The Sinocism China Newsletter 04.12.17-The Citrus Summit a Win For Xi Jinping, North Korea Tensions Rising

Apologies for the radio silence, I have to admit I have been binge-watching the anti-corruption miniseries In The Name of the People 人民的名义. It is entertaining and quite a slick propaganda effort. I only have 20 more episodes to go…<

The Trump-Xi Citrus Summit seems to have been fairly bland, as predicted in the April 4 newsletter. Overall it looks like a big win for China and Xi Jinping and the Kissingerian approach to US-China relations, to the chagrin of those who believed Trump’s promises that he would take a much tougher line towards the PRC.

Chinese Communist Party propaganda had an easy time making Xi look like he was large and in charge. This photo that ran on the front page of the April 8 People’s Daily says a lot:

The tougher approach that Trump has repeatedly threatened may be even less likely if, as Axios Am reports today in Trump kneecaps Bannon, Steve Bannon may soon be gone from the White House:

Axios’ Jonathan Swan hears Bannon allies inside and outside the White House were taken by surprise when Goodwin’s column posted, and are distraught. Bannon allies are bitter about the role they believe economic adviser Gary Cohn has played in undercutting their guy to POTUS. In private conversations, they call him “Globalist Gary.” In text messages, the shorthand is CTC (Carbon Tax Cohn)

I am hearing National Trade Office head Peter Navarro did not go to Mar-a-Lago for the Trump-Xi meeting, which if true would would be quite a downgrade for Mr. “Death By China” Navarro and another indication that the “globalists” are in ascendance. If those “globalists” have won then the US-China relationship has been massively de-risked, at least in the short-term. [Correction: A reader has informed me that Navarro was there}

Today’s Washington Post reports that ahead of the decision on whether or not China manipulates the RMB Trump is struggling to deliver on his trade promises:

…while Trump has called China “grand champions” of currency manipulation as recently as February, three people familiar with the discussions say it did not appear likely that the Treasury Department would officially designate China in its semiannual foreign currency report due Saturday. The people, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the discussions are still underway, stressed that no final decision has been made.

Trump had promised to label China a “currency manipulator” on his first day in office, but his administration has moved slowly to follow through on many of his trade-related threats. On Tuesday morning, Trump suggested he would now tie trade discussions with China to whether it works harder to contain North Korea — appearing to add a national security element to a negotiation that had previously been based only on economics.”

President Trump gave Michael Goodwin of The New York Post some color about his talks with Xi. Goodwin reportd in China ‘understood immediately’ why we launched missiles on Syria that Trump says he got along with President Xi:

“I was a little surprised, we had a great chemistry, not good, but great,” Trump said. “I liked him and he liked me a lot. That doesn’t mean we’re going to get along on trade or North Korea, but we had great chemistry.”

That chemistry does not seem to have been affected by the missile strike on Syria that overshadowed the meeting. In an interview with Fox News Trump said he told Xi about the Syrian missile strike over “the most beautiful piece of chocolate cake.” Trump recounted:

Xi paused for ten seconds, then asked the interpreter to please say it again.. then said…“anybody that was so brutal and uses gases to do that to young children and babies, it’s ok”

One of the main public deliverables from the Citrus Summit was the restructuring of the Strategic & Economic Dialogue into “The U.S.-China Comprehensive Dialogue” (USCCD?) which will be overseen by the two Presidents and have four pillars: the diplomatic and security dialogue; the comprehensive economic dialogue; the law enforcement and cybersecurity dialogue; and the social and cultures issues dialogue.

Given that President Trump has other things to do besides manage the US-China relationship, will this structure end up being overseen by Jared Kushner?

Xi and Trump had a call (Xinhua English report) Tuesday about North Korea, but for all the current bluster and increasing pressure it does not sound like military action is imminent, as the Wall Street Journal reports in Trump Issues New Warning to North Korea:

President Donald Trump has signed off on a policy approach to North Korea that involves increased economic and political pressure while military options remain under consideration longer term, a senior U.S. official said.

The approach, which the official said Mr. Trump adopted before his meeting last week with Chinese President Xi Jinping, includes pressing China to follow through with steps to curtail Pyongyang. If China and other North Korea partners don’t do so, the U.S. would adopt measures such as secondary sanctions aimed at Beijing, the official said.

Several other options, including military force, are “on the back burner,” the official said.

Xi invited Trump to visit China later this year and he accepted. I am hearing a likely date may be in November around the APEC meeting in Vietnam, though that may run up against the 19th Party Congress.

Today’s Links:

AnchorTHE ESSENTIAL EIGHT *

1. China’s central bank quietly increases its power in battle to curb risks | Reuters By greater use of market mechanisms to adjust interest rates instead of changing the official benchmark rates, which need political approval, the People’s Bank of China has assumed more targeted, timely and effective control of its principal policy objective – to calibrate the cost of capital in the economy. And by broadening the scope of the tools it uses to assess and limit the accumulation of risky assets in the banking system, it has expanded its oversight powers without getting embroiled in the kind of bureaucratic infighting that has beset plans to create a financial super-regulator.

Related: 独家丨银监会开展“四不当”专项整治 银行全面自查同业、理财不当交易_第一财经 从“三套利”到“四不当”,银监会正在全面加强银行业市场乱象的专项整治。 第一财经独家获悉,4月6日,银监会已经向银行下发了《关于开展银行业“不当创新、不当交易、不当激励、不当收费”专项治理工作的通知》(银监办发【2017】53号文),对银行“四不当”进行专项治理。

2. 特稿 | 项俊波保监会五年 落幕有看点金融频道财新网 Comment: Caixin on Xiang Junbo, an abridged translation here: Who Was China’s Fallen Insurance Regulator Xiang Junbo?  Are his problems related to tenure at Bank of Agriculture or the CIRC? Did Xiao Jianhua provide damning evidence to investigators? If the rumor mill is correct bigger financial sector heads than Xiang’s will soon roll. And will this investigation have any impact on Anbang?

Related: Economic Watch: China’s financial industry under greater scrutiny amid latent risks – Xinhua In remarks published Sunday, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang pointed out that the country’s financial sector was vulnerable to risks such as bad assets, bond defaults, shadow banking and Internet financing, with frequent illegal and corrupt activities. To put the market in order, the premier urged for efforts to crack down on bank violations on giving credit, insider trading in securities market and fraud of insurance companies, as well as to relentlessly punish internal supervisors and company managers who collude with major players in the market and steal and sell confidential information. On the same day, China’s top anti-graft authority announced that Xiang Junbo, chairman of the China Insurance Regulatory Commission, was being investigated for suspected serious violation of the code of conduct of the Communist Party of China.

3. China’s Big Four Banks Binge on Mortgages – Caixin Global The Industrial and Commercial Bank of China Ltd., Agricultural Bank of China Ltd., Bank of China and China Construction Bank Corp. saw between 64% and 82% of their new loans last year go toward mortgages, totaling 2.7 trillion yuan ($391 billion). Such high levels of private-sector debt run against the government’s push for consumption-driven growth, as borrowers will need to pay off mortgages with money that could be spent to help the larger economy.

Related: Chinese cities restrict home sales by buyers to fight speculation | Reuters At least twelve major Chinese cities are requiring newly bought homes to be held for at least two to three years before they can be sold, the first time ever that cities in the country are taking such measures and suggesting intensified government efforts to cool the red-hot property market.

Related: Beijing municipal government revises up land supply plan | South China Morning Post The Beijing government over the weekend revised up its land supply plan, but to a level that’s not as large as the headline figure suggests, raising doubts whether the actual supply will be enough to rein in home prices.

Related: Beijing orders property websites to stop touting investment gains, feng shui advice | Reuters Advertisements on the websites should not promise rising returns on Beijing real estate investment, the official Xinhua news agency reported, as the Chinese capital battles with soaring home prices and property speculators.

4. Spicer Calls Expanded U.S. Beef Sales to China a ‘Big Prize’ – Bloomberg China in September removed a ban on shipments of some U.S. beef products, opening up the trade for the first time since 2003 as the Asian nation sees a surge in imports of the meat. Still, conditions attached to the re-opening, including Chinese requirements for an acceptably traceable U.S. meat supply, have held up sales.  No concrete changes to the earlier agreement resulted from last week’s meeting, but “the plan was to put together a plan” on beef and other issues, Spicer told reporters in a White House press briefing.

Related:  Donald Trump turns paper tiger on China policy | afr.com The US depends too much on Chinese co-operation to risk overly antagonising China’s leaders. Labelling China a currency manipulator would be the economic policy equivalent of launching 59 cruise missiles at an isolated air base in Syria. It would be much sound and fury, signifying nothing. Barry Eichengreen

Related: China to allow in more Hollywood movies to appease Trump on trade deficit, says researcher | South China Morning Post China is likely to import more American meat, including pork and beef, and allow more Hollywood movies to be shown on the mainland in the coming months to show that Beijing is taking steps to cut its trade surplus with the United States, a Chinese government researcher said. Mei Xinyu, a researcher at the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation, a think tank under the Ministry of Commerce, said China may also buy more oil and natural gas from the US as concessions in trade talks be held within 100 days

Related:  Gov. Walker breaks down his Alaska meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping – Alaska Dispatch News The relationship between China and Alaska is one of customer and merchant, and the Chinese delegation was here to browse. Heading home from a summit with President Donald Trump at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, they listened to pitches from the Alaskans, who were eager to showcase the wares of their state to its largest trading partner. Alaska exported seafood, minerals, oil and other products valued at just under $1.2 billion to China in 2016…A motorcade of 24 cars whisked the visitors down the Seward Highway to Beluga Point, where they admired the sweeping views of Turnagain Arm in clear, cool spring weather. The final stop was the Hotel Captain Cook for posed photos, a meeting and an Alaska seafood dinner at the Crow’s Nest on the hotel’s top floor.

Related: 5 avenues US must pursue in its trade talks with China | TheHill – Wendy Cutler Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross will co-lead the new Comprehensive Economic Dialogue that will include a “100-day plan on trade.” As someone who has worked on trade issues for both Republican and Democratic administrations, I know that the 100 days will fly by.

5. Unfettered online hate speech fuels Islamophobia in China-AP On the dusty plains of the Chinese heartland, a bitter fight over a mosque exemplifies how a surge in anti-Muslim sentiment online is spreading into communities across China, exacerbating simmering ethnic and religious tensions that have in the past erupted in bloodshed. It’s also posing a dilemma for the ruling Communist Party, which has allowed Islamophobia to fester online for years as part of its campaign to justify security crackdowns in its restive region of Xinjiang.

Related: Fellow Uygurs should beware of ‘two-faced’ people in separatism fight, Xinjiang official says | South China Morning Post Call is latest from Communist Party in western region aimed at members of the ethnic minority

6. China offers rewards to root out foreign spies | The Guardian As of Monday, Beijing’s 22 million residents are being offered cash rewards of up to 500,000 yuan (about £58,500) for providing authorities with intelligence that helps them foil the nefarious activities of such agents. The initiative was announced in the Beijing Daily, a Communist party broadsheet, and is part of a new anti-espionage campaign aimed at rooting out foreign spooks. 《公民举报间谍行为线索奖励办法》解读

Related: Draft cyber law requires annual security check for outbound data providers: watchdog – People’s Daily Online China’s top cyber authority on Tuesday released a draft law that would require firms exporting data to undergo an annual security assessment, in the latest of several recent safeguards against threats such as hacking and terrorism. Any business transferring data of more than 1,000 gigabytes or affecting over 500,000 users will be assessed on its security measures and on the potential of the data to harm national interests, showed the draft from the Cyberspace Administration of China. 《个人信息和重要数据出境安全评估办法(征求意见稿)》公开征求意见 

7. Blackwater founder Erik Prince eyes opportunities with China-FT $$ speaking to the Financial Times, Mr Prince rejected the idea that he and his company, Frontier Services Group — listed in Hong Kong and partly owned by China’s Citic conglomerate — are advancing Chinese foreign policy or will be providing military services.  “We’re not serving Chinese foreign policy goals, we’re helping increase trade,” Mr Prince said in the interview in Hong Kong last month. He described the Silk Road policy, which is dubbed “One Belt One Road” by Beijing, as a “fantastic initiative”. He added: “China trading with its neighbours and building infrastructure brings only benefits.”

8. Snowden Documents Reveal Scope of Secrets Exposed to China in 2001 Spy Plane Incident now, a comprehensive Navy-NSA report completed three months after the collision, and included among documents obtained by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden in 2013, finally reveals extensive details about the incident, the actions crew members took to destroy equipment and data, and the secrets that were exposed to China — which turned out to be substantial though not catastrophic. The unredacted Navy report, supplemented by a 2001 Congressional Research Service summary of the incident, as well as The Intercept’s interviews with two crew members on board during the collision, presents the most detailed picture yet of the P-3 incident, a critical moment in U.S.-China military relations.


AnchorBUSINESS, ECONOMY AND TRADE *

China to adopt new rules to improve economic data quality | Reuters The cabinet has approved draft rules on implementing the statistical law that will regulate statistical activities “from the source”, it said in a statement on the government’s website, after a regular meeting. The rules would strengthen efforts to hold accountable people falsifying figures to “ensure the authenticity and authority of statistical data”, the cabinet said.

China’s Wholesale Prices Slide in March While Inflation Edges Up – Caixin Global A major gauge of wholesale prices in China eased in March for the first time in seven months, while consumer inflation edged up after falling to a two-year low in February, official data showed Wednesday.

China’s Central Bank Faces a $600 Billion Test – Bloomberg The Medium-term Lending Facility has increased to 4.1 trillion yuan ($594 billion), with 3.2 trillion yuan coming due from April to December this year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. About 2 trillion yuan matured in the same period last year. While the monetary authority has shown a willingness to roll over the funds, with new loans extending maturities in each of the first three months of 2017, the ballooning amount illustrates the challenge Zhou faces as he tries to reduce leverage in the financial system while keeping the monetary base big enough to avoid a credit crunch.

Traditional Retailers Begin to Rebound After Years of Decline – Caixin Global In the first two months of 2017, major department stores saw increases in revenue ranging from 2% to 8%, significantly more than the first quarter of 2016, while supermarkets’ revenue grew by about 2% on average, according to a recent report by Haitong Securities Co. Ltd.

China High-Tech Finance Firms Bankroll Listing Renaissance in New York – Caixin Global Peer-to-peer (P2P) lender Hexindai and online advertising agent iClick Interactive have joined a growing list of Chinese companies aiming to list in New York this year, led by a surge in young high-tech financial companies called “fintech.” Both companies have already begun preparations for their initial public offerings (IPOs), said two sources, who spoke to Caixin on condition of anonymity

Jinan smoke bombs, pepper spray are flash points in Shanshui feud | South China Morning Post Shanshui’s board directors were repelled by pepper spray, water cannons and smoke bombs when they tried to repossess facilities at their Shandong unit, according to a statement.

Norwood-based Xcerra Corporation sells for $580M to Chinese Sino IC Capital – Boston Business Journal Xcerra was formed in 2014 as a parent company following a string of acquisitions and mergers by LTX Corp., a Norwood-based company founded in 1976. LTX shares have been publicly traded since 1990 and hit their peak price in 2000 at more than $137. // Comment: Good luck with CFIUS

Yidao, China’s Second-Largest Ride-Hailing App, Hits Trouble | Sixth Tone Drivers report that they cannot withdraw money from the company, which is down to less than 4 percent market share.

Beijing thinking big on switch to a big data economy | South China Morning Post China pulled out all the stops for the 2017 Big Data Industrial Summit that took place in Beijing last week, led by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT). The main goal was to explain to the IT industry China’s 2016-2020 big data development programme, which MIIT came up with as part of the nation’s 13th five-year plan.

When Solar Panels Became Job Killers – NYTimes From an environmental standpoint, China’s solar push has been good for the world. Solar-panel prices have fallen close to 90 percent over the past decade. Many of the solar panels in America’s backyards and solar power plants are made by Chinese companies. But for the solar industry, Chinese expansion could mean an extended period of low prices and cutbacks for everybody else.

Follow the Money » Does Currency Pressure Work? The Case of Taiwan The U.S. would be completely isolated in naming China, the impact of China’s 2016 stimulus seems to have been bigger than the impact of the renminbi’s depreciation (China’s external surplus is falling) and there is plenty of scope to push China on other trade issues. But the report could still be interesting, as there is a good case that the United States should find ways to keep the heat on Korea and Taiwan up — even if neither likely meets all three of the criteria in the 2015 Trade Enforcement Act, and even if geopolitics probably is a constraint on getting too tough on Korea right now.

How the Currency Market Learned to Get Over Its ‘Yuan’ Big Fear – Bloomberg “I don’t think the current calm will last,” said George Magnus, an associate at Oxford University’s China Centre and former senior adviser to UBS Group AG. “Sooner or more likely later, the renminbi will endure a major depreciation coinciding with the terminal stage of the credit cycle and sharply lower growth expectations.”


AnchorPOLITICS AND LAW *

Gong Zheng, veteran ally of Chinese President Xi Jinping, named acting governor of Shandong | South China Morning Post Gong Zheng, 57, was appointed by the province’s rubber-stamp legislature as the province’s acting governor, according to the province’s official media…Xi left the province in 2007 and has not worked with Gong directly. But Gong’s experience in Zhejiang, first as a deputy governor and later as Hangzhou’s party boss, had provided him access to Xi’s former subordinates who later rose to important offices…a former aide to Xi at the party’s top financial leading group was appointed governor of Gansu on Tuesday. Tang Renjian, 55, was appointed to govern the northwest province, according to the Gansu Daily, the province’s official newspaper. Tang worked at the Central Leading Group for Financial and Economic Affairs for 17 years. Tang left the group briefly in 2014 and returned in 2016. He was the deputy director of the group’s general office

Senior CPC leader calls for better publicity work for national congress-Xinhua The work should feature the promotion of mainstream values and the pooling of “positive energy,” according to Liu Yunshan, a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee, who was speaking at a symposium attended by publicity chiefs nationwide. We must heed the expectations, thoughts and minds of the people to ensure the success of the 19th CPC National Congress, Liu said.

中共中央印发《中国共产党工作机关条例(试行)》-新华网 通知强调,党的工作机关是党实施政治、思想和组织领导的政治机关,是落实党中央和地方各级党委决策部署,实施党的领导、加强党的建设、推进党的事业的执行机关,在革命、建设、改革各个时期都发挥了重要作用。新的历史条件下,我们党要更好进行具有许多新的历史特点的伟大斗争、推进党的建设新的伟大工程、推进中国特色社会主义伟大事业,必须进一步加强和规范党的工作机关工作。

新疆生产建设兵团原常委王世江等2人被查|政府|新疆|兵团_新浪新闻 据新疆维吾尔自治区纪委消息:新疆生产建设兵团党委原常委王世江涉嫌严重违纪,目前正接受组织审查。新疆大学党委委员、副校长迪里木拉提·吾甫尔江涉嫌严重违纪,目前正接受组织审查。

Corruption at top rung of China’s ancient petition system sparks calls for reform | Reuters The State Bureau for Letters and Calls in Beijing receives petitions and visits by individuals and channels their complaints and grievances to the relevant government entities. But for years, top officials in Beijing, including the former vice chairman of the bureau, Xu Jie, took bribes to make cases disappear, according to an article published on Sunday by Prosecutorial View. Xu had amassed gifts and cash worth 5.5 million yuan ($796,900) and was jailed for 13 years in 2015, the official magazine of the Shanghai government prosecutors said.

Amnesty International: China is most likely to execute a farmer, or someone who doesn’t have a job — Quartz China’s farmers are more frequently sentenced to death than any other group, according to Amnesty International’s analysis of death sentences confirmed by the country’s top court, the Supreme People’s Court (SPC), which reviews all capital punishment sentences.

Yahoo Is Sued Over $17 Million Fund for Chinese Dissidents – The New York Times The lawsuit, filed in the United States District Court in Washington, accuses Yahoo senior executives of turning a blind eye as the fund’s manager, Harry Wu, illegally spent millions of dollars on high-end real estate, inflated staff salaries and a museum documenting the history of forced labor camps in China.


AnchorFOREIGN AND DEFENSE AFFAIRS *

North Korean ships head home after China orders coal returned | Reuters Following repeated missile tests that drew international criticism, China banned all imports of North Korean coal on Feb. 26, cutting off the country’s most important export product. To curb coal traffic between the two countries, China’s customs department issued an official order on April 7 telling trading companies to return their North Korean coal cargoes, said three trading sources with direct knowledge of the order.

South Korea Seeks to Assure Citizens U.S. Won’t Strike North Pre-emptively – The New York Times Reacting to worries and conjecture spreading in South Korea of a possible pre-emptive American military strike on nuclear-armed North Korea, the government sought to reassure citizens on Tuesday that there would be no such attack without its consent.

10 things you should know about China’s first home-built aircraft carrier | South China Morning Post China’s first domestically built aircraft carrier, the Type 001A, is near the final stages of construction. Military sources have suggested that the ship may be launched as early as April 23, the anniversary of the foundation of the PLA Navy

China accuses India of violating Tibet commitments, warns of actions – India Today China accused India of violating its commitments on Tibet, pointing to statements made by Arunachal Chief Minister Pema Khandu and the Dalai Lama.

At strategic Scarborough shoal, China asserts power through control, and concessions | Reuters China still calls the shots at the prime fishing spot and has boosted its fleet there, nine months after an international panel ruled its blockade of the lagoon was illegal. Beijing rejected that ruling by the Permanent Court of Arbitration, which invalidated China’s claim of sovereignty over most of the South China Sea. But the presence of Philippine boats dotted between Chinese vessels shows a degree of compliance with the ruling

China’s Answer to the US Military-Industrial Complex | The Diplomat On January 22, Xi added a new title to his long list of state and party functions: the chairman of the Central Commission for Integrated Military and Civilian Development (CCIMCD). The aim of this commission is to cut costs and integrate existing civilian technologies and services into the People’s Liberation Army (PLA). Two months later, China announced its smallest military budget increase in a near decade. Improving efficiency and tapping into China’s existing economic power has become the new trend in China’s civil-military relations

China Blocks South Korean TV in Dispute Over Missile Defense-RFA Chinese cable television companies have cut off access to South Korean programming in a move by Beijing to punish Seoul for installing a missile defense system aimed at North Korea, but which China says threatens its own security, sources say.

China′s President Xi praises normalization of relations with Norway after long Nobel rift | DW Chinese President Xi Jimping lauded the normalization of relations between his country and Norway on Monday, during a meeting with Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg in Beijing. “Your visit this time holds a lot of significance,” Xi said. “This is the first high-level visit since the normalization of China-Norway relations in December.” It was the first visit from a Norwegian prime minister to China in a decade.  //  Comment: Meanwhile Liu Xiaobo is still in prison and his wife Liu Xia is effectively in prison too. Did PM Solberg bring up their cases?

The Pacific Power – The American Interest Michael Green’s By More Than Providence [here on Amazon] is an insightful study—combining theory, history, and experience—of American grand strategy in Asia. It’s also a practical guide for extending American influence and power in the region.

State Council approves name for museum in Hainan-State Council The State Council, in a reply to the provincial government of Hainan, has officially approved the name of a national museum in Hainan province as China (Hainan) South China Sea Museum.

China launches first high-throughput communications satellite – CGTN The satellite, which has a higher message capacity than the combined capacity of all of China’s previous communications satellites, is capable of providing better Internet access on planes and high-speed trains, as well as in less-developed regions.


AnchorHONG KONG, MACAO AND TAIWAN *

Xi Jinping reminds Carrie Lam of need to solve Hong Kong’s conflicts and challenges | South China Morning Post President showers praise on leader in waiting while emphasising her heavy responsibilities, while Lam says she raised city’s concerns about political reform

Hong Kong government sets aside HK$50 million to host state leaders for handover anniversary | South China Morning Post According to reports, President Xi Jinping was likely to review the People’s Liberation Army at the Hong Kong garrison as part of events to mark the 20th anniversary of the city’s return to Chinese sovereignty.


AnchorTECH AND MEDIA *

China live streaming: Would-be internet stars boost billion-dollar market | Reuters Three Minute TV also arranges cosmetic surgery at partner hospitals for its anchors, arranges small bank loans for the surgery, photographs and markets the anchors and helps them find acting opportunities Deng said. After the spurt of growth in live streaming and the rush of platforms it spawned, the arrival of tech giants is pointing to consolidation in the sector, analysts said.

Exploring the mysteries of Go with AlphaGo and China’s top players | DeepMind Clearly, there remains much more to learn from this partnership between Go’s best human players and its most creative A.I. competitor. That’s why we’re so excited to announce AlphaGo’s next step: a five-day festival of Go and artificial intelligence in the game’s birthplace, China.

Baidu Sued for Promoting Questionable Treatment, Again | Sixth Tone A family from northwestern China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region are suing the company and a local hospital after the death of their daughter, Zhang Rui. They are asking for a total of 674,000 yuan ($98,000) in compensation, China Youth Daily reported Wednesday.


AnchorSOCIETY, ART, SPORTS, CULTURE AND HISTORY *

Commemorating Anti-Authoritarian Provocateur Wang Xiaobo – BLARB Wang Xiaobo, an important Chinese literary and intellectual figure who died of a heart attack 20 years ago this week at the age of 44, remains largely unknown to the reading public outside China.  Only a few novellas and one important essay of his have been translated into English.  In China, by contrast, his popularity reached unprecedented heights in the late 1990s, and he was even included posthumously (with five other “emeriti”) on the first list of China’s 50 “most influential public intellectuals” published in 2004. Even now, his books are still reprinted and widely read: Changjiang Literature and Art has just published a new seven-volume selection of his writings to mark the anniversary of his death.


AnchorENERGY, ENVIRONMENT, SCIENCE AND HEALTH *

Starbucks Sips Up to Beijing’s Elder Care Agenda – Caixin Global The elderly in China are getting a pick-me-up from the world’s biggest coffee chain, with the announcement that Starbucks will extend health insurance to parents of its employees for critical illness.

China slams Shanghai for environmental violations | Reuters Standards had fallen and some of Shanghai’s environmental work had grown “slack”, an inspection team found after a month-long investigation late last year, the Ministry of Environmental Protection (MEP) said on its website (www.mep.gov.cn).

China’s Aged and Sick Flock to a Hamlet Known for Longevity – The New York Times Mr. Wu, 66, had been hearing about Bama County for years — it was the longevity capital of China, the brochures promised, where illnesses vanished and people lived long past 100. Mr. Wu, eager to regain his vitality so he could once again play mah-jongg, set out in September for Bama’s turquoise rivers.

China customs in mammoth ivory tusk bust – China Daily Customs authorities in Northeast China’s Heilongjiang province said Wednesday that they had seized more than 1 tonne of mammoth ivory smuggled from Russia.

Rampant mining destroys world-renowned fossil site in China | South China Morning Post Huge mining operation underway at the site in Guizhou province, which shows traces of some of the earliest organisms classified as animals

Why Chinese Scientists Are More Worried Than Ever About Bird Flu : Goats and Soda : NPR This lab at Hong Kong University is at the world’s forefront of our understanding of H7N9, a deadly strain of the bird flu that has killed more people this season — 162 from September up to March 1 — than in any single season since when it was first discovered in humans four years ago. That worries lab director Guan Yi. But what disturbs him more is how fast this strain is evolving. “We’re trying our best, but we still can’t control this virus,” says Guan. “It’s too late for us to eradicate it.”


AnchorAGRICULTURE AND RURAL ISSUES *

China plans planting areas to upgrade agricultural pattern – Xinhua A total of 900 million mu (60 million hectares) of arable land will be allocated to main grain products including rice, wheat and corn, and 238 million mu will be assigned to five key agricultural products including soybean, cotton, rape seed, sugarcane and natural rubber, according to a State Council statement. The move is in line with a national strategy on food supply, with future supply-demand relations taken into consideration, said Han.


AnchorEDUCATION *

Colleges strengthen Marxist ideology – Global Times Experts have called on colleges and universities in China to heighten Marxist values, help students to adopt “correct values” and conscientiously resist wrong theories, especially those suggesting the ideology should be ended or weakened. “Colleges and universities are on the front line of ideology work and it is the Party committees’ job to have dominant power over ideology work,” Han Jin, head of the Party committee at Wuhan University said, during a seminar on ideology work in colleges, according to a press release from the university’s website.

中国拟放松高校编制管制 总量管理小步走政经频道财新网 五部委松绑高校编制束缚,鼓励高校探索试行“人员总量管理”。学者称,此举有助于高校征引人才,且可以视为“高校去编制化”的过渡手段


AnchorFOOD AND TRAVEL *

Chinese state media condemn ‘arrogant, cold-blooded’ United Airlines | South China Morning Post “The old man’s screaming and blood on his face fully proves the brutality of security staff. And the airline’s response afterwards was arrogant and cold-blooded,” the People’s Daily, the Communist Party mouthpiece, said on its social media account. “Who dares to fly with such an airline, which is supposed to uphold the values of taking care of people, but trampled over customers’ rights and interests?”

Pets, not food: Taiwan to ban eating, selling of dog and cat meat | South China Morning Post The island’s Legislative Yuan approved an amendment to the Animal Protection Act on Tuesday, imposing a fine of up to NT$250,000 (HK$63,400, US$8,180) for eating or selling dog and cat meat, the Central News Agency reported.

Tibet’s airport able to accommodate large planes overnight – China Daily Konggar Airport in Tibet, one of the highest-altitude airports in China, was able to accommodate a Tibet Airlines wide-body Airbus 330 aircraft overnight for the first time, the airline announced Wednesday. The 3,600-meter-high airport in Lhasa was able to accommodate the plane after the airline’s technicians solved the problem of re-starting the aircraft’s engine in a low air pressure environment after an overnight stay.

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