The Sinocism China Newsletter 11.13.13

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

The Third Plenum communique (full text in Chinese) is out and the meeting approved a decision on “major issues concerning comprehensively deepening reforms”. Xinhua English has a good summary of the main points here.

While most people are trying to figure out what it means many commentators are already expressing disappointment.

If you want to take a more positive view, I think you can find the possibility for aggressive reform within the very ambiguous language of the document. But if you have a more negative bent you can easily read it as just more bureaucratically paralyzed boilerplate. We may have a slightly better idea when a version of the full report is released, possibly within the next week.

I will guess that this document is going to lead to significant reforms that will play out over the next few years.

One of the most important measures announced in the communique is the establishment by Party Center of  a “Comprehensively Deepening Reform Leading Small Group”. This group is not just tasked with economic reform:


According to Xinhua the group will “be in charge of designing reform, arranging and coordinating reform, pushing forward reform and supervising the implementation of plans.” It would be a mistake to dismiss this as a punt on hard reforms or just another bureaucratic impediment. These leading small groups are very important. The leadership and composition will be key and I will bet it will be chaired by a PBSC member, which will give it the heft to push difficult reforms through the bureaucracies.

The Plenum also announced the establishment of a State Security Committee (国家安全委员会). The announcement of this new body was made in the section of the text on social management, so it seems this is as much or more about domestic security than it is about foreign affairs:


One of the key lessons the leadership has taken from the fall of the USSR is that the internal security apparatus had become weak, corrupt and ineffective. This is perhaps one of the reasons for the establishment of this new body, which will very likely increase Xi’s hold over the security system.

It also looks like the way is clear for some kind of Hukou reform and better land rights for rural residents:


This document is not a blueprint but a statement of high-level intentions. Lots of reform could happen based on what is written in it, or very little. Political will and implementation will be the deciding factors, and it may be a long time before we see tangible results or can form an informed opinion about this meeting.

One term we may start hearing more about is “六个紧紧围绕” (The “six tightly revolve arounds” for lack of a better translation). Awkward, but probably not to be ignored.

Today’s links are mostly related to the Third Plenum, and there is no Essential Eight:



Communiqué of the 3rd Plenum of the 18th Party Congress | China Copyright and Media–unofficial translation of full communique// 中共十八届三中全会公报(全文)_ full communique in Chinese

CPC announces decision on comprehensive reform – Xinhua | this provides a nice list of all the key points // The general objective of the approved reforms is to improve and develop socialism with Chinese characteristics and push on with modernization of the country’s governing system and capabilities, according to the communique issued after the session. China must build on the paramount reality that it remains in the primary stage of socialism and will long remain so while pursuing comprehensive, deeper reform. China must stick to the strategic judgement that development is still the key to solving all problems in China, the communique said. It is most important to adhere to the leadership of the CPC, it said.

Third Plenary Session of the 18th Communist Party of China Central Committee official English summaries of the key parts of the communique

Commentary: China on new starting point of reform after key meeting – Xinhua The decision acknowledged the market’s “decisive” role in allocating resources, according to the communique. The market had been often defined as a “basic” role in allocating resources since the country decided to build a socialist market economy in 1992. It is not only a change in wording, but more importantly, a breakthrough in China’s market reform and highlighting the importance of market power. The expression also means that the state should exert the government’s role under the domination of the market, rather than exerting the market’s role under the domination of the government.

人民日报社论:让改革旗帜在中国道路上飘扬–观点–人民网 Wednesday’ People’s Daily editorial on the Third Plenum

中共十八届三中全会-财经网 Caijing’s roundup of Third Plenum news and commentary

中共十八届三中全会_经济频道_财新网 Caixin’s roundup of  Third Plenum news and commentary

聚焦三中全会:十大关键词管窥改革要津_网易新闻中心 China Newsweekly looks at ten key words in the Plenum Communique// 改革, 总目标, 决定性作用, 惠及全体人民, 党的领导, 决定性成果, 国有经济主导, 现代财政制度, 社会治理, 生态文明制度体系

‘Leading team’ to spearhead drive for reform, party plenum resolves | South China Morning Post “It signals that China’s reforms will enter into a new era, with the leadership vowing to improve their plans, undeterred by vested interests,” said Liu Shanying , a political researcher at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences…A Politburo Standing Committee member, probably Premier Li Keqiang , was expected to lead the reform team, Liu said.According to a well-connected source, Vice-Premier Wang Yang is likely to head the team’s office, its executive arm, and be assisted by Han Zheng , who will be transferred from his post as Shanghai party secretary.//end run around NDRC?

Chinese Security Agency to Enhance Xi’s Powers – “I think this is huge. They’ve been talking about this forever and Xi Jinping has gone and done it in his first year in office,” said Christopher Johnson, a former CIA China analyst now at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington D.C. “He’s showing that he controls all the levers of power.”… “I think Xi Jinping is now all powerful,” said Shi Yinhong, another international relations expert at Renmin University. “He’ll have more power than previous leaders to conduct foreign policy and security affairs.”

专家:设立国家安全委员会提高了国家安全协调层级 –理论-人民网 中国国际问题研究所所长曲星在接受采访时指出,之所以成立国家安全委员会,主要是随着世界变化和中国的国际地位的提高,外国对中国的关注也提高,各种形式的情报活动更加多样,渠道更加多元。同时,世界各地“恐怖主义”“分裂主义”“极端主义”三股恶势力的活动都很频繁,恐怖主义对无辜平民攻击的手段日益残忍。伴随着高新技术的发展,大频度的人员往来,军事技术的发展,各种利益的交汇,国家安全问题呈现与之前不一样的局面,国家安全问题更加复杂,形式更加严峻。需要国家多个部门共同协作,有效保护国家安全。所以在原有国家安全机制上,我们要建立新的应对机制。曲星认为,成立这个委员会,能够更加有效整合各个部门的力量,更加有力地进行协调,协调的层级更高。这将有利于国家安全工作的整体规划,统一协调行动,集中力量。

China’s Third Plenum: Xi Jinping consolidates power – Telegraph “It is important that the Party has acknowledged the market’s decisive role,” said Wang Gongyi, the director of the research institute of the Justice ministry. “The government should only step in when the market cannot manage itself properly. Only this way can we promote social fairness and break the state monopolies…”The part which said we should give more property rights to the farmers is very important,” said Prof Wang. “They have been exploited for so many years and finally they can be treated equally.”

After Long Wind-Up, Xi Delivers Anticlimax – Many of today’s elite—Internet entrepreneurs, real-estate tycoons, academics and industrialists—have been making private calculations about whether, in the absence of drastic change, the current regime will face a crisis of its own. For many of them, the Third Plenum represented a chance to revive their faith in the future. “My friends are all living in fear or exile,” said one of China’s leading technology investors, speaking before the Third Plenum opened. The question is whether the communiqué, and what follows, will inspire them to return.

China leaders promise bigger role for free market–AP The party said it will create a committee to “deepen reforms” and gave no indication when more changes might be approved. That suggested party leaders, as many observers expected, agreed on broad themes but put off battles over details such as the status of state companies that control vast swathes of China’s economy including banking, energy and telecoms. “Many of us hoped they would use the opportunity to say something really striking, really pushing forward the momentum, and it’s fair to say they have not done that,” said Barry Naughton, a specialist in the Chinese economy at the University of California at San Diego. “I think the way they did it reflects they do not yet have consensus to move forward to dramatically reform,” he said.

Even Native Chinese Speakers Aren’t Sure What The Government Said About Market Reform – Business Insider Ting Lu–The communique changes the role of “Market Economy” from “基础性 (Jichuxing)” (used in the past 20 years) to “决定性 (juedingxing)”. For native Chinese speakers like us with years of intensive training in Chinese (and we did well on the grueling GRE too), we found it very difficult to tell the real difference. Bloomberg translated “ 基础性 (Jichuxing)” to “basic”, but we think it could be translated to “fundamental (foundational)” or “essential” as well. Regarding “决定性 (juedingxing)”, it could be translated to “deciding”, “determining” or “decisive”. We suspect the Chinese people won’t interpret too much from this change.

The Mother of All Experiments in Authoritarian Capitalism | Daniel W. Drezner To paraphrase Montesquieu, Xi Jinping’s position seems to be that in China, useless authoritarian measures weaken necessary authoritarian measures.  To elaborate on what I think the Chinese leadership is thinking:  they now seem pretty sure that greater state control over the economy is doubly counterproductive.  It introduces inefficiencies that a slowing Chinese economy can’t afford anymore.  Furthermore, they make the Party vulnerable to corruption, weakening political discipline.  By getting the state out of the resource allocation business, the market can function better. More importantly, the CCP and the Chinese state can function better by concentrating on doing the things it has to do — provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, ensure the security of the state, and oh yes, snuffing out any political threat to the Chinese Communist Party.

陈志武:用深化改革领导小组领导班子判定是否真改革-财经网 Chen Zhiwu–leadership of new “comprehensively deepening reform leadership small group” will be key to seeing if it can get anything done. Has to be someone who is at higher rank than state councilor or Minister-level// “如果是一个国务委员和正部级领导做领导,它的职能就和发改委差不多。等全面深化改革领导小组的领导班子出来以后,就可以看出这次改革是不是要动真家伙。”陈志武表示。

胡祖六:只要有国企就不可能公平竞争 民族复兴靠民企-财经网 Fred Hu–As long as there are SOEs there will not be fair competition // 国有企业恰好是政府和市场边界高度模糊的地方,带来很多不良的后果,具体表现为国企效率低下,竞争力不强,各种垄断危害了公平竞争,压抑了创新,导致了腐败。同时还表现为经济结构失衡,重复建设、产能过剩。

New urban-rural relations to take shape: communique – Xinhua An new, integrated system of urban-rural relations will allow people living outside cities equal participation in modernization and better property rights, says a communique following the Communist Party of China (CPC)’s key session on reform. Improvements must be made to promote agriculture, and urban development must lead to rural, according to the communique adopted by the third plenary session of the 18th CPC Central Committee held from Nov. 9 to 12 in Beijing. The new set-up will allow farmers to “equally participate in the modernization drive and share its fruits”. New agribusiness systems will be formed and more property rights should be given to farmers. Equal exchanges of urban-rural elements and balanced allocation of public resources should be promoted. A healthy development mechanism for urbanization will be improved. “The urban-rural dual structure is a major barrier preventing the integration of development,” reads the communique.//Hukou reform?

China relaxes investment rules: communique – Xinhua | FTZs will be expanded in inland and border areas, said the document adopted at the Third Plenary Session of the 18th the Communist Party of China Central Committee held from Nov. 9 to 12 in Beijing. New policies will apply both to domestic and international ventures, with the strategies of “bringing in” and “going global” combined to adapt to globalization, the communique said, while calling for an orderly, free flow of international and domestic factors, efficient allocation of resources and deep market integration.

刘尚希:财政的职能作用有了新定位_观点频道_财新网 十八届三中全会公报显示,财政已经不仅仅是经济手段,它与经济、政治、社会各方面关联,财政成为国家治理的重要基础

三中全会理清财税改革两大争议事项_观点频道_财新网 三中全会公报提出“稳定税负”,“建立事权和支出责任相适应的制度”,前者为减税或增税的水平设置了限制,后者促使政府花钱要向责任范围收敛

三中全会土改重平权 专家称关键在落实_政经频道_财新网 十八届三中全会公报重申了2008年十七届三中全会在土地改革上的政策方向;更强调城乡统一、更强调城乡平等,应是此届全会对于土地和三农问题的总体基调

解读公报:市场作用提升至决定性地位_经济频道_财新网 经济学家认为,中共十八届三中全会公报提出了一些新的概念、理念,使市场在资源配置中起决定性作用;土地制度有重大变化,财税体制将作出较大调整

司法改革或将延续技术性微调格局_观点频道_财新网 十八届三中全会公报关于法治建设的表述依旧以稳为重,未见突破性进展的迹象。这意味着未来一定时期内,改革或将延续技术性微调的格局

Party to Change One-Child Policy after Plenum, Source Says – Caixin The Communist Party is planning to alter the one-child policy shortly after a major meeting it is holding ends, a source close to the conclave says. The change would allow any family that had one parent grow up as a single child have a second baby. Couples in China are currently only allowed to have a second baby if both parents were only children.//放开二胎勿复迟疑_观点频道_财新网


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Complaints over Cheating Arise as Alibaba Sets Online Sales Record -Caijing Online shoppers, however, discovered that many of the stores sold goods at roughly pre-holiday prices despite with attractive discounts advertising while others complained that some items on the promotion list were quickly taken off shelves. “I feel like I was being fooled,” said a consumer who had been waiting for hours to buy a promoted item but only founded it being pulled off shelves seconds into the event.

马云叫板房价引调侃 任志强:300亿也就几块地钱_资讯频道_凤凰网 Jack Ma vs Wang Jianlin over commercial real estate getting lots of media play. Ma says ecommerce would hit commercial real estate prices hard, Wanda’s Wang says not worried, has a 100m RMB bet with Ma over the issue

天津滨海新区大数据行动方案正式发布 2股值得关注_证券时报网 Big data to save Tianjin’s Binhai area? I need a big data angle for Sinocism…// 据天津政务网11月11日消息,《滨海新区大数据行动方案(2013-2015)》日前正式发布,“中关村—滨海大数据产业技术创新战略联盟”也同期成立。

China: Market to Be More ‘Decisive’ on Natural Resources – China Real Time Report – WSJ Beijing appears to be formalizing a process it has already begun over the past year. The energy and commodities sector is heavily shielded from global free-market competition, in part due to it being viewed in the past as a collection of “strategic” industries where self-sufficiency was crucial. In recent years, the government has repeatedly shown that it believes a slimmer, consolidated energy and commodities sector will help the economy move more quickly up the value chain.

China to Charge Resource Users More to Protect the Environment – Bloomberg “China will push through changes in the resources and commodities sector that will help balance the environment and the economic growth,” said Helen Lau, an analyst at UOB Kay Hian Ltd. in Hong Kong. “While the full results may take months or years to become clear, they’ve laid out the principals which will be hallmarks of the Xi administration in the next decade.”

Investors Still Seeking the Perfect China ETF  – Bloomberg One of ASHR’s notable downsides is that it’s expensive. Its annual 1.08 percent expense ratio is the highest by far of the 30 China ETFs, which have an average expense ratio of .63 percent. ….Investors will have access to a competing products to ASHR in coming months from KraneShares and Market Vectors. Market Vectors already has a product that competes with ASHR — the Market Vectors China ETF (PEK), which provides exposure to China A Shares synthetically (meaning through derivatives) by using swaps with Credit Suisse, a qualified purchaser of A shares. Market Vectors recently announced it will allow PEK to offer physically-based A-Share exposure

Ex-Treasury Secretary Larry Summers, Economist Lant Pritchett Warn China and India’s Fast Growth Can’t Last – China Real Time Report – WSJ With the top leaders of China’s Communist Party scheduled to release today their economic strategy for the coming decade, they would do well to consider the warning of former U.S. Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers: Don’t count on fast growth to continue, and don’t get seduced by what he and fellow economist Lant Pritchett dub “Asiaphoria.”

China to Take Iron Ore Pricing Power From Miners, Banga Says – Bloomberg China will take control of iron ore pricing in the next two years as rising supplies of the steelmaking commodity return bargaining power to buyers, former Noble Group Ltd. Vice Chairman Harry Banga said. Prices of the second-biggest seaborne commodity will drop to $95 to $110 a metric ton, said Banga, who in May started The Caravel Group Ltd. Iron ore traded at $135.90 a ton at the Chinese port of Tianjin yesterday…The commodity has rallied 23 percent from this year’s low on May 31 and is up 57 percent from September last year when prices touched an almost-three-year low. Iron ore entered a bull market in July as China’s economy accelerated, spurring Standard Bank Group Ltd. and Australia’s Bureau of Resources and Energy Economics to increase price estimates in the past few weeks.



常委上课都学什么_数据控_腾讯新闻 interesting infographic of politburo study sessions, topics, and lecturers

Party Tells Cadres What They Should Learn from Bo Xilai Scandal – Caixin The Communist Party has sent a circular to cadres and officials around the country on the lessons to be taken from Bo Xilai’s downfall. There have been no reports about the document itself, but several media outlets said on November 7 and 8 that local governments were holding sessions to study the circular regarding Bo.

Signal Left, Turn Right: Central Rhetoric and Local Reform in China by Haifeng Huang :: SSRN Haifeng Huang -University of California, Merced-Political Research Quarterly, June 2013–Abstract:     How have local officials in China been able to break through central policy restrictions in a unitary and authoritarian political system? Why is China’s official discourse in the reform era often so conservative and unfavorable to reform? I argue the two issues are components of a signaling game between China’s central government and local officials, in which local officials know that the center may be reformist, but the reformist center imitates the rhetoric of a conservative center in order to control the pace of local liberalization. The result is a gradualist reform of “signaling left and turning right”, with glaring incongruity of speech and actions in the process.

Xi Jinping, One Year Later: Will He Be the ‘Chinese Gorbachev’? | Asia Society video of the full discussion here // New Yorker staff writer Evan Osnos, UC San Diego professor Susan Shirk, former U.S. Ambassador to China J. Stapleton Roy, and Asia Society’s Orville Schell agreed Xi must deal with difficult and contradictory demands as he attempts to guide China through what Shirk called a “third wave” of economic reform while maintaining firm one-party rule.



State media: China ‘should help typhoon-ravaged Philippines despite row’ | South China Morning Post China should put aside its territorial dispute with the Philippines to help victims of Typhoon Haiyan, state-run media said on Tuesday, adding that doing so was in Beijing’s best interests…China, the world’s second largest economy, has offered to give the Philippines US$100,000 (HK$775,000) for relief efforts, Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang announced on Monday.

China, Russia, Cuba win UN rights council seats – AP China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Vietnam, Cuba and Algeria won seats Tuesday on the U.N. Human Rights Council, riling independent human rights groups who said their election undermined the rights watchdog’s credibility.

Spiked in China? | ChinaFile Conversation on Chinese Pressure on Foreign Media Vincent Ni–What came to mind when I first read about this developing drama, is something my journalistic mentor, a veteran Chinese journalist, told me before I entered this industry: journalism is “a job requires you consciously reflect the reality.” Perhaps no one will find out what a writer really thinks during the era in which they write, but the passage of time will reveal their inclinations.”The difficulty,” as William Dean Howells, another preeminent American journalist put it almost a century ago, “is to know conscience from self-interest.”

China’s Intensifying Suppression of Foreign Journalism – Matt Schiavenza – The Atlantic The implications of this trend go far beyond just the media. For years, foreigners have employed a comforting fantasy about China’s trajectory, which is that as the country grows wealthier and more powerful, its norms regarding press freedom will coalesce with “ours.” And, in a roundabout way, technology has brought about this process: Platforms like Sina Weibo and WeChat, as well as the explosion of cheap smartphones among China’s middle class, have eroded Beijing’s ability to monitor all forms of speech and expression in the country. But, according to Mooney, who has written about the country since the early 1980s, the Chinese government has become more reactionary and conservative with each successive change in leadership. Far from leading to liberalization, China’s continued growth has only convinced the Communist Party that their approach to media control has been correct all along. // not a surprise to readers of Jim Mann’s The China Fantasy, discussed here on Sinocism in 2011

US Report: 1st Sub-launched Nuke Missile Among China’s Recent Strides | Defense News | For the first time in the country’s history, China’s sea-based nuclear deterrent nears initial operational capability (IOC), according to a forthcoming report by a US congressional commission on China. China’s JL-2 submarine-launched ballistic missile could reach IOC later this year, according to an early draft of the report by the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission. With a range of 4,000 nautical miles, the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) will have its first credible sea-based nuclear deterrent against the US mainland, mated with the Type 094 Jin-class nuclear ballistic missile submarine (SSBN). China has deployed three Jin-class SSBN and “probably will field two additional units by 2020.”



Wynn Resorts Discloses Criminal Probe Into Macau University Gift – Bloomberg Wynn Resorts Ltd. (WYNN), the casino company founded by Steve Wynn, said the U.S. is conducting a criminal investigation into its $135 million gift to the University of Macau Development Foundation. The Department of Justice disclosed the probe in a footnote to a court motion, Las Vegas-based Wynn Resorts said in a filing today. The company said it hasn’t received any target letter or subpoena related to the investigation and intends to cooperate fully with any government request.



Autohome’s Online Orders Break 17,000 on “Singles Day” -Caijing this may help Autohome’s US IPO, already in registration w SEC// Chinese consumers bought more than 17, 000 cars on on November 11, the newly-coined Singles Day, as the car-shopping site joined the country’s online marketplaces to win Chinese consumers’ minds and wallets. The auto website received 17,776 orders totaling 2.64billion yuan ($433.2million) from online shoppers in the 24 hours of Monday, Autohome said in a statement on Tuesday.

SINA Reports Third Quarter 2013 Financial Results – Yahoo Finance no word on weibo activity in the release, will be discussed on conference call this am no doubt // Net revenues increased 21% year over year to $184.6 million.  Non-GAAP net revenues increased 22% year over year to $179.9 million, reaching the high end of the Company’s guidance between $176.0 million and $180.0 million. Advertising revenues grew 26% year over year to $151.6 million, within the Company’s guidance between $151.0 million and $153.0 million.

NQ Mobile Beats on Rising Game and Security Revenue – Bloomberg “Strong earnings, strong revenue, strong outlook, management buying stock,” Tim Ghriskey, chief investment officer at Solaris Group LLC, which manages over $1.5 billion in Bedford Hills, New York, said by phone. “You could see quite a short squeeze in the shares in a situation like this, but clearly it is volatile.”

Big-shot Chinese VC: “Tencent will surpass Facebook within 5 years” | PandoDaily Within the next three to five years, new GGV Capital partner Hans Tung says that Tencent will overtake Facebook in terms of market cap; Alibaba subsidiary Alipay will become a giant global payments network that will internationalize access to hundreds of millions of new consumers; and US Internet companies will increasingly copy monetization models first mastered in China.//Tung much of the value at Qiming? Some whispering/backstabbing going around, not surprisingly



浙江“土豪”定亲给888万现金 重达102公斤(组图)_资讯频道_凤凰网 rich guy in Zhejiang gives 8.88M RMB cash as gift for engagement. In baskets. Weighs 102 KG. Pics

Reimagining China’s cities | chinadialogue – China Dialogue This special issue of our journal explores the key issues and challenges facing China’s urbanisation programme, which will move around 250 million people from the countryside into its cities



Language Log » Pekingese put-downs I first heard the expression déxìng 德性 (“morality; virtuous / moral character” –> “disgusting; shameful”) in the early 80s in a Beijing department store on Wángfǔ jǐng 王府井.  A customer was trying to get a salesgirl to show her something (a purse, I think it was, maybe a pair of shoes) that was behind the counter, and the salesgirl couldn’t be bothered.  An argument ensued, which was brought to a screeching halt when the Pekingese salesgirl said to the customer, with the most condescending sneer I’ve ever seen in my life:  déxìng 德性 (“morality; virtuous / moral character” –> “disgusting; shameful”), and with a very strong, drawn-out emphasis on the first syllable, a slight pause in the middle, and then a light dismissive, downward sliding second syllable:  ´ `!  The customer was apoplectically speechless.

《北京话词典》【摘要 书评 试读】- 京东图书 a new Pekingese/Beijing Hua dictionary released 1.1.2013// 作者从小说、戏曲、曲艺、影视作品中选取北京话词语作为词条,并以北京话实际读音注音,简要释义,配以切合恰当的例句。《北京话词典》有利于对汉语、特别是对普通话的研究;可以使我们了解普通话中一些词的来历;也有利于读者阅读和理解京味儿作品;同时有助于读者了解和认识社会,一些时代特有词语的解释,可以帮助读者了解当时的风土人情和社会风貌。



The CAIJING Annual Conference 2014: Forecasts & Strategies Bill Clinton one of the speakers…sounds like an interesting conference// The CAIJING Annual Conference 2014: Forecasts & Strategies will be held on November 18 to 20, 2013 in Beijing, China. It’s hosted by CAIJING Magazine, and the Boyuan Foundation with support from Bank of China. // hear these are good, never been invited to one