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I am heading to the US this afternoon for 11 days. Posting will be sporadic and probably shorter through January 2. There has been a noticeable drop off in English-language coverage as foreign reporters in China go on vacation, but other than a couple of days around January 1 this is not a vacation period in China so there may be some interesting news over the next week or so.
The next dispatch will be from a Free Internet Zone, though if the world ends on 12.21 I apologize that refunds will be unavailable for the 6% of you who have supported Sinocism.
Yesterday’s newsletter noted that Caijing, one of China’s top business magazines, on Monday reported that the income redistribution plan would be delayed past the end of the year because of opposition by special interest groups. Caijing has deleted the original story but it is still available on many sites (Google Search for 收入分配改革方案再延期). We will know within 12 days if the story were wrong or just “sensitive”.
China’s Southern Metropolis Weekly (version of Chinese story here) recently ran a remarkably in-depth story about Wang Lijun. The South China Morning Post is excerpting and examining it in a series, and the first two entries are online at The real Wang Lijun revealed in magazine exposé and In Bo Xilai’s torture chamber.
The depth of the corruption and lawlessness is shocking even to the most cynical. Wang has already been sentenced, Bo Xilai has not, and he allowed this to happen. The steady reporting in the Chinese press of Chongqing misdeeds probably does not bode well for Bo at his eventual trial.
The latest issue of Caijing Magazine has a very interesting essay about Xi Jinping’s trip to Guangdong and what it means for reform. Zhou Ruijin (周瑞金), former Vice Editor-in-chief of the People’s Daily, is very positive about the resolve to reform but says that “struggles among different interest groups now are even more prominent than the ideological battles waged in China three decades ago.”
Caijing has published a very abridged translation of the essay in Xi’s Shenzhen Tour Aims to Revive Reform Courage:
The biggest problem here is not the wealth and income gap between rich and poor, and between government officials and ordinary people; rather, it is that the dividing lines between different social stratums seem to have become almost impossible to cross. Divisions among interest groups are increasingly obvious; meanwhile, opaque “game rules” and injustice have all but halted social mobility. Special interest groups have gradually consolidated their status, while ordinary people lose incentives to climb up the social ladder. Struggles among different interest groups now are even more prominent than the ideological battles waged in China three decades ago…
The remarks Xi made during his tour to Shenzhen indicate that the top leadership has the political courage to conquer the serious challenges China faces, is determined to break down idealistic and ideological barriers, and aims to dismantle the fences guarding interest groups.
Some people have a bit of hope again. Now Xi needs to meet the expectations he has so quickly raised.
US Ambassador Locke participated in an interesting panel at the Asia Society with George Stephanopoulos and Orville Schell. One comment highlighted by the Asia Society summary could be seen as a bit of a rebuke of Japan’s nationalization of the Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands:
For instance over the Diaoyutai or Senkaku islands, the dispute with Japan on these islands, the Chinese believe that the United States supports Japan and even put Japan up to the purchase of the island, simply because we have a treaty with Japan. … We have defense treaties with many other countries, that doesn’t mean we agree with the actions of all of our allies. Trying to make that differentiation has been very difficult.
A new study (China Daily) by Peking University’s School of Public Health and Greenpeace concludes that air pollution kills thousands of Chinese a year and costs billions of RMB:
An estimated 8,572 premature deaths occurred in four major Chinese cities this year due to high levels of PM2.5, a study has found.
The report also said severe air pollution in Shanghai, Guangzhou, Xi’an and Beijing has led to a total economic loss of 6.8 billion yuan ($1.09 billion).The study released on Tuesday by looked at the health and economic impact of PM2.5, particulate matter smaller than 2.5 micrometers in diameter.
Over the last few days the world has lost two top foreign China scholars. Richard Baum (Renowned China watcher Richard Baum dies at 72-Taipei Times) and Nancy Bernkopf Tucker (Nancy Bernkopf Tucker, China specialist at Georgetown University, dies at 65 Washington Post) both died from cancer, way too early. Many of us have read their works, met or studied with them. They will be missed.
BUSINESS AND ECONOMY
Investors Are Most Bullish Ever on China Economic Growth – Bloomberg – expectations for XI too high? More investors than ever say they are bullish about China’s economic outlook, and more favor European rather than U.S. stocks for the first time in two years, a Bank of America Corp. monthly survey showed. A net 67 percent of money managers, who together oversee $503 billion, predicted that China’s economy will grow at a faster rate next year, the highest reading since the survey data started in 2003. Some 7 percent hold more European stocks than appear in benchmarks, the poll showed.
China Said to Set Growth Target at 7.5% for Second Year – Bloomberg – China has set its initial target for economic growth at 7.5 percent for a second year and tightened its inflation goal to the lowest level since 2010, two bank executives and a regulatory official briefed on the matter said. Policy makers said during the annual central economic work conference that ended on Dec. 16 that they aim to keep inflation at about 3.5 percent, they said, asking not to be named as they aren’t authorized to disclose the details. The government didn’t set targets for money supply or new loans at the meetings, the three bank executives said.
China Housing Data Could Lift Economy – WSJ.com– China would “unswervingly stick to the controls” it has imposed on property lending and other measures to keep housing prices in check, said a statement after an annual gathering of policy makers to set economic goals for next year. However, the statement left out the phrase “to push property prices to return to reasonable levels,” which was included in last year’s and has been stressed by outgoing Premier Wen Jiabao in various policy remarks.”Officials may have concluded that property prices have corrected and that the government is unable to guide prices any lower amid widespread improvement in home-buying sentiment,” said Johnson Hu, an analyst at CIMB Securities.
Beijing Committed to House Curbs as Property Market Remains Piping Hot-Caijing – The ministry will take concrete measures to secure sufficient supplies and stabilize price fluctuations in the land market, Liao Yonglin, director of the Department of Land Use and Administration at the MLR told a news press today. The so-called “land kings” that pay record prices for land thus pushing land prices up, will be closely watched and regulated in a bid to guard against speculations amid property boom.
央行:超六成居民认为目前房价高 29%预期房价将涨 新华社——经济参考网 – from recent PBOC survey: 66.6% of urban respondents66.6% say real estate prices too high. 29% think real estate prices will rise, up 11.3 percentage points from beginning of the year// 的居民认为目前房价“高，难以接受”，较年初下降1个百分点，低于去年同期6.2个百分点;31.3%的居民认为“可以接受”;2.1%的居民认为“令人满意”。对下季房价，预期“上涨”的居民比例为29%，较年初提高11.3个百分点
China housing sales: it’s how you count them | beyondbrics– UBS added: Such recovery in the property sector is good news for near term growth as the economy faces weak global demand and government stimulus is constrained by local government finances. However, if the rapid sales growth continues, property price increases will most likely spread and gather pace, leading to more investment and possibly overbuild, and more importantly for the government, increased discontent in the urban population again.
下月起房贷减负 100万元贷20年月供少297.83元_中国经济网??国家经济门户 – effective jan 1.1.13 most mortgage rates will drip by 50 basis points, about 300 RMB per 1m of loans in a 20 year mortgage
京最牛售楼员月卖3.4亿 “商业地产让我火了一把” – 新华财经 – 新华网– no repressive policies for commercial real estate purchases, one salesman sells 314m rmb worth of properties in beijingin 2012 , earns 1m rmb+ in commissions, heading home early for chinese new year..article an interesting look at dynamics in beijing commercial real estate market, which has boomed in many areas in beijing over last two years in terms of both price and rental growth// 随着住宅限购、写字楼租金持续上涨，地段好的商业项目普遍都很好销，你打个电话去介绍项目，常常能遇到感兴趣的人。”王军告诉记者，自己今年的客户中，有一半算是“自住”购房人，比如国投广场的客户，房源总价低，买个一、两套作为办公场地，首付成本差不多等于三年的写字楼租金。另外一半则是外地投资客，半层、整层地购买小户型，或者是像高和萃这样2000万级别的“高门槛”项目。“自从内蒙古鄂尔多斯出现民间金融危机后，从这些地方来北京买楼的人渐渐就少了。我接待的外地投资客户，主要是山西、唐山、河北等地的老板，也都是矿业生意为多。”//still lots of mine boss buyers, just not from Ordos since the financial crisis there
人民日报-发展的“灯泡”越来越亮 用电数据显示景气指数 – People’s Daily on growth in electricity usage as barometer for recovering economy..so I guess it is officially a useful stat, at least when heading in right direction…
信托监管酝酿新动作 投资者或纳入视野_财经频道_一财网 – more regulations coming for trust products. horse already out of the barn, well into the steppes already, or still time to get this under control?// 信托行业爆炸式增长所引发的潜在风险正受到监管部门的关注。在监管部门酝酿的新措施中，信托公司的客户端或被纳入视野。
China’s Muddy Waters?-Caijing – Shares of Kangmei Pharmaceutical Co, once a darling of investors, plunged by the daily trading limit of 10 percent at the open on Monday, after it was targeted by Beijing Zhongneng Xingye Investment Consulting Co., in a similar attack like Muddy Waters’s against Chinese companies.
Comac C919 Airliner Project Flying in the Dark – Caixin – Questions about confirmed aircraft orders, political influence and financial accountability are going unanswered
去年城镇居民收入是农村居民3.13倍_网易新闻中心 – 2011 avg urban income 3.13X average rural income, per new CASS report// 新京报讯 2011年，城镇居民家庭人均收入是农村居民家庭人均收入的3.13倍。该数据是中国社科院社会学所和社科文献出版社昨日联合发布的社会蓝皮书《2013年中国社会形势分析与预测》透露的。
李克强将发起新一轮农民“解放运动”_多维新闻网 – Duowei says Li Keqiang will launch a “liberation movemnet” for China’s peasants【多维新闻】中央经济工作会议在“习李新政”满月之际召开，会议由李克强主持，习近平发表讲话。多维新闻此前在《习李经济方略：还富于民去指标化》中已指出，中央经济工作会议是习李在经济领域施政思路的首次全面展现，重要性不可小觑。会议释放了一个极其重要的信号：城镇化是中国现代化建设的历史任务，也是扩大内需的最大潜力所在。这与此前李克强基本思路完全一致：中国经济必须实现结构调整和转变发展方式，调整经济结构最重要的是扩大内需，而扩大内需的最大潜力在于城镇化。由此判断，李克强将发起新一轮农民“解放运动”，彻底更新农村改革思路，最终“消灭”中国农民（更多内容见：《李克强的政治梦想：“消灭”中国农民》）。
Report: US Tops China’s No.1 Immigration Destination-Caijing – are the rich who are leaving really the elite who are good for China, or are they the ones who knew best how to use the system and then cash in their chips?// The US had become the No.1 immigration destination since 2007, attracting over 50% of the Chinese immigrants last year, according to Annual Report of Chinese International Migration (2012), the first Chinese international migration report. Last year nearly 90,000 of the 150,000 Chinese immigrants got their United States Permanent Resident Card.
POLITICS AND LAW
中共风向转变 高层商讨刘晓波释放问题_多维新闻网 – Duowei-positive changes in Dai Qing’s treatment,rumors of high-level consideration to free Liu Xiaobo//【多维新闻】在习近平上台之后，种种“新政”似乎让中国民众感到了一股与以往传统中共形象不同的气息，不仅普通民众有所感觉，一些对中共抱有成见的异见人士也感受到了这些变化。近日曾因“六四”被判监的中国异见作家戴晴就获原任职单位通知，称愿为她补办退休养老手续，这是戴晴被中共冷待23年来首见。此举令众多关注于此的人看到希望，尤其是中共的转变能否顾及到当今中国异见人士的标志性人物——刘晓波。
‘Little Hu’ Takes Over Party Post in China’s Guangdong Province – Bloomberg – Formerly party secretary of Inner Mongolia province, Hu may become a top leader in the country’s political transition a decade from now, according to political analysts including Bo Zhiyue, senior research fellow at the National University of Singapore’s East Asia Institute. His nickname is “Little Hu” for his close ties to Xi’s predecessor as party general secretary, Hu Jintao.
Senior provincial officials named |Politics |chinadaily.com.cn – Five provincial-level administrative regions got their new top officials on Tuesday, as the reshuffling of key positions within the ruling Communist Party of China continued.
New security chief stresses social justice, security – Xinhua | English.news.cn– Meng Jianzhu, a senior official of the Communist Party of China (CPC), has called on law enforcement and judicial authorities to actively respond to the public’s expectations of greater social justice and security. Meng replaced Zhou Yongkang as secretary of the Commission for Political and Legal Affairs of the CPC Central Committee in mid-November.
Shifted by officials – Globaltimes remarkable story, winds appear to be shifting on petitioners, but too slowly for many(see below)// Jiujingzhuang, run by Beijing municipal government, does have a measure of legitimacy. But there are still many illegal detention centers, or “black jails,” which illegally intercept and detain petitioners. A recent investigative report by Caijing Magazine showed that these centers are becoming increasingly well concealed. Before, the local government mainly contracted the interception job to security companies. But as the crackdown intensified following offenses by several security contractors being exposed last year, local authorities went on high alert and began hiring employees directly and renting shabby and remote buildings for detention purposes. Recently, 10 people who violently detained petitioners coming to Beijing were brought to the Chaoyang District People’s Court. Earlier in June, a group of nine people were charged for running an illegal detention center by Changping District People’s Court in Beijing. But nobody in any government position was held responsible in either case.
南京一农民进京维权_王园生_博联社 – pics of Nanjing Petitioner in Beijing who climbed to top of hospital in Beijing Tuesday, unfurled banner…lots of desperation China, like anywhere, just so many more people…
山东菏泽牡丹区潜规则：母亲不上环婴儿不落户_网易新闻中心 – a look at forced use of IUDs in heze, shandong..dont put one in, your kid wont get a hukou…“先上环后落户”成潜规则 “孩子是合法生育的第一胎，法律规定的各项手续也都齐全，可公安部门却因为我妻子不去上环，就拒绝给孩子落户。这是哪门子道理？” 喜得贵子本是人生一大乐事，可随之而来的落户难题，却让菏泽市牡丹区谢场社区的刘先生陷入了困惑和焦虑之中。
Xu Zongheng Case: A Cautionary Tale in Rent-Seeking -Caijing – former Shenzhen mayor, sentenced to death// Xu’s case once again exposed the multiple problems that arise with excessive administrative power, including overly-close ties between business and government and lack of effective supervision.
Why China’s Corruption Fight May Finally Be For Real – Economic Observer Summary：Since last month’s 18th Party Congress, cascades of officials have been put under investigation for corruption. In the past, anti-corruption cases were chosen strategically to serve as weapons in inter-factional fights or to preserve the Party’s image. This time however, the public is getting involved and the government is tacitly encouraging it.
Ezra Vogel–For China’s New Leaders, the Spirit of Deng Remains Strong | Asia Society In short, the spirit of Dengism is likely to remain strong, especially at the highest levels, trumping all the other perspectives as the leadership team endeavors to continue Deng’s successes in strengthening the nation and improving the living standards of their people.
China Arrests Hundreds of Doomsday Cult Followers in Crackdown – Bloomberg – The group, called Almighty God, held eight illegal gatherings in Qinghai province Dec. 5 and 6, and switched to handing out leaflets and hanging up banners after an initial police crackdown, CCTV reported. The group is a Christianity-inspired “evil cult” that believes the world will end Dec. 21 and is urging members to wage war against the ruling Communist Party, which it called “the big red dragon,” Chinese Business View, a newspaper based in northwestern province of Shaanxi, reported last week.
Dui Hua Human Rights Journal: China’s “Almighty God” Rises with Threat of Apocalypse For several decades, authorities in China have been trying to eliminate a quasi-Christian group that calls itself the “Church of the Almighty God.” Known also as the “Real God” church or “Eastern Lightning,” this group believes that divine revelation has identified a “female Christ” who will reign over a new age in which humankind will be judged and only believers will survive…Translated below, the recent report out of Shaanxi does not offer much detail on the group’s latest activities..It does, however, provide a useful view of how Chinese authorities define “cults” and perceive their various social harms.
FOREIGN AND DEFENSE AFFAIRS
China Uses Geology to Challenge Japan on Disputed Islands – Bloomberg – After making its first aerial incursion into Japanese-controlled airspace near disputed islands, China compounded tensions with Japan by bolstering its territorial claims at the United Nations. On Dec. 14, two days before elections in Japan, China submitted to the world body an 11-page report citing the continental shelf’s geology to claim ownership of the islands in the East China Sea, which may be surrounded by undersea oil and natural gas fields.
人民日报-国际形势跌宕起伏 中国外交稳中求进（2012年度特别报道） ——访外交部长杨洁篪– People’s Daily interviews foreign minister Yang Jiechi on the international environment and China’s diplomacy// 记者：请您谈谈今年我国在维护国家主权、安全和发展利益方面所做的工作及取得的成效。杨洁篪：我们始终把坚决维护国家主权、安全、发展利益作为外交工作的基本出发点和落脚点。针对日本政府非法“购买”钓鱼岛，我们采取了一系列坚定措施，坚决维护我国领土主权和海洋权益，充分展示了我国政府和人民捍卫国家领土主权的坚强决心和意志，增进了国际社会对钓鱼岛问题真相的了解和对中方立场的理解支持。我们妥善应对黄岩岛事件，在坚定维护我国主权和海洋权益的同时，推动与东盟国家开展海上对话与合作，维护地区稳定大局。我们坚决在国际上遏制“台独”、“藏独”、“东突”等分裂势力的破坏活动，维护国家的主权和安全。会同有关部门积极开展经济外交，推动我企业和资金“走出去”，推动对外能源资源合作取得新进展。坚持“以人为本、外交为民”，妥善处理一系列涉我海外公民和机构领事保护案件
China urges Japan to follow peaceful development path – Xinhua | English.news.cn– Hua said, “There has been a trend of getting rid of the post-war system and denying peaceful development emerging in Japan in recent years, which has sparked concerns and Asian countries and the international community need to be aware of this trend.” Hua also reiterated the country’s appeal that Japan should deeply understand and properly handle problems in the bilateral ties, saying that the Chinese side attaches importance to the direction of Japan’s China policy.
Chinese Investment to the U.S. Speeds Up -Caijing – abridged translation of this issue’s cover story// The consensus between China and the U.S. is that if the misunderstandings and current obstacles cannot be overcome, a major opportunity for both sides will be squandered.
China Builder With $48 Billion Credit Seeks U.S. Projects – Bloomberg – China Communications Construction Co. (1800) said it has access to at least 300 billion yuan ($48 billion) of credit lines from local banks as it seeks to invest in infrastructure projects in the U.S. and other developed nations.The company is looking to help fund, build and operate ports, highways and bridges, Liu Wensheng, the chairman of its overseas financial arm, said in an interview in Hong Kong yesterday. It is also working with a global private equity fund to help find opportunities, he said, declining to elaborate.
U.S. slaps duties on China wind towers, high-level talks begin | Reuters – The United States on Tuesday pressed forward with plans to slap steep punitive duties on wind turbine towers imported from China at prices deemed unfairly low, even as officials welcomed a high-level Chinese delegation for trade and economic talks.
Almost Everything You’ve Heard About the North Korean Space Launch Is Wrong | Danger Room | Wired.com – To take advantage of this disinformation campaign, it also appears that North Korea timed the launch to correspond to a significant gap in coverage of the launch site by imaging satellites… This is backed up by a quote from an unnamed U.S. official, who said they relied too much on overhead satellite imagery for their warnings about the launch…Within the U.S. government, top national security officials likely had access to data sources that were unaffected by North Korean disinformation. However, it is possible that different intelligence sources could have been driven conflicting conclusions, leading to disagreement over what the reality was. This may have played a role in catching some within the U.S. government off guard.
Northeast Asia Turns Its Attention to the Arctic Linda Jakobson, Director of the East Asia Program at the Lowy Institute for International Policy, argues that the United States can both protect its interests in the Arctic and support permanent observer status for China, Japan, and South Korea. By backing their applications, Washington would give up little in the way of direct influence on Arctic matters, while benefiting from discussions with these countries to better understand their positions and intentions.
Equal Rights for Foreigners Residing Permanently in China? | LawAndBorder.com– the newly published measures apply only to the presently small number of persons with Permanent Resident Cards. Only 4,700 foreigners had received the cards as of the end of 2011, out of the 600,000 or so foreign nationals actually residing in China. Overall, the number of foreigners residing in China is extremely low as a percentage of the population when compared with many other countries. Still, there is some discussion of relaxing the stringent written rules and unwritten policies that limit green card issuance. It’s worth mentioning that some foreigners who are long-term residents of China will not be interested in applying for green cards because equal treatment with Chinese citizens may include taxation on worldwide income and assets, which they prefer to avoid.
About « Global China Connection – Founded in 2008, Global China Connection (GCC) is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization for university students of all nationalities looking to engage China’s emergence as an global power. GCC connects future leaders from all nations and assists them in developing the skills and friendships necessary to succeed both in China and internationally.
HONG KONG AND TAIWAN
Reunification is historic mission of CPC: Yu Zhengsheng – Xinhua Yu Zhengsheng, a Standing Committee member of the Political Bureau of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, makes remarks on the opening ceremony of the 9th national congress of Taiwan compatriots in Beijing, capital of China, Dec. 17, 2012
In passport kerfuffle, Taiwan is stickin’ it to China – CSMonitor.com– In response, Taiwan’s main opposition Democratic Progressive Party gave away 10,000 pink stickers at the foreign ministry consular office in Taipei. The stickers that read “Taiwan is my Country” can be slapped onto the back cover of a Taiwan passport or onto a plastic passport protector. The stickers went fast two weeks ago, so the party copied off another 20,000. “People just love them,” says its policy coordination executive director Joseph Wu. “It’s quite clear that what China is doing trespasses into our sovereignty. Taiwan is not under any country’s jurisdiction.”
TECH AND MEDIA
Fei Chang Dao: Sina Weibo Enacts New “7 Day Delay” Function for Sensitive Terms Following 18th Party Congress –reports of loosening misguided// What’s actually happened is that Sina Weibo is now imposing a seven day delay on search results for these names, as well as other “sensitive terms” (such as the name of lawyer Xu Zhiyong (许志永)). Sina Weibo does not notify users when it does this. Read on for more details and examples.
People’s Daily: be good online, please – China Media Project An article on the front page of the official People’s Daily today serves as a cautionary note to Chinese: the internet is as much a tool of rumor and misinformation as a platform for information sharing, and everyone must be as responsible and law-abiding online as they are offline. The article, which appears in the “Today’s Topic” column, is at the bottom of the People’s Daily front page. The article is written by “Mo Jinjin,” almost certainly a byline standing in for an official government department.
Commentary: Laws imperative to curb Internet irregularities – Xinhua | English.news.cn– and many of those rules ignored, like real name registration for weibo// The country has a series of rules and regulations on the management of the Internet, but no specific laws have been enacted. In the virtual Internet society, which is an extension of the real world, corresponding rights and obligations should also be clearly defined and relevant laws and rules be abided by. China’s top legislature will discuss a draft decision next week to strengthen Internet information protection during its bimonthly session. For a nation whose Internet population reached more than 500 million, to keep exerting the Internet’s positive effect by improved legal support is a wise measure to retain the enduring impetus of building a harmonious society.
State mouthpieces should tune into sensitivities – Xinhua | English.news.cn– Chinese people are no longer passive receivers of mass media transmission. Media literacy, as a result of improved information access and the development of media technology, has endowed them with skeptical eyes toward almost everything they get from journalists. Official media can only find themselves ridiculed or even lose people’s trust if they ignore the challenge from the discerning audience.
China state media vows ‘fresher’ style of journalism – Telegraph – China’s notoriously stodgy state-run media has vowed to clean up its copy, after the country’s new leadership signalled its desire to project a more down-to-earth image.
Be wary of ‘peepers’ in mobile phones – People’s Daily Online– Experts suggested that app stores should enhance regulation and examination of submitted apps, related laws should be improved, and the public’s awareness of their rights should be increased. Shi said that there are almost no laws applicable to mobile phone security, and most virtual world laws are about personal computer security. In fact, mobile phones have become a bridge between the real and digital worlds, and have a great impact on people’s daily lives. Therefore, mobile phone security should be greatly enhanced, and the industry access standards should be further improved. For example, all finance-related mobile apps should obtain the approval of a specified organization.
Chinese Directors Call for Censorship Reform – The Hollywood Reporter – Prominent directors such as Zhang Yuan (Beijing Bastards, Crazy English), Wang Xiaoshuai (Beijing Bicycle, 11 Flowers), Gao Qunshu (The Message, Golden Horse award-winner Beijing Blues), He Ping (Warriors of Heaven and Earth, Wheat) and Zhang Yang (Shower, Getting Home) have spoken out on Sina Weibo (China’s version of Twitter) in support of Xie Fei’s letter, addressed to the state-run Film Bureau and published on the director’s Weibo account on Saturday.
Tencent: WeChat App Set to Surpass 300 Million Users Next Month – Already the world’s biggest messaging app, WeChat seems to be accelerating its growth even further in the past few months. That’s because Tencent (HKG:0700) founder and CEO Pony Ma said at a recent conference in southern China that the messaging app – known in Chinese as Weixin – is set to surpass 300 million users in January 2013.
USTR Notorious Markets List: Congratulations to Taobao and Sogou | China Hearsay– I’ve written about the overall trend several times before and why it is that these Chinese Internet companies have cleaned up their acts. Pardon my cynicism (as always), but this is not the result of any moral epiphanies among Chinese CEOs with respect to IP infringement. My guess is that these companies, most of which are listed in the U.S., saw the writing on the wall and realized that they would not be allowed to continue with business models that relied on IP infringement. Sooner or later, they would have to clean things up, and that’s what we have seen in the past several years. No morality plays here, just good business decisions. So who’s still on the list? As I mentioned last year, this is a very international gang of bad guys, and while several Chinese firms are listed, quite a few nationalities are represented. If you are keeping score at home, here are the ones from the PRC:
SOCIETY, ART, SPORTS, CULTURE AND HISTORY
揭秘“古董”隐形产业链：名壶可代工 书画可量产_财经频道_一财网 – long look by first financial at the elaborate fakery in the China “antiques” business..why i wont buy anything, even if could afford it..know several very savvy local collectors who have been burned by amazingly well done forgeries..// 从不起眼的乡村通向大城市的收藏品商店拍卖行，经过这条产业链的升华，千元的绘画可变几十万元，数百元的紫砂壶能炒到上百万元。
安徽一小学欲拆分 学生冒雨维权_图片频道_财新网 – photos of kids in anqing, anhui protesting plans to tear down their school..starting young,, not a trend beijing probably wants to see, esp given role of kids in recent NIMBY environmental protests// 2012年12月17日下午，安徽安庆市双莲寺小学因老城区改造升级，被列入拆分计划中，不少家长和学生获悉此事后，冒雨维权。18日下午，安庆市市长虞爱华表示，目前该计划还在酝酿中，尚未形成决议，决议的实施必须要听取相关部门以及学校、家长等社会各方面的意见和建议，通过听证，论证后方可实施。
Aid Programs in Tibet Lack Efficiency, Says Scholar – Caixin – Central government programs aimed at promoting economic development in the Tibet Autonomous region have had a disappointing effect on the local economy, according to an academic at the Central Party School of the Communist Party of China. Jin Wei, director of ethnic religious studies at the Central Party School, said the region continues to rely heavily on cash donations and has failed to create a foundation for sustainable growth.
ENERGY, ENVIRONMENT AND HEALTH
Beijing phases out old vehicles to curb pollution – Xinhua | English.news.cn– A total of 515,000 obsolete motor vehicles have been taken off the city’s roads over the past two years, exceeding the goal of removing 400,000 such vehicles that was set in a municipal five-year development plan (2011-2015), according to the Beijing Municipal Environmental Protection Bureau. Motor vehicles contribute to about 22.2 percent of a city’s PM2.5 data, a gauge monitoring airborne “fine” particles 2.5 microns or less in diameter, and old vehicles release more pollutants, said Fang Li, a spokesman with the bureau, citing an analysis of the city’s pollution sources.
FOOD AND TRAVEL
CCTV report says KFC chickens are being fattened with illegal drugs | South China Morning Post – Fast-food giant KFC says it will co-operate with a government investigation into the chicken sold in its outlets after a China Central Television programme last night revealed that some of KFC’s suppliers in Shandong had put illegal drugs in chickenfeed to make the birds gain weight faster.The CCTV report, which it said was based on a year of undercover reporting, found that chicken farms had lights turned on around the clock to make the birds eat non-stop and grow faster, with a chicken growing from 30 grams to 3.5kg in just 40 days.
Diet rumors in 2012 (II): Instant noodles contain poisons hard to decompose – People’s Daily Online– Rumor: Instant noodles contain poisons hard to decompose The oil used to fry instant noodles contains BHT. The instant noodles in bowls are more dangerous because the bowls made of polystyrene have been added BHT. Under high temperatures the substances will dissolve in water. It takes the liver 32 days to decompose the poisons in one bowl of instant noodles!