The Sinocism China Newsletter 12.30.15

I couldn’t resist one more issue…

The newsletter started 2015 with 17,065 subscribers and will end the year with just under 22,000, along with about 2,000 RSS subscribers. Thanks for reading, and if you want to support the newsletter please recommend it to friends and colleagues.

For readers interested in my thoughts on US-China relations and the accuracy of my 2015 predictions, here is a video of a panel I was on a couple of weeks ago.

Happy New Year!

Today’s Links:

AnchorTHE ESSENTIAL EIGHT *

1. Xi calls for patriotism in achieving Chinese dream – Xinhua Xi made the remarks during a group study for the history of Chinese nation’s patriotism by the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee. After listening to the lecture of philosophy historian Chen Lai with Tsinghua University, Xi said patriotism is the core of the ethos of the Chinese nation that is deeply rooted in its people’s mind and holds together the unity and solidarity of various ethnic groups in China. Xi said the CPC is the steadiest advocate and practitioner of patriotism, calling for making patriotism as an eternal theme in education, in a bid to make it as the firm belief and spiritual prop of each Chinese individual and be carried on from generation to generation. // jingoism here we come?

Related: 习近平主持中共中央政治局第二十九次集体学习–时政–人民网 新华网北京12月30日电 中共中央政治局12月30日下午就中华民族爱国主义精神的历史形成和发展进行第二十九次集体学习。中共中央总书记习近平在主持学习时强调,伟大的事业需要伟大的精神。实现中华民族伟大复兴的中国梦,是当代中国爱国主义的鲜明主题。要大力弘扬伟大爱国主义精神,大力弘扬以改革创新为核心的时代精神,为实现中华民族伟大复兴的中国梦提供共同精神支柱和强大精神动力。 清华大学陈来教授就这个问题进行讲解,并谈了意见和建议。中共中央政治局各位同志认真听取了他的讲解。

2. [视频]中共中央政治局召开专题民主生活会 对照检查践行“三严三实”情况 讨论研究加强党风廉政建设措施 中共中央总书记习近平主持会议并发表重要讲话新闻频道央视网 first 14 minutes of Tuesday CCTV Evening News on the Politburo “democratic life meeting”, part of the intensifying “three stricts, three earnests” campaign

Related: Political bureau members should not feel superior: Xi – CCTV News – CCTV.com English The “three stricts and three earnests” is a series of requirements for officials to improve their lifestyles and work. It refers to being strict in morals, power and discipline, as well as honest in decisions, business and behavior.

Related: CPC vows resolve in fighting corruption – Xinhua Senior leaders of the Communist Party of China (CPC) have called for “rock-solid will and resolve” to ensure the success of the Party’s clean governance and anti-corruption campaign. They also agreed that the sixth plenary session of the 18th CPC Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) will convene on Jan. 12-14 next year, according to a statement released after a meeting of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee on Wednesday. The meeting was presided over by Xi Jinping, general secretary of the CPC Central Committee.

Related: China’s President Xi Jinping calls on Politburo to follow his lead | South China Morning Post “This marks the launch of a party rectification campaign … It is a call to all Politburo members to follow the leadership,” said Steve Tsang, a professor of contemporary Chinese studies at the University of Nottingham

Related: Monitor your families for corruption, China’s President Xi tells Communist Party leaders | South China Morning Post At the latest “democratic life meeting” of the 25-member politburo, top cadres said preventing the re-emergence of corrupt practices and upholding the party’s working style were still top priorities despite the successes of Xi’s crackdown on graft. Xi asked fellow leaders to act as role models and to monitor and correct the behaviour of wayward members of their families or people working for them.

Related: Xinhua Insight: How a time-honored tradition helps CPC make self-improvement – Xinhua Twenty-five members of China’s top leadership criticized themselves and each other at a two-day meeting which ended on Tuesday. But unlike the attacks, defamation and even insult commonly seen in western political rivalries, the “democratic life meeting” saw the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee reach a consensus and add collective momentum to the anti-graft campaign. Xi Jinping, general secretary of the CPC Central Committee, urged his fellows at the political bureau to avoid a sense of superiority regarding their power or status and keep an eye on their relatives and close aides. Xie Chuntao, a professor from Party School of the CPC Central Committee, said as a time-honored tradition, the “democratic life meeting” is an effective way for the CPC, with 88 million members now, to reflect on its problems and find methods to improve itself, especially when China now runs into slowing economic growth and environmental degradation.

3. China stresses reform in revitalizing northeast industrial base – Xinhua China highlights the role of reform in addressing difficulties facing the northeast region and revitalizing the old industrial base, according to a meeting presided over by President Xi Jinping. By 2020, the northeast region in China should have achieved medium high growth and have met the target of building a moderately prosperous society, according to a statement released after the meeting, held by the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee on Wednesday.

Related: [视频]中共中央政治局召开会议 研究部署党风廉政建设和反腐败工作 审议《关于全面振兴东北地区等老工业基地的若干意见》 中共中央总书记习近平主持会议新闻频道央视网(cctv.com) 会议指出,全面从严治党是协调推进“四个全面”战略布局、实现“两个一百年”奋斗目标和中华民族伟大复兴中国梦的重要保障。2015年,党中央坚定不移推进全面从严治党,坚定不移推进党风廉政建设和反腐败斗争,严肃查处周永康、令计划等人严重违纪违法案件,坚决消弭隐患、杜绝后患,党风廉政建设和反腐败斗争取得重大阶段性成果,凝聚了党心民心,增强了人民群众对党的信心和信任。中央纪委和各级纪律检查机关聚焦中心任务,强化监督执纪问责,坚持纪严于法、纪在法前,完善党内法规制度,深化纪检体制改革,推进巡视和派驻监督全覆盖,坚决遏制腐败蔓延势头。

4. A Bigger, Bolder China in 2016 – WSJ With Beijing holding the rotating presidency of the Group of 20 nations next year, Chinese President Xi Jinping is expected to press ahead with his drive to challenge U.S. dominance of the global financial and security order. That threatens to put Beijing increasingly at odds with Washington, although U.S. President Barack Obama, preoccupied by Russia and the Mideast, is expected to avoid a major confrontation with China in his final year in office. // no wonder Beijing sees an extended period of strategic opportunity

Related: U.S. downplayed evidence of abuses in Chinese detention camps | Reuters Between February and April this year, State Department human rights experts cited these facilities as reason to downgrade China to the blacklist again, according to documents reviewed by Reuters and not previously made public. The downgrade would have placed China on the lowest Tier 3 of an annual evaluation of how 188 countries deal with modern slavery, a status shared by serial abusers of forced labor or trafficking including North Korea, Russia and Thailand.The experts were overruled by senior American diplomats in the final report on July 27. It was one of more than a dozen decisions on country rankings documented by Reuters that have raised questions over whether the Obama administration placed diplomatic priorities over human rights in the congressionally mandated report that can incur sanctions. The report came at a time of sensitive U.S. diplomatic issues with China, ranging from cybersecurity to tensions in the South China Sea //  coddle coddle

5. Microsoft failed to warn victims of Chinese email hack – former employees | Reuters Microsoft Corp experts concluded several years ago that Chinese authorities had hacked into more than a thousand Hotmail email accounts, targeting international leaders of China’s Tibetan and Uighur minorities in particular – but it decided not to tell the victims, allowing the hackers to continue their campaign, according to former employees of the company. On Wednesday, after a series of requests for comment from Reuters, Microsoft said it will change its policy and in the future tell its email customers when it suspects there has been a government hacking attempt.

6. All the president’s men: Xi Jinping earmarks top brass for overhaul of Chinese military | South China Morning Post The source said Xi wanted to root out all established factions in the army and avoid using officers who had served as close aides to previous leaders. The new heads of three major branches of the PLA had also been decided, the source said. Two deputy chiefs at the PLA General Staff Department, Admiral Sun Jianguo, 63, and Lieutenant General Yi Xiaoguang, 57, would take over at the PLA Navy and Air Force, the source said. If the appointments are confirmed, Sun would replace Wu Shengli and Yi would take over from Ma Xiaotian. Wu and Ma are retiring.

Related: PLA general who helped Xi battle graft in military retires | South China Morning Post Liu Yuan attended a farewell ceremony with colleagues from his General Logistics Department, where he was the political commissar, on December 23, according to the sources, adding he delivered a speech and shook hands. Liu is 64, one year below the mandatory retirement age for officers of his rank who are not members of the decision-making Central Military Commission. // very interesting, and not just because South China Morning Post got this wrong a few weeks ago

7. Bankers Behind ‘Belt and Road’ Business Surge-Caixin People at the Bank of China said loan schemes have been designed to support companies that transfer some of their manufacturing capacity abroad, with the goal of addressing domestic overcapacity problems. These include projects that “move steel refining and cement production capacities overseas,” one person said. This overseas production capacity can then be channeled “to support local construction projects” by Chinese companies, the source said.

8. Biding Time Until China’s Outlook Clears – The New York Times “Officials don’t know when the anticorruption campaign, the study sessions, all that, will end, and until then you don’t know who might be next to fall,” said Zhang Ming, a historian at Renmin University in Beijing who often writes about current events. Advertisement Continue reading the main story Advertisement Advertisement Continue reading the main story “On high and below, there’s no clear sense of direction,” he said. “Previously, in the 1980s and 1990s, it was much simpler — reform, build a market economy. But now, the policies are harder to read, for officials and for ordinary people.”

AnchorBUSINESS, ECONOMY AND TRADE *

China Said to Suspend Foreign Banks’ Cross-Border Yuan Business – Bloomberg Business “They are doing the right thing,” former Morgan Stanley Chief Executive Officer John Mack said in an interview on Bloomberg Television. “The Chinese want to minimize volatility. When you have the arbitrage set up where it’s an absolute money maker and more people come into that trade, it creates a lot of volatility.” The clampdown is a short-term market adjustment because the two prices will eventually converge and the authorities have already set a target of bringing this about by 2020, said UOB’s Suan.

Local Gov’ts Had Debt of 15.4 Tln Yuan Last Year, Lou Jiwei Says-Caixin China’s local governments had total outstanding debts of 15.4 trillion yuan at the end of 2014, including 1.06 trillion yuan worth of bonds, says Lou Jiwei, the finance minister. Lou told the committee that runs the legislature between its full sessions on December 26 that the State Council wants local governments to convert the loans they hold into cheaper bonds by the end of 2017. The central government has already allowed local governments to sell bonds worth 3.2 trillion yuan to banks so they can repay old debts, Lou said.

China cbank deputy governor appointed head of FX regulator – report | Reuters Pan Gongsheng will retain his post as deputy governor while assuming the position as head of the State Administration of Foreign Exchange (SAFE), Caixin reported, citing unnamed sources.

A Chinese Company in India, Stumbling Over a Culture – The New York Times Chinese companies have embarked on ambitious overseas expansion efforts, snapping up land in dozens of countries to build factories, industrial parks, power plants and other operations. While the investments provide critical support for many economies, Chinese businesses are struggling to navigate complex cultural, political and competitive dynamics. // that different from the initial overseas forays of American companies?

Reagan’s Chinese echo | The Economist Reagan’s supply-side strategy was notable, at least at the outset, for its controversial focus on cutting taxes as a way of encouraging companies to produce and invest more. In Xiconomics, the thrust of supply-side policy is less clear, despite the term’s prominence at recent economic-planning meetings and its dissection in numerous articles published by state media. Investors, hoping the phrase might herald a renewed effort by the leadership to boost the economy, are eager for detail. // “Xiconomics”? 

AnchorPOLITICS AND LAW *

China controls dissidents abroad through relatives back home How Beijing is infiltrating and intimidating Uighur exile communities, from the Americas to Europe to Australia.  //  not dissimilar from how Beijing infiltrated and rendered impotent the overseas democracy movement, no?

韩正背水一战?上海四大实权掌门齐换_中国-多维新闻网 临近年底,极具政治敏感性的上海官场再曝异动。北京时间12月30日,上海市政府官网一口气宣布了四大关键部门官员更迭信息,涉及上海市发改委主任、监察局局长、人力资源和社会保障局局长、交通委员会主任等掌门要职。对此,有观察人士指称,此番人事调整涉及经济、纪检、人事、交通等关键部门,这些部门的一把手同时换血实属罕见,尤其在上海反腐风声鹤唳,韩正屡屡表态效忠的当下,上海当局此举颇有布局新年、背水一战的意味。

Former China Unicom chairman Chang Xiaobing ‘sold state asset at fraction of its price to benefit disgraced general Guo Boxiong’ | South China Morning Post The letter that blew the whistle on Chang was carried online by many mainland news websites and remained there despite Beijing’s tight control over the media and the internet. It contained the name and phone numbers of Li Zhengdong, an employee at China Chengxin Credit Management. The credit assessment firm is located in the building allegedly sold by China Unicom. A staff member at the firm’s reception confirmed Li was an employee.

甘肃一女生坠亡引发群体性事件 当地市长疑受伤_网易新闻中心 新京报快讯 12月28日下午,甘肃省金昌市永昌县13岁初一女生赵某在当地城关镇御山城市广场高层坠亡,事件系其偷窃一超市巧克力等食物引发。据永昌县委宣传部今日凌晨消息,今日超市再次发生群体性事件,上千名群众围攻警方并损毁执勤车辆,昨日傍晚,现场人群逐渐散去,超市负责人已被公安机关控制。

AnchorFOREIGN AND DEFENSE AFFAIRS *

Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Lu Kang’s Regular Press Conference on December 30, 2015 Ursula Gauthier told the press that she received the so-called death threats. If I remember it correctly, this is not the first time she made such claims. The logic goes that if a person seriously believes that his or her life is threatened, the first response must be calling the police. The Chinese government has the responsibility of safeguarding lawful rights and interests of foreigners in China. But as far as I know, the Chinese police has yet to receive such an alarm. Ursula Gauthier should go to the police if she really believes she is threatened. Instead she is flaunting it in front of the press which is rather unusual, unless she is doing it for other purposes. // Lu Kang usually a very slick barbarian handler, sat at same table with him during VP Biden’s September lunch for Xi.

China to replace Japan as second-largest funder of U.N. peacekeeping | The Japan Times China is set to replace Japan as the second-largest financial contributor for U.N. peacekeeping operations in the next budget year, according to estimates by the United Nations. China, which currently ranks sixth by providing 6.64 percent of the U.N. peacekeeping budget, is expected to provide a 10.29 percent share in the year starting next July, behind only the United States with a projected 28.57 percent contribution.

Junyu.org Home junyu.org  is an online resource and community dedicated to advancing a better understanding of the professional military terminology used by the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA).  Online resources at junyu.org include the Mil Mandarin (MM) Dictionary, vocabulary lists, references, and a user forum.  The MM Dictionary is a topic based military dictionary with definitions for terms of military theory and practice as used by the PLA. // very useful

China’s assertiveness pushes Vietnam toward an old foe, the United States – The Washington Post “The Chinese government and the media are not very smart,” said a leading Chinese professional in Hanoi, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss a sensitive subject. Beijing’s propaganda machine has bombarded the world with talk of Xi’s grand regional plans, “without thinking about how that might make others feel,” he said.

AnchorTECH AND MEDIA *

Movie ticket sales jump 48% in China, but Hollywood has reason to worry – LA Times But Hollywood isn’t sharing equally in the bonanza: Revenue for imported films rose less than 24% this year, while homegrown Chinese movies saw almost a 69% surge. China’s box office should close out the year with total sales of about 43.9 billion renminbi, or $6.8 billion, up 48.3% over 2014, data from film industry consulting firm Artisan Gateway showed Tuesday.

Exorcising Ghosts: How Hit Film Cleared China’s Censors – China Real Time Report – WSJ The movie should not be named ‘Ghost Blows Out the Light,’” said Mr. Wu, citing what the officials told him before the film began shooting in 2013. “The leading characters should not commit crimes, and the spiritual phenomenon shown in the movie should have material explanations.” To work out a script that met the censorship standard while capturing the essence of the eight-volume series, Mr. Wu and his team spent two years studying traditional feng shui, or the traditional Chinese system of harmonizing people and places with the environment. He also visited ancient tombs to learn traditional burial customs and hired historians as consultant. “The phenomenon described in the fiction can always be backed up by religious history, classic Chinese legends and science,” said the director.

Shanghai bans drug-using actors, drivers – Xinhua Lawmakers in Shanghai on Wednesday passed new regulations banning works of drug-using actors and prohibiting drivers addicted to drugs from the road. Films, television dramas, commercial advertising and stage performances that feature stars with drug offenses from the past three years will be banned, according to the regulations.

AnchorSOCIETY, ART, SPORTS, CULTURE AND HISTORY *

Golblatt translation of Abandoned Capital (2) | MCLC Resource Center After yesterday’s MCLC post by Dylan King, I asked Howard if he could help provide a little background about the translation of the Fei Du. His reply is below. Again, I will post an official announcement when Ruined City hits the book stands at the end of January.  //  an excellent book, read in 1992 when I was working as a translator in Beijing, not an easy read, had lots of help with the shaanxi hua, captures a strange time in China. Then again, isn’t it always strange?

The Legacy of the Lost Jade Room at the Metropolitan Museum of Art Sometime in the mid-20th century, one of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s most ornate galleries disappeared. The Jade Room displayed art and artifacts of Chinese jade, collected and donated by Heber R. Bishop, in elaborate glass cases, surrounded by chandeliers and arched windows in a reproduction of a Louis XV ballroom. A Passion for Jade: The Heber Bishop Collection, now at the Met, showcases many of the carved objects once on view in that vanished space, while celebrating the contributions of Bishop to the museum’s Asian art department. “His is an example of one of the earliest collections of Chinese jade, not only in this museum, but probably the United States,” Jason Sun, curator of Chinese art in the Met’s Department of Asian Art, told Hyperallergic. “He was the first one who was interested in Chinese jade when most collectors were pretty much interested in porcelain.” // great-great grandfather, 富不过三代

The Perils of Advising the Empire | ChinaFile Frank Goodnow served 15 years as president of Johns Hopkins University before retiring in 1929. He would not be the last foreign scholar to come to China and have his writings used, wittingly or not, by an illiberal regime with Chinese characteristics. Goodnow’s lack of faith in the universality of certain values was a precursor to contemporary debates over the suitability and long-term viability of a “China Model.” While China today is in a far stronger and more secure place than a century ago, questions of constitutionalism, autocracy, and the direction of political reform persist. Whether today’s leaders will learn from the mistakes of Yuan Shikai a century ago remains to be seen.

Shenzhen Landfill Operator ‘Scrambled to Get Safety Stamp for Blueprints’-Caixin The operator of a landfill that collapsed in Shenzhen, killing seven people and leaving dozens other missing, scrambled to get a company to provide its blueprints with a government-required safety endorsement after a monitoring group found that the facility was not being run properly, a person close the matter says. The blueprint for the landfill was stamped by an architecture firm that neither designed the facility nor was qualified for project examination work, a source close to the architecture firm said.

Investigators Blame Violent Weather for Yangtze Cruise Ship Disaster – The New York Times A cruise ship disaster in central China this year that killed all but a dozen of the hundreds of people aboard was caused by violent weather, according to the findings of a government investigation released on Wednesday. The inquiry into the June 1 disaster on the Yangtze River also found that the captain of the ship and dozens of officials had contributed to the disaster through poor decisions and laxity.

Clash of the titans | The Economist JFK’s Forgotten Crisis: Tibet, the CIA and the Sino-Indian War. By Bruce Riedel. Brookings Institution Press; 256 pages // good review

AnchorENERGY, ENVIRONMENT, SCIENCE AND HEALTH *

Ex-premier Li Peng’s daughter Li Xiaolin quits top power job | South China Morning Post Li’s departure from the Hong Kong-listed China Power New Energy Development marks her complete departure from the State Power Investment Group and an official start of a restructuring of the group as Wang, also chairman of the new power giant, will have full authority in directing revamps, including a back-door listing in Hong Kong.

China begins major environmental assessment on Antarctic Peninsula – Xinhua It has been planned that the assessment will cover 59 sites in about ten days. The team will collect hydrographic, meteorological and other information to help understand the marine environment, climate features and their changing patterns, according to Jiao Yutian, head of the expedition team.

Countries Rush for Upper Hand in Antarctica – The New York Times On a glacier-filled island with fjords and elephant seals, Russia has built Antarctica’s first Orthodox church on a hill overlooking its research base, transporting the logs all the way from Siberia. Less than an hour away by snowmobile, Chinese laborers have updated the Great Wall Station, a linchpin in China’s plan to operate five bases on Antarctica, complete with an indoor badminton court, domes to protect satellite stations and sleeping quarters for 150 people.

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