"Sinocism is the Presidential Daily Brief for China hands"- Evan Osnos, New Yorker Correspondent and National Book Award Winner
THE ESSENTIAL EIGHT
Xi Bags High-Level Military “Tiger” Amid Deepening Corruption Crackdown | Center for Strategic and International Studies–very helpful analysis by Christopher Johnson- The announcement on Xu, for example, is not occurring in a vacuum. At the same meeting, the Politburo also ousted three other CCP figures that earlier had been detained for investigation. All three of them have ties to the case against former PBSC member Zhou Yongkang, suggesting that long-lingering drama also may be building to a crescendo. Add to this the recent detention of the elder brother of Hu Jintao’s top lieutenant and Xi appears to be leaving no stone unturned. But to what end? Here it is important to think about Xi’s knack for political stagecraft. With most of his rival party chieftains now on the defensive, Xi may be seeking to press his advantage further by advancing his own allies. The upcoming Fourth Plenum, with its presumed focus on the very flexible theme of “party building,” may provide Xi with such an opportunity. There is a precedent for adding officials to senior civilian and military party posts at previous fourth plenums, and media speculation that Xi is seeking to advance the conclave from its traditional timeline in the fall would seem designed to keep the pressure on his detractors by compressing the party’s usual political calendar.//worth remembering that Hu Jintao started the case against General Gu Junshan, the case that reportedly led directly to Xu. So is this purely a purge by Xi, or also about seriously tackling corruption and improving PLA professionalization? I’d say all of the above; they are not mutually exclusive. It has looked clear for months that Xi has total control over the security services; does he now have near complete control over the PLA as well?
Related: China’s Antigraft Push Snares Most Senior Target Yet – NYTimes.com Nor was General Xu the only former senior official targeted by the meeting. Xinhua announced that the Politburo also expelled from the party Li Dongsheng, a former vice minister of public security, who party investigators found took massive bribes, as well as two former executives of a state oil conglomerate, Jiang Jiemin and Wang Yongchun, who were accused of similar misdeeds.//Li, Jiang and Wang look to be all related to the Zhou Yongkang investigation. Should we expect a Zhou Yongkang-related announcement by around the 4th Plenum, which rumors say will be held in August?
Related: 军报评论：坚决拥护党中央的正确决定 – 中国军网 PLA Daily on supporting the Party’s “correct decision”// 中共中央决定给予徐才厚开除党籍处分，
Related: 军中反腐惊雷 徐才厚外另有4少将落马_中国_多维新闻网 HK media says 4 other generals under investigation for corruption// 【多维新闻】
Related: CPC highlights disciplinary inspection reforms – Xinhua The Communist Party of China (CPC) on Monday underscored its disciplinary inspection reforms, just as four of the country’s former high-ranking officials were expelled from the Party. A meeting of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee on Monday approved an implementation plan of these inspection reforms, according to a statement released after the meeting presided by the CPC Central Committee’s general secretary, Xi Jinping. No detail of the reform plan was included in the statement. Monday’s meeting came as China’s anti-corruption drive reached a new crescendo as four former high-ranking officials were expelled from the CPC one day ahead of its 93rd anniversary.
Related: China Politburo Aims To Finish Major Fiscal Reforms By 2016 | MNI The meeting, chaired by President Xi Jinping, said the government will improve its fiscal budget management and better use fiscal budget to regulator government’s spending behaviour. The Politburo also agreed to deepen tax reform, improve tax structure and stabilize tax burden while pledge to use tax measures to push for economic structure adjustment. The Politburo aimed to finish major fiscal and tax reform tasks by 2016 and establish a modern fiscal system by 2020.
One Year After Sunnylands: Assessing the U.S.-China Relationship-Carnegie-Tsinghua Center Highlighting four years of partnership between the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and Tsinghua University’s Department of International Relations, Yan Xuetong and Sun Xuefeng, both professors at Tsinghua University and Carnegie–Tsinghua scholars, joined Carnegie–Tsinghua’s Paul Haenle and Carnegie’s Yukon Huang to discuss a range of bilateral and global issues occupying the U.S.-China agenda, from cyber security to maritime cooperation. Carnegie’s George Perkovich moderated.//excellent Podcast
China’s Xi heads to Seoul with North Korea on his mind | Reuters The president of China, North Korea’s only major ally, visits South Korea this week where the leaders of the two countries are expected to call on Pyongyang to end its pursuit of nuclear weapons, although Beijing will make sure it is not seen as taking sides. In a visit certain to be watched carefully in Pyongyang, President Xi Jinping will be holding talks with South Korean President Park Geun-hye for the fifth time in a year, without yet meeting the North’s leader, Kim Jong Un.
Q. and A.: Edmund Malesky on Vietnam and China – NYTimes.com an extremely informative interview // Edmund J. Malesky, an associate professor of political economy at Duke University, has spent years studying the politics of Vietnam. More recently, he has been working on a governance project involving China. His scholarship on the two countries, both ruled by Communist parties with close ties, has given him a basis for a comparative perspective on the nations’ politics and political economies.
Mass Hong Kong protest looms as democracy push gathers steam | Reuters Hong Kong is bracing for its largest protest in more than a decade after nearly 800,000 voted for full democracy in an unofficial referendum, a move likely to stoke anti-China sentiment in the former British colony. The annual July 1 rally, marking the day the territory returned to China in 1997, will focus on pressuring Beijing’s Communist Party leaders for full electoral freedom, organizers said, and could draw the largest turnout since 2003, when half a million people demonstrated against proposed anti-subversion laws which were later scrapped.
Related: Special Report: The battle for Hong Kong’s soul | Reuters For critics of the pro-Beijing government in Hong Kong, groups like the Care for the Youth Group Association are part of a campaign from the mainland to tighten control over China’s most freewheeling city. Increasingly, they say, Beijing is raising its voice. In the streets, boardrooms, newsrooms, churches and local government offices, individuals and organizations with links to the state and China’s Communist Party are playing a bigger role in civil and political life, well-placed sources in Hong Kong and Beijing say.
Special report: The victims of China’s soil pollution crisis | He Guangwei – China Dialogue This is the first of a special three-part series of investigations jointly run by chinadialogue and Yale Environment 360, with support from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting
BUSINESS, ECONOMY AND TRADE
China Manufacturing Gauge Rises to Six-Month High – Bloomberg The Purchasing Managers’ Index (CPMINDX) was at 51.0, the National Bureau of Statistics and China Federation of Logistics and Purchasing said today in Beijing, matching the median estimate of analysts surveyed by Bloomberg News. May’s reading was 50.8, with numbers above 50 signaling expansion.
Can China Fix Its Financial System Without Derailing Its Economy? – China Real Time Report – WSJ China can weather the storm. So says Paul Gruenwald, chief economist of Standard & Poor’s Rating Services’ Asia Pacific region. One of economists’ biggest fears is whether China’s credit boom will end in a U.S.-style financial crisis, sending shockwaves across the global economy. But Mr. Gruenwald says China has built up sufficient buffers to protect against a collapse in the country’s financial system, pointing to the $4 trillion in foreign-exchange reserves and the big banks’ cash stockpiles. “They’ve got cushions in there that are going to help to mitigate any downturn,” he said in an interview. “That doesn’t mean it’s painless, but I think it means that it’s probably more manageable.”
Daily Iron Ore Mine Closures in China Make Citigroup Bullish – Bloomberg Local suppliers in Asia’s largest economy are cutting production even as mills increase steel output on improved margins, according to analyst Ivan Szpakowski. An iron ore mine in China is being shuttered every day, with closures seen in all main producing regions, he said in an interview from Shanghai.
China Debt Set for Biggest Quarterly Gain in Two Years on Easing – Bloomberg “The PBOC’s policy direction is to guide interest rates lower to ensure growth,” said Zhang Guoyu, a Shanghai-based analyst at Orient Futures Co. “If it continues to want lower financing costs to benefit the real economy, the 10-year yield may have further downside.” The official Purchasing Manufacturing Index (CPMINDX) may have climbed to 51 in June, the highest level this year, according to a Bloomberg News survey ahead of the statistics bureau’s data release tomorrow. Targeted cuts in reserve requirements have helped companies’ profitability, although the foundation for recovery isn’t solid, Caixin magazine reported on its website yesterday, citing Zhang Jianhua, head of the PBOC’s Hangzhou branch.
China Changes Bank Loan-to-Deposit Calculation in Growth Bid – Bloomberg “This is another ‘targeted stimulus’ policy conducted by the Chinese authorities to help the economy regain momentum,” Zhou Hao, a Shanghai-based economist at Australia & New Zealand Banking Group Ltd., wrote in an e-mail today. “The new loans extended by the Chinese commercial banks in the next few months will be significantly bigger compared with the same period of last year.” Zhou estimates total lending in China will exceed 10 trillion yuan ($1.6 trillion) in 2014, more than last year’s 8.9 trillion yuan.
Slowing China Economy Dims Profit Outlook to 2012 Low – Bloomberg Analysts covering stocks listed on the Bloomberg China-US Equity Index (HSCEI) estimate that on average they will post earnings of $5.64 per share this year, which would be the lowest profits reported since 2012, data compiled by Bloomberg show. They’ve cut revenue forecasts by 7.9 percent in the past 11 weeks.
Hostile Bid for Club Med Threatens Existing Deal – NYTimes.com Andrea C. Bonomi, senior partner of Investindustrial, said the offer, by a consortium in which his company is the majority investor, valued the French company at about 790 million euros, or $1.1 billion. The new offer was more than the €557 million offered last year by Fosun International, a Chinese financial and industrial conglomerate, and Ardian, the French investment firm formerly known as Axa Private Equity.
Xinhua Insight: “House-for-pension” a bitter option in graying China – Xinhua China has been pushing the reverse mortgage-style house-for-pension program to diversify its eldercare solutions for a quickly aging population. The four cities of Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Wuhan will start a pilot to allow insurers to access this field on July 1. Yuan Xucheng, an official with the China Insurance Regulatory Commission, said the pilot is intended to expand funding channels and improve provisions for the elderly. Though totally voluntary, the scheme has invited criticism that the government is trying to shift the burden to individuals. It has also left a bad taste in a society where houses play a central role in family affairs.
China Housing Prices Fall for Second-Straight Month in June – WSJ Some of China’s wealthiest cities are showing signs of strain. In Beijing, average new home prices fell 0.6% in June from May, a turnaround from a 0.7% gain in May from April. In the affluent southern city of Shenzhen, prices declined by 1.8%, extending a 0.9% fall in May, the survey said. In Shanghai, prices rose 0.3%, a turnaround from a fall of 0.4% recorded in May.
地产信托募资规模环比大降51% 逾3000亿兑付洪峰将至_21世纪网 6月30日，
Guest post: internet finance drives China banking reform – beyondbrics – Blogs – FT.com Internet finance has the potential to be a large catalyst for reform and efficiency gains in China’s state-dominated financial system. Most internet financial products are relatively transparent and offer greater opportunities for participation by normal investors compared to other parts of the shadow banking system, such as trust investments. The ultimate outcome of China’s internet finance experiment will depend on the degree of regulatory acceptance as well as whether policies are put in place to guide competition between banks and internet lenders in a healthy direction.
央行叫停“两率一致” 宝宝军团再受一击 新华社——经济参考网 another regulatory blow to Yu’e Bao? // 互联网“宝宝”与银行系“宝宝”的竞争依然焦灼，然而，
German Auto Parts Provider Decides China Market beyond Repair – Caixin Stahlgruber sold its subsidiary on June 23 to Shanghai Lingtu Trade Co. Ltd., a Chinese company in the Shanghai Free Trade Zone, company registration documents show. Lingtu is owned by Qing Yan, the former general manager of Stahlgruber’s China subsidiary. “The complexity of China’s auto parts market was beyond (Stahlgruber’s) imagination,” Qing said. Because China has a large variety of car models and thus standards, the auto parts market is “chaotic” and saturated with individually owned small repair shops, an industry source said.
周其仁：温州乐清农房抵押效果好_政经频道_财新网 Zhou Qiren praises the Yueqing, Wenzhou experiment allow rural residents to mortgage their homes // 中共十八届三中全会正式放行了农房流转、抵押试点，
POLITICS AND LAW
[视频]习近平在中共中央政治局第十六次集体学习时强调 坚持从严治党落实管党治党责任 把作风建设要求融入党的制度建设_新闻频道_央视网(cctv.
一图解析中央各领导小组–时政–人民网 nice People’s Daily infographic on the small leading groups and who chairs them // 编者按：6月13日，
中南海讲师详解官员自杀潮 Luo Changping interviews Dr. Peng Kaiping about the spate of official suicides, the psychological stress they face, and what the Organization department is doing about it // 本期凤凰视频的《罗昌平对话》，邀请到清华大学心理系主任、
红旗文稿：国企改革的红线、底线和方向 时间：2014-06-30 原文作者：朱继东 SASAC republishes Red Flag journal article on red lines, bottom lines and direction of SOE reform // 内容提要：深化国企改革是篇大文章，
李鹏新书：有人传我是周总理养子 这不正确_新闻_腾讯网 Li Peng says in his new book that he was not adopted by Zhou Enlai
Executive at State Grid’s Anhui Branch ‘Is Detained’ – Caixin The vice general manager of State Grid Corp.’s branch in the eastern province of Anhui has been detained, several sources in the electricity industry say. Guan Shouzhong, 50, ranks the third in the management of State Grid’s Anhui branch and oversees infrastructure construction. The probe is likely to be linked to company’s infrastructure projects, sources from the company said.
CPC voting out members with poor conduct – Xinhua The Communist Party of China (CPC) is coming up with ways to vote out members who have not infringed upon laws and Party regulations but whose conduct is nevertheless poor. As the CPC approaches the 93rd anniversary of its founding on Tuesday, it is showing fresh resolve to ensure there are no bad apples among its membership of around 86 million.
China charges four in Kunming attack, sentences 113 on terror crimes | Reuters China charged four people in connection with a deadly attack at a railway station in the southwestern city of Kunming in March, state media said on Monday, a case that helped spur a crackdown on what officials have called an upsurge in militant violence. The government has said eight knife-wielding militants from the restive western region of Xinjiang launched a premeditated attack at Kunming station in Yunnan province in which 29 people were killed and 140 injured. Police shot four of the attackers dead.
Xinhua Insight: China facing up to “deepwater area” reforms – Xinhua | English.news.cn the progress of reforms differs among provinces and sectors. In carrying out the order to streamline administration, some authorities have sneakily delegated inessential power but retained major decision-making control, said Xu. To ensure reforms are put into practice, the State Council dispatched eight inspection teams last Wednesday to check the implementation of its policies nationwide, in a process which will last 10 days through to July 5. Resistance is expected in the coordination and implementation of local governments and departments, noted Zhao Zhenhua, an economist at the Party School of the CPC Central Committee. The key is to build up consensus and properly tackle the relationships between short-term and long-term, partial and holistic interests as well as national and international levels, to serve the country’s overall reform and development, said Zhao.
FOREIGN AND DEFENSE AFFAIRS
The Future of U.S.-China Relations Daniel R. Russel Assistant Secretary, Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs Testimony Before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Washington, DC June 25, 2014
Commentary: Japan’s Abe manipulating a dangerous coup against pacifist Constitution – Xinhua Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is manipulating a dangerous coup to overturn the country’s post- war pacifism and democratic ideals, as he hones in on releasing the shackles of the nation’s legally tethered military and war will from its war-renouncing Constitution. It is no coincidence that the prime minister is seeking the green light to Japan’s military being able to exercise the right to collective self-defense on July 1, the 60th anniversary of the establishment of Japan’s Self-Defense Forces (SDF), as the move will drastically change Japan’s defense stance since the end of World War II and possibly see the country dragged back into bloody conflict in the future. Apparently, fighting for countries that have close ties with Japan can not be accounted for under the auspices of self-defense, but for the SDF to be potentially deployed to every corner of the globe to engage in battle, surely means that Abe has “upgraded” Japan’s SDF to a national military.
Chinese Territorial Claims Driving Asia Closer to U.S. – WSJ In a blunt assessment of Chinese territorial claims in the East and South China seas, Australian cabinet minister Malcolm Turnbull —a key lieutenant of Prime Minister Tony Abbott —said Beijing’s recent tussles with Vietnam and the Philippines were “singularly unhelpful” to regional security confidence. “What the Chinese policy has been, and I think it’s curious that it has been so counterproductive, it has been to muscle up to one or other of its neighbors, or all of its neighbors at different times,” said Mr. Turnbull, communications minister in Mr. Abbott’s inner circle and a conservative leadership contender.
Edward Jay Epstein: Revisiting Snowden’s Hong Kong Getaway – WSJ Mr. Snowden would tell Mr. Greenwald on June 3 that he had been “holed up” in his room at the Mira Hotel from the time of his arrival in Hong Kong. But according to inquiries by Wall Street Journal reporter Te-Ping Chen, Mr. Snowden arrived there on June 1. I confirmed that date with the hotel’s employees. A hotel security guard told me that Mr. Snowden was not in the Mira during that late-May period and, when he did stay there, he used his own passport and credit card. So where was Edward Snowden between May 20 and May 31? The lawyers who had been retained by an anonymous party for him in Hong Kong have not been forthcoming.
Chinese, Indian vice presidents hold talks – Xinhua also met w Xi // Chinese Vice President Li Yuanchao on Monday held talks with his visiting Indian counterpart Mohammad Hamid Ansari on promoting bilateral cooperation. Speaking highly of the development momentum of China-India relations since the new Indian government took office, Li said China is ready to work with India to push forward the bilateral strategic partnership.
China to let Indian experts monitor Brahmaputra in Tibet – The Hindu China has for the first time formally agreed to allow Indian hydrological experts to conduct study tours in Tibet to monitor the flows on the upper reaches of the Brahmaputra, according to a new agreement signed here on Monday during the visit of Vice-President Hamid Ansari. In a move to assuage India’s concerns about the ongoing dam projects on the upper reaches of the river — known as the Yarlung Zangbo in Tibet — Beijing has formally agreed to allow India to “despatch hydrological experts” to conduct study tours “according to the principle of reciprocity”.
Before Shooting in Iraq, Warning on Blackwater – NYTimes.com The company’s gung-ho attitude and willingness to take on risky tasks were seductive to government officials in Washington. The State Department, for example, secretly sent Blackwater guards to Shenyang, China, to provide security for North Korean asylum seekers who had gone to the United States Consulate there and refused to leave for fear the Chinese government would force them to go back to North Korea, according to company documents and interviews with former Blackwater personnel.
Behind the masks of China’s senior cadres – FT.com Brown provides some useful insights into the five members who, along with Mr Xi and Mr Li, make up the standing committee. They include Yu Zhengsheng, who appears to have been elevated because of his ties to the family of former paramount leader Deng Xiaoping. “The [Communist party] is like a partly family-run business,” and Yu represents the interests of the Deng family “almost like a board member represents key shareholders in a family business that has gone public”, writes Brown. This, along with and the support of Jiang Zemin, another former president, were enough to erase the stain on Mr Yu’s career caused by the defection of his brother to the US in 1985. The former senior state security official had caused enormous damage to China’s spy networks before he was assassinated in the 1990s.// Is there really hard evidence of assassination? That is what people here like to believe, but have never seen that confirmed..Kerry Brown’s book The New Emperors: Power and the Princelings in China
TECH AND MEDIA
SinoMarkets.org Shutting Down I want to let you know that SinoMarkets will be taken offline July 31. SinoMarkets was an experiment to see if prediction market technology could be helpful to China specialists. While the site generated some very interesting predictions from our members, it failed to attract enough participants to make the market “liquid” enough to compare the accuracy of crowd-sourced predictions with those of experts and deliberative bodies.
Xinhuanet, Internet Arm of China’s State-backed Xinhua News Agency, Files for IPO at SSE | TechNode Xinhuanet, the Internet portal of state news agency Xinhua, has filed with the China Securities Regulatory Commission for an IPO at Shanghai Stock Exchange. According to the prospectus, the company planned to issue 51.90 million new shares for 1.497 billion yuan (around $240 million), pushing the company’s total capital stock to 208 million shares. The funds will be injected in construction of information and cloud platform, big data analysis system, new media application technology research center and online education project, according to the company.
Chinese tech firm sues Apple for trademark infringement – Xinhua Representatives of Shanghai Yishijia Network Technology Co., Ltd filed a lawsuit against Apple and Shanghai Woshang Information technology Co., Ltd over the usage right of a trademark Yishijia owns on Apple’s App Store, and are asking for compensation of more than 100 million yuan (about 16 million U.S. dollars), according to the Shanghai No.1 Intermediate People’s Court. The court has accepted the lawsuit. The dispute began in April, when Yishijia applied to upload the mobile application for Homevv, an online shopping platform that it developed, on the App Store, but was rejected by Apple as another app bearing the same trademark by Woshang was already there.
China Focus: Stoned celebrities in narcotic spotlight again – Xinhua wonder when they will arrest a visiting Hollywood star who needs a fix // On Thursday, Beijing police announced that they had arrested screenwriter and novelist Chen Wanning [better known by his professional name Ning Caishen], 39, for drug offenses. Chen confessed that he had been taking crystal meth since December and had consumed some just before his arrest. Chen was a leading figure in China’s first generation of online writers and established himself in 2006 with popular martial arts comedy “My Personal Swordsman”. He is also a regular guest on hit matchmaking reality show “If You Are the One.” The news came less than two weeks after director Zhang Yuan was arrested in Beijing for similar offenses, his second arrest in similar circumstances.
Apple Seeks Managers for Stores in Six New Chinese Cities – Bloomberg The company is hiring for outlets in Tianjin, Chongqing, Wuxi, Zhengzhou, Shenyang, and Hangzhou, according to a recruitment advertisement on Apple’s website. None of the cities currently has an Apple-owned store. Apple gets about a fifth of its sales from the China region, which includes Hong Kong and Taiwan, with revenue rising 13 percent to $9.3 billion in the three months ended March 29. Cook said in April 2013 the Cupertino, California-based company would double the number of retail stores it operates in the region within two years.
国产操作系统中科红旗负债2000多万 拍卖旗下资产_TechWeb Indigenous Linux-based OS Red Flag 20m rmb in debt, shut down, now selling off its assets
Picture from Weibo of Alibaba holding a Party Meeting–Twitter Who is the most senior Party member executive at Alibaba? Is it disclosed in the F-1? I don’t believe the other China Internet companies disclose that
ENERGY, ENVIRONMENT, SCIENCE AND HEALTH
China supreme court appoints top environmental judge | Reuters China’s supreme court has appointed a senior judge to handle environmental cases as the environmentally challenged country bids to get tough on polluters and improve the way its laws are enforced, an official newspaper said on Monday. China Environmental News, published by the Ministry of Environmental Protection, said Deng Xuelin had been appointed as the presiding judge of the Environmental and Resources Tribunal of the Supreme People’s Court.
China’s quarantine watchdog rejects U.S. GM corn – Xinhua China’s quarantine watchdog has returned 1.25 million tonnes of corn shipments from the United States in recent months over genetic modification concerns, an official said on Monday. Since October, Chinese authorities have been finding U.S. corn shipments tainted with genetically modified (GM) strain MIR162, said Lu Chunming, an official with the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine.
年内35城市将公布雾霾“元凶”_国内_新京报网 By year end 35 cities will be required to publicly report the sources of air pollution // 今年年内，
China Ends Animal Testing Rule for Some Cosmetics – NYTimes.com China has removed a controversial animal test requirement for some types of cosmetics, a move praised by animal rights advocates who hope it signals an end to a practice widely scorned elsewhere. Starting Monday, the China Food and Drug Administration will stop requiring animal tests on so-called ordinary cosmetics, including shampoos and certain skin-care products. Instead, manufacturers can opt for alternative methods using existing data on ingredient toxicology or tissue culture when they conduct risk assessments.
FOOD AND TRAVEL
Beijing receives fewer overseas tourists in 2013 – Xinhua The number of overseas tourists who visited Beijing Municipality in 2013 reached 4.5 million, down 10 percent from the previous year, according to a green paper released on Monday. The paper said the fall was due to the international economic slowdown, competition from other cities in nearby countries and regions, appreciation of the Chinese currency, unattractive duty-free policies and smoggy weather.
JOBS AND EVENTS
Students Around the World Gear Up for ACE 2014 – Ameson Education & Cultural Exchange Foundation participants in the eighth annual Ameson Chinese Elite (ACE) program are also preparing for a summer filled with travel, adventure, and new connections. ACE provides students with the chance to act as cultural ambassadors through their interaction with other students from each of the UN Security Council’s five permanent member states represented at the event. Held from July 31st to August 6th in Beijing, participants in this selective program are chosen on the basis of merit and include students from five countries and a wide variety of backgrounds.