The Sinocism China Newsletter 01.27.16

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

Today’s Links:


1. China backs U.N. move to denounce North Korea over nuclear test – The Washington Post After a five-hour meeting between Kerry and Foreign Minister Wang Yi, the two diplomats appeared before reporters with tension written across their faces. Wang drummed his fingers on the side of his podium as a grim-faced Kerry excoriated the actions of North Korea and its erratic leader, Kim Jong-un. Kerry used unusually forceful language about the dangers posed by Pyongyang. Wang repeatedly mentioned the need for stability on the Korean Peninsula. While both agreed more sanctions are warranted, they said that the details would have to be resolved in talks at the United Nations Security Council in coming days.

Related: Press Availability With Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi Kerry sounds frustrated // But the issue that topped our agenda today and on which we’ve spent most of the time that kept you waiting is the issue of North Korea. So let me be clear: Kim Jong-un’s actions are reckless and they are dangerous. Whether or not he achieved the explosion of the hydrogen weapon is not what makes the difference. It’s that he is trying, that he wants to do that, and made the attempt against all of the international sanctions and resolutions that have been passed by the global community to prohibit that behavior. As a result, North Korea poses an overt threat – a declared threat – to the world and it has stated its intention to develop a thermonuclear weapon. In addition, it has made clear its intent to develop an international continental ballistic missile with the capacity to carry a nuclear warhead to other places in the world. This is a threat to any nation in the world, but particularly, we in the United States understand what his purpose is, and therefore, it is a threat that the United States must take extremely seriously. And the United States will do what is necessary to protect the people of our country and our friends and allies in the world. All nations, particularly those who seek a global leadership role or who have a global leadership role, share a fundamental responsibility to meet this challenge with a united front. We were united as a world in making it clear to the nation of Iran that it should not develop a nuclear weapon, and indeed, we all joined together and worked cooperatively in the effort to make certain that we could get to the table and have negotiations. With all due respect, more significant and impactful sanctions were put in place against Iran, which did not have a nuclear weapon, than against North Korea, which does. //  Wang twice referred to ” building a new model of major country relationship” …Beijing just won’t stop flogging that dead horse

Related: China, U.S. should jointly promote solutions to more global issues: Xi – Xinhua Xi spoke about existing coordination and cooperation, spanning issues including trade, military relations, culture, people-to-people exchange, cyber security, climate change and the Iran nuclear issue. When China and the United States work together, they can make big things happen that is good for the world, Xi said. He urged the two sides to implement consensus reached between their leaders, adhere to the principle of “no conflict or confrontation, win-win cooperation and mutual respect,” expand their cooperation at bilateral, regional and global levels, and push forward Sino-U.S. relations by a big step. // CCTV Evening News on Xi-Kerry meeting  [视频]习近平会见美国国务卿克里

Related: Commentary: U.S. meddling in South China Sea a wrongheaded move – Xinhua BEIJING, Jan. 27 (Xinhua) — As U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry raised “concerns” about the South China Sea during his Asia tour, he may have been unaware of one thing: the U.S. meddling in the issue is an ill-considered move, which could boomerang and escalate regional tensions. Before visiting China, Kerry stopped in Laos — the 2016 chair of the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) — and Cambodia, two important neighbors and trade partners of China. Kerry’s calculated decision to visit Laos and Cambodia demonstrates the U.S.’s ulterior motives in counting on ASEAN to pressure China on the South China Sea issue, mere wishful thinking on the part of Kerry and Washington.

2. China Sharpens Efforts to Halt Money Outflow – WSJ The measures, most of which haven’t been publicly disclosed, follow a series of efforts by China’s central bank to discourage investors from betting against the yuan and cracking down on overseas money transfers. “They’re sparing no effort to prevent capital outflows,” said a senior Chinese banking executive close to the central bank. “All the measures are the most aggressive I’ve seen in recent history.”  //  IMF regretting the SDR decision?

3. China’s economic leaders struggle to explain thinking to world – “A lot of my clients thought they understood China,” says one Asian currency strategist. “They thought they knew what the [policy] framework was. But now they don’t understand who is making the decisions and why communication isn’t provided. “They are increasingly becoming more disappointed with China,” the strategist added. “When the markets have no guidance they expect the worst.”..“Zhou Xiaochuan used to be quite active speaking but was heavily criticised for it,” says one Chinese financial policy expert, who asked not to be named. “Now poor Fang Xinghai is out there but in the wrong [government] position. The system doesn’t allow for an active PR posture.

Related: 人民论坛:“看空”中国毫无依据–评论-人民网 索罗斯先生有句名言:“世界经济史是一部基于假象和谎言的连续剧。要获得财富,做法就是认清其假象,投入其中,然后在假象被公众认识之前退出游戏。”现在,一些怀揣这样或那样目的的人,又开始编造一出出“假象和谎言的连续剧”。殊不知,“青山遮不住,毕竟东流去”。中国这个拉动全球经济增长的“火车头”,见或不见,就在那里。正如习近平主席所言,中国将始终做全球发展的贡献者,欢迎各国搭乘中国发展“顺风车”,一起来实现共同发展。   《 人民日报 》( 2016年01月28日 04 版 // Thursday’s People’s Daily again goes after Soros, shorts

Related: Short the Chinese economy? How absurd, says Premier Li Keqiang as war of words with billionaire investor George Soros heats up | South China Morning Post “In recent days, there have been many international voices ‘shorting’ the Chinese economy, and some have even claimed that China’s slowdown is affecting the global economy – how absurd [these allegations are],” Li said, in comments published on a government website yesterday. The premier added that China’s economic growth remained within a “reasonable range”, and while he did not mention Soros by name, state-run news agency Xinhua was happy to point the finger.

4. Chinese official calls for patriotism, shared values – Xinhua Senior Chinese official Liu Yunshan on Wednesday called for efforts to bolster patriotism and shared values. Liu, a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, stressed ethical and cultural progress to build a moderately prosperous society in an all-around manner…He also urged efforts to promote patriotism embodied in the Chinese Dream, and to improve public etiquette. Efforts will continue to rectify filthy and disorder public space, and acts of dishonesty, as well as spreading harmful information on the Internet, Liu stressed. // more patriotism is just what we all need

Related: [视频]刘云山主持召开中央文明委第四次全体会议 CCTV Evening News on the meeting and Liu’s comments // 中央精神文明建设指导委员会1月27日召开第四次全体会议,中共中央政治局常委、中央精神文明建设指导委员会主任刘云山主持会议并讲话,强调要深刻认识新形势新任务对精神文明建设工作的新要求,高扬理想信念旗帜,弘扬爱国主义精神,强化共同价值追求,为决胜全面建成小康社会开好局提供思想保证、精神力量、道德滋养和文化条件…刘云山指出,爱国主义教育是精神文明建设的永恒主题,要宣传阐释好爱国主义的时代内涵和本质要求,引导人们深刻认识中国梦是当代中国爱国主义最生动的实践,培养升华爱党、爱国、爱社会主义的深厚感情,自觉维护祖国统一和民族团结,坚定不移走中国特色社会主义道路。

5. Scalping Tickets to the Doctor? Woman in Beijing Has Had Enough – The New York Times Ticket scalpers can be a headache in China, raising the prices of concerts, train trips and more. But no scalpers are more detested than those selling tickets for hospital visits. A video of a woman in Beijing denouncing the practice circulated widely this week, as many others shared their own experiences. Most hospitals require patients to take tickets to determine the order in which they are seen for nonemergency treatment. Often the tickets are sold for a fee. The goal is to prevent disorder and cutting in line when many people are seeking medical care.

Related: 60岁号贩子跪求医生加号 转手以3000元卖出_网易新闻中心 号贩子下跪骗加号“号贩子”问题不仅让医院头疼,也让医生头疼。有位专家告诉记者,现在号贩子都很“奇葩”。有次她出诊时遇到一个60多岁的老者,老人跪下来恳请她给加号。“我看他年纪大,于心不忍就加了号。”没想到,这老人竟然是个号贩子,转手就把这个号卖了3000元。“这么大年纪还用这种方式当号贩子、骗加号,真是难以想象。”

6. Tough Times call for Tougher Reform Push-Caixin-Hu Shuli Editorial she sounds even more frustrated than usual // As such, we must create a level playing field in order to modernize services. We should also strengthen accountability and allow the public to scrutinize government affairs. As other post-industrial societies have demonstrated, without a civil society and the rule of law, we will not be able to unleash the potential in our labor force and the use of technology and capital for progress. As Japanese economist Masahiko Aoki has pointed out, what happens in the marketplace actually has much to do with the social system in which it is embedded. As many researches have suggested, when the income level of a country remains low, its people are drawn towards the idea of accumulating material wealth and are more concerned about economic growth, commodity prices, social order and national defense. But when a country becomes a high or middle income nation, then its citizens pay less attention to material affluence, and place more value on rights to have a say in government affairs, freedom of speech and a clean environment. // 【舒立观察】补短板,先抓政府转型 

7. ‘Thank You for Educating the Scumbags China Can’t Handle’ | Foreign Policy On Jan. 7, three Chinese defendants – Zhai Yunyao, Yang Yuhan, and Zhang Xinlei, all now 19 years old – agreed with prosecutors to accept prison sentences for the March 2015 assault and kidnapping of Liu Yiran, who was then 18, while attending high school in San Gabriel Valley. Prosecutors have alleged that while off campus, the defendants brought Liu to a park called Rowland Heights, then stripped her, slapped her, burned her with cigarettes, and kicked her. Sentences will range from six to 13 years in prison. After serving their time, the three will be expelled from the United States. That’s just fine with many in China // the comments on the original article a few days ago were excellent

8. China: Surviving the Camps by Zha Jianying | NYR Daily | The New York Review of Books By now, it has been nearly forty years since the Cultural Revolution officially ended, yet in China, considering the magnitude and significance of the event, it has remained a poorly examined, under-documented subject. Official archives are off-limits. Serious books on the period, whether comprehensive histories, in-depth analyses, or detailed personal memoirs, are remarkably few. Ji Xianlin’s The Cowshed: Memories of the Chinese Cultural Revolution, which has just been released in English for the first time, is something of an anomaly. At the center of the book is the cowshed, the popular term for makeshift detention centers that had sprung up in many Chinese cities at the time


Bill Ackman short China and Saudi Arabia – Business Insider To date, despite the large notional size of this currency/market hedge and continued weakness in the yuan and growing pressure on the Saudi Riyal, we have made only a modest profit on these investments. Both China and Saudi Arabia have inadvisably, in our view, continued to expend hundreds of billions of dollars to protect their currencies pegs. Our currency puts, therefore, have not, to date, served to be a useful hedge against declines in our portfolio as our investments have declined much more dramatically than we would have expected in light of their limited exposure to the Chinese economy and oil prices

Alibaba’s China Addiction Isn’t Such an Asset Anymore – Bloomberg Business Alibaba’s quarterly results due Thursday are expected to show revenue growth of 27 percent, its lowest since at least June 2012. The portion of sales coming from China rose during the last three quarters to 83 percent, prompting billionaire founder Jack Ma to pursue growth abroad through deals including ride-sharing service Lyft Inc. and Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post newspaper. “Investors largely see Alibaba as a proxy for China’s economy, and right now there’s just not a lot of good news,” said Li Muzhi, a Hong Kong-based analyst at Arete Research Service LLP. “Alibaba has been trying to branch out revenue streams, but that takes time to develop.”

Hysteria over China has become ridiculous – Telegraph As it happens, I was at the dinner at the Hotel Seehof in Davos – drinking white Rioja – where Mr Soros supposedly revealed his plot. What he did let slip is that he had been shorting some Asian currencies – the Malaysian Ringitt or the Thai Baht, perhaps, out of nostalgia for the 1998 crisis. Mr Soros made general comments, claiming that credit in China has reached 350pc of GDP and that the hard landing is already happening. “I’m not expecting it, I’m observing it,” he said. The observations were boilerplate, what are called “tourist” insights in hedge fund parlance. He is not a player in China. So let us return to reality. The economic facts are in plain view. China is not slowing. It is picking itself up slowly after a “recession” in early 2015.

新起点上的新蓝图(《全面小康热点面对面》①) 出版说明 -为深化党的十八届五中全会精神的学习宣传贯彻,帮助人们全面准确理解“十三五”规划建议,切实把思想和行动统一到党中央决策部署上来,更好凝聚全面建成小康社会的奋进力量,我们在深入调研的基础上,梳理出7个干部群众普遍关注的热点问题,组织中央有关部门和专家学者撰写了2016年通俗理论读物《全面小康热点面对面》。本书紧密联系我国经济社会发展实际,紧密联系全面建成小康社会决胜阶段的新要求,对这些问题作了深入浅出、通俗易懂的解读阐释,观点权威准确,文风清新简洁,是干部群众、青年学生进行理论学习和开展形势政策教育的重要辅导读物。 中共中央宣传部理论局    2016年1月

Premier Li urges more financial support for industrial upgrades – Xinhua Premier Li Keqiang on Wednesday called for more financial support for industrial upgrades as the country strives to restructure its economy. “Making good,creative use of financial tools to support industrial upgrades is an important way for the financial sector to better serve the real economy,” read a statement issued after an executive meeting of the State Council chaired by Premier Li. The government will encourage financial institutions to offer credit support to high and new tech enterprises, major technical equipment manufacturers, and projects that aim to strengthen China’s industrial foundation, the statement said.

Is China’s slowdown really so hard to understand? | Andrew Batson’s Blog As I have previously argued on this blog, the regional pattern of the slowdown is in fact very important. If China were really falling victim to the exhaustion of catch-up growth potential, then it would be experiencing a gradual slowdown, and the provinces slowing down would be those who had caught up the most. And this is not true; the high-income provinces are doing well while low-income provinces are hurting. I have never really believed in the idea of the middle-income trap, and I increasingly feel that it is actually counter-productive in current discussions about China.

China’s Money-Market Operations Inject Most Cash in Three Years – Bloomberg Business The People’s Bank of China said it auctioned 340 billion yuan ($51.7 billion) of reverse-repurchase agreements on Thursday, after offering 440 billion yuan two days earlier. The week’s net injection of 590 billion yuan was the biggest since February 2013, data compiled by Bloomberg show.  //  CNY holiday starts next week


Senior CPC official demands Party loyalty – Xinhua A senior Communist Party of China (CPC) official stressed Party members’ loyalty as he addressed a meeting on the work of authorities affiliated to the CPC Central Committee on Wednesday. “All CPC organizations and Party members should take absolute loyalty to the Party as their fundamental political requirement and foremost political discipline,” said Li Zhanshu, a member of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee.

环球时报社未经批准公款出国旅游 总编辑被处分-凤凰新闻 中纪委网站刊文公布近期查处违反八项规定精神行为的具体情况,严肃查处环球时报社未经审批擅自去波兰公款旅游问题。已按照有关规定,对环球时报总编辑给予行政警告处分,责令其与环球时报副总编辑向中央纪委驻社纪检组作深刻书面检查,并分别向报社计财部退回两位同志个人应承担的有关费用6417.9元。 //  CCDI report on People’s Daily plans to rectify problems found in inspection tour last year, confirms rumors that Global Times editor Hu Xijin was disciplined for an unauthorized trip to Poland with state funds


PACOM CO Harris: More U.S. South China Sea Freedom of Navigation Missions Are Coming – USNI News Adm. Harry Harris, commander of Pacific Command, said in answer to a question Wednesday, “I believe the [USS] Lassen [operation] did challenge some of China’s claims.” He told the audience at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington, D.C., think-tank that the passage of the guided-missile destroyer within 12 nautical miles of Subi Reef, an artificially reclaimed island, did not recognize Beijing’s assertions of sovereignty over the feature as a matter of innocent passage. “You will see more of these,” he said.

“Barriers, Springboards and Benchmarks: China Conceptualizes the Pacific ‘Island Chains’”—FirstView Version of Article Now Available on The China Quarterly Website | Andrew S. Erickson US government reports describe Chinese-conceived “island chains” in the Western Pacific as narrow demarcations for Chinese “counter-intervention” operations to defeat US and allied forces in altercations over contested territorial claims. The sparse scholarship available does little to contest this excessively myopic assertion. Yet, further examination reveals meaningful differences that can greatly enhance an understanding of Chinese views of the “island chains” concept, and with it important aspects of China’s efforts to develop as a maritime power. Long before China had a navy or naval strategists worthy of the name, the concept had originated and been developed for decades by previous great powers vying for Asia-Pacific influence. Today, China’s own authoritative interpretations are flexible, nuanced and multifaceted – befitting the multiple and sometimes contradictory factors with which Beijing must contend in managing its meteoric maritime rise. These include the growing importance of sea lane security at increasing distances and levels of operational intensity.

Beijing Offers Most Comprehensive Statement to Date on New PLA Navy Logistical Facilities in Djibouti | Andrew S. Erickson A: Vessels have been sent by China to the Gulf of Aden and the waters off the Somali coast for escort missions in recent years. In fulfilling escort missions, we encountered real difficulties in replenishing soldiers and resupplying fuel and food, and found it really necessary to have nearby and efficient logistical support. China and Djibouti consulted with each other and reached consensus on building logistical facilities in Djibouti, which will enable the Chinese troops to better fulfill escort missions and make new contributions to regional peace and stability. The nature of relevant facilities is clear, which is to provide logistical support to Chinese fleets performing escort duties in the Gulf of Aden and the waters off the Somali coast.

Space warfare with Russia and China? Pentagon urged to prepare for it. – The Washington Post A new report released on Wednesday by the Center for a New American Security highlights the vulnerabilities the Pentagon has in space, and calls for a shift in strategy to safeguard it and prepare for conflict there. It’s written by senior fellow Elbridge Colby, a former member of the presidential campaign staff of Gov. W. Mitt Romney (R.-Mass.), and argues that potential adversaries like China and Russia have noticed the degree to which the United States is reliant on its “space architecture,” and begun to seek ways to threaten it.

SDF, U.S. forces worked out joint operations study plan in 2012 to combat feared Senkaku invasion – AJW by The Asahi Shimbun In a top-secret plan, the Self-Defense Forces and the U.S. forces worked out a plan to study joint operations in 2012 to repel an invasion of the disputed Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea, which included air and artillery attacks. The plan, made under the then Democratic Party of Japan-led administration, came amid heightening tensions between Japan and China, according to several Defense Ministry sources.

Book Discussion Crouching Tiger | Video | Peter Navarro talked about his book, Crouching Tiger: What China’s Militarism Means for the World, about the likelihood of a conflict between the U.S. and China


U.S. slams Taiwan president’s planned visit to contested South China Sea island | Reuters Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou’s planned trip to the Taiwanese-held island of Itu Aba in the disputed South China Sea is “extremely unhelpful” and won’t do anything to resolve disputes over the waterway, a U.S. official said on Wednesday. Ma’s office earlier announced that the president, who steps down in May, would fly to Itu Aba on Thursday to offer Chinese New Year wishes to residents on the island, mainly Taiwanese coastguard personnel and environmental scholars.


New vice president, vice editor-in-chief of Xinhua appointed – Xinhua Liu Siyang was appointed Xinhua’s vice president and Zhou Zongmin was appointed vice editor-in-chief.


Scholars call for a ban on churches in Confucius’ hometown – Global Times A Confucian scholar recently renewed the call to ban churches in Qufu, the ancient Chinese philosopher’s hometown, triggering heated debate online as to whether this is needed to save the local culture or an unfair infringement on residents’ religious freedom. The scholar, Zeng Zhenyu, published an article on January 21 on, a website on Confucian studies, criticizing the local governments of Qufu and Jining, which administrates Qufu, East China’s Shandong Province for “secretly” building a Protestant church three kilometers to the southeast of the Confucius Temple. He included pictures in his article that he claimed were of this “secret” church.

Six jailed for forcing pair they mistook for animal abusers to eat cat feces – Global Times The six beat two people, surnamed Liu and Yin, cut their hair off and forced them to eat feces on July 30. According to a forensic analysis, the pair suffered bruising on their faces, limbs and backs. According to the report, the six people were all well-educated animal lovers, who met each other through a Wechat group named “Animal lovers.”

Couple’s Lawsuit Is First Test for Same-Sex Marriage in China – The New York Times On their first anniversary, in June, the men, Sun Wenlin and Hu Mingliang, tried to register to marry at a local civil affairs bureau in this southern provincial capital. An employee refused, saying Chinese law did not permit same-sex marriage. The couple did the unthinkable — they sued the civil affairs bureau. This month a district court accepted their case, the first time a Chinese court had agreed to hear a lawsuit on same-sex marriage. The proceedings were expected to start Thursday

Everyday Life in Mao’s China: A Q&A with Historian Covell Meyskens » The LARB Blog In addition to teaching at the US Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California, historian Covell Meyskens also curates Everyday Life in Mao’s China, a website filled with photographs and other images from 20th-century China. In this interview, Meyskens discusses the project with historian, photographer, and regular China Blog contributor Tong Lam.


In coal-powered China, electric car surge fuels fear of worsening smog | Reuters A series of studies by Tsinghua University, whose alumni includes the incumbent president, showed electric vehicles charged in China produce two to five times as much particulate matter and chemicals that contribute to smog versus petrol-engine cars. Hybrid vehicles fare little better. “International experience shows that cleaning up the air doesn’t need to rely on electric vehicles,” said Los Angeles-based An Feng, director of the Innovation Center for Energy and Transportation. “Clean up the power plants.”

China admits nuclear emergency response ‘inadequate’ as safety concerns halt construction of two Guangdong reactors | South China Morning Post China admitted on Wednesday its nuclear emergency response mechanism is “inadequate” for coping with “new situations and challenges” arising from its nuclear power plants. The central government also said it had halted construction of two new-generation nuclear reactors in Guangdong province, because of safety concerns, but vowed that they would not be abandoned.


Dim Sums: Rural China Economics and Policy: China Will Liberalize its Corn Market…One of These Days A Peoples Daily article this week signaled that China will allow its corn price to be determined by market forces. Although there is “consensus” that the corn market needs to be liberalized, nothing concrete was revealed about how or when the reform would take place because the details are “complicated.” The article repeated and amplified remarks made in a January 10 speech by Chen Xiwen, the vice director of China’s leading group on rural work. The Peoples Daily article was part of a series explaining the broader strategy of supply-side restructuring that China is pursuing in 2016.

China calls for new approach to agricultural modernization – Xinhua The document, publicized by the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China and the State Council, vowed “marked progress” in agricultural modernization by 2020 to ensure the building of a moderately prosperous society.

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2 thoughts on “The Sinocism China Newsletter 01.27.16

  1. The virulence with which state media is going after Soros is more than a little alarming; though PRC state media has never shied away from launching invectives and denunciations towards those it deems have slighted the PRC, this feels especially nasty. I mean, even Shambaugh didn’t get this much hate when he penned his “Chinese Crack-Up” article, which implies to me that the powers-that-be are feeling a touch insecure at the moment.

    Actually, Bill, if you don’t mind me asking: What’s your stance on this whole matter? Do you think the PRC’s economy is in real trouble or are you more of the view this is a more containable issue?

    For myself, regardless of how much economic turbulence is ahead, I worry this will distract from yet more important things threatening the PRC, namely ecological issues such as water scarcity and arable land degradation.

    • it has real problems but competent policymaking could allow to continue to muddle through for the foreseeable future. but that competency is now called into question

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