"Sinocism is the Presidential Daily Brief for China hands"- Evan Osnos, New Yorker Correspondent and National Book Award Winner
President Trump’s Thursday press conference (full transcript and video) must have posed some interesting translation and analytical challenges for American experts in the PRC. How do they explain Trump to Xi Jinping? What is Chinese for “cray cray”?
The good news for Xi is that Trump is not only literally incoherent but also strategically incoherent. Trump and his chaotic administration will likely expand and extend the PRC’s period of strategic opportunity, and as I argued in Tuesday’s newsletter Trump’s incoherence and instability should help Xi blunt any challenge from political rivals in the event US-China relations take a significant downturn between now and the 19th Party Congress.
Readers in Washington DC may be interested in the 35th Annual John Fisher Zeidman ’79 Memorial Lecture. This year’s speaker is Eric Liu. The event is free, you can register here.
I will be there, please say hello if you attend.
THE ESSENTIAL EIGHT
1. Xi calls for overall national security outlook – Xinhua President Xi Jinping on Friday called for an overall national security outlook at a seminar in Beijing, emphasizing the importance of political, economic, territorial, social and cyber security. Xi, who heads the National Security Commission (NSC), presided over the seminar on national security on Friday. Premier Li Keqiang and top legislator Zhang Dejiang, the two deputy heads of the NSC, were present at the seminar. After listening to reports by Public Security Minister Guo Shengkun, Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Yesui, Hubei Province Party chief Jiang Chaoliang, and Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region Party Chief Chen Quanguo, Xi said national security has become more and more important in the work of the Party and the state, adding that national security work is all about the people’s interests. Xi…stressed that safeguarding national security requires the grasp of rules in the context of the great changes in the international order, and that the planning work must give priority to the prevention of risks. National security planning must consider the general background that China is in a period of important strategic opportunity for development, Xi said. // Comment: Top story on 2.17.17 CCTV Evening News 习近平主持召开国家安全工作座谈会强调 牢固树立认真贯彻总体国家安全观 开创新形势下国家安全工作新局面
2. Xi urges all Chinese to contribute to national rejuvenation – Xinhua Xi made the remarks in a written instruction delivered at a national meeting on overseas Chinese affairs held in Beijing Friday. It has been a key task for the Communist Party of China (CPC) and the state to encourage overseas Chinese as well as returned Chinese and their relatives to play a positive role in realizing the great revival of the Chinese nation, said Xi, who is also general secretary of the CPC Central Committee. // Comment: CCTV Evening News 2.18.17 report 习近平对侨务工作作出重要指示强调 凝聚侨心侨力同圆共享中国梦
Related: 當留美中國學生反對達賴喇嘛的畢業演講 | 端傳媒 Initium Media 在UCSD中國學生學者聯合會（CSSA）2月3日發出的聲明中，除了指達賴喇嘛是「分裂分子」，還稱：「中國學生學者聯合會已於事件發生後第一時間與中華人民共和國駐洛杉磯總領事館取得聯繫，並等待總領館方面統一指示。」 這引起了外界不少關注，更被許多人解讀為中國政府直接干預美國大學言論自由。古懿就在文章中稱：「UCSD中國學生會定期向外國領事館彙報，向一個外國政府密告學校的一次演講，並發誓用『強硬手段』破壞達賴喇嘛尊者的訪問，這表明他們完全不是自稱的非政治性學生團體，而是一個外國極權政府輸出言論審查的工具。」
Related: Do Chinese Students Threaten Free Speech at Universities Abroad? – Taiwan Sentinel Although academic institutions in the West have so far refused to cave in to this kind of pressure and restated their commitment to free expression, the long-term impact on universities abroad could eventually be felt in the form of avoidance. If, as seems to be increasingly the case, universities face a storm of protests every time they invite “controversial” figures who are known critics of the CCP and the PRC’s territorial ambitions, they could over time decide that such invitations are not worth all the trouble and self-censor by choosing to invite individuals who are silent on China or palatable to the CCP and its young ambassadors abroad. By dint of repetition, nationalistic Chinese students could accomplish what the PRC’s diplomatic missions have done at the political level: condition Western authorities to adopt a policy of risk-avoidance on issues that are regarded as “controversial” by the CCP — Tibet, Xinjiang, Hong Kong, human rights … and Taiwan.
3. Betsy DeVos’s Brother Is Setting Up A Private Army For China, Sources Say – BuzzFeed News Former associates of the 47-year-old Prince told BuzzFeed News that the controversial businessman envisions using the bases to train and deploy an army of Chinese retired soldiers who can protect Chinese corporate and government strategic interests around the world, without having to involve the Chinese People’s Liberation Army. In December, Frontier Services Group, of which Prince is chairman, issued a press release that outlined plans to open “a forward operating base in China’s Yunnan province” and another in the troubled Xinjiang region, home to the mostly Muslim Uighur minority.
4. Tangshan’s Pollution-Control Measures Fall Victim to Quest for Profits – Caixin Global “As virtue rises one foot, vice rises 10”: The Chinese Buddhist proverb is often cited as a reminder to people that the fight for righteousness can be sabotaged by powerful countervailing forces. Take the case of Tangshan, a coastal city in Hebei province. Tangshan, which accounts for a tenth of the country’s steel capacity, proved once again that well-intentioned government policies can end up backfiring as profit-minded company managers find ways to skirt the rules. // Comment: The original 唐山钢铁限产悖论
5. China ‘eliminating civil society’ by targeting human rights activists – report | World news | The Guardian A creeping security state also attempted to codify much of its existing behaviour on paper, giving the police legal authority to criminalise a host of NGOs deemed politically sensitive by the authorities, according to the report (PDF) by the Network of Chinese Human Rights Defenders (CHRD).
6. Germany hopes for Trump China trade dividend – POLITICO As U.S. President Donald Trump’s economic world order dawns, Germany has formed a peculiar alliance with China to defend free trade. The partnership is partly intended to signal to Washington that, in the face of the White House’s rising economic nationalism, deals without the U.S. will become more important, shrinking its influence on the global stage.
7. Americans more negative toward China over past decade | Pew Research Center In the United States, negative views of China increased by 26 percentage points between 2006 and 2016. And American negativity toward China has been higher than Chinese negativity toward the U.S. in every year since 2014. By comparison, Chinese unfavorable views of the U.S. remained below 50% for most of Barack Obama’s presidency.
8. Chinoiresie | 2016: Disturbances in Heaven The Made in China Yearbook series—published in collaboration with ANU Press—offers original articles in which scholars and activists analyse the latest trends in Chinese labour and civil society.
BUSINESS, ECONOMY AND TRADE
China Chokes the Onshore Yuan in Its Bid to Stymie Outflows – Bloomberg Daily onshore trading volumes for the yuan have fallen to $18.1 billion in February, down from an average of $34 billion in December, according data from China Foreign Exchange Trade System.
Goldman’s Song Sees Risk of Overheating Chinese Economy – Bloomberg Comment: Video interview.
Beijing’s strategy to avoid a currency war-FT View China’s decision to avoid antagonising Washington on trade issues seems sensible. With 18 per cent of Chinese exports going to the US and some 20m Chinese employed in making the things that Americans buy, Beijing would be foolish to ignore the blow its economy would sustain in a trans-Pacific trade war. Keeping the renminbi stable may largely be in China’s own interests as well.
China Inc hits brakes on foreign property investment-FT In a bid to curb capital outflows and ease downward pressure on the renminbi, Chinese regulators have imposed a series of new restrictions on outbound dealmaking in recent months. The new curbs came after outbound investment in non-financial assets surged by 44 per cent in 2016 to a record $170bn.
Didi Restructures With Car-Hailing Under Pressure – Caixin Global Comment: Has the Uber deal closed? // Four months after authorities tightened rules on car-hailing, Didi’s Chief Executive Officer Cheng Wei and President Liu Qing told employees in an internal memo that the company is reorganizing into four business units. They are ride-sharing and taxi services, high-end car-booking and chauffeur services, public transportation services and overseas business operations.
Sun Art Shares Halted Amid Rumors Over Alibaba Bid – Caixin Global Sun Art Retail Group Ltd., the parent of China’s largest grocery chain, asked for its shares to be suspended in Hong Kong on Friday amid speculation that the company is in talks to sell its supermarket operation, RT-Mart, to e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.
China will step up anti-money laundering supervision – central bank | Reuters China will strengthen anti-money laundering supervision activities and improve mechanisms to prevent money laundering, the central bank said on Friday.
China Relaxes Curbs on Stock-Index Futures Trading – Caixin Global The China Financial Futures Exchange (CFFEX) said on its website late Thursday that it will reduce trading commissions, lower margin deposits for non-hedging accounts and double the daily cap for opening new positions beginning Friday.
Let Market Play the Decisive Role in Deleveraging, Says Central Bank – Caixin Global The paper, issued by the research bureau of the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) on Wednesday, explained factors pushing up China’s leverage ratio and discussed its impact on financial stability.
US Trade Policy Options in the Pacific Basin: Bigger Is Better | PIIE he administration instead plans to pursue new bilateral trade pacts in the Asia-Pacific region. Schott explains why a regional deal like the TPP is far more likely to yield larger US gains with fewer US concessions than the administration’s favored bilateral approach. He reexamines the TPP deal and recommends ways it could be improved, including by adding enforceable currency manipulation provisions to the main trade deal and omitting the investor-state dispute settlement provision.
Financial Industry Faces ‘Inventory’ Problem in China – Caixin Global China’s government has aimed to cut manufacturing overcapacity, boost demand for housing and reduce nonfinancial-sector leverage. While progress has been made toward the first two goals, it has actually moved further away from the third one and, as a result, created an even bigger risk to the economy. This article examines the third problem from the perspective of financial institutions.
China Unveils Curbs on Secondary Share Sales as IPOs Speed Up – Bloomberg The number of shares issued in private placements can’t be more than 20 percent of a company’s total shares, the China Securities Regulatory Commission said in its weekly press briefing in Beijing on Friday. Non-financial companies seeking a share sale shouldn’t have a large balance of longer-term financial investments such as assets for trading or funds lent to others, the CSRC said, though it didn’t provide more details.
China Jan FX sales slow on stronger yuan, tighter capital controls | Reuters China’s central bank sold the least amount of foreign exchange in five months in January, reinforcing views that capital outflows have eased as policymakers step up scrutiny of cross-border flows and as the yuan steadies. Net foreign exchange sales by the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) amounted to 208.8 billion yuan ($30.42 billion) last month, according to Reuters calculations based on central bank data released on Friday.
The Unlikely Winners of the U.S.-China Trade War, Round 1 – WSJ Many U.S. companies with big China exposure are outperforming, not underperforming
POLITICS AND LAW
He Called China’s President ‘Xitler’ on Twitter. Now He Faces Prison. – The New York Times Mr. Kwon, 28, mostly aired his views on Twitter and Facebook, which are both inaccessible in China, except for people with the knowledge and tools to burrow under a wall of online censorship. “Let’s work together and topple this invisible wall,” Mr. Kwon said in the Twitter post that showed him in the T-shirt mocking Mr. Xi. Mr. Kwon’s Chinese name is Quan Ping, but online he preferred to use his Korean name, and on Twitter he described himself as a “perpetual student, citizen, dedicated to overturning communism.”
新华社评论员：让党的主张成为时代最强音——写在习近平总书记“２·１９”重要讲话发表一周年之际-新华网 Comment: Xinhua commentary on the first anniversary of Xi’s visit to and meeting with the central Party media
Massive show of force staged in China’s Xinjiang region after terrorist attack | South China Morning Post Thousands of paramilitary police take part in parade in Hotan after eight people were killed during a knife attack earlier this week
For Xinjiang’s Uyghurs, ‘Hashar’ by Any Other Name Still Means Forced Labor-RFA “The farmers were really happy. Some were happy from the bottom of their hearts,” the official told RFA. “Some of them even teared up upon hearing this news, and they said: ‘The party is good, and government is good.’” But that good will dried up after Uyghur farmers in the region discovered that they would still have to do hashar-like labor. “They informed us that the hashar is abolished,” a Uyghur farmer told RFA on condition of anonymity. “But they also told us that they will gather us for flood management and tree planting activities during the tree-planting festivals.”
All you need to know about the election of delegates to the 19th CPC National Congress – Global Times The Global Times will walk you through the process of the election, and examine how the election fits into the Party’s past, present and future.
Senior official calls for safeguarding CPC Central Committee authority – Xinhua Senior Communist Party of China (CPC) leader Liu Yunshan on Thursday urged officials to safeguard the authority of the CPC Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping as the core. Liu, a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee, made the remarks at the closing ceremony of a workshop attended by ministerial and provincial officials at the Party School of the CPC Central Committee.
最高法原副院长奚晓明获刑无期 涉案1.14亿元|奚晓明|副院长|民事审判第二庭_新浪新闻 Comment: Former vice president of the Supreme People’s Court gets life in jail for corruption
十八届中央第十一轮巡视已公布18个地区和单位反馈情况—中央纪委监察部网站 Comment: CCDI publishes the results from 18 targets of recently completed round of inspection tours
FOREIGN AND DEFENSE AFFAIRS
Secretary Tillerson’s Meeting with Foreign Minister of the People’s Republic of China Wang Yi Comment: Chinese readout 王毅会见美国国务卿蒂勒森 // Secretary Tillerson and Minister Wang noted the recent call between leaders and discussed efforts to advance bilateral cooperation while addressing differences in a constructive manner. Secretary Tillerson also highlighted the increasing threat posed by North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs and urged China to use all available tools to moderate North Korea’s destabilizing behavior. The two also discussed the need to create a level playing field for trade and investment.
Japan to speed up frigate build to reinforce East China Sea – sources | Reuters Japan plans to accelerate a warship building program to make two frigates a year to patrol the fringes of the East China Sea, where it disputes island ownership with China, three people with knowledge of the plan said.
U.S. Authorities Pressed China for Action on Deadly Opioid – WSJ Carfentanil has been linked to at least 700 deaths in Ohio, Michigan and Florida
Senator Rubio Appointed Chair, Representative Smith Appointed Cochair of Congressional-Executive Commission on China | Congressional-Executive Commission on China “I am honored to serve as chair of the Commission, and I remain committed to exposing the brutality of the Chinese government and the heroic efforts of brave Chinese dissidents,” said Rubio. “As documented in our last annual report, President Xi is consolidating his own power through forced ideological conformity and the systematic persecution of human rights lawyers and defenders, and conditions in China are deteriorating. The situation is bleak for people of faith, women’s activists, labor advocates, and others, and their plight deserves the attention of American policymakers. The commission’s political prisoner database is an invaluable resource containing more than 1,400 active cases of political and religious prisoners. Each case represents a real person who is suffering or oppressed because of their beliefs or free expression. The commission will shine a bright light on these abuses and press the Chinese government to change its behavior.
The Good, the THAAD, and the Ugly | Foreign Affairs China’s Campaign Against Deployment, and What to Do About It By Bonnie S. Glaser, Daniel G. Sofio, and David A. Parker
China demands Vietnam’s apology for attack alleged by tourist | Reuters China on Thursday demanded that Vietnam apologize to a Chinese tourist who says he was beaten up by Vietnamese border guards after failing to pay a bribe, an incident that provoked outrage among Chinese internet users.
HONG KONG, MACAO AND TAIWAN
Defecting Communist Party-Backed Newspaper Editor Investigated For ‘Leaking Secrets’-RFA Long Zhenyang, a former editor of a Hong Kong newspaper backed by the ruling Chinese Communist Party, has fled the city and is seeking asylum in the United States, citing political persecution after he showed support for the former British colony’s 2014 pro-democracy movement. Long, 47, handed in his resignation as assistant editor-in-chief of the Commercial Daily, one of a trio of Beijing-backed newspapers in the Chinese-controlled territory, after being placed under “political measures” for more than a year.
Ex-diplomat confirms that US marine force will guard de facto embassy in Taipei | South China Morning Post A detachment of 10 to 15 marines will provide security for the American Institute in Taiwan, says one of its former directors
China asks US to “properly handle” Taiwan issue – Xinhua “We hope the U.S. will abide by one-China policy and principles of the three China-U.S joint communiques,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said when answering a question on the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT). According to reports, a former chief of the AIT Thursday said that the U.S. side will send marine corps to protect the new AIT site.
Taiwan’s Uber Bust – WSJ The ride-sharing firm suspended local operations last week, folding under an escalating campaign of regulatory pressure that serves incumbent taxi cartels at the expense of consumers. If this is President Tsai Ing-wen’s idea of welcoming innovation, it doesn’t show
A Trump Agenda for Taiwan – WSJ WSJ Editorial offers ideas for “How to deepen ties without changing the ‘One China’ policy”
TECH AND MEDIA
Actress Zhao Wei abandons 3b yuan bid for Hangzhou animation studio | South China Morning Post The acquisition target, Zhejiang People Culture, plunged by its 10 per cent daily limit on Thursday morning upon trading resumption. For the past week Chinese securities regulators have been looking into Zhao’s source of funding and the buyer, Longwei Culture & Media, owned by the Chinese star. In a dramatic twist, Zhao’s venture said on Thursday the reason it had to abandon its bid for a controlling 29 per cent stake of the animation firm was that a number of Chinese banks, which it did not name in its filing to the Shanghai Stock Exchange, had turned down its request for financing.
Aston Villa Owner Said in Talks to Acquire Millennium Films – Bloomberg Recon Group, headed by Chairman Tony Xia, is in talks to acquire the Millennium Films label, according to the people, who asked not to be identified because the talks are private. The purchase is likely to be made through Shenzhen-listed Recon Wenyuan Cable Co., though there is no certainty that a deal will be struck, they said.
Chinese Pop Culture Primer: What You Need to Know About TFBoys, China’s Most Popular “Fresh Meat” | the Beijinger Simply describing TFBoys as a popular boy band won’t properly explain the massive gravitation pull of their all-encompassing popularity in China. TFBoys are nothing less than a cultural phenomenon that some of their fans have likened to proof of China’s growing soft power.
Trickle-Down Censorship in China: An Interview with JFK Miller – BLARB Miller, an Australian, is a former expat of Indonesia, Singapore, and most recently, Shanghai, where he was editor-in-chief of an English magazine for more than six years. He returned to Brisbane in 2015 and recently published his first book, Trickle-Down Censorship: An Outsider’s Account of Working Inside China’s Censorship Regime
China’s Rise in Artificial Intelligence – The Atlantic Each winter, hundreds of AI researchers from around the world convene at the annual meeting of the Association of the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence. Last year, a minor crisis erupted over the schedule, when AAAI announced that 2017’s meeting would take place in New Orleans in late January. The location was fine. The dates happened to conflict with Chinese New Year. The holiday might not have been a deal breaker in the past, but Chinese researchers have become so integral to the meeting, it could not go on without them. They had to reschedule.
Baidu Is Failing Fast to Save the Future – Bloomberg Gadfly Just two days after Baidu Ventures said it joined a Series B investment in 8i, a U.S. virtual/augmented reality startup, the mother company announced the purchase of Beijing-based Raven. The cost wasn’t disclosed, but I’m guessing it’s south of $100 million.
SOCIETY, ART, SPORTS, CULTURE AND HISTORY
Ren Xinmin, Pioneering Chinese Satellite Designer, Dies at 101 – The New York Times He is best known for designing the first Chinese satellite to be successfully launched into space. In the 2004 book “China’s Space Program: From Conception to Manned Spaceflight,” Brian Harvey wrote that the launch, in April 1970, prompted Mao Zedong, the founder of the People’s Republic of China and chairman of the Communist Party, to commend Dr. Ren in an address to the nation.
中国最后一个“洞穴村”：洞中住19户_腾讯网触屏版 Comment: photo essay of China’s ‘last’ cave village, in Guizhou
ENERGY, ENVIRONMENT, SCIENCE AND HEALTH
Hard to detect, China bird flu virus may be more widespread | Reuters Bird flu infection rates on Chinese poultry farms may be far higher than previously thought, because the strain of the deadly virus that has killed more than 100 people this winter is hard to detect in chickens and geese, animal health experts say. Poultry that have contracted the H7N9 strain of the avian flu virus show little or no sign of symptoms. That means any infection is only likely to be detected if farmers or health authorities carry out random tests on a flock, the experts said.
Related: Environment Officials Fired After Grilling on TV Show | Sixth Tone The dismissals followed an appearance by Li Xiaobing — the director of the environmental protection bureau of Hu County, located near Xi’an in northwestern China’s Shaanxi province — on a Feb. 8 episode of “Moment of Government Inquiry.” The show, broadcast by a Xi’an government-owned television station, exposes failings by local officials.
How China’s Garbage Goes From Cities to Rivers | Sixth Tone Hundreds of thousands of tons of household waste are produced each day in China, and waste disposal has turned into its own industry. But with toothless laws and a general lack of oversight, some waste disposal companies have found that they can inflate their profits by selling their trash on to middlemen instead of properly disposing of it themselves. The middlemen, too, pass on the dirty work, and the waste ends up being resold again and again until no further profit can be made — and when this happens, the cheapest, easiest way to deal with it is often to throw it in the nearest body of water.
AGRICULTURE AND RURAL ISSUES
China scientist convicted in U.S. of theft of engineered rice | Reuters Weiqiang Zhang, 50, a Chinese national living in Manhattan, Kansas, was convicted on three counts, including conspiracy to steal trade secrets and interstate transportation of stolen property, the department said in a statement. Zhang, who has a doctorate from Louisiana State University, worked as a rice breeder for Kansas-based Ventria Bioscience Inc, which develops genetically programmed rice used in the therapeutic and medical fields.
Students Release Second Video After Columbia Vandalism | Sixth Tone the second video, made by first-year student Lin Qin and others, does not shy away from addressing the targeted vandalism, or from students’ candid reactions to the incidents, which ranged from shock and surprise, to disappointment, to disgust and repulsion. It tackles question like “Why should we all care?” and “Why have we been so silent?” and is more forceful in establishing an open dialogue that appears to be sorely needed.
Jack Ma Takes Shot at Boosting China’s Education System – Caixin Global The Chinese billionaire and founder of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. has set up an experimental private bilingual school named Yungu, or Cloud Valley, in Hangzhou’s upscale Xi Hu (West Lake) district. The school offers classes from kindergarten (preschool) through senior high.
Top Chinese university criticised for lowering admission standards for foreign students | South China Morning Post Beijing’s Tsinghua University to allow overseas students to apply with only a moderate proficiency in Putonghua // C0mment: This change has caused an uproar online 老外不用考试上清华？校方早就解释过了
FOOD AND TRAVEL
JOBS AND EVENTS
Stranded Coal-fired Power Assets in China: Risks for Investors and Implications for Policymakers Closed Door Workshop Tuesday 28 February 2017 | Fairmont Hotel, Beijing
Follow me on Twitter @niubi for updates between newsletters
Send comments/tips/complaints to [email protected]
If you like Sinocism please spread the word using this link.
And if you really like Sinocism, feel free to donate some money, with Bitcoin or a credit card. Thanks.