The Sinocism China Newsletter For 04.17.13

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

One Chinese national was killed (China Daily) in the Boston terror attack. Phoenix TV says she was a student from Shenyang–一沈阳女孩在波士顿爆炸中遇难(Pictures). Xi Jinping sent condolences to Obama over the bombings (Xinhua).

The Financial Times has two interesting stories about debt in China. In Debt threat to China’s financial system Jamil Anderlini writes:

In the wake of the first-quarter dip, fears of an imminent financial crash have proliferated. But a cursory examination of how China works should help put those fears to rest for now…

Credit intensity figures in China show that more and more loans are now needed to drive lower and lower growth rates and that suggests the old games of the late 1990s are back in vogue.

It is hard to envision a calamitous collapse in the Chinese financial system, but a slow erosion is probably already under way.

At this point a “slow erosion” may be the best we can hope for, though more than a few analysts argue that China may have a hard time avoiding a “Minsky Moment”; i.e a “sudden major collapse of asset values”. Anderlini, and others, essentially argue that China’s political economy and closed system will help it avoid a Minsky Moment. I tend to agree, though it is hard to believe the economy will not get uglier before it gets better.

Simon Rabinovitch writes in China local authority debt ‘out of control’ that:

A senior Chinese auditor has warned that local government debt is “out of control” and could spark a bigger financial crisis than the US housing market crash.

Zhang Ke said his accounting firm, ShineWing, had all but stopped signing off on bond sales by local governments as a result of his concerns…

“It is already out of control,” Mr Zhang said. “A crisis is possible. But since the debt is being rolled over and is long-term, the timing of its explosion is uncertain.”…

Beijing has taken steps to control bond issuance by the local governments’ investment companies. In December, the finance ministry barred them from injecting public assets such as hospitals and schools into the special purpose vehicles they use to sell bonds.

Beijing appears to have eased off a little on the measures to control local government debt, as Caixin reports in policy revision is more lenient on lending to financing platforms:

A revised policy regarding platform loans shows the China Banking Regulatory Commission (CBRC) is taking a step back from its original plan and treating lending to local government financing platforms with greater leniency.

The revision was announced on April 9, about one month after the draft was released for feedback from local banks and financial regulators.

These adjustments reflect the central government’s concern that local governments not be cut off from financing sources all at once, said Li Yang, vice president of Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

Where is the monetary methadone and how can Beijing administer it without doing more damage?

Beijing has so far dashed hopes for another large-scale stimulus, as the Economic Observer reports in False start: urbanization drive fails to meet expectations:

“Over the past three decades, enterprises have gotten used to new government leaders aiming high and going all out by releasing all kinds of new loans,” Ge said. “This has been the case every time. The enterprises have been spoiled.”

As the economy started to recover at the end of last year, steel companies started a new round of production. “At that time many steel companies were blindly restocking,” said Hu Yanping (胡艳萍), a steel analyst with Custeel…

The source from Shougang Changzhi Iron & Steel also found that many of the infrastructure projects expected to drive steel consumption were unable to get off the ground. “These projects have all been approved by the National Development & Reform Commission (NDRC),” he said. “But in terms of bank loans, it’s still very tight. A lack of funding has prevented these projects from taking off.” …

…almost every province put forward plans for developing large cities.  Hunan, for instance, made plans to construct six “big cities” and six “very big cities” by 2015. Even some small and medium-sized cities have put forward plans for becoming mega-cities or international metropolises. “To a large degree, this enhanced some investors’ optimism about the economic recovery’s momentum,” the source from Shougang Changzhi Iron & Steel said.

However, much of that optimism was killed when Premier Li Keqiang said in mid-January that new urbanization must follow the path of low-energy use and ecological conservation. Then, during the Two Sessions in March, president Xi Jinping told a Jiangsu delegation that urbanization must respect economic and social development laws. He said neither development that’s too fast nor too slow will work, and that the most important thing is the quality of urbanization.

Conspiracy theories are always popular in China. When will we start hearing that the 2008 Financial Crash was actually a Western plot designed to elicit a panicked response that would create a massive debt bubble in China and slow the country’s progress towards national rejuvenation?

Ordos is the the poster child for overbuilding and ghost cities in China. Two filmmakers are working on a documentary about how the city is absorbing the new construction and they have taken to Kickstarter to raise money for the project. I really want to see the The Land of Many Palaces made and so have donated, albeit a very modest amount.

Today’s Links:


China confirms 77 H7N9 cases, 16 deaths China Daily–During the period from 6 pm on Monday to 8 pm Tuesday, China confirmed 14 new cases of H7N9 avian influenza, with two more death reported in Shanghai. // 北京禽流感患儿康复回家 父母结束7天医学观察_新闻_腾讯网 7 year old Beijing girl who contracted H7N9 has returned home from the hospital after 7 days of treatment // It’s Not SARS: Reasons to Stay Calm About Bird Flu – Bloomberg It remains urgent that scientists keep searching for any signs of human-to-human transmission. Flu experts from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Hong Kong have been invited to China, according to Bloomberg News, to help figure out where this bug came from and how it’s being passed around. Although H7N9 remains cause for worry, the truly global response, this time with China taking the lead, should be a source of comfort. // Bird Flu Fears Mount in China as Herbal Remedies Run Out – Bloomberg Ban lan gen is the root of a flowering plant known as dyer’s woad or indigo woad, and found in southeastern Europe, central Asia and eastern Siberia. The roots are dried and often processed into granules, which consumers ingest dissolved in hot water or tea. According to traditional Chinese medicine, which seeks to balance heat and cold in the body, the root can help clear the heat triggered by a viral attack, Shen said.

China Suggests U.S. Is Stirring Tensions in Asia – Dennis J. Blasko, a former United States defense attaché at the American Embassy in Beijing, said the number of navy service members listed in the paper was lower than he and others had estimated. It was generally thought that the navy had 255,000 to 290,000 members, depending on the source, he said. And the number for the air force was higher than previous estimates of 300,000 to 330,000, he said. He also pointed out that the People’s Armed Police was not included in the tallies; those officers belong to a different chain of command. The paper contained little information of importance to knowledgeable readers, said Mr. Blasko, the author of “The Chinese Army Today: Tradition and Transformation for the 21st Century.” // Full Text: The Diversified Employment of China’s Armed Forces – People’s Daily OnlineBEIJING, April 16 (Xinhua)  // 中国武装力量的多样化运用 – 新华军事 – 新华网 新华网北京4月16日电中国武装力量的多样化运用(2013年4月) 中华人民共和国国务院新闻办公室 //  China Voice: Diversified employment of armed forces guarantees the “Chinese Dream” – Xinhua | For both its own security and regional stability, China has thousands of reasons to employ its armed forces where the country’s national interests reach and need. Diversified threats have warranted the missions that China’s armed forces will carry out. Based on those changes and the new situation China faces, it put forward the thought of the diversified employment of the armed forces, in a bid to better safeguard the country’s territorial sovereignty and development interests. The new thought is a guarantee for the realization of the “Chinese Dream,” the ambition that Chinese President Xi Jinping has interpreted as the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.// note that the official translation of 中国梦 is “Chinese Dream”, not “China dream”   // White paper outlines China’s air defense – Xinhua | China said in its latest national defense white paper published on Tuesday that it has established an air defense force integrating reconnaissance and early warning systems, resistance, counterattack and protection. According to military experts, China’s vast territory and complications concerning airspace over neighboring countries means the nation faces an increasingly serious threat to its air security. So its armed forces have an arduous task in safeguarding Chinese airspace.

PLA Naval fleet patrols Diaoyu Islands waters – Xinhua – A fleet of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy on Wednesday morning patrolled the waters surrounding the Diaoyu Islands. The fleet comprises ships from the Nanhai Fleet of the PLA Navy.

Media pledge to uphold truth, credibility – Xinhua | China’s journalist association, 25 state media outlets and Beijing local media on Tuesday jointly pledged to contribute to the realization of the “Chinese dream” by upholding the truth and credibility of the press. Participating media outlets include the People’s Daily, Xinhua News Agency, Qiushi magazine, the People’s Liberation Army Daily, China Central Television, as well as Beijing local media outlets such as Beijing Youth Daily and Beijing Times. // quite the campaign underway about this, all over official media /人民日报-做传递正能量的新闻人(今日谈) 周人杰 //  [视频]【本台短评】做好共圆中国梦的建设者_新闻频道_央视网实现中国梦,人人都可添把力。新闻工作者要善于发现生活中的真善美,传递正能量,凝聚社会共识,做好实现中国梦的建设者。// [视频]湖北新闻工作者开展“我是建设者”大讨论_新闻频道_央视网央视网消息(新闻联播):“媒体人是促进共圆中国梦的建设者,而不是这片土地上的过客和看客。”连日来,湖北新闻工作者展开“我是建设者”的大讨论,引发业界和社会的积极反响。// [视频]媒体倡议:为实现中国梦传递正能量_新闻频道_央视网央视网消息(新闻联播):今天上午,中国记协在北京召开“我为实现中国梦 传递正能量”的主题讨论会,并同中央主要新闻单位和部分重点新闻网站、首都新闻单位等25家媒体共同发出“以强烈的社会责任感 为实现中国梦传递正能量”的倡议。// Why is China Still Messing with the Foreign Press? | ChinaFile Conversation because they wont make pledges “to contribute to the realization of the “Chinese dream””, be constructive and broadcast positive energy//  Orville Schell–It strikes me that, just as we have behind the scenes, off-the-record discussions on a host of bi-lateral problems from North Korea to trade, it is time we had such a bi-lateral caucus between media stakeholders in both the U.S. and China. Whoever is right or wrong, the alienation of the foreign media from a story as large and significant as China, is no trifling matter. It seems to me that, especially in our new globalized world, we have reached a point where it is not enough to just wait the bad blood out. Some new, and high-level discussions between media players is long overdue.

China Tightens Press Controls, in Particular on Weibo-Caijing “Without authorization, no kind of media outlets shall arbitrarily use media release from overseas media agencies and media websites.” // A Big Enough Forest – Home – SARFT to enhance control over editors’ online activities translated the article about the regulations in full below: // 新闻总局:未经批准新闻单位不得擅自使用境外媒体信息产品-财经网《通知》要求,严格新闻单位采编活动和编审流程的管理,防止为片面追求轰动效应、发行数量、收听收视率而造成失实报道

What Happens When Asia’s Water Tower Dries Up?: Scientific American As national demand for Yunnan’s hydroelectricity and other products keeps rising, the region is losing one of its most abundant resources — water — to produce them. The province is scrambling to adopt measures that would ease water stress, with mixed results. Meanwhile, its fast-growing population and economy are adding more water security problems. Already, “when we look into the annual precipitation index we use, we can see that there has been no ‘wet’ month in Yunnan in the last four years,” said Marco Gemmer, a senior adviser of the China Meteorological Administration in Beijing. “The length and intensity of the drought is larger than we have recorded in the past 60 years,” he added.

Former soccer commentator Li Chengpeng makes a political pitch | South China Morning Post For Li Chengpeng, the transition from football commentary to withering critiques of society was easy, given how much the two have in common

LVMH Falls in Paris as Fashion Sales Gain Slowest Since 2009 – Bloomberg Frugality bites, will keep biting// Sales at Louis Vuitton, the company’s largest brand, were “flattish” in China in the first quarter, with shopper numbers down in most shopping malls, Chief Financial Officer Jean- Jacques Guiony said today on a conference call. Spending by Japanese tourists fell as Paris-based LVMH raised prices, he said. The shares declined 3.8 percent. // Slower China Growth Signals Days of Miracles Are Waning – The dour mood is reflected in China’s art. Painter Fang Lijun’s bright, oversize heads once characterized frothy times. Now in vogue are canvasses from painters like Wang Taocheng, whose scrolls depict neighbors bickering over money. The frugality campaign comes amid a broad realization that the scale of China’s economic expansion will be difficult to repeat. China’s total output of goods and services last year was almost nine times what it was in 1990. // not convinced this is behind slowdown in part of contemporary art market..broader shift in art market underway, towards traditional and modern ink. 



Baby food stockpiling in China shields Danone from deteriorating European demand – Quartz Danone is making a killing off China’s ongoing struggle with tainted foods. Baby food sales rose a whopping 17%, buoyed by China’s infant formula-hoarding. Meanwhile, the company said that Chinese demand for bottled water was a top growth-driver, as well. Demand for those products is driven by concerns about extreme pollution and tainted food products.

Railway Investment Rises in Q1 – Caixin Investment in railway infrastructure in the first quarter rose more than one-fourth on the same period last year, a source at the new China Railway Corp. said. Some 54.5 billion yuan was invested in new lines in the first quarter, the source said, up 28 percent compared to the same period in 2012. Some 29.4 billion yuan was spent in March.

LDK Delinquency Flags Chance of Another Solar Bust: China Credit – Bloomberg LDK Solar Ltd. (LDK)’s failure to fully pay notes this week has raised the prospect of China’s second solar-industry failure this year as the company needs to repay a loan 10 times larger by June. The world’s second-biggest maker of wafers that convert sunlight into power couldn’t repay all of the $23.8 million of dollar-denominated convertible bonds that matured on April 15, according to a company statement yesterday.

Underwriter caught up in stock scandal |Op-Ed Contributors | China’s stock market has been hit by another scandal involving a company that inflated its books to be listed. While the company, Wanfu Biotechnology (Hunan) Agricultural Development Co Ltd, and relevant intermediary agencies must receive their due punishments, regulators must reflect on how such a fraudulent company managed to get through the IPO procedure. The China Securities Regulatory Commission said on April 3 that investigations showed the company started falsifying its books as early as 2008 in preparation for its listing, which was completed in 2011.

人民日报-完善机制,国企凤凰涅槃(新国企 新起点之三:机制篇) 本报记者 鲍 丹 3rd in People’s daily page 1 series on SOEs// 著名国际管理咨询公司麦肯锡在“对中国国企重新评估”的报告中认为,中国的国有企业与私营企业的界限已经变得相当模糊,中国的国有企业特别是中央企业比私营企业更加开放,能够成为全球跨国企业更好的合作伙伴。逆水行舟、不进则退。如今国有企业面临比十年前更复杂、更激烈的市场竞争环境,国企改革也进入深水区,要想继续破浪前行,必须充分尊重市场经济规律和企业发展规律、继续推进内部机制改革。

中信证券固定收益部门高管被查_财经频道_一财网 CITIC Securities fixed income dept exec under investigation says first financial// 继万家基金邹昱后,中信证券固收部执行总经理杨辉也被调查;所涉问题待明确,债市交易潜规则浮出水面。

北京新房项目价格停止上涨_经济新闻_新京报电子报 primary and secondary real estate transaction in beijing plummet after new rules enacted 4.1// 新房日均网签量比3月降近四成,二手房降八成;部分中介门店二手房4月上半月零成交、低成交



Political symbolism: Mourning for Hu | The Economist The 25th anniversary next year of Hu’s death and of the Tiananmen crackdown will make it particularly difficult for the authorities to keep discussion of the two issues apart. Since Mr Xi came to power there has been no indication that he wants a re-evaluation of the official verdict that the unrest led to “counter-revolutionary rioting” that had to be put down with force. This year, as usual, relatives of those killed were given warnings not to take part in any commemorative activities during the Qingming festival in early April, when Chinese traditionally honour the dead.

快讯:铁岭监狱长、副监狱长被免职–法治–人民网 Tieling Prison warden and deputy warden fired after recent corruption exposes..Tieling is a special place in Chinese politics, launching pad for Wang Lijun among other things// 人民网北京4月16日电  记者从辽宁省监狱管理局获悉,铁岭监狱长和副监狱长已被免职。辽宁省监狱管理局纪委监察处处长喻国强接任铁岭监狱长。

‘Spring’ in the air for NGOs?[1]| Last month’s National People’s Congress, the most important annual event in the country’s political calendar, brought some welcome news. Four types of NGO – industrial associations, charities, community services and organizations dedicated to the promotion of technology – will soon be allowed to register directly and without the need to find a government backer. It’s expected that details of the new registration policy will be unveiled by the end of the year. NGOs have greeted the news with cautious optimism, but they admit to concerns about the implementation of the new policy and the limited scope of direct registration. Meanwhile, academics regard the new rules as an indication of the new leadership’s vision of the State’s relationship with society, and of its intention to extend the roles played by NGOs and individuals in the world’s second-largest economy.

New rules for NGOs to improve operations[1]| China is set to issue revised administrative regulations by the end of 2013 that will remove what is arguably the biggest obstacle to launch an NGO on the mainland, a senior official from the Ministry of Civil Affairs told China Daily in an exclusive interview. The legislative amendment is expected to assist the registration of hundreds of thousands of NGOs. The amendment will also articulate rules for overseas NGOs to set up branches, and for expats to launch NGOs on the Chinese mainland, Wang Jianjun, director of the Bureau of Administration of NGOs under the ministry, told China Daily.



China Set to Deepen North Korea Ties as Yalu River Bridge Rises – Bloomberg On a recent visit to Dandong, a city of 2.4 million people, Chinese traders said their biggest concern is increasingly savvy North Korean businesses driving down prices on clothing and other consumer goods, not government restrictions on commerce. They expressed little fear that United Nations sanctions targeting North Korea’s economy would limit their business or threaten a bilateral trade relationship that grew to $5.6 billion in 2012. “The political situation hasn’t had a big impact on trade,” Yu Hao, 43, who oversees customs for Dandong Import & Export Co., said at his office, located on a narrow street lined with Korean restaurants and massage parlors. “Trade suffers because of the price. The North Koreans understand too much now about China and that pushes down profit.”

Laos’ Mammoth Train Project a Fast Track to Debt and Despair | Change is coming to sleepy Laos in the form of a $7.2 billion railway, set to carve its way through this war-ravaged nation. The costs are to be borne by the Laotian government, courtesy of a Chinese loan amounting to a staggering 86% of Laos’ annual $8.3 billion GDP.

U.S.-China Nuclear Silence Leaves a Void – Some U.S. officials and analysts say they now detect a shift in China’s position, pointing out that it has backed U.N. sanctions against North Korea, kept quiet about the recent U.S. dispatch of B-2 bombers and F-22 fighter jets to South Korea and allowed unusually direct criticism of Pyongyang in state-controlled its media. But the prevailing view among Chinese military experts is that Beijing cannot prevent Pyongyang from developing nuclear weapons, even if it cuts off all economic assistance. Those experts calculate that North Korea is unlikely to provoke a war on the peninsula as it would almost certainly lose, and a nuclear-armed North Korea is preferable to a hostile leadership there, a complete regime collapse or rapprochement with the South.



Kaifu Lee: Rumors of Weibo’s Death Are Exaggerated–TechInAsia Qian’s post, which was retweeted over a thousand times and attracted hundreds of comments, says that Weibo is overvalued because Weibo users are fleeing the service because of real-name controls, because their private social interactions have moved elsewhere (i.e., to WeChat), and because they’re very sensitive to advertising (which makes monetization difficult). Kaifu Lee disagrees: Sina Weibo activity has gone down, but the gloomy predictions are greatly exaggerated: 1) the fact that Weibo is being so tightly controlled shows that it has vitality; 2) with regard to private interactions moving elsewhere, Sina Weibo was never really the place for that in the first place, so that’s not much of a loss; 3) to deal with user opposition to advertising, Sina can try user behavioral analysis along with targeted ads and e-commerce integration. Of course whether or not that will work depends on how it’s implemented.

PLA Colonel Dai Xu accuses Kaifu Lee of being a CIA agent: ShanghaiistPLA colonel Dai Xu, last seen claiming that H7N9 bird flu is an American bio-psychological weapon, has taken to his Weibo again, this time to accuse Innovation Works head Kaifu Lee of being a CIA agent. // Innovation Works LPs paying attention yet? Kaifu Lee may have crossed the Chinese social media Rubicon

枭雄的告别 – 经济观察网 - 专业财经新闻网站 EEO on Shi Yuzhu..fascinating person// 导语:对于这个饱受争议的人,人们一边羡慕他的果断魄力,一边又嘲笑他的好大喜功;人们一边赞美他给游戏业带来了新的商业奇迹,一边又怒斥他在游戏中颠覆了人性的道德底线;人们一边给自己的父母买脑白金帮助睡眠,一边又大骂其广告不胜其烦。



Shanghai postgrad dies after alleged poisoning by roommate – Xinhua | A postgraduate student in Shanghai died Tuesday, more than two weeks after he drank water that was allegedly poisoned by his roommate. Huang Yang, 28, in his third year at Fudan University’s medical school, died at about 3:23 p.m. at Zhongshan Hospital, the university said in a statement.

Feature: Revered and reviled: film traces legendary war reporter from New Zealand to China – Xinhua | earned his fame by telling the truth as he saw it from the world’s war zones — and invited the wrath of some of the most powerful people in the world. Now Peter Arnett teaches young journalism students in the city of Shantou, in south China’s Guangdong Province. And soon the iconic New Zealander, who ushered in the era of live television war reporting during the first Gulf War in 1991, will be the subject of a feature-length documentary.



China’s gas market to stay buoyant in low-growth scenario China’s economy slowed unexpectedly in the first quarter of the year, expanding by only 7.7% as slackening factory output and tightening in the property sector dashed hopes for a reacceleration. But the country’s booming gas market looks to be largely immune to the general malaise, with fuel-switching from oil to gas in China’s transportation sector set to cushion demand against substantial downside risks. “The slowdown will have an impact on the overall energy situation, but it will not impact on natural gas,” Lin Boqiang, director of the China Centre for Energy Economics Research in Xiamen University, told Interfax. “The Chinese government is desperate to reduce the sale of coal. So, I think the economic slowdown is going to affect the energy demand – by reducing coal – but it will not affect natural gas.”

京沈高铁环评乱象:同意送礼物 不同意不发问卷 环评公众参与调查存争议环保部要求重新上报 在进入环评程序长达5个月后,新建北京至沈阳铁路客运专线(简称“京沈高铁”)仍未通过环评审批,这已经是环评单位编制的环评报告书第三次“卡壳”了。《经济参考报》记者16日独家获悉,由于公众参与调查存在不足等原因,该报告书被环保部要求补充、完善、修改后上报。多位铁路专家对该项目年内开工表示“不乐观”。多位环保专家借此呼吁,重大项目的环评制度迫切需要改革,环保门槛绝不能成为“摆设”。

中国水务董事长回应水价涨10倍:价不够高不节约|水价|中国水务|涨价_新浪财经_新浪网 本报北京4月16 日电  (记者陈仁泽)中国水务投资有限公司(下称中国水务)董事长王文珂今天表示,“水价提高”之说是基于中国的水质现状不容乐观,包括在很多领域仍然存在较为严重的水的浪费现象,意在呼吁公众和社会增强节水意识,并非简单理解成水价现在要提高多少倍,也不存在现在要确定水价多少钱一吨的问题,同时中国水务也无任何水价调整计划。



China’s toxic harvest: Growing tainted food in “cancer villages” | “There are a lot of sad stories of pollution victims all over China,” says Ma Tianjie, who works for Greenpeace China. In a recent trip to Xinglong, the village where the Wu family lives, Ma found at least 30 other villagers among 500 who had been diagnosed with cancer. Even the government has started referring to these places as cancer villages.



北京出租车份儿钱将动态调整 定期公布标准_新闻_腾讯网 本市将推出一揽子综合措施,努力在一两年之内,使打车难状况得到明显改观,其中部分改革措施在出租汽车行业管理中带有“革命性”。比如出租车一直以来“无偿无期限”的特许经营权,将逐步统一到6年;承包金,也就是常说的“份儿钱”,要制定改革措施,明确“净承包金”的含义;改变“中国式打的”—— “招手停、扫马路”的业态运营模式,推广电召服务。




HRsmart Solutions – Regional Educational Advising Coordinator, Beijing, China – (662)The Regional Educational Advising Coordinator (REAC) for China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Mongolia region provides professional leadership and support to the EducationUSA network of advising centers in this area (subject to change) to foster international student mobility and advance the U.S. Government’s public diplomacy efforts.  In close consultation with ECA/A/S/A, the REAC counsels Public Affairs Sections on student mobility issues and advising programs and provides guidance and training to advisers and host institutions.  He/she receives policy guidance from ECA/A/S/A and Public Affairs Sections.

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