The Sinocism China Newsletter 12.09.15

"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. Reform meeting tables healthcare, environmental, hukou proposals – Xinhua Chairing the meeting of the Central Leading Group for Deepening Overall Reform, President Xi Jinping said China had “gained good momentum in reform this year, and in 2016, the beginning of the 13th Five-Year Plan, efforts need to be focused on the target of building a moderately prosperous society.” The officials approved plans to merge China’s two medical insurance schemes for urban and rural residents in a bid to guarantee equal access to basic healthcare. According to a statement issued after the meeting, they called for the creation of a “multi-layered medical security net” integrating basic medical insurance, insurance for major diseases, medical assistance, commercial medical insurance and charity funds. Unregistered citizens were also promised household registration permits, also known as “hukou,” a crucial document entitling them to social welfare, during the meeting.

Related: [视频]习近平主持召开中央全面深化改革领导小组第十九次会议强调 改革要向全面建成小康社会目标聚焦 扭住关键精准发力严明责任狠抓落实新闻频道央视网(cctv.com) 会议审议通过了《国务院部门权力和责任清单编制试点方案》、《关于做好新时期教育对外开放工作的若干意见》、《关于整合城乡居民基本医疗保险制度的意见》、《关于解决无户口人员登记户口问题的意见》、《中国三江源国家公园体制试点方案》、《关于在全国各地推开司法体制改革试点的请示》、《公安机关执法勤务警员职务序列改革试点方案》、《公安机关警备技术职务序列改革试点方案》、《中央全面深化改革领导小组2015年工作总结报告》、《中央全面深化改革领导小组2016年工作要点》。

2. Xi to attend 2nd World Internet Conference – Xinhua Chinese President Xi Jinping will attend the upcoming Second World Internet Conference (WIC) in the river town of Wuzhen in east China’s Zhejiang Province, an official announced on Wednesday. Xi is expected to deliver a keynote speech at the opening ceremony of the conference, which is scheduled to be held between Dec. 16 and 18, said Lu Wei, minister in charge of the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC), at a press conference. More than 2,000 attendees from over 120 countries and regions will participate in the conference, with foreign guests accounting for roughly half, Lu said.

Related: I Don’t Declare: China’s Struggle to Sell Vision at Internet Summit  – WSJ The three-day World Internet Conference, to be held in the scenic southern town of Wuzhen, is the brainchild of Chinese Internet czar Lu Wei. It is part of a Chinese effort, spearheaded by Mr. Lu, to promote Beijing’s vision of the Internet as a space, like physical territory, that should be divided up along national lines and governed however each country sees fit. At a press conference in Beijing on Wednesday previewing this year’s forum, Mr. Lu offered a glimpse of the growing confidence China has promoting its views on the Internet

Related: How Xi Jinping sees the Internet – China Media Project Internet sovereignty, or cybersovereignty, is now a central policy concept for the Chinese Communist Party in dealing with the Internet. And the concept will be the unquestioned theme from the get-go at this year’s World Internet Conference, to be held once again in Wuzhen from December 16–18: “An Interconnected World Shared and Governed By All: Building a Cyberspace Community of Shared Destiny.”  //  originally scheduled for 10.28 this year, delayed by the 5th plenum

Related: 鲁炜在国务院新闻办新闻发布会上的讲话-中共中央网络安全和信息化领导小组办公室 Lu Wei’s prepared remarks at the press conference

3. Yuan Bears’ Appetite Whetted as PBOC Support for Currency Fades – Bloomberg Business The currency closed at a four-year low on Wednesday after the central bank cut its reference rate to the weakest since 2011. The yuan has now fallen 0.5 percent since the International Monetary Fund’s Nov. 30 decision to grant it reserve-currency status. And options suggest there’s a better-than 50 percent chance it will fall back to 6.5 per dollar by the first quarter of 2016, a level last seen four years ago.  // Beijing is never happy when foreigners are making money on a one-way trade, the short RMB trade is looking very crowded, might be a nice setup for the PBoC to inflict some short-term pain

Related: Chinese devaluation is a bigger danger than Fed rate rises – Telegraph Li Keqiang commands the economy on sufferance only. Rumours constantly surface that he has been isolated in the Standing Committee. The real danger for the world is that he is simply shoved aside. The stability of the yuan and the world currency system rests on thin political ice.  // humorous if not so serious the foreign pundit fixation that there is always one good guy in the PBSC standing up to something bad. Remember Wen Jiabao the clean reformer? How did that fantasy work out?

Related: The unenviable currency problem facing China – FT.com There is some good news. First, whatever excitable currency warriors might think, China is clearly not embarking on a deliberate competitive devaluation to boost manufacturing exports. A fall in the currency accompanied by a rapid decline in foreign exchange reserves is evidence of policymakers trying to manage a devaluation rather than engineering one.

4. Privacy, Internet Issues Cloud Credit Scoring-Caixin The People’s Bank of China was expected to issue operating licenses in December to eight rating agencies including affiliates of Alibaba Group and Tencent, sources who requested anonymity told Caixin. Some applicants have already opened for business on a limited scale. While reviewing these applications, central bank officials have written guidelines for the emerging industry. They hope to get the credit rating industry off to a good start with the right amount of supervision.

5. The Useless Tree: Further to a Critique of “The China Model” What Chinese history and philosophy has also taught me is that the greatest danger to the moral autonomy necessary to live a good, Confucian life is the tyrannical abuse of highly centralized political power. I understand that moral autonomy is not the same as political autonomy but, especially in the context of modern state power (as in the PRC since 1949), it is clear that an individual’s moral autonomy can be inhumanely destroyed by repressive political power. The Maoist period of PRC history is a distressing demonstration of what happens when the state robs individuals of their moral autonomy…The CCP worked hard to destroy Confucian morality. The Great Leap Famine was followed by the Cultural Revolution, and the structural and psychological power of the state narrowed the space of personal moral autonomy to the point of near non-existence.

6. COP21: China accused of blocking progress at Paris climate talks – FT.com China’s President Xi Jinping has garnered public credit for a series of bold climate vows in the run-up to the Paris meeting. He made a rare joint announcement with his US counterpart, Barack Obama, on Beijing’s plans to combat global warming late last year and subsequently pledged to launch a national carbon trading system as early as 2017. In Paris, however, one delegate told the FT that behind closed doors, India has been “quite helpful” on some measures while China’s negotiators have been siding with other developing countries on several divisive issues, including a push to provide more information about the volume of each country’s emissions.

7. Chinese Glacier’s Retreat Signals Trouble for Asian Water Supply – The New York Times The fact that Chinese scientists are raising alarms about these changes is a key reason that the Chinese government has been engaging fully in climate change negotiations in recent years. Another is the deadly urban air pollution, caused mostly by industrial coal burning, that resulted in Beijing’s first red alert over air quality on Monday. China, which remains the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gas, pledged last year to begin lowering carbon dioxide emissions around 2030, and in Paris this month, President Xi Jinping reiterated his resolve to help slow climate change. There are no vocal climate change deniers among top Chinese officials. In November, China released a detailed scientific report on climate change that predicted disastrous consequences for its 1.4 billion people.

8. Complete series now available! Assignment: China — USCI series on American reporting on China | US-China Institute How do we know what we know about China? The images most Americans hold of China were shaped by news coverage. Our multipart documentary series Assignment: China focuses on the journalists who have described the remarkable changes in China since the 1940s

AnchorBUSINESS, ECONOMY AND TRADE

China to Shrink Housing Stock Thru Hukou Reform | Mingtiandi “De-stocking the property market will likely be discussed at the upcoming Central Economic Working Conference,” said an article in the official People’s Daily. The Working Conference is held each December to set economic targets for the coming year. The story noted that Premier Li Keqiang has already told a cabinet meeting that the country needs to overhaul China’s household registration system to allow more rural dwellers into the cities in order to boost the housing market.

住建部门推“政策包”促农民购房 _ 经济参考网 _ 新华社《经济参考报》官方网站 《经济参考报》记者从权威人士处获悉,在中央定调去库存后,住建部召集地方房管部门相关负责人进行培训,研究去库存方案。据悉,政策指导方向将在原来支持城市居民的基础上,增加对农民与农民工购房的支持力度。 业内人士认为,目前库存高企的多为三四线城市,因此对于价格相对容易承受的地区,支持农民购房是扩大购房人群的有效措施。但需注意的是,目前对于农民购房后的贷款风险补偿机制并不健全,因此农民购房后还款执行难度较大。另外,购房农民的户籍与其原有宅基地与耕地的矛盾如何处理解决,也是目前面临的问题之一。

Executives of Murky Internet Finance Start-up Arrested-Caixin The arrest of Ding Ning, Chairman of Yucheng International Holdings Group Ltd., based in the eastern province of Anhui, comes after police raided offices of its Internet finance arm Ezubo Ltd., which has channeled over 70 billion yuan from individual lenders to corporate borrowers from 2014.

China’s Fiscal Squeeze Challenges Xi Goal as Slowdown Grinds On – Bloomberg Business The pressure on revenues is seen most acutely in local government land sales this year. These plummeted 32.2 percent in the first 10 months from a year earlier to 2.3 trillion yuan, according to Ministry of Finance data. Growth of local fiscal revenue also is slowing, slipping to 9 percent in the first 10 months from 9.8 percent a year earlier. At the national level, the revenue increase slowed to 7.7 percent in the first ten months of this year from 8.2 percent in the same period last year. Before a change in statistical methodology, revenue growth decreased to 5.4 percent.

China’s Rising Chemicals Supply, Lower Demand Squeeze Industry – WSJ China’s ambitions in global chemicals, coupled with its slowing domestic economy, have contributed to sharp overcapacity in parts of the industry, which analysts say is weighing on the margins of major companies and could contribute to consolidation in the sector. Tough market conditions for chemical companies coupled with rising Chinese technical prowess are among industry-shaping changes occurring behind the scenes  // can’t imagine Chinese AML regulators will be nice to this deal

Cabinet urges clearing up state-owned “zombie companies” – Xinhua China’s cabinet on Wednesday called for the elimination of centrally-administered state-owned enterprises (SOEs) that survive only on government bailouts. Such “zombie companies” in oversupplied industries should be closed or restructured in a drive to “markedly reduce” losses incurred by central SOEs due to poor operation by the end of 2017, said a statement issued after an executive meeting of the State Council presided over by Premier Li Keqiang.

China Sets Two-Year Goal for Loosening IPO Controls – WSJ China will reduce administrative decision-making over which companies can sell stock by introducing a new system within two years that allows them to make an initial public offering after registering their plans, the cabinet-like State Council said in a statement Wednesday. The meeting, chaired by Premier Li Keqiang, dealt with various ways to stoke innovation and business creation in China, including better protections for intellectual property.

Bag a bargain: China to cut import duties on luxury items including foreign-made bags and garments | South China Morning Post The tax cuts are aimed at making foreign-made daily necessities and luxury goods cheaper for local consumers and at spurring the economy by encouraging shoppers to make such purchases locally.

AnchorPOLITICS AND LAW

U.N. Calls on China to End Rife Torture, Crackdown on Lawyers – The New York Times The U.N. Committee against Torture voiced deep concern about the deaths in custody of several high-profile political prisoners and at China’s crackdown on lawyers. At least 25 of 200 lawyers rounded up since July remain in detention, it said. The 10 independent experts asked Beijing to report back in one year on progress in complying with an international treaty banning torture. Their recommendations came after examining China’s record at a two-day hearing last month, the first review since 2008.

王岐山已“隐身”1个多月 还有大老虎将落马?新闻腾讯网 Wang Qishan has kept a very low public profile over the last month, leading to speculation about who may go down next as his “disappearances” tend to precede tiger announcements

直击徐明的最后一程 别墅灵堂显蹊跷_中国-多维新闻网 Duowei on Xu Ming’s memorial service  //  徐明的灵堂设在了他生前别墅一楼的大厅,约30平米的大厅被一个屏风隔开,四周簇拥摆放着吊唁人送来的白菊花。徐明十来岁的儿子抱着骨灰盒跪在地上,对前来拜祭的人回礼。小孩低着头,并没有流露太多表情。或许,他暂时还不能理解父亲的死亡意味着什么。

八宝山人民公墓涉不雅照官员被停职综合新京报网 日前,八宝山人民公墓副主任韩某某被曝光“不雅视频”,引发热议。昨日上午,新京报记者从北京市民政局获悉,北京市社会福利事务管理中心党委已做出对韩某某停职接受调查处理的决定。 //  deputy director of Babaoshan cemetery in Beijing suspended pending investigation over a salacious videotape released by his alleged mistress. Wonder if Wang Qishan is also a fan of 6 feet under

Chinese courts will reject ‘Western pressure’ in rights lawyer’s trial, says state-run tabloid | South China Morning Post The Chinese judiciary will reject pressure from the West in the forthcoming trial of detained rights lawyer Pu Zhiqiang and resist the imposition of Western values on China, the state newspaper the Global Times said on Wednesday.

小官巨贪:县委书记受贿1亿 曾找高人念咒画符新闻腾讯网 this county chief was not learning from Jiao Yulu, now on trial for taking 100m RMB in bribes

Six Months After Fengrui Raids, Activists Call For Chinese Lawyers’ Release Six months after police raided Beijing’s Fengrui law firm, detaining top rights attorney Wang Yu and colleagues at the start of a nationwide operation targeting China’s embattled legal profession, their families are calling on the country’s president to override the actions of the ministry of public security and release them.

AnchorFOREIGN AND DEFENSE AFFAIRS

The Chinese man fighting Islamic State with the YPG – BBC News The YPG is a key ally of the US-led international coalition against IS, and has driven the militants from several Syrian border towns this year, backed by coalition airstrikes. Ba Si Pan, as he calls himself, may be the first Chinese national fighting IS in Syria with the YPG. He won’t reveal his full name, but says Ba Si is his name in Kurdish.

China: Army Leads On Mil-to-Mil Despite Sea, Air Tensions « Breaking Defense – Defense industry news, analysis and commentary US and Chinese ships and aircraft are increasingly facing off in the disputed waters of the Pacific. On land, however, the US Army and its PLA counterparts are actually building a stronger relationship. “While it’s very clear we have a competitive relationship also, especially in the air and maritime services, we have a cooperative relationship in the land domain,” Gen. Vincent Brooks told reporters this morning at a Defense Writers’ Group breakfast.

Report: Central Asia Key Site For Chinese Military Training | EurasiaNet.org The report also suggests that the many civilian infrastructure projects that China has been constructing in Central Asia are “likely” being designed with an eye to their military potential, as well. “Many of China’s highways and rail systems have been designed to military specifications,” the report notes. “China’s new highway and rail projects in Xinjiang—a large yet remote region with a smaller and more dispersed military presence relative to China’s eastern regions—likely are being designed with these applications in mind.”

Chinese FM calls for strengthened int’l cooperation on Afghanistan peace, reconstruction – Xinhua Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi delivers a speech at the fifth ministerial meeting of the Heart of Asia-Iatanbul Process in Islamabad, capital of Pakistan, on Dec. 9, 2015

China weighs in with criticism of Trump’s Muslim ban comments | Reuters Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said what Trump said was really an internal issue for the United States, and she could not comment on internal U.S. matters. “But on the relevant issue he brought up, China’s position is very clear,” she told a daily news briefing in Beijing.  //  assume Trump’s rise will be seen as further evidence of the “terminal decline” of the US to Beijing.

China seeks South Korean safety guarantees after warning shots fired at ship | Reuters The South Korean navy told Yonhap news agency it had fired 10 warning shots at a Chinese boat which it said crossed the Northern Limit Line – a disputed inter-Korean maritime border on the west coast. The ship was initially thought to be North Korean, but was later identified as Chinese, according to Yonhap.

第39集团军取消15种领导特权 直接从工资扣水电费|集团军|中国共产党廉洁自律准则_凤凰资讯 他们针对资金使用、选人用人、工程建设等方面的具体小事小节一项一项立规矩严制度,取消了公款报销个人通信费、使用固定公务车辆等15种“领导特权”。前不久,集团军组织报刊订阅,党委常委对照订阅标准逐份审核,没有出现一起超标准订阅刊物或订阅与工作无关刊物的问题。

PacNet #83 – Thailand tilts toward China to ease US pressure | Center for Strategic and International Studies Under the diplomatic tradition of power balance, Thailand won’t lean to China completely and will return to equidistant diplomacy with China and the US. But a new elastic equilibrium of power will be built on the basis of closer ties between China and Thailand. The longer the US hesitates on balancing to Thailand, the more beneficial it will be for China and Thailand to carry out comprehensive strategic cooperation in multiple sectors and to shape a more harmonious and stable landscape of regional security. Zhou Fangye is an associate research fellow at the National Institute of International Strategy, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences

Steptoe Cyberlaw Podcast, Episode #92: An Interview with Ellen Nakashima and Tony Cole – Lawfare Did China’s PLA really stop hacking US companies for commercial secrets? And does it matter? In episode 92, we ask those questions and more of two experts on the topic ‒ Washington Post reporter Ellen Nakashima, who has broken many stories on PLA hacking, and Tony Cole, the Global Government CTO with FireEye, who has fought off his share of PLA hackers. // China content starts at 24:55

Dalian Wanda Eyes Investment in Thomas Tull’s Legendary Pictures | Variety Chinese entertainment giant Wanda Group is considering acquiring a significant minority stake in Legendary Pictures, the Hollywood studio run by Thomas Tull that has built a substantial, multi-genre content operation from a base of fantasy and gamer franchises, according to three people familiar with the talks.

AnchorHONG KONG, MACAO AND TAIWAN

Manhunt begins after explosion outside Hong Kong legislature | South China Morning Post A manhunt has been launched for two suspects involved in an explosion last night outside the Legislative Council building that could have caused massive injuries in a planned but later cancelled rally against a copyright bill.

AnchorTECH AND MEDIA

JD.com Presses Rival Alibaba Over Fake Goods – WSJ Richard Liu has a message for his No. 1 rival in China, e-commerce mogul Jack Ma: Cracking down on fakes is easy. “It would take a programmer only a day to do it,” said Mr. Liu, the chairman and chief executive of online retailer JD.com, in an interview. “Can you imagine buying a Gucci bag for 80 yuan (US$12.47)?”  // USTR really should put Taobao back on the Notorious Markets List

China’s Hippest Smartphone Maker Warns Shakeout Will Get Worse – Bloomberg Business Pei said that OnePlus was profitable last year on revenue of $300 million. He declined to disclose projected revenue for this year, but said his company had expanded too fast into too many products and countries. “We cut a lot of products,” he said. “We even had two operating systems for China and overseas. Now we have just under 900 employees

AnchorSOCIETY, ART, SPORTS, CULTURE AND HISTORY

A New Frontier for the American West, in the Far East – The New York Times Modest entry-level homes sell for $625,000. Larger abodes — described by Jackson Hole’s developers as castles — have an attached vineyard and fetch nearly $8 million. The developer, Ju Yi International, says that more than 90 percent of the 1,500 homes have already been sold. Occupying more than a square mile of arid land in northeast Hebei Province, Jackson Hole has plenty of room to expand. After weekend services at the nondenominational church, many residents gather at the nearby clubhouse, adorned with Navajo art and wagon-wheel chandeliers, for the all-you-can-eat buffet featuring “American pork chops,” smoked salmon and, in a nod to local tastes, tree ear fungus.

All 358 ‘Living Buddhas’ of Tibet should be certified by govt: China | The Indian Express China today said all the 358 top Tibetan Buddhist monks revered as ‘Living Buddhas’ should be certified by the government as it commemorated the 20th anniversary of the enthronement of Panchen Lama, being groomed to rival exiled Dalai Lama.

A Chinese official said the Dalai Lama supports the Islamic State. Ridiculous — and telling. – The Washington Post On Tuesday, the chairman of China’s top religious affairs committee, Zhu Weiqun, extended that war of words, telling a Chinese reporter that the Dalai Lama sympathized with the Islamic State. “While the whole world has reached a preliminary consensus on fighting against IS and its cruel, violent behaviors, the Dalai Lama suggested  listening, understanding and respecting them,” read an account of Zhu’s comments published by the Global Times, a Chinese newspaper known for its strident nationalism.

China outcry over laboratory dogs shows changing attitudes to animals | Reuters Public outrage in China over photographs of laboratory dogs lying muzzled and abandoned on the roof of a medical school building spotlights changing attitudes to animal rights, animal welfare groups say. The pictures and video, taken by animal rights activists in the central city of Xi’an, went viral on social media platforms this week, sparking widespread revulsion at the treatment of the animals.

China’s new ski bunnies: how the winter sport is snowballing among the young | South China Morning Post Wu often travels to resorts within China and overseas to indulge his passion, whether it’s at Yabuli in Heilongjiang or on New Zealand’s South Island. Each overseas trip cost at least 10,000 yuan, he said, but the foreign resorts were more challenging and had deeper and softer snow compared to the crowded Chinese facilities, which rely on artificial coverage. Skiing is still new to many in China but it is gaining momentum, especially with Beijing’s winning bid to host the 2022 Winter Olympics.

AnchorENERGY, ENVIRONMENT, SCIENCE AND HEALTH

Chinese customs officers seize 120,000 fake face masks – media | Reuters Dec 9 Customs officers in China’s commercial capital, Shanghai, have discovered 120,000 fake respiratory masks, supposedly made by U.S. diversified manufacturer 3M Co, state media said on Wednesday.

As Beijing Shuts Down Over Smog Alert, Worse-Off Neighbors Carry On – The New York Times In Anyang, Henan Province, the air quality index read 999 at 3 p.m., three times worse than in Beijing and at the top of the scale. Handan, in Hebei Province, was not much better, at 822. And in the same province, the city of Shijiazhuang, a bit closer to Beijing, registered 460. By United States standards, anything above 300 is “hazardous,” meaning people should stay indoors.

China offers bonus to coal power plants to meet emissions rules | Reuters In a change in tack after years of fining rule-breaking firms, the government said on Wednesday it will pay bonuses from Jan. 1 to those meeting coal efficiency standards.

AnchorFOOD AND TRAVEL

Tibet to get first KFC next year | Reuters A franchisee will open the KFC restaurant, known for its American-style fried chicken, in the first half of 2016, Yum said in an emailed statement. The restaurant will be located in the Tibetan capital Lhasa, according to media reports. // wrong on many levels

AnchorBOOKS AND LITERATURE

Premier Li’s Wife Wins Top Eco-Literature Translation Prize – All China Women’s Federation Cheng Hong, wife of Premier Li Keqiang and professor of Capital University of Economics and Business, on November 28 won a prize for her translation of “The Singing Wilderness”, written by the U.S. naturalist Sigurd F. Olson.

Hermits and butterflies: the resurgence of nature writing in China | Dave Haysom – China Dialogue Translator and editor Dave Haysom traces the revival of the genre, from poet recluses of the past to a darker shade of dystopia that colours writing today

AnchorBEIJING

In Beijing, a Day Off School for Smog Is No Fun for Anyone – The New York Times Chinese parents invest extraordinary amounts of time and money to ensure that their children succeed academically, and many said they worried their children might fall behind if they were kept out of school too long…At some of Beijing’s most competitive schools, parents were asked to provide pictures of their children completing school assignments as proof that they were still studying.

北京9条地铁新线年底开工 全长193.4公里国内新京报网 193 KM of 9 new Beijing subway lines to start construction by year end. Any chance we can outsource the DC metro to Beijing, would run much better

AnchorJOBS AND EVENTS

Schwarzman Scholars Positions The following positions are currently accepting applications. Applications should be submitted as soon as possible, and will be accepted until positions are filled.

Stable Nuclear Relations Between Beijing, New Delhi, and Washington-Carnegie-Tsinghua Center – Carnegie Endowment for International Peace December 11, 2015 Beijing

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