China Readings for March 20th

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

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  • Inside New York’s Controversial Shark Fin Trade – Two weeks ago, when I ordered shark fin soup for dinner at the Golden Unicorn, a banquet hall in Chinatown, my waiter seemed confused. The dish is usually reserved for grand occasions, like weddings and high-end business lunches, and I was casually asking for it as an appetizer to my roasted duck.
    “It’s very expensive,” the waiter said solemnly, pointing at the price printed on the menu: $65. I told him I knew that and still wanted to try it. He nodded, wrote down my order, and walked away.
  • Rachel Katz Hitchhiked Across China-BI – and now works as a consultant at McKinsey
  • Chris Batty to Run Atlantic Media’s Planned Global Biz Site | MediaWorks – Advertising Age – bet they pay well. competing with FT andEconomist going to be hard, not clear they are going to fill any unmet information/news needs//
    GBE — which is our working product name, for Global Business Elite — is going to be focused on the very, very, very top of the pyramid in terms of global business and financial management, the C-suite. We inherently define the target narrowly, with very little aspiration in any foreseeable timeline to wander from serving that audience segment deeply.
  • China Carrier Preps for Flight Ops? | Flashpoints – Photos posted to the Internet in China last week seem to confirm that the Chinese Navy has installed arrestor gear and other vital equipment on its refurbished Soviet-made aircraft carrier, the ex-Varyag. If genuine, the installations could represent a big step forward for the first-ever seaborne, fixed-wing aviation capability for the People's Liberation Army Navy.
  • ‘Red’ Songs Banned in Chongqing – Authorities in the southwestern Chinese city of Chongqing are reported to be backpedaling rapidly on the populist policies of the city's ousted Party chief Bo Xilai, whose fall from power last week highlighted power struggles within the ruling Chinese Communist Party.

    Amateurs who had once regularly gathered in a square in the city center to sing "red songs," revolutionary anthems from the Mao era, have now been told to stop because they are "annoying the neighbors," residents said.

  • Chinese Air Force Modernizes On Dual Tracks | AVIATION WEEK – As China starts to put together a modern, integrated air force, which could reach 1,000 fighters by 2020, it is developing the components of a future force of stealthier combat aircraft, new bombers and unmanned, hypersonic and possibly space-based combat platforms. These could emerge as soon as the early 2020s.

    This dual track was illustrated in late 2010 by two events. One was the People’s Liberation Army Air Force’s (Plaaf) first foreign demonstration of its modern capabilities: a combined-force mission of Xian Aircraft Co. H-6 bombers supported by Chengdu Aircraft Co. J-10 multi-role fighters, KJ-2000 airborne early warning and control aircraft. and H-6U tankers for an exercise in Kazakhstan. The other was the unveiling four months later of the Chengdu stealth fighter prototype, widely known as the J-20, followed in early 2011 by its first official flight.

  • Dalai’s incarnation critical for Tibet’s future-Global Times – the central government has the complete power to stop the reincarnation of any living Buddha. There is a precedent. In the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), Emperor Qianlong suspended the reincarnation of the head of the Karma Kagyu school, due to his collusion with the Gurkhas in Nepal in 1785 and his violation of national law. But the current situation is different. Allowing the reincarnation of the Dalai is better than stopping it.
  • Another Hidden Bailout: Helping Wall Street Collect Your Rent | Matt Taibbi | Rolling Stone – So congratulations, America, your quasi-governmental housing entity is about to subcontract out mass-landlording/slumlording jobs to the likes of John Paulson and Warren Buffett, so that they can add to their bottom lines collecting rent payments in the middle of a nationwide housing slump.

    As one hedge fund analyst put it to me this morning: "Help inflate the bubble, create a foreclosure crisis, buy homes in bulk, and rent them out to the same average homeowner."

    Is this what we had in mind when we created the "ownership society" – helping billionaires collect your rent?

  • China’s Falling Star by Ian Johnson | NYRblog | The New York Review of Books – Before canning Bo, Wen justified his actions in noble terms, saying that China needed political reform without which “such historical tragedies as the Cultural Revolution may happen again in China.” Bo, by implication, had failed to learn from history and was resorting to Maoist-style publicity campaigns to whip up support. A less charitable explanation is that Wen was simply being defensive about his own failure to deliver on reforms. His call for political reform is by now an annual occurrence but he either has no power to implement it or his definition of political reform is something more akin to making the current system more efficient and responsive to citizen complaints. By equating muscular reforms with Cultural Revolution-style anarchy, Mr. Wen could have been justifying his cautious approach.

    Thus the Chinese political cosmos spins toward the Party Congress. Since the Tiananmen Square massacre in 1989, leaders have put a premium on stability and, contrary to many predictions, have managed to have one peaceful transition of power—the 2002 shift from party boss Jiang Zemin and his premier, Zhu Rongji, to Hu and Wen. That shift was not easy—Jiang tried to hang on and stock the Politburo with his men, which took several years for Hu to reverse. But it was peaceful and relatively smooth.

    Now, the party is trying to do the same thing again, with Hu and Wen set to exit in favor of Xi and Li.

  • Embassy of the United States Beijing, China – Remarks by Ambassador Locke at the 7th Annual Barnett-Oksenberg Lecture
  • Bo Xilai Accused of Interfering With Corruption Case –
  • 陈士渠:微博打拐 [张晓茜]__鲜橙互动 南都网 南方都市报 新闻互动网站 南都数字报
  • Ai Weiwei says censors removed his microblog | Reuters – For nearly two hours on Sunday, dissident artist Ai Weiwei was able to maintain a Twitter-like microblog account, briefly raising hopes the Chinese government had relaxed some of its tight control over online expression.
    Ai's first microblog post said: "Testing. Ai Weiwei. March 18, 2012."

    Ai's account on Sina, the operator of China's most popular microblogging platform, drew 10,680 followers in that brief period, he told Reuters on Monday, including the jubliant-sounding comment: "The moment has come. The skies have changed in China."

    Shortly afterwards, however, the account was inaccessible, apparently deleted by government censors.

  • FT Alphaville » Chinese property *alert*
  • 洋酒拉菲年产量仅24万瓶 中国年销200万瓶_消费也理财-曝光台_新浪财经_新浪网 – Lafitte's annual production is 240k bottles, yet China consumes 2m per year
  • 491 mln yuan embezzled from Beijing-Shanghai High-Speed Railway project – Xinhua | – surprisingly low. i bet more was stolen in Boston's Big Dig//

    China's auditing authorities said on Monday that 491 million yuan (77.84 million U.S. dollars) had been embezzled from the Beijing-Shanghai High-speed Railway project.

    In a report based on an audit conducted between June and September in 2011, the National Audit Office (NAO) listed some irregular practices in the construction and management of the project.

  • Shanghai’s car plate auction hits new high – Xinhua | – Prices of new license plates in Shanghai hit record high in March as enthusiasm for private-car ownership continued to grow despite government controls on new vehicle registration.

    Shanghai is the only Chinese city to use an auction to control plate supply. In the monthly auction that ended this weekend, the average bid for a license plate was 58,625 yuan (9,380 U.S. dollars), up 5.37 percent from the February average, government data showed.

  • Federal Reserve Stress Tests Make Us All Muppets – Bloomberg – If you buy the Fed’s view of what is likely to constitute stress, there is some justification for its action. Even then, you should ask the question that Anat Admati, a Stanford University finance professor, has been pressing: Why would we let banks reduce their capital in the face of so much financial and economic uncertainty around the world? If you leave shareholder equity on bank balance sheets, it still belongs to shareholders. Let it stay there as loss-absorbing capital in case the world turns nasty again.
    Reducing bank capital, according to Admati and her colleagues, doesn’t help the economy. Bankers like lower capital levels because their pay is based on return-on-capital unadjusted for risk. Shareholders are willing to go along either because they don’t understand the risks of thinly capitalized and therefore highly leveraged businesses, or they expect to share in the downside protection that will be provided by the government.
  • 解放军报:坚决抵制“军队国家化”等错误观点_新浪军事_新浪网
  • Dun & Bradstreet halts China unit operations amid probe | Reuters – Dun & Bradstreet (DNB.N), a business information firm, said some of its local employees in China may have violated U.S. anti-bribery laws, and it had suspended operations at one of its local units pending an inquiry.
  • 抑郁症女孩自杀之殇 | 新浪微博-随时随地分享身边的新鲜事儿
  • Architects in China, Building the American Dream – – The scale and speed of China’s expansion is like nothing these architects experienced in their home countries. Fueled by rising prosperity and the largest rural-to-urban shift in history — some 300 million Chinese became city dwellers over the past two decades — the boom has utterly transformed the eastern seaboard around Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou. The fastest growth now is taking place deep in the country’s interior or on its outer edges in cities little known in the West: Harbin, Changsha, Chengdu and dozens of others. “It’s still shocking to me,” says Manuel Sanchez-Vera, a 43-year-old architect who shuttered his own Madrid practice two years ago and joined a midsize Australian firm in Shanghai. “I just got out of a meeting to design a hospital for a city that will grow from 4 million to 10 million in the next few years. How do you design for an explosion like that?”

    The answer to that question, in the main, is quickly and cheaply. While some marquee projects — like the Harbin museum Gillen is working on — attract a lot of attention, most foreign architects in China are designing office towers, housing developments, hospitals and shopping malls, projects in which creativity is in constant tension with the bottom line. Despite the excitement over the flow of projects — indeed, the mere existence of work — there is also a deeper concern: all those empty apartment buildings in Harbin and elsewhere suggest that China’s building boom may have passed its peak.

  • In China, political past, present and future collide – China Media Project – Wen Jiabao’s remarks, and the announced removal the following day of Bo Xilai (薄熙来) as the top Party leader in Chongqing, seem to mark a concerted move against China’s left ahead of the leadership transition this fall. Bo Xilai was seen to have been carving out his own populist enclave in Chongqing through his “red songs” movement and his robust anti-corruption campaign spearhead by Wang Lijun.

    The apparent unraveling of Bo’s political standing and prospects through the Wang Lijun incident has come with a renewed pro-reform discourse cast against the evils of extreme, Maoist populism.

  • 法拉利撞上保福寺桥 车身分裂一男两女身份曝光(1)-社会万象-军事前沿军事网
  • As Stanford center opens in China, faculty showcase research – FSI Stanford
  • Stanford Center at Peking University | Stanford University
  • China Buys Fewer Weapons as Local Industry Expands, Sipri Says – Bloomberg – China, the world’s top weapons importer for much of the past decade, fell to fourth from second on an annual list from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute as it produces more arms at home.
    China received 5 percent of the volume of international transfers of “major conventional weapons” from 2007 to 2011, Sipri said in a report released today. The total was half that of India, which last year overtook China as the world’s largest recipient of arms, and less than South Korea and Pakistan.
    “In certain sectors such as combat aircraft, with the exception of certain parts like engines, China is able to put together these systems largely from their own indigenous base now,” Paul Holtom, director of Sipri’s arms transfer program, said by phone. “India is still struggling there.”
  • Yale professor Chen Zhiwu on the toxicity of red songs: Shanghaiist – don't underestimate the power of red songs. They can inject the poison of the revolution and the utter disrespect of human rights into your blood!
  • The Liu Wen Express – The New York Times – Slipping into a pair of blue Marc Jacobs pants in the back of a rented van in Yongzhou, China, the model Liu Wen was feeling an unusual degree of jitters. Changing clothes on the go is standard practice for models shooting on location, and she liked the look: “It’s tomboy style,” she said. “I feel it’s my style.” And under most circumstances — long travel, bad weather, unexpected wardrobe glitches — China’s first bona fide supermodel has a reputation in the industry for being gracious and professional. But as the van pulled up to her old middle school, she peered worriedly out the curtained windows at a waiting crowd: hundreds of frantic teenagers in white uniform jackets, spitting images of her recent former self. “It’s getting crazy here,” she said. The students were chanting, “Liu Wen, Liu Wen” and were armed with cellphone cameras and notepads for autographs, eager for the return of their school’s most famous alum. “I’m not that big a celebrity,” she said. “I’m just an ordinary person.”