The Sinocism China Newsletter 05.04.16

"Sinocism is the Presidential Daily Brief for China hands"- Evan Osnos, New Yorker Correspondent and National Book Award Winner

Today’s Links:

AnchorTHE ESSENTIAL EIGHT

1. Successful Signaling at Scarborough Shoal?-War on the Rocks Critics are lining up to condemn the Obama administration’s apparent delay of a third freedom of navigation operation (FONOP) in the South China Sea as yet another sign of weakness, but there is larger strategic game underway that may explain the administration’s decision. Other simultaneous U.S. actions may have deterred China from occupying and reclaiming land at Scarborough Shoal, a disputed atoll only 140 miles from Manila. If this hypothesis is correct, the administration deserves praise, not blame, for taking effective, measured steps to deter a potentially destabilizing Chinese escalation. // An interesting hypothesis that may very well be correct but I think it is too early to draw this conclusion, other factors may be at work, including the timing of Philippine presidential election (May 9). There will be no better time for China to complete the last key Spratly reclamation than now through the inauguration of the next US President, who whether Trump or Clinton will likely take a much tougher line on China, especially if Beijing decides to test them early in office. But it is comforting to think that Obama administration may have now gotten to the point where it is so skilled in successful strategic signaling.

Related: Philippine presidential front-runner Duterte says he will hold talks with China over South China Sea dispute-The Straits Times Mr Duterte has said he will tout the Philippines’ alliance with Western powers such as the US to get China to accept the Philippine position. He also said he would ride a jet ski to a disputed island occupied by China and personally stake the Philippines’ claims. China has failed to recognise the legitimacy of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague to deal with the dispute and said it will only engage in bilateral talks with claimant states over the water, which hosts about US$5 trillion in shipping a year. China’s claims to most of the South China Sea overlaps with those of the Philippines and four other states.  //any chance PRC money has found its way into the Philippine electoral process?

Related: China builds ties as well as airstrips in South China Sea – FT.com During recent weeks, Wang Yi, the wily Chinese foreign minister, has been courting counterparts with renewed vigour, with visits to Brunei, Cambodia and Laos designed to keep Southeast Asia divided in its approach to China. Sergei Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister, last week became the latest senior diplomat to side with China’s opposition to external interference — read the US — in the South China Sea. China has drawn huge attention — and criticism — for its construction of islands and military facilities on contested reefs. But diplomacy is an equally important part of its strategy for dominating these waters, which contain rich fisheries, vast oil and gas reserves and key global trade routes //  wily?

Related: 南海舰队战备巡逻远海实兵对抗训练编队起航-新华网 新华社三亚5月4日电(黎友陶 吴登峰)海军南海舰队新型导弹驱逐舰合肥舰、导弹护卫舰三亚舰、综合补给舰洪湖舰,4日驶离三亚某军港码头,随后将在南海某海域与潜艇部队展开潜舰联合突破“敌”封锁区、侦察与反侦察演练,拉开了海军年度常态化战备巡逻远海实兵对抗训练的序幕。// PLAN launches another combat training mission in the South China Sea. Reuters pickup of the announcement – China to carry out more military drills in South China Sea 

Related: 海政文工团南沙慰问演出 岛礁施工现场曝光(图)_网易新闻 CCTV reports on a PLAN cultural troupe that visited the recently reclaimed structures in the Spratlys, interesting scenes in the video, Song Zuying was one of the singers who entertained

Related: China trains ‘fishing militia’ to sail into disputed waters | Reuters The training and support includes exercises at sea and requests to fishermen to gather information on foreign vessels, provincial government officials, regional diplomats and fishing company executives said in recent interviews. “The maritime militia is expanding because of the country’s need for it, and because of the desire of the fishermen to engage in national service, protecting our country’s interests,” said an advisor to the Hainan government who did not want to be named.

Related: President Obama OpEd: The TPP would let America, not China, lead the way on global trade – The Washington Post Today, some of our greatest economic opportunities abroad are in the Asia-Pacific region, which is on its way to becoming the most populous and lucrative market on the planet. Increasing trade in this area of the world would be a boon to American businesses and American workers, and it would give us a leg up on our economic competitors, including one we hear a lot about on the campaign trail these days: China. Of course, China’s greatest economic opportunities also lie in its own neighborhood, which is why China is not wasting any time. As we speak, China is negotiating a trade deal that would carve up some of the fastest-growing markets in the world at our expense, putting American jobs, businesses and goods at risk. This past week, China and 15 other nations met in Australia with a goal of getting their deal, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, done before the end of this year.// Only shot for TPP is the lame duck session after November elections, otherwise dead for years? TPP failure arguably a bigger strategic problem for the US in Asia than China reclaiming Scarborough/Huangyan

Related: US Senate Bill: Asia -Pacific Maritime Security Initiative Act of 2016-PDF Text

Related: China Denies U.S. Carrier Hong Kong Visit Amid Maritime Tension-Bloomberg The Stennis has become a “symbol of efforts to spark strategic tensions between China and the United States,” said Shi Yinhong, director of the Center on American Studies at Renmin University in Beijing and a foreign policy adviser to the State Council. “The cancellation is a snapshot of the current intensity in China-U.S. security relations. Without significant security need, routine port calls would not have been canceled.” The Ministry of Foreign Affairs didn’t immediately respond to a faxed request for comment. // A useful trigger to disinvite the PLAN from RIMPAC?

2. China slashes influential Communist Youth League’s budget | Reuters The Global Times, an influential tabloid published by the party’s official People’s Daily, said the league’s budget for this year would be 306.27 million yuan ($47.33 million), compared with spending of 624.13 million yuan the previous year. The league “has been working on a detailed plan for the organization’s reform, which is expected to be released shortly”, a league official surnamed Zheng told the newspaper. The paper said the league has faced public criticism for “being too elitist and inefficient” and pressure has been growing for it to adhere more closely to the party’s leadership and operate in a cleaner, more transparent way. // Youth League Secretariat report to the CCDI on its plans for fixing the problems found in the inspection tour.-共青团中央书记处关于巡视整改情况的通报 Xi looks to have successfully reduced the influence of the CYL [Editor’s Note: That is an understatement]. Is this latest announcement a sign of a “power struggle”, or rather a sign of a victory in a “power struggle”? If you could bet on the members of the 19th Party Congress PBSC, I imagine Hu Chunhua’s odds are now much longer…

Related: 中青院今年本科招生将继续 政经频道财新网 在群团改革的背景下,隶属共青团中央的中国青年政治学院(下称中青院)本科招生何去何从备受关注。此前一度有传闻称该校本科将有可能撤销。4月26日傍晚,中青院官网发布消息称,2016年本科招生各项工作在按部就班有序推进。招生办正在按照上级相关要求编报2016年各省份招生计划,《2016年本科招生简章》也进入最后修订阶段,即将印发。

Related: 党的十八大以来军队共青团建设和青年工作启示录 – 中国军网  // don’t think the CYL can hope for much help from the PLA, if there were any actually looking?

3. China Puts a Tycoon, Ren Zhiqiang, on Probation for Criticizing Policies – The New York Times The probation means the tycoon, Ren Zhiqiang, could be expelled from the party, which has more than 85 million members, if he steps out of line again.

Related: 腾讯新闻-北京西城:任志强违反政治纪律 给予留党察看一年处分 华远集团原党委副书记、董事长任志强同志多次在微博、博客等网络平台和其他公开场合公开发表违背四项基本原则、违背党的路线方针政策等方面的错误言论,其行为严重违反党的政治纪律,决定给予任志强同志留党察看一年处分。 // The official announcement on Ren includes punishment for two other party members under the purview of the Beijing Xicheng party committee who were disciplined for unrelated misdeeds. Was there a delay in handing down punishment that would indicate some kind of “infighting”, or was this a fairly normal timeline for the process? It is a light punishment, especially in the current environment and after the promulgation of the new party discipline regs, and if it ends here and there is no investigation of his Beijing real estate dealings over the years (and some of his famous business partners will probably breathe a sigh of relief). It is good to have friends in high places, even if, like Wang Dongming of Citic, he may have misunderstood how much those relationships could be tested now that the friends have “ascended to heaven” on the PBSC

4. China Presses Economists to Brighten Their Outlooks – WSJ Securities regulators, media censors and other government officials have issued verbal warnings to commentators whose public remarks on the economy are out of step with the government’s upbeat statements, according to government officials and economic commentators with knowledge of the matter.

Related: China crackdown on data sales opens gaps in economic statistics – FT.com The gaps appeared after China’s feared corruption watchdog, the Central Central Committee for Disciplinary Inspection (CCDI), began a probe into the National Bureau of Statistics six months ago. The bureau’s head was removed from his post in February. Much of the most detailed information is not published publicly by the National Bureau of Statistics but is sold to news agencies, banks, consultancies or other parties by departments within the bureau. In some cases, different departments will compete for revenue by issuing rival data sets.

5. China Investigates Baidu After Student’s Death From Cancer – The New York Times The Cyberspace Administration of China, the country’s online regulator, acknowledged the public complaints and said on Monday that it would conduct a joint investigation into Baidu with the State Administration for Industry and Commerce as well as the National Health and Family Planning Commission. Government and military health authorities have announced a separate investigation into the hospital, Xinhua, the state news agency, reported on Tuesday.

Related: Inside the Unregulated Chinese Hospitals | VICE Businessmen from Putian, a city in Fujian Province, own most of China’s private hospitals and clinics. Their interests are united by the Putian Health Industry Association (PHIA), which represents some 8,600 Putian-owned private hospitals, or about 70 percent of China’s private hospitals. Many advertise widely on Baidu, and last year, using its collective influence, the PHIA boycotted the search engine, demanding an end to the annual aggressive price increases for keyword advertisements.  // deep dive into the Putian Hospital businesses and some of their sketchy practices, publication moved up because of the scandal that broke over the weekend

Related: Baidu’s problem goes way deeper than a dead college student-TechIn Asia But the controversy over Wei Zexi may be the biggest in Baidu’s long history of medical-ad-related controversies (Chinese tech news site has even created a special section for reporting on it). And as China’s internet users discuss and reflect on Baidu’s part in Wei’s unfortunate death, they’ve got a decade of similar controversies to compare with…“If Google came back, I would never use any Baidu product ever again,” wrote one Guangdong-based commenter on a Sina Tech article. In fact, that may be the company’s only saving grace. “I’m still using Baidu because I don’t have any other choice,” wrote another user. // Baidu an important part of the ecosystem that supports these medical frauds, but the problem is a much bigger, systemic one

Related: Commentary: China shows new style of governance in handling student death – Xinhua The 21-year old young man, who died last month of a rare form of cancer, had searched Baidu for the best place for treatment, finding a department under the Second Hospital of Beijing Armed Police Corps which offered an experimental treatment that ultimately failed. The incident has triggered public outrage, and also prompted the government to act quickly against both Baidu and the hospital. The Cyberspace Administration of China on Monday said it had dispatched a team of investigators to Baidu to deal with the case. On Tuesday, the National Health and Family Planning Commission announced that it would launch a joint investigation against the hospital with the health bureaus under both the Logistic Support Department of the Central Military Commission and the Logistic Support Department of the Armed Police Force.

Related: Baidu Scandal Triggers Closer Scrutiny of Army Hospitals | Sixth Tone military hospitals are also under scrutiny as part of an overhaul of the nation’s military, including efforts to rid the army of its commercial interests. Over the years, some military hospitals have earned large amounts of money, thanks in part to cozy relations between some of them and private health care companies.

Related: 腾讯新闻-重温习近平讲话:做搜索不能仅以给钱多少作为排位的标准 In his recent speech on the Internet Xi said Internet search should not just be about who pays the most, perhaps Baidu is in deeper trouble than many people think?

6. 习近平总书记在网络安全和信息化工作座谈会上的讲话-中共中央网络安全和信息化领导小组办公室 full text of Xi’s speech at the recent cyber forum

Related: Chinese Cyberchiefs Preach Net Sovereignty in Moscow – China Digital Times (CDT) China’s Cyberczar Lu Wei and VPN-toting Great Firewall mastermind Fang Binxing were in Moscow on Wednesday to speak at the Russia-China ICT Development & Security Forum at the 7th International Safe Internet Forum. As The Financial Times’ Max Seddon describes, the event is led by Konstantin Malofeev, “part of a hawkish circle of devout Russian Orthodox Christians that has grown in influence during Mr Putin’s third term.” Malofeev, a university friend of Lu Wei’s Russian counterpart Igor Schegolev, founded the Safe Internet League with apparent Kremlin backing to enforce Orthodox morality on Russian websites,

7. China Said to Explore Taking Stakes in Some News Websites – Bloomberg The government would issue the licenses in exchange for stock and a board seat, according to the people, who asked to not be identified because the details haven’t been made public. Government representatives could monitor and block content distributed by Internet providers, although they wouldn’t be involved in other day-to-day business decisions, according to the people. The proposal would give authorities the ability to block news from reaching the Web and coincides with a broad government clampdown on information distributed online. The move could affect operators of major Internet portals such as Tencent Holdings Ltd. and NetEase Inc. along with mobile apps that provide current affairs and news on a daily basis.

Related: 国办:传媒企业可设“特殊管理股”政经频道财新网 Caixin in April on special shares for some print media companies, this idea looks to be a long time coming, applying to Internet firms the logical next step. Some may call them “golden shares”, think “Party shares 党股 ” more appropriate  //  4月16日,国务院办公厅转发中宣部等多部门《进一步支持文化企业发展的规定》(下称《规定》)明确提出:“对按规定转制的重要国有传媒企业探索实行特殊管理股制度,经批准可开展试点。” 这意味着,以财经类报刊、都市报、晚报为重点的国有传媒机构经批准转制为企业后,可引入战略投资者,探索股权多元化。同时,重要的传媒企业将设定“特殊股”,强化国有股东在企业决策中的发言权,以确保舆论导向不出问题。

8. ‘Just waiting for the order to kill, kill, kill’: China’s military tries to woo young recruits with slick video featuring rock and rap soundtrack | South China Morning Post With lyrics such as “just waiting for the order to kill, kill, kill”, the video appears aimed at young people brought up on first-person shooter video games such as “Call of Duty”. While no potential opponents are identified in the clip, it cautions that “war can break out at any time” and asks “are you ready?”  // Seems to be a disturbing trend of the deliberate inflaming of xenophobic, jingoistic militarism

Related: China Rolls Up Welcome Mat – WSJ Mr. Xi is pushing ideology harder than any leader in decades. Increasingly, China sees itself in ideological confrontation with the West. In addition to stressing Marxism, Mr. Xi’s administration is seeking to revive traditional Chinese culture to counter Western ideas—thus, the hostility to crosses. And Mr. Xi is promoting a strident form of nationalism. One aspect of this is much greater Chinese assertiveness in territorial disputes with neighbors, including Japan, Vietnam and the Philippines. Another is an explicit set of government policies aimed at helping Chinese firms replace their foreign rivals in the domestic market. All of this adds uncertainty to the outlook for foreigners who have landed on China’s shores. The 2010 census put their number at almost 600,000, not including residents from Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan. // one of the biggest factors in our decision to leave Beijing for DC last year, as I discussed in this August 2015 Sinica podcast

AnchorBUSINESS, ECONOMY AND TRADE

China financial regulator clamps down on shadow banking – FT.com Under the new rules, released at the weekend by the China Banking Regulatory Commission, banks can no longer use wealth management funds to invest directly or indirectly in their own investment products. The lenders will also have to fully provision for the investment products that are based on bank loans. “If execution is right, I think you will see a major impact on the banks, especially some of the smaller ones,” said Wei Hou, director at Sanford C Bernstein in Hong Kong. “Some of the small banks could need additional capital.”

Fund Used to Bailout Stock Markets Lose 12 percent in Value-Caixin Securities firms that invested 220-billion-yuan with state-backed China Securities Finance Corp. (CSF) to buy shares at the behest of the regulator to prop up the country’s plunging stock market last year suffered a 12-percent loss as of April, executives from two firms involved in the deal said.

Caixin China PMI: Chilly April for Factories with Index Falling to 49.4-Caixin Business conditions for China’s manufacturers continued to deteriorate in April, according to the monthly Caixin China Purchasing Managers’ Index, which fell to 49.4 from 49.7 points in March. All of the index’s components lost ground month-on-month, with total manufacturing output slipping below the 50-point neutral level. Total new orders stagnated in April and new export orders fell for the fifth month in a row. Weak demand for Chinese manufactured goods contributed to a solid decline in overall staffing, with some companies downsizing and others choosing not to fill vacant positions.

Investor Accuses ABC of Insider Trading over Sale of State-Owned Firm’s Bonds-Caixin The investor, who spoke to Caixin on condition his name not be published, said his firm had requested the National Association of Financial Market Institutional Investors (NAFMII), which oversees the interbank bond market, to probe whether ABC “sought benefits for itself by using its advantageous access to information.” His main complaint was that the bank sold a large amount of bonds issued by CRM shortly before the SOE said it had trouble repaying debts and suspended trades of all of its outstanding bonds, worth a combined 16.8 billion yuan, on April 11.

In China’s Northeast, a Daily Jostle for Jobs Produces Mostly Despair – The New York Times But as the economy has slowed and parts of the northeast have fallen into recession, temporary jobs have grown scarce in Shenyang. Restaurants are cutting back, and construction companies are struggling to pay workers. For the few remaining positions, the daily rate has dropped below $30. At the Lu Yuan market, the days begin with muted promise, as hundreds of workers gather along the banks of the Nanyun before sunrise, smoking cigarettes, eating sunflower seeds and sharing jokes. There are cooks who were once famous for elaborate buffets but now go hungry at night, and maids who spend their days tidying closets but live in squalid rooms that cost $1.50 per night. The workers wave signs and show off their tools, and pounce at the sight of halting cars.

News Analysis: China’s industry streamlining faces steel-price test – Xinhua Tangshan Songting Iron and Steel Co., a steel mill in China’s largest steel-producing city Tangshan, re-opened in April after five months laying idle. The company, which temporarily shutdown in November over mounting debt, is looking to restart production soon, media outlets quoted an unnamed industrial insider as saying. Similarly, mills in other steel-producing regions, including Tianjin and Shanxi, are resuming operation, despite a move by the government to downsize the steel sector.

Beijing to release frozen pork to ease market pressure – Xinhua Beijing’s pork prices have been rising since the Lunar New Year due to tight supply, with raw pork prices surging 50.6 percent month on month in April, according to the Beijing municipal government. The decision, which comes into effect on Thursday and will last until July 4, will see 50,000 kg of pork sold cheaply to 121 major supermarkets on a daily basis. The government will also provide subsidies of up to 9 yuan (1.4 U.S. dollars) per kilogram of pork sold to encourage vendors to decrease prices.

China’s Steel Makers Undercut Rivals as Trade Debate Intensifies – The New York Times China is beginning a global lobbying push to bar the use of proxy countries. Chinese ministers have been meeting with overseas leaders and with executives of businesses that sell to China. The country is calling for W.T.O. members to “acknowledge China’s market economy status” and “to adopt the necessary measures as soon as possible,” the commerce ministry said in a faxed response to questions. But the rules are somewhat ambiguous, complicating China’s efforts. The 2001 W.T.O. agreement explicitly authorizes the use of proxy countries through December in cases against China, but it is silent about what happens after that. The Europeans and Americans are skeptical about whether China actually qualifies as a so-called market economy.

China Opens Taps to Policy Banks in Bid to Sharpen Stimulus – Bloomberg The Pledged Supplementary Lending program used to fund its three policy banks for investment in areas such as shantytown development will now be allocated at the start of each month, the People’s Bank of China said late Tuesday.

Insurance Regulator Said to Send Team to Probe Funde Sino Life-Caixin The CIRC received a tip-off that accused Sino Life’s management team of illegal maneuverings involving the insurer’s assets, the people close to the matter said. In response, they said, the regulator brought in the firm’s chairman and general manager, Fang Li and Zhang Hanping, for questioning on April 20.

首份“新型政商关系”报告,给企业家七点忠告 北京大学国家发展研究院 财经法经奖学金班综合课题组 第一章  反腐风暴下的企业家命运

AnchorPOLITICS AND LAW

Xi stresses Party schools’ consistency with CPC – Xinhua The key to achieving the Chinese dream of national rejuvenation is to have an army of CPC officials with “iron-firm” faith, discipline and responsibility. It is Party schools’ responsibility to instill these qualities in officials, Xi, general secretary of the CPC Central Committee, said in a speech first given on Dec. 11 and due to be published in CPC magazine Qiushi on Sunday.

China’s President Xi Jinping warns Communist Party schools against ‘Western capitalist’ values | South China Morning Post President Xi Jinping recently warned teachers at the Communist Party’s training institutes against spreading “Western capitalist values” and bad-mouthing state policies, the party’s flagship magazine has revealed. “I have heard reports that some people disseminated Western capitalism values when lecturing at party schools, some talked out of turn and made reckless comments on party and state policies,” Xi told a high-level meeting aimed at improving the institutes’ work.

习近平中纪委讲话:反腐不是“纸牌屋”(全文)|习近平|反腐|中纪委_新浪新闻 《 人民日报 》( 2016年05月03日 02 版) 1993年以来,我们党的总书记每年都在中央纪委全会上讲话,表明了党中央对党风廉政建设和反腐败斗争的高度重视和坚定决心。今年我的讲话时间作了调整,我先讲,下午王岐山同志代表中央纪委常委会作工作报告。工作报告经过中央政治局会议、中央政治局常委会会议审议,我完全赞成。下面,我讲4个问题。// Xinhua-Xi warns of Party “cabals and cliques”-Xinhua report on the full-text of Xi’s speech at the January plenary session of the CPC Central Commission for Discipline Inspection

‘Big Daddy Xi’ no more? Chinese president’s nickname nixed | World news | The Guardian Roderick MacFarquhar, a Harvard University China expert, said the apparent abandonment of the nickname was unlikely to signal a change in direction for the authoritarian leader, who has suggested is the country’s most powerful since Mao. “My own feeling is that he may be tweaking the way he presents himself but I don’t think that he is changing his fundamental principles. [His belief remains] that if there is going to be a ‘Chinese dream’ it has got to be Xi Jinping who is in charge,” MacFarquhar said. “I don’t know whether his spies or informants have told him that ‘Xi Dada’ has made him look rather ridiculous … but there is some talk that the propaganda chief may have been overdoing it deliberately, and maybe Xi Jinping fell for that.”

NGOs in China: Overseas NGO Law FAQs I’ve had a chance to look over the text of the law in Chinese, and below are my main takeaways in the form of FAQs[i]. The first few FAQs have to do with basic questions related to the how INGOs can operate in China under the law. The last two FAQs have to do with issues that I’d like to raise as deserving our attention. One is getting INGOs to think about where there are opportunities to participate in the implementation of the law. The second is how this law might affect Chinese grassroots NGOs which have long depended on INGOs for a significant amount of support. //It doesn’t appear that the Party paid much attention to the foreign comments and protests, not that anyone should have exepcted them to

Son-in-law of ex-senior Chinese leader Jia Qinglin named in latest batch of Panama papers | South China Morning Post A niece of late leader Deng Xiaoping is also among those also named in the latest documents. Li Xiaobing and her husband Wallace Yu Yiping were appointed directors of a company formerly known as Tibet 5100 Water Resources Holdings Ltd in 2009 and 2006, according to the documents. It formed a partnership with China’s high-speed rail provider as the exclusive provider of bottled mineral water for its services.

New Legal Guidelines Set Clearer Criteria for Punishments in Graft Cases-Caixin The definition of a bribe was expanded to include writing off an individual’s or company’s debt, having a house renovated for free, paid trips, club memberships and other benefits. “(The guidelines) eliminate confusion,” said Zhang Qingsong, a lawyer at Beijing Shangquan Law Office. Previous rules emphasized on heavy penalties, but the revision stresses broadening the definition of corruption and setting clearer criteria for punishments, said Huang Jingping, a law professor at Renmin University in Beijing. “The function of the Criminal Law is to define timely and definitive punishments for all forms of corrupt practices,” said Huang.

统战部王丕君:中国网信事业大发展必须从五方面抢抓机遇–时政–人民网 近日,中央统战部信息中心主任王丕君撰文对习近平总书记419讲话意义进行了解读。他认为,要加快网信事业大发展,首先必须坚持国家驱动,其次要坚持遵循网信发展规律和人才支撑战略,还必须坚持共享理念,另外要坚持研发与应用并举,抓住网络与信息化互为促动的内在逻辑。他还强调,要坚持人才支撑战略,抓住体制机制营造这个关键。越来越多的全国网信企业和精英正在奔赴乌镇、杭州等以信息化为核心竞争力的小镇,预示着即将出现新一轮“孔雀东南飞”。全文如下:

AnchorFOREIGN AND DEFENSE AFFAIRS

Congress Takes On China’s Propaganda Machine | The National Interest Blog  The Countering Information Warfare Act of 2016 (S.2692) was introduced in the Senate on March 16, and has since been read twice and referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations. Sponsored by Senator Rob Portman (R-OH) and Senator Christopher Murphy (D-CT), the new bipartisan legislation is intended to counter foreign propaganda and disinformation operations. The bill recognizes that foreign governments, including the Russian Federation and the People’s Republic of China, have engaged heavily in sophisticated, comprehensive and long-term efforts to manipulate and control information, to achieve national objectives at the expense of U.S. allies, interests, and values. While the U.S. has a long history of legislation countering Russian propaganda, which traces back to the “war of ideas” that underpinned the Soviet clash with the West, this is the first time Congress has introduced policy measures to directly address the threat of China’s aggressive comprehensive information operations doctrine. // What are the odds this passes? This is not “reds under the beds” paranoia, this is an important recognition of the “back to the future” current reality

Xi proposes to build security governance model with Asian features – Xinhua Xi made the proposal when addressing the opening ceremony of the fifth Foreign Ministers’ Meeting of the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA). The CICA was established in 1992 as a forum for dialogue and consultation on security issues in Asia. It has 26 member countries and 12 countries and international organizations as observers. At the CICA Summit in Shanghai in 2014, Xi proposed a vision on common, comprehensive, cooperative and sustainable security in Asia and the establishment of a new regional security cooperation framework based on the CICA. Two years have passed, and the president called on those present to follow through and make the vision of a security governance model with Asian features a reality.

Wary of China’s Indian Ocean activities, U.S., India discuss anti-submarine warfare | Reuters Both the United States and India are growing concerned at the reach and ambition of the Chinese navy, which is taking an increasingly assertive stance in the South China Sea and is challenging India’s domination in the Indian Ocean. New Delhi, shedding its decades-old reluctance to be drawn into America’s embrace, agreed last month to open up its military bases to the United States in exchange for access to weapons technology to help it narrow the gap with China.

After Missteps, U.S. Tightens Rules for Espionage Cases – The New York Times While those cases raised the specter of Chinese espionage, none explicitly charged the scientists as spies. The cases involved routine criminal laws such as wire fraud, so national security prosecutors in Washington did not oversee the cases. In a letter last month to federal prosecutors nationwide, Deputy Attorney General Sally Q. Yates said that would change. All cases affecting national security, even tangentially, now require coordination and oversight in Washington. That had always been the intention of the rule, but Ms. Yates made it explicit.

Security of critical phone database called into question – The Washington Post FCC and national security officials in panic because Chinese engineer worked on US phone surveillance database.

Canada cites espionage risk from two Huawei employees, saying it plans to reject their immigration applications | South China Morning Post In a letter obtained by the South China Morning Post, an immigration officer at Canada’s Hong Kong consulate told one applicant in March: “there are reasonable grounds to believe that you are a member of the inadmissible class of persons described in section 34(1)(f) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.” That refers to people who belong to an organisation engaged in espionage, government subversion or terrorism.

Soft Power: China Backs Egypt’s New $45 Billion Capital – WSJ When President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi announced an ambitious plan to build a new administrative and business capital for Egypt on 270 square miles of desert land, many were understandably skeptical about the $45 billion project. Today some of the skepticism over that March 2015 announcement has eased. One reason: an alliance announced in January between Egyptian authorities and China State Construction Engineering Corp. giving the Chinese-state owned business a major role in the project.

China’s Okinotori Position Reveals an UNCLOS Double Standard | The Diplomat With the PCA’s verdict just weeks away, it’s hard not to see a glaring double standard in Beijing’s position on Okinotori and its own holdings in the South China Sea. Leaving aside the merits of Japan’s claim that Okinotori is an UNCLOS-grade “island”–which, frankly, is unconvincing–China does itself no favors by touting the letter-of-UNCLOS regarding Japan-held features in the Philippines Sea while flouting both the letter and spirit of UNCLOS in the South China Sea.

China’s Xi holds talks with Lao leader to enhance ties – Xinhua The Chinese president also hoped the two countries will further coordinate in international affairs, including cooperation between China and ASEAN. Echoing Xi, Bounnhang said he believed this visit will improve high-level mutual trust and that the new leadership of Laos will continue to push forward relations between the two parties, the two countries and the two peoples. Bounnhang thanked China for its support to Laos’ holding the ASEAN’s rotating chair this year.

Xi’s Silk Road Dream for China Hits a Speed-Bump in Thailand – Bloomberg Behind the offer of Chinese funding and construction help — at least in the Thai case and according to that country’s government — were strings that its neighbor wasn’t comfortable accepting. Chinese officials pressed for the right to develop commercial property at the stations and along the forthcoming rail track, from Bangkok to the northeastern city of Nong Khai near Laos. “We told the Chinese there is no granting of the land rights,” Arkhom Termpittayapaisith, Thailand’s transport minister, said in an interview in Bangkok Friday. “Thailand is not the same as Laos,”

Facts about China’s Ren’ai Reef, Philippines’ lies on warship grounding on – Xinhua The Ren’ai Reef, a ring reef among China’s Nansha Islands, is 15 kilometers long from north to south, and 5.6 kilometers wide from west to east. As part of the South China Sea, the Ren’ai Reef has been part of the Chinese territory since ancient times. The following is the whole process how the Philippines attempts to occupy the reef and challenge China’s sovereignty over the Nansha Islands.

President plans more troops on Itu Aba – Taipei Times As tensions rise in the South China Sea, President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) plans to send additional troops to reinforce the nation’s sole foothold in the Spratly Islands (Nansha Islands, 南沙群島), government officials said yesterday, adding that short-range anti-aircraft missiles could be positioned on the island for the first time.

Liao Yiwu on human rights, universal values and Chinese culture | The China Story the exiled writer and social critic Liao Yiwu sees the failure of foreign heads of state to challenge the Chinese government’s abuse of human rights as amounting to a triumph for Chinese authoritarian politics. In the essay below, he writes that it shows ‘the democratic West’ as having ‘shrunk back to the point where it can hardly retreat any further’. The governments of countries like Australia that have become highly involved in trade with China are inevitably forced to consider the economic costs that might result from formally censuring China on human rights abuses. The fact that the topic is now mostly sidestepped at meetings between Chinese and foreign leaders is indicative of such pragmatic considerations at work, including the consideration that censuring the Chinese government is, in any event, unlikely to cause it to behave differently.

AnchorHONG KONG, MACAO AND TAIWAN

Beijing’s top paper reminds Taiwan’s new leader there’s just ‘one China’ | Reuters In an editorial to be published on Thursday, but carried on Wednesday evening by the official Xinhua news agency, China’s ruling Communist Party’s People’s Daily described current relations between China and Taiwan as “turbulent”. Taiwan stands at a critical juncture of either accepting what is called the “1992 consensus” – referring to Beijing’s cherished “one China” principle that includes Taiwan as part of China – or taking an unclear stance and refusing to abandon support for Taiwan independence, the paper said. //人民日报评论员:不承认“九二共识”就是破坏两岸关系共同政治基础 

AnchorTECH AND MEDIA

Interview: Innovators as U.S. – China Cultural Ambassadors – Kaiser Kuo | Northern California | Asia Society I’m winding down work at Baidu right now, having had a terrific nearly six-year run there. I’m very fortunate that a passion project that Jeremy and Goldkorn and I launched just before I joined Baidu—the Sinica Podcast—will now become my professional focus. In May, our podcast will become part of a new China-focused startup based out of New York, and they will be publishing Sinica starting in mid-May. I’ll be trying my best to produce a better, tighter, and slightly more polished show.    On the personal front, this means a relocation to the U.S. after 20 continuous years in Beijing. For the first year at least, as we settle into a new home in the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill area of North Carolina  //  nice timing, left Baidu the day before its latest medical crisis broke. Big loss for Baidu, best barbarian media handler for any Chinese firm…his view on foreign media coverage of China, expressed again in this interview, sure to prove controversial

广电总局27项审查审批大全!再也不用求人了 handy primer to the steps needed to get a film project approved

AnchorSOCIETY, ART, SPORTS, CULTURE AND HISTORY

Domestic abuse is thriving in China’s culture of silence, | The Washington Post LUYI COUNTY, China — Two months after Li Hongxia was murdered, her body is not in the ground. She lies swathed in a pink duvet in a refrigerated coffin, in the house she shared with her husband. He’s accused of killing her. His family, who lived with them, fled town. Li’s parents do not believe there can be justice for victims of domestic violence. They’ve seen the system fail those without connections, they know a conviction can require clout. Refusing to bury their daughter, who was strangled to death, is a bid to make local cadres take notice, to make someone — anyone — care.

Is China Cracking Down on Jewish Community in Kaifeng? – Forward Increasing international attention to the Kaifeng community may have also been a factor in the government’s restrictions on the community’s Jewish activities, Laytner said. For example, last Passover, the New York Times covered a seder in Kaifeng, held in Chinese and Hebrew. In March, media outlets in Israel and the United States covered the arrival of five young Kaifeng Jewish women who were moving to Israel, where they are now studying in Jerusalem. This brought the total number of Kaifeng’s Jews in Israel to 20. It is also possible, Laytner said, that government officials are reacting to the fact that a Kaifeng Jew recently filed for political asylum in an American court on grounds of religious persecution.

China sports ministry hauled on the carpet over graft measures | Reuters China’s top graft-busting body rapped the sports ministry again on Wednesday for not taking the country’s sweeping campaign against corruption seriously enough, summoning in 17 ministry discipline officials to discuss the problem.

AnchorENERGY, ENVIRONMENT, SCIENCE AND HEALTH

China’s new weapon against water pollution: its people – Marketplace.org Nationwide, Chinese citizens in more than 200 cities have successfully added 2,000 rivers to the list. The Beijing Water Authority has promised to clean up all the rivers on the list by the end of 2017. “This is one of the first times for the government to really, actually — not theoretically or abstractly — engage with people,” said Ma Jun, who directs the Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs in Beijing. “They want people to actually participate in the cleaning up.” Ma said the black and stinky rivers program may have a funny name, but what it’s asking people to do – participate meaningfully in something that has traditionally been the government’s responsibility – is unprecedented.

A warning for parched China: a city runs out of water – Marketplace.org Four hundred Chinese cities now face a water shortage. One hundred and ten cities face a severe water shortage. This is a very serious problem,” says Liu Changming, a retired hydrologist for the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing. China is home to more than 20 percent of the world’s population, but it contains only 7 percent of the world’s fresh water. Liu, who advises China’s leaders on water policy, says all of China’s so-called “water scarce” cities are in northern China, home to half a billion people, and a region that contributes nearly half of China’s economic growth. Former Chinese premier Wen Jiabao once called northern China’s water shortage “a threat to the survival of the Chinese nation.”

China starts construction of Tibet’s biggest hydropower plant on upper reaches of Yangtze River | South China Morning Post The design capacity is more than double that of the Zangmu hydropower plant, Tibet’s largest existing hydro project, which was completed in October on the Yarlung Zongbo river. It is hoped that the 18 billion yuan (HK$21.5 billion) Suwalong dam, could pave the way for other projects in the headwaters of the adjacent Nu (Salween) and Lancang (Mekong) rivers to “fuel development” of hydro power in Tibet, the official website Tibet.cn reported.

AnchorAGRICULTURE AND RURAL ISSUES

Dim Sums: Rural China Economics and Policy: Ease Corn Glut, Worsen Rice-Wheat Glut? The Ministry of Agriculture has released a plan for structural adjustment of crops by 2020 that acknowledges great difficulties and “hard constraints” of natural resource limits, yet the plan aims to keep area devoted to nearly all crops stable. Reciting the food security mantra, the plan puts a priority on keeping grain area stable. It plans to revive production of spring wheat and wheat grown in the Yangtze River valley–area that was cut during the last grain glut about 15 years ago. It calls for keeping rice area stable while raising yields. The Ministry’s “sickle plan” aims to cut corn production in a sickle-shaped belt running from the northeast to southwest, but the plan calls for expanding corn grown for silage and for fresh consumption.  The crop restructuring plan includes no mention of prices or economics (except a mention of reducing rice production costs).

Xi urges intensified efforts to advance rural reform – Xinhua President Xi Jinping has called for more to be done to advance rural reform to ensure that measures result in a solid agricultural sector and improve the well-being of farmers. Xi made the remarks when he presided over a symposium on rural reform in a village in Fengyang County in east China’s Anhui Province. Addressing the symposium with local officials on Monday in Xiaogang Village, often referred to as the birthplace of China’s rural reform, Xi, who is also general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, said that work related to agriculture, rural areas, and farmers is the CPC’s top priority.

AnchorEDUCATION

Plan for a Chinese academy stirs worries in a Conn. town – The Boston Globe opposition to the uncommon arrangement is quietly growing. Last week local officials learned the Chinese company is under investigation by the Department of Homeland Security for possibly skirting federal visa laws in a similar program it runs in Michigan. In addition, local residents have raised concerns about entangling public schools with a foreign company whose primary goal is profit. They also wonder how the arrival of several hundred foreign students might impact classes, athletics, and competition in college admissions.

Why So Many Chinese Students Come to the U.S. – WSJ Many people assume foreign students at U.S. colleges are rich, pampered youths out to have a good time before returning home to lives of privilege. Sometimes this is true. But as the number of foreign students surges on U.S. campuses—nearly a million were enrolled last year, up more than 40% from five years earlier—more are coming from middle-class backgrounds like Fan Yue’s.

Many Students at Rural Boarding Schools Bullied, Researchers Find-Caixin Nearly one-third of students in rural boarding schools are bullied two or three times a month, putting them at greater risk of becoming depressed, according to a report by a non-governmental organization published on May 1. Growing Home, an NGO that works to protect the rights of rural children, teamed up with four research institutions, including Peking University’s Institute for Educational Finance Research and Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education, to carry out a survey in October last year.

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