The Sinocism China Newsletter 05.25.16

AnchorTHE ESSENTIAL EIGHT

1. 习近平在黑龙江考察调研时强调 深化改革开放优化发展环境 闯出老工业基地振兴发展新路_CCTV first 15 minutes of Wednesday CCTV Evening News on Xi’s inspection tour of Heilongjiang  //  中共中央总书记、国家主席、中央军委主席习近平近日在黑龙江考察调研时强调,振兴东北地区等老工业基地是国家的一个重大战略。老工业基地要抢抓机遇、奋发有为,贯彻新发展理念,深化改革开放,优化发展环境,激发创新活力,扬长避短、扬长克短、扬长补短,闯出一条新形势下老工业基地振兴发展新路。 五月的龙江大地,山清水秀,林茂草绿。5月23日至25日,习近平在黑龙江省委书记王宪魁、省长陆昊陪同下,来到伊春市、抚远市、佳木斯市、哈尔滨市等地,深入农村、企业、林场、科研单位,就贯彻落实“十三五”规划纲要、推动东北地区等老工业基地振兴发展进行考察调研。// the propaganda reports on his inspection tours may look tedious at times but they are useful in understanding what signals are being sent into the bureaucracy

Related: Xi pledges firm focus on economic restructuring – Xinhua Heilongjiang, traditionally a center of heavy industry, cannot afford to be half-hearted in upgrading old industries and nurturing new ones, he said. While maintaining the dominant position of state-owned enterprises, non-public sectors should be encouraged and supported, he added. With vast areas of dense forest, the provincial lumber industry is feeling the effects of a full ban of logging. Visiting Yichun, a city in the forest, the president restated the importance of environmental protection and demanded concerted efforts to establish new industries other than logging. Impressed by blueberry plantations in Yichun, Xi told local government and businesses to be aware of changes in the market and diversify their business models.// wonder if we will soon see a blueberry bubble

2. Dropping Tibet, Fighting  Gravity-Diverting Tibetan Waters Into The Canal To The Deep North | Rukor The three Tibet water diversion routes can be built as three separate projects, over a long period if need be, but the official website of the project insists they must be done in a certain order. First, and at a high altitude, is the Yalong River Water Diversion Line, requiring a tunnel 131 kms long. The project promoters state: “Bayankala Mountain lies between Huanghe River and Changjiang River. The elevation of the bed of the Huanghe [Yellow] River is higher than that of the correspondent section of Changjiang [Yangtze] by 80-450 m. It is necessary for the water transfer project that a high dam will be constructed for damming water or some pumping stations be set up for lifting water, and some long tunnels will be driven through Bayankala Mountain. Two methods of water diversion, flowing by gravity and by pumping were considered. But for each of them, a high dam in height of 200 m or so will have to be constructed and some long tunnels over 100 km in length to be driven.” This remains the primary obstacle, greatly increasing cost. It is the reason China is now emphasizing “big reservoirs.”  // this is post #1 in a series of 8 blog posts on Tibetan rivers

3. Commercial Debt Dodgers Pressure China’s Banks-Caixin Bankers nationwide are rushing to call loans issued to state-owned and private companies to avoid a rising tide of debt dodging that’s not only legal but often supported by the government. Some companies in the past year have frustrated creditors by declaring bankruptcy, while companies in the steel manufacturing and coal mining industries have used asset restructuring projects to avoid debt obligations. “Many companies are using bankruptcy and asset restructuring as measures to skip out on bank loan repayments,” said a source at a bank who asked not to be named.

4. PLA budget growth to slow due to downturn, according to Xi Jinping | South China Morning Post In the second of a series of ­articles elaborating on the president’s vision for the army, the PLA Daily on Tuesday quoted Xi as saying that military resources were not being properly managed, and the army should avoid big projects that required a lot of money but did not yield results. “In the face of mounting pressure resulting from the economic downturn, with a slowdown in budgetary income and growing expenditure, it is not easy to se­cure a normal rise in the military budget any more,” the article said.

5. China’s Leader Wears Many Hats, but Only One Jacket – The New York Times Casual, practical and, like the Mao suit, reflecting a determined lack of glamour, the jacket conveys a populist, man-in-a-hurry image. “It is sufficiently distinct from the worker ant conformity of the Mao suit but still invokes the same spirit as the Mao suit: frugality, practicality, proximity to the people,” said Louise Edwards, a professor at the University of New South Wales in Australia who has studied the political symbolism of clothes in China. “He wears the windbreaker when he wants to show he is down to work.” // I bought one before I left Beijing, from 红都  on 东交民巷 in the old Beijing Legation District. Hongdu is a fascinatingly old school clothing store. At the time I asked around for the brand of Xi’s jacket and everyone I talked to said 红都, but I have not been able to confirm with Xi himself…

Related: In China’s Great Hall of the People, Shoes Speak Louder Than Words-Huffington Post-Deborah Lehr So can you judge a Chinese leader by their shoes? “Shoes convey a thin but useful slice of information about their wearers,” the authors from the Personality Journal write. “Shoes serve a practical purpose, and also serve as nonverbal cues with symbolic messages.” In the competitive landscape of predicting Chinese politics, any little advantage helps.

6. Rob Schmitz, on the Street of Eternal Happiness – The Atlantic James Fallows talks to Rob Schmitz about his new book on Shanghai “Street of Eternal Happiness.”…the book on Amazon 

7. Maoist websites hang on despite shrinking public influence – Global Times Utopia, a leading Maoist website, has struggled hard to regain its previous popularity since it was temporarily shut down in 2012 following the fall of Bo Xilai, a senior Party official. Some scholars argue that Maoism will remain marginal as long as the majority of people support economic reform and the market economy.

8. Chinese Media Attacked Taiwan’s New President For Being Single And It Kinda Failed – BuzzFeed News Published by the party mouthpiece, the article has been reposted by countless Chinese language media and reached a large domestic audience, triggering a public backlash.

AnchorBUSINESS, ECONOMY AND TRADE

Alibaba Faces U.S. Accounting Inquiry – The New York Times That relationship has been questioned by some short-sellers and researchers. In a 40-page report released to its clients in October, Pacific Square Research, a market analysis firm, argued that Alibaba did not disclose enough information about its large number of investments. It said that at times Alibaba used that web of investments to control companies like Cainiao without taking their losses onto its balance sheet. The Alibaba spokeswoman said that the company had provided disclosures about Cainiao’s financials in its most recent annual report. That “is exactly the kind of robust and transparent information that will address the underlying issues in the S.E.C.’s inquiry,” she said. // Pacific Square Research has been working on this for about a year

China Says It Has Conquered Commodities Trading Frenzy – Bloomberg “Recently, we experienced huge volatility and trading volumes in some commodity futures,” Fang Xinghai, vice chairman of China Securities Regulatory Commission, said at the Shanghai Futures Exchange’s annual conference in the city on Wednesday. “We supervised the exchanges to take measures, which have seen a notable effect.”..“We’re facing a chance of a lifetime to become a global pricing center for commodities,” Fang told the audience in China’s commercial capital.

China Weakens Yuan Fixing to Lowest Since 2011 as Dollar Climbs – Bloomberg The reference rate was set 0.3 percent weaker at 6.5693 per dollar. A gauge of the greenback’s strength rose to a two-month high Tuesday as traders boosted wagers that U.S. interest rates will rise. The yuan declined 0.06 percent to 6.5631 a dollar as of 5:10 p.m. in Shanghai.

China Said to Plan Asking U.S. on Timing of Fed Rate Hike – Bloomberg The Chinese delegation will try to deduce whether a June or a July rate rise is more likely, as the nation’s policy makers prepare for the potential impact on financial markets and the yuan, the people said, asking not to be named as the discussions were private. In China’s view, if the Fed does lift borrowing costs, a July move would be preferable, the people said. A People’s Bank of China press officer later denied that China plans to ask about the timing of a Fed rate hike.

Follow the Money » China Is Pivoting Away From Imports, Not Just Rebalancing Away From Exports China has to export manufactures to import commodities, and thus will typically run a surplus in manufactures. But the gap between manufactured exports and manufactured imports has been quite big for some time, and it is part of the “China shock” to world trade over the last ten years. Bottom line: China’s recent pattern of import substitution—of components for the export sector most obviously, but across manufacturing more broadly—deserves a bit more attention than it has received to date.

Ranking Member’s News | Newsroom | The United States Senate Committee on Finance Once again, I am here to speak in support of U.S. workers and U.S. employers who face a crisis of unfair trade from China and other nations that has cost good-paying American jobs. I may sound like a broken record. It was just last month I testified about the harms to U.S. workers of China’s destructive trade practices at a USTR hearing on the global steel market. Today, I’m here to talk about flat-rolled steel, the injury suffered by American workers as a result of unfairly traded steel, and how U.S. trade laws should be vigorously applied to address this challenge.

Chinese premier stresses reform, innovation – Xinhua Chinese Premier Li Keqiang has highlighted reform and innovation to upgrade growth during his visit to Shiyan and Wuhan in central China’s Hubei Province on Monday and Tuesday. Reforms of state-owned enterprises should be carried out consistently and the market should be invigorated so that enterprises can be real market entities, he said when visiting a heavy truck manufacturer in Shiyan. Independent innovation should be highlighted to sharpen competitive edges, he added. Digestion of excessive production capacity is a key task in supply-side structural reform and inefficient production capacity must be cut firmly, he said when visiting Wuhan Iron and Steel (Group) Corp.

How Much Debt Is Too Much in China? | ChinaFile Conversation Yukon Huang, Houze Song, Derek Scissors

Chinese Investors Pour Money Into U.S. Property – WSJ So far in 2016, Chinese companies have purchased or are buying 47 U.S. properties worth $9.3 billion, according to deal tracker Real Capital Analytics. That makes them the most active foreign buyers in the U.S., with more than double Canada’s $4.2 billion worth of deals. By contrast, for all of last year Chinese investors did 71 U.S. deals worth $6 billion.

China – FTCR Freight Index falls to nine-month low in May as profits dive – FT.com The FTCR China Freight Index fell to a nine-month low in May, with the sector proving immune to signs of stabilisation in other parts of the economy and companies now pessimistic about the near-term outlook. Profits fell sharply as surging cost pressures were compounded by a faster drop in volumes and rates.

Police Seize Official Seals of Troubled Sportswear Manufacturer-Caixin There were other signs of trouble at the company listed in the New Third Board, a national market for the exchange of shares in non-publicly traded companies. Wei Qinghua, chairman and general manager of Kolumb, who owns nearly 43 percent of the company’s shares, resigned citing health reasons earlier this month, the firm said on May 17. But he continued to serve in the board of directors. Wei had used all his shares as collateral to borrow money from a private asset management firm in February, the company’s filings to the stock exchange on February 19 said.

AnchorPOLITICS AND LAW

No country for academics: Chinese crackdown forces intellectuals abroad | World news | The Guardian Political scientists and law experts flee to America as Beijing’s grip on freedoms in China intensifies under President Xi Jinping

Top Publisher Arrested on Bribery Charges, Prosecutors say-Caixin Police have arrested a reputed publisher in the southern province of Guangxi for bribery, the local prosecutor’s office said in a statement on May 22. He Linxia, a former president of state-backed Guangxi Normal University Press Group, was arrested three days after the general manager of Guangxi Xinhua Book Store Group, Li Xiaoyong, was found guilty of taking 6.75 million yuan in bribes by a regional court and sentenced to 11 years in prison.

手机选举网-知识分子为何关注一个处级干部的被捕? 日前,广西壮族自治区人民检察院依法以涉嫌受贿罪对广西师范大学出版社集团原董事长何林夏(正处级)决定逮捕。案件侦查工作正在进行中。 何林夏是以涉嫌受贿罪被捕的,如果是一家其他出版社的董事长被捕,或许社会影响有限。毕竟,被捕的何林夏不过一处级干部而已。 但这一处级干部,是广西师大的掌门人。广西师大出版社因其在国内思想市场和学术市场上占有足够大的分量,在知识界享有较高声誉,所以,其掌门人被抓难免在知识界引起关注。

Death of Policeman Draws Big Controversy: The Zhang Jiyong Case – What’s on Weibo The mysterious death of police officer Zhang Jiyong (张际勇) has caused a clamor of rumors growing on Chinese social media, with thousands of people questioning his cause of death. This is the second time this month that lack of transparency in the police force and failures in criminal investigation become the focus of public attention.

Party Constitution Copying Protest Backfires for Organizer | Sixth Tone A woman was sentenced to 10 days detention after organizing a protest against alleged official corruption on Monday morning in the eastern province of Jiangxi, local media outlet Jiangxi News reported on Tuesday. The protest, which took place on Monday, was unusual in form — more than a dozen men and women set up desks in front of the Jiangxi High Court, sat down, and copied out the Communist Party constitution by hand.

Not Enough Character? Communist Party Frets Over Constitution Copying – – WSJ authorities now appear to be concerned that some of the copiers’ intentions are not be as genuine as they should be. In a commentary published this week, the official newspaper of the Chinese military, the People’s Liberation Army Daily, complained that many party members were merely going through the motions of writing out the thousands of characters.

Former graft-buster in Chinese province of Guangdong admits to taking ¥140m in bribes | South China Morning Post In a tearful court apology, the former top graft-buster of Guangdong province has admitted to taking more than 140 million yuan (HK$166 million) in bribes. “I’ve made a mistake. It’s a grave mistake. I’ve also committed crime, which is serious,” Zhu Mingguo, his voice choked with sobs, told the Liuzhou Intermediate People’s Court in Guangxi province yesterday…Zhu was regarded as a protégé of Wang Yang, the former party boss of Guangdong. They worked together in Chongqing between 2002 and 2006 and in Guangdong from 2007 to 2013.

Daughter of missing publisher calls for international help–The Guardian Angela Gui says China illegally abducted Gui Minhai from his property in Thailand

举起右拳,面对鲜红党旗–时政–人民网 建党以来入党誓词的变化

AnchorFOREIGN AND DEFENSE AFFAIRS

U.S. Treasury to press China to improve investment climate: official | Reuters Nathan Sheets, undersecretary for international affairs, said progress on opening Chinese growth sectors to U.S. investment and improved transparency of government regulations will be among the most important issues in the Strategic and Economic Dialogue talks. “I think the key is to stay focused intensively on this issue of business climate,” Sheets told a forum hosted by the Brookings Institution.

Complicated U.S.-China Dance Could Be Headed for Rough Turn – Bloomberg Politics “There’s definitely a clear momentum in the wrong direction,” said Scott Kennedy, a China scholar at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. “The level of trust is somewhere near scraping the bottom.” That’s the backdrop for the Obama administration’s last major bilateral confab with China. Lew and Secretary of State John Kerry will travel to Beijing for talks June 6-7 under the Strategic and Economic Dialogue, a forum for discussions between the two powers.

Don’t start a fire in Asia, China warns Obama after Vietnam arms deal – The Washington Post The nationalist Global Times tabloid called Obama’s claim that the Vietnam move was not aimed at China “a very poor lie,” adding it would exacerbate the “strategic antagonism between Washington and Beijing.”

Lifting of Vietnam arms embargo ‘not about China’? Pull the other one, Obama Perhaps the clinching reason is that Obama simply didn’t want to speak so openly while in Vietnam, and standing right beside his Vietnamese counterpart, who has a delicate balance to maintain in relations with Beijing. If that’s the case, perhaps Obama will speak more openly after his departure.

US Pacific hawk urges keeping a sharp eye on China – FT.com If China does have a plan to try and develop Scarborough Shoal, analysts say there are few signs at the moment they are following through. “It seems to have been effective,” says Michael Green, a former senior White House official of the US pushback. “But this is going to be a constant contest.”

On the Agenda But Off Guest List, China Eyes G-7 in Japan – Bloomberg World leaders meet in Japan this week for talks that will encompass the slowing Chinese economy and China’s reclamation of land in the disputed South China Sea — without any representatives from Asia’s largest economy at the table. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will host U.S. President Barack Obama and other Group of Seven leaders from Thursday at a secluded resort on Kashiko Island, 300 kilometers (190 miles) southwest of Tokyo. That puts the summit not far from China itself, and brings to focus several points of tension with the Communist regime.

Obama Visits Hiroshima Amid Growing Risk of Nuclear War With China A new report from the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) concludes there is a troubling lack of urgency about the possibility that the United States and China could become involved in a military conflict that escalates rapidly and ends in a nuclear exchange. Both governments are deploying weapons and pursuing military strategies that make this more likely. Neither side is willing to invest anywhere near as much time and resources on diplomatic efforts to reduce the risk of war as they spend preparing to fight it.

Cameron adds to pressure on China over maritime disputes – FT.com Mr Cameron made clear he backed other countries in the region in demanding that China respects a forthcoming ruling in The Hague over islands in waters disputed with the Philippines. “On the tribunal case, we believe it is in Britain’s interest to have a rule for the world that is based on adhering to the institutions and rules of that world — that suits us,” he said. “We want to encourage China to be part of that rules-based world. We want to encourage everyone to abide by these adjudications. I’m sure that will be something that will be discussed.”

Steaming Ahead, Course Uncertain: China’s Military Shipbuilding Industry | The National Interest Blog This conference, the tenth in a series, focused on a topic of great interest to USN leaders: China’s naval shipbuilding industry. “Shipbuilding” includes construction of new vessels, the repair and modification of existing ones, and the production and repair of shipboard and associated equipment. Paper presenters, discussants, and other attendees analyzed China’s shipbuilding capacity in order to deepen understanding of the relative trajectories of Chinese and American naval shipbuilding and possible corresponding challenges and responses for the USN.

China charges Japanese man over spying allegations | South China Morning Post One of four Japanese people arrested by Chinese authorities last year over alleged involvement in spying activities has been indicted, a Japanese official said. The man in his 50s from Aichi prefecture was detained in May last year near a military facility in Zhejiang province, eastern China.

The Washington Post begins global expansion of Opinions – The Washington Post “The Washington Post is increasingly becoming essential reading for a broad global audience of policy makers and opinion leaders,” said Frederick J. Ryan, Jr., publisher of The Post. “This expansion will enable us to better reach those influential readers in Europe and will serve as a model for how we might approach similar audiences in other key regions.”  // but no columnist with real knowledge of China

AnchorHONG KONG, MACAO AND TAIWAN

U.S. ‘Ambiguity’ on Taiwan Is Dangerous – WSJ – Eldridge Colby and Walter Slocombe To contribute to this deterrent, the U.S. should pursue two paths. First, it should reinforce its military capability to defend Taiwan, impose costs on China and lessen the costs and risks to itself of doing so. Second, Washington should bolster the credibility of its “no use of force” policy by making clearer the conditions under which it would fight…At the same time, it is unreasonable for the people of Taiwan to expect Americans to be more vigorous in their defense than they are. As annual Chinese defense spending has ballooned in recent years, Taiwan’s has merely inched to $11 billion from $10 billion. Taiwan should commit to spending at least 2.5% of its GDP on defense (which is what South Korea spends in the face of a far less capable North Korea), up from about 2% today

Taiwan: Answering China’s ‘Test’ | The Diplomat While Tsai Ing-wen has been temperate and tactful in her official language toward China, the Taiwanese people have given a more “complete” answer to Beijing’s demands for political integration: No. When China finally gets that message, it may well decide to invoke its Anti-Secession Law that asserts a “right” to use force if “the possibilities for a peaceful reunification should be completely exhausted.” At that point, it will be the United States that will be subjected to China’s test. It would be better for all parties if Washington lets Beijing know long before that what its “complete answer” will be.

社评:蔡英文因太想取悦美国人而出丑评论环球网 民进党显得可怜巴巴的,他们要从华盛顿每天说出的大量话语中淘金子一样淘出一两句可以解释为对他们有利的东西,自我安慰和壮胆。美国对台海的决定力被他们的想象大大夸张了,那些只言片语和某个表情尤其没那么重要。只是由于民进党钻进“台独”的牛角尖,他们的认识才变得荒诞不经,经常有敝帚自珍的怪异表现。   台美无邦交,台湾只能向美派“代表”,但它们内部称“大使”,中英文的公文俨然两个版本。这和有些台独分子把“护照”封面贴上“台湾国”纸贴有什么两样?   蔡英文把心放正,以光明磊落、求真务实的态度面对历史大潮,她就见什么人都不会紧张,尤其用不着去取悦美国的一个小官“不知说什么是好”。

AnchorTECH AND MEDIA

Baidu Shuts Online Literature Forums to Stamp Out Copyright Violations-Caixin Internet giant Baidu Inc. said May 23, it would gradually take down discussion forums on literature from its popular online bulletin board service to remove content suspected of infringing upon intellectual property rights. The country’s biggest search engine operator did not say how many posts would be affected. The firm’s bulletin board service, Tieba, has over 19 million forums with discussions on many fields including novels. Authors and Internet reading sites have criticized these online communities for circulating pirated content. The forums will be put back online after the company combs through their content to delete material protected under copyright, Baidu said.

Sunk — The Atavist Magazine How a Chinese billionaire’s dream of making an underwater fantasy blockbuster turned into a legendary movie fiasco.

AnchorSOCIETY, ART, SPORTS, CULTURE AND HISTORY

Meet The Drag Queen Who Has Taken China’s Internet By Storm – BuzzFeed News “Sister Tomato,” a 24-year-old drag queen, sparked controversy for the sickening look she wore out grocery shopping recently.

AnchorENERGY, ENVIRONMENT, SCIENCE AND HEALTH

Chinese banks lead ‘green’ bond boom – FT.com A surge in Chinese bank borrowing for environmental projects has pushed emerging market borrowers’ use of the so-called “green” bond market to match that of the developed world for the first time. Global issuance of the bonds — whose proceeds must be used for approved projects — has reached $21bn so far this year, putting the market on course to smash the record $36bn issued last year.

药价谈判三药降幅超50% 招标或继续降价公司频道财新网 通过药价谈判的药品,不再参与各地另行组织的谈判议价,但进入地方医保并非强制性规定。部分医院仍可以实现“二次议价”,在药价谈判药品真正落地的环节,地方招标部门和部分地方医院仍有“话语权”

AnchorEDUCATION

Why Paltry Lecturer’s Salary Has Me Churning Out Papers | Sixth Tone As if long hours and a heavy workload weren’t enough, the way Chinese universities structure their compensation packages leaves most young lecturers scrambling to find ways to fill out their paltry wages. The basic salaries are often so low that they need to be supplemented with bonuses awarded from research grants and publications. Because of this, teachers are increasingly shirking their duties and instead focusing most of their attention on publishing just to bring home an acceptable paycheck.

AnchorFOOD AND TRAVEL

麦当劳食安问题频发遭质疑 “徐闻菠萝事件”引发市场规律探讨–人民网 People’s Daily look at latest food safety scandals, leads with a recent one at a McDonalds in Chongqing

AnchorBOOKS AND LITERATURE

Yang Jiang, Chinese writer and translator of ‘Don Quixote,’ dies at 104 – The Washington Post Yang Jiang, a prolific Chinese writer and translator who was the widow of Qian Zhongshu, an acclaimed novelist, died May 25 at a hospital in Beijing. She was 104. A state-owned news website, the Paper, said her death had been confirmed by her publisher, the People’s Literature Publishing House..Ms. Yang’s poignant 1981 memoir, “A Cadre School Life: Six Chapters,” described the life she and her husband led during their years of internal exile. // 干校六记 is an excellent book about the Cultural Revolution

Q&A with Author Can Xue on the State of Chinese Literature | Sixth Tone Deng Xiaohua — the person behind the pseudonym Can Xue — was born in 1953. Her father was persecuted following 1957’s anti-rightist movement, and she could not continue her studies beyond elementary school. Through her love for reading, she taught herself about literature and poetry, and developed an interest in Western classics. Can Xue began writing in the 1980s. Of her hundreds of published novels, novellas, short stories, and other works, several have been translated into English

10 Chinese Women Whose Writing Should Be Translated | Literary Hub Most readers nowadays, asked to name a contemporary Chinese writer, could manage at least one. But the odds are that it will be a man. Yet the near-invisibility of Chinese women writers internationally is entirely undeserved. They flourish on the literary scene at home and have done so since the beginning of the New Culture Movement in the early twentieth century. We are quite proud that this list (drawn up by the Paper-Republic.org collective and friends) ranges so widely. There’s something here for everyone, from travel literature to novels and short story collections, from fantasy and sci-fi to meditations on love and loneliness, with plenty of dark humor along the way. We have included works from all over the Chinese-writing world–mainland China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan (and one from USA too).

AnchorBEIJING

Why are Beijing’s gig venues closing? – BBC News Over the past decade, China’s capital Beijing has enjoyed a boom in its underground music scene for Western-style concerts. But several of the clubs have had to close in recent months. BBC News went to find out why.

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