The Sinocism China Newsletter For 04.21.13

There has been a big earthquake (New York Times) in Ya’an, Sichuan (Google Map). So far Chinese media reports 179 dead and thousands injured. It is not nearly as bad as the 2008 quake but it is still terrible.

Several hard-hit areas are still not accessible but the government and military seem much more prepared for the emergency response than they were in 2008. Drones, unavailable in 2008, have been flying over the inaccessible towns and villages and sending back pictures of the damage (测绘局获取雅安地震灾区震后无人机航拍影像图_资讯频道_凤凰网).

Premier Li Keqiang has arrived (Xinhua) in the earthquake zone. This is first major disaster response test since he became Premier.

Telegraph reporter Tom Phillips is already reporting from Lushan county.

The recent Red Cross scandals will affect donations to the official charity, as the Wall Street Journal reports in Earthquake in Sichuan: Charity Organization Has China Seeing Red:

Efforts by the media and the military so far seem to have earned approval from the country’s online commentariat, who remember well how the government struggled under similar circumstances five years ago.

Not so for the Red Cross Society of China.

The charitable organization was among the first to respond to the disaster Saturday morning, announcing on the Twitter-like Sina Weibo microblogging service that it had dispatched a team to investigate the situation on the ground. The response was almost instantaneous as thousands of microbloggers took to the comment section to post animated thumbs-down emoticons and profane suggestions that the organization take a hike.

Expect the death toll to rise as rescuers reach some of the more affected areas. The geography of the region is daunting, rain is forecast and there are reports of at least two “quake lakes” and cracks in several dams.

This is the first big China earthquake in the Weibo era. So far the government looks prepared, both for the disaster response and the propaganda management.

Today’s Links:

THE ESSENTIAL EIGHT

Xi Jinping urges party to ‘toe mass line’ to win over public | South China Morning Post A year-long campaign, beginning in the second half of this year, would aim to crack down on excessive bureaucracy, formalism and extravagance, Xinhua reported yesterday. Echoing his earlier call to purge unqualified party members, party chief Xi Jinping told a Politburo meeting yesterday that everybody should “look into a mirror, neaten their dress, take a bath and have the illnesses treated”. The illnesses refer to formalism, bureaucracy and lavishness – which remain severe and prevalent among some party cadres, according to Xinhua, citing a post-meeting statement. // 人民日报-中共中央政治局召开会议 研究部署在全党深入开展党的群众路线教育实践活动工作 中共中央总书记习近平主持会议 page 1 people’s daily saturday. resist hedonoism and extravagance, among other problems..nice mention of marxist-leninism and mao zedong thought…is this the party rectification campaign that has been rumored for a few months?// 会议强调,开展党的群众路线教育实践活动,要高举中国特色社会主义伟大旗帜,坚持以马克思列宁主义、毛泽东思想、邓小平理论、“三个代表”重要思想、科学发展观为指导,紧紧围绕保持党的先进性和纯洁性,以为民务实清廉为主要内容,以县处级以上领导机关、领导班子和领导干部为重点,切实加强全体党员马克思主义群众观点教育,把贯彻落实中央八项规定作为切入点,进一步突出作风建设,坚决反对形式主义、官僚主义、享乐主义和奢靡之风,着力解决人民群众反映强烈的突出问题,提高做好新形势下群众工作的能力,保持党同人民群众的血肉联系,发挥党密切联系群众的优势,为推动经济持续健康发展、全面建成小康社会、实现中华民族伟大复兴的中国梦提供坚强保证。党的群众路线教育实践活动全过程,要贯穿“照镜子、正衣冠、洗洗澡、治治病”的总要求

U.S. Financier Backs China Scholarship Program – NYTimes.com awesome, wish this had been around when I was studying Chinese// The private-equity tycoon Stephen A. Schwarzman, backed by an array of mostly Western blue-chip companies with interests in China, is creating a $300 million scholarship for study in China that he hopes will rival the Rhodes scholarship in prestige and influence. The program, whose endowment represents one of the largest single gifts to education in the world and one of the largest philanthropic gifts ever in China, will be announced by Mr. Schwarzman in Beijing on Sunday. The Schwarzman Scholars program will pay all expenses for 200 students each year from around the world for a one-year master’s program at Tsinghua University in Beijing.

Where to Find Political Reform in China – China Real Time Report – WSJ China does not lack political reforms, at least not at the local level. What it lacks is so-called “top-level design”—the willingness to extend reform measures to the system as a whole, especially to those in the upper echelons of the power hierarchy. Calls for “top-level design” to push through much-needed reforms have grown louder in the last couple of years. As a first step, high-level endorsement of innovative local experiments would be very welcome. Many local reformers have come under enormous pressure from those opposing their reforms and are desperate to receive Beijing’s blessing. Simply by expressing some support for these local reforms instead of remaining silent, the leadership could go a long way towards creating confidence in its commitment to reform.

The Rise of China’s Reformers? | Foreign Affairs the hopeful scenario, one that I hope but am not yet convinced is the most likely// recent statements suggest that a longer-term reform agenda is likely in the works and could be unveiled during the CCP’s third plenum this fall. (Capital market reforms, such as an expanded use of corporate and government bonds and a further relaxation of restrictions on foreign institutional investors, are thought to be probable.) If Chinese leaders do choose the third plenum as the place to announce new reforms, it will be because it is pregnant with political symbolism: it was at another third plenum, in 1978, that Deng Xiaoping, the architect of China’s market reforms, won consensus around the vision that set China on its course to becoming the world’s second-largest economy.

China’s North Korea Envoy to Visit Washington – NYTimes.com China’s special envoy on North Korea, Wu Dawei, will visit Washington early next week to conduct talks with American officials, the Foreign Ministry said Friday. // North Korea moving toward dialogue with China – AJW by The Asahi Shimbun Although North Korea continues to have ballistic missiles ready to launch, the reclusive nation indicated it was open to dialogue with close ally China and may be toning down its belligerent rhetoric. According to a source knowledgeable about North Korean affairs, Pyongyang indicated in mid-April that it was willing to talk to Beijing. China will likely send Wu Dawei, China’s special representative for Korean Peninsula affairs and chairman of the six-party talks on North Korea’s nuclear issues, or some other high-ranking official to Pyongyang for discussions. The Chinese side is expected to call on North Korea to agree to either dialogue with the United States or resumption of the six-party talks.

China confirms 96 H7N9 cases, 18 deaths – Xinhua | English.news.cn During the 24-hour period ending at 4 p.m. on Saturday, China confirmed five new cases of human H7N9 avian influenza, including one in Shanghai, one in Jiangsu and three in Zhejiang. The National Health and Family Planning Commission said in its daily update on H7N9 cases that a total of 96 H7N9 cases have been reported in China, including 18 that have ended in death. // Xi urges efforts to contain H7N9 bird flu – Xinhua | English.news.cnPresident Xi Jinping on Friday urged government authorities to take effective measures to contain the spread of the H7N9 avian flu. Xi said local authorities should prioritize public safety and health, as well as strengthen disease control and prevention, according to a statement released by the General Office of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee.

China bond executives arrested in probe into alleged skimming | Reuters Three Chinese financial industry executives have been arrested for allegedly using complex bond trading practices to skim client profits for personal gain, state media reported this week. Executives from state-owned CITIC Securities , China’s largest brokerage by assets, unlisted fund management company Wanjia Asset Management and Qilu Bank, a small lender 20 percent owned by Commonwealth Bank of Australia , are under investigation by the Shanghai Public Security Bureau, the official Securities Times reported on Wednesday. // Regulators’ Clean-up Campaign Upsets Bond Market – Caixin The nation’s bond market has been rocked by reports that officials around the country were cracking down on illegal trading and at least three people have been detained. Traders and executives from brokerage and fund companies were reportedly being investigated over bond trading violations. This roiled the market and prompted speculation that authorities have launched a campaign to clean up the market. An industry insider said that the Shanghai securities regulator has launched an inspection and required brokers to report deals.

Sinica Podcast–Do Not Marry Before Age Thirty This week on Sinica, Kaiser and Jeremy are delighted to be joined by Joy Chen, former deputy mayor of Los Angeles, and now high-profile author of the book Do Not Marry Before Age 30, a look at the state of gender issues in China that’s finding traction among a generation of women facing frustrations with their careers, marriages and life prospects in general. Join us as we look into the state of things for women in China.

 

BUSINESS AND ECONOMY

China’s bank regulator watchful of bad loans – Xinhua | English.news.cn At a meeting to address current economic and financial conditions and set key tasks for future work, the China Banking Regulatory Commission (CBRC) asked the country’s banking sector to be vigilant against bad loans, according to a statement on the commission’s website. Banks and other financial institutions should actively control the rises in bad loans and effectively handle existing bad loans, including restructuring debts and revitalizing bad assets through market mechanisms, the regulator said. // CBRC Renews Push to Regulate Wealth Management as Credit Expands – Bloomberg The China Banking Regulatory Commission said it will scrutinize lenders’ wealth-management and short-term note sales, control increases in bad loans and focus on debts in an attempt to limit “severe risk.”The regulator has told banks to improve the accuracy of how they classify loans, to monitor non-performing loans and to control total lending to local government financing vehicles, according to a statement posted on the CBRC website yesterday.

Relaxed quotas could give Asian central banks taste for China bonds Asia’s central banks could dip their toes into Chinese bonds in coming months, taking advantage of a relaxation of investment quotas and easier access to the onshore market as Beijing steps up efforts to internationalise the yuan, bankers said.

Urbanization Conflicts Grip Henan – Economic Observer A series of intense land seizure conflicts in Henan Province, that have resulted in at least one death, highlights the difficulties facing urbanization in Central China. Cash-strapped local governments are unable to offer appropriate compensation, and those seeking justice have few places to turn.

SOE Salaries Outstrip Profits – Economic Observer Online Total profits from 208 state-owned enterprises (SOEs) in 2012 exceeded 3.3 trillion yuan. Meanwhile, salaries paid to their employees topped 5.1 trillion yuan, far exceeding profits.Data from Hexin Flush Information (同花顺) showed that the centrally administered SOEs that are supervised by China’s State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission (SASAC) have control over 264 listed companies, 208 of which released annual reports for 2012.   The average annual income of the 3.86 million employees of these companies surpassed 130,000 yuan. This number includes salary, bonuses, social insurance and other benefits. The National Bureau of Statistics hasn’t yet released average income data for the whole of China in 2012, but the Shanghai Bureau of Statistics reported the average annual income of employees in the city last year was 56,300 yuan. Shanghai is China’s wealthiest city.

China chicanery – NYPOST.com US Marshals raided a Brooklyn home this week_ looking for books and records of China-based cable company accused stiffing its shareholders_ The Post has learned. At same time_ team agents_ lawyers forensic accountants descended on Wall Street offices Taylor Rafferty_ an investor relations firm that worked with company_ ZST Digital Networks_ since IPO in 2009_ sources said. hunt was paperwork computer files attempt to locate assets_ Peter Deutsch_ Westchester wine mogul_ pressed judges Delaware Manhattan access recover $32.3 million he claims lost because improper actions.

Cola Wars, China Style -Caixin Eighteen years ago, a Hong Kong businessman named Chan Hung-to took a sip of an herbal tea produced by a government factory in Guangzhou and tasted the future – a beverage that he imagined could be the Coca-Cola of China. The sweet, cold drink called Wanglaoji herbal tea is an acquired taste, a blend of seven medicinal herbs and flowers, including honeysuckle, mint and chrysanthemum. Chan succeeded in making it China’s favorite drink. After licensing the tea’s name and recipe, he took it out of its dowdy green package, put it in an iconic red can with a bold golden logo and spent millions of yuan on massive marketing campaigns. By 2009, it was outselling even Coke in the country. Now, Chan and his erstwhile government partners are locked in a series of bitter trademark battles. While the court hearing for the latest lawsuit is waiting to be held, the real story of Wanglaoji may be that winning in the marketplace is more important than winning in court.

No Plan for Organizing New Railway Body, Source Says – Caixin A plan for organizing the China Railway Corp. (CRC) and its 18 subordinate companies to make them more profitable has not been decided yet, a source in the new agency said on April 18. There was also no timetable for reform, the source said. The CRC’s top priority was to determine how many departments it should have, their functions and the number of employees they need.

 

POLITICS AND LAW

President Xi: Anti-corruption efforts need to draw on heritage – Xinhua | English.news.cn Xi made the remarks during the fifth group study of the Political Bureau members of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee on Friday. Xi, also General Secretary of the CPC Central Committee, and other Political Bureau members listened to a lecture by Professor Bu Xianqun and Fang Ning from Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

China opens online informant pages for corruption fight – Xinhua | English.news.cn Major online media outlets on Friday simultaneously opened special webpages to solicit public tips that may help to combat corruption. They include websites associated with the Xinhua News Agency, the People’s Daily and the Guangming Daily, as well as news sites operated by Internet portals Sina, Sohu and Netease. // 健全网络监督平台,彰显中央反腐决心 – 新华时政 – 新华网 人民网、新华网、中国网络电视台、中国网、中国经济网、中国新闻网、光明网、中国广播网,以及新浪网、搜狐网、网易网、腾讯网等国内主要网站均在首页开设网络监督专区,链接纪检监察、检察、法院、国土等执纪执法部门举报网站以及干部监督“12380”网站等网址。

Central Government Departments Reveal Budgets for 2013 – Economic Observer Online – More than 80 offices, ministries, departments, organizations and institutions that operate under the authority of China’s State Council have released details of how much they plan to spend over the coming year, including details of how much will be spent on cars, travel and receptions.

Questions surround Urumqi reporter’s death – China Media Project One source in Xinjiang, who requested anonymity given the local sensitivity of this story, said many problems had been exposed at the Tianzi Road Project and that the local government had violated normal construction procedures for the sake of “political point scoring” (政府为了政绩违背建设规律一味最求速度). The source also alleged that the Urumqi Evening Post had sent two inexperienced interns to the Tianzi Road Project worksite because it believed they would be amenable to the propaganda goals of the local leadership.

Marijuana in China – Chengdu Living foreigners should be under no illusion marijuana ok here. more than a few locked up for it, expect china to get only more strict// A Warning–A Nanfang Daily report on marijuana, “Investigation on the Internet Marijuana Trade,” details a reporter’s efforts to buy marijuana online, via QQ, Tieba and Douban groups. The reporter posed as a buyer and a seller, lurked on forums, and chatted with dealers selling weed for 100RMB/gram plus delivery fee. // Potcast: first-hand account on doing time in a Chinese jail – Lost LaowaiI ’m not sure if it’s fitting or unseemly that I should be posting this today, April 20th, but here we are. A couple years back I remember reading about a foreigner who spent seven months in a Chinese jail. //host and guest take a while to get to the first-hand account, time seems to have slowed down for them

 

FOREIGN AND DEFENSE AFFAIRS

Chinese ICBM Force Leveling Out? – FAS Strategic Security Blog The size of China’s intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) force appears to be leveling out instead of increasing. During Thursday’s Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on Current and Future Worldwide Threats, Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) director Lieutenant General Michael T. Flynn told the lawmakers: China’s nuclear arsenal currently consists of approximately 50-75 ICBMs, including the silo-based CSS-4 (DF-5); the solid-fueled, road-mobile CSS-10 Mod 1 and 2 (DF-31 and DF-31A); and the more limited CSS-3 (DF-3) [sic*].

LA Times – Many private interests were Brown’s fellow travelers in China As Gov. Jerry Brown returned this week from his trade mission to China, his decision to have his travel and that of 10 staffers paid for by special interests was raising eyebrows.The dozens of delegates who joined Brown on the tour for $10,000 each — footing their bills and that of the governor’s entourage — included about 15 groups that lobby the state for favorable treatment on their agendas.

US Department of State–Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2012 EXECUTIVE SUMMARY–The People’s Republic of China (PRC) is an authoritarian state in which the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) constitutionally is the paramount authority. CCP members hold almost all top government and security apparatus positions. Ultimate authority rests with the 25-member Political Bureau (Politburo) of the CCP and its seven-member Standing Committee. Xi Jinping holds two of the three most powerful positions as CCP general secretary and chairman of the Central Military Commission; during the March 2013 meeting of the National People’s Congress (NPC), Xi was expected to assume the third key position by becoming president of the PRC. Civilian authorities generally maintained effective control of the military and internal security forces.

Chinese troops set up camp in Indian territory: Police – The Economic Times SRINAGAR: Several dozen Chinese soldiers have set up a remote camp some 10 km (6 miles) inside the Indian territory in the high altitude Himalayan desert of Ladakh, police sources said, in a possible return to border tension between the Asian giants. An Indian foreign ministry spokesman said the two countries were in touch with each other to resolve the row. The ill-defined border has fuelled 50 years of mistrust despite blossoming economic ties.

Surveillance system covering 4,406 islands set up |Society |chinadaily.com.cn The national system is mainly built on aerial surveillance, with satellites, unmanned planes and cruisers as auxiliary instruments, the MLR said in its annual land resources report issued Saturday. Since a national plan on island protection and exploration came into effect in last April, south China’s Zhejiang, Fujian, Guangdong provinces and Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region have passed their own provincial-level scheme, with Liaoning, Hebei, Shandong, Jiangsu and Hainan completing their draft plan, the ministry said.

 

HONG KONG, MACAO AND TAIWAN

Hong Kong to Manage Yuan Inflation Risk While Holding Dollar Peg – Bloomberg Hong Kong Monetary Authority can manage inflation risks caused by an appreciating yuan and is committed to its currency’s dollar peg in place since 1983, Chief Executive Norman Chan said. The yuan’s appreciation against the dollar will make food and other goods slightly more expensive, which is “manageable,” Chan said at a conference in Washington during meetings of the International Monetary Fund. “Having a fixed exchange-rate system, we are committed to make the nominal exchange rate unchanged through the issuance of bank note system and foreign-exchange intervention.”

 

TECH AND MEDIA

Blockbuster seeks Chinese actors |Movies |chinadaily.com.cn At least four Chinese actors will join the cast of Transformers 4, thanks to cooperation between the production company, Paramount Pictures, and the China Movie Channel. The channel and its official website M1905.com will initiate a national search for the four actors, said Mark Ganis, principal of Jiaflix Enterprises, founded by Sid Ganis, the former head of the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences.

 

SOCIETY, ART, SPORTS, CULTURE AND HISTORY

narrative junkie | Two Chinese students, found and lost in Boston. When I teach my Narratives of Modern China course at Duke, I always challenge the recently arrived Chinese students, who self-identify as “foreign nationals” (as I did too, back in college), to contemplate both their affiliation with and distance from nineteenth-century forebears like Chang, who had originally arrived to study here under the then popular ideological banner of “Chinese learning for essence, Western learning for application” (中學為體,西學為用).  Are my students, these twenty-first century Chinese 留學生, also here to absorb “Western ways” in order to return home to “strengthen China”? What exemptions and privileges does one enjoy as an elite college student, foreign or not? To a person, my students always say that they will go back home—back to China. But what if the vicissitudes of jobs, politics, love, or sheer happenstance lead them to stay here and set down roots? At what point does the delicate and shifting calculus of class, race, and national identity in a new place begin to yield new subjectivities and belongings?

 

ENERGY, ENVIRONMENT AND HEALTH

As Cancer Rates Rise in China, Trust Remains Low – NYTimes.com China’s cancer rate is still below that of the United States. About 3.5 million people are diagnosed with cancer yearly, the Zhejiang Science and Technology News Net reported Tuesday, citing a 2012 report by the National Cancer Registry. (Other news accounts put the figure at 3.12 million. Statistics in China often vary.) In the United States, with a population less than a quarter of China’s 1.35 billion, more than 1.6 million people are expected to receive a diagnosis of cancer in 2013, according to the American Cancer Society.

Chinese car makers turn to hybrids, hope for Beijing backing | Reuters China is warming to gasoline-electric hybrid cars as it tackles an addiction to fossil fuels, and local car makers are finally heeding the call and entering a niche ‘green’ market dominated by Japanese rivals such as Toyota Motor Corp. Some automakers like state-owned SAIC Motor Corp and Brilliance Auto are developing the fuel-saving technology pioneered by Toyota on its Prius model two decades ago, and BYD Co, a Chinese battery and automaker part-owned by a Warren Buffett company, will unveil a “self-developed” gasoline-electric car technology at the Shanghai auto show, the premier industry event in the world’s biggest market, later on Saturday.

Wenying Lake | Datong China | AECOM « World Landscape Architecture – landscape architecture webzine Recently, the Chinese Government set up an ambitious plan to secure the water supply to Beijing: the Wenying Lake reservoir is a prominent pearl in this chain of water resources. With the assurance of the water supply, Datong started its own ambitious project – to restore the ecosystem through meticulous planning and design, bringing life and beauty back to Wenying Lake.

Spectre of regionalism hangs over gas market–InterFax As one of the world’s fastest-growing markets for gas, China expects domestic production to reach 176 billion cubic metres in 2015, when a quarter of a billion mainland Chinese people will be gas consumers. In China – home to a third of world’s population – it is not surprising regionalism has played a role in carving out markets for the country’s upstream and downstream gas concerns…With the central government counting on gas to reduce carbon emissions and take up a bigger portion of the country’s energy mix, local officials believe the fuel can stimulate and rebalance their regional economies, reverse years of ecological degradation and – perhaps most importantly – increase their individual reputations, paving the way to national office. Beijing is among a growing number of municipalities that now include environmental protection as a metric to gauge government performance.

 

FOOD AND TRAVEL

Chinese Winter Crops Seen With Enough Soil Moisture by USDA Unit – Bloomberg China’s winter-wheat and rapeseed crops have mostly adequate soil moisture for development in main growing regions, a U.S. Department of Agriculture unit said. Conditions on the North China Plain are generally favorable, the USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service wrote in an online report dated April 16. Wheat and rapeseed development was about a week to 10 days ahead of usual at the end of March after above-normal temperatures last month combined with sufficient soil moisture, the report showed.

 

JOBS AND EVENTS

Sino-French Forum on Soft Power – Economic Observer Online The Economic Observer is teaming up with the French Embassy to host a series of public events to discuss the concept of soft power. The first forum will take place in Beijing on May 6, 2013. This will be the first of five forums that will be held around the country from May to October this year.

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