"Sinocism is the Presidential Daily Brief for China hands"- Evan Osnos, New Yorker Correspondent and National Book Award Winner
I didn’t have time to do the normal rounds of Chinese media today but figure something is better than nothing.
THE ESSENTIAL EIGHT
1. China’s National Conversation on Pollution Has Finally Begun | Foreign Policy The national online discourse that took place over the weekend is the largest China has ever seen on the issue of environmental protection. Under the Dome has not only been viewed over 100 million times on Chinese streaming sites and become the most-searched term on Baidu, China’s most popular search engine; it’s also prompted an online conversation about Chai’s work. After Chai posted her documentary to Weibo, China’s massive social media platform, users shared it over 580,000 times…State media is also actively promoting Chai’s documentary in what looks like a coordinated campaign. People’s Daily not only dedicated a special feature to the film on its website but also shared it on Weibo and called for more effective governance in an op-ed supporting Chai. Even the hardline, nationalist state-run paper Global Times defended her. “Criticizing [Chai] for pointing out the problems of state-owned enterprises … is not a patriotic thing to do.”
Related: Beijing Quietly Curbs Discussion of Documentary on Air Pollution – WSJ Journalists at major Chinese print and online media outlets circulated screenshots on social media of what looked like a notice from the state-run Xinhua News Agency asking publications to refrain from using several items it had published on the documentary. Xinhua didn’t respond to a request for comment. The documentary itself remained available online, despite the sensitive nature of its topic: For one thing, it takes direct aim at the country’s state-run oil companies.
Related: Media Watch: Former Star Reporter Causes Stir with Smog Documentary – Caixin The online version of People’s Daily said Chai started a necessary discussion. “It is not only an effort to provide the public with basic science about smog, but also an endeavor to reach out for efforts to address smog,” it said. Bloggers have paid tribute to Chai for her efforts to raise awareness of air pollution and the harm it does to public health. Blogger He Caitou said Chai had caused social media – where links to the film and discussion of it is common – to become a platform for the public to discuss solutions to the smog problem. “To me, this is even more important than Under the Dome itself,” he wrote.
Related: China’s Latest Silent Spring: FON and IPE’s Websites Crash after Chai Jing’s Documentary Goes Viral – China Development Brief How significant is Under the Dome? It is certainly not perfect. It does not delve deep enough into the solutions presented and their possible impact on China’s economic development. Some of the comparisons that Chai Jing makes with Western countries lack relevance because the socio-economic-political contexts are too dissimilar. Chai also does not adequately address some policy and social issues – gender issues for one being notably absent in the Friends of Nature’s cartoon (which talks about “mother in the kitchen”, see below).
Related: 中石油高层亲自撰文反击柴静 CNPC exec attacks Under the Dome // 大家好！我叫万战翔，现在是中国石油天然气集团公司质量与标准管理部副总工程师。看了柴静的雾霾纪录片《穹顶之下》，着实让我难以再沉默下去。昨天看到立方石油网发布的《终于有中石油的人来和柴静谈谈石油的事了！》， 深有感触，今天决定借这个平台发表我对柴静女士纪录片的一些看法。此看法仅代表我个人言行，与中石油无关！ 柴静近日关于雾霾的片子出发点是好的，热心是好的。不管她被人质疑其真实动机和背后的背景，单就这个片子讲，大部分内容还是靠谱的。但她真的不是内行专家，一知半解，尽情发挥。是属于“外行看热闹”、说热闹的。我以一个石油行业标准化专家的身份纠正她片子中存在的几大问题：
2. Ministry plans five-year air pollution control project – Xinhua China’s Ministry of Science and Technology has started planning for a five-year air pollution prevention and control project, the ministry announced on Tuesday. A draft blueprint for the project has been published on the ministry’s website and the ministry is soliciting public comment. According to the draft, the focus of air pollution control in China should be shifted from simply responding to heavy smog to a coordinated scheme to prevent both PM2.5, or airborne particles measuring less than 2.5 microns in diameter, and ozone (O3). // nice timing for “Under the Dome”…I don’t believe in coincidences in China
Related: 经济参考网 – 以法治利剑冲破“雾霾”利益藩篱 环保法落地年 环保部向“未批先建”动刀 一年春来到,又到两会时。今年两会与往年在细节上有一个不同，环保话题在这两天冲破降息和不动产登记等热门财经新闻话题的“围追堵截”，在两会到来之际成为最热门话题。巧合的是，新任环保部部长陈吉宁也在这两天上任。 3月2日，距离环保法正式实施已经过去两个月，刚刚履新的环保部部长陈吉宁在北京与记者见面。他用“铁腕治污”来形容即将展开的2015年环保部的工作，重拳推进新环保法落地，对违法企业进行严肃查处和对地方政府启动问责外，还会对“未批先建”的项目进行治理，同时还将对“红顶中介”进行清理。
Related: Environmental stocks surge after smog documentary – Global Times Shares in 18 environmental protection-related firms, including environment-monitoring facilities producer Hebei Sailhero Environmental Protection High-tech Co and waste processing company Dongjiang Environmental Co, surged to the daily limit of 10 percent on Monday, beating the 0.79 percent increase in the benchmark Shanghai Composite Index. Analysts said that the surge in environmental protection-related stocks was mainly triggered by the hit smog documentary made by former CCTV anchorwoman Chai Jing.
3. Obama sharply criticizes China’s plans for new technology rules | Reuters Is he so against the plans that he would consider suspending bilateral investment treaty negotiations? What costs is he willing to impose on China in attempt at behavior modification? Jawboning and “shaming” are generally loser strategies with Beijing…. // President Barack Obama on Monday sharply criticized China’s plans for new rules on U.S. tech companies, urging Beijing to change the policy if it wants to do business with the United States and saying he had raised it with President Xi Jinping. In an interview with Reuters, Obama said he was concerned about Beijing’s plans for a far-reaching counterterrorism law that would require technology firms to hand over encryption keys, the passcodes that help protect data, and install security “backdoors” in their systems to give Chinese authorities surveillance access.
Related: Commentary: Justifiable for China to strengthen cyber security regulation – Xinhua As justifiable as they are, China’s efforts to strengthen cyber security and protect interests of domestic users of foreign-made high-technology products are apparently far from trade discrimination and protectionism as accused by some foreign media. Cyber security is a common challenge facing the entire world and thus requires shared responsibility. It is advisable for China and the United States, both leading global economies with rapidly growing technological strength, to strengthen exchange, cooperation and mutual trust for meaningful progress in enhancing cyber security.
4. Twin historic traumas shape Xi Jinping’s China presidency – The Washington Post While Mao’s Cultural Revolution almost destroyed China, Xi’s war on corruption is a masterpiece in controlled destruction. More than 100,000 party members have been disciplined since the campaign began, but through a process that is entirely managed from within the party. The public is simply not invited to join in, while anti-corruption activists have received long prison sentences. There are to be no mass denunciations of corrupt and arrogant officials, because Xi remembers only too well where that path leads. “He needs to fully control the anti-corruption movement, because they are afraid that the participation of the public will lead to another Cultural Revolution and bring more chaos,” historian Zhang Lifan said.
5. Claps, Jackie Chan, Zhou Xiaochuan: What to Watch at China’s NPC – Bloomberg Business Other issues are less certain. Here’s a few to watch
Related: Cutting through the jargon at China’s parliamentary sessions | South China Morning Post A guide to the slogans that are likely to pepper the speeches of political leaders during the National People’s Congress and the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference
6. Four implications of China’s rate cut | beyondbrics Several analysts said the latest rate cut, which shaved 0.25 per cent off the benchmark lending and deposit rate, reveals at least four planks in Beijing’s approach as it tackles these contradictions.
Related: China Economic Watch | As China’s Capital Outflow Quickens, Will the RMB Depreciate? The Q4 capital account deficit is likely to persist into 2015, led by larger capital outflow. While the BOP foreign direct investments (FDI) data still remained positive in 2014, the Ministry of Commerce data suggest that China has already become a net capital exporter if offshore funds raised by Chinese companies are included into FDI statistics. New policies to encourage capital outflow, such as the corporate cash sweeping program and intra-company RMB cross board lending allowed for multinational corporations and Chinese companies, the ease for Chinese mainlanders to buy foreign and Hong Kong shares via the QDII scheme and the Shanghai-Hong Kong stock link, and the ‘Road and Belt’ Initiative, a program to encourage Chinese corporates to expand abroad aggressively to assist ‘industrialization’ of emerging market economies, will potentially accelerate China’s outbound capital flow.
Related: China’s Yuan Is Strongest Currency After Dollar, PBOC’s Yi Says – Bloomberg Business The yuan is the world’s strongest currency after the U.S. dollar, a deputy governor of China’s central bank said today as officials from around the country gathered for annual parliamentary meetings in Beijing.
7. Party Graft Crackdown Snares 14 Generals, Military News Site Says – Caixin The disgraced generals include Zhang Dongshui, the deputy political commissar of the country’s nuclear missile force; Cheng Jie, deputy chief of staff of the North Sea Fleet; and former commanders, political heads and logistics officials of various military regions. One of the officials is 45-year-old Guo Zhenggang, the deputy political commissar of the military command in the eastern province of Zhejiang. Guo became one of the country’s youngest major generals when he was promoted in January. He is the son of Guo Boxiong, a former member of the Politburo, which is the party’s 25-member decision-making body, and a former vice chairman of the Central Military Commission (CMC), the body that leads the military.
Related: 媒体：解放军50天内二次公布“老虎”名单 重量空前_凤凰资讯 月2日下午5点，军队权威部门再次公布14名高级军官被查处情况。 这也是不到两月内军队公开的第二批“老虎”名单。1月15日，共计16人的军级以上干部重大贪腐案件情况对外公开，这次行动被外界誉为“史无前例”“历史罕见”。 仅仅在时隔50天之后，虽然失去了“历史罕见”的标签，但这份重量也是前所未有的。 一位军队人士告诉《环球时报》这是一种延续性。从理论上也展示了军队是真反腐，军纪国法面前无例外，依法治军、从严治军都是军队建设的新常态。 与上次公布的16名“老虎”不同，此次公开的14名高级军官尚未在民间形成舆论场，并且有独特的意义。
8. Travels with My Censor – The New Yorker – Peter Hessler Since Xi Jinping became President, in 2013, China has engaged in an increasingly repressive political crackdown…And yet the reading public has begun to discover nonfiction books about China by foreigners. More than any other editor, Zhang has tapped into this trend—all but one of his six best-selling titles in the past few years have been foreign books about China. In Zhang’s opinion, this reflects the new worldliness of readers, which he believes says more about the country’s long-term direction than the censorship or the propaganda does. “The Party turns left this year, and maybe it turns right this year,” Zhang wrote to me in 2014. “In my opinion, the only certain thing is that Chinese people are much more individualized and open-minded.”…Western commentary about censorship often turns inward, portraying limitations in other countries in a way that celebrates our own values. One of the most striking qualities of foreign portrayals of censorship in China is the apparent lack of interest in Chinese readers and editors.
BUSINESS, ECONOMY AND TRADE
Siemens investigates report of fictitious Chinese contracts | Reuters (Reuters) – Germany’s Siemens said it was investigating a media report that it boosted sales figures of its healthcare equipment in China by creating fake contracts. Chinese business daily Yicai cited Chinese distributors as saying that Siemens’ healthcare division had been creating contracts with them that were not backed up by real sales. The distributors would pay a 10 percent down payment, allowing Siemens to book the contracts. Siemens would then return the payments to them by other means, Yicai said.
China’s transport infrastructure shows vast improvement during Chunyun-The Interpreter This year things went (relatively) smoothly. Vast national investment in high-speed rail, whatever its economics, is performing an impressive role in relieving China’s ‘golden week’ seasonal festival surges. While many migrant workers can’t afford the new bullet trains, others can, and the upward displacement eases network congestion on the slower ones. High-speed rail at such times is a blessing. But it is other means of transport, namely wings and wheels, that best reveal China’s changing consumption patterns.
Hockey orders sale of $39m Sydney Point Piper mansion Villa de Mare for FIRB breach-Australian Financial Review The grand home, once owned by recruiter Julia Ross, was bought by Golden Fast Foods, a holding company ultimately owned by Evergrande Real Estate Group under Xu Jiayin, who is known as and for having strong connections to the Chinese Communist Party and former party premier Wen Jiaobao. All foreigners require prior approval to purchase residential real estate, and only temporary residents are permitted to acquire existing properties. The purchase of an established dwelling is conditional on a foreigner selling the property when they leave Australia. FIRB staff spent months investigating if the purchase complied with the law.
Chinese Rushing to Buy Property for Portugal Visas Get Burned – Bloomberg Business 活该 // The haste with which some Chinese buyers have acquired their piece of Portugal has left them feeling cheated once they realize they might have struck better deals. Some may even have been victims of middlemen who charge commissions of as much as a quarter of the value of the transaction. “Many Chinese land in Portugal for the first time, don’t speak the language and buy a home in a matter of days,” said Y Ping Chow, head of the Chinese League in Portugal, a Lisbon-based group that promotes the Chinese community. “Some of these investors got burned.”
United States-China two-way direct investment: Opportunities and challenges | Brookings Institution There is surprisingly little cross investment between the United States and China, the two largest economies in the world. Only 1 percent of the stock of U.S. direct investment abroad is in China, and in recent years the flow of direct investment from the United States to China has been close to zero. The stock of Chinese direct investment in the United States is also lower than would be expected given that the United States is the world’s largest recipient of foreign direct investment (FDI). In recent years, however, the flow of direct investment from China to the United States has accelerated rapidly, and if current trends persist within a short time, there will be a larger stock of Chinese investment in the United States than of U.S. investment in China.
Attempt to Gain New Investor Failed, New China Life Insurance Says – Caixin Ant Financial Services Group, which is related to Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. and also controlled by Jack Ma, showed interest in the insurer’s shares, Shanghai Securities News reported. It cited people close to NCI’s talks with Ant Financial. A source close to NCI said the firm had wanted to issue additional shares to the new investor, but changed its plan after its biggest shareholder, Central Huijin Investment Ltd., said it wanted to cash out some of its holdings in the company.
Ant Financial Subsidiary Starts Offering Individual Credit Scores – Caixin Sesame Credit’s ratings to appear in Alipay mobile app and take into account range of factors, including whether friends are financially responsible
POLITICS AND LAW
In China’s Legislature, the Rich Are More Than Represented – NYTimes.com Among the 1,271 richest Chinese people tracked by the Shanghai-based Hurun Report, a record 203, or more than one in seven, are delegates to the nation’s Parliament or its advisory body, which will convene for their yearly joint session this week in Beijing. According to figures released by the Hurun Report on Monday, the delegates’ combined net worth is $463.8 billion, more than the annual economic output of Austria.
China Anticorruption Campaign Targets Party ‘Cliques’ – WSJ Many experts, however, say the crucial issue isn’t whether Mr. Xi amasses power but rather how he does so and what he accomplishes with it. “Promoting his own allies doesn’t matter if he follows procedures and consolidates institutional power,” said Huang Jing, an expert on Chinese politics at the National University of Singapore. “But if it just reinforces his personal authority, that would be very dangerous. That’s what Chairman Mao did.”
FOREIGN AND DEFENSE AFFAIRS
China Exclusive: China, Japan poised to launch crisis management mechanism: general – Xinhua China and Japan are poised to launch a formal mechanism to manage local maritime and aerial crises, a former Chinese defense official said Monday, the eve of the opening of a key political session in the country. The mechanism, agreed upon in June 2012 but shelved amid peaking territorial disputes between China and Japan, will be launched “soon” so long as Japan does not create new obstacles to the improvement of bilateral relations, said Qian Lihua, a political advisor and general who used to head the foreign affairs office under the Ministry of National Defense.
China plans parade for war anniversary – Xinhua China will hold a military parade this year to commemorate the 70th anniversary of victory in the Chinese People’s War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression, a Foreign Ministry spokesperson said on Monday evening. Other events to mark the anniversary include a rally, a reception and an evening gala in Beijing, to be attended by President Xi Jinping and other Chinese leaders, Hua Chunying said, without revealing the dates of the events. China will invite leaders from major countries involved in the Second World War, Asian countries and countries in other regions to attend the events, said Hua.
New Report Finds China’s Space Plans Threaten U.S. Military Ability – Bloomberg Business “China’s improving space capabilities have negative-sum consequences for U.S. military security,” the University of California Institute on Global Conflict and Cooperation said in the report. Its progress requires “the U.S. to prepare to confront an adversary possessing space and counter-space technologies.”
China Dream, Space Dream: China’s Progress in Space Technologies and Implications for the United States | U.S.-CHINA Report prepared for the Commission by Kevin Pollpeter, Eric Anderson, Jordan Wilson, and Fan Yang of the University of California’s Institute on Global Conflict and Cooperation. The report examines China’s space programs and how they advance China’s national security, economic, and diplomatic interests. According to the report, China’s goal is to become a space power on par with the United States.
For the U.S. and China, a Test of Diplomacy on South Sudan – NYTimes.com Now, more than a year after South Sudan’s leaders plunged their country into a nasty civil war, the nation has become something of a test of diplomacy between the United States and China, raising the question: Can Washington and Beijing turn their mutual interests in South Sudan into a shared strategy to stop the bloodshed?
HONG KONG, MACAO AND TAIWAN
Taiwan Tells Alibaba to Exit Within 6 Months on Investment Rules – Bloomberg Business “We have asked Alibaba to leave,” Emile Chang, acting executive secretary of the economic ministry’s Investment Commission, said by phone. “We just want mainland investors who invest in Taiwan to follow the rules.” Alibaba breached Taiwan’s investment regulations by going through Singapore when in fact it’s a mainland-Chinese company, Chang said. While Alibaba registered in Taiwan in 2008, the company’s filings for its U.S. share sale last year provided the evidence of Chinese control over the company’s Singapore unit, he said.
TECH AND MEDIA
China Overtakes U.S. at the Box Office – NYTimes China’s box office revenue totaled $650 million in February, putting it just ahead of the $640 million in receipts in the United States, the report said, citing data from the research firm Entgroup. The Lunar New Year holiday, which typically falls between mid-January and mid-February, is one of the top moviegoing periods in China. Foreign films are typically barred during the holidays, to clear the way for domestic films or co-productions.
政协委员李彦宏2015年两会提案关注网络挂号|李彦| 挂号_凤凰 Baidu’s Robin Li is a CPPCC member, he proposes that local governments stop locking online booking of hospital visits and that China establish a “China Brain” AI plan,..Baidu of course having an ambitious AI research project underway, including in its Silicon valley offices // 中青在线北京3月2日电(中国青年报·中青在线记者白雪实习生彭博) 政协委员李彦宏2015两会提案呼吁取消地方政府对网络挂号的政策限制，鼓励医院挂号上网，方便群众就医；建议设立“中国大脑”计划，推动人工智能发展，抢占新一轮科技革命制高点。
马化腾议案抢先看：求解“看病难、防雾霾”宏观一财网 Tencent CEO Pony Ma is an NPC delegate, has his own proposals // 3月23日，《第一财经日报》记者了解到，作为全国人大代表，腾讯CEO马化腾将携四项议案参加两会，这四项议案都与互联网息息相关，包括加快移动互联网在民生领域的普及和应用、制定推动“互联网+”全面发展的国家战略、互联网与传统文化产业的深度融合以及积极推进我国移动互联网信息无障碍标准制定及落实。
SOCIETY, ART, SPORTS, CULTURE AND HISTORY
Interview with Tony Saich: Philanthropy, Governance, and Future Challenges – China Development Brief The interview was conducted by CDB’s Tom Bannister and Yimei Chen in September 2014 when Professor Saich was attending the China-US Strategic Philanthropy (CUSP) workshop.
ENERGY, ENVIRONMENT, SCIENCE AND HEALTH
Experts question China’s panda survey : Nature News & Comment The number of giant pandas living in the wild has risen by a sixth over the past decade, according to a long-anticipated survey unveiled by China’s State Forestry Administration on 28 February. But experts say it is unclear whether the results can be compared to previous national counts. The argument is bound to re-ignite the debate over whether the iconic bear should still be categorized as an endangered species.
Beggar millionaire owns two flats in Beijing- China.org.cn A beggar disguised as a crippled man on Subway Line 5 in Beijing has swindled millions in easy money from compassionate passengers. Their generosity has enabled the man to buy two flats in the city, a considerable spend considering Beijing’s skyrocketing housing prices and high down payments and restrictions on second home purchasing.
JOBS AND EVENTS
Sidwell Friends School: Upper School » Chinese Studies » John Fisher Zeidman ’79 Memorial Lecture 8:00 p.m. March 18, 2015 Robert L. Smith Meeting Room Evan Osnos is a journalist with The New Yorker and the author of “Age of Ambition: Chasing Fortune, Truth, and Faith in the New China”. The work is based on his 8 years spent in Beijing, and traces the rise of the individual in China, and the clash between aspiration and authoritarianism.