The Sinocism China Newsletter 11.12.13

We should have official news about the Third Plenum decisions later today, so get ready for the Propaganda and Pundit Plenum show that will be lighting up the media imminently.

At least “Waiting for the Plenum” has gone faster and been more interesting than “Waiting for Godot”.

Much of the commentary will be on the language about economic reforms, with the more hopeful expecting and finding signs that the leadership is much more committed to moving towards something closer to a market economy. A credible plan for dealing with corruption will be at least as important.

We can still hope that more significant reforms will arrive before Godot did, though the markets, and most of the predictable pundits, will likely be disappointed in whatever is in the Plenum report.

What matters most for the leadership is whether their officials and citizens find it credible.

Today’s Links:

THE ESSENTIAL EIGHT

Foreign journalism under pressure: A little local difficulty | The Economist China is pressing foreign news organisations more than ever to pull punches in their coverage. And it appears to be getting harder to resist such demands. In 2012 both Bloomberg and the New York Times defied pressure not to publish exposés about the wealth of the family members of China’s top leaders, including Xi Jinping, now president, and Wen Jiabao, then the premier. Authorities responded by punishing both organisations. Their websites have been blocked in China, and Bloomberg has lost some of its lucrative terminal business. Those facts are fairly well known. Less familiar is that both companies have also been effectively blocked from taking on new staff or replacing current employees in China.

Related: Taiwanese Animators Get Big Bloomberg Story – Business Insider Business Insider reached out to NMA to ask a few questions about how they started breaking news. Michael Logan, director of content and business development for NMA’s International division, was kind enough to respond:

Related: Is Bloomberg killing investigative stories to stay in China? – Quartz That reporters within Bloomberg were willing to accuse management of censorship to both the New York Times and Financial Times suggests that, at the very least, a deep conflict has arisen over its China coverage. The company will need to do some pretty thorough explaining to reassure its clients.

Beijing denies report private investors could buy 15 per cent of state-owned firms | South China Morning Post A spokesperson for the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission (Sasac) told the China Securities Journal that the English-language China Daily had misinterpreted Bai Yingzi, a senior official at the commission, when it reported on Monday that private investors could create private equity consortia to buy direct stakes in SOEs of 10-15 per cent of assets.

Online Sales Records Toppled on PRC’s Biggest Shopping Day | Alizila China’s largest shopping event topped RMB 35 billion ($5.7 billion) this year, up a whopping 83 percent from the previous year, as offline promotional activities attracted more users and a surge in participating merchants created a frenzied 11.11 shopping festival. As the sale drew to a close at midnight on Nov. 11, some 171.4 million orders had been placed on Tmall.com and Taobao Marketplace, Alibaba Group’s e-commerce platforms, during the previous 24-hour period. Approximately 21 percent of those orders were placed over mobile devices, up from a mere five percent last year, as users across China took advantage of the free mobile data provided by Alibaba Group. Mobile GMV soared during the 11.11 sale to RMB 5.35 billion more than five times the amount of mobile transactions achieved last year.

Related: 马云:我们做“双十一”是要把房价打下去_资讯频道_凤凰网 马云称目前的商业地产价格奇高,希望通过网购的发展,削弱传统商业的力量。当大家都选择网上购物时,传统商圈的销售量就会减少,进而商业地产房价就会降低。马云称相信网购的力量可以把房价、物价打压下来,同时更希望双十一能够促进企业的成功转型。 同时马云谈及与王健林的赌局,马云称,如果王健林赢了,那就是我们的社会输了,如果房地产一直是我们的经济支柱,我们将输掉我们这一代人的幸福。在2012年,马云与王健林曾约定10年后,如果电商在中国零售市场市场份额占50%,王健林将给马云一个亿,如果没到马云还王健林一个亿。

Related: China’s delivery workers earn their bonuses on Singles’ Day | South China Morning Post The State Post Bureau said the week would be the busiest of the year for logistics companies. Last year some failed to meet their delivery deadlines. More than 323 million packages would be handled between yesterday and Saturday, with nearly a fifth processed on the first day – double last year’s busiest day, the bureau estimated.

Related: A Peek inside Alibaba’s Nerve Center – Caixin Inside Alibaba’s data center, a big screen constantly updates the transaction figures

China Quietly Launches Reform of Petitioning System: Paper-Caijing China is launching a major reform of the petitioning, or “xinfang” system, a channel designed to deal with complaints and grievances from individuals but has served instead to block public anger and triggered even more ire. The central government will stop ranking local governments’ “achievements” in reducing petitions, the Beijing News quoted sources from authorities as reporting, a practice that has been used since 2005 when China adopted a new version of petitioning system.

China Credit Trails Estimates as Officials Check Debt Risks – Bloomberg Aggregate financing was 856.4 billion yuan ($140.6 billion), the People’s Bank of China said today in Beijing, below all nine projections in a Bloomberg News survey. New local-currency loans of 506.1 billion yuan compared with the 580 billion yuan median estimate of analysts. M2, the broadest measure of money supply, rose 14.3 percent from a year earlier.

Xi Jinping’s 19 August speech revealed? (Translation) | China Copyright and Media A few days ago, China Digital Times posted a document which purports to be an outline of Xi Jinping’s speech at the National Propaganda and Ideology Work Conference on 19 August, which had hitherto remained unpublished. Another version had been flagged up on the China Law Mail List by prof. Albert Chen (H/T). I cannot confirm the veracity of this “spirit communication outline” (精神传播提要) beyond all reasonable doubt…at the same time as concentrating our energies in conducting economic construction, we cannot even for a moment slacken and weaken ideological work. In this area, we have gained deep lessons. The disintegration of a regime often starts from the ideological area, political unrest and regime change may perhaps occur in a night, but ideological evolution is a long-term process. If the ideological defences are breached, other defences become very difficult to hold. We must closely grasp the leadership power, management power and discourse power in ideological work closely in our hands, and cannot let this fall to others at any time, otherwise, we will make irredeemable historical mistakes.

公安部将严打团购越南新娘:或涉及人口拐卖_网易新闻中心 Public Security Bureau to crack down on “group buying” of Vietnamese brides// 近期,某团购网站推出抽奖免费去越南相亲找“新娘”的活动,引起社会热议。继外交部领事保护中心提醒中国公民谨慎对待境外相亲信息后,公安部打拐办主任陈士渠表示,“网上团购越南新娘”的做法涉嫌违法,可能涉及拐卖或婚姻诈骗,公安部等部门将严打以涉外婚姻为旗号的非法盈利行为。

China’s Building Push Goes Underground. – WSJ.com China takes a cookie-cutter approach to subways, with little differentiation between cities. To save time, contractors buy $5 million-plus tunnel-boring machines in only one of two sizes and in pairs so the coming and going lines can be dug concurrently, says Kiyomi Sasaki, acting general manager in China for Ohio-based equipment maker Robbins Company. “China applies a very simple standardized system,” said Mr. Sasaki. McKinsey’s Mr. Woetzel agrees with China’s urban planners and reasons subway construction will only get more expensive. Mr. Woetzel said the bigger concern is how Chinese cities intend to fund operations.

 

THIRD PLENUM

Three Views of the Communist Party’s Third Plenum – China Real Time Report – WSJ Larry X. Wu, an independent investment advisor, writes on the fate of the private sector under policies that are “politically left, economically right” (Chinese here). China’s current political roadmap looks more and more like one of “tightening the political grip and loosening economic control,” or “politically left, economically right.” This means an authoritarian approach to strengthen the ruling party’s power combined with a market approach to broaden economic freedom. This mix-up of two seemingly contradictory approaches may not necessarily fail. There are a few precedents for “success” as far as economic growth is concerned. But even the success of such a roadmap will likely paint a bitter scenario for entrepreneurs in the private sector.

人民日报评论员:抓住重点领域和关键环节,下好改革一盘棋–观点–人民网 ——三论凝聚全面深化改革的力量

Does Xi Jinping really want reform? If so, he would unravel China » The SpectatorJonathan Fenby // Like motherhood and apple pie, reform is a positive term. When Xi and Li moved in at the top, many commentators drew the facile conclusion that new men must mean new policies — as if it were a western political party coming to power with a new agenda. That view was underpinned by the clear need for change — Li Keqiang wrote of this in an internal document four years ago. But it ignores the basic calculus of the People’s Republic, the overwhelming priority of keeping the Communist party in monopoly power.//the conundrum. reform or be reformed. I think Xi understands that better than any of us, but his approach is not going to be what many in the West prescribe. We’ll find out someday who is right…

 

BUSINESS, ECONOMY AND TRADE

Schumer: Chicken Slaughtered, Raised In China Could Pose Major Risk « CBS New York Chicken from China has officials on alert, including U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) As WCBS 880’s Jim Smith reported Sunday, Schumer said first, the U.S. Department of Agriculture only allowed chickens that had been processed in China to be sold in the U.S. Now, he said the USDA plans to green-light poultry raised and slaughtered in China.

SOHO中国消化不良 潘石屹“吐出”上海三项目_财经频道_一财网 SOHO China sells three Shanghai projects…they moving money offshore, worried about prices here and/or broader backlash that some rumors say may be coming against real estate developers, as some one may need to be blamed for some of the messes in the economy and society, and rich real estate developers might make an appetizing target? Or has SOHO just taken on too much land in Shanghai and can not develop all the projects given their cash position? // 继李嘉诚宣布89亿港元出售上海东方汇经中心后,另一位地产大佬——SOHO中国(00410.HK)董事长潘石屹也打算出售其位于上海的部分项目。据外媒报道,SOHO中国此次计划出售的项目分别为虹口SOHO、SOHO海伦广场和SOHO静安广场三个项目。 对此,潘石屹公开回应称,SOHO中国在上海投资近500亿元,占总量的75%。公司同时看好北京、上海未来的市场。目前,正在优化投资结构,增大在北京的投资,达到两地平衡。“开门做生意,买进卖出很正常。”

SOHO China’s Zhang Xin Beats Out Brad Pitt to Buy NY Townhouse | Mingtiandi Not content to merely own a chunk of the GM building in New York, SOHO China CEO Zhang Xin bought a Manhattan mansion recently for US$26 million. Other potential buyers looking at the five bedroom, 19th century townhouse included Brad Pitt, Leonardo DiCaprio, and a Saudi prince.

省会以下城市基建企业暂停发债 新华社——经济参考网 Provincial level and below infrastracture investment enterprise have been temporarily forced to stop issung bonds–Economic Information// 出于对地方债务风险的担忧,监管层或将提高平台的发债门槛,省会级以下城市的基建企业将无法在银行间市场发债。11日,有接近银行间交易商协会的市场人士向《经济参考报》记者透露,交易商协会注册办公室日前对于涉及基建行业发债收文标准,在原则性要求方面进行了明确,暂仅受理省会级以上城市的基建类企业注册材料,同时企业所在地政府的债务率不能超过100%。

化解产能过剩政策频出 过剩产业用地将受限_财经频道_一财网 国土资源部发布消息称,将开展违规项目用地清理,对产能严重过剩行业新增产能项目,一律不予受理用地预审申请。

Iron Ore Rallying as Cargoes to China Reach Record: Commodities – Bloomberg Iron ore is extending a bull market on record sales to China that are spurring forecasters from Morgan Stanley to the World Bank to increase price predictions. Shipments from Australia’s Port Hedland, the biggest iron-ore export terminal, to China jumped 43 percent to a record last month, port data show. The Asian nation already imported the most ore ever in September, according to customs data. Standard Bank Group Ltd. and the Bureau of Resources and Energy Economics, Australia’s state forecaster, also increased price estimates in the past several weeks.

ICBC Faces FSB Capital Surcharge as Deutsche Bank’s Falls – Bloomberg Industrial & Commercial Bank of China Ltd. was added to a list of too-big-to-fail banks that must have higher levels of capital to guard against losses as part of a global regulator’s plans to protect the economy.

 

POLITICS AND LAW

Long silent, China’s entrepreneurs push for change – AP As China’s ruling party holds a major economic planning meeting this week, it faces rising demands for change from entrepreneurs who feel a simmering anger at a system that extends privileges such as cheap credit and monopolies to politically-favored state companies. Entrepreneurs complain they are denied a say in how society is run even as their businesses create jobs, wealth and tax revenue. Worse, some have endured arrest, torture and confiscation of their businesses at the whim of local officials. // how many really willing to rock the boat? yes, has to start somewhere, but…

China to try Mongol herders in new crackdown in troubled region | Reuters The six ethnic Mongol herders are facing charges of “sabotaging production and management” and “intentionally destroying public or private properties”, said Huhbulag, a lawyer appointed to represent the herders but later barred by authorities from doing so. They were arrested in June after a clash with Chinese workers from the state-owned Wengniuteqi Shuanghe Forestry, two of the herders’ family members told Reuters by telephone. The herders had accused the workers of illegally occupying their grazing land.

Family planning policy to be improved – Chinadaily.com.cn China is to fine-tune its 30-year-old family planning policy, a spokesman for the nation’s top population authority says. But any step taken must serve to maintain a low birth rate while satisfying individual families’ desire to have more children, the National Health and Family Planning Commission spokesman said.//a bureaucracy that does not want reform

 

FOREIGN AND DEFENSE AFFAIRS

China, U.S. Armies To Begin Joint Disaster Exercise | TIME.com Army officials from China and the United States are meeting in Hawaii for an annual disaster relief exercise that will include field training for the first time this year. U.S. Army Pacific officials say the countries will practice giving humanitarian assistance and disaster relief to a fictional third country in the exchange that begins Tuesday.

Half of all computer malware is written in Chinese, but the most dangerous is written in Russian – Quartz Eugene Kaspersky, founder of the cyber security firm that bears his last name, gave a talk on criminal malware and infrastructure attacks to Australia’s National Press Club last week. During the talk, which you can watch in full in the video above, Kaspersky said three things that made Quartz sit up and listen:

China Demands ABC ‘Face Mistakes’ for Jimmy Kimmel ‘Kill Everyone in China’ Remarks – China Real Time Report – WSJ Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang was asked by state-run CCTV to respond to the controversy during a daily news briefing on Monday. “ABC should face its mistake head on, and respond with a sincere attitude to the reasonable demands by Chinese in America, and prevent a similar incident from occurring again,” he said. ABC issued an apology on Friday, in which the network described the segment as an “egregious mistake.”

Soldiers in China-India joint anti-terrorism military training – Xinhua Slideshow

 

HONG KONG, MACAO AND TAIWAN

Taiwan’s ‘White Shirt Army,’ spurred by Facebook, takes on political parties – The Washington Post For decades this island has been bitterly divided into blue and green, the colors of its rival political parties. But that two-toned dichotomy has been upset in recent months by a sea of youths dressed in white. Now known as the “White Shirt Army,” the young people have become the biggest, most surprising social movement in Taiwan’s recent history. Some experts believe their emergence represents a shift in the political thinking and direction of the country.

 

TECH AND MEDIA

Tarena Said to Plan IPO After Hiring Former NQ Mobile CFO Ji – Bloomberg Tarena International, a Chinese education company backed by Goldman Sachs Group Inc., is preparing an initial public offering after hiring NQ Mobile Inc.’s former chief financial officer, said three people with knowledge of the matter. Tarena, which provides training for software engineers, plans to go public as early as next year, said two of the people, who asked not to be named as the plans are private. The company may sell shares in the U.S., one person said.

 

SOCIETY, ART, SPORTS, CULTURE AND HISTORY

Survey finds increases in international enrollments, study abroad | Inside Higher Ed The overall increase in international student enrollments was fueled by continuing growth in the number of students from the first and fourth-largest sending countries, respectively, China (up 21.4 percent) and Saudi Arabia (up 30.5 percent) – increases that more than made up for slight declines from the second and third-largest sending countries, India (down 3.5 percent) and South Korea (down 2.3 percent).

复旦将研究黄帝孔子及尧舜禹是否为真实人物_新闻_腾讯网 复旦课题组下一步还有更庞大的计划,一是中华民族形成史,二是中华家族史,三是历史人物。孔子及其后人、尧舜禹、黄帝、炎帝是真实历史人物还是传说人物的研究都有了相当大的进展。

“Good wood is always a good buy” | Shanghai Street Stories Negotiating with departing families and local demolition companies, he collected old wooden pieces from homes that were being taken apart – doors, floor planks, beams, pillars and ladders. It was a lucrative business in these old neighborhoods. Given the escalating property value of this corner of the Huangpu district, he has had steady business for years, which was unlikely to end anytime soon.

 

ENERGY, ENVIRONMENT, SCIENCE AND HEALTH

Shell closing in on second shale gas PSC in China not sure what to make of this. my neighbor is a senior shell person working on shale gas who is leaving China next month, well before his expected term, because said Shell cutting back on shale development here//Shell and Sinopec are discussing a PSC for the Xiang E Xi Block, two sources in Sinopec with knowledge of the matter told Interfax. “We are now discussing the cooperation. Whether we will sign the PSC depends on two factors: one is the result of the joint study and the other one is the approval from the government,” said one source, who is involved in Sinopec’s shale gas operations.

 

BEIJING

Language Log » Pushing Pekingese What is surprising is that, at the same time these criticisms are being leveled against English, Pekingese dialect is being promoted in the capital. This is a bit strange in light of the fact that, in every other major city of China, local languages are constrained by diktats from the central government. Slogans decreeing that it is “civilized” to speak Putonghua (Modern Standard Mandarin [MSM]) are prominently displayed in schools and in other public places, local language broadcasts are severely restricted or prohibited, and other policies against local language usage are imposed.

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