The Sinocism China Newsletter For 09.16.12

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The CCTV Evening News devoted nearly five minutes of Saturday’s broadcast to Xi Jinping’s visit to Beijing’s Agricultural University. Xi looks confident and healthy.

Saturday was an ugly day of anti-Japan protests across China. There are lots pictures of the damage and a foreign reporter has posted an interesting account and video of the surprisingly large protests outside the Japanese Embassy in Beijing. It is hard to believe the protests were spontaneous and some see the hand of Bo Xilai and his supporters behind the violence.

One glimmer of hope was the disgusted reaction of many celebrity Weibo users, including ones with millions of fans decrying the violence and asking people to collect pictures of the “thugs” to give to police to assist in prosecutions. Some of the official media had constructive reactions, such as the Beijing News which today calls on protesters to abandon the “Boxers” style of “Patriotism”–爱国就应做理性守法的公民. I would not bet Saturday was the last day of protests, especially since the anniversary of the Mukden Incident is Tuesday.

Alibaba, one of China’s Internet giants, was under fire Saturday, but not for the significant stake in the firm owned by Japanese behemoth Softbank. Google claims that the Aliyun mobile phone operating system, which Alibaba promotes as a self-developed OS and which the Wall Street Journal recently wrote is “homegrown software that is trying to take on Android”, is in fact based on the Android platform.

CNet has an updated blow-by-blow of the dispute, culminating (so far) with this response from Google to Alibaba’s top foreign PR executive John Spelich:

Hey John Spelich — We agree that the Aliyun OS is not part of the Android ecosystem and you’re under no requirement to be compatible.

However, the fact is, Aliyun uses the Android runtime, framework, and tools. And your app store contains Android apps (including pirated Google apps). So there’s really no disputing that Aliyun is based on the Android platform and takes advantage of all the hard work that’s gone into that platform by the OHA.

The Economic Observer wrote in May that one of the reasons companies are jumping into the smartphone market might be the promise of government subsidies, as the Chinese government is pushing for the development of an indigenous Mobile OS (互联网大佬集体做手机意在政府补贴?, English summary here.) Has Alibaba received any state subsidies for the development of Aliyun?

New York Times columnist Tom Friedman was the keynote speaker (see the video of his speech) at Alibaba’s recent AliFest conference. Friedman followed his Alifest appearance with a column identifying the lack trust as a major impediment to China’s development and extolling Alibaba and its “Tao Companies” for building trusted marketplaces:

To see what happens when you introduce just a little more trust in this society, spend a day, as I just did, participating in the “AliFest” — the annual gathering of thousands of Chinese entrepreneurs who are linked together in the giant Chinese e-commerce Web site Alibaba.com. Founded in 1999, Alibaba says its sales this year could top eBay and Amazon.com combined. This happened, in part, because it has built trusted, credible markets of buyers and sellers inside China, connecting consumers, inventors and manufacturers who would have found it hard to do transactions before

Alibaba is in many ways a mirror of China but Friedman made no mention of the spate of internal corruption scandals that have rocked Alibaba or Jack Ma’s unauthorized transfer of Alipay from Softbank and Yahoo, eventually settled at what looks to be a discount for Yahoo and Softbank. (Full disclosure, I am a long suffering investor in Yahoo).

Meanwhile, Kara Swisher has reported that Yahoo’s partial sale of its Alibaba stake should close this week, possibly helping pave the way for a 2013 Alibaba IPO, according to Caijing. Yahoo shareholders and management are crazy to expect that Yahoo can generate a better future return from the Alibaba sale proceeds than by just keeping the stake and letting it ride on what may become one of top 3 global Internet companies by market capitalization.

Apologies if yesterday’s commentary on the Xi Jinping coverage came across as too snarky. The point I was trying to make is that Chinese elite politics are nearly impossible to cover, not that those excellent journalists were being irresponsible. They are under a ton of pressure from the home offices to publish about this story and there are plenty of people in Beijing willing to talk about what they believe is going on.

On to today’s links:

BUSINESS AND ECONOMY

China’s Sany seeks covenant waiver on $510 million debt: Basis Point | Reuters -The company, controlled by Liang Wengen – who is worth $8.1 billion, according to Forbes – is asking its lenders to waive the net debt to tangible net worth covenant – one of the terms of its loans – and to respond by the end of next week, Thomson Reuters publication Basis Point reported, citing sources. It did not name the lenders.

Chinese IPOs in US to recover, not too soon|Companies|chinadaily.com.cn – The bleak outlook was in contrast to the “Chinese concept stocks” frenzy in 2010 – 46 Chinese companies went public in the US in that single year. But since 2011, 33 companies had begun to take themselves private. Fourteen have pulled out from the market so far, according to ChinaVenture Investment Consulting Group and other consulting firms.

China’s urbanization lacks quality, requires huge investment: green paper – Xinhua | English.news.cn – Small and medium-sized Chinese cities will become the key for promoting a better and faster urbanization process, said the green paper on China’s small and medium-sized cities in 2012 released at a development forum in Beijing.Small and medium-sized cities contributed to 56.22 percent of the country’s overall economy last year, with a combined gross domestic product of 26.51 trillion yuan (about 4.2 trillion U.S. dollars), according to the green paper. More than half of the Chinese population, or 691 million people, are living in cities, representing an urbanization rate of 51.27 percent.

北京限价地王售价4年翻3倍 开发商背弃承诺_地方经济_新浪财经_新浪网 – Shocker, SOE developer gets cheap, prime land in Beijing w promise to build subsidized housing, ends up selling new apartments for much more//

Corruption Allegations Surround Suicide of Hainan Official – Caixin Online – A former Hainan Province land policy official involved in a major corruption probe killed himself by jumping from an office building.

Moneyless Pensions Yield No Gold for the Old – Caixin Online – China’s pension scheme has yet to benefit rust belt communities and retirees even as the population ages

 

POLITICS AND LAW

Sr. Chinese leader stresses social management – Xinhua | English.news.cn – Qiushi (“Seeking Truth”), the flagship magazine of the Communist Party of China (CPC), on Sunday will publish an article by senior Party official Zhou Yongkang on social management.In the article titled “Pushing Forward Social Management of Socialism with Chinese Characteristics on a Broader Path,” Zhou summarizes a series of major decisions and policies as well as the positive changes and progress achieved in the country’s social management work since the CPC’s 17th National Congress.

《求是》杂志发表署名秋石的文章 坚定不移走科学发展道路 – 新华时政 – 新华网 – new issue of “Seeking Truth” also has a signed commentary by “Qiushi” extolling Scientific Development, Hu’s “theoretical” legacy

Preserving Stability – China Media Project – The two-character Chinese phrase weiwen is an abbreviated form of the full phrase, weihu wending, meaning to preserve or safeguard stability. The Chinese Communist Party has many such shortened phrases, compact verbalisms that pack a political punch, invoking whole histories of policy and practice. For those versed in China’s political vocabulary, these are important shibboleths.

There Is No Excuse for the Litany of Excuses Officials Hand Us – Caixin Online – Leaders seeking to avoid blame will readily point to a family member or foreigner, but what the public really deserves is transparency

Obama, Romney square off on China, jobs – SFGate– “In 2008, candidate Obama promised to take China ‘to the mat’,” Romney said in his weekly podcast. “But since then, he’s let China run all over us.” Obama’s team, in turn, argued that Romney has profited from and outsourced jobs to China. The president also rolled out a new 60-second, $6 million ad campaign that casts Romney as risky for the nation’s recovery and features former President Bill Clinton saying: “They want to go back to the same old policies that got us in trouble in the first place.”

 

FOREIGN AND DEFENSE AFFAIRS

Drawing Lines in the Water | M. Taylor Fravel – Nevertheless, amid all the expressions of indignation, one of the most important elements of China’s response has been overlooked: agovernment statement announcing baselines to demarcate China’s territorial sea around the disputed islands.  Under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, a state enjoys the equivalent of territorial sovereignty within this zone, which extends 12 nautical miles seaward of the baselines that a state declares.

China announces geographic codes for Diaoyu Islands – Xinhua | English.news.cn – The State Oceanic Administration (SOA) on Saturday released a string of geographic coordinates of the Diaoyu Island and some of its affiliated islets, in a new move to affirm China’s sovereignty. The SOA announcement details the exact longitude and latitude of the Diaoyu Island and 70 of its affiliated islets while publishes location maps, three-dimension effect graphs and sketch maps for the Diaoyu Islands.

人民日报-我国公布钓鱼岛及其 部分附属岛屿地理坐标 – Diaoyu Islands geographic codes listed top right page 1 of today’s People’s Daily

Chinese literary, art circles condemn Japan’s “purchase” of Diaoyu Islands – Xinhua | English.news.cn – a joint statement expressing strong indignation over, and condemnation of, Japan’s so-called “purchase” of the Diaoyu Islands.

Japanese Ex-Porn Star’s Viral Call for Sino-Japanese Peace [SFW] – China Real Time Report – WSJ – an infectious cry by a powerful embodiment of Japanese soft power// Now one Japanese “brand” with a particularly fervent following in China – former porn star Sola Aoi – has taken it upon herself to try to calm tensions between the two East Asian powers.

Visit of Chinese official to greatly enhance Sri Lanka-China ties – Xinhua | English.news.cn – The official visit to Sri Lanka of Chairman Wu Bangguo of the Standing Committee of China’s National People’s Congress, which will start today, would have enormous impact on bilateral relations between China and Sri Lanka, analysts here said.

 

TECH AND MEDIA

飞信“危机” – 经济观察网 - 专业财经新闻网站 – on the Decline of China Mobile’s Feixin at the hands of Tencent’s Weixin //导语:飞信只是中国众多创新产品中的一个缩影,它们出道时曾轰动一时,当使尽浑身解数吸引你时,却缺乏真正的力量让你留下来。

 

SOCIETY AND CULTURE

村里来了个“黑求恩” | 人民日报官方博客 – People’s Daily on a “black Bethune”, an African trained as a Chinese Doctor helping out in earthquake zone. A play on Norman Bethune’s Chinese name 白求恩

 

ENERGY AND ENVIRONMENT

As Coal’s Golden Decade Fades, Question Arises: What Next? – Caixin Online – A run of big profits is coming to an end, and there is disagreement over how quickly the industry will recover

 

FOOD AND TRAVEL

女人要想悠闲 得先过快生活_创意设计_生活至上_YOKA时尚网 – CCSweets in Yoka

蛋糕教母 要爱情不要婚姻_格调生活_生活至上_YOKA时尚网 – more on Yoka.com on CCSweets

 

BOOKS

China politics boost book industry, but not in mainland China – latimes.com – Beijing friend got a bag of these confiscated a few weeks ago at Beijing airport, with just a reminder they are illegal publications. But recent edict to step up inspections for illegal publications not unrelated//“Hong Kong is the capital of banned books,” said Jin Zhong, a political analyst and editor of Hong Kong’s Open Magazine. “This year, especially with the Chinese Communist Party going through its biggest scandal since 1989, there are more books than before.” The quality of the books varies. Some are produced in just a week or two, with the usually anonymous authors compiling gossip from microblogs. The lives and loves of the political elite are a popular topic: “Chinese Princelings and Corrupted Officials” is one title.

Thanks for reading. The best way to see this daily post is to subscribe by email, especially if you are in China, as Sinocism is blocked by the GFW. You can also follow me on Twitter @niubi or Sina Weibo @billbishop.

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