Zhang Xiaoming on Hong Kong; Exporting the China model; US-China

It is a bit of a slow day today as we await with bated breath the end of the Central Economic Work Conference and the latest speculation about the fate of the US-China trade talks. My speculation on those talks is that the fate of the current phase will be announced via a presidential tweet, quite possibly as early as Thursday.

No commentary up top today.

Thanks for reading.

1. US-China

Focus squarely on Trump as Dec 15 tariffs loom in US-China trade war - Reuters

The White House’s top economic and trade advisers, including Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, Larry Kudlow, Peter Navarro, and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin are expected to meet in coming days with Trump over that decision, one person briefed on the situation said. There is still no clarity on what the decision will be.

Washington is laying the groundwork for a delay in the latest tariffs, scheduled to take effect on Dec. 15, but a final decision has not been made, the person told Reuters...

A Chinese official familiar with the situation said that given current progress, “even if there is a (phase one) deal, I am afraid that it may have to wait until next year.”

Both sides have still not reached agreement on crucial parts of the deal. These include the amount of U.S. agricultural goods Beijing would agree to purchase and when the U.S. would roll back other tariffs it imposed on Chinese goods, people briefed on the talks said.

Exclusive: U.S. Army will fund rare earths plant for weapons development - Reuters

The move would mark the first financial investment by the U.S. military into commercial-scale rare earths production since World War Two’s Manhattan Project built the first atomic bomb.

It comes after President Donald Trump earlier this year ordered the military to update its supply chain for the niche materials, warning that reliance on other nations for the strategic minerals could hamper U.S. defenses.

Mattress deals: 'Dumping' by Chinese manufacturers roils US bedding industry

In 2018, about 5 million mattresses were shipped to the U.S. by Chinese manufacturers that are now accused of having built their businesses on aggressive price cuts, according to the results of a United States International Trade Commission (USITC) investigation. That number is equivalent to about one-third of total mattress production capacity in the United States.

China retaliatory tariffs cost billions in lost consumption: study - Reuters

Tariffs slapped by China on U.S. products cost the most affected communities billions of dollars in lost auto sales in 2018 as the hit to local incomes undercut household spending, according to an analysis released on Wednesday by the National Bureau of Economic Research.

Those communities also saw slower job growth, Michael Waugh, an associate professor of economics at New York University’s Stern School of Business and the study’s author, said in the paper.

The paper - The Consumption Response to Trade Shocks: Evidence from the US-China Trade War

China hits out at United States for ‘stirring up colour revolutions and chaos’ to ‘under banner of human rights’ in apparent reference to Xinijang camps and Hong Kong protests | South China Morning Post

While not referring directly to the US, the comments by Chinese vice foreign minister Ma Zhaoxu at a human rights forum in Beijing on Wednesday followed advances in the US legislative process for bills on Hong Kong and Xinjiang.

“Some countries are making colour revolutions all over the place to force regime change under the banner of human rights,” Ma said, referring to various protest movements in former Soviet bloc countries in the early 2000s.

Fentanyl coming directly from China declined dramatically: Drug czar Jim Carroll

Q. Earlier this fall, you went to China to check on Chinese efforts to crack down on the flow of deadly, illicit fentanyl into the United States. What did you conclude?

A. I'm cautiously optimistic. China does not want to be viewed as the drug dealer of the world. We've seen a dramatic decline in seizures of fentanyl coming directly from China to the United States. That being said, we're still seeing more or less the same volume of fentanyl coming into the U.S., but it's no longer coming directly from China. It is coming in from new places.

Q. What grade would you give to China’s response?

A. Maybe a B-minus overall. For inspection, I'll give them a C, and that's being generous probably, because they don't have the manpower to inspect 190,000 chemical companies.

United States Designates Key Iranian Shipping and Aviation Entities - United States Department of State

Today, the United States is taking action against three Iranian entities linked to the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and sanctioning eight other entities that helped smuggle weapons from Iran to Yemen.  The State Department is announcing the designation of the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines (IRISL), its China-based subsidiary, E-Sail Shipping Company Ltd, and the Iranian airline Mahan Air under Executive Order 13382, which targets proliferators of WMD and their delivery systems, as well as their supporters.

Opinion - Jared Bernstein | Trump’s China Trade War Is Failing. Democrats Should Campaign Against It. - The New York Times

Once Trump’s trade war with China has been firmly rejected, candidates must explain their replacement to the pre-Trump, U.S.-China status quo. A key starting place is to recognize the futility of trying to get China to significantly change its internal economic model. We have no more business insisting they stop directly subsidizing their industries than they do insisting that we stop indirectly subsidizing ours through, for example, the highly favorable tax and patent treatment of our finance and pharmaceutical sectors.

Comment: Bernstein was Vice President Biden’s chief economist.

2. Hong Kong

Passing Article 23 an urgent mission for Hong Kong: official - Global Times

A senior official of the Chinese government responsible for Hong Kong and Macao affairs published an article in the flagship newspaper of the Communist Party of China (CPC) pointing out that Hong Kong has neither passed the national security law nor established any institute for enforcement while Macao has already passed the law and improved a lot, and this is why separatist activities have been intensifying in Hong Kong in recent years. The People's Daily on Wednesday published a long signed article on its page 9 by Zhang Xiaoming, director of the Hong Kong and Macao Affairs Office of the State Council, headlined "Adhere to and improve the 'one country, two systems' institutional system" to comprehensively expound the correctness and feasibility of the "one country, two systems" in China...

Chinese experts said that publishing such an article at this time while Hong Kong is still suffering turmoil and Macao is waiting for the upcoming celebration of the 20th anniversary of returning to China, is delivering a signal that China is reviewing its policies and principles on governing SARs and it is trying to clarify some misunderstanding as well as introducing solutions and plans to solve long-existing problems and newly emerged challenges.

Establishing and improving a legal system for safeguarding national security in the SARs and improving related enforcement mechanisms are natural and have their practical needs, said the article.

Some excerpts from Zhang's article - 坚持和完善“一国两制”制度体系(深入学习贯彻党的十九届四中全会精神)





All eyes on President Xi Jinping as Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam heads to Beijing to collect her report card | South China Morning Post

Sources told the Post that Lam was expected to fly to Beijing on Saturday, meet Xi and Li on December 16, and return to Hong Kong the day after...

“It is the annual occasion when the chief executive submits her report to state leaders, and then they will evaluate her work in the past and look forward to the year ahead,” he said.

Comment: Xi is expected to go to Macau next week for the 20th anniversary of its return to the PRC.

Int'l experts to quit Hong Kong investigation into police handling of protests | AFP

An international panel of experts hired to advise Hong Kong’s police watchdog over its handling of huge pro-democracy protests announced on Wednesday they were quitting, in a major setback for the government.

The move came a month after a leaked statement from the group revealed they felt the police watchdog was not equipped to carry out a proper investigation, and suggested a fully independent inquiry would be better suited.

HK police watchdog denies overseas expert panel quit - Global Times

China launches PR blitz to combat ‘foreign interference’ in Hong Kong | South China Morning Post

Zhu Feng, an international affairs expert at Nanjing University, also said Washington’s adoption of the pro-protester legislation on Hong Kong had created a new fault line in bilateral ties and posed a dilemma for Beijing.

“The mobilisation of the diplomatic establishment is clearly aimed at preventing the Hong Kong issue from internationalising and stopping other countries from following the US to take legislative measures on Hong Kong,” he said.

Hong Kong police offer HK$800,000 reward for information to find killer of cleaner hit by brick during clash between protesters and Sheung Shui residents | South China Morning Post

Online video footage showed the two groups hurling bricks at each other and Luo being hit on the head and falling to the ground.

Hong Kong Education Bureau 'considering penalties' for around 30 teachers over protest-related conduct complaints | Hong Kong Free Press HKFP

Around 30 teachers in Hong Kong may be penalised for misconduct related to the ongoing pro-democracy protests, the Education Bureau has said.

The government body said that it received 106 complaints of teacher misconduct between June and mid-November in connection to the ongoing protests. The Bureau had concluded a “preliminary investigation” into 60 cases, and – in about 30 of them – the complaints were initially found to be substantiated.

 3. More on the influence allegations in the Czech Republic

Czech tycoon’s company paid for pro-Chinese campaign – EURACTIV.com

The scandal involves Czech news server Info.cz, whose executive director Tomáš Jirsa is the major owner of the C&B Reputation Management. Jirsa resigned from his post in Info.cz just a few hours after Aktuálně.cz published the report. Info.cz was launched in 2016 and names itself as a “conservative portal”.

One of the key figures is also Czech expert on China Vít Vojta, who also works as an interpreter for Czech president Miloš Zeman, well-known for his positive attitude towards China...

he PPF recently hit the headlines because it acquired the most popular Czech commercial television TV NOVA and few other television stations in Bulgaria, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia.

The scandal comes only a few weeks after it was found that China paid a “propaganda” course at the Charles University based in Prague.

Home Credit of richest Czech Petr Kellner has paid for a campaign promoting China - Aktuálně.cz

Home Credit, an international non-banking financial institution, of which Petr Kellner owns 91.12 percent, hired C&B Reputation Management, a PR agency. But this is where the story ceases to be run of the mill. Instead of the agency helping to improve the media image of the company itself, which would be the normal course of events, it began to work on improving the Chinese Communist régime’s image in the Czech Republic...

In 2014, his Home Credit, with the support of top-level Czech politicians, acquired a statewide license that enables the company to provide non-bank credit to people in this vast Communist country. Today, it has lent out a total of about 300 billion Czech crowns in China...

Information about Kellner’s campaign has come just after the gigantic PPF Group bought, for tens of billions of crowns, several television stations, in particular TV Nova, the most watched station in the Czech Republic. And it has repeatedly emphasized that it is not the intention of PPF to influence media reporting to the benefit of China.

4. Huawei

Banned recording reveals China ambassador threatened Faroese leader at secret meeting-Berlingske

China's ambassador to Denmark, Mr. Feng Tie, made overt threats to prominent members of the Faroese government in order to secure a strategically important contract for the Chinese telecoms giant Huawei, by indicating that the Chinese government would drop a free trade agreement with the Faroe Islands if the company did not get the contract.

This appears from an audio recording which was subsequently banned from publication, Berlingske can now reveal.

The recording marks the first instance where the Chinese government has linked access to China's huge market to Huawei being awarded contracts for 5G networks in Europe. Huawei has publicly stated that it is a private company with no ties to the Chinese state...

For the past seven days, the Faroese government has sought to keep the recording a secret by getting an injunction to prevent the Faroese TV station Kringvarp Føroya from publishing its content. Kringvarp Føroya had planned to reveal the recording in a Faroese news broadcast Monday a week ago.

Report of Chinese ambassador threatening Faroese leader factually wrong: FM - Global Times

When a BBC journalist asked if Feng talked about Huawei or possible future cooperation at the meetings with Faroese officials, Hua responded with a series of questions:"Do you think there is any difference or significance whether the officials talked about Huawei at the meeting? Given that US officials are defaming and attacking China's Huawei, can't Chinese ambassadors mention Chinese companies' names when talking about cooperation with officials in the host countries? Do you think China should still be stuck at a time when the US would smear China but the country couldn't even talk back?" Hua noted that such a time was gone and China has the responsibility to resolutely safeguard the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese people and companies.

Telefónica chooses Huawei to help build German 5G network | Financial Times $$

Telefónica Deutschland said it would cut its dividend to invest in a new 5G network to be rapidly rolled out from next year using radio equipment from Huawei and Nokia.

The German network is owned by Telefónica, which this week confirmed that it would use Huawei equipment in its core network in Spain, the company’s home market, but would also look for a second supplier.

"Huawei: new tacit restrictions imposed on telecom operators" -Huawei : de nouvelles restrictions tacites imposées aux opérateurs télécoms | Les Echos

Today, a quarter of mobile antennas in France are Huawei brand. What will happen tomorrow with 5G? The French government loudly proclaims its neutrality. No matter the accusations of espionage brought by Washington against the Chinese group, world leader in the sector. But behind the scenes, the speech is less polite. And, according to our information, the safeguards imposed de facto on French operators will strongly strengthen.

5. Party Watch Report 2019

Party Watch Annual Report 2019: Scrambling to Achieve a Moderately Prosperous Society - Center for Advanced China Research

The CCP is now hurtling toward the deadline to achieve a moderately prosperous society and Xi Jinping has premised the legitimacy of his increasingly repressive regime on his ability to deliver on these goals. The Party Watch Annual Report 2019 discusses the CCP’s race to achieve the first centenary goals in the economic, political, cultural, social, and environmental realms.

With articles from Joseph Fewsmith, Victor Shih, Jean-Pierre Cabestan, Mike Gow, John Donaldson and Isabel Hilton

6. Economy

China, More Than Trump, Has Been Driving the Slowdown in Global Trade | Council on Foreign Relations - Brad Setser

China’s import growth this year is running well below Chinese growth. The IMF puts China’s real growth at around 6 percent and real import growth at negative 2 percent. That’s an enormous gap. That gap also shows up in the nominal data—China's imports of manufactures (excluding imports for re-export) are down around 10 percent y/y...

China’s imports of manufactures from the U.S. are down 15 percent. But even if you take out trade with the United States, imports of manufactures are also down...

The IMF’s 2019 assessment of China was built around the assumption that the 2018 fall in China’s trade surplus would be sustained. And most of the financial press—the Wall Street Journal, the Economist—and many investment banks were forecasting that 2019 would be the year when China’s current account moved into deficit. Yet China's current account surplus is on track to top $200 billion this year on the back of a rising trade surplus…

Made in China 2025 aspires to reduce China’s dependence on imports in key sectors—and, well, in sectors ranging from medical equipment to electrical transmission to (now) memory chips, China is making progress. China’s current policy ambitions (in memory chips, logic chips, and civil aviation) in a sense imply a deglobalized China, one that imports less, and, barring a sustained raise in China’s trade surplus, that in turn implies a China that exports less.

Chinese Journal Review: Household debt-to-income ratios, nuclear weapons, and investigating corruption

Relying on a mix of CHFS and NBS data, the researchers estimate that China’s household debt-to-disposable income ratio was approximately 90.2 percent in 2018, up from 82.2 percent in 2017, and 73.1 percent in 2016. This diverges from many other analyses that have used NBS data that show that China had a 121.6 percent household debt-to-disposable income ratio in 2018, 112.3 percent in 2017, and 101.3 percent in 2016. These higher ratios are concerning because they exceed household debt-to-disposable income debt levels in the US just before the financial crisis.

Major Chinese Freight Line Sees Shipments Fall 8% Amid Slumping Coal Demand - Caixin Global

China’s most-used freight railway saw November shipments plunge by 7.95% year-on-year amid weakening domestic demand for coal.

The Daqin line, which connects four northern provinces, transported 35.41 million tons of freight last month, according to a Tuesday report by its operator, Daqin Railway.

Sales of Chinese-Made Excavators Slow Amid Cooling Infrastructure Investment - Caixin

From January through November, 25 Chinese manufacturers sold 215,538 units of the dirt-moving machines essential for large construction projects, according to data released Tuesday by the China Construction Machinery Association, an industry group.

That represented a year-on-year increase of just 15%, well below the 48.4% growth over the same period last year and the 99.2% rise over the first 11 months of 2017.

7. Is China exporting its model?

Yes, Virginia, China Is Exporting Its Model | Council on Foreign Relations - Elizabeth Economy

Last week I took part in a debate at CSIS on the topic of whether China seeks to export its development model.  For me, the answer to this question is self-evident: of course it does...

During part of the Mao-era, in the late 1950s and 1960s, China promoted its revolution as a model for other third world countries. But it is not until now that the Chinese leadership has once again sought to export its model. Whether the export of this model is welcomed by others or not, whether it succeeds or fails, and whether we believe the impact to be benign or malign are second order questions. What matters in the first instance is that we recognize and acknowledge that China’s leaders believe they have a model worth exporting and are seeking to do so.

Is China undermining the global economic order or helping build it? - Brookings

Wang Huiyao, the founder and director of Center for China and Globalization, joins host David Dollar to discuss China’s economic development over recent decades and its evolving role in multilateral organizations like the World Bank, Asian Development Bank, and World Trade Organization. Their conversation also touches on Washington’s criticisms of Chinese trade practices today, how they affect the U.S.-China trade war, and the prospects of China making meaningful reforms.

Comment: Wang has done an amazing job convincing people that he and the Center for China and Globalization should be taken seriously

8. China to become a leader in cancer and cancer care?

Cancer Treatment: China Mulls Looser Experimental Therapy Rules - Bloomberg

The discovery set Zhang and his family, from a village deep in the mountains of southwestern China's Sichuan province, on a journey familiar to most cancer patients — a revolving door of hospital visits, blood tests and three rounds of chemotherapy. It was then that Zhang’s doctor suggested a last-ditch option: an experimental gene therapy being trialed by a Chinese startup called Gracell Biotechnology Ltd...

Though drug giants Novartis AG and Gilead Sciences Inc. have been marketing CAR-T globally since 2017, it’s expensive. The process of engineering an individual’s cells in a laboratory and then replicating them has also meant that some patients with more aggressive cancers can die waiting for treatment.

That’s where Gracell’s therapy was revolutionary. Instead of the two to three weeks taken by current treatments from American and European drug makers, the Shanghai-based company — set up by a group of veteran Chinese cell-therapy researchers — is churning out cancer-killing immune cells overnight...

Gracell plans to price its CAR-T treatment for about 500,000 yuan ($71,000), well below the $475,000 price tag for Novartis’ Kymriah, the Swiss company’s CAR-T therapy used to treat the type of blood cancer that Zhang had. A similar treatment from Gilead, based in Foster City, California, costs $373,000...

That drive to forge ahead — and in front — can be seen in the way China is approaching regulation of CAR-T. The country is weighing new rules that would loosen oversight of the revolutionary technology, allowing academic ethics committees within hospitals to approve new CAR-T treatments and then administer them to patients for a fee.

China cuts prices for 70 more drugs after talks with pharmaceutical firms | South China Morning Post

Seventy drugs were added to the national reimbursement list at the end of the November, many of them cancer and anti-infective treatments, after extensive negotiations with pharmaceutical companies.

“The number of new drugs and the total amount of medications negotiated have reached a new record. Many imported drugs will have the lowest price in the world,” the National Healthcare Security Administration said.

Business, Economy and Trade

China Consortium Close to Buying Argentine Power Producer - Bloomberg A consortium of Chinese companies led by China Huadian Corp. is close to acquiring a controlling stake in Argentine power generator Stoneway Group LP, according to people familiar with the matter.

China tightens rules to prevent government losing control of state financial firms - Reuters Effective Dec. 20, any capital increase or share sales of state-owned financial institutions that could cause the government to lose its controlling stake would need final approvals by local bureaus of the finance ministry and local governments, according to the notice from the [finance] ministry.

调控政策又现“见光死” 张家港取消限售“一日游”_财新网_财新网 Jiangsu's Zhangjiagang city ended two-year ban on reselling property, then backtracked within a day

In Depth: China’s Private Sector Support Comes at a Cost - Caixin Although big banks tend to issue secured loans and spend a lot more time on approving loans to small companies than on those to their larger competitors, small business owners still prefer borrowing from the big banks, several business owners told Caixin. The reason is simple — lower interest rates. Smaller banks have been left hurting. A senior executive at one city commercial bank told Caixin that many of the bank’s clients have been lured away by larger competitors offering lower rates...

China’s smaller banks forced to act to support shares | Financial Times $$ The share purchases, called “stock price stabilisation plans”, are mandatory for companies whose stocks perform poorly within the first three years after listing, and are common among China’s listed companies. However, the sharp declines by many small bank stocks and the steady stream of forced buybacks in recent months has exposed the plight of China’s banking industry, which is experiencing a wave of defaults with economic growth at its slowest in three decades.

China’s skyscraper developers have to pay for their vanity as the frenzy to scale new heights lead to record-breaking vacancies | South China Morning Post The average office vacancy rate in 17 cities tracked by CBRE rose to 21.5 per cent in the third quarter this year, already surpassing the forecast at the start of the year. The glut may reach the highest in a decade in most of the cities by the year’s end. Vacancy will rise in 15 of the cities, led by Tianjin, where the rate is expected to approach 50 per cent, while Wuhan, Changsha and Qingdao will also see record vacancy rates, CBRE warned.

Jitters Over China’s Local Defaults Start to Spread Offshore - Bloomberg A distressed exchange offer by state-owned commodities trader Tewoo Group Co., often considered a de facto default by foreign rating companies, has prompted onshore investors to lose confidence in government support. Adding to this, a local government financing vehicle missed an early local note repayment on Friday, reviving broader concerns about such borrowers, even though it was able to make payment Monday. With nearly a quarter of the total of Chinese dollar bonds outstanding due to mature next year, fears are mounting.

China's November coal imports slump 19% month-on-month on port curbs - Reuters China, the world’s top coal importer, brought in 20.78 million tonnes of the fuel last month, data from the General Administration of Customs showed on Sunday. That compares with 25.69 million tonnes in October and 19.15 million tonnes in November last year.

Politics and Law

Why the CPC’s Urbanized Cadres Are Turning Down Rural Postings - Sixth Tone Interesting article by Zhou Wang,an associate professor at Nankai University’s Zhou Enlai School of Government. //a sharp rise in the cost of urban housing, the growing difficulty of securing spots in high-quality schools, and persistent food safety issues have given highly qualified candidates pause and have forced the party to temporarily halt cadre welfare cuts. In short, the CPC has realized that, in order to ensure the continuing attractiveness of civil service work, it needs to provide competitive welfare benefits. In order to avoid public criticism, this has been carried out discreetly. For example, instead of giving civil servants a large raise to compensate for the increased cost of living, the party often grants housing stipends that completely cover or even exceed an individual’s monthly housing payments. In addition, a certain number of public kindergartens as well as primary and middle schools have been set up to recruit or give preference to the children of civil servants — although this fact is not usually publicly advertised. And civil servants are given free or nearly free meals three times a day at restaurants and canteens run by the government.

The subdued fringe - China’s successful repression in Tibet provides a model for Xinjiang | The Economist For Tibetans, this year marks an important and poignant anniversary: 30 years to the day since their exiled spiritual leader, the 14th Dalai Lama, was in Oslo to receive the Nobel peace prize. It is also an occasion to reflect on how little their cause has advanced since then. If the successful suppression of almost all dissent counts as winning, then China seems to have won in Tibet. And it appears to think it can replicate the success in the neighbouring region that has also seen unrest in recent years, Xinjiang. So it is worth pondering how that “victory” has been achieved.

Chinese law professor's social media denunciation of facial recognition in the Beijing subway system / Boing Boing Lao Dongyan is a professor specializing in Criminal Law at Tsinghua University; on Oct 31, she posted a long, thoughtful piece to their public Wechat account about the announcement that Beijing's metro system will soon deploy facial recognition to "improve efficiency of passenger traffic." Prof Lao makes a smart, thorough argument against this, drawing on both China's rule of law, international privacy norms, and lack of meaningful consent.

China, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Egypt are world's worst jailers of journalists - Committee to Protect Journalists For the fourth consecutive year, at least 250 journalists are imprisoned globally as authoritarians like Xi Jinping, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Mohammed bin Salman, and Abdel Fattah el-Sisi show no signs of letting up on the critical media.

Some Thoughts on Law in China | 高大伟 David Cowhig's Translation Blog Law and administrative systems are fascinating as a reflection of culture, tradition and popular expectations of justice. These expectations exert pressure on a state that naturally wants to be seem as legitimate.  My reflections are those of a retired U.S. diplomat who worked in China for ten years.

The Many Forms of Arbitrary Detention in China — Jerome A. Cohen | 孔傑榮(柯恩) While China’s Criminal Procedure Law provides some legal time limits on holding detained and arrested persons, there are exceptions to these limits that the police and procuracy have the liberty to invoke in practice. For example, the National People’s Congress Standing Committee (NPCSC) can approve unlimited extensions of time for a criminal investigation..Another technique for exceeding the prescribed criminal procedure time limits is for the police to restart the clock on the ground that investigation of the suspect has revealed the need to investigate another major crime that the suspect may have committed

Foreign and Defense Affairs

Scoop: China tried to get World Bank to fund surveillance in Xinjiang - Axios In more than 8,000 pages of official World Bank Chinese-language procurement documents dated June 2017 and reviewed by Axios, Chinese recipients of the loan program requested tens of thousands of dollars for the purchase of facial recognition cameras and software, night-vision cameras, and other surveillance technology for use in Xinjiang schools. The World Bank told Axios those funds were not disbursed.

Read the documents: China tried to get World Bank funds to spy on Uighurs - Axios A World Bank spokesperson told Axios the June 2017 procurement documents had not been translated into English, meaning only Chinese-speaking staff could read them. This means oversight was nearly impossible for this specific procurement plan because Chinese nationals who staff the World Bank office in Beijing cannot be relied on to be whistleblowers about Chinese government plans.

Those of you who tried to watch the recent CGTN propadocumentaries on Xinjiang may be out of luck:

A bit embarrassing considering pieces like this - Commentary: Silence on Xinjiang documentaries reveals double standards of Western media - People's Daily Online - but classic in a way if CGTN used music without permission for the soundtrack:

Forum enriches human rights - Global Times The forum held in China's capital on Tuesday and Wednesday attracted more than 300 people, including senior officials, scholars and diplomats from over 80 Asian, African and Latin American countries as well as international organizations.   Addressing the forum on Wednesday, Huang Kunming, head of the Publicity Department of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC), criticized some countries and politicians who use the "human rights" banner to trample on human rights and grossly interfere in other countries' internal affairs, which seriously violates the international human rights cause.

Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying's Regular Press Conference on December 10, 2019 Q: It's the Human Rights Day today. A certain country raises concerns over and criticizes human rights in China. How do you respond? A: The relevant country has made irresponsible accusations about China's human rights situation in disregard of basic facts. China is firmly opposed to that. The Chinese people have the best say in the human rights situation in China...The Human Rights Day is an occasion for all parties to reaffirm their commitment to human rights and strengthen human rights exchanges. To this end, the Information Office of the State Council and the Foreign Ministry will jointly host the "2019 South-South Human Rights Forum" in Beijing from December 10 to 11, providing a platform for communication, exchange and cooperation for people from different countries and cultural backgrounds, with a view to adding new dimensions and injecting impetus into exchange and cooperation in the field of human rights.

China Detains Activists Heading to U.S. Human Rights Event - RFA Authorities in the Chinese capital detained and questioned a group of rights activists en route to the U.S. embassy in Beijing to participate in an event marking Human Rights Day on Tuesday, RFA has learned. Wang Heying and a group of fellow petitioners -- people pursuing complaints against misconduct and rights violations by the ruling Chinese Communist Party -- were detained by police on the street after they registered to attend the event online, Wang said.

Chinese mission to UN rejects U.S. ambassador's human rights accusations - Xinhua The spokesperson of the Permanent Mission of China to the United Nations (UN) on Tuesday resolutely opposed the U.S. ambassador's interference in China's internal affairs under the pretext of human rights. U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations Kelly Craft's accusations about China's human rights are "baseless" and a gross interference in China's internal affairs, said the spokesperson.

Liberal party member denies links to Chinese Communist party after Belt and Road controversy | The Guardian A Liberal party member who helped organise a Chinese-Australian business fundraising dinner has denied links to the Chinese Communist party after references to China’s Belt and Road initiative appeared on invitations to the event. The Australia Chinese United Business Association Federation (Acubaf), representing more than 50 associations and 1,000 individual businesses, is hosting a charity dinner on Friday to raise money for the Salvation Army and its bushfire appeal...A Liberal party member, Nancy Liu, who was also on the organising committee, said she had no political connections or links to the Chinese government.

Pakistan revives Belt-and-Road projects under Chinese pressure | Financial Times $$ Pakistan has bowed to pressure from China to revive a string of Beijing-backed infrastructure projects that have run aground, appointing a senior Pakistani military official to streamline decision-making over the multi-billion-dollar investments. The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor is a key part of the Belt and Road Initiative, which Beijing sees as a 21st-century Silk Road to connect Asia, Africa and Europe. But only half of the announced $62bn-worth of projects in Pakistan are under way as Islamabad scales back its financial commitments while it implements a $6bn IMF bailout package.

China steps in as Zambia runs out of loan options |The Guardian Zambia’s capital, Lusaka, was having a power cut, so the only light in the restaurant was from Fumba Chama’s mobile phone. The rapper, better known as PilAto, had just finished uploading a new track to Twitter. The bitter-sweet lyrics (in Bemba) of Yama Chinese describe the concerns of many Zambians: “They put on smart suits and fly to China to sell our country. The roads belong to China. The hotels are for the Chinese. The chicken farms are Chinese. Even the brickworks are Chinese.”

China’s public diplomacy spending in South and Central Asia quantified and evaluated | William & Mary or the period 2000-2017, AidData uncovered $126 billion in committed, implemented or completed projects in the SCA region by official Chinese agencies and banks. Of this, some $120 billion is in infrastructure investments. Eighty-five percent of infrastructure investments go to new construction projects, and two countries in particular captured half of Beijing’s financial diplomacy investments: Pakistan — an early signatory to the Belt and Road Initiative — and Kazakhstan.

Opposition parties vote to create China committee, handing Liberals first defeat of minority Parliament - The Globe and Mail Parliament will set up a special committee to review all aspects of Canada’s strained relationship with China amid a prolonged diplomatic and trade dispute with its second-largest trading partner. The Liberals opposed such a committee but suffered their first defeat as a minority government, with the opposition parties voting overwhelmingly in favour of the Conservative motion on Tuesday.

A young man in south China is punished for refusing to continue military service - China Military some of the punishments "include him into the list of those who are seriously discreditable in fulfilling national defense obligations for life, and impose joint punishments on him. He will be banned from applying for going abroad, purchasing real estate, taking flights, long-distance trains or buses, or loans and insurance services for two years...Zhang’s refusal of finishing his military service and the related punishment measures will be published to the society via networks, television, newspapers and social media"

Chinese Americans condemn Xinjiang-related bill in U.S. - Xinhua The passage of the so-called "Uygur Human Rights Policy Act of 2019" earlier this month is a gross interference in China's internal affairs, and lays bare the double standards the United States is playing with on counterterrorism and human rights issues, said Liang Guanjun, president of the United Chinese Association of Eastern U.S. Inc., at a gathering of over 100 Chinese Americans in Flushing, New York.

China urges U.S. to fulfill duties on nuclear disarmament - Xinhua [Hua Chunying] called on the United States to stop its negative move of undermining global strategic balance and stability, stop hyping competition and confrontation among large countries, immediately return to the right track of multilateralism, and earnestly safeguard the international order based on international law as well as the authority and effectiveness of the current arms control and non-proliferation legal system.

The VUB will not continue its cooperation with the Confucius Institute | VUB Today The Vrije Universiteit Brussel will not extend its contract with the Confucius Institute which expires in June 2020. This is the decision made by the Board of Directors this evening. The university is of the opinion that cooperating with the institution is no longer consistent with its policies and objectives. “The VUB is always open to new collaborations with Chinese universities, scientists and students, on the condition that academic freedom and independence can be guaranteed in mutual trust.”

Chinese state media joins rural life blogger Li Ziqi’s millions of followers | South China Morning Post A woman from southwestern China whose YouTube video channel celebrating rural life is followed by nearly 7.5 million people has been hailed by state media for her role in promoting Chinese culture. Li Ziqi, 29, from Pingwu in Sichuan province, started her video blogs on traditional food and crafts three years ago after giving up city life to return to the village where she was raised by her grandparents.

Xi's special envoy attends Argentine presidential inauguration - Xinhua Chinese President Xi Jinping's special envoy Arken Imirbaki attended the inauguration ceremony of Argentine President Alberto Fernandez here on Tuesday. Arken Imirbaki, vice chairman of the National People's Congress Standing Committee, met with Fernandez before the ceremony on Monday

China shows off its newest satellite’s high-resolution 3D imagery | TechCrunch China launched the Gaofen-7 imaging satellite in November, and the country has just shared the first of its high-resolution, 3D shots. The satellite is sensitive enough to height that it should be able to spot a single person from 500 kilometers up. Gaofen-7 is the latest in a planned series of 14 satellites intended to overhaul China’s orbital imaging capabilities.

China steps up compliance with UN sea law after ship expelled by India | South China Morning Post China has announced that its scientific researchers must get permission before working in foreign waters, signalling a willingness to follow international sea law weeks after a Chinese research ship was expelled by India.


China says anti-infiltration bill causing ‘alarm, panic’ - Taipei Times The DPP has been using such “law revisions” to incite hostility and restrict normal exchanges across the Taiwan Strait, China’s Taiwan Affairs Office spokeswoman Zhu Fenglian (朱鳳蓮) told a regular news briefing in Beijing. “In fact, for Taiwan’s people, especially Taiwanese businessmen and students, it has already caused alarm and panic that everyone is treated as an enemy,” she said, referring to Taiwanese in China.

Tech and Media

RISC-V grows globally as an alternative to Arm and its license fees | VentureBeat China is one of the faster growing markets, Asanovic said. In an interview, he said that RISC-V saw a burst of activity in China after the controversy emerged in which Arm had to decide whether to sever relations with China’s Huawei, after the U.S. implemented a trade ban over national security concerns related to Huawei. Ultimately, Arm decided it could continue to license its chip architectures to Huawei, as the technology originated in the United Kingdom, and not the U.S. The ban blocks U.S. companies from working with Huawei. But there are no such concerns with the open source hardware that is the basis for RISC-V, Redmond said. Patterson said the CEO of Infineon once asked him if RISC-V technology could be blocked as a result of a hypothetical trade dispute. Because such concerns arose, the RISC-V Foundation is in the midst of moving its legal headquarters to Switzerland, which is considered a neutral territory.

CSET - Circular of the State Council on Issuing the National 13 th Five-Year Plan for the Development of Strategic Emerging Industries 国务院关于印发“十三五”国家战略性新兴产业发展规划的通知 (PDF) Translation of a PRC State Council plan that sets quantifiable goalposts for the growth of certain high-tech industries. An appendix specifies the Chinese ministries responsible for carrying out this plan for each type of emerging technology.

TikTok Owner Is Testing Music App in Bid for Next Global Hit - Bloomberg Called Resso, the new app is now available in India and Indonesia, two of Asia’s most populous countries and places already keenly familiar with TikTok.

African smartphone market defies challenges - IT-Online Transsion brands (Tecno, Infinix, and Itel) continued to lead the feature phone space in Q3 2019, with a combined unit share of 64%. Nokia was next in line with 10% share. In the smartphone space, Transsion (36,2%), Samsung (23,9%), and Huawei (11,4%) led the way in unit terms; however, in value terms, Samsung was the clear leader with 33,2% share, followed by Transsion (22,4%) and Huawei (15,6%).

Tencent Nears $2 Billion Investment in Chinese Video App Kuaishou to Fight ByteDance — The Information Tencent’s investment, which is still being finalized, would value Kuaishou at $28 billion, up from $18 billion in 2018, some of the people said. It is part of a fundraising round that will total more than $3 billion and is expected to close at the end of the year, one of the people said. The round includes investments from Chinese private equity firm Boyu Capital and Singaporean sovereign-wealth fund GIC, among others, some of the people said.

Tencent’s WeBank to Provide Infrastructure for China’s National Blockchain Consortium - CoinDesk The Shenzhen-based company will provide the Blockchain-Based Service Network (BSN) with its patented open consortium chain FISCO BCOS, according to a Chinese state media report.  Rather than a single blockchain, the consortium chain is a set of blockchain applications to  serve the general public, according to a statement from the company.

Niko Partners estimates Nintendo Switch sell through exceeds 50,000 units on launch day in China – Niko With over 50,000 units sold on launch day, the official China version of the Nintendo Switch is on track to reach our initial forecast of 100,000 units by the end of 2019. We believe that the Nintendo Switch will replace PlayStation 4 as the market leader in China by 2022 when accounting for both legal and grey market sales.

Society, Arts, Sports, Culture and History

AP honors journalist executed in 1951 by Chinese officials - AP Y.C. Jao was a respected Chinese correspondent working for The Associated Press in April 1949 when Mao Zedong’s Red Army stormed into Nanjing, defeating the Nationalist forces of leader Chiang Kai-shek and paving the way for the Communist takeover of China...The new authorities ordered his execution in April 1951. They accused Jao of spying and of counterrevolutionary activities, all owing to his work for AP.

Enter Ghost: China’s Growing Obsession With Immersive Plays - Sixth Tone Pioneered by British drama company Punchdrunk in the 2000s, the site-specific immersive theater format took awhile to reach China, but it has proved hugely popular. “Sleep No More,” a show based on the Shakespearean tragedy “Macbeth,” came to Shanghai in 2016 and became a sensation. Still going three years later, the play is now the city’s second-longest-running show of all time and has achieved cult status, with some fans attending hundreds of performances.

New report grades state of education in Shanghai - SHINE News It costs a family about 800,000 yuan (US$113,665) to raise a child from birth to graduation from middle school in Shanghai, according to a new report by the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences. This conclusion is based on research conducted by the academy’s city and population development research team in downtown Jing’an District and suburban Minhang District in July and August... Zhou Haiwang, deputy director of the academy’s city and population development research institute, said the high cost of education has become one of the reasons why young couples are reluctant to have children.

Netizens hail colleges for sacking scandal-hit professors - Global Times Netizens hailed Peking University for sacking Professor Feng Renjie on Wednesday for violating teachers' ethics and discipline over an alleged sex scandal.  The university revoked Feng's qualifications as a teacher and disqualified him from relevant talent schemes.

Opinion | My Grandmother’s Favorite Scammer - The New York Times The scammers convinced Laolao that they were an elite government task force trying to bust an international crime ring, and they needed her help. This elaborate fantasy involved secret meetings, daily calls on a dedicated phone, call signs, and at least one dead drop.

Energy, Environment, Science and Health

China’s new climate negotiator takes swipe at US in debut at UN summit in Madrid | South China Morning Post With China the world’s biggest producer of carbon emissions blamed for heating the planet, the new man in the hot seat, 55-year-old Zhao Yingmin, faces an outsize set of challenges. He is joining delegates from nearly 200 countries in an effort to reach an agreement on curbing emissions and he wasted little time in criticising the US decision to pull out of the landmark Paris climate agreement of 2015.

China Risks Missing Own Deadline on Environmental Disclosure - Bloomberg China is running up against its own deadline to require its more than 3,000 listed companies to disclose environmental metrics. Despite a goal to kick off the program next year, there are still no guidelines in place to force companies to make available information on measures for environmental sustainability, social impact and good governance, according to people familiar with the progress of the plan.

China splashes millions on hundreds of home-grown journals - Nature The government said in August that it wants to publish more of the world’s breakthrough discoveries in Chinese journals. On 25 November, it revealed that it will spend more than 200 million yuan (US$29 million) per year for 5 years to help improve the standards of some 280 journals — most of which publish in English — and to increase submissions from international researchers.

Jobs and Events

Beijing Bureau Chief - Los Angeles Times The Los Angeles Times is looking for a Beijing bureau chief, who will help anchor coverage of the United States-China relationship with a focus on the themes that matter most to Californians, including climate change, entertainment, technology, trade, artificial intelligence, immigration and the rule of law.

Rural and Agricultural Issues

China finds African swine fever in wild boar in Shaanxi - Reuters Nine wild boar samples submitted by the provincial forestry bureau were examined and three from Foping county, in the south of Shaanxi, tested positive for the disease, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs said in a statement.

Pig Breeder Fattens Up as Industry Consolidates in Wake of Swine Fever - Caixin One of China’s leading pig breeders has announced a major expansion involving more than $1 billion in new investment, as consolidation picks up in a sector ravaged over the past year by an outbreak of African swine fever.