The Sinocism China Newsletter 12.15.13

This is the first weekly installment of Sinocism. I am struggling with the format and after considering a short version with some commentary and 10-15 links I decided to go with more depth. So this is a long one, made longer by the 17 day hiatus. Next week’s will be shorter as I will be in DC with my kids for the holidays. Comments and suggestions on the format are encouraged.

Policymakers were busy with two important conferences in the last week. The Central Economic Work Conference (CEWK) concluded Friday and the Central Urbanization Work Conference ended Saturday.

The CEWK made no mention of a 2014 GDP target but did lay out six tasks for 2014:

“guaranteeing food safety, reducing industrial overcapacity, containing local government debt, enhancing coordination of regional development, improving people’s livelihoods and promoting further opening up”

The focus on local debt is another obvious sign of leadership concerns about the issue, as is the delay in releasing the results of the Q3 2013 local debt audit. Perhaps we will have to wait for the March NPC meeting and Premier Li’s work report for the 2014 GDP target?

The urbanization conference appears to have concluded without approval of the long awaited urbanization plan but with top-level agreement on the direction of urbanization. Expect less focus on “build it and they will come” local government infrastructure binges and more on limited hukou reform and what the leadership calls “human-centered urbanization”. Local officials and their cronies may not like it but Beijing has been signaling this for a while, with official media also running several stories on “ghost cities” and urbanization white elephants over the last few months. Implementation will of course be messy but when is anything not here?

The Third Plenum ended a month ago and there has been no official release of the composition of the Central Party Leading Group on Comprehensively Deepening of Reform or the National Security Commission. It is unclear if this is a sign something is amiss, the membership lists were never intended to be made public, or is it too soon to tell.

The US-China relationship is not ending 2013 on a positive footing. The White House was apparently given five minutes advance notice of the new air defensive identification zone, exactly the kind of surprise Obama supposedly asked Xi Jinping to avoid in the relationship. And on December 5 a PLA Navy ship attached to the Liaoning aircraft carrier group forced a US Navy vessel to take evasive maneuvers in the South China Sea.

This week we should learn whether or not China will begin effectively expelling reporters from The New York Times and Bloomberg by not renewing their visas, a move that is sure to provoke a reaction in DC. Vice President Biden raised this issue with President Xi Jinping, so if the visas are not renewed expect it to be viewed as a direct rebuke of the VP and his attempts at diplomacy. I expect some to be renewed and some to not, and for Bloomberg to come out better than the New York Times. Otherwise why would any foreign media organization believe Bloomberg-style appeasement is the right approach given the reputational risk?

2013 will be the Year of the Horse, so let’s hope a horse year is better than a snake year for relations between eagles and pandas. Then again, hope is never a responsible strategy…

Rumors about the imminent arrest of former Politburo Standing Committee member Zhou Yongkang continue to swirl. Two Sundays ago the rumor was he was under house arrest and that an official announcement would be made Monday. That obviously didn’t happen, and while where there is smoke there is likely fire so far there has not been a conclusive report on is status. I have no idea what is going on but I can not find any Beijing friend who does not think the rumors are true.

A move against a PBSC member would be both unprecedented and risky, though if Xi pulls it off then he would appear to have control over both the military and security services, making him probably the most powerful leader since Mao. But given the rumors and now the expectations, if he is not taken down then all the tiger talk in the anti-corruption campaign will be seen as just that and Xi’s prestige may take a hit.

Xi issued his “Eight Guidelines” to rein in extravagance just over a year ago and the campaign has been harsher and better enforced than many expected. Businesses and investors still hoping for any near-term rebound in luxury or high-end food and beverage spending will likely be very disappointed by the newly released guidelines to rein in official spending.

Those who miss the daily Sinocism can follow me follow me on Twitter @niubi where every day I still post a few of the interesting things I am reading.

This week’s suggested readings:

THE ESSENTIAL EIGHT

China Pledges to Tackle Local Government Debt Amid Reform – Bloomberg Last year’s meeting produced a statement that China will aim for a higher “quality and efficiency” of growth, instead of the “relatively fast” pace sought since 2006, a signal that leaders would tolerate slower expansion than the average pace of more than 10 percent a year over the past decade. China will try to achieve a growth rate that will improve the quality and efficiency of development and won’t lead to any “hangovers,” according to yesterday’s statement.

Related: China to balance growth, reform next year – Xinhua The statement said the government is calling for more efforts on guaranteeing food safety, reducing industrial overcapacity, containing local government debt, enhancing coordination of regional development, improving people’s livelihoods and promoting further opening up.

Related:  中央经济工作会议闭幕 确定明年六大工作任务_证券时报网 会议指出,做好明年经济工作,必须继续实施积极的财政政策和稳健的货币政策。进一步完善调整财政支出结构,厉行节约,提高资金使用效率,完善结构性减税政策,扩大营改增试点行业。保持货币信贷及社会融资规模合理增长,改善和优化融资结构和信贷结构,提高直接融资比重,推进利率市场化和人民币汇率形成机制改革,增强金融运行效率和服务实体经济能力。用改革的精神、思路、办法来改善宏观调控,寓改革于调控之中。努力释放有效需求,充分发挥消费的基础作用、投资的关键作用、出口的支撑作用。

China pledges steady, human-centered urbanization – Xinhua  China on Saturday pledged proactive yet steady moves in pushing forward human-centered urbanization as it looks to balance urban-rural development and unleash domestic demand…While promising to focus on the quality of urbanization and improve the living standards of urban residents, the statement said the primary task is to enable migrant workers to win urbanite status in an orderly manner.

Related: 中央城镇化会议提出六大任务-高层动态-新华网 第一,推进农业转移人口市民化。解决好人的问题是推进新型城镇化的关键… 第二,提高城镇建设用地利用效率… 第三,建立多元可持续的资金保障机制…第四,优化城镇化布局和形态…第五,提高城镇建设水平… 第六,加强对城镇化的管理

Related: 北上广深落户政策或将收紧 小城市全面放开限制_网易新闻中心 from the urbanization conference, hukou system to be fully opened up in small cities, somewhat in medium sized cities, but will be even harder to get hukous in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and other first tier cities? // 中新网北京12月15日电 近日召开的中央城镇化工作会议明确了各类城市的城镇化路径,全面放开建制镇和小城市落户限制,有序开放中等城市落户限制,合理确定大城市落户条件,严格控制特大城市人口规模。分析指出,这意味着中小城市户籍有望很快放开,而北上广深等一线城市的落户政策可能将进一步收紧。

Related:  China Sets Out Urbanization Plans to Support Economic Growth – Bloomberg Concerned that local authorities will see urbanization as an opportunity to boost infrastructure or develop too quickly, the conference warned that targets should be “practical and realistic,” Xinhua said. Officials should not pursue “quick results,” rather they should push forward in an “active and steady manner,” it said. The conference reiterated the strategy outlined in the Third Plenum document that urbanization and the reform of the hukou system should focus on small and medium-sized cities, while migration to the biggest cities should be strictly controlled.

Contradictions in China’s Foreign Policy – Carnegie Endowment for International Peace–Doug Paal the best essay on the ADIZ and other issues I have read so far // You may have missed the funeral, but China’s new leadership has quietly buried the admonition of former leader Deng Xiaoping that as China rises in wealth and power it should maintain a low profile (known as taoguang yanghui). In its place, the new leadership is advancing a more proactive diplomacy in surrounding regions. President Xi Jinping is displaying self-confidence that seems to match the mood of the times in China, one of renewed nationalism and self-assertion. In most neighboring capitals this development will be viewed positively but warily; in Manila and Tokyo, less positively. The issue is that China wants the benefits of a charm offensive with its neighbors, but it also wants to jealously guard its far-flung territorial claims. It cannot do both.

Related: Asian nations call for freedom of air, seas as U.S.-China maritime near-collision revealed | Reuters Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and leaders of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) agreed at a summit in Tokyo on the need for freedom of the high seas and skies and the peaceful resolution of disputes. The statement did not criticize China’s new air zone, which has triggered protests from Japan, United States and South Korea. Many ASEAN members have deep economic ties with China. But Abe himself minced no words at a later news conference

Related: China slams Abe’s comments on ADIZ – Xinhua Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei on Saturday night strongly refuted Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s recent comments on China’s East China Sea Air Defense Identification Zone(ADIZ). Hong expressed China’s strong anger over the Japanese leader for his malicious slander against China in international arena, according to a Foreign Ministry press release.

Related:  Chinese warship nearly collided with USS Cowpens – Pacific – Stripes Another U.S. military official, also speaking on condition of anonymity, told Stars and Stripes that the incident was ultimately resolved through ship-to-ship communications via radio between the Cowpens and a Chinese aircraft carrier in the vicinity. The official said that at some point there was direct communication between the Cowpens and the Chinese vessel that was harassing it, but the official was unaware of what was said during the exchange. “The U.S. has raised this issue at a high level with the Chinese government,” a State Department spokesperson said in an email to Stars and Stripes.

Related: Why China forced a confrontation at sea with the US Navy – CSMonitor.com While US Navy officials confirm the episode, they also caution that these sorts of standoffs with China happen with relative frequency in the Pacific and that, according to one Navy officer with knowledge of the event, it’s important not to “overhype” the incident. That said, the recent run-in holds a larger message, analysts say. The chief one may be that the US will not be able to comfortably troll the waters of the western Pacific.

Related:  China’s Security Challenges-Carnegie-Tsinghua Center In this podcast, Carnegie-Tsinghua’s Paul Haenle interviews Christopher Johnson of the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) about Beijing’s broader security environment. Johnson argues that despite the fact that Chinese President Xi Jinping has acknowledged the failures of China’s past regional diplomatic strategy, Xi is still is revisiting old policy models with new content. In particular, he notes that the new air defense identification zone (ADIZ) created on November 23 may imply that the East China Sea and relations with Japan are excluded from Beijing’s regional policy re-assessment.

North Korea: Execution breaks key link with China – CSMonitor The execution of Kim Jon Un’s uncle, Jang Song Thaek, likely has Chinese officials dusting off contingency plans. Jang was a key supporter of China-backed reforms aimed at reviving North Korea’s economy…China’s response to Jang’s dramatic purging has been extremely low-key, emphasizing that the issue is North Korea’s internal affair and expressing its hopes for stability and economic development. Along with stifling panic, Beijing may be hoping that its non-intervention will spare some of Jang’s pro-China associates from being targeted for removal under the North’s policy of collective punishment.

Related: North Korean businessmen ordered home from China; latest sign of purge | South China Morning Post The calling back of the businessmen was aimed at cracking the whip on those “classified as having connections” with Jang, who served as a key go-between with China, South Korea’s Yonhap news agency said yesterday, citing unnamed sources.

Related: Bad Blood–Shen Dingli–Foreign Policy In the statement announcing Jang’s execution, published Friday, Dec. 13, Pyongyang implicates China several times. It denounces Jang for betraying his national interest by leasing land in Rason to a “foreign country” — obviously China. It claims Jang allowed his confidents to illegally sell precious minerals and coal, also allegedly to China…Yes, executing Jang is certainly not China’s business. But condemning a criminal for his relations with China, under Pyongyang’s authorization, is very unhelpful to the continuation of the relationship.

Will China Shut Out the Foreign Press? | ChinaFile Conversation lots of contributors to this good discussion of the issues around the possible imminent expulsions of New York Times and Bloomberg journalists

Related: Self-Censorship or Survival? If so, Bloomberg is Not Alone | China Law & Policy Why does this keep happening?  Why does each media company think that it will be the exception?  It is the lack of unity among the major media outlets in dealing with the Chinese government about their journalists’ visas that is a weakness.  Each thinks it can make its own compromise with Beijing.  And that is their second fallacy: seeking compromise.  Compromise is not usually what authoritarian regimes do.  Control and domination – like the Chinese government’s relationship with its domestic media – is the usual end game.  Even with a united front, this is likely not a battle that the Western media can win on its own.// Bloomberg will look very stupid if there is not differentiated treatment between its journalists and businesses and those of the New York Times. Given the apparent existence of a recording of top editor Matt Winkler’s reported comments comparing Beijing to the Nazi regime, coupled with the 2012 Xi family reporting, it seems kind of hopeless in China for Bloomberg. But if Bloomberg wants to continue to find a way to curry favor its best bet might be to hire Kissinger Associates or a similar firm, “retire” Winkler, and then have Mayor Bloomberg visit Beijing to explain the mistakes Bloomberg has made and detail its ongoing efforts to fix them, including doing “more balanced and objective” reporting on China…And even then it is hard to see how the firm can be forgiven, at least until 2022, given its reporting on Xi’s family. 

Related: The Meaning of China’s Crackdown on the Foreign Press : The New Yorker  China is gradually losing interest in soft power. The Party spent much of the past decade seeking to project a more attractive and welcoming image to the world; it placed billboards in Times Square, expanded the reach of its news outlets to broadcast more of its views to Africa and Latin America, and built hospitals, roads, and soccer stadiums in developing countries. Those efforts will continue, but the leadership is signalling that it has concluded being liked is less important than simply surviving. I spent some time with a senior Chinese diplomat recently, and when I asked what motivated the threat of expulsion, the diplomat said that the Times and Bloomberg were seeking nothing short of removing the Communist Party from power, and that they must not be allowed to continue. That argument surprised me: I had expected a bland procedural defense—this was a blunt expression of fear.//yes, these reports are seen in some quarters as a direct and coordinated assault on the ruling elite…and with more likely in the near future that view may only grow stronger

Related: Dear President of China – NYTimes Tom Friedman writes Xi Jinping a letter in his Sunday 12.15 column, probably won’t help the journalists waiting for visas // If you throw all our correspondents out of China, I can tell you exactly what will happen: They will set up offices in Hong Kong, Taiwan and South Korea and do nothing other than comb through financial records from afar, without the balancing alternative to travel in China, meet and hear from Chinese people face to face, and write with nuance about other issues. Also, it will force us to evict your journalists. We will not let you enjoy our openness while you blind us.

Related: China Tightens Screws on Foreign Reporters | Keith B. Richburg I used to cover Africa for The Washington Post.  If an African regime were run by an outdated, secretive and thoroughly corrupt Marxist-Leninist dictatorship that regularly arrested and tortured dissidents, made human rights activists “disappear” into secret jails, restricted the rights of people to worship freely, restricted the Pope from naming his own bishops, and where local developers in league with corrupt officials regularly stole land from poor villagers and demolished their homes, I am certain we would call them out forcefully in our stories.  But in China, where we are concerned with being there on the ground to report, and where part of the story is China’s growing global economic clout, yes, sometimes we learn to pull our punches.

Related: The US Should Make Journalist Visas An Economic Issue. Because It Is One | The Sinocism China Newsletter  One of the prerequisites for good investing is accurate information. If China continues to tighten its restrictions on American journalists and/or if the US retaliates by limiting PRC journalists in the US, information flow will diminish markedly and businesses and governments on both sides will be unable to make informed investment decisions. Preaching to the Chinese about American values will not help move the Chinese on this issue, but making it about economics might. The US should link the journalist issue to the bilateral investment treaty negotiations by insisting the agreement contains language guaranteeing fair treatment of each others’ correspondents, a reciprocal number of journalist visas etc.

As Rover Lands, China Joins Moon Club – NYTimes The Chang’e-3 landing craft carried a solar-powered, robotic rover called the Jade Rabbit…A policy paper in 2011 said China would “conduct studies on the preliminary plan for a human lunar landing,” but the government has not made any decision on a manned mission, said Joan Johnson-Freese, a professor at the United States Naval War College in Rhode Island who researches China’s space activities. “Certainly, they are putting all the building blocks in place so that if they make that policy decision, they can move forward,” said Professor Johnson-Freese. “But the Chinese are not risk-takers. They are not going to approve that program until they are sure they are capable of all those building blocks.”

Related: China’s moon rover “Jade Rabbit” separates from lander – Xinhua 

Related: 嫦娥三号_新闻中心_腾讯网 QQ special site on the Jade Rabbit lunar mission. Videos, pictures, 3D animation

解放军少将:网络战威胁甚于核弹 中国尚无网军_新闻_腾讯网  Interview with Maj. Gen. Wu Jiangxing (Bio in English), dean of the Information Engineering College of the Information Engineering University of the PLA, director of the National Research Center of Digital Exchange System Engineering Technology and academician of Chinese Academy of Engineering, says threats from cyberwar greater than from nuclear war. Has lots of comments about risks of using American IT products. Just no good news here for Cisco and other US tech firms // 专访中国工程院院士、中国人民解放军信息工程大学校长邬江兴少将 打赢信息化战争,首先要能确保网络空间打赢。未来网络空间的争夺可能越来越激烈,将是综合国力的较量,是创新能力的较量,是军队素质的较量,是全民信息素质的较量 “斯诺登所暴露出的是美国人有规划、有计划、成体系、全面的部署,我们不能用个别的、无序的措施来应对,必须以眼还眼、以牙还牙,采用体系对抗。”…比如我们的金融系统在使用一些敏感的信息设备时,国外的信息系统比较成熟,功能上比较完备,技术上比较先进,成熟度也高,用起来肯定方便,但是它可能带来的危害很多人不愿意去想,或者不愿意去面对。东西是不错,跟鸦片一样吸了以后提精神,有幻觉,但它会残害我们的肌体甚至威胁我们生命的问题也绝不能视而不见,必须创新发展自主可控的技术系统以绝后患。// compares use of some foreign IT systems to opium…

Related: Lawfare › Reflections on U.S. Economic Espionage, Post-Snowden Cheng Li’s and Ryan McElveen’s good post over the weekend (via Daniel Byman) sparked the following reflections on U.S. economic espionage, post-Snowden.  Li and McElveen nicely summarize U.S.-Chinese relations concerning cybersecurity in the run-up to and aftermath of the Snowden revelations.  The post is especially helpful on how the Snowden revelations have hurt some U.S. business interests in China – a point underscored by recent U.S. IT firms’ demands for “global government surveillance reform.” I have some quibbles Li’s and McElveen’s conclusions, however, which are as follows:

There will be blood: WeChat’s payments prowess makes it a target for Alibaba | PandoDaily When I interviewed investor Hans Tung, a venture capitalist known for his early investments in Xiaomi and ecommerce giant Vancl, in November, he said Alibaba will be wary of WeChat’s QR-powered payment power. In comments I didn’t include in that particular story, Tung said WeChat had “scared the hell out of Alibaba,” which is why it launched Laiwang. “What WeChat could do is put a huge dent in what Alibaba has done,” Tung said. // and the way Alibaba has been acting lately about Wechat makes the company look a bit desperate

Related: Person of the year: Jack Ma – FT.com The founder of Alibaba is stepping back from his corporate role to tackle China’s myriad woes

Related: Closer Look: The Battle Lines Are Drawn for Alibaba and Tencent – Caixin Alibaba’s moves reflected growing competition between the two. Several other websites owned by Alibaba have also blocked access to WeChat, including the Weibo app and the music site Xiami.com. All of this echoes statements made by Alibaba Chairman Jack Ma in late October, when he called on the company to unify its efforts to fend off Tencent and WeChat. Alibaba is determined to strike with full force, regardless of how big a threat WeChat really is. Alibaba wants to prevent it from growing into a mature online marketplace. Also, Alibaba says the migration from PCs to tablets is an unstoppable trend, and it must enhance its capacity in mobile Internet as preparation for its plan to list.

Related: Internet Giants Find New Meaning for WWW: Weibo War of Words – Caixin Employees of WeChat said on weibo, China’s version of Twitter, on December 3 that Alibaba had started a smear campaign against Tencent’s popular voice and text messaging app. The post includes photos that purportedly show emails written by Alibaba’s PR department with articles questioning the stability of WeChat’s management team and the security of user accounts. WeChat described the contents of the emails as “speculative and malicious” and said news websites and online forums had published reports based on them.  In response, Alibaba’s PR department then said in three weibo posts that Tencent was also doing the same thing.

Related: Alipay in Push to Lure Mobile Users-Caijing However, it’s an “open secret” in the industry that Alibaba has essentially missed an earlier target of 8.8 billion yuan for mobile transactions, said Zheng Liang, director of the e-commerce division at research firm Nielsen in China. Alibaba is struggling to translate the success it had with users of desktop PCs to the mobile arena, with active access points significantly lagging behind Tencent’s WeChat, Zheng said.

Related: 三大运营商发力争夺移动支付市场 新华社——经济参考网 The big three mobile operators also want a slice of the mobile payments market, have big plans for 4G era// 艾瑞咨询最新数据显示,今年三季度,中国第三方移动支付市场交易规模达到2965.1亿元。综合此前数据,今年前三季度,移动支付市场累计交易规模已近5000亿元。其中,远程移动互联网支付交易规模高速扩张,占整体市场比重超过92%,仅支付宝就占据了逾六成的份额,处于绝对优势。 相比之下,以三大运营商为代表的近场支付份额持续受到挤压。随着4G时代的到来,运营商们也将发力移动终端布局,力图打破现有的弱势格局。混战之中,格局仍未有定数。

 

BUSINESS, ECONOMY AND TRADE

Rules on Local Govt Debts to be Rewritten-Caijing The Ministry of Finance has begun drafting rules for local governments’ debt regime, a task that is expected to be completed no late than the end of next year. Having a system to match local government debt – which could increase by 30 trillion yuan ($4.9 trillion) from now to 2020 – with development needs is an indispensable part of the national program to speed urbanization, according to financial specialists close to the ministry.

Bank of America advises China default contracts to hedge debt storm – Telegraph China’s central bank seems determined to cool the credit boom under its so-called “flexible opaque” policy before it reaches unmanageable extremes. It has targeted M2 growth of 13pc, which will require further tightening. It has also pushed real interest rates up to a range of 1pc to 2pc, an unpleasant surprise for those relying on negative rates to fund high leverage.

Explosive Bank Loan Rise May Spark Tightening of Credit-Caijing Aggregate financing came to 1.23 trillion yuan, up from 856.4 billion yuan in October. M2, a broad measure of money supply, grew 14.2 percent year-on-year, 0.1 percentage points higher than the market consensus.

China’s brightened prospects | The A-List — Yukon Huang To make something so comprehensive yet comprehensible, think of the third plenum agenda as having: one core principle – that the market should be decisive; two policy instruments of revamped fiscal and financial systems; and three cross-cutting themes – the elimination of the urban-rural divide, the development of competition between the state and non-state sectors, and the clarification of the economic and political relationship between Beijing and local governments. All of this is to be implemented by two new co-ordinating groups, one dealing with economic issues and the other with security.

Free exchange: A reasonable supply | The Economist Economist thinks it will win its bet with Michael Pettis // Those who argue that China’s investment binge is unsustainable are overstating their case

China Turns Over Corporate Audit Documents to U.S. Regulators – WSJ.com Chinese authorities have turned over more audit documents to U.S. regulators regarding U.S.-traded Chinese companies, audit firms disclosed in legal filings, part of a sweeping U.S. probe of suspected instances of accounting fraud….Still to be resolved is a parallel dispute over inspections of Chinese audit firms. The PCAOB inspects firms that audit U.S.-traded companies, but to date the Chinese government hasn’t allowed the PCAOB inspectors into China to evaluate the firms, leaving the U.S. concerned that any problems at the Chinese firms could be going undetected. U.S. and Chinese regulators are slated to meet next week in Washington to discuss inspections and other audit-oversight issues.

How Li Qiang Cheers Zhejiang’s Private Spirit – Caixin In an exclusive interview, the governor of a province famous for business moxie outlines his push for market reform

As Foreign Firms Slow Capital Spending in China, State-run Firms Step In – China Real Time Report – WSJ In the first 11 months of the year, overall FAI grew by 19.9% compared with the same period of 2012. But investment by foreign-funded ventures was much weaker, rising just 4.7% in the same period. By contrast, foreign funded FAI grew 14.5% during all of last year.

In China, Western Companies Cut Jobs as Growth Ebbs – WSJ.com Recruiting and consulting firms say they are feeling pinched by the pullbacks. “We are kind of wringing our hands,” says Rob Chipman, the chief executive of relocation firm Asian Tigers Mobility. “I’m concerned this is here to stay for not just a month or two, but a year or two.” He attributes the slowdown to caution by Western companies and to efforts to groom Chinese talent. ManpowerGroup Inc., one of the world’s largest recruiting firms, says the positions it tracks at foreign companies in China are down 25% this year through October, a sharper drop than during the global financial crisis. The decline affects entry- through senior-level positions.

China official says has ‘substantial’ price-fixing evidence against Qualcomm: media | Reuters The NDRC has been stepping up its crackdown on anti-monopoly violations over the past several months. It handed down record fines to six milk powder companies, including Mead Johnson Nutrition Co and Danone, in August and has also punished domestic jewelers for antitrust violations. Xu was also quoted as saying the agency would add at least 170 people to its price-fixing enforcement teams as it redoubles efforts to tame anti-competitive behavior in major industries, including the automotive sector.

Insight: China CCTV Starbucks report set off storm inside network | Reuters The October segment – the brainchild of a network executive who noticed Starbucks coffee cost more in China than in Britain – was mocked by Chinese Internet users and criticized by economic experts. But the reaction inside China Central Television (CCTV), which has targeted numerous foreign firms this year, was just as harsh, said a person with direct knowledge of how the Starbucks report came together, and a former employee who left weeks ago. However, those misgivings were all expressed in private or on a Chinese mobile phone chat application, illustrating how journalists in China are still reluctant to challenge editors in a system beholden to the ruling Communist Party.

Smog Darkens Shanghai’s Prospects for Becoming a Global Financial Center – WSJ.com Some Chinese who recently returned home are having second thoughts…Many meetings were canceled, because traffic was disrupted by the smog. “I thought Shanghai was the best place in China to live in, but now I just want to escape,” Mr. Huang said. “I feel bad subjecting my daughters to the dirty air.”

全国公共财政12月或将突击花钱近25000亿(图)-财经网 2.5 Trillion of public spending in December as everyone tries to use up their 2013 budgets?//财政部昨天公布了“2013年11月份财政收支情况”,数据预示12月可能突击花钱24933亿元,占全年支出比例有望超去年。对比来看,2012年12月份全国公共财政支出仅20816亿元,大幅增加的数字或许预示着年底突击花钱一幕将再现。

Central Bank, CBRC Split on Including Rural Lenders in Deposit Plan – Caixin The central bank and China Banking Regulatory Commission (CBRC) disagree over whether to include all small rural banks into the planned deposit insurance mechanism, for which a plan has appeared after 20 years of debate. The top leadership has sided with the central bank in saying that the draft plan should be mandatory for all deposit-taking institutions, including rural banks, rural credit cooperatives, village and township banks and thrift institutions, a source close to the People’s Bank of China said.

Closer Look: Jingdong Gives Alibaba Some Company in Financial Industry – Caixin The difference explains why Jingdong did not start with wealth management services for individual online shoppers the way Alibaba did when it set out to explore Internet finance as a new driver for growth. Instead, it targeted the logistics chain. Its latest move to empower suppliers is a financing tool called Jing Bao Bei. The service is open to suppliers that have contracts of at least three months with Jingdong. It allows qualified borrowers to receive loans in less than three minutes.

Shareholders Obtain $882 Million Default Judgment in Longtop Financial Securities Suit : The D & O Diary The one remaining defendant that plaintiffs have in their sights is the former CFO, Derek Palaschuk, whom the plaintiffs were able to serve in Canada in 2012 and who filed a motion to dismiss the plaintiffs’ claims against him. // Derek Palaschuk in Vancouver? Heard he got immunity from US regulators in exchange for cooperation. 

Rhodium Group » Shanghai Reform: Bold and Imminent The PBOC action plan will mute the SFTZ naysayers. While providing us with clarity on the Zone’s reform priorities and pace, it is a window into China’s future path, and the right focal point for considering the forthcoming global implications, including for exchange rates, RMB internationalization, market access in China’s services markets, and impact of Chinese direct and portfolio capital flows around the world.

China to Introduce Its 401K Tax-Deferred Pension Scheme in 2014-Caijing China is getting ready to launch a tax-differed corporate annuity, its own 401-style pension scheme, in an effort to consummate a multi-tiered pension system. Starting from January 1st, 2014, contributions to the pension fund, both by corporate and employees, will be partly exempted from income tax based on individual employee’s paycheck, said the country’s Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Taxation and the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security in a jointly issued notice last Friday.

China firms can directly list in Singapore from tomorrow | TODAYonline Under the new direct listing framework, which will take effect tomorrow, companies incorporated in China will be able to list on SGX directly, provided their applications have been approved by both CSRC and SGX.

China PBOC Launches Negotiable CD Trading | MNI The three-month Shibor rate hit 5.1670% on Friday, having risen from 4.7229% last Friday, with large banks deliberately quoting higher rates because they will be first in line to take advantage of the government’s latest phase in interest rate deregulation. The launch of NCD trading marks the latest phase of interest rate reform following the removal of the floor on lending rates over summer. NCD trading is seen as a step along the path towards the eventual removal of the ceiling on deposit rates, a key move in financial system reform which government officials have said could take another two years to complete.

 

POLITICS AND LAW

Event to commemorate Mao’s birth changed to New Year gala – CHINA – Globaltimes.cn An event scheduled on December 26, originally intended to commemorate the 120th anniversary of Mao Zedong’s birth, has been changed to a New Year’s gala, ticket agents confirmed on Wednesday. The event, originally billed “Reddest is the Sun and Dearest is Chairman Mao,” has been changed to “Singing for the country – New Year Gala.” The poster for the event, showing Mao, has changed to the Great Hall of the People, where the gala will be held. All performances to commemorate the 120th anniversary should be approved by the Publicity Department of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, said a notice published on yanchupiao.com, a Beijing-based ticket agency, under the gala’s poster….At the same time, a 100-episode TV series entitled Mao Zedong was due to be shown in December, Hunan Television reported. But People’s Daily reported Tuesday that China Central Television will now broadcast a series about martial Nie Rongzhen in that slot. // What are the odds the recent commemorations of Xi Zhongxun’s birthday will turn out to be grander than the upcoming ones for Mao? And how might that change the commentariat narrative, which so far has seemed more facile than fact-based, that Xi is a neo-Maoist?  

周永康缺席老上级葬礼 间接昭告已失自由身_中国_多维新闻网 Zhou Yongkang misses the funeral of former Minister of Petroleum Tang Ke and does not even send a wreath. Tang was once once Zhou’s boss, Duowei sees this as more evidence that Zhou may now be under some form of detention.// 【多维新闻】备受外界关注的中共前政治局常委周永康12月11日未出席中国前石油部长唐克的葬礼。唐克被认为是周永康的政治教父之一。周永康没有在当天出现在唐克的葬礼上,在八宝山出席葬礼的见证者称,周永康甚至没有送来写上自己名字的花圈,这种异常的现象可以被视为是周永康已经失去自由的无声证明,或者说中共已经不再为周的处境异常打掩饰。 今年7月7日,原中国石油工业部副部长陈烈民的追悼会在八宝山举行,官方新闻报道中就出现了周的名字。唐克比陈烈民职位高,又是周永康的老上级、老领导,而周也曾长期在石油系统工作,无论是按照中共丧葬礼制规定,还是个人情分,如果有行动自由,都必须到场送行,至少也要送花圈,并对唐克家属表示慰问。这个对比,可以很清晰的说明周永康肯定已失去自由,失去了退位常委的政治待遇,中共只是在等待一个恰当的宣布时机...截至目前,中共官方并没有发布唐克12月11日的追悼会新闻,仅是发布了唐克12月5日去世的讣告,有观点认为,可能是中共为避免引发媒体相关的猜测与炒作。中共前元老叶剑英将军的养女戴晴说:“这个周永康如果他要不是快死了,不是给担架抬着,他无论如何得参加这个追悼会。如果他没参加,他就是不能去了。所以,唐克的追悼会到现在居然也没有公布。”

China puts former security chief under house arrest- sources | Reuters China has put Zhou Yongkang, one of the most powerful politicians of the last decade, under virtual house arrest while the ruling Communist Party investigates accusations of corruption against him, several sources said on Wednesday…”Zhou Yongkang’s freedom has been restricted. His movements have been monitored,” one source said, adding that he cannot leave his Beijing home or receive guests with prior approval.

Xi demands implementation of “mass line” campaign – Xinhua Xi warned officials that the upcoming second phase of the “mass line” campaign will be greater in scale and the problems faced by the officials will be more specific and difficult. He urged the officials to have a systemic design on how they are going to conduct the campaign and make sure that the whole campaign will be subject to supervision by the people.

China bans wild animals from official dinner tables – Xinhua China’s central authorities on Sunday published a regulation that explicitly ruled out dishes containing shark fins, bird nests and wild animal products in official reception dinners. The document, jointly issued by the general offices of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and the State Council, detailed regulations of the use of public funding on receptions by local authorities to receive visiting Party or governmental officials. // 中共中央办公厅、国务院办公厅印发《党政机关国内公务接待管理规定》-时政频道-新华网 

China Exclusive: Frugality campaign stepped up to fight overindulgence – Xinhua “In previous years, with floods of guests to entertain, I used to sleep at scenic spots night after night during the peak seasons,” said a head of a local reception office in Damao County in Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region. “My glutted stomach finally gets a rest as receptions, especially ones involving accommodation, are few and far between because of the frugality campaign,” the official surnamed Guo said. Chinese central authorities on Sunday issued a 26-item directive detailing regulations on how local authorities should spend public money when hosting visiting Party or government officials. It lists 38 banned practices to promote frugality and curb waste. It is a detailed version of the “eight-point” guideline issued last year, which tells Communist Party of China (CPC) officials to reduce pomp, ceremony, bureaucratic visits and meetings…The new document targets to block off all “countermeasures” on frugality. // did not know “glutted” was a word. Document is remarkable for its specificity, a sign of all the ways officials were using to get around the regulations. Implementation will never be perfect, but this will make things harder to get around, expect some public examples of bad behavior in the next few weeks. Any lawyer or negotiator with a China connection should read this document, as a roadmap for how to write agreements with as few loopholes as possible… 

Gift ban applies to festivals: official – Xinhua going to be a lean New Year holiday for a lot of businesses // Local governments are not allowed to send various gifts, including fruit and vegetables, to the Ministry of Agriculture on New Year’s Day or during Spring Festival, an official from the country’s top anti-corruption watchdog said on Friday. The ministry also urged affiliated departments to cancel various celebrations and banquets during the holidays to save on public spending, said Zhu Baocheng, head of the ministry’s inspection team sent from the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection of the Communist Party of China. Zhu said that the ban on festival gifts is in line with the “eight-point” rules, which were put forward by the Communist Party of China Central Committee last December.

茅台人士:风声紧 政府只用两三百块钱白酒_网易财经 almost feel bad for this Moutai exec who says business is tough, government organizations now only drinking 2-300 RMB/bottle Baijiu // “最新出台的规定不仅针对茅台,五粮液、泸州老窖旗下1573、地方名酒的高端系列产品也不让用了。”茅台集团一位内部知情人士称,现在风声那么紧,政府部门一般只用两三百块钱价位的白酒了,以前茅台走的是政务市场,这条路走不通之后,现在主要集中精力主攻大型的私营企业。

China Focus: China’s reformed official assessment hailed as landmark – Xinhua  China’s official evaluation system has abandoned GDP-obsessed assessments and puts more emphasis on public well-being and the environment. “It’s a historical turning point that shows solid steps to deepen reform,” said Wang Yukai, professor with the Chinese Academy of Governance, who believes the new system will help CPC members do a better job. Gross regional product and its growth will no longer be the main determinants of local administrators’ success or failure, according to a circular on improving evaluation of local authorities, released on Monday.

中纪委连续发文解读《决定》 阐释反腐新格局_财经频道_一财网 CDIC anti-corruption moves in wake of Third Plenum seem to have gotten short shrift, they are serious about trying to built institutional restraints on corruption. // 近 期,中纪委监察部网站连续刊发对十八届三中全会的解读文章,从如何加强反腐败体制机制创新和制度保障、健全反腐倡廉法规制度体系、健全改进作风常态化制度,到形成科学有效的权力制约协调机制的原因分析,再到如何加强和改进对主要领导干部行使权力的制约和监督,全面阐释了未来中国反腐败的新格局建设。 在这一新格局建设中,中纪委监察部更为强调制度创新,推广和发展主要领导末位发言制度、全面实施“约谈”制度、行政监察和审计监督协作体制完善、跑官买官的“倒查机制”、新任领导干部重大事项报告制度的试点推进、派驻和巡视制度的“全覆盖”等都将成为未来中国反腐败的利器,也为中国反腐败“标本兼治”的局面形成奠定了基础。

China to standardize officials’ benefits – Xinhua  China’s anti-corruption watchdog is planning to draft the standards governing official’s benefits and welfare, defining differentiated packages based on the level of the official. The standards, covering offices, houses, cars, receptions, vacations, secretaries and security guards, aim to ensure that officials are enjoying welfare which “matches” their levels, the Communist Party of China Central Commission for Discipline Inspection said on Wednesday. Only a limited number of personnel at certain levels are allowed special official cars, full-time secretaries and bodyguards, according to a statement on the commission’s website.

Anti-graft tsar Wang Qishan a fan of TV series House of Cards, report says | South China Morning Post An article published yesterday quoted an unnamed source as saying that Wang mentioned the drama when meeting cadres from the Communist Party’s disciplinary watchdog. The source said Wang highlighted the role of the “party whip” in ensuring party discipline in the legislature. //王岐山被传在家做饭招待老友 不赴饭局不收月饼_网易新闻中心 original Chinese report

王岐山荐书《大清相国》洛阳纸贵 讲述铁腕治吏_网易新闻中心 Wang Qishan’s latest book recommendation is a 2007 book on clean Qing official Chen Tingjing, written by Wang Yuewen. Book is sold out everywhere now it seems. A “Wang Qishan Book Club” could rival Oprah’s…// 近日,一篇关于中央纪委书记王岐山的报道引发外界关注,其中提到,王岐山曾向下属推荐阅读《大清相国》。如今,这本以清代名臣陈廷敬为主角的著作在一些网购平台上已然售罄断货。 “陈廷敬的主要功绩之一是整顿吏治,他个人很刚正和清廉,处理案件铁面无私,同时很注重策略。”《大清相国》作者王跃文告诉《第一财经(微博)日报》记者,“总体而言,就是自身过硬,对待问题也敢于碰硬。”

CPC Issues Plan to Update Key Regulations-Caijing The plan, the first of its kind since the CPC’s founding in 1921, sets guidelines, goals, tasks and requirements for the Party’s making of regulations from 2013 to 2017.

中共公布党内法制定规划 首提宪法为上_网易新闻中心 这份五年规划纲要——《中央党内法规制定工作五年规划纲要(2013-2017年)》(以下简称《纲要》)督促中共在反腐倡廉建设方面完善党内立法,切实把权力关进制度的笼子里。据悉,这次编制党内法规制定工作五年规划,在中共历史上还是第一次。 “党内法规是中共自我治理、自我完善、自我进步的一个重器。”中共中央党校教授叶笃初对《中国新闻周刊》说,“这次《纲要》的发布,必将对党内生活产生深刻的影响。”

China Spins New Lesson From Soviet Union’s Fall – WSJ.com  Since the Soviet collapse in 1991, Chinese leaders have been preoccupied with understanding its root causes and avoiding a similar fate. Many early Chinese studies concluded that the Soviet collapse was caused either by Mr. Gorbachev or by the U.S. strategy of “peaceful evolution.” In the mid-1990s, Chinese scholars began exploring other factors, often concluding that its roots lay in a lack of reform under Leonid Brezhnev, who ruled from 1964 to 1982. Jiang Zemin, China’s party chief from 1989 to 2002, encouraged many of the studies, according to several Chinese scholars. In 2004, China’s leadership reached an internal decision that the Soviet collapse was caused by Moscow abandoning core Marxist principles, but Chinese leaders before Mr. Xi rarely spoke about it.

Chinese activist Xu Zhiyong indicted over series of anti-corruption protests | World news | theguardian.com Xu’s lawyer Zhang Qingfang said prosecutors in Beijing notified him of his client’s indictment on Friday. “So far, I still haven’t seen the formal charges by the prosecution – I’ll probably be able to see them on Monday,” he said. “But my prediction is that they’ll try him for the charge of ‘assembling a crowd to disrupt order in a public place’.” The charge carries a maximum five-year sentence.

Shanghai Man Seeks Record Sum After Home Museum Demolished – NYTimes.com Mr. Li says he and his wife were forcibly removed from their home in April 2012, and when they were able to return more than a day later they found it demolished and most of his collection of more than 2,300 bonsai trees and 40,000 stones gone. The Beijing Youth Daily newspaper said its reporter had seen a video that showed demolition crew bosses divvying up the contents of Mr. Li’s museum. “This jade object, can I take it?” one worker asks, according to the report.

河北廊坊政法委书记肖双胜涉严重违纪违法被调查_新闻_腾讯网 head of Langfang, Hebei Politics and Law Committee under investigation // 人民网北京12月13日电 (唐述权)据中央纪委监察部网站消息,近期,河北省纪委对廊坊市委常委、政法委书记肖双胜涉嫌严重违纪违法问题,正在立案调查。 另据财新网报道,肖双胜被查,或与其曾担任廊坊副市长时分管的城建领域有关。

Mao’s Birth Commemorated in Gold and Gem-Encrusted Statue – NYTimes.com Mao Zedong, the Communist revolutionary who rhapsodized the Chinese people as “poor and blank” has received the birthday present he probably never dreamed of. He has been commemorated in a manner befitting the excesses of modern-day capitalist China: a statue covered in gold and inlaid with gems that is said to be worth about 100 million renminbi, or $16.5 million.

What Do You Know About Xinwen Lianbo? – China Digital Times (CDT) CDT has translated the entire infographic, which includes a detailed history of Xinwen Lianbo, the evolution of anchors’ outfits, speaking speeds, and stock greeting.

村治之变-财经网 Caijing cover story on changes in village governance // 受困于集体所有制的先天缺陷,南海试图打破樊篱,按照市场经济原则改造集体经济,释放其再发展活力,同时重塑日渐失衡的基层治理结构

 

FOREIGN AND DEFENSE AFFAIRS

China, US consider the other side a rival| China Daily The United States and China are more likely to see each other as competitors than as partners or adversaries, a survey released on Thursday shows. The US-China Security Perceptions Survey, released by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and the China Strategic Culture Promotion Association, showed that 45 percent of the Chinese public and a clear majority of the Chinese elite view the US as a competitor. The survey defined the elite as consisting of government officials, scholars, business leaders, military experts and the media. Only 15 percent of the US public and 12 percent of the Chinese public viewed the other country as an adversary.// U.S.-China Security Perceptions Survey: Findings and Implications full text

Pilot killed as PLA fighter jet crashes in China | South China Morning Post PLAF getting better but has a long way to go, needs more night practice, expect more crashes as they ramp up more training to become combat ready // A People’s Liberation Army pilot died when a fighter jet crashed during night training on Thursday evening in eastern Zhejiang.

China’s East China Sea ADIZ: Framing Japan to Help Washington Understand | The Jamestown Foundation Four indicators strongly suggest the declaration of the ADIZ was a well-planned policy action that was coordinated across the government, or least among senior policymakers. Although China may be getting vastly better at crisis management and getting its message out, these indicators buttress the hypothesis that the ADIZ was deliberate, considered policy:

As Japan and China clash, their diplomats see little chance to talk it out – The Washington Post “There used to be so many channels” of communication, said a senior Japanese Foreign Ministry official who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive information. “But that has all but stopped.” The decline in high-level contact, the most pronounced since Japan and China normalized relations 41 years ago, points to fundamental shifts in both countries that have made it harder for diplomats to control and solve problems. In particular, hardening nationalism in China and Japan has reduced the ability of officials to appear conciliatory

Japan’s defense plans focus on China and islands dispute | Reuters The drafts of the two plans were made available at a meeting of ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) lawmakers and shown to reporters. Final versions of the defense guideline, which lays out Japan’s defense policy for the next 10 years, and the build-up plan, called the mid-term defense program and covering a five-year period, will be unveiled next Tuesday. Citing Japan’s concerns about what it calls Beijing’s attempts to change the status quo with force, the guideline says Japan will “respond calmly and resolutely to the rapid expansion and step-up of China’s maritime and air activities.”

Impending Japan-China war has the makings of a Clancy classic | The Japan Times On Nov. 23, China announced the creation of a newly expanded air defense identification zone (ADIZ) in the East China Sea, overlapping a large expanse of territory also claimed by Japan. The move has produced a visceral reaction in the Japanese vernacular media, particularly the weekly tabloids. Five out of nine weekly magazines that went on sale last Monday and Tuesday contained scenarios that raised the possibility of a shooting war.

Scientist in custody in seed theft conspiracy – The Washington Post This week, federal prosecutors unveiled charges in two cases involving defendants from China accused of conspiring to steal seeds…In one case, two agricultural scientists from China are accused of conspiring to take seeds from a research facility in Kansas and pass them to a Chinese delegation visiting the United States…Also this week, prosecutors in Iowa said six men from China, including the chief executive of a seed-corn subsidiary of a Chinese conglomerate, have been charged with conspiring to steal patented seed corn from two of America’s leading seed developers.

Are China’s hawks actually the PLA elite after all? | southseaconversations 讨论南海 In an upcoming Journal of Contemporary China article addressing the always fascinating question of PLA officers’ belligerent media statements, Yawei Liu and Justine Zheng Ren advance exactly the opposite case to the one made here earlier this year. They argue that military commentators’ media statements represent the “consensus” voice of the PLA, fighting to influence the CCP’s foreign policy.  Dr Liu, who directs the Carter Center’s China Program, happens to be the brother of General Liu Yazhou, most recently of Silent Contest fame. General Liu himself even features in the article, but references to his thinking are indirect (“General Liu seems to share the conviction that…”), presumably meaning that the two brothers have not talked over these work-related issues. Still, if anyone is in a position to knock the teeth out of my “propaganda, not policy” argument, Dr Liu should be the man.

Chinese nuclear forces, 2013–Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists The number of weapons in China’s nuclear arsenal is slowly growing, and the capability of those weapons is also increasing. The authors estimate that China has approximately 250 warheads in its stockpile for delivery by nearly 150 land-based ballistic missiles, aircraft, and an emerging submarine fleet. China is assigning a growing portion of its warheads to long-range missiles. The authors estimate that China’s arsenal includes as many as 60 long-range missiles that can reach some portion of the United States. The US intelligence community predicts that by the mid-2020s, China could have more than 100 missiles capable of threatening the United States.

China’s Xinhua says West must stop ‘meddling’ in Ukraine’s affairs | Reuters Western powers should stop meddling in Ukraine’s affairs and manipulating the “opinions of the people” about a trade pact with the European Union, China’s official government newswire said on Friday. The commentary, which came days after a visit to China by Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich, criticized western leaders for voicing support for the thousands of protesters who have rallied in Kiev’s Independence Square for three weeks.

Inside the Ring: China targets Global Hawk drone – Washington Times China’s military is planning to counter surveillance by the Pentagon’s long-range Global Hawk drone, which currently is deployed on Guam and flying reconnaissance missions aimed at China. According to a recent technical journal, China’s military now has countermeasures for thwarting Global Hawk flights, saying the stealth drone is flown near China’s southeast coast “continually” and thus “countermeasures against Global Hawk are considered.”

Chinese firm deemed espionage threat paid U.S. intelligence adviser – CBS News Theodore H. Moran, a respected expert on China’s international investment and professor at Georgetown University, had served since 2007 as adviser to the intelligence director’s advisory panel on foreign investment in the United States. Moran also was an adviser to the National Intelligence Council, a group of 18 senior analysts and policy experts who provide U.S. spy agencies with judgments on important international issues. Moran, who had a security clearance granting him access to sensitive materials, was forced to withdraw from those roles after Republican Rep. Frank Wolf complained in September to the intelligence director, James Clapper, that Moran’s work on an international advisory council for Huawei “compromises his ability to advise your office.”

Time to Get Tough With China?–Leslie Gelb But the real leverage between the U.S. and China comes down to economic horsepower. However much military strength is needed, and it is, policy makers understand full well that power in the region stems from domestic economic strength and vitality, plus trade and investment power. China’s economy still marches upward and has already surpassed Japan’s. The American economy is limping along. Congress hasn’t passed a budget in six years. It regularly brings the nation to debt default. It won’t increase funds for physical and intellectual infrastructure, where America is clearly falling behind. If China or anyone else, for that matter, is going to pay attention to America’s wishes and demands, Congress will have to stop acting like a Banana Republic. The Tea Baggers say they want a strong America; they’re destroying it.

 

TECH AND MEDIA

国务院任命任贤良为国家互联网信息办公室专职副主任 official 11.22 announcement of Ren Xianliang’s promotion to deputy director of the State Internet Information Office. Ren wrote an April 2013 essay in Red Flag on the challenge of new media to official propaganda efforts (original 统筹两个舆论场 凝聚社会正能量 China Media Project partial translation ). In 2010 Ren wrote the book 舆论引导艺术:领导干部如何面对媒体  (The Guiding Art of the Public Opinion is the official English title). His promotion from Shaanxi to this job in Beijing not an encouraging sign for those who still hope for Internet loosening // 国务院任命国家工作人员。 任命任贤良为国家互联网信息办公室专职副主任(副部长级)

China’s rumor crackdown has ‘cleaned’ Internet, official says | Reuters The crackdown on online rumors is really intended to quash anti-government discourse, activists say. High profile users of Sina Weibo, China’s Twitter-like microblog, have been targeted, apparently for political speech. In a rare public appearance, Ren Xianliang, vice minister of the State Internet Information Office, emphasized China’s commitment to scrubbing the web of content it deemed critical or offensive.

China has 604 million netizens |Society |chinadaily.com.cn The number of Internet users in China had hit 604 million as of the end of September this year, with mobile phones becoming the favored means of accessing the web, the State Internet Information Office announced on Thursday. About 464 million people, or 77 percent of the country’s total netizens, were regularly getting online via their phones as of June this year, according to the office’s vice director, Ren Xianliang.

Websites told to focus on responsibility, not click rates – Xinhua Facts are the lifeline of online news and the stronger a website grows, the greater influence it has, the more responsibility it should assume to ensure the truth and objectiveness in a news event it publishes, said Ren Xianliang, vice director of State Internet Information Office. Ren made the remarks at a forum attended by major Chinese websites’ representatives on prevention of online false reports and promotion of online media’s credibility. It follows a recent online rumor about a Chinese woman’s trick to blackmail a foreign passer-by trying to offer help. //国信办:网络媒体要更好地肩负起社会责任 |网络媒体|社会责任|国信办_互联网_新浪科技_新浪网

国内最大一起网络公关公司非法经营案告破 –财经–人民网 据警方介绍,口碑公司设有公关部、社会媒体化部、监测部、客户部等多个部门。其中,公关部和社会媒体化部分别负责新闻和论坛中有关负面信息删帖业务;监测部在网上监测到公司客户的负面信息后,将信息通过邮件方式发送到客户部对应的客户经理手中,再由客户经理反馈给客户联系人,双方协商是否需要在网上删除并确认价格…警方查明,在口碑公司等公关公司利用互联网非法经营的犯罪网络中,有许多拥有删帖权限的网站工作人员,涉及数十家网站(包括一些主流网站)。这些网站工作人员也成为网络非法删帖利益链条的关键环节。 正当删帖有合法渠道,面对诱惑网站需加强自身管理 // Police in China target PR firms in crackdown on illegal removal of online posts | South China Morning Post

Two More Journalists Held over Bribe-Taking – Caixin The other journalist detained the capital is Yang Kairan, the editor of the automobile news section for of the Jinghua Times. He was taken into custody in August. The investigation into Yang grew to include to several reporters and PR companies, several sources close to the situation said.

‘Beijing Youth Daily’ editor arrested for taking bribes: report | South China Morning Post Xiong Xiong, who headed the newspaper’s technology coverage, has been arrested for taking more than 1 million yuan (HK$1.3 million) in bribes, the financial publication reported, citing unidentified sources. The newspaper said the Chaoyang District Procuratorate approved his arrest, without specifying when it had taken place. The report on Xiong’s arrest comes shortly after police shut down six public relations companies and detained dozens of people throughout the mainland. These companies stand accused of colluding with social media portal managers to delete unfavourable posts on social media, which could have harmed clients’ reputations. // would not be surprised by more arrests, including at some of the major web sites

国信办邀请知名媒体微博负责人座谈交流_互联网_新浪科技_新浪网 the commanding heights of weibo have been seized // 新华网北京12月4日电(记者 韩元俊)4日下午,国家互联网信息办公室主办、人民日报社承办的媒体法人微博知名账号座谈会在人民日报社举行,人民日报、新华社、中央人民广播电台、中央电视台、光明日报、经济日报、中国新闻社、法制日报、中国青年报、北京电视台、环球时报、京华时报、北京晚报等21家主流媒体机构的微博账号负责人参加此次交流活动。与会人士一致认为,媒体法人微博账号理应成为在微博平台传播正能量的主力军,为凝聚改革正能量发挥积极作用。

南方周末 – “微博法庭”:网络案件,网民裁决 Southern Weekend looks at the “Weibo Courts”, the system Sina has set up to work with users to police the social media service // 编者按:改善网络空间环境,不能单纯依赖行政和刑罚这样的“硬手段”。仿照现实司法体系设立的“微博法庭”运行一年半,事实证明,网民能够实现良好的自我管理,既让造谣传谣者得到了惩处,防止他们违法犯罪,尽可能减少公权力的直接介入,也保障了网络空间的自由和活跃,达到各方共赢的效果。当然,“微博法庭”对待网民与官方微博应一视同仁,才能强化自身的公信力。

Hugo Barra, Vice President, Xiaomi Global & Loic Le Meur, LeWeb Founders- LeWeb’13 Paris – – YouTube This year he updates us on his new role at Xiaomi, running their product portfolio and operations in all markets outside Mainland China. He shares his views on the tech sector in China and where it is headed.

Apple removes anti-censorship FreeWeibo app by request of China: Shanghaiist Apple has removed an application that allows users to evade censors while reading posts on sites like Weibo from its Chinese app store, the software’s developers announced on Friday. It had about a good two month-long run. Users of the FreeWeibo app were able to access sensitive posts that might have been deleted or censored, one of its designers said in an AFP report.

China Mobile Gives $919 Discount on Samsung and Sony 4G Handsets – Bloomberg Apple has a lot of company // China Mobile Ltd. (941) is offering early adopters of its new fourth-generation wireless service discounts of as much as $919 on eight smartphones from Samsung Electronics Co. (005930), Sony Corp. (6758), HTC Corp. (2498) and five local vendors.

 

SOCIETY, ART, SPORTS, CULTURE AND HISTORY

Chinese Territorial Strife Hits Archaeology – WSJ.com With territorial disputes escalating in the waters off China, the Chinese government has begun asserting ownership of thousands of shipwrecks within a vast U-shaped area that covers almost all of the South China Sea, which it says has been part of its territorial waters for centuries. China has ordered its coast guard to prevent what it considers illegal archaeology in the waters it claims, and it is pouring money into a state-run marine-archaeology program. Chinese archaeologists are preparing their first comprehensive survey of undersea sites, including in disputed areas

Sinica Podcast–From the underground to the Internet – contemporary art in China In this episode of Sinica, Jeremy Goldkorn is delighted to welcome two Beijing-based artists and critics to our studio for a discussion of the arts scene in China. In particular, we are delighted to be joined by Matthew Niederhauser, the artist and photojournalist responsible for the wonderful exhibit Counterfeit Paradises, as well as Philip Tinari, Director of the Ullen Center for Contemporary Art in Beijing and founding editor of the Leap bilingual magazine about contemporary art in China.

‘Ink Art,’ the Met’s First Big Contemporary Chinese Show – NYTimes.com “Ink Art: Past as Present in Contemporary China,” at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, examines its resurgence. It presents 70 works by 35 artists, most born in the 1950s and ’60s, and several of whom have had little or no exposure in New York. It demonstrates that some artists have found new ways to use brush and ink on paper, while others have conjured its effects in photography, video, animation and even photo-based performance art.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art – Ink Art: Past as Present in Contemporary China The first major exhibition of Chinese contemporary art ever mounted by the Metropolitan, Ink Art explores how contemporary works from a non-Western culture may be displayed in an encyclopedic art museum. Presented in the Museum’s permanent galleries for Chinese art, the exhibition features artworks that may best be understood as part of the continuum of China’s traditional culture.

 

ENERGY, ENVIRONMENT, SCIENCE AND HEALTH

Authority suspends batches of vaccines after fatal cases – Xinhua China’s drug administration has suspended the use of two batches of hepatitis B vaccines after two dead cases occurred after vaccination. The China Food and Drug Administration on Saturday published a circular urging relevant local authorities and disease control centers to suspend two batches of the vaccines produced by a Shenzhen-based company.

北上广居民呼吸系统异常率上升 PM2.5是元凶_新闻_腾讯网 Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou residents have increasing rate of respiratory system abnormalities, PM2.5 may be to blame//京华时报讯(记者李秋萌)近年来,多个城市遭遇“霾伏”,PM2.5成了损害人们健康的头号“环境元凶”。昨天,记者从中国医师协会、北京市健康保障协会等主办的健康管理与健康保险国际高峰论坛获悉,3年来,北京、上海、广州等地呼吸系统和心血管系统体检异常率明显上升,逾四成城市居民曾出现过心悸、疲劳等异常症状。 北京市健康保健协会介绍,一份覆盖全国20个城市、68万人的体检调查结果显示,对比3年前,北京、上海、广州呼吸系统和心血管系统体检异常率上升明显,主要是由于空气中可吸入颗粒物(即PM2.5)污染导致,43%的城市居民表示曾出现心悸、疲劳、晕眩、呼吸困难等心血管系统异常症状。

Coal Industry Finds Itself at a Crossroads – Caixin The strict polices Wang mentioned were triggered by smog problems rampant in cities across China. This winter the government began implementing rigorous atmospheric pollution prevention controls in the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region. Restrictions on the usage of coal comprise a major component of the measures. //something going on, air in Beijing been excellent almost every day since heat turned on 11.15, don’t think it is just the wind

Eight Chinese cities fined for air pollution – Xinhua  Local governments in eight cities in northeast China’s Liaoning Province have been fined a total of 54.2 million yuan (8.9 million U.S. dollars) for air pollution, the provincial department of environment protection said Tuesday. The fines, the first the provincial agency has imposed on lower-level governments, send a clear signal that the provincial government is becoming more serious about tackling air pollution.

“雾霾罚单”始开:丢官员面子、卡地方项目_标签_一财网 will officials’ fear of losing face publicly lead to stronger efforts 2 fight pollution?//一位不愿意透露姓名的辽宁省官员称,罚款多少对城市的鞭策作用有限,但是作为被罚款城市的市长,在面子上也过不去,这可能倒逼地方主政者注重城市污染治理。

河北省委书记周本顺就大气污染防治等接受专访 Hebei Party Secretary Zhou Benshun on the fight against air pollution. He is under huge pressure from Beijing, expect progress// 周本顺:京津冀及周边地区是全国治理大气污染任务最重的区域,河北又是京津冀三省市治理任务最重的省份。河北在大气污染防治上,压力大、责任大、任务重,已经到了刻不容缓的地步。我们清醒地看到,人们对改善大气质量强烈期盼,大自然对资源的消耗也已不堪承受。大气质量问题再也不是一个简单的环境问题,而是一个严峻的政治问题。在我们的任期内,务必要取得重大突破,力争甩掉污染的帽子。

Mapping China’s Coal Plant Deaths – Gwynn Guilford – The Atlantic The map, which is based on the World Health Organization’s analysis of mortality rates attributable to coal emissions, shows that Chinese coal plants caused a combined 257,000 premature deaths in China in 2011. Here’s what the nation looks like:

Chinese central government looses control over approving industrial projects | South China Morning Post The expansion of existing paraxylene (PX) plants will no longer require ministerial approval – a move to cut red tape that could upset environmentalists and other opponents to the controversial facilities. PX plant expansions and alterations are among 25 industrial projects that the Ministry of Environmental Protection has decided can go forward with approval from local environmental bureaus to “to simplify procedures and improve efficiency”, according to a statement on the agency’s website.

Experts hail Three Gorges project,deny link to disasters – Xinhua Despite the benefits, there are lingering worries that the project could have negative impacts on environment and climate change, and could lead to more geological disasters and even earthquakes. “It is normal to have different views on such a massive project, but some arguments lack common sense of science,” said Gao Anze, former chief engineer of the Ministry of Water Resources. “It is wrong to blame all issues on the project.”

United States Advice to China: Learn From Us on Environment – China Real Time Report – WSJ U.S. Environmental Protection Agency head Gina McCarthy had an overarching message during meetings with senior Chinese leaders in Beijing this week: Cleaning up the environment is vital to China’s economy.

China Issues Blueprint to Help Minimize Effects of Global Warming and Climate Change – China Real Time Report – WSJ China issued its first nation-wide blueprint for adapting to climate change, as governments around the world shift their efforts from focusing solely on curbing global warming to minimizing its impact on people and the environment. “Addressing climate change isn’t only about reducing greenhouse-gas emissions, it’s also about taking initiative on adaptation,” the National Development and Reform Commission, China’s top economic planning agency, said in a report posted to its website.

A Quiet Start to South-North Water Transfer – NYTimes.com Ma Jun, an environmental advocate in Beijing who monitors water pollution through his Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs, said the muted official tone reflected a recognition that the project could, at best, ease northern China’s water shortages, but not provide a lasting solution. “The project can be seen as emergency relief,” he said in a telephone interview. He said that pollution had eased along the eastern route but remained a persistent problem, and for now the water would be suitable only for industrial use, not drinking.

Project to Save South China Tigers in South Africa Lost in Wilderness – Caixin Plan was to take animals raised in captivity to a place where they could learn to live in the wild again, but so far none has been returned to China…The original plan was to get those tigers trained in South Africa to come back China in 2008, but the SFA has been unable to find a place to free the rewilded tigers. They have now been abroad five years longer than planned. And now the financial backer and operator of Laohu Valley faces money troubles. Quan Li, a former fashion executive for Gucci and founder of the Chinese Tigers South African Trust, which controls the land and operating capital of the Laohu Valley Reserve, has filed for divorce from her husband, the foundation’s financial backer. The divorce is likely to put financial stress on the trust.

H7N9 virus detected at two Shenzhen wet markets after Hong Kong cases | South China Morning Post Samples from two Shenzhen wet markets have tested positive for the H7N9 bird flu virus that has infected two people in Hong Kong. Confirmation of the test findings came two days after the municipal government said the border city could not be confirmed as the source of the outbreak.

对话孟山都_杂志频道_财新网 This week’s Caixin cover story on Monsanto and GM crops // 转基因农作物的主要发起者和推动者美国孟山都公司,是天使还是魔鬼?

Genetically modified crops: Food fight | The Economist  OF THE many thousands of usually small protests that break out in China every year, few relate to national policy. Many consider the risk of challenging the central government too great. But the entrance to the agriculture ministry is a gathering spot for occasional demonstrations. Their complaints are about an issue dear to the ministry: genetically modified (GM) crops. At one protest this year, a group chanted slogans calling for the eradication of “traitors” who support GM food. Debate over the technology is escalating, putting the government in a bind.

 

FOOD AND TRAVEL

New Holiday Schedule Infuriates Many Chinese – NYTimes.com The new schedule, announced on Wednesday by the General Office of the State Council, will make it more difficult for the many people who live far from their families to make the journey back in time for the Lunar New Year Eve dinner, the centerpiece of the holiday. According to the changes, the seven-day Lunar New Year holiday will start on Friday, Jan. 31 and end on Thursday, Feb. 6. The seven consecutive vacation days are achieved by “borrowing” two days from the previous and subsequent weekends, meaning that workers must compensate for the long holiday by working on days they normally would have off.

Chinese develop whisky connoisseurship – FT.com Recent figures reveal exports to China stand at £140m – up from just £1m in 1992. Yet, as Scottish distilleries invest millions promoting their brands in China, the recent slowdown in the Chinese economy has had a notable impact. Faltering exports have been hit by the new leadership’s aggressive campaign against corruption and lavish spending by government officials. Sales of all spirits have been hit as gift-giving, often used as a way to grease the wheels of business, and entertainment budgets have been slashed by state-owned companies and local governments falling in line with Beijing’s edicts // have several Beijing friends in the Whisky business. Diageo took some of them on a 10 day all expense paid trip to Scotland in July. Lots of potential, they are doing well, even if their livers are not

 

BEIJING

China’s Fuzzy Vision For Greater Beijing – Economist Any plan is likely to prioritise Beijing-centred integration, as the capital continues to radiate into Hebei and Tianjin. Beijing’s central business district, in the eastern part of the city, has been expanding further east towards Hebei. Some of Hebei’s counties and cities have become de facto satellite towns of the capital; around 200,000 residents in Hebei’s Xianghe county and Yanjiao town work in neighbouring Beijing. However, Tianjin is unwilling to take a back seat. The municipality, whose Binhai New Area has been given priority since 2006, aspires to develop as an economic centre in its own right.

北京燕郊双城生活:每天朝六晚八5小时在路上_证券时报网 As Beijing home prices soar more and more white collar workers can only afford to buy over the Hebei border in places like Yanjiao and Xianghe, but the commutes are brutal, up to 5 hours a day. Beijing has planned light rail and subway connections but the public infrastructure has not yet caught up with the suburban real estate development. How was it sequenced back in the day as Long Island and New Jersey developed as New York City suburbs? // 近日,中新网房产频道记者走访发现,在北京国贸、通州草桥等地段,每天都有大批等候公交车的人排起的长队,交通拥堵情况严重。据了解,这些人大多是来往于北京燕郊的上班族,他们在燕郊买房,在北京上班,过着“朝六晚八”的双城生活。 近年来,很多人在燕郊等环首都郊县买房,两地往来上下班付出了不少时间和交通成本。有业内人士分析称,相对于燕郊的低房价交通成本可以承受,但是时间成本有些高,环北京置业要综合考虑再做决定。

北京地铁“2元坐到底”将终结 高峰时段拟调价–社会–人民网 Beijing considering ending flat 2 RMB subway fare and moving to congestion pricing..subway system crazy overcrowded, more than 10m trips on the average workday. This picture is from the Dongzhimen station last week during rush hour, not clear how many peoples’ feet are actually touching the ground // 今年3月8日,地铁路网客运量首次突破1000万人次大关,再创历史新高,并成为常态。早晚高峰时段,地铁站台内等四五趟车还是挤不上去的“战役”每天都在上演。市交通委相关负责人表示,地铁客流量潮汐性是地铁运行中的一个突出特点,早晚两个小时的运送量是当天客流量的40%,最为拥挤。// 京市民:涨价不会解决地铁拥堵问题_新闻_腾讯网 but price increase unlikely to fix the congestion, with annoy riders and perhaps drive more of them to already overcrowded buses. Beijing needs more subway lines and better planning

In Beijing housing market, education drives location | Reuters Prices for pre-owned homes and apartments in Beijing rose 19 percent in October from a year ago, a dizzying pace for those trying to get a foothold in the Chinese capital. But the spike is far greater in the areas young families covet – neighbourhoods near the best schools, which are often clustered in the older parts of Beijing, not near sprawling new apartment complexes. On average, pre-owned homes close to good schools are 50 percent more expensive than similar ones in comparable areas, and the gap has widened over the past year, said Chinese real estate agency and consultancy HomeLink. Supply is also very tight, half a dozen parents told Reuters.

How a former train driver dedicated 26 years to mapping Beijing’s hutongs | South China Morning Post Shu Liao, 82, an ethnic Manchu, started out driving trains after dropping out of middle school. But he found his calling when he turned to documenting hutongs. For three decades, he has created hand-drawn maps, written essays and taken photographs of the traditional homes in Beijing, working against time to catalogue a disappearing way of life.

小蝈蝈大市场 每月能卖10万条_深度_新京报网 long and fun Beijing News article on Beijing’s Shili He grasshopper market and the Beijing grasshopper tradition…good grasshoppers can sell for thousands of RMB, even though they only live for a 100 days or so. // 如今,光北京十里河文化市场,每周就能卖出至少三万条。它们中虽大多只有百日之命,但佼佼者身价近千元,一位蝈蝈批量养殖者说,他卖过最贵的,一条6000。这小家伙身价的飙升,源于虫文化的与时俱进,在它身后,不仅仅是玩家们五花八门的说道,还有正在完善的市场链条。

Hoping to Save the Remains of a Ming Dynasty Temple – NYTimes.com A person answering the telephone at the city’s Cultural Relics Bureau, who declined to give his name, said, “We’ve been talking about Nianhua Si for more than 10 years, and, honestly, I can’t answer your questions about what the plans are because there are too many government departments involved. State Cultural Relics Bureau. Beijing Cultural Relics Bureau. Beijing Development and Reform Commission. Buddhist Association. More. But in principle, the Buddhist Association is not allowed to knock anything down.”

北京三里屯警方将重拳打击“违法老外”_新闻_腾讯网 Beijing Sanlitun PSB announces crackdown on illegal foreigners //京华时报讯(记者王晟)三里屯地区地理位置特殊,在京外国人的工作地和休闲娱乐地汇集于此。为了维护地区治安,三里屯派出所投入大量警力打击黑车和外籍犯罪分子,并成立巡防队24小时不间断在社区巡逻。

 

BOOKS 

Amazon.com: The Case Officer: F. W. Rustmann Jr  always looking for a good espionage thriller involving China, this one, just published in November, was a good read // In the murky world of espionage, where shadowy intelligence operatives struggle against one another to gain tactical advantage, things can often go very, very wrong. This is one such story. Told by a former master CIA spy, truth is woven with fiction to create a gripping yet authentic action packed tale of real intelligence operatives at war. From Somalia, to Ethiopia, to Hong Kong, to Paris, we follow the path of CIA case officer “Mac” MacMurphy as he uncovers an intricate Iranian plot to draw China into a terrorist alliance against America. But when organizational inertia within the CIA hierarchy disrupts his operational plans, he must resort to unconventional methods to achieve his goals.

 

JOBS AND EVENTS

Beijing Government Affairs Rep- Beijing Job Bloomberg’s Communications/ Government department is seeking a Government Affairs Representative to join the team to assist in the development and implementation of strategies as they pertain to legislative and regulatory issues affecting Bloomberg in Asia. //good luck with this gig

 

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