The Sinocism China Newsletter 01.20.15

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Today’s Links:

THE ESSENTIAL EIGHT

1. China Economic Growth Is Slowest in Decades – WSJ China’s economic growth slowed to 7.4% in 2014, downshifting to a level not seen in a quarter century and firmly marking the end of a high-growth heyday that buoyed global demand for everything from iron ore to designer handbags. The slipping momentum in China, which reported economic growth of 7.7% in 2013, has reverberated around the world, sending prices for commodities tumbling and weakening an already soft global economy.

Related: China property investment growth hits five-year low in 2014, curbs GDP | Reuters Property investment, a main driver of the economy, rose 10.5 percent in 2014 from a year earlier, the National Bureau of Statistics(NBS) said on Tuesday, the slowest pace since the January-July period of 2009. That compared with an annual rise of 11.9 percent in the first 11 months of 2014 and 19.8 percent growth through 2013.

Related: Leland R. Miller: China’s Stimulus Quagmire – WSJ Market participants often seem to misunderstand what China’s slowdown means. While the economy has continued to decelerate broadly, important components—including profit performance and the labor market—have shown overall improvement since 2014’s second-quarter nadir. In the just-completed fourth quarter, China Beige Book data on sales, profits and job growth all looked a bit better, as they had in the third quarter. This is a tentative rebound, to be sure, but it is hardly the gloom and doom narrative that most commentators (glued to older data) have now accepted as gospel.

Related: Guest post: China’s real GDP is slower than official figures show | beyondbrics What matters far more are the fundamentals beneath today’s report, and they appear weak. In addition to rising debt, China is aging. It suffers from both land scarcity and low land quality. The obvious solution is productivity improvement, but productivity may actually be falling. The Party can report positive GDP results indefinitely. The preponderance of evidence, even using official data, is that economic conditions are considerably worse than these numbers show. Derek M. Scissors is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI).

2. China Stocks Rebound From Biggest Drop in Six Years on GDP Data – Bloomberg The Shanghai Composite Index (SHCOMP) rose 1.8 percent to 3,173.05 at the close. Data showed gross domestic product rose 7.3 percent in the fourth quarter, beating the median estimate of 7.2 percent, while industrial production and retail sales grew faster than anticipated.

Related: Shanghai Margin Debt Shrinks Most in 19 Months After Rout – Bloomberg Outstanding margin loans on both the Shanghai and Shenzhen exchanges surged more than tenfold in the past two years to a record 1.1 trillion yuan as of Jan. 16, or about 3.5 percent of the nation’s market capitalization. Both bourses expanded the number of stocks available for margin trading to 900 from 695 in September.

Related: China’s CSRC Defends Actions After Stocks Tumble 7.7% – Bloomberg China’s securities regulator said it isn’t trying to curb equity trading after its efforts to rein in record margin lending spurred the biggest drop in the nation’s stocks in six years. Investors’ interpretation that regulators are suppressing the stock market through Friday’s action isn’t accurate, China Securities Regulatory Commission spokesman Deng Ge said, according to a statement on the regulator’s website today.

3. “Opinions concerning Further Strengthening and Improving Propaganda and Ideology Work in Higher Education Under New Circumstances” | China Copyright and Media The “Opinion concerning Further Strengthening and Improving Propaganda and Ideology Work in Higher Education Under New Circumstances”, published today, is the latest of a series of documents aimed at imposing stricter political discipline and control in China’s academia. The original document has not been published. The following is a translation of Xinhua’s summary 中共中央办公厅、国务院办公厅印发《关于进一步加强和改进新形势下高校宣传思想工作的意见》 .

Related: [视频]中共中央办公厅、国务院办公厅印发《关于进一步加强和改进新形势下高校宣传思想工作的意见 CCTV Evening News Monday on the opinion

中共中央办公厅、国务院办公厅印发 《关于进一步加强和改进新形势下高校宣传思想工作的意见》-中共中央网络安全和信息化领导小组办公室 Cyber Administration of China is highlighting this part of the opinion //  要切实做好高校新闻宣传工作,完善新闻信息发布和新闻发言人制度,进一步改进高校新闻宣传的文风作风,建立高校、宣传部门、新闻媒体三方联动宣传机制,为高校改革发展营造良好舆论氛围。要创新网络思想政治教育,开展高校校园网络文化建设专项试点工作,大力推进校报校刊数字化建设,探索建立优秀网络文章在科研成果统计、职务职称评聘方面的认定机制,着力培育一批导向正确、影响力广的网络名师,立足校园网站建设开办一批贴近师生学习生活的网络名站名栏,建设一支由学生和青年教师骨干组成的网络宣传员队伍,打造示范性思想理论教育资源网站、学生主题教育网站和网络互动社区,推进辅导员博客、思想政治理论课教师博客、校务微博、校园微信公众账号等网络新媒体建设。 《意见》指出,要着力加强高校宣传思想阵地管理。强调要加强校园网络安全管理,加强高校校园网站联盟建设,加强高校网络信息管理系统建设。

4. China funds become new force in global commodity trade – FT.com Increasingly the volumes traded on the Shanghai Futures Exchange are equal to the London Metal Exchange and Comex in the US put together, according to Macquarie. Since its £1.4bn purchase by the Hong Kong stock exchange in 2012, the LME has made it a strategic priority to seek out more trading volumes from China. That reflects in part China’s role as the world’s largest metals consumer, responsible for more than 40 per cent of consumption, up from 4 per cent in 1980. The world’s largest economy by purchasing power is also the largest importer of agricultural commodities and China’s futures exchanges regularly influence prices in Chicago. But funds such as Shanghai Chaos are increasingly involved across the futures spectrum from commodities to equities, according to people familiar with the fund. That could allow them, for example, to short Glencore while pushing down the price of copper.

Related: COLUMN-China 2014 growth the template for years to come: Russell | Reuters Column The decline in commodity prices is largely self-inflicted by the producers, and had very little to do with Chinese demand. After all, China bought in record volumes of crude, iron ore and copper in 2014, with only coal recording a drop among major commodity imports. A Chinese economy growing in the region of 7 percent for the next few years, then easing gradually back toward 5 percent thereafter is still an economy that will require substantial and rising commodity imports. To blame China’s economy for the woes of low commodity prices is to misunderstand the dynamics at work in the market.

5. Pay rises for China’s civil servants ‘good move to fight corruption’ | South China Morning Post News of a possible pay rise for mainland civil servants has put long-called-for official remuneration reforms back in the limelight amid a national anti-graft campaign and changes to civil service pensions. The Beijing-backed Hong Kong newspaper Wen Wei Po reported yesterday that civil servants, from the most junior staff to the president and premier, would likely see their pay as much as double soon, citing a central government directive issued last Monday.

Related: China’s President Xi Jinping gets 62 per cent pay rise, to $2,440 per month: Report – The Straits Times Mr Xi’s basic monthly pay will go up to 11,385 yuan (S$2,440) from 7,020 yuan, the China Daily said, citing announcements by the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security. At the bottom of the scale, the lowest-ranked civil servants have seen their pay more than double to 1,320 yuan.

Related: 公务员工资调整方案出台 增长六成是误解_特别报道_新京报网 人力资源和社会保障部副部长胡晓义表示,公务员工资调整方案已经出台,但对于涨薪幅度是否为六成时,其明确表示这“肯定是一个误解”。他说,如果简单地理解为是为了这次养老保险制度改革而增加工资,是不准确的。

6. Tencent Apologizes for Flashing WeChat Users With U.S. Flags – – WSJ According to Tencent, the feature was only supposed to be activated for American users, not ones in China, where discussion of civil rights can be sensitive. No political message was apparently intended: The company explained that it was a temporary emoticon designed to mark the U.S.’s Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, which pays tribute to the civil rights activist, and expressed contrition for its error. “Please forgive us for any misunderstanding caused!” the company wrote. “WeChat’s road towards internationalization is not easy.” The function no longer works for users based in mainland China or Hong Kong. Tencent didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Related: Chinese censors close WeChat accounts for ‘spreading distorted historical information’ | South China Morning Post The authority said it acted on a tip-off and after the investigation it had closed down 133 accounts, including one called “This is not History”. The statement gave no further details about the rest of the accounts that were closed. An unnamed official at the regulator said it would step up law enforcement on the internet and continue to follow up on tip-offs from the public.// 国家网信办:依法关闭133个传播歪曲党史国史信息公众账号-中共中央网络安全和信息化领导小组办公室

7. Outlook grim – Chinese authorities attack Microsoft | GreatFire.org We suspect that the Cyberspace Administration of China, which is directly in charge of censorship and GFW, is directly responsible for the MITM attack against Outlook, and the recent related MITM attacks in China. CNNIC (China Internet Network Information Center) is directly governed by the Cyberspace Administration of China and should not be trusted as a certificate authority by major software vendors. We have outlined CNNIC’s dubious history in a previous blog post. Given the dangerous nature of this attack on Outlook, we again strongly encourage organizations, including Microsoft and Apple, to immediately revoke trust for the CNNIC certificate authority.

Related: Microsoft Outlook Hacked In China, New Report Finds | TechCrunch A Microsoft spokesperson has responded, saying: “We are aware of a small number of customers impacted by malicious routing to a server impersonating Outlook.com. If a customer sees a certificate warning, they should contact their Internet service provider for assistance.”

8. Foreign face, Chinese heart – Global Times Li Yizu is not a typical Chinese man. For a start, he doesn’t look like one. Ever since he was a child, he has been singled out for his chiseled facial features, blue eyes and blond hair. In 1938, a year after Japan initiated its full-scale invasion of China, a Caucasian woman of unknown nationality gave birth to him in a Christian hospital in Tianjin. Then without a word, she vanished from his life.  His foster mother, a woman from Shandong Province, raised him during the turmoil of the war and later sent him to college in Beijing in the late 1950s. For the next 50 years, Li worked as a geologist in Northwest China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, traveling through mountains and steppes to find mineral deposits. These days, he lives with his wife in Urumqi. After retiring, Li volunteered for the Next Generation Working Committee, giving science lectures to primary and middle school students across Xinjiang.

 

BUSINESS, ECONOMY AND TRADE

Beijing set to ease restrictions on foreign investment | Business Spectator one measure that is likely to cause concern for overseas investors proposes to change how many Chinese companies listed on overseas bourses are treated. Under the proposed change, foreign enterprises on the Chinese mainland that are controlled by overseas investors will be considered foreign. Paul Gillis, a visiting professor of accounting at Peking University’s Guanghua School of Management, says that reform is needed in the foreign investment rules. “If all they do is treat the VIE as an FIE [Foreign Invested Enterprise], it is a disaster” he said, “That means none of the VIEs in restricted sectors — nearly all of them — are legal.”

外资法征求意见 审批制改报告制_经济频道_财新网 草案征求意见稿另一值得关注的焦点是,互联网企业广泛使用并引发诸多争论的协议控制(VIE)模式将写入外国投资法。草案征求意见稿第158条,将协议控制单独列出,但并无具体内容,而以“关于《中华人民共和国外国投资法(草案征求意见稿)》的说明”的方式作出规定。 根据说明,“协议控制明确规定为外国投资的一种形式,本法生效后,以协议控制方式进行投资的,将适用本法。”但对本法生效前既存的以协议控制方式进行的投资,如在本法生效后仍属于禁止或限制外国投资领域,应当如何处理,说明并未给出答案,只是列举了理论界和实务界的观点,称“将在广泛听取社会公众意见的基础上,就此问题作进一步研究,并提出处理建议”。

新外国投资法或对接中美BIT谈判_财经频道_一财网 随着中美双边投资协定谈判(BIT)加快,上海自贸区的相关经验在全国推广,意见稿也浮出水面。 对外经贸大学中国WTO学院副院长屠新泉则对本报记者表示,《外国投资法》的修改是牵一发而动全身的大事。此次速度加快,很可能与BIT的进展相关,目前意见稿中的定义及文本表述,应该与BIT已经原则性达成的文本内容一致。 但他推测,由于意见稿涉及内部协调和利益过大,虽然意见稿出台,但多部委会签的过程有待协调。此前一些相关法律的征求意见稿从修改到实施就曾被拖延长达五年之久。“最终速度,取决于BIT的进展,也取决于最高领导层对改革的决心和力度。”

经济参考网 – 传央行加量续作MLF 浦发400亿兴业500亿 rumors that the PBoC has increased and rolled over MLF //  摘要:消息称央行今天加量续作MLF,加大注入市场流动性。 从消息人士处获悉,央行今天加量续作MLF,加大注入市场流动性。其中,浦发银行到期200亿,续作400亿;兴业银行到期300亿,续作500亿。MLF是央行非常规工具之一。尽管MLF期限只有三个月,但到期后商业银行较容易申请展期,所以该工具与降准作用更为类似。

China’s Effort to Curb Rollercoaster Stocks Channels Money to Shadow Banking – Bloomberg Wealth-management products, known as WMPs, have been used to channel 300 billion yuan ($48 billion) to 500 billion yuan into shares, Goldman Sachs Group Inc. estimated in a Jan. 19 note. Sinolink Securities Co. put the figure at 1.5 trillion yuan, up from 800 billion yuan at the end of June. Outstanding margin loans totaled a record 1.1 trillion yuan at the end of last week, China Securities Finance Corp. data show.

China’s Capital Flows Measure Tumbles Amid Fund-Flight Concern – Bloomberg Yuan positions on the People’s Bank of China’s balance sheet fell 128.9 billion yuan ($20.7 billion) in December from a month earlier, the central bank said in Beijing on Monday. A similar gauge at financial institutions retreated the most since December 2007. The yuan lost 2.4 percent against the dollar in 2014, its first annual drop in five years. The yuan positions data show the PBOC “had to intervene to sell foreign currency from its reserves and buy the yuan to prevent sharp moves,” Dariusz Kowalczyk, a Hong Kong-based strategist at Credit Agricole CIB, said by phone. “There have been outflows as some Chinese companies repaid their foreign debt with the yuan no longer a one-way appreciation bet.”

Standard Bank Seen Writing Off All of Metal Held in China Probe – Bloomberg Standard Bank, which isn’t accused of any wrongdoing, started legal proceedings in July after $167 million of aluminum it claimed ownership of was placed under lockdown by authorities probing irregularities at warehouses in Shandong Province. The aluminum stockpiles held in bonded facilities, mostly at the Qingdao port, were allegedly pledged to banks as collateral for loans multiple times. The Johannesburg-based lender has already written down the value of the metal by about half and said last month that any recovery was highly uncertain.  // They should explain to shareholders how they did the due diligence on this. And was anyone fired?

Chinese Hunt for Trophy Properties Pushing Up NYC, London Prices – Bloomberg As companies like China Life Insurance Co. (2628) and Ping An Insurance (Group) Co. (2318) ramped up acquisitions, office prices in central London and Manhattan jumped 15 percent and 11 percent respectively in the nine months through September, according to CBRE Group Inc. (CBG) Global commercial property transactions rose to about $700 billion last year, the highest since 2008, in part due to new demand from Chinese insurers, said Green-Morgan of Jones Lang LaSalle, which is advising about a half-dozen insurers on their first overseas property transactions. “Chinese insurers get the backing from the government and are eager to nail international deals before their peers do,” he said. “They are more willing to pay top dollar.”

Luxury market loses oomph- China Daily The Chinese luxury market showed for the first time negative growth in 2014, according to consultancy firm Bain & Company’s latest study released in Shanghai on Tuesday.

Hillhouse Capital Said to Raise $2 Billion Private Equity Fund – Bloomberg The new private equity fund and gains in existing holdings have boosted Hillhouse’s assets under management to about $18 billion, from more than $14 billion in June, said the person, who asked not to be identified as the information is private. In the past, Hillhouse has returned capital to investors in order to manage its asset size.  // hear at least 6B is that is the founder’s own capital

Itochu, Charoen Pokphand to jointly invest 1.2 trillion yen in China’s CITIC – AJW by The Asahi Shimbun Under the agreement, Itochu and the CPG group will invest equally about 1.2 trillion yen ($10.13 billion) in CITIC in two-stage transactions through Chia Tai Bright Investment Co. (CTB), which is equally held by Itochu and the CPG group. The first-stage purchase will be in April and the second in October. After the transactions, CTB will own about 20 percent of the total voting rights of CITIC, making CITIC an affiliate of CTB.

松下:正讨论将部分家电产能迁回日本_财经频道_一财网 CBN says Panasonic considering moving some of its production back to Japan?  //  在中国,传闻涉及了松下上海微波炉工厂、杭州洗衣机工厂和广州空调工厂;松下回迁部分家电产能的传闻,主要缘于日元贬值和中国人工成本上升。

Gov’t Statistician Cites New Data to Say Income Inequality Is Narrowing – NBS said that its data is based on a survey of the incomes of 400,000 households. Critics say its approach is flawed because high-income families are disproportionately represented and they are less forthcoming about their income. They also say income levels for urban residents are underestimated because these families often have multiple sources of income that are not counted. The NBS also said that the disposable income of workers in the country rose 8 percent from a year earlier to an average of 20,167 yuan last year. Rural workers saw disposable income grow by 9.2 percent to 10,489 yuan; the figure for urbanites rose 6.8 percent to 28,844 yuan. Those figures factored in differences in prices for certain goods people had to buy.

China Voice: Premier’s WEF speech to send signal of confidence to world – Xinhua More than 2,500 attendees of the WEF Davos meeting have many questions: What reform measures China will take? Will they work? What new opportunities and challenges will they have on the rest of the world? Li is expected to send a clear message of confidence in China’s economic development to boost confidence in the Chinese economy, and that of other emerging economies. In an environment where many economies are still struggling with the aftershocks of the financial crisis, the world is still trying to find a way forward.

李克强率重量级代表团赴达沃斯–时政–人民网 Li Keqiang leading a powerful delegation to Davos. Alibaba’s Jack Ma one of the members  //  人民网快讯:李克强总理20日率重量级代表团赴达沃斯出席世界经济论坛年会。随行人员中包括王毅、徐绍史、高虎城、周小川等多位高级官员。任正非、马云、林毅夫、李稻葵等多位中国工商界学界精英都将云集论坛。 在全球经济复苏曲折乏力的背景下,世界期待倾听中国声音。

 

POLITICS AND LAW

The Dragon’s Eyes and Ears: Chinese Intelligence at the Crossroads | The National Interest A little over a week ago, Hong Kong media reported and, on January 16, Beijing confirmed investigators had detained Chinese Ministry of State Security Vice Minister Ma Jian as part of China’s ongoing anti-corruption campaign. While Ma’s detention gives Xi Jinping and political analysts the opportunity to boast, his dismissal from the Ministry of State Security (MSS) opens a void at the top of China’s civilian intelligence service. Ma is the third vice minister to be shown the door in recent years, and each could have succeeded Geng Huichang, the current Minister of State Security, who is due to retire in the next two to three years. With an open playing field, the choices made by Xi Jinping and his colleagues will go a long way toward deciding the future of Chinese intelligence.

传中国国安部另一副部长邱进被调查 在中国国家安全部副部长马建证实被调查的当天(16日),同个部门的另一名副部长邱进,据传也被中共中央纪委带走调查。 中国境外媒体昨日引述匿名北京政界人士透露上述消息,但这项消息未获得官方证实。不愿透露姓名的北京时政观察者接受本报询问时也表示,风闻此事,但无法证实。 若情况属实,邱进将成为马建之后,第二名落马的副部级国安高官。

In China, an Ingenious Scheme for Getting Out of Jail Early – NYTimes Under Chinese law, prisoners who have come up with useful new technologies can be eligible for sentence reductions. And that has helped spur an underground market in patents for sale to inmates, according to a report in Beijing Youth Daily.

Dongguan Hotel Tycoon and Sex Industry Kingpin Under Investigation | TheNanfang A Dongguan hotel tycoon, Liu Boquan, made a name for himself in 2010 after he used his private helicopter and speed boat to help local police chase down purse-snatchers. According to the Dongguan Times, Liu was awarded RMB 40,000 by the provincial and local governments for his heroic deed. But those were the good days, now the intrepid Samaritan has been stripped of his CPPCC membership and is currently under police investigation, China News reports. The report did not specify what he has been charged with, but Liu, chairperson of several Dongguan four and five-star hotels, took a big hit during Dongguan’s anti-prostitution campaign when several of his hotels were caught offering sex services.

Communist Party Warns Officials: Calligraphy Isn’t for Amateurs – China Real Time Report – WSJ A new warning to officials about their calligraphy is the latest anti-corruption guideline from the Chinese Communist Party’s Central Commission for Discipline Inspection. Wang Qishan, the Politburo Standing Committee member who heads the party’s anti-graft commission, hit out at the traditional craft during a plenary meeting of the organization last week in Beijing, and the message was backed up by an editorial [本网评论:领导干部应该还文艺一份纯粹] from the agency posted on Tuesday to its website. Officials shouldn’t “grab meat from the plates of artists,” the editorial said.

Guangdong Official Made Millions Selling Seats on Advisory Body – Caixin The court document shows that Zhou got a total of 2.42 million yuan from five real estate developers to help them get elected to Guangdong’s people’s political consultative conference. The members of that body come from all walks of life, from business to sports, to advise the government on policy matters. Zhou took cash payments totaling HK$ 300,000 and US$ 80,000 from Yang Qiu, president of Guangzhou’s Hengxin Property Group. The money came in six payments from 2004 to 2007. At the end of 2007, Zhou agreed to help Yang’s son, Yang Zhenxin, get elected to the Standing Committee of Guangdong’s political consultative conference. The court document also shows that in January 2008 Zhou promised to help Chen Jianfeng, president of Guangdong Yuan Bang Property Development Co. Ltd., become a member of the same committee. Chen gave Zhou a total of 340,000 yuan in three installments from 2008 to 2009.

China: Draft Counterterrorism Law a Recipe for Abuses | Human Rights Watch Major Overhaul Needed for Law to Conform with International Legal Obligations

韩正:要严字当头正风肃纪惩腐,有案必查有违必处必究_浦江头条_澎湃新闻-The Paper 中国共产党上海市第十届纪律检查委员会第四次全体会议第一次大会,今天下午(1月19日)举行。上海市委书记韩正强调,要全面贯彻落实十八届中央纪委五次全会精神和习近平总书记重要讲话精神,清醒认识本市党风廉政建设和反腐败斗争的新形势,切实落实党风廉政建设主体责任,有责必问。要严字当头正风肃纪惩腐,党的纪律和规矩是底线,有违必处;八项规定是铁律,有违必究;以零容忍态度惩治腐败,有案必查;常规性制度是保障,有禁必止。要打造一支忠诚、干净、担当,讲原则、守纪律、敢碰硬的纪检监察队伍。要务实工作、奋力进取,深入推进上海党风廉政建设和反腐败斗争,为继续当好全国改革开放排头兵、创新发展先行者提供坚强保证。         上海市领导杨雄、殷一璀、吴志明、应勇、屠光绍、徐麟、艾宝俊、沈晓明、徐泽洲、姜平、沙海林、尹弘等出席,市委常委、市纪委书记侯凯主持会议。

媒体解读政治局常委会会议:此次不同寻常_新闻_腾讯网 释放什么信号?这次不同寻常的会议,释放了什么信号? 【1】告诉全体党员——必须要讲规矩,特别是要讲根本的政治规矩;【2】告诉各级党组——不仅党员个人要讲规矩,党组织更要讲规矩; 【3】告诉各级地方——不仅党中央要听取全国人大常委会、国务院等党组工作汇报,以后各级党委也将听取各级人大常委会、政府等党组工作汇报; 【4】告诉社会公众——加强党中央的集中统一领导与支持全国人大常委会、国务院等履行职责是统一的,两个方面哪一方面都不能偏

 

FOREIGN AND DEFENSE AFFAIRS

【独家】国防大学政治部副主任段天杰少将被查_政经频道_财新网 Caixin reports that Gen Duan Tianjie, vice director of the political department of National Defense University, has been detained. Caixin getting a lot of PLA corruption scoops lately… //  段天杰2014年12月中上旬被带走,是近期财新证实的第三位军队院校落马少将

US observer: Comparing Egypt with China – China Daily byline says Peter Hessler but turns out he just did an interview with The China daily and they made it up as an actual piece written by him  //  With regard to China, you can examine the strength of the state and see both negatives and positives. Because the state is strong, and power is quite deeply entrenched, whenever significant changes do come, I think they are more likely to succeed, because the Chinese have a significant political foundation, and they have the experience of living in a functional state. Living in Egypt also makes me appreciative of the educational system in China. There are of course enormous flaws, but in terms of basic education, it’s quite impressive. This is one of the core problems in Egypt. This country has an illiteracy rate of more than 25 per cent. I know some people here, who are naturally very smart, but they can’t read, because they never went to school and there are no other resources for them to learn. I didn’t know people like that in China. In the end, I don’t expect the Egyptian model to apply to China. I don’t expect China to experience a grassroots revolution, or a collapse of the old system. My sense is that changes in China are more likely to be subtle, incremental, and coming from the top. But of course the other lesson of Egypt is that it is very difficult to predict these things.

Global Military Justice Reform: Why was the head of the PLA Military Court promoted? China watchers are talking about the list of 16 high ranking PLA officers released on January 15 by the PLA, who are being investigated or have been convicted of corruption offenses.  According to Chinese media, is the first time that this has been done, and the government motivation for doing so is also being widely discussed. A side issue to the story is the PLA Military Court, the court that will likely hear these most of these cases. On January 14, 2015, official Chinese media announced that Major General Liu Jixing, president of the PLA Military Court had been promoted to at the level of commander of a major military command.

Foreign leaders making splash on front page of Party’s paper – China Daily Russian President Vladimir Putin made the front page of People’s Daily, the flagship newspaper of the Communist Party of China, 14 times over the last year, ranking first among all foreign leaders, according to a report published by the newspaper. In 2014, a total of 291 photos of foreign leaders have appeared on the front page of People’s Daily

 

HONG KONG, MACAO AND TAIWAN

CY Leung was right to criticise students, says former chief executive Tung Chee-hwa | South China Morning Post Former Hong Kong leader Tung Chee-hwa on Tuesday defended Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying’s criticism of students for discussing the city’s “self-determination”. “National sovereignty and security” could not be compromised, the former chief executive said, backing comments made by Leung during his third policy address last week. In speaking, Tung, who is also a vice-chairman of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference – the nation’s top advisory body – became the first former chief executive to comment on a current leader’s annual policy address.

 

TECH AND MEDIA

The Business and Politics of Search Engines: A Comparative Study of Baidu and Google’s Search Results of Internet Events in China by Min Jiang :: SSRN Despite growing interest in search engines in China, relatively few empirical studies have examined their sociopolitical implications. This study fills several research gaps by comparing query results (N=6,320) from China’s two leading search engines, Baidu and Google, focusing on accessibility, overlap, ranking, and bias patterns. Analysis of query results of 316 popular Chinese Internet events reveals: 1) after Google moved its servers from Mainland China to Hong Kong, Google’s results are equally if not more likely to be inaccessible than Baidu’s, and Baidu’s filtering is much subtler than the Great Firewall’s (GFW) wholesale blocking of Google’s results; 2) there is low overlap (6.8%) and little ranking similarity between Baidu’s and Google’s results, implying different search engines, different results and different social realities; and 3) Baidu rarely links to its competitors Hudong Baike or Chinese Wikipedia, while their presence in Google’s results is much more prominent, raising search bias concerns. These results suggest search engines can be architecturally altered to serve political regimes, arbitrary in rendering social realities, and biased toward self-interest.

刘奇葆:营造更加清朗的网上网下文化空间-中共中央网络安全和信息化领导小组办公室 新华网北京1月19日电 1月19日,第二十八次全国“扫黄打非”工作电视电话会议在京召开。中共中央政治局委员、中宣部部长、全国“扫黄打非”工作小组组长刘奇葆出席会议并讲话,强调要深入学习贯彻党的十八大和十八届三中、四中全会精神,学习贯彻习近平总书记系列重要讲话精神,以打击非法出版物为首要任务,以互联网为主战场,以开展专项行动为主要抓手,切实加强日常监管,严厉查办大案要案,营造更加清朗的网上网下文化空间,有力维护意识形态安全和文化安全。

 

SOCIETY, ART, SPORTS, CULTURE AND HISTORY

In China, a Backlash Against ‘Cancerous’ Straight Men – WSJ A well-known Chinese scholar who recently declared that women are beautiful when they’re cleaning house or feeding babies has sparked a furious uproar over what some Chinese critics are calling a national scourge: so-called “straight man” cancer (直男癌, or zhinan’ai). The term, which has lately gained traction online, is generally used to depict narrow-minded macho men. Over the past week, it’s gotten a particular airing in the spotlight thanks to the postings of writer Zhou Guoping, who previously worked for state-backed think tank the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

Sales execs who missed targets forced to kneel on public bridge and chant ‘We are sorry’ – Yahoo News UK Pedestrians who were using a busy crossover in the city of Xiamen, the capital of south-eastern China’s Fujian Province, were stunned to see the men and women in suits on their knees with messages in front of them detailing their name, age, and exactly what it was that they had done to bring such shame on themselves. One, named as Zhen Liu, 43, had the handwritten message on the ground in front of him saying: ‘I failed to beat my sales targets.’

What the Fu? Backlash for Burberry Over Chinese Scarf Design –  – WSJ many Chinese are miffed about Burberry’s sales tactic, they say. The limited edition with the extra Chinese holiday decoration costs $925, or around $215 more than its regular version. They also say Burberry incorrectly positioned the character, which is typically displayed on banners and good-luck charms upside-down during Chinese New Year, a direction that’s used to signify that “fu,” or prosperity, has arrived. In Chinese, the characters for “upside-down” and “to arrive” are homonyms. “If you want to integrate exotic cultural elements to your products then you should do it in the right way,” wrote one Weibo user.

媒体:本山影视基地周永康薄熙来等人照片消失_新闻_腾讯网 steady stream of negative news about Zhao Benshan  //  本山影视基地主楼周永康、薄熙来、王立军等人照片相继被撤下,其中曾有一幅薄熙来怀抱赵本山双胞胎儿女妞妞、牛牛的大幅照片。

 

ENERGY, ENVIRONMENT, SCIENCE AND HEALTH

Clone scientist under graft probe suspended from academician title | Shanghai Daily THE Chinese Academy of Engineering (CAE) announced Saturday that it suspended the renowned clone scientist Li Ning, arrested for swindling research funds, will likely be stripped of the title of academician. Li, a professor at the Chinese University of Agriculture on genetic breeding and cloning, was arrested in June for cheating state scientific research funds for a trans-gene biology project.

WHO says chronic diseases kill 3 million annually in China | Reuters The organization said prevalence of many key risk factors in China is “worryingly high”. It said that over half of all men in the country are smokers, more than four in five adolescents do not engage in sufficient physical activity and around one in five adults have raised blood pressure. “This new report is a dramatic wake-up call,” Bernhard Schwartländer, WHO’s representative in China, said in the statement.

Tibet’s mineral water to be new regional growth pillar_Icrosschina Tibet Autonomous Region, in southwest China, has identified its fresh water resources as a new sustainable economic growth pillar, which has the potential to support efforts to reduce poverty and boost industrial development in the region. Positioned on the world’s highest plateau, Tibet is often called Asia’s Water Tower, and many of the world’s greatest rivers flow out of the Tibetan Plateau. Unlike the rest of the country, which is struggling with water shortages and deteriorating water environment, Tibet boasts a pristine environment and has a large repository of freshwater. Sources at an ongoing annual regional people’s congress session said the region had explored 28 mineral water springs and had reported 190 million tonnes of water reserves.

互联网成撬动医改顽石杠杆 深度报道——经济参考网 will the Internet push forward health care reforms? Lots of money betting it will, as Economic Information reports  //  随着移动通信技术不断发展,通过远程医疗、可穿戴便携式设备等方式进行医疗服务的互联网医疗产业正逐渐壮大,接连获得腾讯、百度、阿里巴巴等互联网巨头及其他产业资本的投资青睐。而在医疗体制改革举步维艰的大背景下,互联网医疗有望通过提高医疗机构效率、让患者掌握主动权、将优质医疗资源“下沉”等方式突破传统医疗服务短板,并对传统医疗服务模式产生颠覆性影响,成为撬动医改顽石的重要杠杆。有业内人士称,2017年我国移动医疗市场将达到125亿元左右规模,而互联网医疗发展面临的最大问题仍然是政策壁垒。

 

FOOD AND TRAVEL

Foreign tourists swell by nearly 30 percent in 2014, hit record high – AJW by The Asahi Shimbun By country and region, most of the visitors–2.829 million–came from Taiwan, up 28 percent from 2013, followed by South Korea with 2.755 million, 12.2 percent higher than the previous year. The third largest total, 2.409 million, came from China. Although deteriorating bilateral relations between Tokyo and Beijing over the disputed Senkaku Islands and other issues saw the number of tourists from China drop 7.8 percent in 2013, the figure surged 83.3 percent last year.

 

JOBS AND EVENTS

Wednesday, Jan. 21 – Speaker Series with Jeremy Goldkorn | ATLAS-China On Wednesday, we’ll be honored to spend an evening with Jeremy Goldkorn, the entrepreneur behind Danwei (a Financial Times company), co-host of the Sinica Podcast and savvy observer of international China business and media:  //  In Beijing CBD

International Careers – Dow JonesSocial Media Editor The Wall Street Journal is looking for a social media editor for Asia to leverage social tools and technology to deepen our relationship with readers. This person should be a self-starter who can identify ways to connect readers with our content and grow the audience by leading the conversation on news events on social networks. This is a strategic role that requires establishing a clear voice and identity on existing digital platforms across Asia, and identifying and taking the Journal onto new, emerging platforms.