"Sinocism is the Presidential Daily Brief for China hands"- Evan Osnos, New Yorker Correspondent and National Book Award Winner
The perfect is the enemy of the good right? This a quick and dirty newsletter as I am going to the Capital-Penguins game (go Caps), did not get a full scan of the Friday AM Chinese media.
I am bringing back occasional weekend guest commentary, look for one this weekend.
THE ESSENTIAL EIGHT
1. 4-star admiral wants to confront China. White House says not so fast–Navy Times The Obama administration, with just nine months left in office, is looking to work with China on a host of other issues from nuclear non-proliferation to an ambitious trade agenda, experts say, and would prefer not to rock the South China Sea boat, even going so far as to muzzle Harris and other military leaders in the run-up to a security summit. “They want to get out of office with a minimum of fuss and a maximum of cooperation with China,” said Jerry Hendrix, a retired Navy captain and defense strategy analyst with the Center for a New American Security. The White House has sought to tamp down on rhetoric from Harris and other military leaders, who are warning that China is consolidating its gains to solidify sovereignty claims to most of the South China Sea. // Quite a leak, White House can’t be pleased…Imagine if this were about a Chinese Admiral, we would be overwhelmed by commentary about Xi losing control of the military and the PLA having gone rogue…A question from a simpleminded blogger clueless in the ways of diplomacy: The US seems to be constantly worried about how the Chinese will react to things it might do, for fear of “rocking the boat” or hindering cooperation. Does the PRC think the same way, and constrain itself to avoid upsetting DC, or does it really not care how the US thinks and/or just assume that at the end of the day DC will roll over? Because let’s be realistic, what US President is willing to go to war with a nuclear power over distant rocks most Americans care nothing about? China has the home field advantage here, DC policy discontinuity over the last couple of years allowed it to build a huge head start, leaving the US with very few good options now. I think Beijing has played things very well so far
2. China Stanches Flow of Money Out of the Country, Data Suggests – The New York Times As net outflows of money slowed in March, the total value of the reserves in dollars rose slightly, to $3.21 trillion. That appeared to be because part of the reserves are held in euro-denominated and yen-denominated bonds, and the euro and yen strengthened against the dollar last month. Without currency valuation effects, the reserves would have fallen $20 billion to $30 billion — still less than in previous months without the valuation effect, economists estimated.
Related: China Foreign-Exchange Reserves Rise for First Time in Five Months – WSJ Kyle Bass, who runs Dallas-based Hayman Capital Management, said he hasn’t changed his bearish position. “This is going to take years to play out, and monthly numbers don’t mean anything,” he said prior to the release of the foreign-exchange reserve data. // Bass in January: “we think we are going to see a pretty material devaluation; we think it’s going to be in the next 12-18 months” So now it is years? I am confused, or maybe he corrected his errors in calculating the size of China’s reserves and the “red line?
3. Intense Jostling over an Indebted Steelmaker-Caixin A day of reckoning is fast approaching at Bohai Steel, a financially crippled steelmaker that has idled two-thirds of its production lines and cannot repay the 192 billion yuan it owes to more than 100 creditors. But in the run-up to the reckoning, intense jostling among steel executives, government officials, bankers and others engaged in talks over Bohai’s debt has made it impossible to predict what the future holds. A creditors committee formed in March by the government of Tianjin, which owns Bohai, drafted a restructuring plan. However, a person close to the government’s State-owned Asset Supervision and Administration Commission (SASAC) said that progress toward a settlement has been stymied by concerns raised by bankers…Bohai also owes money to trading partners, bank sources said, including the government-backed commodities trader Tewoo Group. As a result, a bank executive warned, Bohai’s woes threaten to spread far beyond the company….”It looks like a steel company’s crisis, but there’s actually a huge systemic risk,” the executive said. // whatever happens it will not be pretty…
4. Disney’s Animated Film ‘Zootopia’ is a U.S. Propaganda Tool, Chinese Professor Says – WSJ China’s military commentators are increasingly paying attention to what local audiences are watching in cinemas and at home – and, according to one of them, the hit film “Zootopia” is proof that the U.S. is waging an “invisible propaganda” war against Beijing. The military-backed People’s Liberation Army Daily on Wednesday ran a commentary titled, “How can a sheep be turned into a ‘crazy’ scapegoat?” The author, a professor at a PLA-backed academy in the eastern city of Nanjing, questioned the plot of Disney’s animated animal film “Zootopia” (known as “Crazy Animal City” in Chinese), which features a sheep as the story’s main antagonist. // “绵羊”何以成为“疯狂”的替罪羊–straight out of “Silent Contest”, though if they do a Silent Contest 2.0 I doubt they will replace the Game of Thrones theme song with Shakira’s…Zootopia btw is an excellent movie, seen it twice with my kids, guess that makes me suspect…
Related: “Silent Contest”: Liu Yazhou’s warmed-over McCarthyism | southseaconversations 讨论南海 from 2013. Now looks not like the work of marginal crazies but more like a playbook for much of what has unfolded under Xi. // The latest “leaked” video from the PLA, and its subsequent deletion from the Mainland Chinese internet, has the western China watching community grasping for explanations. Leftist battle-cry ahead of a rightist Third Plenum? Harbinger of an assertive turn in China’s US policy? A glimpse of what the PLA really thinks? My humble addition to this motley list is: powerful statement of self-importance by the CCP-PLA propaganda apparatus? The video itself is really quite a masterpiece in my view, produced by a master of political warfare, PLA National Defense University Political Commissar Liu Yazhou. It details how America is waging a smokeless war of “political genetic modification” against China, utilizing the permeation (渗透) and “peaceful evolution” strategy that brought down the Soviet Union.
Related: Silent Contest – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia Silent Contest (Chinese: 较量无声}) is a Chinese communist military propaganda film produced by the People’s Liberation Army’s National Defense University Information Management Center, purporting to expose and explain the secret battle, or conspiracy, the United States is waging against the People’s Republic of China. The documentary runs for 92 minutes. According to the official newspaper Global Times, “The film is an exploration of the belief that the US remains China’s enemy and has never stopped its strategies to westernize and divide China.” Some analysts have called it a “masterpiece” of political propaganda, while others called it “eerie,” “paranoid,” “bizarre,” or “alarming.” Silent Contest consists primarily of interviews with hawkish Chinese military scholars and analysts, interspersed with narration that drives the explanation of the U.S. plot. It first circulated among military enthusiasts and Internet users in China in late October, 2013
5. What it’s Like to Be a Chinese High Schooler in America | Foreign Policy If Lydia Hong, 16, had to choose a standout moment in her tenure so far at the Bullis School in Potomac, Maryland, it would probably be the time the Beijing native was chosen to represent her class on the student council. “I didn’t think I was going to be picked because there were six students and the other five girls were quite popular,” the current high school sophomore recalled of the 2015 student council elections. “But after I gave the speech, everybody clapped. People all around me said, ‘You are so cute on stage.’” In her speech, Hong spoke candidly about being a Chinese student living away from her parents, navigating her freshman year of high school in America.
Related: UConn Recommends Direct Sale of West Hartford Campus to Weiming – We-Ha | West Hartford News The nature of the agreement between Weiming and West Hartford Public Schools will still be the subject of further discussion, but one of the proposals is for Weiming students, who will come from China and other countries throughout the world, to spend their junior and senior years at Conard and Hall, as tuition-paying students. Through Weiming, the district already has plans in place for 30 students from China to attend high school in West Hartford beginning in the fall of 2016, with 15 each at Conard and Hall, Moore said. The selling point was the schools’ reputation as well as the available courses of study. “It’s the quality education the children will receive here,” Moore said.
6. Sea Shepherd vessel engages in ‘high seas pursuit’ of mainland Chinese poachers in South China Sea | South China Morning Post The Sea Shepherd Conservation Society’s flagship, the M/Y Steve Irwin, managed to chase one of six Chinese-flagged boats from the Indian Ocean back to the southern port of Zhuhai. The group claimed it was fishing illegally using drift nets.
Related: Facebook-Sea Shepherd Global lots of updates here on their chase of the Chinese fishing vessel, encounter with PLAN ships
7. U.S. Adds China’s Internet Controls to List of Trade Barriers – The New York Times United States trade officials have for the first time added China’s system of Internet filters and blocks — broadly known as the Great Firewall — to an annual list of trade impediments. The entry says that over the last decade, the limits have “posed a significant burden to foreign suppliers, hurting both Internet sites themselves, and users who often depend on them for business.” The report from the Office of the United States Trade Representative said that over the last year, the “outright blocking of websites appears to have worsened,” noting that eight of the top 25 most popular global sites are blocked in China.
8. Clear and Present Challenges to the Chinese Economy – YouTube Dr. Jin Keyu of LSE, who is also the daughter of Jin Liqun, President of the AIIB
BUSINESS, ECONOMY AND TRADE
China orders checks of enterprise bonds to assess default risks – Reuters China’s top planning agency has ordered issuers of so-called enterprise bonds and their underwriters to assess the risks of default and report back to the government in a nationwide campaign to limit systemic financial risk. The National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) ordered issuers to take stock of their ability to repay principal and interest and submit reports by April 15 every year, starting this month, according to three sources with direct knowledge of the notice and a copy seen by Reuters.
Shanghai Police Detain Executives of Fund Company-Caixin The CEO and about 20 senior executives of a leading private fund management company in Shanghai have been detained over a probe into fraudulent investment schemes, Xinhua reported on April 6. Shanghai police started investigating the company, Zhongjin 1824, on April 6 because its employees have been duping investors by providing them with information that included falsified business transactions and connected deals, Xinhua reported.
Gloves Off as Uber’s China Rival Vows to Be `Last One Standing’ – Bloomberg “We will be the last one standing,” Vice President of Strategy Stephen Zhu told the Credit Suisse Asian Investment Conference in Hong Kong. “Why is our competitor consistently 20 to 30 percent cheaper but still failing to gain market share? It’s because the customer experience is not as good, their network is much less than ours.” Didi needs capital to bankroll an aggressive program for recruiting drivers and keep fares competitive as it strives to hold off a hard-charging Uber. The U.S. startup, the world’s most valuable, spent more than $1 billion in the country last year and has said China could eventually become its largest market. Chief Executive Travis Kalanick is personally overseeing the business in the world’s second largest economy. // I am a happy Uber consumer but they are going to end up throwing away $1B+ in China
Chinese Conglomerate Buys Ahava Consmetics for $76 Million Amid BDS Concerns – Haaretz A delegation of executives from China’s Fosun International has arrived in Israel to seal a deal buying Ahava, the skincare treatments company known as much for arousing the wrath of the international boycott movement as it is for sourcing the minerals of the Dead Sea.
POLITICS AND LAW
China steps up punishment for drug-related crimes – Xinhua | The document, issued by the Supreme People’s Court (SPC), adopted stricter rules for ketamine-related violations by lowering the amount threshold for criminalization of the drug by half. Ketamine abuse in China is quite serious, said Fang Wenjun, a senior justice of the SPC. The number of ketamine users continues to grow, and ranks third among substances, after methamphetamine and heroin, in terms of involvement in drug-related violations.0 Production and sale of the drug has also been on the rise in recent years, and harsher rules are needed to deal with it, Fang said.
China asking for terror suspects list ahead of G20 summit | Reuters China is asking countries participating in this year’s G20 summit in the Chinese city of Hangzhou to provide lists of possible terror groups and terrorists who might target the meeting, a state-run newspaper said on Thursday.
China promotes law study among civil servants – Xinhua China’s civil servants must take exams and be evaluated on their legal knowledge, according to an official document issued on Thursday. The national recruitment exam for civil servants will put more weight on the candidates’ knowledge of the law while incumbents must take the exams before being promoted, said the document, titled Guidelines on Improving the Arrangements for Civil Servants to Study and Use the Law. It was jointly issued by the Organization and Publicity Departments of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, and the Ministries of Justice and Human Resources. // 四部门联合印发《关于完善国家工作人员学法用法制度的意见》
嚣张！这些地方竟然有卖官价目表_凤凰资讯 price list for official post buying in a Guangdong public security bureau comes out in trial // 今天，一起涉及买官卖官的案件吸引了边驿卒的主意。 昨天，广东省公安厅交通管理局原政委、汕尾市公安局原局长马伟灵（副厅级）涉嫌受贿一案在佛山中院审理。根据公诉机关的指控，他在汕尾任职期间，通过买官卖官让9人获擢升。 比如说汕尾公安局城区分局巡警大队大队长陈建华，行贿8万美元升到副局长。类似的例子不胜枚举，媒体也干脆替他整理了一份买官卖官价目表。
湖南版雷政富案：判决书隐去被色诱敲诈官员名字职务 2015年11月，该案在衡阳市石鼓区法院一审宣判，12名被告人被以敲诈勒索罪分别判处1年管制至14年有期徒刑不等。一位代理律师告诉澎湃新闻（www.thepaper.cn），目前该案二审已经开完庭，尚未宣判。 澎湃新闻注意到，到目前为止，只有衡阳市纪委公布了对涉案的6名官员的处分，其他地方未公布对涉案官员的处理情况。在判决书中，该案中被色诱、敲诈的以官员为主的涉案人的名字、职务等身份信息均被隐去。
FOREIGN AND DEFENSE AFFAIRS
Fishing Disputes Could Spark a South China Sea Crisis | Foreign Policy Large and growing fishing fleets in almost all the countries ringing the South China Sea are at the front lines over the fight to control tiny rocks with names like Mischief Reef, Fiery Cross, and Scarborough Shoal. Because there are festering and unresolved territorial disputes involving all countries in the region, seemingly innocent efforts by all parties to fish in traditional waters are sparking international showdowns, with potentially dangerous implications even for countries far away, including the United States. Although not the root cause of disputes over sovereignty in the region, the clashes over fishing rights — which occur almost on a daily basis and often go unreported — pose the greatest potential risk of triggering a full-fledged crisis or even an armed conflict in the South China Sea.
War of words erupts between Chinese ex-ambassador and editor of nationalist tabloid | South China Morning Post Former envoy Wu Jianmin says Global Times’ boss Hu Xijin fails to present the complexities of international affairs – a criticism brushed off as the thinking of ‘old diplomats’
China’s Evolving Approach to “Integrated Strategic Deterrence” | RAND-by Michael S. Chase, Arthur Chan Drawing on a wide range of sources, including Chinese-language publications, this report finds that China’s strategic-deterrence concepts are evolving in response to a changing assessment of its external security environment and a growing emphasis on protecting its emerging interests in space and cyberspace. At the same time, China is rapidly closing what was once a substantial gap between the People’s Liberation Army’s strategic weapons capabilities and its strategic-deterrence concepts. Chinese military publications indicate that China has a broad concept of strategic deterrence, one in which a multidimensional set of military and nonmilitary capabilities combine to constitute the “integrated strategic deterrence” posture required to protect Chinese interests. For China, powerful military capabilities of several types — including nuclear capabilities, conventional capabilities, space capabilities, and cyberwarfare forces — are all essential components of a credible strategic deterrent. Chinese military publications indicate that nonmilitary aspects of national power — most notably diplomatic, economic, and scientific and technological strength — also contribute to strategic deterrence alongside military capabilities.
Mr. Xi Goes to Washington, and Brings His State Media Apparatus | Foreign Policy The students formed a group called “China Daily Greater Washington Back-up Group,” using WeChat, a popular Chinese mobile messaging app also available in the United States, to help coordinate the newspaper’s distribution. The group has 69 members, using online handles identifying them as students at schools in or near Washington, including George Mason University, George Washington University, Johns Hopkins University, and the University of Maryland. One student who stood in front of the Omni Shoreham Hotel, which is hosting Xi, granted access to the WeChat group to a Foreign Policy reporter. //no agency in the US pays attention to Communist Party propaganda work on the streets of DC?
China’s Maritime Courts: Defenders of ‘Judicial Sovereignty’ | The Diplomat China’s creation of an international maritime judicial center was, to the foreign audience, one of the most controversial issues addressed in Supreme People’s Court (SPC) President Zhou Qiang’s work report to the National People’s Congress in March 2016. What did Zhou mean by this? When a spokesman for the Foreign Ministry was asked about it, he referred his audience to the competent authorities for details. This article drills down on what the “competent authorities,” that is Zhou Qiang, the SPC and more broadly, the Chinese government, have in mind. First, the concept is not intended to replace the Law of the Sea Tribunal or other forums for resolving international legal disputes. None of the SPC documents on this topic have mentioned that, and regardless that would be an initiative coming out of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
中国永暑礁最新卫星照曝光：小楼成群马路清晰(图)|中国|南沙群岛|永暑礁新浪军事新浪网 recent satellite pics of Fiery Cross
Xi’s army: Reform and loyalty in the PLA | European Council on Foreign Relations By Jérôme Doyon & Mathieu Duchâtel 30th March, 2016
Beijing says North Korea has become ‘an increasing threat to China’ | South China Morning Post North Korea has become an increasing threat to China, according to a commentary by the state-run People’s Daily overseas edition, which compared the Korean peninsula’s instability with Syria’s political turmoil. An opinion piece in the newspaper’s Xiakedao column on Thursday said it was time for North Korea to rethink its nuclear weapon strategy as it might eventually jeopardise Pyongyang’s political regime.
Vietnam tells China to shift its rig and stop complicating ties | Reuters The $1 billion rig, which was at the center of a fierce diplomatic stand-off between the countries in 2014, had moved into an area of the Gulf of Tonkin in the South China Sea about which Vietnam said the two countries were still “executing delineation discussions”. China calls the rig Haiyang Shiyou 981. Vietnam refers to it as Hai Duong 981. “Vietnam resolutely opposes and demands China cancel its plan to drill and immediately remove the Hai Duong 981 oil rig out of this area,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Le Hai Binh said in a statement on the government’s news website.
China, Sri Lanka keen to push Colombo port project: Chinese diplomat | Reuters Xiao Qian, head of the Chinese Foreign Ministry’s Asia department, told reporters following a meeting between Sri Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang in Beijing that the project was an important one. “On the Colombo port, both sides agreed to further speed up the overall and comprehensive resumption of work on this project. The announcement to resume the work has been made by the Sri Lankan side but now we will go into further technical details,” Xiao said.
HONG KONG, MACAO AND TAIWAN
Taiwan president-elect’s brother named in Panama Papers, but did no wrong: lawyer | Reuters “According to practice and research from the past, there are three purposes to set up companies in Panama: to evade tax, to invest overseas, especially in China, and to avoid supervision (by the Taiwan government),” lawmaker William Tseng told a news briefing. “Which of these was it? Tsai Ing-wen and her relatives should fully explain.”
Initium’s Ambition: A Digital Magazine for All Chinese | Foreign Policy Hong Kong’s press scene is increasingly polarized. Taiwanese outlets are gossipy and superficial. And the ruling Communist Party keeps a notoriously tight grip over mainland Chinese media. What’s a Chinese-speaking news consumer to do? Enter Initium, a Hong Kong-based digital start-up founded in August 2015. The start-up declares its mission to be providing quality news “for Chinese people worldwide.” It aims to stake out a neutral terrain among Chinese readers in Hong Kong, Taiwan, mainland China, and abroad, creating an inclusive virtual space for all of Greater China. That’s no easy feat.
TECH AND MEDIA
In China without your wallet? No problem CNN’s Will Ripley tours Beijing without his wallet and finds he can still buy anything he wants.
Beijinger Jiang Wen to Appear in ‘Rogue One: A Star Wars Story’ | the Beijinger Perhaps the Beijingiest of all Beijingers, actor and director Jiang Wen will appear in the upcoming Star Wars film Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, due out in December, based on a trailer released by Disney late Thursday. Jiang gets about two seconds of screentime in the Rogue One trailer, whereas Hong Kong action star Donnie Yen gets a few more seconds and even a line or two. Jiang can be seen at about the 1:18 mark in the one-minute, thirty-eight second trailer.
SOCIETY, ART, SPORTS, CULTURE AND HISTORY
Red Mark | the Anthill My childhood during the Cultural Revolution – by Jianguo Wu
‘Agony Uncles’ Mediate China’s Family Disputes | Sixth Tone Viewers are going crazy over Shanghai’s hottest dispute resolution reality show, “The New Agony Uncles.” Every evening at 6:00 p.m., the show treats audiences to the domestic problems of a family, with problems ranging from the crumbling of a marriage over a pair of pants, to a husband being forced by his overbearing wife to wear a tracking device.
Union for left-behind children holds first meeting – Xinhua Twenty-seven government institutions and other organizations of China have partnered to form a stronger safety net for children left at home by migrant-worker parents. They identified key targets for this year including carrying out a nationwide census on rural “left-behind” children, establishing a database on foster families living in poverty as well as improving and implementing policies allowing children of migrant workers to sit exams in cities.
Underground, overground | The Economist In Beijing, members of unregistered churches are usually younger than 40. Brent Fulton of ChinaSource, a Christian NGO in America, says that many of the house churches that operate more openly were started in the 2000s by young people who had been members of informal Bible-study groups while they were at university. Such believers tend to see their faith as involving more than just private prayer, he says. Some are involved in charity work. A few even try to recruit new members through social media and websites, despite a ban on proselytising.
ENERGY, ENVIRONMENT, SCIENCE AND HEALTH
The Rise of Chinese Innovation in the Life Sciences-NBR China is now the world’s second-largest market for pharmaceuticals, and the government is prioritizing the development of the country’s life science sector as a strategy for both improving public health and fostering economic growth. This NBR Special Report examines China’s efforts to create a globally competitive environment for life science innovation and assesses the implications for industry and policy. PDF free through June 30, 2016.
Doctors’ Company ‘Raises Tens of Millions of Yuan for Clinics’-Caixin The head of the country’s only company comprised of independent private physicians says that the tens of millions of yuan it recently raised from investors will be spent on outpatient surgery clinics. Zhang Qiang, the founder of Dr. Smile Medical Group, a Shanghai-based company, told Caixin on April 4 that the firm recently completed a round of financing.
教育部发布高等教育质量报告：规模世界第一|教育部|高等教育|质量报告_新浪新闻 中 青在线北京4月7日电 (中国青年报·中青在线记者 诸葛亚寒) 在今天上午举行的教育部新闻发布会上，教育部高等教育教学评估中心主任吴岩发布了中国高等教育系列质量报告(以下简称“系列质量报告”)。中国 青年报·中青在线记者了解到，其中的总报告《中国高等教育质量报告》实现了两个“首次”，既是中国首次发布，也是世界上首次发布高等教育质量的“国家报 告”。
BOOKS AND LITERATURE
Read Paper Republic: An End of Days Story Originally a student of environmental engineering at Beijing Normal University, Fei Dao’s love of science fiction led him to switch to the literature department’s science fiction major—the only such major in the country. Since then he’s published a large quantity of short stories and novellas, often alternating between fantasy and science fiction.
JOBS AND EVENTS
China and the global economy: A conversation with Yi Gang and Ben Bernanke | Brookings Institution April 14, 2016 1:30 PM – 3:00 PM EDT Washington, DC
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