The Sinocism China Newsletter 09.07.16

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

I hope everyone had a nice summer. The newsletter’s hiatus was a bit longer than planned, and having missed so much it is hard to restart. Today’s issue is far from perfect and includes some older entries that you may have seen but which I think are important.

My goal is to get back to at least three issues a week, with a return to more commentary, probably starting next week.

Thanks for your patience.


1. 一个自信的大国阔步走向世界–时政–人民网 very long P1 People’s Daily Thursday on a “confident great power striding forrth into the world” on Xi and the success of the G20  //  聚焦习近平主席的“G20时间”,追随中国特色大国外交壮丽篇章的徐徐铺展,世界感知着中国—— 感知着中国的道路自信。细读杭州峰会公报,和中国创新、协调、绿色、开放、共享的新发展理念高度契合。改革开放的伟大实践、中国发展的方法论启示,为破解世界难题提供了中国经验。 感知着中国的理论自信。“小智治事,大智治制”。中国方案综合施策、标本兼治,折射出中国发展符合而且引领世界经济潮流,中国正从全球治理的参与者变为引领者。感知着中国的制度自信。行胜于言,杭州峰会标注了G20发展史上的“丰收之年”。将共识转化为行动,将成果落到实处,中国引领前行,一再佐证“集中力量办大事”的制度优势。 感知着中国的文化自信。杭州城内绽放的文化元素,采撷于流淌了五千年没有断流的中华文明之河。全球治理凝聚更多共识,需要寻求文化的理解和认同。自信是一个大国的姿态

Related: PacNet #67 – Beijing’s baffling bullying | Center for Strategic and International Studies While these all likely influence Chinese diplomacy, a more worrying explanation is most compelling: decision-making in Beijing is becoming more consolidated at the highest levels of the leadership, and there are few ways and little inclination to challenge or change the course and momentum of foreign policy once it is set. As Xi amasses more power, the readiness of others to question decisions from above is reduced, especially given the potentially high cost of dissent. No one is prepared to be out of step with the leadership either in regard to policy in place or the vacuums that occur as developments arise. Today, a hard line is a safe line and absent a correction from on high — which some could take as a tacit admission of failure (which makes a reversal even harder) — the status quo prevails and intensifies.  //I would put some money on another hypothesis. The CCP decided, likely before Xi became General Secretary, that China’s rise, and specifically its inevitable and predestined reclamation of the South China Sea and other territory in the region that it claims, would cause tension no matter how the PRC handled things, so the decision was made, once there was confidence in relative comprehensive national power, to push forward sooner rather than later, before the surrounding countries and the US were fully prepared and willing to push back in any material way. The fact that those countries are now upset and possibly serious about checking PRC power only confirms the deeply held belief in China of its victimization at the hands of foreigners and specifically the belief that US is determined to contain China and keep it down. So rather than assuming that Xi is a foreign policy failure and has been weakened by what to many outsiders look to be missteps, perhaps we should consider that his position has strengthened and the world view speculated above has been further confirmed, at least in the hardline, jingoistic quarters that seem to have the most influence in Beijing these days….

Related: Pacific Shoals of Trouble – WSJ In a revealing speech this summer, senior Chinese academic and government adviser Jin Canrong predicted that China would build at Scarborough but not until 2018, after Mr. Xi has the chance to consolidate power at the next Communist Party Congress. “When we reclaim Scarborough Shoal it will be a dangerous time,” Mr. Jin said. “It will push forward the U.S.-China showdown by 30 years.” // text of his speech, with one of many key sections–中美战略哲学-20160723讲座-金灿荣 这是非常新的变化,原来美国人态度很潇洒,他认为你是未来的挑战,他不关心这个,现在发现中国真的要南海以后,他现在急的不得了,所以有了一系列表态,现在美国人真的警觉了,真的准备投入力量了。咱们现在也玩真的了,现在我们的少东家决心重整家业,他视察宁夏讲了一句话,中华民族的能量压抑的太久了,该爆发一下了。我觉得南海可能是一个爆发点,美国知道这个事情事关它的国运,美国从来没有形容过南海是他们的最高国家利益,这是第一次,他真的很严肃看这个问题,咱们国家现在决心也很大,我估计真正的南海危机是2018年,应该是我们主动进攻,我们会在那个时候填黄岩。但是从填黄岩那一天开始到我们完成,将是非常惊险的一段时间,全国人民都得做好准备,这是一个巨大的历史性的冒险。等于是把2050年的中美摊牌提前到了2020年,提前了30年。

Related: China has all but ended the charade of a peaceful rise | South China Morning Post Frank Ching says only in its own imagination can Beijing’s demand for dominance in the region be seen as friendly

Related: International diplomatic incidents bring benefits for China — China has been preparing for the G20 for more than two years and event planning is a forte of the Communist party; so why, as US officials claim, did the Chinese side change the arrangements for Mr Obama just before he arrived? The domestic propaganda benefits that accrue from putting the arrogant superpower in its place are impossible to ignore. As the 18th-century Chinese emperor Qianlong once said of the pesky British: “A barbarian becomes arrogant when treated too favourably.” Any western diplomat with recent dealings with China will tell you that negotiations and joint events often feel like exercises in ritual humiliation. Even the Queen expressed frustration at how “very rude” Chinese officials were during President Xi Jinping’s visit to the UK in October.

Related: Hillary Clinton: The China hawk — So how would President Clinton act in Asia? For all her input in defining the Obama administration’s strategy to the region, during the election campaign she has turned against one of its central planks, the 12-nation trade deal known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership…Among Mrs Clinton’s Asia advisers, the approach being debated is a slightly stepped-up version of the Obama pivot — a series of steps aimed at forging a deeper network of allies and partners that can act as a deterrent to China and reinforce US ideas about trade and freedom of navigation.

2. Sam Dastyari: Riding the red dragon express not a good look-Sydney Morning Herald serious backlash underway in Australia against PRC influence // Total disclosed payments to the major parties by Chinese corporate and business interests in the two years to June 30 last year was $5.89 million. An informed official tells me: “There is very high level concern inside ASIO about the use of donations to purchase access and influence. “It’s concern about systematic behaviour by people connected to the Chinese state apparatus. It’s centrally directed by Chinese intelligence.” // And now he has stepped down–Sam Dastyari steps down from Labor frontbench after accepting money from Chinese donors – ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

Related: China’s local emperor Huang Xiangmo says politics just like sport | He’s paid Senator Sam Dastyari’s legal bills, hired former NSW deputy premier Andrew Stoner and former treasurer Eric Roozendaal, he’s the head of the oddly-named “Australia Council for the Promotion of Peaceful Reunification of China” and been dubbed the “king of the mountain” after several wealthy Chinese bought around him after he spent $12.5 million on a lavish mansion in Mosman.  Now, in an exclusive first English-language interview, the man who is arguably the reigning emperor of the Chinese community in Australia, Huang Xiangmo, wants to shed his enigmatic image.

Related: Security services worry Malcolm Turnbull isn’t heeding China warnings | Despite vetoing a Chinese bid for Sydney’s electricity network this month, Mr Turnbull and some other cabinet ministers are reluctant to act on or receive warnings that China is engaging in spying on an “industrial scale” and that business secrets are among its top targets, three sources with senior contacts in the security services said. “It is far more ambitious and better resourced than ever before,” said Paul Monk, an intelligence and foreign affairs expert who headed China analysis for the Defence Intelligence Agency.

Related: Incident at University Pharmacy Highlights a Divided Chinese Community Shortly after the pharmacy began stocking the Epoch Times, a male Chinese student appeared at the counter, enraged by the presence of the newspaper. According to the pharmacy, he yelled, ‘who authorised you to distribute this?’ and ‘You can’t show this!’ while customers looked on in confusion. The student said that he had received numerous complaints from Chinese students about the newspaper, and identified himself as being from a Chinese student association. As the student was aggressive in his body language and the shop was busy, the pharmacist on duty at the time said that she felt intimidated, and allowed him to throw out the newspapers. ‘I was concerned about the how this might affect our business,’ the pharmacist said, explaining the pharmacy’s immediate action to cease stocking the newspaper. The pharmacist provisionally identified the student as Tao Pinru, President of the Chinese Students and Scholars Association (CSSA).

3. Records Smashed in New Real Estate Rush-Caixin A China National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) report said home sales in monetary terms rose 42 percent between January and July compared with the same period in 2015. NBS also said most big and medium-sized cities saw new-home prices rise every month this year through July. Meanwhile, rival property developers are driving urban land prices higher by competing at city government land auctions. New price records have been set across the country, according to media reports. For example, a plot in Shanghai recently sold for 11 billion yuan ($1.6 billion), about 100,000 yuan per square meter, a historic high.

Related: Shanghai Censors WeChat ‘Rumors’ on New Property Curbs-Caixin nternet regulators in Shanghai have taken down several social media accounts that offered property market news and ordered a dozen others to stop publishing updates as it cracks down on alleged “rumors” on impending restrictions on home purchases.

Related: Shenzhen Couples Use Divorce to Skirt Home-Buying Rules-Caixin About 45 percent of homes sold in Shenzhen last year were bought by people who had avoided curbs on home purchases by filing for divorce, according to a study by the Shenzhen branch of China Banking Regulatory Commission. Investigations found homebuyers often use sham divorces and falsified pension and medical insurance plans to make them appear eligible to purchase a new home, a person with knowledge of the study told Caixin. // they did it in Beijing starting years ago, now doing it in Shanghai as well 

4. Rhodium Group » Preventing Deglobalization On September 1, the US Chamber of Commerce released Preventing Deglobalization: An Economic and Security Argument for Free Trade and Investment in ICT, a study produced jointly in collaboration with Rhodium Group and law firm Covington & Burling. The report explores the economic, legal, and policy implications of reversing trends in globalization, particularly in information and communication technologies. As countries debate the merits of ICT nativization, Rhodium’s task was to examine the cost and welfare impact of such policies. This note summarizes Rhodium’s economic analysis, which uses economic modeling to estimate the impact of Chinese ICT deglobalization on its GDP and productivity.

Related: Outline of the National Informatization Development Strategy « China Copyright and Media Central Committee General Office State Council General Office 27 July 2016 // don’t think foreign pressure going to do much to slow ICT “deglobalization”, security services, other bureaucracies and Chinese IT forms have too much at stake now in keeping it moving forward

5. Innovation, so the Party can shine – China Media Project Not only has General Secretary Xi Jinping, using the strongest language in decades, re-staked the CCP’s longstanding claim to media control — saying all media, from traditional newspapers to mobile platforms, “must be surnamed Party.” He has also moved aggressively against influential Weibo users, effectively muzzled the more outspoken commercial press, and placed himself at the helm of a powerful new Central Leading Group for Cyberspace Affairs. These days, it is the Party bureaucrat, as much or more than the netizen, who can look at the changes convulsing the world of media and information and see a world of infinite possibilities. As the media landscape is being reshaped globally, China’s leaders glimpse an opportunity to climb back to the top of the hill. The Chinese Communist Party, they say, can lead the innovation charge, ensuring the brave new world of new media defends and energises its own dominant position.

Related: Convergent Control – China Media Project At a meeting in Beijing last week, the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC), the country’s umbrella agency for internet regulation and control and related security matters, called together more than 60 representatives from state-run websites and commercial internet portals to hammer home, yet again, a tough message on information controls. According to Hong Kong media reports, the CAC told those present that from this point forward a system of “editor-in-chief responsibility” (总编辑责任制) would be in force at priority websites, meaning authorities would hold senior staff directly responsible for news stories and other content that violated censorship guidelines. Strengthened internal discipline, the CAC said, must be practiced on a “24/7” basis (7×24小时值), leaving no gaps for editorial breaches.

6. Global Times editor Hu Xijin discusses US-China relations, press freedom in China, and the June 4 protests — Quartz Hu recently sat down with Quartz at the Global Times’ Beijing office to talk about his little-known past, the love-hate relationship between China and the US, and how the state news outlet fits into Beijing’s global propaganda efforts. A lightly edited transcript follows.

7. The Hong Kong Election: What Message Does it Send Beijing? | ChinaFile On September 4, Hong Kong elected a batch of its youngest and most pro-democratic lawmakers yet. Six new legislators, all under 40, won on platforms that called for Hong Kongers to decide their own fate. The youngest is 23-year-old Nathan Law, a veteran of the 2014 Umbrella Movement protests and a co-founder of the new political party Demosistō. What message does the election of these young legislators send to Beijing, and how will China’s leaders react?

8. Constitutional Hostility – China Media Project Out of curiosity, however, I decided to reach back into the past to uncover the last time the “hostile forces” language of China’s constitution had been actively deployed in China’s media as an argument against dissident views or activity. Peeling back the layers, year after year, through both the Baidu and Google search engines, I could find nothing — no reference whatsoever outside of full-text offerings of the constitution itself. I turned to the People’s Daily, back beyond the Beijing Olympics, beyond SARS and the Sun Zhigang affair, through the era of Jiang Zemin, past Deng Xiaoping’s southern tour, that watershed event that accelerated economic development in China…The day was June 14, 1989.


Guangfa Fiasco Offers Lessons in Factionalism-Caixin A golden era that saw foreign banks flock to China in pursuit of riches came to a symbolic end earlier this year, when global giant Citigroup officially dumped its longtime holding in China Guangfa Bank Co., one of China’s oldest commercial lenders in the southern city of Guangzhou. Few details were given at the time, as the two sides announced a divorce that saw Citi end a decadelong partnership with the sale of its 20 percent Guangfa stake to China Life Insurance. But new insider details show the constant discord inside the bank, reflecting conflicts that often exist between commercially minded Western businesses and their more politically focused Chinese partners.

Luxury-alcohol Business Rebounds from Slump-Caixin Li Zhiqi, chairman of Beijing-based consulting firm CBCT, said the sales revival indicates the demand that was supporting China’s liquor market growth had shifted from luxury official banquets and gifts to the general public, which would lead to more sustainable and stable growth. But Li added that luxury liquor may face more pressure as the economic slowdown continues.

A Chinese Mystery: Who Owns a Firm on a Global Shopping Spree? – The New York Times Owners of Anbang, a Chinese insurer behind a wave of multibillion-dollar deals, include relatives and friends of its politically connected chairman. By Michael Forsythe and Jonathan Ansfield

Buyer of Waldorf Says It’s Time to Digest $13.5 Billion of Deals – Bloomberg Morgan Stanley, Hong Kong’s No. 1 IPO arranger in the past decade, decided to not pitch for a role in the offering, according to people with direct knowledge of the matter, Bloomberg News reported last week. Bankers’ deliberations on whether to work with Anbang have centered on whether the company would provide enough details on its ultimate ownership structure, the people said. The New York Times reported last week that Anbang is controlled by a group of companies owned by about 100 people with ties to the insurer’s chairman, many of them hailing from Wu’s home county of Pingyang on the eastern Chinese coast. The report was “not factual,” Yao said. “Anbang is a private company that strictly abides by Chinese laws and regulations. Some people in America always have stereotypes about China and Chinese companies.

Virtual Gold: Why Beijing is Leading China’s Bitcoin Revolution – That’s Beijing Industry in Moyu has also been slow. A hydropower plant was built years ago nearby the waterfalls that crash down from the steppe. The plant’s engineers had hoped to sell their hydropower to the national grid, but demand wasn’t as high as they’d projected. The plant made barely enough money to pay staff wages.  So when Mu’s employer, HaoBTC, pitched the idea of building a bitcoin ‘mine’ that would run on the town’s ultra-cheap hydroelectric power, local reception was positive. It didn’t matter that the managers at the plant had no clue what bitcoin was. It was bringing money, and it was bringing jobs. Local government officials were pleased. A few months later, rural Moyu became home to previously unimaginable tech power. And it is just one of a growing number of Chinese villages hosting massive bitcoin mines – sprawling complexes of computer servers dedicated to obtaining bitcoin, the world’s first tradeable ‘cryptocurrency.’

Bond Market Scandals Continue to Reverberate-Caixin Three former bond underwriters are the latest to be detained as the government’s four-year investigation into illegal trading in the interbank bond market continues to widen. The executives, who previously worked in the bond underwriting departments of different commercial banks, were recently taken away by police in Xuzhou, a city in the eastern coastal province of Jiangsu, several sources with knowledge of the matter said.

Negotiating With Chinese Companies: Takeaways From President Obama’s G20 Stairgate Incident | China Law Blog Hupert starts out his post by saying that no matter how seriously you view China’s treatment of the American entourage, it was “real” and mitigating or glossing over a conflict as “unimportant” is counter-productive and dangerous. “This was a significant event, and if you are negotiating with a Chinese counter-party then you need a plan for dealing with similar encounters.” I completely agree with Hupert’s point and I have to say that our China lawyers too often encounter minimizing or tortured explanations of Chinese behavior from our clients. Chinese company didn’t pay on time? Must be because it didn’t understand the contract? Chinese company said it would do X and then did the exact opposite? Must be because of Chinese cultural differences. We hear these sorts of explanations all the time and our response to them is always something along the following lines: these are smart people who know exactly what they are doing. They are testing you and if you let them get away with it this time, you will be opening up the door to future incidents.

China’s forex reserves fall at a faster pace – MarketWatch The reserves fell by $15.89 billion from the previous month to $3.185 trillion, following a drop of $4.10 billion in July. Economists polled by The Wall Street Journal had expected a $2 billion decrease in August.

Investing in Chinese Stocks—投资大中华地区股市: New Paper Claims Infrastructure Investment Destroys Wealth  Based on the largest dataset of its kind, this paper punctures the twin myths that (i) infrastructure creates economic value, and that (ii) China has a distinct advantage in its delivery. Far from being an engine of economic growth, the typical infrastructure investment fails to deliver a positive risk-adjusted return. Moreover, China’s track record in delivering infrastructure is no better than that of rich democracies. Investing in unproductive projects results initially in a boom, as long as construction is ongoing, followed by a bust, when forecasted benefits fail to materialize and projects therefore become a drag on the economy.

China to Roll Out Nationwide ‘Negative List’ by Oct. 1-Caixin China will adopt a nationwide “negative list”, which identifies industries that are closed to overseas investors, on Oct. 1, following a three-year pilot project in the Shanghai Free Trade Zone.


Former Premier Li Peng’s Son Named Transport Minister-Caixin The Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, China’s top legislature, said Li Xiaopeng succeeds Yang Chuantang. Yang, 62, was appointed head of the Transport Ministry and its party secretary in July 2012. He will continue to serve as the Transport Ministry’s party secretary, the ministry’s official website said. // so not double-hatted as party secretary…not unprecedented but noteworthy, wonder if he worries about the single-hatting of Jiang Jiemin when he was moved to head SASAC while awaiting CCDI processing…

紧跟王岐山脚步 栗战书“大动作”惹关注_中国-多维新闻网 近日,中共中央办公厅公布了《关于防止干部“带病提拔”的意见》。该意见明确提出在举荐官员时,“谁推荐的谁负责,谁考察的谁负责”。这被认为是继今年7月出台中共《问责条例》之后,中办主任栗战书紧跟王岐山祭出的又一次大动作。有分析认为,这次大动作实际上体现了习近平的想法…外界发现,中办出台的上述“意见”,是栗战书主掌中办以来,继今年7月出台中共《问责条例》之后,再一次祭出的大动作。这也使当局出台的《问责条例》进入了目标更明确的实施阶段

China’s new Tibet party chief urges stronger criticism of Dalai Lama | Reuters China’s newly appointed Communist Party chief of Tibet called for stronger denunciations of exiled spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, state media said on Thursday, signaling Beijing’s hardline is unlikely to change under his leadership. China on Sunday named Wu Yingjie as Tibet’s next party secretary, the region’s top official, considered one of the country’s most politically sensitive positions due to periodic anti-Chinese unrest in the devoutly Buddhist Himalayan region.

Senior official stresses unity of all social circles – Xinhua Yu, chairman of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) National Committee, made the remarks in northern city of Tianjin. Yu focused on learning about the personnel from “new social strata” and people engaged in non-public economic sectors during his visit. At a law firm, he inquired how lawyers participate in social services and Party building. Yu said the people of new social strata are key to the united front work, urging authorities to fully respect and help them, and unite them around the Party and the government.

China says facing flood of online info distorting party history | Reuters Zhang Shujun, deputy head of Party History Research Centre, said the greatest harm this caused was making people doubt the party’s leadership. “Our attitude is very clear when it comes to historical nihilism, and that is to have a clear-cut stance on opposing it, to oppose any mistaken point of view or tendency on party history,” Zhang told a news conference, according to an official transcript. The internet is the “main battleground” for this problem, he said. “At present there’s just too much of this information on the internet,” Zhang added. “We need to set forth the facts and discuss them rationally.”

芮成鋼案大意外:內定下旬開審,刑期3年 ~ 明鏡時報 mingjingtimes Mingjing claims Rui Chenggang will soon go on trial in Jilin, sentence already set at three years for bribery

Former head of China’s state secrets agency sacked from nation’s political advisory body | South China Morning Post Xia Yong formally removed from national committee of the group for a “serious violation of discipline”, but no details given about the allegations made against him

Language Log » Annals of literary vs. vernacular, part 2 The Chairman should have read: qīngguān yìdào tōngshāng kuānnóng 轻关易道通商宽农 (“reduce taxes and make roads easy [to travel on], facilitate commerce and be lenient to farmers”) Instead, what came out is this: qīngguān yìdào tōngshāng kuānyī 轻关易道通商宽衣 (“reduce taxes and make roads easy [to travel on], facilitate commerce and loosen clothing”) Whether the text was mistyped on the script or teleprompter from which the Chairman was reading, or whether he misread nóng 农 for yī 衣, the result was gibberish.  Even someone with a middle school education should not have made such a mistake.

China’s Xi reshuffles key party posts ahead of congress | Reuters In Yunnan, bordering Myanmar, Laos and Vietnam, Chen Hao replaced Li Jiheng, while in Hunan, Du Jiahao had assumed the party’s top job, Xinhua said. Both Chen and Du worked with Xi when he ran China’s commercial capital, Shanghai, as its Communist Party chief for a year in 2007, according to their resumes.

Sinica Podcast: A discussion with Cheng Li: Where is Chinese politics going? This episode of Sinica is a wide-ranging conversation with Cheng Li (李成), one of the most prominent international scholars of elite Chinese politics and its relation to grassroots changes and generational shifts. He discusses the historical rise and fall of technocracy, corruption and the campaigns against it, power factions within the Communist Party and the new dynamics of the Xi Jinping era.  // fairly high on the positive energy spectrum, recorded before the official, public neutering of the Communist Youth League (see NYT 8.3.16-China Reins In Communist Youth League, and Its Alumni’s Prospects), and disagree with much of what he says, but we may find out by the 19th Party Congress

Senior official calls for strengthening religious work – Xinhua | Top political advisor Yu Zhengsheng on Wednesday urged Communist Party of China (CPC) committees at all levels to strengthen and improve leadership over religious work. Yu, chairman of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) National Committee, made the remarks at a seminar for provincial officials on the united front work and religious affairs which ended Wednesday. // 俞正声同省部级干部统一战线理论政策与宗教工作专题研讨班学员座谈 

独家|最高法明星法官周帆被协查 曾创司法史多个首次政经频道财新网 Caixin reports that “star” Supreme Court judge Zhou Fan is under investigation  //  知情人士告诉财新记者,周帆和最高人民法院原副院长奚晓明关系密切,已协助调查两个月左右


China says wants to ‘dispel interference’ in South China Sea | Reuters Officials said talks between Southeast Asian leaders and Li went smoothly, but there was no reference to a July court ruling in The Hague that declared illegal some of China’s artificial islands and invalidated its claims to almost the entire waterway. In a statement released later on Wednesday by China’s Foreign Ministry about the meeting, Li was paraphrased as saying China was willing to work with ASEAN countries in “dispelling interference … and properly handling the South China Sea issue”. He did not elaborate, but such wording is typically used by Chinese leaders to refer to not allowing countries from outside the region with no direct involvement in the dispute, like the United States, from getting involved.

In Kissinger’s footsteps, Susan Rice steers smooth U.S.-China relations – The Washington Post “The China account is so important that it requires a whole-of-government approach, which can only be coordinated by the White House,” said Stephen Hadley, who served as national security adviser for President George W. Bush. The quiet, centralized, Kissingerian approach to Beijing may upset some China hawks, but it has probably helped avoid a dangerous rupture.  // have not heard this about Susan Rice, call me cynical but reading this I got the feeling that someone was spinning David Ignatius faster than a plate in the hands of a Chinese acrobat

Ex-Air China worker charged by U.S. for smuggling for Chinese military | Reuters An ex-Air China Ltd employee was indicted on Wednesday for smuggling packages onto flights from New York to China on behalf of Chinese military personnel stationed at the country’s U.N. mission, U.S. prosecutors said. Ying Lin, 46, was also accused in an indictment filed in federal court in Brooklyn of obstructing justice by helping a Chinese national the Federal Bureau of Investigation was investigating to flee the country last year. Prosecutors did not name the Chinese national, but his description matches that of Qin Fei of Beijing, who other court records show the FBI has suspected may be involved with Chinese intelligence.// sounds like the FBI just missed a big fish

Charting a New Course for the U.S.-China Relationship | Center for American Progress On June 13–15, 2016, CAP brought seven U.S. experts and seven Chinese experts to Honolulu for a three-day U.S.-China Rising Scholar Strategic Dialogue. On both the U.S. and Chinese sides, roughly half of the participants work primarily on energy, climate, and ocean issues, and the other half works primarily on security issues. These are the two halves of the U.S.-China strategic relationship: One is going very well, while the other is facing new challenges. The Center for American Progress combined the two sides to see what these experts could learn from one another and about the U.S.-China relationship as a whole. The security experts were impressed at the depth of U.S.-China alignment on energy, climate, and ocean issues, while the energy, climate, and ocean experts were struck by the deep differences in U.S. and Chinese views on security issues. We discovered that there may be opportunities for security experts to leverage some of the strategies that have been successful at bringing the United States and China into alignment on climate change. The discussion also revealed that there may be more maneuvering room on security issues than current officials realize.

Did Saudi Arabia just side with China on the South China Sea?-The Diplomat ‘His highness criticised the actions of the United States in the South China Sea, describing such measures as being in conflict with Chinese and Saudi interests.’ This was the last line of an otherwise unremarkable article published last week in the Saudi newspaper, al-Watan. The Highness referred to was Prince Muhammad bin Salman, Saudi Arabia’s Deputy Crown Prince and Defence Minister, and the country’s most powerful figure after his father, the King. The article was published ahead of Prince Muhammad’s trip to China this week to attend the G20 Summit in Hangzhou.

Chinese rocket launch reported to have failed, destroying cutting-edge earth observation satellite | South China Morning Post A Long March 4C rocket blasted off from the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Centre in Shanxi on Thursday morning but, a website built and run by Chinese professional astronautic experts and space enthusiasts, said it failed to insert its payload, the Gaofen-10 satellite, into its designated orbit.

Kyrgyzstan says Uighur militant groups behind attack on China’s embassy | Reuters A suicide bomb attack on the Chinese embassy in the Kyrgyz capital last week was ordered by Uighur militants active in Syria and carried out by a member of the East Turkestan Islamic movement, Kyrgyzstan’s state security service said on Tuesday. The suicide bomber, whose car rammed the gates of the embassy on Aug. 30, was an ethnic Uighur who held a Tajik passport in the name of Zoir Khalilov, the GKNB security service said in a statement.

Australia must choose between United States and China: U.S. Army official | Reuters The Pentagon, however, disputed the statement by U.S. Army Assistant Chief of Staff Colonel Tom Hanson, saying it did not represent the position of the U.S. government. “I think the Australians need to make a choice … it’s very difficult to walk this fine line between balancing the alliance with the United States and the economic engagement with China,” Hanson said on Australian Broadcasting Corp. Radio.  //  has he been disciplined?

Are maritime law enforcement forces destabilizing Asia? | China Power Project Territorial disputes in the South China Sea present an array of potential flashpoints between countries with overlapping claims. In recent years, many of these countries have mobilized government vessels traditionally used for maritime law enforcement to reinforce their territorial claims. Key among these states is China, which has actively employed its coast guard and other maritime law enforcement agencies to project power and assert sovereignty throughout the South China Sea. ChinaPower has developed an interactive timeline that traces major maritime law enforcement incidents in the South China Sea from 2010 to the present day.

China to deepen military engagement in troubled Middle East to protect growing interests | South China Morning Post Wang Yizhou, an international relations expert at Peking University, said China’s interests in the Middle East were growing deeper than ever because of its ties in areas such as labour, tourism, business and natural resources. Chen Gang, a senior researcher at the East Asian Institute of the National University of Singapore, said a fledgling China would fill the power vacuum as Washington’s decades-long period of dominance in the Middle East was drawing to a close.

Crackdown on PLA corruption targets former regional commander | South China Morning Post General Zhang Ming under investigation as President Xi Jinping’s battle against graft in the military continues

Report details missed opportunities to stop OPM cyber breach-AP A new congressional report provides previously undisclosed details and a behind-the-scenes chronology of one of the worst-ever cyberattacks on the United States, laying out missed opportunities before the break-in at the Office of Personnel Management exposed security clearances, background checks and fingerprint records. That attack — widely blamed on China’s government — compromised personal information of more than 21 million current, former and prospective federal employees, led to the resignation of the OPM director and drew outrage over changing explanations about the hack’s seriousness. The report by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform faulted the personnel agency for failing to secure sensitive data despite warnings for years that it was vulnerable to hackers. It concluded that the hacking revealed last year could have been prevented if OPM had put in place basic, required security controls and recognized from an earlier break-in that it was actually dealing with a sophisticated, persistent enemy.

New rail route to China carries hope for Afghan economy – Stripes The 84-car train, carrying textiles, electronics and other goods valued at $20 million, was the first to transit a 3,000-kilometer (1,864 mile) rail line linking the port on the Amu Darya River, near Afghanistan’s third largest city of Mazar-e-Sharif, through Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan, to the Chinese port city of Haimen near Shanghai. Part of China’s “One Belt, One Road” initiative, a massive investment in the development of regional overland and maritime trade routes, the railway’s operations began as Afghanistan seeks to rebuild its economy and wean itself from foreign assistance after 15 years of war with the Taliban.

Meet the Chinese Husband-and-Wife Team Whose Company Spent $1.3 Million Trying to Make Jeb Bush President The husband-and-wife team of Gordon Tang and Huaidan Chen have used their wealth to forge ties with an array of American politicians — including San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee; former Ambassador to China Gary Locke; and two prominent members of the Bush family clan, Neil and Jeb. Tang and Chen, both in their late 40s, are Chinese citizens living in Singapore, where they have permanent resident status. One of the couple’s companies, a California corporation called American Pacific International Capital, cultivated close ties to U.S. politicians as the firm amassed a growing real estate portfolio over the last seven years, snapping up commercial property from Oregon to Ohio to seize upon opportunities following the 2008 financial crisis.


The Mega Bank Scandal: Implications Not Just For The KMT, But The Tsai Administration? IT APPEARS THAT the unfolding Mega Bank scandal could be a severe scandal for both sides of the political spectrum in Taiwan. The largely state-controlled bank’s New York branch was slapped with $180 million fine by the New York State Department of Financial Services in late August after with failures to crack down on money laundering operations in connection to Panama Papers revelations. Mega Bank is Taiwan’s third-largest financial service provider on the basis of assets and the bank specializes in foreign exchanges.


Dalian Wanda’s Wang Jianlin plans to bring more Chinese movies to AMC Theaters in the US — Quartz Wang’s ambition is in line with Beijing’s policy to promote Chinese culture and resist “western influences“(link in Chinese) by limiting the number of imported films (link in Chinese). Thirty-four foreign films are imported into China each year at the moment. Last month, on the same talk show, Wang declared war on Disneyland and said he wanted to “change the world where rules are set by foreigners.” Since Wanda’s $2.6 billion acquisition of AMC in 2012, Wang said that the chain has screened over 50 Chinese films, with 15 in 2015 alone.

China Money Network − The Man Who Incubated Drone Giant DJI Wants China To Fly High On Tech Prof. Li Zexiang (pictured) counts Chinese drone giant DJI as the most successful project incubated by him. But the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology professor has a much bigger dream: To incubate many more DJIs and make China a world leading nation for technology. Prof. Li, who specializes in computer science and engineering, is an early investor in DJI. He also takes the role of chairman at the world’s largest drone maker, a company started by his student Wang Tao ten years ago and currently valued at roughly US$10 billion.

China’s Tech-Savvy, Burned-Out and Spiritually Adrift, Turn to Buddhism – The New York Times The temple is renowned in start-up circles, in part because of a widely circulated rumor involving Zhang Xiaolong, one of the inventors of WeChat, a popular messaging app. News articles have claimed that Mr. Zhang, having hit a stumbling block, attended a retreat at the temple, after which he gained inspiration for WeChat. (Mr. Zhang, through a spokesman, denied the reports.) Today, young entrepreneurs make the pilgrimage to Longquan in hopes of creative epiphanies. They work at some of China’s most prominent technology companies, including, an e-commerce giant, and Xiaomi, a smartphone maker.


Apprentice Accuses Millionaire Comedian of Exploitation | Sixth Tone An actor serving an apprenticeship with Guo Degang, one of China’s richest celebrities and the country’s leading “crosstalk” star, has denounced his master on social media. On Tuesday, 30-year-old actor Cao Yunjin published an article on microblogging platform Weibo describing how his 43-year-old teacher, who had been teaching him the traditional art of Chinese crosstalk for the past 14 years had exploited their relationship.// huge story in Beijing

Sex, lies and Wang Baoqiang | Chublic Opinion Interestingly, those who are able to articulate a counter argument against the liberal, intellectual stance is no less intellectual. For them, the overwhelming public sentiment is a society’s defense of basic decency in family and professional life. “Being faithful to a partner, being honest to an employer, is a morally honorable way of life, compared to which the moral cynicism of the intellectuals is despicable.” Some even venture that the society’s ability to apply public pressure to immoral behaviors is a desirable quality. It glues basic social units such as family together. According to this view, in many other societies this precious moral force is being suppressed by the “liberal intelligentsia”, a mistake that China should not repeat.

Shariah With Chinese Characteristics: A Scholar Looks at the Muslim Hui – The New York Times Mr. Erie’s recently published book, “China and Islam: The Prophet, the Party, and Law,” is a look at how Shariah — Islamic law and ethics — is implemented among the Hui. In an interview he discussed his findings, which confound many preconceptions about Shariah, Chinese law and the rigidity of the Communist state.

China Censors Critic’s Discussion of Family Planning Policies – The New York Times On Aug. 8, cutesy graphics and laconic messages of blocked content replaced 12 years of flourishing conversation about China’s intrusive family planning policies on the home pages of Fuxian Yi’s social media accounts. Dr. Yi, a Chinese scientist and demographer, is indignant over the concerted act of censorship that struck a month ago. He said the simultaneous shuttering of half a dozen accounts, including on Weibo and his blogs, indicated that the censorship had been ordered at a high level, probably by the country’s powerful internet regulator, the Cyberspace Administration of China, at the request of the Family Planning and Health Commission of China, for whom he has long been an irritant.


The Giant Panda Is No Longer Endangered. It’s ‘Vulnerable.’ – The New York Times The new designations were announced on Sunday in a report by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, a leading environmental group that tracks the status of plant and animal species. Giant pandas are national symbol in China, their native habitat, and the I.U.C.N. said on Sunday that efforts by the Chinese government to reverse the slide of the population, using forest protection and reforestation, had been successful. The panda’s new designation is “vulnerable.”


Shandong Rural Co-ops Help Ag Sector Grow-Caixin China’s fragmented farm sector — characterized by tiny family plots and a declining number of farmers — has long resisted modernization. However, at least in Shandong province, a once-lumbering rural co-op is reinventing itself — trying to help farmers increase yields and incomes in what historically has been a highly inefficient agricultural sector.


A Stroll Along Beijing’s Restored Canal System and the Ongoing Plan to Revive its Ancient Waterways | the Beijinger A project to reconstruct a section of an ancient canal system that once flowed through the heart of Beijing is finally nearing completion. The first phase, completed in 2014, linked Qianhai and Dianmen Dong Dajie. The second phase, from Dianmen to Beiheyan north of the Forbidden City is due to be completed by the end of this year.  The reconstructed canal revives a legacy of canals and waterways which once crisscrossed Beijing.


China in 2016: Historical Perspectives from a Panel of Specialists-Washington DC, September 14 7PM This roundtable brings back to campus two former Zeidman lecturers, historian Jeffrey Wasserstrom and journalist Mei Fong, for a lively exchange of ideas with two other China specialists. Inspired by the 50th anniversary of the start of the Cultural Revolution and the 40th anniversary of Mao’s death, the panel will make the case for the value—due to connections, continuities, contrasts, or a bit of each—in looking back from 2016 to earlier years ending with a six as they discuss the ways that China has and hasn’t changed. After hearing from Wasserstrom (on echoes of 1946) and Fong (on continuities and ruptures since 2006), as well as thoughts on other six-ending years from Congressional Research Service staffer Susan Lawrence and Richard McGregor of the Financial Times, the panel will take questions and comments from the audience in a free-flowing exchange of opinions. China analyst and Lower School parent Bill Bishop ’86 will moderate the panel. The event will take place in the Robert L. Smith Meeting Room, Sidwell Friends School, on September 14 from 7:00 to 8:30 p.m. and is open to the public.


Follow me on Twitter @niubi for updates between newsletters

Send comments/tips/complaints to

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

And if you really like Sinocism, feel free to donate some money, with Bitcoin or a credit card. Thanks.

2 thoughts on “The Sinocism China Newsletter 09.07.16

  1. Hey Bill, welcome back. Are you still in the PRC or have you returned to DC? If it’s the latter, I certainly hope you got your fill of quality Chinese food while you had the chance.

Comments are closed.