"Sinocism is the Presidential Daily Brief for China hands"- Evan Osnos, New Yorker Correspondent and National Book Award Winner
The Essential Eight
1. Sun Zhengcai Under Investigation, Chen Min’er Now Chongqing Party Secretary
Comment: The Party announced Saturday that Chen Min’er was moving from Guizhou to Chongqing to replace Politburo Member Sun Zhengcai as the Party Secretary of Chongqing. No details were given about the fate of Sun, but reports soon appeared that Sun was under investigation. There has been no official announcement by the Party but it has been confirmed that Sun, considered by some to be a possible successor to Xi, is under some kind of investigation and so is dead politically.
Xi did not put Sun in his position and so it is natural he wants his own people. Xi is just more Machiavellian, ruthless and powerful than his predecessors.
Has anyone checked Hu Chunhua’s blood pressure lately?
This is a very big move and likely presages Xi running the table at the 19th Party Congress. Last week Wang Sanyun, former Party Secretary of Gansu, was put under investigation. Wang Qishan’s powers seem unaffected by Guo Wengui’s revelations, and the pattern of Wang disappearing from view for a few weeks and then tigers falling soon after he reappears continues. Is this it for tigers before the Beidaihe Meeting or the 19th Party Congress, or are these two actually just tiger cubs?
Guo Wengui has promised explosive new revelations in his July 17 webcast, but so far there is no evidence to support his boasts that when he is done with his claims the Party will not be able to hold the 19th Party Conference.
A hastily arranged meeting of party officials on Saturday in the inland city of Chongqing announced that Sun Zhengcai, the city’s top official, was being replaced and was being investigated, a person familiar with the matter said. A second person corroborated the investigation.
Comment: WSJ broke this story in English.
China leadership contender under investigation: sources | Reuters
A source who has been briefed on the matter said Sun is suspected of “serious discipline violations”, a term that can encompass everything from taking bribes to not toeing the party line. The source added that it was a “conversation investigation”, meaning it’s not yet at the stage of a formal probe.
Confidant of Chinese president now seen as a strong contender to join the Communist Party’s higher ranks during autumn reshuffle
Comment: Chen is probably a shoe-in for ascension to the Politburo at the 19th Party Congress. Joining the 19th Standing Committee would be a stretch but is not out of the question.
“Chongqing has uncannily returned to the center of the political drama five years later, although Sun’s clout cannot beat Bo’s back then,” said Zhang Jian, an associate political science professor at Peking University. Sun’s removal suggests maneuvering before the leadership changes and points to the president being “in full control of the political situation,” Zhang said.
“Top leaders are aware of the issue of female political participation,” said Niu Tianxiu, a professor at Nanjing Normal University’s School of Public Administration….
“I don’t think we’ll see a clear increase in women at the top after the 19th Party Congress,” she said. “There’s scarce talent coming up in terms of high-level female cadres.”
2. The Institutionalization of the Corruption Crackdown And Ideological Cleansing
The revised rules [中共中央关于修改《中国共产党巡视工作条例》的决定 ] clearly stipulate that “political inspection should be deepened, and inspections should mainly focus on upholding the Party leadership, improving Party building, and advancing comprehensive and strict rule of the Party.” The inspections should staunchly safeguard the authority and the centralized, unified leadership of the CPC Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping as the core, and ensure the CPC is always the firm and core leadership of the socialist cause with Chinese characteristics, it said…
At a meeting on May 26, the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee decided to amend the Party’s regulation on inspection work, to reflect the latest innovative practices.
巡视是党内监督战略性制度安排彰显中国特色社会主义民主监督优势–人民网–Wang Qishan pens a long page in People’s Daily 7.17.17 essay on the institutionalization, importance and success of the inspection tours.
China’s top graft buster attacks “unhealthy” political culture – Reuters on Wang’s People’s Daily piece:
“All of the issues discovered during the inspections reflect the weakening of party leadership, shortcomings in party building and insufficient efforts to strictly enforce party discipline,” Wang wrote in the party’s official People’s Daily.
“Party concepts are faint, organization is lax and discipline flabby. The root is in the party’s internal political life being not serious and unhealthy,” he said.Comment: No sign Wang Qishan is having any political issues, and no sign of any loosening of the corruption crackdown and ideological cleansing. In fact, I expect it to intensify through the 19th Party Congress and beyond.
3. Financial Work Conference Leaves Little Doubt Financial Sector Tightening Will Continue
China must strengthen the leadership of the Communist Party of China over financial work, stick to the basic tone of seeking progress while maintaining stability, and respect the rules of financial development, said President Xi Jinping, at a two-day National Financial Work Conference that ended Saturday…
Three tasks are highlighted in the meeting, including making the financial sector better serve the real economy, containing financial risks and deepening financial reforms…
Xi also said that guarding against systemic financial risks is the eternal theme of financial work and the government should take stronger initiative to monitor, warn against and deal with risks in a timely manner…
The government will continue to deleverage the economy by firmly taking a prudent monetary policy and prioritizing reducing leverage in state-owned enterprises, Xi said.
习近平在全国金融工作会议上强调 服务实体经济防控金融风险深化金融改革 促进经济和金融良性循环健康发展_CCTV -12 Minute Saturday CCTV Evening News report on the financial work conference
The plan laid out by Mr. Xi represents a much less radical version than previously envisioned by some officials and government advisers, who had urged centralizing oversight by putting all regulation under the PBOC. That proposal, according to Chinese officials, has met strong opposition from groups that could have been forced to cede power.
Comment: There is still little detail about how this body will work. I would be careful in assuming this will be another fairly useless body.
监管体改方向明确 国务院金融稳定发展委横空出世_金融频道_财新网 设立国务院金融稳定发展委员会跟现有的存量部门是何关系？目前明确的是，将强化央行在宏观审慎管理和系统性风险防范方面负有职责，落实金融监管部门监管职责，并强化监管问责
“Opening up is certainly taking a back seat,” and people should look for a stronger focus on the domestic side before any further opening of the financial system goes forward, said Andrew Polk, co-founder of research firm Trivium China in Beijing. “That’s what most of the academic literature on financial reform identifies as the proper sequencing.”
4. Expectations Are Low For US-China Comprehensive Economic Dialogue Later This Week
More details on the 100-day plan are expected to be announced in the coming week as senior U.S. and Chinese officials gather in Washington for annual bilateral economic talks, rebranded this year as the “U.S.-China Comprehensive Economic Dialogue.”
“We hope to report further progress on the 100-day deliverables next week,” a U.S. Commerce Department spokesman said on Saturday. “That will be the basis for judging the extent of progress.”
“More recently, there are some troubling developments on the issues that concern China’s vital interests and the issues that concern the critical foundation of our relations,” Chinese Ambassador Cui Tiankai said during an event that was part of the US National Governors Association’s meeting in Providence, Rhode Island.
“I’m afraid the people behind such actions are either those who refuse to let go and update their mindset or those who play selfish political games, regardless of the big picture,” Cui said. “If they succeeded, China-US relations could derail.”
5. Liu Xiaobo is Gone, His Wife Liu Xia Still Does Not Appear To Be Free
The government held two briefings Saturday and provided photos of the funeral and the sea burial, the latest moves in a propaganda campaign seemingly aimed at countering criticism that Beijing has failed to handle Liu’s deterioration and dying wishes in a humanitarian way. A video about Liu’s hospital treatment released on the website of Shenyang’s judicial bureau Friday appeared aimed at the same objective.
Activists and friends of the family said the sea burial appeared to be Beijing’s way of removing every last physical trace of Liu. It also removes the need for a land-based grave at which his supporters would have been able to pay their respects.
“On behalf of Liu Xia and Liu Xiaobo’s other family members, I would like to extend my heartfelt gratitude to the humanistic care from the Party and the government,” Liu Xiaoguang said, adding that concerning the special situation of Liu Xiaobo, the government showed a humanitarian spirit.US lawmakers hit Beijing at hearing on Liu Xiaobo’s death – AFP:
A White House statement issued shortly after Liu’s death described him as a “Chinese political prisoner” but made no direct mention of the Chinese government.
And President Donald Trump, on a trip to Paris, avoided criticism of Beijing over Liu’s death.
The Texas Republican has led a push to change the address of the Chinese Embassy to “1 Liu Xiaobo Plaza” in honor of Liu since 2014, citing as precedent Congress’ 1984 decision to rename the road outside the Soviet Embassy after prominent Russian political dissident Andrei Sakharov — another Nobel Peace Prize winner.
Comment: Beijing really does not want this to happen.
6. Hong Kong’s Semblance Of Independence Is Falling Away
The pro-democracy lawmakers were dismissed from the Hong Kong Legislative Council because they had used unacceptable words or even dubious tones in taking oaths of office that require declarations of loyalty to China. The ruling means that democracy advocates in the semiautonomous city’s legislature will no longer have enough votes to block legislation from their pro-Beijing counterparts.
7. Has Iran Imprisoned A Dual US-PRC Citizen?
The arrest and sentencing of the American, Xiyue Wang, a graduate student in history, was announced months after he had vanished in Iran, where he was doing research for a doctoral thesis…
A Princeton spokesman, Daniel Day, confirmed that Mr. Wang, an American citizen of Chinese descent, was the man arrested in Iran. “That’s our student,” Mr. Day said in a telephone interview
Comment: Xinhua does not name him or state his other nationality. Does he also have PRC citizenship? How embarrassing for Beijing if they can not convince the Iranians to free him…
The person who owns the nationality of both the U.S. and another country had snooped into Iran to gather documents and intelligence, Gholamhossein Mohseni Ejeie, spokesman for Iranian judiciary, told the reporters.
8. Belt And Road In Depth
Tom Miller, senior Asia analyst and managing editor at Gavekal Research, joins Jeremy and Kaiser to discuss his new book, China’s Asian Dream: Empire Building Along the New Silk Road. Miller combines policy analysis with his on-the-ground reporting from over a dozen countries to better understand China’s most ambitious foreign policy move since the “reform and opening up” that started in 1978: Xi Jinping’s signature Belt and Road Initiative.
Business, Economy And Trade
Local Governments Find New Ways to Play Debt Game – Caixin Global At the end of 2016, the outstanding combined debt included in the budgets of local governments totaled 15.32 trillion yuan, down from 16 trillion yuan in 2015 and within the cap of 17.19 trillion yuan set by the central government for last year, according to official data. But the true scale of local government debt could be far higher because of the amount of borrowing that is hidden outside official budgets. There are no government statistics on off-budget borrowing, but some experts estimate it had reached 35 trillion yuan by the end of 2015.
China uses investment funds to lead reform push – FT $$ China Reform Holdings, a government-controlled group that manages a $30bn fund, plans to invest at least $2bn with Beijing-based private equity group JD Capital, two people familiar with the matter said.
China approves 9 IPO applications – Xinhua They will raise no more than 4.2 billion yuan (620 million U.S. dollars), the CSRC said in a statement.
SOHO中国4年出售超5个地产项目 套现或达340亿_财经_新京报网 Comment: The Beijing News on SOHO China selling off several of its buildings. An informed reader tells me they are asking for USD for the latest two. Wonder what they know…
Politics And Law
China to air political documentary on reform – Xinhua The ten-episode documentary, “Jiang Gaige Jinxing Daodi,” or carrying the reform through to the end, summarizes the progress and achievements of the overall reform initiated after the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) in 2012.// Comment: New Political Documentary Part of Propaganda Preparations For Party Congress. Trailer for 将改革进行到底
China Releases Legal Scholar Xu Zhiyong After Four Years in Jail – Bloomberg The release had been expected and appeared unrelated to criticism over the treatment of Liu, the Nobel Peace Prize winner who died on Thursday under guard from complications related to cancer. Xu was among the first wave of activists rounded up in 2013 after Xi became president and accelerated efforts to curb criticism of the Communist Party. He was met on his release by his family. Calls to Xu’s lawyer Zhang Qingfang went unanswered.
Creditor Seeks Court Order to Block Asset Sales by Fugitive Guo Wengui – Caixin Global:In an affidavit filed with the New York State Supreme Court on July 7, PAX requested a pre-judgment order of attachment on Guo’s full-floor luxury apartment in the Sherry-Netherland Hotel on Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue to ensure that any proceeds from a sale don’t leave the U.S. Guo, identified as Kwok Ho Wan in the court filing, in June listed the seven-bedroom apartment overlooking Central Park for $78 million on the website of property broker Brown Harris Steve
Red alert: Doubts linger over Interpol’s Chinese boss ahead of Beijing meet | South China Morning Post in a powerful emblem of changed times, delegates to Interpol’s 86th assembly will gather around its first Chinese president, Meng Hongwei, who was unanimously elected at last year’s meeting in Indonesia.
China Orders Xinjiang’s Android Users to Install App That Deletes ‘Terrorist’ Content – RFA “In order to achieve city-wide coverage in the antiterrorist video and audio clean-up, and to target people, materials and thinking for clean-up work, management and crackdowns, a technology company affiliated with the municipal police department has developed an app for Android smartphones that can filter out terrorist video and audio content,” the Tianshan district government in the regional capital Urumqi said in a directive issued July 10.
Xi’an Tells Popular Social Media Users to Report Themselves – Sixth Tone The cyberspace administration of Xi’an, capital of northwestern Shaanxi province, announced on Friday that it will start requiring registrations from its most popular net personalities, as well as from companies in the city that have their own websites or whose follower count on Weibo exceeds 50,000.
China Launches Racial Profiling Campaign to Assess Uyghurs’ Security Risk – RFA Authorities in northwest China’s Xinjiang region have launched a racial profiling campaign to assess the security threat posed by non-Han Chinese majority residents of the capital Urumqi, with points automatically docked for members of the mostly Muslim Uyghur ethnic minority, according to a local official.
Foreign And Defense Affairs
‘India has deployed troops in a third country for the first time to challenge China’ – Rediff Interview With M. Taylor Fravel First, the area of dispute is the Dolam (or Dokalam) Plateau. The Doklam Plateau is another area disputed by China and Bhutan to the north of the current dispute. Second, much of the discussion in the Indian press appears to miss the fact that China has had a road in the area for some time, at least since 2005, but probably earlier. China is unlikely to leave an area where it believes it had already consolidated its position.
Brahma Chellaney : China’s Bhutan land grab aims at bigger target- Nikkei Asian Review Beijing’s full-throttle campaign against India amounts to psychological warfare, from mounting daily threats to staging military drills in Tibet. For example, a recent “full combat readiness” exercise with tanks was aimed at delivering a clear warning to New Delhi, according to Chinese state media. However, the more China threatens India and the more it refuses to seek a compromise, the more it paints itself in a corner.
How India is Playing its Indian Ocean Ace Card | The Diplomat The second factor driving India’s renewed focus on the Andamans, and the catalyst for Modi’s plans there, is China and its growing military footprint in the IOR. After only limited forays in decades prior, in 2008 the People’s Liberation Army Navy began rotating a three-ship anti-piracy naval task naval force through the IOR for patrols off the Horn of Africa. Chinese nuclear and conventional submarine patrols followed in 2013 and 2014, making headlines with port calls to Karachi and Colombo.
Wikileaked: Billionaire Australian donor’s Beijing links detailed in ‘sensitive’ diplomatic cable Chau did not respond to questions about why he has disavowed knowledge of the UFWD or why he has also claimed to have “never been a member of an advisory group called the People’s Political Consultative Conference”, a body managed by the United Front Work Department. A Chinese government website describes Chau as a past member of a CPPCC in Tianhe. // Comment: There continues to be a strange assumption that what is written in media inside China will be missed by foreigners
World Naval Developments —China’s Second Aircraft Carrier | RealClearDefense On 26 April, the Chinese floated out their second aircraft carrier. Although the project had long been known thanks to satellite photos, the public appearance of this first entirely Chinese-built carrier had great impact. The ship’s name has not been announced yet, but there is widespread speculation that, like the first carrier, this one will be named after a coastal province, probably Shandong. The new ship appears to be a modified version of the first Chinese carrier Liaoning, herself a much-modified half-sister of the Russian Kuznetsov
Chinese spy ship lurks off coast of Alaska during missile defense test – CNN Two US military officials told CNN that the ship is operating approximately 100 miles off the Alaska coast in international waters.
The officials pointed out that the Chinese ship is operating legally and said the US does not have security concerns about the vessel.
China air force says conducted ‘multiple’ long-range missions this week – Reuters China’s Defence Ministry told Japan on Friday to “get used to it” after it flew six warplanes over the Miyako Strait.
Indonesia renames part of South China Sea – CNN.com In an act of defiance against Beijing’s territorial ambitions in the region, Indonesia will refer to the northern areas of its exclusive economic zone in the South China Sea as the “North Natuna Sea.”
Why China’s Aerospace Industry Needs Technological Heroes – Sixth Tone Bei Fang is the pen name of a staff member at the television station of the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center. She has worked and lived in the center for 14 years.
Chinese coast guard ships confirmed in waters off northwest Kyushu islands for first time | The Japan Times Under the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea, vessels of every country have the right to sail through territorial seas as long as they do not harm the safety of the countries concerned.
Revised regulation on military document processing released – Xinhua The regulation, which contains eight chapters and 40 articles, makes new requirements for official military documents with regard to work standards, types and forms, processing procedures, management and other areas. 中央军委主席习近平签署命令 发布新修订的《军队机关公文处理工作条例》
Tory commission calls for cooling in relations with China over human rights concerns Britain should reconsider its close relationship with China, a Conservative Party commission will this week recommend, in a report which airs concerns over a deteriorating human rights situation in Hong Kong and on the Chinese mainland.
Tech And Media
In Urban China, Hardly Anyone Is Using Cash Anymore-The New York Times “From a tech standpoint, this is probably one of the single most important innovations that has happened first in China, and at the moment it’s only in China,” said Richard Lim, managing director of venture capital firm GSR Ventures.
Off the Map: The Rough Road Ahead for Self-Driving Cars in China – WSJ Restrictions on digital mapping by overseas firms present hurdles to non-Chinese vehicle and tech companies
Chinese Startup Breaks AI Fundraising Record – Caixin Global 410M USD // “We wish to see an AI giant rise labeled with China,” CDH Chairman Wu Shangzhi said. “SenseTime has proved that it is rich in self-developed technologies and the ability to commercialize them, which makes it the biggest-rising AI star in China.”
Society, Art, Sports, Culture And History
Brutal Murder of Two Chinese Sisters in Japan Sets Social Media Abuzz | What’s on Weibo The bodies of two Chinese sisters, aged 22 and 25, were discovered in Japan this week. Autopsy reports have established that the women died of strangulation. Police have arrested the main suspect: a 30-year-old married man from Japan who allegedly had an affair with one of the sisters. The brutal murder has stirred heated discussions on Chinese social media, with many calling the sisters ‘unpatriotic.’
Introducing: Radii’s First Podcast, Wo Men, with Guest Chenni Xu | Radii China We’re proud to present the first in what will be an ever-expanding Radii podcast network: Wo Men, produced by two Chinese women who will discuss weekly topics that affect their everyday life in Beijing. We sat down with hosts Yajun Zhang and Jingjing Zhang (no relation) to discuss what to expect, and also learn more about this inaugural episode, where they talk gender equality with Chenni Xu, co-chair of the Women’s Initiative at her company.
Tomb Robbing, Perilous but Alluring, Makes Comeback in China – The New York Times With robbers now turning their attention to the large number of untouched tombs in northern and western China, experts say that more action needs to be taken to protect those sites. But fully resolving the problem, they say, will ultimately come down to the people at the other end of the looting chain: the collectors. // Comment: And the dealers and auction houses that sell these things
Chinese villagers head to court to recover a 1,000-year-old mummified monk inside a Buddha statue The latest legal battle involves residents of Yangchun in south-eastern China seeking to force a Dutch art collector to return a Buddha sculpture which they claim went missing from their village in 1995.
China completes Beijing-Xinjiang desert freeway sections – Xinhua “The Beijing-Xinjiang freeway is the most convenient road passage connecting Beijing with northwest Inner Mongolia, northern Gansu, and Xinjiang,” said Ren Jinxiong, an official with the Ministry of Transport.
Why Shanghai’s best-known liberal bookshop is closing down | South China Morning Post Authorities forced cancellation of seminars at Jifeng Bookstore on topics ranging from South China Sea to constitutionalism
A Brooklyn Murder’s Decades-Old Origins in Rural China – NYTimes.com But while the shooting occurred against a gritty New York backdrop — a fast-food chicken joint a few blocks from an elevated highway — it roots lay in events that started thousands of miles away in a rural village in the Chinese province of Fujian. There, more than 20 years ago, those who know the story say, a family feud broke out, the bitterness of which survived both time and the two men’s journeys from China to New York.
Knife-wielding man kills 2, injures 9 in Shenzhen – Xinhua The 30-year old suspect, surnamed Jiang, attacked people with a kitchen knife in a Wal-Mart outlet in Bao’an District at around 9 p.m., Shenzhen police said.
Police Detain Suspect in Changshu Fire That Killed 22 – SixthTone According to a statement released by the State Administration of Work Safety on Sunday, the local police in Jiangsu province spotted traces of burnt petrol at the site of the fire, a two-story building in Changshu City that housed employees of a local restaurant. The authorities also stated that the doors were locked from the outside.
William De Bary Obituary – Tappan, NY | The Journal News Wm. Theodore de Bary, acclaimed scholar of East Asian thought and a leader in the development of Asian Studies in the United States, died peacefully in his home, Hotokudo, in Tappan, New York, on July 14, 2017. John Mitchell Mason Professor Emeritus and Provost Emeritus of Columbia University at the time of his death, de Bary continued to teach after his formal retirement in 1989. Although weakened by a heart condition, he completed grading the papers for his last course in May, 2017.
Tsinghua University cancels professor’s Cultural Revolution history class: Shanghaiist Tang Shaojie, a professor in the philosophy department, has taught the course in previous years at Tsinghua University in Beijing and had plans to teach it again during the fall semester. However, the university canceled the class just a matter of weeks before the semester is set to begin.
Fight for School Seats Turns Fierce – Caixin Global China had nearly 1 million more students vying for a seat in grades one through nine in 2016 compared with the previous year, according to the Ministry of Education.
Food And Travel
Beijing Cooks Up a Fine-Dining Revolution – Caixin “Beijing, to me, is a combination of Los Angeles and Washington, very big avenues and very spread out. … This might explain why some things aren’t moving forward (in the restaurant industry) as fast as in other cities,” said Ignace Lecleir, the founder and owner of one of the top Western fine-dining restaurants in Beijing: Temple Restaurant Beijing (TRB), now known as TRB Hutong.
Books And Literature
China Rich Girlfriend: Kevin Kwan:: Amazon From the bestselling author of Crazy Rich Asians comes a deliciously fun story of family, fortune, and fame in Mainland China. // Comment: Picked this up at the airport Friday, quite entertaining
北京“朝阳群众”月均向警方提供2万多条线索 Comment: CCTV reports that the “Chaoyang Masses” of Beijing provide police with 20,000 tips per month
The Beijing marriage market: putting a price on a perfect match in a Chinese park | South China Morning Post Every weekend, parents hoping to find a perfect match for their single adult children head to Zhongshan Park near the Forbidden City to tout the virtues of their offspring. They lay out sheets of paper detailing each child’s worldly assets, from academic qualifications to household registration and personal property. They also specify the qualities they are looking for in a prospective daughter or son-in-law.
北京求贤村证实：对外来人口收费属实_政经频道_财新网 大兴区榆垡镇求贤村将对外来人口收费——大棚每人每月交2000元；门脸、饭店每年交5000元，每人交1000元；外来居住人口每人每月交2000元。该村党支部书记、村主任向财新记者证实此事，称流动人口导致环境脏、乱、差，收费合乎程序及该村村民自治章程，目前大部分外来租户对这一决定表示理解 // Comment: A village in outer Beijing will charge migrants monthly fees to live and work in the village
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