China Readings for April 19th

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

Housekeeping Note: I have been using Google’s Feedburner to send out the daily email, but the service stopped working a few days ago. RSS still works, a link to the daily post goes out on Twitter @niubi, and I have found a temporary solution but am still looking for a permanent replacement email service that does not cost $200+/yr. (suggestions welcome).

I apologize for the inconvenience. You can see the recent Daily Readings posts here.

  • Bringing Censors to the Book Fair by Jonathan Mirsky | NYRblog | The New York Review of Books – When I arrived at the London Book Fair on Monday, I saw a huge sign outside showing a cute Chinese boy holding an open book with the words underneath him: “China: Market Focus.” The special guest of this year’s fair was the Chinese Communist Party’s censorship bureau. Assisted by the government-funded, but independent, British Council, the fair’s organizers invited the General Administration of Press and Publication (GAPP)—the Communist Party’s designated body for ensuring that all publications, from poems to textbooks, are certified fit for the public at home and abroad to read.
  • Google Maps Loses Market Share Lead in China For First Time | Tech in Asia– inevitable decline, between lack of china product focus and regulatory uncertainty that is driving partners onto competitors’ mapping API services//New stats for mobile mapping clients used in China show that Google Maps has, for the first time ever, lost its leading position in the country, losing it by a fraction to Autonavi (NASDAQ:AMAP).
  • Asia Sentinel – New South China Morning Post Editor Confronts the Press– No grand new vision for the paper but leadership on China reporting expectedWang Xiang Wei was appointed editor of the 110-year South China Morning Post in February. This is not the first time the newspaper, one of Asia’s most influential English language dailies, has had a Chinese editor. But Wang is the first from the Peoples’ Republic of China.That has led to speculation, much of it pessimistic, on the direction the paper would take under his editorship. Barely two months into his job, he was invited to declare his vision for the paper this week at Hong Kong’s Foreign Correspondents’ Club.
  • Mahan Over the Tumen Delta: China’s Naval Ambitions for Rason « SINO-NK – Mahan Over East Asia | China’s recent turn to the sea has left analysts with much fodder for speculation about a Chinese Mahanian maritime policy to gain command of the sea. Whether China is focusing on economic development in Rason just for trade purposes or for eventual military aims is hard to conclude. Nevertheless, it is obvious that geopolitically Rason is very important to the Chinese, as it allows the PRC access to the Pacific. We should continue to monitor this area for further developments.
  • China’s Party Website Seeks 18% IPO Premium – Bloomberg – The online business of People’s Daily, the Chinese Communist Party’s official newspaper, has tripled the size of its proposed initial public offering, as it seeks to sell shares at a valuation that’s 18 percent more than its peers.
  • Dozens under arrest in China in connection with Bo Xilai scandal – Telegraph– more from wang kang…//At least 39 people are thought to be being held, alongside Mr Bo, in the seaside town of Beidaihe, a favourite retreat for Communist party leaders.
    “The detainees include Xu Ming, who had a very special relationship with Mr Bo, and some of the people who worked with him,” said Wang Kang, a well-connected independent scholar and public figure in Chongqing who is the only person with inside information on Mr Bo’s removal from power to go on the record.
    “The detainees are mainly people from Dalian and other places, not from Chongqing,” he added. Mr Xu is one of China’s richest men, a billionaire who heads the Dalian Shide industrial conglomerate. The 41-year-old has not been seen at the company since mid-March.
  • Satellite Export Controls Should Be Eased, U.S Says – Bloomberg – Satellite export controls should be relaxed by Congress so that U.S. companies can better compete globally for sales of communications and remote-sensing equipment, a report by the Pentagon and State Department found.
  • Valuable Chinese art stolen from Cambridge University – Telegraph – Police says ‘very valuable art of great cultural significance’, including Ming jade cup, has been stolen from Cambridge’s Fitzwilliam Museum.
  • Groupon’s China Effort Takes Another Slap in the Face | PandoDaily – It has been well established that Groupon sucks in China, badly. Now, as if we needed it, we have further confirmation. Gaopeng, the daily deals company’s joint venture with Chinese Internet giant Tencent, is going to merge with a similar service FTuan before the end of next month.
  • 中国企业入蒙再遇阻 中铝收购被叫停 – 能源·有色 – 21世纪网 – Chinese firms are having a hard time with the Mongolian government. Smart of Mongolia//
  • High Tech, Low Life by High Tech, Low Life — Kickstarter – HIGH TECH, LOW LIFE traces the evolution of two of China’s first citizen reporters as they navigate the ever-evolving political risks and the technical barriers created by what is commonly known as The Great Firewall.  This inspiring story offers a glimpse of contemporary China and grassroots reporting through the lens of two unique individuals.
  • Bo’s downfall sheds light on nepotism –– Any Bo/Gu family money in TPG funds?//The Chinese official present at the TPG meeting in 2009 said Chongqing government officials understood one of the two family members Mr Bo referred to was his wife, Gu Kailai.
    Stephen Peel, the head of TPG in Asia who attended the Chongqing meeting, denied that Mr Bo had said his family members had recommended that he meet the TPG team. The Chinese official added that Sing Wang, the second TPG employee who attended the meeting, had a prior relationship with Ms Gu.
    A TPG spokesperson said: “Bo Xilai categorically did not in either meeting say he was seeing us at the suggestion of family. Nor did our partner, Sing Wang, help arrange these meetings by going through Bo family members or intermediaries.”
    . TPG said Mr Wang had developed relationships with Chongqing officials before Mr Bo became party secretary, and that these connections ultimately led to the meeting with Mr Bo in 2009.
  • Photo Essay: Out in the Cold: China’s Petitioners – At one end of the chilly underpass, a young girl wailed. 
Her father, Liu Guojun, limped over as quickly as he could with a bowl of sweet potatoes he had picked up at a wholesale market’s rubbish heap and roasted over a street-side stove. He hoped it would get her warm.
  • Research ethics: Zero tolerance : Nature News & Comment– Yang Wei has an easy smile and a carefree, even distracted, air — but he takes such a solemn approach to life that his wife sometimes tells him to relax. “I take everything seriously,” he says.The former materials scientist certainly took it seriously when, two years after he became president of Zhejiang University (ZJU) in Hangzhou, China, he faced a case of scientific misconduct that became a turning point for his presidency. In early October 2008, the editor of the International Journal of Cardiology discovered that figures in a manuscript by He Haibo, a scientist researching traditional Chinese medicine who had been hired by the ZJU only months before, were suspiciously similar to those in an article that He had published elsewhere. Confronted, He quickly owned up, submitting a 12-page confession to Yang on 26 October.
  • Bo Xilai’s first wife gets her revenge at last|Politics|News| – Bo Xilai arrested Li Wanghe [actually li wangzhi 李望知], his son by his first wife Li Danyu, prior to the attempted defection of his police chief Wang Lijun in February, according to the New York-based Duowei News, a China-watching website. The disgraced Chongqing party chief reportedly told Wang to arrest his own son for economic crimes in order to blackmail his first wife to remain silent ahead of the 18th National Congress later this year, where he hoped to secure a top position in China’s once-in-a-decade leadership transition.
  • Lingering customers just one hurdle as Starbucks eyes China growth | Reuters– Affordability remains a top concern for analysts, who worry that as Starbucks’ expansion progresses beyond the country’s biggest cities it will be less able raise prices to protect margins.But CEO Schultz said income has not been a barrier to growth, adding that Starbucks’ shops in non-core markets perform “as well or better” than stores in cities like Beijing and Shanghai, helped by pent-up demand.Attracting quality employees when competition for skilled workers is intensifying as other chains also seek to expand, is also very difficult, says Paul French, chief China analyst for market research firm Mintel.To that end, Starbucks has announced plans to launch a training program called Starbucks China University next year. It also will unveil a 1 million yuan ($159,000) fund that will provide emergency financial assistance for Starbucks employees.
  • Britain, Suddenly, Presses China on Neil Heywood’s Death – – LONDON — After months of soft-pedaling by British diplomats in the case of a British businessman believed to have been murdered in China, Prime Minister David Cameron and his government abruptly changed course on Tuesday, going to Parliament with a blunt demand that China “expose the truth behind this tragic case” and do so in a manner that “is free from political interference.”
  • 孟学农再度履新 任中直机关工委常务副书记_政经频道_财新网 – 此前曾因SARS事件和襄汾溃坝事故两度去职
  • Unscathed by Scandals, Official Promoted – Caixin Online – Sacked once for the cover-up of the 2003 SARS epidemic and a second time for blocking media coverage of the 2008 Shanxi mudslides, major catastrophes under the watch of one official hasn’t just left a buoyant career – but one that’s snapped back faster and higher every step of the way.
    According to the website of the China Youth Political College, Meng Xuenong is now the standing deputy secretary of the Work Committee of Departments under the CPC Central Committee. The department is responsible for the management of party officials and grassroots organizations throughout the country.
  • Who’s whispering in David Ignatius’s ear? | FP Passport– Washington Post columnist David Ignatius has been on a tear lately: breaking news on the files found in Osama bin Laden’s Abbottabad safe house, revealing details of the backchannel negotiations between Erdogan and Ayatollah Khamenei, and now, channeling the Obama administration’s negotiating strategy toward Iran.At a time when Thomas Friedman is writing his 35th column complaining about the state of America’s train system and urging New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg to launch a third-party bid for the presidency, Ignatius is far and away America’s must-read columnist right now. Iggy has always been known for his top-notch sources, especially in the intelligence community, but his columns seem especially well-sourced of late — it’s almost as if he has a weekly lunch with Tom Donilon or something.
  • A Popular Side Trip for Foreigners in China: Visa Runs – – Lisa Guetzkow, a 25-year-old American, is crossing the dusty border from China to Mongolia crammed into the front seat of an ancient Russian jeep that has a scarf for an inside door handle. She’s making a visa run. If it works out, she’ll be able to stay another three months in Beijing, until she has to dart across the Chinese border again.
  • Tim Berners-Lee urges government to stop the snooping bill | Technology | The Guardian – Exclusive: Extension of surveillance powers ‘a destruction of human rights’
  • China’s sovereignty is inviolable over South China Sea issue – People’s Daily Online– The Philippine Navy has recently tried to “enforce the law” in the Huangyan Island waters of China, seriously violating China’s sovereignty and the consensus of maintaining the peace and stability in the South China Sea and not complicating matters.China does not hope to see the confrontation between Chinese and Philippine ships in Huangyan Island waters. However, the fact indicates that the tense situation is continuing to upgrade and a favorable turn may appear. In fact, many border conflicts and disputes are gradually eased and resolved after collisions and frictions.For a long time, China has been adhering to the basic principles of “Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea” and adopting a restrained attitude on the “nibble” of Philippine and other countries in the South China Sea. Through this, China created a peaceful atmosphere in the South China Sea area and also created the condition to further peacefully deal with the South China Sea issue.
  • Repsol/YPF – the Chinese connection | beyondbrics | News and views on emerging markets from the Financial Times –– Following Monday’s move by Cristina Fernández de Kirchner to renationalise YPF, the chatter among Argentina observers was that China somehow had a role to play in the story.Why else, as one person put it, would Fernández go ahead and seize the majority stake held by Spanish oil major Repsol unless she thinks she can get Chinese oil majors to step in and provide the billions needed to develop YPF’s assets?But as the FT reported on Wednesday night, it was actually Repsol, not Argentina, that has been talking to the Chinese.
  • Details Emerge on U.S. Decisions in China Scandal –– DC byline, good to see DC leaking//WASHINGTON — On the evening of Feb. 6, a vice mayor of a major Chinese city who had a reputation as a crime fighter turned up at the American Consulate in Chengdu in an agitated state, wearing a disguise and telling a tale of corruption and murder that has ensnared the Obama administration in a scandal it wants nothing to do with.
    The official, Wang Lijun, sought asylum, fearing for his life even as Chinese security forces quickly surrounded the building and knocked on the consulate door, asking the American diplomats inside to turn him over.
  • Abuse of Privilege – China Media Project – The following post by scholar and former journalist Guo Yukuan (郭宇宽) about his witnessing of the arrogant use of an expensive luxury vehicle with official military plates was deleted from Sina Weibo sometime before 1:36pm Hong Kong time on April 16, 2012. Guo Yukuan currently has just under 22,000 followers, according to numbers from Sina Weibo.
  • Derivatives Lobby Has U.S. Regulators on the Run – Bloomberg – The derivatives industry is squeezing Washington like a python. Desperate to control the tone and thrust of derivatives regulation, industry lobbyists have been swarming over the Commodity Futures Trading Commission and the Securities and Exchange Commission, each of which is writing derivatives rules as mandated by the Dodd-Frank reform law.
    In case their lobbying falls short, the industry — largely dealer banks and commodities firms — has been pushing legislation that would pre-empt the rulemaking process and tie the agencies’ hands. So far, no fewer than 10 such derivatives bills have been introduced in the House; two have passed and several more have cleared committee.
    Not satisfied with that, influential lawmakers have been not so subtly warning regulators to go easy on derivatives. This is incredibly intimidating: Congress controls the agencies’ budgets, and the increase in workload mandated by Dodd-Frank leaves them woefully short on funds.
    And should a derivatives rule unpalatable to the dealers somehow survive this Beltway obstacle course, the agencies face an explicit threat of a lawsuit. This has had a chilling effect. As Bart Chilton, a CFTC commissioner, told me, regulators fear there is “litigation lurking around every corner and down every hallway.”
  • Commentary: Bo investigation warns officials of power abuse – People’s Daily Online– BEIJING, April 17 (Xinhua) — Renewed attention has been drawn to the anti-corruption drive of the Communist Party of China (CPC) amid an ongoing investigation of Bo Xilai over serious discipline violations, as well as the transfer of his wife to judicial authorities over suspicions of homicide.The CPC Central Committee has made a resolute decision to thoroughly investigate related events and release information in a timely manner, a manifestation of its high sense of responsibility to the causes of the Party and the people.The move also demonstrates the CPC’s determination to safeguard the socialist rule of law, to investigate and handle every discipline violation and never tolerate corruption, in order to ensure the purity of the Party.
  • 人民日报-整治网络谣言是人心所向、法治要求——专家学者谈网络谣言的危害及其治理 – 3rd day in a row People’s Daily has had a page 1 article on online rumors
  • Chinese Hackers Seek Retribution On Makers Of Tainted Drugs – International Business Times– The websites of Chinese drugmakers have been attacked by hackers incensed by news of criminal behavior and quality control problems in the country’s drug industry.On Monday, hackers broke into the websites of Chinese drug manufacturing companies Qinghai Geladan, Xiuzheng Pharameuticals and Tonghua Jinma.
  • Neil Heywood death in China: Bo Xilai ‘drowned Chongqing in a sea of Red terror’ – Telegraph – Bo Xilai’s five-year reign over Chongqing, the world’s largest city, saw a string of officials in his administration commit suicide, the jailing or silencing of scores of his opponents, and a near bankruptcy of the city’s finances, a Daily Telegraph investigation has learned.
  • Billionaires Make Killing Amid China Murder Tale – Bloomberg – In 2011, the richest 70 members of China’s legislature were worth more than the annual gross domestic product of Slovakia. The $90 billion concentrated among them is both emblematic of how China’s model is failing the masses and why Communist Party bigwigs will stonewall any change that crimps their income.
    Because the extremely wealthy are often politicians, China may have a truly difficult time retooling its economy and narrowing the rich-poor divide. The hurdles to reform increase the odds of a hard landing in China that breeds social unrest.
    We can marvel over Bo’s downfall. We can go on about how China’s leadership refuses to countenance rising political stars who challenge its clubby world. We can engage in whodunit fantasies about the wife and the dead businessman. But more than anything, this tale shows how an antiquated political system imperils a nation’s future.
  • FedEx Late Delivery to Courthouse May Mean Deportation – Bloomberg – A couple ordered deported to China lost their appeal because FedEx Corp. (FDX) was one day late delivering their case to court, an appellate panel ruled.
    Chao Lin and his wife, Xue Yun Lin, had until Jan. 13, 2011, to file their case in the federal Court of Appeals in Atlanta after the U.S. Board of Immigration Appeals upheld their removal from the U.S. They hired FedEx on Jan. 12 to deliver their petition the next day. It arrived on Jan. 14, according to an opinion issued today.
    A snowstorm followed by severe icing delayed the court’s opening on Jan. 13 until 10:30 a.m. The clerk’s office opened after that and was also available for electronic filing, the three-judge panel said.