The Sinocism China Newsletter 08.08.13

Beijing is likely pleased that Obama has cancelled a planned September summit with Putin. Edward Snowden is just one of many irritants in the US-Russia relationship, but his asylum in Russia may have been the trigger for pulling out of the summit. Russia was Xi Jinping’s first stop on his first foreign trip, and China and Russia are increasingly making nice. Any tensions in the US-Russia relationship are likely good for the PRC, so this looks to be yet another gift from Snowden to China.

The Chinese economy may be struggling but Beijing residential real estate is doing just fine as Caijing reports the latest data shows China Home Prices Rose for 14th Straight Month in July. The Beijing commercial office real estate market is also relatively strong and there is now an office space crunch (South China Morning Post):

Beijing needs more office space to meet its economy’s growing reliance on services, a real estate consultancy said [so yes they have their bias].

According to Jones Lang LaSalle, overall vacancies for grade-A office dropped from nearly 30 per cent just after the 2008 Olympics to single digits in mid-2011 and, recently, below 5 per cent, due to strong demand and low stocks of suitable offices….

When I read this I thought I remembered that over the years we have heard from all sorts of experts that the Beijing office market, along with the residential market, was going to crash. So I went back and checked the archives, and found this from May 2012, when the Shanghai Composite was about 14% higher and the “China collapse” crowd was starting to declare victory:

Ursine China pundits have seized the commanding heights of the media and some look to be planning their victory laps. Perhaps they are right this time, or perhaps they have mistaken an injury time-out for the end of the match. Beijing is clearly concerned about the decelerating economy and is not going to let things go off the rails without a fight. Reuters tells us that China is targeting infrastructure spending to lift the economy, including perhaps 600B RMB of investments to upgrade water purification facilities and residential water purifiers, areas in obvious, desperate need of upgrades given that Caixin has now told us the The Dirty Truth about Water Quality.

Maybe it is too late and maybe the stimulus transmission channels are too broken to have much effect. But even if you think China is just kicking the can down the road, like most of the rest of the world is doing, do not forget that China has a lot of cans, a lot of feet and a lot of (new) roads.

The Beijing municipal government has taken steps to revive its property market and transactions increased 40% from April to May–北京楼市“红五月”被放大 疑为政府托市. Shijiazhuang just raised its reference land price by 43% effective June 1–6月1日起石家庄基准地价上调涨幅近43%–prompting a Beijing developer friend to excitedly quote a famous Chinese poem that “ducks first know when the Spring river water begins to warm” (春江水暖鸭先知, from 苏轼惠崇春江晚景) to make his point on Weibo that the Shijiazhuang move is another early sign of loosening in the property market. One real estate market participant has posted to Weibo a chart of what it believes are the government’s recent signals about imminent moves to simulate the property market.

Beijing’s residential real estate has struggled but its commercial property has boomed, and a Caixin columnist is again warning of a bubble in Beijing’s commercial property sector–Commercial Real Estate Is No Safe Haven. I live in Beijing CBD and office rents have nearly doubled in the last 2-3 years, vacant space is very difficult to find, retail rents and sale prices in certain locations (generally anywhere but the SOHO CBD properties [August 8 Editor’s Note: Even worse now, the SOHO China retail spaces in CBD are almost like Ordos by the Third Ring Road]) have also risen significantly, and the imminent opening of Line 6 will add a third subway line to Beijing’s CBD, making the area even more convenient for commuting workers.

Last month well-known distressed property investor and China commercial real estate bear Jack Rodman announced that he is leaving Beijing. According to China’s ailing bad debt market cries for change ”veteran investor Jack Rodman has had enough. After waiting 11 years for China to sell its rising pile of bad bank loans, he is quitting and going to Spain instead.”

I remember Jack Rodman from his 2009 CNN interview Watch Building Boom Becomes Bust? in which he walked around Beijing CBD pointing out empty buildings (my apartment building was in two of the shots and so I was annoyed) to make his point about the coming Beijing commercial real estate crash. Rodman may be right that China is hiding lots of bad real estate debts and a crash will come. But he was early.

China bear nemesis Arthur Kroeber has just published a must-read piece in Foreign Policy. Kroeber asks “is China’s economy in serious trouble?” His answer:

Not just yet. The odds are that China will navigate these shoals and continue to grow at a fairly rapid pace of around 7 percent a year for the remainder of the decade, overtaking the United States to become the world’s biggest economy around 2020. That’s a lot slower than the historical average of 10 percent, but still solid. Considerably less certain, however, is whether China’s secretive and corrupt Communist Party can make this growth equitable, inclusive, and fair. Rather than economic collapse, it’s far more likely that a decade from now China will have a strong economy but a deeply flawed and unstable society..

In a few years’ time, China will likely surpass the United States as the world’s top economy. But until it solves its fairness problem, it will remain a second-rate society.

Maybe a crash is still inevitable, but if Beijing real estate collapses then there are much bigger problems going on in the country, or what’s left of it.

I am headed off on vacation Friday so tomorrow’s issue may be the last until August 20th or so.

Today’s Links:

THE ESSENTIAL EIGHT

Cracking the Hukou Code to Hasten Urbanization – Caixin Beijing authorities last waved the liberalization banner in 2011, when the Ministry of Public Security and the State Council’s Central Agricultural Industry Office jointly proposed changes to household registration classifications in small cities and counties. Under that plan, permanent residency would have been available to non-natives with stable jobs and homes who paid social security taxes in those communities for a number of years. Local governments could set thresholds according to local conditions…The 2011 proposals, however, never got past the draft stage…Around the same time, the NDRC together with 14 commissions and ministries – including the Ministry of Public Security (MSP) and Ministry of Land and Resources (MLR) – rolled out an urbanization development plan that called for overhauling the hukou system by 2020. That plan was shelved as well…The MSP has not given up. Soon a ministry-drafted hukou management system may be introduced nationwide. A source close to decision-makers said the changes would cover all migrant workers by removing qualification restrictions for obtaining residency permits. And all migrants would have access to education and all basic public services mandated by the central government. //good set of Caixin articles on urbanization, find it more informative and nuanced than some of the recent Western media coverage of the topic

Related: Abolishing Hukou System Should Be One Goal of Reform Hu Shuli – Caixin The situation should be tackled in two ways. First, small to medium-sized cities should be made more attractive, while big cities should grant household status to residents with stable jobs based on a methodical timetable. The government should also speed up reforms such as land reform to raise agricultural productivity. All of this requires early moves by the central government. Reforms should be carried out in stages with the ultimate goal of abolishing the household registration system. When this day comes, the people will have their complete and equal rights to reside and migrate freely – once a basic civil right provided under China’s constitution.

Related: “外来”与未来:美国移改对中国户改的启示_杂志频道_财新网 Prof. Kam Wing Chan in Caixin on the lesons from US immigration reform China’s hukou reform // 落户的农民工会是未来个人所得税、消费税、房地产税的新税源

Related: The Tenement Nightmares Of Beijing – Economic Observer A new citywide directive explicitly specifies minimum per capita living space and forbids kitchens, bathrooms, balconies and basement storage areas from being rented out as bedrooms.

China’s Labor Camp System Under Fire from Influential State Think Tank – China Real Time Report – WSJ The Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, in a political development report published on Monday, said abuses in the system have become increasingly apparent and had given rise to widespread public opposition, according to state media reports  summarizing CASS’s findings.

Xinhua: “Operational Twist” Sends Message to Stablize Money Market-Caijing The People’s Bank of China, the country’s central bank, is exploring new ways to adjust liquidity in the money market, deviating from traditional open market operations, the state-run Xinhua said. Citing analysts, it said in an online commentary that the move, dubbed as “operational twist”, aims to maintain stability in the money market, both in terms of expectations and operations, as well as to hedge maturity mismatch.

Related: PBoC Mulling New Unit to Invest Forex: Scmp-Caijing The new agency would be in addition to the China Investment Corp, the nation’s sovereign wealth fund, the report said. Central bank governor Zhou Xiaochuan has already assigned a division head of the State Administration of Foreign Exchange (SAFE), the country’s foreign exchange regulator, to lead a small team to study the feasibility of such a unit, according to the sources. Zhou is in favour of the idea of a parallel platform but some officials at the SAFE fear that would gnaw away at the power of the regulator.

China policy mantra signals privatization, securitization: official | Reuters Ever since Chinese Premier Li Keqiang used the cryptic phrase “revitalize the stock” in an official policy statement in June, market watchers have pondered what policies it entails. A central bank official has told Reuters that according to his personal understanding, the phrase refers to packaging loans into securities and sales of minority stakes in state firms. Such reforms would be aimed at cleaning up bank balance sheets and bolstering China’s welfare system, said the official, who heads a People’s Bank of China branch in a major city and is a member of the National People’s Congress, China’s parliament.

新版《毛主席语录》或年内面世 “红二代”任主编_大公资讯_大公网 New edition of the “Quotations from Chairman Mao” may be released in time for the 120 anniversary of his birth December 26…wonder if there will be multimedia iOS and Android versions..I want the iPad version…think of the multimedia potential…remember some of the commentary last fall that China might be on the verge of “de-Maoification”, or even getting rid of Marx? // 据京城消息透露,新版《毛主席语录》与旧版一样,都是由军方编纂,新版毛语录由解放军军事科学院编纂,主编者陈宇大校本身亦是“红二代”,专长研究红军长征。有知情者称,新版毛语录与旧版的篇幅相差不大,都是近500 条语录,但内容却大幅更新充实,去掉了一些过时内容,亦有新增内容。据悉,新版毛语录已报道中央政治局审核,很大机会赶及在12月毛诞日面世。

中国海警首次在钓鱼岛领海驱逐日本船只_新闻_腾讯网 China Maritime Bureau says its coast guard ships expelled a Japanese boat from the area, a first says the bureau…// 国际在线报道:据国家海洋局网站发布消息,8月7日,中国海警2350、1126、2102、2166船编队在我钓鱼岛领海内维权巡航。期间,我海警巡航编队对发现的日方侵权船只严正申明我国政府对钓鱼岛的主权立场,并对其进行驱离。这是中国海警成立后,首次在钓鱼岛驱离日本巡逻船。

Related: Commentary: Facing up to history is needed to maintain hard-won peace – Xinhua | English.news.cn Hiroshima held an annual memorial ceremony on Tuesday with war survivors and representatives from 70 countries, calling for a world order based on trust and dialogue. The “trust and dialogue” remark at the ceremony has again raised hope that Japan, which brought catastrophe to its Asian neighbors during World War II and itself also suffered tremendous loss from the bomb attacks, could seize the historical opportunity to face up to the history and hold on to its hard-earned ties with its neighboring countries. However, recent moves taken by some irresponsible Japanese politicians have aroused serious trust issues and put its neighbors on high alert against possible resurging of militarism in the country.

First study of human transmission of new bird flu raises worries | Reuters The first scientific analysis of probable human-to-human transmission of a deadly new strain of bird flu that emerged in China this year gives the strongest evidence yet that the H7N9 virus can pass between people, scientists said on Wednesday. Research published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) analyzing a family cluster of cases of H7N9 infection in eastern China found it was very likely the virus “transmitted directly from the index patient (a 60-year-old man) to his daughter.”

What Will Come out of the Communist Party’s Polling the People Online? | ChinaFile What do we learn from these tragedies? That China’s microblogs may not be fair places for ordinary people after all. It’s true that microblogs grant Chinese people greater power to express themselves than was previously possible, which definitely counts as incredible progress. However, this progress doesn’t lift everybody up equally. Among the top 50 weibo users with the most followers on Sina Weibo, one of China’s most popular microblogging platforms, 48 already were successful entrepreneurs, popular entertainers, film directors, talk show hosts or well-known writers before they opened their accounts. Weibo just amplified their voices.

 

BUSINESS AND ECONOMY

Small Businesses in Jiangsu Singing the Bank Loan Blues – Caixin In June, the first local government-backed AMC, Jiangsu Asset Management Co., was set up in Wuxi to tackle local financial institutions’ non-performing assets…Two of the city’s champion enterprises, Suntech Power Holdings Co. and China Rongsheng Heavy Industries Group Holdings Ltd., are in trouble. The maker of solar panels, once a global leader, filed for bankruptcy protection in March. It owed nine banks at least 7.1 billion yuan. Rongsheng, a shipbuilder, is running short of cash to cover daily operations. In July, it started delaying payments to workers and suppliers, leading to protests…With these big clients crumbing under their debt, the local banks are apparently not in the mood to expand credit lines to small companies, like those in the textile industry. The lack of money had driven many companies temporarily out of business, businessmen at the July 25 meeting said. One businessman at the meeting said the owners of some textile companies had disappeared, leaving debts unpaid.

互联网金融进入战国时代-21世纪网 21 CBH–Internet Finance has entered the “Warring States Period” // 互联网金融是传统金融与以互联网为代表的现代信息科技相结合的新兴领域。凭借新技术、新思维,互联网巨头纷纷以让人眼花缭乱的新产品闯入原本壁垒森严的金融界。战国时代,争雄割据。银行、险企、基金、券商等传统金融机构如何奋起迎战,非常值得研究讨论。

China Railway Corp. Plans First Train Purchase of $8.2 Billion – Bloomberg China’s state-owned railway company will spend more than 50 billion yuan ($8.2 billion) in its first large-scale train purchases to meet rising transport demand even as the economy slows, Xinhua News Agency reported. Newly formed China Railway Corp., which took over train operations from the dismantled Ministry of Railways in March, will buy locomotives, bullet trains and rolling stock, the official news agency said today, citing the company.

官员解释如何看待经济数据不匹配_经济频道_财新网 Caixin English Abstract: Data Mismatches Show Changing Society: NDRC Head–Some apparent mismatches in recent macroeconomic indicators reflected desirable changes in society and the economy, Xu Shaoshi, chairman of National Development and Reform Commission, said at a recent meeting. He cited three pairs of data that had been questioned by analysts as painting different pictures. The first was a modest increase in industries’ electricity usage versus strong growth in value-added industrial output. The second was a slowdown in the economic growth rate versus stable urban employment. The last was a sharp decline in tax income versus a mild decrease in GDP growth rate. He said these discrepancies are indications that progresses had been made towards a more energy-efficient society that puts more emphasis on employment and social welfare. //国家发改委主任徐绍史称,在经济发展进入新阶段、经济增速从两位数向个位数转换的过程中,一些经济变量关系的变化不能完全用老的眼光来看待

Guotai Asset Management Allowed to Offer Investment Funds Online – Caixin Guotai Asset Management Co. has won approval from the regulator to sell securities investment funds on Alibaba’s e-commerce platform. The China Securities Regulatory Commission posted the approval online on August 6. The Bank of Ningbo will be the custodian for the funds. Guotai declined to say when sales will begin. A source from the company said the store will be opened on Taobao, Alibaba’s consumer-to-consumer website. The firm is just one of the many fund management companies hoping to tap into Alibaba’s vast online consumer base.

Chinese Yuan Touches Record High Against U.S. Dollar – MoneyBeat – WSJ The yuan closed at 6.1192 versus the dollar, the strongest closing level in the modern era, after trading as high as 6.1189. Previously, the high was 6.1210 hit on both June 3 and May 27. Despite China’s slowing economy, the yuan has strengthened in recent weeks, rising by around 0.7% since May and 1.8% so far this year.

以宏观审慎视角推进新一轮金融改革__金融街_中国发展观察杂志社 DRC discussion about the new round of financial reforms // 发表日期:2013年8月2日      作者:国务院发展研究中心金融研究所课题组  —  当前我国金融体系受多方因素影响,其潜在系统性风险有所上升,已对新一轮金融改革提出迫切要求。但上一轮以单个领域、单个金融机构改革为重点的微观审慎改革思路显然已不能适应当前金融体系的新特点与新趋势,系统性风险的不断累积与演变需要我们以宏观审慎视角来推进新一轮金融改革. 通过金融结构调整降低经济周期与经济结构调整对金融体系稳定的冲击. 我国融资体系过度依赖银行信贷渠道,金融结构的失衡不仅使风险高度集中在银行体系,导致金融体系对外部冲击缺乏必要弹性,而且过度依赖间接融资的金融结构也难以满足和适应经济结构转型过程中各种融资需求和风险特征的变化,不利于结构调整和增长方式转变。

Investors Look to Satisfy Appetites of China’s Middle Class – MoneyBeat – WSJ The curb on officials using public funds on expensive banquets, announced in December, has made investing in upscale restaurants in China “especially risky in the short run,” said William Liang, director of European firm EQT Partners. “Private-equity investors in high-end restaurants are now trying to reposition their restaurants to target mass-market customers, either by acquiring smaller midmarket businesses or by downsizing and reformatting their existing stores,” Mr. Liang said.

China Developers’ Financing Hopes Revive on Share Sale Plans – Bloomberg Chinese developers may resume share sales on the country’s mainland exchanges as announcements of such plans by property companies in the past week add to signs that the government may allow new equity financing to proceed.

China Fines Mead to Danone Joint $109 Million in Probe – Bloomberg China fined six dairy companies including Mead Johnson Nutrition Co. (MJN) and Danone a combined 669 million yuan ($109 million) for price fixing, a record penalty for violating anti-monopoly laws. The companies tried to fix minimum resale prices of their products, limiting competition in the industry, China’s National Development and Reform Commission said in a statement today.

Chic and cheap: China takes shine to South Korean cosmetics | Reuters Cosmetics brand Laneige has a French name and luxurious blue-and-white packaging but its legions of fans in China, the world’s third-largest beauty products market, love it because it is South Korean and affordable. Laneige, or “the snow”, is one of about two dozen brands made by South Korea’s biggest cosmetics company Amorepacific Corp which is using its Asian cachet and pocket-friendly prices to give global firms like L’Oreal SA, and Procter & Gamble Co a run for their money.

Clive Palmer’s `Mad’ Mine Costs China on Learning Curve – Bloomberg Clive Palmer, the mining magnate planning a Titanic replica, once said rivals called him “mad” to consider mining low-grade iron ore in Australia’s outback. Then China agreed to build the project for $2.5 billion. Seven years later, the world’s biggest magnetite iron ore mine has yet to start shipments. Its estimated cost has jumped to $8 billion, and the first two production lines are mired in repair work. Owner Citic Pacific Ltd. (267), the Hong Kong-traded unit of China’s biggest state-owned investment vehicle, may have to sell more debt to fund some $2 billion in extra costs to complete the project, Standard Chartered Plc said in May.

 

POLITICS AND LAW

韩正:法官集体嫖娼事件给上海整座城市抹黑_新闻_腾讯网 Shanghai Party Secretary says the whoring court officials have discredited all of Shanghai…// [导读]韩正强调,要深刻认识这起案件极其严重的性质和极为恶劣的影响,从重从严惩处,坚决清除腐败分子。这起案件,虽然只是少数几个干部腐化堕落的案件,但却给上海整座城市抹黑。

知情人:上海高院法官王国军未嫖娼因过度饮酒_大公资讯_大公网 Ta Kung Pao The “too drunk” defense for one of the whoring Shanghai court officials, who supposedly did not use the prostitute services as he was too drunk…meanwhile, hints of connections of at least one of the disgraced officials to a Shanghai construction firm that has built buildings for the Shanghai court system….just how far does Beijing want to dig? This likely to be the tip of a very dirty graftberg // 据本报记者调查,郭祥华曾历任四建法律顾问、办公室主任等职。而四建与上海法院系统的关系亦极为紧密。“四建是上海建工集团中,实力比较强的,”一位接近四建的律师对本报记者称,“此前曾承包不少上海各级法院的建筑项目。” 建筑公开资料亦证明,四建曾承包高院审判法庭办公楼、一中院审判法庭楼、海事法院审判综合楼等多个法院系统建筑项目,并因此获得不少奖项。

最高法院通报赵明华陈雪明等法官违纪违法案件_网易新闻中心 Supreme Court requests all its courts to get rid of bad apples after the exposure of the whoring Shanghainese court officials // 新华网北京8月7日电 最高人民法院7日发出《关于上海市高级人民法院赵明华、陈雪明等法官违纪违法案件的情况通报》,要求各级人民法院整顿作风,严肃纪律,坚决清除队伍中的腐败分子和害群之马,坚决防止类似事件再次发生。

Judges Hire Prostitutes, China Isn’t Shocked – Bloomberg On Saturday night, the hardline Communist Party-owned Global Times newspaper sent an unusually frank message from its Sina Weibo account: “The judges of the Shanghai High Court were revealed picking up prostitutes. The key point isn’t that they went whoring, but that they did so in a group. Law is the bottom line in society and judges are the safeguards of that line. They crossed the line collectively. What’s ironic is that this is nothing new to the public. Endless official corruption has transformed anger into numbness. That’s what’s most pathetic.”

China Exclusive: Book offers glimpse of CPC top decision-making body – Xinhua | English.news.cn A newly-published book by a noted Chinese economist has offered a rare glimpse of how the top leaders of the Communist Party of China (CPC) reshape the world’s most populous nation through what the author says as “collective leadership.” In his book “China’s Collective Leadership System” published by China Renmin University Press in July, Hu Angang, who is known for his role in advising CPC and state leaders on key issues, reveals the history and the inner working process of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee, the Party’s supreme decision-making body.

“Constitutionalism” Essentially Is a Weapon of Public Opinion War | China Copyright and Media translation of recent piece

US Constitutionalism Is Unworthy of the Name (Wang Hailou) | China Copyright and Media this article is the second in a People’s Daily front page series criticising the US, it was published on 6 August. //People’s Daily Overseas Edition actually

舆论场:倒宪三部曲_中国_多维新闻网 与王小石的神秘身份不同的是,《人民日报》在文章末尾明确做了注脚:“作者为海洋安全与合作研究院高级研究员、中国社会科学院世界社会主义研究中心特邀研究员”。从其三篇倒宪文章来看,《“宪政”本质上是种舆论战武器》、《美国宪政的名不副实》、《在中国搞所谓宪政只能是缘木求鱼》好比三部曲,情节既有贯通之处也有各自的兴奋点。贯通之处在于,均有对资本主义宪政虚伪性的揭露,又有对苏联沉痛教训的反思,也有对所谓社会主义宪政提法的批驳。兴奋点则从各自标题中即可一目了然。不得不说,研究员马钟成视力所及之处尽是阴谋论和陷阱,凡是提到宪政,不是美国在蓄谋搞心理舆论战,就是一些别有用心的人有意颠覆人民民主专政。

李小鹏强力干预经济 被指挑战市场化改革_中国_多维新闻网 有观察人士指出,李小鹏所采取的这种地方政府直接干预市场的手段不仅遭到了部分电力企业和业内人士的反对,而且与中国进一步深化市场经济建设的大政方针,与现任中共总书记习近平和总理李克强进行的以市场为导向的经济体制改革的新政努力呈背道而驰之势,对中国的市场化改革构成了一定程度的阻碍和挑战。

太子奶创始人李途纯实名举报原株洲副市长肖文伟-财经网 据李途纯透露,在监狱中,肖文伟、文迪波五次威逼李途纯签字放弃太子奶所有民事权利,凡被李途纯拒绝一次,肖文伟即指使公安抓捕一个,先后抓捕了李途纯的儿子妹妹弟弟,逼死舅舅,保姆、秘书等三位女性因受恐吓导致流产至今不孕。

湖南纪委回应株洲原副市长被举报制造太子奶冤案_网易新闻中心 核心提示:日前,网上曝出太子奶创始人李途纯的举报信,指称株洲市原副市长、现任湖南省交通厅副厅长肖文伟为“太子奶冤案”的幕后黑手。湖南省纪委表示,已关注到网上举报消息但未收到正式举报,湖南省交通厅新闻宣传中心工作人员表示暂无回应。

Family planning fines spark controversy in Chinese county – Xinhua | English.news.cn Lyu Xianpo, deputy government head of Xiping County, Henan Province, said the county recently carried out a campaign on family planning violations in order to curb the rise of such cases in the past two years. Xiping launched the move in late June, targeting some 17,000 government staff, Communist Party of China members and public employees, according to Lyu. A report posted on the website of the Economic Observer newspaper on Aug. 2 quoted some local citizens as claiming the law enforcement campaign intends to raise money to replenish a budget deficit in the county government.

The Real Problem with Fake History – Zhu Dake – Caixin The Jibaozhai Museum scandal revealed cracks which have begun to appear with the current cultural “Great Leap Forward” of sorts. Many of the institutions which have been created in recent years have been based on an invented history, supported by the use of fabricated artifacts. In 2011 alone, nearly 400 museums were opened in China but some have estimated up to 80 percent of the antique pieces in these places are fake. The shoddy development of the cultural industry is the result of a push by the government to build upon China’s soft power. But after half of century of destruction, Chinese culture has still not recovered from the trauma and a societal anxiety over this history still lingers. Yet, there does exist a strong desire for culture among the public and government officials alike but neither know where to find it. The only way to manufacture the brief illusion of cultural rejuvenation is through large-scale construction and the naming of cultural venues.

How to Photograph a Chinese Official – Economic Observer Pictures implying corruption that have derailed leaders like “watch brother” Yang Dacai have cadres increasingly sensitive about how they’re photographed. Photographers from Party-affiliated papers share what they can and can’t take pictures of. // 为领导拍照的学问 – 经济观察网 - 专业财经新闻网站 the original Chinese story

Jail video of activist Xu Zhiyong released – China Media Project On August 8, close associates of Xu Zhiyong (许志永) released a video taken of the jailed rights campaigner during a recent visit to the jail in which he is being held by Chinese authorities. In the video, just over a minute long, Xu talks about the need for more citizens to stand up and defend their rights in “this age of absurdity.” The video is taken by the visitor through the bars of a cell or visiting room and Xu is secured with handcuffs.

China Dream, a New Ad Campaign -Caijing pictures // “The CPC is why China is strong,” reads an advertisement on Beijing streets. China has launched a new nationwide propaganda campaign, the government’s latest effort to promote Xi’s “China Dream” slogan among its people. // perhaps somewhat subversively, Billboard uses panting by Feng Zikai, who was horribly persecuted in the Cultural Revolution

Chengguan: The Ticking Bomb of China’s Urban Para-Police – China Real Time Report – WSJ The chengguan are completely under the control of local governments, making them an exception to the otherwise nationwide practice of dual leadership by local and central governments. A commentary by Chinese law professor Wang Yong highlights an extraordinary departure from any semblance of legality: Many of the chengguan’s powers “remain unexplained” by existing laws, such as “the legal basis of urban administration enforcement and uniform procedures, the division of powers with other departments…and so on.” The author reports that in November 2012, representatives of 44 cities called for “the establishment of a central government department to report to” and for the adoption of more laws and regulations to standardize the nation’s urban management.

既要整体推进,也要重点突破 ——二论准确把握全面深化改革重大关系 本报评论员–人民日报 毛泽东同志曾用弹钢琴比喻干工作,“要十个指头都动作”,同时“要有节奏,要互相配合”。推进改革,同样如此。必须加强对各项改革关联性的研判,更加注重改革的系统性、整体性、协同性,努力做到全局和局部相配套、治本和治标相结合、渐进和突破相衔接,实现整体推进和重点突破相统一,形成推进改革开放的强大合力。当此中流击水之际,改革要敢于啃硬骨头、敢于涉险滩。不管是整体推进还是重点突破,都既需要改革的决心和勇气,也需要改革的智慧和技巧。勇于突破思想观念上的障碍,勇于突破利益固化的藩篱,整体推进、重点突破,改革巨轮才能驶入更为开阔的水域。

Bo Xilai Between the Dragon And His Wrath by Ma Jian – Project Syndicate For the Party, however, Bo’s conviction will not mark the end of the scandal. Nor will the shadow cast over the CCP by his high-living, exiled son Bo Guagua and his homicidal wife Bogu Kailai simply disappear. But the fall of Bo and his family hardly rises to the level of Shakespearean tragedy. King Lear this is not. Of course, Bo and his wife and son have been morally dead for some time. Power sapped their humanity. Bogu killed Heywood, her lover and business partner, and many other innocent people died as a result of Bo’s ambition. His thuggish chief henchman, the former Chongqing police chief Wang Lijun, fled to the US consulate in Chengdu, fearing that his life was in jeopardy because he knew too much about Heywood’s murder and Bo’s other crimes.

Bo Xilai’s Trial Exposes Truth About China – Bloomberg The denouement of Bo’s saga will also help destroy yet another widely accepted myth about the Communist Party — namely, that the regime is a meritocracy. This idea has a tight grip on Western politicians and business executives who have interacted personally with top Chinese leaders. Adjectives like “smart,” “dynamic” and “cosmopolitan” are generously applied to officials like Bo…It remains a puzzle to China-watchers how these Westerners, who speak no Mandarin and normally spend just an hour or two with characters like Bo, could have reached such definitive assessments about their capabilities. Even a casual examination of the records — not the resumes — of leaders similar to Bo would quickly reveal that they all boast mediocre careers. What has lifted them above their often more talented peers are powerful patrons. //not just Westerners. How does Minxin Pei square these comments with Eric X. Li’s views, given that the are apparently good friends? And is Minxin Pei this critical in his Chinese-language writings, or does he write differently for that audience?

 

FOREIGN AND DEFENSE AFFAIRS

The Asan Forum Special Commentaries – Wang Jisi – How is a “New Model of Great Power Relations” Possible? It could be assumed that the backdrop to all these developments is the intensifying geostrategic competition between the United States and China. Many Chinese commentators argue that it is the Obama administration’s “pivot” or “rebalance” posture, presumably designed to contain China, that has encouraged other claimants to the Nansha (Spratly) and Xisha (Paracel) Islands to be more defiant against China. It is also a remarkably popular view among China’s political elites that the United States is siding with Japan in the China-Japan discord and should be held responsible for the deterioration of their bilateral relations. In the eyes of these Chinese, Washington has driven a wedge between China and Myanmar, which caused some failures of China’s investment in that country. They also point to Washington’s intransigence and hostility toward Pyongyang for the recent tensions on the Korean Peninsula. In other words, Asian security is overshadowed by US intentions to maintain its regional domination at the expense of China. China’s only option, therefore, is to strengthen its national power, especially military capabilities, to counter US and Japanese pressures. It is also necessary for China to move strategically closer to Russia and other “friendly” countries, which guard against US interference in their domestic affairs. Evidently, the perspectives of the United States, Japan, South Korea, India, Singapore, the Philippines, and possibly some other countries are decidedly different from these Chinese observations

Is This Lazy Panda China’s Zuckerberg? – Bloomberg from the perspective of the government-funded programmers paying for it, iPanda is, in part, panda diplomacy for the digital age. In the traditional sense, panda diplomacy views the animals as cultural ambassadors sent abroad to foreign zoos, where they extend if not improve China’s image. Panda cam shares that goal. After all, what better way to improve the overseas image of China as a polluted industrial dystopia than with 24-hour images of pandas napping in green bamboo groves?

Straw Boats and the China Threat – All Things Nuclear There is a group of U.S. analysts who seem fascinated by the supposed influence of ancient Chinese military thought on contemporary Chinese security policy. In The China Threat, Bill Gertz suggests the stratagems articulated in Sun Zi’s Art of War guide a concerted Chinese effort to use unwitting “pro-Beijing” U.S. China analysts to manipulate U.S. policy. The imagined Chinese plan is to subdue the United States without firing a shot using espionage and propaganda. Gertz’s “blue team” of U.S. China analysts claim they see through the subterfuge. Their goal is to make U.S. policy-makers aware that China is concealing its military preparations and disguising its aggressive intentions behind the reassuring voices of an influential “red team” of U.S. experts who are either coerced or duped into downplaying the China threat. Gertz apparently does not consider the possibility that unsuspecting “anti-Beijing” analysts on the blue team could also be manipulated into serving Chinese ends. // who knows? Gertz really took a publicly available document and called it  “an internal Chinese defense report”? He also called Sinocism a “Chinese blog”. How does he do his fact-checking?

 

HONG KONG, MACAO AND TAIWAN

Taiwan Loses Two Defense Ministers in One Week – China Real Time Report – WSJ The island has been forced to name its second new defense minister in a week following the resignation of newly installed ministry head Andrew Yang on Tuesday after only six days in the office. The latest in a throng of disgraced ex-officials that have left President Ma Ying-jeou’s team in recent years, Mr. Yang stepped down after confessing to plagiarism and is being replaced by Chief of the General Staff Yen Ming…According to opposition Democratic Progressive Party lawmaker Kuan Bi-ling, at least two-third of Mr. Yang’s paper, which appeared in book titled “Ready for the D-Day,” was copied verbatim from a work by U.S. military expert Richard Fisher. //Pathetic

 

TECH AND MEDIA

Chinese online shopping boom reaches ROK, Japan – Xinhua | English.news.cn The volume of goods purchased by Chinese online shoppers from overseas websites has more than tripled in the first half of the year, according to the county’s largest third-party payment platform, Alipay. According to a report released on Monday by Alipay, a subsidiary of the e-commerce giant Alibaba Group, the volume of overall purchases by Chinese netizens via the platform in the first six months rose 219 percent year on year, in comparison to a rise of 117 percent recorded in 2012. Alipay said Chinese online shoppers usually prefer to buy from Europe and America. However, they are now shifting to the Japanese and South Korean markets, where growth is highest.

Flipboard gets blocked in China, but its local service remains unaffected – The Next Web users of Flipboard reported that the international version of the social reading app is no longer working in the country. It was originally blocked in 2011, only to become shortly after…Update: Flipboard says it is not self-censoring its app in China — comment from the company is at the bottom of this post. //censorship, or Sina wants all China users to use the version it has in its Flipboard partnership?

Uber Faces its Toughest Challenge Yet in China-TheNextWeb  The company is officially hiring for roles in Shanghai and Beijing — not to mention locations that would take it into Africa, Latin America and the Middle East — as it looks to corner the potentially lucrative market in China, the world’s most populous country…and the planet’s largest smartphone market, to boot. // Who will they hire as their China head?

 

SOCIETY, ART, SPORTS, CULTURE AND HISTORY

NFL Home Field Coming to Shanghai-Caijing The road to Super Bowl XLVIII commences next month and the NFL will once again be making big efforts to wean residents of the Middle Kingdom off their addiction to basketball and “soccer”. To that end, the NFL is launching new temporary bases of activity in Shanghai, Beijing and Guangzhou. Called NFL Home Field, these events will run each weekend from August 31 through to November 17, possibly replacing (it hasn’t been confirmed yet) last year’s NFL Experience fan festivals that toured the country in the run-up to the Super Bowl.

[视频]高速公路违规倒车酿惨祸_新闻频道_央视网 CCTV Evening News picks up the story of the bus driver who was backing up on the freeway after missing an exit, getting rear-ended…see cars backing up almost every time I am on the freeway…hope the government propagandizes the heck out of this

More accuse doctor of baby trafficking[1]|chinadaily.com.cn A suspected baby trafficking case in Fuping county, Shaanxi province, continues to develop as more couples claim they were duped into giving up their newborn babies. The county police confirmed on Wednesday that the parents of 10 children delivered at Fuping Maternal and Child Health Care Hospital have reported their babies were also taken away by Zhang Suxia, deputy director of the hospital’s maternity department.

Cards make paying global tuition easier|Economy|chinadaily.com.cn Li Mo, an incoming Chinese graduate student at UC-Riverside, is likely be offered the new option of paying tuition in RMB for the upcoming billing cycle through a new program between China UnionPay, a banking card association in China, and peerTransfer, a provider of global payment solutions for the education industry. China UnionPay recently announced a new partnership with peerTransfer that allows Chinese students to pay their tuitions in their home currency online in more than 300 American universities, including BU, MIT and Cornell. //what is the fee?

 

ENERGY, ENVIRONMENT, SCIENCE AND HEALTH

水污染防治行动计划正在紧张编制中 最迟下周成稿_证券时报网 MEP working on a “clean water action plan”…could be huge investment, part of likely suite of environment-related stimulus plans…still trying to figure out how foreign investors could best play a much bigger investment in leaning China’s water // 作为环保部牵头的三项环保行动计划之一,水污染防治行动计划目前正在紧张编制中。编制组预计最迟下周成稿,交由环保部审核。一位参与起草的专家向大智慧通讯社透露,目前该项计划更名为“清洁水行动计划”,拟从“清洁生产”、“清洁城市”、“清洁乡村”三方面,实施具体的水污染防治措施。 这位专家介绍,行动计划将把保障饮水安全作为重点内容,在城市和农村两个维度展开部署,拟进一步强化城市供水管网建设。同时,“作为流域水质改善的主体,城市水环境质量至关重要”,该专家称,“行动计划将把城市污水排放标准与地表水环境质量挂钩,直接从标准层面提升污水处理的出厂水质”。

In China, Pollution Rules Spur Big Car Purchases – WSJ.com more unintended effects of poorly considered policy // As more Chinese cities propose license-plate lotteries and other ways of limiting the number of cars on the road, consumers are responding by buying more expensive automobiles with bigger engines. In Shanghai, one of four major Chinese cities with policies designed to reduce car purchases to ease pollution and traffic congestion, between 9,000 and 10,000 plates are auctioned monthly, fetching an average of 82,000 yuan ($13,400) so far this year.

2013环保世纪行之一:雨中的采访_刘志强_博联社 pictures from an open pit coal mine in Qinhghai..not the slogan on the adjacent hill…taken by member of a Qinghai Provincial NPC research team // 现在我有必要向大家介绍一下我们这次采访的媒体单位和采访主题。我们是跟随省人大常委会调研组进行采访的2013环保世纪行活动,来自采访的新闻单位有:青海广播电视台、青海日报,青海新闻网、青海法制报、另外还有两家中央驻青记者站,中国环境报青海记者站和中国国土资源报青海记者站。采访队伍呈中年以上。年轻记者只有我们三个人,其他的都是老记者。 我们今天采访的主题是天峻县木里煤矿的安全和环境保护问题,但是在我们采访中发现,这里的环境保护意识还是很差的。就像省人大环资委主任刘伟民说的,“这里的环保还是达不到政府的规定,一切环保意识海在进行中,接下来的任务很重,需要企业全力以赴来做。”

Study reaffirms ‘cancer villages’ |Society |chinadaily.com.cn A government study has reaffirmed the existence of “cancer villages” along a major river, the latest sign of fast economic growth taking a heavy toll on the environment. The confirmation also reflects authorities’ growing openness on environmental issues, experts said. A rising cancer epidemic has been detected in the areas along the Huaihe River, said Yang Gonghuan, former deputy director of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, who led the study.

Hong Kong Seizes Massive Ivory Haul – China Real Time Report – WSJ The haul included 1,120 tusks mixed with a dozen rhino horns and a handful of leopard pelts in a shipment bound from Nigeria, which were concealed within nearly two dozen wooden crates. The total weight of the shipment was 2.5 tons, authorities announced Wednesday, with a total value of HK $41 million ($5.3 million).

Wild tigers can’t afford China’s half-baked commitments — EIA International During the workshop, EIA had the opportunity to share our recent investigative findings from China, published in our report Hidden in Plain Sight in which we documented permits issued by the SFA authorising trade in tiger skins from captive-bred animals. This was also confirmed by a discussion I had with a high-level delegate from the SFA

Exclusive: China approves first genetically modified Argentine cargo | Reuters China has approved its first shipment of genetically modified Argentine corn, Buenos Aires said on Tuesday. Argentine Agriculture Minister Norberto Yauhar said Chinese health authorities cleared 60,000-tonnes of genetically modified (GMO) Argentine corn. The cargo was already headed inland to be used as hog and chicken feed.

高清: 酷暑难耐 浙江义乌大批民工露宿街头_新闻_腾讯网 so hot in some areas of China, many people sleeping on the streets..Slideshow

Shanghai issues fifth red heat alert as “autumn” begins – Xinhua Shanghai issued a red alert for high temperatures on Wednesday, the fifth one issued thus far this year, as the Chinese lunar calendar says “autumn begins.” Temperatures are expected to exceed 40 degrees Celsius in the city on Wednesday. Sweating through the hottest July on record, Shanghai saw a record-high temperature of 40.6 degrees Celsius on July 26.

Race to Publish Shows Glaxo Zeal to Get Leg Up in China – Bloomberg Liu Xuebin recalls working 12-hour shifts and most weekends for months, under pressure to announce research results that would distinguish his GlaxoSmithKline Plc (GSK) lab in China as a force in multiple sclerosis research. It paid off — for a while. Nature Medicine published findings about a potential new MS treatment approach in January 2010 and months later Liu was promoted to associate director of Glaxo’s global center for neuro-inflammation research in Shanghai. Two months ago, his career unraveled. An internal review found data in the paper was misrepresented. Liu, 45, who stands by the study, was suspended from duty on June 8 and quit two days later.

Subscribe to the Free Sinocism China Newsletter! Enter Your Email In The Box Below And Start Getting Smarter About China.