"Sinocism is the Presidential Daily Brief for China hands"- Evan Osnos, New Yorker Correspondent and National Book Award Winner
THE ESSENTIAL EIGHT
1. 王岐山在中央巡视工作动员部署会议上强调 提高政治站位和政治觉悟 推动巡视工作向纵深发展—中央纪委监察部网站 Comment: Wang Qishan comments ahead of 12th round of CDI inspections. This round targeting mostly higher education institutions, lots of focus on political and ideological “correctness”, also revisiting Inner Mongolia. Jilin, Yunnan and Shaanxi, launching pilot trials of “flexible inspections” [guessing at the translation of 机动式”巡视] of Cyberspace Administration, Sate Council Poverty alleviation and development leading small group, China National Rail Corp, and China Shipbuilding Industry Corporation..seen some commentary that the corruption crackdown is easing and perhaps Wang Qishan overplayed his hand. I think that is incorrect. CCDI indicated its focus was expanding to include political and ideological “correctness” in the Fall of 2015, only reinforced that since then // 王岐山在中央巡视工作动员部署会议上强调 提高政治站位和政治觉悟 推动巡视工作向纵深发展… 经中央批准，十八届中央第十二轮巡视将对北京大学、清华大学、北京师范大学、中国农业大学、北京航空航天大学、北京理工大学、南开大学、天津大学、大连理工大学、吉林大学、哈尔滨工业大学、上海交通大学、同济大学、南京大学、东南大学、浙江大学、中国科学技术大学、厦门大学、山东大学、武汉大学、华中科技大学、中南大学、中山大学、重庆大学、四川大学、西安交通大学、西北农林科技大学、西北工业大学、兰州大学等29所中管高校党委开展专项巡视。同时，对内蒙古、吉林、云南、陕西等4个省区开展“回头看”，对中央网络安全和信息化领导小组办公室、国务院扶贫开发领导小组办公室、中国铁路总公司、中国船舶重工集团公司等4个单位试点开展“机动式”巡视。
2. Chinese president Xi Jinping has vowed to lead the “new world order” — Quartz Xi had on numerous occasions called for China to play an important part in building the new world order. But during a Feb. 17 national security seminar in Beijing, he indicated China should “guide” the international community in the effort. A Feb. 20 commentary (link in Chinese) by the Chinese Communist Party’s central party school, which trains officials, noted the distinction. It has since been widely shared by state-controlled media. News outlets dubbed Xi’s new approach the “Two Guides” (两个引导) policy, with the “two” referring to the new world order and international security. // 习近平首提“两个引导”有深意
3. Secretary Tillerson’s Phone Call with Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi Today, United States Secretary of State Rex Tillerson spoke by phone with Chinese State Councilor Yang Jiechi. Secretary Tillerson and State Councilor Yang affirmed the importance of a constructive bilateral relationship. The two sides agreed on the need to address the threat that North Korea poses to regional stability. The Secretary and State Councilor also discussed economics and trade, and potential cooperation on counterterrorism, law enforcement and transnational crime. // Comment: Anything noteworthy in the use of “constructive bilateral relationship”
Related: 杨洁篪同美国国务卿蒂勒森通电话 — 中华人民共和国外交部 Comment: Official PRC readout of Tillerson-Yang call // 2017年2月21日，国务委员杨洁篪应约同美国国务卿蒂勒森通电话。 杨洁篪表示，不久前习近平主席同特朗普总统通话，就维护中美关系政治基础、推进两国各领域交往与合作达成重要共识，为下阶段中美关系发展奠定了基础。希望双方共同努力，按照两国元首通话精神，秉持不冲突不对抗、相互尊重、合作共赢原则，加强高层及各级别交往，拓展各领域务实合作，妥善处理敏感问题，推动中美关系不断向前发展。 蒂勒森表示，美国和中国都是世界上的重要国家，双方合作不仅符合两国利益，也有利于地区和全球的和平稳定和发展繁荣。不久前两国领导人进行了富有成果的重要通话。美方愿同中方一道继续增进两国互信，推进双边关系发展。 双方还就一些国际和地区问题交换了看法。
Related: Harbingers of Future War: Implications for the Army with Lieutenant General H.R. McMaster | Center for Strategic and International Studies Comment: 2016 comments// So other threats that are evidencing this behavior of probing, challenging U.S. interests at the far reaches of American power. I think that you could also look at China as exhibiting an analogous strategic behavior, and also an effort to expand territory and expand their influence at the expense of U.S. interests and the security of our partners in the region. I think what you – you could characterize what’s going on in the South China Sea, for example, as territorial expansion, and in this case really the development of landmass to project power outward from land into the maritime and aerospace domains, to restrict freedom of movement and action in those domains, and to – and to secure Chinese influence across those domains. This is militarily analogous to what Russia’s done in Ukraine, for example, where Russia has established air supremacy over Ukraine from the ground. And this is really what China is endeavoring to do from an operational perspective as well. And again, a sophisticated strategy involving cyberattacks, information warfare, a sophisticated economic effort to undermine the post-World War II economic order in the region. And of course, what this does is it highlights, I think, really the sophistication and the broad range of activities associated, you know, with this activity of probing. And of course, China has engaged in the largest theft of intellectual property in history.
4. China finishing South China Sea buildings that could house missiles – U.S. officials | Reuters Building the concrete structures with retractable roofs on Subi, Mischief and Fiery Cross reefs, part of the Spratly Islands chain where China already has built military-length airstrips, could be considered a military escalation, the U.S. officials said in recent days, speaking on condition of anonymity. “It is not like the Chinese to build anything in the South China Sea just to build it, and these structures resemble others that house SAM batteries, so the logical conclusion is that’s what they are for,” said a U.S. intelligence official, referring to surface-to-air missiles. // Comment: skeptical of any arguments this in reaction to Trump. These things take a while to plan and build, and the trends were set under Obama
Related: China hopes to complete drafting COC framework with ASEAN before midyear – Xinhua China hopes to work with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to complete the draft of a framework of the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea (COC) before midyear, a spokesperson said Wednesday. At a meeting hosted by the Philippines on Tuesday, ASEAN foreign ministers called for the “full and effective implementation” of the 2012 Declaration on the Conduct (DOC) of Parties in the South China Sea
Related: Commentary: Despite U.S. meddling, China and ASEAN back on track over South China Sea – Xinhua The signing of the China-ASEAN joint statement on the Code for Unplanned Encounters at Sea in the South China Sea and other documents at last year’s East Asian leaders’ meetings showed that the parties involved have been ready to focus their energy on building trust. Such momentum needs to be maintained. As for foreign media’s hype of China’s militarization in the South China Sea, it is rooted in self-interest and ulterior motives. China is doing nothing more than maintaining and defending its territorial integrity and legitimate maritime rights in the waters, and its reclamation and construction activities are mainly for civilian purposes and public good.
Related: Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Geng Shuang’s Regular Press Conference on February 22, 2017 Q: US officials say that China is building structures on the South China Sea islands that they suspect could be used to house long-range surface-to-air missiles? Can you confirm that? A: We have seen these reports. China has indisputable sovereignty over Nanhai Zhudao and the adjacent waters. China firmly safeguards its territorial sovereignty and maritime rights and interests. Meanwhile, we are always committed to resolving relevant disputes in a peaceful way with countries directly concerned through dialogue and consultation and to collectively maintaining peace and stability of the South China Sea with ASEAN countries. I want to reiterate that China carrying out normal facility construction, including deploying necessary and appropriate national defense facilities, on its own territory, is exercising a right bestowed by international law to sovereign states. Thanks to the concerted efforts made by China and ASEAN countries, the situation in the South China Sea is improving in a sound and steady way. We hope that non-regional countries can truly respect the efforts made by regional countries and do more for regional peace and stability.
Related: Philippine minister doubtful of China row resolution ‘during our lifetime’ – Channel NewsAsia In a defence of President Rodrigo Duterte’s decision not to push China to abide by an international arbitration ruling that went in Manila’s favour last year, Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay said there was an impasse that neither side could break, so it was better to maximise benefits from Beijing instead.
5. Lawmakers Push for Tighter Scrutiny of Chinese Investment in U.S. – WSJ Both Mr. Cornyn and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) are writing legislation to strengthen the authority of CFIUS, a secretive, multiagency body led by the Treasury that can recommend the president block foreign deals on national security grounds. Chinese investment in the U.S. tripled last year to a record $45.6 billion, according to New York consulting firm Rhodium Group
Related: China’s first ‘deep learning lab’ intensifies challenge to US in artificial intelligence race | South China Morning Post The NDRC has commissioned Baidu, operator of the country’s biggest online search engine, to lead the charge in creating the lab, working in partnership with China’s elite Tsinghua and Beihang universities, as well as other Chinese research institutes. Beijing-based Baidu confirmed on its official WeChat account on Monday that the lab will focus on seven areas of research including machine learning-based visual recognition, voice recognition, new types of human machine interaction and deep learning intellectual property. The overarching goal, it stated, is to “boost China’s overall competence in artificial intelligence”. // Comment: Will the work being done in Baidu’s Silicon Valley research office flow into this? US government should be paying a lot of attention to not just semiconductors but also PRC AI development
6. Regulators Draft Tough New Rules to Tame Asset Management Risks – Caixin Global The new rules are being drafted by the central bank, along with top regulatory bodies overseeing the banking, securities and insurance sectors. The rules will include a standard leverage ratio, a risk reserve fund, investment restrictions and other requirements for asset management products issued by all financial institutions, according to documents obtained by Caixin Tuesday. The draft rules are tougher than the industry expected, said Guiyang-based Huachuang Securities in its daily bond market briefing Tuesday. // Comment: Original, longer Caixin article 资管打破机构监管 央行牵头全面梳理
Related: China’s $9 Trillion Moral Hazard Grows Too Big to Ignore – Bloomberg In a rare show of cooperation, the nation’s main financial regulators are drafting new rules for asset-management products that aim to make clear the investments don’t have government guarantees, people familiar with the matter told Bloomberg News on Tuesday. The products, which promise higher returns than bank deposits but are viewed by many investors as a form of risk-free savings, have become an integral part of the Chinese financial system after swelling in recent years to almost $9 trillion as of June 30.
7. The Curious Case of China’s Guiding Cases System-China Law Translate I have written before about the reasons why I think the system has not yet had a meaningful impact. Still, when I received a notice about a recent uptick in references to guiding cases, I thought I might need to reconsider. After taking another look, what I have found not only confirmed my impression of the guiding case system, but was also a painful reminder of the challenges and limitations of doing legal research in China. What should have been a quick inquiry became a wild ride, chasing the research trail deep down the rabbit hole.
8. Inside the Chinese lab poised to study world’s most dangerous pathogens : Nature News & Comment A laboratory in Wuhan is on the cusp of being cleared to work with the world’s most dangerous pathogens. The move is part of a plan to build between five and seven biosafety level-4 (BSL-4) labs across the Chinese mainland by 2025, and has generated much excitement, as well as some concerns.
BUSINESS, ECONOMY AND TRADE
China home price growth cools for 4th straight month as government curbs bite | Reuters The January data released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) suggests regulators are making steady progress in keeping the riskier speculative investors off the property market, with average new home prices in China’s 70 major cities up 0.2 percent month-on-month, slowing a touch from December’s 0.3 percent rise.
China’s insurance sector not “club of the rich”: regulator – Xinhua Xiang Junbo, chairman of China Insurance Regulatory Commission (CIRC), told a press conference in Beijing that this year the CIRC will address risks in key areas including corporate management, insurance products and fund application. He warned that if insurers do not refrain from risky behavior they will receive high punishment ranging from suspensions of businesses to revoking of licenses. 保监会：保险不得被金融大鳄借道藏身 万能险本身没有问题
How one Chinese region shows risks of relying on heavy borrowing | Reuters After years of investment in infrastructure, some of it encouraged by the central government, Liaoning is China’s only shrinking provincial economy, its population is in decline and its debt is almost three times annual revenues. Liaoning highlights the risks of relying on repeated borrowing to invest in infrastructure and fuel economic activity – a regular fall-back policy China has used when GDP risks missing annual targets, including in 2016.
China’s Go-Private Push Stumbles on 150-Foot Trash Mountain – WSJ On the outskirts of Liaocheng, a deeply polluted city of 6 million people, is a rocky expanse the size of 10 football fields flanked by a 150-foot-high mountain of garbage. City officials partnered with a private company to turn the whole thing into a wetlands park. Many negotiations later, they have given up.
China’s Public-Private Projects Pose State Debt Risks – Bloomberg While PPPs should largely be financed privately, the bulk of funding in China comes from government entities, according to Bank of America Merrill Lynch strategists. This means the market may be underestimating the government’s debt level and inflation risk while overestimating its ability to sustain stimulus and maintain stability of the yuan, they said.
Pension funds of seven Chinese regions entrusted for investment – Xinhua A total of 360 billion yuan (52.33 billion U.S. dollars) is being transferred from scattered bank accounts operated by local authorities to the NCSSF for centralized asset management, the Economic Information Daily reported on Tuesday.
Didi tests English interface, foreign credit cards as it prepares to expand overseas | South China Morning Post So far, Didi has only translated part of its interface, leaving the payments page still in Chinese. Still, features such as the search results, and destinations as well as pick-up points are in English, or romanised into pinyin. Last week, Didi announced that it had set up a new international business division to explore opportunities outside of its home turf, and its president Jean Liu Qing had previously said the company does have ambitions to go global.
Auto-Trading Crowdfunding Shifts Into Overdrive – Caixin Global Tougher regulations on peer-to-peer (P2P) lending platforms and equity crowdfunding have led to a surge in the popularity of crowdfunding for vehicle trading, as many P2P providers have shifted to this underregulated segment of the online financing industry.
CRRC to Produce 160,000 Cargo Trains for Rail Operator – Caixin Global CRRC, together with its 10 subsidiaries, will produce nearly 160,000 cargo trains, involving total revenue of about 6.4 billion yuan ($930 million), for China Railway Corp., sources told Caixin. Another 40,000 units will be provided by four minor train makers. The price per unit will be the same as last year, but costs could be at least 10% more due to increasing steel prices, a source at CRRC told Caixin.
From China’s Factories to Your Shopping Cart, Price Hikes Loom – Bloomberg With China the world’s biggest exporter and largest consumer of many raw materials, this is how cost pressures spread to the world: rising material prices force up costs for supplier A, which raises prices for manufacturer B which then passes them on to exporter C.
China’s Top P2P Lender Pivots Away From the Business – WSJ the company is pivoting away, shifting into China’s booming retail-investing market with online accounts that let clients trade equities, mutual funds and fixed-income products. Lufax says it is going where the growth is, and hasn’t been influenced by concerns about “P2P” lending, which suffers from growing skepticism abroad and soaring defaults at home. // Comment: Wonder how much of the company the foreign Chairman owns
LeSport COO, Vice President Have Quit, Sources Say – Caixin Global e the company tell Caixin.
POLITICS AND LAW
China leadership pledges stability, progress in key reform areas – Xinhua The pledge came from a meeting of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee
Xi stresses precision in battle against poverty – Xinhua President Xi Jinping underscored the importance of precision in the battle against poverty, saying that poverty relief targets should be accomplished as scheduled. Xi, general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, made the remarks Tuesday during the 39th collective study session held by the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee. // Top 2.22.17 CCTV Evening News report on the meeting 习近平在中共中央政治局第三十九次集体学习时强调 更好推进精准扶贫精准脱贫 确保如期实现脱贫攻坚目标 They watched a video, heard remarks from Liu Yongfu, Chen Min’er, Chen Hao, Wang Sanyun…Xi’s focus on poverty alleviation does not always seem to be appreciated in the West, don’t think it is just “propaganda” or “empty talk”
How the Communist Party Guided China to Success – The New York Times In an interview, Mr. Heilmann discussed the underappreciated strengths of China’s political system as well as how, under President Xi Jinping, it may have cast off some of the openness to experimentation that contributed to its success in recent decades.
李士祥、陈刚卸任市委常委_国内_新京报网 李士祥 曾推动朝阳区CBD建设…陈刚 担任北京市副市长10年多 // Comment: Two more openings on the Beijing Municipal Party Committee. Li Shixiang and Cheng Gang are no longer in the posts, no word on why or indications they are in trouble
The Rise of State-Owned Enterprise Executives in China’s Provincial Leadership – CHINA US Focus – Cheng Li and Lucy Xu The recent rise of provincial chiefs (governors and provincial party secretaries) who have experience as top commanders of state-owned enterprises (SOEs) suggests that these individuals will play a more pronounced role in Chinese politics in the years ahead.
浙江下月起追偿国赔责任人_深度_新京报网 在近年来一系列国家赔偿案件引发关注和讨论的同时，一部旨在完善相关机制、让国家赔偿工作更具可操作性的地方规章“悄然上线”。 这部名为《浙江省国家赔偿费用管理办法》（下称办法）的文件将于今年3月1日起正式施行。值得关注的是，在当前对冤假错案“始作俑者”问责不尽如人意的背景下，办法对责任人如何追偿、追偿标准等作出了突破性规定。
China safety boss sacked over Tianjin blasts jailed for corruption | South China Morning Post Yang Dongliang given 15-year prison term after he was convicted of taking bribes worth over US$4 million // Comment: He was going to be sacked anyway, Tianjin blast just accelerated things
Social Credit Documents-China Law Translate Core Structural Documents of the Social Credit System
FOREIGN AND DEFENSE AFFAIRS
Is China Pushing Trump to Talk to North Korea? – The New York Times The Foreign Ministry insisted Tuesday that the suspension of coal imports was a bureaucratic procedure. In the first six weeks of 2017 China had already imported almost all its annual quota of coal allowed under the United Nations sanctions, the ministry said. Whether China had actually paid for those imports was not addressed. “It won’t be as huge as many expected,” said Zhang Liangui, an expert on North Korea at the Central Party School of the Communist Party. “Outsiders have underestimated the North’s capability to cope with sanctions.”
Foreign minister demands China’s withdrawal of retaliatory actions for THAAD deployment : The DONG-A ILBO South Korea’s Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se has officially asked Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi to withdraw Beijing’s growing retaliatory actions for the deployment of an advanced U.S. anti-missile system at a meeting held in Munich on Saturday. This is the first time that a Korean minister directly complained to his Chinese counterpart and demanded correction.
France dives back into the South Pacific | Chatham House On one hand, France’s economy needs all the investments it can get. On the other, as China’s interest in the South Pacific has increased, it has become clear to all in Paris that, far from being ‘at the edge of the map’, France’s Pacific territories are on the new strategic frontline between Asia and the Americas, and are becoming increasingly valuable.
China to implement strictest fishing moratorium in history – People’s Daily Online According to the adjusted regulation, the moratorium now starts at 12 p.m. on May 1 every year in all of China’s national waters, including the Bohai Sea, Yellow Sea, East China Sea and South China Sea north of the 12 degrees north latitude (Beibu Gulf included). The new adjustment extends the length of the moratorium and restrict more types of fishing operations.
HONG KONG, MACAO AND TAIWAN
China’s attempt to punish Taiwan by throttling tourism has seriously backfired — Quartz Taiwan set a new record for international tourism last year. And it did so by courting visitors from the rest of Asia, thus reducing its reliance on Chinese tourists. Last year Chinese group tours to Taiwan were down approximately 30%, and overall Chinese arrivals fell 16% year on year, according to Eric Lin, director of the Taiwan Tourism Bureau’s international department, yet it hosted nearly 10.7 million visitors in 2016, up from 10.4 million in 2015.
‘Never have I seen a man fallen from so high,’ judge says as he sentences Donald Tsang to 20 months’ jail for misconduct | South China Morning Post Former chief executive’s wife expresses disappointment at ruling, vows to lodge appeal
More than 30,000 police gather in support of Hong Kong officers jailed for beating up Occupy protester Ken Tsang | South China Morning Post Huge turnout threatens to escalate already significant chorus of criticism aimed at District Court Judge David Dufton and judiciary
Hong Kong police offer protection to newspaper staff after ‘gagging threat’ ahead of leadership election | South China Morning Post Police are offering protection to senior staff of the Chinese-language Sing Pao Daily News after receiving complaints of suspicious people hanging around the building and stalking employees.
TECH AND MEDIA
QQ Blocks Thousands of Accounts for Selling Private Information – Caixin Global The developer behind the widely used Chinese instant messaging service QQ said that since last fall, it has suspended or closed over 3,500 accounts used for selling individuals’ private information, but an investigation by China Central Television (CCTV) found that this illicit practice was still rampant on the platform. The CCTV exposé last week came six months after a 19-year-old student died of heart failure after losing 10,000 yuan ($1,450) in a phone scam. This led to a public outcry in China over the selling of confidential information online.
Sohu.com Posts Wider Q4 Loss as Revenue Falls – Caixin Global Sohu Chief Executive Officer and Chairman Charles Zhang blamed the sluggish economy, intensified completion and tightening regulation of the search industry. Sohu said video advertising revenue declined while production costs increased. Online game revenue fell because of lower popularity for older games and the 2015 sale of the web-game unit Seventh Avenue.
SOCIETY, ART, SPORTS, CULTURE AND HISTORY
Chinese Feminist Group’s Social Media Account Suspended – The New York Times The closing of the account for the organization, Feminist Voices, may have been linked to an article it posted about a women’s strike planned in the United States on March 8, International Women’s Day, feminists said on Wednesday. The strike, which is being coordinated by the organizers of the Women’s March on Washington last month, is called “A Day Without a Woman.”
Adidas Deal Puts Chinese Swimmer at Odds With National Team | Sixth Tone Fans and media commentators alike are afraid that Olympic athlete and teenage heartthrob Ning Zetao’s recent sponsorship deal with Adidas indicates that a break with the national swimming team may be imminent. // Comment: He has been kicked off the team as of 2.22.17 官方确认宁泽涛被开除 望吸取教训大门永敞开
Sterilization Quotas Endure in Two-Child Policy Era | Sixth Tone Sterilization quotas are still a common population control technique in the area where, earlier this month, a father of four said he was forced to undergo a vasectomy
The Man Restoring Eastern China’s Iconic Circular Homes | Sixth Tone In the face of government inaction, one individual is empowering locals to return their ‘tulou’ homes to former glory.
ENERGY, ENVIRONMENT, SCIENCE AND HEALTH
Smog makes 70% of Chinese unhappy, over half stay at home: report – Global Times Some 70 percent of respondents in China said that smog makes them unhappy, while the same number said they wear masks if they have to go out on smoggy days, said a survey.
Scientists complete drilling task in South China Sea-Xinhua A total of 33 scientists from China, the United States, France and other countries boarded the U.S. drilling ship JOIDES Resolution on February 8, and arrived at the drilling site Feb. 14.
FOOD AND TRAVEL
Netizens Face-Palm Over Coconut Juice Ads | Sixth Tone The latest advertisements for Coconut Palm, which has been served at Chinese state banquets since 1991, claim that the drink can enhance a woman’s cleavage and lighten her skin.
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