Apologies for the delay today. My computer died. It may be revived, but I bit the bullet and bought a MacBook Air as a backup.
And the day started out so well. Beijing had a beautiful snow over night as you can see here on Sinocism.
THE ESSENTIAL EIGHT
Why Xi Is Going to Moscow First – Carnegie Endowment for International Peace The near-term agenda appears designed to show that China has friends in many places. And indeed, the Chinese-Russian relationship has come a long way. But potential pitfalls remain.
Xi Stresses Positive U.S. Ties in Lew Meeting Amid Tensions – Bloomberg Chinese President Xi Jinping stressed positive ties with the U.S. in his first meeting with a foreign official since taking the post amid tensions between the world’s two biggest economies over espionage and exchange rates. The nations’ economies have a “seamless connection” and their relationship is of “great importance,” Xi, in his sixth day as president, said during a meeting with U.S. Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. Lew, in his first trip since taking office Feb. 28, said they had a “special responsibility” for strong global growth, before reporters were ushered out of the room.
Xi Jinping and the PLA–Taylor Fravel & Dennis Blasko Similarly, the New York Times described Xi “as a champion of the military, using the armed forces to cement his political authority and present a tough stance in growing territorial disputes with American allies in the Pacific region.” Such characterizations, however, may be misplaced – or at least incomplete. Since becoming Chairman of the CCP’s Central Military Commission at the 18th Party Congress four months ago, the policies adopted under Xi reflect far more continuity with those of past leaders than is commonly perceived
How the New Premier Climbed the Rungs of Power – Caixin Li was born in Dingyuan County, Anhui Province, where his childhood played out amid the most tumultuous years of the Cultural Revolution. He was an “educated youth,” one of the young people sent to the countryside during the period. Once the university entrance examination system had been reinstated in 1977, he tested out of a people’s commune of Fengyang County in Anhui into the law department of the prestigious Peking University. Li’s course has taken him from the grassroots to the center, from the head of the agricultural province of Henan, to the industrial province of Liaoning, and eventually to the very top of Chinese leadership. His career trajectory and his policies in these provinces provide some clues as to where China is heading in the coming years.
China’s Economic Policymakers Turning a Page – Caixin Contrary to the expectations of many investors, policymakers have decided not to seek any big increases in government investment this year. Rather, they want to prevent any possible financial trouble tied to local government debt and the off-balance-sheet operations of commercial banks. That means regulations covering local government financing platforms are likely to be tightened. Also highlighted in the government policy book are plans to seek quality over quantity in economic growth, adjust real estate and business tax structures, control housing prices, and reign in fiscal spending.
新型城镇化路在何方？–《财经》杂志 综上，地方政府可以通过工业用地结构调整，获得大约每年1万亿元左右的各类收入，基本可以补足当前的土地出让纯收入。最关键的是，这个措施和前面提到的城郊村居民建出租房等改革结合起来，可以直接消化目前中国严重过剩的钢铁、建材等相关行业的产能，并有助于化解地方政府的巨额存量债务。此外，还可以逐步消除房地产泡沫，让城市居民有更多收入用于非住房消费，并促进流动人口举家迁移至城市，获得更高劳动收入，转换其消费模式。因此，前述一系列改革可以从多方面增加内需、促进经济增长，增加社会和谐，为未来长期建立以财产税为主体的地方公共财政体系赢得转轨时间. 陶然为中国人民大学经济学院教授，汪晖为浙江大学公共管理学院副教授
China Economic Watch | China’s New Populist Urbanization Li’s first press conference as premier this past weekend helped shed a bit of light on what urbanization (城镇化) might mean in terms of policy. Premier Li’s description of urbanization focused on the issue of inequality, both between poor and rich within cities and the urban and rural areas across China. The solution, according to Premier Li, is to better integrate migrant workers into cities and to spread urbanization out into the smaller cities and less developed regions of the country. This activity will generate significant new investment opportunities and raise domestic consumption levels helping to rebalance the Chinese economy. This represents a profoundly populist spin on urbanization, which has historically been one of the primary drivers of inequality in China.
Quest for Illegal Gain at the Sea Bottom Divides Fishing Communities – NYTimes.com What has wrapped this village in such hostility? Sea cucumbers. The spiky, sluglike marine animals are bottom feeders that are not even consumed in Mexico, but they are a highly prized delicacy half a world away, in China, setting off a maritime gold rush up and down the Yucatán Peninsula.
BUSINESS AND ECONOMY
北京酝酿国五条细则 单身离异者限购或加码_网易财经 北京住建委正酝酿楼市“国五条”的细则，较重要的条款包括：执行20%个税征收比率时，会针对持有房屋的时间等设置不同标准。对北京户口单身含离异人士进一步限购，过去京籍家庭可拥有两套住房，有购房者采取“假离婚”应对，未来则可能仅鼓励单身或离异人士持有一套房。
China’s Tallest Tower Builder Assures Quality Amid Sand Scandal – Bloomberg Samples from buildings, including the 660-meter Ping An Finance Center due to be completed in 2015, were tested, according to Shenzhen’s Housing and Construction Bureau. The industrywide inspection in the city last week followed a China Central Television newscast on March 14 that investigated the use of substandard concrete by some developers in Shenzhen that used low-quality sea sand instead of river sand.
Baijiu Stocks Sink After Premier Vows to Curb Spending on Banquets – Economic Observer Online – In-depth and Independent The share prices of some of China’s biggest baijiu companies plunged yesterday, in response to commitments that the new government will rein in lavish spending on entertainment by officials.
黄奇帆：重庆“没有模式” 只有智慧型改革的探索_新闻中心_中国网黄奇帆：有人认为农民工转户进城成本太大。确实，按转户成本10万元/人计算，政府财力难以承受。但农民进城会为城市创造红利，如果按每人每 年50万元产值算，1亿人转户一年就会创造50万亿的产值，其贡献远大于需要付出的成本。另外，转户涉及到的养老、医疗、住房、教育等成本， 是通过10~20年的长周期分摊成本的过程，即期支出并不大。同时，转户成本“一分为三”，大体企业40%、政府30%、社会30%。改革的 成本总体是可控的。
POLITICS AND LAW
人民日报-高扬凝心聚力的中国精神 —— 二论同心共筑中国梦 鲁迅说过，“唯有民魂是值得宝贵的，唯有他发扬起来，中国才有真进步。”在实现中国梦的新征程中，大力弘扬伟大的民族精神和时代精神，让凝心聚力的兴国之魂、强国之魂融入现代化进程，我们就一定能永远朝气蓬勃地迈向未来，不断开创中国特色社会主义新局面。
中央决定郭树清任山东省委委员、常委、副书记-财经网 Guo Shuqing to be Vice Party Secretary of Shandong. Wonder what really happened, hear rumors of style and other issues, still not convinced it is due to reform-related issues
Officials punished for violating bureaucracy-busting rules – Xinhua | English.news.cn The discipline watchdog of the Communist Party of China (CPC) on Tuesday named six local officials and institutions that have violated the eight bureaucracy-busting guidelines announced by the central authorities late last year. Officials involved in the cases have been stripped of their Party or administrative posts, according to a statement from the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) of the CPC.
反腐“二五规划”前瞻-财经网 通过顶层设计和制度构建，以整体规划指导特区实验，以特区实验带动整体突破，完全可以实现三年至五年走上制度反腐的新路子，十年基本建成关住权力的制度铁笼子的目标– 李永忠为中国纪检监察学院副院长，董瑛为中共党史博士
China announces stricter rules for cadre trainees | South China Morning Post This is the latest initiative from President and party leader Xi Jinping to improve CPC members’ discipline and to stop corruption. Party schools, where officials handpicked for promotion are often sent for training, are well known for being hotbeds of corrupt activities including bribery, buying promotions and extensive networking.
Tibet official Qin Yizhi gains key Communist Youth League post | South China Morning Post The party’s official website announced yesterday that 47-year-old Qin Yizhi , who has served as a vice-chairman of Tibet’s regional government, had been appointed the league’s first-ranked secretary.
舆情频道–人民网 Public Opinion monitoring channel on People’s daily site
FOREIGN AND DEFENSE AFFAIRS
China fires warning shot at North Korea banks: report | Reuters Chinese regulators appear to have issued a warning shot to North Korean banks, telling them to stay within the remit of their permitted operations in China or risk penalties after a new round of U.N. sanctions sought to cut Pyongyang’s funding.
China Expects Energy Talks Breakthrough in Xi’s Visit to Russia – Bloomberg China expects a breakthrough in energy talks during President Xi Jinping’s visit to Moscow this week, the Foreign Ministry said today, after OAO Gazprom said negotiations on supplying natural gas remain “difficult.”
First Luo Yuan, now Liu Yuan: from one “public opinion incident” to another? | southseaconversations 讨论南海 Either way, the General Liu Yuan episode is another example of how the PRC simply doesn’t feel answerable to online nationalist opinion on foreign policy matters.
China’s most powerful missile troops – Xinhua Pictures// The Second Artillery Force of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), founded on July 1, 1966, is composed of ground-to-ground strategic missile troops and conventional warfare tactical missile troops. The ground-to-ground missile troops are a nuclear deterrence and strategic nuclear counterattack force with a considerable scale and hold actual combat capabilities
Chinese Investors Get Picky Over Visa Program – WSJ.com But as the 74-year-old Mr. von Trapp has discovered, would-be investors are getting much pickier. American businesses ranging from fast-food franchises to biofuel facilities to meatpacking plants are now competing for EB-5 funds. Some projects haven’t produced the requisite number of jobs—prompting U.S. immigration authorities to withhold green cards. And word has spread about investment money disappearing in failed businesses or outright frauds.
Pacific Command contractor charged with spying – Pacific – Stripes no relation to me…and where is the woman?// A defense contractor who works in intelligence at the U.S. Pacific Command has been charged with giving national security secrets to a 27-year-old Chinese woman with whom he was romantically involved, according to a criminal complaint unsealed Monday. Benjamin Pierce Bishop, 59, is accused of sending the woman an email last May with information on existing war plans, nuclear weapons and U.S. relations with international partners
TECH AND MEDIA
Microsoft Taking Allegations Seriously – Bloomberg Microsoft Corp. (MSFT), responding to a Wall Street Journal report that federal regulators are investigating the company’s ties to partners accused of bribing foreign officials, said it takes the allegations seriously. Lawyers from the Justice Department and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission are examining allegations that Microsoft partners bribed government representatives in exchange for software contracts, the Wall Street Journal reported yesterday, citing people it didn’t identify. Allegations were made by a former Microsoft representative in China, according to the newspaper.
Chinese bribery allegations against WSJ emerge amid News Corp. probe; paper denies wrongdoing – The Washington Post In this January 31 article revealing it had been hacked the WSJ wrote “In the most recent incident, the Journal was notified by the FBI of a potential breach in the middle of last year, when the FBI came across data that apparently had come from the computer network in the Journal’s Beijing bureau, people familiar with the incident said.” coincidence with some other, unrelated investigation, or did the FBI discover the Journal’s China bureau had been hacked while working on this investigation?// A law enforcement official said Monday that despite the news organization’s own findings, the inquiry by the FBI’s New York office was still open. The official was not authorized to discuss the case and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.
SOCIETY, ART, SPORTS, CULTURE AND HISTORY
Guggenheim Gets Grant to Commission Chinese Art – NYTimes.com With a $10 million grant from the Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation, which is based in Hong Kong, the Guggenheim will commission works from artists born in mainland China, Taiwan, Hong Kong or Macau. The money will also endow a curator at the museum whose entire focus will be contemporary Chinese art.
ENERGY, ENVIRONMENT AND HEALTH
China’s nearshore seawater quality degrading – Xinhua | English.news.cn we do not allow our kids to eat any fish or seafood in China// China’s nearshore seawater pollution is still severe and its seawater quality degraded in 2012, according to data revealed on Wednesday by the country’s State Oceanic Administration (SOA). Last year saw around 68,000 square km of nearshore waters graded as the worst level of seawater quality, which is only suitable for sea ports and oceanic development. This was 24,000 square km more than 2011, the SOA said.