The Sinocism China Newsletter 02.16.15

There will likely be one more issue of Sinocism before the Chinese Year Holiday starts Wednesday. For the record, I am going with “Year of the Sheep”. Red Envelopes from those who have found Sinocism useful are still welcome via this link.

Today’s links: 

THE ESSENTIAL EIGHT *

1. 习近平春节前夕赴陕西看望慰问广大干部群众 向全国人民致以新春祝福 祝祖国繁荣昌盛人民幸福安康新闻频道央视网(cctv.com) Almost 19 minutes at top of Monday CCTV Evening News on Xi’s visit to Shaanxi before the Chinese New Year

Related: Xinhua Insight: Xi’s New Year visit marks village homecoming – Xinhua Forty-seven years ago, a teen Xi Jinping came to Liangjiahe as part of a campaign launched by Chairman Mao Zedong that asked urban youth to experience rural labor life. On Friday, Xi, now leader of more than 1.3 billion people, returned to the village in Shaanxi to extend Spring Festival greetings to locals in old revolutionary base areas. During his seven years in the village, Xi lived in a cave dwelling with villagers, slept on a kang, a traditional Chinese bed made of bricks and clay, endured flea bites, carried manure, built dams and repaired roads. It was also here that he joined the Communist Party of China. “Ying’er, you’ve grown old,” said Xi, who immediately recognized villager Wang Xianjun and called him by his nickname. The two reminisced about building mud dams together to hold water for irrigating the dry land.

Related: Chinese President Returns to Mao’s (and His) Roots in Yan’an – NYTimes As China prepared to celebrate passing from the lunar Year of the Horse to the Year of the Goat next week, Mr. Xi visited Yan’an: the rural stronghold from where Mao Zedong pushed the Communist revolution to victory. And there Mr. Xi returned to the village of Liangjiahe, with its steep, yellow-earth hills and cave dwellings where Mr. Xi grew into adulthood during Mao’s Cultural Revolution, when he, like millions of urban youths, was “sent down” to the countryside. On the cusp of each Lunar New Year, Chinese Communist Party leaders make heavily publicized trips to mix with common citizens, sharing New Year’s greetings and traditional dinners, usually dumplings.

2. Is Mao Still Dead? | ChinaFile Conversation Rebecca Karl–The invocation and evocation of Mao or Marx in today’s China—whether by Xi Jinping or Yuan Guiren—has nothing to do with Maoism or Marxism, both of which, after all, provide some of the most potent critical positions on capitalism, injustice, inequality, and power. Rather, the invocation and evocation have to do with strengthening a centralized Party apparatus and its political-economic systems of domination, whose waning legitimacy in face of massive and systemic corruption can only be bolstered by ideological contortionism. Mao-era ideological control was about including all who would or could be included into a revolutionary-democratic mobilization that was not merely about the “rise of China” or the renaissance of the Chinese people, as such, but more important, such a mobilization was about the transformation—fānshēn 翻身—of an intertwined global and domestic system of inequality, whose rapaciousness threatened not only the survival but also the ethical, moral, and environmental possibilities of human life. The current nationalist reduction of Mao into a totem of a Chinese dream of national supremacy does as much violence to his systemic socialist project as he intended to do during the Cultural Revolution to the Party-centered hyper-bureaucracy that aspired to a monopoly on truth and social domination.

Related: Leftist Website Apparently Shut Down – China Digital Times (CDT) If Xi is really a neo-Maoist as some pundits claim why is he shutting leftist sites like haijiang? //  Haijiang Online’s latest Weibo posts are mostly terse comments on other posts—often nothing more than an emoticon. Original posts from 2014 give a better sense of why the site may have been targeted by censors: the editors elegize Maoism and write about politically sensitive topics such as the Hong Kong protests of last fall and color revolutions.

3. Thoughts from the Chairman: How to Pragmatically Respond to Greater Chinese Activism on the Global Stage | Center for Strategic and International Studies These efforts do mark a turning point in Chinese foreign policy in a more proactive direction, and not all of them deserve U.S. endorsement. But the recent framing of the issue exaggerates the inherent conflict between the current order, Chinese behavior to date, and China’s recent proposals, and as a result, unnecessarily heightens regional tensions while forestalling opportunities for collaboration.

Related: The shuttering of China? | FT Alphaville at least FT Alphaville prefaced this with the word “speculative” // This is gonna be speculative, so bear with us. It’s the idea that China will — as more and more capital threatens to flow out of the country — start to shut its doors and look inwards once again. // If you are in DC February 20 you can attend a talk by the person quoted at CSIS-China Reality Check: Has the Hard Landing in China Already Started? | Center for Strategic and International Studies

4. Economic data: Lunar eclipse | The Economist The numbers made it look as if China was on the brink of deflation. Consumer prices rose just 0.8% from a year earlier, a sharp decline from preceding months. Trade was also weak, with exports falling 3% and imports down 20% (see chart). But the distortion of the variable-holiday effect was sizeable. Everything from shipping to roadworks is completed in a rush before China shuts down for its New Year. That burst was concentrated in January last year. This year, with the later holiday, it has spilled into February.

Related: China January FDI grows at strongest pace in four years | Reuters Foreign direct investment (FDI) in China grew at its strongest pace in nearly four years in January, surging 29.4 percent from a year earlier to $13.9 billion as investors largely shunned the troubled manufacturing sector and focused on the more resilient services industry. But analysts cautioned about reading too much into economic indicators for January alone, given the strong seasonal distortions caused by the timing of the Lunar New Year holidays, which began on Jan. 31 last year but start on Feb. 19 this year

5. 谁主民生银行新世纪周刊频道财新网 Caixin cover story on Minsheng & Anbang, Deng family clearly trying to distance itself from Wu Xiaohui, strange Chinese media battle has been going on over Anbang, doesn’t seem like a sign of a firm with an “all-powerful backer”. And in a real shocker, Minsheng has a lot of bad loans in Shanxi… //  i近年来,安邦的投资手法十分彪悍。海外投资超过160亿元且还在不断有新的并购项目出现;2013年起在二级市场大举建仓招行、民生、工行等银行股,投资也超过600亿元。安邦实际控制人吴小晖,曾娶前国家领导人邓小平的外孙女卓苒为妻。因此,安邦一直被认为有“强大背景和人脉关系”,外界各种议论分析亦有意强化其家庭背景作用(参见本刊2014年第1期“黑马安邦”、2015年第5期“安邦大冒险”)。据财新记者了解,邓家对吴小晖杠杆这一“红色背景”十分反感。2014年底,卓苒退出了安邦多家关联公司的股东名单…有知情人士告诉财新记者,经民生银行内部调查,山西分行疑似不良贷款规模相当大。能源、冶金、地产事业部纷纷“沦陷”于山西,大部分贷款并未经过总行审批,而是走表外通道,如今劣变为不良贷款。

Related: SNS Reaal Agrees to Sell Dutch Insurance Arm to Anbang of China – NYTimes The Chinese company will pay 150 million euros, or about $172 million, for all of Vivat’s shares, SNS Reaal said. Anbang would also inject €770 million to €1 billion into Vivat and assume €552 million in debt, according to NL Financial Investments, which manages the Dutch state’s investments in SNS Reaal and other companies nationalized during and after the financial crisis.

6. State Firms Yank Job Offers to Students from Outside Beijing – Caixin Recent university graduates who thought they had coveted positions with big state-owned companies in Beijing will have to restart their job hunts after the central government cut the number of out-of-towners the firms could hire as part of population-control efforts in the overcrowded capital. One postgraduate from the northern province of Hebei told Caixin that he has been told by his new employer, a large company controlled by the central government, that it had to rescind its offer because the central government cut the number of people for whom it could get a Beijing hukou, or household registration. // A post I wrote 4 years ago-Beijing for Beijingers

Related: Rule Change Forces Migrants’ Children out of Beijing for School-Caixin does not just affect migrant workers…know some well off non-Beijingers who now can’t get their kid into a local public school. The same set of reforms also made it much harder to use guanxi/bribe your way into a Beijing public school  //  In April 2014, city education officials issued a policy requiring children without Beijing hukou to provide at least five extra documents to gain admission to a public school in the capital. The required paperwork included his parents’ working certificates, residency permits and documents signed by hometown authorities. Each district is also allowed to ask for more documents. For instance, the capital’s eastern district of Chaoyang requires migrant workers – the hundreds of millions of people come from rural areas around the country to live and work in cities – to provide pension payment documents. Many migrant workers say some of the documents are very difficult to get. Meanwhile, Beijing Mayor Guo Jinlong has said several times that the capital would adopt policies to control population growth through measures aimed at the job market, house purchases and in other areas. The effort to control access to schools is apparently in part of this effort.

7. 关于全面深化公安改革若干重大问题的框架意见_网易新闻中心-网易新闻客户端 新华网北京2月15日电  近日,《关于全面深化公安改革若干重大问题的框架意见》及相关改革方案,已经中央审议通过,即将印发实施。 党中央、国务院对公安工作高度重视,对公安队伍建设十分关心。党的十八大以来,习近平总书记等中央领导同志多次听取公安工作汇报,并就深入推进公安改革、进一步加强和改进新形势下的公安工作和公安队伍建设作出重要指示。在中央全面深化改革领导小组的领导下,在中央司法体制改革领导小组的指导下,公安部成立全面深化改革领导小组,加强研究谋划、深入调研论证,在形成《意见》和方案稿后,又广泛征求了各地、各有关部门和基层单位的意见,并根据各方意见反复修改完善。《意见》和方案先后经中央全面深化改革领导小组会议、中央政治局常委会议审议通过。

Related: China to abolish controversial temporary residence permit – Xinhua China plans to abolish its controversial temporary residence permit and push forward reform of the household registration system, according to a public security reform plan released on Sunday. Permanent residence permits will be adopted to replace the much-criticized temporary residence permit, according to the plan approved by central authorities. Temporary residence permits have long been held by hundreds of millions of Chinese migrant workers, who have to apply for the permit before formally living and working in a new city

Related: China Promises Police Will be Better Paid, and Better Behaved –  – WSJ Those changes were among more than 100 items included in a public security reform plan (in Chinese) released by the Communist Party on Sunday, a next step in Beijing’s efforts to improve law enforcement following the creation of an ambitious legal reform blueprint in October.

Related: China to hold police accountable for erroneous cases, for life_Xinhua Chinese police will establish an accountability system for officers in light of high profile cases, according to a policy paper issued recently. The paper, which focused on public security reform, vowed to improve law enforcement responsibility; the correction system; and establish life-long accountability for erroneous cases. It added that, to ensure accountability, investigators should take responsibility for the cases they investigate.

Related: 经济参考网 – 告别暂住证 迎来户籍改革关键年 专家认为此举有助于推动城乡一体化 近日,《关于全面深化公安改革若干重大问题的框架意见》(以下简称《意见》)及相关改革方案,已经中央审议通过,即将印发实施。《意见》提出,扎实推进户籍制度改革,取消暂住证制度,全面实施居住证制度,建立健全与居住年限等条件相挂钩的基本公共服务提供机制。落实无户口人员落户政策。

8. 浙江“首虎”斯鑫良退休仍落马政经频道财新网 retired senior Zhejiang official Si Xinliang under investigation, once head of provincial organization department. One of knocks against the corruption crackdown has been the lack of senior takedowns in places where Xi worked. Is that changing? // 曾担任八年半的浙江省委组织部长,从省政协副主席任上退休两年仍难逃被查…”斯鑫良落马,也打破了十八大后浙江尚无省部级大老虎被查的先例…目前,全国已有23个省份出现省部级官员落马,尚无“大老虎”现身的省市自治区仅剩北京、上海、福建、吉林、宁夏、新疆和西藏。”

 

BUSINESS, ECONOMY AND TRADE *

国企改革顶层方案将出台 撬动国资系24万亿市值财经腾讯网 《经济参考报(微博)》日前从权威人士处获悉,国企改革的顶层方案经过数轮讨论和修改,有望在两会后出台,国企改革混改门槛将进一步放宽,竞争性领域所有制资本参与的股权比例限制也将进一步放宽。 值得注意的是,在央企之外的国企改革另一个重镇,31省份在召开地方两会时都勾勒出了2015年地方国资改革的蓝图,包括“混合所有制改革”、“兼并重组”、“分类改革”、“整体上市”、“国有资本投资公司试点”等内容,或将撬动24万亿市值。//SOE high-level reform plan likely coming in March says Economic Information

China Said to Ask Local Governments to Re-Examine Reported Debt – Bloomberg Business Some local governments inflated the amount of their debt, so all the data needs to be checked again, two people familiar with the matter said today, asking not to be identified because the details are private. The local governments should examine whether they have included any debt they don’t have to repay, and they should also make sure any debt they may incur is excluded so as the figures aren’t artificially inflated, the people said.

Hainan Reports Debt Hit 170 Bln Yuan Last Year – Caixin Hainan Province recently said its debt reached more than 170 billion yuan last year, up 22 percent from June 2013. The southern island province is the only one of the country’s 31 provinces, regions and municipalities that has published its debt figures this yea

China to Require Source Code Registration for Banking IT – Bloomberg Business China, which aims to curb dependence on foreign technology, plans to require the registration of source code for information-technology products used by banks. Suppliers currently need to provide intellectual property identification for software, the China Banking Regulatory Commission said in a statement dated yesterday. The commission is seeking feedback on the plans, it said, adding that the rules would be the same for local and foreign firms.

U.S., China Discuss Proposed Banking Security Rules – WSJ Officials from both countries have discussed the issue in Beijing and Washington, D.C. after U.S. trade groups asked China to postpone the rules. The groups say U.S. companies serving Chinese banks would have to turn over proprietary software source code to Chinese officials under the rules, which are aimed at blocking foreign spying. China’s banking regulator said in a statement dated Thursday that it would take different opinions into consideration before implementation. The China Banking Regulatory Commission also said it is still considering the source-code provision.

China surpasses affordable houses targets – Xinhua China completed the building of 5.11 million affordable houses in urban areas in 2014, with 2.29 million such projects under way, surpassing the goals set at the beginning of the year, the State Council announced at a press briefing on Friday. The central government granted 198 billion yuan (32.35 billion U.S. dollars) to fund urban affordable housing projects in 2014, an increase of 25.1 billion yuan from the previous year, according to Qi Ji, deputy head of the Ministry of Housing and Urban-rural Development. Throughout the past four years, more than 20 million affordable houses were completed, with 12 million under construction, and the assistance fund for building the houses has reached 710 billion yuan, according to Qi.

Why the Bilateral Investment Treaty Matters – Caixin – Deborah Lehr A good deal would be a good deal for the US, a bad deal not necessarily worth doing, but a good deal looks unlikely in this environment.  //  A bilateral investment treaty would be good for China because the required opening of the market would bring in investments, encouraging more competition in the consumer and services sectors. That in turn would help China achieve its ambitious plan to transform its economic model away from export-led growth to a more consumption-based model. Such a treaty would also help clarify regulations for Chinese companies investing in the United States. And why would a bilateral investment treaty be good for the United States? For one thing, it would create a more transparent and level playing field for U.S. companies in China, leading to greater opportunities for U.S. investors. It would also encourage more Chinese companies to invest in the United States as part of the Chinese government’s “going out” initiative to encourage overseas investment. This in turn, would create jobs and opportunities for American workers.

China’s Corruption Crackdown a Boon for Lingerie – WSJ Chinese consumers—famous for their appetite for designer bags and gold-plated iPhone cases—are now shying away from flashy logos and displays of wealth as a government austerity campaign shames officials who buy them. Sales of luxury goods, which include glitzy jewelry and couture, were down 1% last year in China, according to consulting firm Bain & Co. But many Chinese appear to be flaunting their wealth under their clothes. Sales of high-end undergarments—encompassing bras fetching 300 yuan or more, among other items—have increased since 2012 and last year accounted for 30% of lingerie sales, said Neil Wang, Greater China managing director of consulting firm Frost & Sullivan. // I should have been a fashion designer… My comment from the January 17, 2013 Sinocism as the growing corruption crackdown started hitting luxury goods merchants: “surprised no one out with gold thread underwear with jade powder/rhino horn crotch patch..netizens might never see it, could be huge seller”

S.E.C. Asks Alibaba About Dispute With Chinese Regulator – NYTimes.com The Alibaba Group’s dust-up with one of its Chinese regulators may have settled down, but the Securities and Exchange Commission is still interested in more information about the dispute. Alibaba disclosed on Friday that it had received a request from the S.E.C. for more information about the clash with China’s State Administration for Industry and Commerce.

China’s One Trillion Reasons to Prevent Yuan Tumbling – Bloomberg Business “China’s economic fundamentals suggest more policy easing, but they also want to keep the yuan decline under control so as to allow an orderly unwinding of debt and not to infect the market,” Banny Lam, the Hong Kong-based co-head of research at Agricultural Bank of China International Securities Co., said by phone on Feb. 12. “I see more reasons arguing for a mild yuan drop or even a stable exchange rate, rather than a sharp depreciation.”

Top China Hedge Fund Says Best Trade of 2014 Is Back On – Bloomberg Business Marco Polo Pure Asset Management has been buying developers, including Poly Real Estate Group Co. and Beijing Capital Development Co., after the industry’s benchmark gauge in Shanghai dropped as much as 19 percent from this year’s high. That same trade helped drive the fund’s gain in 2014 as China’s interest-rate cut in November sent the Shanghai Property Index to a 60 percent surge through Jan. 5, according to Aaron Boesky, Marco Polo’s chief executive officer in Hong Kong.

Chasing ghosts: Where is China’s next wave of empty ‘new towns’? | South China Morning Post As ghost towns — vast but largely vacant new housing projects — spring up all over China due to years of poor urban planning, overbuilding, slowing economic and population growth, the South China Morning Post’s multimedia “ghost town map” offers one perspective on where the new ghost towns may be in the next five years.

Three Pressures Facing Tesla China’s New Management | Huxiu At the press conference, Tesla China shared ideas on issues such as new development in 2015, challenges ahead and factory construction plans in China. As one of the media that attended, we believes that Tesla China is facing three pressures and nine issues, based on the conference proceedings and long-term observations and research.

The Triple Transition | BNY Mellon China’s economy, its leaders insist, is undergoing a “triple transition”. That phrase, which is our translation of 三期叠加 (san qi die jia), peppers official commentary almost as frequently as the term “the new normal”3. It sums up three new facts of life for China’s economy. First, the country’s natural rate of growth is slowing, as its population ages and its economy matures. That first transition necessitates a second: China must embark on another round of reforms to give market forces a more “decisive” role in allocating resources. That will help China’s third transition, which is to “digest” the excess capacity, including large inventories of property, left behind by its stimulus efforts after the global financial crisis.

Harnessing China’s Untapped Labor Supply-Paulson Institute In recent years, China has experienced a significant shortage of urban unskilled labor, the direct result of a reduced supply of labor from the rural sector. Many argue that this is a clear sign that China has reached the so-called “Lewisian turning point”—the moment when the supply of excess labor diminishes to a point that puts upward pressure on wages.  But Xin Meng argues that this is not correct. In fact, she suggests, the shortage of unskilled labor in Chinese cities is mainly a consequence of institutional restrictions, explicit or implicit, on rural to urban migration. And her policy memorandum provides evidence for this argument, drawn from the latest data.

Chinese health official linked to fined British drugmaker GSK is jailed for 19 years over bribes | South China Morning Post Huang Fengping, former deputy director of the Shanghai Municipal Commission of Health and Family Planning, found with more than 400 envelopes full of cash at his home, as well as gold bars in his car.

 

POLITICS AND LAW *

China Voice: Intensified SOE corruption fight to aid “New Normal” – Xinhua Such inspections led to the fall of more than 70 SOE executives in 2014. SOEs are playing an important role in China’s public ownership economy and their assets and resources are the common property of all people. No one should be allowed to undermine such wealth and any attempt to do so must get seriously investigated and punished. In the country’s resolute anti-corruption drive, the SOEs should by no means be an exception. Like all the other sectors in China, the continuous fight against corruption and misconduct in SOEs will continue on a regular basis, becoming part of the country’s “New Normal”. Also, in addition to efforts to arrest existing problems, SOEs should be streamlined to make effective corruption prevention a new industry normal.

Ambitious Chinese officials ‘setting secret traps to blackmail rivals’ to advance their own careers | South China Morning Post the technology may have changed but there is a long history across dynasties of this kind of behavior  //  The Chinese magazine, Honesty Outlook, reported that this unorthodox practice had become much more common since President Xi Jinping launched his unprecedented anti-corruption campaign, targeting party, government, military and state-owned company officials suspected of corruption, after coming to power in late 2012.  “Disgruntled underlings and peers are both likely to set up traps and record evidence of officials’ wrongdoings,” Wang Wu, a local party chief in an named county in western China, was quoted as saying.

Chinese citizens to have credit records – Xinhua China is to establish a credit code system based on ID numbers and credit records, linked to criminal records. A report on China National Radio on Monday quoted Huang Ming, vice minister of public security, as saying the government will perfect a national database of basic information on each citizen for more efficient information sharing and crime prevention. The adoption of the credit record system is expected to urge the citizens to be more trustworthy and to enhance the safety of some sectors such as courier service and online shopping with the use of a real-name registration system.

Will China use big data as a tool of the state? – Aeon If big data is used by China’s central government to identify corrupt officials, pinpoint potential epidemics and ease traffic, that can only be laudable. Better data would also help NGOs seeking to aid a huge and complex population, and firms looking to invest in China’s future. The flow of data could circumvent vested interests and open up the country’s potential. For Professor Shi Yong, deputy director of the Research Center on Fictitious Economy and Data Science in Beijing , this is a moral issue, not just a question of governance. ‘The data comes from the people,’ he said strongly, ‘so it should be shared by the people.’

SPP rolls out reform plan to ensure judicial fairness – Xinhua | The Supreme People’s Procuratorate (SPP) issued its newest five-year work plan Sunday, rolling out measures to ensure judicial independence and fairness. The SPP will explore ways of separating the administrative and judicial jurisdictions of procuratorates below provincial level, according to the plan, which covers reforms from 2013 to 2017. Plans were also made to set up procuratorates that cross administrative divisions to reduce intervention in the judicial process from local powers.

Qiushi Editorial on Dialectical Materialism: Crucial in Realizing the “Four Comprehensives” « China Copyright and Media This Qiushi (Seeking Truth) editorial on Dialectical Materialism was published first on 15 February. Study and Use Dialectical Materialism, Strengthen and Coordinate our Abilities to Move the “Four Comprehensives” forward. // 学习运用辩证唯物主义 增强协调推进“四个全面”的能力_求是网http://www.qstheory.cn/dukan/qs/2015-02/15/c_1114350538.htm

媒体调查高铁”免费水”:生产商6年净利润涨近40倍(全文)_网易新闻中心 more on the sketchy deal cut by the Ministry of Railways for “Tibet 5100 Glacier Water”  //  核心提示:按铁路部门规定,多数动车、高铁乘客均可凭车票免费领取一瓶330毫升的“西藏5100冰川矿泉水”。但媒体近日在京沪高铁、京福高铁多个沿线车站发现,旅客要么喝不到,要么随便拿。与此同时,免费水生产商毛利率多年超70%,净利润6年涨近40倍。

The buzzing flies of the West – China Media Project The following piece, published on Monday this week on the website of the official Party journal Seeking Truth, arguably speaks to the heart of China’s current political and ideological ethos. The piece pulls together quite disparate threads — an article from the Financial Times‘ Beijing bureau chief Jamil Anderlini, and a report almost a year ago from Bank of America Merrill Lynch — to paint a stark picture of foreign “hostile forces” colluding with domestic “agents” to foment a color revolution on Chinese soil.

CCTV, China’s Propaganda Tool, Finds Itself at Center of Antigraft Drive – NYTimes.com The party’s investigations of the network follow two main strands that overlap. One is corrupt business practices, particularly at CCTV 2, the financial news channel where Mr. Rui worked. The other involves the relationships, sometimes intimate, that some party leaders had with anchors and executives at the network, many of whom are also at CCTV 2.

人民日报:芮成钢心大心急走邪路 一心攀权贵_兰州新闻网 article in People’s Daily app says Rui Chenggang went astray because he was too focused on pandering to the powerful and too impatient…does not give any more details of why he was detained or what he may be charged with…but possible the appearance of this article, along with a recent surge in Rui-related rumors, means that there will be official news on his case soon

中纪委网站刊文谈黄浦区官员高档餐厅吃喝事件政经频道财新网 文章称,要把纪律建设摆在更加重要地位,强化从严执纪,决不允许自行其是、阳奉阴违。这既是形势所需,也是从严治党的关键所在 // CCDI publishes article discusses Shanghai Huangpu officials feasting before the New Year’s stampede

 

FOREIGN AND DEFENSE AFFAIRS *

Pakistan, China vow to expedite work on economic corridor – Xinhua Xi’s first 2015 overseas visit will be to Pakistan // Pakistan and China vowed to expedite work on the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor during a meeting between Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and visiting Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi here on Friday. China has been a trustworthy friend of Pakistan, and friendship with China is the cornerstone of Pakistan’s foreign policy, said Sharif. Pakistan is looking forward to welcoming a state visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping at an early date in 2015, the Pakistan-China Year of Friendly Exchanges, the prime minister said, adding that his government believes the visit will bring the strategic cooperative partnership between the two countries to a new level.

Aide of former Chinese generals Xu Caihou, Guo Boxiong now facing graft probe | South China Morning Post Major General Liu Hongjie 刘洪杰少将 , who used to work under Central Military Commission vice-chairmen Guo Boxiong and Xu Caihou , was detained by the military prosecutor on suspicion of “taking advantage by job convenience and bribes”, the official China News Service reported.

Kunming Train Station Attack Suspects Arrested in Indonesia | East by Southeast The timing of the arrests and the signing of the counter terrorism cooperation agreement between the two countries is unlikely to be a coincidence. According to information received from the Indonesian Embassy in Beijing, the suspects’ names were on international terrorist watchlists and it is probable that Indonesian authorities picked them up independently of Chinese involvement. Following their arrests, it is likely that the Indonesian government used the news as a bargaining chip  to get the Chinese to sign the bilateral cooperation agreement. The arrests, being related to such a high-profile case, and the cooperation agreement should be seen as victories for Indonesia, whose relationship with China is growing closer, despite persistent maritime issues.

China to expand soft power push through overseas cultural centres | South China Morning Post China plans to spend 360 million yuan (HK$454 million) on expanding its overseas cultural centres this year – nearly double last year’s amount – amid government efforts to bolster its soft power abroad. But observers are sceptical whether the centres, which are different from the Confucius Institutes, can improve the nation’s image overseas, especially given similar efforts have attracted criticism.

China Says Its Soldiers Will Need to Watch Their Weight – NYTimes A new policy for military fitness training says that strict guidelines for body weight will be put in place, and that meeting those guidelines will be a consideration in determining promotions, according to a report on Friday on the website of the military’s official newspaper, People’s Liberation Army Daily.

China to play constructive role in Myanmar peace process – Xinhua China has always respected the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Myanmar, said spokesperson Hua Chunying at a routine press briefing. She said China will never allow any organizations or individual using Chinese territory to undermine China-Myanmar relations as well as the stability of the border areas. Hua made the remarks when asked to confirm whether China has links with the Kokang ethnic army. The Myanmar National Democratic Alliance Army (MNDAA) launched attacks on several government outposts in Kokang region, Myanmar’s northeastern Shan state, on Feb. 9.

Why Putin Fears China – Bloomberg Business Putin is concerned that his relationship with Xi Jinping is becoming increasingly tilted in China’s favor. “The Russians are wary of becoming over leveraged to China and so they are very keen to try to diversify their portfolio and improve ties with a multitude of Asian powers,” said Andrew Kuchins, director of the Russia and Eurasia Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. “The Ukraine crisis has prompted them to try to accelerate their Asian pivot.”

Imagery shows progress of Chinese land building across Spratlys – IHS Jane’s 360 Satellite imagery analysed by IHS Jane’s has for the first time identified Chinese land reclamation activity and installation construction at Hughes Reef in the Spratly Islands. The imagery, provided by Airbus Defence and Space and taken in January, also shows the progress of construction at Johnson South Reef, which like Hughes Reef is in the Union Banks, and Gaven Reefs in the Tizard Banks.

Reading Chinese in the Year of the Goat: #Guandian no. 1 | Sino-NK Guandian (观点), or “viewpoint” in Chinese, endeavors to keep our readers up to speed with Chinese-language media, doing so via short summaries in English with reference to the original source. Each monthly issue will supplement our more lengthy translations of Chinese-language content, providing our English-language readers with quick, incisive access to the Chinese dialogue.

 

HONG KONG, MACAO AND TAIWAN *

BBC News – Hong Kong anger flares at shoppers from China Hundreds of demonstrators marched through a busy shopping area and hurled insults at shoppers from mainland China. They are angry at the number of mainlanders coming to Hong Kong to buy up cheaper goods which they take home to sell.

CY Leung sidesteps questions on where he vetoed HKU honorary degree nominations | South China Morning Post Did Leung Chun-ying interfere in the University of Hong Kong’s administration? The guessing game continues as the chief executive last night declined to give a straight answer to questions on whether he vetoed nominations by a HKU committee for honorary degrees.

Police chief Andy Tsang meets Guo in Beijing-EJ Insight Hong Kong Police Commissioner Andy Tsang Wai-hung met with Public Security Minister Guo Shengkun in Beijing last Thursday. The trip was not announced beforehand, according to am730 newspaper, which learned of the visit from a report by the official Xinhua News Agency on Sunday. Later that day, the Hong Kong government’s Information Services Department said in a press release that Tsang led a delegate of seven to Beijing last Thursday.

 

TECH AND MEDIA *

Two Major Taxi-Hailing Apps Tie Knot on Valentine’s Day – Caixin nothing to do with Uber in China, speculative foreign blogposts notwithstanding…Didi Dache and Kuaidi Dache said in a statement on February 14 that they would merge into new company that is led by co-CEOs. The new company’s name and its ownership structure will be announced after the Spring Festival holiday, which runs from February 18 to 24. “We and Kuaidi Dache are finally together and so are Tencent and Alibaba because of the merger,” Cheng Wei, Didi Dache’s CEO, wrote in an internal memorandum. “A lot of people will proclaim that they believe in love again.” // Yidao Yongche has filed an antimonopoly complaint against this deal 易到举报滴滴、快的合并涉嫌垄断  Yidao Yongche would seem to have a point, approval of this deal for a combined firm with 90%+ market share would seem to make a mockery of the AML

Zynga loses $226m in 2014, shutters Zynga China | GamesIndustry.biz Aside from the disappointing fiscal performance, Zynga also shared the bad news that it’s closing the Zynga China studio. All 71 employees in the Beijing-based studio will be laid off; the company noted that this “will result in an annualized cost savings of $7 million dollars.”

Thinking Big in Guizhou with Big Data Business – Caixin Provincial government officials are encouraging start-ups and sponsoring a competition aimed at getting creative entrepreneurs in the big data field to set up businesses in Guizhou. The province is one of a handful of off-the-beaten-path regions in China setting its sights on big data storage and data mining and processing by helping businesses tap the global shift to cloud computing. Officials in the northern region of Inner Mongolia, for example, have been working to build a cloud computing data center since 2011, and hope to attract 10 billion yuan worth of investment annually through 2021.

Top Chinese Director, People’s Daily Fight It Out Over Reality TV Movies – WSJ His critique of the new reality TV movies is a familiar one, and not just inside China. (A spokesman said Mr. Feng didn’t have more to add.) But the counterargument came from a surprising source: The People’s Daily newspaper. In an editorial last week, the Communist party’s main newspaper said the films are “the choice of audiences and the market.” The challenge for filmmakers like Mr. Feng, it said, is to “complain less but make more good films.” A separate, later editorial on the paper’s Weibo social-media account suggested such criticism is hypocritical. “Directors of commercial films looking down upon variety show film is kind of like a crow accusing a pig of being black,” it said.

 

SOCIETY, ART, SPORTS, CULTURE AND HISTORY *

Q. and A.: Mark Rowswell (Dashan) on Comedy in China – NYTimes He has focused more recently on doing Western-style stand-up comedy in venues across China. In an interview, he discussed his decision to reinvent himself, the straitjacket of tradition and making Chinese laugh. Excerpts follow:

周易八字改运 summary of famous fortuneteller Li Kuiming’s (Li Juming) predictions for the year of the sheep by Chinese zodiac sign

 

ENERGY, ENVIRONMENT, SCIENCE AND HEALTH *

China must cut pollution by half before environment improves: official | Reuters China needs to slash emission levels by as much as half before any obvious improvements are made to its environment, a senior government official said on Friday, underscoring the challenges facing the country after three decades of breakneck growth. Zhai Qing, China’s deputy minister of environmental protection, told a briefing that pollutants had been cut by just “a few percentage points” since 2006 and had to drop much further if any progress is to be made.

Plastic Ocean Waste Levels Going Up, Study Says – NYTimes.com The research also lists the world’s 20 worst plastic polluters, from China to the United States, based on such factors as size of coastal population and national plastic production. According to the estimate, China tops the list, producing as much as 3.5 million metric tons of marine debris each year. The United States, which generates as much as 110,000 metric tons of marine debris a year, came in at No. 20.

China’s ‘blood famine’ drives patients to the black market | Reuters With hospital blood supplies tight, desperate patients are turning to agents known as “blood heads”, who sell certificates that give patients access to state blood banks, creating a black market at the heart of the healthcare system. “To us patients, buying blood solves our problems,” said Hong, a retired Shanghai civil servant who suffers from myelodysplastic syndrome, a debilitating blood condition. “If there were no blood heads, what would I do?”

 

AGRICULTURE AND RURAL ISSUES *

Premier Li stresses agricultural modernization for economic stability – Xinhua | English.news.cn A huge mission, agricultural modernization relies on making use of the advantages of different regions, Li said in an article entitled “Accelerating Agricultural Modernization with Reform and Innovation as the Impetus.” The article, based on Li’s speech on rural development in December, will appear in Monday’s Qiushi – “Seeking Truth” – a magazine of the Communist Party of China Central Committee. // 以改革创新为动力 加快推进农业现代化

Dim Sums: Rural China Economics and Policy: China’s Odd Corn Import Diversification The Guoji Shangbao (Global Business News) article announced that the U.S. share of China’s corn imports fell to 40%, “comparable to the proportion from Ukraine.”   This is a curious strategy for a country obsessed with “food security.” The largest and most reliable corn supplier in the world is knocking on your door, offering to sell you as much corn as you want. So you rush out to sign agreements with regimes with a history of political instability and debt crisis. You make a multi-year commitment to a country that has an actual war in its territory threatening its crops and make it your featured new corn-supplier.

 

FOOD AND TRAVEL *

China Product Recalled in Australia After Hepatitis Outbreak – NYTimes.com An Australian company has recalled its frozen berry products after a hepatitis A outbreak linked to poor hygiene and water supplies in a Chinese packaging plant. The Australian authorities were investigating on Monday after five people became sick after eating Patties Foods berries, which were grown in Chile and China and packaged at the Chinese factory.  //  does Trader Joe’s in the US still carry a lot of food from China?

 

BEIJING *

Ex-Beijing transport chief faces graft charges | South China Morning Post Song Jianguo alleged to have taken bribes of over 23 million yuan, including kickbacks to issue highly sought-after car registration plates in the capital

 

JOBS AND EVENTS *

Communications Manager–Carnegie-Tsinghua Center – – Carnegie Endowment for International Peace The Carnegie–Tsinghua Center for Global Policy, the Beijing office of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, is seeking to hire a Communications Manager to run the communications team.

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