The Sinocism China Newsletter 01.02.14

Some suggested readings to start 2014. I am still planning on sending out the weekly version with commentary over the weekend.

Happy New Year!

THE ESSENTIAL EIGHT

Xi’s speech on overall reform published – Xinhua The full text of Chinese president Xi Jinping’s remarks on comprehensively deepening reform after a key meeting of the Communist Party of China (CPC) were published on Tuesday. Entitled “Unifying the Thought and Spirit of the Third Plenary Session of the 18th CPC Central Committee”, Xi’s speech was delivered after the key meeting that detailed the blueprint for China’s reforms in all aspects. In the full text of the speech giving no occasion or time of delivery, Xi said the general objective for reform is improving the socialist system with Chinese characteristics and promoting the modernization of the state governance system and governance capacity. // 习近平:切实把思想统一到党的十八届三中全会精神上来-高层动态-新华网

Related: 习近平主席发表2014年新年贺词_新闻频道_央视网(cctv.com) Xi Jinping’s 2014 New Year short video message, from his office in Zhongnanhai // Chinese President Xi Jinping’s 2014 New Year Message with english translation

President Xi to head leading group for overall reform – Xinhua President Xi Jinping will head a leading group for overall reform, the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee decided on Monday. The political bureau decided to set up the group to lead the work to comprehensively deepen reform and appoint Xi as its head, according to a decision adopted at a political bureau meeting held on Monday. The leading group will be in charge of “designing reform on an overall basis, arranging and coordinating reform, pushing forward reform as a whole, and supervising the implementation of reform plans,” the document said. It will research and decide major guidelines, policies and schemes for systematic reforms in economic, political, cultural, social and environmental sectors as well as the Party system, the document said. The group will lead major reforms at the national level and address major issues with nationwide significance and long-term impacts, which involve different regions and departments. It will guide, push forward and supervise the implementation of major reform policies, the document said

Related: China’s Xi Amassing Most Power Since Deng Raises Reform Risk – Bloomberg In a further sign of Xi’s influence, the official Xinhua News Agency reported yesterday that he will head a reform leading group to guide changes agreed to at the Third Plenum, a gathering of top leaders last month. Premier Li Keqiang would have been expected to lead such programs, according to Shane Oliver, Sydney-based head of investment strategy at AMP Capital Investors Ltd., which oversees about $125 billion.//No, this is not just about economic reform, so Li was not a “shoe-in” as this fund manager suggests. A very bullish sign for reform, as only Xi has the possible authority and power to push painful reform through various interest blocks, including many elements inside the party itself. Xi’s strategy becoming clearer, before any real reform he has to reassert control over the party, which he is trying to do via mass line campaign and corruption crackdown

Related: 观察站:习近平将兼任更多组长 定调强势改革_中国_多维新闻网 接近中共高层的人士向多维新闻表示,习近平将在随后出任更多小组的组长,这并不是因为他需要集权,而是因为习近平需要推动深层次的改革,而接下来的深层次改革会触及到现有的核心利益格局,打破这些利益格局必须要有强势的领导者。该人士称,中共官方会陆续公布习近平将担任的其他各小组组长,这些小组要么是综合改革层面的,要么是事关整体改革成败的专项小组。// Duowei on Xi’s taking chairmanship of comprehensively deepening reform small leading group

Beijing turns cold shoulder to Japan – Xinhua Beijing has declared Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe “not welcome” by the Chinese people and said Chinese leaders won’t meet him. It is China’s toughest stance since tensions flared last year between the Asian powerhouses over China’s Diaoyu Islands.

Related: Prime Minister Shinzo Abe vows to build ‘a new Japan’, keep up defences | South China Morning Post Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has issued an assertive call for “building a new Japan” in his new year’s message, vowing to defend territory disputed with China and reform the country’s struggling economy. “In a world that is deepening its mutual interdependence, inward-focused thinking is no longer able to safeguard the peace of Japan,” he said, according to a transcript released by his office on Wednesday.

Related: China slams Japanese minister for notorious shrine visit – Xinhua  Chinese Foreign Ministry on Wednesday strongly criticized Japanese Internal Affairs minister Yoshitaka Shindo for his Yasukuni Shrine visit. Shindo on Wednesday visited the war-linked Yasukuni Shrine amid strong opposition against Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s visit to the notorious shrine on Dec. 26. Shindo’s visit to the shrine is another provocation of the Japanese cabinet members on historical issue, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said in a statement.

Related: Beijing urges Japan’s Shinzo Abe to learn from post-war German leaders | South China Morning Post Chinese state media kept up the heat on Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on the first day of the new year, urging him to learn from Germany in dealing with divisive historical issues. “Abe’s conspicuous lack of historical honesty contrasts shamefully with the courage and vision of late West German Chancellor Willy Brandt,” Xinhua said in a commentary.

Related: Japan risks threat to global peace by rekindling militaristic spirit of Second World War, senior Chinese official warns – Telegraph Liu Xiaoming, China’s ambassador to London, launches a strong criticism of the Japanese prime minister, Shinzo Abe, accusing him of deliberately raising tensions in Asia and putting the world on a “perilous path”

Related: Abe’s Yasukuni visit isolates Japan | East Asia Forum Author: Kazuhiko Togo, Kyoto Sangyo University To those who are general supporters of Abe’s economic, political and foreign policy initiatives, including myself, his visit to Yasukuni on 26 December was a bombshell of disappointment and helplessness.

Related: Asia Unbound » Abe’s Yasukuni Visit: The Consequences?Sheila Smith// Japan does not live alone in today’s Asia; its many friends rely on the values of a postwar Japan that shares their interests in peace and economic prosperity. The U.S.-Japan alliance remains a powerful tool for Prime Minister Abe, but the alliance cannot thrive in a state of uncertainty or frustration. On this side of the Pacific, of course, there will also be frustration about the deliberate decision to ignore U.S. concerns. While some in Tokyo may see advantage in introducing unpredictability into Japan’s relations with China and South Korea, there is nothing to be gained by rattling Washington. There are few here that welcome greater tensions and acrimony in Northeast Asia.

Build on Past Progress to Develop a New Model of Major-country Relations Between China and the United States In commemoration of the 35th Anniversary of the Establishment of China-US Diplomatic Relations 2013/12/31 By Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi

Closer Look: Rise in Total Gov’t Debt – to 30.3 Tln Yuan – Means Change Is Needed – Caixin Three months after an official audit of government debt was completed, the results have finally been announced. As of June 30, the total debt held by the central and local levels of government has reached 30.3 trillion yuan. Of that, local governments were 17.9 trillion yuan in the red. This is the third time the National Audit Office has surveyed government liabilities. The survey was the work of some 544,000 auditors across the country. It was performed in August and September, and a report was given to the State Council, the country’s cabinet, in mid-October. Suspicion had mounted about how horrible the figures were considering it took so long for the government to publish them.

Related: Analysis: Transparency the crux in China’s struggle to deal with rising debt | Reuters Although the debt load shows China’s government to be far less indebted than fiscally-troubled Japan and Greece, it raised eyebrows among analysts for its 67 percent jump since the last state audit was published in 2011. The auditor did not say which provinces have the heaviest burdens or face the biggest risks, except to note “certain” dangers in some unnamed regions. “Any improvement to fiscal transparency will be limited unless the central government regularly publishes similar audit reports,” Standard & Poor’s said separately in a note on Tuesday. “It’s also unclear whether China will disclose the debts of individual local and regional governments.”

Related: China’s Local Debt Swells to 17.9 Trillion Yuan in Audit – Bloomberg The 17.9 trillion yuan total includes 4.3 trillion yuan of contingent liabilities, where local governments wouldn’t legally be obliged to make repayments, the audit office said. The study covered 62,215 government agencies, more than double the number in the previous report, published in 2011…Dariusz Kowalczyk, senior economist and strategist at Credit Agricole CIB in Hong Kong, said that the numbers in the latest audit were “manageable.” Wang Tao, chief China economist at UBS AG in Hong Kong, echoed that view, while adding that the pace of accumulation of debt in recent years has been “too fast and is not sustainable.

Two more newborns die after receiving hepatitis B vaccination in China – UPI.com Two more newborns died following hepatitis B vaccinations in China, health officials said Tuesday, bringing the total number of fatalities to 12. Local health authorities in east China’s Shandong province have suspended use of the vaccine, produced by Shenzen Kangtai Biological, Xinhua reported.

Related: Top vaccine firms fail to get permit –  Globaltimes.cn China’s top three producers of hepatitis B vaccine have failed to obtain the government’s authorization to manufacture new products this year, which may cause a shortage in the hepatitis B vaccine market, analysts said Wednesday.

余额宝规模已达1853亿|货币基金|余额宝|基金规模_新浪财经_新浪网 Yu’e bao-43m users, 185B RMB at yr end. financial “repression” ending faster than expected, to banks pain//支付宝[微博]和天弘基金方面的数据显示,截至2013年底,余额宝的客户数达4303万人,基金规模1853亿元,对接的增利宝货币基金稳居国内最大基金的宝座,也把大量85后、90后草根用户带入基金理财大门。 自今年6月13日上线以来,余额宝每万份日收益一直保持在1.15元以上,累计总收益水平稳居同类货币基金的第二位

Prominent scholar He Weifang says ‘goodbye’ to online debate | South China Morning Post He has more than 1.1 million followers on his Sina Weibo microblog. His decision to end his microblogging follows a trend of prominent opinion-leaders, known as “public intellectuals”, going silent amid a government crackdown against dissent.

 

BUSINESS, ECONOMY AND TRADE

HSBC China PMI Comes Right In Line With Expectations-Business Insider HSBC China PMI fell to 50.5 in December, from 50.8 the previous month. A reading below 50 indicates contraction. But this was right in line with expectations for 50.5, which was the flash PMI print. We got China’s official PMI data on Tuesday, which showed manufacturing fall to 51, from 51.4 in November.

China trusts bring contrasting fortunes – FT.com The term “shadow banking” in China for many observers conjures up images of underground lenders handing out credit to sketchy borrowers at usurious rates. But that is a simplistic view of many of the financial institutions that have moved into gaps left behind by the country’s heavily regulated banks. Some shadow banks have indeed courted trouble; others, though, are well-managed companies with strong track records.

China Ends Year as Asia’s Weakest Market – NYTimes.com China may be the world’s fastest-growing major economy, but it can also lay claim to a more dubious superlative: home of the worst-performing stock market in Asia. The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index ended 2013 on a low note on Tuesday, closing at 2,115.98 points for a decline of 6.75 percent from a year earlier.

SOE Reform in China — Big Changes On the Way | China Private Equity, Published by China First Capital This message came through especially loud and clear in the policy document published by the Chinese leadership after the recent Third Party Plenum in November.  SOEs are told they need to become more attuned to the market and less dependent on government favors and protection.This new policy pronouncement is reverberating like a cannon blast inside the state-owned economy, based on conversations lately with the top people at our large Chinese SOE clients.

China Moves Slowly Toward State Sector Overhaul – China Real Time Report – WSJ Make no mistake – there is no chance of dismantling big state-controlled oil companies or banks. China’s leaders see a need to keep successful state firms — the national champions — to compete with foreign multinationals. SASAC is unlikely to disappear anytime soon. “We don’t know which of the reforms will actually make it into policy,” said Mr. Zhou. “But the environment is changing.”

The Year of the Horse–Michael Pettis in Foreign Policy Why China’s radical economic reforms in 2014 could bring new prosperity to hundreds of millions — if Xi Jinping can ride out the bumps ahead…

Stephen S. Roach says that China needs to face up to the tradeoff between economic rebalancing and short-term growth. – Project Syndicate Chinese policymakers’ traditional emphasis on long-term strategy has enabled them to steer past the inevitable bumps on the road to economic development. Now, however, as the authorities set out on a new course aimed at sustaining China’s extraordinary progress, they should act quickly to achieve greater coherence in their policy agenda.

» The seasonality of China’s interbank liquidity There are mainly four season factors in China’s interbank market, namely Chinese holidays, regulatory requirements, government deposits adjustments and bank reserve adjustments.

央视反击“欠税门”:万科欠缴土地增值税超40亿-财经网 CCTV goes after Vanke again on 12.31 for owing land appreciation tax// 央视《东方时空》报道称,吉林万科城项目、广州万科金域蓝湾等多个项目已经达到清缴土地增值税的条件,但企业并未主动申报,而当地税务主管部门并未要求企业清缴。央视称,仅万科一家企业,应交而未交的土地增值税超过40亿元人民币。

Chinese Banks Eye Global Bond Market – WSJ.com The country’s banks will need to raise up to two trillion yuan ($330 billion) from share and bond sales in the next five years, according to McKinsey & Co. With growing levels of bad debt in a slowing domestic economy, weakness in stock markets and rising capital requirements, Chinese banks can no longer rely on share sales and the country’s four-trillion-yuan bond market for cash. “Chinese banks are…asking international investment banks to assist them to gain access to the offshore market,” said Dominique Jooris, head of credit capital markets for Asia ex-Japan at Goldman Sachs Group Inc. GS +0.87% “This is a broad trend of China’s switching to overseas funding [but it] is only a thin slice of their vast overall financing needs,” said Mr. Jooris.

China’s Dec. New Home Prices Rise Most in 2013: SouFun – Bloomberg “The supply shortages remain noticeable in some hotspots, and the pressure on home-price gains continues to exist” going into 2014, SouFun said in the statement. At least 10 Chinese cities, many of them provincial capitals, have tightened local property policies since November, with major cities of Shenzhen, Shanghai and Guangzhou all raising minimum down payments for second homes to 70 percent. Beijing was the first to lift the level from 60 percent in March after Wen told cities with excessive price gains to do so…Beijing and Guangzhou posted the largest year-on-year gains among the 10 biggest cities SouFun surveyed, both rising about 28 percent.

Theft by other means: China’s assault on foreign companies | AEIdeas–Derek Scissors If Senator Max Baucus becomes the next US Ambassador to China, he will start day one with a very big problem. China’s economic reform program is barely a month old and already appears fraudulent in critical respects. In particular, attacks on foreign companies, which began earlier this year, are growing far more threatening. The health of the American technology industry, especially, is at risk, and the credibility of US policy is being challenged. A new Chinese government was installed in March, and a revival of economic reform seemed possible. Almost immediately afterward, though, state-run media began attacking foreign companies. Government regulators became involved, claiming foreign companies charged illegally high prices. The prices were said to be too high by reference to China’s anti-monopoly law, though little or no attempt was made to show the companies were monopolies.

 

POLITICS AND LAW

中宣部副部长亲任编剧 习总看京剧忆周薄政变(组图) – 看中国 secretchina.com 《天下归心》由中宣部副部长兼国家广电总局长蔡赴朝亲任编剧,著名导演张艺谋执导,尚长荣、李鸣岩等众多梨园名家担纲主演。该剧2013年9月在国家大剧院首演后,先后赴上海等地巡演,获官方宣传机器狂捧,令这则原本表达古代贤君摒弃前嫌与母亲重归于好,反映古人“血浓于水”的孝道亲情的故事,蒙上了浓重的政治色彩。//Xi and his PBSC colleagues watched an interesting Peking Opera show for New Year’s 

Xi’s favored dumpling store sees rise in franchise applications|WantChinaTimes Qingfeng Steamed Dumpling Shop in Beijing has seen an overwhelming surge in sales after President Xi Jinping was spotted at the restaurant on Saturday, reports the Beijing Youth Daily, the official newspaper of the Communist Youth League in Beijing.

【真话讲堂】高官秘书的神秘政治生态_UGC精选 “欲见领导,先求秘书”,官场传言足见秘书地位。常有人有求于他们,或反映情况,或请示批复,能否上传或见面都由秘书安排,这种隐性权力往往成为一些秘书弄权敛财的途径。

China formally eases one-child policy, abolishes labor camps | Reuters China formally approved on Saturday easing its decades-long one-child policy and the abolition of a controversial labor camp system, the official Xinhua news agency reported.

北京所有劳教人员已被释放 6家劳教所均已摘牌_网易新闻中心 The Beijing News reports all beijing reform through education prisoners have been released//新京报讯 昨日凌晨,北京市举行了以司法局为主会场的北京市司法行政系统监管安全“零点报告”行动。与往年不同的是,报告会上,并未有相关监管单位以“劳教局”的名义进行汇报,而是增加了社区矫正的宣传片及各区县介绍相关社区矫正情况汇总的环节。 据悉,目前北京市所有劳教所均已摘牌,所有劳教人员也均已被释放

Communist Party orders ‘core socialist values’ on the curriculum | South China Morning Post Educational institutions – from primary schools to universities – will be a major target of a sweeping Marxist education campaign announced yesterday by the Communist Party. The unusually detailed action plan released by the ruling party’s General Office was seen as an attempt by party boss and President Xi Jinping to fight against public scepticism and fill a perceived moral vacuum opened by decades of breakneck economic growth.// 中共中央办公厅印发《关于培育和践行社会主义核心价值观的意见》–时政–人民网 新华社北京12月23日电 近日,中共中央办公厅印发了《关于培育和践行社会主义核心价值观的意见》,并发出通知,要求各地区各部门结合实际认真贯彻执行。

Details emerge of graft probe into Sichuan official Li Chongxi–WantChinaTimes Further details have emerged in the corruption case of senior Sichuan official Li Chongxi, whose fall from grace earlier this week appears to be much more complex than just his connection to retired political heavyweight Zhou Yongkang and involves interests in both the mining and property sectors. The 62-year-old Li Chongxi, chairman of the Sichuan provincial committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, is the third high-ranking official from southwestern China’s Sichuan province to be taken down this year behind former Sichuan party chief Li Chuncheng and former chairman of Sichuan’s provincial federation of literary and art circles Guo Yongxiang.

Disgraced CPPCC Official ‘Was Target of Petitioners’ – Caixin A former member of the country’s top political advisory body who is now investigated by the Communist Party’s anti-corruption watchdog has been the target of many petitions from business people who say he abused his power, a source close to the matter says. Many of the letters were sent to the party’s Central Discipline Inspection Commission (CDIC) after Yang Gang, 60, was transferred to the capital in 2010 to become deputy director of the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine, the source said.

China’s Southern Media Group Turns Back on Anti-Censorship Supporters · Global Voices The Southern Media Group, which owns Southern Weekend, issued testimony in November 2013 that helps the prosecution of activists who took part in an anti-censorship protest in early January outside corporation’s building. Southern Weekend had issued an editorial appeal for readers’ support against the provincial propaganda department’s pressure to rewrite its New Year editorial.

我国宣传思想文化战线践行群众路线 “四治一改”成效显著-时政频道-新华网 改进文风、整治豪华办晚会、治理少儿出版市场、治理规范报刊发行、整治新闻敲诈……党的十八大以来,我国宣传思想文化战线在贯彻落实党的十八大精神和深入开展党的群众路线教育实践活动中,积极回应群众关切,推出“四治一改”举措,以实际工作成效凝心聚力、取信于民。

揭秘高档烟腐败链条:内部供货走食堂经费报账_网易财经 the crackdown on smoking by cadres appears to be another attempt to rein in official corruption, given how cigarettes are both a currency of corruption and are often purchased with official funds // 机关单位在购买烟酒作为招待储备时,的确存在烟草公司的内部渠道,一来是考虑到价格相对便宜,二来渠道较为隐秘,不至于太过招摇。至于经费走账方面,烟酒采购一般走食堂经费的账,属于“三公经费”中公务接待的范畴。

China’s Communist Party: You’re in Good Hands With Us – China Real Time Report – WSJ China’s Communist Party is “with you along the way”—that’s the catchphrase from a new advertisement for the party. In a three-minute video that mysteriously appeared on the Internet in recent days, the Communist Party appears to be embarking on a fresh advertising campaign. The pitch: the party as your valuable partner.

 

FOREIGN AND DEFENSE AFFAIRS

Chinese officers told Japan about expanded air defense zone in 2010 – 毎日新聞 changes a lot of the speculation about the ADIZ if true // Senior officers in the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) informed Japanese government officials of China’s Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) covering the Senkaku Islands in Okinawa Prefecture all the way back in 2010, according to secret documents obtained by the Mainichi Shimbun. According to the documents — the minutes of an informal meeting between the PLA officers and Japanese government officials at the China Foundation for International and Strategic Studies in Beijing on May 14-15, 2010 — China had already established the ADIZ but had yet to make it public. Furthermore, the zone presented to the Japanese officials is almost identical to that declared by the Chinese government in November 2013

Xi: China to promote cultural soft power – Xinhua President Xi Jinping has vowed to promote China’s cultural soft power by disseminating modern Chinese values and showing the charm of Chinese culture to the world. Efforts are needed to build China’s national image, Xi said when delivering a speech at a group study session of members of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee on Monday.

Gold, Ideology, and Self-Criticism in Chinese Coverage of the Jang Purge | Sino-NK The coverage has not simply provided Chinese readers with a window into recent political developments in the DPRK and attempts by the Korean Workers’ Party to rally domestic support around leader Kim Jong-un.  It has also stepped into some potentially sensitive areas, such as the purge of Jang Song-taek’s partners and colleagues, the viability of special economic zones along the Sino-Korean frontier, and even speculation about the sex life of Ri Sol-ju, the North Korean first lady.

First photos of Liaoning battle group made public – Xinhua The Chinese navy released on Wednesday the first photographs of what many military observers believe is the Liaoning aircraft carrier battle group as the nation’s first aircraft carrier returned to its homeport of Qingdao, Shandong province. The photos show the Liaoning sailing with several battleships, submarines and military aircraft performing a series of drills. The navy did not disclose when and where they were taken.

U.S. Frees Last of Uighur Detainees From Guantánamo – NYTimes.com In what the Pentagon called a “significant milestone” in the effort to close the prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, the military announced on Tuesday that the United States had transferred three Chinese detainees to Slovakia.

河北厨师坐热气球赴钓鱼岛坠海 被日方救起_新闻_腾讯网 Hebei chef man tries to fly hot air balloon from Fujian to Diaoyus, falls into sea, Japanese rescue him//人民网东京1月2日电(赵松)据日本《朝日新闻》报道,一名中国男子1日乘坐热气球从福建省福清市飞至钓鱼岛附近时坠海,日本海上保安厅将其救起,并交给在钓鱼岛附近海域巡航的中国海警。这名男子原计划乘坐热气球登陆钓鱼岛。

China may raise Iran oil imports with new contract: sources | Reuters China may buy more Iranian oil next year as a state trader is negotiating a new light crude contract that could raise imports from Tehran to levels not seen since tough Western sanctions were imposed in 2012, running the risk of upsetting Washington. An increase would go against the spirit of November’s breakthrough agreement relaxing some of the stringent measures slapped on Iran two years ago over its nuclear program.

Chinese iron trade fuels port clash with Mexican drug cartel | Reuters Chinese success in Michoacan has caused friction with the Knights Templar. In the August YouTube video, gang leader Gomez had some strong words for them. “We have an excessive invasion of Chinese. An excess of Chinese,” he said, surrounded by armed men. “It may suit the interests of various corporations, I don’t know. But they’re here with us now. And these people have their mafias too.”

Asia Unbound » Chinese Predictions for Cyberspace in 2014: Intense Competition and National Conflict The U.S.-China cybersecurity working group recently met for the second time during the first week in December. There have been no public reports of what was discussed or what progress, if any, was made. As with many of these dialogues, one of the main goals is not concrete deliverables, but reducing mistrust between the two sides. Yet some recent articles suggest that mutual understanding is going to be hard to find, and that some in China see cyberspace as increasingly antagonistic and dangerous. CCID Think Tank, a consulting company that has its roots in the former Ministry of Electronics Industry, released its forecast [Chinese] for the new year, and it describes five broad, bleak trends:

 

HONG KONG, MACAO AND TAIWAN

Thousands march in Hong Kong in escalating battle for democracy | Reuters Protesters at the annual New Year’s Day democracy rally shouted slogans demanding full democracy in 2017, with a key condition being the open nominations of candidates so that anyone, including China critics, can run for office. But Chinese officials and leftist newspapers have rejected that, citing the city’s mini-constitution that states all nominees must be endorsed by a 1,200-strong election committee, which is stacked with Beijing loyalists.

Hong Kong’s New Pollution Index Shows Very High Health Risk – Bloomberg The new system, which calculates health risks based on ozone, nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide and particulate matter that may be inhaled, is the first change to how Hong Kong gauges air quality since 1987 and comes as Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying has pledged to make curbing smog a priority. Beijing and other Chinese cities also introduced new monitoring systems starting in 2012 after criticism that authorities weren’t doing enough to control pollution.

 

TECH AND MEDIA

Slowly, China Catches a Cashless Payment Wave – Caixin The country’s largest mobile operator, China Mobile, and the sole provider of point-of-sale payment systems, China UnionPay, had clashed over whether a smartphone’s SIM card or an SD card should hold a consumer’s banking data. The first option would let telecoms deal directly with banks, in effect bypassing UnionPay. “Many in the industry expected a business boom for NFC payments in 2013,” said Sun Yixiao, a mobile payments expert at the China Communications Industry Association. “In the end though, NFC didn’t take off in 2013.” Nevertheless, the stage has been set for growth in the coming year. China Mobile, for example, in 2013 released several models of NFC-ready smartphones, said China Mobile’s e-commerce division President Fan Jinqiao.

 

SOCIETY, ART, SPORTS, CULTURE AND HISTORY

In China, one in five children live in villages without their parents – The Washington Post More than 61 million children — about one-fifth of the kids in China — live in villages without their parents. Most are the offspring of peasants who have flocked to cities in one of the largest migrations in human history. For three decades, the migrants’ cheap labor has fueled China’s rise as an economic juggernaut. But the city workers are so squeezed by high costs and long hours that many send their children to live with elderly relatives in the countryside.

 

ENERGY, ENVIRONMENT, SCIENCE AND HEALTH

Cars or coal? Scientists split over main culprit of Beijing’s air pollution | South China Morning Post As China enters 2014 reeling from one of the worst polluted winters in recent years, experts from two major research institutes have openly disagreed over what is the main culprit behind the capital city’s dismal air pollution.

Pollution Rising, Chinese Fear for Soil and Food – NYTimes.com One-sixth of China’s arable land — nearly 50 million acres — suffers from soil pollution, according to a book published this year by the Ministry of Environmental Protection. The book, “Soil Pollution and Physical Health,” said that more than 13 million tons of crops harvested each year were contaminated with heavy metals, and that 22 million acres of farmland were affected by pesticides.

5 Things to Watch: China’s Energy and Environmental Policy – Five Things – WSJ An overhaul of China’s energy and environmental policies will be in focus next year as the country struggles to balance economic growth with protecting the environment. In November, China’s central government said in its landmark reform plan that it would allow markets to take a more “decisive role” in the economy, a signal that the era of cheap, tightly controlled energy prices might be over. Here are some major energy and environmental-policy reforms to look out for in 2014.

Opportunity glimmers through China’s toxic smog | Reuters China’s government is struggling to meet pollution reduction targets and has pledged to spend over 3 trillion yuan ($494 billion) to tackle the problem, creating a growing market for companies that can help boost energy efficiency and lower emissions. “Recently, we haven’t been able to make products fast enough to keep up with demand,” said Hu Jie, a general manager at Broad Group, which makes pollution-related products ranging from hand-held monitors to eco-friendly buildings. Sales roughly doubled this year from 2012, Hu said, without giving details.

The Chinese village with the secret to long life | The Guardian Tourists paying homage to Bama’s centenarians are bringing in millions. But the Guangxi county’s success may be its undoing

Chinese Doctor Zhang Shuxia Admits to Stealing, Selling Babies in Shaanxi – China Real Time Report – WSJ While working as an obstetrician at the Fuping County Maternal and Child Hospital in central Shaanxi province, Ms. Zhang persuaded couples to give up their newborns by telling them they had complex health problems, Xinhua said. Six of the seven children Ms. Zhang abducted have been returned to their parents, Xinhua said, while one child who was sold for 1,000 yuan, or roughly $165, died.

Smart Air Clean air for only 200RMB. Combined with a basic household fan, a simple HEPA filter is all you need to remove more than 90% of the PM2.5 in your room. We were kind of surprised too

 

FOOD AND TRAVEL

Seven new high-speed railways begin operations – Xinhua BEIJING, Dec. 29 (Xinhuanet) — China Railway Corp put seven high-speed lines into service in southern, central and western China on Saturday. The national high-speed railway network, consisting of eight major lines – “four horizontal and four vertical” – has taken shape with the seven new lines.

 

BEIJING

记者王府井偶遇公安部副部长傅政华配枪巡逻(图)|巡逻|傅政华_凤凰资讯 vice minister of public security Fu Zhenghua goes on armed patrol in Wangfujing New Year’s eve, journalist just happens to run into him. Pictures // 2014年1月1日晚,公安部副部长、北京市公安局局长傅政华在王府井大街配枪巡逻。傅政华说新年为保安全特意出来巡逻,接下来还要去金水桥,见记者要合影他很随和接受,并说“不要着急”。

China cracks down on loathed traffic passes carrying official privileges | South China Morning Post The Beijing Traffic Management Bureau will phase out permits that allow special driving privileges, such as running red lights without consequences and free parking, the Beijing Youth Daily has reported. The passes, issued by various government agencies, were intended only for official vehicles on special occasions, such as those used by emergency crew, policemen and military staff. But they have been so widely abused over the years that privately-owned luxury cars are often seen sporting four or five special passes, each designated for a different group, pressed up against the inside of the windshield.

Beijing Sets Lower Growth Goal of 7.5% for 2014 – Bloomberg The city’s target for economic growth next year is about 7.5 percent, Guo Jinlong, Beijing’s Communist Party secretary, said in remarks made at a meeting Dec. 23 and printed today in People’s Daily, published by the party. That’s a half percentage point lower than the 8 percent expansion goal in 2013.

 

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