the light of hope is right in front of us. Perseverance means victory!
A clip on Youtube of Xi's chat with staff and an elderly patient recovering from Covid at a hospital in Harbin:
Xinhua highlights all the pre-Lunar New Year visits Xi has made since 2013, - 镜观·领航｜新春佳节，难忘总书记的关怀与祝福 - 中国军网
Airfinity, a foreign independent forecasting firm, has upped its estimates of peak daily deaths to 36,000 per day over the Lunar New Year Holiday, and estimates that over 600,000 people have died from Covid since reopening. Is that possibly accurate? So much pain and suffering in just over a month is almost unimaginable.
The revised figures from the independent forecasting firm Airfinity Ltd. added 11,000 deaths a day to its Dec. 29 estimate, a jump that shows the breathtaking pace of the outbreak and the lack of clear information about how it’s spreading in the world’s most populous nation. The update is based on data from China’s regional provinces combined with rates seen in other Covid Zero countries after they first lifted restrictions, the London-based research firm said…
Airfinity estimates that cumulative Covid deaths in China stand at 608,000 since December.
There is a calculation in the public health sector called "excess deaths", which can assess the possible underestimation, Wu Zunyou, chief epidemiologist of the China CDC, said at a recent event.
After the outbreak began in 2020, China CDC team quickly analyzed possible excess deaths caused by the epidemic and published the results. "The team has already been calculating the possible 'excess deaths' caused by the latest outbreak, which will be provided to the public soon," he said.
Many deaths that did not report in medical institutions, or those that had not be verified as to being related to COVID-19 due to lack of nucleic acid testing, have not been included in the statistics...
However, some Western media and observers have been slandering China for not revealing accurate COVID-related data, claiming that it undercounted the overall deaths and infections.
Liang Wannian, head of China's COVID-19 response expert panel under the NHC, said in a recent panel discussion that rather than focusing on the death toll in China caused by COVID-19, the priority for the world is to get through the impact of the pandemic. He noted that calculating the specific number of deaths caused by COVID-19 is not feasible for most countries and regions.
Azvudine is included under China’s medical insurance at a price of CNY11.58 (USD1.71) a bottle, and production is now sufficient to meet demand, Tian Yulong, a spokesman for the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, told reporters today.
The two key fever drugs, ibuprofen and acetaminophen, were in short supply last year with many pharmacies running out of stock, but their production has reached 5.14 billion tablets so far this year, he said.
In terms of medical devices, output of ventilators has soared 239 percent from New Year's Day, reaching 1,808 units a day. Daily production of oxygen generators is now over 20,000 units, enough to meet the basic needs of medical institutions, while finger-clip oximeter output is more than 460,000 a day, Tian noted.
Of seven grieving relatives Reuters spoke to for this article, all but one said COVID was left off the death certificates of their loved ones, even though they believe it was a key trigger for their deaths.
anzhong Huang, a senior fellow for global health at the Council and professor and director of global health studies at Seton Hall University's School of Diplomacy and International Relations, and Zongyuan Zoe Liu, a fellow for international political economy at the Council, sit down with James M. Lindsay to discuss the consequences of China’s decision to end its zero-COVID policy
Guangzhou in South China's Guangdong Province has entered the final stage of the epidemic, with 85 percent of the city residents having been infected with COVID-19, Guangzhou health authorities said on Wednesday. The current strain in circulation remains Omicron BA.5.2, and the XBB strain has not been detected in local cases.
“The government was very present in the Zero-Covid phase — now that people are getting infected, it’s not being helpful,” said Hanzhang Liu, an assistant professor at Pitzer College who specializes in Chinese politics. “It’s a very bad look. I don’t think this episode has done any favor to the government in terms of public support.”
3. Han Zheng to replace Wang Qishan as Vice President?
Former Standing Committee member Han Zheng has been selected by the Shandong People's Congress, after being nominated by the Party Center (中央提名的代表候选人韩正) as one of its representatives to the 14th National People's Congress, which will convene in early March. This is leading to speculation that Han will replace Wang Qishan as Vice President. After leaving the Standing Committee after the 18th Party Congress, Wang Qishan was selected in 2018 as an NPC delegate by Hunan. If Han becomes Vice President, will he also enjoy the privileges Wang Qishan enjoyed as a former Standing Committee member such as attending many events/meetings with the current Standing Committee as a +1?
Party Center also nominated Zheng Jianbang 郑建邦 as an NPC representative from Shandong. Zheng, 66, is currently chair of the Revolutionary Committee of the Chinese Kuomintang and a vice chair of The National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference.
4. 14th Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference
The new membership of the 14th Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, which will convene in early March, is set. Hu Chunhua 胡春华 is a member, likely a sign that this is his last stop on his political career after not even making the Politburo at the 20th Party Congress. Politburo member Shi Taifeng 石泰峰 is also a member, so he will be ranked ahead of Hu Chunhua, with both likely vice chairs. Wang Huning 王沪宁 is also on the list of course, as he will be the head, replacing Wang Yang.
Robin Li Yanhong, co-founder and CEO of internet search and artificial intelligence giant Baidu; William Ding Lei, founder and CEO of China’s second-largest video gaming firm by revenue NetEase; and Wang Xiaochuan, founder of the country’s second-largest search engine Sogou, are not among the 2,172 delegates of the 14th Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC)...
Delegates are elected on five-year terms, and there is no age or term limit, according to the official rules. Li, 54, completes his two terms this year, while Ding, 51, and Wang, 44, will both wrap up their first term...
Zhou Hongyi, the 52-year-old founder and chairman of internet security firm 360 Security Technology formerly known as Qihoo 360, will stay for another term.
The full list of 2172 members - 中国人民政治协商会议第十四届全国委员会委员名单-新华网
Lam was absent from a list of new members on the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, which was released Wednesday following a meeting in Beijing to decide who to add.
Lam served one term before stepping down in June last year. Two of her three predecessors — Tung Chee-hwa and Leung Chun-ying — were appointed to the CPPCC after holding the chief executive’s office. The third, Donald Tsang, has kept a low profile since his term ended in 2012 amid corruption scandals.
A key Beijing official in charge of Hong Kong’s affairs will retire once he steps down as a vice-chairman of the country’s top political advisory body in March amid a major reshuffle which has elevated more city professionals to replace old political hands.
The announcement of the retirement of Xia Baolong, director of the State Council’s Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office (HKMAO), came after Luo Huining’s replacement by Zheng Yanxiong last week as the head of Beijing’s liaison office in the city.
5. US Treasury Secretary Yellen and outgoing Vice Premier Liu He meet
The two met in Switzerland today, per the readouts and background briefing there were no announced outcomes other than Yellen will go to the PRC and her counterparts, likely He Lifeng after the NPC meeting in early March, will visit the US “in the near future”. The US-China economic and diplomatic channels appear to be improving, though I still wonder how Beijing will react if/when the new Speaker of the House fulfills his promise to travel to Taiwan.
Secretary of the Treasury Janet L. Yellen today met with Vice Premier of the People’s Republic of China, Liu He as part of efforts to deepen communication and work together to address global challenges following the meeting between President Biden and President Xi in Bali in November where the two leaders agreed to empower key senior officials to engage in these issues. During the candid, substantive, and constructive conversation, they exchanged views on macroeconomic and financial developments. Both sides agreed it is important for the functioning of the global economy to further enhance communication around macroeconomic and financial issues. They also agreed about the importance of sustainable development and that they would enhance cooperation on climate finance on a bilateral and multilateral basis, such as within the UN, G20, and APEC, as well as through support for emerging markets and developing countries in their clean energy transitions. Secretary Yellen also raised issues of concern in a frank exchange of views. She looks forward to traveling to China and to welcoming her counterparts to the United States in the near future.
The pair largely avoided discussing policy disagreements in front of other officials from the two countries on Wednesday. Mr. Liu and Ms. Yellen spoke one-on-one during a coffee break, a senior Treasury official said, later telling the other attendees that they had privately discussed contentious topics such as trade. The two sides moved on to other topics on the agenda, the official said.
Much of the focus of the hourslong meeting, which also included Chinese central banker Yi Gang, was on the two countries’ economic outlooks.
Liu was also keen to sound a note of optimism, even as he acknowledged tensions.
“We do face problems, but as President Xi said, we only have one planet earth and there are always more solutions than problems,” he said in prepared remarks, adding that he looked forward to “serious communication and coordination on macroeconomic affairs, climate change and other issues of mutual interest.”
A senior Treasury official said that, during the meeting that lasted nearly three hours, Yellen and Liu agreed that both countries could take steps to avert recessions in their own economies, and the two delegations had a productive discussion about sovereign debt issues, food security and energy.
On economic prospects, Chinese officials were aware of financial risks posed by the property sector but were optimistic about resuming closer to normal growth, the official said of the meeting, the first in person since Yellen became secretary.
Congress is getting ready to propose its own plans to restrict U.S. firms from investing in sensitive Chinese tech companies after a similar effort by the White House has faced delays.
House lawmakers, including the chair of a newly established select committee on China, see U.S. capital flows to the People’s Republic as an area ripe for scrutiny. And a pair of bipartisan senators — John Cornyn, R-Texas and Bob Casey, D-Pa. — are preparing to introduce a new version of a bill they previously sponsored that would require government approval for certain American investments in foreign countries, according to a Senate aide.
The senators may announce their bill before Joe Biden’s administration issues its related executive order, the aide told Semafor, which is likely to happen in the coming months.
Comment: Congress may force the Biden Administration’s hand on this issue, as so far the Administration has been slow-walked the mooted investment Executive Order, with pushback especially from Yellen’s Treasury I hear.
The initial exclusion for Macao in the controls imposed Oct. 7 meant that companies based there could still import advanced chips and chipmaking equipment from the U.S., said Dai Menghao, compliance counsel at Hong Kong-based law firm King & Wood Mallesons.
Macao was regarded as a destination distinct from China and therefore not subject to China-specific licensing requirements, the BIS said in October. But the U.S. government encouraged exporters and re-importers to conduct due diligence and be aware of red flags when shipping to Macao.
Katherine Swidan, whose son Mark has been imprisoned in China for over 10 years, has not seen even a photograph of him over the last decade. The last time she heard his voice was in 2018.
6. Send us your R&D and technical talent
The State Council has issued a circular designed to make it much easier for foreign firms to set up R&D centers in the PRC, and to attract talent from overseas.
The State Council issued a circular on Jan 18, requesting departments concerned and regional authorities to further support foreign investors in setting up research and development (R&D) centers in China.
The circular said scientific and technological innovations call for improved services, highlighting favorable tax policies, improved verification procedures, simplified declaration materials, and more convenience for qualified foreign R&D centers.
Basic research should be encouraged, with more support for R&D centers in legally using large scientific research instruments, scientific and technological reports, and related data of major national science and technology programs. For new-type foreign-invested institutions providing services for key technologies, local authorities should assist with infrastructure construction, equipment acquisition, talent support services, and operation funds.
The circular also stresses joint innovation by foreign-funded R&D centers and local academic institutions, including universities, scientific research institutes, and vocational schools...
To help R&D operations, work will be done to support legal cross-border circulation of R&D data, optimize the management of intellectual property rights for external transfer and technology imports and exports, and improve the clearance and regulation process of scientific research materials.
The introduction of overseas talent is indispensable as well, the circular said.
To that end, departments concerned and all provincial-level authorities should make it more convenient for overseas talent to work in China, allowing the R&D centers to apply for one-time work permits within the term of labor contracts and work-related residence permits for no more than five years for both foreign and domestic team members.
7. ASPI on China's Political-Economy, Foreign and Security Policy in 2023
Kevin Rudd's Asia Society Policy Institute has issued an interesting, unsigned paper looking at the political, economic and foreign policy implications of the sudden change in China’s COVID-19 response. I don't agree with all of it, but it is thought provoking and worth reading.
As part of a continuing series on China’s evolving political economy and foreign policy, this paper’s purpose is threefold: to examine the political and economic implications of this dramatic change in China’s COVID-19 strategy; to analyze what, if any, impact it may have on China’s current international posture; and to assess whether this represents a significant departure from the Party’s strategic direction set at the 20th Party Congress last October.
The paper concludes that the Party changed course on COVID-19 for two reasons: (1) it feared that not doing so would threaten its unofficial social contract with the Chinese people based on long-term improvements in jobs and living standards; and (2) that a structural slowdown in growth could also undermine China’s long-term strategic competition against the United States [Bill: I would have added a third reason: Omicron had swamped the containment strategies and opening up was a recognition of the reality that it was no longer controllable] . This paper also concludes that the stark nature of the December 8 policy backflip, together with the Chinese health system’s lack of preparedness for it, has dented Xi Jinping’s political armor for the medium term. This setback comes on top of internal criticism of Xi’s broader ideological assault on the Deng-Jiang-Hu historical economic growth formula that Xi has prosecuted since 2017, as well as Xi’s departure from Deng’s less confrontational foreign policy posture that characterized previous decades. Nonetheless, these policy errors remain manageable within Chinese elite politics, where Xi still controls the hard levers of power. Furthermore, many of these changes on both the economy and external policy are more likely to be short-to-medium term and therefore tactical in nature, rather than representing a strategic departure from the deep ideological direction laid out for the long-term in Xi’s October 2022 Work Report. While these changes to current economic and foreign policy settings are significant in their own right, there is no evidence to date that Xi Jinping’s ideological fundamentals have changed...[Bill: Yuu know I agree with this bolded section as I have been writing it almost ad nauseam over the last few weeks]
Right now, Xi is responsible for four sets of unforced errors:
A too-radical ideological departure from Deng’s successful growth model of the past, thereby undermining business confidence and economic growth.
A failure to prepare earlier for the COVID policy U-turn for fear that it might disrupt the domestic political messaging of the 20th Party Congress on China’s COVID “success story” and somehow disturb Xi’s reappointment for a record third term, despite the economic cost of not adjusting the strategy earlier. There is also the human cost of failing to vaccinate older Chinese in time for the later policy shift.
Being politically captured by Putin in February 2022 with the Ukraine invasion, despite the potential damage to China’s long-term strategic interests in Europe and to its wider international standing.
Unleashing six years of “wolf warrior” diplomacy in a conscious departure from Beijing’s traditional, more patient approach. Previous diplomacy had painstakingly carved out a more benign global image for China over many decades. Xi’s critics see this as part of a much deeper strategic error on his part in openly confronting the United States and its allies far too early and without sufficient preparation.
These errors could coalesce in the future if alternative leadership prospects emerge and if China’s national circumstances deteriorate further. Xi, however, is alert to both these possibilities and is likely, where possible, to preempt them.
8. Netease goes after Blizzard over WoW
Blockbuster MMORPG World of Warcraft is going offline in the PRC just a couple of days into the Year of the Rabbit, as developer Activision Blizzard and operator Netease could not agree on an extension. Now each party blames the other, but in the PRC at least Activision Blizzard has lost the PR battle.
The Chinese company fired the latest salvo in a dispute between the two studios that’s set the stage for the withdrawal of franchises like Diablo, Warcraft and Overwatch from the world’s largest gaming arena. NetEase was responding to a post Tuesday in which the Activision Blizzard Inc. unit said NetEase had rejected its offer to extend their licensing agreement another six months while they work out new terms.
NetEase likened the situation to a longtime spouse who’s faithless or cannot make up their mind. “It’s as if they were riding a donkey while looking for a horse, proposing a divorce while still engaging with the same partner,” NetEase said, using a common euphemism for sex in a harshly worded Chinese statement on its WeChat page.
NetEase Inc. turned down an offer from US games publisher Blizzard to extend their China licensing agreement by six months, setting the stage for the withdrawal of global titles like World of Warcraft from the top gaming market. The potential extension, under the existing terms, was an option included in the two companies’ most recent deal in 2019, Blizzard said in a statement Tuesday
On January 23, 2023, the license agreement between Activision Blizzard, Inc. (“Activision Blizzard”) and NetEase Inc. (“NetEase”) with respect to the publication of multiple online games in mainland China will expire, ending a 14-year partnership between the two companies. On the expiration date, the companies will suspend the operations of multiple famous game titles in mainland China, including World of Warcraft (“WOW”), Starcraft II, Diablo III, Hearthstone, Heroes of the Storm and Overwatch. Although details of the failed license extension negotiations are not public, conflicts arising from China’s new data localization laws may have substantially contributed to the partnership’s dissolution.
World of Warcraft evokes strong emotions. When Netease took over the license to the game from The9 in 2009, the Ministry of Culture and the GAPP fought over who had the regulatory power to approve the new license for Netease, leading to a long delay in approval for Netease to relaunch WoW, and a lot of angry gamers. One, 性感玉米 aka “Sexy Sorn”, made an incredible video using in-game footage about the regulator battle:
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Business, Economy and Trade
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China tech stocks stage $700bn recovery rally | Financial Times $$ Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Tech index, which is stacked with Chinese companies, has soared almost 60 per cent from its lows last October, with heavyweights such as Tencent and Alibaba gaining $350bn combined in market value, according to Financial Times calculations based on Bloomberg data.
'Black Panther 2,' 'Ant-Man 3' Granted China Release Dates - Variety “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,” which was released everywhere else in the world last November, will open in China on Feb. 7. Shortly after, “Ant-Man and The Wasp: Quantumania” will be released on Feb. 17, the same day the sequel touches down in the U.S. and the U.K. The dates were released via Marvel’s Chinese social media accounts.
‘Avatar 2’ Gets Rare Release Extension in China During Lunar New Year Holiday (Exclusive) – The Hollywood Reporter The highly unusual move means James Cameron's blockbuster, which has already earned nearly $200 million in China, will continue screening during the country's most lucrative release window of the year.
China set for ‘steady, continuous’ foreign capital inflows as overseas investors return amid reopening | South China Morning Post Foreign investors purchased a net US$12.6 billion of stocks and bonds in the first half of January, having bought a net US$15.7 billion in December, according to the State Administration of Foreign Exchange (SAFE).
Foreign Investors Pulled $91 Billion From China’s Bond Market Last Year - WSJ Foreigners cut their holdings of yuan-denominated bonds by the net equivalent of $91 billion in 2022. It was the only net annual outflow since China’s central bank began publishing foreign ownership figures in 2013, according to data from two of China’s clearinghouses.
Chinese banks see net forex purchase in 2022-Xinhua The banks recorded a net forex purchase of 107.3 billion U.S. dollars in 2022, said Wang Chunying, deputy head of the State Administration of Foreign Exchange.
Deutsche Bank prices ‘panda bond’ to raise Rmb1bn | Financial Times $$ The Chinese currency bond from the German lender, which matures in January 2026, will trade on China’s interbank bond market and carries a coupon of 3.1 per cent, according to a term sheet seen by the Financial Times.
China’s Office Workers Get Smaller New Year Bonus, Survey Shows - SixthTone The average amount of the year-end bonus, typically handed out before the Lunar New Year holiday each year, for white-collar workers dropped by 17.6% from 2021, with many of them pocketing only 8,248 yuan ($1,218), according to a survey released by online recruitment platform Zhilian Zhaopin on Tuesday. Only 26.9% of the undisclosed number of respondents said they were certain they would receive the perk this year, compared with 27.6% in 2020.
Chinese premier Li Keqiang holds symposium with foreign experts in China-Xinhua Li extended Lunar New Year greetings to the foreign experts and their relatives, and thanked them for their contributions to China's reform, opening-up and modernization, and their contributions to promoting exchanges and cooperation with other countries...Li stressed that China is committed to giving top priority to development, staunchly pursuing market-oriented reform, better protecting the rights and interests of foreign investors, boosting the confidence of private enterprises, and fostering a market-oriented and law-based international business environment.
CCTV Evening News on Li's meeting with foreign experts - 李克强同在华外国专家举行新春座谈会 Any subscribers attend? Anyone recognize anyone at the event?
China to launch state-backed transport platform for ride-hailing, trucking | Reuters China will soon launch a state-backed platform for transport which includes services of ride-hailing, cargo trucking, road transport, railway, ferry and flight services, Chinese state media Beijing Daily reported on Wednesday. The online platform, which has completed internal tests, is expected to integrate more than 90% of total capacity of the transportation market, the newspaper said. // 国家级出行平台亮相，“强国交通”完成内测即将上线_中国政库_澎湃新闻-The Paper
A Shrinking, Aging China May Have Backed Itself Into a Corner - The New York Times “The population issue is the most important issue for the future and yet the one that is most easily neglected,” Ren Zeping, a former chief economist for the Evergrande Group, a massive housing developer, who has studied the looming demographic crunch, wrote in a widely circulated comment after the figures were released Tuesday. Mr. Ren called for more energetic policy-making, including birth subsidies, stronger paternity and maternity leave, and improved protection of women’s rights in the workplace.
China's Vice Premier and Economic Czar Liu He's telling moment at the World Economic Forum in Davos he said it was impossible for China to return to planned economy as some have claimed. The fact he highlighted that point at such a high-level meeting is very telling. It vividly shows how much China or its perception has changed in the past ten years after more than four decades of reform and opening. Is he reassuring people at home or overseas? Until 10 years ago, if one said China was returning to planned economy, he would have been laughed out of the room. Now he apparently believes that issue is important enough to highlight at an international meeting.
China's Love of Pork Wavers as Covid Crushes Demand Before Chinese New Year - Bloomberg The numbers this year tell a different story, with weak consumption exacerbated by rising supply as farmers rush hogs to slaughter after the end of Covid Zero allowed freer movement of goods. Pork bought at China’s main wholesale markets fell to about 64,000 tons last month, almost half that of a year ago, according to the farm ministry. Producers are now losing money after pig prices dropped by about a third since the start of December, according to data from Shanghai JC Intelligence Co.
Yicai - Huanggang Govt’s Silence About Faraday Future’s China HQ Site Is Worrying, Academic Says Faraday Future, a US new energy vehicle startup founded by Chinese businessman Jia Yueting, has said it plans to locate its China headquarters in Huanggang, northern Hubei province. But the Huanggang government made no mention of the project in its 2023 work report and an academic warns that there is reason for caution.
Politics and Law
China: Fears grow for detained anti-COVID protesters – DW – 01/17/2023 At least 32 people have been targeted by police since December, according to Weiquanwang, a Chinese website documenting human rights issues in the country. Though some protesters have been released on probation, more people have reportedly been arrested by police in recent days. Those still in detention include six young people who took part in a peaceful protest in Beijing in late November. One of the protesters, Yang Liu, is a journalist working for state-controlled media outlet Beijing News. Others who are also believed to be in criminal detention include Cao Zhixin, an editor at a publishing house, a bar owner, an artist and another journalist for the Chinese media outlet Caixin.
Senior CPC official extends Spring Festival greetings to religious groups-Xinhua Wang Huning, a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee, extended his festive greetings at a symposium with leaders of national religious groups ahead of the Chinese New Year...Thorough, extensive and tangible work should be done to ensure religions in China are Chinese in orientation, Wang said, noting that the religious sector has a principal role to play in the process. Wang also urged China's religious groups to guard against risks and hidden dangers, adhere to independence and self-management, and safeguard the order in the sector as well as social harmony and stability.
中国人民银行秘书局副局长李果接受审查调查————要闻——中央纪委国家监委网站 Li Guo, Deputy Director of the PBoC Secretary Bureau is under investigation
Persevere in Placing Political Security in the Predominant Position | The Center for Strategic Translation Translated below is an authoritative discussion of this threat as party leaders perceive it. It was originally published as the sixth chapter of The Total National Security Paradigm: A Study Outline 《总体国家安全观学习纲要》a 150 page textbook created jointly by the Office of the Central National Security Commission and the Central Propaganda Department of the Communist Party of China. The Study Outline was released on April 14th, 2022 and subsequently distributed to party committees at all administrative levels as an “an important and authoritative auxiliary text for the broad mass of cadres” to include in their group study sessions.3 Published shortly after the creation of the PRC’s National Security Strategy [国家安全战略] and concurrently with a bureaucratic expansion of the state security complex to the local administrative level,4 the book is designed to provide an accessible and unclassified overview of the security doctrine millions of cadres are now expected to implement.
Foreign and Defense Affairs
Xi presents certificate of order to promote military officer to rank of general-Xinhua on Wednesday presented a certificate of order at a ceremony to promote Huang Ming, commander of the Central Theater Command of the People's Liberation Army, to the rank of general.
中央军委举行晋升上将军衔仪式 习近平颁发命令状并向晋衔的军官表示祝贺 - 中华人民共和国国防部 习近平向晋升上将军衔的中部战区司令员黄铭颁发命令状，表示祝贺。佩戴了上将军衔肩章的黄铭向习近平敬礼，向参加仪式的全体同志敬礼，全场响起热烈掌声。
We risk what I have called a Great Fracture – the decoupling of the world’s two largest economies. A tectonic rift that would create two different sets of trade rules, two dominant currencies, two internets and two conflicting strategies on artificial intelligence.
This is the last thing we need. The IMF reported that dividing the global economy into two blocs could cut global GDP by a whopping $1.4 trillion.
There are many aspects in which US-China relations diverge – particularly on questions of human rights and regional security. But it is possible – indeed essential – for the two countries to have meaningful engagement on climate, trade and technology to avoid the decoupling of economies or even the possibility of future confrontation.
For the historians among you: We must avoid a 21st century sequel to the Thucydides Trap. At the same time, the North-South divide is deepening.
I am not convinced that the wealthier world truly grasps the degree of frustration and anger in the Global South. [Bill: The PRC grasps it]
Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Wang Wenbin’s Regular Press Conference on January 18, 2023 AFP: We’ve also seen reports that State Councilor Wang Yi will visit Europe. Can you confirm these reports and share any details? Wang Wenbin: We will keep you posted if anything comes up. China-EU relations enjoy steady development at the moment. In the final months of last year, China hosted German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and President of the European Council Charles Michel on their successful visits to China, which once again demonstrated that both China and Europe attach great importance to their relations. China looks to strengthen cooperation with Europe on the basis of mutual respect and make new progress together in advancing the China-EU comprehensive strategic partnership.
Chinese, Mongolian FMs pledge to enhance cooperation-Xinhua Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang on Tuesday held phone talks with his Mongolian counterpart, Batmunkh Battsetseg, with both sides pledging to enhance pragmatic cooperation...China appreciates Mongolia's scientific-based and objective stand and its support for normal people-to-people exchange between the two countries, Qin said.
Chinese, Malaysian FMs vow to advance B&R cooperation-Xinhua Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang on Tuesday held phone talks with his Malaysian counterpart, Zambry Abdul Kadir, with both sides vowing to advance Belt and Road cooperation. Qin said China is willing to work with Malaysia to take the opportunities of the 10th anniversary of the establishment of China-Malaysia comprehensive strategic partnership this year and the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties next year to push bilateral relations to a new level.
Yang Hengjun and journalist Cheng Lei, detained Australians in China, have their sentences delayed - Sydney Morning Herald Australian writer Yang Hengjun and journalist Cheng Lei have had their sentencing dates extended by another three months after several delays following their closed-door hearings on national security charges. Yang’s sentencing has now been delayed seven times since he was arrested in January 2019. Cheng has also been faced with multiple extensions since she was detained in August 2020 at the height of diplomatic disputes between Canberra and Beijing.
Kansas professor avoids prison in blow to Trump-era China-related probe | Reuters Prosecutors had asked U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson in Kansas City, Kansas, to sentence Feng "Franklin" Tao to 2-1/2 years in prison, even after the judge in September threw out most of his trial conviction for concealing work he did in China. Robinson instead sentenced the chemical engineering professor to time served with no fine or restitution
China space keeps upbeat momentum, eyeing nearly 70 orbital launches in 2023: CASC blue paper - Global Times China's state-owned aerospace giant China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC) issued its annual blue paper on Wednesday, revealing nearly 70 launches to send 200 spacecraft into space this year, compared with the current record of more than 50 in 2022...The basic structure of the International Lunar Research Station (ILRS) will be built by around 2028, so it will be possible for Chinese astronauts to land on the moon within 10 years, according to China's lunar exploration chief designer Wu Weiren. // 《中国航天科技活动蓝皮书（2022年）》发布_中国航天科技集团
PLA air defense missile unit tests quick deployment with Y-20 transport aircraft for 1st time - Global Times A top surface-to-air missile unit of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) Air Force recently took part in a systematic confrontational exercise, in which it for the first time tested its quick deployment capability by flying with Y-20 large transport aircraft. This method will significantly enhance China's air defense flexibility, analysts said on Wednesday.
Chinese students signing “loyalty” pledges before arrival in Sweden - PIE The Swedish daily newspaper Dagens Nyheter has obtained evidence of letters being written by Chinese doctoral students before their entry into Sweden apparently “swearing loyalty” to the ruling Communist party in their home country, among other agreements. The regime requires that they also must “serve the interests of the regime” and “never participate in ‘activities’ that go against the will of the authorities”, the report said.
China gears up for 2023 military recruitment-Xinhua China targets high-caliber soldiers for building a world-class military, according to a teleconference on conscription held in Beijing on Wednesday. China will conduct two rounds of military recruitment in 2023, during which the guiding principles of the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China should be fully implemented, the meeting noted. College students and graduates remain the focus of this year's work, and priority is given to students majoring in science and engineering, and those with skills needed for combat readiness.
Vice Foreign Minister Ma Zhaoxu Meets with Russian Ambassador to China Igor Morgulov Ma Zhaoxu noted that under the strategic guidance of President Xi Jinping and President Vladimir Putin, the China-Russia comprehensive strategic partnership of coordination for a new era has been kept on the right track. At the end of last year, the two heads of state had a successful virtual meeting, drawing a blueprint for the development of China-Russia relations in the years ahead. China is ready to work with Russia to follow through on the important common understandings reached between the two heads of state, further increase political mutual trust, deepen cooperation in various fields, and constantly advance bilateral relations to higher levels.
Xia Baolong, Vice President of Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference and Chinese Chairman of the China-Russia Friendship, Peace and Development Committee, met with Morcourt Lov, the new Russian ambassador to China.
Xia Baolong welcomes Igor Morgulov to his new post. The two sides expressed their willingness to take the consensus of the two heads of state as the guide, support the promotion of non-governmental diplomacy, and continuously consolidate the public opinion base of Sino-Russian friendship for generations.
Chinese workers on Africa’s infrastructure projects: The link with host political regimes | The Nation Newspaper Our research covering 195 countries explored whether different types of host regime were more likely or less likely to allow Chinese workers in or force Chinese companies to hire locally. We found that democratic governments were much more prone to limiting the number of Chinese workers in the infrastructure sector in the face of potential domestic opposition to those workers. The opposite was true in more authoritarian countries.
Cleverly: We also discussed China’s growing assertiveness on the world stage, which poses a systematic challenge to many of our values and interests, and we recognize the need to manage competition with China, including through diplomacy and engagement. And we spoke of the need to enhance, with our allies and friends, our respective economic security, and we also need to take a long view, strengthen our resilience, and reduce strategic dependencies.
But nor can we ignore China or the need to engage with it, given China’s significance on every issue in world affairs, ranging from economic stability to climate change.
Britain and America share a steadfast commitment to peace and security in the Indo-Pacific. And the AUKUS partnership – a decade-long project to provide a nuclear-powered, conventionally armed submarine capability to Australia – is only possible because of the unique bond of trust between us.
Chinese top official reiterates commitment to helping Sri Lanka – The Island Chinese International Department Vice Minister Chen Zhou yesterday told political party leaders that China is ready to work with any party and that the developing world can benefit greatly from collaboration with Beijing. Zhou made this statement, briefing political party representatives, and journalists, on the 20th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party...A high-level delegation of the Communist Party of China (CPC), led by Zhou, will be in Sri Lanka till 18 January.
Media Release: Malwathu Mahanayake Meeting Chinese Delegation On 11th January 2023, Chargé d'affaires Hu Wei of the Chinese Embassy in Sri Lanka called on the Mahanayake Thero of the Malwathu chapter of Siam Nikaya, Most Venerable Thibbatuwawe Sri Siddhartha Sumangala Thero in Kandy. They had a friendly conversation about the millennia close exchanges between the two peoples and Buddhist communities of the two countries, as well as China's firm support to all walks of life in Sri Lanka to fight against COVID-19 epidemic and the economic crisis. The issue of the 14th Dalai Lama's intention to visit Sri Lanka was also discussed. Chargé d'affaires Hu Wei stated that the government and people of China including in the Tibet Autonomous Region strongly oppose any foreign country to receive the Dalai Lama in any name, because the 14th Dalai Lama is absolutely not a "simple monk" as he self-claimed, but the head of the feudal serfdom and the theocracy in Tibet prior to 1951, a political exile disguised as a religious figure who has long been engaging in anti-China separatist activities and attempting to split Tibet from China.
HKSAR to finalize Article 23 in 2023 with focus on preventing spying activities - Global Times John Lee Ka-chiu, Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) government, said in his latest interview with local media that the government hopes to complete legislation for Article 23 of the Basic Law in 2023, which is expected to prevent national security risks, particularly targeting spying activities, with the help of new technologies.
6 arrested by national security police over 'seditious book' sold at Hong Kong Lunar New Year fair - Hong Kong Free Press HKFP According to local media, three were apprehended during a raid of a Lunar New Year fair at Ginza Plaza in Mong Kok on Tuesday evening by officers from the National Security Department and Customs. The others were arrested in Kowloon and the New Territories. Alan Keung Ka-wai, the founder of independent news outlet Free HK Media, was among those arrested, Ming Pao and state-backed paper Wenweipo reported.. The group was accused of producing and publishing a “seditious book about a series of riots that occurred in Hong Kong from June 2019 to February 2020,” and selling them at the Mong Kok fair between December and January.
Beijing’s new infrastructure binds Hong Kong to mainland - Nikkei Asia Projects like the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge, a 55-km system of tunnels and the world’s longest sea bridge that opened in 2018, is just one piece of an increasingly complicated jigsaw of infrastructure linking Greater Bay Area cities. Others include rail lines, bridges, special economic zones and massive real estate projects that open up vast economic opportunities for Hong Kong.
China 'more likely' to invade Taiwan - and attack could come in 2027, island's foreign minister Joseph Wu warns | World News | Sky News Mr Wu acknowledged that "the situation in the last year compared to the two previous years is much worse", but said: "To me, 2027 is the year that we need to watch out for." // Question: So why then are Taiwan politicians, military brass and spycatchers not acting like an existential crisis may be barely 4 years away, in FM Wu's telling?
Taiwan cracks down on sales of mainland China noodles that said ‘you’re Chinese’ | South China Morning Post Media reports in Taiwan showed some of the rice noodles packaged in colourful bags that read: “You’re Chinese, I’m also Chinese. Rounded once, you are my person.” The ministry statements followed complaints by a minor political party on Monday that mainland China was infiltrating Taiwan through the sale of the noodles.
The South American Election That Has Taiwan Scrambling – The Diplomat Paraguay’s upcoming election in late April could see the country establish ties with China at long last. Taipei is predictably worried.
Tech and Media
China’s Video Game Regulator Issues Fresh Licenses in Positive Sign for Recovering Industry - Caixin The National Press and Publication Administration (NPPA) issued 88 domestic game licenses for January on Tuesday, four more than in December. The latest approvals include games from Tencent, NetEase, miHoYo Co. Ltd. and Perfect World Co. Ltd., some of which had years of testing and have amassed millions of pre-registrations from prospective players.
“a huge, huge part of [Apple’s] secret sauce” is how frequently its top talent from California would travel to China and spend months at its suppliers’ plants. Pre-pandemic, such trips had become so common that the company was booking “50 business class seats daily” from San Francisco to Shanghai, according to an accidental leak from United Airlines.
But since 2020, Apple has been unable to send troops of engineers to China.
Two former Apple manufacturing engineers say the company’s Chinese engineers really stepped up and proved themselves. “Apple provided a training ground for Chinese manufacturing engineering that was second to none,” one person says. Apple, in turn, raised their pay and has been able to retain most of the team despite frequent recruiting efforts from rivals.
However, two people familiar with Apple’s operations say that giving up control risks slowing innovation and leaking intellectual property. “The Cupertino guys stood back and let the Chinese take the lead,” says one. “The Chinese guys completely control the product now.”
TikTok banned from University of Texas campus on cybersecurity concerns raised by governor and US government | South China Morning Post The school said on Tuesday that it is permanently blocking TikTok’s access on its systems, prohibiting devices to use the app on the university's wired or Wi-fi networks. The announcement follows a directive last month from Texas Governor Greg Abbott, who ordered all state agencies to bar its officers and employees from downloading or using TikTok on government-issued devices
India Approves More Apple's Chinese Suppliers to Expand in the Country - Bloomberg AirPods and iPhone assembler Luxshare Precision Industry Co. and a unit of lensmaker Sunny Optical Technology Group Co. are among the companies gaining approval, people familiar with the matter said, asking not to be named because the permits aren’t public. The clearances from key Indian ministries are a step toward full approval for expansion in India, and the companies will still likely to be required to find local Indian joint venture partners, the people said. // Comment: To manufacture in India Apple’s Chinese suppliers have to follow, btu they are still making the key components in China and then shipping them to India for assembly, so there is little change in Apple’s supply chain concentration
Shine coming off Shein - Shein in talks on fundraising that would slash valuation from $100bn to $64bn | Financial Times Those familiar with the Shein talks said all investors that participated in the April fundraising that valued the company at $100bn would reprice their investment at the new valuation. This would mean those involved in the previous fundraising would gain greater equity in the company, as Shein seeks to raise between $1.5bn-$3bn in the new round that is expected to close in the coming months.
Xiaomi-Backed Hesai Files for $100 Million U.S. IPO - Caixin Hesai Technology Co., a Chinese developer of sensor technologies used in self-driving cars, filed for an initial public offering (IPO) in the U.S. to raise $100 million, aiming to become the first publicly traded Chinese lidar sensor maker. The Shanghai-based startup previously planned to sell shares domestically. It filed for an IPO on Shanghai’s Nasdaq-like STAR Market in 2021 to raise 2 billion yuan ($296 million) but withdrew the application two months later
Society, Arts, Sports, Culture and History
Online Reactions to Official Pronouncement on China’s Sharp Population Decline - CDT Not everyone is swayed by the CCP’s increasingly pro-natalist stance. After the government’s announcement on Tuesday, the hashtag #IsItReallyImportantToHaveOffspring? (#有没有后代真的很重要吗#) garnered hundreds of millions of hits. One netizen wrote: “The fundamental reason why women do not want to have children lies not in themselves, but in the failure of society and men to take up the responsibility of raising children. For women who give birth this leads to a serious decline in their quality of life and spiritual life.”
F1 facing four-week gap with no replacement for Chinese GP | Formula One | The Guardian Formula One will have a four-week hole in this season’s calendar after it was confirmed the Chinese Grand Prix would not be replaced. The race in Shanghai, which had been due to take place on 16 April, was cancelled last month because of coronavirus restrictions in the country. Despite Chinese officials subsequently moving away from their zero-Covid policy, the round could not be salvaged
China Promotes Language Standardization in IT Products, Publications - SixthTone China’s Ministry of Education, which oversees education and language-related issues, on Monday rolled out a set of new rules requiring information technology service providers to comply with existing Chinese language standards stipulated by the authorities. The first-of-its-kind rules are expected to come into effect in March.
Ten Chinese players face match-fixing charges | Reuters Ten Chinese snooker players face match fixing charges following an investigation by the governing World Professional Billiards and Snooker Association (WPBSA)'s integrity unit, it announced on Wednesday.
Energy, Environment, Science and Health
Chinese premier stresses stable energy supply for livelihoods, development-Xinhua Chinese Premier Li Keqiang underlined efforts to ensure stable energy supply and prices to better serve economic and social development during an inspection of the State Grid Corporation of China on Tuesday...Given the upcoming holiday, electricity companies should be well prepared to deal with possible disasters such as extreme weather, and ensure a safe and reliable power supply, especially in key areas including medical care, Li said.
He Jiankui: The man behind the first genetically modified human babies wants to resume experimenting | Science & Tech | EL PAÍS English Edition He Jiankui, the scientist who created the first genetically modified human babies in one of the most dangerous medical experiments ever, has been released from prison and wants to return to science. In several email exchanges with EL PAÍS (He won’t give personal interviews), the Chinese biophysicist says he wants to work on cures for genetic diseases in children and adults. Most of the international experts we interviewed for this report, including a Nobel laureate, are aghast at the prospect of He’s return
Rural and Agricultural Issues
Dim Sums: Rural China Economics and Policy: Hog Companies Increased Dominance in 2022 China's publicly listed hog companies continued boosting their share of sales during 2022. Data compiled by Futures Daily showed that 16 companies reported a combined 129.2-million head sales total in 2022. [update: This is 18.5 percent of national hog slaughter of 700 million head announced today by the National Bureau of Statistics.]
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