"Sinocism is the Presidential Daily Brief for China hands"- Evan Osnos, New Yorker Correspondent and National Book Award Winner
President Trump’s Friday failure to repeal Obamacare may have ramifications for the US-China relationship. The defeat makes him look weak and ineffective, just in time for the April meeting with Xi Jinping at Mar a Lago.
The debacle may lead some in Beijing to conclude that Trump is effectively a paper tiger. Trump is already orange, now all he needs are stripes.
The kids are on spring break for the next week and we are going to Montana. I tore my calf before Christmas and it is still not right so while I will not be skiing I also hope to not be glued to a screen. The newsletter will be very sporadic at least until April 2nd.
THE ESSENTIAL EIGHT
1. What a Buddhist Monk Taught Xi Jinping – The New York Times – Ian Johnson-Mr. Xi, by making China a guardian of a major faith like Buddhism, also sees religion as a way to promote China’s position in a world still dominated by the United States, which he tentatively plans to visit for a meeting with President Trump early next month. Indeed, one of Mr. Xi’s signature lines is, “If the people have faith, the nation has hope, and the country has strength.”
Related: Dalai Lama’s travel plans ignite reincarnation row-FT $$ Robbie Barnett, Tibet scholar at Columbia University, said the visits opened the possibility that the successor could be sought in India or Mongolia. That is a problem for Beijing’s efforts to stifle separatist sentiment among the 6m Tibetans who inhabit the Tibetan plateau, source of most of China’s major rivers. “China’s Dalai Lama watchers are trapped in a reincarnation sandwich nightmare,” Mr Barnett said. “This is deeply worrying to the Chinese. They’re caught in a pincer movement of the metaphysical.”
2. Trump Administration Not Yet Challenging China in South China Sea – Breitbart The Navy has made several requests to conduct operations that would challenge China’s territorial claims in the South China Sea, but the administration has not granted them, Breitbart News has learned. The operations are known as Freedom of Navigation Operations, or FONOPs, which would challenge China’s claims to its man-made islands in the South China Sea.
3. Larry Summers: Why scrapping NAFTA would be Trump’s big gift to China – Larry Summers – The Washington Post I was in Mexico Thursday seeing the Mexican president, foreign minister and finance minister and addressing a convention of bankers. The only subjects anyone is interested is the future of NAFTA and U.S. Mexican relations. I came to Mexico from Beijing, and so I was able to report that there was no greater strategic gift the United States could give China than to abrogate NAFTA and rupture the North American community.
Related: Trump’s U.S. jobs push may open doors to China in Mexico: ICBC bank | Reuters Yaogang Chen, head of ICBC’s Mexico unit, said U.S. industry’s loss could be China’s gain. “If some U.S. investment projects don’t (happen), there has to be somebody to invest. … If Chinese companies think it is profitable, they will invest,” he said in an interview on the sidelines of a banking conference in the resort of Acapulco.
4. China Money Market Jittery After PBOC Cash Splash Dries Up – WSJ Borrowers and lenders remain edgy after the Chinese central bank held off injecting cash into markets for the second day in a row, ending a three-day streak of pump priming this week. As a result, short-term funding costs remain close to levels unseen in more than two years, testament to Beijing’s resolve to reduce its economy’s unhealthy reliance on cheap credit and ballooning debt.
Related: Interbank Certificates of Deposit Thrive Despite Central Bank’s Disapproval – Caixin Global The current interest rates on many CDs are 30 to 50 basis points higher than short-term commercial papers issued by enterprises. This is not normal because lending to a bank is safer than lending to an enterprise, said a bond investment manager at a securities fund company. The surge in CD issuance and rising interest rates that reflect strong demand comes despite prevailing anticipation that the central bank will take some measures — although opinions diverge as to when and how — to rein in the business due to concerns about financial risk.
5. Beijing Cracks Down on ‘Fake Divorces’ Spurred by Property-Buying Frenzy – Caixin Global Starting Friday, couples who already own a house in the city and have been divorced for less than a year will be regarded as second-time home buyers, four central and municipal government agencies said in a joint statement Friday. Because the government requires homeowners to pay more in down payments to buy additional properties, couples have been getting divorced, while still living together, so that one partner can be treated as an independent buyer.
Related: 八天六政策超预期严控 北京楼市走向何方_证券时报网 业内预期，一系列调控政策有助于楼市退烧。近期北京限购限贷的政策或继续细化，同时，商住房以及环京地区升级调控政策的预期也渐涨。 // Comment: On 6 new rules in 8 days to try to cool down Beijing’s housing market
6. “Peace Through Strength”: Deterrence in Chinese Military Doctrine- Dennis J Blasko Though the theory behind China’s deterrence posture can be found in PLA textbooks, the Chinese government has not done a very good job at explaining this aspect of its military doctrine to the outside world (and would likely not be believed by many even if it tried harder). As a result, some Chinese actions and signals were probably intended to send warnings, but deterrent messages can be interpreted as having hostile, aggressive intent. Misperceiving actions and signals is complicated by the differences in the U.S. and China’s deterrence objectives due to the differences between Chinese core interests and American vital interests.
7. Burning Unsorted Garbage Could Cost Beijing Billions in Health Care Costs – Caixin Global Health issues linked to incinerating unsorted garbage in Beijing could end up costing the city nearly 28 billion yuan ($4.1 billion) in medical insurance claims by 2020, a team of researchers at Renmin University of China in Beijing found.
Related: A river of rubbish: the ugly secret threatening China’s most beautiful city | Cities | The Guardian An ‘international tourism destination of peerless beauty’ say the slogans hanging in the streets of Guilin, but one of the scenic city’s rivers has recently been home to sewage and garbage. In a country where environmentalists are charged with anti-government espionage, will the authorities intervene?
8. Shuanggui: The harsh, hidden side of China’s war on graft, and how one man disappeared into it – The Globe and Mail The story of Wilson Wang illustrates how China’s Communist Party disciplines ‘corrupt officials’ with brutal tactics that critics call torture. Through interviews with Mr. Wang’s lawyers, his family in Canada and accounts from other survivors, Nathan VanderKlippe looks inside the dark world of shuanggui.
BUSINESS, ECONOMY AND TRADE
Wilbur Ross will shepherd Trump’s trade policy. Should he also own a shipping firm? | Center for Public Integrity Commerce chief invests in fleet that flies Chinese flag, visits Iran and Russia
China Scraps 41 Administrative Fees in Bid to Stimulate Growth – Caixin Global China will scrap or suspend 41 nontax government charges and halve trademark registration costs beginning next month, the government has said, as it continues to seek to reduce burdens on companies and consumers to stimulate economic growth.
Head of Asia trade talks warns against adding elements of Trump-derailed TPP into new pact | The Japan Times Iman Pambagyo, trade negotiating committee chief for the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, said that governments had the political will to conclude the deal despite differences on goods and services, in part to send a message in the face of rising protectionism elsewhere. Only 10 percent of the text has been completed, he said.
Huishan Dairy Crashes 90%: Chairman Refutes Allegations – Asia Stocks to Watch – Barrons.com Sina Finance said that after the Muddy Waters’ report the Bank of China had found that Huishan had used fake invoices
China removes last restrictions on Australian beef imports | South China Morning Post Agreement also signed during visit to Australia by Premier Li Keqiang to develop mine, rail and port project
Hong Kong Property Agents Won’t Accept China UnionPay Cards – Bloomberg Banks are asking Hong Kong property agents to stop accepting China-issued UnionPay cards, as mainland authorities escalate their crackdown on capital flows out of the country.
For the brave China SOE reform optimists out there | FT Alphaville the inference is that maybe Shenhua is returning cash because of: (iii) they have been told to. And if they have been told to, so might have other SOEs that are yet to report.
China-backed fund relaunches bid for U.S. chip deal approval – sources | Reuters The move comes after the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), a government panel which reviews acquisitions by foreign entities for potential national security risks, did not complete its assessment by Friday, within the maximum time of 75 days that is awarded for assessing applications.
China’s Bike-Sharing Startups Are Coming to U.S. Cities – WSJ Both companies displayed their bikes at the South by Southwest conference in Austin, Texas this month. Ofo, whose yellow bike business attracted Apple Inc. CEO Tim Cook to drop by its office in Beijing this week, wants to introduce a fleet of 50,000 shared bikes in about 10 U.S. cities by July this year.
After Battle Royal for China Vanke, Property Tycoon Keeps Control of Empire – WSJ Moves by China’s insurance regulator help put Wang Shi back in the driver’s seat ahead of report on financial results
Shanghai Set to Spin New Curbs on City’s Bike-Sharing Operators – Caixin Shanghai is looking to introduce more hurdles for the city’s bike-sharing operators, with new draft rules potentially banning children under 12, the heavy set, and those who are very short or tall, in what has become an already fierce marketplace battleground. Under the proposed draft regulations, bike-sharing rental companies could be forced to keep track of the locations of all their bikes on their apps.
共享单车数十亿资金池，钱都去哪儿了？_凤凰资讯 Comment: Xinhua asks where the billions in bike-sharing deposits goes
China Vice Premier Sees `Unstoppable Momentum’ of Globalization – Bloomberg “The river of globalization and free trade will always move forward with unstoppable momentum to the vast ocean of the global economy,” Zhang said. China will remain a strong force in the world economy and for peace and stability, he said, adding that countries must respect one another’s core interests and refrain from undermining regional stability.
POLITICS AND LAW
Adrenalin-fueled TV drama to spur on China’s war on graft | Reuters “In the Name of the People”, a new show by propaganda department of the Supreme People’s Procuratorate (SPP), China’s top prosecutor, follows an intrepid SPP anti-graft investigator sent to a fictional province from Beijing to tackle corruption at the highest levels of local officialdom. // Comment: A trailer, on Youtube
人民的名义（陆毅、张丰毅主演的当代检察题材反腐电视剧）_百度百科 Comment: More details on “In the Name of the People”
人民日报为习造神疑挪用另一下乡知青照片充数 – 中国 – RFI 众官媒为日后习近平的“神化”亦开始敲起边鼓，除了央视播出3集短片《初心》，讲述习近平当年插队当知青的事迹之外，人民日报亦早在两会召开之前，推出短片为习近平下乡知青事迹吹嘘，但却使用了一张怀疑属于另一个知青的黑白照片，遭到读者踢爆，有网民指人民日报造假不出奇，但照片真身主角却不敢站出来辟谣，令人感到是非不分黑白颠倒。
Is Xi’s new ‘core’ status a sign of strength, or weakness? | Wang Xiangwei | South China Morning Post Much has been written about the so-called power struggle between Xi and Jiang, as many of the senior officials who were investigated were seen as Jiang’s allies. But credible reports suggested that when Xi and the other six Politburo Bureau Standing Committee members went to visit Jiang for the latter’s 90th birthday celebrations at his resort home in Beidaihe in August, Jiang spoke positively of Xi’s achievements including his anticorruption campaign. In particular, Jiang gave the blessing for the sixth plenum of the party’s Central Committee in October, and to formally endorse Xi as the “core”.
Activist Who Rejected TV Confession Invites CCTV Interviewer to Be Witness at His Trial « China Change Well-known human rights activist Wu Gan (吴淦) was arrested in May 2015. After a brief period of custody in his home province Fujian, he was taken to Tianjin as part of the 709 arrests. According to a complaint filed by his lawyer, on August 1, 2015, Wu Gan was forced to participate in a video interview with CCTV host Dong Qian (董倩) in which he was supposed to confess his guilt. He refused to follow the script. Yesterday his lawyer posted online Wu Gan’s letter to Ms. Dong Qian, dated March 8.
Xi calls for greater reform efforts – Xinhua Xi, also general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission, made the remarks while presiding over the 33rd meeting of the Central Leading Group for Deepening Overall Reform, which he heads.–CCTV Evening News [视频]习近平主持召开中央全面深化改革领导小组第三十三次会议强调 实事求是求真务实把准方向 善始善终善作善成抓实工作
嘉兴“楼盘关系户”涉172名公职人员国内新京报网 嘉兴“关系户名单”事件，源起一份意外流出的内部文件。文件显示，全部229名预约购房者中，除部分项目方工作人员外，包含大量公务人员，涉及嘉兴市多个职能部门。昨日，嘉兴市委宣传部回应记者称，已成立包括纪检、建设及组织部门在内的联合调查组，目前已查明，名单中共涉及172名公职人员。 //Comment: Old habits die hard. The Beijing News looks at corruption in a new real estate development in Zhejiang
FOREIGN AND DEFENSE AFFAIRS
U.S. Sanctions Chinese Entities, Others, for Aid to Iran, North Korea, Syria – WSJ The U.S. sanctioned 30 individuals and entities from 10 countries, many of them Chinese and Russian, for transferring sensitive missile technology to Iran and flouting export controls on Iran, North Korea and Syria, the State Department said Friday.
美国再因伊朗导弹问题制裁中国公司和个人|特朗普|伊朗|导弹_新浪新闻 美国制裁的这6家中国公司为：北京中科华正电气有限公司（Beijing Zhenghua Electric Co。 Ltd）、大连政华贸易有限公司（Dalian Zenghua Maoyi Youxian Gongsi）、宁波新世纪进出口有限公司（Ningbo New Century Import and Export Company Limited）、深圳亚泰达科技有限公司（Shenzhen Yataida High-tech Company Ltd）、中国科技碳石墨制造总公司（大连）（Sinotech （Dalian） Carbon and Graphic Corporation SCGC）和天升科技有限公司（Sky Rise Techonology Corporation Limited ）。3名中国公民为：杰克·秦 Jack Qin（秦献华）、杰克·王 Jack Wang （王伟）和卡尔·李 Karl Lee（李方伟）。另有两家被制裁的公司分别属于朝鲜和阿联酉。
Beijing Defends Its Right to Guard South China Sea With Arms – WSJ “China’s facilities on Chinese islands and reefs are primarily for civilian purposes,” Mr. Li said in a press conference at Australia’s Parliament. “And even if there is a certain amount of defense equipment or facilities, it is for maintaining the freedom of navigation and overflight in the South China Sea, because without such freedom or without stability in the South China Sea, the Chinese side would be the first to bear the brunt of it.”
Will Central Asia Water Wars Derail China’s Silk Road? | The Diplomat Rising hostilities over water resources, a recurring source of tensions and armed conflicts between Central Asia’s five countries, are at the brink of escalating into a potential full-blown conflict. The region is currently reeling under the worst yet spell of water shortages and chronic power cuts.
Bao Bao, an American-Born Panda, Steps Out in China – The New York Times Strange food. Unintelligible natives. These are just some of the things that Bao Bao, the 3-year-old panda from the National Zoo in Washington, has grappled with since moving to China last month. But the culture shock is fading, her handlers say, as she settles into the land of her ancestors.
CMSI China Maritime Report #1: “China’s Third Sea Force, The People’s Armed Forces Maritime Militia: Tethered to the PLA” | Andrew S. Erickson Amid growing awareness that China’s Maritime Militia acts as a Third Sea Force which has been involved in international sea incidents, it is necessary for decision-makers who may face such contingencies to understand the Maritime Militia’s role in China’s armed forces. Chinese-language open sources reveal a tremendous amount about Maritime Militia activities, both in coordination with and independent of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA).
What Happens After China Invades Taiwan? | The Diplomat Wang Mouzhou is the pen name of a former NSA intelligence officer
Why are Chinese moving to Malaysia by the thousands? | South China Morning Post With an election looming, the country’s often fraught race relations are as complicated as ever, but that hasn’t dented its appeal to a ‘third wave’ of immigrants from China
Duterte: Beijing ‘Really Want[s] to Make the Philippines a Province of China’ – Breitbart “They really want to make the Philippines a province of China,” Duterte joked, according to the local outlet Rappler, while addressing a convention of the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP). Duterte made the joke in the context of Beijing offering to cooperate on a variety of infrastructure projects when he met with President Xi Jinping on his recent visit to China
火箭军举行授衔仪式 51名“兵王”戴上士兵最高军衔新闻腾讯网 3月23日上午，火箭军机关举行新晋升一级军士长集中授衔仪式，来自战备训练、国防施工、作战保障等各条战线的51名导弹精兵接过命令状、戴上新军衔，载誉前行开始新的“砺剑突击”。
HONG KONG, MACAO AND TAIWAN
Hong Kong likely to choose Beijing’s pick for leader amid economic malaise | Reuters Former top civil servant Carrie Lam is widely expected to win, thanks to Beijing’s backing. Former finance chief John Tsang, more popular with the densely populated city’s 7.3 million people, is expected to get around a quarter of the vote.
Taiwan announces huge stimulus package in face of uncertain times | South China Morning Post Move could add nearly NT$1 trillion to island’s economy, premier says
Missing Taiwan Man May Be in Chinese Custody, Relatives Fear – The New York Times Ms. Cheng, the director of the community college, said on Saturday that Mr. Lee had not been directly involved with civil society work in mainland China. But she said his wife, Lee Ching-yu, had told her that he had weekly chats on Chinese social media about “some of Taiwan’s experiences with democracy and transitional justice” with mainland friends who wanted China to move in a direction similar to Taiwan’s.
TECH AND MEDIA
Tencent launches trends search feature on WeChat – TechNode To use the new feature, users should first click the search icon on their WeChat app, then enter Chinese words “微信指数” (WeChat Index in English) into the search bar. Tap on “Search”, and the “微信指数” icon will appear, then you can search whatever topics you are interested.
China Is Losing to the U.S. in High-Stakes Battle for Artificial Intelligence Talent – WSJ Baidu usually gives 15% more in compensation to AI staff willing to move back to China, according to the executive there. Baidu’s main competitors, e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. and game and social media giant Tencent Holdings Ltd., are hiring aggressively from U.S. companies, too. Alibaba recently announced a long-term strategy to develop technologies including AI and vowed to hire top tech talent globally.
Facebook AI Exec: China Lags Behind US Due to Lack of Top Labs | Sixth Tone However, when asked to compare both AI giants side by side, Yann LeCun, director of Facebook AI Research (FAIR) and the founding director of the New York University (NYU) Center for Data Science, told Sixth Tone that advanced research labs are a major distinction between the countries.
Sina CEO Charles Chao on ‘fake news’ and charges of stifling dissent-CNBC The company’s CEO, Charles Chao, spoke with CNBC this week about his battle against the spread of inaccurate information, and sought to dash allegations that his platform is really acting to stifle political dissent. “Whatever you heard recently, like what Facebook started to do, and all these social problems, [people became aware] that they need to vet information: All these, we have been doing this for many years actually,” Chao said.
SOCIETY, ART, SPORTS, CULTURE AND HISTORY
Empty offices, wary lenders: China’s faltering bid for AC Milan | Reuters the bidding group – identified by Milan’s owners as Sino-Europe Sports Investment Management Changxing Co Ltd – has pushed back the payment of cash installments and is negotiating a further delay in closing the deal, two people close to the matter have told Reuters. The acquisition, announced at the height of China’s $3 billion European soccer splurge, has become something of a lightning rod for Beijing’s crackdown on overseas vanity deals as it tries to check capital outflows amid a weaker yuan currency.
Money can’t buy happiness: Why a massive rise in wealth left Chinese people less happy – The Washington Post more money and possessions haven’t made people any happier. In fact, happiness in China fell sharply from 1990 to 2005, and today Chinese people are probably less happy, on average, than they were 25 years ago. Those are the findings of a new study contained within the World Happiness Report 2017
Demolishing Dalian: China’s ‘Russian’ city is erasing its heritage – in pictures | Cities | The Guardian Founded by the Russians, Dalian boasts a wealth of architectural history. But now its treasured buildings are marked for demolition – and the government is being sued. One student went to capture the area before it disappears
包头居民楼燃爆 单元楼塌陷_新浪网 Comment: slideshow of aftermath of explosion in Baotou that destroyed an apartment building, likely gas line issue
China rolls out plan to revitalize traditional crafts – Xinhua By 2020, China will have seen a “significant enhancement” of the ability to carry on traditional crafts with better industry management and market compatibility, according to the plan issued by the ministries of culture, industry and information technology and finance.
War, Detention, Revolution: Foreigner Recounts Shanghai History | Sixth Tone Fifty-year Shanghai resident Betty Barr on living in a World War II internment camp and publishing her mother’s diary from the era
ENERGY, ENVIRONMENT, SCIENCE AND HEALTH
Planned Red River Dam Threatens Endangered Pheasants | Sixth Tone The Jiasa River hydropower station, first planned in 2006 and originally named Sanjiangkou station, is currently under construction near Yuxi City in Yunnan province. The hydropower dam threatens to raise the shallow waters that the large terrestrial pheasants call home.
Inside China’s Almost-Totally-Legal $400M Fishery in Africa | WIRED The ship, known as Fu Yuan Yu, is one of more than 400 Chinese fishing vessels trawling the coast of West Africa, pulling some three million tons of fish from the sea each year. Few things so clearly represent China’s influence in the region. “If you want to see how China is expanding power in West Africa, you have to get on board and see how they fish,” says Liu, who spent six days aboard one of these ships for his series Drifting in West Africa.// Comment: Nice photos
AGRICULTURE AND RURAL ISSUES
Rural School Trampling Death Brings Overcrowding Issues to Fore – Caixin Global The tragedy at Puyang County No. 3 Experimental School happened Wednesday morning after 1,700 students were told they had just 10 minutes to use two restrooms before a test, according to a statement by the county government. The school’s two restrooms have a total of only 39 squat toilets, according to parents
BOOKS AND LITERATURE
The Chip on China’s Shoulder – WSJ China’s leaders wield historical maps like a bludgeon, and their spurious claims now constitute what many Chinese believe is a “natural order” that must be restored. Stephen R. Platt reviews “Everything Under the Heavens” [The book on Amazon] by Howard W. French.
北京地铁壁画的那些秘密，一般人知道三五个就不错了，你了解多少？ Comment: Xinhua looks at the murals and frescos in Beijing’s subway system
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