December 25 – December 31, 2014   HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!  For this final week of 2014, let us put this remarkable document in first place.  For real dyed-in-the-wool China watchers, here is a lengthy analysis of the Chinese Communist Party’s linguistic trends in 2014 – which terms have gained prominence, which have seen reduced usage or have virtually disappeared.  The results are fascinating.  China’s Internet controllers, unless something changes or some other cause is revealed, have this week completely shut down Google and Gmail.  Peter Ford of the Christian Science Monitor puts this in context.  The English-language Global Times comments on the Google shutdown, in elliptical ways. A new area of Sino-American (and –Australian and –French) cooperation: tracking down illicit wealth transferred out of the PRC by corrupt office-holders.  China and the “host” country to split the proceeds?  Everything you could conceivably want to know about foreign students in the US these days – and more.  Lots of graphs and data.  Few surprises, when you come to think about it.  Official Chinese media report on PRC-Vietnam agreement on settlement of maritime issues.  Yu Yongding is a very articulate economist, whose English-language articles appear regularly at respectable sites, including this one.  Here, he lays out in grim detail all the things that are going wrong in the Chinese economy, but then, in the very last paragraph, says “They’ll still make 7% next year, and you’d be foolish to bet against them.” The list of ills is pretty impressive.  “China Hands” is an online publication produced by a group of very enterprising undergraduates at Yale.  A number of the student-written articles in this issue are on good topics, and are worth exploring.  Your editor will not isolate any one or two pieces.   Now the One Child Policy only-children are having only-children.  Implications. A very interesting report on the recent sixth annual China Private Foundation Forum.  Grant-making institutions making progress, from a very low base.  On the sub-current of self-respect derived from being a “loser” among some of China’s young people.  The northeast China grain belt losing topsoil and productivity.  May be paywalled by SCMP.  Offers free registration for limited number of articles. A powerful and moving essay on the 20th-century literary intellectual Hu Feng,  first elevated and then destroyed by Maoism and the Cultural Revolution, by American writer Sheila Melvin, whose essays on China’s cultural dilemmas frequently skate along the edge of the possible.  Published by Caixin, at least the English edition.

December 18 – December 24, 2014  China prepares a new law to “regulate” foreign-funded NGOs.  The “hostile Western forces” theme has paid much attention to the alleged subservice activities of foreign-funded or foreign-headquartered NGOs for a long time.  This new law, to emerge soon, is not expected to create a more welcoming environment for such NGOs, but we will have to see.  The controversy over “Confucius Institutes,” continued.  This article from BBC includes a ten-minute video distilling the correspondent’s interview with Mme. Xu Lin, the head of “Hanban,” the unit that administers the Confucius Institute program worldwide.  The interview is pretty edgy, but will seem familiar to many experienced foreigners.  The key speech at the recent 13th Chinese Online Media Forum by Lu Wei, Director of the State Internet Information Office (i.e., “Internet Czar”).  Given China’s determination to see an internet system more compatible with the PRC government’s notions, this speech is important.  Speaking of “…with Chinese characteristics,” here is a sizzling essay proclaiming that any attempt by the PRC at adoption of China-specific tech standards, in isolation from global mainstreams of tech development, will produce a “Galapagos Syndrome” of China-specific technologies doomed to irrelevance in the larger world.   Only a matter of time, to many observers; Hu Jintao’s right-hand man officially in the crosshairs.  A terrific observation on the economic and social beehive in rural China.  A blog post by a lively veteran of the US-China encounter, Scott Seligman.  Not a bad place to start thinking about Confucius in present-day context and in China’s recent history – as recent, for example, as the Cultural Revolution.  The ironies associated with today’s vast evocations of Confucius are not trivial, and not mere curiosities.  Much more is symbolically at stake.  Revealing article on manipulation of public opinion via the internet.  An hour-long video of a Chicago session, held before a business audience during the US-China Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade meetings this month, featuring comments by Vice Premier Wang Yang, U.S. Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker, and U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman.  On the record, so nothing earth-shattering, but still worth a look, especially given some of Pritzker’s rather muscular comments and Wang’s responses, beginning at approximately 15:30 minutes.  From a publication that melds articles supporting Chinese official views and reader-friendliness for American audiences, this essay attributing Americans’ concerns about Chinese intentions in the Asia-Pacific to their failure to understand Chinese culture.  A brief piece to be read slowly before judgment is reached.  A very blunt assessment of the North-South water transfer project, the biggest water-transfer project in human history:  a “band-aid on a critically ill patient.”  The great central Chinese urban complex of Wuhan sets about instilling “core socialist values.” Here’s how, as reported by Global Times’s English edition.  Jeffrey Wasserstrom sums up the bold optimism of the Chinese regime’s posture today, and comments on the many reasons for insecurity beneath, but close to, the surface.

December 11-17  Christmas reading recommendations from Jeffrey Wasserstrom and Maura Cunningham, who were the pillars of the former China Beat blog.  Interesting one-of-a-kind book suggestions.  Most have not been consumed by Your Editor….  In the “Must Read” category, not only for the delightfully idiosyncratic manner in which it is written, but also for what it says:  like it or not, China is successful, the regime is strong, and the armies of catastrophe-predictors have mis-read the place.  By Arthur Kroeber, who tells it straight, knowing that many will not like his analysis.  Another priority reading, this one on more effective ways of measuring China’s economy.  Seasoned legal analyst and China observer Stanley Lubman on the uneven progress of the Reform effort and the anti-corruption effort, and the essential linkages of the two.  The Mother of All Public Works, the North-to-South Water Diversion Project.  Phase I is now carrying Yangtze River water to Beijing.  Remarkable.  The age-old conundrum of how to police the police.  Now the anti-graft body will apply its efforts to the centermost organizations within the CCP.  The Xinhua report on this is at .  An “inside scoop” story on how the U.S. and China reached agreement on carbon-emission limitation by the time of the November APEC and Obama State Visit meetings.  The traditional year-end “Central Work Conference” concludes, and Xinhua sums up the economic “new normal” into which China has been declared to have entered. Quite an important statement, in fact.  Economic journalist and analyst Arthur Kroeber on “getting used to” the China of Xi Jinping.  In that vein, Xinhua on the “taking shape” of the Silk Road Economic Belt, aimed at knitting the PRC and the Central Asian Economies more closely together.  As the late Senator Everett Dirksen once said, “A billion here, a billion there, and pretty soon you’re talking about real money.”  Alibaba’s Jack Ma overtakes Li Ka-shing as Asia’s wealthiest individual.  Not bad for a former English teacher….  China and Russia plan joint development of wide-body aircraft so as to end “dependence” on Boeing and Airbus.  If it proceeds, it will help to lock in a very long-term economic symbiosis.  Left over from last month, a concise look at the “protocols” reached by the U.S. and China in the volatile military-to-military relationship. Global ripples from China’s economic deceleration. A new Sinica podcast on the increasingly close relationship between China and South Africa. Not about China specifically, but the URL tells what this interesting article deals with, and certainly hacking issues with China are never far from the front pages.

December 4-10  Wall St. Journal Beijing Bureau Chief Andy Browne on the magnitude of the Zhou Yongkang take-down.  A powerful reflection on the disintegration of rural Chinese society.  A reflection on 21st century American society.  Internet censor in chief Lu Wei visits Mark Zuckerberg.  President Xi wants full-speed-ahead on an “FTA Strategy,” i.e., pursuit of numerous Free Trade Agreements.  Unintentional but interesting mirror-imaging: we object to China’s ropagandistic hammering on “hostile Western forces.”   Meanwhile, in the U.S., a Congressman renowned for his dogged prosecution of Chinese abuses real and imagined holds a hearing on the threat of Chinese ideological interference with US academic freedom.  Dems in the House prepare to try to bring down the Trans Pacific Partnership, the economic centerpiece of the Administration’s “Rebalance” of US policy emphasis toward Asia.”  A key official US Government position document on Chinese South China Sea maritime claims.  Caixin Magazine reports on the arrest of former Politburo Standing Committee member and top internal security boss Zhou Yongkang.  See also Caixin’s interactive look at Zhou’s “Dynasty,” graphing Zhou’s personal, familial, and commercial networks, at  .  The Wall Street Journal’s somewhat contemptuous take on the meaning of Zhou Yongkang’s formal arrest.  A Congressional Research Service paper on US Assistance Programs in China (Yes, there still are a few).

November 27 – December 3

Leader Asserts China’s Growing Importance on Global Stage: Following a top-level foreign policy conference in Beijing last week, this NYT piece reports on Party General Secretary Xi Jinping’s key speech and his affirmation that China is now a world power and will act like one. The New York Times

Xi Jinping’s speech: More diplomacy, less raw power: One experienced Australian interprets Xi’s big foreign policy speech as emphasizing soft power and diplomacy over hard power as China works to remake the international order.  Lots on crisis management, confidence-building measures, etc. adds up to reassuring news, in author’s view. Lowy Interpreter

What you should know about foreign-related cases in the Chinese courts post 4th Plenum: Very fine piece for foreign business readers on procedures involving foreigners in Chinese courts since the “Rule of Law” Fourth Plenum last month. Supreme People’s Court Monitor 

Kuomintang wins 6 chief seats in Taiwan election: For sheer surrealism, this is a winner:  Shanghai Daily’s headline and lead paragraph reporting on Taiwan’s elections, in which the Kuomintang suffered grievous and glaring defeats. Shanghai Daily 

Pipe Dreams: How A Chinese State Company Sought to Ride the U.S. Energy Boom: A Paulson Institute case study of a big U.S. investment in a pipe production facility by a Tianjin pipe company.  What happened and why. The Paulson Institute

Inheritance is taxing: China’s family businesses threatened: A fascinating piece about a looming crisis – family-business leadership succession, as the pioneer enterpreneurs of the 1980s reach retirement age and the kids, whose lives have been so very different from their parents’, wobble on succeeding to their parents’ companies’ leadership. East Asia Forum

China has ‘wasted’ $6.8tn in investment, warn Beijing researchers: The extent of wasted investment in the PRC since 2009. North of $6 trillion.  This FT piece may be paywalled. Financial Times

China-U.S. Relations: Greater Promise Demands Greater Efforts: The well known Chinese international relations scholar Jia Qingguo contributes this very fine article on the favorable outcomes of President Obama’s visit to China and on the continuing need for caution and vigilance in the face of enduring negative pressures in the relationship. China U.S.-Focus

Positive Progress Made in Sino-U.S. Military Ties: An upbeat assessment of the U.S.-China mil-mil relationship following the bilateral Summit in Beijing, ending nevertheless with notes of caution.  By a PLAN (PLA Navy) uniformed academic. China-U.S. Focus

Mainland attitude sealed fate of HK protest: A none-too-gracious triumphalist message from the Party’s nationalistic publication Global Times with respect to the waning Occupy Central demonstrations in Hong Kong.  Message – don’t mess with Beijing.  Presumably also published in the Chinese language version. The Global Times

Heeding defense needs, China’s aircraft carrier ambitions appear to move closer to reality: Again Global Times, this time on the likelihood that China will build aircraft carriers and carrier battle groups to meet its growing “needs.” The Global Times

November 20-26

What’s next for China after historic climate deal?: A very judicious look at what the future holds for China, now that the agreement with the U.S. on emissions limitations is in place. China Dialogue

Good News on Energy: An informed and upbeat essay on U.S. energy use, in the context of the recent US-China agreement on emissions capping and reduction. The one unmentioned kicker – will cheaper gasoline undo recent energy-saving trends? The New York Times

The End of China’s Economic Miracle?: Bob Davis, an experienced D.C.-based reporter for the Wall Street Journal, has just returned from a four-year reporting assignment in Beijing. His sobering reflections on the China of tomorrow are food for serious thought. The Wall Street Journal

In China Coal Hub, City Struggles to Survive Amid Economic Slowdown: A vivid reminder that not all of China glistens so brightly as the places Westerners mostly visit. In the Northeast, tough times for old coal-and-steel cities continue. The Wall Street Journal

2014 Annual Report to Congress: Executive Summary of this year’s Report to Congress by the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission, a body established in 2001 by the Congress. Its twelve Members, and their annual Report tend to emphasis the most negative dimensions of China’s domestic and international affairs. U.S.- China Economic And Security Review Commission

Winning Asia: Why is the United States Struggling?: A video of a meeting at The Hudson Institute this week. On the evolution of U.S. policy-making and political thinking about China, and on the “Who’s Winning” question in the Asia-Pacific region. The Hudson Institute

Grand Strategy and a “Rising” China: An essay by Christopher Ford, formerly Hudson Institute Senior Fellow and now a very senior Republican Senate staffer, on broad strategic issues affecting the U.S. and China. Takes the form of a book review. New Paradigms Forum

Ascendant China Cited by U.S. Panel as Pentagon Pivots to Asia: Bloomberg on some of the above report’s findings, all worrisome or alarming. Bloomberg

A good week for global governance:Amidst all the post-Beijing downmouthing, particularly in the American commentariat, following the APEC Summit and Obama state visit to Beijing, this very encouraging and supportive analysis, showing the US AND China to be big “winners” in the raft of positive agreements and commitments emerging from the Beijing meetings. East Asia Forum

China lays out vision for Web governance: The Global Times’s take on the opening of the big Internet conference. Outsiders may have a variety of perspectives. Global Times

When Calls for Revenge Overwhelm China’s Courts: An extraordinary article by the extraordinary Didi Kirsten Tatlow, who went to observe a murder retrial in a smaller city in Sichuan. Not for the faint-hearted. New York Times – Sino Blog

China’s arms exports should continue at a high level: China’s increasing success as an arms exporter. People Daily

Chinese Journalist Accused of Stealing State Secrets Affirms Innocence at Trial: A Chinese journalist on trial for leaking a confidential – and now infamous – Party document. The document itself is really important, as the locus classicus for the whole ideological campaign against “Western” ideological threats. The New York Times 

A ‘System Bitch’ Dissents: A writer for a local newspaper goes on a pro-democracy rant, and the roof falls in. A peek at online opinion wars. Foreign Policy

November 13-19

With Revised Guidance Catalogue, China Introduces Sweeping FDI Reforms: One private firm’s analysis of recently-released proposed changes in the NDRC’s Foreign Investment Catalogue, the document that encourages/permits/prohibits foreign investment in hundreds of sectors of the Chinese economy. China Briefing 

Q. and A.: Edward J. Ramotowski on Implications of the New U.S.-China Visa Policy: Implications of the new 10-year visa agreement between the U.S. and China.  Interview with Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Visa Services. The New York Times

The three Americas of the Chinese imagination: The marvelous Chinese writer Yu Hua on three successive Chinese views of America, from 1949 to the present. Prospect Magazine

A ‘New Type of Military Relations’ for China and the U.S.: Amid a cascading tide of media/commentariat counter-reaction to the “good news” emanating from Beijing last week, this piece at least has the virtue of relative neutrality on the subject it discusses, i.e., deepening mil-to-mil relations between the U.S. and China. The Diplomat

Chinese Characters and Eyesight: Why so many Chinese kids are near-sighted.  Seriously.  They are. Language Log

FACT SHEET: Supporting Economic Growth at Home and Abroad by Eliminating Trade Barriers on Information Technology Products: White House details on U.S.-China Beijing accord on Informational Technology Agreement. White House

FACT SHEET: Supporting Economic Growth at Home and Abroad by Eliminating Trade Barriers on Information Technology Products: USTR Fact Sheet on economic implications of U.S.-China accord on Information Technology Agreement.Office of the United States Trade Representative

China and U.S. look to the future with IT trade agreement: Financial Times on the ITA agreement.  Better than the run of the mill coverage. Financial Times

Breakthrough Achieved on Information Technology Agreement: Next Stop, Geneva: First response from key U.S. industry group to U.S.-China agreement on Information Technology Agreement terms. ITI

STATEMENT: WRI Response to U.S.-China Climate Announcement: “Make It a Race to the Top”: World Resources Institute statement on U.S.-China Beijing agreement on climate change and emissions reduction. World Resources Institute

U.S.-China Climate Pact and Domestic Politics: Two UCLA scholars craft a brief but acute analysis of the broader significance of the U.S.-China climate change/emissions agreement reached in Beijing last week. Legal Planet

U.S.-China agreement presages a change in the air: A very interesting Australian commentary on the U.S.-China emissions-peak agreement. East Asia Forum

China Plans to Slow Energy Consumption Increase to 28% by 2020: China’s strategy for controlling emissions growth and reducing dependence on coal, revealed in a new State Council statement. Bloomberg

An Agreement on Climate Change: Letters to NYT on the emissions agreement between US and PRC. The New York Times

GOP congressional leaders denounce U.S.-China deal on climate change: URL tells the tale.  The question is not only can/will China deliver; it is can/will the U.S. deliver. Washington Post

Puzzle Surrounds a Chinese Official’s Suspect Fortune: Chinese news sources reporting on seriously major corruption: 42 cubic feet of RMB notes, for example.  A colorful rendition by NYT Sinosphere. The New York Times

Gov’t Gives Academics Failing Grade for Fraud in Research Funding: Fraud and other forms of academic corruption; the government reworks the research-funding system. Caixin

Hubei police detain three cult members: Cult arrests in Hubei; the cult’s origins said to be in the U.S. Global Times

China’s Path to Financial Reform: From a few months ago, a full-length paper on “China’s Path to Financial Reform” from the Center for American Progress. Center for American Progress

Hard lessons of the Occupy protests: A very thoughtful look at the Hong Kong Occupy Central movement, from a veteran HK journalist, as the movement seems to be winding down. South China Morning Post

Zheng Yongnian: Xi Jinping’s Political Roadmap: For those with the time to read it, this long (translated) speech by the eminent Chinese political scientist Zheng Yongnian, entitled “Xi Jinping’s Political Roadmap,” will be worth reading for Zheng’s personal insights into what Xi Jinping is attempting to do and what his efforts mean for China’s future.  Gives a very granular feel for China’s internal political scene today, both at the central and local levels.  Overall, very much in the “They’re doing the right things” mode.  Observers have noted that Zheng at times is more muscularly nationalistic in materials he produced for limited-circulation audiences in China. 高大伟 在美国华盛顿人的博客

November 6-12    A last-minute deluge of APEC and Xi-Obama meeting items.  This is perhaps the key text.  Other commentaries will be posted in next week’s SR. An early official press release about Obama-Xi discussions. The US and China announce a breakthrough in their bilateral negotiations over terms of a revised WTO International Technology Agreement (ITA).  With US-China agreement in hand, full WTO approval of new ITA should advance well.  ITA ends tariffs on specific categories of high-tech and IT goods, and has not been amended since 1996; many key categories will be included in a new ITA once the WTO puts it in place. A win for hard, professional government-to-government negotiation.  Expect howls from some corners of the US political community, in spite of clear economic benefits to US from the Agreement.  A good week for blunt diagnoses.  NYT Keith Bradsher on the darkening climate for US and other multinationals in the PRC.  Peter Ford lays out in plain view the ongoing assault on “hostile foreign forces” (read, USA) in the propaganda machinery and on the Internet.  China turns tables on US: we used to pull this stuff for domestic political purposes.  No prettier there than here.

Your Editor’s own modest piece on same subject at  On China’s big Silk Road effort, rolled out with trumpets at APEC, and the contrast with the US “TPP” (Trans-Pacific Partnership) focus.  Good background reading on big topics close at hand.  TPP diplomacy on APEC Time in China’s capital.  China not a participant in TPP negotiations.  A good Financial Times rundown.  Global Times’s take on the US election results.  A very fine BBC piece on Xi Jinping, his goals, his methods, and implications for China’s future.  Well, well.  China and Japan tone it down.  Even at the most incendiary moments, never forget the fact of staged theatrics.  Is there a point of no return, though? WSJ China Bureau Chief Andy Browne with a sober and cool-eyed look at the China-Japan step back from ugly confrontation this week.  Inevitably, whenever the leaders of China and the US prepare to meet, a think-tank feeding frenzy ensues, since, in order to ensure relevance and audience, everyone has to say something about “the relationship” and what the two leaders should work on and say.  This entry rings in the National Bureau of Asian Research and the Carnegie Endowment’s China office.  Separately, Brookings has assembled its China team for brief notes on the selfsame theme, at . Both are useful summary reiterations of familiar themes, but surprises are few and far between.  Yale Law School’s China law specialist (and distinguished Constitutional Law professor) Paul Gewirtz on the Xi-Obama “ought to” agenda, somehow saying in a more idiosyncratic and meaningful way what most of the others weighing in this week are saying as well.  A major new paper from Beltway think tank CNA by veteran retired Navy officer Michael McDevitt on all aspects of US policy toward the contentious South China Sea issues.  Full document downloadable from this site.  The case of Zhou Yongkang, the highest-placed figure to be taken down thus far, continues; here’s an update, which also contains interesting information about jailbreaks and other penal-institution matters.  “Academic exchanges” between the PLA Navy and the U.S. Navy. A short and well-presented report by an MIT-Tsinghua joint effort, on prospects for China’s carbon emissions under several assumed scenarios.  See also  .  CFR’s Liz Economy writes in a jocular but still substantive way about ten facts to be learned from President Xi Jinping’s new book about governance.  A quick read, one person’s opinions, but worth ten minutes.  Read this slowly in a quiet room.  It is a study of the usage of the politically fraught term “governing according to the Constitution,” based on content analysis.  In fact, this approach to “understanding China” is, more generally, very important.  For readers with sufficient time and comfort with academic discourse, this is a very significant review article on three books dealing with Hong Kong.  It lays out the significance of intellectual debate over Hong Kong for the conceptualization of China’s future itself.  And it is eloquently written.

October 30 – Nov. 5

Remarks on U.S.-China Relations: Secretary of State Kerry’s major address on China, Washington, November 4, prior to his and President Carter’s trip to China for APEC and a Presidential visit. U.S. Department of State

If You Want Rule of Law, Respect Ours: A new and lengthy interview with China’s ambassador to the U.S., Cui Tiankai, in the run-up to President Obama’s trip to China and meetings with President Xi Jinping.  He is a superb spokesperson to American audiences. Foreign Policy

Is a U.S. Decline Good News for China?: An interesting thread, including a remarkable piece by Peking University’s Zha Daojiong, on the Chinese perception of U.S. “decline.” Foreign Policy

Some November Reflections on China’s Plenum and America’s Election: Your Editor’s own modest speculations about the Chinese Fourth Plenum, the U.S. November election, and the persistent PRC/CCP hammering on the threat of  “hostile Western Forces” and “Western values.” US-China Perception Monitor

China’s Transition: The Third Plenum – One Year On: An assemblage of about a dozen well regarded experts assess, in one-page essays topic by topic, China’s progress in moving toward the reform goals enunciated at the 2013 Third Plenum of the CCP Central Committee.  Not quite a “report card,” but a set of useful markers.  Good graphics, but may be a slow download. Bloomberg

Tough Love for Hapless Chinese Investors Abroad: “Tough love” blunt advice for Chinese investors overseas, from a very sophisticated Chinese senior finance official, Jin Liqun. Australian Centre on China in the World

CCP Central Committee Decision concerning Some Major Questions in Comprehensively Moving Governing the Country According to the law Forward: An early English translation of General Secretary Xi Jinping’s “Explanation” of the just-issued “Decision” of the Fourth Plenum of the 18th CCPCentral Committee, dealing with Governing the Nation According to Law.  Xi issued a functionally comparable “Explanation” last year, immediately following the huge Decision on economic reform at the Third Plenum.  This “Explanation” is worth examining, for its insights into how the Party leadership comes up with major documents like the “Decision.” China Copyright and Media

Fourth Plenary Session of the 18th CPC Central Committee: At “Latest News,” interesting brief write-ups, cleared for global exposure, of important points in the big Fourth Plenum “Decision” and the ensuing Xi Jinping “Explanation.”  Each one is less than 500 words. Xinhua

The Fourth Plenum’s “Decision”: my take: One respected U.S. legal scholar’s “take” on the Fourth Plenum “Decision.” Chinese Law Professor Blog

China, Afghanistan seal new security deal: As the U.S. winds down its military presence in Afghanistan, China and the new Afghan leader pledge cooperation on anti-terrorist and border security goals, and China promises significant investment in Afghanistan.  Xinjiang violence on China’s mind.

China’s Growing Private Sector: Harvard economist Richard Cooper analyzes the findings of D.C. economist Nicholas Lardy’s recent book, Markets Over Mao, showing the extent to which the Chinese economy is now privatized and the limits of state involvement in the economy, as compared, in some surprising metrics, not only th the BRICS but to the US itself. Caixin

Axiom and the Deepening Divide in U.S.-China Cyber Relations: Paul Gillis, who produces the marvelous China Accounting Blog, writes for Foreign Affairs about “Another Enron?  Alibaba’s Risky Corporate Structure.”  Login required for this, alas. Council on Foreign Affairs

China’s Tianxia: Do All Under Heaven Need One Arbiter?: Lurking around the edges of China’s rapidly increasing global presence, amid domestic calls for realization of a “China Dream” and revitalization of hallowed indigenous values, is the surmise that China seeks to recreate a kind of hierarchical “All Under Heaven” world, to be guided by – who else? – China.  Prof. June Dreyer of the University of Miami has been aiming at what she considers to be distortions of historical reality and delusions of future grandeur for years, and writes bluntly in this short article.  Such “restorationism,” however, may be something of a straw man. Yale Global

Chinese and South Korean Students Face Fallout from Suspicions of SAT Cheating: More in the saga of “Harvard or bust,” this time involving the suspension of SAT scores from Chinese and Korean exam-takers. The New York Times

China’s Clandestine Submarine Caves Extend Xi’s Naval Reach: Articles about China’s growing submarine prowess in the South China Sea and beyond have become a sort of flavor-of-the-month.  This one touches on the other sub-owning states of the region as well. Bloomberg

China and Global Crises: The “Culture of Reluctance”: An examination, in specific national cases ranging from Afghanistan to Iraq to Mali to Ukraine to Pakistan — of the “culture of reluctance” that defines China’s approach to global crises; bottom line – expect little “responsible stakeholder” behavior, and selectivity based on hard estimates of self interest. European Council on Foreign Relations 

China’s Shadow Foreign Policy: Parallel Structures Challenge the Established International Order: From the Mercator Institute for China Studies in Berlin, an article describing and graphing the web of PRC-created parallel structures (to established multilateral institutions) to create a unique Chinese “Shadow Foreign Policy.” Mercator Institute for China Studies

Religion in China: Cracks in the atheist edifice: A long Economist feature on Christianity in China, a fascinating and important topic in Chinese social development.  Objective in tone overall, but here and there skates along the edge of a kind of celebratory intonation that inevitably sets Beijing teeth on edge. The Economist 

Echoing Mao, China’s Xi Says Art Must Serve the People and the Socialist Cause: From October 16.  One of many reports at that time about General Secretary Xi Jinping’s speech to leading figures in the artistic and literary world, about the ideological and national duties of artists and writers. Business Week

Former NEA Official Had 200 Mln Yuan at Home, Graft Fighter Says: $200 million in cash found in one of the homes owned by a taken-down National Development and Reform Commission senior official. Caixin

Meeting stresses CPC grip on the military: Yet again, The Leader makes crystal clear to the military that they serve the Party, not the state. Loyalty loyalty loyalty. Global Times

Diverging and Converging Conceptions on A New Model of China-US Military Relations: We might as well be realistic about the depth of the chasm between the US and China in the security realm.  The one favorable note here is the increase in serious mil-to-mil dialogues in several spheres. China-US Focus

‘Dirtiest city’ faces massive lay-offs while cleaning up air: A remarkable, dismal report from the “Dirtiest City in China” on efforts to reign in air pollution by shutting down heavy industry, and the unemployment that resulted.  Reprinted, interestingly, in Global Times, which belongs to the CCP. Global Times

China’s Dangerous Game: This vast article – of The Atlantic feature-article length, is typically very well written, by author Howard French.  It’s central focus is the rising wave of assertive Chinese power in the South China Sea, and the responses of the countries most affected, including the US.  And yet, for all but general readers, it breaks little new ground; its value lies in its comprehensiveness, not in its new insights. The Atlantic 

SPP eyes new anti-graft body: Institutionalization, perhaps inevitable, of the current anti-corruption campaign.  Or perhaps the beginnings of a turf battle? Global Times

October 23-29

CCP Central Committee Decision concerning Some Major Questions in Comprehensively Moving Governing the Country According to the law Forward: Analysis and discussion of the “Decision” of the Fourth CCPCC Plenum is The first available English Translation (unofficial) of the “Decision” issued approximately a week following the closing of the Fourth Plenum of the 18th CCP Central Committee, the meeting focused on Governing the Nation According to Law.”  This “Decision,” plus the Communique issued just as the Plenum closed (see below) are the core documents arising from the meeting, and will bear careful study. China Copyright and Media

Official Central Committee Communiqué on 4th Plenum: English translation of the Communique issued at the close of the Fourth Plenum of the 18th CCP Central Committee, focused on the legal system and “Governing the nation through law.” China Copyright and Media

Jamie P. Horsley: China’s rulers commit to the (socialist) rule of law: One of the better English-language summaries and analysis of the Fourth Plenum’s announced vision and prospects for future rule of law reforms.  This widely respected author, from the Yale Law School, puts far less emphasis than most other commentators on the heavily-stressed theme of Communist Party dominance over the entire legal-bureaucratic system that is to be more heavily governed “according to law.” Asian Review

Xinhua Insight: China’s legal renaissance sounds death knell for Guanxi: The end of “guanxi,” just when we foreigners were beginning to get the hang of it?  This evaluation of the Fourth Plenum’s Rule of Law focus predicts the end of special-relationship ties as the key to getting anything done.  Heavy attention to American views of doing business in China.

Neysun Mahboubi discusses the importance of CPC Constitution: Good little CCTV interview on Netflix with a UPenn scholar, discussing the Communique that appeared at the end of the Fourth Plenum. YouTube

Rule of law must follow China’s path: An early take on the ROL decisions coming out of the just-concluded Fourth Plenum of the 18th CCP Central Committee. The box summarizing the Communique is more important than the article, by an American teaching at the “American University in Moscow.” China Daily

Avoiding the Blind Alley: China’s Economic Overhaul and Its Global Implications: The Asia Society has entered the world of policy-oriented think tanks with its new Policy Institute.  The Institute’s first publication, with The Rhodium Group, is Daniel Rosen’s exhaustive study of economic reform in China, particularly since the Third Plenum in late 2013. From this site, users may download both the Executive Summary (21 pp.) and the full Rosen report. Rhodium Group

Deal Set on China-Led Infrastructure Bank: Yet another zone of potential contention: China inaugurates the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank with twenty other countries, not including close US allies. The New York Times

Deep Threat: A major story from WSJ on the inauguration of China’s long-range strategic missile submarine activity, soon to range far from China’s coastal waters. Wall Street Journal

How China Sees America’s Moves in Asia: Worse Than Containment: A US Naval War College China specialist analyzes one particular Chinese journal article on military aspects of US-China rivalry, and expands from there to some gloomy conclusions about the deteriorating discourse within China over military challenges with the U.S. The National Interest

New rules for China’s war on terror?: As incidents deemed to be terrorism increase in number, the state of Chinese laws on the subject, and prospects for new anti-terrorism legislation. East Asian Forum

‘The Storm of Reality’: Chinese Poetic Voices From the Lower Tier of Society: On the poetry of the underclass and the working class. Sinosphere Blog

China’s Anti-Corruption Drive is a Party Tactic to Preserve Power: John Fitzgerald, an Australian China specialists who until recently headed the Ford Foundation in China, writes interestingly on the future of China’s vast anti-corruption campaign, and the crisis of Party behavior that the leadership is trying to combat. The Australian News

‘C.E.O. Confidant’ Looks at China’s Business Pioneers: A self-styled “CEO Confidant” offers observations on Chinese CEOs and businesses; a few real insights nestled among the superficialities. US-China Perception Monitor

Under Cloud of Repression, Hundreds Turn Out to Mourn Tiananmen Square ‘Black Hand’: A quiet but affecting story about the funeral of Chen Zeming, one of the so-called “Black Hands” of the 1989 movement that led to Tiananmen. Wall Street Journal

Man found guilty in slaying of 2 USC graduate students: Two young Chinese students’ dreams and lives cut short on American soil.  A second conviction in the case of two murdered young scholars, killed in their car near the USC campus.  Americans must look this in the face. LA Tmes

China sees APEC as chance to enhance its diplomatic influence: A veteran Hong Kong journalist and political commentator writes of China’s diplomatic positioning as it prepares to host the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation meetings in Beijing in November, including the “Leaders Meeting” that will bring heads of all APEC governments, including Presidents Obama and Putin and Prime Minister Abe plus all the Southeast Asian leaders and others, to the Chinese capital. Ejinsight

Xi calls for new type of think tanks: This brief article reporting President Xi Jinping’s vision of the development of “think tanks with Chinese characteristics” actually raises many points worthy of speculative contemplation. China Daily

US-China Need a Missile Launch Notification Deal: An important article, calling for a US-China “missile launch notification agreement.”  The US-China relationship is so fraught now that suggestions of individual confidence-building measures need to be looked at seriously. The Diplomat

Reevaluation of China emerging in West: Global Times’s short reflection on the blinders “The West” wears with respect to China, and how, with China’s rise, the deep-set paradigms are beginning to tremble. More than a touch of self-congratulation here, but mild compared to some others’ writings. To their credit, the authors understand that how China deals with its own challenges will do more to affect Western estimations than anything else. Global Times

October 16-22

This has been the week of the Fourth Plenary Session (Plenum) of the 18th Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party (known simply as the “Fourth Plenum,” whose focal theme, announced long in advance, is (translated into English), advancement of governance by the “rule of law” (ROL).  The Plenum’s advent has generated a huge body of written material on law in China, and this week’s SR is thus weighted heavily in that direction.  Ed.

But FIRST, Hong Kong….

Hong Kong protesters confront government officials in TV debate: One of numerous media reports on the first meeting between student and Occupy Central representatives, on the one hand, and representatives of the Hong Kong Government (i.e., Chief Secretary Carrie Lam) on the other, televised to the entire city. Dated Oct. 21. Sydney Morning Herald 


‘Rule of Law’ or Rule by Law’? In China, a Preposition Makes All the Difference: Your linguistically fascinated editor recommends this piece – which goes to the heart of what the Chinese mean in Chinese and what they and the rest of us mean when what they say in Chinese is rendered into English – as a prelude to all the ROL material that follows.  Good for China Real Time for generating this piece. Wall Street Journal

Rule of Law – Why Now?: The familiar Chinafile site threads together pre-Plenum comments by a list of well known American specialists on Chinese law and politics, around the theme of “ROL – Why Now?”  There’s a certain “can’t not say something” to the many elements in this thread, but it will be interesting to compare the writers’ prognostications a week before the Plenum with what we learn at Plenum’s end. China File

China embraces reforms to strengthen the rule of law: The official PRC Government web site piece on ROL as the Fourth Plenum begins. From Oct. 20.

Fourth Plenum Opens Today in Beijing: The US-China Business Council’s useful advance take on the Fourth Plenum.  Dated Oct. 20. US-China Business Council

Scholars Press China to Embrace Judicial Independence: In the Chinese ROL context, phrases like “constitutionalism” and “judicial independence” are fraught with political significance.  This Bloomberg piece from October 19 notes some Chinese legal scholars’ calls for both, and the deeper latent in both concepts. Bloomberg

China must chart own course to rule of law: The Party-published Global Times English Edition offers this editorial on how China must pursue the rule of law in its own way,  in the face of ill-intended “Western” discussions of ROL in China. “Resorting to its soft power, the West has attempted to distract us from our process and goals,” Global Times notes critically. Global Times

人人都希望法律为己所用时能“伸屈随心”。这种人性的弱点,遇上缺少限制的权力这针兴奋剂,就会迅速膨胀起来: This one’s in Chinese; try your skills.  A thoughtful piece about why China needs action, not just words, on ROL. Sike News

Rule of law elusive as Beijing adds topic to leader’s agenda: A very different take on prospects for – and definitions of – ROL in China, citing the pessimistic views of a top Chinese legal reform scholar that far-reaching change can be expected from the Plenum. Financial Times

It’s All in the Execution: Struggling with the Reform Agenda: UC San Diego’s Barry Naughton, writing in the quarterly China Leadership Monitor, discusses progress – or lack of progress — on the huge Reform agenda enunciated at the Third Plenum last fall. Hoover

Usefully paired with the US-China Business Council’s catchy Reform “Scorecard,” discussed last week.

Chinese FDI in the United States: Q3 2014 Update: The 2014 3rd Quarter review of Chinese FDI into the US, from The Rhodium Group.  Be sure to read the brief Pollicy Developments section near the end. Rhodium Group

Costco looks for China path that sidesteps Wal-Mart’s potholes: An interesting piece on Costco’s plans for “virtual” stores using Alibaba’s Taobao platform, hoping to avoid the missteps of Wal-Mart, Best Buy, Carrefour and other foreign big-box retailers. Shanghai Daily

Can China Think Without America?: An essay by an engaged Chinese political scientist, around the question of why China seems to be so hyper-focused on the U.S., for good or ill. The China Story

Researchers Cast Doubt on State Council Goals to Cut Air Pollution: As the first autumn “airpocalypse” engulfs North China, Caixin offers this article, based on expert testimony, as to prospects for meeting planned pollution reductions by 2017, and the larger problems conducing to high PM 2.5 levels. Caixin

The western model is broken: China figures only tangentially in this harsh proclamation of the defeat of the pretensions and delusions of the 19th and 20th century “Western Model,” but this bitter but powerful essay contains many of the points that pop up regularly in PRC assertions of the limits of Western relevance for the future of China. The Guardian 

Is This the New Face of China’s Silent Majority?: The parallel is not exact, but Zhou Xiaoping, singled out for praise recently by President Xi Jinping, though young, seems to come across as a kind of talk radio star (on the web) with his bizarre anti-American bombshells – at least according to this summary account of a debate going on in China. Foreign Policy

China’s Long Soft Fall: The Conference Board’s press release about its big new study of the Chinese economy, much more guarded in tone than those of other analysts.  Only they are talking about China levelling out at 3.9% annual growth within a few years.  The full paper is apparently Members-Only. The Conference Board

Growth Falls to Five Year Low: The Party’s Global Times’s take on the dropping GDP growth rate. Global Times

Facebook, IBM CEOs join Beijing B-school’s board: Apparently the threat of “hostile Western forces” has its limits:  Facebook’s Zuckerberg and IBM’s Rometty join the Board of the Tsinghua University School of Economics and Management.

October 9-15

(Note:  The Hong Kong situation is so fluid that news reports more than a few hours old are likely to be of limited use.  Thus, in this weekly listing, items regarding Hong Kong are few in number.  Key articles or reports that have a longer timeliness will be included in SR in coming weeks.)

China’s Silk Road Revival: A useful introduction to China’s pursuit today of a new land-based Silk Road and a new sea-based Maritime Silk Road, both of which have profound economic and geopolitical implications.  By, it should be noted, an Indian Member of Parliament and former External Affairs Minister. Project Syndicate

China’s Dangerous Game: A very long article, but in the “must read” basket.  Writer Howard French’s huge disquisition on China’s strategies and actions in the South China Sea.  Not calculated to please Beijing, but it ends on a (somewhat discordant) note of optimism. The Atlantic

Capital Account Liberalization in China: The Need for a Balanced Approach: For serious economists:  a new Boston University study of potential capital account liberalization in China, calling for a cautious and balanced approach in view of the perils that such liberalization otherwise entails. Boston University

Not-So-Empty Talk: A very blunt article about the perils for the US of embracing and using the “New Type of Big Country Relations” phrase coined by the PRC and its president.  May be paywalled. Foreign Affairs 

Young people of Taiwan and Hong Kong refusing to accept the unification of ‘Greater China’: An article by the Australian journalist John Garnaut about the Taiwan and Hong Kong discovery of separate identities that call into question the central CCP narrative of rejuvenation and “reunification.” The central point – today’s erosion of the old “meta-narrative” long shared by the CCP and the original Chinese Nationalist Party – is important.  The author’s somewhat breathless identification his young subjects places this piece beyond standard news reporting. Canberra Times

APEC Meeting Between Taiwan’s Ma and China’s Xi Is a No-Go: China hosts the APEC meetings, including “leaders” meeting, this November, and there was a buzz that Taiwan’s Ma Ying-jeou might for the first time come to an APEC meeting, perhaps even meeting President Xi Jinping.  But it isn’t going to happen, as this article explains. The Diplomat

China Economic Reform Scorecard – October 2014: The US-China Business Council’s “Scorecard” of progress on implementation of the Reform Program promulgated at the Nov. 2013 Plenum, a year later.  Click on PDF link for full report. US-China Business Council 

U.S. Business Group Calls on China to Quicken Pace of Reforms: A WSJ piece building from the aforementioned US-China Business Council “Reform Scorecard” survey. Wall Street Journal 

World Bank trims China, East Asia 2014-2016 growth forecasts: Outward ripples from what, thus far, appears to be Beijing’s “managed slowdown” of the Chinese economy, in accordance with the Nov. 2013 blueprint for structure change and reform. Reuters 

Hong Kong protests expose the real rot in society: One commentator’s view on what the Hong Kong demonstrations have really revealed about Hong Kong.  May be paywalled. South China Morning Post

The “black hands” of Occupy Central: The China Media Project’s entry on the “hostile forces/black hands” theme applied to the “Occupy Central” movement in Hong Kong. China Media Project

As Hong Kong protests challenge Beijing, authorities extend backlash to books: More arrests and bannings of book sales by various prominent authors now blacklisted. The Washington Post

To Stamp Out Pollution and Corruption, China Could Start With Legal Reform: This is an important article for what it says and what it doesn’t say. Veteran Chinese law scholar/practitioner Stanley Lubman notes the connection between corruption and pollution (read the article) but then calls for a “rule of law oriented system” to replace periodic virulent but unsustainable “campaigns” against corruption.  Yes, but how?  Without going to the wall, this article circles around central, even existential issues facing the PRC’s social and political system. Wall Street Journal 

US spying scandal will ‘break the Internet,’ says Google’s Schmidt:This article has one sentence on China, but it’s a big one. CNet

China’s ‘mass line’ campaign a success: Xi: A declaration of victory:  China’s fifteen month-long “Mass Line Campaign”  aimed at wiping out all sorts of excesses and bad habits among millions of officials is ending. Channel News Asia

On Dealing with Chinese Censors: Joseph Esherick, one of the most distinguished members of the just-now-retiring generation of American historians of modern China, offers this fascinating look at how he labored through the preparation of the Chinese translation of his recent book, censor by censor, haggle by haggle. China File

October 2-8

HK protesters agree to talks: The latest on the Hong Kong situation (talks coming) from the “nationalistic” Global Times, published by People’s Daily. The Comments below are of particular interest, e.g. a conspiracy theory involving Paul Wolfowitz, the CIA, and a nefarious American plot behind the HK demos. Uh-huh….. Interesting, though, that “Jason’s” contrary views made it onto the GT website. From Global Times

People’s Daily Condemns Pro-Democracy Protests in Hong Kong: People’s Daily long commentary on the Hong Kong situation, published October 2. Includes translation. Commentary by NYT correspondent Chris Buckley. From People’s Daily

No Tiananmen Redux: A standout among numerous English-language commentaries on the Hong Kong situation this week. From Foreign Affairs

“Who owns Hong Kong?” Economic views from the mainland on Hong Kong: Purports to be the economic portion of an online posting, quickly deleted by PRC censors, offering mainlander views (origins unclear) of Hong Kong; an interesting contrast to what the Western mainstream media convey. From chiecon

China at the Crossroads-Ten Major Reform Challenges: Well known and prolific Contemporary China specialist David Shambaugh of The George Washington University and Brookings with a hot-knife-through-butter paper on Ten Major Reform Challenges facing China. Shambaugh does not mince words these days. This paper recapitulates some of his recent published works, including Tangled Titans, about the U.S. and China. From Brookings Institution

The Man Who Changed the Face of Shanghai: A flowing, illustrated article Sir Victor Sassoon and his Shanghai buildings, starting with the Cathay Hotel (1929), better known now as the Peace Hotel, recently restored to near-original splendor. From The New York Times

China is Hong Kong’s Future – not it’s enemy: Call Martin Jacques a contrarian, perhaps: his book is entitled When China Rules the World: The End of the Western World and the Birth of a New Global Order, and he is a favorite speaker at government-organized conferences in China. But contrarians should have their moment. Here he is on what is really happening in Hong Kong. From The Guardian

Hong Kong’s Protests Are Not About the Economy, Stupid: A blunt response to Jacques. From The Diplomat

PLA radar technology could nullify US stealth jets, claims Global Times: Developments in PRC anti-stealth radar. From Want China Times

Is This the End of Hong Kong As We Know It?: Informed, ongoing back-and-forth among a number of non-Chinese observers close to Hong Kong. Posted to Suggested Readings October 3; may further evolve in coming days. From China File

American Universities Face a Confucian Dilemma: Another contribution to the discussion of Confucius Institutes on U.S. campuses, this one from the University of Kentucky; more nuanced that much of what has preceded it in recent weeks. From USCNPM

China’s Corporate Landscape: Investment Strategist Andy Rothman with a dense, graph-filled look at “China’s Corporate Landscape,” with emphasis on the scope and vigor of private firms. (Note: Suggested Readings will post such items from private-sector sources only very occasionally.) From Matthew’s Asia

China’s First Bond Defaulter Gets Guarantee From Bad Bank: The arranged workaround for the first Chinese company to skirt the edge of default on the domestic bond market. Bondholders protected, with the state picking up the tab. From Bloomberg

Having babies from abroad: A long and detailed article about Chinese couples planning surrogate-mother births in other countries (e.g., USA). “Famiily planning” gains new meaning (e.g., another little U.S. citizen in the family). A related item, also from People’s Daily 2013, on wealthy Chinese seeking surrogate births in the U.S. is at. From People’s Daily

Sept. 24-30

Jimmy Carter Trip Report: Beijing, Qingdao, Xian, and Shanghai, China, Sept. 1-10 2014:  President Jimmy Carter’s Trip Report on his and Mrs. Carter’s visit to China, on behalf of The Carter Center, Sept. 1-10.  Your Editor was a member of the Carter Center delegation. From The Carter Center

Seize the Moment: At a moment of great drama in Hong Kong, a distinguished Hong Kong-based economist and academic figure offers a detailed argument in favor of proceeding with the Chief Executive election plan as laid out by Beijing.  Flies in the face of demands from the vast numbers of demonstrators, but one of the most thoughtful expositions of the issue in English to date, whether one agrees with it or not. From China-US Focus

USCBC 2014 China Business Environment Survey Results: The results of this year’s US-China Business Council survey of its more than 200 member companies.  Good graphics, workable prose.  Upbeat but not euphoric, with concerns seeping in from the margins. From US-China Business Council

Distrust About China’s Antitrust Campaign: An exceptionally well structured article about the spate of PRC anti-monopoly cases against foreign firms, foreign business community suspicions of Chinese motives, and the need for fuller understanding of the whole anti-monopoly campaign. From US-China Perspectives Monitor 

Chinese Researcher: ‘Hostile Western Forces’ Behind Great Leap Death Tolls: A good treatment of a remarkable debate that has erupted within “intellectual circles” in the past couple of weeks, over the resurrection of the Maoist “class struggle” concept and the treatment, or mistreatment, of the history of the Great Leap Forward.  Very important topics.  May be paywalled. From Foreign Policy

Abandoning ‘class struggle’ central to China’s achievements, paper says in rebuke to leftists: A second article on the same subject. From US-China Perspectives Monitor

Obama avoids pinning down Sino-US ties: A government think tank analyst discusses his view of President Obama’s approach to China these days, in a Party newspaper, and before subsequent Hong Kong disturbances. From Global Times

Beijing closed door meeting with Hong Kong tycoons erodes trust: As the Hong Kong situation ferments, this critical piece on President Xi Jinping’s meeting with Hong Kong’s top magnates, by a frequent critic of China’s handling of Hong Kong.  Dated Sept. 29. From South China Morning Post

‘Against my fear I see that you hope’: A dramatic letter from a faculty member at Hong Kong University, addressed to the masses of students taking part in the vast demonstrations gripping Central and other key areas of Hong Kong. From South China Morning Post

Xinhua Details Charges in Case Against Ilham Tohti: The Ilham Tohti case, continued: Chinese official news service details the charges. From Sinosphere Blog

Rebalancing the Rebalance: An interesting perspective on the famous U.S. “Rebalance to Asia,” to which most Chinese are so allergic, by a foreign service officer writing in a journal of the U.S. Army War College. From Strategic Studies Institute

The China-US Relationship is Basically Good: A more optimistic view of US-China relations, from a seasoned PRC diplomat who frequently speaks to the world. From China-US Focus

Intel to Invest Up to $1.5 Billion in Two Chinese Mobile Chipmakers: This will be interesting to follow.  The PRC is apparently upset at Qualcomm these days; is that a factor?  At the same time, the PRC is apparently very leery of foreign involvement in sensitive IT sectors; is Intel’s 20% stake here significant in any way? From The New York Times

How China’s very real national security fears shaped its reform plan for Hong Kong: As a major political crisis brews in Hong Kong, following the National People’s Congress’s decision on the election process for the next Chief Executive.  This article offers one – only one – perspective, i.e., the PRC government’s perception of threats to national security in Hong Kong. From South China Morning Post

Graphic: Giving Mood:  A one-page graphic showing trends in Chinese philanthropic donations, with comments on where the donations are going.  Chinese Red Cross donations have yet to recover from the scandal of a couple of years ago. From Caixin

Going to Comic Lengths to Stifle Foreign Coverage in Xinjiang: Another report on the chronic cat-and-mouse game that goes on between foreign information-seekers and domestic security forces, this one involving an Australian journalist in Xinjiang.  There is a link to the actual broadcast made by this journalist, but this story is about cats and mice in a never-ending, but increasingly significant, wrestle. From Sinosphere Blog

Hong Kong: 10 things Xi Jinping might be thinking: The BBC China Editor here has chosen a format that Your Editor usually abhors – pretending to know what is in the mind of a public figure (in this case President Xi), but the ten points she makes, and the comments she appends, are serious and meaningful, so here it is. From BBC

US Companies feel unwelcome in China, complain of unfair treatment: Making up for time lost during Your Editor’s China travel in September.  This is the WaPo piece on US companies feeling themselves badly treated in China these days, especially in Anti-Monopoly Law investigations. From Washington Post

Sept. 17-23

In Praise of China’s New Normal: An upbeat look at long term trends in the Chinese economy, including the much-discussed “new normal” in growth rates, by a well known and respected Chinese academic and economist. From Project Syndicate.

China Sentences Uighur Scholar to Life: Life in Prison for Professor Ilham Tohti, accused of “separatism.” From The New York Times.

Uighur scholar sentenced to life in prison for secession: Official China Daily report on the Ilham Tohti life sentence. From China Daily.

Statement by the Press Secretary on the Conviction and Sentencing of Ilham Tohti: Official White House statement on Ilham Tohti sentence. From The White House.

Dude where are my socks?: A delightful narrative about buying a pair of socks from Taobao, the online shopping site that belongs to Alibaba.  Thanks to Bill Bishop’s “Sinociscm” for identifying this piece. From The Ant Hill.

Guest Post: China’s Rule of Law Campaign is a Political Sledgehammer: Two China business veterans put in context the upcoming emphasis on the “rule of law” (if that’s the right translation of the familiar Chinese term) as this year’s Party Central Committee Plenum, focused on that mantra, looms on the horizon. From The Financial Times.

Competing Interests in China’s Competition Law Enforcement: The U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s detailed critique of China’s application of its vaunted Anti-Monopoly Law, arguing that rather than being an instrument for the erection of a market economy, it is being used as an instrument of discriminatory industrial policy aimed often at foreign companies. From U.S. Chamber of Commerce

Does Alibaba Change the Game?: Paul Gillis, who publishes a very informative Chinese accounting blog, on the Alibaba IPO against the background of recent dodgy Chinese listed company behaviors. From China Accounting Blog.

Chinese Tuesdays: Mid Autumn Festival: While we are at The Anthill, a delightful rendition of the story behind the Mid-Autumn Festival, just past. From The Ant Hill.

Indian TV news anchor fired after calling Xi Jinping “Eleven”: If you think the name “Xi Jinping” is to be expressed, “Eleven Jinping,” you’re fired. From The Guardian.

China Fines GlazoSmithKline Nearly $500 Million in Bribery Case: GlaxoSmithKline, whose criminal bribery case has already led to the imprisonment of the corporate investigations couple hired by the company to find the source of an incriminating video involving GSK’s China chief, has now been fined $500 million, and four of its people sentenced to jail terms (sentences currently suspended).  Lots of foreign companies on pins and needles these days. From The New York Times.

Collecting Insanity: Your Editor recently enjoyed the inaugural nonstop flight of a US airline from San Francisco to Chengdu, in Sichuan Province, the first route from a US city to an interior Chinese city.  When in Chengdu, take the time to visit the Jianchuan Museum in the suburbs.  Here’s an example of why. From China File.

China, South Korea, and Japan agree to ensure geopolitical risks don’t threaten recovery: Looking for straws in the wind as to China-Japan build down of tensions. From USCNPM

Home Healthcare in China – Referral Source Cultivation: Something different: on home healthcare business opportunities and challenges in China. From Health Intel Asia.

Welcoming Asia’s Infrastructure Investment Bank Initiative: A positive review of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank project initiated by China, with a brief mention of the negative U.S. response. From East Asia Forum.

Huawei: The Great Disruption: Change of emphasis at tech giant Huawei. From The Economist.

August 21-27  A wide-ranging briefing paper, aimed at Congress, by respected China trade and economic affairs specialist Wayne Morrison of the Congressional Research Service, entitled, China’s Economic Rise: History, Trends, Challenges, and Implications for the United States.  The Economist, with its usual dignified and analytical style, has published a six-page piece called “What China Wants.”  A broad summary of many issues, useful in part because of its historical perspective on the present.  The site is the blog of David Cowhig, an extraordinarily acute and linguistically gifted China specialist.  His blog site posts his translations of important pieces.  Look for Zheng Yongnian, “What Does China’s Anti-Corruption Campaign Tell Us,” posted August 26, a remarkably candid essay.  A very blunt, unsigned statement in the English-language Global Times, a publication under the People’s Daily, following the incident involving a Chinese fighter and a US reconnaissance aircraft off the coast of Hainan.  An official PRC media report on US-China military consultations discussing a possible “code of conduct” to avert future confrontations like the mid-air encounter off the coast of Hainan.  The Wall Street Journal’s dependable Adam Entous on unsettling near-confrontations in mid-air between US surveillance aircraft and Chinese interceptors along the Chinese southern coast, reminiscent of the 2001 EP-3 incident but so far without collisions or casualties.  An interpretive NYT piece on the TV series on Deng Xiaoping now running in China, pointing out some of the points of historical contention therein.   Fine Chinadialogue essay on the global trade and environment implications of the rise of modern hog raising and pork consumption in China.  Beneath the catchy title, a lengthy article about Chinese interests and economic activities in Latin America.  Blogger Xujun Eberlein’s stimulating look at Unsavory Elements: Stories of Foreigners on the Loose in China.  She writes beautifully.  A bit of a step-back-and-breathe-deeply perspective from the International Crisis Group on the PRC-Japan confrontation, around hopes that a Xi-Abe meeting at APEC in China this fall might, just, open the door a bit to mutual de-escalation of tensions.  Amidst a rising tide of Chinese investment in the US and resulting hopes and cases of heartburn among Americans of different viewpoints, this piece on massive redevelopment projects in San Francisco emphasizes the positives and the real value that incoming Chinese investment can bring to recipient American communities.  Dignified dudgeon from The Economist with regard to the rising number of high-visibility anti-monoply assaults now being directed at foreign companies.  From Daedalus, Spring 2014, UC San Diego’s Barry Naughton on the “Challenge of Reform” in the Chinese economy.  A hometown newspaper in North Carolina with a good report on the opening of the new Duke Kunshan University outside of Shanghai. An interesting, if technical, note about a pending legislative amendment that would have the effect of making it easier for citizens to bring legal cases against the government.

August 14-20  One of many reports this week of the flurry of actions against foreign automakers and auto parts makers by anti-monopoly law enforcers. A new Science magazine article on China’s quest for “maritime Silk Roads.”  An official Chinese media report on the demolition of churches in Zhejiang Province, affirming that the problem lay in violation of construction regulations, not persecution of religion. An informative article drawn from Chinese media sources with regard to Chinese domestic concerns over corruption within the armed forces, the sensitive history of military corruption since the late 19th century, and the challenge of reform today.  WSJ Beijing Bureau Chief Andrew Browne on the modern-day Chinese diaspora, particularly the rush of the well-heeled from the PRC to put down a strategic root in someplace like the US or Oz.  A companion piece to the preceding item: Andrew Browne interviews a New Zealander who has specialized in the study of PRC handling of Overseas Chinese affairs.  The “thousand grains of sand” phrase, often used by American critics to describe the way China uses ethnic Chinese abroad for espionage, comes up in this interview.  This is a sensitive area liable to one or another form of abuse. The interview, however, is inoffensive.  A writer from the Nanyang Technical University in Singapore comments on China’s multiple “Silk Road” initiatives, aimed at connecting China to important markets and resources suppliers in new/old ways.  A related piece, from last November, on the theme that China is still “going west,” through multiple regional development schemes.  PRC authorities to go after those who take permanent residence abroad but do not give up their “hukou” urban-registration privileges at home.  An important essay by Brookings’s Richard Bush on a potential work-around for the current deepening impasse in Hong Kong over universal suffrage and the selection process for the next Chief Executive; failure to resolve this could lead, he suggests, to further degeneration of the political atmosphere in Hong Kong, with attendant implications for China.  Chiang Kai-shek, the ruler of China under the Nationalists from 1928 until the Communists drove his regime from the mainland in 1949, is being re-cast, it seems, in the PRC – but delicately.  Yet another example of the complexities of historical treatment.  A wonderful video; three young, ordinary Chinese people in Beijing talk about their lives, their aspirations, their disappointments, their realities.

August 7 – 13  A long and thought-provoking interview (characterized by short, appropriate questions) with Bates Gill, now based in Australia, formerly head of the Stockholm Peace Research Institute, and before that a leading US think tank analyst on China.  The interview touches on numerous issues relating to China’s international relations generally, and the situation in the Asia-Pacific region more particularly.  Published in a leading Japanese media organ, but this should not be read as reflective of Japanese views on sensitive issues.  Gill is an independent analyst.  A very bright and talented young Chinese figure with extensive US background comments on the strengths, weaknesses, and future potentials of “People to People” relationship-building between the US and China.  Refreshingly devoid of sloganeering – in fact, skeptical of it.   Secretary Kerry working on South China Sea tensions.  The Confucius Institute problem metastasizes.  A new multi-part TV documentary (or docudrama) on Deng Xiaoping reveals hitherto unknown details to the masses.  The Global Times headline is “Obama Whining as a Result of US Decline.”  The article largely seeks to rebut President Obama’s quoted views on China’s roles and responsibilities in the world, more because China refuses to be told what to do by a declining U.S. than because the central U.S. exhortation is wrong on its face.  Those with extra time may find the large number of posted “Comments” stimulating as well.         Microsoft apparently in the crosshairs of the anti-monopoly investigators.  More major multinationals under anti-trust pressure. This time it is major auto makers.  Tea leaf reading in high gear. Examples of best practices in sustainable development.  Download this paper from Chinadialogue.  Caixin details the anatomy of a local police official’s career in corruption.  Unusually granular.  China’s rejection of U.S. approach to South China Sea friction.  LinkAsia/CCTV coverage (last week) of the major earthquake in Yunnan.  A six-minute video. A BBC news roundup with a quick look at priority stories: Xin Jinping’s successes, US challenges, etc.  The Confucius Institute discussion metastasizes, now taken up by the Wall Street Journal.

July 24-30 The announcement that the Fourth Plenum of the 18th CCP Central Committee will convene in October, with the announced central focus of “governing according to law.” Issued the same day as the announcement that former Politburo Standing Committee member, and top internal security figure, Zhou Yongkang has been detained. And the same day as news that 75% of flight at Shanghai airports are going to be cancelled or delayed as a result of military exercises this week. Many will try to put A and B and C together in different ways. On the Shanghai air traffic “alert.” WSJ on same. For Chinese readers. The one-sentence announcement by the Party’s Central Discipline Inspection Commission that Zhou Yongkang is under investigation for serious violation of Party rules. Caixin Magazine’s first take on the Zhou announcement, including a long list of related cases spread across Zhou’s vast network of connections. Rhodium Group’s 2014 Q2 analysis of PRC investment activity in the US. Robert Kaplan, whose geostrategic writings we don’t always love, offers this interesting reflection on the interaction of China’s domestic challenges with its current behavior in the East and South China Seas. May be paywalled. A fantastic dissection of the current anti-corruption campaign by Caixin. Read end to end. Another long and riveting piece on the chess game of going after corruption, this time in the Chinese oil sector, where former Politburo Central Committee member and security “czar” Zhou Yongkang, whose downfall is now endlessly predicted but not yet realized, reigned supreme. Another winner, this one on mega-entrepreneur and Yale benefactor Zhang Lei. The upside, generally, of the Chinese money flow into US higher education. Some of that is not so savory. A nuanced take on the anti-corruption campaign: it won’t end endemic corruption, but it might enable reform of the state-owned sector, a big goal of Xi Jinping’s administration. A major new five-year plan for reform of China’s courts. Always the same questions: implementation, prioritization, where to start, and of course the fact that the Party remains intentionally above the law. Gregory Kulacki’s new paper, “Chinese Concerns About U.S. Missile Defense.” Technical but informative for the general audience. The new paper from the International Crisis Group on the hardening and worsening situation between China and Japan offshore. This URL opens the Executive Summary; the full paper download is linked at this site. A blogger strike’s at Xiaomi, the fast-rising Chinese smartphone competitor to the IPhone. Not our usual fare, and not the beginning of a Suggested Readings Trend, we assure you.

July 17-23 Anything on aviation in China by James Fallows is a “Must Read.” Now, with a month’s massive delays in the air lanes of East China looming, thanks to “military exercises,” Fallows sums up much, with useful links. 632 million Internet users, and other mega-numbers. But social media usage declining, under government pressure. A China Daily report on the latest food scandal – bad meat supplied to the likes of KFC and McDonalds. Wonder whether any Chinese outlets (none named so far) also involved. Brookings’s Cheng Li’s take on the anti-corruption campaign now mopping up “Flies and Tigers” in China. Some pretty bold assertions here may merit scrutiny. “Heard in the Hutong”: homely interviews with ordinary hutong-dwellers. Nothing earth-shattering, but informative and pleasantly personal. Nothing terribly new here, but a useful consideration of the anti-corruption campaign from a different angle: whether, when, and how to draw it to an end. The war on official perks intensifies: cutbacks in black sedan privileges. Congratulations to the New York Times for highlighting this egregious example of Chinese cultural paranoia about the US and “Outside Forces.” Look for “State Council’s New Opinion on Improving Market Order.” A short analysis of a potentially important new building block of economic reform. The enduring crisis of polluted soil in China. This link takes you to Part 3, where links to Parts 1 and 2 appear. This one is in Chinese, but non-readers will get the gist and recognize the photos of some of the bigwigs who have been taken down in the past. People’s Daily produces a graphic showing the “process” by which the Big Tigers (highest-ranked Chinese government and party figures) get taken down in anti-corruption campaigns. The final lines affirm, “No matter how high the position, if a person offends against national law or party discipline, he will be investigated to the end, and shown no mercy….”

July 10-16 A U.S. appeals court supports the appeal of a Chinese company whose purchase of an Oregon wind farm was nixed by the President on national security grounds.  Potential implications for the “CFIUS” process of secret national security reviews of foreign (lately, mostly Chinese) proposed purchases of U.S. assets.  Signs of serious and concrete fiscal and tax reforms, widely seen as the most difficult challenges in the vast reform package announced at the Third Plenum of the Eighteenth Central Committee in late 2013. An important essay, partially academic (the debate over what International Relations theory can or cannot tell us about contemporary US-China relations) but anchored in Chinese perspectives on the vexing territorial issues that threaten to embroil the U.S. and China in conflict. Juxtaposed to the preceding item, here is J. Bruce Jacobs (Monash University, Australia, Emeritus) writing in detail about why China’s claims in the South China Sea are “dubious.”  Another article of interest on the very serious issues facing the U.S. in the South China Sea.  Peterson Institute of International Economics writer Nicholas Borst evaluates last week’s Strategic and Economic Dialogue.  Read especially his last few paragraphs about modesty of expectations for S&ED in the future and the implications of such lowered expectations.  A relatively sunny view of US-PRC coexistence within the framework of the Strategic and Economic Dialogue and other mechanisms, by someone who is not always so sunny but is widely read.  A famed TV anchor yanked without warning, apparently thanks to the sweeping anti-corruption campaign now underway.  See also this NYT story on the same topic:  .  A whole book’s worth of interesting papers in this new compendium from The Australian National University on Deepening Reform  Thoughtful comments on the US-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue,  held last week in Beijing.  The complete Criminal Complaint brought against one Su Bin, of Canada, on charges of stealing information from protected computers at Boeing and other companies regarding the C-17, F-22 and F-35 aircraft, in a multi-person conspiracy.   Analysis and commentary by Jeffrey Carr at  The National Interest piece by Robert Manning and colleague on ways to try to stop the “slide” in US-China relations.  More hacking into USG agencies.  From June 15 as your editor catches up on items appearing during his travels.  Peking University economist Huang Yiping looks at economic growth rates in China and zaps some shibboleths.  A paper from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute on China’s “move away from non-interference” in protecting its overseas interests.  Claremont McKenna’s Minxin Pei on the current state of the vast anti-corruption campaign in China.  A useful reprise of major milestones to date, current pending issues, and looming questions for the future of the campaign.

June 19 – July 9 What the new Transformers film’s boffo performance in China tells us about China, the future of movies, etc. etc.  In short, There’s Gold In Them Thar Cozying-Ups. NYT interpretive piece on Xi Jinping’s impact on U.S.-China diplomatic relations, as the Strategic and Economic Dialogue begins in Beijing. WSJ on Chinese housing purchases in U.S., with graphs. Washington Post story on the deepening deterioration of U.S.-China relations as the Strategic and Economic Dialogue opens. More from the mainstream media, but sometimes there’s a reason why they’re mainstream: here is the insightful Didi Tatlow on the mechanics powering the current anticorruption campaign. Signs of the times:  news that China and the other four BRICS (Russia, India, Brazil, South Africa) are close to setting up a BRICS Bank to place functions similar to those of the U.S.-created IMF under greater developing-big-country control. A new Rhodium Group paper on Chinese FDI in manufacturing in the US. A British view of the deepening Glaxo Smith Kline scandal in China, which now involves the secret trial of a hired corporate-investigation specialist and his American wife. Gloom and Doom week, it seems, as the S&ED approaches. This is the Washington Post on the cooling enthusiasms of U.S. business, and the rising challenges to U.S. companies, in China. From July 1, a major-media report on the snaring of a very high military figure in the ongoing anti-corruption campaign in the PRC. More trouble on the NGO front in China.  From June 20. A critical piece on the hacking indictments against five specific PRC individuals.  From May 28. Good Caixin commentary on a Congressional Commission Report’s warning about investing in Chinese internet companies, and what the Report’s ultimate value might be. An interesting piece about China’s growing ability, using its anti-monopoly law, to shape international commercial relations to accord with its own preferences, or to veto those that don’t. From 18 June. A convoluted piece from the Party’s English-language Global Times, about Westerners’ adulation for China (an oversimplified description). Global Times on Chinese companies’ investments in the U.S. Signs of trouble in HK as the moment of “Occupy Central” approaches and PRC official statements of criticism ratchet up. More, this time from naval sources, about letting China know “we mean it.”  We do, don’t we?  Former Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg and security analyst Michael O’Hanlon on the darkening U.S.-China security picture and what to do to prevent accidental catastrophe.

June 4-18

(Your Editor remains on travel through July 8, and Suggested Readings will be thinner until his return.)  Writer Sheila Melvin on Adam Schall, one of the 17th-century Jesuits whose presence at the Ming Imperial Court left a fascinating imprint on China’s history.  Who would have thought it?  My first recommendation of a piece by Dan Blumenthal of AEI.  This is a very nice review essay built around Evan Osnos’s new, and fascinating, book,  Age of Ambition: Chasing Truth and Faith in the New China. Only for the technologically adept:  a deep dive into identification of one of the hacking groups bedeviling US and other targets.  The challenges of “place” in China.  1980s migrants from the farm to the factory now find themselves without resources.  A cautionary piece on building dams in high-earthquake-risk areas.  A useful update of the Congressional Research Service’s paper on US-China military contacts.  Good background reading.  Something new, if a modest step, on the mil-mil front.  The “insidious influence” theme gains traction, in both directions.  Controversy over Confucius Institutes spreads.  Housing glut, empty units.  The core of the debate over whether a housing crash impends.  An informative piece on China’s rapid increase in installed solar power, in world context.  Chinafile asks “Is a Declining U.S.A. Good for China?”  Those who respond, American and Chinese, offer familiar arguments:  “It’s not zero-sum,” etc.  But buried in this multi-sided discussion are some serious observations worthy of consideration.

May 29 – June 4

(This edition of Suggested Readings on China runs through the night of June 2.) week marks the 25th Anniversary of the June 4 ‘event’ in Beijing. There is much to read and see, and we must confine ourselves to only a few items. This URL leads to a full-length video by former CNN China reporter Mike Chinoy, on the experiences of US journalists reporting from China at the time of the Tiananmen demonstrations and their ultimate destruction by the armed forces of the government.  An astounding, ten-part compendium of articles, some new and some older, on the themes and dilemmas presented by Tiananmen and its aftermath.  “Collective Amnesia” 25 years later.  Rising rhetorical tensions between the US and China.  SecDef Hagel’s Shangri-la Dialogue speech criticizing PRC activities in the East and South China Seas, and China military’s blistering response.  Don’t over-react.  A very solid WSJ story on the same topic. Ian Johnson, writing for the NYT, on signs of a more concerted Beijing effort to control and limit the growth of Christianity in the PRC.  More than the familiar complaints of foreign missionary groups; Johnson has an “incriminating” official document.  Hugh Stephens, a retired Canadian diplomat with extensive government and business-sector experience in China, on Canada’s ambivalence toward incoming PRC investment and what China thinks Canada should do about it. An important article in which a generally well informed Asia-Pacific policy specialist tries to figure out the meaning of China’s current antagonisms all around the Rim.  This article pulls together in one place a lot of recent coverage of Chinese pushback in the field of IT security, apparently in response to a variety of USG and US company moves in recent months (indictment of PLA figures for hacking, discontinuance of support for Windows XP, etc.) Blowback aimed at Cisco, IBM, Google and similar heavy hitters in the Chinese market.  On some US companies turning from manufacturing in China to manufacturing in Mexico, and why (or why, in the end, not).  Another piece on the “new environment” of Chinese foreign relations: PRC no longer accepting, or acting upon, lists of prisoners submitted by foreign governments.  Why?  According to this article, “because they can” (i.e., can now ignore such post-Tiananmen representations).  A rare case of reporting of an incident involving a “heterodox sect,” this one a beating-to-death in a Shandong McDonald’s by members of a group called “Almighty God.”  Sectarian matters usually lie under the radar screen. An article from the Party’s English-language Global Times, on the “Almighty God” group mentioned in the previous item here, and on the growth of heretical sects more broadly in China.

Note:  “Suggested Readings” will be thinner and more sporadic through the month of June because of your Editor’s extensive travel obligations.  Thanks for your patience!

May 22-28  About as close as your Editor can come to designating an item as a “Must Read.”  On the nature of “Reform” in Xi Jinping’s China, and how it differs from common Western assumptions about the meaning of the word.  This is the week of the 25th anniversary of the Tiananmen tragedy. (“Tragedy” used here without apology, despite accusations that those who use the word are apologists for those who sent in the tanks.)  This piece describes the secret means used to spirit many of Beijing’s “Most Wanted” targets out of the PRC in the days and weeks following.  China’s biggest housing-builder says the era of perpetually-rising residential housing values is over.  Big implications for the economy.  Word of some potentially very helpful changes in China’s procedures for handling incoming investments.  Details needed, but outline quite promising.  Citing National Development and Reform Commission.  The PRC strikes at US consulting firms serving SOEs, clearly in response to the DOJ hacking indictments, and on top of the ban on Windows 8.  Chen Weihua, top U.S.-based correspondent for the official English-language China Daily, with a slashing reaction to the Department of Justice’s cyber charges against five PLA affiliated individuals.  Written mainly for American readers, we presume.  Not much love lost here.  A Xinhua (New China News Agency) report on indigenous software firms hoping to fill the operating systems gap, now that Windows 8 is banned from government offices.  Prognostications on future ramping up of U.S. anti-cyber-hacking efforts.  China the centerpiece.  One scholar’s reaction to the DOJ charges against five PLA-connected indviduals for cyber-hacking, given the near impossibility that the accused will ever be prosecuted under American law.  Self-satisfying symbolic gestures, he argues, are not what is needed.  Status report on development of China’s twin-engined jetliner, the C-919.  A detailed, gripping, and ultimately depressing special report by Benjamin Kang Lim of Reuters on the gigantic web of corruption whose ongoing investigation by CCP anti-corruption teams has now led to death sentences of several very big figures, with even higher quarry expected to fall as the year goes on. This is the web site for a Congressional Commission hearing on the 25th anniversary of the Tiananmen incident.  Commission chairs Sen. Sherrod Brown and Rep. Christopher Smith are predictably strident in their denunciations of China.  From approximately the 40-minute mark, however, testimony by former Ambassadors Roy and Lord, scholar Jeffrey Wasserstrom, and author Rowena He are very valuable.  A major Harvard study on energy relations between China and Russia in the natural gas sector, published coincidentally as the two nations announced agreement on a long term gas deal.  These photos from Urumqi immediately following a major terrorist blast are extraordinarily vivid; the streets lined with trees, the wares laid out so carefully in the streetside food markets.  One feels that one is in Urumqi.  Australian Hugh White has raised eyebrows with his writings about rising China and the need for US accommodation to the new reality; this is his latest, interpreting (in a stimulating way not found in most of the discussion) China’s increasing  activism in the East and South China Seas.  Online sellers Alibaba and prepare to duke it out in the interior provinces.  Xinjiang.  After repeated bombing incidents, the Party announces its plans for Xinjiang, in the far West. China is mentioned only in passing, but this whole article on the “digital displacement of labor” is both stimulating and relevant.  Bottom line: even cheap labor will be outdone by digital transformations

May 15-21  The complete indictment against five defendants associated with the People’s Liberation Army, accusing them of various cyber crimes. NYT’s Keith Bradsher writes on a key element in this case: most of the U.S. victims of alleged PRC hacking were pursuing trade cases against China.  See not only the article but the numerous comments on it.   Chinafile does well in assembling thoughtful comments on the cyber-hacking indictments of five PLA figures by the U.S. Justice Department.  No one on the “outside” will have the stomach – or the standing – to challenge the nuts and bolts of the U.S. case; assume it’s well founded. But why the particular “victims”? China Daily on PRC reactions to the U.S. indictments.  Including banning Windows 8 in government procurement.  China’s ambassador to the U.S., Cui Tiankai, in an interview with CNN over the cyber indictments.  One legal blogger’s interesting thoughts about the practical significance and the symbolic significance of the U.S. Department of Justice action against five PLA officers over hacking of U.S. companies.  Cybersecurity expert Jeffrey Carr raises issues related to the five U.S. companies named as victims of alleged PRC cyber attacks. The Foreign Ministry’s first official reaction to the announcement of U.S. criminal charges against five PLA members on cyber-hacking.  Official news piece on China-Russia 30-year gas deal, reached after a decade of negotiations.  An extraordinary trifecta – Quartz strings together three good pieces, one on employment effects of a potential housing-sector decline, another on the brand-new Russia-China 30-year gas deal, and the last on the deepening perplexity over J. P. Morgan’s “Sons and Daughters” hiring practices in HK.  A characteristically snide, and uncharacteristically convoluted, article by regular ATimes contributor Peter Lee (affiliation and location unknown) on the crisis emerging from the arrival of China’s big oil drilling rig in waters claimed by Vietnam.  Worth reading because it is outside the mainstream media themes on this topic and generally iconoclastic.  Everyone these days is opining on what China is thinking, what Vietnam is thinking, etc.  Interesting essay on the likely functions of China’s new National Security Commission.  An eye-opening interview with a Hong Kong Triad smuggler, detailing the smuggling of well over a hundred fugitives from China to Hong Kong in the days and weeks following the Tiananmen Incident of June 4, 1989.  Two Council on Foreign Relations senior researchers, co-authors of a recent book on China’s global quest for resources, call on the US to put muscle into its response to the placing of a Chinese oil rig in waters claimed by Vietnam. A wide-ranging Guardian report on the explosion of violence against Chinese and other foreign-invested factories in Vietnam, following the placing of the Chinese oil rig in waters claimed by Vietnam.  The situation evolves daily; this report from May 17. English-language Global Times, a CCP publication, on evacuation of Chinese nationals from Vietnam and broader implications of the recent violence ignited by China’s oil rig gambit. From May 19. Caixin Magazine’s interview with Treasury Secretary Jack Lew during his visit to Beijing last week. Global Times’s unsigned opinion piece on the need for more strategic thinkers in China and the imbalance between the global-thinking-heavy U.S. and the relatively ill-equipped PRC.

May 8-14  Deepening case against GSK, with uncertain implications for others in pharma  and in the broader ranks of MNCs in China. GSK China CEO accused of ordering bribes and kickbacks.  The US-China Business Council’s new and remarkable state-by-state report on exports to China for the most recent year (2013).  Good numbers, but year-on-year declines for some states.  A critical analysis of the recent Obama Asia trip, by a VP of CICIR, the international relations think tank associated with the Ministry of State Security.  An interesting case: the generally dirigiste agency NDRC lifts price caps on many medicines and moves toward market-based pricing, because price caps were causing quality problems and supply shortages. Foreign pharma will be happy, as will market-lovers, but Chinese patients will face yet heavier economic burdens in medical care, a looming social issue of concern already to top leadership.  Claremont McKenna’s Minxin Pei lifts the corner of the rug on the bigger challenge in the current anti-corruption campaign: dealing with the “culture of corruption” as it operates at the vast lower levels of officialdom.  With property prices tottering and the economy slowing sharply, one financial expert’s call for financial loosening in key sectors, including central bank measures to unclog the system.  A low-key semi-official look at the cooling of the housing market. Notes recent PBOC call for banks to start increasing their housing loans. Official orthodoxy has been that China would not try, this time, to combat economic slowing by increasing credit; this new order to banks may contradict the orthodoxy. Time will tell. MIT’s South China Sea specialist Taylor Fravel discusses the increasingly hot Sino-Vietnamese confrontation in the SCS.  Self explanatory. A new British study on China’s coal use, with dire predictions if changes do not come quickly but suggestions for meaningful, if difficult, changes. Book promo, but good book promo; an interview with Evan Osnos, long The New Yorker’s perceptive and eloquent man in China, about his new book on China.  Argues that “mixed ownership”—a hallmark of the current regime’s plans to diversify ownership of State Owned Enterprises—is a long, long way off in the flagships of the SOE fleet, the state-owned Big Three oil companies.

May 1-7 As the Alibaba IPO on the NYSE focuses everybody’s attention, this useful commentary on why Alibaba has done so well in such a short time. The invaluable China Accounting Blog on the financial structure Alibaba is employing in its IPO.  Outrage at the banning of “Big Bang Theory,” The Good Wife,” and other American classics from streaming sites in the PRC.  The story behind Bloomberg’s ditching of deep investigative reporting about China.  Take a guess why.   An informative podcast about the contribution of China to the Allied effort in World War I, in the form of 135,000 Chinese laborers sent to Europe.  Your Editor has just discovered this long document from PEN America, an organization devoted to the defense of freedom of expression worldwide.  This is PEN’s 2013 report on China – critical, to be sure, but informative, and sprinkled with very interesting statements from Chinese writers, journalists, and intellectuals.  The opening statement by the new chair of the Senate Finance Committee, Ron Wyden, at a May 1 hearing on the Obama Administration’s trade policies.  China appears conspicuously.  James Fallows with, thankfully, the antidote to the spate of “China’s Economy Is Now Number One” stories over the past week.  Plus his views on the Bloomberg mess over spiking a tough investigative report for business-with-China reasons.  From Australia, a piece on that country’s “China Lobby.”  Thankfully, that phenomenon is largely absent from the U.S. discussion on China today, but the “panda hugger” slam still lies in many ammunition bags.  Evan Osnos, who distinguished himself writing from China for The New Yorker for many years, on why, in the face of censorship demands, he decided not to publish his new book in the PRC.  Telling it like it is.

The complexities behind the tearing down of a big, high-profile Christian church in Wenzhou, Zhejiang Province, a center of Christian activity.  Not your grandfather’s (i.e., your Editor’s) Popular Science, I can tell you.  This is from their “Eastern Arsenal” site, which also offers “much, much more,” as the old advertising come-on says.

April 24-30  The latest Rhodium Group study of investment trends between the U.S. and China.  Rhodium has produced several important research pieces on PRC investment in the US in recent years.  A long but extremely informative article, in the form of a Q&A interview, on the growing use of coal as primary energy source in the Asia-Pacific region, very much including China of course.  Important amendments to China’s Environmental Protection Law  An article on the long process leading to this month’s environmental law modifications.  A remarkable look at China’s submarine-based nuclear deterrent, its development, its future, and the complex issues surrounding its deployment.  A not very fully developed article asking whether Asian American applicants to US elite colleges are facing a new hurdle from burgeoning PRC applicants with open checkbooks.  Could be, but this piece is not definitive.  An interesting short piece from Shanghai Daily about what Chinese academics should be, in their dress, bearing, etc., and what, alas, they too often are these days: worshipful of  “material success.”  On the new U.S.-Philippine defense agreement, forged with You-Know-Who in mind.  A new Bill from Rep. Randy Forbes of Virginia, who chairs the “House China Caucus” and regularly expresses concerns over the perceived military challenge that China is presenting to the U.S. in the Pacific region.  The State Department’s “Wanted – Reward” poster for Li Fangwei, alleged serial proliferator, newly charged with a whole raft of illegal activities designed to evade U.S. sanctions on trade in military items with Iran.  Interconnectedness:  Iran cancels big oil deal with China. Why? Apparently because, as West and Iran ease their tensions over Iranian nukes, Iran sees possibility of Western firms re-entering the Iranian oil patch, and is thus pushing back against the onerous terms Chinese firms demanded of Iran when Western sanctions left Iran no alternatives.  The U.S. Justice Department’s announcement of the charges against Li Fangwei (see preceding item).

April 17-23  As President Obama begins a week’s visit to Asia, former National Security Advisor Tom Donilon defends the “rebalance” toward the Asia-Pacific region in U.S. long-term strategic policy.  Major Economist essay on China’s upcoming program of urbanization of hundreds of millions of rural dwellers.  Chinadialogue on the massive extent of pollution of agricultural land in China.  Oliver Stone makes waves at the Beijing International Film Festival.  Somebody has to say these things, but this piece still makes Stone sound like an old-fashioned hectoring foreigner. No mention of Chinese reaction.  Straits Times article on growing number of suicides associated with continuing anti-graft campaign. McKinsey et al. on the limits of sustainability in China’s wealthiest cities.  Making a market in whistle-blowing.  From last month, UCSD’s Barry Naughton on Reform prospects post-3rd Plenum.  His usual comprehensive and judicious approach, particularly in his analysis of the big Reform document from the Plenum, his discussion the “Credibility Problem” facing Xi and his comrades, and his comments on the multiple and sometimes contradictory pressures imposing themselves on bureaucrats in the provinces and localities.  Naughton notes the paradox of “mobilizing to do less.”  Another great article (like Naughton’s, just above) from the China Leadership Monitor, this one on proposals for a vast reorganization of the Chinese military forces, and prospects for success or failure in attempting such massive reorganizations. Written with author James Mulvenon’s characteristic lilting irony.  No histrionics, but much drama in this article on the human rights movement in China by one of its principals, Teng Biao.  A very professional video revolving around China’s first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning. Thanks to Bill Bishop for the reference.  The latest detailed, dizzying piece on the web of business ownerships among family members of former Politburo Standing Committee member and security chief Zhou Yongkang, this one by New York Times journalists already non grata in Beijing. So far, despite growing expectations, nothing public has befallen Zhou himself. A magisterial review article by Ian Johnson, who weaves together four books of related but distinctive focus into a meaningful discussion of key issues facing the PRC and the world today. Paywalled, unfortunately.  GM’s big expansion plans for China.  Something different. The Supreme People’s Court publicizes seven cases of judicial misbehavior. Charles Wolf of RAND with a warning: an RMB whose value is left to the market might fall, not rise, against the dollar. Not the usual D.C. view of things. The search for Malaysia Airlines 370 and its implications for Chinese blue-water naval aspirations.

April 10-16  A strong Caixin editorial arguing that economic slowdown should NOT, this time, bring a short-term government stimulus that would only delay or vitiate needed efforts at big structural reforms of the economy.  A cautious and concerned view of the current economic slowdown, by a partner in a Chinese investment house.  Emphasis on severe uncertainty now in face of liquidity reduction.  A report on the first formal meeting of China’s recently-established National Security Commission and its likely scope of business.   An essay arguing that the US must take an active role in lessening Asian regional tensions rooted in bitter 20th century experiences of all parties.  China’s growing space program: new launch base, bigger rockets.  Lots of pictures and hyperlinks (use them) in this piece from  The arrival of former Deutsche Bank China economist Ma Jun as Chief Economist at the People’s Bank of China has occasioned much comment, including this long but lucid WSJ article on prospects, under Ma’s influence, of rapid financial liberalization in the PRC.  A nice piece about a Chinese company’s investment in the U.S. and the individual charged with making it work, across the boundaries of culture and language.  From South China Morning Post (may be paywalled).  Hu Yaobang’s son Hu Dehua discusses his father, China’s lost chance for political reform, etc.  If the Tiny URL address fails, try   .  One view, from outside the Beltway, of President Obama’s upcoming Asia trip.  Published in a venue generally friendly toward PRC perspectives, or at least toward emphasizing the positive in US-PRC relations.

April 3-9  An important moment.  Secretary Hagel’s address at the National Defense University in Beijing during his visit to China this week.  Official China Daily report on blunt Chinese dissatisfaction with Hagel’s comments while visiting ASEAN and Japan before coming to China. Defense Minister’s equally blunt comments after the Hagel visit can be found at . This really is an important speech, a kind of extended “elevator pitch” to the uninitiated (in this case, College of Europe students) by President Xi Jinping, conveying a carefully constructed understanding of China’s past, present and future.  Scholars may find flaws, but it is important to understand the message that today’s leadership addresses to the “outside world,” and this is a good place to absorb it.  must-read. New Yorker’s Evan Osnos on the rapidly ascending anti-graft machine all but certainly aimed at former Politburo Standing Committee member Zhou Yongkang.  Well, well.  Working for foreign firms in the PRC has lost its appeal, according to this piece.  No real surprises here;  President Xi Jinping tells his EU audience that China has tried all sorts of other political arrangements since 1911, including multi-party politics, but that nothing has worked or been appropriate or successful – except the current system which he leads.  Official Foreign Ministry account of Premier Li Keqiang’s meeting with American and other international CEOs during the annual China Development Forum late last month.  More from the CDF.  Stephen Roach, long of Morgan Stanley and now of Yale, on China’s near-“abandonment” of growth targets.  The piece is a little, er, “self-referential,” but it makes a very interesting portrait of China’s economic trajectory.  A down-the-line assessment of the upcoming visit of U.S. Defense Secretary Hagel to China, including the progress made in the bilateral defense relationship in recent years and the difficult challenges facing further improvement in the relationship.  Very much in line with official statements, but “officially” upbeat, so to speak.  Bold words from a spokesperson for the students occupying the Legislative Yuan building  in Taiwan for nearly a month.  From the marvelous ChinaFAQs site, an interesting short essay on avenues to US-China cooperation on shale gas development.  Author Yu Hua on memory and amnesia with regard to the Cultural Revolution.

March 27 – April 2  Let’s start with a web site:  here is Visualizing China, offering photographs and text relating to China, 1850-1950.  At this URL you can download Yanzhong Huang’s major paper analyzing the impact of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Malaria and Tuberculosis (“The Global Fund”) as the Fund closes out its operations in China. A story of both medical and cultural achievement, and of truncated performance and indeterminate endings.  Post-trip analysis of the Obama family’s visit to the PRC.  Another much-heralded “local democracy moment” fizzles.  Stanley Lubman details the collapse of the Wukan experiment in bottom-up politics. A long article in The National Interest by Republican Congressman Randy Forbes, chair of a “House China Caucus” that concentrates on the military challenges China is said to pose to the U.S.  This piece warns that the U.S. is losing its military edge as China becomes military stronger, and suggests ways of preserving the American advantage.  Confucius’s current most famous descendent certainly shows what it means to descend, in this freakish fiction about Michelle Obama’s recent China visit.  A well crafted Chinese look at the pending Trans-Pacific Partnership, in which China has become increasingly interested even though its membership is not on the table in the current intense TPP negotiations.  Chinese government crackdown on “News Extortion and Fake News” making waves this week, but also occasioning some very jaundiced, and telling, critical views.  This URL opens with the latter, and provides the official announcement of the crackdown farther down.  Minxin Pei’s review of Nina Hachigian’s new Debating China tells us that “realism” has defeated “liberalism” – or should – as the chasm between the U.S. and a “rising China” grows deeper and wider and, ultimately, more dangerous.  More forebodings about bubble-popping in the real estate sector, this time from the official English organ China Daily.  A literate short essay on the city of Kunming and the province of Yunnan, where, on March 1, the violent assault on civilians in the railway station led to thirty deaths and hundreds of injuries.  Focuses on Chinese Muslims in the region over the past two centuries.  Pushback against the current anti-corruption campaign, from the highest of the high among retired leaders.  Re the preceding item:  the political “death watch” for former Politburo Standing Committee member (and security “czar”) Zhou Yongkang is becoming more and more breathless.  And now the Wall Street Journal’s turn to dig deep on Zhou Yongkang and family.

March 20-26 Big developments in Taiwan.  This Youtube video is one place to watch and listen to what’s happening in the “Occupy the Legislature” movement.  A straightforward analysis by a CFR Fellow of tumultuous developments in Taiwan this week.  Replete with useful hyperlinks.  “Drums Along the Mohawk….”  A top China deal-maker resigns at J.P. Morgan.  With leakers like this, who needs NSA, one might ask. Terrific piece by Shi Yinhong of Renmin University, on the conflicting elements of China’s foreign policy-making and the foreign policy environment.  A quick, slightly glib article on how to interpret (and not over-interpret) the results of the Annual Amcham China business survey, with particular emphasis on the intellectual property environment, past and present.  A well known scholar in Hong Kong writes of the deteriorating environment for a free press there.  Morgan Stanley’s piece on China approaching the “Minsky Moment” (have a look to see what that means) is all the rage this week; is China approaching a moment of irreversible and potentially disorderly de-leveraging?  Big-time geopolitics.  This is on Russian-Chinese relations, especially energy relations, post-Crimea.  An Australian strategic relations scholar, writing in a familiar vein, tells New York Times readers that the U.S. and China should work out an Asia-Pacific power-sharing arrangement, and that the U.S. otherwise faces two equally perilous choices.  An interesting WTO ruling in a rare-earth case brought by the U.S.  What’s most interesting is the evolution of global rare-earth supplies since China lowered the boom on rare-earth exports in 2010.  NYT’s David Sanger’s detailed report, based on Snowden-leaked NSA documents, on NSA cyberespionage against Huawei and other Chinese targets.  Huawei has been widely blacklisted in the US because of suspicions that it has facilitated similar operations against US targets.  One cybersecurity expert’s blog response to the New York Times story revealing extent of US NSA cyber-spying on Huawei and other China targets.  Food safety.  Bloomberg Business Week on Western companies’ attempts to ensure food safety for the foods they sell in China – and the losses they’ve racked up when things went wrong.  Web address of the new American Chamber of Commerce in China Survey on the Chinese Business Environment.  May require some ingenuity to acquire, since a) there seems to be a price tag, and b) the price is in Renminbi.  I am told that the price question will shortly be resolved online.  The Bloomberg mess, over whether the company’s business interests have compromised its journalistic integrity with respect to China reportage.  This interview by James Fallows with a just-departed Bloomberg editor is extraordinarily frank.

March 13-19  Top billing goes to Arthur Kroeber’s wide-ranging political/economic analysis at the close of the National People’s Congress session.  RMB dropping like a stone against the dollar – sign of economic “liberalization”???  Will likely re-ignite U.S. political furies if it goes on much longer.  First English-language reporting on China’s announcement of more detailed plans for “urbanization” of, in the first phrase, a hundred million rural dwellers.  First official Chinese media reporting on the urbanization plan, with links to several equally relevant articles.  Early, informed elaboration on the initial urbanization announcement, with a couple of serious videos embedded.  By the very perceptive Ian Johnson.  The brilliant writer/commentator Yu Hua’s latest essay in the New York Times, this one on the death and re-birth of the class system in China over the past sixty years.  Ably translated, as always, by Allan Barr of Pomona College.  Elizabeth Economy of the Council on Foreign Relations writes on the Chinese leadership’s awakening to the immediacy and enormity of the environmental crisis in China.  Even Economy’s prescription – restoration of a supraministerial Environment Commission eliminated fifteen years ago – has a déjà vu feel to it, as do the government’s pledges to eliminate set numbers of offending installations.  Results of a survey of middle- and high-income Shanghai residents’ attitudes toward foreign foods.  New Zealand’s the most highly prized.  Other interesting info.  Alice Miller of Stanford analyzes Chinese leadership politics – and the documents published by the leadership –veryclosely, with a skeptical eye and a wry sense of humor about analysts’ foibles.  Here is his new piece on just how strong Xi Jinping is proving to be.  Lest we forget:  the familiar trade numbers lie.  This is but the latest of a necessary and continuing stream of articles reminding us all that the “trade deficit” with China as usually discussed is a mirage.  Real news.  Wider daily fluctuations in the value of the RMB against the dollar announced.  What everyone is watching intently:  a real estate development company collapses under unpayable debt to banks.  Second such collapse in a month.  What comes next?  Thanks to Patrick Chovanec for flagging this story. Relevant to the preceding item, Caixin’s long and informative article on rising uncertainty over the sustainability of the real estate market.  Relevant to the preceding two items, the NYT weighs in with a useful, more comprehensive, sum-up on the slowing of the Chinese economy and implications of the recent bankruptcy of a real estate developer in Zhejiang.  Something entirely different.  And I mean ENTIRELY different.  This is soft power, whether it knows it or not.  Google ups the ante by encrypting searches; Great Firewall masters will not be pleased.  But Snowden was the proximate cause.  For serious students of contemporary Chinese politics, this essay by Joseph Fewsmith on the meaning of Mao Zedong in the decades since his death will be informative and stimulating.  From March, 2013, a major Special Report from the very valuable China Development Brief, entitled “The Diversification of Public Advocacy in China.”  Full document downloadable from this site.  Delegates to the NPC in smog-choked Beijing up in arms about fraudulent pollution statistics.  Evasion of weak rules prevails.  This Originally from People’s Daily, reprinted in Chinadialogue.  Watch for more of this as food demand profile changes and degradation of agricultural production in China deepens:  PRC company invests in milk production in Brittany.

March 6 – 12 From the tightly controlled media spectacle of the National People’s Congress session, this is perhaps the biggest “news.”  Interest rates on bank deposits may be liberalized over the next few years.  An experiment in the opening of “private banks” probably ranks #2 on the NPC News of Significance list.   A brief and interesting comment, from the Party-controlled Global Times, pointing out that many of the big questions facing the government at this time have not been forthrightly or boldly address during the NPC session now closing.  More from Global Times, whose web design covering the National People’s Congress is extremely good, and enjoyable to “play with.”  This is a simple graphic showing key points of emphasis in the annual Report of the Government, and identifying the key 2014 goals laid out by the government. Very handy.  Signs of economic slowdown in the PRC in January and February. A momentary report from Bloomberg, with momentary comments from the commentariat. The main point is that the economy has slowed significantly YoY.  But compared to growth rates in the US and Europe, things still look pretty robust.  A detailed Caixin report on a collapsed Chinese company and the foreign investors who are trying to get their money out.   A China Brief article on the clipping of the wings of the National Development and Reform Commission.  We’ll see: predictions that NDRC, lineally descended from the old State Planning Commission, was facing demotion have come and gone for a very long time, seldom proving accurate.  Additional surmises on the Kunming Railway Station March 1 slaughter.  An arresting, informal blog post by a Westerner living in Kunming, recounting the “feel” of the city shortly after the Railway Station attack.  With wonderful photos.  Willy Lam writes that national security is trumping reform at the National People’s Congress.  Lam is usually critical but well informed.  His article is as well a broad overview of Premier Li Keqiang’s whole “Government Work Report” to the NPC.  A very handy, graphically useful “brief guide” to China’s social media.  Nothing new to the highly informed, but much of value to the less intimately connected.  The listing of “Newspapers” is cursory.

February 27 – March 5  One of several articles occasioned by the departure of U.S. Ambassador Gary Locke.  This one is by an American professor currently teaching in China, and considers U.S. Ambassadors past and present, their effects on China, and their lack of influence on the United States.  Caixin Magazine’s exclusive “exit interview” with Ambassador Locke.  A New York Times report on a signed article published, apparently only in Chinese, online by the official China News Service (hyperlink in the story, for you Chinese readers), discussing departing Ambassador Gary Locke in starkly racialist and contemptuous terms.  That the story does not appear on the CNS English web site is revealing.  Mao Zedong’s famous essay, “Farewell, Leighton Stuart,” from August 18, 1949, the essay which, apparently, was to be imitated in this week’s “Farewell, Gary Locke” essay discussed just above.  This essay is from another era indeed, but one can sense in it even now continuing themes and rhetoric.  National People’s Congress Session.  Thanks to the Wall Street Journal’s China Realtime, a handy one-stop site from which the major Reports delivered to the NPC, may be easily reached.  Claremont McKenna’s Minxin Pei with a thoughtful essay on what can be expected, in terms of further progress on the Reforms outlined at last November’s Third Central Committee Plenum, from this week’s National People’s Congress.  In the aftermath of the horrific terror attack in the Kunming station and official allegations that the perpetrators were Xinjiang separatists, this very interesting new article on Uighur-Han relations in China.  A roundup of online and editorial comments within China following the horrific terrorist attack in the Kunming railway station on March 1.  Ernest Bower, who leads the CSIS Southeast Asia Program, with strong ideas on the opportunity President Obama faces to realize his intent to be the “Pacific President,” and what must be done for that to happen.  China barely mentioned, but obviously “in the room” for any such vigorous discussion.  China is this year’s chair of APEC – Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, a very significant assemblage of economies from both sides of the Pacific.  The American “Senior Official” at the top of the organizational pyramid handling the US role with APEC is now Robert Wang, formerly DCM in Beijing.  This is an audio interview with Bob about APEC and US intentions during the year of Chinese chairmanship.  A remarkable item from Global Times, English edition, about Chinese businesspersons who convert to Christianity, therefore eschew the use of bribes in their business activities, and thus suffer grievous damages.  Curious to find this in a publication under the People’s Daily (Communist Party organ) umbrella.  On “smog emigration.”  Again from Global Times English.  Raises interesting questions about “public diplomacy,” “soft power,” etc.  A serious attempt, by very serious people, to put flesh on the rhetorical bones of the “New Model of Major Power Relations,” the phrase that the PRC has been advancing methodically and strenuously since the advent of the Xi Jinping era, and U.S. leadership has begun to adopt (albeit somewhat less loudly) since Sunnylands.  John Podesta, Sandy Berger, C. H. Tung and Wang Jisi are the authors; all household words in “the field.”  The Committee to Protect Journalists introduces its Journalist Security Guide, with emphasis on the Chinese-language version following the cleaver attack on the recently-dismissed editor of one of Hong Kong’s most independent newspapers, Ming Pao.  The increasingly familiar phenomenon of a young PRC student in the US with an expensive car driving like a maniac.  Didi Tatlow reports on the recent LA incident and the Chinese web discussion of what it means.  The full new survey report from the Shanghai American Chamber of Commerce.  There’s an Executive Summary at the front, but the graphed survey results are very interesting.  Universal Studios signs to do a big project in Beijing.  Whatever happened to “hostile Western forces” and their insidious cultural subversions?  Great viewing.  Mike Chinoy’s latest hour-long show on American journalists covering China in the “old days.”  This from 1949 to 1971.  Great interviews, great video.  And a reminder that American journalists faced sensitivities of their own, at home, in reporting on China.  From USC’s US-China Institute.  Two Chinese international relations scholars reflect on Sino-American relations 35 years after Normalization.  The list of upcoming challenges is thorough and stimulating.  They close on a reassuring note.

February 20-26  Furor over a “liberal” TV commentator who gave birth to her child in the U.S.  Jitters, and thoughts about other people’s jitters, as some of China’s economic indices head south.  A story, from the English-language “Global Times,” under the auspices of the Party’s People’s Daily, about the prosecution of a Sichuan billionaire “mafioso.”  Remarkable description of his business-and-crime-and-corruption network.  Tip of iceberg?  Indicator of pervasive social pathology?  One-off?  We’ll have to see.  At a time of apparently darkening tensions, a positive note on U.S. Army exchanges with Chinese counterparts.  A must-read, but may be paywalled.  FT’s Geoff Dyer’s long article on U.S. plans for military contingencies with China.  You may try to find it via a search engine under the title “US v China:  Is This a New Cold War?”  Inside-baseball.  If you are schooled in the complexities of international trade agreements, this piece on the RCEP (Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership) negotiations is very useful.  Global Times (English) comment on the wave of emigration to the West by wealthy PRC citizens, following Canada’s cancellation of its famed “Immigrant Investor Program” that was overwhelmed by Chinese applications.  Soul-searching, or rigorous analysis of the phenomenon, is lacking overall.  A great interview with Yu Hua, author of, among other works, China In Ten Words.  Yu will be the subject of a presentation at the Spring Conference of the Pacific Council on International Policy in Los Angeles in late April.  A blockbuster of a Caixin article, about Lenovo’s acquisition of Motorola Mobility from Google, which bought it but couldn’t make it work.  Full of larger implications.  Sorry, but this needs to be read.  Colonel Dai Xu is a rhetorical loose cannon, on the faculty of the National Defense University in Beijing, and this latest rant about war, the U.S., and China’s glory needs to be widely seen, unfortunately.  See the following two items.   The first of two articles from China Brief last summer, placing in context the hawkish military writers in the PRC, including Dai Xu (preceding item)

The second and final part of the two-part series from China Brief on China’s hawkish, often startling, military writers (see preceding two items).  Results of a survey by advertising giant WPP, of the views of Chinese, American, and British respondents on the big questions:  happiness, fears, visions of the future, the “ideal country” of today and tomorrow, “dreams.”  Lots of wiggle room, but interesting nonetheless.  May be paywalled.  Two U.S. authorities on Chinese military affairs respond to the recent headline-grabbing comments of the U.S. Pacific Command chief of intelligence, who had argued that China is preparing for a “short, sharp war” against Japan.  These authors vigorously dispute the earlier argument’s premises and analysis of evidence.

February 13-19  The web page of the UN Commission on Human Rights with respect to its new report on human rights violations, including allegations of crimes against humanity, in the Democratic Republic of North Korea.  This report is not on China, but China figures meaningfully in it, and declined to assist the UN investigative team.  From this page one can go to the full 370 page Report or to the 36-page “Main Findings” page.  One of many ordinary news reports on China’s critical reaction to the UN Human Rights Commission report on North Korea (see preceding item).  Xi Jinping on the world’s need for the thought of Confucius.  Despite the fact that the Communist Party was born in the 1920s out of the cultural revolt against Confucian tradition, and that the Cultural Revolution of the 1960s and 1970s smashed precious artifacts from the Confucian tradition to dust, we now learn that the failure of Western capitalism leaves the West hungering for Confucius, as evidenced by the Confucius Institutes being introduced on US and other international campuses.  A consulting firm’s report on food safety issues in China.  William Overholt’s important essay on the crucial importance of successful multilateral trade deals at this time, with special emphasis on issues relating to China.  Paul Gillis, who has covered this important matter since it burst forth, sums up the issues surrounding the US-China impasse over SEC access to audit records of Chinese firms listed on US exchanges.  In such “cross-border listings,” whose rules shall prevail?  The well known Caixin (English site) with an instant post-mortem as to who failed to do what when Beijing’s air went very bad Feb. 14-16.  Another investigation of a “ministerial-level” official.  Plus some numbers about graft and bribery cases.  A curious little article about foreign consulting firms in China, emphasizing how widespread their work is but concluding with a twist about their costs and at times the discarding of their recommendations.  Travelers beware: report of a severe US Customs treatment of Chinese travelers bringing traditional Chinese medicines in to the US.  Official-sounding flavor to the article (those nasty US authorities…) but the topic is a real one for many travelers to consider.  Secretary of State Kerry’s Press conference in Beijing; long opening statement, plus Q&A.  U.S.-China Joint Statement on Climate Change, issued during Secretary Kerry’s Beijing visit Feb. 15.  Implementation of agreement on five areas of cooperation will be important to watch.

February 6-12  An important “Statement of Priorities in the U.S.-China Commercial Relationship” by the Board of Directors of the US-China Business Council. A statement like this, over the names of a set of top U.S. corporate executives, is the product of careful drafting, and should be seen as a key indicator of business consensus about the way forward with China.  A view of the key pending questions in U.S.-China ties this year, from a member of the China Institute of Contemporary International Relations, a think affiliated with the Ministry of State Security.  A massive study, with admirable graphics, of China’s energy sector, by the U.S. Energy Information Administration.  A handy graphic from the Cheung Kong Graduate School of Business in Beijing, showing major overseas food suppliers to China, what they send, and what proportion of total Chinese consumption they account for. Remember, though, not all soybeans go into soy sauce and tofu; think animal feed.  Signs of possible progress on a long-vexed dispute over U.S. inspection in China-based accounting firms (or Chinese units of Big 4 firms) responsible for auditing Chinese companies listed on U.S. exchanges.  Technical, but a very big issue of sovereignty, Chinese state security laws, etc.,0,7224004.story#axzz2sw7zl66N  An interesting story about an exposé of prostitution, and the public response, in Dongguan, Guangdong Province.  The talented journalist Lucy Hornby, now with the FT, writes on what appears to be a major policy change: abandonment of the long-hallowed policy of self-sufficiency in food grains. May be paywalled.  The saga of whose rules shall apply, China’s or America’s, in the matter of whether Chinese affiliates of multinational auditing firms must turn over audit documents on Chinese firms listed on U.S. exchanges, continues.  It is important.  An interesting essay that seeks to demolish the frequently-invoked analogy between China and the U.S. today, on the one hand, and Wilhelmine Germany and Great Britain before World War I, on the other.  Chinese investment in the U.S.: an American Enterprise Institute writer asks why private, non-SOE companies dominate incoming FDI to the U.S., when SOEs predominate in Chinese FDI in other countries.  The answer—from AEI, what else? Our market economy, our legal protections, and our hospitality toward innovation, by contrast with the PRC environment for private firms.  Adopting the (to your Editor) annoying format of a supposed “Memo to the President,” two of The Brookings Institutions’ top China specialists argue for, well, for the “Rebalance toward the Asia Pacific.” While YHE (Your Humble Editor) viewed this piece mostly with a yawn, it evoked a ferociously critical response from another person with long years in the China field, readable at Archaeology. A recent student application alerted YHE to an archaeological project in Henan, along the Yellow River, that is just fascinating.  Here’s an article on it.  In addition to the intrinsic interest of the excavation itself, this is a nice example of the myriad ways in which Chinese and Americans work together every day.

January 30 – February 5

(Editor’s Note: sorry for the typo “bird flue” instead of “bird flu” in the second entry of last week’s compilation!)  Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Daniel Russel’s statement at the Foreign Press Center in Washington on “U.S. Policy in the East Asia and Pacific Region in 2014,” and ensuing question-and-answer session with representatives of the international press.  A basic illustrated introduction to Chinese New Year customs for first-timers.  In honor of the Year of the Horse, this marvelous Youtube clip shows a Hungarian shadow-ballet troupe’s contribution to the annual New Year TV Extravaganza in the PRC.  Heavy on symbolism, but amazing in its artistic and technical dexterity as well.  A Davos interview with Foreign Minister Wang Yi, encompassing the full gamut of present-day Chinese official optimism and global expectations.  In a word, “Generally speaking, China’s development will be a blessing to the entire world.” Also, extensive comments on Sino-Japanese, Sino-DPRK and Sino-U.S. relations.   The Japan National Institute for Defense Studies 2013 China Security Report.  47 pp. of analysis.  PDF download available at this site.  Very useful 90-minute video panel from Fordham  on China and the /U.S./ Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.  A puff piece from Global Times, with a serious undertone, about the parental “inquisition” that Chinese young people go through at New Year, mainly as to why they’re not yet married.  Chinese M&A buys heavily in Germany and UK, according to this piece.   LinkedIn seeks to grow in China.  (May be paywalled)  Some leftover misgivings after the last-minute rescue from imminent default of one of China’s numerous shaky “trusts.”  Immediate catastrophe averted, but longer-term reckoning still looms over the financial system.  Combine this item with the following one.  Having left Fitch’s ratings agency only weeks ago, Charlene Chu expresses herself bluntly about the inevitability of a banking crisis. Blunt talk about a $15 Tn credit explosion since 2009.     A sobering look at the deepening water issues facing China.

January 23-29  A report that the investigation of Zhou Yongkang, formerly a member of the Standing Committee of the Politburo of the Chinese Communist Party, is drawing to a conclusion and that public announcements may be expected shortly.  The article refers to the likelihood of “charges,” but we will have to wait and see.  A PRC news report on “high alert” and countermeasures as number of bird flue cases, including human transmission, rises.  Not an “epidemic” yet, and hopefully won’t become one.  But some very visible measures, including stopping of all commerce in chickens in several large Eastern cities.  An interesting look at reforestation programs in southwest China – successes and failures – by Your Editor’s erstwhile academic colleague Stevan Harrell of the University of Washington.  The denouement of the building story about the impending first-ever default by a “shadow banking” institution, which had threatened to cause chaos in the Chinese financial system?  Probably, but this Caijin story has lots of unfilled blanks (e.g., who’s bailing the Trust out?).  The official English translation of the lengthy “Decision” reached at the Third Plenum of the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party last November.  A PLA senior officer writes about Western “Cultural Threats,” to be addressed by China’s new “National Security Committee.” Rising rhetoric about values-defined threats, whether in the US or in China, is inimical to prospects for peaceful cooperation, IMHO.  The question, as always, is who is speaking for whom?  English Translation of the Criminal Law of the People’s Republic of China, as amended in 1997.  Article 54 contains the specifics of “Deprivation of Political Rights,” a term not likely to be familiar to American laypersons but which is referred to regularly in sentencing documents in Chinese criminal trials, including the prominent verdict announced this week.  A report on the General Political Department of the People’s Liberation Army, subtitled “Political Warfare with Chinese Characteristics.”  The publishing organization is no friend of the PRC, but co-author Mark Stokes, long a career military officer, is very well informed, and his writing is generally judicious.  REAL Chinese soft power.  Li Na’s brief victory speech upon winning the Australian Open.  See also delighted online comments.  China at its best.  Ironically, Li famously declared her independence from the official Chinese sports establishment some time ago.   An Australian’s article about Australia for Australian readers – but also about China and the world in the realm of “values.”  John Fitzgerald formerly led the Ford Foundation in China.  In his comments here, he sees a new world of value challenges emanating from the PRC as China gains global power.  Hard to imagine a worse idea than this, from the standpoint of US-China relations.  NYT report on what may have lead to an eight-hour meltdown of the internet inside the Great Firewall.  One of innumerable “mainstream media” reports on the sentencing of lawyer/scholar/moderate reformist Xu Zhiyong, to four years’ imprisonment for “disturbing public order.”  Good piece on the vast flow now underway of PRC investment into real estate in the U.S. and elsewhere.  Comments on Detroit especially interesting.  The saga of NuSkin in China and the perennial sensitivities there regarding direct-selling activities.  Fascinating. A good reminder about perspective:  New Delhi’s air pollution much worse than Beijing’s, but we never hear about it.  As a general rule, it’s important not to confuse “China” with “only China.”  This article may be paywalled.  From NYT Jan. 26.  The first follow-up story from the International Committee of Investigative Journalists after their huge piece showing the involvement of hundreds of Chinese individuals, some of them members of prominent families, in offshore (mostly British Virgin Islands) companies.  This URL leads to an article about the PRC oil industry in particular.  Breathe deeply; implications are not proofs.

January 16-22 A very, very different view of China from the usual fare available to Western readers.  The story of one hyper-entrepreneurial American who has made his venturesome home in China.

Veteran China finance expert Carl Walter with a blunt, if slightly high-speed, analysis of China’s evolving financial structural issues since the mid-1990s and the political system’s response, especially now under Xi Jinping.  Not specifically on China, but central to the making and execution of U.S. trade agreements, this Congressional Research Service paper, written to inform Members of Congress, explains what Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) is, and elaborates on the role of the Congress in the concluding of trade agreements.  Legislation re-authorizing TPA is now pending, and is very controversial.  Not bad for an “intern reporter.”  Caixin English piece reports on why so many private Chinese enterprises fail when they try to get started in the U.S. market.  Old truths retold, but never told enough. Maybe a non-news story if everything settles down, again:  rates suddenly spike, the central bank throws money at the banks to calm things down.  Occasioned by the big Chinese New Year cash withdrawal wave.  Stanley Lubman, one of the Elder Statesmen of American scholarship on PRC law, pretty much buries American expectations of significant legal reform for the foreseeable future.  Almost elegiac in tone, given the longstanding and widespread American hope that post-Cultural Revolution “Reform and Opening” in China would yield significant and fundamental changes in the way China’s legal system operates.  Harvard Law Professor and former Bush Administration lawyer Jack Goldsmith’s pointed comments about who’s doing what to whom in the hacking world, with especially critical views on what he sees as the hypocrisy of US official criticism of China’s actions.  The Times’s Andy Jacobs on the fate of Xu Zhiyong and others in the short-lived New Citizens Movement.  Sobering reading.  More bleakness over the Xu Zhiyong trial, this by the eloquent Evan Osnos of The New Yorker.  You think has problems?  See this article about the Spring Festival Railway Tickets Online Sales site.  An article on Chinese economic efforts in Africa, and what US responses should be, from Parameters, the quarterly journal of the U.S. Army War College.  Many have observed, in trying to analyze how the Chinese system works, that officials’ career considerations are a key element.  This URL takes you to news of new Party criteria for appointment of senior officials.  If you read Chinese, be sure to use the hyperlinks included in the summary piece found at this URL.  This web site evolves continually, so you may need to scroll down to “Party Center Publishes New Promotion and Appointment Criteria for Senior Officials.”  A lengthy paper by Yu Bin of Wittenberg University on China’s relations with Russia and on both Xi Jinping’s and Vladimir Putin’s strategic approaches to bilateral relations especially in Central Asian context.  A statement by China’s Ambassador to Washington, Cui Tiankai, in the Washington Post of January 9, forcefully articulating China’s views on the Japanese Prime Minister’s visit to the Yasukuni shrine and related issues.  In the context of tensions over the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands in the East China Sea, many Chinese ambassadors, to great and small countries, have expressed themselves forcefully in their host countries, by personal appearances and published articles.  In this item, Japan’s ambassador to Washington writes a forceful Japanese statement of position.  This might be considered a parallel, or a rejoinder, to the Cui Tiankai essay shown immediately above.  China breaking through to high-tech innovation prowess.  A little potential flesh on the bone of the “framework for a new type of big country relationship,” as the current Chinese mantra covering Sino-American relations goes.  A possible team-up on a big dam project in Congo.

Jan. 11-17

Just re-stating the obvious, but the Lunar New Year travel crush in the PRC really is one of the wonders of the world.

The now-elderly daughter of a top Mao-era CCP leader (Song Renqiong) publicly and ceremonially apologizes for her role in the humiliation and murder of the principal of her elite girls’ school in the early days of the Cultural Revolution, and engenders very mixed reactions.  The historical black hole regarding the immense tragedies of the Mao years remains, even as publications in the West – based on long-closed Chinese archives, in fact – continue to appear.  Readers with sufficient time and interest should click on the hyperlinks shown in this article.

A new Chinadialogue article on loss of land to environmental damage, and prospects for food supplies and future import reliance.

A new Congressional Research Service paper describing and analyzing issues relating to CFIUS – the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States – which has conducted numerous national security-related reviews of pending Chinese investments in the U.S.

A year into the era of Xi Jinping’s leadership, analyses of his style, his intentions, and his impact are blossoming.  Here is one, emphasizing the influence of the so-called “New Left” school of academic thinking about Chinese society, Chinese politics, and the meaning of the Mao era.

A must-read from Hu Shuli of Caixin, about the realities of making “Reform” successful now.  A great piece for overall orientation.

Your editor weighed in on this Chinafile thread, and is awaiting a platter on which to have his head served to him.

An Atlantic correspondent writes about nearly deserted housing developments mimicking quaint British and European locales.

Jan. 4-10

CCTV report on a breathtaking Northern Dynasties tomb excavation.

Chinese Ambassador to Australia Ma Zhaoxu’s eloquent newspaper essay on the visit of Japanese prime minister Abe to the Yasukuni Shrine. It would be a mistake, in your editor’s view, to dismiss the point of view so forcefully expressed here as cynical CCP propaganda or baseless histrionics.

When you have an hour, watch this discussion between John Mearsheimer of the University of Chicago (the most prominent expositor of the “structural realist” view that the US and China are bound for inevitable conflict), and Yan Xuetong of Tsinghua, who has his own “realist” take on the future relationship of these two powers.  Both are dynamic and stimulating academics.  But look for chinks in the armor.

Steven Roach, now at Yale but long at Morgan Stanley Asia, is worth following in general, but when he comes out with something critical and cautionary about Chinese economic trends, he is even more worth watching, since that is not his normal mode.

Great work by Rhodium Group in summing up and analyzing Chinese FDI into the US in 2013 and in analyzing factors potentially favoring, and others potentially threatening, continued PRC FDI expansion in the US in 2014.

Andrew Erickson reviews six years of Chinese navy participation in maritime security work in the Gulf of Aden, and finds much to respect.

Really interesting look, from survey data,  at how Chinese students in the U.S. look at the politics of the PRC and of the US.

A short essay by writer Yu Hua on microblogs,their impact on opinion-formation in China, and the challenge they pose for government information control.

An upbeat China Daily piece on US-China trade, with lots of nice numbers and anodyne verbiage about future cooperation.  From Jan. 2.

Lest we forget,….  Xinjiang claims a lot of Beijing’s attention, as violent incidents increase.

December 19. 2013 – January 3, 2014

Very effective remarks on US-China relations by Ambassador Cui Tiankai, at a recent Carter Center Forum on that bilateral engagement.

Sorry to open with bad news, but Patrick Chovanec’s analysis of the deteriorating bad debt situation is worth a careful look.

Princelings, the CCP, Xi Jinping, and the challenges of reforming the  system.  Views of an insider/historian.

Just what we don’t need.  Arson attack on the PRC Consulate General in San Francisco.  Consider writing a note of concern to the Consulate General or the Chinese embassy in D.C.

For those with Chinese language skills, here is President Xi Jinping’s New Year TV address to the people of China (five minutes).  We seldom get to see China’s top leader close-up.

On the death of Professor C. T. Hsia, a hugely important scholarly introducer of Chinese literature to English-reading audiences.

A fantastic Bloomberg report on fraud in a Chinese company listed in the U.S.

Year-end reading recommendations by the talented and multi-facted Prof. Jeff Wasserstrom of UC Irvine.

An article predicting major changes in Chinese state-owned enterprises, by a US investment banker, published in a prestigious Chinese magazine.

A rather odd article from the English-language edition of Global Times (a news and commentary publication under People’s Daily umbrella) on the marking of Mao Zedong’s 120th birthday.

Also from Global Times, a red-meat commentary aimed at Defense Secretary Hagel in the wake (no pun intended) of the recent near-confrontation of a U.S. Navy vessel with a PLAN vessel in the South China Sea. Additional intriguing generalities on SOE reform from Global Times.

January 1 – January 7, 2015  Contrary to numerous protestations, it appears that, faced with a significant economic slowdown, the PRCG is opening the spigots on big projects. To the tune of $1 trillion. A breezy New Year’s list of predictions for China in the coming year.  Sino-Russian/Xi-Putin relations. A very interesting analysis of China’s energetic use of its Anti-Monopoly Law to go after foreign companies during 2014.  Life as it really is, for un-privileged youngsters facing the ultimate Decider – the examination for entry to higher education.  The twenty-page Executive Summary of this annual USTR Report to Congress on China’s WTO record in the preceding year is a good, concise read of official USG views on the course of China’s economic and international trade development.  Not a bad, sweeping look at the way people (undefined) in China look at some of the big issues between the U.S. and the PRC as 2015 begins.  Nothing really new, but a handy compilation in a reader-friendly style.  Some topics dear to concerned Americans’ hearts are missing.  Amb. Christopher Hill, who should need no introduction, on the North Korea problem and the desirability of enhanced U.S.-China communication and cooperation in dealing with it.  Some interesting observations about major structural changes in China’s economy, in global context.  A commentary by Your Editor and two respected colleagues on the U.S.-China agenda following the positive outcomes in Beijing last November. the end of a very contentious PRC trade practice, on orders from WTO.  Obeying WTO verdicts is vital for all members, and this should be remembered.  At same time, other factors were in play.  Real news.  China completely frees prices on 24 commodities and services.   The 2013 Reform agenda takes a step toward realization.  A reality check for comfortable Americans.  The “baby hatch” experiment struggles with overload.  Rhodium Group’s typically concise and well-produced year-end view of China’s global foreign direct investment in 2014.  An extremely bold letter from a Chinese independent journalist, addressed to the Beijing Public Security Bureau, denouncing what the writer identifies as a sustained campaign of suppression against independent thinkers and writers, and invoking the rule of law as the only way to combat the repression.  McKinsey’s promotional piece on what to expect in the Chinese economy in 2015, by Gordon Orr of their Shanghai Office.  Your Editor is not affiliated with McKinsey and posts this item for its content, not its commercial purposes.

 January 8-14   Damien Ma of the Paulson Institute opens a Paulson series on the Chinese energy sector with this introductory survey.  More papers to come.   A grim and gripping writeup by a German reporter for Die Zeit, on her harrowing experiences with police interrogators after the detention of a Chinese assistant for involvement with the Umbrella Movement in Hong Kong.  December trade data, and some predictions for further economic slowdown in 2015 Q1. In a similar vein, People’s Daily English edition avails itself of the predictions of an economist working for Deutsche Bank, of all people, to suggest that GDP growth in 2015 Q 1 will likely drop below 7%.  A nice little cautionary tale from Americans susceptible to the belief that their “guanxi” – “connections” with certain Chinese officials will open all doors, solve all problems, and so on.  This credulousness dies hard, especially because there’s sometimes a kernel of truth in it – for a while.  An early commentary from Xinhua (the government news agency) after the Paris shootings.  Short but important. Amid a constant low-level rumble over whether certain central elements of Chinese foreign policy are in flux, this essay by a leading academic on the present and future overall shape of China’s international relations.  Yet another commentary on China’s overall foreign policy and strategy, this one by the well known Jin Canrong of Renmin University.  Well read with the preceding item.  The third item in this mini-series of write-ups of recent remarks by leading Chinese internationial relations scholars, this one from Prof. Jia Qingguo of Peking University. This cryptic writeup, on an official news web site, of President Xi’s address to the leaders of the Party’s Central Commission for Discipline Inspection on the anti-corruption effort, precisely because it is so skeletal, gives a hint as to how vast and how complex the anti-corruption campaign is and will remain in 2015. The latest commentary from English-language China Daily, affiliated with the Party newspaper People’s Daily, on the resumption of maritime talks between China and Japan.  Hints that the worst may be over.  More Kabuki?  A related report on new agreements aimed at crisis avoidance at sea is at .  Another fascinating linguistic analysis by Qian Gang of the China Media Project, this time analyzing the complex history of the term “judicial independence” in Chinese official political usage.  The term came back to life in the 1980s after the Cultural Revolution, but in recent years seems to be falling back into the realm of the politically unacceptable.

 January 15-21  An interesting article about the evolution of Taiwanese advocacy groups in the United States as Taiwan’s politics have evolved.  Of potential significance to future U.S. discussions of Taiwan, always an issue in U.S.-PRC relations and sometimes an issue in U.S. politics.  First of what is likely to be a large number of comments on the draft revised Foreign Investment Law.  This one raises a question that affects a number of Chinese companies listed in the U.S. in China known as Variable Interest entities (VIE).  Author Gillis lays out the implications for the likes of Alibaba and Baidu.  Author is optimistic. Michael Swaine, longtime and veteran Carnegie Endowment specialist on PRC security and military affairs, with an essay on the meaning of China’s history for its people and its leaders now, rejecting the widespread assumption that the PRC is bent on some kind of world domination because of its inescapable historical inheritance. Author Peter Hessler (River Town, Oracle Bones, etc.) posts an important statement after China Daily an interview with him.  A very unfortunate but not unfamiliar problem. on the shakeup at the top of the Ministry of State Security, and a look at future leadership options after three top Ministry figures are taken down.   The new chair of the Asia-Pacific Subcommittee of House Foreign Affairs is Matt Salmon of Arizona, a Tea Partier but on the record as pro-engagement with China, pro-PNTR back in the day, etc.  Interesting possibilities. A translation (lengthy, and with quirks) of a Xinhua News Agency summary of a recent order from Party Central regarding the strengthening of ideological indoctrination in higher education.  A long slog, but with powerful implications.  An exchange of views among several Hong Kong specialists, in the aftermath of the end of the Umbrella Revolution street demonstrations, as to where Hong Kong and Beijing go from here.  Tough times just ahead in Hong Kong?  The CE sounds a tough call.  Beijing is being so public about investigations and downfalls in high military ranks (this item is a list of 16 high-ranking officers in trouble) that one begins to ponder what isn’t being so heavily publicized.  Even Global Times finds the publication of the list of 16 high military figures nailed in the anti-corruption drive worthy of some wonderment (and approval).  On growing use of lawsuits to fight back against heavy air pollution. From December 29.  Commentary on significance of recent Taiwan elections and implications for future TW policy toward PRC. From the Communist Party’s English daily  Global Times, on HK Chief Executive C. Y. Leung’s policy address.  Aftershocks from the Umbrella Movement far from over, and further ideological tightening seems a foregone conclusion.  Directly related to the preceding.  This is GT’s editorial on the subject, sounding ominous notes. This GT piece, on the likelihood of future political actions by the pan-Democracy movement in Hong Kong, is striking for its detailed and relatively neutral rapportage. Interesting piece on China-Russia-Japan petropipeline politics. How to deal with tourist misbehavior. Humor aside, a reminder of how far China has come in such a short time – 100m will travel abroad in 2015 – and how far it still must go.

January 22-28   Premier Li Keqiang’s address to the World Economic Forum in Davos.  Few surprises, but a marker document that will be referred to often.  There is a hyperlink for viewing of the entire session.  China will on September 3 stage an unprecedented display of military might on the 70th anniversary of the end of the war with Japan.  The New Year approaches!  Shanghai Daily lists the Ten Top News Stories chosen by Shanghai-area expats.  An Asia Society site introduce, with links, a set of photo and video documentaries on some of the most graphic issues in China’s deepening environmental crisis.  Xinhua’s take on the Obama visit to India.  Dismissive.  NYT analysis of the visit of President Obama to India, with stress on shared concerns with respect to China.  A very readable discussion of U.S. maritime strategy, in advance of issuance of the 2015 Maritime Strategy document prepared by the “sea services” – the Navy, Marines and Coast Guard.  China figures significantly in the piece. a glimpse into the criminal justice system, or a small peeling of the onion.  A high party body demands that the whole system do away with arrest and conviction quotas. Reminds one of the old planned economy days, with production quotas, output targets, etc., on which cadres’ careers at all levels of the system depended.  As good a distillation of current official line on the state of the Chinese economy as any – because it comes from PRC senior figures at Davos.  Bottom line: slower growth o.k. – “new normal” –, no crashes coming, and economic rebalancing proceeding as designed.  Trenchant observations on world politics, including Sino-American relations, by CSIS’s Dr. Zbigniew Brzezinski.  The anti-corruption campaign at the granular level. China and Japan re-engage at the Coast Guard level – signs of possible cooling of tensions in the East China Sea?  The rise of a new term – “Strategic management of the Sea” – in PRC discourse on maritime policy.  An important article, thanks in part to its rhetorical restraint on a topic that others may treat with greater alarm.  Shanghai suffers.  A dramatic photo of nighttime air pollution in that great city, and accompanying article.  New laws aimed at pollution control.  Prospects for their effectiveness discussed here.  Another very interesting paper from the Congressional Research Service, this one dealing with U.S. access to strategic and critical minerals, for some of which the U.S. is now heavily dependent on imports from China.  The agenda for a full-day hearing January 28 on the Foreign Investment Climate in China.  A number of documents containing testimony by hearing witnesses are hyperlinked for easy access. Informative testimony before a U.S. Congressional Commission, on “China’s Treatment of Foreign Invested Firms in 2014.”  A lighter note.  Top Ten Strange American Habits Incomprehensible to Chinese.

January 29-February 4  An astounding and important article by MIT’s Taylor Fravel about the ways in which the U.S. security discourse on China badly misreads Chinese thinking, with echoing and self-perpetuating effects.   Do not stop in the middle; the concluding pages are critical.  Congressman Randy Forbes, who focuses on naval power and China, offers very different views from those shown in the preceding item. Another All Hands On Deck moment (to continue the naval metaphor), this time over pending PRC regulations that would require foreign tech firms to hand crown jewel technologies to Chinese authorities in the name of “control and security.”  Retaliation for U.S. treatment of Huawei?  For U.S. cyber-interferences revealed by Snowden?  No longer a secret: PRC internet controllers take action against “VPNs” –Virtual Private Networks, the only way for people inside the Great Firewall to gain access to the world wide web.  users include companies, students, etc. – serious wider ripples inevitable. An article on what Qualcomm is facing these days.  A Chinafile discussion among critical observers on the implications of the heavy tightening of internet controls exemplified by the disruption of VPNs (see preceding item).  A layered and very informative article on China’s role in the complex five-power negotiations over the future of Iran’s nuclear programs and, more broadly, on China’s interests in the Middle East.  It is an understatement to observe that U.S. interests in all of this are enormous and urgent.  rising numbers of apparent suicides of government or party officials nationwide during the intense anti-corruption campaign have led to an order from on high for comprehensive data on unexplained deaths.  A banking “Tiger” seems to have gone down. A very thoughtful reflection by a well known human rights advocate and law professor in Hong Kong, on the Occupy Movement.  Leisure-time reading. Michael Meyer, already well known for his earthy The Last Days of Old Beijing, writes of his life in Wasteland, a village way, way up in the frozen Northeast.  No particular message, just highly evocative writing from the coldest zone of rural China.  Fabled Alibaba squabble publicly with government regulator – unusual, and a reminder of investment risks, says this reporter. Fake goods a big problem with online shopping.  Does U.S. have this problem?  How does U.S. deal with it?  The distinguished Hong Kong economist Lawrence Lau’s optimistic take on U.S.-China economic complementarities and prospects for win-win economic relationships looking forward.  PRC manufacturing sector slows significantly.   This the first of several entries dealing with this week’s orders to Chinese educational institutions to banish “Western Values” from the classroom and heighten ideological indoctrination.  Global Times is, as regular readers of Suggested Readings know, an organ of People’s Daily, which is in turn the official newspaper of the Communist Party.  Its views here on the challenge of maintaining ideological acceptability in Chinese college classrooms is at once doctrinaire and somewhat cautious.  Courage in a dangerous time.  An article summarizing the views of Fan Changlong, Vice Chairman of the Central Military Commission, connecting the lessons of the catastrophic defeat of Qing Dynasty forces by Japan in 1895 to the pressing needs for systemic reform in China’s military system today.  Xinhua’s report on the start of Chunyun 春运, the annual Chinese New Year migration.  Nothing quite like it elsewhere in the world.

February 5-11  The New York Times update on the chilling demands for ideological purity and cleansing of impurities on Chinese campuses.  White HoU.S.e confirms that President Xi Jinping has been invited to the U.S. for a state visit in 2015.  The U.S. announces a big trade case against China at the WTO, accusing the PRC of illegal export subsidies. A very useful exposition of recent cooperative U.S.-PRC efforts in the area of climate change. More news, this time from the trade front, indicating that the Chinese economy is slowing significantly.  Exports down, but imports down at an ever higher rate.  The PRC’s latest cybersecurity regulations are rippling now through not only the U.S. tech sector but the U.S. government.  The importance of this article is not only its authors (all within the Executive Office of the President), but where it is published, in    Accounting matters are often dry and arcane, but this discussion by Paul Gillis on his blog deals with very important matters for future U.S.-transborder investment activity. Veteran China watchers know that certain set phrases come and go, usually with changes in top leadership.  This small piece takes ten of the currently ubiquitous set phrases associated with President Xi Jinping personally., with a bit of earned self-congratulation, lists ten of its best threads for 2014.  Your Editor notes with mixed feelings that one of those threads, on Confucius Institutes, started with him; the ferocity of what followed was deeply troubling, but as the thread wore on – and on and on and on – it grew more balanced and less fratricidal.  Chinafile really is doing fine work.  A sobering look at the political impasse following the huge Hong Kong demonstrations of the autumn.  Caixin on the From-Nowhere Insurance Company that just bought the Waldorf-Astoria.  “Not a few unanswered questions.”–finance.html  U.S. colleges thinking about recruitment of PRC students from beyond the monied and politically connected elite.  A Wall Street Journal article, based on confidential e-mails, suggesting an unseemly connection between J. P. Morgan, influential middlemen, a Chinese government Minister, in re the hiring and retaining of the latter’s not very talented son.  Not “news.”  An interesting academic paper examining the relationship between Confucianism and intellectual property issues.  Calls into question some standard Western assumptions about this.  A role for China in Afghanistan.  Possibilities for cooperation with U.S. there.  A massive account, based on leaked documents, of HSBC’s Swiss banking arm’s hiding of accounts for an unseemly global list of big depositors.  From the leaked documents, ICIJ also post a list of prominent PRC citizens revealed to have placed money in such accounts at /   A huge settlement in the closely-watched Qualcomm anti-competitive practices case in China.  Part of a larger ongoing struggle aimed heavily at foreign technology firms.  A thought-provoking article on what motivates China’s leadership in the PRC’s recent “assertive” behavior, especially along its maritime periphery. Nothing terribly new, but well organized and easy to manage.  More expats heading out than in these days. Cat and mouse over honey.

February 12-18  The distinguished retired U.S. Ambassador Chas Freeman, who possesses both a strong China background and a deep Middle East background, presents this informative and historically literate paper on The Middle East and China.  Freeman has strong opinions, which are not particularly well hidden in this piece.  Gallup Poll questions are anything but subtle, but this survey shows that as Russia has risen to the top spot on Americans’ list of “greatest enemies,”, the percentage of survey respondents choosing China has dropped significantly.  Sino-U.S. talks on a hot-button IP protection issue. Sensible advice from CSIS specialists reacting to President Obama’s State of the Union Address comments on the danger of China “writing the rules” of international trade if the U.S. does not achieve the Trans-Pacific Partnership.  A fine new piece analyzing the PRC’s “New Silk Road” project, which entails rail construction all the way from China to Europe.  The final conclusions are a little high-flying, and may attribute more to the thinking of Chinese planners than they actually think, but this is a paper worth keeping as the New Silk Road moves from rhetoric to reality. A Rubber-meets-the-road kind of article, as the anti-corruption campaign heads for the military and for a number of China’s biggest SOEs.   A well constructed take on China’s economic dilemmas today and the headwinds that they pose for global economic vigor.  The oceans awash with plastic waste, this study shows.  PRC the biggest generator, US ranked 20th.  Other Asian economies also heavy “contributors.”  A short, non-polemical video about a huge and worsening global problem.  William Reinsch, D.C. veteran and head of the National Foreign Trade Council, with a pungent blog piece on the Groundhog Day (literally and figuratively) eruption of Congressional furor over U.S. foreign trade and foreign trade policy.  Not mentioned in this piece, China nevertheless figures large in the latest “iteration” of old but undying controversies, at a moment when trade agreements may be heading for Capitol Hill and lots of Americans are thinking about heading for the White House in 2016.  Claremont McKenna scholar Minxin Pei sees, in blunt fashion, an inherent contradiction between China’s current campaigns against “Western values”  and for tighter ideological controls, on the one hand, and its aspirations to a corruption-free modernity, on the other.  Some of the verbiage is polemical, but the central points are extremely important.  The Pogo syndrome.  Reports of USA malware in other countries’ computers likely to harm PRC use of US equipment and software.  SOE Reform:  COFCO reform approved.  Big news in agribusiness.  One of Italian Beijing-based writer Francesco Sisci’s best essays of recent years, coming to grips with the historical and linguistic inheritance from classical China that current pledges of the primacy of “rule of law” must deal with.  As he writes, summing up the first half of his article, “That is, there was no principle of responsibility in classical China, as there was no idea of rights, much less a structural link between responsibilities and rights.”  Signs of movement on the intractable “hukou” front – the problem that that migrants to the cities do not possess the “urban registration” document that opens the door to the cities’ services, including education and health.  Now, a kind of “green card” for people from other places, with some legal privileges but not the full menu of urban benefits, is said to be under consideration.  From December 30, 2014, a Korean perspective on China’s foreign policy concepts and practices.  Special attention, not unexpectedly, to Northeast Asia.  Mainly paraphrasing of recent Chinese policy articles.  The layman may find this overlong.  William Farris is an American lawyer with strong human rights interests and sophisticated Internet skills, now working for a household-name company in Beijing.  He blogs under the name, and his recent postings, from the past week, including those on the response to a Peking University professor who dared to question the Education Minister’s call for banning “Western values” from China’s campuses, are very interesting.  One critical take on the recent Report to Congress by the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission (included in an earlier Suggested Readings), focusing on a single assertion and its flawed documentation in the paper.  The Report is hundreds of pages long, filled with vast footnotes.  This article gives a hint as to the amount of work involved in checking such documents, issued by “Commissions” established by Congress but made up of private citizens politically appointed, for veracity and methodological responsibility.  The author’s brief account of the establishment of the Commission in 2000 only scratches the surface, as does his light summary of the outlooks and agendas of many of those who have sat on or continue to sit on the Commission.  Happily, Evan Osnos, the New Yorker writer who departed Beijing about a year ago for Washington, D.C., is not completely out of the China field.  This is his hilarious but sobering report on the Chinese-accent imitation posted by Argentina’s President Kirchner during her recent visit to China as guest of the Chinese government.


Finally, as the Year of the Ram dawns, a Book Note.  We do not usually mention or recommend books, but this is an exception.

Not long ago, a friend sent me a copy of China: An Insider’s Guide, Letters from a Changing Nation newly published by Alain Charles Asia Publishing Ltd. of London.  From an unexpected source and a relatively unknown publisher, I commend this book, from an unexpected source and a relatively little- publisher, to SR readers.

The book consists of a series of letters from 2012, 2013 and 2014, containing observations on aspects of contemporary Chinese “real life.”  The authors are all associated with a Shanghai-based consultancy.  Many of them are British.

What makes these letters so interesting is, first of all, their arresting written style; second, their weaving of historical and cultural inheritance together with utterly contemporary aspects of Chinese life.  A few letters are written from Taiwan.  A number of them focus on contemporary Chinese business practices.  The more recent ones are intensely up-to-date.

While lacking, perhaps, a little of the unique elegance that Evan Osnos demonstrated in his New Yorker “Letters from China” and now in his National Book Award-winning Age of Ambition, this small book of letters from China makes informative reading even for the well-versed, and certainly for the more casually exposed.  I am pleased to recommend it to SR readers.

Best wishes for the Year of the Ram – or Goat, if you please; the same character in Chinese.

February 19-25  Yet more phrases to remember.  Here are the “Four Comprehensives,” as provided by Global Times.  We will  hear more of them.  NYT’s Keith Bradsher writes about as lucid an article about China’s depreciating currency, capital outflows as China’s economy slows and the anti-corruption campaign gives magnates the chills, and other interrelated international economic factors weighing on Chinese leaders these days, as we can hope for.  A revealing, if bleak, article about China’s coal trajectory.  As of the this writing, some of the reader Comments are also exceptionally informative.  Retired U.S. Army China specialist Dennis Blasko’s close-in analysis of structural and technical obstacles to China’s modern military strength.   The redoubtable “U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission” paid for this extensive RAND study of China’s military lacunae and vulnerabilities.  An experienced U.S. blogger assembles a compendium of recent press statements about the need to confront hostile ideological influences on China’s college campuses.  Unappealing as they are, these media warnings seemly eerily similar to the rising tide of media expressions in the U.S. and elsewhere on the need to combat the appeal of calls to “violent extremism” among Western youth.  Now that you have mastered “Air-Sea Battle,” time to learn a new term:  “Archipelagic Defense.” This author, writing in Foreign Affairs, sees China’s military pretensions in the Pacific region inexorably growing, and argues for a military deterrence strategy based on land-based assets (armed with weapons that travel offshore) along the “first island chain” from Japan down to the Phils and Vietnam.  Can never be repeated enough, especially since ¼ to 1/3 of Congress is always new to the job: Harvard’s Jeffrey Frankel usefully treads familiar ground as he address this year’s version of Congressional insistence on “currency manipulation” legislation and/or provisions in trade agreements currently under negotiation.  In passing, he notes the economic meaninglessness of solely bilateral trade imbalances, but that is hard to sell in hard-hit working class Congressional districts. An unusual public discussion of the possibility of a deflationary cycle in China. A gloomy piece about parallel – or perhaps linked – approaches to NGO suppression in Russia and China.  The ensuing Comments, apparently mostly from India – are remarkable for the vituperativeness of their hostility to American and British-connected NGOs.  Big ripples from the post-Snowden cybsersecurity upheaval, as China drops Cisco, Apple, Intel etc. products from the “Approved” list for government ITC procurement, while adding large numbers of “indigenous” products for similar markets.  Plenty of tit for tat to go ‘round (remember Huawei banned in U.S.).  China may be on New Year vacation, but the “Two Meetings” – of the National People’s Congress and the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Congress – are just around the corner.  Global Times offers predictions on key agenda items.   Hint: all will be conducted according to the “Four Comprehensives” (above), or, as this article translates the term, the “Four All-Around Ways.”

February 26 – March 4  An official media roundup on the imminent, annual “Two Meetings” – of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference and the National People’s Congress.  Unexpected breakthroughs are extremely rare, but the “Two Meetings” merit serious analysis.  More coverage next week and the week after, if the past is prologue.  On the Chinese military’s issues, including pervasive corruption and the effects of the current anti-corruption drive, as the National People’s Congress convenes.  The Chairman of the Renmin University Political Science Department sums up, in a very positive way, the early achievements of Xi Jinping and the optimistic processes for a comprehensive reform of the Chinese political system in the eight years remaining to Xi’s leadership.  Sadly, given the manifest ideological pressures being so overtly exerted over academic institutions, it is difficult to interpret this essay. A bleaker view of the structural problems, long-  and short-term, facing the Chinese economy, by two well known Hong Kong-based economists.  Gallup surveys show shifting American views on the economic threat to the United States posed by China.  Hint – fewer Americans see the threat as “critical” than in recent years.  There’s much more, though, and the graphs showing attitudes over time are informative.  As the temperature in Congress rises over prospects for the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement, the Administration rolls out its weapon of choice: the threat of “China writing the rules” if “we” don’t.  Shorthand for much more complicated realities, and not exactly suggestive of long-term US-China amity. But, to be fair, some advocates in each country uses the other as a stage prop nowadays. a reader-friendly commentary on the Chinese economy, stressing that simply trying to boost housing construction at this point will be both ineffective and counterproductive. Another perspective on China’s housing market, this one somewhat upbeat.  A wonderful piece on the complex implications of present-day invocation of Confucius and Confucianism by China’s governing authorities. More analysis of the “Four Comprehensives,” which has emerged with huge fanfare as the summation of President Xi Jinping’s theoretical contribution, part of a pattern that earlier include Jiang Zemin’s “Three Represents” and the original “Four Modernizations.”  Chris Buckley’s contextual look at the now-everywhere “Four Comprehensives.”  A People’s Daily writer (of English surname), slashes at the BBC for treating the “Four Comprehensives” with disdain or insufficient respect.  Quite a bombardment.  The title?  Smug, Snide, and Shallow – ‘The Three Superiors’ of the BBC  An interesting interview with Jiang Rong, the author of the vastly popular and heavily interpreted book Wolf Totem, which has just become the basis of a film of the same name.  Messrs Xi and Putin and the upcoming Chinese extravaganza celebrating the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II (aka defeat of Japan).  An American observer finds China “giving up” on better relations with the U.S., and blames U.S. indolence and intransigence. A useful look at some of the complex dilemmas facing the farming sector, including the vexed issue of what form of land rights would best benefit farmers and the agricultural economy.  Plans for reform of China’s judicial system, amid pledges to avoid any harmful “Western” concepts or practices. NYT on crackdowns on grassroots NGOs.  The trends in the many Comments attached to this piece are worthy of note. China, chairing the UN Security Council this month, articulates its views on how the UN should be defined and run in the future.  Hint: the emphasis is on sovereignty of states more than on individual rights and protections.  Some tentative optimism by a very well-grounded figure on the prospects for China’s grappling with the air pollution problem.  Feverish speculation about the next Tiger target in the ongoing anti-corruption campaign. (May be paywalled).  The Untouchables have launched a parable about one “Prince Qing,” whose misconduct at the very end of the Qing Dynasty in the early 20th century seems to point to one particular figure still very much alive. For those who understand spoken Chinese and/or can keep up with Chinese subtitles, this is a must-view, on China’s air pollution situation, in the form of a very sophisticated “TED”-style presentation by a former CCTV reporter.  English-subtitle version is in the works and will be posted to SR when available. (Late add: here is the film with so-far partial but gradually increasing very simple but adequate English subtitles:   )    A commentary from The Atlantic on the documentary mentioned in the preceding item. A not entirely successful attempt to bring clarity to the murky but pressing situation presented by China’s pending counter-terrorism law, which demands transfers to Chinese authorities of unprecedently high levels of proprietary technical information from foreign ITC companies.  Again, what Snowden has revealed compromises the purity of official U.S. indignation, unfortunately.  Meanwhile, U.S. IT infrastructure firms take a beating in the Chinese market.  Signs of a Sino-Japanese crisis-management arrangement in the offing, after years of very severe tensions in the East China Sea.

March 4-10  A real service. At this site, interested readers can find links to download the three big “Reports” presented to the National People’s Congress this week:  The Government Work Report, the Ministry of Finance Budget Report, and the NDRC Draft Report on Implementation of the 2014 National Economic and Social Development and the 2015 Draft Plan for Economic and Social Development.  Basic documents for the coming year, slow reading though they are.  Mnemonics: a graphic depiction of the “ten top terms” in Premier Li Keqiang’s big Government Work Report to the NPC.  Whether it fully enlightens or not is a matter of opinion. One of the many instant-analysis reports on the NPC Government Work Report by Premier Li Keqiang.  David Shambaugh, one of the most prolific and widely read American academic specialists on contemporary Chinese politics and foreign affairs, has published this extraordinary article – somewhere between eye-catching and breathtaking – declaring that the “end game” for the Chinese political system is already underway.  He has been written with increasing asperity about the failings of the Chinese system for some years, but this takes his readers to new levels of pessimism about China’s future stability.  The headline, and the renown of the author, of this Wall Street Journal article are sure to generate intensive attention and discussion: Professor David Shambaugh finds that the Chinese political system has entered its “endgame.”  Your editor, after hard thinking, sees much to accept in his observations but little in his conclusions.

NOTE: A rare repeat of an item from the previous week:  Here is last week’s notice about “Under the Dome,” the 90-minute documentary by a former CCTV reporter on air pollution, its effects and its social and economic causes.  The documentary seemed to have had the blessing of at least some official bodies, notably the Environmental Protection Ministry.  Here’s last week’s item: For those who understand spoken Chinese and/or can keep up with Chinese subtitles, this is a must-view, on China’s air pollution situation, in the form of a very sophisticated “TED”-style presentation by a former CCTV reporter.  English-subtitle version is in the works and will be posted to SR when available. (Late add: here is the film with English subtitles:   )   As of March 6, it appears it appears that orders have gone out banning it from the Internet – after 200 million views.–Under-the-Dome-smog-film-taken-down-on-Chinese-web-sites-/en  No good deed goes unpunished… Chinadialogue’s report on the  banishment of “Under the Dome” from the Web.  A well-known “liberal” policy organization, often under heavy government criticism, finds that the cozy identification between government entities and so-called “social organizations” like “Chambers of Commerce” remains unchanged, despite government calls for separation of the ones from the others.  LSE scholar William Callahan on the negative and positive aspects of China’s efforts at “Soft Power,” and the frequent emphasis on the negative (i.e., wooing foreigners’ sentiments by focusing on shared enemies).  The above-mentioned Professor Callahan’s recent essay on the social and political context of the “China Dream.”  Fractious and sometimes dysfunctional though it be, the role of the U.S. Congress in American foreign policy cannot be ignored.  Here, veteran Hill staffer and current head of the Mansfield Foundation, Frank Januzzi, proposes a human rights/Asia roadmap for the 114th Congress.  This document focuses on the region, with only sporadic references to China itself. A rather glum tour of the economic horizon China faces, as the NPC gets underway.  Nothing new, but a lot in one place. From the annual Government Work Report to the NPC: a pledge to lower by half the number of “industries” in which foreign investment is currently restricted.  No details in this brief news item.  Implementation of pledges always the issue and almost always stretches out.  The acutely informed Francesco Sisci, in, on the Catholic Church and China, linking early Church history in Europe to the phenomenon facing the Church in China now, and placing debate over China within the context of Vatican politics.  Very interesting report on changes in Sri Lanka’s relations with China, in the context of China’s burgeoning efforts to build a “Maritime Silk Road.”  Sobering economic tidbits from the sidelines of the National People’s Congress, now convening in Beijing.  7% growth essential to generating jobs for a great many people. Something to listen to: David M. Lampton, Susan Shirk, and Damien Ma discuss China’s corruption problems with Tom Ashbrook of WBUR Boston.  Ashbrook opens with the Shambaugh piece on China’s “Crack-up” (see above). China has banned use of organs from executed prisoners for transplants. Expert comment.  Demographic trends in China induce government to raise retirement age.  Concerns over HK people’s antipathy toward PRC visitors to HK.

March 11-18 The central authorities’ struggle to curb industrial over-expansion in the face of evasion and truculence at the local level.  This age-old dilemma may be the most significant structural problem facing China today, far beyond steel production alone.  A wave of “I told you so” is washing ashore as China’s aura gleams less and less brightly in Western eyes.  Not currently the out-and-out McCarthyism of sixty years ago, but widening derision directed at the purported “mainstream” China expert community for having viewed China through rose-colored glasses for too long.  Occasioned by Michael Pillsbury’s book (reviewed in this item), e.g., but also by developments in China, including the unending stream of invective against “Western values,” increasing evidence of a drift toward heightened pressure on civil society, and propaganda glorification of the Ruler.  George Washington University contemporary China scholar David Shambaugh, whose Wall Street Journal article last week proclaiming that the “end game” for China’s current political system has already begun, in a written interview with the New York Times, elaborating on a number of his major observations.  His diagnoses have meet with a variety of opinions among China specialists outside of China.  Another oil bigwig taken down. In English, at least, the magazine Caixin seems to lead in anti-corruption campaign reporting.  This piece discusses to dignitaries, attendees at the National People’s Congress, who were detained at their hotels an hour after the NPC concluded.  An interview with U.S. Ambassador Max Baucus, by Hu Shuli, the famed editor of the magazine Caixin, taped just after the Obama state visit to China last November.  Nice to see Ambassador Baucus in the job.  No surprises, of course.  Not much to report from this year’s National People’s Congress, it seems.  For the record:  the long and detailed Report on the Work of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, delivered to the NPC by Standing Committee chair Zhang Dejiang.  More somber reflection from the U.S. expert community, in this case veteran legal scholar/practitioner/commentator Stanley Lubman, with a sober assessment of whether, on the basis of presentations at the recent National People’s Congress, legal reform in the usual sense of the word is moving forward at all, or whether the heavy emphasis on the primacy of the party over the legal and judicial systems bodes ill for further reform.  Signs of legislative reform at the National People’s Congress.  China has always faced the problem of who has the authority to tell whom what to do, on pain of what penalty if orders are not carried out.  Some, at least, see the long-term solution to this in the fuller creation of a structure of laws to define roles and authorities.  That means defining how laws are to be made, at what levels of authority in China’s vertical system.  A broad review of the current crackdown on foreign NGOs in China, and implications both for the NGOs and for Chinese society.  First sign of a break in the deepening impasse over China’s passage of anti-terror legislation that would impose unacceptable breaches of confidentiality on foreign IT firms.  Maybe a back-off?  Too soon to tell.  Conspicuous non-consumption is “in” at the NPC meetings, in line with President Xi Jinping’s war on official profligacy.  Weak economic numbers.  Very good Reuters overview of trends. The annual report, covering 2013, of the Committee on Foreign investment in the United States, the body that reviews certain foreign investments in the U.S. for national security implications.  CFIUS reviews have repeatedly roiled the waters between the U.S. and China.  In Chinese, the new 2015 Catalog for Foreign Investment, from NDRC and MofCom.  English will be posted when available.  A very short summary of key features, from an official source, is at   .  Very early assessment by one key U.S. business organization was bleak.  The Sea Services – Navy, Marines, Coast Guard – present their “Cooperative Strategy for 21st Century Sea Power” – in slick popular format – lots of photos, nice type faces, pull quotes from military leaders, etc.  Documents like this require further contextualization and/or interpretation; we will return to it.  The impenetrable thicket behind Kaisa, the faltering real estate developer whose current troubles reveal investor myopia in a boom cycle and woes in a bust phase.  A major investigative reporting effort.  Another mega-developer in trouble gets a short-term bailout from big Chinese banks, but the larger problems remain for Evergrande and for the housing sector.  And a mighty shipbuilder brought to earth, laden with debt.  Interview with Rongsheng founder Zhang Zhirong.  The Party’s Global Times (English edition) on Magna Carta’s 800th anniversary.  US college enrollment in Chinese language classes headed downward as dreams of low-hanging fruit employment go unrealized.  On political diversification in Taiwan and its implications for the future.  An interview with Michael Mayer, whose book on his experiences living for a year in the village of “Wasteland” in China’s Northeast region is receiving attention and praise.




  • Readings from Dec. 12 to 18, 2013
    Dec. 12-18, 2013
  • Readings from Dec. 5 to 11, 2013
  • Dec. 5-11, 2013