"Sinocism is the Presidential Daily Brief for China hands"- Evan Osnos, New Yorker Correspondent and National Book Award Winner
The Washington Post and possibly Twitter are also victims of alleged Chinese hacker attacks. AP reports that the US is looking at action against China cyberattacks and Politico quotes Mike Rogers urging unspecified, likely impotent, Congressional action:
“This is just another reminder of how relentless and sweeping China’s cyberattacks are,” said Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee. “The attacks on the U.S. banking industry and now major media outlets who dared publish stories critical of the Chinese government prove this is not a theoretical threat. “Foreign cyberattackers are targeting every aspect of the American economy every day and Congress needs to act with urgency to protect our national security and our economy.”
In the segment New York Times Computer System Victim of Hacking Attack – YouTube PBS NewsHour’s Ray Suarez talks with New York Times reporter Nicole Perlroth and Grady Summers, an executive of the cyber security company hired to investigate the attack. Attribution of the attacks is always a bit squishy though people who know more of the details seem to have a very high level of confidence they originated in China.
Good thing Google does not need China for its stock price to hit an all-time high, as it did Friday. Google’s Eric Schmidt Unloads on China in New Book (Wall Street Journal):
China, Schmidt and [Jared] Cohen write, is “the world’s most active and enthusiastic filterer of information” as well as “the most sophisticated and prolific” hacker of foreign companies. In a world that is becoming increasingly digital, the willingness of China’s government and state companies to use cyber crime gives the country an economic and political edge, they say. “The disparity between American and Chinese firms and their tactics will put both the government and the companies of the United States as a distinct disadvantage,” because “the United States will not take the same path of digital corporate espionage, as its laws are much stricter (and better enforced) and because illicit competition violates the American sense of fair play,” they claim.
Android may have been de-Googled as it takes over the mobile OS market in China, but expect the Chinese government to push harder for an indigenous alternative to Android.
Lu Yiyi has written the best analysis I have yet read about Xi Jinping and reform. In Is Chinese Leader Xi Jinping a Reformer? Wrong Question (Wall Street Journal) She argues:
…in all his major speeches since becoming party leader, Xi Jinping has repeatedly and unequivocally stated that China must adhere to Marxism and the socialist path and carry out reform under the Communist Party’s leadership (in Chinese). While these speeches are bound to disappoint liberals and many foreign China watchers, they fulfill two crucial purposes: reassuring conservatives who worry that reform would lead to Soviet-style collapse of the party and the state, and sending a clear message to liberals to discourage them from agitating for radical change.
While China’s new leaders have given clear signals that they are mindful of the challenges and risks of reform and will work hard to maintain a steady course, they have not articulated the goals of the reform they have vowed to pursue. We do not know how much change Xi Jinping wishes to bring out. Xi’s holding back from outlining a reform program will inevitably fuel the charge that he is not a genuine reformer, but Xi already has an answer to the skeptics. “Reform and opening up only have progressive tense and no perfect tense,” he said at the Politburo collective study session on Dec. 31 (in Chinese) on how to “deepen reform.”
In other words, there is no point in asking how far reform will go under Xi’s leadership, since in his vision it will never stop. Whether they believe Xi’s promise of unending reform, given the difficulties of implementing reform in China’s present condition, pundits should give Xi and his colleagues some more time before drawing conclusions on their commitment to reform and their chances of success.
THE ESSENTIAL EIGHT
Beijing Sets Five-year Target for Laying out Land Use Rights – Caixin – The so-called No.1 document, issued by the Communist Party’s Central Committee every January as its first policy paper of the year, stated that the government will complete a comprehensive survey and registration of rural land use rights in five years. Land in China is owned by the state, and farmers and rural collectives have contracted, long-term usage rights. A thorough survey and registration of rural land would protect farmers’ rights and lay the foundation for fair trading, since the amount of land use right transfers among farmers jumped in recent years and the market value of rural lands appreciates rapidly. Without clear usage rights registration, “many farmers who migrate to cities can only have their elders back home to work in the field” because they fear contracting to other farmers would mean they lose the land, said Liu Shouying, research fellow at the Rural Department of the State Council’s Development Research Center.
China’s Surpluses Start to Balance Out – WSJ.com– “Some people are worried about the capital-account deficit, saying that it shows outflows. But to me it only means one thing: that there is less central-bank intervention,” said Barclays economist Huang Yiping. “By definition, if you don’t intervene significantly, a current-account surplus means you will have a capital-account deficit,” he added. China’s foreign-exchange regulator, the State Administration of Foreign Exchange, had a similar interpretation of the data. “Under a further reformed exchange-rate system where foreign reserves are stable, if there is a current-account surplus, there must necessarily be a capital- and financial-account deficit,” it said in a statement accompanying the data.
How 300,000 Yuan and Shark’s Fin Soup Can Buy IPO Approval –Caixin – Near the China Securities Regulatory Commission’s (CSRC) headquarters in western Beijing is a nice restaurant where seafood delicacies such as shark’s fin soup are served and tabs can run to 1,000 yuan per person. However, much higher sums are discussed over expensive dishes of abalone and sea cucumber at the restaurant, which is popular with IPO applicants who want to dine with CSRC officials. For starters, the intermediary who arranges a meal for the two parties is paid at least 100,000 yuan. Additionally, the meals are part of a shady process that allows some key officials involved in the approval process to negotiate illegal payments of between 300,000 and 500,000 yuan from applicants. Underwriters, intermediaries and executives at public companies interviewed by Caixin have described the secret process of buying votes needs to gain an IPO approval in China. Any of the 11 key people whose approval is needed for a given IPO to go forward are able to collect the large sums, sources say.
The Jamestown Foundation: How the Southern Weekly Protests Moved the Bar on Press Control-David Bandurski- Chinese journalists should be judged on the merits of their work, and it is a fact that they have made important strides over the past two decades despite insistent and ever-changing controls. As to how Chinese media perform in the wake of the Southern Weekly incident, we will have to wait and see. The incident, however, did mark the latest change in the ongoing saga of media change versus media control. It sent a message to propaganda leaders that there are limits to how robust controls can be. It also demonstrated how unpopular controls on information are with an increasingly savvy and connected public. Looking at the role social media had in shaping the Southern Weekly incident, analysts have a glimpse of the next major battleground in this ongoing saga. Since 2005, tightening media controls have relied upon secrecy about the control process. Today, as social media connect the manufacturers of the news to their audiences in real time, control itself is increasingly exposed. Just as SARS, Sun Zhigang and the “media spring” confronted Hu Jintao at the outset of his administration in 2003, Xi Jinping now faces his own test: what are the possibilities and limitations of information control in a growing and changing China?
Noble and Ignoble-Ai Weiwei, Wonderful Dissident, Terrible Artisit | New Republic -The trouble with most critiques of political art is that they pay too much attention to the politics. This is not to say that an artist’s politics do not matter; not at all. But the great challenge today, at least for those who find themselves in a museum wanting to take full advantage of what an art museum has to offer, is how deeply the artist is exploring the means that are available. Therein lies artistic freedom. As an artist, Ai Weiwei remains imprisoned, unable to speak in the language of forms, which is the only language an artist can really know. A novelist might make something exciting out of Ai’s predicament. But Ai, as I say, is not a character in a novel. He is a man who makes works of art. They are bone-chillingly cold, the thoughts or attitudes of a great political dissident who remains untouched by even a spark of the imaginative fire.
WeChat Offends Vietnamese Users with ‘Cow Tongue’ Chinese Maps–TechInAsia – This week there are reports in Vietnam’s local papers, and even on the Vietnamese prime minister’s website, that Vietnamese mobile users are dropping WeChat. The app, which is one of the big players in the Vietnamese mobile messaging battle, contains maps that Vietnamese say violate Vietnam’s sovereignty. The “cow tongue” on the maps, slang for the dotted line China puts around disputed islands it claims as its own, shows the Paracel and Spratly Islands under Chinese dominion. To many Vietnamese this is offensive.
China “Big Four” Lent 400Bln Yuan in 27 Days in Jan.-Caijing – Chinese banks have fastened their pace in extending new loans in the fresh year, on track to exceed 1 trillion yuan in January, a scenario that has been seen in the years from 2009 to 2011.
Abe says permanent basing of civil servants on Senkakus is ‘one option’ – AJW by The Asahi Shimbun– Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Feb. 1 said he would consider permanently basing civil servants on the Senkaku Islands, the center of a diplomatic spat with China. “That would be one option for the stable maintenance and control of the Senkaku Islands and surrounding waters,” Abe said in response to questions in the Upper House from Kenichi Mizuno of Your Party.
BUSINESS AND ECONOMY
HSBC Sells $7.4 Billion Ping An Stake to Thai Billionaire – Bloomberg – The acquisition of four-fifths of the shares would be funded with cash as well as a financing agreement from the Hong Kong unit of China Development Bank, HSBC said in December. CP Group didn’t use that credit facility from China Development Bank, a policy lender based in Beijing, to finance any part of the purchase, said a person with knowledge of the transaction. The person, who asked not to be identified because the matter is private, didn’t say how CP Group raised funds for the deal. The statements didn’t give any details on funding.
Coming of age: China’s used car market outpaces new sales growth | Reuters – Used car sales in China grew faster than new car sales for a second straight year in 2012, and should account for half of all sales within seven years as the world’s biggest autos market matures. While new cars still outsold used vehicles by more than 3 to 1 last year, they are sputtering after a period of breakneck growth, and the potential for the pre-owned market to be the industry’s growth engine is prompting foreign automakers to open more used-car outlets.
China Reports Record Capital-Financial Account Gap for 2012 – Bloomberg – The $117.3 billion annual gap was the first since 1998 when investors deserted China during the Asian financial crisis and reversed a $221.1 billion surplus in 2011, data released on the State Administration of Foreign Exchange website showed today. The current-account excess rose to $213.8 billion in 2012 from $201.7 billion the previous year. The deficit may reflect reduced intervention by the central bank to control the exchange rate of the yuan, which strengthened 1 percent against the dollar in 2012, the least in three years. China’s foreign-exchange reserves, the world’s largest, rose the least since 2003 last year, as the economy expanded at the weakest pace since 1999. “This shows that China’s balance of payments is returning to a normal state,” said Liu Li-Gang, head of Greater China economics at Australia & New Zealand Banking Group Ltd. in Hong Kong. “At the margin this will slow China’s rapid reserve accumulation and reduce the pressures for the yuan to appreciate further.”
China’s Competitiveness: Analysis and Policy Implications | Center for Strategic and International Studies – CSIS and Japan’s 21st Century Public Policy Institute have looked at five Chinese firms (Huawei, Lenovo, Suntech, Shanghai Auto, and China South Locomotive), examining the factors that led to their rise, their current state of competitiveness, and the policy implications. In addition to the case studies, a report was also done on the Chinese industrial policymaking process. The policymaking report serves as a primer on the policymaking process and provides an in depth look at actual cases, including the strategic emerging industries policy development.
China’s Official, HSBC PMI Reports – Business Insider – Bank of America economist Ting Lu, in a note to clients last year, said one of the major differences was that the HSBC number has more exposure to small and medium sized enterprises (SME), which means they have a relatively tough time securing credit when the economy is slowing. They are also considered less favored by the government. So, one could actually argue that the HSBC PMI number offers a better cyclical signal. Lu argues as much in his latest note.
China’s Manufacturing Sustained Expansion in January: Economy – Bloomberg – The Purchasing Managers’ Index (SHCOMP) was 50.4 in January compared with 50.6 in December, the National Bureau of Statistics and China Federation of Logistics and Purchasing said today in Beijing as they more than tripled the number of companies surveyed. A separate gauge from HSBC Holdings Plc and Markit Economics covering fewer businesses rose to a two-year high of 52.3 from 51.5. Readings above 50 indicate expansion.
China Vehicle Population Hits 240 Million as Smog Engulfs Cities – Bloomberg – China added more cars last year than the total number plying its roads in 1999, illustrating the challenges the government faces in controlling vehicular emissions and traffic congestion in its cities. The vehicle population reached 240 million last year, of which 120 million were passenger cars, according to a statement by the Ministry of Public Security on its website. The 15.1 million new cars added last year were more than the entire car population at the end of 1999, the ministry said.
China Jan Property Price Jump Raises Threat Of Govt Response | MNI– The threat of fresh government efforts to clamp down on the property market was raised Friday with the release of data showing house prices in China’s largest cities rising sharply in January. Soufun.com, a private real estate research firm, said that property prices in the 100 cities it monitors rose 1.0% month-on-month in January, a big jump over December’s 0.23% increase. Prices rose 1.20% y/y last month, soaring from a 0.03% rise in December, and the report suggests that official January data may show similar strong rises when they are released on February 22.
China: Is current optimism justified? | beyondbrics– Despondent yet? Don’t be. Choyleva argues that economic policy might become more “rational” in China and that the share of household income in the economy will be allowed to rise if there is another domestic slowdown. Yet even that, according to her argument, isn’t necessarily justification for the optimism the markets have shown in the past few months. She remains bearish that the Communist Party has what it takes to actually make the major reforms required on exchange rates and interest rates.
Billionaire Kuok Says His Empire Can Last ’Generations’ – Bloomberg – Kuok had accumulated a fortune of $19.4 billion as of Jan. 31, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. Trim, dapper and straight backed at 89, he shows no signs of stopping there, Bloomberg Markets magazine will report in its March issue. This year, the media-shy Malaysian-born magnate will likely open his 71st sumptuously appointed Shangri-La. Six of them are scheduled to be opened in the third quarter alone, including one perched in the Shard, the 72-story London skyscraper that’s the tallest office building in Western Europe.
POLITICS AND LAW
The Jamestown Foundation: New Police Chief Shows Reliability But Not Power -Peter Mattis– Following the Minister of Public Security Meng Jianzhu’s ascent to chair the Central Political-Legal Affairs Committee and the Politburo of the 18th Central Committee, a little-known provincial party secretary, Guo Shengkun, stepped up to take over Meng’s place at the ministry in late December (Xinhua, December 29, 2012). Guo, previously the Guangxi party secretary, may be one of the least-qualified picks to run the Ministry of Public Security (MPS)—and not because he lacks legal affairs experience. He simply has not been a part of the political milieu of China’s $100 billion-plus internal security apparatus and accompanying social management issues. It appears Guo is a politically-reliable and experienced manager with a visible cap on his advancement that is more likely to keep the MPS focused on supporting the party’s priorities than those of any political clique.
SOHO中国对“房姐”龚爱爱事件声明：会全力配合有关部门调查-财经网 – older housing sister a big soho china customer, possibly 16 properties in SanLiTun SOHO alone. SOHO China issues statement saying it had no idea she was a client, will cooperate with law enforcement. Pan Shiyi also issued a statement on his Weibo. SOHO China execs likely had no idea, decent chance Gong bought all the properties through one of the third party sales agencies SOHO CHina used..but I bet the sales people knew and did everything they could to help Gong buy as many properties as she wanted to//【《财经》综合报道】1月31日晚间，据网友在微博上爆料称：“房姐”龚爱爱在北京的大部分房产来自于潘石屹的三里屯SOHO，并称从潘石屹下属手中拿到了相关的房产资料。潘石屹所创立的SOHO中国有限公司官方微博随即在2月1日下午发布声明表示，龚爱爱在SOHO中国买房时所持有的身份证和银行贷款都是经过相关部门有效核实的，并表示会全力配合有关部门的调查。
知情人称“房姐”还在陕西 或藏身于某宾馆_资讯频道_凤凰网 – elder housing sister story also about underground bank collapse. reports she is hiding in xian//从先后被查出拥有四个户口，到被曝光涉及15亿元民间借贷，再到北京警方公布的在京拥有41套近万平方米房产，“房姐”龚爱爱背后的财富“帝国”逐渐浮出水面。当舆论热议龚爱爱巨大的财富从何来，背后还着多少不为人知的秘密时，事件的“主角”龚爱爱，截至昨日已在公众视野中“消失”15天了。
“房姐”房屋漏水遭租客起诉 身份被注销案件难审_中国经济网??国家经济门户 –great legal dilemma stemming from Gong Aiai/elder housing sister case. One of her tenants has a leaky roof, tried suing her, but property held in her one of her other hukou names that has since been declared invalid by PSB. judge refused to hear the case because legally the defendant does not exist…// 中国经济网北京2月1日讯（ 记者 李方） 记者近日获悉，北京市朝阳区法院在受理一起因漏水引发的财产损害赔偿案件上“犯了难”，因其涉案被告之一正是在京拥有41套房产、有4个身份证的陕西神木“房姐”龚爱爱。目前，龚爱爱违法办理的户口已被依法注销，有关这起案件的审理因此受阻
人民日报-向吃鱼翅说“不”（今日谈） – Page One People’s Daily on just say “no” to eating shark fins…wow, this is progress…2nd most read story on the web site so far Sunday…// 疯狂的鱼翅，还严重损害生态环境。统计表明，全球每年鱼翅贸易总量逾万吨，约7000万头鲨鱼因之被捕杀，其中不少鱼翅被中国人吃掉。小小餐桌，甚至影响到生态平衡。刚刚散去的严重雾霾警示我们，保护生态环境，已经刻不容缓。保护野生动物，包括保护鲨鱼，是保护生态环境的重要内容。野生动物是人类的朋友，保护野生动物，人人有责。“没有买卖，就没有杀戮”，狠刹浪费之风、保护生态环境，必须向吃鱼翅说“不”。
分析称官媒微博及时发布领导人新闻渐成惯例|微博|领导人新闻|惯例_新浪新闻– 按照此前惯例，中央政治局委员以上级别的国家领导人到基层调研，一般都是等其离开后由新华社与央视《新闻联播》等中央媒体播发相关报道. 有观察人士指出，近期以上领导人的考察报道都打破了上述传统，意味着官方媒体通过社交媒体(微博)及时发布领导人考察报道已渐成新惯例。
南方周末 – 消失12年后，官方版重出江湖 基尼系数混战– 比如中国改革基金会国民经济研究所副所长王小鲁在2010年发布的《灰色收入与国民收入分配》研究报告认为，2008年，中国居民的“隐性收入”为9.3万亿元，其中“灰色收入”为5.4万亿元，约占当年国民收入的17%，且收入最高的10%家庭与收入最低的10%家庭的人均收入相差65倍。这一组数字不仅受到国家统计局人士的公开质疑，也被包括李实、岳希明、北京师范大学教授罗楚亮在内的多名学者质疑。 事实上，中国基尼系数和收入差距问题中最富有难度的调查，正在于对高收入人群收入水平的调查，尤其是其中的非法收入部分。岳希明和李实曾在一次研讨会上向统计部门建议应该解决非法收入的统计问题。一位长年从事统计工作的参会者半开玩笑地说：“统计贪官收入可不是统计局的事，那是中纪委的事。”
统计部门工作人员：统计贪官收入不是我们的事_网易财经 – 中国基尼系数和收入差距问题中最富有难度的调查，正在于对高收入人群收入水平的调查，尤其是其中的非法收入部分。学者在一次研讨会上向统计部门建议应该解决非法收入的统计问题。一位长年从事统计工作的参会者半开玩笑地说：统计贪官收入可不是统计局的事，那是中纪委的事。
延安宝塔区人代会住五星酒店 回应称享团购价|延安|人代会|五星酒店_新浪新闻– 最近，各地两会集中召开，“会风”成为公众关注的焦点。除了会议内在质量是否扎实、是否探讨实质性问题之外，开会的地点、花费、排场等外在形式是否改变也备受关注。日前，有网帖称，延安市宝塔区召开人代会，代表们入住延安最豪华的五星级酒店枣园宾馆。网友上传的“枣园宾馆房价表”显示：枣园宾馆价格最低的房间为1778元/天，最贵的豪华行政套房为4578元/天。此外，不论房间类型，都要额外加收15%的服务费。
据称雷政富曾被人持不雅视频敲诈8000万元_资讯频道_凤凰网 – person in possession of the Lei Zhengfu sex tape tried to blackmail him for 80m RMB? Expensive lay for Lei, a bit more than 2 million RMB per second…
Baidu Chief Li, Politburo’s Yu Join China’s Advisory Body – Bloomberg – Baidu Inc. Chairman Robin Li, China’s third-richest man, and Yu Zhengsheng, No. 4 in the Communist Party hierarchy, were named to the country’s top political advisory body as a new generation of leaders prepares for power. Yu, former Communist Party secretary of Shanghai, is the only member of the Politburo’s seven-man standing committee to be appointed as one of the 2,237 members of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, indicating he will replace Jia Qinglin as chairman of the body next month.
FOREIGN AND DEFENSE AFFAIRS
Japan PM Vows to Defend Islands From China – NYTimes.com– “The security environment surrounding our country is increasingly becoming more severe as we face provocation to our territorial rights,” Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said. “I will take the lead to stand up against the present danger and protect the people’s lives and asset, as well as our land, the seas and the air at all costs.” His comments, made in a speech to Japan’s Self-Defense Forces in the country’s south, apparently referred to China’s growing presence near the disputed islands, called Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China.
习近平视察酒泉卫星发射中心 向先烈敬献花篮(图)_资讯频道_凤凰网– 据“军报记者”微博报道，2月2日下午，习近平看望慰问了酒泉卫星发射中心科技人员和部队官兵，并在酒泉卫星发射中心东风革命烈士陵园向革命先烈敬献花篮。微博内容如下： 2月2日下午，习近平来到酒泉卫星发射中心东风革命烈士陵园，向革命先烈敬献花篮。陵园安葬着聂荣臻元帅和为我国航天科技事业献身的711名革命英烈。 习近平满怀深情地瞻仰了聂帅墓和革命纪念碑，向他们为党和国家作出的重大贡献表示由衷敬意，高度赞扬他们“死在戈壁滩、埋在青山头”的奉献精神。（解放军报记者王士彬） 2日下午，习近平在看望慰问酒泉卫星发射中心科技人员和部队官兵时动情地说，踏上这片承载着中华民族伟大复兴光荣与梦想的土地，看到你们这支功勋卓著的英雄部队我感到很高兴。祖国和人民为你们感到骄傲！祖国和人民感谢你们！他勉励大家，为实现强国梦、强军梦作出新贡献。（解放军报记者王士彬
Xi and Abe inspect military amid tensions over Diaoyus | South China Morning Post – Chinese and Japanese leaders inspected their troops yesterday in rival displays of military might. But analysts said the tone of the visits by Xi Jinping and Shinzo Abe to military bases was very different…The report did not name the base or give its location, but the websites of some mainland military enthusiasts and Antony Wong Dong, the president of the International Military Association in Macau, believe Xi was visiting the well-known Dingxin Military Base, 75 kilometres from the Jiuquan satellite launch centre in Gansu province.
PLA trains to fight Asian enemy allied with English-speaking ‘third force’ | South China Morning Post– It could have been just another routine military drill with the pseudo enemy’s jets retreating. But then the pilots of the People’s Liberation Army were caught off guard by chatter over the radio – in English. By the time they had figured out that they had to confront a third party, their field command – an early-warning plane – had already been shot down, the PLA Daily reported. Analysts said the inclusion of an English-speaking third party in PLA drills was aimed at sending a message that the Chinese military is preparing for possible intervention by the United States if China clashes militarily with neighbouring countries over territorial disputes.
The Jamestown Foundation: Manila Ups the Ante in the South China Sea– In a surprise move on January 22, the Philippine government informed the Chinese embassy in Manila that it unilaterally would submit the two countries’ overlapping jurisdictional claims in the South China Sea to international legal arbitration at the United Nations (UN). Manila’s audacious move is a major development in the long running dispute as it marks the first time one of the Southeast Asian parties has resorted to legal means to challenge China’s expansive claims. If the UN tribunal decides to hear the case, any ruling it issues will have wide-ranging legal, political and strategic implications.
UCSD IGCC » Just Published: The Chinese Defense Economy Takes Off – This collection of fifteen policy briefs explores how China has made such impressive military technological progress over the past few years, what is in store, and what are the international security implications. The briefs are summaries of a series of longer research papers presented at the third annual Chinese defense economy conference held by the Study of Innovation and Technology in China in July 2012. The conference brought together many of the world’s leading analysts of the Chinese defense economy, including representation from China, Russia, and Taiwan.
Commentary: Chuck Hagel and China | The National Interest– too bad no one cared about China in the confirmation hearing// There is thus no room for doubt where Hagel stands on this key issue. He is a China dove—and one can assume that he will help President Obama reign in those in the Pentagon who see China as a threatening adversary and are making moves that, however inadvertently, slide the United States toward a new Cold—if not shooting—War with China. Amitai Etzioni served as a senior advisor to the Carter White House; taught at Columbia University, Harvard and The University of California at Berkeley; and is a university professor and professor of international relations at The George Washington University.
HONG KONG, MACAO AND TAIWAN
Taiwan Premier Chen Quits After Rally Calls for Him to Step Down – Bloomberg – Taiwan Premier Sean Chen stepped down less than three weeks after thousands rallied against the government calling for him to take responsibility for weak economic growth under President Ma Ying-jeou. The resignation was due to family and health reasons and Chen will be succeeded by Vice Premier Jiang Yi-Huah after the Lunar New Year, presidential spokesman Fan-Chiang Tai-chi said today. Taiwan stocks were little changed.
TECH AND MEDIA
Fei Chang Dao: Sichuan Bans Domestic Map Web Sites From Linking to Foreign Maps – Article 33. Internet mapping service enterprises may not upload, copy, link to, distribute, or utilize maps that have not obtained a government-issued serial number, and may not provide links to overseas Internet mapping services.
How Qihoo is Committing Fraud–TechInAsia– TechInAsia should expect to hear from qihoo over this headline// I suppose a warning from the government is better than nothing, but pretending to be Microsoft in order to spread your own software doesn’t just sound like unfair competition to me, it sounds like fraud. In fact, it is fraud, at least going by the dictionary definition. I’m not sure what Chinese law has to say on the subject, but if what Qihoo is doing is currently legal, it should not be, and if it isn’t legal, the company should be prosecuted, not just warned.
Qihoo 360 Open to Buying Stakes in Smaller Rivals, CEO Zhou Says – Bloomberg – Qihoo, which earns most of its revenue by selling ads through its browser and free anti virus software, brands itself as a “disruptive innovator,” and has fought legal battles with Yahoo! China, Tencent Holdings and Baidu. Qihoo will hire hundreds of engineers to focus on development of its mobile browser, cloud and mobile-search functions, Zhou said. The company’s biggest focus this year will be developing its mobile applications. “People ask me what will overthrow 360, thinking it’s either Baidu or Tencent or the copycats,” Zhou said. “I think it’s the migration of computers to mobile devices.”
Fei Chang Dao: Great Firewall Engineer Han Weili Calls for Job Applications – On January 26, the web site of the state-sponsored Yunnan Information Daily published an article entitled “Fudan Professor Publicly Calls for Applications for Great Firewall Employees” [复旦老师公开招长城防火墙员工]. Some excerpts:
SOCIETY, ART, SPORTS, CULTURE AND HISTORY
Xu Liangying, 92, Scientist and Democracy Advocate – NYTimes.com – Xu Liangying, a scientist and an advocate of democracy in China who was renowned for translating the works of Albert Einstein while banished to the countryside for denouncing Mao Zedong’s purge of intellectuals, died on Monday in Beijing. He was 92.
Q&A: The New Yorker’s Evan Osnos on Li Liao, Investigative Journalism, and Chinese Art | Artinfo– Shortly after the opening of “ON|OFF”, the survey of 50 young artists at the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, one of the participating artists, Li Liao, was interviewed by the New Yorker’s China correspondent, Evan Osnos. It’s excellent international exposure for a young Chinese artist in an unusual forum ― Osnos tends to write about headline news, not arts and culture journalism. So what’s the connection? Li’s work dovetails nicely with one of the biggest China news stories last year. His installation “Consumption” is an iPad Mini that displays video of Li’s experience working in a Foxconn factory where the devices are manufactured. He worked at the factory for 45 days, the time it took him to buy the tablet with his wages.
Metropolitan Museum Collaborates With Chinese Museum – NYTimes.com – THE NATIONAL MUSEUM OF CHINA, which opened two years ago to much fanfare as the Communist Party unveiled this mammoth showpiece to project its cultural ambitions, has now taken another step in trying to establish its legitimacy in the art world. The museum, reinvented from past incarnations and criticized by some for its party-approved depictions of modern Chinese history, on Friday will open an exhibition of nature-theme works from the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. It is the first large-scale exhibition that the National Museum has put on with the Met, and it is being hailed by both sides as a major expression of the growing cultural exchange between China and the United States.
Online Cynicism Deepens After Another Bridge in China Collapses | Tea Leaf Nation– User @卤煮小爷 commented, “Everyone take a look and see if the work safety supervisor is wearing a watch.” This is Internet code for a call to ferret out corruption; in 2012, a safety official named Yang Dacai was caught by Weibo users grinning incongruously at the site of a massive traffic accident that killed 36. After his picture went viral on Chinese social media, Web sleuths discovered that he owned a luxury watch collection and designer wardrobe beyond what a public servant should be able to afford. He was dubbed “brother watch” by the online community, and soon after fired. But in this case, the work safety supervisor was either genuinely moved or well-versed in Weibo culture. He was photographed crying at the site of the collapsed bridge, wearing a military-style overcoat that in contemporary China is generally associated with migrant workers. Many Weibo users, however, were not convinced. @长孙公主Schwein wrote, “Is he crying because he’s scared he’ll lose his job? Or just putting on an act? And look at that overcoat — who does he think he’s fooling!”
ENERGY, ENVIRONMENT AND HEALTH
Sinopec to sell cleaner gasoline in 2014 – Xinhua | English.news.cn– Sinopec Corp., Asia’s biggest oil refiner, has said it is upgrading desulphurization facilities and will supply cleaner oil products from 2014 over public concerns about oil quality.p Sinopec said in statement on Friday that it will build upgraded desulphurization facilities in 12 refineries by the end of 2013 and will sell oil products that meet the national 4 standard for pollutant emissions. China has no country-wide standard on sulphur content in gasoline, and such standards currently vary by region. Beijing is the only city in China to have adopted the national 5 standard, equal to the Euro V vehicle emissions standard, which caps sulphur content below 10 ppm (parts per million).
Self-developed nuclear reactor ready for export |Economy |chinadaily.com.cn– China’s self-developed nuclear reactor, known as the CAP1400, will be ready for export this year, an executive from State Nuclear Power Technology Corp said on Friday. The design of CAP1400 is based on the AP1000 reactor made by Westinghouse Electric Co. The AP1000 is known for its third-generation nuclear technology, with higher unit efficiency than older models and an optimized layout.
China’s Environmental Protection Racket – China Real Time Report – WSJ– According to a series of newspaper reports, online versions of which appear to have vanished into the country’s not-so-thin air, more than 30 environmental and other officials from the Nantong area were implicated in a scandal that involves bribery and turning a blind eye to pollution problems. Thanks to the reporting of the Shanghai-based China Business News (in Chinese here and here), it’s now fairly clear that Nantong environmental officials were running something closer to an environmental protection racket. The newspaper, which had been following the story since the summer of last year, reported earlier this month that the scandal had reached the highest level of the local environmental protection bureau. Contacted by the Wall Street Journal, an official with the Nantong Environmental Protection Bureau was unable to elaborate beyond the official posting on the Nantong discipline inspection committee’s website, which stated that former bureau director Lu Boxin was found guilty of accepting bribes and sentenced to 12 years in prison (in Chinese).
FOOD AND TRAVEL
Hainan Airlines to begin direct Chicago flights|Top Stories|chinadaily.com.cn – what about Beijing-Honolulu?//Hainan Airlines on Monday announced that it will begin a nonstop service between Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport and Beijing in early September. Hainan will fly Airbus A330-200 aircraft configured for “premium” business and coach classes on the route. Starting Sept 3, there will be two flights – one in each direction – every Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday, for a total of eight a week. Flight 498 will depart O’Hare at 3:30 pm Chicago time and arrive at 6:40 pm the following day; Flight 497 is scheduled to leave Beijing at 1:20 pm and land at O’Hare at 1:30 pm the same day.
A Boutique Retreat in Beijing’s 798 Art District – NYTimes.com – Rooms start at 850 renminbi (about $140, at 6 renminbi to the dollar), plus service charge…This 30-room boutique hotel, which was the Yi House Hotel until the Grace Hotels Group bought it and reopened it in late 2011, embodies both eccentric and luxe well.
China Focus: 48 die in road accidents amid holiday travel rush – Xinhua | English.news.cn– Four road accidents in the past two days have claimed at least 48 lives amid China’s Spring Festival travel rush that started last week. The latest accident occurred Saturday morning in southwest China’s Guizhou Province, when an overloaded coach turned over and crashed along a 100-meter slope, killing 13 people and injuring 21 others.
Fireworks Truck Explodes on Bridge in China – NYTimes.com – HONG KONG — A truck laden with fireworks exploded on an elevated expressway in central China on Friday, unleashing a blast that threw vehicles 30 yards to the ground below and killing at least nine people, state news reports said.
Earl Grey descendants sell English tea to China | Reuters– The Tregothnan estate in the southwestern English county of Cornwall started selling tea from its tiny plantation in 2005 and last year produced about 10 metric tons (11.023 tons) of tea and infusions. Although a drop in the ocean of global tea production, which the UK Tea Council estimated to be about 4.3 million metric tons, Tregothnan has found
BOOKS AND LITERATURE
‘Sandalwood Death’ and ‘Pow!’ by Mo Yan – NYTimes.com– To demand that Mo Yan also be a political dissident is not only what the Dutch describe as “trying to pluck feathers from a frog.” It’s also unfair. A novelist should be judged on literary merit, not on his or her politics, a principle the Nobel committee hasn’t always lived up to. This time, I think it has. It would be nice if Mo Yan were more courageous, but he has given us some great stories. And that should be enough. Ian Buruma is Henry R. Luce professor of democracy, human rights and journalism at Bard College.
Sandalwood Death: Mo Yan, Howard Goldblatt: Amazon – This powerful novel by Mo Yan—one of contemporary China’s most famous and prolific writers—is both a stirring love story and an unsparing critique of political corruption during the final years of the Qing Dynasty, China’s last imperial epoch. Sandalwood Death is set during the Boxer Rebellion (1898–1901)—an anti-imperialist struggle waged by North China’s farmers and craftsmen in opposition to Western influence. Against a broad historical canvas, the novel centers on the interplay between its female protagonist, Sun Meiniang, and the three paternal figures in her life.
Civil Servant’s Notebook: Wang Xiaofang: Amazon – read the original a few years ago, entertaining. translation done by one of the top translators in Beijing// A northeastern city in Dongzhou province needs a new Mayor, and there are plenty of hungry candidates eager for the top job. And as the mandarins of the local Communist Party go through the motions of selecting their candidate, the secretive corridors of government are awash with insinuation and subterfuge. Dangerous factions begin to form around the two contenders and longstanding rivals, the Vice-Mayors Liu Yihe and Peng Guoliang. Devious plots, seduction, and bribery are all on the table in a no-holds-barred scramble for political prestige and personal gain
‘Bureaucracy Lit’ in China – NYTimes.com – It might seem surprising that China allows the publication of such books…However, as China undergoes a transition of power, censors have tightened their grip. Wang has not put out a new book in two years, with publishers refusing to release his three most recent novels. Despite tighter censorship over the last couple of years, since the 2009 introduction of China’s microblog service, Weibo, Chinese Internet users have been awash in a tidal wave of scandals, usually involving some combination of misbehaving officials, naked women, blackmail and luxury goods…the literary conundrum running parallel to China’s warp-speed development and culture of impunity is that real life outpaces fiction in its absurdity. China’s authors, already marginalized by strict censorship, may risk irrelevance.
Spying for the People: Mao’s Secret Agents 1949-1968 by Michael Schoenhals: Amazon – Since the end of the Cold War, the operations of secret police informers have come under the media spotlight and it is now common knowledge that vast internal networks of spies in the Soviet Union and East Germany were directed by the Communist Party. By contrast, very little historical information has been available on the covert operations of the security services in Mao Zedong’s China. However, as Michael Schoenhals reveals in this intriguing and sometimes sinister account, public security was a top priority for the founders of the People’s Republic and agents were recruited from all levels of society to ferret out ‘counter-revolutionaries’. On the basis of hitherto classified archival records, the book tells the story of a vast surveillance and control apparatus through a detailed examination of the cultivation and recruitment of agents, their training and their operational activities across a twenty-year period from 1949 to 1967.