THE ESSENTIAL EIGHT *
1. Minsheng Bank President Resigns amid Corruption Investigation – Caixin There have been media reports that several other members of Minsheng are also being investigated, but sources at the bank dispute this. Several sources close to the bank say that Minsheng executives have met with CDIC officials, including the chairman of the board of supervisors, Duan Qingshan, and that board’s secretary, Wan Qingyuan. The executives were not detained. The investigation only involves Mao and “other directors and executives of the bank remain in their positions and are working as usual,” a source at the bank said. Mao’s case is linked to an investigation into Ling Jihua, a former vice chairman of the country’s top political advisory body, several sources close to the matter said. The CDIC said on December 22 it had started an inquiry into Ling.
Related: Bank president probe ‘sign’ of wider graft war – Global Times The investigation into Mao Xiaofeng, the youngest-ever president of a listed bank in China, could presage a focus on corruption busting in the financial sector in 2015, experts have said. // And Wang Qishan knows all the tricks in the finance sector
Related: Minsheng Banking Seen Extending Losses After President Resigns – Bloomberg Business Anbang Insurance Group Co., the Chinese insurer that agreed in October to purchase New York’s Waldorf Astoria hotel, has been buying the lender’s Shanghai-listed A shares and its Hong Kong-listed H-shares, boosting its holdings to 22.5 percent and 5.2 percent respectively as of Jan. 29. Billionaire Guo Guangchang this month disposed of his entire 0.13 percent stake in Minsheng’s A-shares, according to disclosure filings to the Hong Kong stock exchange on Jan. 27.
2. Xi Jinping orders elite cadres to put more weight behind ‘rule by law’ rollout | South China Morning Post President Xi Jinping has ordered governors and ministers to work much harder to implement “rule by law”, saying some cadres were not doing enough to drive the rollout, state media reported. Xi delivered the criticism during his keynote speech at a seminar on the topic at the Central Party School in Beijing on Monday, according to Xinhua.
Related: 新华社评论员：抓住“关键少数” 带动依法治国-新华网 “法有权威则治，法无权威则乱。”
3. Alibaba Resolves Conflict With Chinese Regulator, Ma Says – Bloomberg Business The SAIC’s actions weren’t supported by “certain government officials,” Ma said, without elaborating. Alibaba has 2,000 full-time employees to help monitor counterfeits and has helped send 400 people to prison for violations, he said. “We looking for how we can communicate with the rest of the world,” Ma said. “We don’t want to be misunderstood by the world that we are not transparent. We don’t want to be misunderstood that Taobao is a platform for selling fake products.” Ma said he’s “much more tired and frustrated than people think”; he didn’t elaborate.
Related: Closer Look: Alibaba Meets with Regulator, but Its Problems Remain – Caixin A meeting between Alibaba Group chairman Jack Ma and the head of China’s commerce regulator on January 30 may have helped calm a rare tussle between the leading e-commerce company and a powerful government agency. However, it could do little to contain the fall-out from the high-profile feud as neither party addressed the crucial questions: whether counterfeiting is as grave as regulators claim and how they are going to address the rampant sale of fake goods online.
4. Xi says ‘full of confidence’ about ties; Modi calls for India, China to work towards ‘Asian Century’ : India Today Xi, who has expressed his keenness for Modi to reciprocate his gesture of hosting the Chinese President in Gujarat by travelling to his home province of Shaanxi during his expected visit in May, said he “still cherish[ed] the fresh memories in my mind about the gracious hospitality extended to me by the government and people and particularly I cherish the fond memories of my trip to Prime Minister Modi’s home town in Gujarat state” last September.
Related: Xi eyes continued correct direction for China-India ties – Xinhua Chinese President Xi Jinping on Monday called for a continued advancement of ties between China and India. “Leaders of the two countries should maintain communication and exchanges and work together to ensure the correct direction for the development of the bilateral ties,” Xi said as he met with India’s External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.
Related: Full text of joint communique of Russian, Indian, Chinese foreign ministers’ meeting – Xinhua Russian, Indian and Chinese foreign ministers issued a joint communique Monday after wrapping up their 13th meeting in Beijing. The following is the full text of the document:
5. L. Gordon Crovitz: AmericanExceptionalism.com – WSJ Congress did the world’s three billion Internet users a favor by blocking President Obama’s plan to end U.S. protection of the open Internet. Now it is time to embrace the American exceptionalism that made today’s Internet possible. In March 2014, the Obama administration said it would give up the U.S. contract with the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, or Icann, when the current term expires in September. The plan ran into a buzz saw of criticism, including from Bill Clinton, whose administration built American protection of freedom into the core workings of the Internet when it opened for commercial use in the 1990s. // has China reacted to this yet?
Related: US looks at plan to hand over world’s DNS – and screams blue murder-The Register Strickling also tackled two related issues around the IANA transition. He noted that since the US Congress specifically passed a measure that prevents the NTIA from spending funds on the transition that he and his department will not do so. However, he makes it plain that US government officials will continue to monitor the process and provide informal feedback. He also stressed again that the September deadline is not set in stone and that the Department of Commerce is able to extend its current contract for up to four years: a message that we take to read that ICANN staff and Board should not attempt to avoid introducing accountability changes by arguing that there is not sufficient time before the transition.
Related: Why Internet users all around the world should be worried about China’s Great Firewall – The Washington Post Raising alarm bells, news emerged in December that the Cyberspace Administration of China was now in charge of the China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC), the authority that issues digital certificates to Web sites here and tells users that they are safe to visit.
6. China’s Alternative Diplomacy | The Diplomat Xi’s strategy is a sophisticated and progressive one. Instead of directly challenging the current existing international institutions, the Chinese are trying to create new platforms that Beijing can control or substantially influence. Through these new initiatives, Beijing aims to create a new international environment that is more favorable to China, one that will limit strategic pressures from the United States. Beijing wants to gradually take progressive, but not provocative, steps forward in these endeavors. On the surface these steps aim only to further economic development enterprises, and Beijing is trying to promote them as pure economic and trade initiatives. Below the surface, however, Beijing is trying to work for China’s greater security and long-term strategic objectives.
7. China rebuffed over UN move targeting NGOs | Daily Mail Online A UN diplomat said China had “shocked” delegations when it proposed to restrict information on the committee’s decisions. “China has long been pushing to restrict NGO and press access to the committee proceedings, however they have never made a motion like they did this morning,” said a diplomat, who asked not to be identified.
8. Chinese state TV taps Uygur star to host new year gala | South China Morning Post The mainland’s biggest television event of the year will for the first time feature a Uygur as one of its celebrity hosts, the state broadcaster announced on Monday, a decision that comes amid heightened tensions in the ethnic minority’s Xinjiang homeland.
BUSINESS, ECONOMY AND TRADE *
Economists React: China’s Manufacturing Sector Contracts – China Real Time Report – WSJ China’s manufacturing sector is struggling, with both the government’s purchasing managers’ index and HSBC ‘sHSBA.LN -0.25% competing measure underwater for the first time in more than two years. The official PMI fell to 49.8 in January, from 50.1 in December; HSBC’s PMI inched up to 49.7, still below the key 50 level that separates contraction from expansion. Economists weigh in
Economic Planner Raises Benchmark Rate for Cargo – Caixin The National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) set the new benchmark freight rate at 0.1551 yuan per ton per kilometer, up 0.01 yuan from the previous level, according to a notice published on January 30. Transportation companies can set their rates at no more than 110 percent of the benchmark rate, the notice said. The firms can no longer collect service fees for transporting large-volume cargos, and lower preferential rates for fertilizers and phosphate rock have been cancelled.
Digging into China’s debts | FT Alphaville Since 2008, debts owed by China’s nonfinancial sector have soared by more than 90 percentage points relative to GDP. As David said, that’s “pretty damn fast.” Almost all of that increase can be attributed to corporate borrowers. Chart via Goldman
Sunac China Agrees to Pay 2.37 Billion Yuan for Kaisa Companies – Bloomberg Business Sunac China Holdings Ltd. has agreed to buy four units of troubled property developer Kaisa Group Holdings Ltd. for 2.37 billion yuan ($380 million).
Quarter of Chinese provinces join $10,000 per capita club | Business Spectator Eight Chinese provinces and municipalities have a per capita income of $10,000 or over, crossing a major threshold in terms of wage increases reports Sina Finance. Guangdong, one of the most prosperous provinces on China’s eastern coast, grew 7.8 per cent and its per capita GDP surpassed US$10,000 for the first time in history. Fujian province’s per capita GDP also crossed that threshold for the first time.
Apple Ranks As China’s Most Desirable Luxury Brand – WSJ In China, iPhones not only outsold all other smartphones in the fourth quarter, it also beat Louis Vuitton and Hermès to become the most preferred gift choice among the country’s richest this year, according to China-based luxury publishing group Hurun Research. While the Chinese government’s crackdown on luxury gifts has weighed on the country’s spending on luxury goods, it also changed the spending habit of China’s wealthy people who now prefer more practical items like iPhones and watches, said the publishing group.
Chinese housing market recovers modestly | Business Spectator House prices in 100 Chinese cities have posted a 0.21 per cent increase after eight months of continuous decline, according to a survey by the China Index Academy. The data shows 44 cities posted price increases while 56 cities experienced declines during the first month of this year.
Southern Weekend apologises for ‘incorrect’ reporting of Anbang Insurance ownership | Business Spectator China’s Southern Weekend newspaper has apologised for a report on January 29 which speculated that one of China’s most prominent princelings, Chen Xiaolu, was the de facto owner of Anbang Insurance. In a one sentence explanation, the paper apologises to the company and its owners its incorrect reporting.
绿地击败万科拿下北京昌平地块__第一财经 Beijing sells 34 Billion RMB worth of land in January // 45亿元，溢价率约27%，
China Rail Stocks Sink After Mexico Shelves High-Speed Rail Line – Bloomberg Business On Friday, Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto said the Yucatan peninsula rail project fell victim to broader budget cuts. The nation, which depends on oil revenue to fund about a third of federal spending, is reducing 2015 outlays by 124.3 billion pesos ($8.3 billion) on expectations oil prices may continue to slump for years. West Texas Intermediate crude is trading near the lowest since March 2009.
China Venture Investing, Driven by Mobile, Soared to Record Level in 2014 – WSJ Investors poured $15.5 billion into deals during the year, more than twice the previous record of $7.3 billion set in 2011 and the highest amount since VentureSource began collecting data on China in 2006
China to limit cash transfers to regional governments to curb public spending | South China Morning Post The government in China is making it harder for its regional governments to get cash transfers from the central authorities in another step to reform its fiscal system and reduce wasteful public spending. The central government regularly transfers cash to regional authorities through fiscal transfers to ease their financial burden as they are responsible for nearly 80 per cent of all public spending, but get only half of the fiscal income. // 国务院印发《意见》：改革和完善中央对地方转移支付制度
POLITICS AND LAW *
China Sharpens Its Censorship Blade – NYTimes.com The fragmentation of society, in which individuals sit in solitary confinement with their hopes and complaints, makes a mockery of the buoyant description of “the motherland’s ethnic and cultural unity” that filled my high school textbook. Chinese leaders might believe that isolating grievances helps them contain the society-wide discontent. In reality, however, it only leads to a vacuum of trust that ultimately undermines the Communist Party’s own credibility.
Minitrue: Clean up Comments on ‘Daddy Xi’ Concert – China Digital Times (CDT) Do not hype or report content touching upon “Two ‘Daddy Xi Loves Mama Peng’ Performers to Hold Vocal Recital” or “Two Henan Grassroots Singers to Hold Concert.” Thoroughly delete any reports that have already been published, and tidy up content on mobile carriers and interactive [comment] sections.” (February 2, 2015)
Father and daughter from banned China cult executed for murder in McDonald’s – Telegraph A father and daughter who belonged to a fringe Chinese religious group were executed on Monday for beating a woman to death at a McDonald’s restaurant, reportedly after she rebuffed their attempts to recruit her. The pair were among a group of five members of the banned Quannengshen cult convicted of attacking the woman, surnamed Wu, after she refused to give them her phone number.
秦晓微信回应孔丹 Qin Xiao takes to Wechat to respond to Kong Dan’s comments. A mistake to assume there is a united “princeling” grouping // 秦晓微信回应孔丹：多谈问题、少谈主义、求同存异，寻求共识、
FOREIGN AND DEFENSE AFFAIRS *
China builds second aircraft carrier, but deletes news reports announcing it – The Washington Post News that China is building a second aircraft carrier has been leaked by an over-enthusiastic local government, but reports were subsequently deleted from Web sites and social media here, a development that will do little to calm nerves among neighboring countries about Beijing’s growing maritime power. The government in Changzhou, in eastern Jiangshu province, boasted on social media on Sunday that a local firm had won a contract to supply electrical cabling for the carrier. It later deleted the post, but not before it had been widely circulated. A report in a local newspaper was also withdrawn.
China Warns Obama Against Meeting Dalai Lama at Prayer Breakfast – Bloomberg Business “We strongly oppose any country using the Tibetan matter to interfere in China’s internal affairs,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei told reporters at a regular briefing on Monday in Beijing. “We strongly oppose any state leader to meet with the Dalai Lama in any manner.”
PLA plans multiple drills for 2015 – Xinhua The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has scheduled multiple drills for the year ahead, according to a military circular issued by the PLA’s General Staff Headquarters on Monday. The cross-Area exercises will feature battle simulations, with real soldier confrontation, and will feature longer post-drill reviews so that armies involved “get to know clearly how they win or lose the battle”, according to the circular. The drills will also address the weak capacity of some commanders, according to the circular, adding that efforts will also be made to strengthen schooling, training and examination of battle commanders.
Commentary: The West’s baloney about China-Africa cooperation – Xinhua As a Chinese saying goes, “wealth is not far away if roads are built”. China is willing to share with Africa the most valuable experience it has learned and has been practicing over the past 30- odd years of reform and opening up and rapid economic growth. Facts speak louder than words. China has long been helping Africa with infrastructure development and have completed 1,046 projects, built railways with the total length of 2,233 km and highways with the total length of 3,530 km in Africa, making tangible contributions to the improvement of living and working conditions in Africa. The acrimony and suspicion was obvious as certain Western media hyped up the so-called “concrete diplomacy” in an attempt to belittle China’s assistance with Africa in defusing the bottleneck and improving infrastructure.
The A Word: An Accomodationist strategy for US-China relations – Bell School – ANU this paper will make him popular in China // Many predictions have been made that the United States and China will find themselves in competition or even direct conflict. Yet this is not pre-ordained and both sides need to be careful not to talk themselves into a hostile relationship. This bold new paper from Council of Foreign Relations scholar Micah Zenko argues that by identifying clear ideas about acceptable conduct in the key domains (Maritime, Space and Cyber) the US and China can avoid conflict without presuming away differences of interest or opinion.
Chinese man tops list of Australian political donors | Business Spectator Who is ‘Zi Chun Wang’, the mysterious Chinese donor who gifted $850,000 to the Australian Labor Party ahead of the 2013 federal election? His gift was the largest donation to any political party in the 2013-2014 financial year.
MOUs: The Secret Sauce to Avoiding a U.S.-China Disaster? | The National Interest Reflecting the universality of the “due regard” requirement for conducting operations, the “rules of the road” MOU is geographically neutral—it applies everywhere in and above the ocean. Indeed, the most frequent contacts between U.S. and Chinese units are actually in the Arabian Gulf, not in East Asia. But universality also means it applies in all maritime zones. Accordingly, whether U.S. and Chinese vessels meet in a territorial sea, an exclusive economic zone (EEZ) or on the high seas, this MOU increases the likelihood that the vessels or aircraft will interact safely, even when the two sides may not have the same policy about the underlying international law that applies.
China: Building Confidence while Setting Expectations | cogitASIA CSIS Asia Policy Blog Regarding China, successful implementation of the rebalance hinges upon a recognition in both capitals that neither country can hope to organize the future order in East Asia without the other. Both leaderships say they subscribe to this axiom, but their respective behavior suggests otherwise. Whether it is the Obama administration’s clumsy opposition to the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, or President Xi Jinping’s allusions to “Asia for Asians,” both sides seem reluctant to truly embrace the avoidance of zero-sum approaches or the bent toward dividing Asia into discrete spheres of influence implicit in many Chinese renderings of President Xi’s proposal for a “new style of major country relations.” To combat this tendency, the administration must put more energy behind the traditional strengths of the relationship while not shying away from elements that are harder to manage as a consequence of China’s growing power and influence.
Navy Intel Officer Warns of Future China Conflict | Washington Free Beacon “The strategic trend lines indicate the Communist Party of China is not only ‘rejuvenating’ itself for internal stability purposes, but has been and continues to prepare to use military force,” Navy Capt. James E. Fanell said on Saturday during his retirement speech Saturday at Pearl Harbor.
China, U.S.consult on security, arms control – Xinhua China and the United States held their seventh consultation on strategic security and multilateral arms control in Beijing on Monday, according to the Chinese Foreign Ministry. Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Li Baodong and U.S. Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Affairs Rose Gottemoeller co-chaired the meeting.
If you like Sinocism, feel free to donate with Bitcoin or a credit card. Thanks.
HONG KONG, MACAO AND TAIWAN *
Macau Faces Biggest Test as Corruption Crackdown Hits Hard – WSJ The “build it and they will come” strategy that has earned billions for casinos in Macau is facing its biggest test yet as a construction binge in the Chinese city bumps up against plummeting revenue. Analysts and investors are questioning the strategy amid Macau’s worst-ever downturn. The Macau government reported Monday that January gambling revenue in the territory fell 17% from the same period last year to 23.75 billion patacas ($2.97 billion).
TECH AND MEDIA *
Notes on China’s “new normal” – China Media Project Today, as we approach the Year of the Goat, Hu Yong (胡泳), a former CMP fellow and one of China’s top internet experts, posted a list to Twitter and Facebook of five events in the past year that defined overall social and political trends in China. Hu Yong’s notes follow, with relevant passages added from the Chinese material to which he links. They reflect the deepening of ideology and broad tightening of intellectual space in China that is becoming — as the Global Times said contentedly earlier this month — the “new normal,” or xin changtai (新常态).
The Moto X is a hit in China, with 1M bookings in just 5 days — Tech News and Analysis The official Motorola account on Weibo announced one million online bookings for the second edition Moto X on Monday, just days after the reservation process began.
Apple localizes Christmas TV commercial for Chinese New Year The two commercials both feature a young woman and her grandmother. The woman discovers an old music record with her grandmother’s voice on it. She then uses an assortment of Apple products to create a digital duet of herself and her grandmother singing together
全总点名富士康违法超时加班 致人过劳死或自杀新闻腾讯网 All China Federation of Trade Unions calls out Foxconn for forcing workers to illegally work long hours, driving some to death and suicide // 全国总工会点名富士康，称其长期违法安排劳动者长时间加班，
SOCIETY, ART, SPORTS, CULTURE AND HISTORY *
Mr. Chow Uncovers His Inner Artist, and Brings It Home to China – NYTimes It is the first exhibition in mainland China for Mr. Chow, who was sent to England in 1952 at the age of 12, leaving behind a pampered life of servants and cars in Shanghai. In England, he attended boarding school and later trained as an artist at Central St. Martins in London. After struggling to make it as an artist, he turned to an endeavor that had a much more willing clientele in London: Chinese cuisine. About three years ago, the 75-year-old restaurateur, entrepreneur and cultural icon returned to making art after a 50-year hiatus, painting under his Chinese name, Zhou Yinghua.
Uyghur Kids And Their “Dream From The Heart” | the art of life in chinese central asia A recent Uyghur-language short film called “Dream From the Heart” (English and Chinese subtitles) tells the story of a group of boys from Qaraqash, a county of more than half a million people in Southern Xinjiang. Shot as part of China Southern Airlines’s new ad campaign by the award-winning director Zhang Rongji (张荣吉), the film references the true stories of how self-taught and underfunded young people from the deep poverty of Hotan and Kashgar prefectures struggle to compete with more privileged opponents.
Communist party bans believers in province of ‘China’s Jerusalem’ | World news | The Guardian Officials in Zhejiang province, south-east China, will reinforce a ban on admitting new Communist party members who practise religion, suggesting that a protracted crackdown on Christianity in the province will continue. Last year, Zhejiang officials cracked down on churches Wenzhou, often called “China’s Jerusalem” for its reputation as a religious stronghold and where about an eighth of 8 million residents are Christian, according to state media.
党报评农村题材剧 只字未提赵本山“乡村爱情”娱乐腾讯网 有些作品，
ENERGY, ENVIRONMENT, SCIENCE AND HEALTH *
Baoding Takes Top Slot as China City With Worst Air Quality – Bloomberg Business Baoding topped a list of major cities in China that failed to meet government standards for allowable concentrations of pollutants, according to a statement posted to the website of the Ministry of Environmental Protection. The survey showed that 66 of the 74 cities, or 89 percent, fell short of requirements, with Hebei province, which surrounds Beijing, remaining home to seven of the 10 cities with the dirtiest air.
Mines Shut as China Burns Less Coal – WSJ What is happening in Yu County is an illustration of the bleak times for the global coal industry. Tougher environmental standards coupled with shrinking demand have led to the closing of mines across China and sent coal prices to their lowest in six years. China’s coal output likely fell 2.5% in 2014, the first annual decline in 14 years, the China Coal Industry Association said last week. And while full-year data aren’t yet available, official statistics show China consumed 1.1% less coal in the first three quarters of 2014 than a year earlier.
FOOD AND TRAVEL *
As Tourism Record Is Set, New York City Sees Surge in Chinese Visitors – NYTimes City officials estimate that more than 740,000 visitors came from China in 2014, almost five times as many as in 2009. China passed France last year to move into fourth place as a source of foreign tourists, behind Britain, Canada and Brazil, tourism officials said.
China to crack down on illegal tourism in Paracel Islands | South China Morning Post The authorities have pledged to crack down on “illegal tourist activity” after photographs were posted online of visitors fishing for endangered species off the Paracel Islands, a disputed area of the South China Sea. The pictures show Chinese tourists posing with red coral, thresher sharks and other fish, the China News Service reported.
Regulation puts care for elderly at top of agenda – China Daily The regulation, which aroused heated discussions among deputies and members of the Beijing committee of the people’s congress and political consultative conference, aims to provide services that senior citizens demand and increase their quality of life. It is also the first issued by the local government to tackle its aging population. By the end of 2014, the population of elderly people in the city aged 65 and over exceeded 3 million, and it is estimated to rise to 4 million by 2020, according to the statement provided by the Municipal People’s Congress. In 2013, Beijing had 2.92 million elderly permanent residents – 474,000 were over 80 and 450,000 were unable to look after themselves – the statement said. A recent survey by the legislature found that 96 percent of the elderly prefer home-based care to living in a nursing home that makes dining, healthcare and emergency rescue priorities.
See China’s Migrant Scrap Peddlers Eke Out a Living on Booming Beijing’s Edge | TIME It is these links between city and country, core and periphery, that drew Getty photographer Kevin Frayer to Dongxiakou, where Mrs. Zhou lives. The district was once home to tens of thousands of recyclers, but as Beijing bulges northward, the land is being developed. Though half-built apartment blocks now loom in the distance, a few hundred have stayed to keep toiling until the last trucks roll through. “These people make the city work,” says Frayer. “Beijing needs them.” Yet the city offers little by way of welcome.
三里屯10人“丐帮”被拘国内新京报网 gang of ten beggars who faked illness arrested in Sanlitun
Subscribe to the Free Sinocism China Newsletter! Enter Your Email In The Box Below And Start Getting Smarter About China.