Yang Jiechi Coming To DC; Photos Of PRC Militarization In South China Sea; Gui Minhai Case Gets Uglier; "Cleaning The Birdcage To Change The Birds 腾笼换鸟"; More On The Rural Revitalization Policy

Happy Tuesday...news is a bit light as China is slowing down for the upcoming Lunar New Year Holiday.  

Thanks for reading. 


The Essential Eight

1. Yang Jiechi Coming To Washington DC

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed that Yang will be in DC February 8 and 9. 

The 1.30 issue of Sinocism noted that Yang was soon to visit DC and wondered what his visit may mean in the context of the rumors Wang Qishan will be playing a ole in US-China relations:

We have been hearing for a while that Wang would play a leading role in US-China relations. Yang Jiechi will likely not be pleased if that is true, and one wonders how his upcoming DC visit will go, and if he will not somehow get stuck with the blame for the growing tensions as Wang steps in to "firefight"?

China, US top diplomats to meet, North Korea likely high on agenda | South China Morning Post:

Chinese State Councillor Yang Jiechi will visit the US from Thursday to Friday at the invitation of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang announced late on Monday.


2. Philippine Media Publishes Photos Of PRC's Progress Militarizing South China Sea (or South China Lake?) Outposts 

New photos show China is nearly done with its militarization of South China Sea | INQUIRER.net:

Aerial photographs obtained by Inquirer.net from a source show that China is almost finished transforming seven reefs claimed by the Philippines in the Spratly archipelago into island fortresses, in a bid to dominate the heavily disputed South China Sea.

Most of the photos, taken between June and December 2017, were snapped from an altitude of 1,500 meters and they showed the reefs that had been transformed into artificial islands in the final stages of development as air and naval bases.

Philippines on China military build-up: No war option | Al Jazeera:

President Rodrigo Duterte's office said on Monday that Filipino officials "know about the work" of China in seven disputed reefs, and the country relies "on the principle of good faith" that Beijing "will not reclaim new artificial islands".

Philippines' Duterte reneges on China deal, bans foreign research ships - Reuters:

The area of focus is Benham Rise, which the United Nations in 2012 declared part of the Philippines’ continental shelf. Manila last year renamed it “Philippine Rise”.

“Let me be very clear about this: the Philippine Rise is ours and any insinuation that it is open to everybody should end with this declaration,” Duterte told a cabinet meeting on Monday, according to a Facebook post by his Agriculture Secretary, Emmanuel Pinol.


3. Gui Minhai Case Just Gets Uglier And Uglier

But what is a small country like Sweden to do in the face of a big country like China, especially when the EU does not have a United Front towards China?

China confirms Gui Minhai, a Swedish citizen and Hong Kong bookseller, is in detention - Reuters:

“Gui Minhai broke Chinese law and has already been subjected to criminal coercive measures in accordance with the law by relevant Chinese authorities,” foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said...

Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallström said in a statement on Monday that Gui’s continued detention was a “very serious matter” and that China’s “brutal” intervention in Sweden’s attempts to help Gui, who Chinese authorities had said was free, represented a contravention of international rules on consular support...

Asked about Wallström’s demands, Geng said China could not accept such “irresponsible” statements from Sweden.

“Although Gui Minhai is a Swedish citizen, the case he is suspected of must be handled in accordance with Chinese law,” he said.

Sweden should understand the serious nature of the case and the “disgraceful” role played by certain Swedish people, Geng said, without giving details.

Sweden FM slams China as missing bookseller row escalates - AP:

In a sharply worded statement Monday, Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom questioned the rule of law in China and characterized Gui’s detention on Jan. 20 on a Chinese train as “contrary to basic international rules on consular support.” She demanded that China disclose Gui’s whereabouts and his alleged crime...

“The brutal intervention in January against a Swedish support measure was implemented despite Chinese repeated assurances that Gui Minhai was a free man at the time,” Wallstrom said...

Germany’s ambassador to China, Michael Clauss, on Tuesday backed Sweden’s statement, saying “there is no doubt that Sweden has the support of all of us as members of the EU.”

Sexist and Racist Attacks at the South China Morning Post : The Dui Hua Foundation:

Publication of racist and sexist opinions by a leading member of the Post’s editorial team is inconsistent with the values of a great newspaper. Until Yonden Lhatoo, the Post’s Chief News Editor, apologizes to the victims of his sexist and racist attacks, The Dui Hua Foundation will have nothing to do with this publication. Dui Hua has removed journalists working for the newspaper from its distribution lists, and will no longer make comments or give interviews to the South China Morning Post.


4. "Cleaning The Birdcage To Change The Birds 腾笼换鸟"

This may be moving from trying to read the tea leaves to examining the bird droppings, but it look interesting.

Based on the Beijing Daily's reported comments at the 1.30 Beijing Party Committee meeting, Beijing's plan to clean up the city and turn it into a more modern, sanitized metropolis will continue. One phrase used --"clean the birdcage to change the birds腾笼换鸟"-has raised speculation that the the clear out of Beijing's "low-end population" looks set to continue in 2018.

北京市委常委会召开会议 蔡奇主持会议--人民网:

会议研究了“疏解整治促提升”专项行动2018年工作计划和到2020年任务安排,指出,开展“疏解整治促提升”专项行动,对于有序疏解非首都功能、改善人居环境、提升城市品质、促进可持续发展具有重要作用。“疏解整治促提升”,疏解是“牛鼻子”,是第一位的。要加强统筹谋划,发挥城市副中心建设等重大项目、区域性专业市场和部分学校、医院等公共服务功能疏解的带动作用,支持在京单位疏解。整治的着力点放在治理“大城市病”上,要把握工作节奏,依法依规平稳实施。提升要紧扣人民群众对美好生活的向往,按照北京市民对便利性、宜居性、多样性、公正性、安全性的新需要,不断保障和改善民生;统筹利用腾退空间,加快“腾笼换鸟”,构建高精尖产业结构,推动创新发展。“疏解整治促提升”不可能毕其功于一役,要保持定力,坚定有序、平稳推进,以群众的满意度来衡量工作成效。

Others say it is not really about removing more migrants but about upgrading the city's industrial structure. Duowei claims it is a sign that Xi has affirmed Wang Yang's views of reform, as “腾笼换鸟” was a slogan Wang coined when he was running Guangdong-汪洋改革政策获习近平肯定 蔡奇力挺北京“腾笼换鸟” :

北京市委书记蔡奇与北京市长陈吉宁在北京调研时,称大力推进“腾笼换鸟”,引发舆论关注。有外界声音将北京的这一政策与前不久的清理低端人口联系到一起,分析指出,“腾笼换鸟”政策即中国产业结构升级,第一并非北京一地在推进,中国多数东部沿海城市皆在进行产业结构升级。第二所谓“换鸟”并非指要清理“低端人口”,而是针对高能耗,高污染和低附加值的企业。

但是熟悉中国政治的人都记得,“腾笼换鸟”系现任中共政治局常委汪洋在中共十八大前主政广东时提出的产业政策发展口号。无论是十八大后中国政府推进产业结构,不再唯GDP论的战略方向,还是此次蔡奇重提,都从一个侧面表明汪洋当年的政策已经被中南海接受、肯定。

2014年3月中国全国两会期间,习近平到广东代表团讨论时提及已经在广东推行8年的“腾笼换鸟”政策,用了“腾笼换鸟、凤凰涅槃”八个字。当时外界就普遍预期,这是中共执政者为解决当下中国经济问题所开出的药方。而事实也证明确是如此。

My money is on a bit of both...

And why do CCP leaders seem to have such a thing with bird cages?

Some History:

Wang Yang – the ‘joker’ and reformer in Xi Jinping’s new pack | South China Morning Post 10.25.17:

Wang’s catchphrase during the initiative to refocus Guangdong’s economy was: “Empty the cage and let the right birds in”.

Reuters in 2012-Wang Yang: reformist credentials tested by Chinese system 

Known in Chinese as “cleaning the birdcage to change the birds”, Wang sought to replace Guangdong’s low-end factories with high-tech industries


5. More On The Rural Revitalization Policy

The anonymous author of this blog has worked for the US government covering China agricultural issues.- Dim Sums: Rural China Economics and Policy: No. 1 Document Sets Rural Revitalization Program:

The ambitious and idealistic program is purportedly inspired by the thinking of "core" leader comrade Xi Jinping. The program is aimed at finally "winning" the long-sought "relatively well-off society." There will be balance between countryside and city development, people will enjoy a good life, poverty will be eliminated by hooking up poor regions with thriving industry, the countryside will be beautiful, there will be harmony between humans and their natural environment, Chinese industries will produce quality products, Chinese products will be internationally competitive, R&D will drive development, yet traditional Chinese culture will be preserved and propagated. All of this is to be orchestrated by the communist party.


6. Hong Kong Democracy Leaders Out Of Jail But Not Out Of Woods

Hong Kong activists have jail sentences overturned | The Guardian

Three prominent Hong Kong democracy activists have won an appeal in the territory’s highest court against jail sentences relating to the 2014 “umbrella movement” protests, but were warned that future acts of civil disobedience would be dealt with harshly.

Joshua Wong, Nathan Law and Alex Chow were given prison terms ranging from six to eight months in August on charges of “unlawful assembly” for staging a demonstration that sparked 11 weeks of sit-ins in 2014 calling for greater democracy.

Judgment by the Hong Kong Court of Final Appeal - The New York Times full text


7. Shadow Banking Rules Coming, Compliance Delayed Until End Of 2019

So reports Caixin in China Likely to Take Aim at Shadow Bankers by March: Sources - Caixin Global:

The proposed set of regulations was published in November on the People’s Bank of China’s website. The final version is likely to be subject to amendments that will have to be approved by the Financial Stability and Development Committee of the State Council, China’s cabinet, knowledgeable sources close to the regulator said. A final version could be published before the country holds its annual legislative sessions or even earlier in mid-February, the sources added...

Policymakers may postpone the deadline for compliance by six months to the end of 2019 in the final version, the sources told Caixin.


8. Another Round Of The Tencent-Alipay Mobile Payments War Set For The New Year

China's tech giants announce plans for hongbao battle ahead of Spring Festival · TechNode:

Tencent’s plan for instant massaging tool QQ combines the cash-giving tradition with fitness tracking, another popular feature. Like WeChat Sports, QQ can read motion-tracking data from your phone and with every 100 steps, users get a chance to draw their share of RMB 200 million (around $32 million) in cash and RMB 4 billion in virtual coupons. The principle is simple: the more you walk, the more benefits you can get.

In addition to maintaining the augmented reality hongbao campaign, Tencent’s rival Alibaba announced a partnership between its online marketplace Taobao and CCTV Spring Festival Gala, the largest entertainment show in China, to hand out RMB 600 million red envelopes and gifts to viewers during the gala.


Business, Economy, Finance And Trade

Brazil drops railway to the Pacific for China exports, citing costs - Reuters The 5,000-km (3,300-mile) railway over the Andes to the Pacific coast, announced during a visit by President Xi Jinping in 2014, was meant to speed up soybean and iron ore exports to China at a lower cost by bypassing the Panama Canal. But at an estimated cost of $80 billion, the railway would not be commercially viable if it transported just commodities and not more valuable goods, Jorge Arbache, vice planning minister for international affairs, told Reuters in an interview late on Thursday.

The real reason why Wall Street is shorting Alibaba - Yahoo Finance Alibaba is currently the largest equity short worldwide with a short interest of $25.9 billion, according to New York-based financial data firm S3 Partners. As the stock price tripled since 2016, short sellers haven’t been scared by the $15.7 billion mark-to-market loss. One month into 2018, Alibaba’s short interest has already gone up by 19%, or $3.99 billion...the real reason behind the big short may not be Alibaba itself. “Alibaba is a major short for being a hedge for the Chinese economy, as opposed to purely negative stock play.” Ihor Dusaniwsky, managing director at S3 told Yahoo Finance. “The majority of the short is more a Beta bet than an Alpha bet.”

Philippine Senator Demands $74 Million Refund, Penalty for Overweight Trains - Caixin Global The president of the Philippine Senate is demanding that a Chinese light-rail train maker refund $74 million for 48 overweight trains and be blacklisted from all future government projects. Philippine Senate President Aquilino Pimentel III demanded a full refund by CRRC Dalian Co. Ltd., which delivered 48 light-rail coaches in 2016 that exceeded the weight limit for the Metro Rail Transit (MRT) system in Manila, according to a statement posted on Saturday on the Senate’s website.

Frenzy of Fines for China's Banks Is Only Just Getting Started - Bloomberg "The scrutiny will continue," said Chen Shujin, a Hong Kong-based analyst at Hua Tai Securities Co. "The regulators are particularly targeting internal controls and interbank activities." Greater regulatory scrutiny could cut into banks’ profitability by limiting their business opportunities, forcing them to bring more loans back onto their balance sheets and weaken capital strength, Fitch Ratings warned last month.

China central bank reaffirms prudent, neutral monetary policy in 2018 - Reuters China also will step up macro-prudential management for shadow banking and real estate financing, the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) said on its website after concluding an internal work conference.

IPO Regulator Appointed Manager of ‘National Team’ Fund - Caixin Global China Securities Finance Corp. (CSF), which led the so-called “national team” that propped up share prices after the 2015 China stock market turmoil, is appointing a new helmsman from the country’s top securities watchdog. The appointment has been made known internally, while the official announcement and appointment are still pending, according to sources. Caixin has learned that CSF’s new general manager will be Li Qingying, vice director of the Department of Public Offering Supervision of the China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC).

 

Politics, Law And Ideology

Translation: Second Draft of the Supervision Law – NPC Observer Lastly, to just name two defects of the second draft: It still did not address the right to attorney of those retained in custody. And the length of retention in custody is still three months, with a one-time three-month extension possible that is still completely left to the supervision commissions’ discretion.

宁德治吏:看习近平惩治贪腐的“初心”之源_新闻_腾讯网 Comment: CGTN goes with the bilingual approach in the latest hagiographical report of Xi's time as a junior official  //  A trademark of Xi Jinping’s governing style is his determination to combat corruption with an iron fist, regardless of the status of the perpetrator. As early as 1988 in Ningde, Fujian Province, Xi led a successful drive to end illegal land occupation. 习近平从严治党、铁腕反腐的治国方略,使他近年在海内外都获得了非常高的评价。回溯习近平根植人民、情系群众、致力反腐的“初心”之源,还要从他1988年开始担任福建宁德地委书记说起。

中央精神文明建设指导委员会召开第一次全体会议--时政--人民网 会上,中央文明委10家成员单位负责同志作了发言。会议认为,党的十八大以来在以习近平同志为核心的党中央坚强领导下,精神文明建设战线认真贯彻习近平总书记关于精神文明建设的重要思想,各项工作取得了历史性成就、发生了历史性变革,为党和国家事业全面开创新局面作出了重要贡献。Xinhua-Upholding Xi's core status focus of China's cultural-ethical work 

抵制历史虚无主义在网络上蔓延需精准发力 - 红旗文稿 作者: 江大伟 More in Red Flag Manuscript on combatting online historical nihilism...some say Red Flag Manuscript is irrelevant these days as no one reads it.. But does Xi read it? Red Flag Manuscript is an old school Party publication and Xi sure seems like an old school Party guy  //  随着互联网的日益普及以及新媒体技术的快速发展和广泛应用,人们的思想价值观念受到极大的冲击和影响。借助网络新媒体这一载体,各种社会思潮鱼龙混杂,气势汹涌,席卷而来,对我国的意识形态安全带来严重挑战,历史虚无主义思潮就是其中之一。我们必须结合其网络传播特点和表现,找准症结,精准发力,清理其网络传播空间。-- 作者单位:北京理工大学马克思主义学院(本文系国家社科基金青年项目“毛泽东思想的当代价值研究”[项目批准号:16CKS005]的阶段性成果)

 

Foreign and Military Affairs

习主席视察过的部队:潜心砺剑,战略铁拳越练越硬 - 中华人民共和国国防部 2015年1月21日,习主席视察火箭军某基地时指示,努力把基地打造成为有效慑敌制敌的战略拳头。该基地领导介绍说,时不我待投身练兵备战,就是践行习主席嘱托的最好行动。3年来,基地官兵枕戈待旦聚力备战打仗,从难从严组织实战化训练,作战能力连年攀升,战略铁拳越练越硬。“号手就位!”一声令下,四营二连一级操作号手苏毅迅速奔向战位。今年开训后,在某导弹旅有“全能号手”之称的苏毅,从背导弹原理图到上架模拟操作,每一个战斗动作训练都一丝不苟。

China carries out anti-missile test amid tension over North Korea’s nuclear programme | South China Morning Post A statement from the Ministry of Defence said a ground-based interceptor missile was used to knock out a ballistic missile during the “mid-course” of its flight outside the Earth’s atmosphere. The test was on Monday in a location in China, but no other details were given.

Chinese jets training with missiles fly by disputed South China Sea waters near Vietnam in new response to US warships | South China Morning Post The navy did not name the airstrip, but military experts said it was on Woody Island in the Paracels. They also said the exercise was Beijing's latest response to the US guided-missile destroyer USS Lassen sailing within 12 nautical miles of Subi Reef last Tuesday. Subi Reef - located 600km from Woody Island - is one of seven reefs and rocks in the Spratlys chain on which China has built artificial islands.

Chinese warship reportedly equipped with electromagnetic railgun - People's Daily Online “Though the U.S. has been openly developing electromagnetic guns for years, it doesn’t mean that China is far behind in this field, as the latter [usually] keeps quiet about its progress due to secrecy concerns,” Chen Shuoren, a military commentator, told the Science and Technology Daily on Monday.

Inner City Press: In UN Bribery Case, Ho Is Denied Bail, Emails from MCC to CEFC, Still in ECOSOC US District Court Judge Katherine Forrest asked Prosecutor Daniel C. Richenthal to describe the weight of the evidence. "How strong is your case?" she asked, to some laughter. Very strong, he said, adding that Ho has been emailing the "Shanghai-based Energy Company" (that would be CEFC China Energy) from MCC detention, to launch a public relations campaign. It may be backfiring: Judge Forrest in her ruling denying bail noted that if Chinese government press is describing the case as political, it would make fleeing and remaining in China all the easier.

Senior US diplomat pitches arms sales in China's backyard - AP A large U.S. delegation at the Singapore Air Show is doing “everything we can” to encourage Southeast Asian governments to purchase U.S.-made arms like the F-35 fighter jet, Ambassador Tina Kaidanow told reporters in a telephone briefing. She repeatedly sought to dispel the notion that U.S. influence was in retreat.

China tells Pakistan to improve security after Chinese killing - Times of India "Recently the Pakistan government and the military has taken a series of counter terrorism and social security management actions," Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said here when asked whether China is confident about the security of its nationals in Pakistan after yesterday's shooting. "We support Pakistan to promote relevant actions and safeguard domestic security and stability. We hope and believe Pakistan will continue to take measures to safeguard the security of the Chinese institutions and personnel in Pakistan," he said.

China successfully conducts mid-course anti-missile test - Global Times The announcement came after luminous clouds were spotted in Turpan, Northwest China's Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region on Friday, of which pictures of it were spread online. "The mid-course of the long-range ballistic missile is located in the outer atmosphere, where the interception could reduce damage to the target on our side," Yang Chengjun, a Chinese missile expert and quantum defense scientist, told the Global Times on Tuesday. "The higher the interception is made, the smaller the damage to us would be." This is the Chinese military's third public announcement of a successful test of the mid-course land-based missile interception technology. The previous two were in January 2010 and January 2013.

Misguided academics promote China-EU confrontation - Global Times Released by the Mercator Institute for China Studies and the Berliner Global Public Policy Institute on Monday, the report "Authoritarian Advance: Responding to China's Growing Political Influence in Europe" accuses China of expanding its political influence in Europe and attributes China's alleged "political influence-seeking" to demands for securing "regime stability at home" and an intention to "popularize its political and economic development model abroad." The report also hit at China's lack of openness, criticizing China for tightly restricting access to international ideas, actors and capital.

China commits to policy of reform and opening up: premier - Xinhua China will remain committed to the policy of reform and opening up and provide more convenience for foreign experts to work in China, Premier Li Keqiang said Monday. The statement came as Li had a discussion with more than 60 foreign experts working in China prior to the Chinese Lunar New Year, which falls on Feb. 16 this year. This year marks the fortieth anniversary of China's policy of reform and opening up.

China's CH-4 drone completes first live-fire test - Xinhua The tested CH-4 is an upgraded version of the model which was first produced in 2015. This was the first time that the UAV conducted a highly concentrated live-fire test carrying multiple kinds of ammunition, with functions covering both extensive bombing and precise targeting

Seven Chinas | Center for Strategic and International Studies David Kelly, head of research at China Policy, offers an alternative approach that examines the nature of Chinese identity, or rather, Chinese identities, plural, and how they exhibit themselves in Chinese foreign policy. Using his renowned skills in reading Chinese-language official documents and the broader commentary, Kelly teases out seven narratives that Chinese tell themselves and the world, and he provides a codebook for explicating shifting Chinese behavior in different arenas. Kelly concludes that some of these narratives facilitate cooperation, but most point toward deep-seated tensions between China and the West in the years ahead.

  

Tech And Media

CAA Names Daniel Manwaring Head Of China Motion Picture Group Replacing Jonah Greenberg | Deadline CAA has made a change in the Beijing office. Daniel Manwaring has been named the head of agency’s China’s Motion Pictures group replacing Jonah Greenberg who will now become a producer and a client. Manwaring has been with CAA since 2012 and was splitting his time between LA and China.

Wanda Film Sells $1.24 Billion Stake to Alibaba, China’s CIH – Variety Dalian Wanda is to sell a 13% stake in listed subsidiary Wanda Film Holdings to Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba and to state-owned enterprise Cultural Investment Holdings. The deal, announced Monday, is valued at $1.24 billion (RMB7.8 billion). Alibaba will take the slightly larger slice of the company, paying $744 million (RMB4.68 billion). CIH, which is controlled by the Beijing city authorities but has its own share listing, will take the remainder.

 

Society, Art, Sports, Culture And History

China's winter resorts face tougher terrain despite Olympics excitement - Reuters Skier visits to Chinese resorts rose 15.9 percent last year to 17.5 million, according to the China Ski Industry White Book, an annual report by Carving Ski, a Beijing-based ski industry consultancy, distributor and service provider. The boom is also underpinned by a pledge by President Xi Jinping to get 300 million Chinese on skis and skates for the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympic

 

Energy, Environment, Science And Health

New Hampshire naturalist featured in 'Pandas' film - AP In his 20 years of intimate research on New Hampshire black bears, Ben Kilham has made ground-breaking discoveries on the species’ family structure and psychology. Kilham’s observations have been so influential that scientists in China asked if he would travel to the country to see if his research and rehabilitation methods could apply to the country’s vulnerable panda population.

 

Education

Student Rankings Are Making Parents and Kids More Miserable - Sixth Tone Last month, Chinese online news outlet Tencent published a provocative blog in which a parent claimed that they would rather their child be at the bottom of their class and happy than top of their class and miserable. Though the benefits of this approach may seem self-evident to those brought up in more holistic education systems, it nonetheless incited vociferous debate among China’s young parents. The author of the piece, who wrote under the pseudonym Ai Chuan, described himself as a member of the precarious middle-class

 

Food And Travel

State Broadcaster Tells Tourists to Stop Chanting ‘China!’ - Sixth Tone A commentary (祖国是你危难时的后盾,但不是背锅侠published Friday on China Central Television’s website warned citizens against using the country as a “scapegoat” after more than a hundred Chinese tourists chanted the national anthem to protest their canceled flight. They were scheduled to fly to Shanghai on Jan. 24 but ended up stranded due to snowy weather at the destination. “By putting on a ‘Wolf Warrior’ style of patriotism improperly and shouting ‘China!’ whenever you feel like it, you won’t gain sympathy from either foreign airports or domestic compatriots,” the CCTV commentary said. “Just because the motherland stands behind you when you’re in trouble doesn’t mean she will take the blame.”