Xi-Wang Split Speculation; Congress Prep; Guo Wengui Meets Steve Bannon; Agriculture Reform-Sinocism 10.11.17

"Sinocism is the Presidential Daily Brief for China hands"- Evan Osnos, New Yorker Correspondent and National Book Award Winner

Happy Wednesday…time to get our Party hats on as we await the results of the final Plenum of the 18th Party Congress and then the opening of the 19th Party Congress.

Remember that starting next Monday, October 16, the daily issues of this newsletter will only be available to paying subscribers.

The price is $11/month or $118/year. If you don’t want to miss out on Sinocism’s coverage of the Party Congress then subscribe here.

A discount available for groups of five or more, as explained here.

If you want to continue to receive just the free weekly newsletter then you do not need to do anything.

Thanks for your support.

The Essential Eight

1. Procedural Revision To the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection Work Report Leads To Speculation of a Xi Jinping-Wang Qishan Rift

Comment: Yesterday’s newsletter included the Chinese version 中央纪委向十九大工作报告审议程序发生重大变化  I did not see it as a big deal but it set off a firestorm of speculation in overseas chinese media of a Xi-Wang split.

I may be obtuse but I just do not see this as evidence of a Xi-Wang split. I do see evidence of overseas Chinese media, and Guo Wengui, trying to stir this up as it certainly drives eyeballs and fits Guo’s narrative. I could be wrong, but I just do not see it.

Perhaps we will find more out at the 19th, then again, if Wang retires we may never know why. A Wang retirement could be because of age norms, it could be because of the allegations, it could be because of a split. What we can be fairly certain about it is that it would be spun in ways that support pre-existing agendas/claims.

This change certainly streamlines the process and gives more power to the General Secretary.

Major changes to deliberation procedures for CCDI’s report – Xinhua:

At its eighth plenary session Monday, the 18th CCDI discussed and approved the work report to be submitted to the 19th CPC National Congress, expected to open on Oct. 18.

It was also decided that the report would be submitted to the Seventh Plenary Session of the 18th CPC Central Committee, which begins Wednesday, for deliberation.

Previously, the CCDI work reports were directly submitted to the CPC national congress, held every five years, after approval at the CCDI plenary sessions without undergoing deliberation by the CPC Central Committee at its plenum.

The other change involves the drafting of the CCDI work report.

Previously, the CCDI Standing Committee solicited opinions on the draft work report alone within the Party. The latest draft was examined and discussed at a meeting of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and at a Political Bureau meeting. Opinions were then solicited on the draft within the CPC alongside a draft report to be submitted to the national congress by the 18th CPC Central Committee and a draft amendment to the CPC Constitution.

It was stipulated in Article 43 of the CPC Constitution that “The Party’s Central Commission for Discipline Inspection functions under the leadership of the Central Committee of the Party.”

Comment: Given Article 43 in the Party Constitution couldn’t this also be seen as a further step in the institutionalization of the CCDI’s work, something that has been very high on Wang’s and the Party’s agenda?


2. Party Like Its 19th Congress Time…

‘Dirty dozen or so’ set to be dumped from Communist Party’s inner circle | South China Morning Post:

The full members to be sacked include former high-flying Chongqing party chief and Politburo member Sun Zhengcai, former top insurance regulator Xiang Junbo and Huang Xingguo, former acting party chief of the port city of Tianjin.

The seats left by the eight full members will be filled by eight alternate members at the top of the waiting list. Some of the new candidates include Shu Xiaoqin, director of the State Bureau for Letters and Calls, and Li Qiang, the Jiangsu party boss seen as a protégé of the president.

In addition, two disgraced military generals – both full Central Committee members – and another alternate member are still under investigation. They might also be expelled if the results of their cases are announced at the plenum.

Comment: Aiding the Great Undertaking and National Rejuvenation, Illuminating the Dream of a Strong Nation–Long Page 1 People’s Daily article looks at the work on Marxist theory research and construction since the 18th Party Congress, might be useful in gleaning the theoretical contribution amendment going into the Party Constitution..I made my guess on Monday, though the exact phrasing may be a bit smoother-助力复兴伟业 烛照强国梦想–时政–人民网:

党的十八大以来,以习近平同志为核心的党中央接过历史的接力棒,领导党和国家事业发生历史性变革,推动中国特色社会主义进入新的发展阶段,推进中国特色社会主义理论开辟新境界。马克思主义理论研究和建设工程勇立时代潮头,勇担责任使命,紧紧围绕学习研究宣传阐释习近平总书记系列重要讲话精神和治国理政新理念新思想新战略,卓有成效地开展工作,为伟大实践注入精神动力,为强国梦想凝聚奋进力量。

Full Text of Liu Qibao’s speech at symposium commemorating 100th anniversary October Revolution – SCIO:

Liu Qibao, a member of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee and head of the Publicity Department of the CPC Central Committee, spoke at a symposium held on September 26 in Beijing to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the October Revolution 【在“十月革命与中国特色社会主义”理论研讨会上的讲话

Since the 18th CPC National Congress, General Secretary Xi Jinping has put forth a series of new visions, thinkings, and strategies for the governance of China in the country’s great endeavors to advance reform and opening up and develop socialist modernization. These visions, thinkings and strategies have upheld and developed Marxism-Leninism, Mao Zedong Thought, Deng Xiaoping Theory, the Three Represents, and the Scientific Outlook on Development, and they have also deepened the CPC’s understanding of the laws of governance by the Communist Party, the laws of building socialism, and the laws of the development of the human society. In China’s historical endeavors to realize its “two centenary goals” and fulfill national renewal, the most practical and important way of adhering to Marxism is to follow the principles from General Secretary Xi Jinping’s major addresses and his new visions, thinkings, and strategies for the governance of China…

Comment: Liu Qibao is 64, but most people think his chances of joining the PBSC at the 19th are slim. “New visions, thinkings, and strategies for the governance of China” is a bit catchier as a possible theoretical contribution. More:

Since the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC), the CPC Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping at its core, upholding the ideological and intellectual banner, has stressed that the firm ideals and convictions should always be the fundamentals of communists, and should be placed well above all else. Wavering from ideals or lacking in convictions is the most dangerous. Communists should take enough “spiritual calcium” to strengthen their minds so that they can consciously resist corruption by decadent ideas. The CPC Central Committee has also stressed that socialism with Chinese characteristics is socialism and not any other doctrine. The basic principles of scientific socialism cannot be discarded, or it would not be socialism. Our current efforts and the sustained efforts of the future generations are aimed towards the ultimate goal of the realization of communism. The whole Party should have strong political staunchness in ideals and convictions, consciously become firm believers and faithful practitioners of the exalted ideal of communism [Emphasis Mine. Really Just Turgid Boilerplate?] and the shared ideal of socialism with Chinese characteristics.

Comment: Some people think it is Cold War-esque to refer the PRC as “Communist China”. I don’t know, I believe in listening to what they say about themselves, and not reflexively dismissing things as turgid Party filler…And for the record my preferred term for the Chinese Internet is now ChiComNet. I don’t think that makes me a cold warrior, I think it makes me a realist who seeks truth from facts…

One Man’s Future May Foreshadow Xi’s Plans to Retain Power – Bloomberg:

“It would be no big deal if an arbitrary age rule is broken,” said Deng [Yuwen] of the Study Times, who is now a public affairs commentator in Beijing. “It might even be a good thing to keep capable and willing officials on board, from the sheer perspective of governance.”

Joseph Fewsmith, a Boston University political science professor who has written several books on China’s elite politics, said that Jiang instituted the cut-off to keep a rival from securing a third term on the Standing Committee.

Comment: Reuters asked 12 people “with ties to the leadership, clearly none had any certainty and were at best edu-guessing. The opacity around Chinese politics is remarkable given the country economic importance and global aspirations.

China’s Xi looks set to keep right-hand man on despite age – Reuters:

Twelve of the 16 people with ties to China’s leadership, including former officials as well as relatives, aides and close friends of current and former senior officials, said Wang was likely to retain a leadership role. They said it was unclear what Wang’s title would be and whether he would remain on the powerful seven-member Politburo Standing Committee. The other four said he would probably step down.

Airbnb cancels Beijing bookings for Communist party congress – FT $$:

Without explanation, Airbnb said listings within the capital’s sixth ring road would not be available until the start of November. That means all bookings have been cancelled within a 20km radius of Tiananmen Square, the area where the party congress will be held.

Comment: Nothing can go wrong in Beijing during the Congress, and if it does heads will roll. The system is in “you can never be too safe or paranoid” mode.


3. Guo Wengui Is Working The DC Swamp

Comment: Guo Wengui tweeted about two recent meetings he hard with Steve Bannon, one in Dc and one in New York. Bill Gertz and Yang Jianli joined the DC lunch meeting.

Guo, a member of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club, says Bannon and his “team” had a three hour dinner with Guo at Guo’s New York home on October 10.

Guo is very savvy, he is working places like Hudson Institute and people like Bannon to find a way straight into the White House to help with his asylum bid, and if he is paying anyone it probably seems a bargain to him compared to his “lobbying” expenditures when was back in China. And much of what he says aligns with Bannon’s view about China.

Even if this strategy does not work Guo has the money and the legal team to drag out his asylum case for years

This effort will drive Beijing nuts.

It would be fun if Guo and Bannon cooperate to start Breitbart Chinese…

Guo Wengui Meets Steve Bannon Twice in a Week, Posts Picture to Twitter:

半年来班农先生一直与我通过朋友有联系.但始终未能见面!10月5日华盛顿记者会后.我请杨建利先生Billl与我一起在我的房间与班农先生一起午餐!我们都无比激动高兴!今天10月10日班农先生又与团队到纽约我的家一同了3个半小时晚餐!我经他及他的团队同意向我的推友发这个些照片



4. USTR 301 Hearings, Trade War White House Politics

Comment: The US Trade Representative held hearings for its 301 Investigation of China. Some of the testimony is interesting, no idea when there may be a decision.

China Warns U.S. That Intellectual-Property Probe Risks Trade War – Bloomberg:

The Trump administration’s probe into China’s intellectual-property practices threatens to spark a trade war between the world’s two biggest economies, according to an official representing Chinese industry.

“We are quite confused and greatly concerned about the investigation,” said Chen Zhou of the China Chamber of International Commerce. Any decision by the administration to impose unilateral penalties on China “may trigger a trade war,” Chen said Tuesday at a hearing held by the U.S. Trade Representative’s office.

Read The Testimony: Regulations.gov – Docket Folder Summary

Comment: So Navarro was behind Trump’s pressure on South Korea. Trump has been remarkably consistent for decades that he thinks Asia, and especially China, have been ripping off the US.

Trump Wanted a Trade War. Any Trade War. He Picked South Korea.:

For months, Trump has threatened to kill a trade deal with South Korea, just as the United States was beginning to grapple with a potential nuclear standoff with North Korea. The threats, which have struck foreign policy observers as misplaced and mistimed, are partially rooted in Trump’s long-stated belief that the deal disadvantaged American companies. But it is also owed to one meeting, shortly before the summer, where one of the president’s chief trade advisers abruptly and unexpectedly convinced Trump to target the country in lieu of tanking North America Free Trade Agreement…

Navarro, the director of the White House’s National Trade Council, chimed in. If Trump really wanted to withdraw from a free trade agreement, he suggested, why not refocus his rhetorical fire on the United States–Korea Free Trade Agreement, commonly known as KORUS, instead?


5. Hong Kong Refuses Entry To British Activist, Reminding Us Once Again Beijing Sees It As Just Another PRC City

British Conservative party activist barred from entering Hong Kong | World news | The Guardian:

A leading British human rights activist who has been a vocal critic of China’s erosion of Hong Kong’s political freedoms has been barred from entering the former colony on the eve of a key political summit in Beijing.

Benedict Rogers, the deputy chair of the Conservatives’ human rights commission, flew into Hong Kong on Wednesday morning on a Thai Airways flight from Bangkok but said he was stopped at immigration and refused entry.

‘The idea of Hong Kong people running Hong Kong is dead,’ says British activist denied entry to the city | Hong Kong Free Press HKFP:

Benedict Rogers, the deputy chair of the UK Conservatives’ human rights commission, was denied entry to the city after arriving from Bangkok for a private visit. He said: “If China is now in control of Hong Kong immigration, it means that the idea of Hong Kong people running Hong Kong is dead, and if China decides to deny entry to Hong Kong to a person simply for wanting to meet people who have a range of political views, it means the basic rights of freedom of expression and freedom of association are undermined.”


 

6. Chinese News Assistant Power Western Reporting On China

Your news about China depends on intrepid journalists whose names you’ll probably never know — Quartz:

For many of the journalists who work alongside foreign correspondents in China, as Zhang did, the saga also offered a stark reminder of their unacknowledged and often perilous position under the Chinese rules that govern their employment. On the one hand they get little recognition for their indispensable roles in helping to tell the world important stories about China, and are often barely known to the distant management of the papers they work for…

By not allowing Chinese citizens to grow into bigger roles in foreign publications, China also unwittingly lets foreign journalists dominate the narratives of the most important stories about China outside of the country—the very thing it’s trying to counter by spending billions of dollars to spread propaganda overseas in recent years.

Comment: These people are indispensable to most foreign journalists in China.


 

7. A Deep Dive Into China’s Foreign Aid Efforts

Chinese foreign aid: New data offers revelations – The Washington Post:

An ambitious new research project released this week challenges that assumption by producing the first-ever global data set on Chinese overseas development spending between 2000 and 2014. Brad Parks, the executive director of AidData, a research lab at the College of William & Mary, said it took five years for a team of nearly 100 scholars and research assistants from all over the world to piece together data from 15,000 distinct information sources covering 4,300 projects in 140 different countries and territories.

AidData-Aid, China, and Growth: Evidence from a New Global Development Finance Dataset.


8. Agricultural Reform: Back To The Future?

Comment: Dim Sums is an indispensable source of information in English about agricultural and rural issues in China. This recent post looking at the much discussed reforms is illuminating.

Dim Sums: Rural China Economics and Policy: Xi Jinping’s Rural Policy Thought

Recent communist party descriptions of Xi Jinping’s thoughts and discourse on rural policies assure the comrades that their “Core Leader” is a genuine Marxist committed to maintaining state control over the major factors of production–land and credit. Furthermore, he wants to build the rural economy on bureaucratic organizations created during the failed collectivization of farms 50 years ago. Xi’s “innovation” is to experiment with work-arounds for a countryside handcuffed to these institutions and to pour in generous subsidies to keep it afloat. Prices are more flexible under Xi, but farm prices can’t be allowed to fall enough to create unrest. Resources are reallocated through vast bureaucratic “supply side adjustment” policies to address massive imbalances between supply and demand of commodities created by inflexible prices. Bureaucrats are expected to pass along all the subsidy cash without giving in to the temptation to steal it. The bottom line for all these policies is to keep the communist party firmly in control…

The party’s attention to the countryside is driven in large part by their worry that unrest in the countryside could produce a rural uprising or movement that could challenge their authority…While the communist party has a nominal organization extending down to villages, the party’s control of the countryside remains tenuous, with clans, business leaders, organized crime syndicates and religious groups having de facto power in many local areas.

Xinhua’s Economic Information says Agricultural supply-side structural reform system is gradually taking shape-农业供给侧改革政策体系渐形成 突出绿色生态和长效机制-新华网


If you don’t want to miss out on Sinocism’s coverage of the Party Congress then subscribe here 


Business, Economy, Finance And Trade

Uber Pushed the Limits of the Law. Now Comes the Reckoning – Bloomberg Last year, Uber hired private investigators to monitor at least one employee, three people said. They watched Liu Zhen, then the head of strategy in China and the cousin of local ride-hailing startup Didi Chuxing, as the companies were negotiating a sale. Liu couldn’t be reached for comment.// Comment: This will not go over well with Didi. Any investigations that target allegations of  bribery in China could reach Travis Kalanick directly as he was deeply involved in the day to day China operations, making a “how could I have known” defense difficult.

Two Determined Graft-Busters Put in Senior Posts at Banking, Insurance Watchdogs – Caixin Global The two graft-busters are 45-year-old Li Xinran, the newly appointed head of discipline inspection at the China Banking Regulatory Commission, and 51-year-old Lin Guoyao, the new head of discipline inspection at the China Insurance Regulatory Commission. Both Li and Lin took up their posts in late September, replacing former heads nearing the mandatory retirement age, according to the regulators’ official announcements.

China’s top coke producer to curb output in pollution war – Reuters China’s top coke producer Shanxi Coking will slash output for coke and some chemical products including tar and methanol during the coming winter months as part of Beijing’s campaign against air pollution.

保监会酝酿出台另类投资内控指引 防范操作风险_金融频道_财新网 Comment: Caixin says CIRC planning notices to Insurance firms on improving risk control

China Charges Toward Electric-Car Supremacy – WSJ The critical point, notes Gary Rieschel, the founder of Qiming Venture Partners, one of China’s leading private-equity firms, is that they are dramatically simpler than regular cars mechanically. Chinese-built models already have a high quality “fit and finish.” The country is the world’s largest battery maker. “This is not a hard play,” says Mr. Rieschel, who sees a future for China of driverless electric cars operating in vast fleets—essentially, living rooms on wheels for shopping and entertainment—controlled by urban governments.

Chinese tech groups display closer ties with Communist party -FT $$ More than 35 tech companies, including large groups such as Sina and Baidu, have quietly instituted party committees in recent years. These assess a company’s daily operations to ensure they do not stray from party objectives, but had typically been given little fanfare because of concerns around alienating foreign partners and investors. But now tech groups are increasingly promoting their party ties.

China Debt-for-Equity Swaps Turn Out More Like Debt-for-Debt – Bloomberg One criticism of the debt-for-equity initiative, which was launched a year ago, is that it keeps afloat struggling enterprises, leaving excess capacity intact and pulling down productivity. The Shaanxi example shows a further weakness: while the company won’t need to service debt any more, the new asset-management unit will — without any new source of revenue having been generated.

Freedom, cross-border ethics, central government advantage: China gets serious about the sharing economy – TechNode Yang Weiguo, Dean of the School of Labor and Human Resources at the Renmin University of China, spoke about the two identities we have and how they will be affected and possibly even merged by the sharing economy. We are all both workers and consumers. At the moment the sharing economy is seen as more beneficial to consumers, but this will change. “We know that there are limited resources in society so we need to optimize the allocation of resources and that is a definite trend. Labour providers need to find their own positions. This will change the model of employment in future. In the sharing economy era, everyone can join the production process.” Yang described as a “megatrend” the changes to society that will be brought about by the flexibility to supplement salaries by dipping into sharing economy gigs and the “freedom to choose what we like and choose what we’re capable of”.

Meet Mao Daqing — China’s king of co-working – FT $$ WeWork alleges UrWork’s brand and idea are derivative and infringe its trademark. Today, Mr Mao argues there are “hundreds” of companies in China with a two-letter prefix attached to “work” as their name; and besides, he points out, isn’t there something strange about telling a company they can’t do a similar thing to you? He does not linger on the irony of a Chinese entrepreneur lecturing Americans about market competition. As soon as the Financial Times mentions Adam Neumann, WeWork’s co-founder, whom Mr Mao had a few weeks ago described as a “long-time friend”, he insists on moving on. It is the only point in the hour-long conversation when the easy-mannered chief executive seems lost for words.

Politics, Law And Ideology

China Focus: Decoding DNA of the CPC – Xinhua Ever since the Party’s founding, Marxism has been its creed, communism its supreme ideal. Marxism, in particular, is the foundation of theories developed by Chinese communists to guide the cause of the CPC and the nation. “Communists’ faith in Marxism, socialism and communism is their political soul and sustains them in all tests,” read the report of the CPC’s 18th National Congress in 2012. At the rally marking the 95th anniversary of the CPC in 2016, Xi Jinping, general secretary of the CPC Central Committee, warned against “deviating from or abandoning Marxism,” as without such a fundamental guiding theory the Party would “lose its soul and direction.”

How the Red Sun Rose – The Origin and Development of the Yan’an Rectification Movement, 1930–1945 | Columbia University Press Comment: Gao Hua’s works are very useful in helping decode the DNA of the CCP  // This work offers the most comprehensive account of the origin and consequences of the Yan’an Rectification Movement from 1942 to 1945. The author argues that this campaign emancipated the Chinese Communist Party from Soviet-influenced dogmatism and unified the Party, preparing it for the final victory against the Nationalist Party in 1949. More importantly, this monograph shows in great detail how Mao Zedong established his leadership through this party-wide political movement by means of aggressive intra-party purges, thought control, coercive cadre examinations, and total reorganizations of the Party’s upper structure. The result of this movement not only set up the foundation for Mao’s new China, but also deeply influenced the Chinese political structure today. The Chinese version of How the Red Sun Rose was published in 2000, and has had nineteen printings since then.

In Xinjiang, Household Knives Must Be ID’ed – China Digital Times (CDT) A new order, issued by neighborhood organizations, requires some Xinjiang residents to get all household knives stamped with an identifying QR code

Language Log » The vocabulary of sharp implements in Xinjiang Now, in responding to the reclamation area Public Security Bureau’s requirement, it is necessary to stamp national ID numbers on all sharp implements, such as kitchen knives, axes / hatchets, shovels / spades, hoes, pitchforks, steel pipes, leather jacket knives (VHM:  presumably knives that are small enough to be put in the pocket of a leather jacket), etc. in the houses of all community residents in this jurisdictional area within the time limit of three days between October 5th and October 8th. The location is at the main gate of all communities. All tools which are not stamped with ID numbers will be confiscated upon examination. In order to coordinate with the task of stamping ID numbers, community residents must bring their own national ID card and will be charged 4 Yuan for each implement that is stamped. It is hereby announced.

Notes From Prison (Part One of Two) « China Change a full translation of Meng Han’s “Notes From Prison” to afford our readers a rare glimpse into an indomitable activist’s life and reflections on labor plight in China.

In China, Scholars Are Being Punished Amid Growing Squeeze On Public Expression : Parallels : NPR This year, the CCDI sent inspection teams to around 30 of China’s top universities. Roughly half were named and criticized for their “weak political work.” When CCDI inspectors arrived at Beijing Normal University in February, conservatives who objected to Shi Jiepeng’s ideas reported him to the team. “The party secretary of my institute told me that the inspectors had criticized me by name,” Shi says.

Village loudspeakers tested to voice Party policies – Global Times Villages across China have been testing their loudspeakers along the streets and lanes to carry the voice of the Communist Party of China for the 19th CPC National Congress, next week. For example, the 5,700 villages in the city of Cangzhou, North China’s Hebei Province will be able to hear the new Party policies and other information loud and clear via large speakers, the Xinhua News Agency has reported.

人民日报:坚持以人民为中心的发展思想 努力让人民过上更加美好生活–观点–人民网 ——学习《习近平关于社会主义社会建设论述摘编》// Comment: long page 7 People’s daily piece by “闻 言” on studying Xi’s remarks on the construction of Socialist society. From Tuesday-Xinhua-China publishes book of Xi’s remarks on construction of socialist society

Millions of Citizens’ Data Sold Online in Hangzhou, Police Find – Sixth Tone The suspects collected an estimated 3.7 million items of information from the disease control and prevention center in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province, some of which pertained to children registered for vaccinations, police announced Tuesday in a post on microblog platform Weibo. The data were being sold to businesses such as education agencies and insurance companies for as little as 0.7 yuan ($0.10) apiece.

“始终同人民想在一起、干在一起”——中国共产党率领亿万人民实现中国梦的政治本色与力量源泉-新华网

郭文贵真正的两个常委级“老领导”浮出水面 Comment: Boxun says it has discovered the identities of two “old leaders” Guo Wengui has claimed he was close to–Wu Guangzheng, 16th Party Congress CCDI head, and Li Changchun, 17th Party Congress PBSC member and formerly Henan Party Secretary, where they met…Boxun hates Guo and is in a massive fight with him  //  消息人士表示,郭文贵胡编乱造,挑拨习近平和曾庆红、习近平与胡锦涛的关系,还挑拨其他人的关系,实属街头混混小聪明,出于他极度自恋,自以为自己能操纵任何人,甚至认为他可以挑拨左右中美关系。 郭文贵的“老领导”浮出水面,可以更清楚的判断郭文贵“爆料”的背后动机,消息人士称,吴官正一直痛恨王岐山,郭文贵“爆料”和反腐没任何关系,是在于维护“盗国贼”腐败集团的利益。

Foreign and Military Affairs

U.S. warship sails near islands Beijing claims in South China Sea – U.S. officials – Reuters The officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the Chafee, a guided-missile destroyer, carried out normal maneuvering operations that challenged “excessive maritime claims” near the Paracel Islands, among a string of islets, reefs and shoals over which China has territorial disputes with its neighbors. China’s Defense Ministry said on Wednesday that a warship, two fighter jets and a helicopter had scrambled to warn the U.S. ship away, adding it had infringed upon China’s sovereignty and security with its “provocation”. // Comment: Timed to avoid the Party Congress? These FONOPs are not a strategy, just tactical noise at this point

U.S.-China spy games flare – Politico The sun was setting over Chengdu when they grabbed the American. It was January 2016. The U.S. official had been working out of the American consulate in the central Chinese metropolis of more than 10 million. He may not have seen the plainclothes Chinese security services coming before they jumped him. In seconds he was grabbed off the Chengdu street and thrown into a waiting van… The Chinese officials drove their captive — whom they believed to be a CIA officer — to a security facility where he was interrogated for hours, and, according to one U.S. official, filmed confessing to unspecified acts of treachery on behalf of the U.S. government. // Comment: Meek response from the Obama Administration because?

Pope Francis does not understand the Chinese Communist Party, says Hong Kong Cardinal Joseph Zen | Hong Kong Free Press HKFP Pope Francis does not understand the Chinese Communist Party, Hong Kong Cardinal Joseph Zen has said, amid rumours that the Vatican is on the brink of forming diplomatic ties with China. The Vatican currently has diplomatic relations with the Taiwanese government. But it has conducted secret negotiations with Beijing in recent years. Last month, Zen mentioned in his blog a potential agreement between the Vatican and Beijing whereby the atheist country will have the final say in the appointment of priests. He said that “no deal is better than a bad deal.”

U.S. Treasury dashes hopes for near-term World Bank capital hike The World Bank Group two years ago had set a goal of agreeing on a capital increase for its International Bank for Reconstruction and Development arm by the time of the 2017 World Bank and International Monetary Fund annual meetings, which start this week…the Treasury official told Reuters on Tuesday that it was too soon to discuss such an effort because too much of IBRD’s resources were tied up in countries that had ample borrowing ability, including China and other larger emerging markets.

Chinese Research Vessel Surveys Caroline Islands ‘to Breach 2nd Island Chain’ | The Diplomat Accurate hydrographic information of the Carolines is critical for Chinese submarines to operate there safely. In 2005, a navigation and charting error caused a U.S. submarine to crash into an underwater seamount in the area, killing one sailor. Guam is a critical base and logistics hub for the U.S. military in the Pacific. Chinese submarines could threaten the flow of forces and supplies from Hawaii or the U.S. mainland to Guam and on to the Philippines or South China Sea. Last year it was learned that China conducted surveys of critical waters near Benham Rise east of the Philippines. Those surveys could enable Chinese submarines to cut off major access routes to the South China Sea from the Western Pacific.

Xi Jinping Presses Military Overhaul, and Two Generals Disappear – The New York Times “The removal of those top leaders, senior elderly generals and admirals, is part of a broader drive to promote and advance younger, more professionally minded officers,” said Timothy R. Heath, an expert on the Chinese military at the RAND Corporation. “There are huge numbers of top brass in the P.L.A.; it’s top-heavy, and huge numbers of these guys are going to lose their jobs.”

S. Korea’s amb. to China voices optimism THAAD feud will be resolved – Yonhap “The feud prompted by the THAAD (deployment) cannot go on this way,” Amb. Noh Young-min told reporters upon arriving in Beijing to start his duties. “I believe that the consensus is growing in both countries that it is not desirable to let economic relations (harmed) by the THAAD issue continue this way.”..//Comment: If after the 19th Party Congress Xi decides to relax pressure on South Korea he could make progress in creating more daylight between Moon and and the US

To deter North Korea, Japan and South Korea should go nuclear – The Washington Post Bilahari Kausikan was formerly permanent secretary of Singapore’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs–A Northeast Asian balance of mutually assured destruction will freeze the status quo. It will be an absolute obstacle to the revanchist ambitions that are embedded in the narrative of the “great rejuvenation” of China by which the CCP now legitimates itself and which are manifest in the East China Sea and the South China Sea. China’s reclamation activities in the South China Sea cannot be reversed, nor will China give up its claims. But forcing China to at least suspend its ambitions at their current level will make for more stable Sino-American and Sino-Japanese relations and a more stable East Asia.

The Economics-Security Nexus Under Trump and Xi: Policy Implications for Asia-Pacific Countries – Bell School – ANU In this Centre of Gravity paper, Professor Robert Aysons explores how the links between economic and security considerations are intensifying in Asia. Yet, rather than anticipating an all-or-nothing choice between security interests with the US and economic interests with China, he shows that many Asia-Pacific countries have been making smaller choices to work with both great powers to encourage a regional equilibrium. The paper also explores how North Korea’s nuclear and missile provocations have also encouraged some economics-security cooperation between China and the US in the Trump Xi era. For policymakers in middle and smaller sized states, Professor Ayson urges an attempt to deepen their bilateral and plurilateral collaboration to reduce their exposure to the changing mix of pressure and reassurance coming from Beijing and Washington.

A New Front in Asia’s Water War by Brahma Chellaney – Project Syndicate BRAHMA CHELLANEY–For decades, China has been dragging its neighbors into high-stakes games of geopolitical poker over water-related issues. But the country’s politically motivated decision to withhold hydrological data from India amounts to an escalation of China’s efforts to exploit its status as the world’s hydro-hegemon to gain strategic leverage over its neighbors.

Construction of two China-aided buildings start in Kabul University – Xinhua Afghan Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah and Chinese Ambassador to Afghanistan Yao Jing were among the officials attending the stone laying foundation ceremony which marked the start of construction of an Integrated Teaching Complex and an Auditorium inside the 85-year-old university.

China Pushes ‘Human Rights With Chinese Characteristics’ at the UN « China Change The notion of  “building a community of shared future for all humankind” (goujian renlei mingyun gongtongti) has appeared repeatedly in Xi’s speeches in international fora during the past five years, since, according to Xinhua, the concept was first advanced at the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China in November 2012. It appears to be an official catchphrase for China’s growing leadership role in global governance. In terms of human rights, the contours of a “community of shared future” are fairly clear. Beneath the lofty and vague rhetoric, China’s position on human rights is consistent with its longstanding approach and policies, but Xi’s speech in Geneva and other official Chinese statements seek to frame the Chinese view as a new approach to global human rights governance, with China at the helm.

Hong Kong, Macao

In Hong Kong, It’s the Fans Who Protest During the National Anthem – The New York Times The boos come from hard-core fans who worry that Hong Kong’s autonomy and unique identity is being undermined by mainland China. A few hold up signs advocating Hong Kong’s independence from China, an idea mainland and local officials denounce as illegal. Now the authorities are planning tougher measures. Last month, China’s legislature approved a law prohibiting disrespect of the national anthem, preventing the song’s use in commercials or parodies, and outlining punishments for people who do not “stand with respect” and “maintain a dignified bearing” when it is played.

Hong Kong leader says Asian financial hub faces ‘grave’ challenges – Reuters In her maiden policy speech Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam on Wednesday warned the city faced “grave” challenges and must develop a diversified and high value economy, unveiling a mix of housing and tax relief policies to raise competitiveness.

Tech And Media

Alibaba Looks for Magic in Global R&D Network – Caixin Global The project will initially see Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. build seven R&D centers, two in its home China market, two on the U.S. West Coast, and single labs in Russia, Israel and Singapore, the company said in its announcement of the project, called the Alibaba Academy for Discovery, Adventure, Momentum and Outlook. It said the labs will initially focus on foundational and disruptive technologies, including data intelligence, the internet of things, financial technology, quantum computing and human-machine interaction. The academy’s board includes professors from a number of leading universities in the U.S. and China, including MIT and Princeton in the U.S., and Peking and Zhejiang universities in China.

Jack Ma Lays Out Hopes, Vision For Alibaba DAMO Academy | Alizila.com

Unfolding Beijing – PingWest – Medium This is Elsewhere. Or one part of it, anyway. Fan’s young company is an app-fronted, on-demand sharing service, seemingly like a million other startups. Except, where there have been dozens of bike-sharing startups in China, and shared power pack startups, and even shared umbrella startups, Elsewhere seems to be something genuinely one of a kind.

Tech R&D spending up 10.6 percent in 2016 – China Daily China’s expenditure on technology research and development rose 10.6 percent to 1.57 trillion yuan ($238.1 billion) in 2016, the fastest annual growth since 2014, as the nation increases its investment in new driving forces to stabilize the economy. The data was released by the National Bureau of Statistics on its website on Tuesday, saying the growth rate rebounded for the first time after declining for four-year straight drop. It was 8.9 percent in 2015 and 9.9 percent in 2014.

Society, Art, Sports, Culture And History

Selling China by the Sleeve Dance | Hazlitt Beneath the ubiquitous posters for the Shen Yun ballet is a battle between dissidents and the state over the soul of a nation, both at home and across the diaspora.

Energy, Environment, Science And Health

Rice Farmer Loses Second Trial Against Factory That Allegedly Dumped Cadmium-Laced Wastewater – Caixin Global A rice farmer in Hengyang, central China’s Hunan province has lost his second lawsuit against a local scrap metal recycler that allegedly contaminated his paddy field by discharging untreated, cadmium-laced wastewater. The two-year legal battle sheds light on how gaps in environmental monitoring data from government agencies affect court cases involving industrial polluters.

The Rangers of Hoh Xil – Sixth Tone Hoh Xil sits at the intersection of three of China’s largest, least populous, westernmost areas: the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, Tibet Autonomous Region, and Qinghai province. The name “Hoh Xil” means “beautiful girl” in Mongolian, and in July, the area was designated a UNESCO World Heritage site. Hoh Xil is known for its stunning landscape, home to unique ecosystems, geographical features, climate conditions, and biodiversity.

Food And Travel

Beijing Top Medical Students Open Barbecue Restaurant, Offer Discount for Every Academic Publication | What’s on Weibo Wang Jian (王建) and Cheng Si (程丝), top medical graduate students from Beijing’s most prestigious universities Beida and Tsinghua, have operated hand in hand with sixteen other former classmates in opening up their own barbecue joint in the capital’s city center. The restaurant, “The Lancet BBQ” (柳叶刀烧烤), named after one of the world’s oldest and best known general medical journals, is located near Xizhimen and Beijing Jiaotong University and was opened in April of 2017.

McDonald’s Szechuan Sauce Snafu Amuses, Confuses Chinese – Sixth Tone Fallout from a recent McDonald’s marketing campaign in the U.S. that went spectacularly wrong has reached Chinese shores, leaving many online commentators bemused and confused. The contentious condiment — called “Mulan Szechuan Teriyaki Dipping Sauce” when it was first released in 1998 — took one part of its name from the same year’s Disney film, another part from a Chinese province known for its spicy dishes, and yet another part from the thick brown Japanese sauce commonly paired with chicken dishes.

China Southern Breaks Ground as New Beijing Airport Takes Shape – Caixin Global Beijing Capital, located in the municipality’s northeast, is one of the most congested airports in the world. It was designed to handle 82 million passengers a year, a number it exceeded by 12 million passengers in 2016. Meanwhile, the city’s other operating civilian airport — Beijing Nanyuan Airport — has an annual capacity of only 6 million.

If you don’t want to miss out on Sinocism’s coverage of the Party Congress then subscribe here 

Follow me on Twitter @niubi for updates between newsletters

Send comments/tips/complaints to [email protected]

If you like Sinocism please spread the word using this link.